Death of L. J. Greenberg Editor of “jewish Chronicle”
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Death of L. J. Greenberg Editor of “jewish Chronicle”

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Mr. Leopold J. Greenberg, editor of the “Jewish Chronicle” and the “Jewish World” and founder of the Jewish Year Book as long ago as 1896, died at his home here this morning.

Mr. Greenberg, who had been ill for a number of years, was about 70 years of age. He was born in Birmingham, son of the late Simeon Greenberg of that city, and he was educated at the London University School.

He was the outstanding Anglo-Jewish journalist, a trenchant and fearless publicist, and an uncompromising champion of undiluted Zionism and Jewish nationalism.

In the early days of the Zionist movement he played a leading part in its counsels, he was a close friend of Dr. Theodore Herzl, and it was through his efforts that the British Government made its first feeler towards Zionism as far back as 1899, when he obtained the interest of Mr. Arthur (Lord) Palfour, and of Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, then Colonial Secretary, who was the Senior member for Birmingham, in the aspirations of the Zionist movement. It was through Mr. Greenberg that the British offers of El-Arish and of Uganda to the Zionist Organisation were both obtained. It was also through Mr. Greenberg that Dr. Herzl was invited by the British Government to give evidence before the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in England, In 1907 he was Vice-President of the Zionist Congress held at The Hague.

The funeral will take place on Tuesday at 12.30 at Golders Green Crematorium, and prayers will be said at the house on Tuesday evening at 8 o’clock.


It is with the profoundest regret that I learned of the death of my old friend L. J. Greenberg, Mr. Nahum Sokolov, the President of the Zionist World Organisation and the Jewish Agency for Palestine, the historian of the Zionist movement writes in a special message which he has given to the J.T.A.

This dominant, courageous and energetic Jewish journalist, Mr. Sokolov continues, gave the inspiration of a life of fine spiritual power dedicated to the broadest and deepest service of his people. What struck me most was the perfectly genuine originality of the man. He never pretended to be anything but himself; what he had to give he gave generously with both hands, and they were no mean gifts. A man of marked ability and vigorous personality, he entered with great zeal into all the various domains of the actual problems, and he was a real Jew – to whom his religion was a living reality and not only a tradition of the past, an indefatigable worker, a prolific and many-sided publicist and champion of his individual views. He occupied a position of the highest distinction in Anglo-Jewish Journalism.

He belonged to the select group of Theodor Herzl’s intimate friends and admirers. He was one of the outstanding figures of the first Zionist Congresses, and played a considerable part, not only in Zionist propaganda and organisation in this country, but his single-mindedness and thoroughness won him also the devoted admiration of his fellow-workers in world Zionism.

He had a long and painful illness, which he bore with great courage, and it is probable that he paid a considerable price of his health for his efforts in journalistic work till the last moments of his fruitful life. He fell like a soldier at his post.

I deeply mourn the loss of this great friend and old colleague, whose death removes one of the first pioneers of Zionism in this country and an enthusiastic advocate of the national cause, Mr. Sokolov concludes his message.


Mr. Jacob de Haas, writing of L. J. Greenberg in his biography of Theocor Herzl, relates that “the first feeler towards Zionism by the British Government was made in 1899. Mr. Arthur Balfour (afterwards Lord Balfour), he writes, playing golf one day, directed his fellow-player to discover the inside track of the movement. This aide was a friend of the editor of “Golfing”, who had business connections with Leopold J. Greenberg. Mr. Greenberg’s answers proving satisfactory, by the same indirect method, it was suggested that the Government would permit the organiser of the Primrose League to undertake the organisation of Zionism in England. There were adequate reasons for not accepting this office, Mr. de Haas concludes.

