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Palestine, Polish Zionists Stranded in Geneva; War Aid to Britain Pledged

August 27, 1939
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Palestinian and Polish delegates to the just-concluded World Zionist Congress were temporarily stranded in Switzerland by the war scare today, while 100 American and British delegates left on a chartered train for Paris this morning.

Two airplanes chartered to take 38 Palestinians, including David Ben Gurion, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, and Berl Katznelson, to Palestine tomorrow were grounded by refusal of countries over which they were to fly to permit passage.

Efforts were being made to charter an American Export liner for these and 200 other Palestinians to sail from Marseille. The French Consulate agreed to issue the necessary visas for transit across France.

Many of the American delegates were scheduled to sail from Le Havre next Wednesday for New York. Their departure was hastened by an official communique issued by the British Consulate warning that the Swiss frontier might be closed at any time and advising British subjects to leave Switzerland before midnight.

The 100-odd Polish delegates, whose collective visa calls for transit through Germany, considered themselves stranded and formed a committee to act on their plight. Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Zionist representative in Geneva, intervened with the Italian consul to obtain permission for them to return to Poland via Italy.

A number of Polish delegates, meanwhile, have left for France with the intention of joining the French Army in the event war breaks out. Others, including Mendel Mozes, chief of the J.T.A. s Warsaw bureau, decided to risk the trip to Poland via Italy and Hungary, after they had been advised they could reach the Polish frontier by tomorrow evening, before the situation grew more serious.

At the closing session of the Congress last night Dr. Nahum Goldmann, Zionist representative in Geneva, announced formation of a special committee to expedite transportation of delegates to their countries. With the departure of both Dr. Chaim Weizmann, world Zionist president, and Dr. Solomon Goldman, American Zionist president, a broadcast to New York which they were scheduled to make was cancelled.

The Congress, closing at one a.m., left a great deal of unfinished business to be disposed of by the Zionist General Council, which held a brief meeting this morning.

Confining itself to general matters, the Congress reelected its entire Executive, with Dr. Weizmann as president, and adopted general political resolutions opposing Britain’s Palestine policy. At a separate conference it was agreed to maintain the Jewish Agency at its present 50-50 ratio of Zionists and non-Zionists with no new members added. Should Zionist groups insist on adding more members to the Jewish Agency Executive this could be decided some time later by the Jewish Agency Administrative Committee and Zionist General Council.

Overshadowing the closing session of the Congress was the international situation, and Dr. Weizmann, in a farewell speech before motoring to Paris en route to London, said, “I hope we see each other alive at the next Congress.”

Voicing a promise that the Zionists would stand by Britain in the event of war, the Zionist chieftain declared: “We have our grievances against England, as the political resolutions show, but England’s troubles are our troubles, her battle is our battle.”

To the Polish delegates, Dr. Weizmann addressed the hope that the Polish Jews would not share the fate of the German Jews.

Dr. Weizmann concluded with the Hebrew words, “Lehitraoth–shalom!” (“Until we meet again-peace!”) While he kissed Menachem M. Ussishkin, chairman of the Congress, and heartily shook hands with every member of the presidium, the delegates sang “Hatikvah”(Hope), the Zionist anthem, and gave him a rousing ovation as he left the platform.

After his departure J. Kaplansky, of Palestine, introduced the political resolutions, which protest against Britain’s Palestine policy, the six-month prohibition on Jewish immigration and projected restrictions on Jewish land purchase.

Discussing the international situation, Kaplansky sharply criticized Russia for the non-aggression pact with Germany and told the delegates that in the present situation the Jews and the Zionist movement must be on England’s side.

Another resolution instructed the Zionist Executive to establish a committee to study Arab-Jewish relations in the political, economic and social fields and to explore the possibilities of cooperation. A further resolution expressed hope that Soviet Russia would change her attitude toward the Zionist movement and would lift the ban on emigration of Jews to Palestine.

The Congress concluded with singing of “Hatikvah” after final addresses by Ussishkin, Dr. Solomon Goldman, of Chicago, and Rabbi Mordecai Nurok of Latvia.

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