Zionism is heading for a supreme tragedy unless some of its leaders in Palestine turn away from their extreme nationalism, in the opinion of Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor of the Park Avenue Baptist Church, who spent several months in the Near East last year, the “New York Times” stated yesterday in reporting Dr. Fosdick’s address to the alumni of the Union Theological Seminary at the seminary chapel, Broadway and 120th Street, in connection with the annual commencement exercises. Dr. Fosdick said he was full of admiration and wonder at the material accomplishments of the Zionists in the Holy Land, but that he was apprehensive and fearful of the economic difficulties they were facing, especially because of the dangerous political trend the movement seemed to be taking.
Dr. Fosdick could not be reached yesterday. The “Jewish Daily Bulletin” learned, however, that Dr. Fosdick’s impressions of Palestine are incorporated in an article which is one of a series entitled, “Pilgrimage to Palestine” now appearing in the “Ladies’ Home Journal”. The article which deals with Zionism in Palestine is, it is learned the last of the series and will not be published for some months.
The “New York Times” reports Dr. Fosdick’s address in the following manner:
“I should like to see a modified form of Zionism succeed,” said Dr. Fosdick. “It is the only hope for Palestine. But the Jew has got to stop his chauvinism. He has got to stop talking of making the Arabs ‘trek along,’ as Israel Zangwill once talked. He has got to bring his ambitions down to a few concrete, definitely attainable objectives.
“The great danger is that Zionism will fall into the hands of its extremists. If it does—and I fear that is the direction in which it is drifting—I will stake my reputation on the prediction that it will end in one of the sorriest tragedies of all Jewish history.”
Dr. Fosdick drew a picture of a typical Zionist colony in the Holy Land, with the settlers taking up agriculture for the first time in their lives. “A more unpromising-looking place for modern agriculture you cannot imagine,” he said.
The entire Zionist experiment, he declared, seemed to be flying in the face of economic laws. Huge funds from abroad, largely from America, keep the experiment moving, and the utter dependence of the Zionists on these outside funds means. he said, that American Jews must continue to pour out millions of dollars every year for Palestine.
“I confess to admiration for the courage with which these facts are faced by the leaders of Zionism,” said Dr. Fosdick. “In answer they point to the example of Switzerland, which although agriculturally unpromising has become a prosperous nation. They point to the almost limitless mineral resources of the Dead Sea; to their manufacturing and to the sacredness of the land which can be capitalized.
“They are going ahead bravely, with all the energy and persistence of the Jewish race. But in the meantime everything depends on the continuance of contributions from abroad.
Even more serious difficulties confront the Zionists in the racial problem of Palestine. Dr. Fosdick said.
“The Zionists have done their share to make this bad matter worse,” he declared. “They have forgotten that to the Jews Zionism is an idealistic movement. but that to the Arabs it is a predatory movement. The Arab cannot compcte with the Jew. The Arab knows that, and the Jew knows that It makes the Jew confident and aggressive. but it makes the Arab angry and resentful.”
Many of the Arabs, said Dr. Fosdick, are quite prepared for violence.
“We Americans, Jewish Americans as well as Christian Americans, do not always realize that the central passion of the Zionists is not religious,” he went on. “Nationalism, not religion, is the dominat factor. And it is rather discouraging that today, when nationalism has been shown to be a Caesar, a false god which we have been worshipping and magnifying past all reason, that this Jewish experiment should be started with nationalism as its fundamental basis.”
Dr. Fosdick singled out the Rev. Dr. Judah L. Magnes, of the Hebrew University at Jerusalem, as one of the moderate Zionists who were combating the influence of the extreme nationalists. He said that if Zionism could be led by Dr. Magnes or a man like him, there would be hope of success, with a program of an educational and cultural revival instead of political ambition as its motive, the “New York Times” report says.
A reply to the reported assertions of Dr. Fosdick was made by Dr. Stephen S. Wise. Honorary Chairman of the United Palestine Appeal. In a statement issued to the “Jewish Daily Bulletin”. Dr. Wise declared that the Jews appreciate Dr. Fosdick’s interest in the Palestine reconstruction and points out that there is no ground for the fears regarding Jewish “chauvinism” entertained by Dr. Fosdick. There are no extremists in the Zionist executive bodies, Dr. Wise stated, quoting the Syrian High Commissioner to the effect that Zionistn is one of the most important factors making for the peace of the world. Dr. Wise’s statement read:
“The Zionists of America will be gratified to find that the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick desires the success of the Jewish resettlement of Palestine in spite of the fact that he notes what he regards as serious dangers involved in the effort. Dr. Fosdick is to be numbered among the outstanding American liberals and his sympathetic attitude towards the rebuilding of the Jewish Homeland in Palestine, particularly his statement, as reported in the ‘New York Times’ this morning, that Zionism, though he desires a modified form of it, is the only hope for Palestine, will be appreciated by the thousands of men and women in this country who are laboring for the success of the cause.
