Weizmann, Ben Gurion, Wise Call for Participation in London Parley; Silver Urges Boycott
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Weizmann, Ben Gurion, Wise Call for Participation in London Parley; Silver Urges Boycott

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Impassioned appeals to the World Zionist Congress to support the partition policy of the executive and to vote in favor of participation in the London Conference on Palestine were made today by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, David Ben Gurion and Dr. Stephen S. Wise, winding up the six-day political debate.

Dr. Silver, who preceded them, called for a boycott of the London parley and urged the Congress to disown “the disastrous diplomacy” of the executive. He also called for continuous Jewish immigration to Palestine “regardless of the cost.”

Dr. Weizmann received a tremendous ovation when he arose to deliver his reply. Every seat in the huge auditorium was taken and hundreds of men and women were standing in every available spot, eager to hear the leader of the world Zionist movement.


He reiterated his support of the Jewish Agency’s partition plan, stating that while many mistakes may have been made, the Agency’s letter to the Colonial Secretary proposing partition was not one of them. Declaring that he did not know whether sending the letter had been tactically correct, he said: “I am not a tactician. I will leave that to the generals.” He disclosed that as far back as the closing months of the Churchill regime, a special ministerial committee was working on a partition scheme.

Although it was important to the Jews that they not be a minority in Palestine, it was also important to the Arabs, and “that drives us to partition,” he continued. “I wish I had the power of the prophets to show the Jewish people the way to obtain freedom and independence,’ he said, but politics is an inexact science of trial and error. While 100 experiments might turn out wrong, if one succeeds, it makes up for all of them.

He warned the delegates that if they believed that Britain and the United States would fight over the issue of Zionism, they were badly mistaken. Replying to those who have been urging a reorientation of the Zionist movement towards other countries besides England, the aged Zionist leader said: “I have not seen any other government rushing to build up the Jewish state.”


The greatest obstacle to creation of a Jewish state is continued terrorism, he stated. “The Agency may be unable to control terror, but terror may soon control the Agency,” if it is not curbed. Branding terrorism a “deadly cancer,” he told the Congress that it must not allow it to grow or “it will destroy all we have created.”

To a delegate who shouted “demagogue,” Weizmann interrupted to reply that “every house in Nahalal and Tel Aviv has a drop of my blood in it.” His answer touched off a demonstration by almost the entire audience, which rose and applauded. Only the Revisionist delegates remained seated.

“Just as Winston Churchill promised ‘blood, sweat and tears’ to the British people, so I can promise the Jews hardships for many generations,” Dr. Weizmann declared. He said that there were differences between the Jews and the rest of the world with regard to the interpretation of the Balfour Declaration, but added that the Zionists are not downhearted when they fail and not excited when they triumph. “I do not think that the present situation hurts Dr. Silver more than it hurts me. I believe that I, too, had some part in bringing the present 600,000 Jews to Palestine.”


Ben Gurion, defending the partition scheme, said that he was convinced that a smaller part of Palestine under sole Jewish control is preferable to a larger part under British or Arab control. “In 1937 the Zionist Congress rejected partition, and historical experience has shown what was the result,” he pointed out.

Challenging Dr. Silver, Ben Gurion asked the president of the Zionist Organization of America the following questions: “Are you for or against partition? Will you fight partition if it is offered to us? Why did you not pass any resolution against partition where it was possible for you to do it?” The last question referred to the recent Atlantic City convention of the Zionist Organization of America.

Ben Gurion emphasized that he does not regret the issuance of the Biltmore Declaration, nor does he repudiate it. He said that he considered the Biltmore Declaration a sincere expression of the ideals and the needs of the Jewish people. The decisions taken by the executive of the Jewish Agency did not change the Zionist program, Ben Gurion argued. “If they did, then it is the duty of the Congress to re-emphasize that the Zionist program is still the establishment of a Jewish state,” he declared.


