The following are excerpts of the 18 page document of written testimony submitted in person to the United Nations Special Committee in Palestine Wednesday, July 16, 1947 by the Chief Rabbis of the Ashkenasic Jewish Community, Rav Yosef Zvi Dushinsky and Rav Zelig Ruven Bengis of blessed memory, taken from the United Nations Trusteeship Library.
Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky arrives at the YMCA, where the UN Special Committee on Palestine held hearings.
Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky testifying before the UN committee
The ancient right of the People of Israel to the land of Israel.
In approaching what is commonly called the Palestine problem and in trying to find a just and suitable solution it is imperative that the history of the Holy Land and its correlation with the Jewish people be viewed in their proper perspective. Indeed from the day onwards on which the L-rd said to Abraham: "Arise, walk through the Land, in the length of it and in the breadth, for I will give it unto thee "(Genesis, 13, 17), this country was predestined to be the land of domicile for the People of Israel. However, this predestination, this divine promise, has its basis but in religion, for only loyalty to HIS laws and teachings and fundamental application of that Law in Israel's public and private life will entitle them to the name "People of Israel" and only then can the term "Land of Israel" apply to this land as it is aid: "And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19, 6) and further: "For thou art a holy people under the L-rd, thy G-d." (Deuteronomy 7, 6). The interrelation between the land of Israel and the people of Israel rise and falls with the degree and intensity with which they fulfill the Holy Law. Past experience proves that Israel fell easy prey to their enemies whenever they deviated from the path prescribed in the Holy Bible, a fact to which the chapters of the Bible bear eloquent evidence.
Unbroken settlement by Jews throughout the ages.
Hence, even after the dispersion, when Israel were scattered to the four corners of the world to atone for their sins and prepare themselves for the great task of being a holy nation and of being fit once again to live in the land of their promise, Jews loyal to the tradition of their forefathers have not severed the connection with the land even for short intervals. Though unable to fulfill all the commandments while residing abroad, particularly those relating to the soil of this land, they have constantly directed and arranged their prayers with their faces towards the Holy Land in accordance with I King 8, 48: "And pray unto thee towards their land."
Some Jews endeavoured to visit the Holy Land at least once in their lives and at later periods, when transport and traffic connections became easier, these loyal Jews began to return to the Holy Land to live permanently therein in holiness and purity and literally applied the verse (Psalms 102, 14): "For thy servants take pleasure in her stones and favour the dust thereof."
The relation between the people of Israel and the land of Israel being an ancient and permanent religious tie, Providence has seen to it that throughout the long history of this land, Jews were never to abandon it entirely. . . .
Good neighbourly relations with other sections of the population.
During no period of the immigration of such orthodox European Jews was any opposition offered by the Arab population. On the contrary, these Jews were welcomed on account of economic benefits and general progress that accrued to the local inhabitants who had no fear whatsoever of being subjugated. It was common knowledge that these Jews came but for the purpose of fulfilling certain religious requirements and they had no difficulty in establishing a mutual trust, and real friendship developed with all sections of the community. That was the time when good neighborly relations existed between Jews and Arabs and in particular Rabbis and eminent scholars who then lead the Jewish Community were greatly esteemed and honoured by all inhabitants.
Palestine under the Mandate.
With the occupation of Palestine by His Britannic Majesty's Forces and after the confirmation of the Mandate over Palestine by the League of Nations, which incorporated the Balfour Declaration of 1917 a new era opened in the history of the Holy Land. We Orthodox Jews whose forefathers promoted the development of the Jewish Yishuv throughout the generations, who for many centuries constituted the most important element of the Yishuv in the Holy Land, were always on the very best of terms with all sections of the Community. We had hoped that the real purpose of the Mandate would be the promotion of a "Home" to which Jews who lived in the Diaspora might be able to return as their Home Land in order to live here in accordance with the Commandments of the Almighty. It was upon the first appearance of the Zionist organization as a political entity, created in and by the spirit of reform, a spirit to which Orthodox Jewry is so utterly opposed that the idea of the foundation of a Jewish state in the Holy Land was first advanced.
Much trouble and endless bloodshed might have been avoided if the Mandate were to have been applied in the manner hoped for by Orthodox Jewry.
In addition the various Jewish Communities in the country had been organized along traditional lines of truly Jewish Law, by actively applying the Laws of Moses to the public affairs of the Holy Land, we are convinced that the country would have remained at peace and the dangers inherent in prevailing conditions might never have arisen. Moreover, the colossal massacre of millions of our brethren at the hands of Nazism during the second World War might have been averted to a very substantial degree for many of them might have been able to live peacefully in the Holy Land as there would have been not the slightest justification for the limitations of Jewish immigration as have in fact been enforced during the last decade.
