Jewish Rights at Wailing Wall: Lecturer at Hebrew University in Jerusalem Refused to Furnish Materia

A Lecturer of the Hebrew University refused, “on principle”, to furnish the Jewish Counsel Before the International Wailing Wall Commission of the League of Nations with material necessary to support their case, Mr. A. Babkov, an old Zionist living in Tel Aviv, declared in an open letter published in the “Doar Hayom”, addressed to Dr. David Yellin and Mr. Ben-Zvi, members of the Commission which drew up the Jewish brief. Mr. Babkov demanded an explanation why the fact of the Lecturer’s refusal to c-operate was suppressed, and whether anything was done in the matter.

The Lecturer in question is Dr. Gershon Sholem, an authority on Kabala literature, who according to Mr. Babkov declined to compile a list of Kabala references to the Wailing Wall. Certain that there had been a misunderstanding, Mr. Babkov said, Dr. Yellin as the head of the Commission, personally applied to Dr. Sholem and was given a curt refusal. Mr. Ben-Zvi then saw him, but was told by Dr. Sholem that he was opposed on principle to the Jewish representations concerning the Wailing Wall.

Mr. Ben-Zvi informed the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Mr. Babkov’s statement is substantially true and that, moreover, the Arab Counsel before the Wailing Wall Commission were furnished by the Hebrew University Library with books and documents to prepare their case against the Jews. Mr. Ben-Zvi said that he found no fault with the Library authorities for placing their collection at the service of the Moslem side, this being the function of a Library, but he failed to understand why the same courtesy was not extended to the Jewish side.

I have considered and still consider it a great misfortune to Jewry that Jews should engage in a trial over the Wailing Wall, Dr. Sholem has now replied in the “Doar Hayom”, and I reserved the elementary right to myself as a private conscientious person to abstain from the active participation which was required of me, in steps which I deemed damaging and destructive. In my modest opinion, the Wailing Wall question cannot be settled through a hearing before a third party. My attitude towards furnishing documents in the Wailing Wall question was that of the Chief Rabbinate for Palestine, as recorded in the Shaw Commission Report.

Dr. Sholem further declares that he was never asked for the loan of books in his private collection or in that of the Library. The Jewish Counsel were free to obtain, he says, and undoubtedly they did obtain without hindrance, any books in the library they required, and in the one case when a research worker had applied to him for a book, he had supplied it. The Commission did not apply to him, Dr. Sholem adds, as a Lecturer of the Hebrew University, but had asked him, in his private capacity, to join in the scholarly side of the investigation for political and legal purposes. This he had declined to do, as he had explained to Dr. Yellin at the time, because of his objections to the entire procedure.

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