Reconstruction of Palestine As Jewish Commonwealth Demanded by ZOA Convention
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Reconstruction of Palestine As Jewish Commonwealth Demanded by ZOA Convention

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Reconstruction of Palestine within its “historic boundaries” as a Jewish Commonwealth was demanded today in a resolution adopted unanimously at the afternoon session of the 44th annual Zionist convention here.

Declaring that the solution of the problem should be achieved after the war under inter-governmental auspices and with inter-governmental assistance, the resolution, which was read by Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, states that, “there can be no substitute for Palestine as a Jewish National Home.”

It makes a direct appeal to Prime Minister Winston Churchill on behalf of American Jewry, asking:

“1 – A speedy rectification of British policy with respect to the Jewish National Home and, particularly, desisting from implementing the provisions of the White Paper, which was conceived in a spirit of appeasement in violation of the Mandate.

2 – The British Government should permit the return to Palestine of refugees who, contrary to the intent of the mandate, have been deported from Palestine where they sought sanctuary.

3 – That the British government take immediate advantage of the expressed desire of Palestine Jews to make the maximum contribution in the common war effort by establishing a Jewish army under British command.”

The resolution emphasizes that any changes in the political structure of the Near East which may involve or affect the status of Palestine will be combated. It reaffirms the continued validity of the Palestine Mandate as the organic law of the land. “The status of Palestine under international law can be altered only as a result of a general post-war settlement in which the Jewish people shall have a part,” the declaration concludes.


The convention is expected at later sessions to call upon the United States Government to reaffirm its position on the future of the Jewish National Home in Palestine in definite and unequivocal terms inasmuch as the United States endorsed the Balfour Declaration by joint resolution of Congress and has always maintained the binding force of those clauses of the mandate which accord international recognition to the Jewish National Home.

With America’s assumption of increased responsibility for helping to maintain the peace of the world it is felt here among the leading delegates at the convention that “the right of every nation to its nationhood,” affirmed by President Roosevelt, should be given concrete and specific application to the Jewish people. It is pointed out that such an official endorsement of Jewish rights in Palestine would wield tremendous influence.

Considering the political issue as its main task the convention is determined to relegate its organizational problems to a secondary position even though there is a strong desire on the part of the present Zionist Administration to have the United Palestine Appeal and the Zionist Emergency Committee function under the specific control of the ZOA and not as independent agencies.

The general opinion which finds official expression at the convention is that while the first world war brought the Balfour Declaration there is danger that the present war may bring British appeasement to the Arabs. Tendencies toward such appeasement are already noticeable. And leading American Zionists at the convention are frank in stating “the political omens are none too favorable.” They point to the fact that while the rights of small nations to political and cultural self determination have been accorded recognition in public addresses of Churchill and Roosevelt nothing was mentioned about Jews though specific references were made to Arabs, Poles, Czechs, Free French and others. The reported return of the Grand Mufti to Palestine, with British consent, was taken to mean a further step in British appeasement in Palestine which is now being developed there by Capt. Oliver Lytleton’s quiet negotiations with the Arabs.


Messages from Dr. Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion and M. M. Ussishkin were read to the convention: Weizmann emphasized that American Jews are today the only Jewish community in the world which can effectively raise its voice for safeguarding Palestine’s post-war status. “You must take the lead in the coming struggle to assure Jewish rights everywhere and to provide definite safeguards for a free Jewish homeland in Palestine,” Weizmann said. Ben Gurion in his message stated “more than ever our eyes turn to you. American Jewry must henceforth bear the heaviest responsibility for the fate of our people and the Jewish homeland.” Ussishkin cabled “your responsibility is now exceedingly great towards the whole Jewish people.”

Today’s first business session, opened and presided over by Rabbi James G. Heller of Cincinnati heard reports of the ZOA, UPA and JNF. Addressing the convention Mendel N. Fisher, JNF Executive Director, announced that the Kayemeth will this year celebrate its fortieth anniversary in America by raising a fund sufficient to acquire forty thousand acres of land in Palestine to settle thousands of newcomers. Fisher reported that for the ten months ending July the JNF income in America was about one and a half million dollars. Rabbi Isadore Breslau, ZOA Executive Director, reported that the ZOA direct membership today exceeds 55,000. The ZOA deficit at the end of July amounted to over $58,000 of which $38,000 was carried over from last year. Henry Montor, UPA Executive Director, said that the UPA income in the last twenty months was close to four million dollars. He spoke against those demanding that the UPA be put under the direct control of the ZOA and stated that there is no justification to the criticism that the UPA indulges in “excessive expenditures.”

The morning session heard greetings from Adolph Rosenberg, Chairman of the Cincinnati Jewish Community Council, Mrs. de Sola Pool of the Hadassah, Leon Gellman of the Mizrachi, David Wertheim of the Poalezion, Dr. Kurt Blumenfeld of the Keren Yesod and Lavy Bakstansky of the Federation of English Zionists.

The afternoon session heard in addition to Rabbi Wise, Louis Lipsky, prominent Zionist leader, and the presidential address of Edmund I. Kaufmann, the retiring president of the ZOA.

It is taken for granted that Judge Louis E. Levinthal of Philadelphia will be elected ZOA president with practically no opposition.

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