Washington (Jan. 14)
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine completed the taking of testimony in this country today, hearing a group of Jewish and non-Jewish witnesses, including Dr. Isaac N. Steinberg, of the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonization; Peter Bergson of the Hebrew Committee for National Liberation and several Arab spokesmen.
Dr. Steinberg appealed for opening of unoccupied areas in the world to large scale Jewish settlement, declaring that the whole future of Jewry should not be bound up with Palestine. He cited the preparatory work for his league in Australia for establishment of Jewish settlements in the Kimberley district and Tasmania. He suggested similar colonization plans for Canada, Africa and some British colonies.
While calling for abolition of the White Paper and removal of restrictions on the up-building of Palestine, Steinberg said the Freeland League “is not much interested in the establishment of a Jewish State,” he thought the political situation in Palestine would be cased with the appearance of alternative possibilities of Jewish group colonization within the framework of other states.
Mr. Bergson told the committee that their main purpose is to find “a workable way of life for Palestine.” He proposed a free republic without state religion and fullest equality for all citizens.
An “outdated” clique in the British Colonial Office is responsible for the “desperate” attempt to maintain the status quo in the Middle East, Bergson charged. He assailed the British for allegedly “asking the permission” of the former Mufti of Jerusalem for Jewish immigration.
HUTCHESON SAYS HE IS WORRIED ABOUT INSISTENCE ON JEWISH STATE
Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, representing the Christian Council on Palestine, said Jews have a logical right to a homeland in Palestine, that they are the only ethnic minority without one. Judge Hutcheson suggested the possibility that the problem under consideration is one for the United Nations Organization rather than for Anglo-American responsibility.
Niebuhr, responding to another question, said he favored a Jewish numerical majority in Palestine, declaring that a “bi-national” state could not exist without friction. Greater responsibility of the western powers for permanent solution of the Jewish problem was urged by Niebuhr. He hoped that “a tolerably just solution” for all parties could be found, and said he favored a “Palestinian state with a Jewish majority.”
Hutcheson asked why there is continuous emphasis on a “Jewish state.” Niebuhr replied that Jews want a state where they do not have to explain both their virtues and vices. Hutcheson said there was no difference between an American Jew and himself. He added he was worried about the insistence on a “Jewish state.” Niebuhr said non-Jews should try to understand the increased impulse of Jews, since Hitler, toward the security of a National Home in Palestine.
Dr. Frank Notestein, professor of demography and director of the Office of Population Research at Princeton University, told the committee that Palestine could not absorb the 1,125,000 immigration within 10 years proposed last week by Robert Nathan without serious economic dislocation. He said the Jewish “rate of fertility” is the lowest in the world and the Arab the highest. He attributed the high percentage of Arab population partly to Jewish health measures leading to an “amazing” drop in Arab mortality in the last 20 years. Maintenance of a Jewish majority in Palestine is impossible, he said, without Jewish immigration, which he did not believe could be accommodated. Dr. William Hocking and Dr. Henry Sloane Coffin, who were scheduled to testify for the Institute of Arab-American affairs, did not appear.
Judge Hutcheson, in announcing the end of the American hearings, expressed his appreciation for the spirit of cooperation evidenced by all the witnesses in undertaking to make the hearings a success. He would have wished, he said, for “a little less vigorous and controversial” attitude than that sometimes shown, but commented that “maybe the core of the question is so tough and of such uncompromising material,” that a solution will be possible only by “judgment” and not by “conciliation.”
The committee will leave for England at the end of this week. It plans to spend about a week in London before investigating conditions in Germany, Austria, and possibly Rumania, and then in Palestine. The hearings in London will open on Jan. 25, and will continue through the end of the month, Invitations have been extended to both Jewish and Arab groups, and to other interested organizations.