Menu JTA Search

Jewish Agency Meeting Opens with Adler Advocating Tri-partite Understanding Between Jews, Arabs and

The creation of a tri-partite understanding between Arabs, Jews and the British government in Palestine was advocated here this evening by Dr. Cyrus Adler, acting-chairman of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, in the inaugural address at the opening of the first meeting of the Council since it was organized at Zurich in August 1929.

Opposed to the exciting scenes which took place an hour earlier in the same hall, when Nahum Sokolow was elected president of the World Zionist Organization, a holiday spirit prevailed in Mustermesse Hall when the Council opened its session. Men and women in evening clothes listened attentively to the report of Dr. Adler.

Next to Dr. Adler sat Mr. Sokolow and nearby were Menahem Mendel Ussishkin and other Zionist and non-Zionist leaders. Dr. Weizmann, retiring president of the Zionist Organization and of the Agency, was not present. Herzl’s picture still hung over the tribune exactly as it was two weeks ago when the opening session of the Zionist Congress convened.

Vito Catastini, director of the Mandate section of the League of Nations, Dr. A. J. Hos, representing the city of Basle and Alderman Solly Meyer on behalf of the Union of Jewish Communities in Switzerland brought greetings to the gathering.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Adler pointed out that he was acting as chairman because since the Council came into being, Louis Marshall, who was the first chairman, had died, as had Lord Melchett, who together with Dr. Adler, was named joint-chairman upon the death of Mr. Marshall. In the course of the opening session memorial addresses in memory of Mr. Marshall and Lord Melchett were delivered.

Stressing the absence of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency, who was to have reported on the political developments of the last two years, Dr. Adler lauded the services of the Zionist leader, and in behalf of the Agency expressed to him “deep gratitude for his two years of devotion, statesmanship and high achievement”. This praise of Dr. Weizmann was all the more striking in view of the fact that only two days earlier the Zionist Congress had adopted a resolution criticizing his leadership.

LAUDS WEIZMANN’S SERVICE

Dr. Adler explicitly stated that the Jewish Agency fully shares with Dr. Weizmann the responsibility for the result of the negotiations between the Jewish Agency and the British government as embodied in the MacDonald letter which was issued as an official interpretation of the White Paper of October 1930. At the time of its publication the White Paper aroused worldwide Jewish protest. Dr. Adler characterizes the Premier’s letter as “an extraordinarily gracious retraction on the part of a great nation of what we all considered a serious offence”.

At the same time Dr. Adler did not hesitate to point to the fact that “without a sympathetic governmental administration, without an administration in Palestine which is prepared, not merely as a matter of grudging duty, but because of the very joy which would come in the rehabilitation of this land, sacred to three great faiths …. all the implications of the Mandate can be frustrated”.

CRITICIZES ARAB ATTITUDE

Referring to the attitude of the Arabs, he criticized their formal non-recognition of the Mandate while fully sharing in the advantages derived from the presence of the Mandatory government and “from the economic, social and health development which was rendered possible by the influx of Jewish labor, Jewish capital and Jewish ideals”.

The attitude of the Jews, he pointed out, has throughout been clear and consistent adding that they “belong in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. The Jewish National Home is internationally guaranteed. Our position is legally recognized and within this framework we are striving to develop in the Holy Land the moral, social and intellectual ideals of the Jewish people. It is not in our power nor is it in our hearts to dispossess people that lived on the soil for a great length of years”.

Alluding to the question of the Wailing Wall, Dr. Adler, who was the author of the memorandum submitted by the Jews to the Wailing Wall Commission, and who is president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, condemned the recurring rumors spread in Palestine that the Jews desire to regain the sacred area in which is included the Mosque of Omar.

On the contrary, Dr. Adler said, “while objection may be made to what I am about to say, as an actual fact I believe that if the Moslem world would offer the site back to the Jewish people to rebuild the temple and restore the sacrifices that the Jewish people would not accept this offer”.

ASKS ADHERENCE TO WALL VERDICT

In so far as the verdict of the Wailing Wall Commission itself was concerned, he expressed the hope that the Commission’s conclusions would find general adherence by all concerned. He added, however, that he did not profess complete satisfaction with the report, taking particular exception to the prohibition of the blowing of the Shofar (ram’s horn) on days when its use is a positive command.

