Opposition Defeated at Zionist Convention by Overwhelming Vote in Favor of Present Administration
Menu JTA Search

Opposition Defeated at Zionist Convention by Overwhelming Vote in Favor of Present Administration

Download PDF for this date

(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

The bickerings of the opposition against the Lipsky administration, bringing the echoes of the Zionist convention in Cleveland and offering proof that Zionist history repeats itself, were silenced by the tune of the Zionist hymn, Hatikvah, when the thirtieth annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America, at its second session held late Monday afternoon, declined to follow the suggestion of the opposition and upheld the Lipsky administration by an overwhelming vote.

The vote, which carried with it indirectly an expression of confidence in the administration and the probability of Mr. Lipsky’s reelection to the presidency of the Zionist Organization of America, as well as the reelection of part of the former administration, came as a climax to the heated debate which lasted four hours.

All the sore spots in the American Zionist administration were discussed freely by the spokesmen for both the opposition and the administration. A great factor in determining the sentiment of the delegates was the attitude of the Hadassah, the Zionist Women’s Organization of America, and the messages received from Nathan Straus and Justice Irving Lehman. In a message addressed to Mr. Lipsky, Mr. Straus, unable to attend the convention because of his illness, urged the delegates, “For God’s sake, don’t wast time in faultfinding and squabbling.”

A marked impression was made by the message received from Judge Lehman in which he stated: “Leadership in a great cause is a high privilege but it carries with it also the burden of a great responsibility. You can, I feel sure, carry that burden if you are encouraged and helped by the members of the convention. Differences of point of view, differences of opinion must doubtless exist and free discussion shuold precede wise action, but differences of opinion should never hinder unity of action in a great cause or honest support of its leaders who are devoting their time and thought every day of their lives to a great work. I sincerely trust that all who attend this convention will conent in this attitude and at its close resolve anew to support its effaces at all times and with all their strength and that the coming year may bring to the work of the development of Palestine new accessions of spiritual and material power.”

The fire upon the Lipsky administration was opened by Israel Goldberg. publicity director of the United Palestine Appeal. At the opening of the session. Mr. Goldberg introduced a motion which called for declaring this session an executive meeting. In giving the reason for this move the opposition leader argued that the critics of the administration would find themselves hampered in presenting their case in an open session. This motion was opposed by Elihu D. Stone. of Boston, who warned against the adoption of such a resolution, declaring that an executive session which would bar press representatives and guests, would create a wrong impression and would be harmful to the Zionist movement, causing people to believe that the Zionists are afraid to discuss the affairs of the Zionist administration openly. The motion for an executive session was defeated.

Criticism against the administration came to full expression during the discussion which followed and which took place under liberal permission of free speech. The first spokesman for the opposition was Marris Zeldin. New York Director of the United Palestine Appeal.

Mr. Zehlin directly formulated the change of waste in the administration of the Zionist Organization of America and endeavored to fix responsibility for the mismanagement of affairs in the American Zion Commonwealth upon the heads of the Lipsky administration. His charges included also the affairs of the Palestine Securities, Inc., an agency created by the organization several years ago to promote the sale of Palestine mortgage bonds. He also cited instances of alleged extravagant expenditure on Zionist publications and maintained that the Jewish National Fund suffers from excess of staff. The administration was also responsible, he charged, for granting a subvention to the Habimah players who found themselves in financial difficulties following their arrival in America and found fault with the management of the Hakoah game in Phila, last summer.

The discussion revolved around a resolution introduced by Israel Goldberg that the convention decline to accept the report of the Administration Committee.

“It took you six years to find out that you are not fit. How can the delegates expect that the same men will introduce and execute the proper reforms!” Mr. Zeldin exclaimed, in urging the delegates to vote for the motion of the opposition.

An attempt to enlarge upon the criticism of the administration was made by Israel Goldberg who resented the motion. The center of his attack was the allegation of the report of the Administrative Committee that the administration had started the year 1926-27 “with a number of legacies.” The expression in the report referred to the controversy between the Zionist and non-Zionists over the Russian colonization plan. The speaker charged the administration with responsibility for this legacy in view of the fact that it was responsible for the introduction of the resolution adopted at the Buffalo Zionist Convention against the Russian colonization which resulted in the controversy and led to the Weizmann-Brown letter. The speaker criticized the Lipsky administration for accepting the Weizmann-Brown letter prior to the conclusion of the agreement concerning the Jewish Agency. This letter was a humiliation to the Zionist Organization. he charged. although he made it clear that his attack is not directed against the Jewish Agency, which, he stated, is accepted by Zionist as a faite accompli. This question alone, he argued, is sufficient reason for the removal of the administration. Mr. Goldberg concluded by announcing that if the present administration is removed, Justice Loms D. Brandeis is willing to assume active participation in the leadership of the Zionist Organization of America.

Morris Rothenbrg, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Keren Hayesod and Abraham Goldberg, vice-president of the Zionist Organization of America, in lengthy addresses, delended the administration against the attack. Mr. Rothenberg addressed himself particularly to the reference made to him in connection with the charge directed against the engaging of a secrlary for the Keren Hayesod, following the resignation of Emanuel Neumann. Mr. Abraham Goldberg belittled the attempt of the opposition declaring that it has failed to prove its ability and indulged rather in petty matters and personal quarrels.

