Strike Paralyzes Palestine As Jews Fast in Solidarity with La Spezia Refugees
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Strike Paralyzes Palestine As Jews Fast in Solidarity with La Spezia Refugees

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Jewish trade, industry and transport were paralyzed today and Jews throughout the country fasted in a demonstration of sympathy with the 1,040 Jews detained aboard the Italian motor ship “Fede” at La Spezia, Italy.

Thirteen leaders of Palestinian Jewry entered on the third day of their hunger strike to protest the refusal of British authorities to admit the La Spezia refugees to Palestine. There was a constant flow of visitors, both individuals and delegations, to the courtyard of the Jewish National Council’s building, where the strikers are quartered, and although the latter are weakened, they are reported to be in good spirits and in generally good physical condition. However, their physicians have barred virtually all visitors, except members of their families.

The city was electrified late today by an unconfirmed report that the Palestine Government is getting ready to announce on April 15 to May 15 quota of 1,500 certificates, and will deduct the La Spezia immigrants from that total, making it possible for them to sail for Palestine immediately. It is known that the Government’s executive council met for several hours today, and it is reported that an urgent cable has been sent to the Colonial Office, and that the High Commissioner telephoned to London.


The number of strikers was increased to 15 today, when Israel Garfinkel, a member of the Tel Aviv municipal council, and Itzhak Werfel, a member of the Poale Mizrachi central committee, joined. The executive committee of the Jewish National Council is having difficulty in refusing the requests of many prominent persons that they be allowed to participate in the strike. This afternoon, the entire municipal council of Petach Tikvah arrived here and visited the strikers, after which they announced that all members of the council are joining the hunger strike as of today.

(A cable received today in the New York office of the JTA from its Palestine bureau disclosed that as a result of the telegraph and telephone strike in Palestine, JTA dispatches from Rome and La Spezia reporting that the detained refugees had suspended their hunger strike after the intervention of Harold Laski, have not been received in Palestine. The Jewish community, therefore, has apparently been unaware that the La Spezia strike was called off on Thursday.)

Yesterday, before the doctors’ orders barring visitors, several of the hunger strikers spoke from balconies to the crowds in the courtyard of the Council building. Zalman Rubashav, editor of the Labor daily Devar, and Goldie Meirson, Histadruth leader, stressed that the unity of all Jews will insure that Jewish immigrants are allowed to enter Palestine freely.

The 15 are resting in beds which were brought from the Hadassah hospital. The youngest of the hunger strikers is 39 years old, while the oldest is nearing 60. Every one of them has had a stormy political past and some were imprisoned in Czarist Russia as revolutionaries.

The strikers include: David Remez, Aron Zisling, Miss Meierson, Jacob Riftin, Nahum Nir and Mordecai Sharmer – all of the Jewish National Council; David Abulafisa, president of the Sephardic Jewish Community; Dr. Werner Senator of the Hebrew University; Elisheva Vrome Spencer, former president of the WIZO in Holland; Nahum Lifshitz, member of the Jerusalem Jewish Community Council; Salman Rabinovitz, leader of the Histadruth; Yehudith Simhonith, leader of the Council of Women Workers; Mr. Rubashev and the two who joined today.

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