American Jewish Conference Endorses Creation of Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine
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American Jewish Conference Endorses Creation of Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine

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After three days of prolonged internal deliberations, the American Jewish Conference last night adopted a resolution calling for the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and of the Palestine Mandate, demanding the immediate withdrawal of the White Paper “in its entirety,” and insisting that Palestine be open to Jewish immigration directed and regulated by the Jewish Agency. The resolution emphasized that these measures “constitute the essential prerequisites for the attainment of a Jewish majority and the re-creation of a Jewish Commonwealth.”

Delegates of the American Jewish Committee voted against the resolution, after their plea to postpone action on the Jewish Commonwealth issue until the next session of the Conference, several months from now, was rejected. The Jewish Labor Committee delegates abstained from voting in accordance with its declaration made at an earlier session of the Conference to the effect that the Labor Committee takes no stand on the Jewish Commonwealth issue because there is no unanimity among its membership on this question.

Declaring that the American Jewish Conference is a democratically elected body “to represent organized American Jewry,” the resolution reviews the progress which the Jews have made in Palestine in the course of the twenty-five years since the issuance of the Balfour Declaration and emphasizes that “with the promulgation of the White Paper of 1939, the solemn promise made to the Jewish people was virtually annulled and the last hope of millions of homeless Jews threatened with extinction.”


“The American Jewish Conference,” the resolution reads in part, “meeting at a time when the policies of the peace are in the making, and conscious of its historic responsibility and of its position as representative spokesman for American Jewry and the silenced Jewish communities of Europe, calls for the loyal and faithful fulfillment of the covenant entered into between the nations of the world and the Jewish people.

“We call for the fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration, and of the Mandate for Palestine whose intent and underlying purpose, based on the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine,” was to reconstitute Palestine as the Jewish Commonwealth.

“We demand the immediate withdrawal in its entirety of the Palestine White Paper of May, 1939, with its unwarranted restrictions on Jewish immigration and land settlement. The White Paper constitutes a violation of the rights accorded to the Jewish people under the Mandate for Palestine. It was characterized by Mr. Winston Churchill in the House of Commons as a “breach and a repudiation of the Balfour Declaration.” The Permanent Mandate’s Commission of the League of Nations refused to recognise its legality or moral validity.

“The Conference demands that the gates of Palestine be opened to Jewish immigration, and that the Jewish Agency, recognized under the Mandate as the authorized representative of the Jewish people, be vested with authority to direct and regulate immigration into Palestine, to develop to the maximum the agricultural and industrial possibilities and the natural resources of the country, and to utilize its uncultivated and unoccupied lands for Jewish colonization and for the benefit of the country as a whole.

“The measures here urged constitute the essential pre-requisites for the attainment of a Jewish majority and for the re-creation of the Jewish Commonwealth.


“In the pursuit of its objective of a Jewish Commonwealth, the Jewish people has steadfastly held before it the ideals which shall integrate Jewish Palestine within the new democratic world structure. The Jewish people pledges itself to scrupulous regard for and preservation of the religious, linguistic and cultural rights of the Arab population of Palestine, and to the civil and religious equality of all its inhabitants before the law. The inviolability of the Holy Places of the various religions shall be guaranteed.

“The Jewish people reaffirms its readiness and desire for full cooperation with its Arab neighbors in Palestine, and, in the work of its own national redemption, welcomes the economic and political development of the Arab peoples of the Near East.

“On the basis both of the part it has played in the history of civilization, and of its present achievement in Palestine, the Jewish people believes that the Jewish Commonwealth to be established will represent another fundamental contribution to the social and political ideals of the world. It will finally answer the agonized cry of the most martyred of peoples, and enable it to take its rightful place in that progressive order of mankind which, we pray, may issue from the present struggle.”


Considerable indignation was voiced by the delegates at the appearance in the metropolitan press on the morning of the third session of the Conference of a statement by the “American Council for Judaism” opposing a Jewish state in Palestine. Mr. Henry Monsky offered a statement which was adopted by the Conference scoring the “Council” for issuing its statement while American Jewish unity was being forged at the Conference. The statement said:

“The American Council for Judaism a body of 100 men speaking for themselves, has seen fit to issue a statement in the name of “Americans of Jewish faith” at a time when the American Jewish Conference, a democratically elected body, representing every major Jewish organization and community in the United States, is seeking to unite American Jews on a common program for the solution of the tragic problems confronting world Jewry. “The timing of this action must be characterized as unsportsmanlike and reprehensibly impertinent. It is calculated to confuse American public opinion and to disrupt the American. Jewish community. Today the delegates here assembled, representing every point of view, are united in their repudiation of this attempt to sabotage the collective Jewish will to achieve a unified program.”

Earlier, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress, declared that while the conference “talks in the name of the totality of Jews, they (the members of the council) talk only in the name of the curse of the Jews.”

Characterizing the council’s statement as “treachery to the sons of Israel” and “treachery to that cause which our country and our rallies are pledged to save and serve.” Rabbi James G. Heller, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, declared that the council represented only a small minority of the reform rabbinate and the Jewish laity. Other members of the rabbinate attacking the council included Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein, honorary president of the Rabbinical Council of America; Rabbi Robert Gordis, vice-president of the Rabbinical Assembly of America; Rabbi Joseph S. Shubow, of Boston.


Adolph Held, chairman of the Jewish Labor Committee, speaking on post-war problems, presented to the Conference the views of his organization on the future of the Jews after the war.

“We are firmly convinced” he said, “that following the war, the Jews will remain in the lands in which they have lived for centuries, and where they created all their modern history. We are equally convinced that mass-immigration cannot solve the Jewish question. The Jewish Labor Committee, categorically rejects the view of Jews in postwar Europe as individuals in need of charity or philanthropy. To us, the Jewish people in Europe are a collective, with its own cultural and national needs. Therefore, we say: “In European countries, with large and compact Jewish settlements, the Yiddish language is to be given full recognition in the administrative, legal, and political institutions of the state. In such countries too, Jews are to receive the right to organize into autonomous bodies for the purpose of administering their national cultural affairs.”

Rabbi Irving Miller, of the American Jewish Congress, addressing today’s afternoon session, emphasized that anti-Semitism should be outlawed through international conventions and by national legislation. Special attention, he said, should be paid by the United Nations to the distinctive Jewish problems created by the policy of extermination of the Jewish people, ruthlessly carried out by the Axis authorities and their accomplices both in the preparation for and the conduct of the war.


Israel Mereminsky, speaking in behalf of the Jewish National Council of Palestine, reported on the development of the Jewish community of Palestine in the face of a discouraging political situation. He said that the community views itself as the vanguard of a Jewish settlement in Palestine which will number millions and appealed to the Conference to do all in its power to bring about large-scale immigration.

Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein, executive director on the Commission on Army and Navy Religious Activities of the Jewish Welfare Board, addressing the afternoon session said: “We must think of the future of Palestine, not as of some backward country of the Near East, but as a Belgium or Holland on the Mediterranean, thriving from industry and commerce, resting securely on the foundations of a modern self supporting agricultural economy. Some experts say it will hold two millions; others say three or four; some even six. Clearly, Palestine represents the great, growing Jewish community of the future. But all this.” Rabbi Bernstein stated, “is predicated on political guarantees. The increase in the Jewish population in Palestine, over half a million since 1918, the redemption of hundreds of thousands of victims of Nazi terror, were made possible only by the issuance of the Balfour Declaration. The salvation now of hundreds of thousands of others, perhaps even millions, will be possible only through the reaffirmation of the Balfour Declaration.”

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