London (Sep. 30)
Important statements on the position of the Zionist movement and the future of the Jewish work in Palestine were made this evening at a demonstration in the Kingsway Hall, addressed by Mr. Nahum Sokolov, President of the Zionist World Organisation and the Jewish Agency, Dr. Selig Brodetsky and Mr. Berl Locker, members of the Executive, and Mr. O. E. d’Avigdor Goldsmid, Chairman of the Jewish Agency Council and President of the Jewish Board of Deputies.
You well know what we have to face as an Executive after the last Congress, Mr. Sokolov said. We are confronted with tremendous difficulties. The political situation is most delicate and requires a good deal of energy, endurance, wisdom and tact. The stronger our Organisation, the greater will be its moral weight. I am glad to say that the spirit in the Government circles is good and that we are trustfully looking forward to the new High Commissioner.
We believe in the genius of Great Britain and in the sacredness of Justice, safeguarded by international obligations, he went on. But we have to fight for the defence of our legitimate interests against misapprehension. Our task is to re-establish confidence in the Mandatory Power which has unfortunately been shaken by anxieties, uncertainties and tragic events.
We have also a very great task with regard to the Arabs, he continued. Relations between Jews and Arabs have hither to been scanty, spasmodic and unfortunately full of prejudice on the Arab side, largely owing to fanaticism and ignorance. We believe that the time will soon arrive for a broad basis of permanent relations of mutual respect between the two peoples to be established. We shall devote all our energies to pave the way for an intellectual, social and economic peace, because we feel the force and truth of the conception of solidarity as against the disastrous old notion of hostile rivalry.
NEW PERIOD BEGINNING IN WORK OF ZIONIST ORGANISATION: ZIONIST MOVEMENT NO MORE THE IDYLL IT WAS AT TIME OF FIRST CONGRESS: BUT NOBODY SHOULD DRAW FALSE CONCLUSION THAT ZIONISM HAS WEAKENED.
The new Zionist Executive elected at the 17th. Zionist Congress at Basle, inaugurating the new period now beginning in the work of the Zionist Organisation, and impressed by the gravity of its mission, Mr. Sokolov said, has the honour to submit the following statement for your careful consideration and to appeal for your wholehearted co-operation in the realisation of its endeavours.
The recent Congress has provoked a great deal of anxiety and perturbation in consequence of the expression sometimes vehement, passionate, and intense,-of strong and deep feelings, of super-subtle abstractions, and party views. The field of vision was and still is encumbered by the debris of heated controversies. But nobody should allow himself to draw the false conclusion that Zionism has weakened. Such a mood of pessimism has only to be faced in the proper spirit, to disappear as quickly as it has arisen.
The Zionist movement is no more the idyll it was in 1897, he pursued. It has become the greatest drama of the age.
Zionism is a subject of many aspects, Mr. Sokolov said. It has many branches and raises many issues, some political, some economic, and others educational. It embraces all parties and schools in Judaism. It is a common-and in my opinion an unjust-criticism that the Jewish people are sadly addicted to factions. Why not? Where there are no factions, there is death. The very existence of contending parties spells vitality and virtue. Among the Jewish people outside the Zionist Organisation there are fewer conflicts between the contrasting parties because there is no longer any contact between them-no common enterprise, no reciprocal criticism and struggle-peace: This sort of peace we do not want in our ranks.
MOVEMENT GOING THROUGH TIME OF STRESS AND CRISIS: IF WE STILL HAVE COURAGE AT TIME LIKE PRESENT TO APPROACH OUR PEOPLE DEMANDING INCREASE OF SACRIFICES IT IS BECAUSE JEWISH PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS BEST IN CRISIS: WE ZIONISTS WHO WANT A COUNTRY ARE NOT UNCONSCIOUS OF TROUBLES AND PERILS OF HAVING A COUNTRY BUT ARE SIMPLY MORE CONSCIOUS OF TROUBLES AND PERILS OF TRYING TO DO WITHOUT ONE.
Our movement is going through a time of stress and crisis, Mr. Sokolov said, in appealing for unity in the Zionist ranks. There is no parallel in history that we can recall to the present condition. The economic crisis which presses so heavily upon the whole world, driving various countries into the chaos of increasing unemployment and bankruptcy, has most cruelly affected our people, ruining the fortunes of the few and rapidly diminishing the middle classes.
