The next Zionist Congress which is to open in Lucerne on August 27, will be of value only if it succeeds in organizing concentrated political action which is vital to Jewish interests in Palestine, “not for the distant future, but for tomorrow,” David Ben-Gurion, member of the World Zionist Executive and leader of the Hisatdruth, declared at a reception in his honor at Carnegie Hall Saturday night.
Mr. Ben-Gurion warned that “unfriendly forces are being felt in and around Palestine.” The next world war, he said, may affect the Arab countries and the Jews ought to be prepared for such a possibility.
Speaking in a hall crowded with 3,000 Zionist Laborites and sympathizers, Ben-Gurion asserted that the Jewish people must be made over from a people of peddlers, doctors and lawyers to a people predominantly laborers and farmers before there can be any mass immigration to Palestine.
UPHOLD CLASS STRUGGLE
He reaffirmed the necessity for class struggle in Palestine, explaining that he meant by class struggle the fight for humane working conditions and for civil and political rights for the Jewish laborer. “Those who fight Jewish labor, human rights and decent living standards for the Jewish worker,” he said, “are fighting Zionism.”
Previous to his address, Ben-Gurion was greeted by Morris Rothenberg, president of the Zionist Organization of America, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, president of the American Jewish Congress, who stressed the fact that as leading member of the Zionist Executive, he should be considered above all parties within the movement.
Rothenberg warned that “those who have seceded from the movement will either see the error of their ways or they will destroy themselves.” Dr. Wise announced his full support of the Laborite program and suggested that Ben-Gurion accept the chairmanship of the Zionist Executive.
Others who greeted the Laborite leader, who arrived in New York last week, were David Wertheim, secretary of the Poale-Zion organization; David Pinski, Elisheva Kaplan of the Palestine Working Women’s Council and Chaim Greenberg. Baruch Zuckerman presided.
Ben-Gurion warned the audience that the problem of Palestine must be considered an immediate and pressing problem because of anti-Semitism throughout the world. He expressed grave doubts about the possible aftermath of Marshal Pilsudski’s death in Poland and declared that even in America Jews should not feel too safe.
But he pointed out that “with Palestine as it is now and the Jewish people as it is now, the country cannot absorb millions or even tens of thousands of immigrants.” In order to make possible the much-needed mass immigration to Palestine, the potentialities of the land must be developed and the country colonized, he said. “We must build from the ground,” he declared, “with our native strength, our own hands, our labor and initiative.”
URGES CHANGE OF VOCATIONS
The speaker asserted that the Jews throughout the world are a people of middle-men, professionals and “luftmenschen” who can remain as a minority among other peoples so long as they are tolerated. “We will and must become in Palestine like the non-Jews of the other countries,” he said, “and the transition of a large majority of Jews to labor and agriculture are the inevitable factors in the realization of Zionism.”
Mr. Ben-Gurion described the economic development which is making Palestine a vital component of the British empire and an important junction between Europe and Asia. “We must be prepared for a world and local crisis in the Near East,” the speaker said.
Emphasizing repeatedly the fact that the development of Palestine is a very immediate problem, Ben-Gurion urged that the tempo of colonization be speeded up. “Neither the Jewish people nor Palestine can wait much longer,” he declared.
Touching on the recent Huleh concession, Ben-Gurion said that this territory is rich in water, a vital necessity in Palestine, but that the land must be drained and improved before it can be used for colonization.