BASLE (Jul. 7)
Although Great Britain has whittled down the promise made to the Jews in the Balfour Declaration and so belittled a great act of statesmanship and squandered the friendship of the Jews, “we should do nothing to lose the friendly feeling” between the Jews and Great Britain, Dr. Chaim Weizmann declared today before the Zionist Congress in bringing to a close the general debate with an address in which he defended his administration against numerous bitter attacks by many speakers at the Congress.
Mustermesse Hall was crowded to capacity when Dr. Weizmann mounted the rostrum to answer his numerous critics who had utilized the general debate, which centered around his political report, to criticize sharply his policies. In addition to replying to all of his critics generally, Dr. Weizmann made special reference to Dr. Stephen S. Wise of New York, whose attack on Dr. Weizmann was so bitter that the latter left the hall in the middle of the address.
DISOWNS WISE’S ADDRESS
“I disassociate myself from and protest against both the form and parts of the contents of Dr. Wise’s speech which I consider a serious disservice to the Zionist cause,” Dr. Weizmann declared. “Dr. Wise overstated the case against the British government. He used language of unmeasured virulence. But at the same time I want to remind the British reader of Dr. Wise’s speech that Dr. Wise was a champion of the British cause in America, rendering great service to Great Britain. His speech should be taken as an example of how sympathies and friendship can be squandered.”
Answering those who have charged him with conducting a pro-British policy, Dr. Weizmann declared, “I have repeatedly given utterance to my deep disappointment and dissatisfaction with the attitude both of the government and still more with the Palestine administration. No government, however great, can afford to tamper with a promise solemnly given, and the greater the government the less it can afford it. I feel that the government, by not fully appreciating the great moral force stored up in Zionism, and through having forgotten in time of great need the sentiment of a suffering people who turned to Great Britain, and having whittled down its promise and so belittled a great act of statesmanship, has squandered the sympathies of a nation which even the British government should not perhaps allow to be a matter of indifference.”
To the accusation that the Zionist Executive had been passive, Dr. Weizmann answered that “a sense of responsibility makes it impossible to discuss the Executive’s political work. The Executive cannot allow itself to be accused of inactivity merely because it is not free to make things public.”
Outlining the history of the Mac-Donald letter, which many delegates demand should be rejected as a basis of cooperation with the British government. Dr. Weizmann asserted that the American Zionists were invited to send representatives to the negotiations with the British government. Judge Julian W. Mack cooperated fully with the negotiators when he was in London while the Americans also had Prof. Harold Laski as an observer who kept them fully informed, Dr. Weizmann stated.
QUOTES WARBURG MESSAGE
The American suggestions and amendments were contained in the MacDonald letter, Dr. Weizmann said, and as definite proof that the American members of the Jewish Agency were quite satisfied with the negotiations he quoted a message received from Felix M. Warburg, resigned chairman of the Agency’s administrative committee, and Dr. Cyrus Adler, acting chairman of the council of the Agency.
The text of the message is as follows:
“Believing that in your characteristic manner you may assume full and sole responsibility for those steps that have been taken recently, and whereas we were fully consulted and shared the responsibility with you for these steps, you are authorized to make the following statement before the Congress in our behald should you desire to do so.
“In all conferences held subsequent to the issuance of the White Paper you have adhered to the method set forth by the Jewish Agency and have consulted not only the members of your own committee, but ourselves and our other colleagues in America who have had full opportunity to advise and to obtain counsel for the best way out of the difficulties which confronted us. We desire to share with you full responsibility for whatever action has been taken and for the results which we believe were the best obtainable under the circumstances.”
SAYS WHITE PAPER DOESN’T DOMINATE
Continuing, Dr. Weizmann asserted that “we had two alternatives, either to negotiate with the government or leave it to issue any statement it thought fit without consulting us.” The White Paper is not the dominating document, he assured the Congress, adding that when there is a conflict it is the Mac-Donald letter and not the White Paper which must prevail. The White Paper dominates the situation only in the sense that without it there could have been no MacDonald letter, he explained.
“I do not pretend that the letter has given us everything we want,” he continued. “It is a compromise which does not block the way for further advancement. What is essential is that the MacDonald letter be implemented in practice. On this point it is not yet possible to express satisfaction. So far the Palestine government has not done the things which we were entitled to expect as a result of the letter.”
He then went on to point out that the Executive had not accepted that part of the White Paper dealing with a legislative council. “I asked, in a letter to Lord Passfield on September 19, for a round table conference between Jews and Arabs, and I definitely stated that a legislative council without such an understanding can only do harm,” he said.
Touching on the question of Palestine immigration and a Jewish majority, Dr. Weizmann declared, “let us not deceive ourselves by playing with words. It is idle to ask the government for a large increase in Jewish population. In the long run the largeness of immigration depends upon ourselves. What we are entitled to demand is the creation of conditions under which maximum immigration is possible.”
He concluded his rejoinder to his critics by declaring that “there is no royal road to Palestine, no short cuts. I am not an advocate of the British government, but when one cooperates with another party it must be on a give and take principle. We should do nothing to lose this friendly feeling. We tried to use protest only when protest was effective.”