Menu JTA Search

Jewish Union for Palestine Consummated at First Meeting of Agency Council in Zurich

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

East and West, long separated in Jewish life on the question of Palestine, were brought together at the first meeting of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, which was opened here Sunday afternoon, six hours after the Sixteenth Zionist Biennial Congress, which ratified the compact between the Zionists and non-Zionists, adjourned its sessions. The assembly. which represented the most distinguished Jewish gathering in a millennium, included delegates from Jewish communities on four continents. Leading statesmen. bankers. philanthropists, veteran Zionist leaders, writers and poets, mingled with humble farm workers from the new Jewish settlements in the Valley of Jezreel, Palestine.

The Zurich Town Hall was crowded to capacity by an audience in which the sounds of twenty languages were heard, when Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization and prime mover of the Jewish Agency extension plan. called the meeting to order. Hebrew, English. German. French and Yiddish were the languages in which the opening addresses were delivered. The speakers included Dr. Albert Einstein, Sir Herbert Samuel. Lord Melchett, Louis Marshall. Felix M. Warburg, M. M. Ussishkin, Rabbi Ezekiel Lipschitz-Poland; Rabbi Ben Zion Uziel, Tel (Continued on Page 2)

SWISS GOVERNMENT AND LEAGUE OF NATIONS EXTEND GREETINGS

The gathering was welcomed on behalf of the Swiss government by Minister Benitherk. Mr. Dreyfus-Brodsky, president of the Union of Swiss Jewish Communities, brought greetings from Swiss Jewry.

A member of the Secretariat of the League of Nations read the following message from Sir Eric Drummond, who is now absent from Geneva: “An event such as that of today when, as a result of negotiations which have taken place during the last few years, it is possible to hold the first meeting of the enlarged Jewish Agency, cannot be but of interest to the League of Nations. It is true that the matter comes under the Mandate and therefore entertains direct relations only with the Mandatory Power, but the Jewish Agency is exclusively mentioned in the Palestine Mandate as an advisory to and collaborator with the Mandatory administration in matters affecting the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population of Palestine. The Palestine Mandate recognizes the principle of the establishment of the Jewish National Home in the country. It seems evident that the steps now being taken to put the Agency, and thereby the efforts to carry out the ideals of Zionism, on a larger basis, cannot but be favorable to the accomplishment of the aims laid down in the Mandate. I sincerely hope that this may prove to be the case and today’s event will always be regarded as a happy one in the interests of both Palestine and the Jewish people in all parts of the world.”

ASSEMBLY CHEERS FAMOUS JEWISH LEADERS

The tone of enthusiasm for the new Jewish unity on Palestine was set when the colorful and varied assembly roared a unanimous welcome to Dr. Chaim Weizmann when he entered the hall a few minutes after three o’clock, together with Dr. Albert Einstein, Sir Herbert Samuel, Louis Marshall, Lord Melchett, Felix M. Warburg, Max Warburg and Oscar Wassermann.

There was a marked difference in the appearances of the two parts composing the gathering. The Zionists who, six hours earlier, had concluded their Sixteenth Zionist Congress after a twelve-hour session throughout the night, culminating two weeks’ proceedings, appeared exhausted, while those described as non-Zionists. just arriving, appeared physically fresh and prepared for the new tasks of the Council sessions.

“LET US BE OF ONE SPIRIT” DESPITE DIFFERENCES, MARSHALL SAYS

The pivotal point of the proceedings was the address of Louis Marshall, president of the American Jewish Committee, who, together with Dr. Weizmann, was mainly instrumental in bringing about the unity between the Zionists and non-Zionists for the Palestine work. The leader of the American delegation, constituting the largest single delegation in the assembly of representatives from 21 countries, was given a rousing ovation when he ascended the platform following the address in Hebrew of Rabbi Ben Zion Uziel.

Addressing himself to “Dr. Weizmann, brothers and sisters,” the leader of the American non-Zionists stated:

“This is the most extraordinary meeting I have ever attended. Jews from four continents came together as Zionists and as non-Zionists. In spite of our differing ideas and ideals, the result of this union will be a rebuilt Palestine, without anyone being asked to sacrifice his conscience or his principle,” Mr. Marshall said, turning to the Zionists, among whom there was apprehension for their Zionist principles as a result of their pact with the non-Zionists.

