Security Issues Project
In the selection below, some of the following topics are covered:
The Balfour Declaration (1917); issues concerning displaced persons after WWII; U.S. and international attempts to place the refugees and Zionist interventions to prevent refugees from placement outside of Palestine; successful Zionist interventions with Roosevelt, Bevin and Truman to prevent sizable numbers of refugees finding homes in the U.S. or Britain; conflicting pressures on Gt Britain before and during WWII; anti British sentiment stoked in U.S. in post war, pre state period (1946-1948): Jewish terrorism leading to British removal from Palestine, more.
In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent the King-Crane Commission (30) to Palestine and other places in the Near East for an American survey of conditions in the former Ottoman Empire. On its return, the Commission declared that a "National home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine a Jewish State" and that such a "State could not be erected without the gravest trespass upon the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." This report was the only official American study of the Palestine problem until 1946.
But the protective guarantees to the Arabs of Palestine (and to non-Zionist Judaists of the world), as contained in the Balfour Declaration and in subsequent agreements, were gradually whittled away. Finally in 1947, the United Nations acted just as if the original Weizmann draft had been fully embodied in the Balfour Declaration. And nothing contributed so much to this unprecedented breach of binding diplomatic promises as the political abuse of a staggering human emergency-the plight of Jewish refugees in Europe.
The end of World War IIif end it didcreated in Europe that epitome of distress, the Displaced Person. These refugees from Hitler's gas chambers were actually, not theoretically, homeless. They came from many lands: Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and the Baltic Countries. They were of all faiths: about 500,000 Catholics, 100,000 Protestants, and 226,000 Jews. (31) Of these last, some 100,000 were in the assembly camps of Germany, Austria and Italy; 50,000 undetained in the United Kingdom; 12,000 in Sweden; 10,500 in Switzerland; the rest scattered over the Continent.
On August 31, 1945, President Truman wrote Britain's Prime Minister Clement Attlee that the issuance of 100,000 certificates of immigration to Palestine would help to alleviate the refugee situation. Senator Guy Gillette of Iowa made this letter public in the United States on September 13, 1945. In a policy statement of November 1945, the British Government declared it would not accept the view "that Jews should be driven out of Europe or that they should not be permitted to live again in these countries without discrimination, contributing their ability and talent toward rebuilding the prosperity of Europe." The Prime Minister invited a joint inquiry into these matters by representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom. President Truman favorably received this proposal. But Zionists called it "a fresh betrayal" to which they would never submit. (32)
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry on Palestine was set up on December 10, 1945, with six American and six British members. It was empowered to "examine political, economic and social conditions in Palestine as they bear upon the problem of Jewish immigration and settlement therein," (33) and "to examine the position of European Jews" in terms of estimating the possible migration to Palestine or elsewhere outside of Europe. Among the Committee members were U. S. Federal Judge Joseph C. Hutcheson, (Chairman); Dr. Frank Aydelotte, Director of the Institute of Advanced Studies at Princeton; former American Ambassador to Italy, William Phillips; Bartley C. Crum; James C. McDonald (later to be the first American Ambassador to Israel) and R. H. S. Crossman, prominent Laborite member of Parliament. The first meeting was held in Washington early in January 1946. Representatives of Jewish organizations as well as those who expressed the Christian and the Arab viewpoints were heard. Sessions were resumed in London in January 1946 and several sub-committees carried on investigations in various countries of Europe. The full Committee held further sessions in Egypt, at which the Jewish Agency (the official liaison body between the Palestinian Jewish community and Jewry outside) and organized Arab groups were heard. Sub-committees also visited the capitols of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. These exhaustive deliberations were completed in Switzerland and a report, unanimously signed at Lausanne, was made public in London and in Washington on April 30, 1946. (34)
The principal recommendation (No.2 in the Committee report) called for the immediate issuance of entrance certificates into Palestine for 100,000 Jews "who had been the victims of Nazi and Fascist persecution." Had these 100,000 admissions actually been granted, the overwhelming majority of Jewish Displaced Persons whose situation required immediate action would have been saved and the revolting D. P. Centers could soon have been closed. The report went on to state that "Jew shall not dominate Arab and Arab shall not dominate Jew in Palestine, which shall be neither a Jewish State nor an Arab State. . . . Palestine is a Holy Land, sacred to Christian, to Jew and to Moslem alike, and because it is a Holy Land, Palestine is not, and can never become a land which any race or religion can justly claim as its very own." (35)
But a Palestine which guarded "the rights and interests of Moslems, Jews and Christians alike," to quote the Committee, was never acceptable to Zionists. To the leaders of political Zionism, nationalist politics were immeasurably more important than humanitarian concerns. For, indeed, Zionism has never been refugeeism and refugeeism never Zionism.
