« PreviousContinue »
ESTABLISHMENT OF A NATIONAL HOME IN PALESTINE.
COMMITTEE ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
IVashington, Tuesday, April 18, 1922. The committee this day met, Hon. Stephen G. Porter (chairman), presiding.
The committee had under consideration House Concurrent Resolution 52, which reads as follows:
[House Concurrent Resolution 52, Sixty-seventh Congress, second session.]
Whereas the Jewish people have for many centuries believed in and yearned for the rebuilding of their ancient homeland; and
Whereas owing to the outcome of the World War and their part therein the Jewish people, under definite and adequate international guaranties are to be enabled, with due regard to the rights of all elements of the population of Palestine and to the sanctity of its holy places, to re-create and reorganize a national home in the land of their fathers: Therefore be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That the Congress of the United States hereby expresses its profound satisfaction in that outcome of the victorious war which promises the building up of a new and beneficent life in Palestine, rejoices in this act of historic justice about to be consummated, and on behalf of the American people commends an under, taking which will do honor to Christendom and give to the House of Israel its long-denied opportunity to reestablish a fruitful Jewish life and culture in the ancient Jewish land.
The CHAIRMAN. The committee will be in order. The committee was called for the purpose of considering House Concurrent Resolution No. 52, introduced by Mr. Fish.
Mr. Fish. Mr. Chairman, I just want to make a brief statement. This resolution has probably more significance and importance actually and historically than most of us realize. The Jewish people all over the world are interested in the establishment of a national home in Palestine, and our allies in the war, England, France, and Italy, have all gone on record in favor of such a project. I have asked a very few gentlemen representing the Zionist organization of America to come here to-day and express their views and those of their organization and to answer any questions that the committee might desire to ask. For the information of the committee Senator Lodge has also introduced a resolution in the Senate to the same effect, but not in exactly the same words. I have talked to the Senator and he said there would not be any conflict between the two resolutions. It was agreed after our discussion that both resolutions should take their course. What I am most desirous of is the immediate consideration of this resolution and either having it voted up or down in the session to-day. We have, as you know, had many resolutions come before our committee in times past, and we have had many large gatherings here in support and in opposition to sundry resolutions, but sometimes it happens that resolutions, after the hearings, are laid to rest. I most earnestly request the committee to consider this important resolution on its merit, and after listening to the speakers, to either vote the resolution up or down in to-day's session.
The CHAIRMAN. That would not be practicable, because there are a number of people who desire to be heard in this matter. We can do that on Thursday, if satisfactory. I promised to give some people a hearing on Thursday.
Mr. Fish. If that is the case, and if we can have a vote as soon as Thursday, it will be perfectly satisfactory to me, especially if there is any opposition to the resolution,
The CHAIRMAN. I did not say these men were in opposition. I do not know: they merely asked for a hearing.
Mr. Fish. I purposely asked only a very few people here to-day and gave no publicity to the meeting, so that we could get through the hearing, and afford the committee ample opportunity to ask questions after listening to what is said in favor of the resolution. I hope then we can get down to business expeditiously and vote on the proposition. But, Mr. Chairman, as you say, you expect to call a meeting of the committee Thursday, a few days more or less will not make any difference as long as we can get action on the resolution before Mr. Cockran sails for Europe.
Mr. COCKRAN. I may be there ahead of you.
Mr. Fish. Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jew, is to-day a comparatively sterile country, due to the wanton and deplorable policy of desolation systematically carried out by its rulers, the Turks, for many centuries. What was once the country of milk and honey has become, through misrule and oppression, a devastated and sparsely settled land. The Jewish people have established many prosperous colonies there and have demonstrated successfully the agricultural possibilities. There are countless thousands of oppressed, starving, and homeless Jews in Poland, Galicia, Austria, Hungary, and Rumania, whose business has been ruined and property destroyed by the ravages of the World War, and the subsequent revolutions and civil strife, who are praying and eager to go to live in Palestine. These poor and unhappy people, living in the ghettoes, and even in the forests of Eastern Europe have no means to pay for their transportation to Palestine. The Jews of England and America are willing to supply vast sums to help their oppressed coreligonists to go to Palestine, provided a national home is established there for them on a solid basis, under a British mandate, and guaranteed by the great nations of the world.
The famous Balfour declaration of November 2, 1917, in the midst of the World War pledged the British Government to use their best efforts toward the establishment of a national home for the Jewish pe ple in Palestine.
We of America should be glad to give our support to this just and humanitarian project. The Jewish people with their energy and indomitable will backed by enormous financial resources are ready to make fertile the sterile lands of Palestine; to harness its water power; to develop its commerce, and lastly but not least inaugurate its industrial life.
This resolution is purely a moral one expressing our favorable attitude toward the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and commits us to no foreign obligations or entanglements. The protection of the holy places is carefully provided for, as well as that of the rights of Christians and all non-Jewish people. There is a strong religious and humanitarian appeal to the project beyond the purely material development of Palestine, and the fulfillment of a war obligation.
