Pittsburgh, Pa (Jul. 4)
(Jewish Daily Bulletin)
The main battle of the opposition and administration forces at the thirty-first annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America was fought at the third session of the convention on Monday afternoon during the discussion on the Administrative Committee’s report for the year 1927-28. The motion before the assembly was the adoption of the report.
The report of the judges’ committee, containing their findings and conclusions, though not a part of the official report of the administration, was presented to be discussed at the suggestion of the presiding chairman, Judge William M. Lewis of Philadelphia. In the main, the arguments made during the discussion hardly referred to the policies and issues of the Zionist movement in the United States and in Palestine. The debate was, rather, a review of the history of the administration which came into power following the Cleveland split in 1921.
Maurice Samuel, Abraham Goldberg and Morris Rothenberg spoke for the adoption of the Administrative Commitee’s report, each from a different point of view. Morris Zeldin and Abraham Tulin spoke against the motion. The motion to adopt the report was passed by a majority of 398 to 159.
“The outstanding accomplishment of the last year, one which overshadows completely all other accomplishments, is the consistent support given by the American Zionist Organization to those negotiations which have led up to the conference in London, and to the resuts of that conference in London on the question of the Jewish Agency,” Mr. Samuel stated. “I want to say, in addition, that those statements, those promises, which have been issued from London are not only the result of our wishes and our backing of Dr. Weizmann in that matter, but are also the result of the work we have done in the last seven years for the maintenance of our position in Palestine.”
Charging that an effort is being made to ruin the plan of the Jewish Agency, Mr. Samuel continued: “At this particular moment the last efforts are being made to smash the Agency. It is our duty, in keeping with the labors, in keeping with the labors, in keeping with the agonies we have suffered in order that we might reach this point, that we shall strengthen the hands of Dr. Weizmann.”
Referring to Dr. Wise’s opposition to the Jewish Agency, the speaker said, “We have in our midst men of honor, and one man not only of honor but of the highest distinction in Zionist service, and he does not believe in the Jewish Agency. It would not be well for us, though we love and honor that distinguished Zionist, to place him in a position where he will be entitled to attack Dr. Weizmann.
“There is another matter in regard to our achievement in the last year and our program for the coming year which is vitally interwined with this question of the Agency. Those with whom we are going into partnership are not Zionists because if they were, there would be no talk of a Jewish Agency, and anybody who criticises them for being non-Zionists is wasting his time. In 1925 we, the Zionists who wanted the Agency, did not hesitate to criticise, and on the platform of public opinion, to fight an attitude which belong to those with whom we are going into partnership. In all friendliness and honor, if there occurs a break of principle, we shall fight them as strongly, as courteously and as Jewishly as we have done in the past. In the inevitable difference of opinion which will occur in the Jewish Agency between Zionists and non-Zionists, you must have the representatives of Zionism men who are Zionists not merely by conviction but by construction, not logical but biological Zionists. On the whole, those who have kept the Zionist Organization of America intact in the last seven years, and those who during these last seven years, in the face of assault, of calumny and of indifference have stood by their guns, these men are fitted to meet here in America with the non-Zionists to represent their views.”
Mr. Samuel stated that the present Zionist administration, which has been in power since 1921, has done remarkable work and asked that the decisions of the convention be accepted by all delegates without reservation.
Mr. A. Zeldin took exception to the attempt to divide Zionists into two kinds, logical and biological Zionists. Such a division would disqualify Zionist leaders as Herzl and Nordau, Sir Alfred Mond and others in whom the present administration takes pride. The demoralization in the Zionist movement in the United States is not the result of the Atlantic City convention, but rather the Atlantic City convention was the result of the demoralization, he said.
It is true that the present administration has attracted a number of people to cooperate with it, but as soon as they came in they had to go out because of “machinations.” The speaker did not refer to the report for 1927-1928 under discussion.
Abraham Goldberg, speaking in Yiddish, declared that the outstanding principles of the Zionist movement are loyalty and fair play. Eulogizing Lipsky and appealing to the sense of loyalty of the delegates, the speaker received great applause from the majority. Charging the opposition with lack of fair play, the speaker declared: “They do not want fair play. They show that by asking us to be disloyal to the man with whose blood we have built the Zionist movement. The Jewish people throughout the world want to see the Zionists loyal to their own leader.
“What better demonstrates the high morale of the Zionist movement when two or three years after Cleveland, when our predecessors stepped out of office, Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver. Rabbi Stephen S. Wise again came back into the movement?” Mr. Goldberg exclaimed.
Abraham Tulin, who spoke for nearly an hour, introduced himself as a “Nordic from Pinsk,” having reference to the charges of the administration forces that the opposition strives to introduce into the Zionist movement a “Nordic point of view.” He went over the ground of the various charges made by the opposition against the Lipsky administration, declaring that no one of the opposition has ever dreamt of impugning the personal honesty of Mr. Lipsky in financial matters.
He analyzed broadly the findings of the judges’ committee and urged that their recommendations be the basis for the convention’s action. The principal features of these recommendations were the climination from office of all persons who bore the responsibility for the irregularities disclosed and the adoption of the principle that no member of the Administrative Committee receive a salary from the Zionist Organization.
Such action is necessary in the interest of the Zionist movement to raise its level and to restore confidence in its leadership. “I am jealous, too, for the good name of the Jew, he declared.
Morris Rothenberg, vice-president of the Zionist Organization, in his address said that the report of the administration, which was placed before the deiegates for adoption, was for the year 1927-28, that is, for the period since the last Zionist convention in Atlantic City. He said that the Zionist Organization is under a debt of gratitude to the judges who undertook the burdensome task of investigating and reporting on the charges which were laid before them.
Urging the delegates to consider the report earnestly and carefully, he stated that the irregularities which were set forth in the report referred to matters which occurred in 1926 and prior there to. He urged that the faults which were pointed out in the report should not be minimized. Condemning the comming-ling of funds which occurred in prior years, Mr. Rothenberg stated that the last Zionist convention had adopted a resolution on the subject and that since that time no evidence of such irregularities was presented.
He reviewed the achievements of the administration during the past seven years, quoting figures to show that about fifteen million dollars had been raised since 1921, a sum in excess of that raised in previous years. “Much has been done to enlist the interest of those who were indifferent to the cause, an evidence of which is the joining of the non-Zionists in the Agency. Although the irregularities which have been shown are to be taken seriously and every effort made to prevent their repetition, they should not obsecure the creditable results attained since 1921 under very difficult circumstances,” Mr. Rothenberg stated.