Resolution Adopted by Majority of 90 to 35; 50 Delegates Leave Convention in Protest; Action Taken Following Acrimonious Debate of Six Hours; Peace Resolution of Barondess Rejected; Jabotinsky and Judge Strahl, Lipsky and Goldberg Load Fight.
Endorsement of the program of the League of Zionist-Revisionists, the group within the Zionist movement which is in opposition to the policy of the present Zionist Executive, was given by a majority of 90 to 35 votes at the final session of the seventeenth annual convention of the Order Sons of Zion held in Long Branch, N. J. The Order has a membership of approximately 5,000.
The essentials of the program of the League of Zionist-Revisionists, as formulated by the League, are:
“1. Aim of Zionism: A Jewish majority in Palestine.
“2. Opening up of Transjordania for Jewish colonization.
“3. An Agrarian Reform, transforming all the waste lands of Palestine into a Land Reserve for colonization.
“4. A Custom Tariff Reform for the protection of local industries.
“5. Re-establishment of the Jewish Regiment as permanent part of the British garrison.
“6. Extension of the Jewish Agency on the basis of democratic election and of joint responsibility of the whole Agency before the Zionist Congress.”
Fifty opposing delegates left the convention following the vote on the resolution. These delegates presented a statement criticizing the action of the convention. The statement, read by Mr. Leo Wolfson, declared:
“On behalf of the undersigned 50 delegates duly accredited to this convention, I present this solemn statement.
“We firmly believe that the action of the Executive Committee of the Order, in endorsing the so-called Revisionist program, without consulting the camps, was an act beyond its powers, authority and prerogatives, and created a dangerous and vicious precedent. That such act was injurious to the morals of the rank and file, and usurped the legitimate rights and powers of the convention itself.
“We further firmly believe that the acceptance by this convention of the so-called Revisionist program, constitutes a challenge to the unity of Zionism, Zionist endeavor and the Zionist Organization of America, of which we are a constituent part.
“Against the action of the Executive Committee which this convention endorsed and against the action of this convention and the manner and form in which it accepted the so-called Revisionist program, we hereby register our solemn protest and demonstratively leave this convention and that we will take such steps and measures as will safeguard the interests of the Order and will maintain unity in the ranks of Zionism in America.” The statement was signed by:
Leo Wolfson, Ab. Goldberg, H. Abramowitz, H. J. Epstein, B. Shelvin, L. Rimsky, Dr. Jacob I. Steinberg, Samuel Markewich, Mr. Traurig, Jacob Shulman, M. D. Sherman, Harry A. Pine, H. Keerkil, M. J. Altschul, S. Goldberg, Leon R. Levinson, S. Mintz, S. Abramowitz, Abraham Lein, Joseph Mechanick, A. Zisfein, Dr. M. Laney, E. Sheihner, Samuel H. Freiner, Samuel Klansner, L Goldenberg, A. Lazar Kieshner, L. M. Unger, Emil Schwartzwald, Isidore Cohen, Max Send. Israel Maltin, J. Kapalowitz. Ch. Leibenberg, M. Herbst, David Olenick, Max Friedland, H. Grossman, Sam Marholin, N. Perkes, Jos. L. Karwaiko, Max White, J. Ratner, Louis Braines, A. Beckkoff, Abraham Goldberg, W. Meller. S. Smokler, Israel I. Wolf, Herman Harris.
An acrimonious debate, lasting six hours, in which charges and counter charges were made by the speakers, marked the session which came to a dramatic conclusion at 9:30 p.m. by the vote and the departure of the opposing delegates.
The remaining delegates reelected the following officers for the incoming year: Sol Friedland, Nasi; Judge Jacob Strahl, Sgan Rishon; Louis Hochberg, Sgan Sheni; Max Fanwick, Treasurer; Jacob Ish-Kishor, Naskir; Dr. Solomon Newman, Chief Medical Examiner; Samuel Weinstein, Counsel, and D. Podolsky, S. Fuchsman, H. J. Abramson, M. Gerst, H. Eiser, G. Hollander, Benjamin Fein, M. Weinerman, Leopold Kehlman, M. Littwain. Dr. Joseph Feldman, M. Kessler, H. Chowsky, H. Wertzheiser, Alex Wagman, S. Hein, Hyman R. Barnett, A. Weiner, H. Grayer, E. Nagler, Max Alpert and A. Sinah to the Executive Board.
Among the resolutions adopted during the session was one asking the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America to invite Vladimir Jabotinsky to the Buffalo Convention to express his views on current issues in Zionism.
RESOLUTION ON PRESDIENT’S ANNUAL MESSAGE CAUSES EXCITEMENT
The excitement which at times was on the verge of breaking up the meeting started when the resolutions committee submitted a report approving the following passage in the annual message of President Friedland:
“In my message to the Convention of 1925 I discussed the negation of our rights under the Mandate. I specifically stressed the withholding of the crownlands, the refusal to allot the full quota due us under the educational budget, the stringent immigration restrictions and the appointing of a High Commissioner without taking the Zionist Organization into confidence.
