Jewish Congress Repudiates Magnes’s Statement; Scores Nullification of Balfour Paper
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Jewish Congress Repudiates Magnes’s Statement; Scores Nullification of Balfour Paper

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The statement of Dr. Judah L. Magnes, Chancellor of the Hebrew University, calling upon the Zionists to abandon their political ambitions in Palestine and to establish for themselves a cultural center and aid in the establishment of an international Holy Land for Jew, Christian and Moslem alike has had the widest repercussion in the United States, creating sharp divisions of opinion among responsible Jewish groups and personalities.

The conduct and utterances of Dr. Magnes were repudiated by the American Jewish Congress. Responding to the requests of the various organizations throughout the country which are affiliated with it, the American Jewish Congress issued the following statement, through its Administrative Committee, after a special meeting called for that purpose.

“The Administrative Committee of the American Jewish Congress expresses its sense of outrage over the utterances of the Chancellor of the Hebrew University which have come from Palestine. We deplore the utter irresponsibility which has been exhibited by one holding so high an office. We believe that the action in relation to Palestine, especially at this time of crisis “should” be taken only by the duly constituted authorities.

“The recent utterances in Palestine have broken what has, since the disaster of August and September, been the virtually unbroken front of the Jewish people, placing its confidence in the readiness and capacity of the Agency to act in protection of our honor and in defense of our rights and labors in the rebuilding of Palestine.

“To speak in terms of concession that are tantamount to surrender and at a time when the British Commission of Inquiry is sitting in judgment upon the recent events and their causes, is, in substance, to admit that terrorism including massacre, pillage and rapine, has availed to extort from the Jews terms which would have been unthinkable if those deeds of terrorization had not been wrought.

“We know that the time must come when Jews will meet again, as they have often met heretofore, with Arabs, in order to confer upon problems of common interest. But we, as a people, cannot meet by our representatives with those self-styled leaders of the Arabs who are responsible for the shedding of the blood of our people.

“We join in the deep feeling of the Jewish people throughout the world that nothing could be more destructive than to call, as the Chancellor of the Hebrew University has called, for the relinquishment of the Balfour Declaration. The Balfour Declaration was accepted by us and by the world, as a declaration of the resolve of Great Britain and the nations of the world to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine. Though up to this time its terms have not been fully redeemed, we have confidence in the integrity of the British Government and of its ultimate purpose and ability fully to redeem its pledge to facilitate our endeavor to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine.

“That the Chancellor should call upon his fellow Jews “to renounce all ideas of political domination” and that he should repeatedly demand such renunciation of such domination is to speak of something which he well knows does not exist and carries implication which is bound to inflict the gravest possible hurt upon the Jewish people.

“To protest against the conduct of the Chancellor in making it appear that the Jews are opposed to the establishment of a Parliamentary Assembly in Palestine, when, in fact, it was the Jews who accepted the proposal of Sir Herbert Samuel, for the establishment of such a Parliament, even as the Arabs rejected it. Whenever that Parliamentary Assembly comes into being, it must be under the terms which are consonant with the purpose, explicit and implicit, of the Balfour Declaration, and of the Mandate to the British Government from the League of Nations. A Parliamentary Assembly that would undo the Balfour Declaration would become an instrument of tyranny which would defeat the just aspirations of the Jewish people and the purposes of the British Government which have been sanctioned and confirmed by the civilized world.

“Most of all we deplore the misleading impression created by the utterance of the Chancellor that there is an irreconcilable conflict between the Jewish National Home in Palestine and an International Holy Land for Jew. Christian and Moslem. Surely he must know that no such antithesis exists. We Jews of all people most desire that in addition to Palestine becoming a Jewish National Home, it shall always be an international Holy Land wherein the religious rights of Jew, Christian and Moslem shall alike be held sacred by men of all faiths.

