Dr. Werner Senator, non-Zionist member of the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine, gave strong expression to his views on the statement made by Rabbi Meier Berlin in London, before the annual conference of the Mizrachi Organization of Great Britain on November 13th.
In the statement referred to, Rabbi Berlin dealt with the tremendous growth among the Jewish population of the urge towards Palestine. He went on to criticize the present system of immigration by means of a labor schedule. He said that the immigration system imposed a serious difficulty on the upbuilding work, as they were allowed so many and no more certificates by the government. He added that “the position had been made even more difficult because of certain members of our Executive who appeared to be more in agreement with the government than loyal to the needs of the Jewish people.”
Referring to the position of the Mizrachi in the Executive, Rabbi Berlin was reported to have said, “I do not know what will be tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but I cannot stress too much that we are a minority and that although we take part in the control of practical affairs, responsibility cannot be placed on us.”
Dr. Senator’s statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency deals specifically with these two observations by Rabbi Berlin. He said, “I have had an opportunity of going into the statement reported to have been made in London by Rabbi Berlin, the Mizrachi leader, on November 14th, regarding political questions and the internal position in the Executive.
“Concerning immigration in Palestine, Rabbi Berlin states that certain members of the Executive appear to be more in agreement with the Government than loyal to the needs of the Jewish people. It is not difficult to guess the source from which the leader of Mizrachi has received his information which I regard as a pernicious attempt to defame one section of the Executive in the eyes of the Jewish people. It is a very bad feature of our public life that some of the leaders of the movement find it necessary to resort to such methods.
“With regard to the matter itself, the Executive has at various opportunities made it abundantly clear to the Government as well as to the Jewish public that the present system of regulating immigration has its serious drawbacks. However, as long as the present law exists, the Jewish Agency has to abide by it. It has always been our practice to make firm presentation of our case to the Government, basing our proposals on thorough and detailed investigations. The results recently achieved by this method seem to us to justify the procedure adopted. We must dissociate ourselves from proposals which are launched purely for propaganda purposes and have no foundation in reality. Such methods, if accepted by the Executive of the Jewish Agency, would only undermine our position vis-a-vis the Government and work to the detriment of Jewish immigration.
“I must also express my entire disagreement with Rabbi Berlin’s statement that the Mizrachi cannot be held responsible for the actions of the Executive. The Mizrachi is part of the Executive, and as such shares full responsibility, which is accentuated by the fact that Mr. Farbstein, the prominent Mizrachi leader has now, in addition to his Middleclass Department taken over the conduct of the Treasury. Mr. Farbstein, together with his colleagues on the Treasury Committee, must even bear a special responsibility for the financial policy adopted since the meeting of the Actions Committee held in London, August, 1932. Of course, we will have to share this responsibility as members of the Jewish Agency Executive, but statements such as have been made by Rabbi Berlin will not, at any rate, free the Mizrachi from carrying part of the burden.
“It is highly regrettable that leaders of the parties who are expected to do their utmost to strengthen the position of the Executive in the present difficult times, should allow themselves to make statements which must only be detrimental to the prestige of the Executive and its whole work. I wish to make it clear that those of us who have so far refrained from bringing their internal grievances before the public, will not in future allow such statements to pass unchallenged.”