World Zionist Congress Opens; Goldmann Appeals to U.S. to Arm Israel
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World Zionist Congress Opens; Goldmann Appeals to U.S. to Arm Israel

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An appeal to the United States Government to act on Israel’s request for defensive arms was voiced here tonight by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, in a powerful address delivered at the opening session of the 24th World Zionist Congress. It was heard by more than 3,000 guests and 500 delegates from all parts of the world, including 122 from the United States.

Dr. Goldmann said that the reasons given by the U.S. Government for refusing arms to Israel–while the Arabs are receiving arms from the Communist countries–are “flimsy.” The denial by the United States of arms to Israel would help neither Israel nor the Arabs, be stated. He expressed the hope that “the day may soon come” when the U.S. Government will respond to the demands of American public opinion that Israel be supplied with arms.

“It hardly enhances America’s reputation when the State Department on the one hand urges other nations to provide Israel with arms, and on the other hand itself maintains an embargo,” Dr. Goldmann pointed out. He charged the United States with being “the most reluctant” of the Western Powers to guaranty stability in the Middle East and stressed that there is no agreement between the “Big Three” on a Middle East policy, “All friends of Israel and all who wish to see peace preserved should, therefore, forcefully and passionately raise a cry for agreement among the Big Three,” he urged.

With regard to the recent pledge made by the Soviet Government to help the United Nations achieve peace between the Arab countries and Israel, Dr. Goldmann indicated that the promise would be judged by Soviet action. he asked the Soviet Government “to translate its peaceful worlds into deeds, “to discontinue sending arms to the Arab countries and to influence the Arabs to negotiate peace with Israel. He also directed an appeal to the Arab nations, urging them to conclude peace with Israel for the benefit of the entire region. He emphasized that Israel has the “unqualified backing” of the Jews of the world.


“We are assembled here–nearly 500 delegates from all corners of the globe–to consider problems of the greatest relevance to the destiny and future of the State of Israel,” Dr. Goldmann said. “The delegates to this 24th Congress represent a movement which, in a mere half-century, brought the State of Israel into existence. Considering the comparatively small space of time in which this was accomplished, it is an achievement with very few parallels in history.

“Yet, as we assemble here tonight, our hearts are heavy. Indeed, it has come as a shock to many of us to find this greatest work of Jewish genesis–the State of Israel–now threatened, that Israel must turn from its labors to mending defenses, that its sovereignty–achieved by unstinting sacrifices of its people, through a reluctant yet victorious war–is contested and that war is being plotted against this state which, in eight short years has rehabilitated hundreds of thousands of dispossessed Jews, expanded its vigorous cities, constructed hundreds of new settlements and endowed this little land with an almost unprecedented tempo and dynamism.”

“Many abroad and some even here in Israel, conceive the present political situation as sudden and unanticipated like a ravishing locust. Yet the situation which confronts us today has been long in the making. It is a further manifestation of the transitionary stage of the evolution of the restored state. To regard the Soviet re-arming of Egypt and the other Arab states as the root of this crisis, is to confound the symptom and the cause. Israel, a dramatic and salutary phenomenon in this region, challenged the torpidity of the Arab world, and the immediate reaction of Arab leaders, long accustomed to apathy, has been the violent rejection of this newcomer.

“We have been so absorbed with the day-to-day tasks of assisting Israel that we have kept our eyes on the furrow and didn’t notice the overcast skies above. Yet it should have been evident all these years that Israel’s full consolidation, far from being accomplished, depended in large measure on Israel’s acceptance by her Arab neighbors as a geographically ineradicable and historically irrevocable fact.

“Armistice agreements do not guarantee a termination of war, and victories on the battlefield are by no means synonymous with peace. In this contemporary world of global interrelationship, no state or group of states can solve alone the problems that keep them at loggerheads. Local problems are now an integral element of the larger landscape of world politics and are determined no less by the Great Powers than by the states directly concerned. The problems connected with Israel seem particularly difficult because this country is situated in one of the most sensitive areas of the world, the womb of the world’s major religious faiths and the point at which the cross-currents of international politics reach their highest tide.


