CONSULTATION WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF AGUDATH ISRAEL
On the invitation of the Chairman, Rabbi Rosenheim, Mr. Glickman-Porush and Mr. H. A. Goodman, representatives of the Agudath Israel World Organization, took their places at the table. The statement by Rabbi Rosenheim and the answers by the representatives of Agudath Israel to questions put by members on points arising from the statement by Rabbi Rosenheim are reproduced in extenso, as follows:
CHAIRMAN: I welcome you in our midst. You are aware of the purpose for which you were invited to attend. In paragraph 4, B, Part I of the Plan of Partition it is provided that before the Palestine Commission proceeds to the selection and establishment of a Provisional Council of Government in each state it shall consult the democratic parties and other public organizations of both the Jewish and Arab communities. The fact is that practically all the Jewish parties and organizations have empowered the Jewish Agency to speak for them, but since you have preferred to exercise right to be consulted resulted independently I would ask your spokesman to address the Commission and to express your views on the question of the Provisional Council.
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): I am speaking as the president of Agudath Israel World Organization, the universal organized body of orthodox Jewry, but in this particular instance I am authorized, together with my colleagues, Mr. Glickman-Porush of Jerusalem, Mr. H. A. Goodman, our political secretary in London, and Rabbi I. M. Lewin, the Chairman of our Palestinian Executive - who unfortunately is unable to be present today - to present the views of our Palestine branch organization to the Palestine Commission of the United Nations.
Agudath Israel was established about forty years ago by the generally acknowledged spiritual and religious leaders of orthodox Jewry. Its purpose was, as an independent organization, to defend the political, social, and cultural interests of historical Judaism and the interests of those Jews who are conscientiously clinging to the age-old traditions of the Jewish nation. For this reason we are not represented within the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which is a religiously neutral body, although in many cases co-operation between the Agency and our organization has been achieved to the advantage of the Jewish people.
Negotiations concerning the problems connected with the creation of a Jewish State in a partitioned Palestine have taken place for some time between the Jewish Agency and our leaders in Palestine, but since no satisfactory result has been achieved to date, we have to submit our suggestions separately to your Commission.
We feel it our duty, in the first place, to express our sincere thanks to the Commission in the name of the Jewish population of the Holy City of Jerusalem for the Commission’s concern in the fate of our brethren in Jerusalem, threatened by violence and by starvation.
In this respect we submit the following proposals:
(b) As regards the period after 15 May, we appreciate the Commission’s endeavours to provide for a police force of 1,000 men, but we are afraid that such a limited number will be by no means sufficient for the adequate maintenance of order among population of 140,000 souls. It should be increased commensurately with the need.
(c) With respect to the food situation in Jerusalem we also are going in different directions on the basis of the terrible and terrifying reports which we receive day by day from our starving friends in the Holy City of Jerusalem, and we are convinced that direct negotiations by the Palestine Commission, in the name of the United Nations, with the Red Cross in Switzerland would mean a clear encouragement for this body in its welfare work for the Italy Land - which it has just initiated without achieving very much to date. These are the points concerning Jerusalem.
We would claim at least eight seats in a Council of thirty-two members, but appreciating the internal difficulties of the Jewish Agency, with its different groups and bodies, all of them claiming extensive representation, we limit our demand to a minimum of four seats in the Council. In a Cabinet of thirteen at least two Agudists should be represented.
In view of our religious convictions which prevent us from taking over responsibilities for any specific acts of the Government not approved by Jewish Torah law, we must be cautious in the acceptance of specific portfolios. We believe that the Department of Immigration and that of Social Welfare could be administered by Agudist ministers without conscientious conflicts. Eventually, we should also be prepared to enter the Cabinet as ministers without specific portfolios, participating in the general ministerial work and representing the viewpoints of Jewish religious tradition over the whole front of governmental activities.
Finally, we suggest, in accordance with the resolution of the General Assembly, that proportional elections should be introduced, thus securing not only the rights of the Arab residents in the Jewish State but also those of the different Jewish minorities, as far as they are organized. We reserve our right to submit further suggestions in due course, whenever this should prove desirable.
We express our appreciation for your courtesy in according us the opportunity of addressing this Commission in our capacity as representatives of world-wide independent orthodox Jewry.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your statement. Do members of the Commission wish to put any questions to the representatives of Agudath Israel?
