Basle (Aug. 31)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Warning against both over and under estimation of Zionist achievements in Palestine in the effort to create a Jewish National Home there in accordance with the provisions of the Mandate of the League of Nations, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, in his address opening the Fifteenth Zionist Congress here yesterday, urged the Zionist legislative body to pave the way for further efforts of Jews throughout the world to bring the ideal of Zionism nearer realization.
The Zionist Congress which meets every two years to formulate the plans of Zionist activity in Palestine, deciding on the scope and character of the agricultural and urban settlements, as well as on the enterprises created by the Organization with a view to promoting the development of the Jewish National Home, was admonished by the President to tell the Jewish people in and outside of Palestine that it has “learned the lesson” from the experiences in Palestine which resulted in the recent set-backs. These set-backs, however, are nothing but temporary obstacles which, the Zionist leader urged, must be overcome.
The President of the World Zionist Organization in his address to the 270 delegates assembled in Messe Hall, drew a picture of Jewish life as it presented itself thirty years ago before the inception of the Zionist movement and asserted that the progress of Zionism and the work undertaken in Palestine have materially changed the world’s attitude toward the Jewish problem. “Zionism,” he stated, “though essentially a national movement has not the characteristics of an aggressive nationalism, but is rather a profession of a faith which has its root in the ancient Hebrew culture and is in substance an idealistic spiritual power. In the efforts of Zionists to make this power a reality in Palestine, it is their sincerest desire, as experience has shown, to live in peace and friendship with their Arab neighbors in Palestine,” he stated.
In the course of his address Dr. Weizmann urged the delegates not to limit the activities of the Congress to a celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the Zionist movement, but to devote their attention to the acute problems, particularly the problem of unemployment, and the formulation of plans for a further extended continuation of the reconstruction work.
“Time and place,” Dr. Weizmann began, “link this gathering in a symbolic manner with the beginning of the Zionist movement. Three decades ago a new epoch in the history of the Jewish people was begun here. It was here that a borderline for the centuries-old Jewish Diaspora was drawn. Basle was inscribed in our modern history by the first Zionist Congress, where the Basle program was adopted, with which the Balfour Declaration is undestroyably connected both in name and in content.
“We have gathered here again in the shadow of that genius, Dr. Theodor Herzl, who created the Zionist Congress and we propose to dedicate our deliberations to his memory, which is enshrined in the precious reminiscences of an already legendary tradition.
“Our movement was created by a minority of the Jewish people, a minority which had little, if any, experience in political life and in colonizing effort. This small beginning has already to its credit a two-fold achievement. First, it is responsible for creating within Jewry a cystalized Jewish communal life, and, second, in normalizing the attitude of the world toward the Jewish question.
“The Jews who have settled in Palestine have demonstrated their natural creative abilities. This has led to a total change in the aspect of the Jewish problem, for the world was thus given an opportunity of seeing the Jewish people in a different light than that in which it had been seen before. Zionism was responsible for stimulating those creative abilities which were demonstrated in Palestine,” Dr. Weizmann said.
“Fractions of the Jewish people were brought to the Land of Israel, where they are being fused together into an economic and cultural entity. Notwithstanding all the difficulties, all real experts appreciate the achievements of the Jewish settlers as contributions of great value.
“The Jewish problem to-day is no longer the same as it was before the Zionist Congress in Basle on August 30, 1897. The Jewish problem to-day is no longer the painful puzzle which has no solution. The world to-day understands this problem and it knows that it can and must find its natural solution. In the process of the development of the Zionist movement, the will for action has been awakened in the Jewish communities and their political life has ripened. The external stages for this development are: the issuance of the Balfour Declaration, the San Remo decision, the confirmation of the Mandate for Palestine by the League of Nations, and the creation of stable political conditions concerning Palestine.
“The Jewish people have welcomed with joy and confidence the acceptance of the Mandate by Great Britain. Our creative work in Palestine has brought Zionists in closer relations with the mandatory power. With the continuous progress of the work, this understanding has grown stronger and deeper in public opinion in England and other countries. Important positions in public opinion have been won.
“The Palestine mandate, when considered politically, has not given us all we desire and which we are entitled to expect. However, the door was opened for unhampered activity and the way was paved for a growing development of our life. We have become in the full sense the masters of our own fate, politically and socially. We have reaped what we have sown,” Dr. Weizmann said.