“The Message received the approval of the Convention.
“During the past twelve months the inarticulate dissatisfaction on the part of the Zionists was more definitely formulated. Responsible Jewish bodies have raised their voices in protest against certain commissions or omissions on the part of the Mandatory Power in derogation of our privileges, and have embodied their sentiments in no mistakable terms. In Palestine, the foremost among these bodies was the Vaad ha-Leumi, which went to the extent of sending a special delegation to the League of Nations in order that its claims may be properly presented. In Europe, the group that was most spirited in emphasizing its demands is the so-called Revisionists Group.
“The representatives of our Order, realizing their responsibility as the heads of an influential body of loyal Zionists, have always felt that their attitude in the matter should be made certain and positive, and that the voice of our Organization must be heard.
“Availing themselves of the presence in this country of the spokesman of the Revisionists Group, Mr. Vladimir Jabotinsky, your officers invited this eminent scholar and statesman to a public meeting for the purpose of discussing this question with him and to obtain a still more clarified idea about this most important subject in the Zionist movement.
“After due deliberation, the Executive Committee, on the first day of April, 1926, passed the following resolution:
” ‘Resolved, That we endorse the program of the Leageu of Zionist-Revisionists and that the Nasi appoint a Committee of five to work out a plan of propaganda among the Camps for that purpose, and submit the same for adoption at our next convention.’”
The report of the resolutions committee approved the action of the Executive Board with reference to the endorsement of the program of the League of Zionist Revisionists. The opposition introduced a motion to table the matter. On a roll call vote, 98 delegates voted against tabling the resolution and 58 for.
LIPSKY AND JABOTINSKY CLASH IN HEATED VERBAL ENCOUNTER
The debate which followed was marked by a heated encounter between Louis Lipsky, chairman of the Zionist Organization of America and Vladimir Jabotinsky, leader of the League of Zionist Revisionists.
Declaring that the Order Sons of Zion had entered into an agreement to work in harmony with the Zionist Organization of America, Mr. Lipsky urged that the Order should not accept the Revisionist program as such action would culminate in a separation of the two organizations.
“There has been an impression created in the corridors of this Convention that makes me feel very uncomfortable.” declared Mr. Lipsky. “It appears to be the intention of unwise friends of the Order’s administration to make it appear to the new delegates here that I am one of the autocratic, despotic men in the Zionist movement. determined to suppress freedom of speech, and violently opposed to free discussion. I have a long record in the Zionist movement. It goes back to the very beginnings of the Zionist Organization in America. And if there is anybody who has given the utmost of his devotion to the business of creating a democratic Zionist sentiment, it is myself.
“We have tremendously heavy responsibilities. These responsibilities have been imposed upon us, and gladly accepted. One of the important factors in carrying our responsibilities, an essential element in our progress and success, is the maintenance of the unity of our movement. Zionism does not thrive upon quarrels. Zionism does not thrive upon bickerings and petty controversies, confused and hectic. When we had the struggle with the Brandeis group, in spite of the fact that it was based upon fundamental differences, we suffered for two years before we re-established an effective working unity in the movement. It is the business of the Zionist Organization of America to maintain a united position that creates the impression of a consolidated force imbued with a single-minded purpose.
“It was to establish such a union that we entered into an understanding with the Order, which was approved by our Convention and by the Convention of the Order.
REBUKES PROCEDURE OF ORDER’S EXECUTIVE ON REVISIONISM
“The Order is a free body, but it voluntarily came into a partnership and voluntarily agreed to work together in maintaining the united front of the Zionist movement in America. After being our partner for a number of years, it has committed itself, without discussion with us, without notice. and while we ourselves, together with you, were engaged in a general discussion on the same problem, to a special program of a Zionist faction which is struggling to establish itself as a recognized separate union in the Zionist Organization. Before our Convention is held, you have already closed your minds on the program of which you have become partisans. Your Executive Committee decided to become a part of a propaganda and organization which does not harmonize with ours. which is calculated to undermine and destroy the propaganda which we are engaged in carrying on. And this program you accept in its entirety, without having the text of the program read before you. This program is subject to the comments of the Executive Committee of the League of Revisionists in Paris. Its contents can be changed at any time without your consent or knowledge. You accept it without amendment, without scrutiny, and without hearing views with regard to different programs that have been considered at various times in the Zionist work. You are committed to an idealogy, in the making of which you have had no part. And then, still holding to the agreement you have with us, you say “If you will accept this program, thus considered and thus adopted, we are with you. If not, we put all the strength and resources of our Organization to carry on this propaganda alone.’ Why should we quarrel? If we cannot work together, let us part in friendship. This is no threat. It is involved in the attitude that you take that, having severed the relationship, there should be no sentiment and no resentment if the fact that the relations have been severed is proclaimed. I do not enter into a discussion here with Jabotinsky on the Revisionist program. I am opposed to this program and to the kind of propaganda carried on to further it. It is my duty, speaking for the Zionist Organization of America, to say this to you. I would be guilty of neglect and unfaithful to my responsibility if I did not speak frankly. You are engaged now in making a breach in a fundamental article of our agreement, which makes inevitable the severance of your relations with us. You can act freely as to the agreement or as to the Revisionist program, but you should be prepared to take all the consequences of your action.”
