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December 08, 1961 - Image 40

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1961-12-08

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS — Friday, December 8, 1961 — 40

Norman Bentwich's 'My 77 Years' Adds Rabbis Honor Danes, Swedes, CBS
1Valuable Data to Modern Jewish History

The Bentwich family has play-
ed significant roles in Jewish life
in England and in Zionist activi-
ties. Best known among them is
the name of Norman Bentwich,
who served as Attorney General
of Palestine during the early
years of the British Mandate, who
contributed greatly towards the
development of the Hebrew Uni-
versity in Jerusalem, where he
served as professor and in whose
behalf he traveled to the United
States and other countries, and
who was active in movements for
the rescue and rehabilitation of
refugees from Nazi Germany.
In his autobiography, "My 77
Years," just issued by the Jew-
ish Publication Society of Amer-
ica, Dr. Bentwich relates his ex-
periences in so many areas that
the book becomes a most impor-
tant complement to available his-
torical material about the trying
years covered in his personal
It is not only for Zionists, but
Jews in all walks of life, and for
non-Jews who are interested in
world developments as well, that
this well told human story holds
great interest.
Early Zionist history is unveil-
ed, and the Bentwich story may
well be said to start from Theo-
dor Herzl and continue through
the Weizmann and Ben-Gurion
periods, since Bentwich's father,
Herbert Bentwich, was one of
Herzl's earliest associates in the
Zionist movement and was pres-
ent at the meeting of the Macca-
bean Club in London, in 1897, at
which Herzl described his pro-
posed Zionist solution of the
Jewish problem. His father, and-
later he himself, were delegates
to World Zionist Congresses.

His father settled his family
in Zion. That family movement
began in 1913 when his sister,
Nita, and her husband, Michael
Lange, settled in Zikhrom Ja-
cob. His sisters, Margery and
Thelma, brought their musical
talents to the land after World
War I; Thelma, who married
David Yellin's son Eliezer, be-
came a cellist in the Jerusalem
Quartet. His sister Muriel, a
painter, came to Palestine in
1919 and married a veteran
teacher, Bernard Mochenson.
His father visited Palestine
every year since 1920 and
made his home in Jerusalem
in 1929. He died there in 1932.

Thus, the Bentwich Zionist tra-
dition was strong. Dr. Bentwich,
who studied under Prof. Solomon
Schechter, turned to law, and
later was given important gov-
ernment assignments. The many
important people he met, his
close association with all the
High Commissioners, beginning
with Herbert Samuel, and his
friendship with many Arabs,
placed him in an enviable role to
aid the Jewish cause.
He had joined the Ihud group
which sought an understanding
with the Arabs. He associated
himself with Dr. Judah L. Magnes
and others in striving for an
Arab-Jewish state, but he later
admitted that Ihud "became quix-
otic . .. its effort was stultified
by the obstinate refusal of the
Arab states to negotiate with Is-
Dr. Bentwich had close associ-
ations with the late Ahad Ha-Am,
U. S. Supreme Court Justice
Louis D. Brandeis and Henrietta
Szold; with Menahem Ussishkin,
Nathan Straus, Dr. Arthur Rup-
pin, Henry Morgenthau, Julius
Rosenwald and scores of others
who were prominent in Jewish

He knew T. E. Lawrence in-
timately and he writes about
him, inter alia: "I was one of
the persons to whom Lawrence
offered the chance to buy a
copy of the original edition of
his book 'Revolt in the Desert,'
on which he lavished immense
care. The price was 30 pounds
and I was , foolish enough not
to take advantage of the offer
because I thought I could not
afford it. The value of the mar-

ket of that first edition rose
quickly to 1,000 pounds. I saw
more of Lawrence in those days
of his sojourn in Jerusalem,
and was convinced that he had
a true understanding of the
progressive part which the
Jews in their National Home
in Palestine could and would
play in a Semitic revival
throughout the Middle East. It
was a fallacy to regard him as
unfriendly to the Zionist cause
becatise he was the champion
of Arab independence."

