Americans at Basle Congress Gain Victory in Election of New Zionist Executive
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Americans at Basle Congress Gain Victory in Election of New Zionist Executive

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(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

Dr. Chaim Weizmann, leader of the international Zionist movement, was reelected president of the World Zionist Organization and Nahum Sokolow was reelected chairman of the Zionist Executive at the Saturday night session of the Fifteenth Zionist Congress which ended here late at night.

The reelection of the new Executive and particularly the composition of the Jerusalem Executive marked a definite victory for the proposal advocated by the American Zionist delegation and came after an all night session which lasted until six o’clock this morning. The deliberations were frequently interrupted to call caucuses of the separate groups to obtain their support for the American proposal.

Dr. Weizmann, president, Nahum Sokolow, chairman, Dr. A. Eder of London, Felix Rosenblueth of Germany and Louis Lipsky, president of the Zionist Organization of America, were elected members of the Zionist Executive in London.

Miss Henrietta Szold, honorary president and founder of the Hadassah, American women’s Zionist organization; Harry Sacher, English jurist resident in Jerusalem and Colonel Frederick H. Kisch were elected as the members of the Jerusalem triumverate which was given wide power in the administration of Zionist affairs in Palestine. Miss Szold is the first woman to be elected to the Zionist Executive.

It was the difficulty to reach an agreement on the choice of the Jerusalem triumverate which held the congress in the throes of a crisis for over a week and called for the holding of a special session on Saturday night. The victory for the American proposal was obtained due to the fact that the representatives of the Palestine labor groups refrained from voting, thus making it possible for the American proposal to be passed.

The delegates of the Mizrachi, the Orthodox wing of the Zionist movement, the Zionist Revisionists, the Radical Zionists and several minor factions voted against the proposal. Weizmann and Sokolow were elected by a vote of 113 to 54, while the members of the Executive were elected by a vote of 83 to 62.

Following the announcement of the results of the election, the represent atives of the Palestine labor organizations expressed lack of confidence in the new course of the Executive.

The Saturday night session which witnessed the victory of Weizmannnd of the American Zionists’ proposal for an efficiency executive was held in an irritating, nervous atmosphere. The delegates, tired from the all night session and recalling the last moments of the Fourteenth Zionist Congress when the Zionist assembly disbanded without electing an Executive, and also under the pressure of the Palestine crisis, were anxious to avoid recurrence of the same situation as two years ago.

The victory of the Weizmann administration and the American Zionists’ proposal which virtually introduces in Palestine a dictatorship of 3. eliminating party and faction rule, emerged through the labyrinth of political maneuvers common in democracies, through the persistent, tireless negotiation carried on by Dr. Weizmann. The situation changed from hour to hour, at one time it being probable that the new Executive would be elected by the center group in alliance with the Right Orthodox wing, and an hour later it became most likely that the Executive would he elected due to the vote, or lack of vote of the Left labor wings.

The session was often interrupted to provide breathing space for the group leaders to drop old agreements and assume new negotiations.

At the beginning of the session the Congress voted on the proposals of the organization committee laying down the rule that officials of the Zionist administraton should not be eligible for election to the Actions Committee. This rule would also include the officials of the Jewish National Fund, the Palestine Foundation Fund and the Colonial Trust. The labor representatives employed all methods of parliamentary procedure attempting to sidetrack this issue. They then introduced an amendment to the resolution to include in the category of the inelligible also the officials of the Hadassah, the Zion Commonwealth and the United Palestine Appeal in the United States. When this amendment was adopted, the general Zionists introduced an amendment to include in this rule the officials of the labor institutions, Ha’mashbir, Solol Boneh and the labor bank. The labor delegates then offered a new amendment to the effect that the ongress recognize in principle the ineligibility of Zionist officials for membership in the Actions Committee but refer the issuance of specific regulations to the Actions Committee.

This amendment was defeated on the motion of Vladimir Jabotinsky, the labor leaders exclaiming ironically that this was Jabotinsky’s first victory at the Congress. The session was then interrupted for a meeting of the Committee on Commmittees which was to consider the proposal of an alliance between the center group and the Mizrachi, eliminating the Left.

While the negotiations were going on the session was reopened under the chairmanship of Kaplan, the Congress voting on the resolutions of the colonization committee. The vote was a very stormy one concerning the question of whether or not the Zionist colonizing agencies are to include individual contracts with the settlers or with representatives of their society, Nir, as advocated by the settlers and labor leaders. Several roll calls were demanded before the resolution was adopted calling for individual contracts. Berl Katznelson, labor leader, declared when the vote was announced that the labor groups considered the vote as having shown “deep hostility to labor” and has prevented an understanding between the classes in Palestine. “We pledge ourselves to continue to increase the power of Palestine labor,” he declared.

