The Problems of the Zionist Congress and Dr. Weizmann’s Position: Manifesto by General Zionists of H
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The Problems of the Zionist Congress and Dr. Weizmann’s Position: Manifesto by General Zionists of H

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A manifesto dealing with the problems which will be coming up before the Seventeenth Zionist Congress in Basle has been issued here by the Netherlands Zionist Federation, signed by the President, Mr. F. Bernstein, who has been elected on the General Zionist list as the delegate from Holland to the Congress.

For many years we have been demanding that the Executive should get the Congress to declare what is the ultimate goal of Zionism in Palestine, the memorandum begins. For years attempts are being made to an increasing extent to give Zionism new goals by various interpretations of the Basle Programme and the Balfour Declaration, which amount to denials of what we understand as the meaning of the Basle Programme and of what is in actual fact still being propagated as Zionism to-day. For Zionist propaganda, even where it has lost every justification for so doing by changing the ultimate goal of Zionism, claims to bring a solution, even the only possible solution, of the Jewish question. The progressive whittling down of the Zionist aim was at first tolerated by the Executive, later it was regarded with favour, and finally, the President of the Organisation, speaking at the meeting of the Actions Committee held in Berlin in August 1930, expressly repudiated the very ideas which he himself had at the time of the Balfour Declaration declared to be the Zionist aims, and which he had himself propagated at that time in their most extreme form. This means that unless we redefine it, the Basle Programme no longer holds any value as an expression of what is the Zionist aim. That is why a clear statement of what the Zionist aim is has become unavoidable.


We hold that the solution of the Jewish question is still unchanged the meaning, the purpose and the justification of the existence of Zionism, the memorandum goes on. We are convinced that for the solution of the Jewish question, we must have the formation of a Jewish commonwealth, requiring such independence as we have hitherto been able to conceive only within the limits of a Jewish State. Those Zionists who are in favour of diminishing this aim have not been able to point to the slightest possibility of lessening in that way the existing Arab resistance to the policy of the Jewish National Home. The Zionist Organisation will lose every right to propagate Zionism as the solution of the Jewish question if the Congress does not definitely disavow Dr. Weizmann’s Berlin declaration. In our view, the Seventeenth Congress must declare that Zionism in Palestine aims at the achievement of a Jewish majority in the entire territory of Palestine, as the indispensable primary condition for the solution of the Jewish question.

We regret, but we are not surprised, that the Zionist Organisation is demoralised, and is showing numerous signs of impending collapse. Among the unsolved questions of organisation there is that of the extended Jewish Agency. In spite of years of debate, the Jewish Agency was improvised, without any preparation, or rather it was merely proclaimed, for in reality it is still not functioning. The for the most part merely casual co-operation of individual prominent non-Zionists cannot be regarded as a functioning of the extended Agency. If the Jewish Agency is ever to have any significance as a form of co-operation with non-Zionists in the reconstruction of Palestine, it must be built up systematically from the bottom on the basis of a democratic representation. The Zionist Organisation and the extended Agency must both ideologically and in their sphere of activities be sharply divided from each other. In all joint institutions, the Zionists must be responsible to the Zionist bodies.


Since the war decisions with regard to the formation of Zionist Executives have been dominated by the person of Dr. Weizmann, the memorandum continues, and all discussion on this subject has therefore always struck a strongly personal note. We do not like that. We have always endeavoured to judge the question of the Executive as far as possible from the point of view of principles, but the reason we have given made that very largely impossible. We regret it, but we cannot alter it. Notwithstanding Dr. Weizmann’s repeated assurances that he will not accept nomination this time as President, the opposite is being largely counted on. We yield to no one in recognition of Dr. Weizmann’s exceptional devotion and untiring work in the service of Zionism, frequently against difficult odds. But there are a number of circumstances which must raise the question whether it is possible to nominate him again as President of the Organisation. Dr. Weizmann has for years delivered public speeches against an active Mandates policy. He has issued satisfactory certificates to the British Government, while complaining of the insufficient achievements of the Jewish people. That makes his position particularly difficult when it becomes necessary to demand from Britain an active mandates policy. Dr. Weizmann allowed Transjordan to be severed from Palestine without any public protest and without an attempt even to rouse the Jewish masses against this grave violation of our rights, although Transjordan is of vital importance for the realisation of Zionism. He has repeatedly presented himself to the British Government in sharp dissociation from the Zionist extremists, adopting towards them an attitude of indictment, while himself taking up at times an attitude at least as extremist. Finally, he has declared himself opposed to the Zionist ultimate aim, which was previously propagated not only by every Zionist, but by Dr. Weizmann himself as being the meaning of the Balfour Declaration. To this we must add that the Keren Hayesod colonisation and its associated financial system conducted by Dr. Weizmann, which he has for years protected against the demands made for reorganisation, has now completely collapsed. Dr. Weizmann is responsible for the demoralisation of the Zionist Organisation not only formally; for he has stimulated the exploitation of the fractional system on grounds of internal Zionist policy it is not easily possible to allow this state of affairs to go on

We should not, however, consider it right to nominate a directorate in his place, the memorandum proceeds. Perhaps there should not be any exaggerated importance attached to the presidency. The President can quite easily have more representative functions, and he need not necessarily conduct policy. This task can be delegated to a member of the Executive who will have to conduct policy in agreement with the entire Executive. Under present circumstances this is unfortunately not the case, and such agreement, which hither to has for the most part been lacking and, in view of the way in which the Executive was formed, had to be lacking, is a primary condi- tion for any fruitful work on the part of an Executive, and our first condition is that the Executive must be elected on a programme. We are against any Executive composed merely of representatives of Congress groups. We are also against the so-called “big coalition”, which has of late been advocated with so much fervour. We demand a homogeneous Executive, which will subscribe to a definite programme in regard to the Zionist aim, policy, organisation, financial system and colonisation. The party affiliation of the persons to be elected to the Executive is a matter to which we are quite indifferent if only we believe in their capacity.


We recommend the establishment of a Propaganda Department, the memorandum continues. The present position of world Jewry demands the intensive propagation of Herzlian Zionism as the solution of the Jewish question. Of course, there must be belief in the possibility of this solution, and it will be necessary for the primacy of the territorial concentration of the Jewish people in Palestine to be again generally recognised in the Zionist Organisation. Naturally, the conditions in Palestine must not be in contradiction to this propaganda, and no propaganda can be conducted on the basis of the Jewish question if its solution through a Jewish Palestine is declared to be impossible. That goes without saying.

As matters now stand, the memorandum concludes, we cannot look to the Seventeenth Congress for any revolutionary decisions. It will not be able to do more than initiate the transition. But that it must do. We stand at the end of a decade, and we must write finis to this period of political renunciation and political debacle, demoralisation of the Organisation, financial misconduct and colonisational impotence. The Seventeenth Congress cannot go back home and leave everything more or less as it has been for the last ten years. If it does, the outlook for the future of Zionism and the work in Palestine is devastating.

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