|...After Chief Rabbi Herzog spoke...|
CHAIRMAN: I recognize Rabbi I. M. Lewin (CHAIRMAN of Agudath Israel). (Rabbi Lewin spoke in Hebrew.)
Rabbi I. M. Lewin:
In the name of World and Palestine Agudath Israel, I wish to welcome
you here and say how much we all hope that you may succeed in your task.
think this is a first and unique event in history of representatives of
fifty-five nations organized in the United Nations having come to the
Holy Land, to Jerusalem, in order to hold an enquiry into the question
of Palestine and of the Jewish People.
appear before you as the representatives of independent orthodox Jewry
organized in Agudath Israel in Palestine and all over the world.
is our view that Divine Torah alone forms the eternal constitution of
the Jewish people, and that it, and it alone serves as the foundation
and essence of the existence of the Jewish people as the nation of the
Lord; that Torah alone is the soul and backbone of that nation, and
that whatever is formative in Palestine and within the Jewish people
can be of lasting value and can have a right of existence only inasmuch
as it is connected with and flowing from, the Almighty's Torah.
our view, presents an unbroken tradition of about 3,000 years, one that
has forever been absolutely based on the Bible and its teachings, both
written and oral, and that is independent and uninfluenced from any
other spiritual foundation. In making this short address to you, I
should like to assist you in solving the difficult problem in
connection with which you have come here from this our point of view.
First of all: we declare the following to be our main aspiration, in which we feel united with the entire Jewish people.
land of Israel and the People of Israel form one complete entity
forever inseparable. In practice we demand, therefore, that the gates
of the Holy Land be opened to all Jews wishing to come here; that the
absorptive capacity of the Land be developed to the only possible
limit; and that a political regime be established capable of
guaranteeing free immigration, the development of the country and
exploitation to the full of its absorptive capacity.
You have been able to ascertain details of our demands in the memorandum which we have submitted to the Committee.
demand of ours we hold to be dictated by justice and morality, and I
should like to state reasons for my assertion. You will, gentlemen,
before going deeper into your assignment, have to clear your minds on
the question as to the essential meaning of what we call the "Jewish
May I, as a son of an old people, speak to you in a language as peculiarly singular as the People of Israel.
2,000 years this people has been wandering over the face of the earth
and has failed to find a resting place under its feet; it has undergone
the most hellish and inhuman sufferings and has been tossed about the
wheels of nations, rulers, governments, regimes and parties.
forms of war against the Jews have been varied, and evil plans,
campaigns and persecutions have incessantly changed: but the People of
Israel has preserved its life and existence outliving its torturers and
persecutors who have vanished from the arena of History. You can
destroy or assimilate large parts, but no power in the world can
liquidate it or bring into oblivion the living memory of its past.
mankind split into nations, when the world turned against its Creator,
the war of man against man has started. Then rose Abraham our Father
and demonstrated that there is a Divine Leader guiding the world. It
was Abraham our Father who revealed to the world its Creator, who
brought the Lord's message to mankind. To him the Lord promised that he
should be father of that Israel, which was to fulfil a sacred destiny:
"You are my witnesses, saith the Lord." "This people I have created
that they shall tell my glory"; who shall go through History as the
Lord's nation and demonstrate in their very being and existence that
there is a Creator unto this world.
has thus been the destiny of Israel to realize in its life those great
ethical principles laid down in the Torah and the messages of its
far the greater part of the Torah's precepts depends for realization on
active settlement in the Land of Israel. In the Land of Israel, and
nowhere else, can Israel fulfil the mighty mission with which the
Almighty has entrusted it.
land of Israel was promised to the first Jew, to Abraham our Father;
and from the day on which the Lord spoke: "For all the land which thou
seest, to thee and to thy seed shall I give it until eternity," there
has been woven an eternal connexion between the people of Israel and
the Torah, in the Prophets, and in the words of our sages the idea
finds forever recurring expression, that the final destiny of the land
of Israel as the Land of the Lord, and the destiny of Israel as the
People of the Lord, which become realized only when joined together,
when both shall be bound to the Creator of Heaven and Earth.
this Land alone it is given to the Jew to reach spiritual elevation and
completion. Here men of Israel have reached the extreme light of human
achievement: Prophecy. Here the Prophets have seen their visions. The
air of this our land our great teachers of the Law have breathed, those
giant leaders of the People of Israel, those greatest of its holy men.
connexion of the Jewish people with Palestine has remained unbroken
also after our people's expulsion from its soil by the Romans. There
have at all times been Jews who left the comfort, or comparative
comfort, of the countries of their dispersion and in often immediate
danger of life flocked to Jewish Land, land that was waste and utterly
destitute. The degree of Israel's loyalty to its land was reflected in
the land's loyalty to its people. Not a single one of the country's
conquerors throughout past centuries succeeded in returning to blossom
the land's destitution. The Torah's words: "And your enemies shall be
waste on it," was literally fulfilled. The land refused its yield to
the stranger. The people of the Diaspora was become barren in the
distance, longing and yearning for the land; and the land remained
barren, longing for its sons.
your recent tour you have seen with your own eyes the great wonder: the
barrenness of parts of this land uninhabited by Jews, and blossoming
freshness wherever the Jew has grown attached in love, sacrifice, and
devotion, to the soil of the land. May, that this miraculous sight
before your eyes shall become living evidence and manifest proof of the
metaphysical connexion linking Israel with the Land of Israel, a
connexion imprinted by the Divine Creator from the days of Abraham to
the end of Messianic days.
the course of 2,000 years of dispersion we have been persecuted to
unending lengths, but these two treasures: the Lord's Torah and the
Lord's Land we have never forgotten.
