Jerusalem (Jul. 9)
Dr. Chaim Weizmann, in an address read for him to a press conference, made an impassioned plea to the British Government and people to take immediate action to remedy the situation in Palestine by releasing the imprisoned members of the Jewish Agency executive and admitting 100,000 Jews.
Concluding with the Biblical appeal, “Let my people go,” Dr. Weizmann reminded the British that the Palestine Jewish community for which the Jews had toiled for the last half century was in a state of siege and its “best sons and daughters” were behind bars; that the remnants of Europe’s Jews were still behind barbed wire; that the Jews had given full support and aid to Britain in her darkest hour; and that it was not the fault of the Jews that violence stalked the Holy Land.
He declared that negotiations between the Jewish Agency and the Palestine Government could not begin until after the arrested Jewish leaders were released. He said that it was impossible to accept the conditions made by Prime Minister Clement R. Attlee that both the Jews and Arabs disarm before the joint Anglo-American Palestine committee’s report could be implemented.
Stating that the British Government had missed a good opportunity to bring the Jews and Arabs together, Dr. Weizmann said, however, that the inquiry committee’s recommendation that Palestine should never be set up as a Jewish state or an Arab state was unacceptable to the Jews because it would mean “giving hostages to the future.”
(The Associated Press quoted Dr. Weizmann as saying that partition of Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states “must not be rejected” as a possible solution of the Palestine problem.)
SAYS ZIONISTS NOT SHIFTING ORIENTATION FROM BRITAIN TO U.S.
The world Zionist leader said in reply to a question that there was no tendency in the Zionist movement to shift its orientation from Britain to the United States and he stressed the long affinity between Zionism and England.
“Let me remind our friends in England,” he continued, “the spirit that guides us–the weakest among the nations–is the same that guided Great Britain in the darkest hour of her history. And just as Britain triumphed over all adversaries, so we too shall triumph. For peace, justice and freedom are indivisible. A world half free and half slave will not endure and as long as the Jewish people are unredeemed, the world will remain shackled and crushed under the weight of its own injustice.”
Had Britain proceeded immediately to implement the positive recommendations of the Anglo-American inquiry committee’s report–”Attlee’s assertion to the contrary notwithstanding–quiet would have reigned in Palestine, Dr. Weizmann said. “Even on the day the report appeared there was already noticeable a marked slackening of tension in the yishuv lasting until Attlee made his statement attaching impossible conditions to the implementation of the report. Did Attlee ask himself why the Haganah, whose service until after the war he commended, should have changed in his eyes?” Dr. Weizmann asked. After Attlee’s statement the mood of the Jews changed to one of bitter disappointment verging on despair, he pointed out.
“I came to Palestine last year after six years of war-time absence,” he recalled. “For eight months thereafter not only did the Haganah maintain the strictest discipline, but there was cooperation with the government in controlling sporadic acts of violence. My voice carried weight then for I had been able to tell the Yishuv’s leaders of Churchill’s intention to deal constructively with the Palestine problem after Germany’s defeat.
“Then came Germany’s and Japan’s defeat and a great change swept over England’s political face bringing to power a government more deeply committed to support of Zionist policy than any previous British Government. That government has been in office for a year and still the remnants of our people languish behind barbed wire and there is no visible progress in working out an application of a just and durable solution to the Palestine problem–nothing but shifts, shufflings and procrastination.
JEWS ARE NOT PRIMARY CAUSE OF UNREST IN PALESTINE
“I am asked to use my restraining influence. Indeed this is my desire and my determination, but as one who all his life regarded cooperation with England as an indispensable cornerstone of Zionist policy, I cannot help saying, however reluctantly, that the primary cause of the dreadful happenings here today lies not with the Jews but with those who allowed the situation to drift to its present calamitous plight.”
He warned, however, “this should not be interpreted to mean I condone political violence. I abhor it, I repudiate it. I have used and will continue to use all my strength to eradicate it.” Asserting that even the law takes into account extenuating circumstances, he asked “is there a people in the world that has endured such terrible trials as my people?” Reciting the tribulations which basset the Jews, he demanded again: “How long shall we endure this?”
SAYS FORCE WILL NOT DESTROY JEWISH LIFE IN PALESTINE
Pointing out that “Britain’s might, as we have been reminded, is more than adequate to bomb Tel Aviv to rubble in one hour, and to lay waste our settlements in one night,” he insisted that “I cannot believe His Majesty’s Government will use that might in the way it has been suggested–not too subtly I may add. But if, God forbid, that comes to pass we will re-create what is destroyed and will once again build up the land of Palestine to the limit our strength and resources. And those of our people in Europe and elsewhere for whom the world today holds so little hope, will continue to press the gates of Palestine.
“I appeal to the British Government for speedy action such as will help us counteract the counsels of despair spreading among our people not only here but every-where. I appeal to the British people and government: stay your hand; undo the wrong done us. You are keeping behind the bars of Latrun and Belsen those who in the hour of your greatest need helped you in your struggle. Ours is no less a struggle,” he said, concluding with “Let my people go.”
Following the reading of the statement at the press conference, Dr. Weizmann was asked whether negotiations between the Palestine Government and the Jewish Agency were still possible. He answered that negotiations could not be undertaken until the Jewish leaders were released.
When asked whish conditions Attlee had set on implementation of the inquiry committee recommendations were “impossible,” he said that it was the condition that both Jews and Arabs disarm. While the Jews would be completely disarmed, he stated, the Arabs could bring in arms freely from Transjordan and Syria. The Jews remember too well the past disturbances, he declared.
He asserted that the British Government had lost a good opportunity to bring the Jews and Arabs together, but said he was in no position to accuse anybody, adding “I simply state that insufficient care has been given to that.”
Pointing out that the Jews aided Britain in both World wars, he declared their aid was forgotten. “The Mufti is now residing in an Egyptian palace while Moshe Shertok (political chief of the Jewish Agency executive) who raised a Jewish army of nearly 25,000 is behind Latrun’s barbed wire.”
Replying to a question concerning the tie between the Agency and the Haganah, he asserted that the Haganah is a part of the Jewish community which according to Attlee did important work until last year. But last year evidently both Attlee and the Haganah changed, and “whether I like it or not, Jewish self-defense will continue.” He stated that he did not think that any incriminating documents had been found at the Agency’s headquarters, but asked if such evidence had been uncovered, why has it not been published.