Referring to the internal difficulties among the various groups working for the upbuilding of Palestine, Dr. Adler appealed for a “moratorium to our parties, our disagreements and our academic discussions”, adding that “what we need today is not division but cooperation”.

Going over the problems of the Agency in the two years of its existence, Dr. Adler paid tribute to Felix M. Warburg, Oscar Wasserman, director of the Deutsche Bank of Berlin, and Baron Edmond de Rothschild for having come to the aid of the Agency at the most critical moment.

The full text of Dr. Adler’s address follows:

The duty of calling to order this second meeting of the Council of the Jewish Agency devolves upon me by reason of two calamities which have befallen us. At your first session, you selected as Chairman of this Council, Louis Marshall, and as co-Chairman, Lord Melchett. Both of these distinguished men have been called to the Yeshivah Shel Ma’alah, the Academy on High. Their services and their memories will be recalled to you a little later in the session, but I could not even open the meeting without referring to my own sense of loss, which I know is felt in the hearts of all of you. It is as a purely temporary and unworthy successor of these two distinguished men that I now stand before you.

When the Constitution of the Jewish Agency was signed on the 14th day of August, 1929, at the neighboring city of Zurich, no one was under the illusion that this newly created enlarged Agency was being launched on a tranquil sea, but the hope was strong that something was being done that would redound not only to the benefit of Palestine, but would ultimately knit together into a new and rejuvenated body the scattered members of the House of Israel. The representative gathering of two years ago led even the unenthusiastic to hope that many men and women of varying opinions would unite in the upbuilding in the Holy Land of a national home for the Jewish people. That such a union would not take place by the mere signing of a document was obvious. It was realized that patient spade work in various parts of the world was necessary to reconcile differences of opinion and bring united support.

Hardly had the members of that assemblage dispersed to their homes than there came the news of riots and massacres; and, instead of being able to devote themselves to constructive work, their energies were directed to binding up wounds; the emergency fund was created and the generous, voluntary and instantaneous response to this appeal was something that while it has been forgotten in many quarters, should be recalled as having evidenced the best instinct of the Jewish people everywhere.

DEVELOPMENTS AFTER RIOTS

The disturbances of August, 1929, had in their wake other grave developments. There was the report of the Shaw Commission, which came at the end of March, 1930, just as the Administrative Committee was sitting in London; this was followed by the investigation of Sir John Hope Simpson; his report and the White Paper; the resignation of the President of the Agency, Dr. Weizmann, and of the Chairman of the Administrative Committee, Mr. Warburg; the further conversations regarding the White Paper; the letter of the Prime Minister to Dr. Weizmann and the conversations concerning the details of the proposed Development Plan.

These weighty matters so absorbed the attention and energies of all those closely in touch with the work of the Agency, that what should have been the main work of the Jewish Agency in the beginning, its own organization and planning for constructive work in Palestine, had to be put off. I trust that in the next two years we shall be granted that peace of mind to carry on the work of organizing the Jewish Agency which was denied us during the years now drawing to a close.

Economic problems, and particulaly those connected with fund-raising and the budget, have necessarily given us great concern.

From the beginning there was a misunderstanding with regard to the budget. It was in the minds of many, and I thought it a definite agreement, that the enlarged Agency should take over and become responsible as of January 1, 1930, but since the fiscal and budgetary year of the Executive based upon previous practice began, say Rosh ha Shanah, about the first of October, there was a budgetary hiatus of three months which has never been filled.

AGENCY OBLIGATIONS INCREASED

The Agency had to carry over obligations of $2,500,000 and these past two lean years, in spite of economies in many directions, have added over another million thereto, so that provision must be made for the amortization of this obligation.

A report will be presented in behalf of the chairman of the budget and finance committee on the finances of the Agency, and such plans as have been proposed for the improvement of our financial position and for the conduct of our affairs in the immediate future will be laid before you.

