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Zionist Position Laid Before U.N. As Silver Speaks for Agency at Political Committee

May 9, 1947
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

In an impressive half-hour address, which pleased most of the United Nations delegates because of its moderate tone, but which is reported to have displeased the Soviet bloc, which regarded it as conciliatory to Britain, Dr. Abbe Hillel Silver today outlined before a full session of the U.N. Political Committee the views of the Jewish Agency with regard to the instructions to be given to the projected U.N. fact-finding committee on Palestine.

This was the first official appearance of the Jewish Agency before the United Nations. Dr. Silver, heading a seven-man delegation, was seated at the big horse-shoe table between the delegations of Cuba and Czechoslovakia. Their official admission was announced at the opening of today’s morning session of the Political Committee by chairman Lester Pearson of Canada.

Dr. Silver prefaced his remarks with an announcement that David Ben Gurion, who is due to arrive from Palestine tonight, would have read the Agency statement had he arrived in time. He expressed the hope that Ben Gurion will be given an opportunity to participate.


In his speech, to which the delegates from the fifty-five nations listened with the utmost attention, the American Zionist leader emphasized that when the Jewish Agency speaks of a Jewish state it does not have in mind any racial or theocratic state, but one which is based upon full equality and rights for all inhabitants without distinction “and without domination or subjugation.” He advanced the following proposals with regard to the terms of reference of the projected inquiry committee:

1. That the inquiry committee should ask Britain for “an account of its stewardship” on the Palestine Mandate and itself consider this account instead of waiting until Britain submits such a report to the Assembly in September.

2. That the inquiry commission should visit Palestine where it will be able to establish how Jewish achievements have been of benefit to all elements of the population.

3. That while in Palestine the inquiry commission should consider the potentiality of the country if properly developed.

4. The commission should also inquire, while in Palestine, into “the real causes of the tragic unrestrained violence which today mars the life of Palestine where the Jewish pioneers came not with weapons, but with tools.”

5. The commission should investigate how the Mandatory has carried out its religations under the Mandate with regard to encouraging settlement of Jews on the mand.

6. The commission should visit displaced persons camps in Europe, and manding its report, displaced Jews should be allowed to immigrate in substantial numbers to Palestine.

Elaborating on the last point Dr. Silver emphasized that the solution of the problem of displaced persons brooks no delay. “Immediate relaxation of the restrictive measures on immigration into Palestine and a return to the status which prevailed before the White Paper policy of 1939 was imposed will not only be a boon to these suffering human beings, but will greatly relieve the present menacing tensions in Palestine, will wash out much of the bitterness, and will enable the deliberations of the inquiry committee and of the next Assembly to be carried on in a calmer spirit and in an atmosphere of moderation and good will,” he said.


At the same time, Dr. Silver urged the United Nations when defining the terms of reference of the inquiry commission, not to consider Palestine only in terms of a haven for a certain number of refugees, or consider the problem merely one of reconciling differences between two sections of the Palestine population, but take into consideration the provisions of the Mandate and the Balfour Declaration. He quoted statements from Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson to prove that they interpreted the Palestine Mandate to mean that Palestine is to be established as a Jewish Commonwealth. He also quoted the resolution of the British Labor Party of 1945, which said:

“Here we halted half-way, irresolutely, between conflicting policies. But there is surely neither hope nor meaning in a Jewish National Home unless we are prepared to let the Jews, if they wish, enter this tiny land in such numbers as to become a majority. There was a strong case for this before the war, and there is an irresistible case for it now.”

Emphasizing that the Jewish Agency delegation speaks not only for the organized Jewish community of Palestine, but for the Jewish people of the world, the ZOA president told the Political Committee that the Jewish people and the Jewish National Home, as provided in Article 4 of the Mandate, should be regarded “as key terms and basic concepts” in the terms of reference of the inquiry committee which, he requested, should constantly keep in mind “the international obligations to insure the uninterrupted development of the Jewish National Home” in considering proposals for the future government of Palestine.


