Basle (Sep. 4)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Dr. Chaim Weiz-mann, leader of the international Zionist movement, took the floor at the late Saturday night meeting of the Fifteenth Zionist Congress in session here, to answer the numerous criticisms heaped upon him by the various speakers representing Zionists in all parts of the world during the general debate which occupied two days of the Congress.
To the demands of the opposition leaders that the Zionist Congress adopt a new and more aggressive policy toward Great Britain as the Mandatory Power for Paiestine and urge the Palestine Government to employ new methods which would hasten the upbuilding of Palestine as the Jewish national home, Dr. Weizmann replied that he will not change his policy of confidence in Great Britain and will pursue in the Palestine work a line of slow but steady development. In making this declaration Dr. Weizmann indicated that if the majority of the Congress is of the opinion that his policy has proven too weak and that he is led by circumstances, he is “willing to go, knowing that he has paved the way for his successor.”
“I would, however, like to give my successor a bit of advice: to lead as I did or his term of office will be rather short,” Dr. Weizmann said.
As the leader of the international Zionist movement developed his arguments he added, however, that although he was determined not to stand for reelection at the Fifteenth Zionist Congress, he feels impelled to continue the work in view of the present difficult situation in Palestine. “I would not remain in office a moment longer if the Palestine situation were in better shape.”
Dr. Weizmann dwelt at length on the question of the Jewish Agency, concerning which he reached an agreement during his recent visit to the United States with Louis Marshall, President of the American Jewish Committee, as representing the non-Zionists. He urged the Congress to ratify this agreement and to let the Jewish Agency plan, which would enlist the financial cooperation of non-Zionist Jews for the unbuilding of Palestine, be consummated. “Although it is true that the Agency plan involves certain dangers from a Zionist point of view, you should not forget that the Zinist Congress is always sovereign and will be in a position to abrogate the agreement if found necessary.”
Refuting the proposal of Vladimir Jabotinsky to admit the non-Zionists only to the economic work of the Jewish Agency, leaving the political to the Zionist Congress, Dr. Weizmann declared that it would be unthinkable to propose to the non-Zionists a system of “taxation without representation.” “The time when such a method could be employed has long passed,” he said.
Dr. Weizmann asserted that there are no differences between him and the American Zionists, as was alleged by some of the speakers. “My relations with the American Zionists have not changed. We have never given up the principle of the priority of Palestine in Jewish communal affairs, and neither has the Marshall group compelled the American Zionists to change their course,” Dr. Weizmann declared, referring to the recent controversy between the American Zionist Organization and the Joint Distribution Committee, concerning the Jewish colonization work in Russia. “Our American friends have realized the grave responsibility and have met the conditions which they found but let no one try to create difficulties between me and the American Zionists. No one will succeed in separating us.”
The President of the World Zionist Organization welcomed the statement made by Vladimir Jabotinsky, the leader of the Zionist Revisionists, that Zionists are to have confidence in Great Britain as the Mandatory Power.
“The ear of the British Government is also sensitive as is British public opinion. I am convinced that the great British nation will never break her pledge to the Jewish people given in the Balfour Declaration. Our situation in Palestine is complicated, has many difficulties and is bound to go through the ups and downs of a pioneer movement working in a barren and undeveloped country. But we must remember that the job is ours and that no one will do the work for us. Our slogan must be ‘Out of the Crisis’ through hard work. The rebuilding of Palestine as the Jewish National Home cannot be retarded by temporary setbacks. We must look ahead and do what is necessary today,” Dr. Weizmann exclaimed.
Dr. Weizmann began his address at midnight on Saturday, when the Messe Hall was crowded to capacity, all the guests and delegates assembling to hear the Zionist leader’s reply to his critics. He started in a slow, deliberate manner, emphasizing each word and growing more eloquent as he proceeded. He dealt mainly with the arguments of Deputy Gruenbaum and Vladimir Jabotinsky the two of his bitterest critics.