“Dr. Fosdick, however, as reported in the same article expresses certain misgivings with regard to the character and prospects of the undertaking. He appears to be principally concerned over what he terms the ‘chanvinistic’ tendency of the movement. He fears the effects that this tendency may have on the feelings of the Arab population of Palestine. He also entertains doubts with regard to the economic possibilities of Palestine and to the possibility of placing it on a self-supporting basis.
“His impressions with regard to the economic situation were, no doubt, derived from the existence in Palestine at the tirne of his visit of the beginnings of an economic depression, which has resulted in a very considerable amount of unemployment in the towns. The causes of this depression have been fully and frankly set forth in a public statement issued by the General Council of the World Zionist Organization that met in the early part of this month in London. The principal cause has been the fact that in 1925 the immigration into Palestine, both from the point of view of quality and quantity, owing to the tremendous pressure on the Jews of Eastern Europe to emigrate, resulted in the entrance of thousands of people, who could not be absorbed into the as yet undeveloped economic structure of the country. The setback which followed took place in the towns only, the agricultural settlements on the other hand registering an advance both in expansion and in the attainment of self-support. Competent testimony with regard to the adequate economic possibilities of Palestine from every point of view, agriculturally, industrially and commercially, has been submitted by experts at various times. At this time a special non-Partisan Commission, sponsored by the World Zionist Organization and the non-Zionists of America headed by Mr. Louis Marshall, is at work ascertaining the possibilities of Palestine with a view to arriving at a comprehensive program of reconstruction.
“It is true, as Dr. Fosdick says, that the Jews of the world and especially the Jews of America, have been contributing generously toward the work in Palestine. These funds have been devoted to the promotion of activities and services such as agricultural colonization, sanitation and education, which, from their nature, cannot in the early stages be self-supporting. On the other hand, a number of industries have already been established in Palestine, such as the Nesher Cement Works and more particularly the industry of orange-growing, which are yielding satisfactory returns. The Zionists believe that the Jews of America will continue to give support where it is needed until a Jewish community will have developed in Palestine that will in every way be self-supporting. Such development, will, we believe, be accomplished within a reasonable period of time.
“The misgivings which Dr. Fosdick expressed with regard to the political, or to what he terms the “chauvinistic” character of the movement, are more difficult to understand. The political foundations of Zionism are laid down in the Mandate of the League of Nations, which is being administered by Great Britain. These conditions constitute part of an international law, that determine very definitely the objectives and limitations of the undertaking. The World Zionist Organization, which is recognized in this Mandate as the Jewish Agency to consult and cooperate with the British Government, has adhered both in its declaration and in its acts to the spirit and letter of the terms of the Mandate. Every movement has a section of extremists. No movement should be judged by its extremists. The Zionist extremists, whom Dr. Fosdick calls ‘chauvinistic,’ constitute a small and negligible minority in the deliberative councils of the World Zionist Organization. They are altogether absent in its executive bodies. The fear that the movement may get into the control of these extremists appears on the facts to be unfounded.
“But the most conclusive evidence of the groundlessness of Dr. Fosdick’s fears is furnished by the facts with respect to the actual relations between the Jews and the Arabs in Palestine. While it is true that there are still in Palestine some professional Arab intransigents, who profess to regard every Jewish activity in the country as being aimed at the interests of the Arab population, these irreconcilables form an insignificant minority while the vast majority of the Arab population entertain a friendly interest in the work of their Jewish neighbors. It cannot be otherwise when the fact is considered that Jewish activity in Palestine has resulted in the raising of the general standards of Arab life. The friendly relation between the two peoples was amply demonstrated during the recent municipal elections in Jerusalem and is being further demonstrated by the sympathetic concern which the Arabs feel over the present economic depression.The problem of maintaining the public peace in Palestine is no problem at all. There are no British soldiers in Palestine because none are needed and it is the most peaceful, in fact the only peaceful country in a region that has been seething with unrest. Recently the French High Commissioner to Syria expressed the hope that the Zionists would extend their activities to that country. He regarded the work of the Zionists that he had observed in Palestine as one of the most important factors making for the peace of the land.
“Theories and a’priori deductions must yield to the facts. Zionist work in Palestine is constructive. Thousands of Jews pouring into the country are draining the swamps, planting trees, establishing farm settlements, building suburbs and industries, and seeking to establish a home for themselves and a homeland for their people. They are eager for the cooperation of their Arab neighbors. Polities is not their concern. In this work they have the moral support of the civilized nations and of all liberal-minded people. They regard this support as one of their most important assets,” Dr. Wise declared.
Max Steinkopf, prominent Jewish citizen of Winnipeg, will be one of the candidates running on the Bracken ticket in the forthcoming provincial elections. It is expected that Mr. Steinkopf will be swom in as provincial treasurer of the province of Manitobe shortly and that he will place his candidature before the people in the elections to confirm this appointment.
Mr. Steinkopf was the first Jewish attomey west of the Great Lakes.
Recently he was honored by the government of the country in which he was born by being made consul for Czecho-Slovakia in Winnipeg.