“It was easily predictable that the Arab-Israel problem–fear and hatred on the Arab side and distrust and anxiety on the part of Israel–would eventually loom in its full stature in the focus of Big Power politics. The powerful entry of the Soviet bloc into an area from which the Russians had been barred for many centuries, exacerbated, rather than created, the morbid condition. The Czech arms deal gave an added dimension to the razor edge of the urgency of the crisis already in the making. Its dramatic intensity may fluctuate, yet as long as it remains unsolved, the Arab-Israel problem will continue to arouse collective passions, stir profound emotions and enlist impassioned commitments which have reached, in the Arab countries, the apex of mass hysteria.

“With the crisis sharpened, Israel and the Jewish people will have to maintain a state of mobilization, both spiritually and militarily, and the Jewish people throughout the world–our destiny inseparable from that of Israel–will also be on the alert for some time to come. The foremost and obvious task for those honestly concerned with solving the problem is to prevent a solution by war. The suspension of Israel’s magnificent reconstruction and the desultory creative efforts of the Arab states would solve nothing. Israel’s Premier has reiterated time and again that there is no military victory that matches the quality of peace.

Stressing the role of the Great Powers in the current crisis, Dr. Goldmann declared that “the alternatives of war and peace lie partly with Israel and the Arabs, but primarily with the Big Powers. The Western Big Powers have somehow evaded two of the most elementary methods for the prevention of war–they have neither acted to restore the military balance which could make war unprofitable for the Arabs, not have they pledged themselves to use all the means at their disposal to prevent a breach of the peace. Such pledges would be effective–why have they been withheld?”


“While re-arming themselves, the Big Powers explained that their balance of strength was a deterrent to war. Yet while the Soviets are re-arming Egypt, the Western Big Powers, and especially the United States, have cited a thousand and one reasons for deferring Israel’s reasonable request for defensive weapons. These are flimsy reasons, hardly befitting the morality and culture of the peoples for which these governments speak Those denying arms to Israel help neither Israel nor the Arabs. I believe it was Sir Winston Churchill who described British appeasement of the Nazis as a policy of rewarding aggression–this is precisely what the United States and the other Big Powers are doing today, rewarding and emboldening Arab extremists and nurturing their hopes of victory.

“We therefore hope that the day may soon come when the American Government will respond to the demand of a morally outraged American public opinion and bring American policy into accord with American moral traditions. The State Department’s present policy is an unbecoming and transparent subterfuge. It hardly enhances America’s reputation when her State Department, on the one hand, urges other nations to provide Israel with arms, while, on the other hand itself maintains an embargo.

“The State Department is also the most reluctant of the three powers to guarantee the stability of the area, and I say this with regret and pain–how can we expect an agreement between East and West, when there is no agreement among the Western Powers themselves? It is, therefore, necessary that all friends of Israel and all who wish to see peace preserved should forcefully and passionately raise a cry for agreement among the Western Big Powers to halt aggression in the Middle East.”


Referring to last week’s Soviet offer to support United Nations efforts to bring about a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict, Dr. Goldmann said that the statement seems to indicate a new and more constructive Soviet policy. “Is it too much to expect the Soviets to translate peaceful words into deeds and stop an ominous policy of arming the Arabs and to exert their influence to bring the Arabs to a readiness to negotiate peace for which Israel has long been ready?” he asked.

“The prevention of war,” he continued, “would be a great achievement. But the essential elements of this complex psychological problem would still remain with us. The objective issues–Jerusalem, the refugees and the borders–could be solved with reasonably little difficulty,” if there were good will on the Arab side.

“The Arabs must therefore be persuaded that their dream of destroying Israel is sheer madness and they only stand to gain from peace with Israel, whose combination of Semitic prophecy and Occidental experience can help restore vigor to a civilization and region in which the Jews and the Arabs had once been affectionate partners.

