Lord Melchett Voices Jews’ Disappointment at Slow Progress of Palestine Reconstruction Work
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Lord Melchett Voices Jews’ Disappointment at Slow Progress of Palestine Reconstruction Work

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A vigorous note, voicing disappointment at the attitude of the Mandatory Power, was sounded by Lord Melchett, British Zionist, when he, following Sir Herbert Samuel, former High Commissioner of Palestine, addressed the Jewish Agency constitution meeting here Sunday afternoon.

Besides Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Marshall, the opening session was devoted to the addresses of outstanding Jewish leaders throughout the world.

Lord Melchett disagreed with the view expressed by Sir Herbert who declared that “the cause of Palestine is safe with the British government.”

“It is a great disappointment to me that under no government and under no High Commissioner were we able to exercise the full weight which the Palestine Mandate provides for the Jewish Agency,” Lord Melchett stated.

“The political position requires eternal vigilance,” he added.

“I am glad to be present at the foundation of the Agency. I believe we ought to take stock of our situation. I hope that the Jewish Agency will make vigilance of the political situation more possible. If Palestine were an empty country, the only question that would have to be solved would be that of money and immigration. But there is more to it. I am confident that the Jewish people can and will succeed.

“From Basle to Zurich and from Herzl’s book, “Judenstaat,” to a reality, to the possibility of recreating Eretz Israel was not a chance but a miracle, but I hope that the Great God who is watching over us will guide us and help us with the strength which maintained us from before the Temple days up to the time of the Balfour Declaration,” Lord Melchett stated.

Lord Melchett expressed his regret at the division of the ranks of the Zionists into Left, Right and Center groups, where “united hands for the upbuilding of Palestine are required.” He stated he hoped that the Jewish Agency will “make us more powerful.”


“Not only some Jews but all Jews are necessary for the rebuilding of Palestine,” stated Sir Herbert Samuel, former High Commissioner of Palestine. “It was for this reason that Article IV was inserted in the Mandate Today, this Agency has been born. For the first time representatives of the entire Jewish people the world over have gathered, more numerous than ever before. Let us pay tribute to the work of the Zionist Organization,” he said.


“The Zionist Organization will not lose its strength,” Sir Herbert continued. “It will rather double its strength. It will not lose its identity, but retain its Congress, its problems, its crises. (Laughter). What ought to be guarded against is that Zionism should not became bureaucratized. When you do that you kill it. We are grateful for the spirit of sacrifice which the Zionist Organization is able to invoke in the Jewish masses. The Zionist Organization has proven to profess reason in offering fifty per cent of the seats on the Jewish Agency Council to the non-Zionists. However, the president of the Zionist Organization must remain the president of the Jewish Agency. When we remember that it is Weizmann who is the president of the Zionist Organization, no other course is conceivable,” he said.


The former High Commissioner of Palestine then paid special tribute to the generosity of American Jews for the Palestine cause, to Lord Balfour and to Lord Melchett. Continuing, he said: “The position in Palestine is good. The economic depression is over. The political position, although difficult, is not formidable. The cause of Palestine is safe with the British government. I am certain that all difficulties will be overcome, although it is said that where there are three Jews there usually are to be found four opinions. Those entrusted with the work for the Agency will feel their great responsibility. They are makers of history whose names will go down into the annals with praise or reproach, depending on how they will fulfill their task. A hundred thousand Jews who entered Palestine during the last ten years will watch them,” he said.


Prof. Albert Einstein, who was given a tremendous ovation by the assembly, declared that August 11 will be a great day in the annals of the modern Jews. A new era is dawning, he said, launching a glowing tribute to the memory of Dr. Heodore Herzl. At the mention of Dr. Herzl’s name all Zionists in the assembly rose, followed by the others. “The Jewish people before Herzl were atoms. He brought them together. Herzl possessed a rare political instinct. He inaugurated this work when it was enormously difficult, when it seemed impossible and it was opposed by everybody. Today, we withness the triumph of this work. He was followed by our great leader. Weizmann, from whose work in the Agency much may be expected,” Prof Einstein declared.


Rabbi Ben Zion Uziel, Rabbi of the Sephardic community of Tel Aviv, after welcoming the inauguration meeting, described in strong terms the recent occurrences at the Wailing Wall, voicing a vigorous protest.


Felix M. Warburg, who devoted a part of his address to a description of the negotiations between the leaders of the Zionist Organization and the American non-Zionists, paid tribute to the work, devotion, patience and understanding of Louis Marshall, and “the broad-minded attitude” of Dr. Weizmann, Col. Kisch and the other Zionist leaders with whom negotiations were conducted.

Innumerable conferences between Mr. Marshall and the non-Zionist Committee of Seven, together with a similar Zionist committee, were held. The final meeting took place at Mr. Warburg’s house on February 22, 1929. when Mr. Marshall and Mr. Warburg, as chairman of the non-Zionist Committee of Seven, were empowered to work out the future details. Col. Kisch and Morris Rothenberg, on one side, and Mr. Marshall and Mr. Warburg on the other side, continued with great patience to straighten out the points on which there was not a complete agreement. “All I wish to report at the present time is that I appreciate tremendously Mr. Marshall’s work, devotion, patience and understanding and Dr. Weizmann’s and Col. Kisch’s broad-minded attitude,” he said.

“We are endeavoring to put our shoulders to the wheel, to bring into Palestine a genuine, sound business management, together with the prevailing idealism of such extraordinary degree, in order to stabilize the progress which we all hope the country will make in a natural way. Nobody wants an eruption of enthusiasm which will die out, but we hope that every inch of that small but beautiful country called Palestine will do its share, that every man, woman and child interested in Palestine will try to improve conditions. disregarding the many little vanities to which human beings are prone.


