NEW YORK (Nov. 24)
The order to deport 1, 771 refugees who recently arrived in Palestine was protested and their immediate return was demanded in a resolution adopted today at the closing session of the sixteenth annual convention of the National Labor Committee for Palestine at the Hotel Astor.
The resolution, adopted unanimously by the 2,000 delegates from the United States and Canada, declared American Jewry, while recognizing “the grave worries of Britain, had expected the British popular government to prevent the Palestine Administration from punishing its loyal Jewish population by restricting immigration. It declared that the “cruel act” of deportation “can only be a weapon in the hands of the enemies of democracy.”
On the other hand, the convention adopted a declaration hailing the “gallant stand of the British people defending its homeland,” proclaiming the Jewish people’s support of the British people’s struggle for democracy, “to which is welded the fate of individual liberty and the national existence of our scattered people.”
The recent proposal by Pinchas Rutenberg, Palestine power magnate and former president of the Jewish National Council, of a supreme council to govern Palestine Jewry during the war, was termed “non-democratic” by Israel Mereminsky, secretary of the Palestine Jewish Federation of Labor, in an address. Mereminsky said the Federation spoke “for the overwhelming majority of Jews” in rejecting the plan.
Mereminsky revealed that while only 5,000 Palestine Jews have been “allowed to serve in the British forces,” out of 50,000 who volunteered, so great is the desire to enlist that in many settlements recruits must be eliminated by lot.
Another speaker at the closing session was the recently elected Judge Samuel Liebowitz of Brooklyn, who has just become president of the Landsmannshaften Division of the National Labor Committee. Judge Liebowitz termed Palestine “the last outpost of the Jews which, if taken, will mean the end of the Jews all over the world with the possible exception of America.”
The convention adopted a quota of one million dollars for the Palestine Labor Campaign for the coming year. It was announced that the campaign raised $432,000 during the past year.
At the convention’s opening rally Saturday night at Mecca Temple, David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive in Palestine, deplored the “unfortunate and disgraceful act of the Palestine Administration” in barring the refugees as “connected with the disastrous appeasement policy of the former government.” He maintained that Palestine could absorb millions of Jews who would be destitute after this war, asserting that “a thing which could be achieved in a twentieth part of the country for 500,000 population can certainly be achieved in the whole of the country for 5,000,000.”
Dr. Stephen S. Wise appealed “to the justice-loving sense of Britain to halt these vessels and to welcome back their passengers to the Palestine of which they are doubly a part.”
Joseph Schlossberg, chairman of the Committee, who presided, said: “If the British authorities tell us that the Arabs do not want us, we wish to remind them that the Arabs do not want the British in Palestine, yet the British do not withdraw for that reason.”
All speakers, who also included Dr. May Bere of Palestine, David Wertheim, secretary of the Committee, and Alexander Kahn, joined in lauding the accomplishments of the Histadruth, Palestine Jewish labor federation, which is marking its 20th anniversary, and urging intensified aid for the Histadruth.
Messages of greeting were received from J.S. Middleton, secretary of the British Labor Party, who extended good wishes for “your work for the uplifting of the Jewish workers in America and the restoration of Israel to their ancient home in Palestine”; Dr. Chaim Weizmann, who stressed the “increasing responsibility now resting on shoulders of American Jewry”; Prof. Albert Einstein, who urged “utmost efforts” in support of the Jewish homeland, and David Remez of the Histadruth, British Labor Minister Ernest Nevin, and Edmund I. Kaufmann, president of the Zionist Organization of America.
During the afternoon a conference of the Jewish National Workers’ Alliance at the Hotel Astor, pledging to raise $250,000 towards the Palestine labor campaign, cabled the British Labor Party urging intercession against the deportation of the refugees from Palestine, which it termed “a brutal transgression of the humane principles for which the war is being fought.”
On Friday an eastern regional conference of the Pioneer Women’s Organization adopted a resolution protesting against the scheduled deportation.