Alfred M. Lilienthal

Tue, 12 Aug 97

From: Zeveiwolf

Publ. Dodd Mead and Co. 1978

Following excerpt is from Chapter II, America Picks up the Torch pp 35-6

With the Jews of Europe facing the onslaught of Hitler genocide and Nazi crematoriums, President Roosevelt hoped that the rescue of 500,000 could be achieved by affording a generous worldwide political asylum. In line with this humanitarian idea, MORRIS ERNST, a N.Y. attorney and a close friend of the President, went to London in the middle of the war to see if the British would take in 100,000 or 200,000 uprooted people. The President had reason to assume that Canada, Australia, and the South American countries would gladly open their doors. And if such good examples were set by other nations, Mr. Roosevelt felt that the American Congress could be "educated to go back to our trditional position of asylum." The key was in London. Would Morris Ernst succeed there? He came home to report, and this is what took place in the White House as related by him to a Cincinnati audience in 1950:

ERNST: We are at home plate. Tht little island [ it was during the second blitz that he visited England] on a properly representative program of a World Immigration Budget will match the U.S. up to 150,000. ROOSEVELT: 150 thousand to England, 150 thousand to match that in the U.S., pick up 200 thousand or 300 thousand eleswhere, and we can start with half a million of thee oppressed people.

A week or so later, Ernst and his wife again visited the President.

ROOSEVELT: Nothing doing on the program. We can't put it over because the dominant, vocval Jewish leadership of America won't stand for it. ERNST: It's impossible! Why? ROOSEVELT: They are right from THEIR point of view. The Zionist movement knows that Palestine is, and will be for some time, a remittanc society. They know that they can raise vast sums for Palestine by sayingto donors, "There is no other place this poor Jew can go." But if there is a world political asylum for all people irrespective of race, creed or color, they cannot raise their money. Then the people who do not want to give the money will have an excuse to say, "What do you mean, there is no place they can go but Palestine? They are the preferred wards of the world."

Ernst shocked, first refused to believe his leader and friend. He began to lobby among influential Jewish friends for this world program of rescue, without mentioning the reaction of the President or the British. As he himself put it: " I was thrown out of parlors of friends of mine who very frankly said, "Morris, this is treason. You are undermining the Zionist movement." (9) He ran into the same reaction among all Jewish groups and their leaders. Everywhere he found "a deep, genuine, often fanatically emotional vested interest in putting over the Palesinian movement" in men "who are little concerned about human blood if it is not their own." (10) This response of Zionism ended the remarkable Roosevelt effort to rescue Europe's displaced persons. By mid-1942 London and Washington had reached an agreement on the tactic of restraining local political foment over the Palestine question by delaying a settlement of the issue until the conslucion of the war, meanwhile assuring both Arabs and Jews that no decision would be reached without prior consultation with both.(11) As tensions in the Holy Land increased, a joint Anglo-American statement to this effect, and emphasizing tht "no changes brought about by force in the status of Palestine or the administrtion of the country would be permitted or acquiesced in," ws prepared for release to the public. The White House, under constant Zionist bombardment, hoped to ward off further public agitation and domestic political activities relative to Palestine while the war was in progress. A leak ocurred, however, before the Anglo-American joint statement could be issued, and Zionists immediately flooded high goernment officials with protests(12). At this point Sec. of State Cordell Hull believed that the matter should be decided not on a diplomatic basis but on a military one. Sec. of War Henry L. Stimson concluded that the military situation was not seious enough to warrant any sttement on Palestine. The plan was canceled. The joint declaration, earlier agreed upon as being in the national interest by the highest political authorities of both countries (The President of the United States, and the Prime Minister of Great Britain), thus had been killed by American Zionist pressure groups. (13)


(9) For a full discussion of the refugee problem, see Morris L. Ernst, SO FAR SO GOOD ( New York, Harper, 1948), p. 170-77

(10) ibid, p. 176

(11) Foreign Relations of the Unites States, Diplomatic Papers (FR) - [these volvumes are publications of the dept. of State, and contain diplomatic correspondence, cables, memorandums, reports of conversations, etc. Usually, they are published 25 years after the events to which they pertain.] 1942, Vol.IV, pp.538-44

(12) FR: 1945, Vol. VIII, p. 699

(13) FR. 1943 Vol. IV., p. 798. See enclosure to letter of 7/19/43, from Cordell Hull to President Roosevelt.