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July 23, 1965 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1965-07-23

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Purely Commentary

It is true that one does not speak ill of
the dead. But when the deceased has left
a legacy that is copied only too readily by
others who encourage inhumanity of man
to man, the record should be factual and
the unjust lessons should not be forgotten.
This is the case of Dr. Virginia C.
Gildersleeve, dean emeritus of Barnard
College, Columbia University's women's
branch, who died July 8 at the age of 87,
in a nursing home in Centerville, Mass.
Because sentiments like hers still are
beard from time to time — note as an
example the vicious Life Magazine article
of two weeks ago in which all of the vile
Arab propaganda misrepresentations are
incorporated — it is important that Miss
Gildersleeve's activities should be known,
in order that the untruths that were cir-
culated by a group with which she was
associated and the blunders into which she
was led should be known and should again
stand refuted.
What a pity and a heartache that Miss
Gildersleeve's campaign against Zionism
should have been inspired by Jews! But
that is how it has worked throughout our
history that some of our worst enemies
were Jews. In Miss Gildersleeve's instance
it was the Council for Judaism whose
spokesman she was for a number of years
and whose platform she graced in her vile
attacks on Zionism.
Israel was already a reality when Miss
Gildersleeve, speaking at a Council for
Judaism function in Baltimore, June 8,
1950, spoke of Zionists as driving a wedge
between Jews and other Americans and
thereby becoming a "d anger to our
eountry created by this self-segregation."
It was an amazing statement then, and it
-causes ane to sit up • in utter puzzlement
that an educator with a high reputation
for good judgment should have spoken
so irrationally!
It was no wander that Dr. Israel M.
Goldman, then president of the Baltimore
Zionist. District, found it necessary to con-
demn the views of both the Judaism
Council and Dr. Gildersleeve as "fanatical
and reckless.'
Jews were not alone in their condem-
nation of Miss Gildersleeve's inhuman
approach to the libertarian and messianic
Zionist idea. In her biased role as an anti-
Zionist, Miss Gildersleeve had joined with
Kermit Roosevelt and other Christians in
forming a "Committee for Justice and
Peace in the Holy Land," aimed at under-
mining Jewish hopes for the creation of
a sovereign Jewish State in Palestine,
thereby assisting in the only passible
means of rescuing the millions of Jews who
were suffering under the heels of Nazism.
Dr. James G. McDonald, who was one of the
American members of the Anglo-American
Committee of Inquiry on Palestine, whose
findings led to the United Nations decision
in support of a Jewish State, was among
those who disputed a report that was issued
by Miss Gildersleeve as chairman of the
anti-Zionist "Committee for Justice." In a
letter to the New York Herald Tribune,
March 3, 1948, Dr. McDonald wrote:
My reading in the New York Herald
Tribune today of the statement of the
Committee for Justice and Peace in the
Holy Land and the explanation of the
Chairman, Miss Virginia C. Gildersleeve,
has left me with a feeling of amazement
and consternation: amazement that the
group of American educators and reli-
gious leaders who have endorsed the new
Committee should ignore the realities of
the Palestine problem and basic Christian
interests in the Middle East; and conster-
nation that these leaders should in the
name of "peace and justice" invite the
United Nations to commit suicide by yield-
ing to Arab aggression and to Arab
threats of war.
The sponsors of the Committee are
quoted as contending that "the Palestine
problem must be solved through concilia-
tion or some sort of compromise agree-
able to both the Arabs and the Jews." This
is tantamount to asking the Jews to sur-
render their hopes and their rights in
Palestine. The Arab leaders when they
appeared to give testimony before the
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry (of
which I was one of the American mem-
bers) were unanimous and unyielding in
their demand that - the Jews should re-
linquish all special rights in Palestine.
Unashamedly, these Arab leaders de-
manded the scrapping of the Balfour
Declaration with its clear and solemn
pledge to facilitate the establishment of
the Jewish Homeland in Palestine. They

