American and Israeli Delegates Differ Sharply on Formulation of Ultimate Zionist Program
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American and Israeli Delegates Differ Sharply on Formulation of Ultimate Zionist Program

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The Commission on Fundamental Problems of the World Zionist Congress, in which all Zionist parties are represented, has agreed to recommend to the Congress a request for the granting of a special status to the World Zionist Organization by the Israel Government and has also agreed on a formula outlining the relationship between the Zionist movement and the Israel Government. The Commission has not yet, however, worked out the so-called “Jerusalem Program,” which is to replace the Basle Program, and outline the tasks and aims of the Zionist movement following the establishment of the State of Israel.

Formulation of the “Jerusalem Program” has been impeded by a wide gap between the Israelis and many representatives from the United States on the definition of the “Ingathering of the Exiles.” Many Americans maintain that the term has one meaning in Israel and might have an ominously different meaning in the United States. It has been suggested that in order to resolve the impasse, the “Jerusalem Program” be deferred and instead a proclamation be issued on the obligations of Zionists in this decisive period.

The following two paragraphs regarding the status and relations between Israel and the Zionist movement have been adopted: 1. “The Congress declares that a practical program of the World Zionist Organization and its agencies is the fulfilment of its historic tasks in Eretz Israel, and calls for the fullest degree of cooperation and coordination on its part with the State and Government of Israel in accordance with the laws of the land.” (The term “fullest cooperation and coordination” was substituted for the previously-proposed “unconditional cooperation.”)

2. “The Congress considers it essential that the State of Israel, through an appropriate legislative act, grant the World Zionist Organization the status as representative of the Jewish people in all matters relating to organized participation of Jews throughout the world in the development and upbuilding of the land and the rapid absorption of the newcomers.”


The above paragraphs will be proposed to the first plenary session of the Congress, which will probably be resumed tonight. No agreement has yet been reached by the Commission on Fundamental Problems on the relationship between the Israel Government and the World Zionist Organization and non-Zionist Jewish groups. A formula under consideration would suggest that the government undertake projects or any activity with such groups in “consultation with the W.Z.O.”

Meanwhile, the Budget Commission has appointed two subcommittees to facilitate its work. Under consideration are various proposals for organizational adjustments of the Zionist funds and creation of a single fund-raising apparatus overseas. However, there is not a single proposal seeking to divert the Jewish National Fund from its traditional functions and autonomy in the performance of those functions, or affecting the J.N.F. structure in Israel proper.

Other proposals discussed in various commissions which have not yet made decisions on them include a proposal, emanating from the Labor Zionists, that only Zionist parties willing to abide by the Congress resolutions on the Zionist movement’s cooperation with the government – if and whey they are passed – should be co-opted into the Jewish Agency executive.

Also discussed was a proposal whether the Jewish Agency should accept responsibility for the full immigrant absorption program, or only for the maintenance of the newcomers in Israel while they are in reception centers and immigrant camps. The latter plan would involve an expenditure of 5,000,000 Israel pounds annually. The reason that some delegates suggest that the Agency shed part of its responsibilities and transfer them to the government is that it has no funds with which to undertake a full-scale absorption program over a long period, which is its present responsibility.


Also under study is a resolution that the World Zionist Congress meet once in three years, the General Zionist Council twice a year, and that the endorsement of one-third of the General Council would be needed for the convening of an emergency Council meeting.

The Immigration Committee has decided to recommend that the Congress “express the hope that the scale of immigration to Israel will continue and that before the Congress reconvenes three years hence, the Jewish population of Israel will be 2,000,000 souls.” Without mentioning the Iron Curtain countries, the same resolution expresses gratitude to all countries permitting Jewish immigration to Israel and calls “upon other countries likewise to open their doors.”

Special gratitude is expressed to countries which have permitted the transit through and temporary stay of Jews, but the names of these countries are not mentioned. These countries are first and foremost France, followed by Italy. Under different conditions, transit was also permitted by Aden for Yemenite Jews, thus making possible the removal of all Yemenite Jews to Israel, and by Iran, enabling Iraqi and Afghanistani Jews to find sanctuary.

The Immigration Committee also recommends to the Congress that it “call upon the Israel Government to continue its efforts for emigration of Jews from Russia, especially for the reuniting of families, whose members are residents and nationals of Israel.” It may also be recommended to the Congress that priority be granted in immigration where emigration possibilities exist today, but may not exist in the future, or where Jews are in the shadow of impending peril.


The Congress will be called upon to direct its efforts to replacing tents and aluminum huts in the immigrant work settlements in Israel (Maabaroth) with wooden structures, and expending vocational and cultural training, programs for newcomers. Also, the Congress will be asked to demand that the Israel Government enact legislation for compulsory one-year service in the immigrant work settlements by physicians, nurses and teachers.

A resolution to be offered the Congress will praise the Malben program in Israel, which provides care for the aged, ill and handicapped immigrants, and will suggest that the government be urged to pass legislation obligating every business and industrial establishment in Israel to accept a set percentage of workers from among immigrants in the 50-60 age bracket, and that workers in this age category be housed close to urban areas.

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