“Gruenbaum’s address,” he said, “was nothing but the recital of an old text which can be found in the reports of previous Zionist Congresses.” When Robert Stricker of Vienna interjected that other speeches are also repetitions of speeches at previous Congresses, Weizmann readily agreed.
“Jabotinsky has now imposd upon himself moderation,” Dr. Weizmann said. “If he continues in this manner, he will come closer to all of us. However, Jabotinsky’s followers know no limits. Jabotinsky charges me with laboring under a psychosis which can-not be improved. The fact of the matter is that his insistence on seeing politics in every detail is nothing but a psychosis.
“Jabotinsky demands a protective tariff to further the development of industries in Palestine. But it is not proven yet whether a protective tariff would be beneficial to the country. This only an expert study can decide and even in this regard the Palestine government has made concessions. The basic, sound industries were protected by the government, but it would be absurd to expect furtherance of the ‘Schnipischok’ (proverbial small town in Lithuania) industries.
“Jabotinsky’s comparison with the colonization work aided by the League of Nations in Greece is an exaggeration.
“Suppose it is so and supposing we disregard the different political conditions which attended the Greek colonization, can we change the League’s attitude? Jabotinsky believes he can, I don’t. If it is true that our colonization costs us more, then we are saving in sparing much human suffering. I have not yet heard of Jabotinsky’s new methods. I have always said that the Mandate does not fulfill all that we desire and we find necessary. But I say that provided capital is made available, continuation of the work is possible, Even Jabotinsky had to sign the White Book because of the driving necessity. We must work long and hard until the White Book will become a Blue and White book. The task of winning British public opinion is a great and slow educational process. Remember the protest of 160 Members of Parliament against a Jewish Palestine. Remember the discussion in the House of Lords on the Palestine subject.”
Answering the criticism of Deputy Farbstein of Warsaw, Mizrachi leader who rebuked Weizmann for his failure to attend the Mizrachi convention in Washington, the leader declared that he was unable to attend the convention because he was at that time overcrowded with work.
Replying to the objections of the spokesmen for the Palestine labor groups, he stated that the “new course” now proposed is merely intended to introduce a purely business policy which will not infringe upon the principles of the work. “Our demand that the Jewish National Fund and the Palestine Foundation Fundask for individual contracts with the settlers is caused by business consideations. Our work is composed of small things and the sum total is the big thing. It is impossible to expect great deeds all the time. We are living through a difficult time. The Zionist cause needs an extraordinary international situation. This will perhaps come some day.
“The policy of the Zionist Executive and the political course of the British government are not identical. However, when the Congress identi-fies us our defense looks like an iden-tification. I appreciate that our con-ception of the Jewish National Home is not identical with that held by the mandatory power. Our task is to cause a minimum of embarrassment to the mandatory power. For this reason we avoid even the shadow of a conflict of unequal forces. It is our delicate task to present the wishes of the Zionist movement to the manda-ory power, not demanding but inter-preting. Perhaps I do not possess any qualifications for another policy. I doubt if others do.”
With regard to the controversy be-tween Philip Guedalla and Dr. Wise, Dr. Weizmann declared that he was “deeply convinced that the British nation will never break her pledge. Our situation is very complicated. Instead of the Rhine, we have the Jordan; instead of a large Jewish population in Palestine, we have a people who has to learn agriculture and an Arab population in possession of land.”
Referring to the criticism of Dr. Wise, who urged Great Britain to take an example from the attitude of Soviet Russia in aiding the Jewish colonization work, Dr. Weizmann did not approve of this argument, exclaiming: “I prefer English slowness to this easily discernable politically colored aid of the Soviet government. The Soviet government plants thousands of Jews on the earth, but buries millions under it.”
Dr. Weizmnn concluded his ddress urging unity among the Zionists of the world.
The sentiment of the Congress was expressed when all delegates rose to give a lasting ovation to Dr. Weiz-mann when he concluded his address.