And if at a time like the present we still have the courage to approach our people, demanding not only the continuation but also the increase of sacrifices it is because the Jewish people are always at their best in a crisis. There are, of course, in the Jewish people as in others, in all times of crisis, doubts, hesitations, anxieties, and confusion, but these are superficial. What is fundamental, what is the essential, is the determination to keep at all costs a straight course. Translated into the terms of the present crisis, this means that the Jewish people are going to maintain the pledges which they have given for the reconstruction of the National Home. Our duty is to stand by Eretz Israel, and we shall stand by her, be the burden never so heavy. But though duty is a sufficient consideration, it is not immaterial to remember that even if we were in no way bound in conscience and honour to stand by Eretz Israel, we must stand by her in the last resort merely from motives of self-preservation.
But first of all we need peace and unity in our Organisation. With all respect to the parties, when the foundations of the Jewish National Home are at stake Party is not enough. We have to place Zionism before party dogmas. Our quarrels should vanish, a party truce should be declared, and men who were bitter opponents on various questions should become allies on the one question that matters-the safeguard ing of our honour and our position in Eretz Israel. I emphasise the need of showing a united front to the work that should allow the Jewish Agency to speak and act with the authority of an undivided Zionist Organisation and in the name of the Jewish people. When others take the advantage of our party divisions to snatch an opportunity to mislead public opinion by the erroneous statement that Zionism is in decay, then it is our business to close the ranks and take our part in the work ahead.
The Jewish nation’s historical, inviolable right to the Land of Israel, Mr. Sokolov said, must become one of the decisive factors in the question of Palestine, and it will then be found that Palestine can be made by our efforts and our peaceful labour a prosperous country for all its inhabitants. We Zionists who want a country are not unconscious of the troubles and perils of having a country. We are simply more conscious than the others seem to be of the troubles and perils of trying to do without one.
CHANGES IN BRITISH GOVERNMENT OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE SAYS DR. BRODETSKY: NEW COLONIAL SECRETARY MR. THOMAS AND NEW COLONIAL UNDER-SECRETARY SIR ROBERT HAMILTON HAVE DECLARED THEIR SYMPATHY TO JEWISH NATIONAL HOME: ATTITUDE OF NEW GOVERNMENT BEEN HELPFUL: I AM NOT MAKING EXAGGERATED PROMISES: MANDATORY’S POLICY OF PAST TWO YEARS LEFT MANY SORES AND MUCH TO BE UNDONE.
The changes produced in the Government of this country cannot but have great significance for ourselves, not only as citizens, but also as spiritual citizens of the Jewish National Home, Dr. Brodetsky said. It is a fundamental principle of Zionist politics and of the political programme of the Jewish Agency, he pursued, that problems of the Jewish National Home are in no way to be intermingled with problems of party politics within the Mandatory Power. Every great Party in the State,-Conservative, Labour and Liberal-has declared its sympathy with the policy of the Mandate, and it is an interesting fact in connection with the change that has recently taken place in the British Cabinet, that the signatory of the Prime Minister’s letter to Dr. Weizmann is the Prime Minister of the new National Government, with colleagues like Sir Herbert Samuel and Lord Reading, as well as Mr. Baldwin, for whose letter to the “Times” eleven months ago we Jews shall ever be grateful, and Mr. Malcolm MacDonald and Mr. Craigie Aitchison, the Lord Advocate, who played so great a part in the negotiations with the Cabinet Sub-Committee; while on the front bench of the opposition side of the House of Commons and on the front bench of the opposition side in the House of Lords sit the four members of the Cabinet sub-Committee, including the Chairman, Mr. Arthur Henderson, who met the representatives of the Jewish Agency and negotiated with us on the letter to which the Prime Minister gave the importance of a Government declaration by signing it on behalf of the Cabinet.
It would nevertheless be idle to suggest, or to attempt to induce in anybody the belief, he went on, that the change in the Government has not been of great significance to us. The new Colonial Secretary, Mr. Thomas, has, in conversation with Mr. Sokolov and myself, declared once again his well-known attitude of sympathy for the Jewish National Home, and the Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, Sir Robert Hamilton, has made it clear in a similar interview that he desires to see the progress of the Jewish National Home. It is not too much to hope that a new spirit of friendly co-operation will eventuate, and I think I am speaking what is in the mind of this great meeting when I say that if the Government will approach the problem of Palestine with those feelings of sympathy for the Jewish cause that prompted the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate, then Jewish love for and confidence in Great Britain will be re-established, and the past and its nightmares forgotten.
