NEW YORK (Jun. 25)
The Zionist Organization of America, opening its 42nd annual convention today in the shadow of the British White Paper, was summoned by President Solomon Goldman and world Zionist leader Dr. Chaim Weizmann to a ceaseless struggle against Britain’s Palestine policy.
In his presidential message to the more than 1,000 delegates assembled, together with several hundred visitors, at the Hotel Commodore, Dr. Goldman declared that “the task of the American Zionists and of Zionists throughout the world is to open the eyes of the British to the danger they have created for themselves by this policy of appeasement.”
“We must protest unceasingly against the action of the British,” he said. “We must arouse the sense of justice of that part of the world that has not yet been seduced to the new diplomacy or overwhelmed by the new madness. We must make the British understand that they have not solved the problem, and that they will never solve the problem of Palestine as long as they do not allow and encourage the upbuilding of the Jewish homeland.”
Dr. Goldman echoed a cabled plea by Dr. Weizmann for the aid of American Jewry in fighting the British policy. “The determination of the Jewish people to achieve the full realization of the Zionist ideal is put to a historic test,” Dr. Weizmann’s cable said. “Now, more than ever, Zionists and Jews the world over must take their full share of responsibility and sacrifice for the continuation of immigration and settlement work in Palestine in all circumstances and for courageous conduct in the struggle to nullify the White Paper policy. The mobilization of all our moral and material resources is imperative, and I am confident that American Jewry will not fail their duty in this grave hour.”
Faced with a British policy that could call forth from Zionists only unanimous condemnation, the convention opened in harmony in striking contrast to such meetings as the one in 1937 which framed American Zionism’s attitude toward the partition proposal. A possible flicker of an issue arose in the rumor that a petition was being circulated privately among delegates asking Dr. Weizmann to resign as president of the Jewish Agency, but no Zionist leader could be found who would admit knowledge of such a petition and all discounted the importance of it if it existed.
At a convention dinner tonight, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, Judge Morris Rothenberg, who was toastmaster; Dr. Israel Goldstein; Rabbi Israel R. Levinthal and Maurice Samuel joined in denouncing the White Paper as a “concession to violence,” a “misguided and illusory policy” and a “decline from the good impulse” which prompted the Balfour Declaration. Dr. Wise presented an illustrated scroll to Hyman N. Kohn, president of Anshe Emet Synagogue of Chicago in gratitude for releasing Rabbi Goldman for his Zionist duties.
During the day the progress of the Jewish homeland was discussed in two broadcasts. Judge Louis E. Levinthal of Philadelphia and Judge Rothenberg spoke over an NBC network and Mr. Samuel over the facilities of the Columbia Broadcasting System.
ROOSEVELT LAUDS HOMELAND’S PROGRESS
President Roosevelt, in a message to the convention, lauded the progress of the Jewish homeland. He said: “On several previous occasions I have expressed my interest in the Jewish National Home, and I have watched its development with keenest sympathy. The Jews of the United States may be justly proud of the part which they have played in this work. In considering the present problems and difficulties, the Zionist Organization should not be unmindful of the great progress which has already been made in Palestine. I venture to hope that from your deliberations there may come the spirit of constructive effort which so typifies American enterprise and upon which the progress of the Jewish National Home so much depends.”
Messages of encouragement were also received from David Lloyd George, wartime British Prime Minister; and Herbert Morrison, British Laborite.
At this afternoon’s session the following presidium was elected for the convention: Dr. Goldman, Dr. Goldstein, Louis Lipsky, Judge Rothenberg, Robert Szold and Judge Levinthal. Bernard G. Richards, Menachem Ribalow and Abraham Goldstein, Hartford, were named secretaries. Greetings were given by Mrs. Moses P. Epstein, president of Hadassah; Leon Gellman, president of Mizrachi, and Dr. Chaim Greenberg, of the Poale Zion.
Dr. Goldman, in calling for resistance to the White Paper, made it clear that the convention could not, prior to the Zionist Congress, decide on the detailed forms which the protest would take, but he stressed (1) world-wide protest to arouse Britain’s sense of justice, (2) continued immigration and refusal to accept the “ludicrous and immoral” term, “illegal Jewish immigration,” (3) continued land-buying.
OFFICIALS’ ANTI-SEMITISM HELD BEHIND POLICY
A good part of the message was devoted to arguing the legal and moral claim of the Jews to Palestine. Dr. Goldman charged that anti-Semitism among the officials in Palestine was responsible for the new policy. The British, he said, had never fulfilled the spirit and the letter of the mandate. Petty officials “look with bitter distaste on the growth of the new Jew,” he declared.
Declaring that the Zionists “protest with all the strength of our being” at the idea of British Guiana as a substitute for Palestine, Dr. Goldman asserted that any Jew “who proposes a rival for Palestine is not merely treacherous; he is out of his mind.” One of the effects of the White Paper, he said, was to “eliminate the note of apology which has crept” into Zionism in recent years.
To strengthen the sinews of the Zionist movement in this country, Dr. Goldman proposed a goal of 50,000 new members, in addition to the present enrollment of 200,000 in all Zionist organizations; a drive to enroll all Jewish organizations as affiliates of Zionist bodies; reduction of the executive and administrative committees of the Z.O.A.; reorganization of the Z.O.A.’s work into administrative, cultural and public relations departments. He proposed a budget of $275,000 for the coming year.
Dr. Goldman concluded his message on a note of challenge. “Concerned as I am with the protest against Britain,” he said, “I am concerned even more with the rekindling of hope in our own hearts. Let the challenge of His Majesty’s Government provoke in us a storm of strength which will recoil on those who have sought to break us.
“Let us remember that Palestine is ours as long as its hills and valleys lie between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. Of haunted houses it is said that they yield peace of mind only to the descendants of the original owner. Even so the soil of Palestine will yield its sustenance and its bounty only to the descendants of those who wrote the Tehilim and who bled at Masada.”
A pre-convention institute on Hebrew culture and Zionism was held last night with Menachem Ribalow, Ludwig Lewisohn and Rabbi Samuel M. Blumenfeld participating.