Jewish and Non-jewish Public Opinion in America Crystallized Against British Government for Statemen
Menu JTA Search

Jewish and Non-jewish Public Opinion in America Crystallized Against British Government for Statemen

Download PDF for this date

A complete recovery from the hysteria brought about by the first publication of Great Britain’s new Palestine policy, leading to a new effort toward reaching an understanding with the British peoples rather than with their government, was evident in today’s statement by Dr. Cyrus Adler, who, since the resignation of Felix M. Warburg, becomes virtually the temporary head of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

“It is a heartening thing,” said Dr. Adler in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, “to find that the leaders of a great political party in England: Stanley Baldwin, Sir Austen Chamberlain, and Mr. Amery, the three responsible officials in the last Conservative Government have completely disassociated themselves from the attitude of Lord Passfield and the present British Government with regard to the Palestinian policy. In effect their letter in the London Times for Thursday, and republished in the American papers of the same date, takes the same ground as does Felix M. Warburg, in his letter of resignation, which is a concidence so remarkable as to indicate that Mr. Warburg’s view was not simply the view of a Jew or member of the Jewish Agency but the view of a fair man.

“It is more than likely that the chiefs of the Liberal party will take the same view but whether they do or not it is plain that the best sentiments of the English people will not tolerate a breach of trust whether it be with a great nation or with a small people whose weight cannot be made felt by navies or armies. I still repose confidence in the honor and good faith of the English people.


“For this reason I deeply deplore hasty and ill-considered sentiments which would tend toward an anti-British agitation in this country or in any other country. The English people do not merit this at our hands and any attempt to foster it would react not only upon the speakers who desire a little applause at a momentary excitement but even more heavily upon the Jewish people themselves and upon Palestine. The feeling of anger and despair was natural but no Jew has the right to give vent to his own feelings in a way that will ultimately harm his own people.”

This optimistic statement by Dr. Adler, a non-Zionist, was hailed as particularly significant as it pledged the non-Zionists to “remain in the fight,” and entirely counteracted the remarks of Rabbi Louis Wolsey of the Rodef Sholem temple in Philadelphia, who, speaking in Cleveland, discussed the “defeat of Zionism.”

“The news of the White Paper is not unexpected either on the part of Zionist or the non-Zionist,” said Rabbi Wolsey. “This represents the cultimnation of a tendency in British politics which has been quite obvious for the last two years.

“The unfortunate phase of the whole question is that the Zionist has placed all of his capital on one number, namely, the establishment of a Jewish national state in Palestine. He was informed by the non-Zionists during the last quarter of a century that not only would he never succeed, but that nationalism did not represent the purpose of the Jew in the world.

“The Zionist attempted during the last 40 years to awaken a national Jewish consciousness and awoke to discover that he provoked a similar national consciousness in the Arab, and this very naturally produced a rather tragic situation, out of which the British government is squirming with its new White paper.

“If the Zionist had accepted the point of view of the non-Zionist and had thrown his strength entirely into a colonization movement, he not alone would have had the heartfelt support of world Jewry, but also of the British government and perhaps of the Arabs as well.


“This white paper is the death blow to Zionism,” said Rabbi Wolsey. “The Zionist himself has violated one of the terms of the Balfour declaration when he permitted a nationalistic interpretation of Jewish life to infringe upon the religious liberty of Jews living in other lands.

“The white paper represents the logic of history and the Jew should hereafter address himself to his religious position and interpretation and scrap his national heresy.”

Rabbi Wolsey’s utterances were immediately deplored by Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver and other prominent Jewish leaders. Dr. Samuel Shulman, also a non-Zionist, said, “Of all the cruel ironies of history, the statement of the British Government with respect to the Jewish settlement in Palestine is the most baffling. It is hard to understand. I am filled with sorrow and indignation. Though not a Zionist, nor a Jewish Nationalist, I am vitally interested in the opportunities which were supposed to have been offered to Jews in Palestine by the Balfour declaration. I recently said there should be more Jewish immigration into Palestine. Now, we are told, immigration must stop; that immigration is dependent upon Arab unemployment. With all allowance for the mysteries of political and diplomatic phraseology, it is not too much to say that the so-called national homeland has proven to be a meaningless phrase on a scrap of paper. I do believe, however, that the best interests of the Jews in Palestine, demand cooperation with the British government, and confidence that ultimately the Government will not completely discredit the gesture made in the form of the Balfour Declaration. In the meantime, I say, God still lives, and the Jewish people will survive the chagrin of the Simpson report and the Declaration of the MacDonald government.”


