The Anglo-American Inquiry Committee, now in session here, was told today that the British White Paper affects the rights of American Jews and constitutes a violation of the Anglo-American pact of Dec. 3, 1924, which guarantees to citizens of the United States all the rights and benefits included in the Mandate for Palestine.
At the same time, the committee heard testimony that American Jews have invested in Palestine about 155,000,000 and are ready and eager to increase their investments if they are not hampered by the existing White Paper regulations, which restrict Jewish immigration and land acquisition in Palestine.
Testifying for the American Jewish Congress, Rabbi Irving Hiller pointed out that the Palestine Government applies the White Paper restrictions to American Jews. “Under the White Paper of 1939, the equality of American citizens with respect to Palestine has been utterly destroyed,” he said. “As long as administrative policies based on the White Paper prevail, only those Americans who are not Jews – whatever interpretation be given to this term – can settle in Palestine or acquire land in the greater part of that country. American citizens who happen to be considered by the Mandatory Power as of Jewish faith or descent may not do so.”
Rabbi Miller appealed to the committee for “a chance for Jews to try Palestine for a few years,” all other attempted solutions during the last 2,000 years having failed. He said it was a matter of “life and death” for Jews to enter Palestine freely and attain permanent security. Sir John Singleton, British chairman, said that he appreciated the point, but commented that the course of action to be recommended by the committee might lead to trouble, and that the committee could not shut their eyes to such possible future “trouble.”
QUESTION OF SECURITY OF JEWISH COMMONWEALTH RAISED BY BRITISH MEMBERS
Lord Morrison, Labor peer, asked Miller whether he had given any thought to the task of who would be responsible for defending a Jewish Commonwealth if established in Palestine. Would it, he inquired, be the Jews or the British or the United States, or a combination of the three, or the United Nations Organization. If a commonwealth were proposed, he declared, it would be essential that no risk be taken of a breakdown through attack by man of ill will.
Miller said that “we ask for no greater privilege then the United Nations Organization will grant to any other small people in the world. Either there will be security for all, or for none.” He pointed to the case of Albania and Luxembourg, and Judge Hutcheson interposed the names of Lebanon and Syria.
Richard Crossman, Labor Member of Parliament, asked Rabbi Miller why he concentrated on the immigration issue in Palestine, and excluded from criticism the immigration laws of England and the United States. Miller said that Crossman, by his question, only supported his argument that Jews can not rely for permanent solution of their difficulties on the promises which have been made to them. He pointed to the difficulties inherent in the position of Jews entering either Great Britain or the United States and to the careful couching of President Truman’s recent directive restoring immigration quotes suspended during the war. He then contrasted this with the welcome accorded Jews entering Palestine.
SZOLD TESTIFIES ON ROLE OF AMERICAN JEWS IN TRANSFORMING PALESTINE
Robert Szold, vice-president of the Zionist Organization of America, testified today that American Jews invested a total of $155,000,000 in Palestine, and said that of this sum, more than $110,000,000 was sent to Palestine as gifts through major Jewish organizations in the United States and about $45,000,000 were private Jewish investments.
Given proper political conditions, he said, Palestine faces a period of tremendous commercial and economic development with production for world markets. He substantiated this assertion with figures showing the important role of Jews in developing Palestine’s economy. The Jews of America, he stated, played a dominant part in the transformation of Palestine.
Asked by British committee member Wilford P. Crick about conditions favorable for Palestine development, Szold replied that the White Paper should be abolished and Jews given complete freedom to immigrate. He added that prices were now too high and should be controlled, that Palestine industry needed modern machinery and raw materials and that today the Palestine manufacturer and business man could not buy American products, such as necessary machinery, because he was hampered by British sterling bloc restrictions and difficulties in getting import permits.
INTERNATIONAL LOAN FOR PALESTINE DEVELOPMENT IS WANTED
In response to questions, Szold said the Palestine banking situation was inadequate because there was no central bank to help individual banks over temporary emergencies and each bank had, therefore, to maintain over-large cash reserves. He hoped some of the money necessary for Palestine development would come through an international loan, possibly from the Import-Export Bank of the United States after the Bretton Woods monetary and financial agreements were in operation.
Asked by Crick about the division of funds as between Jews and Arabs, Szold said that the Jewish-controlled Anglo-Palestine Bank had about one half of the 71 million pounds deposited in Palestine banks at the end of 1944. The amount of money in Arab hands was large and had grown since the war, he added.
Asked as to the possibility of merging the two closed and separate economies, Jewish and Arab, Szold replied that a large part of the difficulties in Palestine would decrease if the general living standard were raised. He said the Arab population as a whole had benefited in its scale of living, wages and health, and it had been the conscious effort of the Jews concerned with Palestine to raise general living standards. This they felt would be good not merely for Palestine, but for Britain, the United States and the peace of the entire world.