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): In connection with religious representation, is it your idea or is it the general idea, that there should be an established church working under the government or that the church should be independent of the government?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Our idea is that the whole of the State organization in the Jewish State must be subjugated to the law of the Torah - the law of Jewish tradition. If you consider that to be the church then, of course, we demand that the whole of the State shall he approved by and in accordance with the prescriptions of the Jewish church - that is to say; the traditional historical law of Moses and all law as codified in the Talmudic and Rabbinical scriptures.
I am aware that whereas originally some of the Zionist leaders here in America declared that they wished to separate State and church, as is the case in the United States, nevertheless in the Provisional Cabinet which they nominated some time ago provision is made for a ministry of religion and education. I must admit that they have taken the view that although a man does not belong to us he may, nevertheless, be a religious Jew. For our part, nevertheless, we must be sure that whenever a Jewish State arises it will be absolutely bound to the traditional religious law. We are convinced - and are always proclaiming to the whole world - that a Jewish State in opposition to the religious law will have the same fate that befell the first and second Temples, which were destroyed. We have left our country because the Jewish people was not fulfilling its religious tasks, and we are convinced that only the full return to God and His law can save the Jewish people and lead it home to Palestine as the Holy Land for all the nations of the world.
CHAIRMAN: You have stated that your organization represents 23 per cent of the whole population of Palestine. On what is that statement based?’
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Perhaps you would allow lay colleague Rabbi Glickman-Porush to reply, since his family has lived in Palestine for eight generation’s past?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): We say that members and sympathizers of Agudath Israel represent 25 per cent. This figure was also officially declared to the League of Nations by the High Commissioner in 1936 or 1937.
CHAIRMAN: Do you think that this same percentage still holds, given the fact that since 1937 there has been a very numerous Jewish immigration?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): If you ask me whether it is exactly 25 per cent I cannot reply definitely, but that is what we believe generally to be the percentage.
CHAIRMAN: And how does the matter stand in the light of the election to any Jewish body in Palestine? Did you participate in the elections to the Assembly?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): No, we did not.
CHAIRMAN: And the elections to the Zionist Congress?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): No.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): Does that mean that your members voted according to other political ideas, or that they did not vote at all?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, especially those organized in the rank and file of Agudath Israel, had a long, long battle at the League of Nations in Geneva to obtain their independence, and they were allowed to establish a separate Jewish community that has nothing to do with the so-called Vaad Leumi. This Vaad Leumi is a strange body. It seems that it is a national body, but it is also religious and is established on the basis of what is known as the Religious Ordinance for Palestine. As it does not acknowledge the authority of the Torah our friends and adherents among the orthodox Jews - with the exception of the Mizrachists-- could not participate in it. Vaad Leumi has its own community and its own Chief Rabbinate. This position has always been acknowledged by the Government, but if a legal Jewish State now arises it will be impossible for anyone to be independent of the State in which he lives. That is why; if a legal Jewish government - and I stress the word “legal” - is established in Palestine under the auspices of this Commission and of the United Nations, we shall be bound to participate and shall, in fact, participate and co-operate in order to defend the interests, particularly the religious interests, of the whole Jewish people.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): May I take your answer to mean that supporters of Agudath Israel formed a very large part of voters who did not actually take part in the elections?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Yes.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): The Palestine Communities Ordinance of 1922 permitted those persons who desired so to do to opt out of the community. I was personally associated with the negotiations at that time, and in my view that was an unfair regulation. It should have required every Jew in Palestine to choose which community he wished to opt into. Nevertheless, as was stated in evidence before UNSCOP, at the present moment there are 8,000 male members of the community in Jerusalem alone who have opted out of the community. Opting out of a community envisages serious economic and, possibly, political difficulties. Nevertheless; as I have said, there are 8,000 male members of the orthodox community in Jerusalem alone who have so opted out.
There is one more point which should be mentioned in connection with percentages. Originally, paragraph 4 of the Mandate required the Zionist organization to obtain the co-operation of all Jewish bodies concerned in the welfare and upkeep of the Jewish national home. Our co-operation was never sought, or conditions were imposed which made it impossible. It is known; as I stated in evidence before UNSCOP in London, that members of our organization were not allowed to receive a single certificate to enter Palestine for years. Subsequently, as the result of the intervention of the High Commissioner, we were given six per cent, which was increased about a year ago to ten per cent, a figure which still holds. I am convinced that if there had been no question of percentages and Jews bad been allowed to come in in accordance with the proportional representation of their organizations, there would have been considerably more than the 25 per cent which Rabbi Rosenheim has mentioned for Agudath Israel.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): What is the effect of opting out of the community? Does that mean that the person concerned loses the right to vote?