Had he been able to be present, Dr. Wasserman may not have alluded to the fact that he and Felix M. Warburg, in a time of great stress, obligated themselves for a large loan which mitigated for a time the very great difficulties which the Executive in Palestine had to encounter. I am sure that we are all deeply grateful to these gentlemen as well as to the Nestor of Palestine work, Baron Edmond Rothschild for his aid rendered at a critical moment. In Mr. Warburg’s absence I can say what I could not say in his presence,-that despite the fact that, and for reasons known to all of you, he is not present and has decided that he is unable to take any further part in the administrative committee, he nevertheless has agreed to remain a member of the Council, and from personal knowledge I can give you assurance that his interest in the work of the Agency and upbuilding of the Holy Land remains unabated so long as the Agency abides by the policies upon which it was founded.

Morris Rothenberg, who has served as head of the various campaigns for funds during the past two years, has recently published a statement which indicates that within the past two years there has come by way of current funds and funds for investment from America, for all Palestinian work, a total of $7,331,253.12. As his statement is available I shall not take up your time with the details, although they are of great interest.

$2,000,000 FOR HEBREW UNIVERSITY

In addition thereto the amount of capital subscribed either for endowment funds for building, to the Hebrew University, during the past five years, totalled another $2,000,000.

The collections for the ordinary purposes of the Jewish Agency, made through the Keren Hayesod in countries other than America, were proportionately better than those in America, the decrease in these countries being about 25 percent of previous years, a very handsome showing in the face of great difficulties.

It ought to be said that the general depression which overtook the greater part of the world affected Palestine later than almost any other country. Proportionately there was less unemployment than existed elsewhere. The export of oranges increased and the prices obtained were better. The thousand families plan, which I regret to say, is not in actual operation as yet, has made decided progress, and there have been no bank failures.

Aside from other important economic progress, the development of the harbor of Haifa, the prospective carrying of an oil pipeline to that port, the actual beginning of work on the Dead Sea concession would anywhere be regarded as economic achievements of first importance, and it is to be hoped in spite of the lamentable break of a dam in the hydro-electric power plant that it will be soon under way and with the proper precaution utilize the water power of the country for the benefit of all inhabitants.

Although these things are not my metier, I think I may say that it was in the minds of all of us that so far as the Agency was concerned the continuation of the great enterprise in Palestine should be placed upon an eleemosynary basis. It would not be good for the work, even if it were prospering, that it should rest upon the shoulders of a few men. I have recently read with interest the proposal made of a great popular annual membership of the Jewish Agency without reference as to whether one were Zionist or non-Zionist or what kind of Zionist one might happen to be. While I am not sure that the proposal for a million ible, and some persons might be able and willing to pay more than that sum annually, this idea is correct and I urge its favorable consideration upon the proper bodies so that there may be a reasonable certainty with regard to budget and income.

It is sound enough to make a budget based upon actual needs if one has the taxing power and can enforce it, but up to this time the work in Palestine has depended upon the voluntary gifts of the Jewish people. These varied with the times and the temper of the people, so that the budget was not really a budget but a pious hope, an inspiration, if you choose. Even a person not a financier can readily recognize the insecurity of this plan.

WOULD CREATE REVOLVING FUND

With the exception of monies which must be regarded as in the nature of a all monies collected should be used as investment, returnable and repayable and creating a revolving fund by which more and more work can be done. If this plan is not carried out, then in the last analysis we shall be deluding ourselves with the idea that we are creating an independent population in Palestine. If constant and growing support must be provided in behalf of a considerable population-a population which it is hoped will be gradually on the increase and we can not count on the return of the capital and its reapplication, then the population cannot fairly be characterized as self-supporting.

We have now reached a Jewish population in Palestine of somewhere between 160,000 and 175,000, more than one-half the size of that of the British Isles. Such a population ought, and I have no doubt will, gradually through its own strength take over these duties and functions which any community may be expected to do for themselves, and I refer particularly to education and health. It is a hopeful sign that the transference of the educational system and the health work to the Yishub is being seriously undertaken.

URGES UNITY AS KEYNOTE

We and Palestine are not alone in disappointments during these two years. The greatest nations on the face of the earth suffered vicissitudes. Maybe we can take a lesson from them. We may not be able to declare a moratorium, such as has recently become fashionable, though I daresay, the treasury would welcome this device but we might at least declare a moratorium to our parties, our disagreements and our academic discussions, and learn that what we need today, is not division but cooperation. This should be our keynote. If we are unable to cooperate with each other how can we expect the world or any part of it to cooperate with us.

