BASLE (Jul. 3)
The stormiest session the present Zionist Congress has yet witnessed came late today when Dr. Stephen S. Wise of New York, speaking as the representative of the American delegation, came out with an excoriating indictment of England for its failure to fulfil the obligations of the Palestine Mandate and a bitter attack on the leadership of Dr. Weizmann. At one point the Congress was thrown into an uproar when Dr. Weizmann left the platform in demonstrative protest against the speaker and the Laborite delegates attempted to shout him down with cries of “demagogue” and appeals to the chairman to forbid the continuance of his speech.
“I indict the present government of England on this tribunal of the Jewish people before the moral conscience of the world as having tragically failed to fulfil its obligations under the Palestine Mandate to the Jewish people”, Dr. Wise called out.
“Dr. Weizmann’s speech sounded like a statement by the British government”, he continued, “but my word will be a statement to the British government. Whether it will be necessary to speak against England depends on whether we shall have a leadership which shall speak to England”. Dr. Wise then declared that he offered no indictment against the English people. “How”, he asked, “can I indict Lord Balfour, Lloyd George, Lord Plumer and General Smuts? It is these who are representative of the English people and not Lord Passfield, High Commissioner Chancellor and Keith Roach, district commissioner in Palestine”.
“SECURITY, LAND, IMMIGRATION”
The three major points for the establishment of the Jewish National Home are security, land and immigration, Dr. Wise said. “Security should not rest on British bayonets but on an end of the will and efforts on the part of British officials in Palestine who incite the Arabs against the Jews. We do not demand safety for our men in Palestine, but we demand that the British government grant security for women, children and old men who were the especially chosen victims of the 1929 riots. Our second demand is free and legal access to the land, and our third is freedom of immigration.
“During the past two years we have had none of these things. We have had bad laws administered by worse officials. We had utter and tragic insecurity. We had restriction, even cancellation of immigration. We are justified in saying that the establishment of the Jewish National Home has been practically annulled by fiat of the British Government.”
Characterizing Dr. Weizmann’s speech as a personal apologia and not a political address, Dr. Wise emphasized that the Congress “will never accept the MacDonald letter as setting right the White Paper. The letter is not a treaty of peace but red cross relief for those sorely wounded by the Grand Mufti, Lord Passfield and the pogroms.
LETTER CANCELS WHITE PAPER
“All major and minor pogroms in Palestine hurt Great Britain at least as much as they hurt us. Our leadership maintains that the MacDonald letter is a virtual cancellation of the White Paper. However, not the White Paper but immigration permits were cancelled. England’s answer to the Mufti-led pogromists was the cancellation of permits. Our leadership’s answer was the whittling down of the Jewish National Home into a bi-national state. We have had insults, indignity, shame and degradation from the British Government which learned the art of fifty-fifty from the Jewish Agency, fifty percent for the Arabs and fifty percent against the Jews”.
It was at this point of Dr. Wise’s speech that the Congress was thrown into an uproar. Dr. Weizmann rose from the platform and in a half demonstrative fashion left the hall while Dr. Wise was speaking. Out in the lobby he explained that he left because he considered Dr. Wise’s address unparliamentary and irresponsible.
After Dr. Weizmann left the hall the Laborite delegates, who have been Dr. Weizmann’s staunchest supporters, shouted “you are a demagogue” to Dr. Wise and attempted to prevent him from continuing with his address. Jacob Fishman of New York, claiming that he spoke for the American delegates of the group headed by Louis Lipsky, former president of the Zionist Organization of America, declared that Dr. Wise did not speak in the name of their group. In the meantime, Dr. M. D. Eder, leader of the British general Zionists, called upon Dr. Leo Motzkin, the chairman, to prevent Dr. Wise from continuing.
Dr. Motzkin, however, found that Dr. Wise had spoken in parliamentary form. “So long as I am chairman”, he ruled, “I shall not prevent him from continuing”.
ARAB PROBLEM INVENTED
The uproar lasted for some time. When it finally quieted down Dr. Wise continued: “If the Balfour Declaration had read ‘the aim of His Majesty’s Government is to hinder, obstuct and frustrate the establishment of the Jewish National Home’, the Declaration would have been abundantly fulfilled. England is responsible for an understanding between the Jews and the Arabs which London and Jerusalem officials have done everything to make impossible notwithstanding the fact that the Jews are willing, nay eager, for such an understanding. There would not have been an Arab problem in Palestine if the Palestine government had not invented it or evolved it”.