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Every Jew in Jerusalem is presumed to be a member of the community automatically. To opt out he has to state in writing to the community and to the Government, “I am opting out of the community”. He is then no longer associated, actively or passively, in any way with the general Jewish community and can, if he so wishes, join the other community which, in Jerusalem, is the Vaad Ashkenashi, and which is, in fact, much older than the new community.
Mr. FRANCISCO (Philippines): Why do not the members of Agudath Israel participate in the general election to the Jewish National Congress? Is it because there is a legal disqualification, or because they do not wish to do so?
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): A decision reached by the greatest Rabbis in the world requires a Jewish community to have certain religious bases. Since Vaad Leumi, or the Central National Council, which is similar, have no religious basis at all, the Rabbis of the world, without any important exceptions, have stated that orthodox Jews cannot be members of those communities. For twenty-five years, therefore, our friends and followers in Palestine have declined to co-operate with, or to participate in, the General Jewish Community of Palestine. This is purely for religious reasons based on the considered statements of our greatest leaders.
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): May I add that, as the Chairman of the Commission will no doubt know, in Czechoslovakia also orthodox Jews had a separate community and separate community organizations. The same difference exists in Jerusalem where certain communities will not acknowledge the authority of the traditional Jewish law but make their own. Some, of course, share the Jewish faith in one God and so on, but the law is not acknowledged. That is the reason why orthodox Jews must have their own communities.
CHAIRMAN: What about the Mizrachists? We have been told by a representative that they are orthodox as well?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): I am sorry that I have to discuss these internal Jewish affairs, but it is inevitable.
CHAIRMAN: It is necessary in order that the Commission may be able to form an exact picture of the situation.
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): When Agudath Israel was established forty years ago we tried in vain to win over the Mizrachists who already existed as an independent orthodox organization. The belief of the Mizrachists is that by belonging to the Zionist organizations they can influence it in a religious sense, but in our opinion they have tried for over forty years and have not succeeded. That is the difference between the viewpoints of the Mizrachists and ourselves. We cannot make any concession in matters that concern not our personal business or economic interests but our religious interests, and it is the cause of God and his divine Torah that we defend in this respect. The Mizrachists are compelled to make concessions at any moment. That is why it means nothing to us that a certain person, who is a religious Jew, may become Minister for Culture or Religion. Also, Chief Rabbi Herzog of Palestine is a Mizrachist. Otherwise he could not have accepted the office he holds. The orthodox Jews have their own Chief Rabbinate in Palestine.
These matters would not be of any interest to this Commission if the Jewish State were not now at stake. If the Jewish State is a legal State we cannot, of course, separate ourselves from it but must co-operate. However, we must have conditions in which it is possible for us to co-operate in accordance with our conscience.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): What do you mean by “a legal State”?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): There are rumours in the world that a State might be created which would not be acknowledged by the United Nations. That would not be a legal state, and I do not know whether we should be prepared to participate in it because, according to our traditional Talmudic law - I could quote the page of the actual prescription - Jews in these times are not allowed to rebel against the nations of the earth, or, as the expression is. “To climb the wall and conquer Palestine by force”. We are not allowed to do that so long as the sovereign of Palestine - the United Nations - does not agree. We cannot participate in a Jewish State which can be maintained only by force, violence and death.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): Is that not rather casting a shadow on Moses?
Rabbi ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): No, Moses had the explicit command of God whereas it is written that we are not allowed to do so. These things are dealt with in the Talmudic scriptures, and it is a miraculous fact that the present situation was foreseen by those scriptures which state that to conquer Palestine with arms and violence before the coming of the Messiah would be to commit a crime against the Jewish people.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): I should like to ask bow the Agudath Israel. Community is organized.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): Democratically, of course.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): How is the membership determined?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): First of all, our member has left the Vaad Leumi. Secondly, he signed a declaration that he was a member of Agudath Israel, Every two years there is a general election in Palestine. Our members may come from Tel Aviv, Haifa or other places.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): It is not a political body?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): I do not understand exactly what you mean. We take up political matters.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): Is it a religious association only?