It is but natural that our operations revealed certain weaknesses which require correction. I refer specifically to overlapping activities as between the Agency, the Zionist Organization and the Vaad Leumi in the name of the Yishub.

Let us be perfectly clear on this subject. There was never any thought in the organization of the Agency that the Zionist Organization should disband. On the contrary it was and is very desirable that it should grow and strengthen itself, but when it comes to the conduct of the affairs of the Agency then the Zionist Organization ought to be satisfied with the representation that it has to the Jewish Agency so that there can be complete unity of action.

In the partnership of the Agency, the advantages were on the side of the Zionist Organization. They were well organized; 50 per cent of all delegates were appointed by them; they had the advantages of discipline and could meet in advance of meetings of the Council or of the Administrative Committee and decide upon the policy which they would support. As against this, the non-Zionists came in without organization, mostly as individuals, and the likelihood of the Zionist policy prevailing was strong, if not overwhelming. We advocate no change in this proportionate status. But we maintain that this ought fully to satisfy the Zionist aspirations. Instead we have witnessed a waste of energy, a duplication of work, and confusion in the minds of those who were carrying on the very heavy work in London by reasons of the contrariety of advice and since none of these things can be done without expenditure, the employment of funds for purposes of organization and travel when Palestine was desperately in need.

Add to this the further confusion arising from the independent action by the Vaad Leumi at times, independent of the offices of the Agency, independent of the Executives,-action which has resulted on several occasions in the presentation of separate memoranda and reports to the Permanent Mandates Commission of the League of Nations, and you see that we can not continue on this basis without courting dissension. In view of all the difficulties to be encountered on the outside, it would be lamentable if we didn’t consolidate our ranks and avoid the need of expending precious energy to compose dissensions within.

LAUDS WEIZMANN LEADERSHIP

I expected that the political aspects of the Jewish Agency’s work would be presented by Dr. Weizmann. He has elected not to do so for reasons which no one in this company requires explaining and which I daresay, will ere long, be the cause of profound regret to a section of the Jewish people. In behalf of the Jewish Agency, I express to him our deep gratitude for his two years of devotion, statesmanship and high achievement.

I am sure that in the future, which I am chary of forecasting, all those devoted to the cause of Palestine, will recognize his great services rendered over these many years. It is not my purpose to elaborate on these, because enough, and maybe too much, has already been said on the subject. I wish to say most explicitly, that the conferences which were held by Dr. Weizmann and his associates with the committee of the British cabinet, after the protests which followed the issuance of the White Paper, were undertaken with the full knowledge of his colleagues of the Agency in America. We were in constant communication by telephone, cable and mail, and we fully share with him the responsibility for the result as embodied in the letter of the Prime Minister, which I for my part, consider an extraordinarily gracious retraction on the part of a great nation, of what we all considered a serious offense.

NATIONAL HOME DEFINED

It seems to me too, that we must get into a clear frame of mind with regard to the working out of the National Home under the Mandate. There has been a great deal of discussion as to what the National Home really is. I do not propose a new definition. It is defined in the White Paper of 1922, and the definition was accepted at that time by the Zionist Organization. It reads as follows:

“When it is asked what is meant by the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine, it may be answered that it is not the imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole, but the further development of the existing Jewish community, with the assistance of Jews in other parts of the world, in order that it may become a center in which the Jewish people as a whole may take, on grounds of religion and race, an interest and a pride. But in order that this community should have the best prospect of free development and provide a full opportunity for the Jewish people to display its capacities, it is essential that it should know that it is in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. That is the reason why it is necessary that the existence of a Jewish National Home in Palestine should be internationally guaranteed, and that it should be formally recognized to rest upon ancient historic connection.”

Norman Bentwich, attorney-general of Palestine, has described it more briefly: “a national home connotes a territory in which a people, without receiving the rights of political sovereignty, has, nevertheless a recognized legal position and receives the opportunity of developing its moral, social and intellectual ideals.”

