American Jewish Committee Severely Criticized by Jewish Agency
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American Jewish Committee Severely Criticized by Jewish Agency

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The Jewish Agency today issued a statement taking issue with the resolution adopted last week by the executive committee of the American Jewish Committee in which opposition was expressed to the granting of special status for the Agency by the Israel Government. The Agency’s statement charged the American Jewish Committee with creating issues “where none exist.”

Issue with the American Jewish Committee was also taken today by Israel Browdy, president of the Zionist Organization of America. Declaring that the A.J.C. had no logical or lawful grounds to urge the Israel Government to desist, “under the penalty of loss of support,” from granting any special status to the Jewish Agency, Mr. Browdy said: “If we are to judge it by its recent pronouncements, we must conclude that the A.J.C. is coming dangerously close to resembling an anti-Zionist combination.”

The Jewish Agency statement, issued by Mrs. Rose Halprin, acting chairman–Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Agency, is now in Latin American–reads as follows:

” The resolution approved last week by the executive of the American Jewish Committee is an astonishing document in view of facts which were at the disposal of the authors when they prepared the text. The resolution implies, among other things, that the World Zionist Organization has requested, and the Israel Government is considering, the granting of a ‘diplomatic’ or a ‘political’ status for the Jewish Agency for Palestine. It implies further that this status – the one or the other or both – would extend beyond the territory of Israel.

“Even the most cursory reading of the Resolution on Status approved at the recent World Zionist Congress, the text of which has been widely publicized, makes clear that the World Zionist Organization seeks only a legal status covering specific nonpolitical functions in Israel, specifically refraining from requesting such status outside of Israel.

“So much for what the World Zionist Organization is requesting. Equally clear is what the Israel Government is considering granting. In a recent communication to Ambassador Eban, the Prime Minister of Israel responded to a telegram addressed to him by a group of American organizations, including the American Jewish Committee. In his communication, Mr. Ben Gurion said:

“In Israel the Jewish Agency…carries out specific functions in the reception of immigrants, in the immediate provision for their needs in land settlement, and in certain types of development work. These functions were discharged by the Jewish Agency and its organs long before the State of Israel was established, and upon its establishment they were not taken over by the State but left in charge of the Jewish Agency. Under the new set up they can only be effectively discharged through the closest possible co-operation of the Jewish Agency with the government of Israel. The Knesset may therefore be asked to confer a special status on the Jewish Agency inside Israel to express this situation.’


“In the light of these facts, it is clear that the import – if not the intent – of the American Jewish Committee’s resolution is to create issues where none exist, and to put its authors in the position of champions against non-existent dangers.

“We do not here intend to answer certain ideological concepts advanced by the American Jewish Committee resolution, but we are very much concerned that the American Jewish community be given the facts on a number of practical issues raised by the document. We are, in particular, concerned with a few key sentences.

“The resolution says: ‘We…oppose any attempt on the part of any organization not exclusively American in its composition and direction to interfere with the internal affairs of American Jews.’

“The will of Jews in the United States to assist in the upbuilding of Israel is not the ‘internal affair’ of American Jews. It is a matter which concerns every Jew in Israel and millions of Jews elsewhere – including many who want desperately to go there – who share a common interest in Israel.

“Since 1897 the World Zionist Organization has been responsible for the building of the Jewish National Home which eventually emerged as the State of Israel, This work it now continues with the co-operation of the Israel Government. In discharging its responsibilities, the World Zionist Organization has won the co-operation of Jewish communities in the U.S.A. and elsewhere in the world. It is relevant to note that the American Jewish Committee, which began as an organization devoted exclusively to American affairs, has now broadened its activities to include many lands. We would not pretend that this development constitutes interference by the American Jewish Committee in the ‘internal affairs’ of other communities.


“The American Jewish Committee statement continues: ‘We urge upon the State of Israel the impropriety of (a) granting any kind of political status within Israel to any non-Israeli organization or non-government body and (c) purporting to grant to any organization any special status with respect to the activities of Jews and Jewish communities in America or anywhere else outside of Israel.’

“Seriatim, our answer is as follows: (a) no organization is asking the Government of Israel for ‘diplomatic recognition.’ We can assure the American Jewish Committee that we are not proposing to exchange Ambassadors with Israel, to open consular offices in Tel Aviv, or to ask Israel’s assistance to attain membership in the United Nations. The phrase ‘diplomatic recognition,’ in short, is a complete fantasy on the part of the American Jewish Committee with no known relation to any known fact.

“b) No Zionist organization is asking for any ‘political’ status in Israel. The World Zionist Organization, through its executive body, the Jewish Agency for Palestine, is asking a legal status which will define in writing the responsibilities for Israel’s immigration, absorption and colonization program which it has been carrying for more than 50 years. The Zionist Organization asks for no status which goes beyond these rightful and traditional responsibilities.

“c) The American Jewish Committee is again misinformed – and misinforming – when it implies that the Zionist Organization is seeking special status outside of Israel. It is natural that the Zionist Organization, carrying the responsibility for huge work programs in Israel which are linked to fund-raising and other activities abroad, should request that the Israel Government consult with it on matters affecting these Israel programs when and as they arise in Diasp ra communities. It is unthinkable that any organization should object to such consultation.

“We stress two further points with regard to this particular paragraph of the American Jewish Committee resolution. Having earlier in the text vigorously opposed ‘any attempt on the part of some few Americans to interfere in the political life of Israel,’ the American Jewish Committee now presumes to urge upon the Government of Israel the ‘impropriety’ of taking this or that action within its own sovereign territory. Thus the American Jewish Committee contradicts its own stated policy.


“Moreover, the American Jewish Committee’s advice to the Israel Government not to grant recognition or status to any ‘non-Israeli’ or ‘non-governmental’ body is not only inappropriate, but is intrinsically untenable. For years the U.S.A. has been granting special status to non-governmental organizations, including the Red Cross, the Jewish Welfare Board, HIAS, etc. For years the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, also a non-governmental body, has been supported in its work by special recognition granted it by numerous governments. The right of a sovereign government to enter into special relationships with any individual or organization, native or foreign or international, is an essential part of its sovereignty.

“The American Jewish Committee goes on to state: ‘We affirm that the carrying out of educational programs among American Jews is exclusively the responsiblity of American institutions.’ This statement is remarkable for its truth. Zionist education programs in the U.S. – and we assume that these are the programs in which the American Jewish Committee is interested – are in the hands of the American Zionist Council, the Zionist Organization of America, the Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the Labor Zionists of America, the Mizrachi Organization of America, and other similar organizations, all of them as American as the American Jewish Committee.


“The Jewish Agency, an international organization, assists American organizations to carry on their Zionist and pro-Israel programs. It happens also to be true that the American Jewish Committee, an American organization, maintains offices in London and Paris in order to carry out its own work. We are happy to remind the American Jewish Committee that our Zionist colleagues in England and France would not dream of condemning the American Jewish Committee offices there as being ‘non-British’ or ‘non-French.’

“The essence of education in a free country is, of course, not who teaches, but what is taught, and the freedom of the community to accept or to reject the teaching. We should think that the American Jewish Committee, in view of its dedication to freedom, would be the first to support such a principle.

“We are forced reluctantly to the conclusion that the authors of this resolution are seeking to isolate American Jewry from Israel and from the Jews of the rest of the world – to create, if you will, a kind of Monroe Doctrine for the American Jewish community. In this they will never succeed. It isn’t only that, on the world scene, the Marshall Plan has out-dated the Monroe Doctrine. The fact is that the Jewish history of a people reaching out across boundaries in search of mutual help and mutual understanding.”

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