Jew's love of his land knows no limits; it suffers no comparison with
what is called love of country. In his land the Jew sees not merely the
land of his birth but land hallowed by the Divine Creator, the cradle
of prophecy chosen by Him and whereon rest the eyes of the Lord your
Lord from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
the moment of his birth to 'his departure from the world, in all his
thoughts and contemplations, during his meals, in his hour of mourning
and of joy, the Jew raises the land of Israel to his lips in prayer for
his return to the Land. "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right
hand forget" is the oath we have taken, and the very course of our
history speaks out to the fact that not for a single moment have we
forgotten the Land of Israel.
settlement of Palestine stands out in the commandments of the Law of
Torah. And ever since the beginning of our dispersion settlement has
never ceased. Every stone, plant, each grain of sand of our land has
been dear and hallowed to us for the love of people and land is in
truth a divine inspiration forever present in the soul of every Jew.
It is, then, only natural that we can imagine the nation's existence in its land on no other but the Torah's foundations.
well-known statesman .".has :said that there is a war going on between
Jews and Gentiles. We cannot, with regret, admit this. There has been
and still is going on a wholly one-sided war against the Jew. As I have
stressed before, that war is being conducted in many different forms
and for various excuses. That war runs like a red line throughout
history from Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezar, Haman, Titus, Torquemada,
Chamilnitzki, up to Hitler. How many are the persecutions run over our
heads, and why should we have been so persecuted?
Are not we all sons of one father, has not one God created us all?
we not brought to the world the recognition of God? How many are the
values of goodness, truth, magnificence, righteousness and justice
which the nations have accepted at the hand of this most ancient of
their number? Why, then, are we persecuted?
answer to all this is: whenever the forces of evil have risen in
rebellion against the Creator of the world they have spent their ire
against this people, the People of Israel; their hatred against Israel
sprang from a hatred against the preachings of Torah, the visions of
have come here in the name of the United Nations. In your own time the
disaster occurred. We should be in need today of an Isaiah, a Jeremiah,
to pronounce their probation against the nations.
are sustained by knowledge of a Lord, the Leader of Creation. We are
persuaded that no amount of suffering and cruelty is ever lost; that
the sufferings of our people through thousands of years are summed up
in one total account. There is justice and there is a judge in this
World. But what happened during the years 1940-1945 is unprecedented in
the annals of world history.
may appear boring to reopen the chapter of the destruction of six
million Jews, but we cannot help repeating and again repeating the
subject; six million Jews have perished. Europe's Jewry has been put to
slaughter took place in Poland. It was my privilege to have been one of
Poland's three million Jews. They stand in front of my eyes. Every one
of them a world to himself, a heavy treasure of Torah and life's
wisdom. We look about forlorn for one-third of our people, but in
quality by far the most important part.
once contained the reservoir of our people, the brain and heart of
world Jewry. But all that has vanished from the face of the earth,
vanished in the most cruel and most horrible deaths, the victims of
unrivalled sadism and evil ingenuity. Old and young burned alive.
lived in Poland. I lived the life a Jew lived there. I was brought up
on the principles of faithful Judaism. I lived among my people, my
family. My brothers and sisters were done away. Three of my beloved
grandchildren were burned together with all the other children of
Israel 'in all one a half million Jewish children, innocent and
ignorant of sin, of whom every one might have become the pride of our
people and of mankind.
am one of those who as if by miracle was saved from the wide-open jaws
of the monster. I do not know why I of all should have been privileged
to escape the fire that enveloped us all in the crematories of
Trablynka and Auschwitz, or is it that I should be their messenger to
bring their cries before you?
We, of Agudath Israel, have suffered perhaps the greatest losses. The best of our leaders and friends arc no more.
million Jewish souls stand crying before you, their blood storms and
cannot find rest; it moves the very foundations of the universe. One an
a half million children! When has the world heard of such a like? When
has such war happened? Can you at all imagine the meaning of these
words? One and a half million dear children, whose hands we were not
allowed to kiss before they ascended to the flames to be burnt alive in
the ovens. How can mankind, how can any human being stand such
how they went from us? In sanctifying His great name, in speaking thus
to their oppressors: You may destroy our bodies, but never our souls!
Their blood continues to storm and shake the foundations of all living.
