WASHINGTON (Oct. 13)
Expressing “anxiety, distress and apprehension” over the possibility of “a radical reversal” in Great Britain’s Palestine policy, a delegation of Jewish leaders representing all sections of American Jewry today petitioned the British Government, through Ambassador Sir Ronald Lindsay, for continuance of Jewish immigration.
The delegation spent more than 20 minutes with Sir Ronald. Dr. Stephen S. Wise read a four-page statement, after which there was a discussion between the Ambassador and the delegation. Sir Ronald said he would transmit the statement to his Government in London.
Tomorrow morning the Jewish leaders will see Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who has promised to make a statement soon on the Palestine question in response to thousands of telegrams and letters from all parts of the country. Tonight Dr. Solomon Goldman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, was to present the issue to the nation in a 15-minute address broadcast by NBC’s Blue network.
The delegation includes representatives of the American Jewish Committee, the American Jewish Congress, B’nai B’rith, the Palestine Economic Corporation, the Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Zionist organizations and other fraternal, cultural, religious and economic groups.
Stressing the American Jews’ interest in the Palestine homeland and pointing out that the Jews had supported the British Government despite the “violence and terror” Palestine Jews had suffered in the past two and a half years, the statement to Ambassador Lindsay expressed concern over reports that “the Mandatory Government has the intention of closing the door of the Promised Land to the people to whom the promise was made.”
“We are loath to believe that such a possibility exists,” the statement declared. “To shut off this major avenue of comfort and salvation would be to destroy the hope of survival for untold numbers.
“Appreciative of the spirit of sympathy and understanding which found expression in the Balfour Declaration, we now appeal for translation of that spirit into a positive,
concrete program of cooperation so that Jewish immigration may continue and so that the intolerable burdens of the masses of Jews may be eased by the ability of a great number of them to find a home and opportunity in Palestine.”
The statement said in part:
“It is our purpose to convey to Your Excellency — inadequately as at best it must be in the few brief moments at our disposal — the anxiety, distress and apprehension which have been aroused by the reports that His Majesty’s Government contemplates a radical reversal of its policy in Palestine; that there is imminent the nullification of the pledge of the Balfour Declaration; and that coupled with these plans is the threat of the stoppage of Jewish immigration.
“The special concern of the Jewish citizens of the United States in Palestine arises not only out of the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” which was declared to be the basis of the obligation assumed by Great Britain, “but out of the continuous flow of moral and material support given by American Jewry in the development of the Jewish National Home under the mandate.
“In reliance upon the good faith of the British Government, American Jews joined with enthusiasm and self-sacrifice in the building of the homeland in Palestine. They gave substantially of their resources in order that the pioneers might succeed in the tremendous undertaking they had assumed of transforming the wastelands of Palestine into a habitation of civilization and progress. The Jews of America have been justly proud of the almost miraculous achievements of our kinsmen in the homeland. They saw the community of 55,000 Jews in 1917 grow to a population of 450,000 in 1937.
“It was the faith and confidence in England of democratic ideals, high standards of justice, and law and order that gave the incentive to American Jewry to the building of the Jewish National Home under the guardianship of the British Empire. In spite of moments of doubt and disappointment American Jewry has continued its cooperation, believing that the covenant with England was binding not only upon that Government which first assumed it, but upon all administrations following which could be relied upon to be loyal to British tradition and faithful to the British pledge.”
Recalling the Jews’ support of the British Government despite “violence and terror,” the statement continued:
“The reward is incredibly unjust, for today we are deeply moved by intimations to the effect that, unmindful of its assumption of the guardianship over Palestine; despite its solemn pledge to the Jewish people, oft repeated and continuously affirmed; not withstanding the great work of redemption achieved in the Jewish national Home, the transformation of the land and all the inhabitants thereof into an integral part of the western world, the qualities of loyalty and peace and brotherhood manifested by the Jewish National Home; and untouched by the tragic plight of countless Jews thrown out of many lands to wander over the face of Europe, the mandatory Government has the intention of closing the door of the Promised Land to the people to whom the promise was made.”
A group of world famous writers and scholars at the same time telegraphed president Roosevelt appealing to him to indicate to the British Government the “earnest hope” that Palestine’s door would not be closed “in this day of terrible need for Jewish settlement opportunities.”
The signers of the telegram included Thomas Mann, Professor Albert Einstein, Ray Lyman Wilbur, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Carl van Doren, Oswald Garrison Villard, Irwin Edman of Columbia University, Harry Hansen, Carl van Vechten, Dorothy Canfield Fisher, Sholem Asch and Ludwig Lewisohn.