Rabbi Abba Silver Addresses the UN General Assembly

May 8, 1947

Abba Hillel Silver was a Reform Rabbi in Cleveland and an active Zionist leader in the United States.  He played a key role in Zionist fundraising, education and political action throughout the 1930s and 40s.  In 1945, he became the president of the Zionist Organization of America.

In 1943, Silver founded the America Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC) which became American Zionism’s political arm.  Under Silver’s leadership, AZEC worked to convince the American public of the need for a Jewish home in Palestine by lobbying public officials.

In January 1947, the British government was faced with increased violence in Palestine, Zionist pressure to allow increased Jewish immigration, and pressure from abroad.   The British turned to the newly created United Nations for advice.  The UN, in turn, created the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) to investigate the causes of unrest and make recommendations.  On May 5, 1947, the UN had invited both Arab and Jewish leaders to present their cases.  Silver was a part of a Jewish Agency delegation that included David Ben-Gurion, Moshe Sharett, and Nahum Goldman.

In his address, Rabbi Abba Silver calls upon UNSCOP to honor the 1917 Balfour Declaration, and to recognize the need for Jewish immigration and the ineffectiveness of the mandatory administration. Ben-Gurion and Sharett will address the committee on May 12.

Read Silver’s complete address.

View a video clip of Silver’s speech.