The Prime Minister’s letter did theoretically eliminate many of the menaces that threatened us during the past two years, Dr. Brodetsky continued, but the fluidity and elasticity of political life reproduced these dangers in other forms during recent months. Immediately after the Congress, the Executive resumed the work of removing the greatest danger that has ever threatened our work in Palestine-namely artificial obstacles in the way of the purchase of land for Jewish settlement. In this and in other respects, the Executive can claim that they have not been completely unsuccessful. Our task has been difficult, because the great political changes in this country have tended to make discussions with the Government difficult owing to the preoccupations of Ministers with urgent problems of their own homeland. But my experience of the last few months justifies I think the belief that the attitude of the new Government has been one of helpfulness. In addition I would point to the way in which the Government has maintained peace and security in Palestine, and this is the fundamental upon which all our work must depend.
I am not going to make exaggerated promises or to raise exaggerated hopes. The line of policy pursued by the Mandatory Power during the last two years has left behind it many sores and much that has to be undone. Above all, it has had the unfortunate effect of accentuating the differences between Jews and Arabs. Our official policy as declared by the President and the new Executive is based politically upon two fundamental principles: firstly, the jealous guarding of all our rights, as secured to us in the Mandate, and as will lead to a great flourishing Jewish nation in Palestine, and secondly, the establishment in every possible way of friendly, neighbourly relations with the Arabs. In order to achieve both these objects it is essential that we shall enjoy the confidence of His Majesty’s Government, and that His Majesty’s Government shall enjoy the confidence of the Jewish people. It will be our aim to secure this end.
PALESTINE WORK NOT MERELY COLONISING ENTERPRISE BUT MOVEMENT FOR REBUILDING LIFE OF WHOLE PEOPLE ON NEW FOUNDATIONS MR. LOCKER SAYS: REQUIRES PERSONAL PARTICIPATION NOT MERELY CONTRIBUTIONS TO FUNDS.
The financial difficulties, which do not date merely from to-day or yesterday, have sometimes had the effect of making it appear as if the Zionist movement were nothing but a financial collecting machine; and some Zionists and Jews have become accustomed to believe their duty done when they had paid their contribution to the Funds, Mr. Locker said. This is a fatal mistake.
Our Palestine work is not merely a colonising enterprise, he declared, but a great movement which has the purpose of rebuilding the life of a whole people on new foundations. The success of its task depends on its ability to inspire great Jewish masses, and more especially to make young Jews and Jewesses turn to Palestine and to personal participation in the historic work of reconstruction as a reply to their own problems and to the problems which are now shaking the world.
The world in general, he went on, and more particularly the Jewish world, and also the Near and Far East, are suffering from two evils; the oppression of man by man, and the dominance of people over people. The fact that large numbers of young people in all countries of the continent of Europe are turning to extremist movements which attract them with promises either of immediate social liberation or of the triumph of their nation is the direct result of the present condition of the world.
Youth suffers, everywhere, he said, but especially so our Jewish youth. It is the great historic role of Zionism to give our young people an ideal which embodies the hope both of national emancipation and of social regeneration. Our whole work must be inspired by these two ideas, which in reality represent only two sides of one conception.
NO ONE COULD HAVE IMAGINED WHEN JEWISH AGENCY WAS CREATED IN AUGUST 1929 THAT WE SHOULD BE FACED WITH PRESENT ANXIETIES SAYS MR. GOLDSMID: NATIONAL GOVERNMENT MORE SYMPATHETIC THAN PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATION BUT IT WILL EXPECT US TO PERFORM OUR PART IN RECONSTRUCTION OF PALESTINE: TO-DAY THAT WORK IS PRACTICALLY AT STANDSTILL: AGENCY’S FINANCIAL POSITION PARLOUS IN EXTREME.
