ACJ Proposal on Palestine
Following World War II, there were about 250,000 displaced persons, Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, housed in camps in Europe. In the United States, President Truman was sympathetic to their plight, and well aware that President Roosevelt had done little or nothing to save the Jews of Europe. Jews and sympathetic non-Jews urged admission of these refugees to the United States, but that idea was particularly unpopular in congress, and as it turned out, politically unviable. The Zionist organization had begun to pressure Britain and the United States to open the gates of Palestine to Jewish immigration, but Britain was intransigent in this respect too.
The anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, representing a now dissident faction of reform Judaism still opposed to Zionism, submitted a proposal to President Truman, in a White House meeting between Truman and Lessing J. Rosenwald, then the President of the American Council for Judaism. The proposal was to make Palestine into a secular democratic state in which no religion would be preferred, and immigration would be limited but open to all. The displaced persons would be resettled according to their countries of preference and available space in each. The ACJ did not say how this proposal for Palestine was to be implemented and enforced, in view of the intractable opposition of the Arabs to any Jewish immigration, the equally intractable desire of the Jews to have a state, and the even more intractable opposition of Truman to sending troops to the Middle East. Nor did the proposal explain how the nations of the world, which still closed their doors to Jewish immigration, could be persuaded to allow the Displaced Persons to enter.
See also Zionism and its Impact History of Zionism and the Creation of Israel
History of Reform Jewish Opposition to Zionism
General Resources on the History of Israel, Zionism and the Jews
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This introduction is copyright © 2005 by Ami Isseroff and Zionism-Israel Information Center. The source document below is in the public domain.
The future of the displaced Jews in Europe continues in uncertainty. Their plight - with the rigors of winter ahead - remains desperately tragic. Meanwhile, conditions in Palestine have reached a stage alarming to the peace of the world. We have had saber rattling, boycott, recriminations, rioting, bloodshed and threats of still more bloodshed.
This situation is not eased by the issuance of belligerent notes by sovereign states of the Near East, or by demonstrations and nationalist propaganda on the part of Zionists in and out of Palestine.
It is high time to call a halt to this dangerous course.
So-called promises made or implied decades ago, ambiguous and mutually contradictory, and variously interpreted by various parties, must no longer be determinant in the face of a new and grave situation. There is no reason why realistic conditions today should not lead to a complete reconsideration of the Palestine problem as there has been of other world problems.
The necessity of reaching a workable and peaceful solution outweighs all other considerations. The peace of the world demands it. A solution of the Palestine problem can become a token of our earnest resolve to deal with broad world problems before they reach the crisis stage.
We urge the following as a basis for fair and peaceful settlement:
1) There shall be a United Nations Declaration that Palestine shall not be a Moslem, Christian or Jewish state but shall be a country in which people of all faiths can play their full and equal part, sharing fully in the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
2) All official declarations on Palestine in any way discriminating for or against a segment of the population shall be formally repudiated; in their place shall be a renewed pledge of full freedom of religious expression and equality for all in Palestine.
3) Palestine, as a ward of the civilized world, shall receive financial help for the expansion of its economy, and the enlargement of its immigration opportunities.
4) Immigration into Palestine shall be maintained on the basis of absorptive capacity and without privilege or discrimination.
5) Immigration procedures shall be controlled by representative bodies of all the inhabitants of Palestine, in association with properly instituted international commissions.
6) Institutions of home rule for Palestine shall be progressively and rapidly instituted under the aegis of an international commission.
7) The problem of the displaced Jews in Europe shall be treated separately, in the following way:
(a) The above policy on Palestine shall be made known to them.
(b) On the basis of such knowledge a poll shall be taken in which the displaced persons would list, in order of preference, the lands of their choice for their individual resettlement.
(c) Based on these findings, an International Displaced Persons Committee shall, with the cooperation of the United Nations bring about the resettlement of the displaced on a basis corresponding as nearly as possible to their preferences, with countries of the United Nations co-operating to take in a fair number of the displaced. Action by the United States Government to make available unused and current immigrant quotas, and the necessary consular and visa machinery for the immigration of displaced persons of all faiths, would set a high moral example to the rest of the world of our determination to contribute to the solution of world problems and would, in fact, bring about the rapid solution of the refugee problem.
THE AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR JUDAISM IS PLEDGED TO ADVANCE THIS PROGRAM AS A CONTRIBUTION TO PEACE IN PALESTINE, HUMANITARIAN AID FOR THOSE IN DISTRESS AND FOR THE INTEGRATION OF THOSE OF JEWISH FAITH AS FREE AND EQUAL CITIZENS EVERYWHERE.
Lessing J. Rosenwald
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