Dr. Stephen Wise Sees Jewry Facing Common Foe at 2 Conventions
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Dr. Stephen Wise Sees Jewry Facing Common Foe at 2 Conventions

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Dr. Stephen S. Wise, who came to Europe on behalf of the World Jewish Congress, stated that a meeting of the World Jewish Congress Executive will be held at Prague on August 13-15, preceding the World Zionist Congress. At the conference the subjects to be dealt with are:

a) The time and place of the World Jewish Congress, which the Congress Executive has a mandate from the Geneva conference of August 1932 to convoke;

b) The problem of the agenda of the conference, which must, because of the tragedy of Germany, be very different from the general tentative draft of a year ago;

c)The attitude which should be adopted by the Congress Executive and the Congress to the World Jewish Economic Conference of London, which is apparently being planned by the Board of Deputies and related bodies.


“All that we believed and preached when we met a year ago at the Geneva World Jewish Conference,” said Dr. Wise, “has been abundantly verified by the things that have happened in Germany since the fateful fifth day of March. At that time we maintained that the policy of the leaders of the German Jewish Community was mistaken. These gentlemen, and more especially their American associates, said persistently and reassuringly that Hitler would never come to power, and that, if he did come to power he would, like other leaders before him, be steadied by power and responsibility into a milder attitude towards the Jewish people. Hitler is now in power, and that power is being exercised in a more ghastly fashion than the most pessimistic among us would have believed true. It is therefore with some reserve that we hear the excuses of these German Jewish leaders, some of whom cannot be convinced that the Hitler regime is really perilous until their own possessions are taken away from them and their own persons are threatened.

“The basic principle of the World Jewish Congress is that Jewish world problems must be discussed before a world Jewish forum such as does not now exist. Before that world Jewish forum Jewish problems must be considered wherever they arise, whatever be their cause and origins, not so that we may expose our misery and our frailty, but so that we may gain the benefit of any counsel and any judgment that may come from a united reviewing of our problems.


“An American Jew . . . declared not very long ago that anti-Semitic difficulties and questions are local and not world-wide. Hitler has made the Jews see. Hitler has done us great good in certain directions. He has given eyes to the blind. He has made the deaf to hear. The Jews of yesterday called themselves Englishmen or Frenchmen or Italians or even Americans of Jewish faith. At last they are undeceived. They never really deceived themselves, but at least they imagined that they could deceive the world. Now they know that however insistent they are with their self-deception—let us call it that—the world realizes, and in this one respect Hitler is right.

“We are a racial group. We are a people. It is some new and, to me, unintelligible reading of Jewish history which declares that we are nothing more than a religious sect. Religion is of us, but first and foremost we are a people, and, as I have ventured to say elsewhere, far from being united in the matter of religion, religion is the one thing which divides us. It is religion that separates the Agudath from the Mizrachi, the Mizrachi from the Reformed Jews, the Liberal Jews alike from the Orthodox Jews and the Jewish Radicals.


“The World Jewish Congress rests upon the unalterable maxim that {SPAN}w###{/SPAN} Jews can and must consider {SPAN}ou###{/SPAN} common problems in common and the sight and hearing of all men. {SPAN}###{/SPAN} is become a common-place since the days of Herzl, and, after {SPAN}havin{/SPAN} been in London for a few day spent for the most part in conferences with the leaders of Anglo-Jewish life, I am prepared to say that there is a much clearer understanding of this point in Anglo-Jewish life than would have been possible prior to the days of Hitler.

“You ask me to outline what I believe will be the course of the 18th Zionist Congress. Zionists of the world, whose numbers have greatly increased since the last Congress, have the right to expect two things of the Congress; one, irrespective of whatever party happens to be dominant in the Prague Zionist Congress, there must come about an indefectible move in the direction of Zionist unity, and away from the noisome partisanship which has disfigured the face of Zionist affairs in recent years. Again, and this must be sequent only upon unity, there must be no ‘klein Zionismus’ at the Prague conference. We must no more be told that we must not even whisper concerning Trans-Jordania. As a bit of water, the Jordan has some sort of reality; as a boundary line, it is a device and a fiction, and that device must not be permitted any longer to deceive and obstruct Jewish purposes and plans in relation to the Jewish National Home.


“When I say that there must be no petty Zionism I mean that the time has come not merely for the fullest and frankest discussion of Jewish settlement in Palestine east of the Jordan as well as west of the Jordan—east of the Jordan being virtually unpopulated, in any event, populated less than one-tenth of what West Palestine is populated—but for such a vision of the possibilities of Palestine re-settlement involving the reestablishment of the Jewish National Home as shall have respect to the neighboring lands {SPAN}###{/SPAN} Asia Minor. These lands are eager awaiting the transforming and beneficial touch which our people brought to Palestine. I must believe, in agreement with the Weizmann speech in Paris, and not in America, that there is no reason in the world why there should not be a lawful extension of Jewish settlement to the Northeast.

“Other lands would fain gain some of the advantages which Jewish resettlement has brought to all places of Palestine. If the Zionist Congress be attended by statemen characterized by statesmanship and wisdom, then Palestine will come to its rightful place in relation with the German problem. Otherwise, if we fail at Prague, and degenerate into a society of party mongerers, then the largest part of the German problem will be relief.”

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