ern Europe the Jews feel a barrier against their future. The only answer is some opportunity, some opening to get out. If some haven of refuge were open to the Jews where they could find their own means or their own labor create a new life for themselves, it would not be an exaggeration to say that at least a half million Jews would move out from the places where they are to some other place tomorrow. There is the Diaspora on one side, and on the other side, divided by a wall, is the Land of Promise.
“How many Jews can get out of the trap in which they find themselves? The only door which represented a hope and opportunity to them in 1917 remains practically, so far as they are concerned, a closed door which, to enter, you have to fight all the devices of administration and regulations of the British government.
“From the day that the Balfour Declaration was issued, the government and its bureaucracy has been making use of every device known to the legalistic mind to keep the Jews out of Palestine, and if these were not sufficient to keep them out, then the law was changed.
“The Zionist movement is interested in breaking down that wall. There is no reason in law or logic or humanity why there should be a barrier between the Jew and the place where he wants to find refuge.
“Every effort must be made on the part of the Zionist administration, the Jewish Agency, and by the Jews throughout the world by means of protest to bring about the reduction of that wall. The mandate given to England states specifically that because of the persecution and the homelessness of the Jews, they must be provided with a place, and the League decided that the place must be Palestine. Now, after fourteen years of enforcement of the law, after fourteen years of holding the mandate, it becomes almost impossible to discern from the action of the government that the purpose of the mandate is even known in government circles.
“We should call an all-Jewish conference dedicated to the purpose of establishing direct contact with the mandatory government with the permission of the executive of the Jewish Agency in order to make vocal our demands. We would then command the attention of the world. Through this conference we would be able to break down the wall.”
An ovation was accorded Felix M. Warburg, chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, who greeted the assembly. Reviewing the struggles of leaders in the Zionist movement during the past fifty years, Mr. Warburg pointed out that “for the first time we have had non-Jews assist us in our work, and McDonald, as High Commissioner, and his Committee of the League of Nations, are commanding high respect and sympathy in quarters where we have not been able to arouse any cooperation.”
Mr. Warburg paid tribute to members of the Zionist organization. “My admiration goes out to you for your steadfastness of purpose and your patient watching of the fighters of problems, as they at times were sick of wounds inflicted by foe and also friendsâ€”stabbed in the back many a time when least expected.
“Out of the Palestine experiment has issued a most valuable necessity. What other country is there where, for the disenfranchised Jews, a hopef# future can be envisioned?
“My joy today lies in the fact that we stand allied together helping each other, in unselfish cooperation in a joint enterprise, not Zionist and non-Zionist, but allied agencies, with less and less politics and more and more policies; fewer executives and more execution.”
Referring to proposals to enlarge the scope of the Zionist movement, Mr. Warburg expressed accord with the plan. “For my part,” he declared, ” I should greatly welcome such a development, as I would welcome the cooperation of every element that has a constructive approach to Jewish community work. Every Jew worthy of the name is interested in protecting the rights of Jews of other lands who do not share the blessing of liberty and free economic opportunity that are ours. Every Jew who keeps his identity with his people is eager to help other Jews less favorably situated than himself.
“But our first concern as American Jews,” he continued, “must be to conserve the Jewish life in our community, to keep alive the traditions and the values which have contributed so much to humanity in the past and will continue to contribute to humanityâ€”as long as we shall be permitted to do so. There is much to be done in our midst. There is need to strengthen Jewish education. We must protect the foundations of Jewish relief activities. It is important that Jewish adults as well as children have a better conception of the purpose of the Jewish community. For these various tasks we have need of people of enthusiasm, devotion and idealism. Surely there could be no finer addition to the ranks of those workers than the Zionist. Those of us who do not share your particular outlook upon the future of the Jewish people nevertheless will be happy indeed to work with you to assure you the preservation of the truths upon which all of us were nurtured.”
Declaring that the major task of fund-raising has evolved upon the Jews of America, Mr. Rothenberg pointed out that “we cannot think of relaxing our efforts in fund-raising, the need for which has been sharpened by the tragedy of German Jewry.”
To aid in achieving Zionist aims, he told the convention, the Zionist organization “must extend its propaganda, revitalize its official organ of expression, create and disseminate Zionist literature, extend its work in winning public opinion for its just demands. It must enlarge its affiliated forces. That this cannot be done from the revenue secured from dues is obvious. I earnestly urge this convention to consider methods of providing the means for the execution of a program that will give new vitality to the Zionist Organization and the opportunities for increased service to our cause.
Making it clear that “Zionism aims not merely to secure a place of refuge for those of our faith seeking to escape persecution, but also to provide for the Jewish people the opportunity of a free, creative life and to reproduce its national culture,” Mr. Rothenberg outlined the five lines along which he recommended activity by the organization.
“The first objective,” he said, “is the creation of a fixed center for the Jewish nationality in Palestine by participating in the cultural and spiritual development of the Jews everywhere.” The second, Mr. Rothenberg declared, is “a sustained program of education of production and dissemination of Zionist literature.”
Zionist interest in American Jewish community life was outlined as the third objective. “The Zionist movement,” Rothenberg asserted, “should be eager to assume whatever responsibility such recognition (a recognition that Palestine constitutes part of the program of organized Jewish community life in America) entails, not only in the interest of a better appreciation of its aims and accomplishments, but also as an opportunity to contribute to the development of self-respecting, dignified Jewish community life in America.”
Stimulation and maintenance of Jewish youth organizations formed the fourth point in Mr. Rothenberg’s program, and “vigilance against the introduction of assimilationist influence in American community life” the fifth. “The Zionist Organization,” Mr. Rothenberg said, stressing the last point, “nationally and through its local units must be equally vigilant and vigorous in combatting and avertting tendencies which are detrimental to values for the preservation of the Jewish people.”
Speaking at the evening session of the convention, Ludwig Lewisohn, noted author, declared that the fact that the tragic situation of German Jewry has made many people pro-Zionist who were not so before was “praiseworthy but not enough.” Other speakers include Berl Locker, labor Zionist leader who arrived from the Poale Zion-Zerei Zion convention in Chicago, and Maurice Samuel, lecturer.
“Zionism, at its best and profoundest,” Lewisohn said, “is a total philosophy of life for the Jew, including the psychological, the sociological and even the metaphysical aspects of his being and including a proper interpretation of the Jewish religion as the eternal necessary symbol of the historic being of Israel, both past and future.”
After quoting passages from some of the eminent thinkers in the development of Zionism, Lewisohn gave a brief outline of what he conceived to be the fundamental trend in Jewish feeling and thought about the totality of things.