CHAIRMAN: Is your organization only strictly religious or are you also political?
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): We have to stick to the Resolution of the General Assembly, and, of course, this is a question of a democratic, economic and. political State. You can see that the United Nations is for a democratic economy.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): Perhaps. Mr. Goodman can explain it better.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): We are not an association of Jews purely for religious purposes. We are the political representation of organized orthodox Jews in every country of the world, including Palestine. In pre-war days, for a period of twenty years, as a political party we were represented in the Seja and the Senate of Poland. The Government of Czechoslovakia recognizes us as a political body. During the war, I was personally associated with negotiations which gave us official state recognition during the period of the government in exile. I think the Chairman here may remember some of the negotiations. We are the political representation of religious Jews; we participated in the elections of a number of town councils recently; in Bnai-Brek, a small place on the outskirts of Palestine, three of our delegates wore elected into the town council.
We feel that if democratic elections take place in due course in a recognized Jewish State and we go to the polls, we shall be able to attain the figure mentioned by my President, maybe twenty per cent or twenty-five per cent, but I hope it will not be understood and that it will not be thought that we are purely a religious organization. We are the political representation of religious Jews, and I have had the honour for some twenty years to be in the political association of the Agudath Israel World Organization, so I know something about it.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): I would like to ask if the leaders of your organization are chosen on the basis of elections.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Yes, we have had three world congresses since our establishment. The last world conference was held in Marianski last summer. The elections were on a democratic basis. Every branch organization in the world was represented. I have the honour to be the President of the United Kingdom branch organization, and I know that every branch organization has its annual conferences. We have branches where the members elect delegates; we have a constitution that has been in existence thirty years. We even have separate women’s groups, workers’ groups and youth groups, all of whom have the opportunity of expressing their views democratically. Mr. Rosenheim, our President, was elected, I think, some twenty-one years ago, and he is the President of the world organization and subsequently has been re-elected at world congresses to that position.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): You realize that the principal purpose of the Commission is the juridical organization of both the Jewish and Arab States? This requires strict conformity to the intent of the General Assembly Resolution. Therefore, I ask if in accordance with this Resolution and this intent, you can co-operate in the selection of a Provisional Council of Government.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): We shall definitely do so if the Government is a legal one.
CHAIRMAN: If I understood your explanations correctly, it means that your organization forms a separate Jewish community in Palestine, that you have control of your members, and that it is quite easy for you to say how many members your community has in Palestine. I am interested in your figure of twenty-five per cent. I shall tell you why: This percentage is not quite exactly the same as the number which was indicated for you to us from another source, so I should like to have as much justification for your contention that you represent twenty-five per cent of the inhabitants of Palestine as it will be possible for you to submit to us.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): We shall try to bring evidence for that number; we can do that.
CHAIRMAN: Am I right in supposing that you have lists of your members?
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Every country in the world has political parties. The number of members of a political party and the people who actually go to vote are quite out of proportion one with the other. I know because I am associated very prominently with a political party in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party, which, I think, has less membership than the number of voters it brings out. We do not say that our inscribed membership in Palestine is twenty-five per cent. What we say is that in a free and democratic election we have no hesitation in thinking that we can attain the twenty-five per cent, but we do not have twenty-five per cent inscribed membership in the same way as the Jewish Agency does not have inscribed seventy-five per cent of the Jews in Palestine as members of the Jewish Agency. The number can only be determined through democratically held elections, and we are quite prepared to prove our contention.
CHAIRMAN: Our difficulty is that the selection of the Provisional Council of the Government should precede any election, so I hope you will realize that difficulty.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): The Jewish Agency has conceded to us, I think, two seats in the Council, and afterwards three. We claim four; the difference is not so big.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): That is, assuming it would be thirty-two?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Yes. That is the Council but the cabinet should have thirteen.
Mr. FEDERSPIEL (Denmark): There it was two.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): In the Council we demand only four must state that we are operating with some numbers which until now have had nothing to do with the Commission, but you should realize that it is for the Commission to make the selection and to make the decisions concerning the size and structure of the Provisional Council of Government - and now you operate with the number of thirty-two or thirty in the Council, and else with the Cabinet.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Those are only examples. We change these numbers with other ones; if you go into the government, you must have sufficient influence. We are historically considered as the oldest part of the Jerusalem population. There was a time when the whole of Jerusalem and Palestine was orthodox. The Zionist movement is a new movement, but orthodox Jews since more than two thousand years, speak, think, and feel for Palestine and Jerusalem incessantly in all their prayers three times a day, and it would be the summit of injustice and prejudice against these orthodox Jews who live with all their hearts in the Holy Land.
