Basle (Dec. 24)
The 22nd World Zionist Congress closed here today without electing a new president or executive and without acting directly on the issue of partition.
Concluding its sixteen-day session at 5 p.m., the Congress authorized the newly-elected Actions Committee to elect an executive tomorrow morning. It will convene here at 11 a.m.
Dr. Chaim Weizmann left Basle at 9 a.m. this morning, several hours after the Congress, by a vote of 171 to 154, had rejected Zionist participation in the London Conference “under the present circumstances.” The vote was considered a blow to Dr. Weizmann’s chances of being re-elected to the presidency of the World Zionist Organization, and a victory for Dr. Abba Hillel Silver.
WEIZMANN SAYS HE IS NO LONGER SEEKING PRESIDENCY
Before he left this morning, Weizmann told his political advisers that he was not seeking the presidency any longer. It is understood that at an early hour this morning, before the Congress had voted on the resolution against participation in the London talks, Ben Gurion suggested to Weizmann that he head the delegation to London as honorary president if the Zionists should decide to go, but the man who has led the world Zionist movement almost without interruption since the end of World War I rejected the suggestion.
The text of the resolution on the London conference reads as follows:
“The World Zionist Congress resolves that under the existing circumstances the Zionist movement will not participate in the conference on Palestine which the British Government is holding in London. If a change should take place in the situation, the Actions Committee of the World Zionist Organization shall consider the matter and decide whether to participate in the conference or not.”
PRIOR TO ADOPTION OF THE RESOLUTION, THE 24 DELEGATES OF THE HASHOMER HATZAIR DECLARED THAT THEY WOULD VOTE FOR ATTENDANCE AT THE CONFERENCE ONLY IF THE BRITISH GOVERNMENT ABOLISHED THE WHITE PAPER, CEASED EXPELLING JEWISH IMMIGRANTS FROM PALESTINE AND DID NOT PARTITION PALESTINE INTO SEPARATE JEWISH AND ARAB STATES. FAILURE TO ELECT EXECUTIVE ATTACKED BY LABORITE
The decision to adjourn the Congress without electing a new executive, which was voted 116 to 37 with 65 delegates abstaining, came after the Congress had marked time for 24 hours during which party leaders were attempting to reach an agreement on the composition of the new executive.
When David Remez, who-had been chairing the meeting since yesterday afternoon, announced that the standing committee could not agree on a slate and suggested that the Actions Committee be given full power to choose a new executive, he was bitterly attacked by Aron Zisling of the left-wing Achdut Avoda who demanded that the Congress remain in session until it elected an executive.
Pointing out that the present Congress was of unusual importance because it marked a significant change in the Zionist policy adopted at Paris last summer, Zisling demanded an election which would establish the relative strength of the forces within the movement.
PARTICIPATION IN LONDON PARLEY STILL AN ISSUE
The biggest stumbling block to reaching an agreement on a new executive is the question of participation in the London conference, with the Silver forces standing by the Congress resolution for non-attendance at present. Ben Gurion and the Poale Zion representatives are equally adamant in demanding an understanding which would permit participation in the talks.
Other points of difference are the party structure in the proposed executive, the representation to be given the various groups in the Coalition and the political tendencies of the new executive. The Laborites are insisting that the executive as a whole represent a progressive outlook. They have also raised the question of the position claimed for Dr. Silver by the General Zionists.
The American delegates, who were due to leave Basle this morning in order to arrive in Paris and London in time to catch the planes or ships on which they had reserved passage, decided early this morning to cancel their reservations, after rejection of participation in the London parley gave them hope that they could triumph in the elections.
The Americans believe than an agreement can be reached on the basis that an executive of twenty be elected, of whom ten will reside in Jerusalem, seven in the United States and three in London. Ben Gurion would head the Jerusalem section of the executive, while Dr. Silver and Dr. Emanuel Neumann would direct the Washington branch.
In a closing address, Ben Gurion expressed regret that the Congress had been unable to complete the tasks laid upon it, in view of the great responsibility which has fallen on the Zionist movement as a result of the destruction of the largest portion of European Jewry. He greeted Weizmann as “a man whose life work has consisted of the greatest political conquest for Zionism–namely the Balfour Declaration–and whose activities brought about the greatest achievements of the Jewish people in the work for the people of Palestine.” He assured the displaced Jews in Europe and the detainees in Cyprus that the Jewish people will not rest until they are brought to Palestine.
REAFFIRMS COMMONWEALTH AIM, BUT VAGUE ON SCOPE OF JEWISH STATE
Before voting on the London conference, the Congress adopted after many hours of discussion–which grew extremely acrimonious at times–the following resolutions:
Confirming the Biltmore Declaration which calls for the establishment of Palestine as a Jewish Commonwealth. The wording of the resolution was attacked by Zisling, who urged that it be changed to read “a Jewish Commonwealth in a whole and undivided Palestine.” Both he and Mordechai Bentov of the Hashomer Hatzair, left-wing Socialists, charged that the Zionist executive paid lip service to the demand for a Jewish state in Palestine, but actually supported partition. These and other minority proposals were defeated.
Condemning the White Paper and calling for resistance against its policies. This was adopted unanimously, but a debate developed on the section of the resolution calling for implementing the struggle against the White Paper. Bentov stressed that the resistance must be carried on through legal and illegal immigration and colonization, but not by terrorism. Scores Terrorism; Urges Dissidents to Submit to Discipline
Condemning “murder and shedding of innocent blood as a means of political warfare,” and calling on dissident groups in Palestine to submit to national discipline. An amendment by Joseph Schectman, Revisionist, that the only alternative to British oppression was armed resistance was defeated, as was an amendment by Zisling, for the Achdut Avoda, that “a resolute fight against the resistance groups be waged.”
Protesting the deportation of Palestine Jews to Eritrean prison camps and demanding their return to Palestine for trial or release.
Condemning the Bergson group in the United States for claiming to speak in the name of the Jewish people and repudiating their activities.
Declaring that all the privileges in the Zionist Organization granted to the Revisionists, including the right to sit in the Actions Committee, are to be withdrawn if the New Zionist Organization is not dissolved within three months. This resolution precipitated a bitter debate, with the left-wing forces demanding that the Revisionists not be seated in any official bodies until the NZO had been liquidated and the Revisionists opposing automatic suspension if the NZO is not dissolved within the allotted time.
ARAB-JEWISH COOPERATION WILL BE SOUGHT
Instructing the Zionist executive to continue to explore the possibilities of Jewish-Arab cooperation. Eliezer Prai for the Hashomer Hatzair stated that his group had abstained from voting because it favored a bi-national Arab-Jewish state. Moshe Erem of the Achdut Avoda urged an amendment declaring that the “Jews should help the Arab masses fight against the imperialist tendencies of their rulers,” but it was defeated. A Revisionist spokesman said that his party had not voted on the resolution because it cloaked a desire for partition.
Instructing Keren Hayesod and Jewish National Fund offices throughout the world that no funds are to be allotted to other organizations without the approval of the Jerusalem headquarters of the respective organizations or the Agency executive. Where other fund campaigns conflict with the Keren Hayesod or the JNF, the latter are to be given priority. The two organizations are also authorized to levy taxes in Palestine with the approval of the Zionist Executive.
Other resolutions approved included those opposing any new trusteeship for Palestine; expressing thanks to the U.S. Government for its efforts on behalf of Zionism, thanking the Christian committees throughout the world that are supporting Zionist aims, thanking the kings of Sweden and Norway for the assistance their people gave refugee Jews and approving a budget of $62,000,000 for next year.