New York (Jan. 31)
Pledging “every effort and every sacrifice to the winning of the war,” the 36th annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee today adopted a statement urging the United Nations and “those who shall frame the terms of peace” to bring relief to Jewish victims of Axis barbarism by effecting “their repatriation, rehabilitation and the complete restoration and safeguarding of their equal civil and religious rights.”
The statement also affirmed the Committee’s desire “to cooperate with those Jews who with to settle in Palestine” and approved for Palestine an international trusteeship responsible to the United Nations for the purposes of safeguarding Jewish settlement in and Jewish immigration into Palestine, protecting the fundamental rights of all inhabitants as well as the holy places of all faiths, and preparing Palestine “to become, within a reasonable period of years, a self-governing Commonwealth.” At the same time it emphasized that “settlement in Palestine, although an important factor, cannot alone furnish and should not be expected to furnish the solution of the problem of post-war Jewish rehabilitation.”
The statement was adopted following the presentation to the meeting of a report on overseas activities of the American Jewish Committee by George Z. Medalie. Describing the situation of Jews in various countries, Mr. Medalie said that “the North African situation today is frankly distressing, notwithstanding the sincerity of our government in its declared purposes with respect to Jews who reside there.” He termed “amazing” the statement made last week by Gen. Giraud that the Jewish question was an internal one in which the world as a whole has no interest, and declared that it is the duty of American Jews, together with other Americans, “to insist that what we fight for throughout the world shall not be mocked in one part of it under our own control.”
PROSKAUER ELECTED PRESIDENT; BLAUSTEIN IS CHAIRMAN OF GENERAL COMMITTEE
Judge Joseph M. Proskauer was elected president of the American Jewish Committee at the meeting which took place at the Hotel Astor. Jacob Blaustein was elected chairman of the General Committee and Alan M. Strook chairman of the Administrative Committee. Ira Yonker was elected treasurer and N.M. Ohrbach assistant treasurer. Lessing J. Rosenwald and Carl J. Austrian were re-elected vice-presidents. New vice-presidents elected are James H. Becker, Chicago; Monto M. Lemann, New Orleans; Jesse H. Steinhart, San Francisco and Victor S. Riesenfeld, New York.
Judge Proskauer, in accepting the presidency, declared that the statement adopted by the meeting marks the course of conduct of the American Jewish Committee in the present emergency and is not a creed. He emphasized that he will loyally and faithfully carry out the terms of the statement, the acceptance of which he urged. Maurice Wertheim, the retiring president, who presided at the meeting, expressed his belief that the statement voices the views of the overwhelming majority of the members of the Committee, even though they continue to entertain differing views on Jewish life. “It is a good thing,” he said, “that this diversity of view prevails. The objects of the American Jewish Committee are not those of a political party. This Committee, welcoming all American Jews within its fold regardless of their religious or political views, is intended to represent a cross section of American Jewry. Our effort to find common ground on this vexed question seems to me to be indicative of what all Jewish direction should be, namely, in line with the American motto, “United We Stand, and Divided We Fall.”
FULL TEXT OF THE AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE STATEMENT
The statement, as adopted by the meeting, reads: “At this time, when our country is engaged in an epoch-making war, we, who are united with our brethren of all faiths in the common bond of American citizenship, pledge every effort and every sacrifice to the winning of the war, the achievement for the whole world of the Four Freedoms and the blessings of the Atlantic Charter and the establishment of a just and enduring peace.
“We reaffirm our devotion to our religion and pledge ourselves to maintain and perpetuate the vitality of the Jewish religious community, confident that its teachings have constituted and will continue to constitute a basic contribution to the development of civilization and of democracy. We join with our brethren of all creeds in the continued fight against those who through bigotry and prejudice endeavor in any way to imperil the rights of any group of American citizens and thus to divide our country and undermine the foundations of American liberty.
“We urge upon the United Nations and upon those who shall frame the terms of peace the relief from the havoc and ruin inflicted by Axis barbarism on millions of unoffending human beings, especially Jews, their repatriation, rehabilitation and the complete restoration and safeguarding of their equal civil and religious rights. To the extent that economic conditions in the war torn lands shall make emigration there from of their nationals necessary, we ask the implementation by those who shall frame the terms of peace of a program which shall under international supervision facilitate voluntary settlement elsewhere under the most favorable conditions.”
“We ask of the United Nations and those who shall frame the terms of peace, reaffirmation of the fundamental principle that Jewish citizens of every land, fulfilling their obligation of complete loyalty to their respective countries, shall be guaranteed the correlative right of complete equality. We applaud the recent statement of the Secretary of State, that we must have a world in which Jews like all others “are free to abide in peace and in honor.” Thus, while associating ourselves fully with all the purposes of human freedom and betterment proclaimed by the President of the United States, we have special concern with the two objectives, salvation of these suffering people and the preservation of the Jewish community as a spiritual force.
COMMITTEE’S VIEWS ON PALESTINE FORMULATED
“We recognize that there are now more than half a million Jews in Palestine who have built up a sound and flourishing economic life and a satisfying spiritual and cultural life, and who now constitute substantially one-third of the population, and that while this Palestinian immigration has been a blessed amelioration of the condition of this large number of Jews, and has helped to bring about a great
“We affirm our deep sympathy with and our desire to cooperate with those Jews who wish to settle in Palestine. With respect to the government of Palestine, we recognize wide divergence of opinion and that under existing conditions there should be no preconceived formula at this time as to the permanent political structure which shall obtain there. Since we hold that in the United States as in all other countries Jews, like all others of their citizens are nationals of those nations and of no other, there can be no political identification of Jews outside of Palestine with whatever government may there be instituted.
“We endorse the policy of friendship and cooperation between Jews and Arabs in Palestine and urge that every possible avenue be followed to establish good will and active collaboration between them.
“We approve for Palestine an international trusteeship responsible to the United Nations for the following purposes: a) To safeguard the Jewish settlement in and Jewish immigration into Palestine and to guarantee adequate scope for future growth and development to the full extent of the economic absorptive capacity of the country; b) To safeguard and protect the fundamental rights of all inhabitants; c) To safeguard and protect the holy places of all faiths; d) To prepare the country to become, within a reasonable period of years, a self-governing Commonwealth under a Constitution and a bill of rights that will safeguard and protect those purposes and basic rights for all.”