GENEVA (Aug. 16)
War fears today prompted the Zionist General Council to order conclusion of the 21st biennial World Zionist Congress on Aug. 25, three days earlier than originally scheduled.
Opening tonight in the shadow of an increasingly tense international situation and with the 576 delegates anxious to return to their native lands before the crisis comes to a head, the Congress for the first time in many years will limit its work to political decisions election of an executive and approving the budget for the ensuing year.
Rumanian delegates to the Congress revealed that they have received alarming telegrams urging that they return not later than Sunday in view of the intensive military preparations going forward in Rumania. At the same time, Polish Jewish leaders here for the Congress are pressing for an early conclusion of the sessions to permit their speedy return to Poland.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann president of the World Zionist Organization, formally opened the Congress tonight with a warning to the British Government that the Jews would never accept the new Palestine policy providing for establishment of an independent state with the Jews fixed as a one third minority.
“The Jews cannot and will not surrender to this injustice,” Dr. Weizmann told the assembled delegates from all over the world gathered in Geneva’s Municipal Theater, but will remain “resolute determined and united” in a fight for the internationally recognized right to Palestine conducting this fight not against the British people, but against the British Cabinet.
The Zionist leader spoke with bitterness of Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald. He declared he “must raise my voice as strongly as possible in protest” against the British Cabinet for its “breach of faith” and “monstrous injustice”done to the Jews by the new policy.
The Zionists, Dr. Weizmann declared, oppose any form of bloodshed and the fight will be a clean one, “guided by Jewish ethics and not by the law of the jungle.”
While condemning the British Government, the Zionist chieftain praised President Roosevelt for his “noble and historic initiative” in seeking to solve the refugee problem.
“A year ago,” he said “great hopes were raised when President Roosevelt, with characteristic magnanimity and humaneness, convened the Evian conference. New hope sprang up throughout the Jewish world that the great powers would surely be able to devise some immediate alleviation of the problem, at least temporarily, until the fanatical hatred should have died down. The hopes thus raised were not unjustified. After all, the world was not so limited as to offer no living space for another million or so people, and people of considerable ability culture even of distinction in their various fields.
“It was felt that with the initiative having been taken by the United States in cooperation with the government of the British Empire. France and other civilized nations, great and small there should be little difficulty in meeting the immediate needs of the situation without undue delay. The President has taken a noble and his toric initiative. All leading Jewish bodies who have borne and still bear the brunt of the responsibility have cooperated.
“We ourselves endeavored to be helpful and submitted plans and various schemes of relief and reconstruction in which we were particularly interested. These plans were aimed at training 100,000 of our people within a relatively short time. It is almost certain that other governments would have sanctioned these plans. But unfortunately the schemes which we submitted were rendered impossible by the very government whose special duty under the (League of Nations) mandate it was to facilitate immigration and settlement of Jews in Palestine irrespective of the present emergency.”
HOLDS EVIAN GOAL NOT ACHIEVED
Dr. Weizmann continued “But I definitely tell you that the objective of the Evian conference has not so far been achieved. With all our grateful acknowledgment good intentions and hard work it was clear from the outset that whatever the ultimate success of the various schemes they would not meet the immediate catastrophe.
“The various countries which participated in the Evian conference might have absorbed among themselves the greater part of the Jews forced out of their native lands, but I am fully mindful of the serious consequences that might have followed such a course and the great political and economic implications. But unless the law of the jungle is to prevail and one sometimes thinks it does already prevail we must find some solution.
“Economically it has already been authoritatively shown that the addition of a number of skilled and industrious people is an asset even to a fully developed country, but prejudices are deep rooted and often stronger than facts or logic. The result is that even governments which might view with sympathy the wider opening of their countries hesitate to organize it for fear of spreading anti-Semitism, from which so few countries can claim complete immunity.
Continuing, Dr. Weizmann spoke ironically of the contrast between the offer made by the late Joseph Chamberlain father of the present Prime Minister to create a Jewish State in Uganda within the British Empire, and the action of his son’s Government reversing “in this hour of crisis in Jewish history” Britain’s most humane promise to establish a Jewish National Home in Palestine.
“I have always tried to avoid overstating my case,” the Zionist leader said, “but in this solemn hour I am reluctantly compelled to say that faith has been broken with us; it is not easy for me to have to say this, but it would be disloyal to my people, disloyal even to the best traditions of Great Britain and faithless to the memory of a great man no longer with us in our struggle for justice if I did not state from this platform before the whole world that a great injustice has been done to us.
“I must raise the strongest possible protest. We have not deserved this treatment. On the basis of a British pledge which was regarded all these years as a sacred pledge confirmed by over fifty nations, we have for more than twenty years been absorbed in the national home.”
CITES REVOLT OF GOVERNMENT BACKERS
“We cherish the friendship of England” he continued,” and retain respect and affection for Great Britain in spite of efforts made by the present Colonial Secretary and others to destroy it. We refuse however to recognize the right of the Colonial Secretary to promulgate decrees curtailing our essential rights before the issue, which is international has even been brought before the appropriate tribunal.
“Our quarrel is not with Great Britain but with those responsible for the present Palestine policy. The British people understand our grievance otherwise loyal supporters of the Government would not so openly have revolted against the injustice of the White Paper and the crowning iniquity of suspension of Jewish immigration for the next six months.”
Pledging a “clean fight” against the British policy, Dr. Weizmann assailed “irresponsible individuals or groups” for resorting to violence to gain their ends.
“We must and shall defend our lives and rights,” he said, ” and work with all the strength at our disposal but it must be a clean fight. Our restraint during the past three years has imposed a terrible strain upon our people, but it was also a great test of strength. We must and shall defend ourselves but we must not punish the innocent. Let us be guided by our own ethics and great traditions and reject what we consider the law of the jungle.”