Asserting that the Zionist Executive had no right to accept the MacDonald letter as a basis for cooperation, Dr. Wise declared that this letter should not have been answered by Dr. Weizmann three months ago, but by the present Congress. “The land development scheme is the best proof that the MacDonald letter offers no basis for cooperation,” he charged.
“We have cooperated fully and loyally for ten years and in return we have hurt and reprisal, wrong and murder. The Arabs have not cooperated and they have gotten all they wanted. The Arabs do not even find it worth-while to go to London for the purpose of a conference as we must go. We must speak to England as England likes to be spoken to. No leadership is qualified to speak for us which faces the British government in the spirit of ‘you are great and we are small, you are all and we are nothing.’ That our leadership has lost faith in the Jewish people is abundantly proved by events before and after the negotiations between the Jewish Agency and the British government.
“A vote for the present leadership,” Dr. Wise declared, “is a vote for a present British regime from Lord Passfield down to Keith Roach. If the present leadership is reelected the British government would have the right to say, and would say, that the Zionist leaders were not right in resigning after the issuance of the White Paper.
REELECTION OF LEADERS DISGRACE
“It would be an eternal disgrace if the present leadership were to accept reelection. Jewish history would never forgive it. If the British government desires the present leadership to continue, our answer is, we choose our leadership which is not to be chosen for us. We have not freed ourselves under Herzl to be reenslaved under Weizmann by the British government.”
A new scandal erupted during this address in which Dr. Wise, Dr. Eder and Jabotinsky engaged in outcries across the platform. Immediately after Dr. Wise ended his address Dr. Eder rose and protested in the name of the English delegation against the introduction of British politics into a Congress debate. Dr. Wise, he claimed, had said that under a Conservative government these pogroms would never have occurred. At this point Dr. Wise interrupted with the cry, “I never said that.” Eder shouted, “you liar.” Jabotinsky called across to Eder, “Eder, you’re talking dangerous nonsense.” Meer Grossman, Revisionist leader, and Dr. Robert Stricker, erstwhile Radical, joined in the ensuing turnult.
Dr. Wise then rose on the platform and stated that he had never uttered the sentence quoted by Dr. Eder. He demanded an apology which Dr. Eder refused to give him. Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff, Palestine Labor leader, sustained Dr. Wise’s claim that he had never made the statement attributed to him by Dr. Eder and this brought the incident to a close.
Morris Meyer, an English delegate, asked the Congress presidium why it permitted Dr. Wise to insult the British government with whom relations had not been broken off. But the chairman ruled that Dr. Wise had not insulted Great Britain and furthermore that since an opportunity had been given to offer a defense of the British government, it was not more than right to give free opportunity for criticism to Zionists who in their patriotic ardor had perhaps used sharp words.
Dr. Weizmann returned to the Congress hall immediately after Dr. Wise’s address.
The general debate then continued with a discussion of (1) the Weizmann policy as against Jabotinsky’s program, (2) Dr. Weizmann’s definition of the aims of Zionism, and (3) the proposed rejection of the MacDonald letter. Ben Zion Mossinsohn, general Zionist of Palestine, asked for the rejection of Dr. Weizmann’s call for political parity with the Arabs as well as the Revisionists’ suggestions and demands. He urged that no Arab problems be discussed but that only practical Palestine work and the fight for Jewish political rights be taken up.
Dr. Chaim Arlosoroff concentrated chieflly on criticism of Revisionism and termed it merely a fighting system which isolates Zionism from international, English and Arab public opinion. The only way to continue is to strengthen the upbuilding work in Palestine and the Jewish community politically and economically, he declared. “It is impossible to close our eyes to changes in international policy since the Balfour Declaration which are now unfavorable to Zionism.”
He also contended that in spite of all the occurrences of the last few years there were opportunities for bringing tens of thousands of people in Palestine just as was done after the Churchill White Paper of 1922. In describing the internal Zionist position he claimed that the Revisionists were seeking to destroy the organization and sabotage the Zionist Administration.
As regards England, he said, opinion is divided between those who are pro-Jewish and those who are pro-Arab. The latter, he went on, wished to liquidate Zionism, while those who are pro-Jewish wished to strengthen the movement. The only future for Palestine, he concluded, is equal rights for Jews and Arabs.