WASHINGTON (May. 18)
The establishment of a “Hebrew Committee for National Liberation” which will apply to the Allied powers for the same degree of recognition now accorded to other committees of liberation in exile, was announced here today at a press conference called by the initial members of the Committee.
The new group, spokesmen emphasized, considers itself “the temporary trustee of Hebrew national interests” and claims to represent the Jews of Palestine and of Europe. Its aim is “to redeem Hebrew national sovereignty.” It will be financed by floating bonds to be repaid within ten years by the Free Palestine Government which will be established as result of the Committee’s efforts, Peter H. Bergson, head of the new organization, said. He expressed the hope that $1,000,000 could be raised.
A statement issued by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, representative of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, warned well-intentioned non-Jewish groups eager to help the Jewish people, “not to be misled by the bombastic phrases and claims” made by the newly- formed group which, he said, is “insignificant and substitutes noise for complete lack of standing, authority and influence in Jewish life.”
The American Jewish Conference also issued a statement attacking the new group is “an irresponsible adventurer which comes to the American public without credentials and menaces the cause it presumes to espouse.” Similar statements were issued by the American Zionist Emergency Council, the American Jewish Congress, the Hadassah and other national Jewish organizations, charging the Committee with undermining the Jewish Agency for Palestine.
The Hebrew Committee for National Liberation, it was announced at the press conference, will be led by Peter H. Bergson, who was also the organizer of the committee for a Jewish Army of Stateless and Palestinian Jews and of the Emergency committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe. In a statement outlining its aims it said that it had been organized to obtain recognition of the Hebrew people of Europe and Palestine as a sovereign nation with the right of self-determination. It will seek representation in the councils of the United Nations and will demand the right for a Hebrew Army to fight on an equal footing with other United Nations armies against the Axis.
NEW COMMITTEE WILL NOT SPEAK FOR AMERICAN JEWS, IT SAYS
“While the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation will not press the settlement of political and boundary problems of Palestine until the and of hostilities, it will insist however on the immediate opening of Palestine to all Hebrews who can manage to escape from Europe today,” the statement said. “The ultimate goal of the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation is the establishment of a free Palestine with the Arab population as partners in a democratic and civilized Palestine, and with a illegally constituted international authority in control of the Holy Places of all faiths.
“Let it be clearly understood” – the statement goes on to say – “that the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation does not attempt to speak for the Jews of the United States. They are an integral part of the American nation, an integral part of a nation made up of people of every descent. They do not ‘belong’ to Palestine, and thereby to the renascent Hebrew Nation neither, anymore than justice Frank Murphy ‘belongs’ to the Irish Nation or Lt. Gen. William Knudsen ‘belongs’ to the Danish nation, though they both certainly are proud of their ancestry.”
URGES POSTPONEMENT OF SETTLEMENT OF PALESTINE POLITICAL PROBLEMS
Proclaiming the Hebrew Nation “a co-belligerent in the United Nation’s war against the Axis tyranny,” the statement continues, “In the present condition of our nation, we are dedicated to only one task – the rescue of our people. We, therefore, proclaim that the Hebrew Nation postpones the settlement of the political and boundary problems of Palestine until after victory when, as one of the United Nations, we hope to partake in the postwar settlement of political territorial problems, Until that time we shall cooperate with and assist Great Britain as the Mandatory for Palestine. We do however insist, in the name of humanity, that the right and the ability of all Hebrews in Europe to find shelter in Palestine be facilitated by the Mandatory Power, Last it be guilty of sacrificing them to their ruthless German murderers.”
Emphasizing that the Jews “have contributed more fighters to the common struggle than most of the United Nations,” the statement declares; “Because we are, in fact, a co-belligerent against the Axis, we consider ourselves one of the United Nations and shall seek recognition as such. And as the nation against whom more atrocities have been committed than against all the other United Nations combined, we surely should be represented on the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes. We also seek a seat on the Board of the United Nations Relief and rehabilitation Administration and on all other United Nations councils in which the interests of our nationals are involved.”
ZIONIST EMERGENCY COUNCIL CALLS NEW GROUP “COLOSSAL HOAX”
The American Zionist Emergency Council, which speaks for all the major Zionist bodies in the United States, issued a statement branding the new Committee “a handful of young men who are attempting to perpetrate a colossal hoax upon the American people,”
“We would warn the public, the press, and all official circles against being taken in by such a brazen fraud,” the Council said, “The self-appointed ‘Hebrew Committee of National Liberation’ is made up of half a dozen adventurers from Palestine with no standing, no credentials, no mandate from anyone unless it be from the Irgun levai Leumi in Palestine, an insignificantly small pistol-packing group of extremists who are claiming credit for some of the recent terrorist outrages. Every movement as its lunatic fringe and irresponsible splinter factions, and it is natural that they should exist also in our midst. The danger is that uninformed people may be taken in and may be led to believe that a new Moses has arisen in Israel.”
The American Jewish Conference, in a statement emphasizing that it speaks for 4 national Jewish membership organizations and every Jewish community in the United States, said; “The so called ‘Hebrew Committee for National Liberation’ pretends to speak in the name of the ‘Hebrew nation’ in Palestine, but it has no mandate from the Jewish National Assembly, which is the authorized and democratically-elected spokesman of the Jews of Palestine. On the contrary, the leaders of this committee are linked with an extremist clique in Palestine, which amounts to less than one percent of the Jews of that country, and which has been outlawed by the Jews of Palestine because of its anti-democratic and terroristic tactics. It pretends to see a distinction between Jews’ and ‘Hebrews,’ which no Jew would be able to appreciate or understand, but which is intended to divide and disrupt the Jewish people. The real object of the Hebrew Committee is to destroy the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the official and internationally recognized body created by the League of Nations to act with the boundatory Power ‘to secure the cooperation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish National Home.”
WISE SAYS “LIBERATION COMMITTEE” RENDERS “GREATEST DISSERVICE” TO JEWS
Dr. Stephen S. Wise, speaking for the American Jewish Congress, condemned the Hebrew Committee of National Liberation as a group which has not “the slightest vestige of authority to speak for any important Jewish body in Europe or in Palestine.”
“That Mr. Bergson and a few of his Palestinian associates, together with a handful of American dupes, should declare themselves to be the representatives of a ‘Hebrew nation’ would be a farcical jest if it were not a ghastly tragedy at a time when united effort for the rescue of Jews in Europe ought to be the aim of American Jews, together with a sustained effort to win American support for a free and democratic Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine,” Rabbi Wise said. “This willful little company of irresponsible makes confusion worse confounded, and appears to be ready by its devices and unscrupulous tactics to render the greatest possible disservice to the Jews.
Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, issued a statement in behalf of that body assailing the establishment of the Committee and its proposals.