Dr. Weizmann celebrated his fifty-ninth birthday recently. The following address was delivered by him at a reception in his honor arranged by the British Zionist Federation of which he is president
Jews always seek explanations of anti-Semitism, economic, political, racial, religious, etc. I say that these things are only incidental. We need not look for explanations. How is it that over 2,000 years, in all ages, there always has been this same phenomenon?
The explanation is that we Jews do not want to die. In spite of the persecution of thousands of years, we are still here in a special way, a minority in a majority. We remain Jews, keep our traditions, do not do as the Romans do. We are Jews and we remain Jews, and that is what the world does not understand. Since we do not become as the others are, we attract attention, because we are something different. The first anti-Semite, Haman, gave the first correct definition of anti-Semitism. Haman did not say that Jews are bad, but he said that they are different and they want to remain different. That was and that is the chief accusation against us. You may say that there are many more Greeks outside than inside Greece, yet there is no anti-Greekism. The difference is that they have Greece. The people must have a homeland.
THE DEFINITION NOT CLEAR
Everyone knows what a Swiss or a Greek is, but not everyone is clear what is a Jew; you cannot give a single plain answer. We Jews have not been clever in realizing this truth. First we got emancipation. But we did not get emancipation out of a feeling of equality. There was just as much anti-Semitism then as now. Jews adapted themselves to the new conditions. Those who were emancipated and assimilated tried to show that there was no Jewish people, and adapted themselves, religion and all, to this conception. This was so especially in Germany. It was the Jews themselves who accustomed the world to make distinction between East and West Jews. Now the Nazis have come and annulled emancipation and put the whole Jewish question on a different basis, race and nation, and all that they had made themselves believe was overthrown.
That is the difference between Polish and German Jewry. The Polish Jew knows why he suffers: he is a Jew; but the German Jews do not even know what they are suffering for, many of these no longer conscious of being Jews. They are awakening to a new realization, and the tragedy, therefore, of their suffering is greater. The further tragedy of the German Jews is that there is no country where they can come, so long as we have not our own country and our own passports. Therefore Zionism is getting to be vital in its significance for Jews. Every certificate that can be obtained for a Jew to be able to enter Palestine is of the greatest importance.
THE LAW NOT MADE FOR LIFE
The immigration laws in Palestine are not fitted to life. Laws should be made for life, and not life for laws. But we shall fight and we shall survive this, as we survived 1929. We shall not give up one of our rights in the Mandate.
I am not indifferent to what is happening in Palestine, but this is only a temporary thing. Four years ago people would have been happy if 15,000 more Jews would enter Palestine; this year 30,000 entered. For us it is little, for the British it seems to be too much. Palestine will be the test of Judaism. Jews will be judged by what they have done in Palestine, not by what has been done by Jewish lords in England, or by Jewish professors in Germany, but by acres in Palestine, people in Palestine and professors at Jerusalem University.
It was not important that Jews were going to Palestine because they could not go to America, but that Jews should have a flag, a passport and a right to sit at the League of Nations and to say: “We demand this, or that.”
In the name of Palestine we should be able to tell the world that it is unjust to 16 million Jews in the world to leave things as they are.
There is such a thing as justice in the world and there is justice in England, and we can and must convince the British people. We must demand our rights with dignity and force, as is worthy of a great people, not by throwing stones through windows.
I am a realist. I am convinced that the possibilities for our generation at least are unlimited; to take one exampleâ€”the new harbor at Haifa. Situated on the great transport routes, it has a tremendous future. There are also the immense possibilities opened up by the Iraq oil pipe line to Haifa. Behind Haifa all the land is Jewish. Haifa will take the trade of the enormous awakening and developing hinterland. Alexandria has only Egypt, which has only cotton. If Alexandria has a population of 600,000, Haifa may yet surpass Alexandria. There is only one thing I want, and that is, that a great many of these 600,000 in Haifa should be Jews. That is the possibility before us.
There are enormous possibilities in Palestine. The entrance of 200,000 Jews has completely changed the face of Palestine. Incalculable new possibilities will open up that we cannot now even foresee. We will go on, but we must have Jews, and Jews must have hope and energy and faith.
The past 13 years have been very difficult. I believe that the next 13 years will be easier, and if you do not lose hope and courage, we shall win through.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.