He has the kindliest words for
two High Commissioners, Wau-
chope and Plumer, and while he
is reserved in his criticisms of
some of the other British offi-
cials, he nevertheless indicates
that there were unfriendly atti-
tudes and that some entertained
bias towards Jews and Zionism.
But it's difficult to understand
his defense of Ernest Bevin.
Dr. Bentwich refers to the ap-
pearance in Palestine, with the
Jerusalem Musical Society, of the
late Ossip Gabrilowitsch, direc-
tor of the Detroit Symphony Or-
chestra, son - in - law of Mark
Twain, and other distinguished
musicians. He tells about. the
progress made by Jews in Pales-
tine culturally, and he outlines
in great detail the accomplish-
ments of the Hebrew University.
Describing his visit in the
United States in behalf of the
Hebrew University, during the
war years, he recalls that some
refused to help and he relates:

"My appeal for material help
for the University of Jerusa-
lem provoked, too, a 'sales-
resistance,' fortified by the ex-
cuse that in a few weeks Jerus-
alem would be occupied by the
Nazis, and our institution de-
stroyed. In many cases the
argument was a rationalization
of an unwillingness to give.
The leaders of the community
had no faith; they were 'inert-
ual.' When I spoke to the sim-
pler elements of the popula-
tion, I found a more generous
response. My sponsors arrang-
ed meetings at which I talked
to groups of different voca-
tions: bankers, lawyers, pub-
lishers, tailors, furriers, and
the like. I had to lead up to
the subject of the Uniiiersity
from an account of what had
happened to people of their
calling in England; and I
found it easier to get to the
heart and pocket of the taxi-
drivers and the tailors than to
the heart and pocket of the
lawyers and bankers."

the British and Israel commu-
nities, and a link between
them," Dr. Bentwich states in
his concluding words. "At
times I have felt that 'life is
made up of many partings
welded together.' I have not
been firmly enough rooted
either in my native land or in
Jerusalem of my dreams. My
life has been a shifting, erratic
pattern, but woven, I hope,
with a thread of service."

The reader will be left with
the impression that Dr. Bentwich
had left an indelible mark on
Jewish life and on Israel. He pays
glowing tribute to Israel's attain-
ments, to which he has contrib-
uted a great deal. He has helped
philanthropically and in travels
among the Jewries of the world
and has aided many of the home-
less who found refuge in Israel.
His name is among the very
great in Israel.
Dr. Norman Bentwich's "My
77 Years" is a remarkable his-
torical document. It will rate
high in the literature evaluating
the era in which we live.
—P. S.

Difficulties in Israel's Relations with
Soviet Russia Revealed by Ben-Gurion

TEL AVIV, (JTA)—"There
is nothing Israel can do to im-
prove relations with the Soviet
Union under present circum-
stances," Prime Minister David
Ben-Gurion declared here.
"Whatever Israel does will only
be held against her by Moscow,"
he added.
The Prime Minister spoke
at the traditional annual dinner
with editors and foreign con
respondents, marking the 14th
anniversary of the adoption of
the partition resolution by the
United Nations.
Ben-Gurion also stated:

1. The Syrian coup which
separated that country from
Egypt and ended President
Nasser's United Arab Repub-
lic did not diminish the Arab
threat to Israel or bring
nearer a settlement of Middle
East differences.
2. .Israel was not prepared
to accept Prime Minister
Nehru of India as a mediator
in the Arab-Israel dispute
because his qualifications as
a neutralist were doubted.
3. Israel's stand against the
South African Republic in
the United Nations on the
Apartheid issue was justified
for a variety of reasons.
4. Dag Hammarskjold, the
late United Nations Secre-
tary-General was just and

The vast change in attitude
today is, of course, well known.
Dr. Bentwich, referring to the
relief and rehabilitation, efforts
during the war, also deplores the
lack of unity in Jewish ranks, the
"unhelpful. competition" that ex-
isted among world Jewish organi- Hebrew Corner

Describing another visit to
the U. S. in behalf of the He-
brew University, in 1952, he
coimnented that the old talk
among Reform rabbis that
"America is our Zion" has been
abandoned and that "the trend
today is to link American Juda-
ism with the spiritual move-
ment in Israel."