CHAIRMAN: If we take the number thirty-two just at random, you say that you would be entitled to eight members out of thirty-two; that is twenty-five per cent, but you may be satisfied with half of that numberer or four, twelve and a half per cent? What do you say about the Cabinet?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): According to the press reports we have assumed that it would consist of thirteen persons; I do not know if I am right.
CHAIRMAN: You are operating with some notions which, until now, were not discussed by the Commission, a cabinet and a council of thirty-two.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): That may be discussed.
CHAIRMAN: On what ground are you operating with these notions and these numbers?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): The Jewish and the Yiddish press here in New York.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): There have been negotiations between the Jewish Agency and our organization in Jerusalem, London, and. New York. We can only go on the figures which they give us. The figures of thirty-two and thirteen are figures which the Jewish Agency have given to us. Their suggestion originally was one in the Council and one in the Cabinet; they have increased that now to two in the Council, and one in the Cabinet. Our President, Mr. Rosenheim, suggested that four in the Council and two in the Cabinet would be equitable on the basis of thirty-two and thirteen. If those figures are not right, it is simply a question of adjusting in proportion.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): Is it a sine qua non condition of Agudath Israel that the Jewish State be under the rules of the Torah, and would they co-operate if such a condition is not accepted in consideration of the other sections of the Jewish community and of the Arabs forming about fifty per cent of the population of the proposed Jewish State?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Of course, originally we had demanded the adherence of the Jewish State to the law but that is not a condition sine qua non for our entering the government. We would go to the polls and try to get as large a parliamentary vote as possible. We would co-operate with the Mizrachi in this respect, of course. We would form a religious bloc within the Jewish parliament, if it were realized, and then try to do the best for our ideals, of course.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): I think that when proportional representation comes in after the elections, that would not be very difficult.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): That is why we prefer proportional representation.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): One might visualize co-operation between religious Jews, religious Arabs, and religious Christians. I can very well visualize a parliament where all religious-minded people who all believe in the same God, each in his own way, might very well co-operate in order to form a majority against irreligiously-minded people. I can visualize such a policy; and there may be something in common between religious Jews and religious non-Jews, which unhappily is not it common between non-religious Jews and religious Jen.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): Today, religion is a question of free conscience.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Yes.
CHAIRMAN: You stated that in the immigration quota now there is ten per cent reserved to members of your community?
CHAIRMAN: Indirectly, it may be inferred that in the view of the Palestine Administration, your present strength in Palestine is calculated at ton per cent of the whole.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Paragraph 4 of the Mandate requires recognition of the Jewish Agency; the whole of the immigration is handed over in theory to the Jewish Agency. They have control. They have been compelled by the Palestine Government to come to an understanding with us. It is not the Palestine Government which made the division; it is the Jewish Agency which made the division. The United Kingdom representatives here in the United States would confirm that ten per cent is not an equitable percentage.
CHAIRMAN: It is not an equitable percentage?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): It is not an adequate percentage.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): I represent Agudath Israel in the Immigration Department of the Jewish Agency. The Jewish Agency themselves agree that the percentage of tea per cent is not correct; it is not right.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): I believe that we must add that during the last years after the Hitler destruction the Jewish Agency has not strictly adhered to the ten per cent. In the immigration of persons that were in danger, they did not make such a discrimination, but in many cases, nevertheless, there were conflicts between our representatives, for instance, in the displaced persons’ camps in Germany or the Eastern European countries, and I have had a good many complaints that Agudasists were discriminated against by the Jewish Agency agents in the different countries. I do not know whether this whole discussion is practical because if the Mandate is ended, the Jewish Agency must be re-organized anyhow because the whole mandate of the Agency is founded on the United Kingdom Mandate, so I think that in this respect there will be a new prospect of coming to an understanding regarding the number of immigrants.
