New York (Sep. 11)
Rabbi Irving Miller, chairman of the American Zionist Council, representing all Zionist organizations in this country, and Mrs. Rose L. Halprin, acting chairman of the Jewish Agency in New York, today set forth the future tasks of Zionism at a meeting of the executive committee of the AZC held at its headquarters here.
Both Mrs. Halprin and Rabbi Miller recently returned from Jerusalem where they attended the two-week sessions of the World Zionist Actions Committee, the ruling body of the World Zionist Organization between triennial Zionist Congresses. Rabbi Miller in his report deplored Premier David Ben Gurion’s statement before the Jerusalem session that he is not a Zionist and emphasized that “Zionism needs no apologists.”
“It is part and parcel of Judaism,” Rabbi Miller said,” and it is impossible to separate the strand of Zionism from the cloth of Judaism and still recognize that cloth. Like Judaism, Zionism involves an interweaving of many strands. It is a composite of ideas and ideals which speak of the peoplehood of Israel, of the centrality of Eretz Israel in Jewish existence, of a renaissance of the Hebrew language and literature, and of the creative expression of Jewish values and ideals.”
Mrs. Halprin, reporting to the Council on Mr. Ben Gurion’s remarks, said: “It is understandable that these remarks have been misconstrued and that, in fact, members of Mr. Ben Gurion’s own party have disassociated themselves from his statement. It should be noted that Mr. Ben Gurion makes a distinction between ‘maximal’ Zionism, which, though acknowledging the importance of aliyah, does not regard it as synonymous with Zionism per se. This latter concept of Zionism is shared by and large by the majority of Zionists in the U.S. and it is to this Zionism that Mr. Ben Gurion addresses himself in stating that be is not a Zionist.”
IMMEDIATE AND LONG-RANGE PROGRAMS OUTLINED BEFORE ZIONIST COUNCIL
Rabbi Irving Miller, in his address setting forth the future functions of the Zionist organization, defined a program for Zionists as falling into two parts corresponding with immediate objectives and long-range aims. He stated that both are of equal significance and must be ensued with enthusiasm and effort. In the immediate program he listed the execution of the elementary duties of all Zionists toward Israel. These include such tasks as participation in the public relations work of the movement explaining the need for American support for Israel’s rights and security and the creation of direct economic links between Israel and individual Zionists.
Among other functions he urged “that every genuine Zionist must furthermore look upon a visit to Israel as a primary duty and delight. Such a visit does not fall into the category of tourism. Rather, it should be regarded as a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.” Setting forth the long-range program, Rabbi Miller urged the restoration of Hebrew education to a primary position in the Zionist movement. He further proposed that “our youth, and, indeed, a large proportion of diaspora Jewry, must be given the means to learn their own origins, the dramatic course of Jewish history, and all that led to the revival of Israel as a State.
Turning to the question of emigration to Israel, Rabbi Miller said: “Personal aliyah is an element of complete self-fulfillment for those who experience the need to live in Israel. But inability to carry out aliyah does not derogate from Zionism, provided that an attempt is made to improve and deepen Jewish life outside of Israel. The true Zionist can experience aliyah in the sense of elevation of the soul and an ennoblement of his being. We maintain that aliyah need not take the Spartan form alone of the alternative of everything or nothing. Its ideals may also be realized by living for a year in Israel. It could be the year preceding or following graduation from college, a sabbatical year, or a period earmarked in a personal program of study and procured through devoted thrift.”
Mrs. Halprin, in her report, said that nobody who attended the recent sessions of the Zionist Actions Committee could fail to be impressed by the urgency and complexity of the problems caused by the renewed wave of mass immigration. “Despite heavy commitments in the fields of rescue, immigration and rehabilitation, however, the Actions Committee highlighted the importance of the Jewish Agency’s cultural and educational programs and the need for intensified efforts to deepen the roots of Jewish life in the Diaspora,” she stated.
“The Israel Summer Institute, an integral part of the Agency’s program, has become a successful means of building a two-way bridge between Israel and Jewish communities abroad,” she stressed. “The Jewish Agency feels greatly encouraged by the growing interest in various youth-to-Israel programs projected by a number of Zionist organizations during the last few weeks. The Agency, which has been a pioneer in this field for many years, would be only too glad to cooperate with any groups which hope to promote seminars and work-study programs for American youth in Israel,” Mrs. Halprin said.