Weizmann and Ben Gurion Differ on Program for Opening Session of World Zionist Congress
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Weizmann and Ben Gurion Differ on Program for Opening Session of World Zionist Congress

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Differences of opinion developed here today between Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and David Ben Gurion, chairman of its executive, with regard to the length of the opening session of the 22nd World Zionist Congress which is to start next Monday.

Dr. Weizmann insists that the opening session on Monday should be short since it must start in the evening instead of the afternoon as originally scheduled. He suggests that the session be limited to his presidential address and to greetings from diplomats and a representative of the Basle Jewish Community. Ben Gurion opposes a short session since this would necessitate the postponement of his political address. A final decision as to whether the opening session should be short, or whether it should continue into the night will be made by the executive at a meeting Friday.

Rabbi Judah L. Fishman, member of the executive, today announced that he will not participate either in an executive or a triumvirate together with “a reform rabbi who is preaching on Sundays,” obviously referring to Dr. Abba Hillel Silver. His statement provoked dissatisfaction among leaders of the Mizrachi World Organization, of which he is the representative in the executive. An urgent meeting of the Mizrachi leaders was held and it was decided to await the opinion of Rabbi Meir Berlin, now in Jerusalem, one of the outstanding leaders of the Mizrachi world movement, as to whether he favors the re-election of Dr. Weizmann as president, or the creation of a World Zionist triumvirate with Dr. Silver as one of its members.

(In London, Emanuel Neumann, vice-president of the Zionist Organization of America, told reporters today that “if, as assumed, Dr. Weizmann will take the honorary presidency–as he has repeatedly indicated retirement from active presidency–then a new president will be elected by the Congress in Basle.” The presidency, Neumann pointed out, has been held in an unbroken fifty-year tradition by General Zionists, even when they were a minority group at the congress. “Today,” he said, “the General Zionists are the largest group, therefore they are entitled to the presidency. The idea of a triumvirate is interesting, but everyone realizes that it has serious disadvantages.”)


Leaders of the Mapai, Palestine Labor Party, today indicated that they are not prepared to compromise on their principal demand that they receive a number of seats in the World Zionist Executive proportionate to their number in the coalition, though they foresees the necessity to compromise on certain positions which their representatives now hold. However, a likelihood exists that the Mapai will sacrifice a number of members in the present executive, providing an understanding is reached to give Laborites the leadership of certain important departments in the executive.

Diplomatic representatives of various countries will attend the opening session. It was also learned today that the Palestine police have sent a special “observer” of the Criminal Investigation Division to the Congress.

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