Zionists Ask Democratic Convention to Pledge Support to Israel
Menu JTA Search

Zionists Ask Democratic Convention to Pledge Support to Israel

Download PDF for this date

The American Zionist Council, representing all Zionist groups in the United States, today submitted a memorandum to the Resolutions Committee of the Democratic National Convention urging the Democratic Party to pledge its continued support:

1. To Israel to enable it to carry out its historic undertaking to give sanctuary to homeless Jewish refugees and to strengthen its economy and improve its means of defense as part of the defense of the free world.

“2. To the United Nations program for the permanent resettlement of the Palestine Arab refugees in the Arab states.

“3. To the maintenance of the existing armistice agreements and to the early attainment of peace by means of direct negotiations between Israel and the Arab states.

“4. To the promotion of peace and economic development in the Near East.”

In presenting the memorandum, I.L. Kenen, Washington representative of the American Zionist Council, pointed out that “this program is in accord with the foreign policy of the United States, as expressed in the Mutual Security Program formulated by the Truman Administration and approved by Congress,” He emphasized that “these proposals are also in harmony with the traditional policy of the Democratic Party since March 1919 when President Woodrow Wilson declared his support of a Jewish commonwealth in Palestine.”


The American Council for Judaism also submitted a memorandum to the Democratic Resolutions Committee today calling the attention of the Democratic Party to “the demonstrable fact that no Jew and no organization of Jews can speak for all Americans of Jewish faith.” Herbert T. Schaffner, appearing before the Committee on behalf of the Council for Judaism, emphasized that there is no such thing as a “Jewish vote.”

“Americans of the Jewish faith, like Americans of other faiths, will as always, vote as individuals. They will vote for the party or candidate who in the opinion of each will best serve the United States. They will not be influenced to vote by consideration of the interests of any other nation.” Mr. Schaffner said.

After the Council for Judaism representative completed his testimony, Sen. Herbert H. Lehman of New York made a lengthy statement agreeing that there was no such thing as a “Jewish vote” and pointing out that neither the Congress, nor the Administration nor the Democratic Party had made any attempt to appeal to or appease a so-called Jewish vote in connection with Israel or any other question.

He said he could not understand the reason for or the purpose of the statement by the Council for Judaism. On the inclusion of aid for Israel in the Mutual Security Aid Program, the Senator said this was done because it was recognized in Israel’s case as in that of the other states helped by the program that aid for it would mean furthering U.S. interests.

Rep. Emanuel Celler of New York, who appeared before the Resolutions Committee independently this morning, urged a platform plank pledging continued support of Israel and the Arab states. His proposal was similar to the one urged by the Zionist Council.


Mr. Kenen, appearing before the Resolutions Committee on behalf of the American Zionist groups, reviewed the aid, encouragement and support to the building of the Jewish national home given during the past 20 years by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt and President Truman, as well as a substantial majority of Democratic Congressmen. He emphasized that all pledges made by the Democratic Party at its national conventions in 1944 and 1948 had been carried out.

Mr. Kenen then dwelt at great length on Israel’s absorption of 700,000 refugees and on the economic strains imposed upon Israel by heavy burdens of defense and resettlement. He pointed out that Israel was compelled to appeal for American assistance in 1951 and 1952 and that “the 82nd Congress responded affirmatively to that appeal.” Also that “the Administration recommended Israel’s inclusion in the Mutual Security Program” and that generous provision was made for Israel again this year.

“This record of performance justifies a declaration pledging continued support of a program in harmony with our country’s humanitarian tradition,” Mr. Kenen declared. “Considerations of humanity and American security, likewise, argue for continued support to the United Nations program for permanent resettlement of the Palestine Arab refugees in the Arab countries.”

The Zionist representative then pointed out that the solution of this problem has been enhanced by the wide acceptance in the General Assembly of the United Nations of the resolution of January 26, 1952, which was advocated by the United States, and which was adopted with the concurring votes of Israel and the Arab states.

“Secretary of State Dean Acheson,” he said, “spoke eloquently of the need to resettle the Arab refugees in the Arab countries in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee as recently as May 9, 1952, when he spoke of the benefits that would accrue both to the Arab refugees and the Arab countries through land and water development projects to facilitate the settlement of the refugees in the Arab states, and Congress voted to contribute to this program.

“It will be helpful to this undertaking, reassuring to the peoples themselves, and therefore conducive to regional peace and stability if the Democratic platform gives clear evidence that the United States will continue its support,” Mr. Kenen stated.

“American friends of Israel and the Arab states are hopeful that they can soon achieve peace in the Near East,” Mr. Kenen continued. “Accordingly, it is appropriate to urge Israel and the Arab states to enter into direct negotiations for the transformation of the present armistice agreements into permanent peace treaties.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund