NEW YORK (Mar. 1)
Internal differences within the Zionist Organization of America emerged into the open today when Louis Lipsky, Louis E. Levinthal, Dewey D. Stone Ezra Shapiro issued a joint statement announcing that their group,–the “Independent Liberal Zionist Group–had decided not to appear on the ZOA slate of delegates to the forthcoming World Ziopist Congress and had filed a separate list of “an independent group committed to a liberal Zionist program.”
These Zionist leaders also announced that they propose to call, following the World Zionist Congress, a constituent conference for the purpose of establishing an Independent Zionist Organization in the United States. As members of a negotiating committee on behalf of a group of liberal American Zionists, long-time members of the ZOA, it is our duty to inform the public that our efforts to bring about a re-unification with the Zionist Organization of America on the basis of a more liberal platform and a just share of representation to the Zionist Congress for the liberal minority group, have terminated without results,” the announcement said.
“For months we have been conducting negotiations with the leaders of the ZOA pointing out that the gravity of the situation, both in Israel and in the United States, makes it imperative to re-unite all elements in the ZOA, particularly by bringing back countless leading Zionists throughout the country, who either left or were forced out of the ZOA,” the statement continued. “We have stressed that the identification of the ZOA with one of the rightist political parties in Israel, the General Zionist Party, and a contemplated merger with another, the Herut Party, render it difficult, if not impossible, for liberal Zionists to remain in the ranks of what was once. and is no more, the overall and liberal Zionist Organization in the United States. As a matter of right and an indication of goodwill as well, we requested that our group be accorded minority representation on the Zionist Congress list along with the freedom to vote on issues as they arose, instead of being bound by a unit-rule at the Congress, However, all our efforts proved unavailing and all our demands were rejected by the present leadership of the ZOA. In consequence, therefore, we give notice that we shall not give our consent to appear on the ZOA list of delegates to the 24th Zionist Congress, but have filed a separate list of an independent group committee to a liberal Zionist program.”
Z.O.A. EXPLAINS RIFT; REVEALS DETAILS OF NEGOTIATIONS
Replying on behalf of the Zionist Organization of America, Dr. Harris J. Levine, chairman of the National Administrative Council, said in a statement that the ZOA leadership had re-opened discussions with the opposition group “with a view to their return to active participation in the affairs of the organization.”
“We proposed among other things, the setting up of an official committee on program and policy, on which this group would be liberally represented and which would be empowered to study all important questions at issue, in an effort to reach an acceptable agreement and submit its ultimate recommendations to the governing bodies of the Organization and its national convention,” the ZOA statement declared. “Shortly after these conversations began, the date of the World Zionist Congress, set for July, 1956, was advanced to April-and by mutual agreement the discussions were centered on the question of representation to the Congress-and the consideration of longer-term problems postponed.
“The sole question under discussion, therefore, has been the allocation of places on the ZOA list of delegates to the Congress, and it is on this question that the negotiations broke down. Despite the very small size of this group, whose meetings were never attended by more than a dozen people, we were prepared to offer them a liberal representation so that their point of view may be expressed at the Congress. Places were offered and are still being offered to Messrs. Shapiro, Lipsay, Judge Levinthal and a number of others who share their general viewpoint, although for several years they have kept away from the work of the Organization and the deliberations of its governing bodies.
“But we cannot accede to their exaggerated demands in fairness to many active leaders and the justified claims of ZOA regions throughout the country for representation in particular, we were forced to reject their condition sine qua non, that places be accorded to several who are already assured the status of delegates at the Congress, by virtue of their office as members of the General Council of the World Zionist Organization (Actions Committee). It has been the accepted practice, not only in the ZOA, but in other groups and organizations, not to name members of the Actions Committee, in fairness to other active and deserving representatives who could not otherwise be seated as delegates.
“The selection of delegates is the prerogative of the National Administrative Council, the supreme governing body of the Organization between conventions, which will meet on Sunday, March 4, the ZOA statement said.