“Finally, we believe that a most grievous wrong has been done to the Jewish people within and without Palestine, insofar as it has been summoned by the Chancellor to do justice and to make peace with the Arab, as if the Jewish rebuilders of Palestine had been bringers of war and doers of injustice to the Arabs. The Balfour Declaration has resulted in the emancipation of the Arab serfs of Palestine. The resettlement of Palestine has brought a new economic, educational and social level of life to the Arab people. To call upon the Jews of Palestine to be peaceable in relation to the Arab is to ignore and obscure the fact that the Jews have done everything that a people could do in order to establish peaceable relations with the Arabs. The Jewish resettlement of Palestine has not only brought health and well being to the Arabs but has found the Jews prepared to do everything in order to establish a just and lasting peace with their Arab neighbors,” the statement concludes.

The statement was prepared by a special committee appointed by the Administrative Committee, including Dr. Stephen S. Wise, Honorary President of the American Jewish Congress; Bernard S. Deutsch, President of the Congress; Hon. Carl Sherman, Israel N. Thurman, Baruch Zuckerman, Hon. Nathan D. Perlman, and Bernard G. Richards, Executive Secretary of the Congress.

“Is that the answer to the Arab atrocities in Hebron and Safed?” exclaimed with astonishment Jacob Fishman, managing editor of the New York “Morning Journal,” when he arrived yesterday in New York and heard about Dr. Magnes’s convocation address at the Jerusalem Hebrew University. “I cannot understand how a clear-minded Jew could, at the present moment, deliver such an irresponsible speech, giving up practically all Jewish claims to Palestin,” Fishman declared in an interview with a Jewish Daily Bulletin representative.

Mr. Fishman returned on the “Mauretania,” coming direct from Palestine, where he had spent five weeks after attending sessions of the Zionist Congress and the Jewish Agency at Zurich.

“While in Palestine, I heard about Dr. Magnes’s irresponsible political activities,” Fishman further stated, “but nobody could assume that he would come out with such a statement, offering the Arabs a parliament and giving up even the Balfour Declaration. We all want peace with the Arabs, which sooner or later is bound to come, but now, with the wounds of Hebron and Safed still ripe, it is a crime to come to the Arabs resignedly. This would mean justifying their atrocities on the Jews.”

After the Inquiry Commission will be through with its work, England will have to do something in order to carry out the Mandate in Palestine, Fishman stated. When the Jewish Daily Bulletin representative informed him about Britain’s proposal that the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations should agree to the appointment of an international committee to make an inquiry on the last Palestine events, Fishman replied, “This is not so very favorable for us, because it proves that England is trying to throw from her shoulders her responsibility in Palestine.”

The following additional statements concerning Dr. Magnes’s views have been made to the Jewish Daily Bulletin:

James G. Heller, Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America-“Dr.

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(Continued from Page 3) Magnes’s intentions are doubtless excellent, but his judgment is execrable, as far as one can judge at this distance. His statement was ill-advised in the extreme and is bound to make more difficult the task of Jewish work in Palestine.

“How can there be Jewish culture in Palestine without Jews? Our right to peaceful settlement in Palestine is still as strong as ever and as little directed against the Arabs. As ever, one of the primary duties of the Zionists at such a time is to maintain discipline and not to issue such statements as that of Dr. Magnes.”

Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver of Cleveland, member of the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America-“It is difficult on the basis of the incomplete reports of Dr. Magnes’s statement and attitude to form any judgment. If Dr. Magnes, facing the realities of the situation in Palestine squarely recommends that a decisive political action shall be taken and adequate political machinery set up which shall recognize the existence in Palestine of two nations, his suggestion should receive calm and deliberate consideration, not abuse. Quite a number of Zionists, both here and abroad, believe that the ideal political form for Palestine is one which obtains in countries like Switzerland and Canada by which two or more distinctive groups, living in one territory are enabled to fulfill their national aspirations in peace and in cooperation. Under proper constitutional set up and adequate constitutional guarantees, the idea of a Parliament for Palestine is feasible and may be desirable.

“Clearly the status quo is unbearable. With the Mandatory Government willingly playing one group against the other, with an Arab population becoming yearly more politically self-conscious and resentful and with a Jewish population beguiled by a vague and variously interpreted Balfour Declaration, the situation in Palestine is bound to become worse and not better. Only a decisive political arrangement which will not do violence to the legitimate national aspirations of both Arabs and Jews can clear the air.