Asked by American committeeman James G. MacDonald concerning the effect on Palestine economy of Britain’s sterling bloc area, Szold replied that Palestine businessmen and manufacturers were hampered by it in not being able to buy needed American machinery and other goods. “Palestine is fit for investment and American Jews are ready, willing and eager greatly to increase their material stake in that country provided political conditions warrant,” he declared.
PROSKAUER CRITICIZES WHITE PAPER; URGES INTERNATIONAL TRUSTEESHIP FOR PALESTINE
Judge Joseph M. Proskauer, president of the American Jewish Committee, severely criticized the White Paper restrictions, emphasizing that “solemn international agreements have specifically guaranteed that Palestine is to be a country to which Jewish immigration should be facilitated.” He pointed out that the Balfour Declaration expressed approval of a Jewish National Home in Palestine and urged the inquiry committee to recommend the continuing validity of the principles of the Balfour Declaration and the Palestine Mandate.
The committee was also urged by Judge Proskauer to recommend the establishment of a United Nations trusteeship over Palestine for the purpose of “safeguarding the Jewish settlement in and Jewish immigration into Palestine” as well as to help in preparing Palestine to become “a self-governing, independent and democratic commonwealth” where the religious, political and civil rights of all elements of the population would be equally protected.
“The committee should recommend the creation of machinery for continuous collaboration between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine, with a view to making possible the attainment of a democratic and independent commonwealth with equal rights for all,” he suggested. Other recommendations made by the American Jewish Committee include:
1. The inquiry committee should recommend the acceptance “at once” of President Truman’s request to the British Government that 100,000 displaced Jews be admitted to Palestine immediately.
2. The inquiry committee should ask governments of various countries of potential immigration to receive substantial numbers of displaced persons.
3. The inquiry committee should recommend to governments of countries of refuge to permit as many refugees and alien Jews as possible to stay and eventually to acquire citizenship.
4. The committee should closely investigate conditions in East European countries as they affect the Jews so that it may recommend the establishment of effective international machinery to check anti-Semitism in some of these countries.
5. The committee should recommend that a definite portion of all reparations paid by Germany be set apart for partial compensation to stateless and non-repatriable Jews, and that their claims be represented by a United Nations agency to be established for this purpose.
Proskauer read a series of statements by Zionist leaders over the years expressing Zionist desire for, he said, real fraternal cooperation between Arabs and Jews. He read a letter of Henrietta Szold asserting that the British administration had deliberately thwarted efforts at conciliation between Jews and Arabs.
TELLS HOW IMMEDIATE ADMISSION OF 100,000 JEWS NEED NOT INVOLVE FRICTION
During the questioning of Proskauer, Sir John Singleton, British chairman, said that if a single instance could be brought to light of an attempt by any British official to stifle racial cooperation, that official was not worthy of the name British and would not remain a British official.
In answer to a question by American member Bartley Crum whether the imme- diate entrance of 100,000 Jews to Palestine might not involve friction, Proskauer said it was the function of the committee so to present the case to the Arab league as to convince them that they would suffer no harm and that it would involve no prejudgment of the ultimate form of government.
Proskauer emphasized the Swiss pattern of fraternal community with its variety of peoples as an analogy or what was desired in Palestine. He expressed the hope that there would be no return of conditions identifying a state with religion. American chairman Hutcheson praised Proskauer for what he said was his pleasing judicial approach to the subject.
MIZRACHI LEADER SAYS PALESTINE IS SPIRITUAL SOLUTION TO JEWISH PROBLEM
Dr. Henry Raphael Gold of the Mizrachi Organization of America said that Palestine was not only a necessary political, but a spiritual solution to the Jewish problem. “No substitute for it could ever be accepted by the Jewish people,” he told the committee. He listed the various offers which have been made and rejected by the Jews, including Uganda, Cyrenaica, Mesopotamia, Angola, the West Indies, and portions of South America. “Palestine is the only country for which the Jew is willing to make continuing and heroic sacrifices,” he said.
Queried concerning the Zionist demand for numerical superiority in Palestine. Gold replied that the Middle East was like a great Arab hotel in which Palestine constituted but one room, the only room in which the Jews could have their freedom. He maintained that it would be a violation of the Balfour Declaration and of Zionist hopes to deny the Jews numerical superiority there. He insisted Jewish preponderance would provide for full democratic rights for all other people.
AMERICAN CHAIRMAN LAUDS WITNESSES; AGUDAH DECLINES TO TESTIFY
The witnesses who have so far appeared before the committee of inquiry were praised at the close of the morning session by Judge Hutcheson, who said that the preparation of arguments, oral and written, had greatly helped the committee.
Replying to an invitation to testify before the committee, the Agudas Israel of America wired a declination, pointing out that the views of the organization could best be presented by the world body of the Agudah at its headquarters in London and Jerusalem.
A Palestine-wide conference in Tel Aviv of the “Movement for Labor Unity,” an opposition group within the Palestine Labor Party, today passed a resolution opposing Jewish participation in the hearings of the inquiry committee, and acceptance by the Jews of 1,500 monthly immigration certificates. The conference warned all parties not to aspect any positive results from the committee’s hearing.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.