When the Kerensky government overthrew the Czarist regime in Russia, Weizmann minimized the effect an emancipation of Russian Jewry would have on the Zionist cause: "Nothing can be more superficial and nothing can be more wrong than that the sufferings of Russian Jewry ever were the cause of Zionism. The fundamental cause of Zionism has been, and is, the ineradicable national striving of Jewry to have a home of its owna national center, a national home with a national Jewish life," (36) This thought was later echoed by Mrs. Moses P. Epstein, national president of the American Jewish women's organization, Hadassah: "The Zionist movement is a revolutionary program organized to bring about a radical and fundamental change in the status of the Jews the world over. The sooner the world knows it, the better." (37)
The Anglo-American Committee had found that Palestine alone could never meet Jewish emigration needs and that the United States and British Government, in association with other countries, must endeavor to find new homes for displaced persons. And this, more than anything, doomed the Committee, so far as Zionism was concerned. The Jewish Agency rejected the humanitarian acts offered by the report because "the central problem of the homeless and stateless Jewish people had been left untouched." (38) That "central problem," of course, was the Zionists' need for a national state.
Organized Jewry was willing to endorse the Committee's plea for the admission of 100,000 Jews to Palestine, but opened fire against the report's other nine recommendations of which the accepted one was an integral part. The American Zionists in New York, the British Zionists in London, and the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem, insisted in the Committee hearings that nothing less than Jewish statehood would do. This was in accordance with the Biltmore Program adopted in New York four years earlier by Zionist groups.
Early in 1947, the British Government tried to make a last attempt to conciliate the Arab and the Zionist positions. The new proposal stipulated the admission into Palestine of 4,000 Jews per month for two years, and subsequent admissions depending on the future absorptive capacity of the country. This second offer for the rescue of almost 100,000 Jews was spurned too. The Jewish Agency denounced it as incompatible with Jewish rights to immigration, settlement and ultimate statehood.
There were other lands, besides Palestine, to which the displaced persons could have gone. President Roosevelt was deeply concerned with the plight of the European refugees and thought that all the free nations of the world ought to accept a certain number of immigrants, irrespective of race, creed, color or political belief. The President hoped that the rescue of 500,000 Displaced Persons could be achieved by such a generous grant of a worldwide political asylum. In line with this humanitarian idea, Morris Ernst, New York attorney and close friend of the President went to London in the middle of the war to see if the British would take in 100,000 or 200,000 uprooted people. The President had reasons to assume that Canada, Australia and the South American countries would gladly open their doors. And if such good examples were set by other nations, Mr. Roosevelt felt that the American Congress could be "educated to go back to our traditional position of asylum." The key was in London. Would Morris Ernst succeed there? Mr. Ernst came home to report, and this is what took place in the White House (as related by Mr. Ernst to a Cincinnati audience in 1950):
Ernst: "We are at home plate. That little island [and it was during the second Blitz that he visited England] on a properly representative program of a World Immigration Budget, will match the United States up to 150,000.
Roosevelt: "150,000 to England150,000 to match that in the United Statespick up 200,000 or 300,000 elsewhere, and we can start with half a million of these oppressed people."
A week later, or so, Mr. Ernst and his wife again visited the President.
Roosevelt (turning to Mrs. Ernst): "Margaret, can't you get me a Jewish Pope? I cannot stand it any more. I have got to be careful that when Stevie Wise leaves the White House he doesn't see Joe Proskauer on the way in." Then, to Mr. Ernst: "Nothing doing on the program. We can't put it over because the dominant vocal Jewish leadership of America won't stand for it."
"It's impossible! Why?" asked Ernst.
Roosevelt: "They are right from their point of view. The Zionist movement knows that Palestine is, and will be for some time, a remittance society. They know that they can raise vast sums for Palestine by saying to donors, 'There is no other place this poor Jew can go.' But if there is a world political asylum for all people irrespective of race, creed or color, they cannot raise their money. Then the people who do not want to give the money will have an excuse to say 'What do you mean, there is no place they can go but Palestine? They are the preferred wards of the world."
