NEW YORK (Aug. 18)
Dr. Israel Goldstein, president of the American Jewish Congress, who returned today from the recent session of the World Jewish Congress in Geneva, issued a statement replying to Senator Herbert H. Lehman on the relationship between Israel and American Jewry.
In his statement made upon disembarking from the S.S. United States, Dr. Goldstein expressed regret that misinterpretation of expressions made in Geneva by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, on the question of relationships between Israel and Jews in other lands, had given rise to needless controversy in this country.
“I regard it as most unfortunate that, because of a misunderstanding of a statement by Dr. Goldmann, an issue has been artificially created where none in fact exists,” Dr. Goldstein said, “A grave injustice has been done both to Dr. Goldmann and to the organization which he heads. In the very speech for which he was attacked, Dr. Goldmann clearly stated his position–one from which he has never deviated–which is, in his own words, that: ‘It is a fundamental error to regard Israel as the only center of Jewish life.’ To have interpreted his own remarks as implying that all Jews throughout the world should regard themselves as potential Israelis is in complete contradiction to his beliefs.
“The unity of the Jewish people, which the World Jewish Congress affirms, is the unity forged by common history and by common religious, ethical and cultural values and not that of any common political allegiance,” Dr. Goldstein continued. “We have always made it clear that Jews in all lands owe their political allegiance only to the countries of their citizenships.
“The World Jewish Congress has affirmed the right of Jews to live where they choose, to develop their cultural and spiritual life freely and fully, to contribute in freedom and equality to the societies in which they live and to assist the development and growth of Israel in every possible way. No one has been a more consistent spokesman for that point of view than Dr. Goldmann, who, with Stephen Wise, was one of the prime architects of the World Jewish Congress.
“There is certainly no difference of opinion between Senator Lehman and ourselves on the right of American Jews to go to Israel and that, in his own words, ‘Americans who wish to contribute their technical skills to Israel and find it possible to go there, are contributing to a good purpose.’ To emphasize Israel’s urgent needs of such skills, as Dr. Goldmann did in Geneva, can by no stretch of the imagination be construed as an expression of divided loyalty.” Dr. Goldstein concluded.