Menu JTA Search

Letters to the Editor

Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Jeshuru# New York, and member of the Administrative Committee, Zionist Organization of America

New York City.

To the Editor of the

Jewish Daily Bulletin:

The verbal battle which is being waged about the question of what shall be the economic complexion of the Jewish settlement in Palestine, should develop into a wholesome discussion of issues rather than a bitter campaign of personal partisanships and recriminations.

We Zionists have an important issue to decide. Should the Jewish settlement of Palestine be permitted to go on in “laissez faire” fashion, with the business man becoming the increasingly dominant factor, or should there be a “planned Yishub” with a plan emphasizing the collective and group enterprises, and giving special consideration to the place of Labor?

What is the use of talking about the prophetic ideals of social justice in relation to modern Palestine, if we are going to tolerate and even encourage unrestricted activity of elements which ply unproductive businesses, create real estate booms, and bring about their inevitable collapse?

The spirit of the new Zion has up to recently, connoted a spirit of social idealism. The self-respect of Jews all over the world has been strengthened by the achievements of the Jewish “K’vutzoth” with their “Chalutzim.” We have hoped that Palestine would be the one corner of the world where the Jew might build a social order worthy of the best Jewish traditions. Up to recently, that promise was in the process of fulfillment. The cooperative colonies, the widespread influence and strength of the “Histadruth”, the dignified and important position which Labor held in Palestine, and the wholesome simplicity of Jewish life in Palestine were in marked contrast to the condition of Jewish life in the Diaspora.

Now the spirit of the new Zion is in danger of deterioration.

I visited Palestine in 1928 and again in 1932. The economic improvement was apparent on all sides. The spiritual atmosphere, however, was less exhilarating than it had been four years earlier. The small shop-keepers in the cities squeezing out their penny profits from increasingly competitive situations which were reminiscent of the ghettos of Warsaw and New York, the employers of labor seeking to press every advantage, and the new middle class investors smitten with the profiteering fever, seemed out of place in the Palestine upon which Jewish idealism had been focussed.

It seems to me, therefore, that it is a timely service to the cause of Palestine and of Zion to sound a caution. It is not enough to caution the individual settler. Such exhortations and warnings will fall on deaf ears. It is the situation which must be curbed, controlled and regulated by those who have the central responsibility.

The Executive of the Jewish Agency in Palestine is the body which has the administrative responsibility, but it is for the World Zionist Congress to adopt a program and to recommend that program for adoption by the Jewish Agency of Palestine. Such a program should have the following main objectives:

1. To protect the interests of Jewish labor in Palestine, so that it may continue to hold a special place in the economy of the Palestine “Yishub.”

2. To seek to regulate the sale and purchase of land by individuals

3. To restrict the investments of capital and the establishment of business enterprises for unproductive and purely speculative purposes, and to seek to draw capital and business talent into productive enterprises.

Regardless of what the Jewish Agency may decide to do about such a program, it behooves the Zionist Congress to adopt some such policy as will guarantee the preservation of that social idealism which ha# animated and informed Zionism since its inception two generation ago.

Even America, the most capitalistic of all countries, has abandoned the policy of “laissez faire” and “rugged individualism.” Surely, in the Jewish upbuilding of Palestine such a policy has no place.

It is our duty to see to it that Palestine does not become “grab-bag” for anybody that come there with capital, resourcefulness and ability to capitalize the toil o# others.

The present is a strategic time for laying the ground-work for an economic order that should be free from the evils of profiteering and exploitation. There are enough Jews from Germany and elsewhere who are desirous of settling in Palestine, not for the sake of acquirin# wealth, but for the sake of living in peace and security. Before the more acquisitive elements of the population influx take things into their own hands, let the econom# pattern of Jewish Palestine be determined by those who are in position of central responsibility.

Dr. Israel Goldstein,

Rabbi, Congregation B’nai Jeshuru# New York, and member of the Administrative Committee, Zionist Organization of America

NEXT STORY