B’nai B’rith’s triennial national convention today heard Dr. Chaim Weizmann predict a Palestine Jewish commonwealth side by side with an Arab federation after the war and Vice-President Henry A. Wallace stress the importance of equality for all races and religions in the Western Hemisphere.
Addressing a luncheon session at the Drake Hotel, Dr. Weizmann asserted that “the floating and homeless five millions of Jews” could not survive without Palestine. “We have before us the greatest problem of salvaging the lives of Jews in the entire history of Jewish dispersion,” he said.
Speaking of the “difficult Arab problem,” the world Zionist leader asserted: “A solution to that problem must be found in order to achieve our objective. The Jews and the Arabs must live side by side as neighbors and cousins.
“After the victory of the democracies there must come a federation of the great Arab countries. This confederation will extend from the Euphrates to Libya. The democracies too, will realize the historic connection between the Jews and Palestine and that we are entitled to develop an autonomous Palestine, free from shackles, where we can bring these millions of our suffering people so that they can build a country that can fructify and revitalize the whole Middle East. It is possible to have a Jewish commonwealth side by side with this Arab federation.”
“The 500,000 Jews in Palestine who are ready to lay down their lives represent a great arsenal of human freedom as we stand sentinel at the entrance to the Suez Canal,” he declared. “Every man, woman and child in Palestine would rather die than to yield that frontier which is one of the most strategic approaches to the Western Hemisphere.”
Stressing the necessity of “unity of purpose as we prepare against the time when we shall have a word to say in the settlement of our destiny,” Dr. Weizmann urged that Jews be united “on two great purposes–on the restoration of the Jewish rights of which we are brutally deprived outside of Palestine and on the affirmation of a right to build our homeland, unshackled and unfettered, in Palestine.” Dr. Weizmann was introduced by Dr. Solomon Goldman.
Vice-President Wallace addressed 4,000 delegates and guests of the convention at the “inspirational session” at the Civic Opera House this evening. His speech was broadcast over a CBS network and rebroadcast in Spanish to Latin American countries. The subject was “Democracy and the Dignity of Man.”
“The Nazis rose to power largely by preaching hatred of the Jews,” he said. “They propose to eliminate the Jews completely in all of Europe. The methods they have used in their efforts are unspeakable. I know that no person worthy of the name ‘American’ will ever permit himself to take even the first step on that road of racial hatred, the road which carried the Nazis to power and the road which will lead them to eventual ruin,”
He asserted that “we must train the next generation to be not only tolerant of the racial and religious minorities, but to rejoice in them. To those nations which best learn the art of reconciling minority differences will belong the future of the world.”
Wallace urged a “genetic democracy” — the doctrine that “no racial or religious group should be looked on as inferior because of its heredity.”
“The cost of Nazi terrorism in terms of suffering to Europe is great beyond measurement,” he asserted, “but we in the New World owe a great debt of gratitude to the Nazis for forcing us to make clear our thinking about the meaning of democracy and the part which racial and religious groups must contribute if democracy is to be worthy of its name.
“B’nai B’rith, I know, has caught this vision and will work for it whole heartedly in all of the hemisphere. The New World is a chosen land, not for the Jew or the German or the Anglo-Saxon of the Spaniard or any other one people. The New World is a chosen land in which all of us, tolerantly living together, can allow the dignity of man to be expressed, free from the compulsions of the Old World, but with that sense of duty which is necessary to preserve that which is precious beyond life itself–an efficient yet tolerant constitutional democracy, free from the Gestapo and a greedy ruling class.”
Wallace was introduced by Henry Monsky, president of B’nai B’rith, who pledged his organization to “contribute further to our national strength by stimulating a more profound sense of national solidarity.” Alfred M. Cohen, past president of B’nai B’rith, presided.
During the day there was a symbolic initiation of 6,000 new members enrolled in B’nai B’rith’s District No.6 in a campaign held as a tribute to Monsky.
In his presidential address opening the convention last night, Monsky urged broadening of B’nai B’rith’s war relief and refugee program, for which more than $250,000 was made available in 16 countries since Jan. 1, 1938, and intensification of national defense efforts. He reminded the 150,000 men and women affiliated with the organization that “national service in this hour is an unprecedented opportunity for patriotism in action.”
Monsky also announced that the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee had agreed upon an immediate joint fund-raising campaign for the defense programs of the two agencies. The campaign will be known as the “Joint Appeal for the American Defense Activities of the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.”
A message was read from President Roosevelt, who praised B’nai B’rith’s splendid work in the fields of charity and philanthropy” and said “its activities in advancing education and promoting true Americanism are likewise widely known and appreciated.”
Among the speakers at the opening session were Governor Dwight Green, Mayor Edward Kelly, Philip M. Klutznick, president of B’nai B’rith District 6; Benjamin J. Friedman and Jerome J. Friedman, convention chairmen, and Judge I. M. Goldman of San Francisco, a vice-president of B’nai B’rith.
Diamond menorah awards for 40 years’ service as delegates to B’nai B’rith conventions were presented to Archibald A. Marx, New Orleans, and Joseph “Oilman, New Haven, Conn.
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.