Roosevelt Pledges His Support of Efforts to Establish Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine
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Roosevelt Pledges His Support of Efforts to Establish Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine

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President Roosevelt today pledged that “efforts will be made to find appropriate ways and means of effectuating” as soon as practicable the establishment of Palestine as a free and democratic Jewish Commonwealth.

In a message to the 47th annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America, meeting at the Breakers Hotel here, the President said that “if re-elected I shall help to bring about this realization.” He added. “I am convinced that the American people give their support to this aim.”

Formation of a Jewish Commonwealth, the President declared, is in accord with traditional American policy and the spirit of the Four Freedoms. Mr. Roosevelt’s message was addressed to Senator Robert F. Wagner and was read by him to the convention. The text follows:


“Knowing that you are to attend the 47th annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America, I ask you to convey to the delegates assembled my most cordial greetings. Please express my satisfaction that in accord with traditional American policy, and in keeping with the spirit of the Four Freedoms, the Democratic Party at its July convention this year included the following plank in its platform: ‘We favor the opening of Palestine to unrestricted Jewish immigration and colonization, and such a policy as to result in the establishment there of a free and democratic Jewish Commonwealth.’

“Efforts will be made to find appropriate ways and means of effectuating this policy as soon as practicable. I know how long and ardently the Jewish people have worked and prayed for the establishment of Palestine as a free and democratic Jewish Commonwealth. I am convinced that the American people give their support to this aim; and if re-elected I shall help to bring about this realization.”


Following reading of the President’s message, Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, co-chairman of the Zionist Emergency Council, wired the White House expressing the appreciation of Zionists everywhere. The wire said:

“Please accept my profound appreciation and gratitude for your magnificent and historic statement read by Senator Wagner today. Not only American Jews, but Jews throughout the world, will hail it with deepest satisfaction as well as all people of good will everywhere. It is in keeping with your deep concern for the rights of all people struggling for freedom and a chance to live free and normal lives in the new world which you are helping to fashion. This is an historic day for us and we are, I repeat, profoundly grateful.”

The convention received with jubilation the statement by President Roosevelt, which, coupled with the War Department statement issued yesterday, withdrawing its opposition to passage by Congress of the pending Palestine resolutions, created the feeling here that the resolutions will now pass both houses of Congress by a large majority.

Senator Wagner following the reading of the President’s letter, praised Jewish achievements in Palestine and hailed the creation of the Jewish Brigade. “Jews,” said Wagner, “have earned this measure of consideration not only because they were the first victims of Hitler and the chief sufferers of the Nazi regime, but also because the Jewish people, by their constructive efforts in Palestine – turning the desert into the most significant part of the ‘fertile crescent’ – has made it possible so to increase the economic capacity of Palestine that 600,000 Jews have a safe resting place in the land of their forefathers. Palestine has absorbed twice as many Jewish refugees as all of the rest of the world put together,” he continued. “It is only fair and just that you be given every opportunity to explore the possibilities of Palestine as a factor in the solution of the age-old problem of the Jewish people.”


Addressing the evening session of the convention, Dr. Silver called President Roosevelt’s message “a forthright, unequivocal endorsement of the Zionist program – a notable milestone in the struggle which we have been carrying on to secure public and official recognition of Jewish aspirations with regard to Palestine.

“Only forty-eight hours ago,” he continued, “we received a similar pledge from Gov. Dewey, Presidential candidate of the Republican party. Mr. Dewey’s pledge was equally clear, forthright and unambiguous. These two statements reaffirming the Palestine planks of the Republican and Democratic platforms adopted in Chicago in June and July, respectively, add up to this; that the American people and the standard bearers of both major parties are solidly behind our hopes and aspirations for the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth. This issue has been definitely removed from the sphere of partisan politics. Notice has thus been served to the world that the full weight of American opinion will be thrown into the scales when the moment arrives for reaching a decision on the future of Palestine through international action.

“Despite the official policy of the British Government, the White Paper policy which is still in force, we know that powerful sections of British opinion favor our position,” Dr. Silver said. “We are confident that Prime Minister Churchill is earnestly desirous of correcting the wrong and the blunder of the White Paper and to bring about a fundamental revision of policy leading to a Jewish Commonwealth, whatever views may be entertained by other elements in British official circles. I believe that Mr. Churchill will welcome these forthright expressions coming from America and they will strengthen his hand immensely in effecting a just solution of this problem.

“I earnestly trust that the President’s magnificent utterances will be followed by speedy action. Time presses. The White Paper is still in force. Our immigration permits for Palestine are well nigh exhausted. Scores of thousands in liberated countries are already knocking at the gates. Now is the moment for energetic steps to be taken by our government to bring about an immediate opening of the doors of Palestine.”


Addressing the opening session of the convention, last night, Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the ZOA, said that the first post-war World Zionist Congress will be held in the United States, probably in Washington.

Discussing the post-war prospects of Palestine, Dr. Goldstein urged that as part of her post-war reparations, Germany be forced to contribute to the development of a Jewish National Home. Estimating that 15,000,000 to 18,000,000 refugees have been made homeless in European countries by German aggression, of whom less than 10 percent are Jews, he recommended that Germany be required to pay $1,000 each to re-establish her victims. The first post-war responsibility of the United Nations should be to facilitate Jewish mass immigration into Palestine, he said, considering that the Jews of Europe have suffered a tragedy beyond that of any other people.

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