Dr. Adler Again Calls for Abandonment of World Conference As Rash and Dangerous Undertaking
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Dr. Adler Again Calls for Abandonment of World Conference As Rash and Dangerous Undertaking

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Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the American Jewish Commitee, in a second statement made public today, scores the American Jewish Congress for proceeding with its plans to hold a world Jewish Conference in Geneva to discuss the advisability of a world Jewish Congress, and expresses the hope that the leaders of the Congress “may yet have an interlude of sanity” and abandon this “rash and dangerous undertaking.”

Dr. Adler openly questions the sincerity behind the invitations extended to the American Jewish Committee to participate in the conference, before and since the controversy on the question in the public press.

The president of the American Jewish Committee reiterates in detail the assertions made in his first statement on June 17th that the Jewries of Europe do not desire such a conference and that its convening is dangerous to their welfare.

Dr. Adler emphasizes again that such a conference as contemplated will be seized upon by the enemies of the Jews. He says the effect of the conference from a practical viewpoint will be to create a sort of Wailing Wall at Geneva.

He denies that the American Jewish Committee is proceeding in an autocratic fashion and points out that it has consulted with Jewish leaders and organizations the world over.

Replying to the assertion made in the answer of the Administrative Committee of the American Jewish Congress to his first statement to the effect that the Congress would have given serious consideration to a plea for postponement of the conference in the interests of unity had it been made, Dr. Adler asserts such a postponement was asked “and summarily rejected within twelve hours.”


Dr. Adler’s statement in its full text follows:

Because of the gravity of the subject involved I am placed under the painful and distressing necessity of continuing a discussion with regard to the plan to call a conference of Jews this summer at Geneva, to consider a world Jewish Congress.

The American Jewish Congress has been asserting, the past year, that it is proceeding upon the basis of a mandate received from a conference held at Basle in the summer of 1931 which represented the Jewish communities of many countries. This statement is entirely without foundation. No Jewish community authorized persons to assemble at Basle for this purpose. It was purely a gathering of individuals who acted and spoke upon their own responsibility. The great Jewish communities about whom the American Jewish Congress is so concerned those of Germany, Poland, Roumania, Hungary, Austria and Russia-had no persons present who were in any way authorized to speak for them. As for the four and a half million Jews of the United States, the so-called “outstanding representatives” were, according to the press, S. S. Wise, Abraham Goldberg and Z. Tygel. Whence did these persons derive a mandate to speak for the Jews of the United States?

I shall not discuss the alleged representative character of the other persons who were present, but one at least has a right to inquire where were the Hilsverein der Deutschen Juden, the Central Verein Deutscher Staatsburger Judischen Glaubens with 50,000 members? Where were the Board of Deputies and the Joint Foreign Committee of Great Britain? Where were the Alliance Israelite Universelle of France and the Jewish Colonization Association? Where were the Israelitische Allianz of Austria, the Union of Jews of Roumania? The leaders of the World Zionist Organization and of the Agency for Palestine were in Basle at the time. Was their counsel sought? Are the representatives of these organizations to be at the Geneva Conference? How can anybody give assurance that the Geneva Conference of this year will be a whit more representative than the Basle conference of last year? Whatever the conclusions they are rendered nugatory in advance by reason of the non-representative character of this proposed assembly.

The officers of the American Jewish Congress are equally aware, with the officers of the American Jewish Committee, that the Jews of Germany not only do not wish any such conference or congress to be held in their behalf, but that they object. They have not asked, and do not desire, aid from the Jewish communities of the other parts of the world. They are self-reliant, and, however difficult their situation is for the time being, they propose to take care of themselves. Within a day I received a letter from a correspondent, fully qualified to speak on the subject, in which the writer expressed to me his gratitude on behalf of himself and others for the endeavor of the American Jewish Committee to prevent the calling of a Jewish World Congress at the present time. He says: Nothing would be more vitally dangerous for the cause of the German Jews than such a world congress held directly across the German border. I can already imagine the headlines in Hitlerite papers that finally a proof is found for the international Jewish conspiracy. I still cannot believe that this actual danger will not induce the Jewish Congress to abandon the idea and to bring this “sacrifice” in behalf of the German Jews.

The same statement can be made on behalf of the Jews of Roumania and also those of Poland. Such a conference, therefore, would have no authority from the Jewish communities of those portions of the world in which the Jews are most hard-pressed. As I said before, they have great organizations, they have intelligent people, they have leaders, they have representatives in the Parliaments, and, except as those communities were in great physical distress as a result of War, they have never asked for help from their brethren in America, or anywhere else.


