Tel Aviv (Oct. 8)
The Palestine Jewish Community has never provoked anybody – either the Arabs or the British – but it has always replied and will reply to war, Moshe Shertok, political chief of the Jewish Agency, warned today, delivering a report on the political situation in Palestine at the closing session of the “Substitute Zionist Congress” which has been meeting here since Tuesday.
Taking cognizance of the recent flurry of activity in Cairo in connection with attempts to form a pan-Arab federation, Mr. Shertok declared that the Jews were not opposed to such a union in principle. “We do not scorn such a conception,” he said, “on the condition that it does not strangle us. We demand freedom to work all of Palestine; its soil, water, hills and sea, and industries, and to develop every corner without affecting any of our neighbors. We must have security and an independent life. Without these, we cannot feel that Palestine is a Jewish country.”
Speaking at length concerning the allegations against Jewish institutions voiced at the recent arms trials, the Agency political leader reiterated that the Jews of Palestine “indignantly and contemptuously repudiate the charges that we are arming ourself for attack and not for defense and that we seek an armed solution to the White Paper. But,” he continued, “if we are faced with a fait accompli an end to immigration and we are handed over to the Arab majority – then we will not be responsible for what happens. We will stand up for our lives.”
Indicating that he felt that the current situation in Palestine had been misrepresented, Mr. Shertok went on to say that “we are still very far” from violence, “since we still see friendly trends among the British people and we still continue to believe in British justice.”
BELIEVES RUSSIA WILL UNDERSTAND ZIONIST AIMS; PRAISES AMERICAN JEWS
Emphasizing the role that he expects the major powers to play in the solution of the Palestine problem, Shertok stressed that the Jews have not lost confidence in England and the United States “because they understand Jewish pride and appreciate creative power, and also because American Jewry is rallying around the Zionist banner.” He voiced the belief that Russia will also understand Zionist aims, and expressed the opinion that “the best reply to the mean allegations against us is an ever increasing enlistment until final victory is achieved.”
Henrietta Szold, veteran youth and welfare leader, told the gathering that the Polish Government has up until now not contributed any money for the maintenance of the nearly 1, 000 Polish-Jewish refugee children who were brought here this year from Teheran. Miss Szold outlined the Youth Aliyah plans for emergency and rescue work.
Eliahu Dobkin, head of the immigration department of the Jewish Agency, reported that the Jewish population of Palestine has risen by 50, 000 during the war, of which 32, 000 were immigrants and the balance represented children born here since 1939. He said that the present Jewish population is 535, 000, which is ten times the number of Jews who were living here before the issuance of the Balfour Declaration.
The congress was closed by Joseph Sprinzak, Laborite leader, who sent greetings from the Palestine Jewish community to American and British Jews and to Dr. Chaim Weizmann.