Plans for an extensive program of economic undertakings in Palestine to be sponsored by a series of separate corporations, were announced by Israel B. Brodie, chairman of the Economic Committee of the Zionist Organization of America, at the first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Z.O.A. at the Hotel Pennsylvania on Sunday, September 28th, it is revealed in a transcript of the minutes of the executive session which have just been made public.
Meeting for the first time since its election at the Cleveland Zionist convention, the Executive Committee heard a series of reports covering the activities of the Organization. The meeting was opened by Robert Szold, chairman of the Administration, who then turned the chair over to Israel Brodie after he had been unanimously elected chairman of the Executive Committee. Nelson Ruttenberg, of New York, was named as secretary.
In his report as chairman of the Administration, Mr. Szold expressed the feeling that as a result of the action of the Mandates Commission and the Council of the League of Nations that a spirit of closer cooperation between the Jewish people and the Mandatory Power may be expected, and spoke of the need for enlarged constructive activities. Referring to the Jewish Agency, Mr. Szold said :
Z.O.A. TO COOPERATE WITH AGENCY
“The Jewish Agency is manfully setting about its task. Organized under circumstances of unusual difficulty, it is beginning its work of development of the Jewish National Home under the Mandate. The proportions allotted in the Agency budget to constructive practical colonization and economic work, as compared to that of other activities may be too low in the opinion of many of us, and in the instrumentalities of its organization both here and in Palestine, may no doubt be improved. The enlarged Jewish Agency exists ; we shall loyally and faithfully carry out our compact ; we propose to cooperate, as Zionists, with and support the Jewish Agency in carrying out its purpose. In thus cooperating a virile Z.O.A. is necessary and we shall maintain as occasion may require, the principles which animate our movement for the Jewish National Home.”
Mr. Szold set the tone for the meeting when he declared that the Administration “proposes to emphasize the economic methods for the upbuilding of Palestine. This is not because any of us does not have the high spiritual and cultural ideals as the goal ; for we realize the sound economic base is not the ultimate end in itself. But at the present moment we feel the need of accelerating the pace of immigration ; and we feel called upon to dedicate ourselves to that immediate objective. We stress the economic foundation for the immediately enlarged Jewish population.”
What was regarded as the most important occurrence at the meeting was the reading of the report of the Economic Committee by Israel B. Brodie which foreshadowed a program of economic expansion in Palestine hitherto never attempted by any agency in the United States. It was emphasized by Mr. Brodie that the plans for commercial and industrial undertakings are to be furthered in cooperation with the Jewish Agency, the Palestine Economic Corporation and any other bodies or individuals who may desire to lend assistance.
Pointing out that it is the Zionist aim, in the words of Justice Brandeis, “to populate Palestine within a comparatively short time with a preponderating body of manly, self-supporting Jews, who will develop there into a homogeneous people ; will apply the Jewish spiritual and intellectual ideals ; and will ultimately become a self-governing commonwealth,” Mr. Brodie said that the most important task facing Zionists is the acceleration and enlargement of the absorptive capacity of Palestine.
Saying that agricultural colonization “is, of course, of supreme importance, and it must continue without interruption,” he declared, however, that “the time has come to shift our emphasis, at least for the time being, to the stimulation and rapid development of industry and commerce in Palestine and this view we must make current with the Jews of the country.”
After reviewing the commercial possibilities of the country, Mr. Brodie stated that it is the purpose of his committee to select certain “key” enterprises which are likely to exercise “the widest influence upon the whole economy of the country and which will vitally enlarge the capacity of Palestine to absorb the largest number of immigrants in the shortest possible time.”
CORPORATION FOR EACH PHASE
The Economic Committee proposed that each particular phase of the expansion work be undertaken by a separate corporation. The functions of the Committee in relations to the corporation would be (a) to study all relevant facts for each undertaking before submitting plans for the formation of a company to undertake the financing of the enterprise ; (b) to secure for each undertaking the leadership of those men whose business experience in this country qualifies them to deal with the particular enterprise ; (c) to use the facilities of the Zionist Organization in securing participation in these enterprises by members of the Zionist Organization and those who are not members thereof ; (d) to serve the several groups in an advisory capacity from time to time through those members of this committee particularly qualified for the task.
