Jewish Agency Leaders Oppose “scare Propaganda” to Influence American Jews
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Jewish Agency Leaders Oppose “scare Propaganda” to Influence American Jews

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Opposition to “scare propaganda” aimed at getting American Jews to migrate to Israel was expressed here today by Berl Locker, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, addressing the World Zionist Congress. Such propaganda, he said, is useless, citing the example of Polish and Russian Jewries. “Al though these Jews had been persecuted, they did not emigrate in masses, although they might have been among the living if they had done so,” he declared.

Consequently, he continued, there is much less reason to hope that “scare propaganda” would convert American Jews. However, he urged American Zionists not to attempt to rationalize and explain away their failure to settle in Israel. Although he rejected the arguments of some of the speakers that what happened to Jewry in Germany must also happen to Jews in America, he insisted that Jewish history shows that in countries outside Israel “Jews are either persecuted or tolerated.”

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the American section of the Jewish Agency, took issue with Mrs. Rose Halprin, Hadassah president, who had declared earlier that American Jews are free and do not live in fear. ” Galuth (exile) does not cease being Saluth because Jews are happy and well treated there,” he said. “Galuth is not measured by good or bad treatment. Galuth is a mystical concept. If you deny that America is Galuth you might as well deny the need for Israel.” He recommended that more funds be spent on the training of Jewish youth for emigration to Israel as pioneers.


Hayim Greenberg, American Labor Zionist leader, and member of the Jewish Agency executive, advised the delegates to adopt a “realistic” attitude on the question of large-scale emigration from the United States to Israel. He bluntly declared that American Jews would not “be persuaded to come to Israel by declarations and manifestations by the Congress.” He pointed out that in making this statement, he was not speaking as a non-believer in a youth pioneering movement among American Jews.

In seeking to explain the situation, particularly to Israelis who were most critical of the American Jewish role, Dr. Greenberg told them that they had to consider the Galut as composed of three different categories. Just as there was a difference between medieval Spain which expelled the Jews, and Holland, which gave them refuge, he said, there is a difference today between Iraq and the United States.

The first category of the Galut, he said, was the countries sealed under seven locks, permitting neither entry nor exit – an obvious reference to the Soviet Union. The second category, he said, was composed of the Islamic countries. The third was composed of the countries of high culture in which the Jews had established positions and were relatively integrated into the general mass of the population.

He could, he said, offer no solution for the Jews in the countries of the first category. The solution for the Jews in the Arab lands, he said, was emigration to Israel. The Jews in the third category, he declared, “rightly or wrongly, not regard themselves as candidates for mass emigration in the near future. They cannot be persuaded to accept the fate of German Jewry as their own fate. They do not believe it can happen here.” Of the Jews in this category, he said, one element will vanish in the population majority, one element seeks some kind of integration between their Jewishness and the mass culture and the third element will some day emigrate to Israel.

Earlier, Halprin appealed to the Congress for a better understanding of the special position of the Jews in the United States. “Every American Zionist organization,” she declared, “supports the pioneer movement because it is part of the American pioneering tradition. But we cannot base appeals on the fear motive. There are countries where such an appeal is justified, but not the United States where Jews live in the Diaspora (Dispersion) by choico, where they are free to go out as they wish and with no fear.

“We are ready,” she told the Congress, “to work for a pioneer movement appeal based on idealism, but the numbers of those coming will be small.” She questioned the wisdom of converting the Zionist movement into a pioneer movement which, she said, would be much smaller than the present body. She also appealed for special treatment for American immigrants in Israel noting that “although they are no better than any body else, historical accident placed them in different previous circumstances than other Israel immigrants.”

Mrs. Halprin, too, told the Congress to be “realistic in the world in which we live and know that citizens owe full allegiance to the countries in which they live. This, “she added, “is true in the United States, although there is plenty of room for cultural pluralism. The Congress would be ill-advised to adopt any resolution which did not recognize these facts.” The speaker urged continuation of a strong, dynamic Zionist movement which, she said, was “the strongest link between Israelis and Jews abroad.”


In closing the first stage of the general debate at the Zionist Congress, Dr. Goldmann said that the primary tasks of the Zionist movement in countries outside of Israel are the raising of funds for Israel; “Zionizing” the Jewish youth; “capturing” local communities, and avoiding getting involved in party differences. It is also important, he stated, to have a single voice for common problems and not to have each Zionist group come out with its own statements overriding the existing central Zionist body, as for example the American Zionist Council.

Dr. Goldmann emphasized that it must also be taken into consideration that thousands of potential young Zionists do not enroll because they wish to be non-partisan Zionists. The structure of the Zionist movement in countries outside of Israel is, therefore, one of the most essential tasks and should not be underestimated, he declared. A structure should be created which would permit these youths to join and if after a time they wish to join the Zionist party, they should be free to do so.

At a press conference today, Dr. Goldmann predicted that the name of “Jewish Agency for Israel” would replace the former title of “Jewish Agency for Palestine” and that the American branch of the Agency would be continued and that a European office would also be set up. He expressed confidence that a majority vote will be mustered in both the Zionist Congress and the Israel Parliament to grant the world Zionist movement a special status in Israel.

Dr. Goldmann also indicated that there is a strong sentiment among the delegates for eliminating some of the Agency departments, with the Israel Government as suming responsibility for the work previously done by these sections. He said that it was unclear whether a president would be elected by the Congress to head the World Zionist Organization.

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