American Jewish Organizations Make Public Their Appeals to the Bermuda Parley
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American Jewish Organizations Make Public Their Appeals to the Bermuda Parley

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The Joint Emergency Committee for European Jewish Affairs, the membership of which represents the majority of the Jewish population in this country, today made public the text of the appeal it has sent to the Anglo-American conference on refugees which opened in Bermuda this morning. The text of a similar appeal sent to the Bermuda parley by Dr. Chaim Weizmann on behalf of the Jewish Agency for Palestine was also made public here today by the American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs.

Parallel with publication of the text of its appeal, the Joint Emergency Committee for European Jewish Affairs also made public the full text of a letter which it had addressed several days ago to Under-Secretary Sumner Welles of the State Department. The text reads:

“In behalf of the Joint Emergency Committee for European Jewish Affairs, comprising the American Jewish Committee; the American Jewish Congress; the B’nak B’rith; the Jewish Labor Committee; the American Emergency Committee for Zionist Affairs of the Zionist Organization of America; Hadassah; Mizrachi; and the Poale Zion; the Synagogue Council of America; the Agudath Israel of America, Inc.; and the Union of Orthodox Rabbis in America, we submit through you to the Bermuda Conference, scheduled to open on April 19th, the enclosed Memorandum and appendix, setting forth a program of rescue to be undertaken for the Jews of Nazi-occupied Europe, otherwise doomed to destruction. The signatories to these Memoranda represent leading Jewish organizations in the United States with whom are affiliated a large majority of the Jewish population of this country.

“These Memoranda set forth the principle projects representing, in our considered judgment, basic action to be undertaken immediately by the United Nations if the remnants of European Jewry are to be saved from destruction. Among these are: 1. Negotiations with the Axis Powers through neutral governments to permit the exit of Jews from Axis-occupied countries, 2. The creation of temporary and permanent Sanctuaries for them by the United Nations; 3. In view of the fact that planned starvation is one of the methods of accomplishing the extermination of the Jewish populace of Europe, the feeding of those sections of the Jewish population in occupied Europe who will not be permitted to leave.

“We would be less than frank if we did not convey to you the anguish of the Jewish community of this country over the failure of the United Nations to act until now to rescue the Jews of Europe. For many months it has been authenticated that the Nazis have marked the Jewish population of Europe for total extermination and that it is estimated that almost three million Jews have been done to death, while a similar fate awaits those who remain. World civilization has been stirred to its depths by these horrors. Every section of public opinion throughout the world, and more particularly in England and in the United States, has spoken out in demand that the United Nations act before it is too late to save those who can still be saved. Six months have elapsed, however, and no action has as yet been taken. In the meantime it is reported that thousands of Jews continue to be murdered daily.


“When first the conference, which is now to open in Bermuda, was announced, it was our hope that at last effective action would be immediately forthcoming on the part of the United Nations. These hopes are seriously disturbed by three developments:

“1. Both our State Department and the Foreign Minister of Great Britain have announced that the Bermuda Conference is to be primarily exploratory.

“2. At this writing neither the United States nor Great Britain has seen fit to call into consultation the representative organizations of the Jewish communities of their respective countries. Nor has either Government seen fit to invite delegations representing the organized Jewish communities of these two countries to participate in the deliberations to be held in Bermuda.

“3. There are the doubts aroused by the isolation of the Conference in a place completely inaccessible to the influences of public opinion of public personalities, except by Government permission.

“When millions of human beings have already been done to death, and the fact of their murder has been authenticated by the United Nations, the time for exploration has long since passed, and the time for action is long past due. Unless action is undertaken immediately, there may soon be no Jews left alive in Europe. In communicating these views to you it is our purpose at this time also formally to place before you the request that a delegation representing the Joint Emergency Committee for European Jewish Affairs be invited to the Bermuda Conference to present our views on the program of rescue to be undertaken for the Jews of Europe. It is our sincere hope that you, who have long had an intimate and, we believe, sympathetic knowledge of this problem, will lend your influence to insure that the Bermuda Conference may serve as the instrument of humanity in rescuing a defenseless people who are otherwise doomed to complete annihilation.”

The letter was signed by Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress; Joseph M. Proskauer, president of the American Jewish Committee; Henry Monsky, president of B’nai B’rith; Adolph Held; president of the Jewish Labor Committee; and Israel Goldstein; president of the Synagogue Council of America.


The plea which Dr. Weizmann submitted to the Bermuda Conference in behalf of the Jewish Agency for Palestine urges that measures of rescue on the broadest possible lines be undertaken at once. While recognizing that others are suffering from Nazi brutality, the memorandum of the Jewish Agency states that “the Jews have been singled out for utter and complete destruction by the enemy.”

In the search for havens of refuge for those who may be rescued from the Nazis, the Jewish Agency declares that Palestine should be given principal consideration. The Jewish community of Palestine is prepared to welcome the refugees and the latter “would feel themselves not exiled but persons returning home,” the memorandum says. The priority of Palestine as a land of refuge is emphasized by the fact that it has already absorbed more immigrants from Germany and German occupied territory than any other country. Owing to the proximity of Palestine to the Balkan countries, the problem of transporting the refugees is also greatly simplified, the memorandum adds. Still another reason advanced in favor of Palestine is that the country offers immediate economic opportunities for 50,000 immigrants and ultimate opportunities for much larger numbers.

The Jewish Agency points out that its proposals can be implemented only by the abandonment of the policy contained in the British White Paper of May, 1939. That policy would permit the entry of only an additional 30,000 immigrants into Palestine and after April, 1944, would bar Jewish immigration entirely. The White Paper is denounced by the memorandum as part of “the discarded program of appeasement in international relations which characterized the period immediately prior to the War.”

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