Greenberg was among Herzl’s stalwarts, Mr. de Haas states. They were Nordau in Paris, Wolffsohn and Bodenheimer in Cologne, Bierer in Sofia, Schnirrer, Kellner, Kremenetsky and Kokesch in Vienna, Landau in Lemberg, Ellman in Braila, de Haas in London, the brothers Marmorek, Mandelstamm of Kiev, Friedemann of Berlin, and in 1898 Jacobus Kann of The Hague, Greenberg and joseph Cowen of London, and later Zangwill – these men became his corps d’elite. He commanded, they obeyed. They fought for him and beside him on all fronts.

It was thanks to the efforts of Leopold J. Greenberg, who for years had been publicly identified as an opponent of restriction of immigration and as a critic of all the Government reports and statistics issued on the subject, that Herzl was summoned as an expert to give evidence before the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration in England, Mr. de Haas writes.


It was also Greenberg, he says, who started negotiations with Mr. Joseph Chamberlain with regard to what afterwards became the offer of Uganda to the Zionist Organisation. Greenberg, “the most able of my supporters”, as Herzl called him, was labouring with Mr. Chamberlain, then British Colonial Secretary, for an interview, de Haas writes. “I would like to win Mr. Chamberlain for a large Jewish settlement in one of the British possessions”, Herzl wrote to Greenberg.

Greenberg discussed Zionism at length with Chamberlain, who in his turn, when Arthur Balfour became Premier, interested his chief in the subject. Chamberlain and Herzl finally met at the Colonial Office on October 22nd. Chamberlain arranged an interview for Herzl with Lord Lansdowne, who was then Foreign Minister to discuss with him the El-Arish settlement plan. The Foreign Secretary listened to Herzl and asked for a memorandum for the Cabinet. The negotiations having been started by Leopold J. Greenberg, Herzl decided to have him act as his representative.

Yesterday was, I believe, a great day in Jewish history, Herzl wrote in his diary, following the interview, Mr. de Haas states, remarking that Herzl’s meetings with Joseph Chamberlain and Lord Lansdowne were great events in his tumultuous life, because their methods corresponded to his own, as to how serious problems should be handled and discussed.

Immediately thereafter, he continues, Greenberg proceeded to Egypt on his mission to interview Lord Cromer, England’s great administrator in Egypt, with regard to the El-Arish plan. This was in 1902. His first message to Herzl was encouraging. “Everything all right”. On November 13th. Greenberg came to see Herzl at Eldach. Lord Cromer and Boutros Gali Pasha, the Egyptian Prime Minister and the British official staff were all favourable. An investigation committee was composed of Oscar Marmorek, Leon Kessler, Professor Otto Warburg, Dr. S. Soskin and Jennings Bramley, a topographer recommended by Lord Cromer. Greenberg obtained in Cairo from Boutros Pasha an agreement by which the Egyptian Government assigned to a Corporation, still to be confirmed, as much as in Nordau’s judgment, the Capitulations of the British Occupation permitted.


While the El-Arish project was still under consideration, Herzl was received by Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, who had been travelling in Africa, and began: Since we last met, I have seen a large portion of the world. In the course of my travels I saw an excellent country for you – Uganda. It is hot on the coast, but as you travel inland the climate improves and is splendid even for Europeans. You can raise sugar and cotton there, so I thought that would be a good land for Dr. Herzl – but he wants only Palestine, or its neighbourhood.

That is so, Herzl replied. Our base must be in Palestine or near it. Later we might go to Uganda, for we have a mass of humans who are ready to emigrate. We must, however, build on a national basis.

Chamberlain’s suggestions recurred to Herzl when he learned that the El-Arish project was hopeless and the emergency created by the Kishineff outrages pressed him to consider the whole situation anew. He must find a territory. Greenberg had meanwhile again seen Chamberlain, who, he reported, offered in East Africa an area sufficiently large for a million settlers with local self-government. Herzl telegraphed Greenberg to go further into the East African project.

At the famous Uganda Congress at Basle, it was Greenberg, “the instrument of this new pother in Zionism”, as de Haas refers to him, who ascended the tribune and formally presented the British offer to the Congress. Greenberg was careful to explain, Mr. de Haas says, that in his personal view the Congress was not in the least bound to accept the offer of the English Government, an offer which was only due to the wish to see the position of the Jewish race improved.

