Pittsburgh, Pa (Jul. 3)
Although the second day of the thirty-first annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America brought what was considered to be a complete vindication and unequivocal support for the Lipsky administration by an overwhelming majority of the delegates attending, it left the representatives of the American Zionists in a deadlock.
An unparalleled situation developed when at the close of the fourth session late Monday evening, it became clear that notwithstanding the apparent sentiment of the majority of the delegates for the Lipsky administration and their readiness to adopt any nomination that will be made, great difficulties arose for carrying out the program of amending the constitution and bringing about changes in the composition of the executive organs of the organization.
The motion to adopt the report of the Administrative Committee for the year 1927-8 was passed after a five hour impassioned discussion of the report conducted in orderly procedure under the chairmanship of Judge William M. Lewis of Philadelphia. In accordance with an agreement, the presidium granted to both the administration and the opposition representatives an equal opportunity of two hours each to present their arguments.
Rabbi James Heller of Cincinnati and Robert Szold of New York acted as tellers in the counting of the vote which was taken by rows and gave 390 to the administration and 159 to the opposition. When the vote was announced. a stormy ovation was accorded to the Lipsky administration.
During the vote, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, who abstained from voting asked for the floor, but he was refused by the chairman who declared that no discussion can be held during the voting. When the vote was complete, Dr. Wise, whom the majority of delegates understood on the previous day to have taken sides with the opposition against Lipsky’s election as honorary chairman of the convention, declared that he was misunderstood.
“No recommendation of any judges can alter or wipe out the thirty year record of Lipsky’s devotion and splen did achievement for the Zionist cause,” Dr. Wise exclaimed. The speaker was interrupted by Maurice Samuel who declared: “Too late, Dr. Wise. Why didn’t you say it yesterday before the vote on the honorary chairmanship was taken?”
Dr. Wise added that he takes exception to the recommendation contained in the judges’ report that no one receiving a salary from Zionist sources many hold office in the Zionist Organization. “It is an unfair recommendation. I am tired of such an autocratic attitude which makes it impossible for a man without means to serve the cause that is dear to him,” he declared.
During the course of his remarks Dr. Wise stated that he has reason to believe that if Judge Julian W. Mack would have been called to address the convention, he would have proposed that the convention express its gratitude to Louis Lipsky for his service to the Zionist movement, although he would have added that notwithstanding his other abilities, Lipsky is no administrator. The speaker suggested the election of a presidium comprised of three chairman, one for shaping the policies of the American organization, the second chairman of a political committee and the third a chairman for fiscal affairs. Such an arrangement may save the Z. O. A. from the difficult situation it now faces.
Dr. Wise then made it clear that the vote on the Administrative Committee’s report did not include the adoption of the Jewish Agency report. In reserving his right to refer to the matter during the discussion on the subject. Dr. Wise pointed out that the Jewish Agency Comission report contained no guarantee on the part of the non-Zionists for a single thing which is to be subscribed by them toward the Palestine budget. “For Crimea they do not guarantee but give.” he exclaimed.
DEADLOCK CAUSED BY DEMAND FOR LIPSKY’S REELECTION
With the major vote passed the convention then faced a new crisis, although the majority of the delegates were jubilant over their victory over the opposition. The crisis developed at the Monday night session which was presided over by Max Schulman of Chicago. It came to a climax when the chairman called on David R. Radovsky of New England to bring in the report of the committee on constitutional amendments and on Dr. Mordecai M Kaplan who, it was presumed, was to present a basis for an agreement between the administration and the Committee on Peace and Reconstruction for the composition of a new administration.
Neither of the speakers suceeded in presenting their proposals because of the chaos into which the convention was thrown when dissention arose between leaders of the delegations, administration members and the peace committee. No official statement was made from the chair or the platform as to the nature of the complications. Dr. Kaplan, when called to address the convention did not present his proposal but enlarged in general terms on the importance of peace. Various motions and points of order were made by Judge Gustave Hartman, Jacob Fishman and other, but at a motion of Mr. Lipsky the proposals which were not presented were referred back to the committees.
The remainder of the session was taken up by an address delivered by Dr. Ben-Zion Mossenson. While the convention was still in session, various caucuses of groups of delegates were held. The Committee on constitutional amendments and the Peace Committee also deliberated.
On good authority the Jewish Daily Bulletin learns the following situation was the basis for the camplication.
After the vote on the honorary chairmanship, the Administrative Committee appointed a sub-committee consisting of David Freiberger. Abraham Goldberg. Dr. A. J. Rongy and others to participate in negotiations for peace initiated by Dr. Kaplan’s peace committee. Representatives of the opposition group and of Hadassah also participated in these negotiations. The move failed when the opposition spokesman declared at the outset that the basis for the peace negotiation must be the accepatance of the judges’ recommendations. which meant in effect. the elimination of Louis Lipsky and other members. who were involved in the matters referred to in the judges’ report. from any office in the Zionist Organization of America. When this condition was rejected. the opposition withdrew from the peace committee.
Faced with this situation the subcommittee of the administration, together with the Committee on Peace and Reconstruction, agreed on a plan to propose to the convention for the election of an administrative board of forty, which would select from among its members a committee of nine to direct the affairs of the movement. The committee also agreed on the election of Louis Lipsky as chairman of the National Executive Committee, which is the reviewing body, meeting four times a year between conventions. It was understood in view of Mr. Lipsky’s expressed determination that he would not accept the presidential office, the chairmanship of the Executive Committee was contemplated to be an unpaid office.
Various leaders of groups of delegates and caucusus, when learning of this proposal,objected to the plan and insisted that it was the convention’s will that Lipsky be re-elected president and, notwithstanding his refusal, to draft him for the position. At various caucuses. Mr. Lipsky reiterated his determination not to be a candidate for the presidency.
Throughout the night and into the early hours of Tuesday morning meeings of delegates were held in special suites in the William Penn Hotel, where the demand for drafting Lipsky was discussed in a most heated atmoshere.
Before the discussion on the report started, messages were read from Miss Henrietta Szold, member of the Palestine Zionist Executive, M. M. Ussischkin, head of the Jewish National Fund and the Rev. Z. H. Masliansky of New York.
The speakers for the administration were Maurice Samuel, Abraham Goldberg and Morris Rothenberg. For the opposition, the speakers were Morris A. Zeldin and Abraham Tulin. Mrs. Robert Szold. who spoke on the report. asked that the present relation between the Z. O. A. and Hadassah. admittedly anomalous. be continued. Although it is not logical, it is a psychological necessity, she stated. Excerpts of the discussion will be given in a subsequent issue.
Rabbi Nathan Krass will sail on July 5 on the stenmer Westphalla for Europe. Rabbi Krass intends to remain abroad for the summer.