Opposition Conference Hears Strong Charges Against Present Zionist Administration
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Opposition Conference Hears Strong Charges Against Present Zionist Administration

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(Jewish Daily Bulletin)

A determined effort to bring about by parliamentary procedure at the forthcoming Zionist convention an overthrowal of the present administration will be made by the opposition leaders as a result of decisions adopted and action taken at the Z. O. A. Reorganizations Conference held here all day Sunday at the Hotel Hamilton. A fund of $25,000 to prosecute the campaign will be raised and a committee of tweleve or more with the power to coopt other members will be appointed by Judge Julian W. Mack, chairman of the conference, to put into effect the decisions of the opposition.

About 125 individual Zionists were present and listened to strong charges brought against the Lipsky administration of the Zionist Organization of America. The charges, some general and some of a specific nature, related to the entire period of seven yeas since the administration came into power.

The indictment of the administration was embodied in a manifesto addressed to the Zionists of America, which was passed as a resolution with only three dissenting votes. The resolution was presented by Prof. Felix Frankfurter of Harvard University, who headed a committee on resolutions consisting of eleven members appointed by Judge Mack, who was unanimously chosen chairman of the conference. Dr. Harry Friedenwald of Baltimore was chosen vice-chairman and Rabbi Norman Salit of Far Rockaway, secretary.

A minority report embodying the views of a group of eleven Zionist Revisionists, attending the conference, led by Elias Ginsberg and Mordecai Danzis, was ruled out of order by the chair as not coming within the scope of the conference. The scope was limited by Judge Mack in his keynote address as touching only on the affairs of the Zionist administration in the United States and to the measure of its responsibility for conditions in Palestine. The Jewish Agency and criticism of Weizmann regime were not admitted to the discussion. The scope of the conference as defined by Judge Mack was twice upheld by a majority vote when Mr. Ginsberg, in behalf of the Revisionists, attempted to make possible a discussion of Zionist affairs generally, including the Weizmann regime, and a second time to inject into the discussion the Jewish Agency question. Judge Mack stated that no groups could be recognized as those attending the conference did so in an individual capacity. The discussion was open only to those who responded to the call, thus signifying agreement with the purpose of the conference to effect the change in the American Zionist leadership. Others were welcome as visitors only, was the ruling.

Subscriptions of $7,500 as a nucleus for the $25,000 fund were announced, including an anonymous contribution of $1,000, $500 by Judge Mack, $500 by Robert Szold, $500 by Louis Kirstein of Boston and others.

By a decision of the conference a committee of twenty-five called on Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis to bring to him the greeting of the gathering. Justice Brandeis received the committee at his home at Florence Court at 5:15 Sunday afternoon. No statement was issued after the reception.

The manifesto, which complements the resolution introduced by Mayor Julius I. Peyser that it was the “sense of this conference for a change to be made in the administration of the Zionist Organization of America,” declares that “with all due allowance for the practical difficulties of statesmanship and the special difficulties inherent in the task committed to the administration of the American Zionist Organization, truth compels the registration of the fact that the present administration has brought the Zionist organization of America to a condition of disorganization both moral and material.” The manifesto, citing as instances the American Zion Commonwealth, the Palestine Securities, failure to remit the monthly contributions to the Palestine budget, failure to exercise a constructive influence on the economic policy in Palestine and failure to utilize “available resources,” declares that “there is no remedy for the depressed state of Zionism in America or for the serious setbacks which Palestine has suffered except in replacing the present incompetent American Zionist Administration with one that shall think in terms of Palestine and of its economic upbuilding.”

The name of Judge Mack as the opposition’s choice for the presidency of the Zionist Organization of America was mentioned for the first time by Lawrence Berenson who, however, was interrupted by the chairman. Judge Mack, who declared that he will “never be president of the Zionist Organization of America.” This statement called forth many exclamations in the audience of “we will draft you.” The conviction that Justice Louis D. Brandeis will not under any circumstances accept office either in the American or the World Zionist Organization was firm in well informed circles.

The charges made against the administration were contained in the addresses of M. A. Zeldin, former director of the United Palestine Appeal campaign in New York, who reiterated his accusations made at the Atlantic City convention, Lawrence Berenson and Samuel Rosensoh, former members of the Administrative Committee. Mr. Berenson and Mr. Rosensohn made their first public statements since their resignation.

Mr. Zeldin charged that the administration for the past two years had diverted the amount of $500,000 from the U.P.A. for saving the interest of the Zion Commonwealth, which is a private company. He charged that the publication expenditures, particularly those of the “New Palestine,” amounting this year to $111,000, and “Dos Yiddishe Folk”, $30,000, are mounting from year to year. He charged the administration with manipulating the incomes of the U.P.A. and the Z.O.A., citing one instance of $5,000 which came from Chicago, said to be Z.O.A. dues, which was later proved to be for the United Palestine Appeal. When questioned by a Chicago delegate, Mr. Zeldin was unable to state in what year’s budget this occurred, but quoted Emanuel Neumann, former director of the U.P.A., as his authority.

Direct charges against Louis Lipsky were made by Lawrence Berenson and Samuel Rosensohn. Mr. Berenson stated that they resigned from the Administrative Committee because of Mr. Lipsky’s campaign to undermine their influence and to interfere with their effort to place the organization on a sound financial basis in balancing the budget. He charged that Mr. Lipsky had endorsed a note for the Commonwealth with the Central Mercantile Bank for the amount of $235,000 without any authorization from the Administrative Committee. The Zion Commonwealth, against which bankruptcy proceedings have already been filed in Palesine, has liabilities amounting to $1,700,000. Its assets are only $400,000 of outstanding accounts in the United States and the land, the value of which is undetermined. “When Lipsky speaks of sacrifice and devotion it means only self-devotion,” he stated.

Mr. Rosensohn stated that he and Berenson had intended to resign in December, but they waited for the end of the U.P.A. campaign. Mr. Rosensohn added the charge that the U.P.A. campaigns were deliberately postponed in order to prevent the early organization of the oppositional forces for the convention.

In reply to a question by Rabbi Norman Salit whether it was advisable to make public the resolution containing grave charges, Judge Mack stated that he sees no objection to the publication, that a house cleaning will do the movement good. “We have been silent long enough,” he declared.

Robert Szold, Jacob de Haas, B. Epstein and others participated in the discussion on the situation in Palestine.

Although no statement of policy outlining the issues was presented, it was repeatedly declared that this will come up at the forthcoming convention, the rallying note until the convention being the necessity of changing the administration.

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