Non-Partisan Observer Reviews Situation in Both Groups; Uncertainty Created by Recent Controversy Must Be Speedily Cleared Up, He Says; Way for Harmony and Peace Open
The approaching national conference of the United Jewish Campaign and the Joint Distribution Committee is viewed with great interest in wide circles of American Jewry. Interest centers not only in the forthcoming reports concerning the work accomplished by the Joint Distribution Committee in the various European countries and in Russia during the past year, and the report of the collections made and the sum still required, plans for the raising of which will be outlined at the conference, but also in the effects which the proceedings of this conference may have on the political and social constellation of the American Jewish community.
The controversy which reached its peak in the summer months between the leaders of the Zionist Organization of America and the United Jewish Campaign, as well as the forthcoming arrival of Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, to complete the negotiations for the extension of the Jewish Agency to include American non-Zionists, add interest to the proceedings. Rumor has it that a request for the postponement of the Chicago conference until after the arrival of Dr. Weizmann, when the situation will have been clarified, was presented but not acted upon.
A feeling of uncertainty prevails in various circles of Jewish leadership as to the forthcoming course of the two leading groups of American Jewry which seem to have been estranged in recent months. The fate of the long expected and much talked of Jewish Agency depends upon a reconciliation which would lead to harmonious action in both fields of American Jewish endeavor, that of general relief work in Europe and reconstruction work in Palestine. Much uncertainty prevails in both groups and the situation is viewed with anxiety and fear for the future harmony within American Jewry. Some are wondering whether the Chicago conference will not hear the echoes of the strife at the Philadelphia conference and the unharmonious sounds of the summer months’ controversy.
The “Jewish Daily Bulletin,” which is not bound to any policy or group views, but strives to serve the interests of Jews as a whole, has therefore asked a prominent American Jewish leader whose sympathies are with both, the vital interest of European Jews who are in need and with the aims of the Palestine reconstruction movement, to state his views on the situation as seen by a non-partisan observer.
The results of his observation and intimate knowledge of the feelings in both groups were summed up in the following statement:
“There can be no doubt in the mind of any impartial observer of last year’s events in the American Jewish community that much of the strife and the feeling of irritation between the leaders of the active social forces in American Jewry was caused by a strength of conviction and zeal for the respective causes to which they are pledged. This zeal, although at times leading to excessive irritation, can command nothing but respect,” he declared.
“It was natural for the leaders of the Joint Distribution Committee who have a long record of leadership and philanthropic achievements to urge united action by American Jews to ameliorate the sufferings of distressed European Jewry, drawing up a program which includes all available forms of relief, embracing the form of farm settlements wherever conditions permit. That their zeal was genuine is evidenced by the generous response their appeal received. A convincing proof of this will no doubt be submitted to American Jewry when the reports of the work accomplised during the past year will be presented at the Chicago Conference. This will also insure the further progress of the work.
“Nor can there be any fundamental difference of opinion as to the motives of the leadership of the Zionist Organization of America in not suppressing the anxiety felt by the rank and file of the movement with regard to one feature of the relief program which could, under certain conditions, be represented as a rival of Palestine, a feature which was indeed represented by interested elements abroad in such a light which was bound to cause the deepest concern to the followers of the Zionist movement. This anxiety, although often controlled, was bound by its very nature to lead to an ever increasing uncertainty, although it did not in any way implicate any opposition to the task of Jewish relief work as a whole. The leadership of the Zionist movement in America has a right to feel that the argument of their being opposed to relief action or that they did not help the relief campaign is not based on the facts in the case. The Zionists feel that they have made it clear again and again that they are not opposed to the relief work, their objection being directed only against certain misrepresentations made by interested elements abroad.
“There cannot, therefore, be any reason to believe that the irritation which was caused by these circumstances should be allowed to be continued and perhaps to assume larger proportions. There is no reason to believe that those who have the interests of Jewry and of Palestine sincerely at heart will allow the echoes of the recent controversy to resound with greater resonance, preventing the harmonious action of all social forces of American Jewry to join hands in the common task of bringing relief to those Jews who are in distress and to adequately support the Palestine reconstruction movement. I have every reason to believe that the way for mutual confidence and united effort for both causes, so dear to many, is not only a possibility, but the imperative necessity of the hour.
“The Chicago conference affords the occasion for a clear public manifestation in this direction,” he concluded.