Palestine Normal Despite Nearness to War Scene, Rothenberg Says on Return

The general belief in Palestine is that the Ethiopian war will not spread to the Holy Land, declared Morris Rothenberg, president of the Zionist Organization of America and newly elected co-chairman of the Jewish Agency Council, arriving today from a tour of Europe and Palestine on the Italian liner Rex.

As a result of the war, Mr. Rothenberg said, there has been some nervousness in Palestine, but not much. The normal routine of business and commerce, he asserted, was marked by an assurance of continued peace and security.

Edward A. Filene, Boston department store owner recently recovered from an attack of pneumonia in Moscow, also returned on the Rex, predicting war in Europe in the near future even if the Ethiopian crisis is cleared up. “It will be a great many years before peace and prosperity return,” he declared.

Alexander Kahn, Socialist leader and non-Zionist member of the Jewish Agency, returned from his first visit to Palestine declaring the country could normally absorb 5,000,000 people in the next ten years. Palestine is so prosperous, he said, that Jewish inhabitants have sent more than $12,000,000 to needy relatives in other countries. He lauded the Histadruth, Palestine labor federation, and held the quality of labor leadership in Palestine better than in England.

Interviewed in the lounge of the Rex as it steamed in from Quarantine, Mr. Rothenberg said the Mediterranean “swarms with British war vessels prepared to protect British interests in Egypt, Palestine and the Near East.”

On the subject of the proposed representative legislative council, Mr. Rothenberg reported that Palestine Jews are vigorously opposing the plan while the Arabs are indifferent. Maintaining the council would be premature, the Zionist leader said High Commissioner Wauchope is in “serious danger of marring the excellent record he has made” if he insists on the plan.

“Some Arab leaders,” he asserted, “wish to use the council as a means of obstructing Jewish progress for purely selfish reasons.”

He was enthusiastic about the development of the Jewish homeland industrially and agriculturally, and said that German Jews, about 30,000 of whom have already entered the country, “will contribute great cultural and economic values.

“What forcibly strikes one traveling through Palestine,” Mr. Rothenberg continued, “is that despite the urban and rural development that has already taken place, there are vast tracts of land in every section awaiting cultivation and settlement.”

He deplored the fact that “rural development in Palestine has not kept pace with the amazing growth of Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. A normal and sound economy demands that there be a proper balance between the two.” He reported a need for extension of workers’ agricultural settlements.

He emphasized that the acuteness of the labor shortage in Palestine threatens to retard industrial development.

While in Europe, Mr. Rothenberg said, he noted that political unrest threatens to bring new discriminations upon the Jewish population. The Nuremberg “ghetto laws,” he declared, “dealt the final blow in the liquidation of the Jewish community and hurled it back to the Middle Ages.”

Discussing future Zionist policies in the United States, Mr. Rothenberg said one of the most important tasks is the consideration of the proposal to establish a national Zionist federation joining all parties and factions.

Mr. Rothenberg will be given a dinner Sunday evening at the Hotel Astor at which he will be greeted by a number of Zionist and Jewish communal leaders. His trip to Palestine was the first in ten years.

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