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Brandeis Resumes Active Interest in Palestine Cause; Joins with Warburg in Establishing Palestine Co

November 26, 1929
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Justice Louis D. Brandeis yesterday broke the silence he had maintained since he ascended the bench of the Supreme Court in October, 1916, when he raised his voice against the recent tragic occurrences in Palestine and joined with Felix M. Warburg and other notable leaders of the American Jewish community in formulating plans for the establishment of an economic corporation for Palestine.

The conference, held at the Hotel Mayflower, was called at the invitation of Mr. Warburg to meet with Justice Brandeis, Dr. Lee K. Frankel. Bernard Flexner and himself in order to consider practical possibilities for investments in Palestine. The conference unanimously decided to organize an American business corporation for the investment of funds with a view of furthering the economic development of Palestine.

Mr. Warburg, in his opening address, announced that in a recent conversation Justice Brandeis had agreed to be “our pilot and stand on the bridge and steer us through the storms.” He gave expression to the belief that the occurrences in Palestine were a temporary set-back, being confident that the inhabitants of Palestine wish to live together upon a sound foundation of mutual intercourse and progress.

All of those present were greatly moved by the key-note address which was delivered by Justice Brandeis. There were tears in his eyes when he told the conference how deeply he had been affected by what he had seen in Palestine when he visited the country ten years ago. He expressed his unshakeable faith in the Jewish people, declaring that the events in Palestine have given him infinitely more courage and desire to help the pioneers of Palestine in their gigantic task of building up the country.

Justice Brandeis’s address follows:

“I am here gladly at the suggestion of the Chairman, because I am convinced that a group of American business men of proven ability and loyalty to the Jewish cause, can, cooperating (Continued on Page 6)

under the leadership of Mr. Warburg, assure a Jewish Palestine. The road is economic and the opportunity is open. I reached that conviction ten years ago when I became acquainted by my visit to Palestine with the country and the people, Arabs and Jews. Since that time I have watched with deep interest the development in Palestine and have had a very small part in them. The happenings during each of those ten years, including the present, have served to deepen my conviction.


“Those of you who have been to Palestine know that in character and climate Palestine resembles Southern California. It is a miniature of Southern California. Like California it has available water, water that has to be secured, as in California by pumping and irrigation. But there is plenty of it there for all ordinary purposes if it is conserved and utilized. It was a surprise to me to find that the rainfall in Jerusalem was a little larger than the average rainfall in London. Until the recent attempts to conserve water most of it was wasted.

“So you have a country which in characteristics and in climate resembles what we have come to regard as the garden of America. But it differs from California in one extraordinary particular and differs very much. Whereas everything in California which nature in its bounty has given, was until a few years ago preserved for man untouched for 1,500 years and more abuse has done all that man could do to prevent Palestine from being fruitful. But all the devastation is but a scratch upon the surface of Palestine. The trees were cut down ruthlessly, although the old Jewish law at every point taught the value of the tree. Under that old code, even in war, trees were not destroyed, because the tree is a friend, not an enemy. In those 1,500 years of abuse not only was the soil washed away but malaria in its wake was brought in. That is the difference, or was the difference, between Palestine and Southern California as a possible place for human endeavor, for cultivation and development. But while so much was lost and the evil of malaria brought in. I found when I went to Palestine that in the long range of time which we have to consider man’s evil effort has only touched the surface. It was still possible, as the Jewish settlements demonstrated, that it could be a land flowing with milk and honey and with much besides. Wherever man has directed intelligent effort supplemented by science, the land began to bloom almost as a miracle. I know how I felt when I saw that. I felt convinced that all that was needed was men, means and intelligent effort. If Palestine affected me in that way, one who had lived most of his life largely apart from the Jewish people. I realize what it could do for others who have been close to Jewish life. I said to myself then: While 1,500 years had been devastating Palestine, 2,000 years have developed the greatest of natural resources.


“Palestine has developed Jewish character. By the various sufferings to which they had been subjected in some parts of the world and in most of it during all those centuries there has been bred a race of people who could easily supplement all that Palestine has lost. Jewish suffering not only taught men to think, it gave them will, it gave them courage, it gave them pertinacity, which under all possible circumstances and amidst all possible difficulties, throughout the world, made them leaders wherever opportunity existed and in many places where it seem not to exist. I then acquired that faith which, as I say had been deepened by every year’s experience since. It is only a question of our will, intelligently directed, to make Palestine Jewish, and in making it so, to solve in large part the Jewish problem for the whole world.