2—Friday, July 23, 1965

demanded, too, the scrapping of the
League of Nations Mandate which in-
corporated the Balfour pledge and which
had made that pledge the international
law of the civilized world for three
decades. In short, the Arab spokesmen
would agree to nothing less than that the
Jews become a helpless and defenseless
minority in their historic, their promised
homeland. In the two years since the
Anglo-American Committee concluded its
hearings, Arab intransigence has not
diminished. Instead, if that were possible,
it has increased. .
In view of this-Arab. defiance, the call
of the Committee for "compromise agree-
able to both the Arabs and the Jews" must
have the effect of bringing pressure to
bear upon the Jews to yield to Arab
intransigence. How such pressure can con-
tribute towards "peace and justice in the
Holy Land" is a mystery which neither
the Committee's statement nor the explana-
tion of its Chairman does anything to
clear up. The amazing fact is that the
Committee and its sponsors could have
so completely disregarded 'the obvious pro-
Arab effect of their call for "compromise."
Similarly, the Committee ignores the
miracle of recreation which the Jews have
worked in Palestine under the Mandate
and the beneficent effect of that recrea-
tion upon the welfare and the feelings of
the masses of the Arabs in the country.
That the Arab worker and peasant are not
unaware of the benefits of Jewish enter-
prise, modern techniques and devotion to
the land is evidenced by the fact that in
the recent outbreaks of violence the masses
of the Palestinian Arabs have had little
or no part. On the contrary, the Arab at-
tacks have been spearheaded by guerrilas
or members "on leave" of the armed forces
from across the frontiers. Surely if the
rank and file of Palestine Arabs were as
violently - anti-Jewish as their self-appoint-
ed leader, there would be no need—since
the Arabs outnumber the Jews two to one
—for assistance from Syria, Iraq and
other neighboring Arab states.
Among the sponsors of the new Com-
mittee is such a large proportion, if not a
majority, of. Protestant religious leaders
that the reader naturally concludes that
Christian interests in Palestine and the
Middle East would be advanced by the
pronosed surrender to the Arabs. Pre-
cisely the opposite would be the more
likely result of such un-Christian sacrifice
of the Jews to Arab fanatical nationalism.
During the investigation of the Anglo-
American Committee of Inquiry in Pales-
tine and the neighboring Arab states, we
were given many opportunities to hear
either in open session or private inter-
views, the opinions of Christian leaders.
Of all these leaders none impressed me as
deeply as did the Patriarch of the Maron-
ites. This venerable head of one of the
most important Christian sects in the
Middle East was unqualified in his sup-
port of the Zionist aspirations in Palestine
and in his denunciation of Moslem leaders
whom he charged were, in the name of
Arab nationalism, preparing for a frontal
attack upon Christianity in that area.
The Patriarch's statement made to me
in the presence of his advisers was in sub-
stance as follows: "In Palestine the Zion-
ists are synonymous with rebirth and fer-
tility; the Arabs have been synonymous
with aridity and decay. The only menace
to Christianity in this part of the world is
from the success of inflamed Moslem na-
tionalists. Tell your American Christian
friends this truth about -the danger which
threatens Christianity here." Very respect-
fully I suggest to the Christian leaders
sponsoring the new Committee that they
take account of the Patriarch's warning.
Recently one of the official organs of
the Church of England, "The Record," put
the case incontrovertibly: "There can be
no impartiality between right and wrong,
between justice and injustice. . . The
only consistent course would be for the
U. N. to declare the Jews as allies and
defenders of the world conscience. The
Haganah might logically be appointed as
the international force in Palestine."
In all fairness is not this approach at
once more realistic and Christian than
that of the new Committee, which by urg-
ing appeasement of Arab aggression, in-
vites the UN to commit suicide?
There is special historical merit to an-
other reply to the' Gildersleeve committee
that was written to the New York Herald
Tribune. on March 10, 1948, by the late
Elisha M. Friedman, who was one of Ameri-
can Jewry's most distinguished scholars.
Mr. Friedman wrote:
Miss Virginia Gildersleeve announced
the organization of a Committee for Jus-

A Noted Educator's Unashamed, In-
human Anti-Israel Record . . . Miss
Gildersleeve's Shocking Blunders . .