In the United States, he saw
"spiritual poverty" associated
with "generous philanthropy."
He saw weakness in Jewish lead-
ership in the U. S. being "in' the
hands of highly skilled profes-
sionals" and their vested inter-
ests. By contrast in England, he
said, Jewish movements are di-
rected by men and women "with-
out thought of renumeration."
His relief efforts on behalf of
the sufferers from. Nazism form
some of the most dramatic chap-
ters in his book. He also tells
about his travels to the Arab
countries, his efforts to cement
friendships, the failures but the
frequent rational approach to the
issues by the Arabs.

"Character and circumstances
during the last 25 years have
made me a wanderer between

The New York Board of Rabbis presented Bibles and cita-
tions to the Danish and Swedish peoples for their heroic
assistance to the Jews in 1943 which resulted in the saving
of almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark from the
Nazis and their transportation to Sweden; and to CBS-TV
News which produced the film "An Act of Faith" in com-
memoration of this event, in cooperation with the New York
Board of Rabbis. Left to right: Rabbi Harold H. Gordon, execu-
tive V.P. of the N.Y. Board of Rabbis; Rabbi Israel Mowsho-
witz, Erik Kronvall, Consul General of Sweden; Richard Salant,
president of CBS; Paul Ryder, Consul General of Denmark,
and Rabbi Harry Halpern, president of the N.Y. Board of

Nahalal: Forty

The settlers of Nahalal, that went
up to their soil in the Valley of
Yizreel 40 years ago did not sat-
isfy with the creation of a farm.
They saw themselves as pioneers in
the creation of a new society.
Today the elders of the village
the generation of the first settlers
are privileged that their farmS are
worked by their children and grand-
The founders of the village that
reached the country from Eastern
Europe before the first World War
without a Pruta (a small coin) in
their pocket, went up to the grounds
of .Nahalal that were then cursed
swamp land. In the first year of
their settling on the land 60% of
the population of Nahalal were sick
with the malaria. They lived a poor
life and not only once did they
have to bortow from one another a
can of flour to bake bread. About
12 years they lived in tents and
huts till they were privileged to
enter a building of cement.
Today Nahalal is one of the rich-
est agricultural settlements in the
country. The greenfields, the fruit
trees, the various branches of farm-
ing and the village buildings and
institutions, give evidence of wealth.
The people of Nahalal point out with
pride to the fact, that almost all the
second generation of the village
about 200 men, even those. that left
the village, bound their future with
agriculture of a defence role.
When the sons of the elders settle-
ments went down to the Negev to
guide the new immigrants, the sons
of Nahalal stood at the head of the
Translation of Hebrew text. Pub-
lished by Brith Ivrith Olamith,

reasonable and there is no
justification for a negative
attitude toward him.

sidering the good relations be-
tween Burma and Red China,
his visit to Burma might pro-
He said there were two main mote rapproachment between
factors in the question of Israel- Israel and Red China.
Soviet relations. One was the
fact that Israel had only one Jews in Soviet Union
vote in the United Nations Seek to Perpetuate
compared with the 11 Middle Jewish Life, Javits Reports
East Arab countries and that
there were 70,000,000 Arab Russian- Jewry's apparent con-
voices in the world as against tinued interest in Jewish activi-
2,000,000 Hebrew-speaking peo- ties—religious and cultural—
ple. The second factor was that seems to give the lie to the
there are 3,000,000 Jews in government's official position
Russia whom the Soviet au- that Jewish institutions in the
thorities • wanted to assimilate USSR are dying for lack of
forcefully, a goal to which Is- adherents; Senator Javits of
New York told a news con-
rael was a barrier.
Ben-Gurion stressed that his ference. He asserted that "every
visit to Burma meant a renewal evidence" he saw or was told
of personal contact with Pre. about, pointed to the fact that
mier U Nu and Former Premier Jews are attempting in as many
No Win, whom he described as ways as possible to perpetuate
ardent friends of Israel. (He Jewish life.
left for Burma on Monday).
Senator" Javits said that one
He said that Israel- had rec- conclusion of his visit to the
ognized the Peiping regime but Soviet Union was that a Jewish
that Red China did not appear culture could flourish there if
to be eager to reciprocate. He the government relaxed its
expressed the hope that, con- restrictions.

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