Morris Ernst, shocked, first refused to believe his leader and friend. He began to lobby among his influential Jewish friends for this world program of rescue, without mentioning the President's or the British reaction. As he himself has put it: "I was thrown out of parlors of friends of mine who very frankly said 'Morris, this is treason. You are undermining the Zionist movement.' " (39) He ran into the same reaction amongst all Jewish groups and their leaders. Everywhere he found "a deep, genuine, often fanatically emotional vested interest in putting over the Palestinian movement" in men "who are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own." (40)
This response of Zionism ended the remarkable Roosevelt effort to rescue Europe's Displaced Persons.
On December 22, 1945, President Truman directed the Secretaries of State and War, and certain other federal authorities, to speed in every possible way the granting of visas and "facilitate full immigration to the United States under existing quota laws." Congress, which had often shown its vulnerability to Jewish pressure groups, did not implement the President's request regarding the application of unused quotas to uprooted Europeans. Finally, Congressman William G. Stratton in the so-called "Do-Nothing" 80th Republican Congress introduced a bill in 1947, to admit Displaced Persons "in a number equivalent to a part of the total quota numbers unused (41) during the war years." Under the Stratton Bill, up to 400,000 displaced persons of all faiths would have been permitted admission into the United States. The Committee hearings on this legislation (HR 2910) lasted eleven days and covered 693 pages of testimony. But there were exactly 11 pages of testimony given by Jewish organizations. They seemed, in fact, profoundly uninterested. But in 1944, when the House Foreign Affairs Committee was considering the Wright-Compton resolution that called for the establishment of a Jewish Commonwealth, there had been scarcely a Zionist organization that had not testified, sent telegraphed messages, or had some Congressman testify in their behalf. In support of the Wright-Compton resolution, 500 pages of testimony were produced in four days, the vast bulk by Zionists and their allies.
Yet on the Stratton Bill, which would have opened America's doors to 400,000 Displaced Persons, the powerful Zionist Washington lobby (otherwise most articulate) was virtually silent. Only one witness appeared for all the major Jewish organizationsSenator Herbert Lehman, then the ex-Governor of New York. In addition to Lehman's statement, there was a resolution from the Jewish Community Councils of Washington-Heights and Inwood, and the testimony of the National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans. Not a single word was volunteered in behalf of Displaced Persons by any of the Zionist organizations, which were at that moment recruiting members and soliciting funds "to alleviate human suffering."
To a meeting at the Shoreham Hotel in Washington, Congressman Stratton expressed his surprise at the lack of support from certain organizations, which normally ought to have been most active in liberalizing the immigration law. Obviously, the Illinois Representative (now Governor) had never heard the President of the Zionist Organization of America exhort his membership:
I am happy that our movement has finally veered around to the point where we are all, or nearly all, talking about a Jewish State. That was always classical Zionism... But I ask are we again, in moments of desperation, going to confuse Zionism with refugeeism, which is likely to defeat Zionism? . Zionism is not a refugee movement. It is not a product of the Second World War, nor of the first. Were there no displaced Jews in Europe, and were there free opportunities for Jewish immigration in other parts of the world at this time, Zionism would still be an imperative necessity.
The generous admission of Jewish Displaced Persons to the United States, and other countries, would have eradicated the necessity for a "Jewish State." Yet the human flotsam in former concentration camps impressed the Zionist only in two respectsas manpower and as justification for Jewish Statehood.
This is what a Yiddish paper (42) had to say on the distressing subject: "By pressing for an exodus of Jews from Europe; by insisting that Jewish D.P.'s do not wish to go to any country outside of Israel; by not participating in the negotiations on behalf of the D.P.'s; and by refraining from a campaign of their ownby all this they [the Zionists] certainly did not help to open the gates of America for Jews. In fact, they sacrificed the interests of living peopletheir brothers and sisters who went through a world of painto the politics of their own movement."
And this is what the Jewish Forward, largest Yiddish newspaper in the world, had to say on December 11, 1943: "The Jewish Conference is alive only when there is something in the air which has to do with a Commonwealth in Palestine, and it is asleep when it concerns rescue work for the Jews in the Diaspora."
