American Jews Lauded at Zionist Congress for Their Devotion to Israel’s Cause
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American Jews Lauded at Zionist Congress for Their Devotion to Israel’s Cause

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A tribute to American Jews and their devotion to the cause of Israel was paid today by Rudolph G. Sonneborn, national co-chairman of the United Jewish Appeal, speaking in the general debate of the 23rd World Zionist Congress. Mr. Sonneborn praised the role of the American Jewish welfare funds which, he said, had raised over $600,000,000 for the United Jewish Appeal from 1941 to 1950, or 93 per cent of all the U.J.A. funds.

“They have been faithful partners in providing means for the development of the Jewish State and the ingathering of our brethen,” he told the Congress, adding that the American Zionists had only themselves to blame if they did not dominate the welfare funds in the Jewish communities. He said that this was because, “in our preoccupation with other matters, we have not given time or energy nor taken our rightful place in the development of these welfare funds.”

Mr. Sonneborn added that experience on such issues as a Central Israeli Fund and national budgeting had shown that whatever “our occasional differences with the leadership of the welfare funds, whenever we presented our Zionist viewpoint, we have been reassured of overwhelming support for our side” by the community leaders.

Mr. Sonneborn, who is also chairman of the United Palestine Appeal, warned the Congress against a too hasty discounting of the importance of the traditional Zionist funds. He warmly praised the effort of the United Jewish Appeal and Edward M.M. Warburg, its general chairman, and Dr. Joseph J. Schwartz, its executive vice-chairman.


In a comment on the Congress proceedings to date, Mr. Sonneborn urged the assembly “to recognize fully the vital importance of raising funds for Israel and to devote more time to discussing connected problems.” He said the eyes of those connected with the raising of funds for Israel were on Jerusalem, from where they expected words of encouragement and leadership. He scored “some American Zionist officials here who have taken Israel’s leaders to task. This criticism,” he asserted, “is merely an effort to divert attention from their own deficiencies.”

Dr. Joseph Jenenbaum, American General Zionist, told the delegates to the Congress: “You don’t know America. It is too big for you to understand. You have fantastic ideas about the United States.” He said that the Zionist Organization of America delegates could not understand the rebuke levelled against the Z.O.A. “We demand respect from the Zionist movement,” he declared. “Without the Zionist Organization of America, Israel will suffer.”

Rabbi Semach Zambrowsky, executive vice-president of the Canadian Mizrachi Organization, told the Congress that Israel’s aim should not be a second Switzerland, but like “Israel of the past.” He said there was no pioneering movement from America because there is not the enthusiasm there in the measure anticipated after three years of Israeli statehood. This enthusiasm was missing, he declared, because it is too soon to speak of Zionist fulfilment and people today think that Israel is the fulfilment and it does not meet their dream.

Dr. Benno Weiser of New York, who represents Ecuador Zionists at the Congress, told the assembly that if Zionists were not coming from the West to settle in Israel it was because, with the establishment of the state, they felt more secure. He urged greater understanding and patience and expressed the belief they would come to Israel eventually.

Abraham Harzfeld, head of the Jewish Labor Federation’s settlement department and a member of the Israeli Parliament, advised the delegates to visit the settlements in Israel,” which will inspire you more than all the speeches and resolutions here.” He said the Congress must find the ways and means to expand colonization activities. “We need every kind of material aid, plus man power,” he declared. “One is as vital as the other.”


A. Sasson, a delegate of the Herut party and himself a recent immigrant from Iraq, charged before the Congress that Iraqi Jews “are being treated like second class citizens.” He asked for a public inquiry by the Congress delegates. A steady flow of denials from the Mapai section punctuated his address and the chairman was forced to call the meeting to order a number of times.

A tumult also broke out at the session today when American delegate Beinish Epstein, a Revisionist, charged that the “economic dictatorship” of Israel’s organized labor has forced American investors to turn away from Israel without making any investments in the Jewish state.

Labor delegates protested loudly and sought to prevent the Revisionist from continuing his speech. Delegates of the rightist Herut Party, on the other hand, shouted encouraging remarks to Mr. Epstein. The chairman was compelled to call the delegates to order and told the Revisionist to continue his speech.

A second disorder developed when the Laborites attempted to answer the right-wing criticism. Berl Frymmer, American labor Zionist, told the Revisionists that Labor built the Jewish state. He was interrupted by Revisionist delegates heckling, as was Hayim Shurer, Israeli Mapai delegate, who called the Revisionists “hysterical” and asserted that the reclaimed and irrigated soil of Israel “speaks for us.”

Mrs. D. Rabinowitz, an American Mizrachi delegate, said it would not be wise to place Orthodox children in non-Orthodox settlements in Israel. This practice, she said, might result in establishment of ghettos and possible discrimination.

The financial difficulties faced by the Jewish Agency in bringing Jewish youth from various countries to Israel were outlined here today at the Congress by Bertha Schoolman, leader of the Hadassah. Mrs. Schoolman, who is engaged in youth immigration work, reported to the Congress that accumulated debts and the increase in the cost of living have seriously affected the Jewish Agency budget for youth immigration and have impeded the Youth Aliyah work. She recommended that the budget for the coming year be such as to make possible the absorption and education by the Youth Aliyah of at least ten per cent of the new immigrant population.

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