Zionist Congress Opens with Call to Jews in Free Lands to Send Immigrants to Israel
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Zionist Congress Opens with Call to Jews in Free Lands to Send Immigrants to Israel

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A call to Jewish communities in “truly free and equalitarian communities” to offer manpower to Israel marked the opening here tonight of the 23rd World Zionist Congress, the first to be hold on Israel soil and the most momentous Zionist assembly since the first World Zionist Congress, which was hold in Basle in 1897.

The call was voiced by Berl Locker, chairman of the Jewish Agency, executive, in his address formally opening the conclave which is being attended by nearly 500 delegates from all parts of the world and thousands of guests. Mr. Locker stressed the unprecedented Immigration to Israel from countries where the Jews are persecuted, and emphasized that Israel also needs immigrants from democratic countries. The idea of settlement and concentration in Israel must penetrate large areas of the Jewish people, he said.

The 3,000 men and women who filled the convention hall rose in silent tribute to the memory of Dr. Theodore Herzl, founder of political Zionism, before Mr. Locker started his address. Prior to the opening of the Congress, the delegates and guests made a pilgrimage to Herzl’s tomb on Mr. Herzl here.

There were moist eyes in the audience as Mr. Locker in his opening speech listed the generation of Jewish martyrs and heroes–the 6,000,000 Jews who perished in Europe under the Nazis; the Zionist pioneers who formed the Shomrim or Watchers Society which, at the turn of the century, protected Jewish settlements in Palestine from attacks by Arab bands; the heroes of the ghettos in East European countries who revolted against the Nazis; the heroes of Israel who won the War of Liberation in 1948 against invading Arab armies.


Outlining the Zionist obligations to participate in physical settlement and pioneering in the Jewish State, and to place financial resources at Israel’s disposal by means of investment as well as by contributions, the chairman of the Jewish Agency executive called upon both “affluent Zionists and Jews with pioneer audacity to serve the Jewish state. He also called for the revaluation of Jewish education in and outside Israel so as to open to Jewish youth the rich, moral and intellectual resources of Hebrew literature from the Bible to contemporary Hebrew writing. For this purpose, he pointed out, the Hebrew language is an indispensable instrument.

With regard to the spatial status demanded by the Zionist movement from the State of Israel, Mr. Locker said: “It is taken for granted that such status does not trespass on the sovereignty of Israel and that it means full, unqualified and unconditional cooperation with the Israel Government in immigration and the absorp- tion of the mass immigration as well as in the settlement of the immigrants. The status is not an aim but a means to facilitate the world Zionist movement to better fulfill its functions.”


Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency executive, in his address tonight at the opening session of the Congress outlined a credo for the world Zionist movement. Be said that as long as the Jewish state is not secure from within and from without, it would be “criminal folly” for the Zionist movement to abandon Israel to its fate. Other great revolutionary movements have collapsed precisely at the moment of victory because their followers believed they had achieved their aim, he pointed out.

The greatest moral task confronting Zionism and its leaders is whether it possesses the courage, the capacity and the vision to proclaim the full program of gathering in the exiles–which would mean the mobilization of Jews for immigration to Israel from free countries where they are not forced to depart for a safer area, Dr. Goldmann said. So long as a majority of the Jewish people remains outside Israel Zionism’s aims have not been attained, the American Zionist leader insisted.

Zionism’s aim is to preserve the unity of the Jewish people, a task which has been rendered more difficult because a portion of the Jewish people lives in its own state, while the remainder are dispersed around the globe, he maintained. The function of Zionism is to work for the preservation of the unity of one people; its function is to “Zionize” both the Jews in Israel and those outside the Jewish state.


Turning to the relationship between the State of Israel and the Zionist movement, Dr. Goldmann warned against the illusion that the state can deal directly with Jewish communities abroad. Declaring that people are guided by political parties, movements and leaders, he stated that the Jewish state would never have been realized without the Zionist movement, although the latter most of the time did not represent organizationally the majority of the Jewish people.

Now that the “first flash of enthusiasm” has subsided, it is evident that some quarters are beginning to “mutter” of local needs, he said. The Zionist movement must be on guard. If there had been no such movement, he asserted, it would have had to be created for channelizing contact between the Jewish people and Israel. For moral and practical reasons the movement deserves the opportunity to try to channelize these energies.

The Jewish state should be grateful to the Zionist movement because it can thus deal with one agent of the Jewish people instead of with many, Dr. Goldmann maintained. The State of Israel need not fear that Zionists will trespass on its sovereignty since a special status for the Zionist movement would be granted voluntarily and could be rescinded by the state whenever it deemed it wise. The granting of a special status, the Jewish Agency leader added, means “the Zionist movement must be recognized by the state as the channeling and coordinator of all the efforts of the Diaspora to help Israel.”

He warned, however, that cooperation between the state and the movement must be unconditional. The Zionist movement as a whole must never come in conflict with the state, Dr. Goldmann said. Should the time arise, hypothetically speaking, when a majority of the Zionist movement feels it cannot continue to support a particular government in power, the Zionist movement should suspend its operations, because even under such conditions it would not have the right to come in conflict with the state representing the majority of the Israeli Jews, Under such conditions its only alternative would be to suspend operations, he averred.

On the issue of the Zionist parties in countries outside Israel, Dr. Goldmann insisted that these parties had the right to exist and that individuals and groups of Zionists in countries abroad had the right to express criticism of Israeli affaire and to support likeminded groups in Israel. This, he stated, applies to parties within the Zionist movement but not to the movement as a whole, which owes its unconditional cooperation to the government in power, whatever its composition.

The State of Israel has no right to interfere in the internal affairs of Zionism abroad, but Israeli Zionists have equal rights with the Zionists of other countries and therefore have the right to intervene in Zionist affairs which affect Zionists everywhere. “The Zionist movement embraces Zionists everywhere, both in and outside Israel, but the State of Israel embraces only Israel citizens,” he emphasized.


Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of Israel, in a message read to the Congress, reaffirmed his faith in the future of the Zionist movement. Unable to cover before the Congress personally because of ill health, the veteran Zionist leader and statesmen declared in his message that Israel faced “the tremendous task of material and spiritual reconstruction” in which the Zionist movement is called upon to play a major part.”

“I look forward to a rich give and take between Israel and the great Jewish communities abroad who stood by us in the decisive hours of our struggle for freedom.” Dr. Weizmann said in his message, “I hope they will give us of their best men, ideas and support. We may be able, for our part, in the course of time, to offer them a significant restatement of those traditions and aspirations which constitute the eternal heritage of the people of Israel.”

Dr. Isaac Herzog, Chief Rabbi of Israel, in a message to the Congress, said that the question of “dual allegiance” was not involved if it were realized that the bonds between Israel and the Jewish people were more than historic ties with a small country. “Israel is an instrument in the hands of Divine Providence to cleanse the world of its evil and to uproot viciousness, to bring upon the world Justice and peace,” the Chief Rabbi declared.

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