Most Zionists anticipate the eventual creation there of an enlightened state under Jewish autonomy, a center for Jewish culture and development in that ancient land given to Abraham by Jehovah, and consecrated in all Jewish hearts as the birthplace of their traditions.
I wish to introduce Mr. Lipsky, who represents the Zionist Organization of America, with headquarters in New York at 55 Fifth Avenue, and with branches throughout America. It is, I understand, in cooperation with other Zionist organizations throughout the world.
Mr. CHAIRMAN. Kindly state your name and address. STATEMENT OF MR. LOUIS LIPSKY, 55 FIFTH AVENUE, NEW
Mr. LIPSKY. I would prefer to withhold my statement until Thursday.
The CHAIRMAN. The difficulty about that is this: The members, as a rule, are rather late in arriving, and our sessions do not ordinarily last over a hour. Mr. Fish is in a hurry to have these matters disposed of, but I am satisfied these parties who will appear Thursday, will take all of the forenoon. So we will follow this order, that the proponents of the measure may speak first; those opposed last.
Mr. LIPSKY. I was born in the United States. I am a journalist by profession. I am here representing the Zionist Organization of America, which is an organization in existence in the United States for over 25 years. It represents a membership of over 40,000. We have a special women's organization, which
has a membership of about 15,000. Connected w.th our organization are a number of auxiliary groups national in the r scope, a national college organization, and a young people's organization. We have affiliated with us an organizat.on composed of insured members, the Order Sons of Zion, with a membership of 5,000. In add tion to those organizations directly concerned in the promotion of the interests of the Jewish national
we have the support of auxiliary organizations that are national in their character; the Independent Order Brith Sholom, which has a membership of 70,000. They are closely affiliated with us and in all their Jewish endeavors act together with us. There is a similar organization called the Independent Order of Brith Abraham, of which Judge Aaron J. Levy is grand master. This organization has a membership of over 200,000, all of them, so far as their Jewish activities are concerned, cooperating with us for Zionist purposes.
The Jews of the United States held a Congress two years ago, after the Balfour declaration of the British Government, prior to the peace conference. There were over 360,000 Jews who voted for the delegates who attended that Congress. In addition to the 360,000 voters, who elected 300 delegates, there were also 100 delegates elected by the following organizations, practically every national Jewish organizat on : the American Jewish committee, of which Mr. Louis Marshall is chairman; The Independent Order Bnai Brith, of which Mr. Adolph Kraus of Chicago is chairman; the Order Brith Abraham; the Association of Orthodox Rabb's; the Independent Western Star Order; the Independent Workmen's Circle of America; the Progressive Order of the West; the United Synagogue of America composed of the conservative congregations in the Un’ted States; the United Hebrew Trades, which represents an association of the Jewish trades unions in New York City; the faculty of the Rabbinical College of America, of which Dr. Revell is the president; the Union of Orthodox Jew sh Congregations, wh:ch is an organization of orthodox Jewish congregations somewhat similar to the United Synagogues, except that it is more orthodox. The United Synagogue of America represents those organizations that are affiliated with the Jewish Theolog:cal Seminary in New York, of which the late Doctor Schechter was president.
Mr. COCKRAN. What is the significance of the word orthodox?
Mr. LIPSKY. The orthodox are those that preserve the details of ceremonials and traditions. Then there is a conservative section represented in the United States by the followers of the late Dr. S. Schechter, who trained a large number of rabbis at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. They are not as strict as the traditional orthodox wing.
Mr. COCKRAN. Where they differ is on matters of ceremonial or is it on matters of faith?
Mr. LIPSKY. Largely matters of ceremonial. Intrinsically, so far as these two parties are concerned, they are the same.
Mr. COCKRAN. There are conservatives and orthodox.
Mr. LIPSKY. Then there is the reform wing among the Jews, a very small number so far as numbers go in the United States. Those were also represented.
Mr. COCKRAN. Where do they differ from the other?
Mr. LIPSKY. The reform Jewish synagogue differs from the orthodox in denying the authority of the commentaries on the law.
Mr. COCKRAN. That is, the Scripture?
Mr. LIPSKY. For example, the Talmud. The reform Jews do not agree that the laws that are derived from commentaries on the Bible are binding upon them. Out of that grew quite a great deal of difference in ceremonial and also in dogma. The reform Jewish synagogue was created or established in Germany about 70 years ago. It is a movement to adjust the Jewish traditions to the local conditions. The rabbis graduated from that school in Germany fostered reform Judaism in the United States. The English reform Jew is very moderate as compared to the German reform school in the United States. They are much more conservative. In addition to those organizations that I have mentioned, there are the American Union of Rumanian Jews; the Eastern Council of Reform Rabbis, represented by Dr. Maurice H. Harris, and the Federation of Jewish Farmers of America.
Mr. COCKRAN. Jewish farmers ?
Mr. LIPSKY. Jewish farmers. This (indicating] is a record of the proceedings of the American Jewish Congress.