CHAIRMAN: I am raising this question only in connection with my research at arriving at a proportion which should be as near the reality as possible. Given your declaration that you would be satisfied with four members in a body of thirty-two, which means twelve and a half per cent, perhaps we may consider for our purpose your present strength in Palestine at twelve end a half per cent of the whole population.
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): We do not believe that that is the truth, but we felt that in view of the difficulties which the Jewish Agency has with all their own parties to satisfy, we are satisfied, against reality, with twelve and a half per cent instead of twenty-five per cent. That is a concession for the love of peace.
CHAIRMAN: Would it be twenty-five per cent of the number of the Jewish population? It is more than 150,000 or 160,000. These are persons, not voters. You are claiming that you have some 150,000 or 160,000 souls in Palestine?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): Yes, who are members or who are sympathetic with our religious convictions; they are followers of our ideas. Not all of them are organized.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): You will understand how difficult it is for orthodox Jews to be organized in Palestine. Our community is not organized but the Jewish Agency is. The community of Vaad Leumi is organized. It is very very difficult. We say twenty-five per cent; that means to say that members do recognize themselves as members of Agudath Israel and are sympathetic to the idea that orthodox Jewry in Palestine should be independent.
CHAIRMAN You would not feel prejudiced very much if we considered your strength on the basis of your own proposal of twelve and a half per cent?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath Israel): It may prejuice us, but for reasons of equity and for the love of peace, we have resolved to be satisfied with four seats in the Provisional Council to make an understanding possible because if we insist on eight seats, then the Jewish Agency will not be able to satisfy the claims of all the different parties who are fighting for representation in this Council, so we think if we have four representatives in the Council and two ministers in the Cabinet then we shall be able to represent our interests until the vote will prove the real strength of the different parties.
CHAIRMAN: I must call your attention to the fact that the plan of the General Assembly makes no mention of any cabinet; it is only the Provisional Council of of Government which should be selected and established by the Commission. This Provisional Council of Government is not a provisional government. You stick to the number of four; I think it would be preferable to stick to some per cent of representation such as four in thirty-two, or twelve and a half per cent, because, as I told you, the Commission until now does not know the size of the Provisional Council of Government; since the Commission, which should make the selection, has rot deliberated. There are some suggestions from the Jewish Agency on which the Commission has not yet deliberated.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Could we leave it at that, without prejudice to our rights in an eventual, democratic election when we are prepared to prove our strength? We would accept a representation of twelve and a half per cent in any governmental body which will be legally established. That does not mean, however, that we recognize that twelve and a half per cent is our strength in Palestine.
CHAIRMAN It will be strictly for this practical purpose.
Mr. MORGAN (Panama): Your plan is to solve all the difficulties now, and then after the elections you can show your strength. The Commission wants co-operation now for the difficulties that we are now facing
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): Yes, we want to help the souls.
CHAIRMAN: But in your suggestions for Jerusalem, there is no direct connection with the matter we are discussing?
Mr. ROSENHEIM (Agudath-Israel): The Commission will help to solve the problem?
CHAIRMAN: We have taken note of it, but at the present moment it is not on our agenda with you. Do you wish to make a statement?
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): I was born in Jerusalem. For generations, my parents and grandparents were born in the Holy City. I beg you to have pity on 100,000 Jewish souls now in Jerusalem who are faced with tragedy and, God forbid, destruction.
They are without food, without drink, without light, and apparently without hope.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): They are in a very very difficult situation. They do not want to speak now of any question, but they want to be saved from starvation. We believe that the Commission should do something to prevent the destruction of these 100,000 Jews in Palestine.
CHAIRMAN: I can assure you on behalf of the Commission that we are thinking of this problem and that we are trying to do the best that we are able to do.
Mr. GLICKMAN-PORUSH (Agudath Israel): Thank you.
Mr. GOODMAN (Agudath Israel): I should like to thank the Chairman and his colleagues for their courtesy in allowing us to trouble you this afternoon. Anything that we can do at any time in our very modest way in solving this difficult problem, we shall be very glad to do. We hope that in the new set-up of Palestine, whatever it will be, in all circumstances all Jews of all shades of opinion may have an opportunity to co-operate in order that the land of peace may really become a place of peace for the whole world.
CHAIRMAN: I thank you for your declaration of willingness to co-operate further with the Commission.
At this point Rabbi Rosenheim, Mr. Glickman-Porush and Mr. Goodman left the meeting.
