A demand for a clarification of the issues involved in the present Zionist controversy was made by Dr. Chaim Weizmann in his address before the National Conference on Palestine held on Sunday at the Astor Hotel. The president of the World Zionist Organization, in his first public utterance on the controversy, traced the present opposition to the developments in 1921 and charged that the over emphasis laid on private initiative by the opposition leaders would mean to formulate a policy of “building Palestine without money.”
Dr. Weizmann also expressed his surprise at the importance ascribed to private initiative in view of the record which shows that “in the great industrial concerns of Palestine there is no American money,” with the exception of the American Zion Commonwealth and the Shoolman investments in Haifa. In view of the interest displayed in various Zionist quarters, the following excerpts of Dr. Weizmann’s address are given.
“During my stay in this country last year I remained for about five months, visiting the most important communities and performing the usual work of assisting in raising the budget for Palestine, co-operating with the United Palestine Appeal as it exists in this country. It was obvious to me at that time that the Zionist Organization and the United Palestine Appeal were not fully representative of all the forces which were likely, whether these forces were good or bad is not now under consideration, to be of service in the work facing us. I tried my level best, honestly and painstakingly, to draft into the service of the Zionist Organization of America and the United Palestine as many new forces as I was capable of in the limited time at my disposal, and subject to those hectic circumstances to which a European does not easily adapt himself. There were some, whom for want of a better name-and I certainly do not want to involve myself in any controversy with Justice Brandeis or with any of those who agree with him–I shall refer to as “the Brandeis group”.
“Of this group, which had dissociated itself from us in 1921, some had already begun to cooperate with us actively, some still stood apart. I pleaded for their co-operation, and I was, to a certain extent, successful in my plea, and they returned to active service. Together, we explored not only every phase of the work as it was being carried on in America, but we considered it from the point of view of bow it was likely to influence the international organization at the next Congress.
“The late, lamented Mr. Lindheim was helping, and lending every possible assistance. He went to Palestine on a very difficult task, a thankless one, to say the least. I was happy that he had decided to go to Palestine. He stayed there a long time, and when he left, he came to me in London, and in the light of the experience he gained in Palestine, we tried to formulate some program to surmount the difficulties which faced us. We then came to the conclusion that in order to inaugurate a new system, it would be essential to have a small Executive, which would not be subject to party influence. I personally came to this decision not without great trepidation, and I believe that it is essential that the Zionist world know my attitude in this matter.
“The Congress experienced great difficulties in arriving at a decision in regard to the Executive,” Dr. Weizmann continued. “It was a life and death struggle between certain principles, and the Congress adopted a program, a program primarily of American make. This program involved a small Executive, which, since it assumed office, has been faced with a terrible task in Palestine, and insofar as its own task is concerned, has acquitted itself with considerable skill. The composition of the Executive reflected the spirit which has been prevailing in the Zionist Organization. It was an Anglo-Saxon Executive, all three of whom were English-speaking people. The London Executive, too, is composed of Anglo-Saxons, with the exception of two people, Dr. Sokolow and myself.
I was somewhat startled to read an interview which Miss Szold has granted, and which was reprinted in the Ha-aretz, in which she tried to diagnose the conflict now going on as a struggle between East and West. So far as the World Executive is concerned, it is overwhelmingly a Western Executive. The East has a very small minority represented on it. Whether the only qualification for Zionist leadership must be Western citizenship I shall not now enter upon. I have no doubt that additional qualifications are needed.
“Some of the things that have been done recently have cut deeply into many objects for which we have lived, worked and fought in Zionism for more than thirty years. We agreed to the innovations for the sake of unity in America, knowing that America is the source of at least fifty per cent, of what we need for the upbuilding of Palestine.
“It was extraordinary to me, not to use any harsher adjective, that immediately after the conclusion of the Congress, when everything that the American delegation wanted was passed, when an Executive that was elected predominantly by the Americans was put in office, that a controversy should have arisen.
“What is it all about? Is the struggle that is going on in this country for the sake of Palestine? We introduced into Palestine those very reforms for which, you profess, you are now fighting. The situation as it now exists in America is incomprehensible to me, and it will remain unfathomable until some new element appears on the surface of the controversy.
“What is the real cause of the dissatisfaction, what is behind this eruption? Unto the present I have not yet heard the answer. The answer that has been given to date is unsatisfactory. I must confess that Dr. Stephen Wise has given a satisfactory answer for himself. He may be right or wrong, but he has stated his position definitely and frankly. As for Hadassah, I genuinely believe that the rank and file is interested in helping to strengthen the Zionist Organization of America, but they seem to have involved themselves in policies which, in my opinion, are beyond their range. However, I have been somewhat suspicious of protestations of confidence.
“You have tried private initiative under successful auspices. You have tried it as a substitute for the Keren Hayesod, and what has happened to it? It was a colossal failure. If you want the Zionist Organization to be reduced to a series of successful or unsuccessful corporations, to destroy its only national financial instrument, you will not succeed. Let us be clear about this principle. If the guns are masked, however, if they are hidden behind a veil of fog, we shall try to dispel it. We shall insist that the fight be in the open.
“A movement has been started in this country, which goes under the name of “Back to Herzl.” Herzl has been resurrected from his grave for a political maneuver. Propaganda is being made with a name which ought to be sacred and remain in its mausoleum, and not be used for political purposes. It is under this sacrilegious flag that all these new principles are being propounded. Miss Szold is right when she says that we stand today where we stood in 1921.
“The opposition now being conducted is not a statesmanlike fight. It is hidden and underground; it bears the marks of a conspiracy and not of a clean and open struggle for principles,” Dr. Weizmann declared.
Rabbi Louis I. Newman of Temple Emanu-El San Francisco delivered the baccalaureate sermon to the 2,282 graduates of the University of California, Berkeley, Cal. The annual baccalaureate service was held in the Greek Theater Sunday afternoon.