WASHINGTON (Mar. 29)
The question of whether Jews who are American citizens will be admitted to Palestine for permanent residence after the closing of Palestine’s doors to Jewish immigration this Friday under the terms of the British white Paper, was a subject of discussion here today among members of Congress.
Puzzled and confused as a result of President Roosevelt’s statement yesterday in which he supported the war Department’s opposition to the Palestine resolution now before the House of Representatives and the Senate, and considering this statement to be a flat refusal by the President to intervene with the British Government for withdrawal of the White Paper ban on Jewish immigration, members of Congress wanted to know what would happen after Friday if an American Jew applies for a Palestine visa and is refused on the ground that Jewish immigration to Palestine — except for 20,000 refugees — is no longer permitted.
There are at present several thousand American Jews in Palestine, most of them elderly Jews who because of religious attachment to the land of their forefathers, have made Jerusalem their permanent home.
No obstacles have hitherto been placed in the way of Jews entering Palestine on permanent visas. The present ban on Jewish immigration to Palestine, however, will make it legally impossible for any American Jew to take up permanent residence there, while no such restrictions will apply to non-Jews.
SITUATION COMPARED WITH BAN ON AMERICAN JEWS IN CZARIST RUSSIA
It was recalled here today that the situation in Palestine may resemble that which prevailed in Czarist Russia where Jewish holders of American passports were barred from residence in the sections of Russia closed to Jews in general. This resulted in an exchange of correspondence between the State Department and the Czarist Government and caused the abrogation of the U.S. treaty of 1832 with Russia in 1911 following a resolution to this effect adopted in both houses of Congress.
It was also recalled here today that the State Department toward the end of the last century protested to the Turkish Government when American Jews were refused admission to Palestine which, at that time, was a part of Turkey. At present, since Palestine is a mandated territory in which the interests of American citizens are specifically protected by special provisions, the ban on immigration of American Jews for permanent residence in Jerusalem or any other part of Palestine would be contrary to America’s stipulations with regard to the mandate. At the same time, the admittance of American Jews would be contrary to the restrictions of the White Paper.
Diplomatic circles here predicted today that the ban of Jewish immigration to Palestine — excepting the 20,000 Jewish refugees who can still come there under the White Paper quota — will probably remain in effect until the end of the war. They based their observations on the fact that President Roosevelt, in his statement yesterday, emphasized that the Palestine problem is a civilian question for the future to be worked out in connection with the peace.
ZIONIST LEADERS REFRAIN FROM COMMENTING ON ROOSEVELT’S STATEMENT
Zionist leaders, though apparently disappointed, today refused to comment on President Roosevelt’s statement, which is considered a blow to Zionist efforts and to the work of rescuing Jews from occupied Europe. Disappointment at “the President’s attitude” was expressed by senator Edwin C. Johnson, Colorado Democrat, and Senator Bennett C. Clark, Missouri Democrat. The latter, who led an hour-long debate in the Senate yesterday, declared that the President’s statement still presented no bar to Senate action on the Palestine resolution.
President Roosevelt’s statement, made at his press conference, came as a shock to all members of Congress who have gone on record as supporters of Jewish immigration to Palestine. The President said that his views on Palestine, as expressed through Dr. Abba Hillel Silver and Dr. Stephen S. Wise recently, conformed to, rather than conflicted with, the position taken by the War Department.
On the one hand, the President pointed out, there was a military matter, on the other hand a civilian question for the future to be worked out in connection with the peace. The military aspect, the President thought, was a temporary bar to further discussion at the present time. A very serious bar, too, he added.
The President declined to go into a general discussion of the Palestine situation. He apparently saw no conflict between his previous statement that the U.S. Government has never approved the British White Paper and his present endorsement of the War Department’s opposition to any Senate action on the Palestine resolution which asks for the abrogation of the White Paper. The immediate problem, he said, was what can be done for the refugees coming out of Europe through Spain and through the Balkans into Turkey. The number of these refugees was relatively small and not all of them are Jews, he added.