Friday, March 31, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 5

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...I wrote the following letter to the New York Times, which appeared in its issue of October 9, 1945:

"`To The Editor of The New York Times:

"`The situation in the Near East is apparently approaching a crisis; very soon violence and bloodshed may result. For this I fear our country is partly responsible.

"`I believe sincerely in the peaceful settlement of disputes, a policy to which the United States is now committed, and I am deeply interested in the Near East through connections with American colleges and universities in that area. I am therefore greatly distressed by the policies now being urged on our Government, policies which threaten violence and upheaval in that critical region of the world.

"`Sooner or later Arabs and Jews must sit down together and reach an agreement regarding life in Palestine. Why should they not now gather about a conference table to arrive at some adjustment and avoid violence?

"`Surely it will be no kindness to the Jews to secure by force their admittance in very large numbers to a section of the world where they will have as neighbors many millions of enemies.

"`Are not some Americans urging the plan of forcing Britain to force the Arabs to admit the homeless Jews in order to escape our own responsibility toward these unfortunate persons? The conscience of the world should recognize the obligation of us all to help the homeless Jews whose persecution by Hitler we have so bitterly denounced. Each of the United Nations should accept its proportionate share of those Jews who seek new homes. The Arab nations have already offered to accept their share.

"`What will be the number the United States should admit? Perhaps 200,000? Then let Congress admit these over and above the usual immigration quotas. And let us stop evading our responsibility by urging that our Government force Britain to force Palestine to take in far more than its share. Thus we may avoid setting the Near East aflame.

"`Virginia C. Gildersleeve

"`New York, October 6, 1945'

"This letter brought a storm on my head. Many Zionists denounced me vehemently; some threatened violence. Most of my Jewish friends, on the other hand, were in favor of my views. So were some distinguished Christian leaders, notably my neighbor Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, Pastor of the Riverside Church, and my friend and comrade of many years Dr. Henry Sloan Coffin, President of Union Theological Seminary. So also were practically all the Americans I met who had lived in the Middle East and knew Palestine personally..."

(end of part 5)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 4

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"...Surprisingly few Americans knew anything about the background of this tragic situation. The spotlight of publicity had been focused so brightly by the Zionists on their plan for Palestine that to many of our citizens the rest of the Middle East was shrouded in darkness. Of the few who had any real knowledge of the circumstances, almost no one was willing to speak out publicly against a project of the Zionists. The politicians feared the Jewish vote; others feared the charge of anti-Semitism; and nearly all had a kind of `guilt complex' in their emotions towards the Jews because of the terrible tragedies inflicted upon them by Hitler. It seemed to me, however, that someone ought to speak out against the cowardly and immoral course to which our nation was being urged. My knowledge of the Middle East made me sure that only war and hatred could come from this policy..."

(end of part 4)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 3

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following: 

"As the clouds of that terrible struggle [in World War II against Nazi Germany and Japanese militarism] began to lift a little and we could again put our minds on the Palestine problem, among so many others, we were aware that disorder and death were rife in the Holy Land. The Zionists with ruthless efficiency were pushing to get more and more Jewish immigrants into Palestine. The Arabs were violently resisting. The British, in despair of arriving at any satisfactory adjustment, or even keeping order in the unhappy country, were preparing to give up the Mandate. In the United States powerful and influential Zionists began to put heavy pressure upon our government to force the British, contrary to the desires of the majority of the population, to admit more and more Jews to the Holy Land.

"The Zionists were supported in this by a great many American Christians, some few of whom, I am sorry to say, advocated the project because it would relieve us of doing anything ourselves to help the exiles. These unworthy Christians did not want to admit any more Jewish refugees into America. `Let's push them off on Palestine by all means,' they thought. They apparently saw no objection to our bullying our British allies, now in such an embarrassing position with relation to us, and forcing them to bully the Arabs into admitting this huge influx of alien foreigners. This seemed to me a most contemptible attitude for my country to tak, and I was bitterly ashamed of it..."