These definitions are implicit in the Mandate. The agreement to create the constitution of the Jewish Agency employed as its preamble and as its basis the Balfour Declaration and the terms the power of either party to this agreement to revise the preamble or the terms of the constitution based upon it without formal action contemplated either for revision of the constitution or termination of the agreement. Any other course would be a breach of covenant.

URGES TRI-PARTITE AGREEMENT

The fact is that there are three parties vitally concerned; the British government, the Arab people and the Jewish people, with the League of Nations exercising a supervisory guardianship over the execution of the Mandate. It is necessary that these three parties shall arrive at and maintain an understanding-otherwise the land will not prosper and we shall have recurring irritation, if no worse.

Now the situation, as it seems to me, and I am speaking only for myself, is somewhat as follows: this land was during the Great War conquered by the British. Under the laws of war, they might have, had they so chosen, annexed it as their property and made it a crown colony or a dominion or any other thing that they would have deemed desirable. They expressly disavowed during the War the intention of doing this and instead thereof to do another thing which was laid down in the Balfour Declaration and afterward incorporated into the Mandate. Since we are all supposed to be realists in these days, it ought to be perfectly clear that the British did not conquer Palestine for the sake of the Arabs nor for that matter for the sake of the Jews. They conquered it from the Turks as a necessary part of allied military operations, in the interest of the Allied cause and of the British Empire. Later, in conjunction with the Allied and Associated Powers, they undertook to fulfil the obligation implied in the Balfour Declaration, through the medium of public international law as described in the document known as the Mandate.

SYMPATHETIC ADMINISTRATION ESSENTIAL

However, without a sympathetic governmental administration, without an administration in Palestine which is prepared, not merely as a matter of grudging duty but because of the very joy which would come in the rehabilitation of this land, sacred to three great faiths, to carry through these plans, all the implications of the Mandate can be frustrated.

The Arabs have steadily assumed a formal attitude of non-recognition of this Mandate, in effect of the Government under which they are now living, though securing all advantages to be derived from the presence of the Government, as from the economic, social and health development which was rendered possible by the influx of Jewish labor, Jewish capital and Jewish ideals.

JEWS WOULD DISPOSSESS NO ONE

consistent. We belong in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance. The Jewish National Home is internationally guaranteed. Our position illegally recognized and within this fraiework, we are striving to develop in the Holy Land the moral, social, and intellectual ideals of the Jewish people. 1 is not in our power nor is it in our harts to dispossess people that lived on the soil for a great length of years.

I recognize that misundertanding might have been obviated if cademic assumptions on the part of the Jewish people with regard to land holing and labor had been viewed as matters of practice rather than of principle. It might be well worth our while to examine this possibility. The Jewish people have suffered so much from the injustice of the world that they can be relied upon to see that no even a semblance of injustice be done to others. Zion is to be redeered with justice..

These considerations have bearing also on the recent agitation for the development of self-governing institutions in Palestine. If this problem be approached in the proper spirit if as a condition precedent it be recognized that a mutual understanding between Jews and Arabs be reached I would have no fear that we shall lost thereby. Although the enthusiasm about parliamentary government in some quarters of the globe has rather wanted before the apparent efficiency of the dictator, we who come from democratic lands have not abandoned our dep-rooted conviction in the justice and political wisdom of self-government. When under the Commissionership of Sir Herbert Samuel some form of self-government was proposed, the Jewish Agency (then the Zionist Organization) was prepared to accept it, and the Arabs refused. If new propositions to the same effect are made now, I hope that the Jews will not put themselves in the position of unconditional refusal. Once it is admitted by all concerned that we Jews belong in Palestine as of right and not on sufferance, the matter of numbers-though of high importance-is nevertheless secondary.