However, it is a regrettable fact that a serious blunder was committed at the time by recognising first the leaders of Zionism and then the Jewish Agency as official representation of the Jewish population and by handing the keys of immigration to that body which consists of zionists and non-zionists who are united in the opposition to the application of religion to public life and they have succeeded in bringing to this country free-thinking people like themselves who blocked the way of immigration to myriads of Orthodox Jews. Only after prolonged and forceful representations supported by the Government of Palestine did they agree to issue small numbers of certificates for immigration also to Orthodox Jews. They have thus succeeded in strengthening their position by bringing in elements of the population who were faithful to their aims and ideals and have founded Jewish Communities throughout the country whose very spirit is contrary to the requirements of Jewish Law and have thereby furthered their hold in the country, by insisting on the creation of a Jewish state therein. This aroused the fear of our Arab neighbors in connection with further Jewish immigration and thus started the determined opposition on the part of the Arabs against Jewish immigration.
Palestine as a State.
From the time of King Solomon to our very days the Holy Land was either united with Trans-Jordan or attached to Syria or Turkey. Western Palestine was never a single and independent entity and certainly a part of that cannot possibly constitute an independent state, as envisaged in the various plans that are discussed from time to time.
However, the basic reason for our opposition to an Independent Jewish state as that in prevailing circumstances the officially recognised representation of the Jewish people does not consider the authority of the Holy Law as binding in the public affairs of the Jewish people. . . .
. . . .and it is contrary to the wishes of G-d to create a Jewish State. . .
Summary of Part I
Orthodox Jewry has not the slightest intention of subjugating any section of the population of the Holy Land. We merely demand that the gates of Palestine be opened to all those Jews who have no home and enable them to live here Jewish lives in accordance with the commandments of the L-rd. However in order to avoid the continuation of the untenable position as set out in the last paragraph of section 4 we suggest that the keys of Jewish immigration be placed into the hands of the Government of this country.
We furthermore wish to express our definite opposition to a Jewish state in any part of Palestine.
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When in mid November of 1947, it became evident that through Zionist and Communist pressure the United Nations would vote for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states, Rav Dushinsky appealed, in the name of 60,000 Jewish Orthodox residents, to the United Nations by cable and a memorandum following, that Jerusalem should not be included in the Jewish state and should be given international status.
DOCUMENT NO. A-AC 14-44
Communications received by Ad Hoc Palestine Committee,
November 18, 1947
To the Secretary General of the United Nations Lake Success:
The Jewish Orthodox community (Eida Hacharedis) of Jerusalem comprising 60,000 souls, objects to the plea of including Jerusalem in the Jewish state and/or its residents becoming automatically citizens of the Jewish state.
Our community demands that Jerusalem be an international zone, under your protection, with full autonomy, and its residents be free citizens of the international zone of Jerusalem.
We beg of you, not to take any action before receiving our memorandum which is being sent by airmail.
Chief Rabbi J. Z. Dushinsky
In the Name of the Ashkenazic Community
MEMORANDUM ON JERUSALEM by Chief Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky
The declaration of the Mandate government that it will shortly remove its administration from the Holy Land gives us cause to declare our position and our request for guarantee for the existence of the Orthodox Community (Edah Hacharedis) in the Holy City, a Community which existed before the rule of the Mandate Government and which is a continuation of a Jewish Community of hundreds of years, in connection with the proposed status which the United Nations Organisation plans to impose on Jerusalem.
The Community of Orthodox Jews in the Holy City, which looks forward to the fulfillment of the prophecy that all peoples shall be rid of the spirit of animosity and that a brotherhood of nations shall arise, as the Scriptures state: The mountains of the L-rd's house shall be established. . . and all the nations shall flow unto it (Isaiah 2), demands that the city which is sacred to all the nations should remain unique and above all national interests of all peoples. The existence of the Holy City should be secured by a firm international agreement, that under any circumstances which may arise between nations, all parties shall accept the position that it (the Holy City) be considered neutral, and nothing should be done directly or indirectly to change its neutral status.
A greater Jerusalem, given the status of an international zone by international agreement, is the surest guarantee for its neutrality. All efforts should be directed to assure that in this Holy City there should be implemented the unity of international brotherhood towards all Mankind, and to prevent the underlying causes for disharmony and animosity, and to assure the rule of pure G-dliness and religious worship to all who dwell in this city.
Any form of division and splitting up of Jerusalem will have the effect of underscoring the differences between races and religions, which contradicts the principles of harmony tolerance and brotherhood of the inhabitants; and will eventually imperil for the future peace of the city. Jerusalem must unify all its residents. It should be recognized that a citizen of Jerusalem stands above all narrow national interests. Even in the days of David and Solomon Jerusalem was not divided according to the tribal boundaries but belong to all.
On the basis of these principles we sent our cable with our just demand: 1) Not to include Jerusalem in any state and not to parcel it into separate parts. 2) Not to impose on the residents of Jerusalem the citizenship of any state, but solely the citizenship of any state, but solely the citizenship of the Holy City; as a resident of Jerusalem and an international citizens, and this city should be declared an open international city.
By guaranteeing these two points there is every reason to believe that the Holy City shall be the seat of peace, security and international brotherhood.
In the hope that this memorandum shall be promptly brought before the authoritative organs of the United Nations, and in the belief that it shall gain the attention necessary for the fulfillment of our requests which are in accord with the spirit of the United Nations Charter, we hereby affix our signatures with all the respect.
The above memorandum was sent to the United Nations, Lake Success, N.Y.
November 19, 1947
by Chief Rabbi of the Orthodox community in Palestine, Rav Yosef Zvi Dushinsky.