(end of part 3)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights in 20th Century--Part 2

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"..The Zionist movement...pushed forward with intense religious enthusiasm. Some Zionists said they did not want a political state in Palestine. Their concept of the `national home' was more humanitarian than political, but the ideal in the minds of the chief leaders seems to have been defined by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, later first President of the State of Israel, when as early as February, 1919, speaking before the Peace Conference, he explained the Jewish national home as the creation of an administration `with the hope that by Jewish immigration Palestine would ultimately become as Jewish as England is English.' At this time, 1919, the number of Jews in Palestine was some 65,000, constituting about a tenth of the population. The remaining nine-tenths, as they learned of this policy, naturally looked on it with apprehension. They consisted of some 515,000 Arab Moslems and 62,500 Christians, of whom many were Arabs.

"By 1936 the number of Jews in Palestine had increased to nearly 400,000, amounting to somewhat more than a quarter of the total population. The Palestinian Arabs inevitably increased their protests and efforts to stem this tide which they feared was going to overwhelm them,--as it soon did.

"The situation seemed to me to be drifting towards a disastrous explosion. Could not the free nations of the world somehow meet their humanitarian duty to the Jews without depriving the Palestinian Arabs of their native land, thereby setting the Middle East aflame and antagonizing the rest of the Moslem world? From my interest in the Middle East, my vision of it as a great whole, and from my concern for the Jews, whom I had come to know so well in my own city of New York, I felt this great problem keenly; all the more because the Zionists project was being financed by hundreds of millions of American dollars. Thus stood the situation and my own feeling when we were plunged into the chaos of World War II..."

(end of part 2)

Monday, March 27, 2017

Columbia University's Barnard College Dean Gildersleeve: Supported Palestinian Rights In 20th Century--Part 1

In her 1954 autobiography, Many A Good Crusade: Memoirs of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, the Dean of Barnard College of Columbia University between 1911 and 1947, Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve, wrote the following:

"...In October 1895...I entered Barnard College...On February 1, 1911, I took Office as Dean...As I look back over my 36 and a half years as Dean, it seems to me that the most thoroughly pleasant part of the job was my association with the Barnard undergraduates...

"....The Jews were of course an important element in the make-up of our student body. Once in a printed statement early in my Deanship I alluded to them as a nationality or race, mentioning them along with the English, the French, the Russians, and so on. Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer, our very zealous Trustee and herself a Jew, insisted that I recall this document and have it corrected, since the Jews were not a race or nationality but a religion. This I did...Several of the outstanding personalities among the original group of Trustees who had started the College I came to know intimately over many years. One was Mrs. Annie Nathan Meyer...Mrs. Meyer and her husband, Dr. Alfred Meyer, signed the lease for the house the College was to occupy, and...the infant Barnard started courageously on its way...

"In the difficult and complex world of the Middle East there was now developing in Palestine, land of the Holy Places of three great religions, a movement which was to plunge much of the region into war, sow long-lasting hatred, and make the Arabs consider America not the best liked and trusted of the nations of the West, as she had been, but the most disliked and distrusted as she is today.

"The movement was International Zionism, the plan to convert Palestine into a `homeland'' for the Jews. The Zionists wished to bring back the Jews to the country which, they believed, their God had given them and which their forefathers had held for a time two thousand years ago.

"The small land of Palestine, about the size of our state of Vermont, had been inhabited for over a thousand years by Arabs, who naturally looked forward, when the British mandate should expire, to becoming an independent state, as had Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq, their brother Arab nations...The Zionist movement, however, had been growing in strength, and was immensely stimulated by Hitler's terrible persecutions of the Jews in Germany and the need of finding asylum for some hundreds of thousands of survivors...

" all decent Americans, when Hitler perpetrated his persecutions and massacres, I felt a wave of horror sweep over me.

"I can vividly remember that deep emotion. These appalling outrages seemed so terrible as to be unbelievable...

"Partly to meet the need of providing some sanctuary for thousands of Jewish refugees, and building on the sympathy aroused in other countries by these persecutions, the Zionist movement now rose quickly to much greater strength. It had first received important international recognition when in 1917 the British Government approved the famous Balfour Declaration, which stated, `His Majesty's Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.' Subsequently the League of Nations assigned Great Britain the Mandate for Palestine to carry out their Declaration,--this very ambiguous statement of which only the first half is generally quoted.

"What right had Great Britain, asked the Arabs as the years went on, or indeed the League of Nations, to give away any part of Paelstine without the consent of the inhabitants who had lived there and tilled the soil for over a thousand years? What right had they to say that foreigners might come to the ancient land and there establish a `national home,' whatever that may mean? Surely this was contrary to all the principles of democracy and self-determination..."
(end of part 1) 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Columbia's Baker Athletic Complex Land: Donated By Exploiter of Black Convict Labor?

