British Follow India System of Non-cooperation in Palestine, Wise Tells Zionist Congress
Menu JTA Search

British Follow India System of Non-cooperation in Palestine, Wise Tells Zionist Congress

Download PDF for this date

The British Mandate administration in Palestine follows, in its policy toward the Jewish National Home, a course which reminds one of the anti-British movement in India, calling itself "non-cooperating," was the statement made by Dr. Stephen S. Wise, Rabbi of the Free Synagogue, New York, and vice-president of the Zionist General Council, who spoke at the close of a twelve-hour general debate before the Sixteenth Zionist Biennial Congress in session here. Dr. Wise is in disagreement with the views of the American delegation attending the Congress and he obtained his right to the floor not by virtue of his membership in the American delegation but by the courtesy of the Zionist delegation from Czechoslovakia.

He does not fully share the oppositional views expressed by Vladimir Jabotinsky, he said, but he feels duty bound to utter his criticism of the British policy, of the weakness of Zionist leadership and of his opposition, though it is not unreserved, to the extension of the Jewish Agency. The persecutions of Zionists in Russia and the suppression of Jewish religion and cultural activities in that country are being ignored by the Zionist leaders because of their unwillingness to anger their prospective partners, the non-Zionists, who are interested in furthering Jewish land settlement work in Soviet Russia, Dr. Wise charged.

"I will speak English here because English will be better understood in England," said Dr. Wise. "I would not say that the British government is opposed to the establishment of the Jewish National Home in Palestine. However, instead of ‘facilitating’ it, as it is pledged to do, the Mandatory Power adopts a non-cooperative attitude in relation to the achievement of this object. The Wailing Wall incident is being prolonged into a continuing source of misunderstandings, but the Zionist Organization maintains that it cannot bring about the removal of the offending official. It the minor official is blameless, then the chiefs are guilty, and a strong and adequate leadership would bring to the attention of the British Government the violation of the sensibilities of the Jewish builders of Palestine. The exertion of moral pressure can never be objectionable to a great and honorable government such as Great Britain is. If the British government were designedly faulty, it were a serious matter. However, it is the minor officials in Palestine who harass and will continue to do so until they are reminded that England loves fair play. The British government and people can have little respect for a people which is satisfied with less," he said.

"When we seek our just rights, the status quo is invoked against us; when it is sought to do us wrong by the chauvinist Mohammedans, again the status quo is invoked against us," Dr. Wise declared, referring to the Wailing Wall agitation which has again assumed an acute character in Palestine.

"I desire to call attention here to the resolutions adopted by the Zionist Organization of America at its recent convention in Detroit regarding the fate of Zionists in Russia. There has been a strange and lamentable silence in America for a number of years in consonance with a policy pursued throughout much of the Zionist world. Such silence is maintained because of the overshadowing fact of the Jewish colonization work in Russia. This policy of silence has been silently enforced among Jews. Recently the Zionist Federation of South Africa voiced its rightful indignation against the policy of begging throughout that country on behalf of Jewish colonization in Russia, whereupon one of the non-Zionist heads of the Jewish Agency was reported to have made a characteristically vigorous protest against an alleged breach of agreement," Dr. Wise declared. This statement by Dr. Wise had reference to a report concerning an alleged protest by Louis Marshall of New York. Dr. Wise was interrupted by Morris Rothenberg of New York, who categorically denied that Mr. Marshall had made such a protest to him as acting president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Dr. Wise, continuing on the subject of the anti-Zionist persecutions in Russia, challenged Dr. Weizmann "to introduce at the first session of the extended Jewish Agency a resolution denouncing the anti-Zionist persecutions in Russia." He then said that he was authorized by a distinguished American statesmen to make clear to the heads of the British government that he and the Jewish people hoped that the British government, when resuming relations with Soviet Russia, would remember the unhappy fate of Russian Jews, denied every rightful opportunity for fostering their ideals, customs and language, and particularly the fate of the Zionist. "Among some leaders of the British government I find most sympathetic understanding of this plea, more sympathetic than in certain circles in Jewish life which seem prepared to sacrifice everything Jewish in. Russia for the doubtful substitute of Jewish colonization," he declared.

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