tice and Peace in the Holy Land. It con-
tains the names of a distinguished list of
Protestant clergymen and representatives
of Foreign Missions, as well as one rabbi,
Morris Lazaron of Baltimore.
One aim of the organization is "to
bring peace with justice to the Holy Land."
However, this can be accomplished by
carrying out the UN decision on parti-
tion, the result of a careful study by a
neutral commission. This will also help to
realize the Committee's aim "to streng-
then the United Nations." Another aim is
"to further the best interests of Jews,
Christians and Moslems in the Near and
Middle East." This can be realized by hav-
ing the Arabs stop looting and maiming
defenseless Jews. outside of Palestine, as
they have been doing for centuries. A
third aim is to foster friendly relations
among the peoples of the three faiths
throughout the world. This can be achiev-
ed by ending discriminations against the
Jewish minority. This is within the power
of Christians. Jews are merely victims.
The Committee suggests that "the
Palestine question should be removed as
an issue in American politics by adoption
of a bi-partisan policy." But the American
policy on Palestine was originated by the
Democrat, Woodrow Wilson, who strongly
supported the Balfour Declaration and was
endorsed by the Republican, Calvin Cool-
idge, in whose administration the United
States joined fifty-one other nations in a
treaty embodying the Balfour Declaration.
Senators on both sides, from Brewster to
White, and from Barkley to Wagner, have
long favored a Jewish National Homeland
in Palestine.
The Committee further suggests that
the UN should act rapidly to find homes
for the displaced persons. This is a coun-
sel of perfection. When the UN decision
on Palestine is voided, how strong is the
UN and how rapidly can it act? Besides,
such policy could supplement, not substi-
tute the immigration of DPs to Palestine.
The distinguished clergymen on Miss
Gildersleeve's Committee do not repre-
sent the historic position of the U. S. In
1891, five years before Zionism was
launched, Reverend William E. Blackstone
presented _a memorial to President Harri-
son pleading for the return of Palestine
to the Jews: "We believe this is an ap-
propriate time for the Christian nations
to show kindness to Israel. A million
exiles, by their terrible sufferings, are
piteously appealing to our sympathy, jus-
tice, and humanity." His 'committee in-
cluded the outstanding clergymen -of the
country like Cardinal Gibbons and Rev.
Lyman Abbott. - • - - • -
The late A. A. Berle Sr., noted Con-
gregationalist minister, in his book "The
World Significance of a Jewish State"
(1918) wrote: "The stupidity which rever-
ences the heroes of the Hebrew Scrip-
tures and then visits contumely, ostra-
cism, and other cruelties upon their kins-
men, will be manifest to the whole world,
and will disappear- because the sons of
Israel have found a locus standi in the
world (Palestine), wherein without let or
hindrance they are able to display those
national traditions which' have made the
politics of the Hebrew prophets an integ-
ral part of the Christian religion. . - It
is a hope and a vision, to stir the dullest
blood in Christendom!" David Lloyd
George paid his compliments to the anti-
Zionists of his day: "If the Jew lives in a
strange land, he must be persecuted and
pogrommed out of it. If he wants to go
back to his own, he must be prevented.
Through the centuries, in every land,
whatever he does or intends or fails to do,
he has been pursued by the echo of the
brutal cry of the rabble of Jerusalem—
`Crucify Him!' "
Should there not be one country in the
world where the Jews are not in the
minority, where there are no quotas on
admission to schools and no discrimination
in vocations? Miss Gildersleeve's Commit-
tee, if successful, would succeed in per-
petuating these evils, but a civilized soc-
iety ought to seek a basic remedy. That
is what a Jewish, National Homeland, even
under partition, might help to achieve.
The Gildersleeve attacks on Zionism and
its program began some years before the
matter of Jewish Statehood had become a
subject for consideration by the United
Nations. She was an official United States
delegate to the conference in San Francisco
where the foundation was laid for the
United Nations Organization, and she spoke
out against Jewish hopes. That inspired a
reply from one of America's most distin-
g,uished Christian scholars, DT. Carl J.
Friedrich of Harvard Unievrsity. In a let-
ter replying to Miss Gildersleeve, written