Mr. Brodie then enumerated what he considered the “key” industries in which investigations are being conducted, where the enterprises are not already established. These are :
(1) Palestine Potash, Ltd. It was pointed out that the capital of this company is $1,250,000 of which $500,000 was subscribed by persons affiliated with the Zionist Organization and the Palestine Economic Corporation. Mr. Brodie reported that the work at the Dead Sea is proceeding most rapidly and satisfactorily. He indicated that the undertaking will lay the foundations of a heavy chemical industry in Palestine.
(2) Citrus industry. The report points out that the value of the Jewish holdings in the Palestine citrus industry is about $20,000,000 and yet “no real steps have been taken to create the fundamental instrumentalities which are essential to the stabilization and growth of this industry. What the corporation in this field would do would be to promote the establishment of a central agency to control the practices of grading and packing, to set up marketing agencies, to organize a central Citrus Growers’ Exchange, etc. Mr. Brodie announced that an expert is now engaged on investigating the entire subject and that a report for the action of the Committee may be expected.
(3) Mortgage bank. A mortgage bank for urban loans to serve manufacturers and business men who have large portions of their capital frozen in business and residential properties.
(4) Engineering and contracting corporation. Possessing the most modern equipment and under the guidance of competent engineers, such a corporation would open up the field for the employment of Jewish labor in government and municipal works of all kinds, from which Jewish labor is now practically excluded.
(5) Factoring corporation. Such an organization would furnish credit to manufacturers for reasonable periods, on proper security, to enable them to purchase raw materials : furnish credit to manufacturers to extend their relatively long term credit demands ; furnish capital for the enlargement of operations by various industries.
(6) Home industries. Promotion of home work which can provide employment for persons whose employment is seasonal, men, women and girls who work in the agricultural colonies, etc.
(7) Fisheries. An organization to develop the sardine packing industry.
OTHER COMMITTEE HEADS REPORT
During the day reports were also made by the Committee on Organization of which Jacob de Haas is chairman, Committee on Public Information, Emanuel Neumann, chairman ; Committee on Finance, Samuel J. Rosensohn, chairman ; Committee on Jewish National Fund, Abraham Goldberg and Committee on Publications, Abraham Tulin.
During the discussion the various speakers declared the need of continuing the normal activities of the Organization as well as expanding some phases of its work. In line with these suggestions a resolution was adopted authorizing the Administrative Committee to proceed with the preparation of a budget which would maintain its full strength. The Executive Committee “pledges itself and through itself the Zionists of America, to supply a fund of $100,000 to supplement the income from membership.”
The session concluded with addresses by Abraham Goldberg and Louis Lipsky on the meetings of the Actions Committee and the Administrative Committee of the Jewish Agency at Berlin. Mr. Goldberg said that the memorandum which had been presented to the British Government was an indication of the close harmony that existed between Zionists and non-Zionists on fundamental policy in Palestine. Mr. Lipsky expressed the belief that in the best interests of accelerated work in Palestine it was desirable to enlarge the scope of the non-Zionist side of the Jewish Agency so that it might embrace a larger section of American Jewry.
The following attended the meeting : Isaac Allen, Israel B. Brodie, Charles A. Cowen, Jacob de Haas, Mrs. Judith Epstein, Col. Benjamin Evarts, David Freiberger, Abraham Goldberg, Isadore Goldberg, Israel Goldberg, Abraham Goldstein, Mrs. Edward Jacobs, Laurence Levine, Judge William M. Lewis, Louis Lipsky, Dr. S. Margoshes, Bernard G. Richards, Morris Margulies, Emanuel Neumann, Rabbi Louis I. Newman, Dr. Nathan Ratnoff, Herman G. Robbins Mrs. Sol Rosenbloom, Samuel J. Rosensohn, Oscar Rosner, Morris Rothenberg, Rabbi Norman Salit, Rabbi Abba H. Silver, A. Spicehandler, Mrs. Robert Szold, Robert Szold, Dr. Israel Wechsler, Morris Weinberg, Joseph Weiss, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, Leo Wolfson, Morris A. Zeldin.