ASKS ADHERENCE TO WALL VERDICT

I will now revert to the Kotel Maaravi which furnished the pretext, even though it was not the cause, of riots two years ago. For many years there has centered about it irritation and difficulties. The British Government, with the approval of the Council of the League of Nations, appointed a Commission to determine the rights and claims of Moslems and Jews in connection therewith. The Report of this Commission was published a few weeks since. In the main point the decision handed down by the Commission conforms to the Brief prepared on behalf of the Jewish Agency and I express the hope that the conclusions of the Commission will find general adherence by all concerned. No claim of property right in the Wall was made on our behalf. Our claim was for free access for devotions, and this claim has been ubstantially recognized. I do not profess complete satisfaction with the report. There are limitations placedupon the service including the prohibition of the blowing of the Shofar on days when its use is a positive commad. I recognize, however, that the Commission had a difficult and, what a doubt seemed at times, a bewilderig task and that it was not in the mids of the members to control Jewish ceremonial, but to find an equitable solution consistent with the promotion of peace.

In this connection I feel it a duty to allue to the Temple Area itself, fraught as the subject is with difficulty. The ho#cities of Islam are Mecca and Medina. It is to Mecca that the faithful Mol#mmedan turns in prayer. It is thith#r that the pilgrimages are made. #et the Mosque of Omar is a place of great sanctity to the Modern world. As for us, though we will always sorrow at the destruction of the Temple, it was destroyed by the Romans centuries before Islam was born. Islam is in no way responsible for the destruction of the Beth ha. Mikdash and we harb#r no feelings against the Moslems th#t it is they who possess the ancient site. While objection may be made to what I am about to say, as an actual fact I believe that if the Moslem world would offer the site back to the Jewish people, to rebuild the Temple and restore the sacrifices, that the Jewish people would not accept this offer. Some things have happened in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Temple and one of them is that the Jewish people will never resume the sacrificial ritual of their ancestors of thousands of years ago. Prayers have taken the place of bullocks . There can be no desire on the part of the Jewish people in any way to disturb the Mosque erected on the ancient Temple site and nothing but ignorance or malice causes dangerous rumors to the contrary.

As for the business before the Assembly, I shall ask the Council to consider such matters as have been regularly referred to it by the Officers and by the Administrative Committee. As I see it, from the point of view of organization, there is a necessity for the adoption of certain By-Laws to interpret the Constitution. At the request of the American Provisional Committee proposals to this end have been prepared by the executives and will be laid before such Committee as you desire to have appointed to consider this matter.

The subject of the budget, which involves both matters relating to Income and Expenditure, and is also vitally concerned in debt-funding; matters concerning the relation of the Jewish Agency both to the British Government and to the Palestine Government relationship of the Agency to the World Zionist Organization and to the Vaad Leumi all require your attention.

RELATIONS TO NON-AFFILIATED GROUPS

There are questions involving the relationship of the Agency to bodies working in and for Palestine, not directly affiliated with the Agency, but nevertheless within the scope of its general interests, for all bodies that are engaged in the upbuilding of Palestine,-economically, socially, educationally and religiously,-are of concern to us. I name such institutions as the Keren Kayemeth, the Pica, the Palestine Economic Corporation and the Hebrew University.

It might be advisable that special committees or commissions on these subjects, or such others as the Council may desire, be appointed to consider and advise the Council as to how they can most usefully proceed in the various interesting, though difficult, tasks before us.

I pray and I hope that grace shall be granted to us that we may see our duties and obligations as well as our rights, and while maintaining our claim to free settlement in the land as far as the economic possibilities allow, we shall make it known to all men by word and by deed that in this effort we are not as a matter of force, but as a matter of justice desirous of giving all those who were settled on the land equal opportunity for a decent living, for the opportunity to develop and improve their own lives and conditions. And to effect all this we ask the British Government and the Palestine Government to give full faith and credit to the honorableness of our intentions. We ask the Arab people to join us and the British administration in a common endeavor to make the land a fit place in which to live. We ask the world, both Christian and Moslem, to consider that we are a small folk; that we have neither armies nor navies; but that we have a spirit which prompts us from all over the world to help restore the Holy Land to its pristine glory and give an opportunity to as many Jews as the land can absorb to live there without harm or injury to anyone else.

Why should it be so difficult to have this ardent wish recognized? Why should it be so difficult to say to a mighty Empire like Britain or to a mighty religion like Islam: “Much you have derived from us; much have we suffered at your hands; give us back a portion of this small, difficult, but beautiful land which we crave as a great heritage from our distant ancestors who in a spiritual sense at least are your ancestors as well. This is what we ask in the name of religion

NEXT STORY