Future of Jewish Agency Discussed by Maxim Vinaver, Russian Jewish Leader

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mail Service)

The future of the Jewish Agency, the body designated by the Palestine Mandate to assist in the upbuilding of Palestine, and its possible extension to include non-Zionists was discussed by M. Maxim Vinaver, one of the leaders of Russian Jewry before the Bolshevik revolution.

“I regard it as the duty of all Jews, irrespective of party to participate in the upbuilding of Palestine,” M. Vinaver declared to the representative of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “Naturally I consider the idea of the Jewish Agency as of paramount importance. The Jewish Agency, as tormulated in the Palestine Mandate, was meant to make the establishment of a Jewish national home in Palestine dependent on the participation of the non-Zionist Jews in the upbuilding of the country. That is to say, dependent on the upbuilding of Palestine being a matter for the whole of Jewry instead of merely for one part of it. For the time being this work of upbuilding is in the hands of one party. But I fear that any further delay in bringing about the participation of the non-Zionists in the work would be interpreted as a refusal of the Jews as a whole to accept the gift which history has bestowed on them. The consequences of such an interpretation would be self-evident.

“This is only one side, however, of the question. There is another and much more significant side to it: the importance of the Jewish Agency in the upbuilding of the country. I have in mind not the economic factors to which Dr. Weizmann has devoted considerable attention, but the purely political considerations. It seems to me that all the shortcomings of the present-day political position in Palestine, of which the leaders of the Zionist Opposition justly complain, and all the deficiencies of the Mandatory Power would disappear with the active participation of a widely representative Jewish Agency,” he declared.

“There would also probably be an end to the political crisis within the Zionist movement itself,” M. Vinaver stated, “if Dr. Weizmann’s critics would put forward a practicable plan of how they would constitute the Jewish Agency. The Opposition, as voiced by the ‘Rasswiet,’ has been conducting a campaign against Dr. Weizmann’s plan because it had no faith in the likeli hood of financial assistance coming from the American Jews. Of late it has been gleefully declaring that its objections have been justified, since the Jewish Agency is dead because the American financiers have not given any money.

“I do not know whether the American financiers have given any money or not. Mr. Louis Marshall says they have. I do not know whether Dr. Weizmann intended to limit the non-Zionist participation in the Jewish Agency to the inclusion of financial magnates only. If he did make a mistake I think it was in putting an undue emphasis on the inclusion of non-Zionists and thus creating the impression that the Jewish Agency was to be divided into two camps, one composed of Zionists and the second of capitalists. His opponents have interpreted this impression into a fact, and by declaring themselves against the capitalists they are destroying at the same time the very idea of an extended Jewish Agency.

“I think that it is possible to find a mean between these two extreme points of view, a mean between an unrealizable all-Jewish plebiscite and the overloading of the Agency with big financiers. The whole future of Palestine depends on the solution of this problem.

“In their campaign against Dr. Weizmann’s plan his opponents appeal to the masses with what seems to me a very dangerous slogan: ‘Down with the participation of non-Zionists who dream about the Crimea?’ This slogan, rightly interpreted, means, ‘Down with the Agency.’

“I am convinced that in the end the decision about the future of Palestine will have to lie with the whole Jewish people. In Herzl’s time the hope Jewish masses as a whole would participate in the work was the sole driving force of Zionism. The idea of the Jewish Agency having a political and not only a colonizing significance in Palestine has met with the approval of the non-Zionists of Western Europe and America.

“The Agency should be the only permanent politically-inspired representative body of the Jewish people. Is such a body of value to the Zionists? I do not doubt it for a moment. But the Zionists are afraid; they think that the people who are ready to cooperate on the Agency regard Palestine and the Crimea as one and the same thing. The colonization work in Soviet Russia, as far as it can be carried out, is very limited in scope. It can be of assistance only to a few destitute Jewish families. But it has been intentionally inflated and advertised by the Jewish Communists,” Mr. Vinaver stated.

“Not long ago Mr. Vladimir Jabotinsky asked Mr. Louis Marshall and myself through the ‘Rasswiet,’ what we thought of the Jewish Agency. We two alone, Mr. Jabotinsky said, had a right to voice an opinion about the solution of the problem with which the Jewish Agency is faced.

“I saw Mr. Louis Marshall recently. We share the same views not only on general but also on Jewish matters. We discussed the problem of the Jewish Agency and I told him of the question which Mr. Jabotinsky had put to us both. I think I am right in saying that Mr. Louis Marshall will agree with my answer. The question was formulated in a quasi-legal style, thus: ‘Is it worth while for the Zionist Organization to surrender half its rights to non-Zionists?’ My answer is plain: It certainly is–at a price… A good price, I think has been offered. On its acceptance depends the welfare of Jewish Palestine, and I repeat that it certainly is worth while to accept,” M. Vinaver concluded.

The interior of the Washington Avenue Temple in Evansville, Ind. was destroyed by fire. Estimates placed the damage at $50,000. A $15,000 pipe organ was lost.

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