“Now I say my conviction has been deepened. Why? In the first place the thing which I found as an obstacle to progress, to financial success, which accounted for many of the deficits from which the farmers were suffering, was malaria. I was convinced that it was possible to remedy this because I, myself, as a boy, lived in a malarial region on the Ohio River. In an incredibly short time and at a more than incredibly small expense this scourge has been eliminated.

“Another question that had disturbed me was: How would our people coming from diverse lands so unlike Palestine-indeed, so unlike one another-how would they adapt themselves to that country? How would they grapple with the problem? And there was this particular difficulty that came into my mind and remained there for years after I left Palestine, and it was this: What will be the effect of doing the very thing which I thought must be done, namely, providing the money necessary? Would it have the effect of lessening ambition, making dependents instead of men, as men must be who are pioneers in a new old country, self-dependent, self-reliant individuals? I had for years been much concerned as to what that necessary act of supplying money, in which I myself took a small part would have in the development of the people on whom we have to rely. I am happy to say that the years have removed from my mind all doubt on that question. On that subject as on many others, in an incredibly short time, when you think of the development of peoples, that question and others of less importance have solved themselves.


“So marched the years. Then came this thing which from many stand-points must be talked of as a massacre of helpless old people and peaceful religious students, a terrible thing to have happened in any part of the world. But there are compensations. There too, as I see it, the first and most fundamental thing is that it has shown the mettle of the people whom we have been aiding in these years to make life in Palestine possible and to develop it. They have shown a manhood, courage and ability to look out for themselves, which is all that we could wish and all that any people on earth could wish for their pioneers in a new and difficult situation. Jewish intelligence, Jewish courage, Jewish persistence, have all been manifested and I know of nothing certainly in recent history finer than the temper shown by these men and women-and I would almost include the children-under the perils which confronted them in Palestine. The massacres occurred where there were the old, the infirm, those unused to effort. Largely the old people in Palestine, not the newcomers, suffered.

“I say again, because it is always recurring to my mind, that there is nothing in this whole situation, nothing to my mind, in the Jewish problem anywhere, that is as important as the character trained by 2,000 years of suffering and of effort. Therefore, knowing of that country and its possibilities, I have no fear of the Arab question or of any other. I have no fear because I know in my heart, as my reason tells me from all that I have observed, not only there but elsewhere in a life that is now beginning to seem long, that those Jewish qualities are qualities that tell.

“For one I am not sorry that our representatives have been tested. It gives me infinitely more courage, infinitely more desire to help them than I ever had before. Of course there are risks. There are risks in everything.

“The Jews have made their success in the world in very different ways. Whether it be in money or in thought, they have used their imagination, their courage, their intelligence to do things that were not always safe. By using intelligence, the power of adaptation, by a readiness to think where others do not think, they have achieved great things, great successes, wherever they are. That success I am convinced is open to us now in Palestine, and I believe the conditions are really very favorable.


“I was strongly in favor, and still am, of the Balfour Declaration, because I realized that it was as much for British interest as for our interest that Palestine should be developed by Jews. I reached that conclusion after very close relations with British who were here during the war. But even before that I believed that such a thing as the Balfour Declaration was possible because I believed it not only to be in accord with British interests, but con-

sistent with the interests of all the European powers, and consistent also with the interests of the Allies. I found in Palestine, and I believe it is still true, that the danger of the Arabs is grossly exaggerated.

“There always has been danger from the earliest times that man knows anything about, of the incursion of Bedouins from without. They crossed the Jordan. They came over the southern boundary. But even ten years ago our people were able to protect ourselves against them and there grew up a respect for our people, for the Shomer, the mounted Jewish police which guarded the colonies and I think there were few things in Palestine that gave me more of a sense that our people could look for themselves than the Arab legend which has grown up in regard to the ability of one of the Shomrim as a sharp shooter. Our people can take care of themselves and our obligation or privilege is to enable not only those who are there to develop, but hundreds of thousands of others who are ready to go there, who are ready to share in that enterprise who are eager to work and who if they go there will, in my opinion, make Palestine perhaps-all things considered-the safest place in the world. For when the Jew is there in number there will be no anti-Semitism. There will be Jewish joy as well as Jewish sorrow. I found among those who had gone to the colonies far more of joy than of sorrow. They reminded me of that self-reliant attitude of our pioneers of the West and of those who had made the East a few centuries ago. So I came to tell you what I believe and what I think you can do. Do, not with money only, because money has been merely an instrument of the Jew-brains has been his chief commodity and character, will and strength of every kind, but money is as necessary to these enterprises as is water to the land. And we of America ought to provide it.”

