Jerusalem (Nov. 28)
Sharp criticism of Foreign Minister Bevin’s statement on Palestine was voiced here today at an extraordinary session of the Asse(##) Hanivcharim, the Jewish National Assembly, called to formulate the attitude of Palestine Jewry toward the new British policy.
Leading the attack against Bevin was David Ben-Gurion, chairman of the executive committee of the Jewish Agency. He declared that after analyzing Bevin’s statement, it becomes clear that its real aim is a desire on the part of the British Government to liquidate the White Paper together with Zionism; to liquidate the Jewish nation and to deal with Jews as individuals; to liquidate the Palestine Mandate and replace it with an occupational regime under international trusteeship.
Charging that Bevin’s statement prepares the ground for the slaughter of Jews in Palestine, Ben-Gurion said: “We are interested in an alliance with democratic England, which has vital interests in this hemisphere, but we reject any policy designed to liquidate our existence and our aspirations. Upon the graves of our comrades in Tharon, I say to Bevin: ‘I am not an Englishman, nor do I know if the British people gave you authority to treat the Jewish people in this way, but we know you have forces at your disposal. We do not want to be killed, we want to live. We believe we, too, have the right to live like the British and other peoples. But we, like the British, have something more precious than life itself. We cannot forego three things – freedom of immigration, our right to rebuild the desolation of Palestine, our independent political future in this land. For these three things we are prepared to die’.”
Ben-Gurion denied Bevin’s allegations that there is a conflict between the Jews and the other nations in the Middle East. “We see our efforts going hand in hand with the great historical needs of the Middle East and we are fulfilling a great historic task in the Middle East,” he declared. “The conflict between us and the Arabs is temporary.”
The Zionist labor leader also criticized Bevin’s statement on the following points: “1. There is no mention of the Labor Party’s pronounced policy for Palestine; 2. It does not mention anywhere the Jewish people, but instead it employs all sorts of terms like Jewish community or Jews; 3. The concept of the Jewish National Home has disappeared. Bevin speaks only of a Jewish home; 4. What is also missing from Bevin’s statement is the problem of the homelessness of the Jewish people.”
Other speakers at the opening session included Isaac Ben-Zvi, president of the Jewish National Council of Palestine and Capt. Ben Ahron of the British Army who was taken prisoner by the Germans in Crete. The latter vigorously denied that Jews fired upon British soldiers during the clashes this week in the Jewish settlements. He emphasized that Jews in Palestine will continue to assist others to enter the country by every possible means.