“The success of these attempts at persuasion, which are certain to be undertaken with assiduous application in the near future, will depend of course on Israel, the Jewish people and world public opinion. Israel diplomacy has always demonstrated considerable sagacity and moral maturity. However, it will meet its supreme challenge in the years immediately ahead when it will be called on to display simultaneously a number of almost disparate qualities–firmness and wisdom, courage and sweet reason, the flexibility conducive to peace negotiations and the determination required for defense. Rarely before has a small nation been called upon to demonstrate such diversity of statesmanship,” the Zionist leader emphasized.


“This is a frank country and I, therefore, do not hesitate to speak frankly here,” Dr. Goldmann said. “The people of Israel have a wonderful self-confidence. We who remember the cowed, haunted grandfathers and great-grandfathers of today’s Sabras, regard this self-confidence as perhaps the greatest of many miracles comprising Israel. But self-confidence has its traps.

“No state is today the master of its destiny. All states look to alliances and pacts and depend on public opinion. This state was nurtured from the beginning by its own inexhaustible energies and the impassioned vision of our people, but also by the sympathy and compassion of a guilt-ridden world after the Hitler tragedy. Liberal and decent public opinion shall remain our highest court of appeal in the difficult days ahead.

“Furthermore, Israel should not forget that it is not more than a tiny state of two million inhabitants. It is greater than its physical dimension–we, the Jewish people, have entrusted into its tender hands the historic image of the Jewish people and in its commissions and omissions Israel must ever be conscious of this grave trust,” the Zionist leader stressed.

“It can never be a Great State but it can hope to be a great state, never large in numbers yet always of high quality, if it remains mindful of its spiritual and moral heritage. It is in this dual role of defender of the interests of its nationals and trustee of the hopes, dreams and aspirations of the millennia of Jewish history that Israel will have to seek a solution of its political problems.”

Addressing himself to the Arabs “as a Jew and as a Zionist,” Dr. Goldmann asserted: There is no greater tragedy today in the relations between peoples than the hostility between us and the Arab world, Zionism has been defamed, distorted and misrepresented by Arab leaders, but Zionism is really a very simple idea. Zionism is the effort of a people to return to its habitat in an area where it had its beginning and its happiest associations and where it achieved the apex of its spiritual creativity, producing its greatest contributions to civilization.

“Zionism has sought to create a new society for the Jewish people and reintegrate the Jews into the Near East and work for a commonwealth in fraternal cooperation with the Arabs. Although my words may sound quixotic at this moment when there is danger of war, and Arab leaders recklessly spout slogans of hate against Israel, yet I state that our movement shall not tire of talking peace, for peace has always been Zionism’s intent and Israel’s purpose.”

The Jewish Agency chairman asked the Arabs whether the time had not come for them to concede that “there might be a greater virtue in forgetting than in remembering? Once the Arab leaders take this initial psychological step, “he maintained, “agreement on specific issues would be a matter of normal, peaceful negotiations.

“The Near East is now heading toward a new renaissance and it is more than a coincidence that the Jewish return to the land of its origin should have paralleled the Arab people’s struggle for freedom from foreign domination. We Jews do not begrudge the Arabs their phenomenal success in the past few decades in realizing their legitimate national aspirations. Is it too much to ask that they take the same attitude toward the Jews?” Dr. Goldmann queried.

Dr. Goldmann concluded his address with an appeal to the Zionist movement to be prepared to prolong its efforts. “Israel may yet be forced into a war for survival, although I still hope that the Arab-Israel problem will be solved by peaceful means,” he said, “Nor should we overlook the dangers of a spurious and ignoble peace achieved at the expense of Israel’s integrity and sovereignty.”


The Congress, of which Joseph Sprinzak, Speaker of the Israel Parliament, was elected president, was opened by Berl Locker, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive in Jerusalem, who eulogized the victims of the Nazis and those who died in Israel’s War of Liberation as well as those who were killed by Arab terrorists.

Mr. Locker explained that the Congress had been convened earlier than planned because the Zionist parties in Israel had demanded it in view of the mounting tension in recent months. He said that one of the primary tasks of the Zionist movement today was to speed up immigration to Israel. He urged spiritual fortification of the Jewish communities in the Western world, stating that they face the danger of assimilation. He appealed to the Jews of the world to identify themselves unconditionally, through the Zionist movement, with Israel in the dangers confronting the state.

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