NEW YORK (May. 21)
More than 6,000 gathered in the Hippodrome today to condemn the British White Paper on Palestine and pledge their support to the Palestinian Jews “in their resistance to the imposition of the illegal and immoral policy of the Chamberlain government.” An overflow crowd of 3,000 crowded the streets surrounding the meeting hall, listening to the addresses through loudspeakers, and 150 police were on hand to guard against disturbances.
Similar protest meetings, attended by capacity crowds, were held in Boston, Chicago and other large cities.
United States Senator Robert F. Wagner declared that the virtues of Chivalry which are so deeply embedded in British tradition have been discarded by the British government in the document it issued “which deserves the title of the Black Paper of 1939.”He stated that the document was a “threatened breach of international good faith”and that it will be a sad day for British prestige in particular and for all governmental authority in general when the whole world realizes that so-called appeasement has been extended “to every petty bomb-thrower.”
Declaring that the 2,000 year old aspiration of world Jewry to rebuild Palestine as a homeland has now been made more acute by the “produce of human malevolence and cruelty, “Senator Wagner called upon Great British to keep the promise it made to 52 nations of the world including the United States, and he added if the announced policy should prevail, even temporarily, “the real England will suffer a defeat which will be beyond the power of admirals and generals to redeem.”
Mayor LaGuardia declared that nothing that came as a result of the world war received more universal approval than the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. He said he came to the meeting to participate and express his sorrow to see, what he believed to be, one of the finest contributions to civilization in danger.
Rabbi Stephen S. Wise who presided, warned Great Britain that the Palestine Government would meet with resistance on the part of the Jews. “We will not stoop to violence, but in a militant, passive way, we will offer resistance to the lawlessness and perfidy of the White Paper,” he declared, adding: “This will not be insubordination, for the Jews in Palestine are not subordinates and therefore cannot be guilty of insubordination. The world would not respect the Jewish people nor could we respect ourselves if we do not offer resistance. The English people have not written the White Paper, it is the treacherous and un-English device of Neville Chamberlain and Malcolm MacDonald.”
The meeting took the oath embodied in the 137th Psalm. A hushed standing throng with right hands upraised, repeated the slow, cadenced intonation of the oath in Hebrew, led by Rabbi B.L. Levinthal, dean of the Orthodox rabbinate in Philadelphia and member of the Praesidium of the Union of Orthodox Rabbis, which states: “If I forget thee O Jerusalem, may my right hand wither,” It was announced that 995,613 Jews in the country have already taken this oath.
Other speakers included Louis Lipsky, American member of the Jewish Agency Executive, Rabbi Israel Goldstein and Mrs. Moses P. Epstein, national president of Hadassah. Messages were received from Representative Hamilton Fish, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Dr. Cyrus Adler, Dr. Solomon Goldman, president of the Z.O.A., who was attending a Chicago protest meeting, and a cable from the Vaad Leumi.
Governor Leverett Saltonstall in a statement issued at the Boston mass meeting, held in historic Faneuil Hall under the auspices of the New England Zionist Emergency Committee, expressed the hope “that a catastrophe may be averted in Palestine.” Declaring that the world had been outraged by the wave of persecutions which singled out members of the Jewish race as its victims, he stated that the building of Palestine must not fail. “Let us pray that the nation concerned will heed the world-wide plea for a just settlement of the crisis.”
At the Chicago meeting, Dr. Goldman declared that Jewry could never accept the White Paper as reflecting the heart and mind of the English people.
Over the week-end Jews throughout the country gathered in synagogues to recite the 137th Psalm. The Rabbinical Board of New York cabled the Archbishop of Canterbury appealing to the British people to “reject the evil edict of the Government.” Sixteen large posters denouncing the British Government’s Palestine policy were pasted on the building housing the British consulate.