The opinion that the Labor Government’s stand on Palestine would be one of the causes of its downfall was widely uttered. Senator Royal S. Copeland, addressing the Jewish people, wired, “Of course I am indignant over this narrow and uncalled for restraint upon the very people who should have first call upon Palestine. It is a shortsighted policy and violated the natural proper racial ambitions of an ancient people as well as the solemn mandates given by the British. It will react upon the English government.”

Dr. James G. Heller of Cincinnati, addressing the opening of the Allied Jewish Campaign in Uniontown, Pa., was more explicit in his statement of that point of view. “It is my hope that the British people will repudiate the Labor Government,” he said. “The truth is that the Labor Party consists of a band of recreant and renegade idealists whom power has prostituted, men who have forgotten their own words in the desire to hold on to office. We must look for our friends elsewhere.” The Uniontown meeting unanimously adopted and forwarded to Secretary of State Stimson a strong resolution protesting the Palestine policy of the British government. Mr. Stimson was requested to transmit the resolution to the British ambassador at Washington and to the British government.


Appealing directly to their general for protection, the five thousand Jewish soldiers who left America to join the Jewish Legion under England’s banner wired to Viscount Field Marshall Allenby today, saying, “We were told that we were going to redeem the National Home for the Jewish people. We were promised that upon demobilization we would be given land for colonization on the soil of our forefathers. A special ordinance to that effect was issued by the British Expeditionary Forces in 1919. And now all the solemn promises made to the Jewish people have been faithlessly broken.

“Thirteen years ago we stood on the battlefields of Palestine under your leadership, prepared to sacrifice our lives for the redemption of the Holy Land. In those days we learned to look up to you for your integrity and your high sense of honor. In this hour of crisis your soldiers appeal to you to prevail upon your fellow British citizens to resist this latest attempt to impugn British honor and to discredit the British sense of fair play and justice.”


The American press, through its editorials today, showed itself as continually sympathetic to the Jewish cause, though recognizant of the difficulty of the situation from the English point of view. The Cleveland Press said, “In the Middle Ages, when the Black Plague swept over Europe, people looked around for a scapegoat to blame the disaster on. They blamed it on the Jews. Today Europe, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, is again looking for a scapegoat. Anti-Semitism is rife everywhere, particularly in Poland and Rumania. Jewish leaders say that there are 2,000,000 Jews on the verge of starvation in Poland.

“In 1905 at the time of the terrible pogroms in Russia, the United States was a haven of refuge for Jews. Today, immigration restrictions drastically restrict their entrance here. There has been no place for them to turn but to Palestine.

“And now comes the ‘White Paper’ formulating a permanent policy of limiting immigration into Palestine. The millions of oppressed Jews in Europe now have nowhere to turn. Their plight is indeed a serious one.”


The Baltimore Sun said, “The non-Zionist and the non-Moslem observer will tend to sympathize with, if not necessarily approve, the present British position. Economically, to be sure, the Zionists have the better argument. Historically, perhaps, the Arabs possess the edge in the controversy, though there is no evidence that anything the Jews have done to consolidate their position justifies such ferocity and malice and suspicion as the Arabs have exhibited. Politically, it is difficult to see how the British could do much better, though it is likely that some improvement might be made in the selection of certain officials under the Mandate.

“To the leaders of a nationalist group which has made a promising beginning for a new civilization, holding on against frightful odds and in the face of the menace of savage reprisal from jealous and ferocious primitives, the neutral attitude of the government whose solemn pledge is responsible for the achievements so far made and for great hopes of the future must be completely incomprehensible.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund