All Jewish Union for Palestine Through Agency and Zionist Educational Campaign for Youth, Weizmann’s
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All Jewish Union for Palestine Through Agency and Zionist Educational Campaign for Youth, Weizmann’s

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The formation of the all-Jewish union for the upbuilding of Palestine through the extension of the Jewish Agency, including Zionists and non-Zionists, and the continued existence of the World Zionist Organization, which is to concentrate on an educational campaign to win the Jewish youth to a recognition of its Jewish responsibility were the keynote points stressed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, in his presidential message delivered Sunday afternoon at the opening session of the Sixteenth Biennial Zionist Congress at the Zurich Opera House. The full text of Dr. Weizmann’s address follows:

“The day on which we gather for the sixteenth time in our Congress is a great national memorial day. It is just twenty-five years today since the founder of this Congress departed from us forever. Recollections of the inexpressible sorrow which gripped all parts of our scattered people are still alive with us today, with all those who lived through that day. Following the elapse of a quarter of a century we may today, in our loyal remembrance, rise above sorrow and lamentation and observe Herzl’s death anniversary with a feeling of deep gratitude to him who gave a life of untiring service to our people with a devotion to his and our ideal. The twentieth of Tamuz is thus becoming in our calendar a day for the gathering of all forces who are true to the spirit of Zion, a day on which we take cognizance of our national unity and of our responsibility to our people and of the greatness of our task. Our Sixteenth Congress is thus assembling on this memorial day. May it be a symbol for good.

“Honored Congress! Our Congresses are called for the purpose of rendering an account of what was accomplished and what failed of accomplishment, as well as to take decisions for the work of the future. This Congress has in addition another task which may, perhaps, single it out from among the series of Congresses in the history of our movement. This Congress has the task of erecting a new organizational structure which we hope will result in bringing new forces to our work of rebuilding the Jewish National Home as was formulated in our Basle program. This new structure is but a result of the internal developments which have occurred during the past thirty years and, in particular, during the last ten years.

“When we created the Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Home was but an idea without any practical reality attached to it. The Zionist Organization demanded of each Jew a spiritual decision. The Balfour Declaration which, with one stroke, created for us the political possibility for the upbuilding of our national home, started a new epoch for which our old forms of thought and organization, were no longer sufficient. Things have become ripe sooner than we thought after Herzl’s death. Zionism has at once ceased to be a matter for spiritual decision, but rather to a large degree a question of technical conquest and practical accomplishment. Before. Zionism was merely a matter of belief. The struggle for the idea as proclaimed then has gripped the Jewish people to its depths. In this struggle Zionism has asserted itself through all the vicissitudes of the external events. It held fast to its goal and exercised a great influence also on the thoughts and feelings of a large part of that Jewry which has declined to accept it. This changed situation has created difficulties and even upheavals which during the last ten years quite often presented us with hard trials. We trusted in our will, but had not sufficient knowledge of our possibilities. We could not immediately find harmony between the idealogical demands and the realities of practical life.


“Honored Congress! Today, we may say without exaggeration that in mastering our task, we made great strides forward. We have not yet reached our goal, but we have emerged from the uncertainties of the first post-war years and see clearly before us the road on which we have to travel further in order to fulfill the historic duty which Jewish history has imposed on our generation. We stand today at the close of a great Zionist period of practical accomplishment and preservation. We have achieved practical results which need not fear critcism. We desire such criticism because through it we learn much since it is obvious that much of our work can stand improvement. Since the last Zionist Congress we had the desirable occasion for the examination of our colonization work by a number of experts of the first rank. What ever were the proposals of these experts for introducing improvements in the details of our work, their judgment proved that the foundations of our work are sound. The Jewish settler has become the master of his homestead and does not give it up; the Jewish workman has step by step conquered positions for himself and today constitutes a stable and important element of the Jewish population in Palestine.

“Large and small enterprises in agriculture and industry are fitting themselves into one living organism. This development of Palestine has made a deep impression on entire Jewry. Our practical work has gained friends who placed at our disposal their assistance in carrying out our reconstruction work.

“Six years ago we started negotiations for the purpose of extending the Jewish Agency provided for in Article IV of the Palestine Mandate, whose function was intrusted to the Zionist Organization, into an all-embracing representation of the Jewish people. All those circles which are ready to participate in the upbuilding of the Jewish National Home in accordance (Continued on Page 6)


“I feel the need here of directing words of thanks first of all to the leaders of American Jewry. Mr. Louis Marshall and Mr. Felix M. Warburg, who were the first to cooperate with us in working out the new organization forms. Our negotiations with the American non-Zionists created the basis upon which the structure of the extended Jewish Agency may be erected. As long as we Zionists fought for the idea we could stand alone; now that we are to exert our efforts for its realization, we need all the rest of Jewry as our allies.