As Cara Maines reported in a Feb. 7, 2017 Columbia Daily Spectator article, research done by  Columbia University Professor of History Eric Foner and his students, as part of the Columbia University and Slavery Project, “found that most of the early presidents and trustees owned slaves, some donors profited from slave trade in the West Indies, and most students came from slave-owning families;” and “at least one student, the stepson of George Washington, brought a slave to what was then King's College.”

But what perhaps should also be mentioned is that the 26 acres of Upper Manhattan land upon which Columbia University’s Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased in 1921 by a U.S. Steel Corporation director and major stockholder named George F. Baker--whose firm’s Tennessee Coal and Iron [TCI] subsidiary apparently profited in Alabama from the exploitation of forced African-American convict labor in the early 20th century. As labor and human rights lawyer Daniel Kovalik noted in a July 4, 2008 Pittsburgh Post- Gazette article:
“What came to many of us as a revelation this year, presented by the Wall Street Journal's Douglas A. Blackmon in his book, Slavery by Another Name, is that the enslavement of tens of thousands of black Americans in the South did not end in 1865…As Mr. Blackmon explains..., southern political and industrial leaders…began to arrest blacks en masse on baseless charges, including the overly broad `"crime’ of vagrancy (i.e., standing around unoccupied), `offensive conduct,’ talking to white women or any other trumped-up offense…

“The targeted black citizen was then hauled before a judge or justice of the peace, pressured by implied threats of violence into confessing to a crime, and fined for both the crime and the "costs" incurred by the arresting officer, the judge and witnesses. The accused was then offered to an industrialist or farmer who offered to pay the exorbitant fines and costs in return for the accused signing a contract of indentured servitude…One of the largest users of forced labor was Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel, which purchased a coal mine -- indeed, a slave mine -- from the Tennessee Coal, Iron & Railroad Co. at the beginning of the 20th century. U.S. Steel signed a lease with the state of Alabama to acquire hundreds of prisoners, almost all black and almost all arrested on absurd charges, who it put to work in its Alabama mine No. 12. The many laborers who died during their periods of servitude either were buried in unmarked graves or burned inside the mines.

“As Mr. Blackmon notes in his book, U.S. Steel, unlike some companies that had used prison/slave labor during the late 19th and early 20th century, has never…paid compensation to the families of victims….”

According to an Apr. 19, 2012 article by Steve Fraser and Joshua Freeman, “convicts were leased to…Tennessee Coal and Iron (TC&I), a major producer across the South, especially in the booming region around Birmingham, Alabama, “more than a quarter of the coal coming out of Birmingham’s pits was then mined by prisoners” and “by the turn of the century, TC&I had been folded into J.P. Morgan’s United States Steel complex, which also relied heavily on prison laborers.”
Owning $5,965,000 (equivalent to around $83,245,000 in 2017 dollars) of U.S. Steel stock in the early 1920’s, George F. Baker was the largest individual owner of stock in TC&I’s parent company, according to a May 4, 1924 Time magazine article. And, coincidentally, as Columbia University’s website notes, “the tract of land on which the Baker Athletics Complex stands was purchased for the University on December 30, 1921 by financier George F. Baker” as a $700,000 (equivalent to around $8,711,000 in 2017 dollars gift); and “the 26-acre area was dedicated in April, 1922 and hosted spring football practice that same year.”

A long-time president of the First National Bank of New York (which eventually merged with Citicorp’s Citibank in 1955), Baker was “closely associated with” the late 19th-century and early 20th-century U.S. robber-baron, monopolist and Wall Street banker J.P. Morgan “in his manifold enterprises,” according to Richard Boyer and Herbert Morais’s 1955 book, Labor’s Untold Story. The same book also noted that “Morgan and associates organized super-trusts in steel (U.S. Steel), shipping (International Mercantile Marine), and agricultural machinery (International Harvester);” and it also “had its hands in other fields—the railroads (where…some 30,000 miles of railway were controlled), anthracite coal (where from two-thirds to three-quarters of the entire shipment was in Morgan hands).” In addition, other Morgan monopolies included electrical machinery (General Electric), communications (AT &T, Western Union), traction companies (IRT in New York, Hudson & Manhattan), and insurance (Equitable Life).”