Felix M. Warburg, in opening the meeting, which was conducted in two executive sessions, stated: “This meeting has been called with the kindness of Mr. Justice Brandeis, who told us that he would be glad to sit down and discuss with us the question of what to do in regard to Palestine and the steps to be taken to assure its development on economic business lines. We meet here today to consult with one another and to clarify our own minds in regard to the practicability and the procedure for the furthering of business and industry-untrammeled by political or other considerations. This question was studied by us some time ago, and was seriously considered in Zurich when those of us who are deeply in sympathy with the business development of Palestine made it very clear that if it is to progress at all, it must be built up on business lines, pure and simple. We are all agreed that more than anything else, the country needs calm, steady work. Speech-making will not build it up, politics will retard it, and we have before us the problem of the best form in which to attain this goal.


“We decided at Zurich that a financial corporation should be established. Under such conditions, and with the assurance of the English Government that life and property will be secure, we stated then that a number of us were prepared to invest a substantial amount. Lord Melchett agreed to subscribe $500,000, and I consented to subscribe a similar amount. We little thought then that the question of safety of life and property would come to the fore in so terrible a form as it had since. Distressing as this situation was, and unexpectedly as it appeared, we must reckon that in a country that has so many complexities in its population, misunderstandings will occur and that temporary setbacks may crop up. Yet I am quite satisfied that all the inhabitants of Palestine want to live together under normal conditions and upon a foundation of sound mutual intercourse and progress and prosperity. With the establishment of security of life and property, we may hope to pursue the peaceful channels of business and industry. We should be ready in an organized way, to take steps to work out a concrete program.


“I am delighted and grateful that we have the privilege of calling upon Justice Brandeis, who has been deeply interested in the solution of these problems for many years. I am happy, too, that among those here who can tell us how sound business credit and other enterprises have been conducted and can be extended in Palestine, are men like Mr. Bernard Flexner, the Chairman of the Palestine Economic Corporation, and some of his associates. Sound methods have been applied by that organization, and thanks to that fact, the Palestinian population have been aided to approach their economic problems on the basis which you and I would like to see developed further. We have the earnest conviction that the growth and progress of Palestine must proceed on business lines soundly and efficiently carried forward. We have the conviction that on just such efforts and such undertakings we must concentrate our best energy. We must consider today in what form and through what vehicles we shall proceed. I am satisfied that the calm, normal operations of a business body will find a modus vivendi, perhaps long before political difficulties are settled in one way or another.

“You will be interested to know that the Palestine Economic Corporation has shown the way that business can be furthered in Palestine. Loans can be made, and in the span of the last four years, two million three hundred thousand dollars have been granted in small sums. Most of these have been repaid and loaned out again, which indicates that business can be carried on in an efficient and sound manner.

“I am glad that we have here a distinguished engineer, Mr. Fohs, who can tell us the results of investigations as to the mineral resources of Palestine, and its natural resources. Investigations which should be supplemented and extended. As you know, we have had meetings in London about the Dead Sea and its exploitation, and that work is going on at this time. There are many other things which you will want to hear about. I see that Mr. Asher Pierce is here, and Mr. Lawrence Levine, who have had a large measure of experience in connection with the orange plantations. The orange industry is undoubtedly one which promises to be the backbone of Palestine so far as the Jewish population is concerned. A good part of that I was privileged to see with my own eyes when I visited Palestine. It is an industry which lends itself very well to the Jewish population, but there are still many problems that press for solution. Among them is the most efficient method and manner of marketing, which as yet is in a relatively primitive stage. The possibilities of the orange trade, it seems to many of us, are tremendous, and should be considered by a business corporation.

“We have the great privilege of having Justice Brandeis with us. In a recent conversation which I was permitted to have with him, I asked him if he would be our pilot and stand on the bridge and steer us through the storms-and there are enough storms in Palestine just now-so that we may go on to smoother waters in the business corporation.”

Dr. Lee K. Frankel surveyed the economic possibilities of Palestine. He pointed out that while iron, coal, lumber and copper were lacking, there were besides the potash and possible oil resources, great opportunities for the development of the orange industry-the Jaffa orange, owing to its type, having a practical monopoly in the European market. After briefly discussing the possible by-products of the citrus industries, he discussed the opportunity for creating a sound textile industry in Palestine by the use of Egyptian cotton. He then dwelt on “tourism” as a source of income for the country, believing that by the erection of modern hotels, good roads and other facilities, the tourist traffic would be notably developed.

Israel B. Brodie discussed in some detail the Dead Sea development. F. Julius Fohs, oil geologist, described the oil and shale, lime and other natural resources of the country.