He also directed the projected committee’s attention to the favorable stand taken by the Arabs after the last war on the question of the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. “That the return of the Jews to Palestine would prove of benefit, not only to themselves but also to their Arab neighbors, was envisaged by the Emir Feisal, who was the great leader of the Arab peoples at the Peace Conference following the first World War,” the Agency spokesman said. “On March 3, 1919, he wrote: “We Arabs……look with the deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement. Our deputation here in Paris is fully acquainted with the proposals submitted yesterday by the Zionist Organization to the Peace Conference, and we regard them as moderate and proper. We will do our best, insofar as we are concerned, to help them through. We will wish the Jews a most hearty welcome here….I look forward, and my people with me look forward, to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their places in the community of civilized peoples of the world.”

Dr. Silver pointed out that the Jewish Agency is not engaged and will not be engaged “in any criticism or condemnation of the people of Great Britain. We have to quarrel with them,” he continued. “On the contrary, we have the highest regard and admiration for that people and for its monumental contributions to democratic civilization. We shall never forget that it was Great Britain which, first among the nations, gave recognition to the national aspirations of the Jewish people. It is only a wrong and unjustifiable policy which contradicts and tends to defeat the ?ar-visioned British statesmanship of earlier years which we condemn.”

Dr. Silver then stressed that the administration of Palestine “has, since the outbreak of the war, been conducted by the Mandatory power as if it were vested with the sovereignty of Palestine, whereas it had assumed to administer that country of which it was not the sovereign, as a trustee for carrying out the purposes of the mandate which clearly defined its rights and its obligations.


Following Silver’s address Mr. Pearson suggested that if any members of the Political Committee wished to ask questions, they could do so and additional questions could be communicated to him in writing, which he would forward for reply to the head of the Jewish Agency delegation. All questions–oral and written–would be answered at a later date, Pearson said. The same procedure will be followed when the Palestine Arab delegation is heard.

Asaf Ali of India then addressed the following questions to Silver:

1. What were the numbers of Jews from outside, living in Palestine, in 1900, 1930, and 1939?

2. Does he recognize a distinction between a “Jewish State” and a “Jewish National Home?”

3. Can some idea be given of the age of the various Jewish communities in Europe who would not like to go to the National Home, and were they assimilable?

4. Turning to Dr. Silver’s reference to the “extremely conciliatory statement by Emir Feisal in Paris in 1919 welcoming the Jews to Palestine,” Mr. Ali asked, is there any reason why the Arabs are resisting Jewish immigration now?

5. The Nazi Government in Germany, continued Mr. Ali, is now completely suppressed, Is there any reason why Jewish refugees cannot be resettled in their natural German home “whose language they speak and where they are easily assimilable?”

6. Speaking of the conditions prevailing in Palestine now, Mr. Ali asked, why public servants of the British Government, who are doing their duty under extremely difficult circumstances, “are being picked off by violence?”


Mr. Alfred Fiderkiewicz, the Polish delegate, asked:

1. How many organizations and whom does the Jewish Agency represent, and how is its executive committee established and organized?

2. Have there been any attempts at collaboration between Arabs and Jews in Palestine?

Dr. Alberto Gonzales Fernandez of Colombia asked: What were the views of the Jewish Agency on the composition and terms of reference of the special committee?

Mr. H.T. Andrews of the Union of South Africa asked: Did the Jewish Agency wish the special committee to look into the problem of the homeless European Jews as a whole or only in relation to continued immigration into Palestine?

Sir Alexander Cadogan, the British delegate, had no questions to ask, but said he had a point to clear up. When the United Kingdom Government had stated in its letter requesting the special Assembly that it it was prepared to furnish full information to the Assembly, it had by no means meant to indicate that it was not ready to give such information to the special committee, Cadogan said.

The Brazilian delegate thanked Dr. Silver for his “able and eloquent” presentation and said that he would welcome a similar statement from the Arabs. The Jewish delegation then retired from the conference table and the committee resumed discussion on the terms of reference of the inquiry committee.

Later, Mr. Pearson announced that the all-Jewish Palestine Communist Party had cabled to Assembly President Dr. Aranha asking a hearing, and stating that “without hearing the representatives of the Palestine anti-imperialist forces, no complete, correct picture of the Palestine problem can be obtained.” The Communist bid, which came a few hours before the deadline for requests, will probably be considered tomorrow morning by the five-man sub-committee named to rule on all pleas for a hearing. It is almost certain that it will be rejected.

Two additional Arab groups have also requested a hearing. They are the Institute of Arab American Affairs and the Young Egypt Party. They are also unlikely to be heard.

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