NEW YORK (Jan. 16)
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, speaking to an audience of about 4,000 at Mecca Temple in his first public address since his arrival here last Friday, tonight called on American Jews as guardians of the Jewish homeland’s future to inaugurate a program of material aid for the rebuilding of Palestine that would provide homes for 50,000 Jews annually from lands of distress.
The rally for Dr. Weizmann was sponsored by a National Reception Committee headed by Dr. Stephen S. Wise, who presided, and which included Governor Lehman, Mayor LaGuardia and a number of public figures, scientists and Zionist leaders. The Zionist Organization of America was co-sponsor of the meeting.
Declaring that “Palestine must continue to be the primary haven of homeless Jews in a world in which too many doors open only one way,” the president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and World Zionist Organization asserted that the destruction of many European Jewish communities had made American Jewry the guardi of the Jewish future and of the Jewish homeland’s future.
The 230,000 Jews who came to Palestine since 1933, Dr. Weizmann said, have created opportunities for a system of future development in which “an annual influx of 50,000 could be assimilated without strain or injury to the economic structure of the country.”
He opened with a description of the plight of the Jews. “Almost half of the Jewish people are under the heel of two dictatorships,” he said. “Under one they destroy the Jews; under the other Judaism.” However, he warned, “we, here, must not yield to the fatal admission that the Jew wears only the badge of a refugee, for in that negative defeatist outlook lies the triumph of our oppressors and the disintegration of our entire existence as a people.”
Speaking of the Jewish community in Palestine as “a living organism whose growth no force can stifle,” the Zionist leader touched on the “considerable economic dislocation” resulting from the war, but reminded his listeners that “in the last four years, which have been years of disturbance in Palestine, we have taken in some 80,000 people, and we are still taking in new immigrants today.”
“The absorption of such numbers,” he said, “is necessarily a process of some duration, and we have been caught by the war in the midst of this process. Moreover, while private capital has played an essential part in the economic development of Palestine, it is no longer operating on the same scale as it did. On the other hand, the war is opening up new prospects of development. If the damage done by the war to our existing structure is to be repaired and advantage taken of these new opportunities of further progress, national capital must step into the breach.”
He stressed the importance of the Keren Hayesod and the Jewish National Fund at this time, the latter for three reasons–“because private capital is not now available for land purchase; secondly, in view of the great opportunities for land purchase which now exist, and, thirdly, because of the imperative necessity of quickening the pace of land acquisition.”