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American Jewish Committee Leaves American Jewish Conference; Zionist Members Resign

October 26, 1943
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The withdrawal of the American Jewish Committee from the American Jewish Conference was announced here last night following a full-day session of its executive committee attended by seventy-five leading representatives of Jewish communities throughout the country. The session was presided over by Jacob Blaustein, chairman of the General Committee.

Protesting this decision, three Zionist members of the American Jewish Committee resigned and telegraphed other members urging them to do likewise. The three are Mrs. David de Sola Pool, president of Hadassah, and two former presidents of the Zionist Organization of America, Judge Morris Rothenberg and Judge Louis E. Levinthal.

A statement on the position of the American Jewish Committee, presented by its president Joseph M. Proskauer, declared that “the present demand for the eventual establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth in Palestine, made by the American Jewish Conference, and constituting one of its major decisions, as well as the subordination of other Jewish issues to the problem of the political structure of Palestine, are in such essential disagreement with the fundamental views of the American Jewish Committee that in the best interests of Jews in this and other countries, including Palestine, the Committee feels impelled to withdraw from the American Jewish Conference.”

The statement reaffirms the desire of the American Jewish Committee “to utilize for the Jews of Europe the broadest opportunities which Palestine can offer.” It assures that the Committee “will apply its most diligent efforts to bring about the abrogation of the White Paper which closes the doors of Palestine to further Jewish immigration and restricts Jewish land purchase.” At the same time it expresses the conviction that the problems of world Jewry cannot be solved by a single political panacea and that “the salvation and rehabilitation of the stricken Jews of Europe cannot be achieved through Palestine alone and certainly not through overemphasis on the political constitution of Palestine. It can be achieved only by considering Palestine a part of the larger program which looks to the rehabilitation and resettlement of Jews throughout the world and the restoration of their equal rights.”

The statement further points out that the Committee’s delegates to the American Jewish Conference pleaded for present unity of action and for an immediate positive program concerning Palestine. “The majority of the delegates to the American Jewish Conference, however, took such a stand that there was no room left for adequate presentation of the views of the American Jewish Committee and considerable segments of the Jewish community of America,” it declares.


Outlining the basic position of the American Jewish Committee towards major Jewish problems of today, the statement emphasizes that regarding Palestine the Committee approves for the present “an international trusteeship responsible to the United Nations, for the following purposes: to safeguard the Jewish Settlement

The Committee goes on to say in its statement that “much more than Palestine must occupy the attention of any responsible body which is vitally concerned with the total welfare of Jewry. Through the marshalling of public opinion, through representations to our government and through proper diplomatic channels, we shall continue to seek to achieve the quickest possible rescue of the Jews persecuted in Europe today and to attain for the millions who will be there tomorrow a normal life on a basis of equality with their follow-citizens. We reject any thesis which surrenders the right of the Jews to live as equal citizens in Europe or anywhere.”


The combating of anti-Semitism in this country will continue to be a major activity of the American Jewish Committee, the statement says. “By a broad educational program, by collaboration with all groups in America, who recognize the divisive and demoralizing nature of anti-Semitism, we shall seek to bring about such a community of understanding between all religious and racial groups that bigotry and discrimination will be destroyed.”

While severing its connections with the American Jewish Conference, the American Jewish Committee declared its readiness to “cooperate with the Conference and those many vital Jewish institutions and movements in this country — religious, cultural and philanthropic — which help nourish and enrich Jewish life in America.”

The statement was drafted by a special committee consisting of Chief Judge Irving Lehman, of the Court of Appeals of New York State; Horace Sterm of Philadelphia, Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania; Alan M. Stroock of New York, chairman of the Administrative Committee of the American Jewish Committee; Fred Lazarus, Jr., of Columbus, Ohio; and Jesse Steinhart of San Francisco.


Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, today issued a statement to the press declaring that “the American Jewish Committee, by the decision of its executive committee to withdraw from the American Jewish Conference on account of its Palestine resolution, is taking a step which would willfully retard the most promising effort in a generation to achieve unity in the ranks of American Jewry.”

“The action of the American Jewish Committee is the more reprehensible because the given reason for opposing the Palestine resolution at the Conference was not the ideology of the Palestine resolution but the question of the wisdom of adopting it at this particular time,” he added.

Judge Levinthal, Judge Rothenberg and Mrs., de Sola Pool, upon resigning from the American Jewish Committee, issued the following joint statement:

“As members of the American Jewish Committee we deeply deplore the undemocratic action of the executive because it threatens to disrupt American Jewry at a time when unity is vital in our efforts to save the remnant of Jewry in Europe, to safeguard Jewish rights everywhere and to assure the fulfillment of Jewish aspirations in the Jewish National Home. Moreover, the membership body of the American Jewish Committee, many of whom support the program of the American Jewish Conference, has been ignored by the executive committee and has had no opportunity to vote on this question, although it is scheduled to meet in less than three months.

“In these circumstances, self-respect commands our resignation from the American Jewish Committee. We support completely the American Jewish Conference, the medium through which we can best meet the grave problems besetting world Jewry in this unparalleled crisis. We affirm that the Conference program of rescue, post-war rehabilitation and implementation of Jewish rights to Palestine must be carried forward by a united Jewry. Inasmuch as the American Jewish Committee has now acted to undermine the one instrument through which this necessary unity has been achieved, we must withdraw from the Committee.”

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