No one of us could have imagined in August 1929, when the Jewish Agency for Palestine was created, that we should be faced two years later with the present anxieties, Mr. d’Avigdor Goldsmid said. We are indeed living in troublous times and the sacrifices that we have been called upon to make as citizens of this country are already very great, but we shall make them with the feeling that we are contributing to the well-being of the Nation. Just as we have a National Government in this country, created to cope with its present problems, and just as all Parties have sunk their differences, to a large extent, in order to meet the situation, so we here, as Jews, must sink all our personal divergencies of opinion and preserve a united front in the face of the difficulties that lie before us.
We have a National Government, Mr. Goldsmid went on, and from all the evidence which reaches us it would appear to be more sympathetic to our aims and aspirations than the previous administration, but such a Government, he proceeded, will naturally expect that we, too, should perform our part in the development and the reconstruction of Palestine. To-day that work is practically at a standstill. The financial position of the Agency is parlous in the extreme.
This, he continued, has arisen entirely owing to the world crisis. Budgets have to be prepared in advance and estimates have to be made of all receipts, as well as expenditure; if the receipts do not reach the expected figures, a deficit naturally results and, in spite of all the care that has been exercised by the officers of the Agency, serious deficits resulted for the year ending 30th. September, 1930, and will undoubtedly result for the year ending to-night.
Europe has done its share in meeting its responsibilities, Mr. Goldsmid said, but our generous friends on the other side of the Atlantic have found it impossible, for reasons with which we are too familiar, to send to Palestine the amounts which had been anticipated, with the result that to-day there are large debts due to financial institutions; teachers and staff have not received their salaries up-to-date-and in fact are months in arrears-and the work of completing the colonies is suffering very materially, while at the same time the arrangements for the arrival of additional settlers is seriously impeded.
I may be painting a gloomy picture of the position as it stands, he remarked, but I thought it desirable to tell you the facts to enable you to realise that, in spite of the heavy taxation which has been laid on us in this country, it is essential that adequate contributions should be forwarded to the Keren Hayesod, the financial instrument of the Agency. South Africa has already sent Â£7,000 in advance of the campaign to be carried on there. I cite this as an example of the readiness to help and of a realisation of the need for money.
IN THIS COUNTRY WE HAVE DUTY BOTH AS CITIZENS OF MANDATORY POWER AND AS JEWS TO SEE WORK IN PALESTINE GOES ON MR. GOLDSMID SAYS IN APPEAL TO ZIONISTS AND NON-ZIONISTS ALIKE: JEWISH AGENCY NOT CONCERNED WITH PROBLEMS OF NATIONALISM HE DECLARES: ITS DUTY SOLELY TO CARRY OUT ITS SHARE OF RESPONSIBILITY UNDER MANDATE AND PROVIDE NATIONAL HOME IN PALESTINE FOR THOSE OF OUR PEOPLE WHO WISH TO GO THERE: TO-DAY PRACTICALLY ALL COUNTRIES CLOSED TO IMMIGRATION: THEREFORE IMPORTANT TO ENABLE PALESTINE TO RECEIVE THOSE LONGING TO SETTLE THERE.
I cannot emphasise too strongly, Mr. Goldsmid said, that here, in this country, we have a special duty, both as citizens of the Mandatory Power and as Jews, to see that the work in Palestine goes on. May I hope that the appeal I am making on behalf of the Agency will be responded to generously by Zionists and non-Zionists alike?
The Agency is not concerned with problems of Nationalism or with other political differences which exist amongst Zionists. The Agency’s duty is simply and solely to carry out its share of responsibility under the Mandate, and to provide a National Home in Palestine for those of our people who wish to go there and to co-operate with the Government in the development of the country. To-day practically all countries are closed to immigration, and it is, therefore, all the more important that funds should be available to enable Palestine to keep open to receive those who are longing to settle there and to give those who are there already a reasonable chance of earning a living. A new population requires assistance, in addition, to educate the children, to maintain its hospitals. This work of immigration, land settlement, health and education is all in being-it is organised, but the money to keep it going is very seriously lacking. The policy I have indicated and the objects for which money is needed should meet with the approval and support of all who care for the future of our race and of all who look to Palestine as a centre of intellectual and religious development for the future.
I therefore venture to ask, Mr. Goldsmid concluded, for cordial and loyal support for the new President of the Agency and the members of the Executive from Zionists and from the whole Community in this country, who have in the past always shown their readiness to make sacrifices for a great and overwhelming need. That is the position to-day; will you allow the work to stop or will you help? In the coming months you must give your answer, and I know it will be “Yes-we will make good”.