World Jewry Turns with More Intense Longing Toward Palestine Since Nazis Began Persecution, Neumann
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World Jewry Turns with More Intense Longing Toward Palestine Since Nazis Began Persecution, Neumann

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“The German Jewish situation, tragic as it may be, offers a startling confirmation of the theories of Dr. Theodore Herzl and this without any conscious effort on the part of the Zionists,” declared Emanuel Neumann, American member of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, in a special interview. Mr. Neumann has just returned to the United States after a year in Palestine.

“All Palestine is vitally concerned with the events in Germany. No matter where one goes, the subject of the Jews in Germany is uppermost. It is interesting to note that since the German terror began, the sale of radios in Palestine has increased enormously. Everyone bought radios to listen in and keep abreast of the latest developments in Germany,” said Mr. Neumann.

“Over 2,000 German Jewish refugees have already reached Palestine and are in the process of establishing themselves there. Those who are laborers have found employment in plantation and urban occupations. Some professionals are finding work in their own occupations. The industrialists and business men among them are endeavoring to establish businesses. While it is true that the majority of the new immigrants are Zionists and were in some measure prepared for this drastic change, many find it difficult to adjust themselves to the life in Palestine. Probably a small number will return. The vast majority are there to stay.”


Mr. Neumann stated that the “Palestinian Government is generally sympathetic and favorably disposed towards the German immigrants, but so great is the rush that the number of certificates is wholly inadequate. We are striving to have the government grant us additional certificates, and have already allotted one-fourth of the certificates at our disposal for the Germans; this was as far as we could go in view of the tremendous pressure upon us from Poland and Eastern Europe for additional certificates.”

“While prophecies are hazardous,” asserted Mr. Neumann, “all indications are that German immigration into Palestine will continue for a long time. With favorable economic conditions, Palestine can absorb 50,000 and even 100,000 German Jews. There is no limitation as far as land is concerned, provided certain important engineering and drainage work is done. It is also necessary to set up new industrial and commercial enterprises. We must bear in mind that as long ago as 1925, Sir Herbert Samuel, then High Commissioner, said, ‘Palestine can support a population of 3,000,000.’ It would become the industrial center of the Near East. Recent developments tend to confirm this conservative estimate of a conservative man.”


When asked about the attitude of the Palestinians to the new immigrants, the Jewish Agency representative declared that it was admirable. “The Yishub has risen to the occasion as never before in its history,” he declared. “Palestine is the only country in the world where people who themselves have only recently arrived, and in the midst of adjustment, are keen on getting new immigrants, even though it might make it harder for them.

“All elements in the Yishub are united in the Joint Committee for settling German Jews in Palestine. This committee is under the auspices of the Jewish Agency, and is headed by Henrietta Szold. A campaign, systematically organized, in the American fashion, to raise 20,000 pounds; is now in progress and the goal will undoubtedly be reached. Palestine Jewry feels that it has a greater responsibility than other Jews since they constitute the nucleus of the Jewish National Home.”


Mr. Neumann stressed the rapid conversion of Jews all over the world to Dr. Herzl’s program. He said that this was strikingly illustrated by events in the countries adjoining Palestine, such as Iraq and Egypt, where there had been little or no interest in Jewish problems. “I visited Egypt in connection with the German settlement work,” he said, “and met the leaders of the Jewish communities in Cairo and Alexandria. They have formed a special committee to combat anti-Semitism, and have begun special action to raise a fund of 100,000 pounds to establish a colony of German Jews in Palestine. Among the leaders in this drive are Jews, who for the first time are concerned with Zionism and even with Jewish communal problems. When I left Alexandria, 15,000 pounds had already been subscribed.

“One of the wealthiest Jews in Egypt and a leading member of his community, said to me, ‘I was utterly opposed to Zionism, now in my old age I have realized that the Jewish National Home is a vital necessity. Its creation should be accelerated. I fear the spread of Hitlerism. A sick man cannot be cured by sitting among healthy people—but one sick man can infect many healthy persons. I fear the spreading of the disease, therefore I am for Palestine.’ The same is true of the Jews in Bagdad.”


The Zionist leader said that not only the Jews in the countries near Palestine had awakened but also the Jews in many other lands. “The German Jewish situation is giving impetus to an enormous immigration into Palestine,” he stated. “The economic department of the Agency is flooded with letters from people of means in Lithuania, Latvia, Holland, Switzerland, England and even the United States, who would like to establish themselves in Palestine. Their interest has been quickened by the German persecutions, even though they themselves are not suffering. They will bring with them valuable training and technical equipment, and they will become valuable assets to Palestine.”

Mr. Neumann insisted that American Jews must realize that with respect to relief for German Jews emphasis must be placed on constructive and permanent measures. “If a really large sum could be raised—donations and on a business basis—the absorptive capacity of Palestine could be expanded enormously. Large numbers of German Jews could make their home there.

“The recent movement for investment in Palestine has already brought great changes. Immigration has increased in the last year and a half out of all proportion to the preceding years. Since January 1932, over 25,000 Jewish immigrants have settled in Palestine, and have been promptly absorbed. This is due to the investment of private and public funds amounting in 1932 to 3,500,000 pounds.”


“Life in Palestine exalts one,” declared Mr. Neumann. “Despite the difficulties, financial and others, under which we worked, I always felt completely at home and stirred to the depths of my being by the remarkable renaissance which was going on all around me. Life in Palestine is full of intense and dramatic interest connected with the rebirth of a nation. Yet paradoxical as it may seem, together with this feverish pace of activity on all hands, there is also a sense of profound inner spiritual peace, and happiness such as an artist must feel in the midst of his creative work. It is not merely the increasing number of Jews and their rapidly expanding economic position. It is the quality of their life and of their relation to their environment, which is so unique, so utterly different from what can be seen in any other country in the world.

“This was beautifully illustrated for me by an incident that occurred during my stay there. I had gone to view a tract of land, acquired for colonization purposes by a group of immigrants. With me was the leader of the group. After a long journey over rough roads, we reached the spot and climbed to the top of a hill from which we could view the whole area. My companion stood there silently leaning on his cane, and looked for a long time towards the sea without saying a word. Tears stood in his eyes and he wiped them unashamed. Later I asked him what he was thinking of as he stood there. He straightened up and said, ‘I was making plans and dreaming dreams. I am planning to develop here a home for my grandchildren, now in Europe. One of these days they will be coming across the sea and I have been trying to visualize what the land will look like, when our colony is built and my grandchildren are firmly planted here. I am happier than I have ever been in my life!’ This is the spirit of Palestine.”

Mr. Neumann who is here for a visit, has accepted the invitation of the Zionist Organization of America to address the coming convention in Chicago. He will review the developments in Palestine since the last Congress and submit the record of the Agency Executive to the representatives of American Zionism.

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