Weizmann, Sitting Next to Moslem Leader at Historic Palestine Debate, Touched by Statesmen’s Friends
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Weizmann, Sitting Next to Moslem Leader at Historic Palestine Debate, Touched by Statesmen’s Friends

The British government last night was put on trial in a hearing that lasted from four in the afternoon until very near midnight. The prosecutors were Lloyd George, Liberal leader, Col. Leopold Amery, Colonial Secretary in the last Conservative government, Sir Herbert Samuel, former High Commissioner of Palestine, James de Rothschild and half a dozen other powerful leaders of the Conservative and Liberal parties. The defenders were Prime Minister MacDonald and Dr. Drummond Shiels, under-secretary for the Colonies.

Impressive and severe was Lloyd George’s half hour speech in which he openly and unhesitatingly termed the White Paper a most expressive anti-Semitic document. Amery was bitter; Samuel’s words nettled. Dr. Shiels taking the floor after Lloyd George had a difficult job to weaken the strong impression which the Liberal spokesman’s arguments had made.

Even more difficult was the same job for MacDonald who this time spoke colorlessly and said almost nothing. The crowded galleries were obviously disappointed at the Premier’s fifteen minute speech which reminded his listeners of nothing but a preacher’s Sunday sermon, being replete with good but meaningless phrases.

FIRST DEBATE ON JEWISH QUESTION

The high lights in last night’s historic parliamentary debate, historic because it was the first debate in the existence of the British parliament where the Jewish question was so openly and broadly discussed, were first the fact that both Liberals and Conservatives openly cheered Lloyd George’s assertion that the White Paper is an anti-Semitic document; secondly the disclosure made for the first time by Dr. Shiels that the British government has decided to assign $12,500,000 as a loan for the development of Palestine and will submit its decision to Parliament after Christmas for sanction; third MacDonald’s declaration that the British government will confer with the representatives of the Jewish Agency to adjust misunderstandings and specifying that the government does not intend to curtail immigration; fourth that all speakers, including the Prime Minister and Dr. Shiels, admitted that the Arabs had benefited by the Jewish settlement; fifth the demand by Lloyd George that the present government should give up the Palestine Mandate if it was inclined not to fulfil it in the sense of creating the Jewish National Home.

Just because there was no desire by the opposition parties to embarrass the government by bringing forward a hostile motion on the subject the debate was not put to a vote. If a vote were taken, however, three quarters of the members present would have openly voted against the White Paper. Such was the general spirit.

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who resigned as president of the Jewish Agency and of the Zionist Organization in protest against the White Paper, was in the audience eagerly taking in every word. He was to all intents and purposes the hero of the drama being enacted in the staid precincts of the House of Commons. Not a speaker failed to mention his name or to praise him as “wise leader and statesman.”

Sitting next to him your correspondent watched him closely and could see that the compliment paid to him personally in the world’s oldest parliament touched him almost not at all. He was, however, much touched by the fact that his cause, the cause of Zionism found so many friends among leading British statesmen. He could at this moment wish nothing better than such speeches as Lloyd George’s, Amery’s and the others which were full of acknowledgement for the abilities of the Jews to fulfil their historical duties when given an opportunity.

Side by side with Dr. Weizmann sat another man. It was Agha Khan, the millionaire Indian prince, Moslem pillar and head of one of the most important Moslem communities. He was also absorbed in watching every speaker but his interest was contrary to Weizmann’s. He expected to hear a good word for the Arabs but instead he heard the cheers which the pro-Jewish speakers received.

In the visitor’s galleries there was also a dramatic scene where Jews could be seen sitting next to dark-faced Arabs who exhibited great interest in witnessing the historic discussion on Jewish-Arab rights in the Holy Land. Leo Motzkin, chairman of the Zionist Actions Committee, could be seen in these galleries