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General Smuts, Former South African Premier, Praises Zionist Leaders

(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Praise of the leaders of the Zionist movement was expressed by General Smuts, ex-Premier of South Africa, at the opening of the Zionist Conference here.

“The Jewish people have been singularly fortunate in having leaders of the stamp of Dr. Weizmann, one of the foremost men of science of his age, and one of the foremost statesmen of his age,” Gen. Smuts declared. “I look upon Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Sokolow as the twin pillars of the Zionist movement. I say it is fortunate that the Jewish people in our day, at so critical a stage in history, has been guided and led by two such great statesmenlike men. We are apt nowadays to forget how much we owe to leadership in the world. A cause may be good and great, and may be just, and yet may not triumph, unless the right vessels are chosen to lead that cause to victory. To the work of these two men, the triumph of the cause is due–to the leadership of these men that God has given in our day. But even then, the cause is greater than the man. The cause is greater than the leader. Zionism is greater than either Dr. Weizmann or Mr. Sokolow.

“We are in an interesting stage in the development of this great Zionist idea. Zionism is one of the great movements of our time. Born amidst a world-shaking event, the success of Zionism is due in a large measure to these world-shaking events that we have been passing through in recent years. I admit that others have worked before, and have toiled before. I feel that the cause of Zionism may have wandered far into the desert for many a year, but the war pushed it a great bound forward, pushed it to victory at the time the Allied victory was secured. That was the birth-time, and the victory was like a great wave, carrying a great cause on the shores of success.

“I remember,” General Smuts continued. “the travail and labor that was required to secure the formula of the National Home, which is far more than a formula. It will stand out in the years to come as one of the great causes and one of the principal achievements of the Great War. In the War Cabinet it was discussed many a week, many a month, and there was a great struggle of ideas centering around this principle, a struggle in which opposition came from two sides. One side was the people who argued: Why should we declare in favour of the National Home?; why should we go against the Arabs? Why antagonize the Mohammedans? Great Britain is a great power over the Mohammedan races; why, then, should we espouse the cause of the Jews? Then we had the opposition from some of the Jews themselves. Why a National Home in Palestine? they argued. We are happy in London. What will become of our status in London, New York and Johannesburg if this formula of a National Home in Palestine is accepted?

“Those who remember the formula of the National Home will remember how both these lines of opposition were smitten because the formula of the National Home was declared in favour of Palestine, and that formula tries to save the face of the Mohammedan world and other nationalities living in Palestine. If you remember the formula you will know it reads that way. I want to mention two names specially concerned with the working out of this formula. One was Lord Milner. All praise is due to Lord Balfour and the formula is properly associated with him. But the man in the War Cabinet who worked hardest for the formula of the National Home was Lord Milner. There is another who worked very hard for the success of this movement. He is Secretary of State for the Colonies, Colonel Amery. It was at a time like that when there was nothing to be gained, when you are simply working with a great heart for a great cause, that a man is proved. Take it from me, that in those days Jewry had no better friend than Colonel Amery. The Minister who is to-day responsible for the carrying out of the Mandate is a firm friend of the National Home,” Gen. Smuts concluded.

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