Richards Hits Congress Plans As Too Chaotic

Asserting that a Jewish World Congress as it is now planned is not likely to further the cause of Jewish unity but may, on the contrary, involve a split between Jewish communities in various parts of the country, Bernard G. Richards, chairman of the Jewish Council of Greater New York, addressing the Richmond Hill Zionist District last night analyzed the decisions of the Geneva conference and gave the history of the World Congress movement during the last thirty years. The meeting was held in the Jewish Community Center of Richmond Hill. About 200 attended. Dr. William Mandelbaum presided.

Mr. Richards declared that “it is a part of the confused and befuddled state of mind of the present advocates of an immediate World Congress that, after talking about it for over three years and holding several preliminary conferences in Europe they have not yet evolved a single concrete idea which may constitute an element in the program of such a Congress. The Congress that was advocated in the earlier years had certain specific objects. Since then the whole of Jewish life has changed and conditions in Europe have gone through several transformations. Still the Congressists talk as if nothing had happened either in relation to the problems of Jewish rights or to the development of the Jewish National Home in Palestine.

“LOT OF PIFFLE”

“Talk of reconstructing the economic basis of Jewish life, the undertaking of large colonization and immigration schemes is, of course, a lot of piffle, since there is no sign of the possibility of raising large sums of money for such purposes. Tasks of this kind are already being handled by other agencies who have in their possession such funds as it was possible to gather and these agencies and organizations do not seem to be interested in Dr. Goldmann’s Congress.

“The present talk and plans of holding democratic elections are as misleading as they are fantastic. Since there is no arrangement made, not even negotiations carried on with the opposing groups, the election would only have the result of the Congressists selecting themselves as the favorite, self-appreciatory leaders. I could name, offhand, a hundred leading cities in the country where the present leaders will remain dominant factors in Jewish affairs no matter how many elections will be held. Therefore, the plans for elections or plebiscites which have no regard for the opinion of the opposition of men who have so long been active in Jewish affairs are empty gestures and are merely a means of causing irritation.

“If the World Congress is ever to be realized, it will be done not merely with making noise, but with actual thinking and planning. It will come only after a real program will have been worked out and ##er the important men and groups in the communities will have helped to work it out.

“At present there is only being created a lot of noise and confusion and the immediate effect of the present propaganda will be to cause schisms and splits in a hundred different communities where various groups of our people are in most instances working harmoniously together for the furtherance of immediate and urgent Jewish communal purposes. The World Congress idea must have some relation to the newer conditions as they now exist.

“New alignments, new combinations of forces as they are working in connection with all the important tasks of the time. Without such relations to the realities of Jewish life, the real Jewish World Congress will not come into existence. Of course, a little semi-private Jewish World Congress may be held anywhere, anytime. A few more visitors to Geneva or to Zurich or wherever it may be and you have such a Congress.”

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