Mr. I. D. Morrison, member of the Finance Committee of the Zionist Organization of America, made a staunch defense of the administration. He state that having heard of the formation of an opposition at the convention. he thought he would congratulate Mr. Lipsky that after thirty years of service in the Zionist movement, he has finally acquired an opposition. Mr. Morrison further replied in detail to the charges of Mr. Zeldin explaining the situation of the American Zion Commonwealth the Palestine Securities, Inc, and in the Jewish National Fund. He added that the administration acted in the best of faith, placing its confidence in men who were reputed to be efficient and reliable and having learned of the difficulties has set out earnestly to remedy the situation.

A staunch defense of the Lipsky administration which made a marked impression upon the delegates was that of Judge Hugo Pam of Chicago. The speaker declared that he was formerly affiliated with the Brandeis group, but on the basis of his observation, he was of the opinion that the Lipsky administration which succeeded the Brandeis-Mack regime, has rendered great service to the Zionist cause. He was of the opinion that Louis Lipsky has given the best of himself to leading the forces of the Zionist Organization of America. The speaker pleaded with the delegates not to embark upon a negation policy but rather to look for a constructive plan which is the need of the hour. He urged the convention to reject the motion offered by the opposition.

A decisive point in turning sentument in favor of the administration was the statement made by Miss Henrietta Szold. From this statement it appeared that the Hadassah had decided to lend its support to the Lipsky administration, under certain conditions. The conditions which were not specified were included in an arrangement by which a new administration is to he formed under the leadership of Mr. Lipsky. As the session closed negotiations were still in progress as to the personnel of the strengthened administration.

Miss Szold in her statement declared: “Conscions of what had happened only a few weeks before in London at the meeting of the Actions Committee. conscious that the task of building Palestine rests primarily upon as American Jews, we. the members of the National Board of Hadassah realized that we were before a serious situation.

“Not only were we told of these charges, we were also told of the possibilities that existed for producing a change in the administration that might bring about the results desired for Palestine. After a discussion of the whole situation and all the elements involved in it, we turned to Mr. Lipsky, the president of the organization of which we are a part and requested him to take counsel with us. He did: we put before him the charges; we told him what knowledge we had of the plans that were being made for a change in the administration of Zionist affairs in America. We had a long and serious conversation with him and we made certain demands upon him in view of the fact that we were going to come to the largest convention the Hadassah has yet held.

“Since we have been here and it has come to our cognizanee that these charges would be preffered from this platform we took counsel with each other and again frankly requested Mr. Lipsky to deal with us, and we submitted to him a plan which we thought would enable him and a group of men together to bring about such a chanuy in the status of affairs that a whole country would rise and rally to his support in the uplatilding of Palestine, the only object in which he and we and those who have indicted him today have united. For I believe there is not one person on this floor and this platform who has not this object before him, our rising to this opportunity that has come after ages upon ages of hopeful waiting. Our deliberations were not immediately successful. Mr. Lipsky and his associates did not endorse our plan. Never mind what the plan was. We continued our negotiations. I must say that since Friday neither he nor we have had any sleepl; have had time for meals. We knew how serious this juncture is. At last, by morning, a small group of the National Board of Hadassah met with him and an arrangement was made which is not a hundred per cent of what we had first desired but it is an arrangement which will fix authority, which will fix responsibility and which gives us, some of the members of the National Board of Hadassah, the guarantee that the administration under Mr. Lipsky, reconstituted with the guarantees of which I have spoken, will conduct the affairs of the Zionist Organization of America in such a way as will enable us to meet our responsibilities.

“What that arrangement is, this is not the time to tell you. The proper time I hope will come. In the meantime all that I can say is that whatever the past may have been, in that past there are two elements, the one element that Mr. Lipsky and his associates, his associates being those who are with him now and those who, with the purest motives, are arraigning him before you. The past contains that element that has carried the organization for six years through storm and stress with Mr. Lipsky at the head. That is one element. The other element is growth or errors–the other element is one that must be eliminated and repudiated. When the time comes to lay before you the arrangement we have made I trust that it will be for the good of Palestine,” Miss Szold concluded.

Elihu D. Stone of Boston then introduced a positive motion that the convention accept the report of the Administrative. Committee. This resolution was put to a vote and was adopted by an overwhelming majority. When the result of the vote was announced the delegates rose from their seats and enthusiastically sang the Zionist hymn, Hatikvah.

Resolutions of far reaching importance aiming to place the financial affairs of the Zionist Organization of America on sound basis were formulated and adopted at the evening session yesterday. Recommendations were presented in behalf of the Finance and Budget Committee by Norvin R. Lindheim.

The most important of these recommendations which was adopted following discussion, called for a change in procedure, depriving the annual Zionist conventions of the prerogative to fix the annual budget and to make respective appropriations for the various activities carried on by the agencies affiliated with the organization. According to the resolutions adopted the Budget of the Zionist Organization of America is to be fixed by the Budget and Finance Committee which in turn has to submit it for approval to the National Executive Committee of the Zionist Organization.

Another important resolution was one calling for immediate measures to wipe out the deficit of the organization incurred during the past seven years. The amount of the adjusted deficit is $156,000. According to the resolution adopted the incoming administration is to raise the amount of $200,000 to wipe put the deficit and to provide a surplus as a working fund for the new finance committee. This fund is to be created through the receipt of special contributions from Zionists as well as through the creation of a special class of life membership to consist of those who will pay at once the amount of $100, Objection were raised to the low amount for life membership. The sponsor of the motion, however, explained that need to wipe out the deficit in the near future and pave the way for a sound financial policy.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund