Calling upon all the present officials of the Zionist Organization of America to resign and suggesting that a directorate of “three, five, seven or nine men” be elected at a special convention to conduct Zionist work in this country, Jacob de Haas, in a long article in Tuesday’s “Day” cites what he regards as the failures of Zionism since 1921 under its present leadership. Mr. de Haas believes that if within fifteen years there will not be a half million Jews in Palestine, then “Palestine will neither be a Jewish Homeland nor a culture center.”
Some of the salient points of Mr. de Haas’s article are:
“The first stage of the remedy (for Zionism) is the resignation from all offices in the Z.O.A., the W.Z.O., the J. A. and all affiliations of the present Z.O.A. incumbents, so as to permit a thorough reorganization from top to bottom without any strings, pledges, etc., as to individuals. The theory that the leadership must know who is to succeed it is not sound politically.
“Because the routine of organization calls for it, because the new incumbents must have an understanding with their constituency, because the future policy must be clearly defined, it seems necessary to make the change at a special convention. Because re-organization and the fitness of men and their solicitation to serve is not a “press-the-button” operation, I believe the transfer should be made by putting the administration temporarily in commission. Three, five, seven or nine men, without group responsibilities should, as soon as possible, submit not only a detailed plan of technical reorganization, but of permanent personnel. Moreover, I believe this placing the administration temporarily in commission will be the first step in a much needed change in American Zionism. Since 1921 it has wholly stressed personalities, personal, individual leadership, so that practically the organization has ceased to exist; nothing but over-advertised individuals remain.
“I am perfectly well aware that to many the question of resignations is the hub of the question. In the first place the broad sweep of my suggestion does not imply that all are equally sinners, but it does mean that whoever assumes the responsibility of nominating the new cabinet is not compelled to adjust himself in advance to fixed factors. I know equally well that some individuals will respond to this plan by a challenge: ‘Come to a convention and we will wipe you out.’ My answer is that I realize that the machine still exists, and that what is necessary can only be done by the action of Zionists and not by a contest. Men who are to be drafted in a serious situation cannot at the same time be invited to enter an election fight.
“My criticism of the Z.O.A., following in this the W.Z.O., is that it has been planless, that it has never measured its objective, that it has lived and lives by extemporizing. My criticism of the Jewish Agency plan was that it too was basically planless, that it had no blue-printed objective. That criticism published in June, 1928, is fully justified by events in January, 1930.
It is neither in bitterness nor in arrogance that I call attention to this. I say to all fellow-Zionists everywhere, reject or accept my plan, until you face the realities of the Palestine problem you will go one step forward and two backward.
“The Jewish Agency will have to be changed radically. The representatives of the Z.O.A. will have to press upon it some such policy as I outlined. The Agency needs the Z.O., for it has no means of permeating Jewish life with its pro-Palestine policy. Its rabbinic supporters will do no more than they did before, stand on guard to protect non-Zionism or anti-Zionism. A real Z.O.A. is necessary to accelerate the tempo of Agency effort until it operates fairly under its own speed.
“The structure of the organization is subordinate to its objective. My objective is the Brandeisian formula ‘to populate Palestine within a comparatively short time with a preponderating body of manly, self-supporting Jews who will develop into a homogeneous people with high Jewish ideals.’ We can define ‘comparatively short time’ as fifteen years. The Zionist movement must make or break on this reality. Fail to recognize the fact that time is of the essence of the problem and you are lost before you start. With less than half a million Jews in Palestine, the possibility of reasonable individual success is too remote.
“If within fifteen years we do not meet the Arabs on almost equal terms, numerically, Palestine will be neither a Jewish homeland nor a culture center.”