COMMUNICATION OF THE DRAFT OF SECOND SPECIAL REPORT TO THE SECURITY COUNCIL ON THE FOOD SITUATION IN PALESTINE (Informal Paper R/12)
Mr. REEDMAN (Senior Economic Adviser) read the draft of the Second Special Report to the Security Council on the Food Situation in Palestine which had been prepared by the Secretariat.
Mr. HENSON (Food Expert), in an explanation of the food situation in Palestine, stated that normally shipments of food to Palestine had to be ordered two months in advance, and that since that had not been done for the period immediately following 15 May a break in the flow of supplies shortly after that date could only be averted by the taking of emergency measures to divert to Palestine cereals already purchased and in process of shipment to other areas. Only an already established pipeline of supply could thus be used to avert the interruption in the flow of food imports. Setting up a new system of supply always took more time than could be allowed for in the present emergency.
The Commission agreed that the report should not be divided into chapters, each with its own title, but that its twenty-one paragraphs should be numbered seriatim.
In addition to a few minor drafting changes, the following modifications were approved:
2. At the end of paragraph 11, to insert a footnote reading as follows: “Palestine currency is backed by an equivalent amount of British securities and currency, which are held in London by the Palestine Currency Board. The total assets of the Currency Board, as of 31 March 1947, amounted to L 51.4 millions (now blocked by a Treasury Order of 22 February 1948) of which L 46.9 millions represented the statutory one hundred per cent backing for Palestinian note circulation and L 4.5 millions represented surplus assets. These surplus assets provide a generous margin against the risk of depreciation of the statutory assets, considering that the latter are in the form either of cash or of gilt-edged securities.
This margin could be considerably reduced without risk. It may be noted that in its earlier years the Palestinian Currency Board operated with a much smaller percentage margin of surplus assets. For the last completed financial year for which figures are available, i.e. 1946-47, the net income of the Currency Board amounted to L 1.2 millions.”
3. In paragraph 12, the last two sentences were deleted and the following sentence inserted: “The Commission is not in agreement with this view taken by the Mandatory Power, since the Assembly resolution (paragraph I, B, 13) clearly establishes it, for the transitional period following the termination of the Mandate, as the authority in Palestine under which the Joint Economic Board is to act.”
4. In paragraph 13, to delete the last sentence.
5. In paragraph 14; the last sentence was re-worded as follows: “Even assuming the approval of the Advisory Committee for the withdrawal from the Working Capital Fund of the amount required, the fact in that this Fund might be unduly strained by such withdrawal at this time, since it was not designed to meet major operational expenditures in excess of those already authorized in the Working Capital Fund Resolution.
6. In paragraph 18, to delete the phrase “though it might cover the needs of Arabs in Jewish areas,” in the fifth sentence.
7. In paragraph 19, to insert the phrase “for the Jews in Palestine” after “a desperate situation will arise,” in the second sentence and to delete the third sentence.
The Second Special Report to the Security Council as a whole was approved unanimously.
CONSIDERATION OF A COMMUNICATION RECEIVED FROM THE HADASSAH ORGANIZATION, NEW YORK (Informal Paper ORG/18)
Note was taken of the above communication, concerning alleged Arab attacks on non-sectarian medical and allied projects of the Hadassah organization in Palestine.
It was agreed that a reply would be sent stating that the matter in question had received the Commission’s attention and that the Commission had sent instructions to the Advance Party to do everything that it could do usefully to prevent the occurrence of similar alleged attacks.
CONSIDERATION OF A COMMUNICATION RECEIVED FROM THE UNION OF ORTHODOX RABBIS OF AMERICA (Informal Paper M/32)
Note was taken of the above communication, concerning International Trusteeship for the City of Jerusalem.
It was agreed that a reply should be sent stating that the Commission was very much concerned with the matter in question and was taking such steps as it could,
CONSIDERATION OF A DRAFT LETTER TO THE UNITED KINGDOM DELEGATION CONCERNING THE PROCUREMENT AND FINANCING OF FOOD SUPPLIES FOR PALESTINE (Informal Paper UK/106)
A draft letter to Mr. Fletcher-Cooke in reply to his letter of 5 April regarding the position of the United Kingdom Government in the matter of procuring and financing food supplies for Palestine for the period immediately following 15 May, was considered and approved with minor drafting changes,
The meeting rose at 6.15 p.m.