Basle (Sep. 6)
American Delegates are Urged to Name American on Proposed Jerusalem Committee; Leaders Wrangle Over Choice (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
Party and group leaders at the Fifteenth Zionist Congress represented on the various committees were in the throes of feverish pre-election negotiations and discussions on the composition of the new Executive at the beginning of the second week of the Fifteenth Zionist Congress in session here.
The difficulties which have arisen were due mainly to the proposals brought by the American delegation which insists on carrying through the reforms urged by American Zionists, viz: the election of a new efficient Executive in Jerusalem and the placing of Zionist activities in Palestine on a sound budgetary basis.
The American proposal was to the effect that the Jerusalem Executive be composed of a triumvirate, the members to be chosen on the basis of their expert administrative ability and not on their party affiliation.
This plan is being opposed by the Right and Left Wings at the Congress, the Mizrachi and the labor groups, who were largely represented on the previous Executive. The opposition is not only against the creation of the new Executive, but also against the numerical limitation. The difficulties were increased in view of the undefined attitude of Dr. Weizmann, who will in all probability be reelected president. The three suggested for the triumvirate are Harry Sacher, prominent English jurist who is a resident of Jerusalem, Theodore von Friesland, Dutch Zionist and financier, and Col. Frederick H. Kisch, political representative of the former Zionist Executive in Jerusalem.
The finance committee continued its discussion yesterday, laboring under great difficulties because of the divergence in party opinion. The difficulty consisted chiefly in the lack of a detailed plan and the decision to reduce the budget, which prevents the committee from meeting the demands of the various parties. The political committee listened to enunciations of Dr. Weizmann who was questioned primarily on the economic policy. Abraham Tulin, American delegate, drew a comparison between the Zionist achievements in Palestine and the budget of the Palestine government, showing the Zionist activities to be greater than those of the Palestine in any of the countries in which the great bulk of the funds collected was expended. He mentions no names. He does not identify his informants. He gives no details. He has been long acquainted with the officers and members of the Executive Committee of the Joint Distribution Committee, and one would have supposed that the natural procedure would have been to have conveyed to them such information as he has, especially in view of his complimentary allusions to the manner in which they are now administering their trust. He would certainly have received the most respectful consideration and any information on so vital a subject as that of honesty of the representatives of the Joint Distribution Committee would have been gratefully received.
“This is the first suggestion in all these years that any of the representatives of this important organization has been dishonest. Considerations of justice and fairness would have prompted a method of communication devoid of sensationalism. There is nobody connected with the organization who would not have been grateful for such information, hearsay though it be, as Mr. Steuer or anybody else may possess with regard to this or any other subject connected with the administration of the trust reposed in the Joint Distribution Committee.
“We respectfully invite Mr. Steuer to communicate to this organization any facts bearing upon the subjects to which he has referred, and to that end we are ready to call a meeting of the Executive Committee at such time as shall suit his convenience for the presentation by him of any evidence that he may have.
“The public is well acquainted with the men connected with the Joint Distribution Committee in an official capacity. Those who were sent abroad to distribute the funds collected are also well known and were chosen after the most careful investigation. During the first six years they rendered their service under the most trying conditions, at the risk of their lives. Two of them were murdered while in the performance of their duties. Others contracted typhus. The task imposed upon them was of a most trying character. The countries which they visited were in a state bordering on anarchy. The people of the various countries in which these representatives served made no complaint, but gave the most eloquent expression of gratitude. Responsible committees composed of ## of vast experience visited these containers from time to time and saw for themselves how the work was earned on.
“It is a grave charge which has been ## at the door of the men and women who served the Jews of America upon this errand of mercy. Until trustworthy first-hand evidence is produced to justify this charge of embezziement of the funds destined for cha?table purposes, it is expected that there shall be a suspension of judgment.”
Considerable surprise was caused in Jewish circles yesterday by the sensational statements made by Max D. Steuer on his return on the steamer Hamburg from the Conference on Jewish Rights held in Zurich.
In a press interview, Mr. Steuer alleged that “American representatives of agencies collecting money for the relief of Jews in Europe and Asia have stolen “a very substantial part” of the millions raised. The administration of the funds in the last two years, he said, has been honest, but before that time much of the money never reached “the places or the people for whom it was collected and intended.”
Mr. Steuer said: “I gave considerable attention to the matter of the manner in which the east, millions of dollars that have been sent from the United States for the relief of the needy and oppressed have been used. I found that these moneys during the last two years have all reached their appropriate destinations and were economically administered, and much relief resulted.
“But I learned to my great dismay that prior to the last two years not only were these funds uneconomically administrated but in addition a substantial part of them never reached either the places or the persons for which and whom they were collected and intended.”
“Did you refer particularly to the misuse of American relief funds for the Jews of Europe?” Mr. Steuer was asked.
“Yes,” he renlied. “Particularly those funds collected by Jewish agencies, and, althouth these funds were misused on the other side, the misuse was by American representatives.”
“Do you mean that the money was actually stolen?”
“Yes. That is what I mean. The distribution now is being made by and for those persons to be benefited.”
Mr. Steuer added that he would offer details of his charges in a few days.