Basle (Aug. 31)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
The history of the Zionist movement, aiming at the establishment of the Jewish National Home, which started at Basle August 30, 1897, was reviewed in the opening address of Nahum Sokolow, well-known Hebrew writer, one of the leaders of the Zionist movement, and Chairman of the World Zionist Executive.
From the humble beginning of a gathering of Jewish intellectuals and dreamers, who gave political expression to the age-old Jewish dream of the “return to Zion,” in accordance with Biblical predictions, Zionism, during this period, gained international sanction through the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the acceptance by Great Britain from the League of Nations of the Mandate for Palestine and the beginning of agricultural and urban colonization which resulted in an increase in the Jewish population of Palestine by 100,000 since the close of the War.
In reviewing the history and depicting the present difficulties due to the economic crisis in Palestine, Mr. Sokolow urged an all-Jewish unity for the accomplishment of the goal set in the so-called Basle program in 1897.
“A great section of our history looks upon us assembled here in this town which witnessed the beginning of our movement and gave life to a force that has awakened the slumbering forces of our people. Modern Zionism bears the indelible impress of the Basle program,” he stated. “After 2,000 years of silence the Jewish people who suffered like none other, spoke again to the world’s public opinion through the medium of the Zionist movement. It has not complained, as before, but has solemnly proclaimed its right to Israel’s land. Dr. Theodore Herzl lifted the veil of the future and raised the torch of the Prophet. Zionism was a return to Jewish idealism,” Mr. Sokolow stated.
Recalling the early skirmishes between the Zionists and the anti-Zionists within the Jewish community Mr Sokolow stated that the Zionist movement was a challenge to the doctrine of assimilation.
“Our fight against assimilation began here. Dr. Max Nordau, the late philosopher and writer, one of the greatest spirits in modern Jewish life, began this war here. At that time the assimilation doctrine was dominant in the Jewish communities. Its policy was to disguise, to pursue a policy of cowardly retreat, silence and mimicry. Nordau swung his lightning scourge against assimilation from the platform erected by the Zionist movement in this city.
“The thirty years which have elapsed since, are divided into three periods: a Herzl period, a Wolfson Warburg period and the present period. In Herzl’s time Zionism passed through its creative stages. In the second period the organization which evolved at the first Zionist Congress consolidated its forces and prepared for the future. In the third, the present period, international recognition for Zionism and the beginning of the realization of the idea of a Jewish national home was obtained under the British Mandate and the protection of the League of Nations and the International treaties. Thus the land of promise has become the Land of Realization,” Mr. Sokolow stated.
Speaking of the present difficulties encountered by Zionists in Palestine, Mr. Sokolow stated:
“Two difficult years are behind us. Palestine suffers need. Thousands of workers are unemployed and are exposed to starvation. The Zionist World Organization has made superhuman efforts to ameliorate the situation. The question now arises; What shall this Congress do? It must create a new force which must continue to build Palestine until it becomes a great, real Jewish national home. We Zionists are ready to bring any sacrifice and to make every effort towards that goal. In this spirit the various parties and tendencies within the Zionist movement and within the entire Jewish people must be united. Our unbending determination will secure the victory of our cause. May God grant it,” Mr. Sokolow stated.