The effect of the reading of the offer in English by Greenberg and by Nordau in German was impressive, Mr. de Haas recalls. It was the first sealed and signed British offer – there was no precedent in Jewish history for the sympathy and gigantic character of this act of England.

Then came the “aye and the hay-sayers.” The Congress building was a buzzing hive. The excitement was so intense that the majority even forgot to take their meals. Two-thirds of the Congress said aye. 80 delegates held their peace. Some were absent. The motion was carried – for, 295; against 177; majority 118. When the figures were announced the Russian members of the Actions Committee dramatically left the hall in protest. They were followed by the rest of those who had voted nay.

And then began the Uganda fight, in which finally ended with the formation of the Jewish Territorial Organisation (Ito) by Israel Zangwill.


In the years since the war Mr. Greenberg’s health gave way several times, and just over six years ago, in November 1925, he wrote to the editor of the J.T.A.

Thank goodness, I have got over the operation, which was not a slight one. But equally, thank goodness, was not a very serious one. I am home again from hospital, and in a day or two I hope to be able to see anybody, followed up by a letterdated November 23rd., that he had recovered sufficiently to be able to see his friends.

Since then, he had frequently to go away for cures, and often he was seriously ill, yet he continued throughout to carry on his work for the “Jewish Chronicle”.

When the “Jewish Chronicle” entered its 90th. year of existence, just about a year ago, in November 1930, he wrote that “its old age finds it hale and hearty, vigorous and strong, and I think it is generally conceded with few signs of anno domini, unless it be in those qualities which no newspaper can gain save by length of days. Because Journals, as the years go by, gather to themselves certain traditions which are really the secret of their long life; if they be unworthy traditions they soon prove fatal. To-day, as it steps – I had almost written skips – into its centenary decade the “Jewish Chronicle” exhibits, by whatever test may be applied to it, the surest signs of robust life.

I hope what I say will not be regarded as boasting, he went on, but naturally I am proud of a connection with the paper. which has lasted now for many years, and I think I may be excused for employing the event, which marks its history, in order to say what i have. As to its failings no one can possibly be more cognisant than I am. But then I feel, having regard to everything, I have the right to plead that to its faults all should be a little blind. For the making of any newspaper is no easy task, and the compiling week by week of a Jewish newspaper is indeed a heavy one. I am not, I am sure, unduly estimating the “Jewish Chronicle” when I say that an over whelming number of the Jewies of all the world will Join in wishing it yet many more years of useful service.

At one of the meetings of the Actions Committee of the Zionist World Organisation held in Berlin in July 1928. a proposal was put forward by a section of the Opposition with regard to the formation of a new Executive, in which Mr. Greenberg’s name was mentioned for a post to be established in London in order to act for the Executive in its relations with the Mandatory Government.

When this report appeared in the J.T.A. Bulletin, Mr. Greenberg wrote to the editor: “In a recent Bulletin of your excellent service, you reported a proposal that I should take some office in the Zionist Organisation. Will you do me the favour of announcing that the proposal was made without the remotest reference to myself. that I was totally unaware of it being made, and that having regard to all circumstances, if it had been carried I should have had to refuse absolutely the honour to be conferred upon me.

Something of tragic interest attaches to the last New Year message which Mr. Greenberg wrote in the “Jewish Chronicle” for last Rosh Hashanah, in which, writing of “another milestone”, his last milestone, as it has turned out, declared his faith that “life is no paltry thing. It calls for constant pruning and never ceasing vigilance. And yet men and women pass through their existence from cradle to grave never giving a thought to the responsibility for it which is placed upon them. In happiness and in joy, in hope is milestone follows milestone, in sure confidence the Jew greets the New Year”, he concluded, – “I will not die, but I will live, so that I may recount the wonder works of the Almighty”.

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