“These external results were accompanied by the internal revolution which Zionism has called forth within the Jewish people. The great new opportunity has encouraged a people which has been downtrodden and enslaved for centuries to regain its lost national dignity. The sense of life and the purpose for suffering were again revealed to us. This great transformation was the result of limitless devotion and the unceasing labors carried on modestly by the servants of our ideal. Zionism has brought about a transformation not only in the Zionist but it also gave a new value to Judaism.
“Only thirty years have elapsed since the inception of our movement, a period which is small for an ancient people, but to-day we stand in the midst of the building of the Jewish National Home, which was outlined in the Basle program.
“A fantastic dream has been transformed into a historic reality,” he declared.
“Interest in Palestine is inherent in all loyal elements of the Jewish people, although this interest assumes varying forms and appears under manifold names,” Dr. Weizmann continued. “The idea of the Jewish National Home generated a power of attraction which unites on a high plane the diversified elements of Jewry. The more conscious the will for the reconstruction of Palestine becomes, the more this will comes to expression, the stronger is the power of attraction exercised by the living Jewish Palestine. Our reconstruction work goes through all the ups and downs of a steady development. We ourselves are not satisfied with all of our work, just as we are not fully satisfied with the pace of our progress, driven as we are by the gruesome knowledge of the critical situation of the hundreds of thousands of our brethren who cannot find a place under the sun. However, the disproportion between the will and the accomplishment, the desire and the consummation, should not lead us to an under-estimation of the work accomplished thus far.
“What Zionism has accomplished during the thirty years of its existence stands alone in the history of the Jewish people. Temporary setbacks are unavoidable, but these should never destroy our equilibrium. Just as it is unwise to underestimate the present crisis in Palestine, it is dangerous to exaggerate it. The foundations of our reconstruction work are strong and sound enough to withstand the crisis. We should not, however, overlook the fact that the last experiences have taught us much. The Basle Congress should tell the Jewish people in and outside of Palestine that it has learned the lesson,” Dr. Weizmann stated.
“Thirty years ago we proclaimed here the return to the old home. To this message of peace, we have remained true. Our nationalism is a profession based on the spiritual and cultural roots of our existence, just as the effects of our national movement involves no aggressive action toward other peoples, but indeed is an expression of an urge for the reconstruction of our homeland. Just the last years of our reconstruction work in Palestine have strengthened in us the conviction that not only Jews, but all the inhabitants of Palestine benefit by our work. The everyday life in Palestine has proven the sincerity of our intention for cooperation, peace and friendship with our Arab neighbors.
“The sympathies of all Zionists and of all Jews were directed during the recent earchquake in Palestine to the land and to the anfortunate victimes. Then we fully felt the significance of living together in one country. The spontaneous reaction of the Jewish people to the earthquake proved that we fully realize the importance of our fellow citizens. At that moment the two peoples came closer together. above politics and above programs, in the feeling of common humanity. Our deepest sympathy should be expressed here for the victims of the earthquake in Palestine,” he said.
Touching upon the present situation in Palestine. Dr. Weirmann in the concluding part of his address stated:
“In the present moment of difficult and worrisome work our thoughts are directed toward those pioneer workers who are the vanguard of our movement in carrying on the trying work in the country. Many of our brethren in Palestine are exposed to-day to a life of inactivity. Although it is our opinion that this inactivity is merely a temporary state and although it is true that individual Zionist enterprises have already developed satisfactorily justifying our hopes, it would be unpardonable to permit the present situation to be prolonged further. The Zionist Organization must do everything within its power to revive the productivity of Palestine. This is primarily a question pertaining to the middle class immigration. inasmuch as the forces of labor are there and what is lacking is the correct proportion between capital and labor.
The Basle Congress should not disband before ways and means are found to ease the situation of the unemployed in Palestine. The Congress should not limit itself to issuing a message of gratitude and inspiration on the occasion of the thirtieth anniversary, but should primarily evolve a plan of how to remove the acute need to strengthen the works already begun.
“Thirty years ago we proclaimed a great ideal here. We have made an important stride forward on the way of realization. To-day, the moral liberating and transforming effect of the Zionist and Palestine work is great. A handful of enthusiasts who were ridiculed by others thirty years ago have become the bearers of a great responsibility.
“This Fifteenth Zionist Congress must prove equal to the responsibility resting upon it.” Dr. Weizmann declared in concluding his address.