Dr. Louis Finkelstein of the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan, one of the country's most renowned theologians, stated in an interview in 1951 it had always been his feeling that "if United States Jews had put as much effort into getting D. P.'s admitted to this country as they put into Zionism, a home could have been found in the New World for all the displaced Jews of Europe."
Speaking at the Eightieth Anniversary of the Miztah Congregation at Chattanooga, Tennessee, New York Times publisher Sulzberger pleaded that "plans to move Jews to Palestine should be but part of larger plans to empty these camps of all refugees, Jew and otherwise." He called for a reversal of Zionist policy that put statehood first, refugees last: "Admitting that the Jews of Europe have suffered beyond expression, why in God's name should the fate of all these unhappy people be subordinated to the single cry of Statehood? I cannot rid myself of the feeling that the unfortunate Jews of Europe's D. P. camps are helpless hostages for whom statehood has been made the only ransom." (43)
All these voices of reason and honest compassion were lost in the nationalist emotionalism of the day. Zionism's real objective was hidden behind the incessant denunciations of the British and anyone else who opposed Zionist aspirations in Palestine. The non-Zionist American of Jewish faith was engulfed by frenzied sentiment. A letter to the Editor of the Washington Post, pointing out that "it ill behooved Zionist sympathizers to shed crocodile tears over the displaced persons," resulted in a violent fistfight on Pennsylvania Avenue. The following stereotyped reminder invariably hushed dissenting whispers against the partition of Palestine: "How can you be so cruel as to prevent those poor refugees from finding a home?"
Only after Israel had come into being was a drastically limited Displaced Persons Bill enacted. The ensuing long fight by the Citizens Committee on Displaced Persons to liberalize this legislation was successful two years later. The devoted man who organized this Committee, and rescued thousands of homeless of all faiths, was Lessing Rosenwald, the most maligned Jewish American opponent of political Zionism.
As the Palestine crisis developed, unity and cohesive action amongst Jewish organizations in America was achieved through a virulent "Hate Britain" campaign.
Completely forgotten were the consistent British acts of friendship in Palestine, dating back to the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate. (44)
The Churchill White Paper of 1922 had disclaimed any intention of creating a Jewish State in Palestine. It defined the "National Home" in terms of a "culturally autonomous Jewish community" and looked toward an ultimate bi-national Palestine. The White Paper specifically denied that there would be any "imposition of a Jewish nationality upon the inhabitants of Palestine as a whole" or that there was any intent that Palestine should become "as Jewish as England is English."
Weizmann himself characterized the Churchill White Paper "as a serious whittling down of the Balfour Declaration." (45) Article 6 of the Palestine Mandate made Great Britain responsible for facilitating Jewish immigration under suitable conditions, while insuring that "the rights and position of other sections of the population be not prejudiced. The Churchill White Paper construed this article to mean that Jewish immigration could not exceed whatever might be the economic capacity of the country to absorb new arrivals. These restrictions, accepted at the time by the Executive of the Zionist Organization, were the basis for the subsequent Passfield White Paper and for the British policy that followed.
As the population of the Palestinian community grew, Arab demands for independence began to harass the British Government. Successive Royal Commissions were unable to devise a workable plan for partition, which would have been acceptable to both Arab and Jew. Two conflicting nationalisms in a territory as large as Wales were demanding sovereignty.
Increasingly serious disorders brought the Peel Royal Commission to the Holy Land in 1937. The Commission recommended a tripartite division into Arab and Jewish states and a permanent British mandate to include Jerusalem and surroundings. This solution, resolving what the Commission declared were "irreconcilable obligations," was rejected by Arabs and Zionists.
The MacDonald White Paper of 1939 followed the lead of the earlier Churchill and Passfield documents and called for a unitary Palestinian state in which control was to be shared by Zionists and Arabs. In such a Palestine State, "Jews and Arabs would be as Palestinian as English and Scottish in Britain are British." The British Government had found it necessary to limit Jewish immigration to Palestine in order to fulfill its protective guarantees given the Arabs in the Balfour Declaration. Seventy-five thousand Jews were to be admitted during the succeeding five years, further immigration depending on Arab agreement. But when the Germans invaded Poland, thousands of Jews were admitted to Palestine, far above and beyond the legal quota. And while the U. S. Congress was expressing its sympathy for persecuted Jewry in resolutions, tens of thousands of refugees from Nazi barbarism were being received in England and many of them supported with Government funds. During the war, when the English people were themselves hard pressed for shelter and supplies, thousands of other refugees were allowed to enter Britain.
