Basle (Aug. 31)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Grey haired men, veterans of the Zionist movement, occupied the platform in the Messe Hall at the first session of the Fifteenth Zionist Congress which was opened here yesterday. The majority of these men were participants in the first congress held in this city on August 30, 1897; others who joined later, have spent a lifetime in advocating Zionism among the Jewish masses. Among the members of the Actions Committee one could see only a few younger men.
The Great Messe Hall, brilliantly lighted and beautifully decorated with the blue and white Zionist flag and the picture of the founder of the movement, Dr. Theodor Herzl, on the platform against a background of a blue sky, was a marked contrast to the mdoest Casino Hall where modern political Zionism was born. The presence of representatives of the League of Nations, the British government and many members of the diplomatic corps impressed the 270 delegates with the political progress which culminated in international recognition achieved by the movement since its inception.
Participants of the first Zionist Congress who remembered the limitless enthusiasm and youthful visions which animated the first assembly, commented upon the solemn earnestness which characterized the opening session of the Fifteenth Congress. Instead of fiery visionaries, the average delegate gave the impression of an experienced, somewhat disappointed Zionist worker. There were no stormy ovations at the session. The crisis in Palestine hovered over the brilliantly lighted hall.
Weizmann, the man who is largely responsible for the brilliant successes of the movement since the close of the World War, appeared tired and the main point of his presidential message was the Palestine crisis and the necessity for new means. He even admitted in a redective mood that “the Palestine mandate when considered politically has not given us all that we desire and which we are entitled to expect.” He added immediately however, that an immense piece of work has been accomplished and must be continued.
Nahum Sokolow’s address in Hebrew was a historic review teeming with pearls of Hebraic wisdom and aphorisms.
The Congress Hall was dominated by the American delegation, the Mizrachi representatives and the labor groups. The Zionist Revisionists and the Radical Zionists refrained from participating in the ovation for the leaders as they arrived in the hall.
Among the American delegates dissarisfaction was vibrant at the announcement of the Congress court limiting the membership of the American delegation to forty on the protest of the opposition leaders. This was particularly resented becuse the announcement was made before the formal opening of the Congress.
Following Sokolow’s address, Dr. Weizmann welcomed the diplomatic guests and particularly Lady Samuel and Miss Dogdayle a niece of Lord Balfour.
Dr. Weng, representative of the government of the Basle canton, welcomed the Congress on behalf of the Swiss government. He expressed his admiration for the progress made by the Zionist movement since the time of Herzl. Mr. Berner. representative of the British legation, offering the apologies of the British Ambassador as his inability to attend the first session welcomed the conference in behalt of the British government, stating that it follows with close interest the building of the Jewish Mational Home.
A massage of welcome was read from the Secretariat of the League of Nations.
Mr. Dreyfus-Brodsky president of the Federaion of Jewish Communities in Switzerland. welcomed the Congress on behalf of his organization. Rabbi Weil extended a welcome in behalf of the Federation of Swiss Zionists.
The latter part of the session was devoted to eulogies on Achad Ha’am by Nahum Sokolow and Dr. Martin Buber. Mr. Sokolow who spoke in Hebrew, concluded his tribute exclaiming: “Asher Ginsburg died, but Achad Ha’am lives.”