American Jewish League for Israel Formed; Enrolls Zionists, Non-zionists
Menu JTA Search

American Jewish League for Israel Formed; Enrolls Zionists, Non-zionists

Download PDF for this date

A new organization of American Jews, to be known as the American Jewish League for Israel, was established here today following the conclusion of a two-day founding assembly of the Independent Zionists of America. Ezra Z, Shapiro, of Cleveland, was elected president of the new group. Louis Lipsky and Judge Louis E. Levinthal were named honorary presidents.

The aims and purposes of the new organization were outlined at the two-day parley by Dr. Arthur Lelyveld and were ratified at the closing session of the conference. The new Zionist organization came into existence as a result of dissatisfaction with Zionist groups which are affiliated with political parties in Israel.

“The new organization,” Dr. Lelyveld said, “will be composed of Jews who stand above class or political party and who, though they may differ among themselves in their philosophies of Jewish life, will be united in a common dedication to the Jewish ideals which motivated and conditioned the creation of the Jewish State.”

Declaring that the existence of Israel “demands a redefinition of the relationship between Jews in America and the Land of Israel,” Dr. Lelyveld, as chairman of the committee which prepared the guiding principles and a program of action for the new group, stated that the organization will be united in its dedication to Israel, but will also “seek to enrich the Jewish content in the lives of American Jews.” The organization intends to enroll Zionists as well as Jews who have never been affiliated with the Zionist movement, Dr. Lelyveld emphasized. It will not be affiliated with any political party in Israel, he stressed.

Judge Levinthal, a former president of the Zionist Organization of America, addressing the conference, said: “We would not be true to our conscience, and to our devotion to Israel as a whole, if we permitted ourselves to become identified or aligned, directly or indirectly, with any political party in the state (of Israel), and therefore to interfere in Israel’s internal problems which its citizens alone have the right to solve for themselves.”


Louis Lipsky, also a former president of the Zionist Organization of America, told the conference that the ZOA “has preferred to ignore the challenge” posed by the establishment of the Jewish State, and “takes shelter in a political party in Israel.” He said that the new organization “is the first step in the renaissance and reconstruction of the Zionist movement” and that it will “create new forms of organized action” by avoiding the “ambitions and controversies of parties.”

“In discarding all entangling political partisanship in Israel, the new organization will rise to a higher level, from which the Diaspora may see the greatness of Israel and serve to develop a more realistic sovereignty for the State,” Mr. Lipsky said.

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, who returned to the United States after an absence of six months, voiced a note of qualified hope that the Israel-Arab problem may be moving closer to solution. The Zionist leader said there is reason to assume that for the first time in years the Arabs may begin to “accept the fait accompli of Israel’s existence.” Once the Arab nations accept the fact that Israel cannot be erased from the map, Dr. Goldmann continued, “the psychological basis will have been laid for an eventual settlement.”

He based his reserved hopefulness. Dr. Goldmann said, on two factors. “One is that notwithstanding their unabated belligerent utterances, the Arab leaders must soon begin to concede, as a consequence of Israel’s impressive Sinai campaign, that the new state is there to stay. As a result of the same event, the Big Powers have certainly realized that a first condition for the stabilization of the Middle East is a settlement of the Arab-Israel conflict.”

Amplifying these remarks, Dr. Goldmann said: “We are hopeful, therefore, that the Big Powers will continue to treat this problem as a most urgent issue and that they will, at long last, make a serious attempt to stabilize the Middle East. A special responsibility evolves upon the United States of America which is increasingly filling the vacuum created by the decline of British and French influence. Consequently, no other democratic power bears as great a responsibility as the United States for the peaceful development of this vital area.”

The conference, which was also addressed by Israel Ambassador Abba Eban, elected Samuel Rothberg as chairman of the board of directors of the new organization. Louis P. Rocker was named chairman of the executive committee. Other officers are: vice-presidents, Rabbi Isadore Breslau, Benjamin R. Harris, Dr. Arthur Lelyveld, Philip M. Lown, Dewey D. Stone and Julian B. Venezky; secretary, Jacob M, Elkow. treasurers, Samuel H. Daroff and Joseph M. Mazer.

An anonymous bomb threat disrupted the session today for a short time. The manager of the Biltmore Hotel, where the convention was held, received a telephone call which threatened to bomb the hotel if Ambassador Eban spoke. After a police search, which revealed nothing, Mr. Eban spoke–with a police guard in attendance.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund