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100,000 Attend Palestine Pavilion Opening; Boo Macdonald, Chamberlain

May 29, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish Palestine Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair was dedicated today as a symbol of the Jews’ determination to continue their upbuilding in the Holy Land, in ceremonies which to a greater extent than any previous dedication of a pavilion were turned into a political demonstration.

A double keynote of condemnation of Britain’s Palestine policy and the will to build was struck as 100,000 persons gathered in the Court of Peace this afternoon to hear the official dedication speech by Prof. Albert Einstein, an address by Dr. Chaim Weizmann from Paris and speeches by Grover Whalen, Lieut. Gov. Charles A. Poletti, Mayor LaGuardia, Senator William H. King and American Zionist leaders.

The crowd booed every mention of Colonial Secretary Malcolm Macdonald and Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. Extra police details were posted around the British and Italian pavilions, but at a late hour yesterday afternoon no disorders had been reported. White cards condemning the White Paper were distributed in front of the British pavilion.

The day of ceremonies began this morning with a reception at the World’s Fair Boulevard Gate for members of the Board of Directors and Advisory Council of the pavilion, a procession to Perylon Hall for the official reception by Mr. Whalen, official calls at the offices of the United States Commissioner General and the Mayor, an opening ceremony at the pavilion to install the Eternal Light brought from Jerusalem and a luncheon at Perylon Hall. Following the official dedication ceremonies this afternoon, the day’s ceremonies came to a close with a dedication dinner at Perylon Hall.

Thousands of persons had come to New York to witness the dedication of the first Palestine pavilion ever erected at an international exposition in the United States. Excursions had brought Zionists from principal cities of the country.

The pavilion, which had opened unofficially two weeks ago, was declared officially open by Prof. Einstein in a dedicatory address this afternoon in which he stressed that “whoever has learned to appreciate and admire the positive side of man’s aspirations is sure to be willing to protect and, if necessary, to fight with all his might in defense of what has been achieved.”

“In Palestine,” he said, “a handful of people is threatened by the political intrigues of the Powers. Sheer brutal mob violence would rob it of its achievements won at the price hard work and bitter sacrifice. It is exposed to constant attack, and every one of its members is forced to fight for his very life, even over and above the bitter economic struggle for survival.”

A similar theme was taken by Dr. Weizmann in his address from Paris, broadcast in the United States over an NBC network. He said: “The decision of the British Government, amounting in effect to a retraction of the pledge made 22 years ago, came as a rude and painful shock to the Jews and deeply stirred the conscience of large numbers of non-Jews in both hemispheres. But this decision cannot become the verdict of history. The great historical process of the return of Jews to the land of their ancestors will not be abruptly terminated by this decree. It will go on. It is the prophecies of old and the living determination of Jews of today that will eventually triumph.

“The Government decision has already been severely criticized by leaders of British opinion in various camps. It also evoked an echo of deep sympathy from the great American democracy. I have always been deeply appreciative of the recognition given by the Government and Congress of America to our rights in Palestine and the interest taken by American leaders in our work and struggle. We confidently hope to retain that sympathetic interest in the future.

“But the salvation of the Jewish people has always been and remains first and foremost the work of the Jews themselves. We are already firmly established in Palestine and our future struggle will be borne by those who heroically withstood the onslaught over three years, building and planting by day, standing guard by night.” He concluded with an appeal to American Jewry, saying, “We look to them for the greatest support in our struggle.”

Senator King, asserting that what the Jews had built in Palestine would outlive the Hitlers and Mussolinis, warned Britain that if she “is desirous of cultivating and preserving the friendship and sympathy of the American people, as I am certain she is, then she cannot ignore our deep interest in the continued upbuilding of the Jewish national home in Palestine.” He denounced the White Paper as “inconsistent with our common conception of democratic policy.”

Mr. Poletti brought a message from Governor Lehman which declared it “inconceivable” that the world would be willing to have the Jews’ constructive work in Palestine “nullified, the sacrifices of generations brought to naught.” The Governor added, “I am convinced that the right-thinking peoples of the world will regard as cruel and unwarranted any action which would make even narrower the difficult path of great masses of homeless Jews.”

Mr. Wnalen said: “The Jewish people have worked wonders these last few years in Palestine and I heartily join with them in their profound belief that the New York World’s Fair is the proper place in which to depict these wonders.”

Dr. Solomon Goldman, president of the Zionist Organization of America, who presided at the dedication ceremonies, asserted: “In the world of tomorrow the Jewish national homeland in Palestine looms as a reality which no temporary setbacks can obscure. The Jewish Pavilion which is so integral a part of the world of tomorrow as represented in the New York World’s Fair expresses not only our justified pride in what the Jewish pioneers have achieved in the past but our unshakable faith in the Jewish Palestine of the future.”

Other speakers at this afternoon’s dedication included Louis Lipsky, Dr. Stephen S. Wise and Dr. Israel Goldstein. Speakers at this morning’s opening ceremony were Dr. Goldstein, who presided, Rabbi B.L. Leventhal, Mr. Whalen, Mrs. Moses P. Epstein, David Pinski, Abraham Idelson, representing the Jewish National Council of Palestine; George Backer, president of the Palestine Pavilion Board; Mr. Lipsky, Captain N. Taylor Phillips, who, with a guard of honor placed the Eternal Light in the Memorial Hall; Dr. Louis Ginzberg, Mrs. Max Biltzer and Joseph Schlossberg. Mr. Backer was toastmaster at the concluding dinner at which speakers included Ludwig Lewisohn and Fannie Hurst.

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