“The urge of Palestine is tremendous. Whoever has been there must feel it in his bones, he must feel in his heart the love of the soil. Every blade of grass, every growing flower, every orange produced in perfect form, will add to the esprit de corps and

“Our interest in joining this movement was to strengthen and to unify our forces, to subordinate our wishes to the wishes of the larger number. We do not desire to create a small ruling class. Every one of those who is in trusted with positions of importance will be glad to prepare someone else, who may take his place a short while later, in rotation. The more people who work for Palestine, the more people become acquainted with its problems and their solutions. The happier the future, the sooner will be the feeling of a healthy democracy which will be developed.

“The problem of reaching this unification was to prepare the ground through working out the constitution of the Jewish Agency. The task, while not easy, was made pleasant by the splendid people who collaborated in its fulfillment,” he said.

Mr. Warburg, at the conclusion of his address, expressed thanks for the confidence shown and cooperation extended. He expressed appreciation to those with whom he has come into contact. In conclusion he stated that he hoped that “the fond expectations which many of us harbor by this time will come true to the satisfaction of our children and our grandchildren. We hope that Palestine’s word of greeting, ‘Shalom’ (peace), will become the watchword throughout the country. However, placid peace can prevail only if we show consideration to our neighbors of other states who have their own attachments, their own reverences nad their own rights of property in Palestine, and whose feelings must be considered as carefully as our own. From them we naturally expect a similar spirit of friendly understanding.”


A credentials committee of five was appointed by Dr. Weizmann at the first session. It is composed of Dr. Cyrus Adler, Philadelphia; Max Shulman, Chicago; S. Gronemann. Berlin; Nathan Laski, London, and Berl Locker, Poale Zionist.


M. M. Ussishkin, head of the Jewish National Fund, veteran Zionist leader since the days of Herzl, stirred the assembly to enthusiasm when he turned to the non-Zionists recounting what the Zionists had brought into the partnership. “We bring to this meeting the Balfour Declaration, the Palestine Mandate, one hundred Jewish colonies in Palestine, a revived Hebrew language, and the Hebrew University. We want you to build on this foundation.”

Mr. Ussishkin who was not scheduled as a speaker on the original program, substituting Chaim Nachman Bialik, gave unstinted praise to Dr. Weizmann as the creator of the Jewish Agency. The applause became deafening when he exclaimed: “We brought these things to you because we must increase the tempo of our work until Palestine stops being Palestine and becomes Eretz Israel.


Sholom Asch, the famous Yiddish novelist, who declared that he represents at the Agency Council “the poverty of Poland,” stated that to whomever Palestine may be a spiritual luxury to the Jews of Poland it is a bitter necessity.

“With hungry eyes they pray to us to give them stable ground under their feet. The president (Dr. Weizmann) asked several years ago: ‘Jewish people, where are ye?’ Today’s assembly brought the reply from the four corners of the earth. Not only the Jewish people of the present generation are assembled here, but all the generations whose martyrs we again sanctify through our present deeds. Only Erez Israel had the power to gather all Jews into this historic conference. The aim of this conference must be not only to rebuild Palestine but to build the Jewish people through Palestine.”

Mr. Asch conculded his address by quoting the Bible: ” ‘Cleanse our hearts to serve you.’ This phrase is included not only in our prayers but in the chaluzim songs in resurrected Palestine. Let us forget our party differences, but remember the poor Jewish masses and the wasted Palestine which longs for cultivation.”


Rabbi Ezekiel Lipschitz of Kalisch Poland, president of the Federation of Polish Rabbis, patriarchal in appearance, expressed his confidence in the successful development of the Agency’s work. He blessed the assembly and stated that “one language. one people, one spirit” must be the slogan.


Leon Blum, French Socialist leader, and one of the moving spirits in the Second Socialist International, stated in his address, in French, that the reconstruction of Palestine needed not only capital but labor as well. It also needs the support of international public opinion. The Socialist International takes a lively interest in the rebuilding of Palestine, he said.

“The presence here of Albert Einstein on one hand and S. Kaplansky on the other, sitting in together on the question of Palestine, is the greatest tribute to the genius of the Jewish race. I am glad to see here my international friends, the Palestine workers. This evokes the admiration not only of the Jewish world but of mankind,” M. Blum said, adding that he was proud of being a member of the Jewish race.


Mr. D’Avigdor Goldsmid, president of the Board of Jewish Deputies in England, stated that the Jewish masses of Great Britain are in sympathy with the aims of the Jewish Agency. The unanimity of the decision by the Board of Deputies was an indication of the feeling of responsibility toward Palestine.


Oscar Wassermann stated that some non-Zionists bring to the Palestine work a better understanding than some Zionists. “What we need most in Palestine is unity. Not capital alone is essential, but the political and moral unity of Jewry. Knowledge and progress are possible when there is youth and enthusiasm. We will not do anything which will repel the youth. Our work will be for the Yishub, with the Yishub and not against it or above it,” he said.


The Zionist and non-Zionist audience burst into the singing of the Zionist hymn “Hatikvah” when the first session closed, following the address of Nahum Sokolow. He expressed praise of the “Zionist speeches of the non-Zionists. They might have been delivered at the Zionist Congress,” he said. “We are going from strength to strength, uniting under the Herzl banner for Eretz Israel. not against Herzl but with Herzl. We bring with us a great dowry, the Herzl symbol. Palestine was always there. It is perhaps premature to declare already August 11 as an historic day, but the hope is justified that today will be remembered in history as a day on which Jewry united under the flag of Eretz Israel,” he said.

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