JERUSALEM (Feb. 2)
Mrs. Goldie Meirson, head of the political department of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, today appealed to the British Government not to impose martial law, “specially now when something constructive may spring from the present London talks,” but she rejected British demands for large-scale varfare by the Jewish community against the extremists, declaring that “we refuse to plunge the Yishuv into civil war.”
Mrs. Meirson’s appeal, which was made at a hurriedly summoned press conference during a lull in the all-day meeting of the Jewish Agency executive, came a few hours before the scheduled departure of a plane carrying 40 British women and children to England, the vanguard of the more than 2,000 who are to be evacuated within the next few days. It is reported that 40 R.A.F. planes are due here tomorrow to assist in the exodus.
The Agency political spokesman expressed regret at the evacuation order, declaring that the British women and children were in no danger. If the move was “contemplated to make an impression on world-wide opinion, we are sorry that such methods are being used,” Mrs. Meirson added. She expressed the abhorrence of the Jewish Agency and the Jewish community for the extremist outbreaks and pointed out that the community had already begun to fight terrorism in line with the resolution adopted by the Jewish National Council. “It would be unwise, however, to ask Jews to become informers,” she said.
JEWISH LEADERS MARKING FRANTIC EFFORTS TO SECURE GRUNER SIGNATURE TO APPEAL
Meanwhile, Jewish leaders, headed by Chief Rabbi Isaac Herzog, continued their frantic efforts to persuade Dov Gruner, condemned Irgunist, to sign an appeal to the Privy Council. Rabbi Herzog saw Gruner this morning. High Commissioner Sir Alan Cunningham has under consideration a personal appeal for commutation of Gruner’s sentence made yesterday by Herzog and Chief Rabbi Ben Zion Uziel. Although there has been no definite word, it is understood that Gruner is still refusing to appeal, despite pleas by his attorney and others that refusal to do so may bring ruin to the Jewish community. It is reported that Menahem Beigin, Irgun chief, has refused to order Gruner to sign the appeal.
The Agency meeting, which resumed early this morning after a nearly all-night session, was studying measures to be taken if the doomed extremist remains adsmant and the government decides to proceed with his execution and the imposition of martial law, which is almost certain to immediately precede or follow his hanging. Agency leaders are in constant touch with their office in London in an attempt to learn the government’s plans. The entire Hebrew press today appealed to Six Alan, on both humanitarian and political grounds, to reprieve Gruner.
Gruner’s lawyer, Asher Levitsky has cabied Henry Wallace, Ganeral De Gaulls and Georges Bidault, French Foreign Minister, and other prominant world figures asking them to appeal to the British Government to halt the execution. In his messages, Levitsky termed the Irgunist a “fighter for freedom.” He is also attempting to find a legal means for halting the execution despite Gruner’s refusal to appeal.
The authorities are going ahead with plans to establish mili######## in both Jerusalem and Tel Aviv where essential personnel will live under constang guard. Twenty Arab house owners living on the Jaffa-Tel Aviv border were today given until 6 p.m. tomorrow to evacuate their dwellings, which are to be included in the protected area. The civilians herded into these areas will reside in what has officially been labelled “almost protective custody.”It is understood that the French Consul here sent a message to his government similar to that dispatched by Lowell C. Pinkerton, American Consul-General, who cabled Washington that there was no danger to American citizens and that their evacuation was not necessary. Business men hore called a second protest meeting, but thus far their efforts to halt the evacuation seem to have borne no results.
The High Commissioner tonight received a cabled appeal from a group of U.S. Senators, Congressmen and other notables appealing to him to spare Gruner to preserve “the United States’ goodwill for the government you represent.” It said that the doomed man was considered a “Hebrew patriot sacrificing himself for the lofty ideals of western civilization.”
A few hours earlier an attorney named Kritchman, acting on behalf of Frank Gruner, 70-year-old uncle of the Irgunist, who resides in the United States, served the superintendent of the Palestine prisons with an order compelling him to show cause why Gruner should be hanged without a signed confirmation of his sentence by the High Commissioner. The case will be heard by the Palestine Supreme Court tomorrow. The older Gruner is superintendent of the Ganeral Post Office in New York City and served in the Spanish-American War.