“If Dr. Magnes counsels the Jews to surrender the political basis of Zionism and content themselves with an exclusively cultural program, then his counsel is one of defeat and surrender. It is a violation even of Achad Ha’Amism. By surrendering our political position in Palestine, Dr. Magnes hopes to pacify the Arabs. What guarantee has he for that? Political weakness on the part of a minority has never inspired the dominant majority to generosity or good will.

“As regards the tactical opportunities of Dr. Magnes’s utterances. I am too far removed from the scene of action to pass judgment.”

Jacob De Haas, former Secretary of the Zionist Organization, and a member of the Organization for the Re-organization of the Zionist Organization-“This is not the first time that Dr. Magnes has made proposals for nullifying the Jewish National program. In 1908-9, here in New York, he took the same attitude towards the Basle program as he now takes toward the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate.

“He and Dr. Bergmann have taken unwarranted advantage of their respective official positions. Neither has any authority in political matters and as private individuals their views would not have been cabled abroad. It is, however, just as well that their active attempts to create a new political situation should be known, even though this propaganda disturbs British and Jewish attitudes towards Palestine and affords the Arabs cause for jubilation.

“Neither of these gentlemen is particularly equipped to formulate and decide upon such complex problems as are involved in the setting up of any type of constitutional government in Palestine. It took many months to formulate the American system and here the factors are homogeneous. The undertaking on the part of anyone to write a constitution out of hand for Palestine takes my breath away. England has been laboring with that kind of a problem in Egypt since the 90’s and in India for twenty years, and the English have centuries of practical experience with the evolution of democracy.

“I do not propose to discuss the Magnes-Bergmann plans, for I will not aid in this improper agitation. Zionism seems to stand in need of a Logan Act in order to prevent a repetition of such unauthorized political adventures.”

Dr. Joseph Krimsky-“On my return from Palestine in 1913. I stated that the Balfour Declaration has united the Arabs and divided the Jews. It is more true than ever today. England made a vague and equivocal promise which politically and juridically it can never fulfil. It is biologically and economically impossible for the Jews ever to form a majority in Palestine.

“It is unjustifiable and impossible for the Arabs to be prevented from ultimately demanding and securing the right to vote and to govern the country through majority rule. although perhaps for another generation Palestine will have to continue under the suzerainty of a Mandatory Power.

“The Jews have the possibility of being the ‘Kulture Trager’ of the West to the East and the establishing in Palestine of a world center of Judaism and Hebraic culture. That can and should be done in harmony with Arab growth and progress.”

Judge William M. Lewis, National Chairman of the U. P. A.-“Regard for the individual should not affect loyalty to a cause. By his untiring service, by the charm of his personality and by his extraordinary accomplishments as Chancellor of the Hebrew University, Dr. Magnes has endeared himself to the hearts of lovers of Zion the world over. How happy we were years ago when what seemed to be an ill wind for this promising Rabbi in American Israel, proved in the end to be of such great value to the land of our fathers. That regard and admiration I hope will remain. It should not, however, interfere with a clear and dispassionate understanding of the principles for which we Zionists have labored all these years. The ideals for which Zionism stands antedate Magnes even as they antedate Balfour and San Remo. Palestine is now living through a crucial moment. Because of that, it would seem the part of wisdom to refrain from emphasizing those things which are calculated to add to the present already difficult days in Palestine. We Jews are creatures of time; hasty action or ill-considered statements are fraught with infinite danger. Whether what has transpired in recent months is a clash of passion or ideals, time will tell. But even a Daniel should not come to judgment at this moment. Dr. Magnes is entitled to his opinion, but what I would urge and emphasize at this time is not the formulation of opinions but encouragement of the fullest inquiry and discussion. Out of them I am sure will come clarity of thought and maturity of judgment. As an incurable optimist. I am satisfied that only in that way will we bring Eretz Yisroel and the people of Israel in closer, more permanent and happier relationship.”

James N. Rosenberg: “Too many people are making too many statements. It should be left to Felix M. Warburg as Chairman of the Administrative Committee of the Jewish Agency. Let us stop all conversation and have peace industry and prosperity in Palestine.”

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