Wise Controversy Ends Peacefully with Refusal of Executive Committee to Accept Resignation
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Wise Controversy Ends Peacefully with Refusal of Executive Committee to Accept Resignation

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The most dramatic moment in the history of the Zionist movement in America was witnessed by the members of the Executive Committee of the United Palestine Appeal Sunday evening at 9:30, when Louis Lipsky, Chairman of the Zionist Organization of America brought to a close the Wise controversy which agitated the Jewish communities throughout the United States, Canada, European countries and Palestine for the past two weeks, by announcing to Dr. Wise that his resignation was not accepted.

Two votes were taken on the question at two meetings which lasted from 11 o’clock in the morning to 11 at night. The votes which were taken following prolonged and heated discussions on an issue which threatened to develop nito a revival of controversies over religious and dogmatic matters and cause a split between orthodox and liberal Jews, were 71 to 1, at the meeting of the Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization of America and 59 to 9 at the meeting of the United Palestine Appeal Committee, which represents all the organizations working for Palestine, federated in the $5,000,000 Appeal.


“I believe I can say as a truthful reporter that everything that has been said here with regard to your personality has been said with a consciousness of a background of a personality whose influence in American Judaism and the American Zionist movement, has always stood for the sterling qualities of courage, devotion, sincerity and intense Jewish feeling,” Mr. Lipsky declared to Dr. Stephen S. Wise who was brought into the meeting by a committee consisting of Miss Henrietta Szold, Mr. Joseph Barondess, Mr. Benjamin Winter, Mr. Isidore D. Morrison, Rabbi Israel Levinthal, Mr. Meyer Brown, Dr. Nathan Ratnoff.

“Your record of thirty years’ service,” Mr. Lipsky continued, “has had a prominent part to play in all that has been said and done here today, and in going over the record of the past two weeks the committee present here today had in mind errors of judgment made in the heat of the moment, errors of judgment made under false impressions, and has come to the conclusion that, no matter what has happened during the past two weeks, nothing has happened of any consequence whatsoever in any way to invalidate that position which you have attained in American Jewish life for the past thirty years.


“The same confidence which has been manifested by the Zionists of this country towards your personality in times past, they now pass over to you once more, undiminished and in no degree lessened, with the feeling, however, that in all this matter that has occurred during the past two weeks, you have demonstrated the spirit of true Jewish patriotism, the spirit of a true sportsmanship and a fine understanding of the difficulty in which the Zionist Organization found itself as a result of this controversy, and I present on behalf of practically four-fifths of the committee an earnest request, as expressed in the resolution which undoubtedly has been conveyed to you, that you resume that post which you have occupied with honor to yourself and to us and that you carry on this work which is of such tremendous importance for the future of the Jewish people and for the Land of Israel,” Mr. Lipsky declared.

A most impressive scene was enacted when Dr. Wise, in reply to Mr. Lipsky’s declaration, read his statement (reported yesterday in the “Jewish Daily Bulletin”).

Dr. Wise was accorded a tremendous ovation when he exclaimed: “Adonoi Eloheinu Adonoi Echod” (The Lord our God, the Lord is One).

“In the light of your words and the action of this conference today,” Dr. Wise declared to Mr. Lipsky, “with a sense that your words of a moment ago and the resolution here adopted represents not any personal loyalty but an impersonal confidence in my leadership of the United Palestine Appeal, and believing that this token of confidence will be supplemented and sustained by a renewed devotion to our common task, with deep gratitude, Mr. Chairman, to the loyalty and the confidence which you and my fellow Zionists have chosen to place in my life and conduct, I withdraw my resignation as Chairman of the United Palestine Appeal.”


The atmosphere of the meeting changed completely when Dr. Wise, reaffirmed in his leadership of the Appeal, took the chair. The controversial heat gave way to a wave of enthusiasm for the United Palestine Appeal which found tangible expression in generous gifts amounting to $75,000. At the suggestion of Dr. Wise, Benjamin Winter was elected chairman of the New York City campaign committee which will seek to raise $1,500,000. Max Blumberg was elected treasurer of the New York committee.

Among the donations were: Max Blumberg, $25,000; Samuel Barnett, $10,000; Mr. Elias Gottfried, $10,000. Mr. Gottfried pledged $7,500, but on the suggestion of Rabbi Meyer Berlin he increased it to $10,000. Mr. Morris Weinberg, $5,000; S. Liebowitz & Sons, $6,000; Morris Eiserman, $6,000; Morris Dlugash, $2,000; Isaac Moss, $1,000; Jacob Siegel, $5,000; Mr. Jacob Rosenberg, $1,000; the Phillip Wolheim Estate, pledged by Benjamin Schloss, $500; Jonas Jacobs, $500; Mrs. Vogel, $500; Jacob Fishman, $500; Max Alpert, $1,000; Morris Singer, $1,000; Joseph Barondess, $250; Mr. and Mrs. A. H. Fromenson, $200; Mr. and Mrs. Morris Eisenberg, $200 and Max Levy, $200.

The chairman of the United Palestine Appeal was, at the suggestion of Jacob Fishman, authorized to appoint a committee which will have the task of meeting with the representatives of any group interested in the controversy, in order to bring about unanimity. A vote of thanks was extended to Louis Lipsky for his captaincy of the two meetings.

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