Ussishkin at City Hall Asks U.S. to Back Jewish Homeland
Menu JTA Search

Ussishkin at City Hall Asks U.S. to Back Jewish Homeland

Download PDF for this date

“Welcome to New York, a place that understands Zionism, and a city that has a profound love for Palestine,” said Mayor Walker in extending his official welcome to Menachem Ussishkin, world president of the Jewish National Fund, who was received at the city hall Thursday afternoon.

While the band played The Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah, Mr. Ussishkin, accompanied by Emanuel Neumann, American president of the Jewish National Fund, and the mayor’s reception committee headed by commissioner Levy, walked through the hall crowded with cheering folk, to meet the mayor.

“There are more Jews in this city than in Palestine,” said the mayor. “And there are also more Irish than in Dublin, and more Italians than in Rome. Let me say to you officially that this would not be the city that it is if not for the spirit and contributions of our great Jewish colony. As far as the mayor is concerned there could be twice as many, with twice the profit. You are our real guest. The respect, esteem, and admiration you’ll find here for the people you represent is as strong as anywhere else in the world.”


In his response, delivered in Hebrew, and translated into English by Elias Epstein, Mr. Ussishkin said, “I thank you, Mr. Mayor, for your fine welcome. It it a welcome extended not to myself as a private citizen from the mayor of this great city, but from the American people to the Jews of Palestine.

“Is there not something mystic in the fact that on one and the same day two far-reaching events in the history of Israel and humanity occurred simultaneously? About 438 years ago Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain signed the decree expelling the Jews from that country, that expulsion which precipitated the beginning of new Jewish settlement in the land of Israel. And on that same day Christopher Columbus set sail on his historic cruise which led to the discovery of America. On that one day the hatred of the Jews reached its peak, while on the other hand there was revealed the land which for 400 years has been the symbol of freedom, liberty, and tolerance for all peoples, all creeds, and all tongues.


“Dark clouds again obscure our skies. After having devoted thirteen years, literally pouring out our blood, for the reconstruction of Palestine, after bringing the latest developments of science to the country, and investing over $200,000,000 in it, we have been met with slander and misrepresentation on the part of the very forces that undertook to facilitate our task.

“I ask the powerful American Jewry for their maximum assistance to continue, to extend, to expand the upbuilding on the land of Israel, and from the great enlightened American nation I ask in the name of the Jews of Palestine for the benefit of their weighty moral and political influence.

“You, the successors of those Puritans who came to this country to seek rest and peace, and found it, will understand the Jews’ search for that same rest for themselves and their children after them. May I quote the lines of the distinguished English poet, Byron?

‘The wild dove hath its nest,

The fox his cave,

Mankind their country

Israel but the grave.’

“We desire not the grave, but life, firm ground under our feet, and fair skies over our heads in that land which to all humanity became the Holy Land through the medium of the Jews. To you, Mr. Mayor, I utter the great cry of millions of Jews. I ask you as I have had the honor to demand from the Peace Conference at Versailles in 1919, to assist in restoring our Homeland, from which we were deprived two thousand years ago.”

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