Wrought to a high pitch of excitement, the labor delegates rose and sang Hatikvah, the other delegates joining in respect to the Zionist hymn. Suddenly Dr. Weizmann appeared, asking the chairman to declare a recess for half an hour. It was learned that the Mizrachi representatives in the Committee on Committees had declared the party’s final decision to vote against the Executive and that Dr. Weizmann had undertaken new negotiations with the labor groups.

At 4:30 Sunday morning Dr. Motzkin reopened the session. The delegates waited with suspense for the statement of Dr. Weizmann concerning the result of his negotiations with the labor groups. Weizmann, in his statement in accordance with Congress rule, outlined the program of the new Executive, it having been understood that the Palestine labor groups would refrain from voting, thus enabling the American Zionists’ proposal for a Jerusalem triumverate to gain a majority. In his statement Dr. Weizmann declared “that the apprehensions of the labor groups with regard to the proposed Executive have no ground and that there is no reason to consider this move as hostile to labor. The Executive recognizes the labor federation and its institutions as the legitimate representatives of Palestine labor. The Executive obligates itself to employ only union labor. The Executive will be bound by the budget as adopted by the Congress and wishes a free hand, within the limits of the statutes, to make reductions in necessary cases. The Executive will seek to coordinate the work and to effectively control, within the limits of the statutes, the Zionist funds, the Keren Hayemeth and the Jewish National Fund. In addition, the Executive will seek to raise, outside of the budget, a budget for unemployment aid on a large scale,” Dr. Weizmann declared in outlining the policy of the future executive.

When Kurt Blumenfeld, chairman of the Committee on Committees rose to announce the list of the proposed Executive, M. M. Ussishkin, head of the Jewish National Fund, whose ire was aroused by the mention of control with regard to the Jewish National Fund asked for the floor. The chairman, Dr. Motzkin, refused him the privilege on the ground that there is no discussion during the vote. Ussishkin and other delegates protested that the Weizmann program statement was being accepted without a debate. “You want to overpower the Congress and to impose upon us a program without debate.” Deputy Gruenbaum exclaimed.

It was finally decided that the debate be opened on Weizmann’s statement. Ussishkin, who was then given the floor, attacked the new Executive and sought to safeguard the inteests of the Jewish National Fund. “Do not allow the new people to ruin the old and sound institutions,” be appealed to the delegates. He charged that Harry Sacher, the proposed member for the Executive, has demanded a change in the statutes of the Jewish National Fund. He protested against what he termed “surprises” and “secret negotiations,” concluding his appeal “Save the Jewish National Fund, the only healthy institution.”

Rabbi Berlin, speaking in behalf of the Mizrachi, supported Mr. Ussishkin. He charged that Weizmann has two statements in his pocket, one suitable for the Orthodox Mizrachi if the agreement would have been reached with them and one suitable for the labor group if the agreement is reached with them.

Deputy Gruenbaum attacked Harry Sacher as “a man unknown to Zionists who dictates his conditions wishing to play the role of a small Mussolini in Jerusalem.” He exclaimed, “Beware of an Executive which had to be begged to take over the conduct of a ruined undertaking.”

The debate lasted until six o’clock when the elections were held and the new Executive chosen. While the majority rendered an ovation to Weizmann and Sokolow, the opposition delegates heckled the leaders, declaring that they obtained only a small majority due to the retirement of the labor group.

There was, nevertheless, general satisfaction that the crisis in the Congress was averted and that a repetition of the Vienna Congress closing was prevented.

The result of the elections was announced with the dawn of the morning. Immediately the reprsentatives of the opposition groups ascended the platform to submit declarations in behalf of the factions. Sharp words fell in the irritating atmosphere. When the labor groups expressed their lack of confidence in the new Executive, the opposition leaders charged them with insincerity as having come with belated statements. The labor leaders replied that it was because of their devotion to the vital interests of Palestine that they decided to give the Weizmann executive a fair chance and to save the Congress from a deadlock.

Berl Locker, speaking on behalf of the Poale Zion expressed dissatisfaction with the situation. His party has no confidence in the new course, he stated. He was frequently interrupted by the Mizrachi delegates. He concluded by saying “Labor will survive the concentrated attack of the bourgeoisie and will avert the danger threatening the Jewish National Fund.” At this someone exclaimed, “You will succeed just as with the Jewish Agency.”

Kaplan, speaking in behalf of the Hitachduth, stated “that the Congress was a disappointing one. The middle classes have broken down, labor will prepare itself to capture the Zionist Executive at the forthcoming Congress,” he said.

Rabbi Meyer Berlin, speaking in behalf of the Mizrachi, expressed lack of confidence in the new executive which he termed “alien to the people, free of Judaism and without an economic program.” His party, which declines responsibility for the new Executive, has voted unanimously against it, he stated.

Zalman Rubaschow, speaking for the Poale Zion expressed complete lack of confidence in the Executive, which, he stated was hostile to labor.

Dr. Arlasaroff attempted to read a declaration, but the delegates prevented him, several Americans exclaiming. “Enough time has been wasted. Where is the chance you promised the new Executive?”

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