And what other acts did the British commit to justify the charge of anti-Semitism? Under the administrative system established by Britain in Palestine, self -governing Jewish institutions were permitted to develop, a Jewish Agency was established, and Jewish immigration was facilitated. The end of World War II, despite the continued Arab unrest, which the British sought to allay, had brought almost 500,000 new Jewish immigrants into Palestine. (Palestine's Jewish population increased from 11 % in 1922 to 32 % in 1945.) The British gave arms and other equipment to the Jews in Palestine so that they might be prepared for their own defense. The British Eighth Army, under Montgomery, broke the back of General Rommel's Nazi forces and thus saved the Jewish Palestinian community from extermination.
Yet the British Government, of course, was unable to yield to the Zionist demand that Palestine be made a Jewish State, though it expressed its willingness to accept any reasonable settlement on which both the Zionists and the Arabs would agree. The conflict between uncompromising Jewish Nationalists and the Mandatory Administration led after World War II to illegal immigration, violence and sabotage. The Holy Land soon became an armed camp. The Arab Higher Committee was buying arms for its adherents. On the Jewish side, there was not only the Haganah (the more restrained and semi-official army of the Jewish Agency) but also the Irgun Zvai Leumi, the terrorist group that, since 1943, had been bombing Government buildings and installations.
The most vicious of the illegal bands was the Stern Gang, (46) which had broken away from the Irgun. Throughout World War II, its members engaged in a series of outrages, climaxed by the assassination of the British Minister of State for the Middle East, Lord Moyne, in Cairo in November, 1944. Weizmann at this time wrote to Churchill: "I can assure you that Palestine Jewry will, as its representative bodies have declared, go to the utmost limits of its power to cut out, root and branch, this evil from its midst." (47) Two years after that assurance, the Anglo-American Committee was still requesting the Jewish Agency "to resume active cooperation with the Mandatory Authority in the suppression of terrorism and of illegal immigration and in the maintenance of that law and order throughout Palestine which is essential for the good of all including the new immigrants." (48)
In Europe, a well-organized movement, supported by large financial contributions from Zionist sources, had set up "the underground railway to Palestine." Jews from all over Europe were moved down to ports on the Mediterranean. There they were placed on ships, often overcrowded and unseaworthy, under conditions of utmost privation and squalor. A very large proportion of this human freight was brought from countries of Communist-dominated Eastern Europe. For, indeed, the Kremlin had begun to play its Middle Eastern game of sowing unrest in the Arab world and pushing Britain out.
To most Americans, however, the Palestinian struggle was merely a drama of refugees fighting for homes-this time against their new English oppressors. When the British terminated all entry into Palestine, anti-British feelings mounted in the United States.
Organized American Jewry exerted utmost pressures on public opinion and politicians. This, everyone was reminded, was the same kind of war the American Revolutionists had waged against the very same imperialist power. The tactics of the British in Palestine were compared with those used for a long time against Ireland's fighters for freedom. The blowing up of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem and the mob hanging of two British sergeants brought this hussah from Hollywood's Ben Hecht: "Every time you let go with your guns at the British betrayers of your homeland, the Jews of America make a little holiday in their hearts."
It was perhaps unfortunate that throughout this trying period Britain's Foreign Minister was Ernest Bevin. This onetime Welsh miner's temperament was hardly suited to reconcile two such intransigent forces as the Arabs and the Zionists. Nor was he able to demonstrate to public opinion, particularly in the United States, just how Britain was being squeezed between two flaring nationalisms. At Bournemouth, before a Labor Party gathering in 1946, Bevin charged that the United States was pressing Britain to allow more Jews into Palestine because we did not want to allow them into America. While he meant to attack the political exploitation of human suffering, he brought down upon himself the totally unjustified charge of being anti-Semitic. His quick temper constantly handicapped his efforts to separate the problem of displaced European Jewry from the political question of Palestine.
By early 1947, events in Palestine clearly demanded international intervention. Zionists were more than ever insisting on a Jewish majority in Palestine in order to secure a Jewish Commonwealth. The British were resisting all efforts to force them into a new policy. The Arabs, fighting both the British and the Jews, were demanding an independent Palestinian State.