“Everything depends on how the problem will be approached,” Mr. Marshall continued. “It is not necessary to make an inventory of our difficulties, but rather to find a point on which we agree. I trust the good sense of the Jewish people that we will find a way of agreement. The misgivings are due to the fact that we are not known one to another. The time for dreaming is over – not the time for ideals is over, but for dreams. Talk is valuable at times, but work is always valuable,” he said.

“NOT MONEY BAGS”; AMERICAN JEWS HAVE DONE AND WILL DO DUTY

“We American Jews are unknown to you,” Mr. Marshall continued. “Our traditions and habits differ. The idea prevails among some of you that Americans are ‘money bags.’ We are not ‘moncy bags.’ We are flesh and blood. We are Jews – Jews who respond to every cause in Judaism. We have done our duty to our brethren in eastern Europe; we will continue to do so. We have done our duty to Palestine and will continue to do so, if you will let us. We feel confident that you will let us.”

Mr. Marshall paid tribute to Dr. Weizmann stating that “we have been united through Dr. Weizmann’s statesmanship” and indicated that the non-Zionists find no difficulty because of the amendments to the Jewish Agency constitution enacted by the Zionist Congress, sponsored by the Mizrachi, for greater consideration by the Jewish Agency of the religious needs in the Palestine settlements and for a greater religious education in the Palestine schools. Mr. Marshall concluded, exclaiming: “We have one God. we are one people, let us be of one spirit!”

WEIZMANN IN OPENING ADDRESS ENVISAGES ALL-JEWISH UNION FOR PALESTINE

Dr. Weizmann, who called the meeting to order and delivered the opening address, started in Hebrew, proceeded to English and concluded in German.

“In this solemn moment it is fitting that my first words be uttered in the language which forms a precious part of our historic heritage. The task of the Jewish Agency will be to preserve and enrich the heritage of the past generations and to establish the Jewish National Home on sound foundations. We are drawn together by our pride in our common tradition. We are met to dedicate ourselves to the service of a common ideal. The road before us is a long and arduous one, but we are resolved to follow it without faltering until it brings us to our goal,” Dr. Weizmann said in Hebrew.

“In behalf of the Zionist Organization, I feel honored to extend a cordial welcome to our friends and colleagues from far and near who came here to participate in the inaugural meeting of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine,” Dr. Weizmann continued in English.

“In doing so I recall with deep appreciation the labors of those who, together with the Zionist Executive, have taken the lead in the movement which brought us together. Large as is the number of the Jewish communities already represented in the Council, it is not yet complete. It goes without saying that the doors remain open. I know the Council will agree with me when I say that there is not a Jewish community, great or small, to which suitable representation has not been gladly accorded. Our one desire is that in and through the Jewish Agency for Palestine, all Jews who respond to the call of Palestine shall have an opportunity to play their part in the reconstruction work. The task to which we dedicate ourselves today is not a monopoly of any section of Jewry. It is a common privilege and a common responsibility of Jewry as a whole.

“The Zionist Organization, which has so long borne the heat and the burden of the day, has never ceased to hope for a union of constructive forces of which the Jewish Agency for Palestine will henceforth be the symbol and the instrument. There is not one among us who is not deeply conscious of the lofty responsibility which we are about to assume here. I earnestly trust that the labors of the Council will redound to the lasting advantage of the Jewish people and to the honor of the Jewish name,” Dr. Weizmann said.

WILSON, ORIGINATOR OF MANDATE SYSTEM, UNDER WHICH PALESTINE ADMINISTERED

Dr. Weizmann then proceeded to sketch the legal international basis for the Jewish Agency as provided for in

The president of the World Zionist Organization abstained from Zionist oratory, limiting himself to a recital of facts. He declared that the participants in the assembly are living through a great historical moment. He continued:

“The Zionist Organization which is recognized in Article IV of the Palestine Mandate for the purpose of cooperating with the Palestine government in all affairs concerning the Jewish National Home has invited you, representatives of Jewries of all countries. You have accepted the invitation in the preceding negotiations in order to create a new instrument for carrying out the work for which the Zionist Organization, as the Jewish Agency, has so far carried the responsibility alone. This gathering has the task of constituting itself as the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and in your hands shall henceforth be the responsibility for the functions of the Agency.

“The Balfour Declaration stated: ‘His Majesty’s Government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.’

