Probing into the charges recently made by members of the opposition, particularly those who took a leading part in the Washington opposition conference held under the chairmanship of Judge Julian W. Machk, was begun on Sunday by the court of inquiry appointed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann before his departure at the suggestion of the Zionist administration.
The hearings which were held ail day Sunday and continued on Monday evening at the Unity Club, Brooklyn, were presided over by Justice Edward Lazansky, presiding Justice of the Appellate Division. The other members present were Supreme Court Justice Mitchell May, Federal Judge Grover M. Moscowitz. General Sessions Judge Otto A. Rozalsky, and Superior Court Judge Harry M. Fisher of Chicago. Superior Court Judge Samuel Kalisch of New Jersey did not attend.
Representatives of the three parties participating in the controversy, the opposition, the administration and the Hadassah, were present. The spokesmen for the administration were Morris Rothenberg and Louis Lipsky; for the opposition Abraham Tulin and Samuel J. Rosensohn.
The Hadassah representatives, Mrs. Robert Szold, Rose Halperin, Miss Susan Brandeis, and Mrs. Lefkowitz, did not participate in the hearing as a letter addressed to the committee on behalf of Hadassah declared that the charges made by Hadassah do not reflect upon the integrity of the administration and are not of such a nature that could be taken up for review by the court of inquiry. The Zionist convention can decide on the matter. Others who represented the opposition were Lawence Berenson, Robert Szold, Jacob de Haas and M. A. Zeldin. Others who represented the administration were Philip Wattenburg, Dr. A. J. Kalisky, Judge William M. Lewis of Philadelphia, Jacob Fishman, Nelson Ruttenberg, Mr. Medinitz, Ber nard Rosenblatt and Meyer W. Weisgal.
Investigation of charges of personal dishonesty in financial matters was eliminated after the preliminary proceedings brought out the fact that such charges are not involved. At the opening of the session, Dr. Mordecai M. Kaplan, speaking in behalf of the Citizens Committee on Peace and Reconstruction, pleaded that the court of inquiry postpone its work in view of the efforts of the Committee to bring about peace between the wareing groups. Dr. Kaplan quoted statements by Samuel J. Rosensohn and Jacob de Haas made at a conference of the Committee on June 14 at the house of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism to the effect that the word “dishonesty” employed in a pamphlet describing the proceedings of the Washington conference did not imply the charge against the administration members of personal dishonesty in financial matters.
“I want to disclaim it and I want to say that I am fully familiar with what has happened and I have never known and case where any person did actually do a business act for the purpose of personal profit,” Mr. Rosensohn was quoted by Dr. Kaplan.
“As far as I know, no one ever charged or thought of charging dishonesty in tire sense of taking money or property for his or their personal gain, money or property belonging to the Z.O.A., the U.P.A., or any other body against any member of the administration,” Mr. de Haas was quoted by Dr. Kaplan.
Preliminary statements were made with regard to this aspect by Abraham Tulin for the opposition and Morris Rothenberg for the administration, the administration contending that the general public was given the impression, due to the charges made at the Washington conference and due to oral and written statements by opposition spokesmen, that the administration was accused of personal dishonesty.
Following a recess of ten minutes, during which the Judges conferred on the subject, Judge Lazansky declared that the court of inqury does not find it necessary to probe charges of a personal nature in view of the fact that such charges have never been made. He hopes a statement to this effect will be issued. The committee will go into the general charges formulated by the opposition so far as they will not involve the entire volume of the administration business. Judge Lazansky limited the inquiry to the following three points: (1) American Zion Commonwealth; (2) Palestine Securities, Inc., (3) The allocation of funds for the Zionist publications, “The New Palestine” and “Dos Yiddishe Folk.”
With regard to the Zion Commonwealth the salient point of the proceedings was the charge made by the opposition that Mr. Lipsky had on December 14, 1926, issued a guarantee to the Central Mercantile Bank in the amount of $180,000, covering a debt incurred by the American Zion Commonwealth some time previous. Mr. Tulin, who presented the case of the opposition, charged that Mr. Lipsky issued the guarantee without having been authorized by the Administrative Committee and having denied the issuance after the charge was made at the Washington conference.
Morris Rothenberg and Mr. Lipsky in presenting the case of the administration, told of the close relation that existed between the Zion Commonwealth and the Zionist Organization and of the moral responsibility which the Zionist Organization has always had for the Zion Commonwealth, involving a vital interest of the Zionist movement both in the United States and in Palestine. The guarantee was issued by Mr. Lipsky on December 14, 1926 following the adoption of a resolution on December 7, 1926, by the United Palestine Appeal to secure a credit not exceeding half a million dollars to save the affairs of the Zion Commonwealth. The denial was issued in reply to the charge made by Mr. Berenson that Mr. Lipsky had signed notes in the amount of $285,000. The existence of the guarantee of $180,000 was not remembered by Mr. Lipsky at the time.
Judge Julian W. Mack, who was also invited to be present, in a letter to Judge Rozalsky declared that his engagements would have made it impossible for him to be present even if he had evidence to present. The letter stated further that Judge Mack personally made no charges of specific facts. He was satisfied to advise others who declared to him that they have such proof to appear before the committee.
A more detailed report of the proceedings will be given in a subsequent issue of the Bulletin.