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Congressional Hearing Establishes Explosives for Palestine Bought Prior to Embargo

January 29, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Arrangements for the purchase of 200 tons of demolition blocks from the War Assets Administration for shipment to Palestine were made before the embargo on arms to the Middle East, Leonard M. Weisman, adviser to ?ounday Associates, which made the purchase, stated today.

Testifying before a House Sub-Committee investigating disposition of surplus property, Weisman, under questioning by committee counsel Edmond J. Donohue Jr., ?eid that the blocks were not to be shipped until proper clearance was received from Washington and until a militia had bean authorized in the Jewish state.

Asked whether Foundry Associates operated for the Jewish Agency and received ?ts funds from it, Weisman said it did. He described Foundry Associates as a non-profit it organization purchasing defense materiel for the Jewish people of Palestine. ## Donohue’s question whether he was a member of the Jewish Agency and of the Zionist Organization of America, Weisman replied he was a member only of the latter.

Rep. Chet. Holifield of California, ranking Democratic member of the Committee, interrupted questioning of Weisman to say that “the record ought to show that the Jewish Agency for Palestine is the recognized Jewish body to represent the Jewish people of Palestine in their negotiations with the British Mandatory, and not ##e of the terrorist organizations like the Irgun or Stern Group but recognized internationally and nationally as a legitimate organization.”

Nahum A. Bernstein, New York attorney, who, under questioning by Donohue, was identified by Weisman as holding funds in trust for the Jewish Agency, was asked first whether he is a member of the Agency or the Z.0.A., and replied he was a member only of the Z.0.A. In answering questions, he said certain Agency funds have been placed under his control but that he merely disbursed them without knowing for that purpose. Queried, whether he advised the Agency of the embargo when the question of purchasing the demolition blocks arose, Bernstein replied there was no ban in remember when the project was first suggested to him.

A war Assets Administration official told the committee that 94 tons of the demolition blocks purchased were still undelivered, but not officially rescinded. He asked the Committee whether the W.A.A. should rescind the 94 tons and refund the money to foundry Associates, or deliver the remainder of the order under terms of the original sale. Rep. Ross Rizley, of 0klahoma, chairman of the Sub-Committee, said they could not instruct the W.A.A. but suggested that it “make a deal with Foundry Associates and give them back their money.” Rep. Holifield objected, declaring a civil action between the two was the answer. “If the court sustains the contract,” he said, “the W.A.A. is bound to fulfill the terms of the contract.”

Charles Lowy, on whose form near Asbury Park, N.J., the blocks were found, as a result of an anonymous call to the New Jersey police, was called on to ?estify, but, on advice of his counsel, declined to do so on constitutional grounds, since he is under indictment for illegal storage of the material. The Sub-Committee will hold no further hearings on the sale of the blocks, and will conclude its investigation with a report to the full Committee on expenditures.

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