Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A 1933 Letter to the Editor

Even then:

Letters to the Editor
December 17, 1933
New York, Dec. 13, 1933.

To the Editor of the Jewish Daily Bulletin:

The Jewish Agency in Palestine, which represents neither the Jewish people nor even all the factions in Zionism, as well as some Jewish newspapers in this country, have condemned last Saturday’s Revisionist demonstration in Tel Aviv against the shameful round-ups and searches of Jews by the Palestine Government.

Before the Revisionist demonstration, the so-called Jewish Agency also protested against these measures of the Palestine Government. However, the Agency protest was so mild that it failed to impress the Government and the Palestinian Yishub, including a considerable part of the adherents of the party which controls the Agency, was bitterly disappointed. To vent the general feeling of indignation Jewish mass meetings were held throughout Palestine.

The degrading round-ups nevertheless continued. Temporary spies were recruited and the number of denounced tourists, who had allegedly settled in the country but had been pursuing their respective occupations peacefully, was growing daily. The Government had shamelessly goaded a number of boys into the foul business of spying by paying them one shilling for every denounced Jewish “head”.

Thus the situation in Palestine became more difficult from day to day and the disgrace unbearable. From the Diaspora the Yishub failed to receive the necessary moral support. The “white papers” and decrees of the British Government had robbed the Jews of much of their right under the Mandate ”but those decrees were restrictions”not persecution. Now, since the recent Arab riots, a policy of official persecution was inaugurated. A brazen, open hunt for “scalps” of Jews who had committed the crime of returning to their “national homeland” without the seal of approval of a British official, was begun. This policy was vigorously pursued, while the illegal entry of tens of thousands of Bedouins and dervishes from Transjordan, Syria and Egypt was condoned. (The Doar Hayom claims 200,000 such Arabs entered Palestine.) Such outrageous treatment is only comparable to the worst traditions of Czarist Russia and is a bloody mockery of the term “national home”. Small wonder that it struck terror into many hearts. A seventy-year old Jew, in fear that he might be deported, burned himself to death. Neither the Jewish press nor the Jewish Agency had commented on the gruesome incident.

Under the circumstances the human and national patience was bound to give way and it did. A number of young Jews who could no longer see their brethren chased like stray dogs and still retain their self-respect, arose in indignant protest. In the only one-hundred-percent Jewish town in the world—Tel Aviv —these young Jews, known as Revisionists, appeared in the streets with a whiteblue flag to remind Great Britain of her obligations. They marched peacefully. The police attempted to wrest from them the whiteblue symbol of the last national hope of their people, a symbol which in 1918 and 1919 British officers in the Jewish Legion were duty-bound to salute. This was unwarranted and provoking. The young men resisted and did not yield their banner. They were right. The masses, who know no political guiles and act upon a sound impulse, went to the aid of the young Revisionists. Thousands of them risking their lives battled soldiers and police for three hours. Deep must have been their rancor and fierce their scorn before these peace-loving men could have been thus carried away.

Because the outbreak came spontaneously there was all the more reason for the Palestine Government and the world to take notice. The world, as evidenced by the press, did. What would dignified leaders of a people with a healthy national instinct have done under the circumstances? They would have utilized the effect of the spontaneous outbreak or at least permitted it to sink in, in silence. But our official leaders unfortunately lack such an instinct. Instead of coming to the Government and saying: “See what your methods and policies have led the people to! Don’t you think it time to revise them?”, they came and apologized. They came and openly condemned the men and women who on the eve of Chanukah displayed signs of the old Maccabean spirit. The leaders weakened the force of the spontaneous protest.

With aching hearts and burning indignation do we condemn our condemners. We assert that their cowardly “sense of responsibility” is the height of irresponsibility and the main source of most of our political failures in Palestine. The verdict of history will be our verdict.

(signed) Elias Ginsburg, 
Chairman of Central Committee Zionist. Revisionist Organization and 
Notziv Betar in U.S.A. and Canada.

Note: Ginsburg served in the Jewish Legion and was arrested with Jabotinsky for conducting self-defense actions in Jerusalem during the April 1920 Arab riots.


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