Jerusalem (Feb. 9)
The stand which will be taken on the Jewish Agency negotiations with the Government, the Palestine Legislature project and the Simpson Development Scheme will determine the measure of our participation here and in the next Vaad Leumi, the representatives of the Revisionist fraction declared at the first meeting of the new Palestine Jewish Assembly (Assefath Hanivcharim) elected a month ago, in refusing membership of the Presidium at its first meeting held this afternoon in the Lecture Hall of the Straus Health Centre. The Simpson Development Soheme was described by the Revisionists as designed to build up an Arab national home not a Jewish national home in Palestine.
The chair was taken by Mr. D. Ben-Gurion, the Palestine Labour leader, whose Party forms the largest group in the new Assembly, holding 32 of the 71 seats, with the Revisionists, with 15 seats coming second. Mr. Ben-Gurion, Mr. Eliezer Kaplan, Mr. Joseph Meyuhas, Dr. Benzion Mossinsohn, Rabbi Ostrowsky, and Rabbi Cohen, a Yemenite member, constitute the Presidium.
Only three of the 71 members were absent – Miss Henrietta Szold, Mr. M. M. Ussischkin, and Mr. Jabotinsky, who are all out of the country. A resolution protesting against the Government’s action in excluding Mr. Jabotinsky from Palestine was adopted unanimously.
Mr. Rutenberg, the President of the retiring Vaad Leumi, was not present but he sent a message, in which he says that disorganisation and the lack of leadership is the greatest enemy at this present most critical period. Salvation lies in the hands of the Yishub itself, he declares.
The Jewish Agency, on the other hand, dwells in its message to the Assembly, which is signed by Colonel Kisch, on the bond existing between the Yishub – described as now forming through the new Assembly a part of the recognised law of the ancestral home of the Jewish people – and world Jewry.
The entire Jewish Agency Executive were present, as well as the Jewish officers of the Government, who did not, however, deliver any message of greetings. A question was put to the Chairman in this connection as to whether the Government was represented at the meeting, Mr. Ben-Gurion replying that the Chair was not aware, and was not interested.
Chief Rabbis Kook and Jacob Meir both sent messages to the Assembly, in which they make appeals for unity.
Rabbi Uziel delivered a memorial address for the victims of the Palestine disturbances of August 1929, for Achad Ha am, Louis Marshall, Lord Balfour, Lord Melchett and Lina and Nathan Straus.
A sense of the imminent publication of the Government statement in reply to the Jewish Agency in the negotiations with the Government Committee was apparent in the opening speech on the political and economic position of Palestine Jewry delivered by Dr. Arlossoroff, who defended the Cabinet negotiations and urged a modus vivendi with the Arabs, although the right of the Jews to Palestine, he said, is not open to discussion.
On the whole, the quiet and subdued tone in which Mr. Ben Zvi delivered his report on behalf of the outgoing Vaad Leumi, recounting the difficulties it had encountered since the Palestine disturbances, was characteristic of the entire proceedings, which were only occasionally enlivened by some interruption from the Left Poale Zion members.