By Philip

Oct. 16, 1945, Dr.'Friedrich stated:
Dean Gildersleeve is held in high es-
teem by many of us as a broadminded in-
ternationalist and recent official delegate
of the United States at San Francisco. I
was the more surprised to read her highly
unrealistic, not to say utopian, appeal con-
cerning America's policy toward Palestine
in your paper Oct. 9.
Dean Gildersleeve wants Congress to
admit 200.000 Jewish refugees from Eur-
ope to the United States, instead of open-
ing the doors of Palestine. We must all
applaud the generosity of her impulse,
and as a supplementary action this has
been urged by the Christian Palestine
Committee headed by Dr. Niebuhr for a
long time. But how immediate is the pros-
pect? There are 950 refugees in the Os-
wego shelter who, after 18 months, are
in virtual detention without assurance they
will eventually be allowed to remain here.
In other words, Dean Gildersleeve'.
suggestion brings the tragic survivors 0
Europe's Jews no nearer to a solution of
their problem.
She does not seem the least bit con-
cerned with where these Jewish survivors
of the blessings of our Gentile civilization
want to go. Maybe they have heard of
anti-Semitic violence in our own cities.
Maybe their suffering has driven them
back to the deeper layers of their religious
heritage and thus impels them to want to
return home. Are they not entitled to
every last ounce of support and assistance
we can give them, we who appeased Nazi
beasts when Jews were being attacked,
the first victims of Nazi aggression?
We are dealing with a condition, not a
theory. The only hope of these desperate
and betrayed human beings is, as Earl
Harrison indicated in his report to the
President, emigration to Palestine, there
to begin life anew among their own people
in their own land.
Dean Gildersleeve expresses anxiety
about the fate of the Jews in Palestine
surrounded by a hostile Arab world. The
answer can hardly be, however, to leave
them a minority in an Arab country. The
recollection of the massacre of the As-
syrians by the Arabs of Iraq, as well as
the pogrom of a few years ago in Baghdad,
should be a sufficient warning in this re-
gard. On the contrary, what is called for
is an unequivocal international guarantee
of the neutrality of Palestine as the home-
land of the Jewish people to which they
can go, to speak with Churchill, "as of
right and not on sufferance." The Jews
know the difficulties that confront them
in Palestine. They lived and dealt with
the Arabs, fellow-Semites, for hundreds of
years. Is it for us to patronize them by
telling them: "Dear children, it is too dan-
gerous a place for you to go to?"
Let us not yield to threats of violence
and aggression such as have recently is-
sued from the Arabs' feudal lords. It is our
understanding that the United Nations
Organization was fashioned to deal with
just such lawbreakers. As to the reality
behind those threats, one has to smile. Is
it really conceivable that these Arab coun-
tries which did not rise to their own de-
fense during the war, who today are
dependent for their very existence on the
Western powers would declare war against
One thing seems clear. The aggressive
expansionism of countries, such as Egypt,
which only recently, in addition to seek-
ing the transfer of the mandate over
Palestine, has also made demands for
Eritrea, Sudan and Cyrenaica, will not
bring peace to the Near East. Whereas a
clear-cut international guarantee of Pales-
tine as a haven to which those Jews wh
wish may repair along with Arabs or an
others who desire to go, a truly interna-
tional testing ground of the universal
ideals of the United Nations, deserves the
unqualified support of the United States
as a member of the United Nations. For
it will lead to a gradual easing of tensions
and the eventual establishment of peace
in that troubled part of the world.
It is time for the United States to act,
and to act decisively. The mandate is at an
end; and a new set-up is called for. In
concert with the other United Nations,.
more especially Britain whose party in
power is as unequivocally committed to
the Jewish homeland as is ours, we can
settle the issue and establish peace.
These declarations remain valuable
documents refuting the prejudices that are
expressed against Zionism and Israel even
now when Israel is a recognized sovereign
state. That is why they must again be made
part of the public record in support of the
right of Jews to live a free life in their
historic land.

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