“Two years ago we were greatly disturbed over the situation in Palestine. We felt then with sorrow that we could have overcome the economic crisis then prevailing much sooner were we in possession of more financial means and greater force. During the past years the situation in Palestine has changed greatly and new bright prospects are on the horizon, so that we could learn with satisfaction that the High Commissioner of Palestine. Sir John Chancellor, told the Permanent Mandates of the League of Nations that the Commission period when Jewish emigration from Palestine exceeded the immigration to the country has passed and that a new era for Jewish immigration is setting in.

“The situation in Palestine has improved fundamentally. Of late, we can register in particular a development of the spirit of private enterprise. However, our national colonization. too, has made progress and is partly standing on its own feet.

“We must utilize the increase in our forces through the Jewish Agency for preparing a program of work over many years on the basis of our urban and rural colonization. A systematic but more rapid development will then follow. We are full of new hopes and impulses, but just as we were unwilling two years ago to fall under the influence of undue pessimism, so should we be unwilling to fall under the spell of exaggerated optimism. We have confidence in our enthusiasm, but we see all the realities and our policy aims at victory in the struggle with these realities.


“In our reconstruction work, we stand under the protection of the Mandatory Power with whom we are, as hitherto, bound by ties of confidence and understanding, although we have some objections to her policy, Since the last Zionist Congress we have gained many new and influential friends in world public opinion.

“Since the last Zionist Congress, a few regrettable incidents occurred in Palestine which gave rise to a misunderstanding of our attitude on the question of the Holy Sites in Palestine. When Jewish divine worship before the Western Wall of the Temple, known as the Wailing Wall, is interfered with, it is but natural that we cannot accept the violation of our right to worship at this Wall without protest. Simultaneously, however, we wish to repeat here that just as we cannot permit the infringement upon our rights, we have no intention to infringe upon or interfere with the religious rights or the Holy Sites of other faiths in the country. We will always consider it a matter of honor to regard as sacred the rights of others. We regret that these incidents gave rise to a new active misunderstanding between us and the Moslem citizens of Palestine. We are convinced that the sources of these conflicts can be removed. We, on our part, wish to do all in our power to bring about an understanding with the Arabs on this question as on any other questions.


“Our organization is already in its forties. In it we have created an instrument of our will. It was the first political machinery of the Jewish people in two thousand years. We never forgot, however, that this momentary form of organization is but an instrument and not a purpose in itself. A movement like ours is facing the danger of its forms becoming antiquated. It is confronted with the menace of becoming the will-less servant of the structure we created, instead of becoming its master. The extension of the Jewish Agency creates new organs within our Zionist sphere. We hope and wish the spirit of Zionism, the passionate desire for a Jewish rebirth, will lead those Jews who will be connected with the Palestine work to an ever-growing intensive conception of our ideal, and that, independent of the change of the external organizational structure, an elementary force will develop which will serve the upbuilding of Zion. Our movement is the clearest expression of the reawakening of the Jewish soul which has occurred during the past half a century. With a burning zeal, we feel the responsibility for the entire people.


“The message of Zionism has by far not yet penetrated into every Jewish home. A large part of our youth is still serving alien gods in various forms. During the past years we have concentrated exclusively on the practical work in Palestine. Today, when a new generation has grown up, we feel that the time has come when we must bring anew, with a new devotion, the message of Zionism to the Jewish world as a question for moral decision.

“Following our accomplishments in Palestine, the decision for or against the Palestine program has lost its sharpness. In essence, our task is to win the Jewish youth for a decision in favor of its national responsibility-Zionism is the will to create a new Judaism.

“For this reason, the cultural work, that is, the fight for the soul of our youth, must in the future occupy a greater place in our program than hitherto. In Palestine we have considerable beginnings. The development of our University has in it much promise. The growth of the Hebrew language has become a matter of course, thanks to the self-sacrificing efforts of the Hebrew teacher. However, all this is insufficient. They are merely the prerequisites for a real culture and for a real cultural creativeness.


“The fear that through the extension of the Jewish Agency the Zionist Organization will become superflous seems to me to be small-minded. Zionism has never had any guarantees for its existence. Zionism ever was a great adventure. Its only support was derived from the unshaken belief of the faithful. So long as our spirit remains with us will Zionism emerge richer and stronger from every encounter with external change.

“May this Congress, through its earnest and dignified proceedings, give us this great feeling of self-confidence on which every Zionist activity rests.”

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