In the United States, audible public opinion supported illegal immigration. Such organizations as the American League for a Free Palestine, the Hebrew Committee for National Liberation, and the Political Action Committee for Palestine, were each raising funds for their own Palestinian terrorist group. Their competitive advertisements defended terrorism and stressed the tax exemptability of contributions for terrorist organizations. In New York, Congressman Joseph C. Baldwin, scion of one of the city's oldest families, and public relations adviser to the Irgun, defended the flogging of four British soldiers and assured Menachem Begin, Irgun leader, that he, Baldwin, would do everything to make his, Begin's, position clear in this country. A confused public became even more confused by the verbal barrages exchanged between various Jewish factions. "Wise attacks Silver" "Ben-Gurion blasts the Hebrew Committee for National Liberation""American League for a Free Palestine assails the Jewish Agency""Haganah and Irgun members clash."
And then the British decided to give up the Palestinian ghost. The Anglo-Arab Conferences, which had started in September 1946, and had adjourned to January 1947, proved a total failure. A total failure, too, was the so-called Bevin Plan which, revising the earlier Morrison-Grady Plan, suggested semi-autonomous Arab and Jewish cantons for a five-year period and the admission into Palestine of 100,000 Displaced Persons. Both Parties objected, whereupon Britain announced it was not her intention to enforce any plan. At the same time, the Zionist Jewish Agency proclaimed its refusal to cooperate with Mandatory authorities in any action against terrorists. Britain felt that there was nothing left but to place the controversy before the United Nations. The U. N. Secretary-General Trygve Lie called a special meeting of the General Assembly.
Submitting the dispute to international adjudication, Bevin let loose with a characteristic barrage of words. He accused American politicians of wrecking any chance for an amicable solution of the Palestine problem and, quite undiplomatic ally, pointed the finger at the White House. "I did reach a stage, however, in meeting the Jews separately. . . when things looked more hopeful," Bevin explained to the House of Commons. "There was a feeling. . . when they left me in the Foreign Office that day, that I had the right approach at last. I went back to the Paris Peace Conference, and the next day. . I believe it was a special day of the Jewish religion my right honorable friend, the Prime Minister, telephoned me at midnight and told me that the President of the United States was going to issue another statement on the hundred thousand. I think the country and the world ought to know about this. . " (49) Bevin was referring to the Day-of-Atonement plea of President Truman to admit 100,000 refugees. The Paris Peace Conference was then in session and Bevin implored Secretary Byrnes to intercede with President Truman not to issue a statement that might upset current delicate negotiations. Whereupon the Secretary of State told him that "if the President did not issue a statement, a competitive statement would be issued by Dewey."
In the New York Times of October 7, 1946, James Reston disclosed that several Administration advisers had opposed the Truman statement in view of the fact that Britain was on the verge of reaching a truce with the Zionists. Attlee himself had asked the President to withhold the statement, but the President made it nevertheless. It was believed that Mead and Lehman, the Democratic candidates for Governor and Senator in New York, would be helped by the Truman declaration. On October 6th, Governor Dewey outbid Truman by declaring the British should admit "not 100,000 but several hundred thousand Jews." Senator Taft also joined in the fun of raising the ante. It was all part of the national campaign which had elected what Truman was later to call the "Republican Do-Nothing Congress."
Whether the British talks with the Zionists would have been successful if domestic American politics had not interfered is questionable. But the whole episode was extremely characteristic of the political pattern, which the U. S. Government was following whenever Israel and the Middle East were involved.
The Arabs were as clearly inept in propaganda techniques as the Jewish Nationalists were masters. But American national politics being what they are, the chances of impressing this country with the Moslem point of view were at best slim: there is a rather negligible Arab vote in the U. S. Whatever the rights of Palestine's indigenous inhabitants may have been, they were completely dismissed in the worldwide propaganda battle between the Mandatory Administration and the Jewish Agency.