The American Jewish Committee is convinced that the assembling of such an international body now, even a rump one, the only kind that can be brought together, will be seized upon by the enemies of the Jews in various parts of Central and Eastern Europe as convincing proof of the very charges they have repeatedly made against the Jews, that they are an international body without local or civic patriotism. This of course is not true-it has never been true, and it is the height of unwisdom for any group of Jews to take any action which would give the faintest semblance of truth to this falsehood.

The statement which purports that the American Jewish Committee, has, as an autocratic body, proceeded without regard to the opinions of their follow-Jews in other lands is entirely without foundation. Our Committee has sought information from all the great organizations in Europe and from many individuals. Its officers have time and again, on their journeys to Europe, conferred in person with representatives of these organizations. We have even believed at times that those who stayed in the Old World, while not so fortunately situated physically as we were, might have retained more of the ancient wisdom, and we were often more inclined to sit at their feet than to instruct them.

In recent documents and speeches, the spokesmen of the American Jewish Congress have said much about democracy and autocracy. I wonder whether it is democratic for a few people to assemble in Washington and determine that the great bodies of Jews in the various lands of Europe who have strong organizations, much older than any of our own, are in need of this autocratic interference on the part of the American Jewish Congress, which seems determined to set itself up as the only redeemer and to save them, in its way, instead of permitting them to work out their own salvation. When the Jews in Europe or anywhere else deem it wise to make the call upon us for help we shall respond, as we always have. But since, in the case of the German Jews, they have distinctly told us to keep our hands off, it is the height of folly to intervene.


The statement was made, before the recent meeting in Washington, that had the representatives of the American Jewish Committee proposed at their meeting with the representatives of the Congress on the night of June 2, that the international conference should be postponed, in the interest of unity, they would have been disposed to consider such a proposition. It was just such a postponement that was proposed and summarily rejected within twelve hours. The more recent invitation to the American Jewish Committee even now to join this conference is as insincere as was the invitation to meet with the representatives of the Congress on the night of June 2 to consider a subject already determined upon.

Now as for some of the subjects that the Congress proposes to discuss at Geneva:

The economic situation in Poland, in Germany, in Roumania, in Hungary, is one of very great difficulty. No discussion of this economic situation by a Jewish conference can alter it one bit.

Another subject is emigration from overcrowded lands and immigration into others. But with unemployment, all countries are overcrowded; and with what grace can people from America go to the countries in Europe and advise them that their doors should not be closed to immigration, when great liberal countries-England first and then America-have imposed restrictions?


An international conference and a Jewish World Congress at the present time must give their attention to all subjects about which the Jews complain. There are some complaints about Palestine. Will the Congress take up the work of the Jewish Agency? There are loud complaints in this country about discrimination in the matter of employment, or in summer hotels or in clubs, colleges, or other matters of this sort. Are the Jews of Hungary or Poland to be invited to intervene in helping to remove those difficulties? As far as I can see the proposition is to meet together and lay our complaints before the world, expose, as it were, our sores as the beggars used to do? Would not these gentlemen be creating a sort of Wailing Wall at Geneva?

It is my opinion and that of my colleagues, based upon many communications from people in this country and abroad, and from many conversations, that a meeting of this kind will serve a bad turn, a dangerous turn, to the Jews of Germany, Austria and Roumania, probably also of Hungary and Poland, and that the people who are so self-opinionated as to be determined to carry out their preconceived ideas on behalf of others who do not want their aid, are more than suspected of a desire for self-exploitation and for organization aggrandizement.

I have refrained at the moment from replying to many unfair, unwarranted and incorrect statements made by officers and orators at the meeting of the American Jewish Congress regarding the American Jewish Committee. It is easy to charge the American Jewish Committee and the many people who think like it with fear. What kind of fear? Fear for themselves? No. Alarm at the danger to others because it is inevitable that such a conference will create misunderstandings in those very countries in which the economic position of the Jews is one of great distress and whose political situation is at least fraught with danger in the near future. It is very easy for the gentlemen from New York to be brave. Their skins are safe. The danger will not come to them but will fall upon those whom they are trying to redeem. False Messiahs, alas, are not a novelty in Jewish history, and have always proved a disaster to all of the Jews-to those who followed them as well as to those who disowned them. As for the attacks upon myself, I place so slight a value upon their source that I deem reply unnecessary.


In view of the very great danger which we feel this proposed international meeting will bring to the Jews in Central and Eastern Europe, we are not willing to be diverted from the main issue either by attacks upon our organization or upon our persons. A rash and dangerous undertaking has been embarked upon, against which it is our duty to remonstrate. In spite of hot-headedness and arrogance and the egocentric idea that a few gentlemen in America have the salvation of the Jewish world in their hands, it is to be hoped, yea, prayed for, that they may yet have an interlude of sanity and leave to the Jewish communities of Europe the management of their own affairs. This would be the course of wisdom and of true Jewish brotherhood.

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