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)