The British were determined to maintain law and order, pending the United Nations decision over the ultimate fate of the Holy Land. The Zionists continued to present their power play to the confused world in terms of humanitarianism. Continuous clashes between wretched would-be immigrants and the armed British authorities were the only issue really discussed in the American press. The British seized the S.S. "Abril," Ben Hechts boat, which was crowded with refugees. Three British were killed and several injured in an effort "to rescue or capture" (as the U. S. press reported) refugees who plunged into the sea. Terrorists blew up the Iraq Petroleum Pipeline. The Irgun declared open warfare. Dov Gruner and three other terrorists who had attacked a Palestine police station were hanged. The Stern Gang promised retaliation. And all that time, the only contributions of the U. S. Government were words. There was much talk about Displaced Persons and human suffering, but no real effort to bring them into the United States. Everybody knew, and said, what Britain should or should not do. Every politician hurried to get in on the act, to exploit "humanitarianism" for votes. Everybody urged unlimited immigration to the Holy Land. Eleanor Roosevelt urged a luncheon meeting of the Women's Division of the United Jewish Appeal to tell Congress what to do on Palestine. "The time has come," she said, "when we have to stand up and be counted. You have not told Congress so they would hear one unmistakable voice." Did organized Jewry really need such a reminder?
Day in and day out the press carried such headlines as "The American Jewish Congress demands""Senator Lehman again renews his plea to open up Palestine," "Congressman Javits of Manhattan suggests a Congressional junket to Palestine to foster the establishment of a Jewish commonwealth." The British Empire building in Radio Center was picketed while William O'Dwyer, not yet a refugee in Mexico, excoriated the British before the National Council of Young Israel. Zionists flooded the capitol with letters trying to link Palestine with aid to Greece and Turkey. "Tell the British," some letters said, "there will be no aid for the British policy in Greece and Turkey unless they follow the United States lead on Palestine." The State and War Departments, it is true, were constantly cautioning the White House and Congress that an irresponsible vote-chasing policy for Palestine might irreparably damage the American position in one of the world's most strategic areas. But politicians, when following the scent of "blocs," seem to be beyond the reach of reason. At the climax of the Palestine crisis, at any rate, elections were just around the corner (they always seem to be in this blessed country of ours), and both parties were convinced that their eloquent support of statehood for Israel was a prerequisite for their conquest of pivotal states. There was, in fact, no need for the Zionists to refute the solemn warnings that were coming from the War and State Departments. All the Zionists had to do was to make sure that the politicians remained hypnotized by "the Jewish vote." Perhaps for the first time in history, a decisive battle could indeed be won with the tools of propaganda. It is to the credit of the Zionists' acumen that they grasped their chance. But it is perhaps less to the credit of America's non-Zionist Jewry that it permitted its self-appointed Zionist leaders to bet the future of American Judaism on the roulette of power politics.
Notes (30) The Commission consisted of Dr. Henry Churchill King, President of Oberlin College, and Mr. Charles R. Crane, Chicago industrialist and member of the American Commission to Russia in 1917. The report was suppressed until December 1922 when the N. Y. Times and Editor & Publisher made it available.
(31) Official survey of the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry.
(32) Times (London), Nov. 15, 1945.
(33) Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Report to the United States Government and His Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom (Pub. by Department of State, 1946), Preface.
(34) Three of the signers of these unanimous recommendations later became the most ardent Christian supporters of Jewish Nationalism: Bartley Crum, R. H. S. Crossman and James G. McDonald reversed their position complete, even before Israel became a political reality.
(35) Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry, Recommendation, No. 3, p. 4.
(36) Weizmann, op. cit., p. 201.
(37) New Palestine, October 27, 1944.
(38) Hurewitz, op. cit., p. 249.
(39) For a full discussion of the refugee problem, see Morris L. Ernst, So Far So Good (New York: Harper, 1948), pp. 170-77.
(40) Ibid. p. 176.
(41) Fiscal Year 1942, only 10% of quotas used; 1943, 5%; 1944, 6%0; 1945, 7%.
(42) Yiddish Bulletin, Free Jewish Club, May 19, 1950.
(43) New York Times, October 27, 1946.
(44) The Supreme Council of the allied powers agreed to assign the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain, April 25, 1920. The Council of the League of Nations confirmed the draft Mandate, September 29, 1923.
(45) Weizmann, op cit., p. 290.
(46) The founder of this group, Abraham Stem, was a Pole who had settled in Palestine in 1925. He is reputed to have written Hebrew poetry between acts of greatest violence and was killed in 1942 by Palestine Police.
(47) Weizmann, op. cit., pp. 437 and 438.
(48) Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry Recommendations, No. 10 at p. 12.
(49) United Nations, Official Records of the 2nd Session of the General Assembly (Lake Success, 1947), II, 139.
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