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Yehuda Bauer: My Brother's Keeper

A History of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee 1929-1939

[Holocaust preparations in Europe and resistance without solution of the situation]

The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia 1974

Transcription with subtitles by Michael Palomino (2007)



Chapter 4. Refugees: 1933-1938
[4.12. Palestine: Arab unrest against partition plans 1935-1939 - Joint leaders are against any partition of the Holy Land]

[Palestine: Arab unrest 1935-1939 against Jews and against partition plans of the Peel Commission 1937 - Joint leaders against partition]

After 1935 the situation changed. Growing Arab unrest finally flared up in early 1936 into a rebellion that was to last, with interruptions, until 1939. The British sent a royal commission under Lord Peel to investigate the causes of the unrest. The Peel Commission reported in July 1937 and suggested that the country be partitioned into an Arab and a Jewish state.

JDC was not a political organization, but its leadership consisted of men who, as members of the Jewish Agency's non-Zionist wing, were deeply involved in Palestinian affairs. Warburg and his friends were very definitely against partition, because that would create a Jewish state, and they thought that such a state would be a calamity for the Jewish people. The whole concept of Jewish nationhood, as we have seen, ran counter to their brand of Judaism, and they became very active in trying to combat partition with all the strength they could command.

JDC was not only informed of Warburg's opposition to the  plan, but also at JDC Executive Committee meetings he took the occasion to explain his views and to get the unanimous support of the members. The Jewish state would be a declaration of war against the Arabs, Warburg argued. Besides, the Jewish state itself would be so small that it would soon (p.165)

have to restrict immigration. The goal of American Jews was to "open Palestine as wide as possible for the immigration of Jews from countries of the Diaspora, at the same time safeguarding the English interests in Palestine and assuring the Arabs that they will not be outnumbered."

(End note 69: Executive Committee, 9/23/37 [23 September 1937])

Despite the stand taken by JDC leaders on partition, the argument with Zionism receded somewhat into the background after 1936.

[Since 1936: Palestine gets English restrictions for immigration - approach between JDC and United Palestine Appeal (UPA)]

The British began restricting immigration into Palestine, and Palestine could no longer be the immediate answer to the pressing problems of European refugees. In 1937 and 1938 the proportion of refugees that were absorbed in Palestine dwindled to a half and then a third of what it had been in the first few years of the Nazi crisis. This and the failure of the partition scheme - despite its acceptance in principle by a majority of the Zionist movement - caused JDC and UPA [United Palestine Appeal] to draw progressively nearer to one another. Both were now interested in opening the doors of Palestine, and the Zionists could not but accept the idea that other countries too would have to be persuaded to accept a share of the refugees coming from Nazi Germany.

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