However, this is not a propitious time to seek a final solution of the problem, the Agency chairman continued. “The lesson of Transjordan, which was made a kingdom by an agreement between Britain and the Arabs, without our being consulted at all, and concerning which Bevin was backed by the United Nations, should make us think,” he said. “We must find a way by which what happened with Transjordania shall not happen to large parts of Palestine. We must formulate our rights to immigration and settlement in the whole of Palestine. We must be given the sovereign right to build part of Palestine.”

Discussing Jewish resistance, Ben Gurion stated that no people has paid such a high price as the Jews during their 1,800 years of resistance to the whole world. Resistance today, he went on, should not be confined to the Jews of Palestine, but should spread to the whole Jewish people. “We should not forget that we arrived in Palestine to live, not to die, and we arrived in friendship and in peace, but a fight was force upon us,” he said.

“Our way now is to get either continuation of the Mandate or a Jewish state; “otherwise there must be fullest resistance,” he warned.


Dr. Wise strongly defended the political policy of the Zionist executive and particularly that of Dr. Weizmann, and defended at great length the partition scheme of the Jewish Agency executive. In urging the Congress to decide in favor of participation in the London parley, he said:

“We stipulated our participation in the London conference depended on the re- lease of the leaders of the Jewish Agency from the Latrun detention camp. Well, they are free. They have been heard at this Congress. Again American Government support has been won. We can lose public opinion the world over if we refuse to meet as equals with the British Government and with the Arabs. That we should not go to the London parley would not only needlessly insult the British and perhaps incurably alienate the United States Government, but would be considered as an additional affront to public opinion, especially to liberal opinion on which we depend largely throughout the world.”

Dr. Wise severely criticized Dr. Silver for “belittling” what the Government of the United States has done for the Jews. At the same time, he lashed out against Britain for the White Paper policy. “The White Paper,” he said, “must go, and go at once. Its going should constitute the first step in the procedure of the London conference.” He emphasized that by attending the London talks the Zionists would not bind themselves to accept decisions that might be reached there.

“We shall accept no decisions that do not involve the cancellation of the White Paper,” he said. “We will reject the ‘federalization plan;’ we will reject a bi-national state which would not be an Arab-Jewish state but predominantly an Arab state. If from the conference there does not emerge a Jewish state in Palestine, the World Zionist Organization will reject any and every decision taken by the conference.”

Declaring that he believes in Jewish resistance in Palestine, Rabbi Wise emphasized that such resistance must be carried on in a disciplined manner. “I do not believe in disorderly undisciplined terrorism,” he said. He fervently pleaded for the rescue of displaced Jews from Europe and their transfer to Palestine.


Dr. Silver, defending his stand against participation in the London Conference, said that if such participation is approved by the Congress, the Zionist representatives should present only the classic program of “a Jewish state in the whole of Palestine.” Any contrary proposal should be transmitted to the Zionist Actions Committee for a decision.

“Our representatives should not be given carte blanche,” he insisted. He warned against sending to the conference those members of the executive who believe whole heartily in partition. “It would be fatal for its chances,” he said. He called upon the Congress to reaffirm clearly and unmistakably the program of a Jewish state in an “undivided and undiminished” Palestine. The Congress, he said, must declare that the partition plan no longer exists.

Replying to his critics, Dr. Silver said that the same people who previously insisted on participation in the London conference only on the basis of partition “are now preparing a movement for another disastrous retreat.” Serious and reasonable proposals to satisfy Jewish national aspirations are bound to be made sooner or later, Dr. Silver said. In the meantime, he urged maximum support for the Palestine Jewish community in its struggle against Britain. “The Yishuv’s power of resistance must be strengthened and the world must be convinced of the British conspiracy against Zionism, “he declared.

Disciplinary action against thirteen members of the American Revisionist delegation for their alleged connection with an appeal sent to the United Nations by the U.S. Revisionists, asking for creation of a U.N. trusteeship for Palestine, and for newspaper advertisements calling for aid for the extremist forces in Palestine has been deferred until Thursday pending receipt of information from New York.

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