“The administration of countries which were not ripe for self-government, according to the opinion of the Powers gathered at the Peace Conference, formed a great international task which required a solution. For this purpose a system, whose originator was the great American statesman, Woodrow Wilson, was evolved, that is, the system of Mandates. This system, with its international legal form, was applied to Palestine and to the establishment of the Jewish National Home. Thus, the Jewish cause was connected with the communities of all nations. According to a decision of the League of Nations, the Mandate of Palestine was entrusted, on June 22, 1922, to the British government, with the idea that the Mandatory Power be responsible for carrying out the Balfour Declaration. Article IV of the Mandate stated: ‘An appropriate Jewish agency shall be recognized as a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the Administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish National Home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine, and, subject always to the control of the Administration, to assist and take part in the development of the country.

“The Zionist Organization, so long as its organization and constitution are in the opinion of the Mandatory appropriate, shall be recognized as such agency. It shall take steps in consultation with His Brittanic Majesty’s Government to secure the cooperation of all Jews who are willing to assist in the establishment of the Jewish National Home.’

50-YEAR PERIOD OF PALESTINE WORK CONCLUDED

“The effort which has just been concluded stretches over a period of almost fifty years. Within this time the Jewish population of Palestine, out of small beginnings, grew into what it is at present, with its own economic and social structure, with the rudiments of an original, national culture, whose instrument was the revived Hebrew language.

“During the time of the persecutions of Czaristic Russia, the first pioneers of this new Jewish life went to Palestine, driven by the age-long hopes and dreams which have slumbered in the Jewish soul throughout thousands of years and which live as un unshakable belief among the faithful to the old sacred prophecies, namely, the ideal of the resettlement of Jews in Palestine. There, after centuries of restlessness, they found a home and re-established the continuity of our own traditions, amalgamating large circles of Jewry.

PAYS TRIBUTE TO BARON ROTHSCHILD

“When the first colonists were fighting for their material existence in a thoroughly backward country, when they were harassed by untold difficulties, the Jews throughout the world rose to a recognition of their duty to the Palestine pioneers. Before all others, we must mention here the name of that great Jew and great man to whom Jewish Palestine is infinitely indebted and to whom we send from this platform our greetings – Baron Edmund de Rothschild.

“At a later period the longing to Zion of the Jewish people found its expression in the Zionist Organization.

DESCRIBES ZIONIST RENAISSANCE THEORY

“We Zionists have always connected the Jewish renaissance with the reestablishment in Palestine. We have connected with it the hope of a new Jewish creativeness which will enrich the world and human culture through its own creation, thus changing the fundamental status of Jewry in the world. Our ideal was a vision of a new people, free from the ghetto’s narrowness, free from the eternal fear of being misunderstood, living its own life on its own soil. We believe that this was not an artificial thought, but a logical result of the peculiar meeting between the original Jewish world with the European spirit of the past century. It was an elemental movement for national self-affirmation. Its most evident symptom was the development of the modern Jewish literature, especially in the Hebrew language. This movement led to the immigration of Jews to Palestine.

“We Zionists fought for some decades for the realization of this ideal without meeting, however, the cooperation of whole Jewry. We met with antagonism and misunderstanding, However, in this historical hour, we may say that the troubles were only a part of the historical process. History develops through such processes. Thanks to the political events mentioned be fore, the situation today is essentially different.

FACING DIFFERENT SITUATION TODAY

“We face, today, facts whose compelling force no one can escape. The first fact is the Palestine Mandate and the expectations which the entire world connects with the upbuilding of Palestine; the second fact and, perhaps, the most important, is the change which the World War brought about in the situation of the Jews in the world. East European Jewry which, until 1914, was the strongest reservoir of Jewish power, has been reduced as a consequence of the war to a state of misery. Jewish mass immigration to the United States has been stopped. Palestine appears, therefore, in an estirely new light, offering itself as a central Jewish task. We believe that Palestine has the possibilities for creating Jewish life on a large scale, for establishing and securing a Jewish existence and simultaneously creating an original Jewish culture, a Jewish home feeling whose spiritual value will overcome all difficulties.

“WE MEET AS FREE AND EQUAL MEN”

“We have established the extended Jewish Agency in the conviction that we meet as free and equal men and that our partnership rests on mutual respect. The question of convictions cannot be regulated by articles of constitution, but what we can and wish to regulate here is the system of practical work. May it be that what we create here shall be an honor to the Jewish name and a blessing to the future generations.

“In this sense we believe that this day, the fifth day of Ab, in the year 5689, will be recorded as an historical day in the annals of Jewish history. I declare the constitution meeting of the Council of the Jewish Agency for Palestine open,” Dr. Weizann concluded.

NEXT STORY