Goldmann Outlines New Four-point Program for Zionist Movement
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Goldmann Outlines New Four-point Program for Zionist Movement

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Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, proposed this week-end that the Zionist movement reach agreement with the non-Zionists for participation by the latter in responsibilities for activities like immigration and absorption of refugees in Israel.

He told the Zionist Actions Committee that this participation in responsibility for the work should not be in accordance with a formal blueprint at the outset but should be initiated by inviting some recognized leaders, especially in the United States, to take responsible positions. Later, he said, a world organization for cooperation with the State of Israel could be considered.

Dr. Goldmann’s proposal came in the course of a long speech in which he warned that the Zionist movement must shake off traditions and adjust itself to the new conditions created by the establishment of the State of Israel. He set out a four-point program requiring intensified Zionist activity.

The first point on which the Zionist movement must concentrate, he said, is to extend Zionism in Jewish life, gain leadership and organize the communities. He warned that “there has been no period in history when the danger of assimilation was so great.” He asserted that American Jewry had deep assimilationist tendencies.

The second task, he said, was with the Jewish youth, and the task of Zionism was to secure the survival of the people. It was impossible, he said, to limit the task of Zionism to individual immigration, as does David Ben Gurion. This would make Zionism an “order of chalutzim rather than a great political movement.” However, he added, immigration must become a central part of Zionist activities and it will be necessary to reduce other activities to enable a new effort for youth Aliyah. The next Zionist Congress, he said, will have to establish a system of priorities for all phases of Zionist work.


In discussing the role of the non-Zionists, the Jewish Agency leader said that formerly the non-Zionists had no responsibility for the expenditure of funds raised in the campaigns but that, in practice, by the threat of withdrawal, they “bind our hands and determine the character of our activities.”

In proposing a partnership with the non-Zionists, he said, it would be made clear at the same time that part of the joint campaign proceeds must be used for specific Zionist activities in which the non-Zionists do not desire to share.

Dr. Goldmann raised the need for radical re-organization of the World Zionist Organization. An organization built on parties concerned primarily with Israeli issues, he said, “wastes a large part of our manpower and energy on meaningless party struggles and, worst of all, prevents those who would accept the Zionist program but refuse to be identified with Israel from joining the movement”

He proposed an organization built on territorial units to which party groups could ad-here but in which membership would also be open to individuals. He advocated abandonment of the shekel as the yearly membership fee, Iarger representation for Zionists outside Israel in the Actions Committee and a reorganization of the executive. All parties should, in principle, he said, be represented in the executive, but there should be, within the executive, a small group of fulltime members to carry on the daily work.

The fourth task of the Zionist movement, Dr. Goldmann declared, was to organize the Jewish people for cooperation with Israel, to represent the Jewish people visavis Israel and Israel visavis the Jewish people, not as a wall between the two, but as a bridge. This, he said, was the meaning of the law adopted by the Knesset on the status of the Zionist movement. While the state was not excluded from direct contact with other Jewish organizations, he noted, the instrument for organizing and mobilizing the Jewish people must be the World Zionist Organization.

To achieve these developments at the next World Zionist Congress, Dr. Goldmann said, the Zionist parties must “begin to think in terms of the overall movement and not in narrow, party interests.” A new approach will also be required of Israel’s leaders, he warned.

Delegates from a number of countries spoke today on the Goldmann proposals, with some of them expressing fear that giving non-Zionists responsibility for certain aspects of the work in Israel and admitting them to a top organ of the world Zionist organization would weaken the Zionist movement. Among the critics of the proposal were Louis Segal, American Labor Zionist leader, and Dr. S. Levenberg, head of the Jewish Agency office in London, who felt that Dr. Goldmann’s criticisms of the world Zionist movement and his solution for its ills resulted from his looking at Jewish life “through American spectacles.”

Rabbi Mordecai Kirshblum of the American Mizrachi Organization agreed with Dr. Goldmann on the necessity of expanding the Zionist executive, but warned against the possible creation of a “new party of non-Zionists” within the executive. Mrs. Judith Epstein of Hadassah took issue with Dr. Goldmann’s definition of assimilation and its dangers in the U.S., and brushed aside the proposals for reorganization of the Zionist movement.

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