Speaking My Mind

For years Zionists have been predicting what is now happening in Germany (so have anti-Semites), and assuring us that they were only waiting for such a chance to get to grips with the problem. “Hitlerism has made every Jew in Germany a Zionist,” the Zionist Congress was told the other day. The Palestine Emigration Office in Berlin has registered practically the entire Jewish population of Germany on its waiting list to go to Palestine, a Jewish journalist in Berlin, who is rather prone to exaggerate, has reported. But I have no doubt, that were they given the choice, half the Jewish population of Germany would go to Palestine. Can Zionism help them to that?

Zionists have taken fright. The German situation has made them retreat. They are seeking now to patch up the very thing they had fought to destroy. “I do not believe that Zionism will be able to deal with the German situation as a whole,” Dr. Nahum Goldmann, a very prominent Zionist, declared a day or two after the Zionist Congress, in addressing the Jewish World Conference in Geneva. “What I could not say at the Zionist Congress at Prague I am stating from this platform. As a good Zionist and a member of the Actions Committee, I say that Zionism is not in a position to deal with the problem of Jewish rights in the Diaspora, but can only deal with Jewish upbuilding in Palestine.”

Zionism has failed to hit the target, so it is now trying to refix the target!

It is no longer to solve the Jewish problem, but to build up Palestine!

For God’s sake, what sort of a game is this! The good of Palestine Jewry is of great importance (when the black days of 1929 came, there seemed no greater), but the need of German Jewry is now paramount. And what is Zionism doing to grapple with that?

What of those whom Palestine upbuilding cannot absorb? And with all the talk of Palestine prosperity, it cannot now even touch the German Jewish need of half a million Jews, let alone the need that may arise for millions if the continued world crisis produces similar conditions in other countries.

“No amount of speeches, arguments or outpourings of your heart will increase the size of Palestine,” Dr. Weizmann has reminded us, “will turn hills into valleys or valleys into hills, and no amount of tears you may shed will increase the actual quantity of water which exists in Palestine.”

Building Palestine is a very important aim. Why should there not be a prosperous Jewish community in the land which saw the beginnings of Jewish faith and Jewish life?

But of Zionism we expected more—it promised us more. It was going to relieve the undoubted pressure of the Jewish problem in all countries—it was going “to drain the Jewish element that lies everywhere in lakes or puddles, or wanders everywhere in streams or sewers, into a central sea of Jewish unity. But what is being done is the very opposite. Instead of diminishing the areas on which the Jewish problem presses, we have added another area upon which it can press.”

Instead of creating a Jewish nation and a Jewish Commonwealth of which every Jew who wishes can be a Jewish State citizen, we have simply created another group of Jews who are citizens of some country in which they happen to live, even if the name of that country is Palestine.

Zionism came to us not as a yeanay movement, offering us anything we wanted so long as we subscribed to the Keren Hayesod. It came claiming to have a clear program, a dignified solution of the Jewish problem. You tell us that we are alien, it said; very well, we are. We shall go out, and build up a life of our own, which will to us not be alien. You shout—Jews go to Palestine! We take up your challenge. Jews will go to Palestine!

But now, when a great part of the half million Jews of Germany would be willing to go to Palestine, the Zionists beg of them to stay where they are, they proclaim boycotts and threaten economic war to prevent the present rulers of Germany doing what Zionists should most welcome—forcing Jews to emigrate to Palestine.

Either one thing or the other. What is happening now in Germany is not the final collapse of emancipation. Emancipation is no cure-all, no water-tight solution—nothing is. And emancipation must put up with defeats and reverses, like everything else. Zionism with its many defeats and reverses should be the last to expect it to be otherwise. Was there not a terrible time of hysteria in Zionism after the 1929 pogrom and the Passfield White Paper, when all seemed lost, and official Zionist quarters actually went to the length of considering an early liquidation of the work in Palestine and—on account of the financial collapse—discussing the legal consequences of an official bankruptcy? Life is a succession of ups and downs, and because Zionism happens now to be up, and emancipation down, it does not follow that this will continue permanently. Life provides no complete solution for anything.

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