A denial of the charges made by David A. Brown that the cause for the Zionist attacks on the United Jewish Campaign was the Joint Distribution Committee’s refusal to enter into a secret agreement with the Zionist Organization of America, and a challenge to Mr. Brown to substantiate his charges in case he is unwilling to withdraw them was the latest development yesterday in the controversy dividing two important sections of American Jewry represented by the Joint Distribution Committee and the Zionist Organization of America.
The denial and the challenge were contained in a statement issued yesterday by Emanuel Neumann, general director of the United Palestine Appeal and member of the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America, issued on behalf of the Committee.
In his statement, Mr. Neumann characterized as “false, mischievous and without the slightest foundation in fact” the statement by David A. Brown, Chairman of the United Jewish Campaign, that the Zionists had sought a secret agreement from the leaders of the Joint Distribution Committee for guaranteeing the budget of the Keren Hayesod out of the proceeds of the United Jewish Campaign. Mr. Neumann states that in conversation which Zionist representatives held with leaders of the United Jewish Campaign, the Zionists “definitely and explicitly” disclaimed the idea of including an appropriation for the Keren Hayesod in the budget of the United Jewish Campaign.
He denies also Mr. Brown’s statement that the Zionists attacked the Russian Colonization proposal only after the alleged demand for a secret agreement had been turned down. Mr. Neumann charges Mr. Brown with attempting to drag down the discussion of the Russian colonization plan to a plane of “petty accusations and recriminations and of “introducing vituperation and billingsgate into the serious discussion of Jewish affairs.”
Mr. Neumann’s statement read:
“It is with regret that I am compelled, in accordance with the request and authorization of the Administrative Committee of the Zionist Organization of America, to reply to the latest attack launched against the American Zionist Administration by the National Chairman of the United Jewish Campaign. However deeply I have felt on the grave issues involved in the controversy surrounding the Crimean project, I conceived it to be my duty as General Director of the United Palestine Appeal to do nothing that would increase the tension existing between the two Organizations, but on the contrary, to do everything possible to establish and maintain working relations. Nor would I make this rejoinder but for the fact that Mr. Brown’s latest statement seems calculated to impugn the honor and reputation of the Zionist administration in this country–perhaps only another step in a campaign to vilify and discredit the men who for so many years have devoted themselves whole-heartedly and successfully to the upbuilding of Palestine. This statement contains three allegations which taken together constitute a most serious accusation which no self-respecting men can allow to be unchallenged.
“The three allegations are:
“First, that the Zionists began to attack the United Jewish campaign after certain demands made by them had been turned down.
“Secondly, that the specific demand made by responsible Zionist officers was that the Joint Distribution Committee guarantee the budget of the Keren Hayesod up to $3,000,000.
“Third, that the Zionists demanded that this agreement be kept secret.
“Every one of these allegations and all of them together are false, mischievous and without the slightest foundation in fact.
“The first is manifestly untrue on the record. No attacks on the United Jewish Campaign were made by Zionists at any time. On the contrary, Zionists participated and cooperated in the United Jewish Campaign in all parts of the country. The Zionists did, however, criticize one item in the program of the J. D. C.; viz., the proposal for mass colonization of Jews in Russia as a project fraught with danger to the Jewish people and tainted with anti-Palestinian motives. But this criticism began as soon as the scheme was advocated by its Bolshevist protagonists in Russia as far back as 1924, and long before the J. D. C. had lent itself to the plan. The earliest of the conversations to which Mr. Brown refers took place on July 17, 1925, after numerous articles had appeared in the press and after resolutions had been adopted by the Zionist Convention held in Washington and in preliminary conferences in New England and elsewhere during the month of June, 1925. The conference on July 17, took place at Mr. Brown’s invitation, because, as he stated, he was concerned over the effect of this public criticism and was anxious to meet the Zionists for the purpose of endeavoring to bring about a better understanding.
“The second allegation is equally false. During none of the meetings with Mr. Brown or Mr. Warburg did we propose or suggest that the United Jewish Campaign contribute out of its funds to the Keren Hayesod. Such a proposal would have been contrary to the interests of the Keren Hayesod. It would have undermined the basis of our appeal for Palestine since contributors would have claimed that by giving to the United Jewish Campaign they were at the same time discharging their obligation to Palestine. Furthermore the idea of including an appropriation for the Keren Hayesod in the budget of the United Jewish Campaign was definitely and explicitely disclaimed by us. On the contrary the shoe is on the other foot. It was Mr. Brown who was making proposals of his own accord with a view to the inclusion of certain items of Palestinian work in the program of the J. D. C., calculated no doubt to stem the rising tide of public resentment over the hasty commitment to the Russian colonization scheme and the offensive propaganda connected with it. These proposals I transmitted by cable to Dr. Weizmann with the knowledge of Mr. Brown and at his suggestion. Since these conversations necessarily bore a confidential character and involved other J. D. C. leaders aside from Mr. Brown, we prefer not to enter into further details unless it becomes necessary to do so. The accuracy of these statements can be substantiated by reference to the minutes and other official records of the Zionist Organization.
“Thirdly, since we made no proposal for the inclusion of the Keren Hayesod or for any contribution to it out of the J. D. C. funds, we naturally could not have demanded “secrecy.” The Zionist Organization is a democratically constituted body and pursues open and democratic methods. Our discussions at conventions and meetings of the National Executive Committee are open to the public and the proceedings and resolutions are published in the press. Secret pacts are favorite instruments of self-constituted oligarchies but are alien to the spirit of democratic institutions. If Mr. Brown was honestly mistaken as to the facts, he should in justice to himself as well as to the Zionist administration withdraw his accusation, or else proceed to prove and substantiate his charges. It is intelligible that he should feel irritated by criticism to which he has been subjected, but ruffled feelings are no excuse for gross misstatements of fact.
“We have preferred throughout to discuss the question of Russian colonization on its merits and we regret that instead of addressing themselves to the serious problems and grave issues at stake, Mr. Brown and some of his associates insist upon dragging the discussion down to the plane of petty accusations and recriminations. We have pointed out that the Crimean project was conceived in the minds of anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist Russian Bolshevists. Its anti-Zionist bias was, with startling frankness, admitted by Kalenin, the President of the Soviet Republic, in his recent statement, bearing out what has been clear to any intelligent observer of Jewish affairs particularly those who have been reading the Yiddish Bolshevist press, from the “Emess” in Moscow to the “Freiheit” in New York, which are the loudest and most fervent apologists for this scheme.
“We have maintained and do maintain that the Crimean project is the rallying point for anti-Zionist, anti-Hebraic, anti-Palestinian forces in Jewish life. If defenders of this plan refuse to meet our arguments on an intellectual plane, we must in turn refuse to share with others, whose standards of taste are different, the dubious distinction of introducing vituperation and billingsgate into the serious discussion of Jewish affairs.”