Sunday, 6 October 2013

Justice Jackson's Zionism

Robert Houghwout Jackson (1892 – 1954), chief United States
prosecutor at the trial of the Major War Criminals in Nuremberg 

On Sunday, January 15, 1939, Jackson addressed the 1,500 American Zionists gathered for the 'National Conference on Palestine' at the Mayflower hotel in Washington D.C. The full speech can be read here, but following are a few extracts:

"The plight of the Jews in the world today is a challenge to the Christian conscience to make good the promise of a Jewish National Home in Palestine."
"The Jewish hopes in Palestine today rest not only upon "ancient historic connection" but also on very practical and modern considerations. The dispossessed Jew, driven from many nations of the earth, finds most doors closed to an immigration of such unprecedented character. Whether rightly or not, many nations fear that their own economy and polity might be disrupted by extending a right of sanctuary. There are few peoples left in the world who have that calm assurance in their own adequacy to meet their own problems which bids them dare accept the responsibilities of the refugees. And apart from the uncertainty which men of good will feel, also, in many of the countries, there are currents of racial hate and suspicion, milder perhaps than in the countries which have dispossessed and evicted the Jew, but still strong enough to deny him a refuge from his pursuers. Looking at the world realistically we cannot be blind to the fact that the days of free and easy emigration are past. There remain few frontiers that invite settlement and challenge men who do not fit in older communities to share the adventure of founding new ones. Even our own Statue of Liberty no longer beckons the oppressed of other lands to come and live beneath the warm sun of freedom. Other lands, like our own, have all but shut their doors or have rationed their hospitality on a quota basis.
But in Palestine today there is room for more refugees than in any other country in the world. The Jews there already number 450,000. They constitute a community which has successfully carried on one of the most difficult colonization projects in the history of mankind. They have reclaimed arid wastes, built new cities, drained swamps, established industries, and breathed new life into an old and neglected land. In decades they have made strides that elsewhere have taken centuries. They have established institutions capable of absorbing the refugees. Here a sober, industrious, and self-disciplined people may sympathetically accept their kinsmen and resettle them in the land of their fathers. Here by great sacrifice and hard labor the Jew may of right escape oppression and bondage and renew an interrupted culture, and give to the world new evidence of an historic mission.
Those who profess Christianity cannot fail to see in this movement something of the fulfilment, to the people of the Bible, of the prophecies of the Bible, as declared by Isaiah, Ezekiel and Amos."
"Democracy in America is under a heavy debt to individual Jews. There are those who think of the Jew only as a man of trade and who picture him as concerned only with the accumulation of wealth. That is a false picture in America, at least. Our great banking houses are guided by Yankee thrift and no Jew could better the commercial instruction of the Yankee. In the financial and industrial corporations there are relatively few Jewish directors.
The predominant contribution of the Jew to American life is intellectual. In the law it is doubtful if the contributions of any man of our times may be measured against those of Mr. Justice Brandeis or the late Mr. Justice Cardozo. Given to the nation, against an incredibly bitter opposition, by Woodrow Wilson, Mr. Justice Brandeis with his associate, Mr. Justice Holmes, almost alone sustained the spiritual courage and the intellectual integrity of liberal political thought in America during the dark and futile days from 1920 to 1932."
"The pledge that in Palestine your indestructible people would find a national home after eighteen centuries of exile, dispersion, and suffering is a challenge to the Christian conscience. What American would not rejoice to see the reunited Children of Israel resurrect the life and culture of the people of the Bible in that little land which has shaped our faith? Who can fail in sympathy with exiles who turn, as their fathers turned of old, to Palestine as a Promised Land where bondage will be broken, where they may find tranquillity of spirit. This masterful stock after its long Odyssey of dispersion and suffering has yet the astonishing tenacity of spirit that the Egyptian taskmasters found in the Children of Israel of whom Exodus tells us "the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
I can easily understand the anxiety and distress of Jews everywhere, as in land after land, your people are subjected to a policy of afflictions which we had supposed had long been renounced by all civilized governments.
Yet I believe that there should be a stirring of Christian anxiety even deeper than your own. A terrible debit is being written in the great book of history against the non-Jewish world, and those who have faith in ultimate justice fear that it is the Gentile rather than the Jew who should seek deliverance.
It is the non-Jewish world that is earning for itself a day of retribution and leaving its children a legacy of shame. To earnestly carry out the promise and help to fulfil the hope of a Jewish National Home in Palestine might be a powerful help on the Day of Atonement.
The Jew, as of old, is again on the rack of persecution. But the farseeing know that persecution, like fire, purifies the spirit. Among a persecuted people, noble forces come to the top and bloom in a finer culture and a nobler life. They forgive old grudges; they forget the feuds of more prosperous days; they draw together and achieve a solidarity in sacrifice. Smarting under a sense of wrong, they hand on a legacy of nobility and courage and spiritual exaltation which comes only of suffering."
"But I am urging you as leaders of your people to summon the wisdom of the ages and lift up your hearts. Your race is again on the anvil, taking that terrible hammering which has made the toughness of character that has so influenced mankind."

Incidentally, the previous day, Zionist leader Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver told the conference that "it is impossible to evacuate six million Jews." Stephen 'six million Jews' Wise also addressed the conference, and a message from Chaim 'six million Jews' Weizmann was read to the conference. Jackson would have his first dealings with the six million figure of Jews six years later, noting in his diary June 11, 1945: 'I was particularly interested in knowing the source and reliability of his* estimate (six million Jews) as I know no authentic data on it.' 
* Dr Jacob Robinson, founder of the Institute of Jewish Affairs; legal advisor of the Jewish Agency (de facto Jewish government of British Mandate Palestine); representative of the World Jewish Congress at the United Nations.

Thanks to CA for making me aware of this.

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