The Reader’s Forum

July 5, 1934.

To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:

As a General Zionist, neither Revisionist nor Laborite, permit me to make these comments upon the Atlantic City Zionist convention, in the hope you may find room for them in your column.

An attempt was made by the pro-Histadruth or pro-Labor group to “raid” the convention on behalf of its viewpoint and in condemnation of the Revisionists. Berl Locker, Louis Lipsky and Jacob Fishman were the spearhead of this attack, and with addresses, vituperative and venomous, they sought not only to win the convention, but also to provoke the General Zionists to the use of their own tactics of abuse and villification.

On Monday afternoon they seemed to have a clear field, but on Monday evening the pro-Labor “offensive” received its first major setback in the approval which the delegates gave to the address of Robert Szold and others on behalf of “General Zionism.” We asserted that the Z. O. A. should not commit itself to anything except the fundamental principles of classic Herzlian Zionism, that the Z. O. A., whatever the private and personal opinions of delegates as to party issues, should hold the scales of justice firmly between all groups, parties and factions.

On Tuesday afternoon, when finally the resolutions committee was able to report, it was evident that the Locker-Lipsky-Fishman viewpoint, not only had been checked, but had been placed on the defensive. No resolution was introduced which in any way indicated a preference for any party viewpoint. Moreover a resolution was killed in committee which would have supported the Histadruth in its effort to secure and maintain a monopoly upon labor organization in Palestine. (This resolution was presented to the committee, let it be said, in mimeographed form).

COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED

The resolution asserting the supremacy of the World Zionist Congress, could have been killed in committee had the representatives of “General Zionism” desired to combat it. In its original form (like mimeographed) it contained a violent attack upon the Revisionists. I had the honor to rewrite the body of the resolution, and it was transformed from a specific attack upon the Revisionists into a statement of general principle, expressing disapproval of any action, whatever its source, in contravention of the principle of the supremacy of the World Zionist Congress. Fishman’s amendment of the words “whatever its source,” to “by any group or party within the Zionist organization” was acceptable. Ezra Shapiro of Cleveland, after a reckless attack upon the Revisionists, sought to condemn them in the resolution by name, but even Lipsky opposed this amendment. Nevertheless Lipsky sought to turn the text of the resolution, which a rereading will demonstrate is in general terms, into a direct criticism, if by implication, upon the Revisionists. I declared that the resolution was drawn so that it would be applicable tomorrow as well as today, and that “what was sauce for the goose was sauce also for the gander.” Lipsky in his remarks admitted that the Histadruth had also been “guilty of breaches of discipline against the supremacy of the World Zionist Congress,” and therefore, following this admission, I called for the previous question. The resolution passed unanimously, and must be regarded, not as a victory for the Laborites or Revisionists, but for General Zionism. If when the Revisionists or any other party at some time in the future gain control of the World Zionist Congress, and the Histadruth is inclined to be separatistic in negotiations or otherwise, this general resolution, applicable impartially to all groups, will be highly useful. Laborites will do well to bear this in mind.

THE STAVSKY RESOLUTION

Another rebuff to the Locker-Lipsky-Fishman viewpoint occurred in the passage of the Stavsky resolution. This resolution, drawn with utmost care, asked only that in view of the dissenting opinion of one of the judges and the establishment of a committee of distinguished Palestinian Jews, such aid might be given Stavsky as to enable him to present adequately and fully his appeal for a new trial. In defense of the resolution, I mentioned that similar resolutions have been passed by the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Young Israel and the Order Sons of Zion, and would doubtless be passed by other conventions of Jews; that it contained no criticism of the court, and made no comment upon the case in question. Jacob de Haas, despite regrettable interruptions by Jacob Fishman, also described the work of the Stavsky Non-Partisan Defense Committee in cooperation with Rabbi Kook. Shelvin’s motion to table the resolution was defeated almost unanimously, just before Lipsky arose to speak. Though originally opposed to any resolution, Lipsky admitted that the mood of the convention was favorable to a resolution and, amid the most severe resistance and antipathy he has ever encountered at a Zionist convention, Lipsky, professing to favor the resolution, sought to draw into the discussion of it every manner of irrelevant implications, apparently with a desire to stampede the convention against it. But former Congressman Perlman and Morris Rothenberg, president of the Z. O. A., after a slight verbal change in the text of the resolution, called for the previous question, and the Stavsky resolution was unanimously passed. A Labor spokesman is said to have remarked: “If I had been in control of this convention, no such resolution would have even been presented.”

OPPOSITION TO “RAID”

In short, despite press reports and headlines, and despite your staff correspondent’s narrative in The Jewish Daily Bulletin of July 5, not only did the attempted pro-Labor “raid” meet with vigorous opposition, as the fine declaration of Rabbi Joseph Shubow on behalf of sixty delegates who had affixed their signatures, clearly proved, but widespread resentment was crystallized at the tactics of those who sought to transform the Z. O. A. into an appendage and auxiliary of the Histadruth. The forcing tactics of the pro-Labor group is solidifying the General Zionists, and a new realignment of forces is under way. The “Avukah Group,” consisting of splendid young Zionists, trained in an understanding of the economic emphasis, and in the Maximalist policy, which Judge Bernard Rosenblatt advocated in his plea for concentration upon the problems of a larger immigration into Palestine, and the great body of General Zionists will not permit the Zionist movement to become an arena in which parties and factions may leap at each other’s throats. We asked Lipsky and his collaborators to avoid invective, to make no effort at provocation, but they would not listen. The General Zionists held themselves in restraint, and their viewpoint, in the resolutions adopted as the true expression of the convention’s will, gained the victory it deserved. The “opposition” to the pro-Labor cabal did not lack a program; on the contrary, its program is to keep Zionism true Zionism, without restrictive adjectives, and to build a Palestine without isms, and in the interest of the whole Yishub and of All-Israel.

Louis I. Newman.

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