Upon the conclusion of Mr. Lipsky’s address Joseph Barondess offered the following peace resolution:
“We approve the procedure of the Executive with reference to the program of the League of Zionist Revisionists. This action was not intended in any way as a breach of contract between the Zionist Organization of America and the Order Sons of Zion and we commend the action of the Nasi in appointing a committee of five whereby the program of the League of Zionist Revisionists should be given the most serious consideration of the Buffalo convention of the Zionist Organization of America.”
JUDGE JACOB STRAHL DEFENDS ACTION OF ORDER
Terming the acceptance of this resolution as a complete surrender on the part of the Order, Judge Jacob S. Strahl made a vigorous protest against the peace move.
“Mr. Lipsky talks of an agreement between the Zionist Organization and the Order Sons of Zion,” declared Judge Strahl. “It is true there once was such an agreement but that agreement was broken by the Zionist Organization of America. In Pittsburgh the organization attempted to put the Order out of business. It is they that do not work in harmony with us. I. too, am anxious for peace but not for unconditional surrender and that is what the Barondess resolution means.”
The resolution was defeated.
Another unsuccessful plea for compromise was made by Abe Goldberg, who said in part:
“The Executive Board should have submitted the question of Revisionism to the Convention. There would have been no criticism. There would have been no discussion as to whether the Executive had the right to accept the program. If you approve the action of the Executive you are establishing a dangerous precedent. I am not discussing the question of Revisionism, but state that the method of accepting it by the Executive was very wrong. Let us vote that our Executive was right in opening the discussion regarding Revisionism and that we urge that this matter be brought up for the consideration of the delegates at the Buffalo Convention.”
“The Barondess resolution cannot be accepted,” said Mr. Jabotinsky. “It approves the ‘procedure’ of the Executive, but does not say whether the convention also approves the ‘verdict’-the endorsement of Revisionism. Now this is exactly the question which I want to have answered: yes or no. This is the only important matter, much more important also than the question whether I have always been tactful in attacking my opponents. I may be a tactless writer, or altogether a bad man; what does it matter? What if the teacher has an unpleasant voice? The question is whether his teaching is right.
“There has rarely been a convention so thoroughly acquainted with its subject as you are with Revisionism. Practically every camp has had the opportunity of hearing our program from the first source, to ask any questions, to discuss the matter both with me and in my absence. There is no need here to expound the program again, except answering a few remarks made from the floor.”
MR. JABOTINSKY IN FNAL ADDRESS URGES ADOPTION OF RESOLUTION
After the part of the speech dealing with such answers. Mr. Jabotinsky said that the Executive of the Order had a perfect right to endorse a program with the explicit intent of submitting it to the verdict of the Convention. “It is the natural function of every government or Executive to prepare drafts of new rules or laws which they want to bring before the legislative body. Mr. Goldberg told you that the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America was going to do exactly the same thing.
“As to the ‘agreement’ between the Order and the Zionist Organization of America. it contains no obligation for the Order to abstain from crystallizing its own opinion. On the contrary, paragraph 12 guarantees ‘the autonomy of the Order.’ The obligation is to ‘work together,’ but men or groups all the world over have been known to work in harmony for common goals while differing on other points. And I am sure the Zionist Organization of America Convention in Buffalo will never agree to execute Mr. Lipsky’s ‘divorce’ threat just because a part of the delegates favor a program which, as Mr. Goldberg said, is 99 per cent. Kosher. Should it commit that mistake. the statute of the World Zionist Organization provides a court of appeal: the World Executive. Though I disagree with that Executive’s political views. I know them for fair men who will never tolerate such actions against freedom of thought.
“We also want peace. You can pass at the Buffalo Convention 99 per cent. or 50 per cent. of our program; let us stick to our 100 per cent; and let us work together for the Keren Hayesod and the National Fund and Palestine. But there can be no compromise in the sense of abdicating what we think is right.
“Now it is for you to say whether you think this program right or wrong. If you think it wrong, I will go away without rancor, alone as I came. But if you think it right, do not believe those who say that your connection with me will ruin the Order. So far nothing that I have ever been connected with has gone to ruin.”
After Mr. Jabotinsky’s address, the Committee’s resolution endorsing the Revisionist program was put to vote.