Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Negotiations on Jewish Army Still in Progress, Weizmann Says on Arrival

March 24, 1941
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Worn and nervous from the effects of an arduous four-day air voyage from Lisbon, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the World Zionist Organization, accompanied by his wife, stepped off the Dixie Clipper at LaGuardia Field at six o’clock yesterday morning on a projected two-month visit to the United States.

Pleading lack of rest, Dr. Weizmann refused to be interviewed, but did indicate to a JTA representative that negotiations regarding formation of a Jewish army were still in progress in London. Informed that the London Jewish Standard, Zionist-Revisionist organ, had reported the negotiations deadlocked, he said "That is not correct." Asked if it could then be assumed that the talks were still in progress, he said "yes."

Dr. Weizmann would not discuss the results of the interview he had with Prime Minister Winston Churchill before leaving London. Nor would he talk of any aspect of Zionist policy or the scientific work in which he is engaged.

Dr. Weizmann will confer with leading American scientists regarding his chemical research for the British war effort, which he has been conducting in a special chemical laboratory of the British Admiralty, and will discuss with American Jewish leaders plans for enabling Palestine to give maximum aid to the British cause in the Near East. His first public address will be delivered Wednesday evening at a rally in the Hotel Astor.

Despite the early hour, a delegation of about 20 Zionist leaders was on hand to greet Dr. Weizmann. Among them were Louis Lipsky, Mendel N. Fisher, Morris Margulies, Jacob Fishman, Meyer Weisgal, Henry Montor, Miss Julliet N. Benjamin, David Wertheim and Arthur Lourie.

As Dr. Weizmann entered the customs room at LaGuardia Field, after having been brought ashore from the Clipper on a launch and being passed by the immigration inspectors, reporters clustered around him for an interview. "I cannot speak," he told them. "I come from a country at war."

Later, however, he discussed briefly the participation of Palestinians in the British war effort in the Near East. "There are 8,000 of them in the British forces," he said. "A thousand of them are in fighting units and the rest in auxiliary services."

The trip from Lisbon had been a hard one and he had gotten little sleep, he said. He complained of the alternating hot and cold weather and the delays. "We landed at the African port of Bolama (Portuguese Guinea)," he said, "and had to wait there for eight hours with nothing to do or see." Stops were also made in Para, Brazil; Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"I have had a very difficult trip," he said. "Maybe I’ll talk to you later. For the next two days I’m going to sleep."

Later, the United Palestine Appeal issued the following statement on Dr. Weizmann’s behalf:

Now, more than ever before, Palestine is the only center for the salvation of great masses of Jews and for the resurrection of the Jewish nation. American Jewry, the only great free Jewish community in the world, must now, more than ever, bear the burden of the major responsibility. Though we are fully confident of the ultimate victory of Great Britain and her allies, supported by the growing help of your great democracy, we must realize that the post-war Jewish problem will not solve itself. In the future, as in the past, the fate of our people will lie first of all in our own hands, and the tragic necessities of the moment must not distract our attention from our ultimate goal, which is the full liberation of our people through the establishment of a Jewish National Home on a sound and enduring basis."

Recommended from JTA