Asher Pierce and his son, Professor Pierce of Montreal, gave some details of their experience in orange plantation development, following a re- (Continued on Page 8)

port by Laurence N. Levine of New York on the work of plantation now being carried on by the Gan Chaim Corporation.

Bernard Flexner, president of the Palestine Economic Corporation, detailed the operations of that corporation, which has about two and a quarter millions invested in Palestine, in mortgages, agricultural loans, small loans, land purchases, and in the Dead Sea development. Mr. Flexner pointed out that the people of Palestine met their obligations in a businesslike manner and that he felt that all the investments of the company were safe as well as sound.

The resolution unanimously adopted by the conference sets forth:

“Whereas, this conference is of the firm belief that funds may be invested in Palestine on a business basis, and has received reports indicating the practical possibility and need for increasing the amount of such investment,

“Therefore, be it resolved, that the necessary steps be taken forthwith to organize an American business corporation with a view to furthering the economic development of Palestine;

“To carry out the purpose of this resolution, be it resolved, that the Chairman of this conference appoint a committee to consider the most effective action required;

Be it further resolved, that the said committee may, in its discretion, add to its members, any person or persons, and that a report of the progress in carrying out the purposes of this resolution, be made within three months from date.”

Among those in attendance at the conference yesterday were: Dr. Cyrus Adler, Philadelphia; Joseph J. Bach, New York City; Louis J. Borinstein, Indianapolis; Gregori Benenson, New York City; Hon. Louis D. Brandeis. Washington, D. C.; Israel B. Brodie, Baltimore; Fred N. Butzel, Detroit; Mark Eisner, Bernard Flexner, F. Julius Fohs, New York City; Hon. Eli Frank, Baltimore; Dr. Lee K. Frankel, Edward Friedman, New York City; Nathan H. Gordon. Boston; Edmund J. Kaufman, Baltimore; Samuel S. Fels, Philadelphia; Samuel C. Lamport, Laurence N. Levine, Judge Julian W. Mack, James Marshall, New York City; Israel Matz, Brooklyn, N. Y.

Nathan Musher, Julius I. Peyser, Washington; Asher Pierce, Sidney D. Pierce, Montreal, Canada; Louis Pizitz, Birmingham, Ala.; Iscar S. Rosner, New York City; Samuel Schimmel, Philadelphia; Max Shoolman, Boston; Dr. Abram Simon, Washington; Judge Horace Stern, Philadelphia; Aaron Straus, Baltimore; Sol Stroock, Robert Szold, Israel Unterberg, Felix M. Warburg, Dr. Joshua Bernhardt, Jacob de Haas, Joseph C. Human, M. A. Leavitt, New York City, and George Shatzkin, Lawrence, N. Y.

Messages were received from a large number of leaders who were unable to attend but who expressed their interest. They included the following:

Paul Baerwald, New York City; Oscar Berman, Cincinnati; Jacob Epstein, Baltimore; Max L Grant, Providence; Louis E. Kirstein, Boston; Arthur M. Lamport, New York City; S. M. Magid, Providence; Bernard K. Marcus, Clarence Y. Palitz, S. R. Rosoff, New York City; W. A. Schwartzschild, Richmond; Harry G. Sundheim, Philadelphia; Morris Weinberg, Brooklyn, N. Y.; Julius Simon, New York City; James H. Becker, Chicago; Leo Butzel, Detroit; James Davis, Chicago; David Doniger, Morris Eiseman, New York City; Meyer Elsasser, Los Angeles; Victor Emanuel, New York City; James D. Glunts, Boston; Harry Fischel, New York City; Jacob Harzfeld, Kansas City; Sydney L. Harold, Shreveport, La.; Arthur Joseph. Cincinnati; J. J. Kaplan, Boston; Henry Kaufman, New York City; Fred Lazarus, Columbus, O.; Peter Leavitt, Boston; Arthur Lehman, Hon. Herbert H. Lehman, New York City; M. M. Lemann, New Orleans; Albert H. Lieberman, Philadelphia; John L. Liebovitz, Woodmere, L. I.; Edwin B. Meissner, St. Louis; Walter S. Meyer. James N. Rosenberg, New York City; Ben Selling, Portland, Ore.; Jacob Sperber, Nathan Straus, New York City; Harry C. Sundheim, Philadelphia; Charles Topkis, Wilmington and Henry Wineman, Detroit.

The speeches of Dr. Lee F. Frankel and Bernard Flexner will be reported in more detail in subsequent issues.

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