World, world, where art thou? And through you may I ask the world:
Where is their conscience?
the freedom-loving nations fought Hitler, but not our fight. Hitler's
fight against the Jews preceded the World War by five years. Hitler
sent up experimental balloons to find out how far the world was
prepared to let him go in his evil. When in 1939 the refugee vessel
"St. Louis" with her 700 Jewish passengers on : board was cruising the
seas, there was not a ? single country, including America, that was
ready to accept the Jews, to the accompaniment of Hitler's barbaric
laughter. Having accomplished minor "action," that is to say, slaughter
of Jews on a small scale, before the j eyes of a silent world, he
proceeded to larger "action." Again the world was silent. And so at
last he continued on his path of insane cruelty to the work of most
awful destruction the world has ever witnessed.
I do not propose to put before you here facts showing how Jews might have been saved, and a world stood by our blood motionless.
the White Paper bears undoubtedly a great share in the responsibility
for inactivity in the rescue of Jews, the world at large, and
particularly the great Powers, cannot be freed from answering this
do not feel ourselves sitting in the dock. Permit me to say that it
might be more rightful to place in it all those who must accept
responsibility for the destruction of our people.
cannot believe that in any natural way it will be possible to comfort
us and to find a substitute for our disaster, for the loss of six
million brothers. What then is the problem?
have remained alive one and a haft million Jews who have escaped
destruction. Jews have no longer any place in the world. They must
therefore be enabled to return home, to the land of their fathers. You
will have to visit the camps yourselves, see their position, find out
what has happened, what is there still to be seen. You will then
convince yourselves that Jews no longer can nor want to stay in the
European graveyard. They simply cannot go on living where their
families and everything dearest to them was murdered. In a part of
those camps which Hitler had set up for them, complete with barbed
wire, these our unfortunate' brothers continue living an imprisoned
life within a world liberated two years ago.
have toured the country. You have seen wonderful cities and flourishing
settlements. All this could have been worked only by that enormous love
for Eretz-Israel. Beginning with die so-called "Old Yishuv" who had
maintained Jewish settlement in past generations, those orthodox Jews
who became the founders of Petah Tiqvah, the mother of our settlements,
and j others more, from all those who laid the foundation for the
modern Yishuv, right down to our contemporary builders, who with the
sweat of their brows moistened the desert land and transformed it into
the greenery of settled land. You have also seen the destitution
awaiting hands, awaiting its builder sons. The land awaiting the Jews,
the Jews expectant for the land: how can their reunion be stopped?
Jews have become mere remnants, one in a town, two in a family, having
lost their dearest and nearest, and whose only desire is to come up to
the Land of Israel and kiss its stones: how can one deprive them of
within the Yishuv itself, there is not a house where there is not one
dead. And should there have been left a survivor in the dispersion
whose only longing is for coming here and joining his family, and his
family here aching for the last survivor of its house; how can they be
have not stolen a thing from the Arabs. Whatever we took we have dearly
paid for. Their standard of living we have raised, we who have gone
through exile and have learnt to value the lives of others. The Jewish
people wants peace with the Arab people. There is room for us all in
but little the unrighteous done to the people of Israel, there is need
for good will, for finding the courage in your hearts to a decisive and
United Nations will be bound, we should think, to brace themselves for
really generous action, action that will not merely permit the Jewish
people to return to its land, but to aid it in developing the country
and settle it.
you are willed to set mankind on a moral basis, on a basis of justice,
the union of nations, and the repair of our world, repair then the
great injustice done to the People of the Lord. The Creator, who seeth
and observeth the world, what has that world done for His people?
starting with the Jews, want to enslave and destroy an entire world. If
you wish to help return the world into its joint, you will have to
start repairing the injustice done to the Jewish people.
1914 the First World War started, and its result was the creation of a
"League of Nations." Mankind was then filled with the hope that at last
we were approaching disarmament and the brotherhood of nations.
the world starting to reconstruct the devastation left from the war,
the Balfour Declaration was given as a measure of compensation for the
sufferings of the Jewish people. Had there been a will to fulfil it in
the spirit in which it was given, who knows but that the world might
have been saved a renewed outbreak of the flames of war. The
Declaration was not materialized, and disarmament turned into
preparation for a second World war. We are once again going through all
that. The world is trying to rebuild the ruins left by the last war and
has organized in the United Nations for the establishment of peace. The
world will need the grace of Heaven to prevent itself from falling into
the most awful and most deadly of all wars. May the world be privileged
of such grace by rendering justice to the Jewish people.
are fortified and confident in the knowledge that our redemption will
be by the Lord, and that we are approaching that redemption.
like the days of our exodus from the first exile, the exile of Egypt,
through the desert, to the Lord's revelation on Mount Sinai, so are we
wandering today through the desert of nations, stepping forth towards
Israel's redemption and that of the entire world.
Thus we trust in the Almighty that He may help us!
the day of reckoning will come and the question go out to the nations
of the world: What have you done? Where were you when great parts of
the People of the Lord were murdered?
What have you done to repair and make good the terrible evil?
will measure the benefit to the nations and to mankind should they be
able to give affirmative reply in now doing the first important step on
behalf of our suffering people?
historical feat will have been accomplished, gentlemen, in your
assistance towards such aim. May the Almighty help you and stand by
you. Thank you.