NEW YORK (Aug. 29)
The four-day 63rd annual convention of the Zionist Organization of American closed last night with the adoption of a budget totaling $1,500,000 to finance its programs on the American scene and its major projects in Israel.
The convention adopted a resolution congratulating the Republican and Democratic parties for their platform planks declaring friendship and cooperation with Israel. “A basic conviction of the Zionist Organization of America,” declared this resolution, “is that there exists in the United States fundamental unity on a policy of friendship and cooperation with Israel. This conviction is reaffirmed and re-emphasized by the sentiments expressed in the party platforms, and we here by record our deep appreciation to the Democratic and Republican parties.”
Another resolution urged the United States Government “through the United Nations, and on its own initiative, to take positive action to enforce the principles of free passage through the Suez Canal for all nations and to halt the United Arab Republic’s illegal blockade of the Suez Canal.”
In a resolution on the Arab refugee problem, the convention urged the United States and the United Nations to “continue and heighten initiative in effectuating practical resettlement programs” for the Arab refugees, asserting that such programs “must depend largely on the economic development of the Middle East as a whole.”
The convention noted with satisfaction the understanding recently reached in a conference between the World Zionist executive and the Government of Israel, recognizing the need for strengthening the World Zionist Organization in all its parts, and for broadening its base to include Jewish groups hitherto unaffiliated with the movement.
AMERICAN ZIONISTS URGED TO PLAY GREATER ROLE IN COMMUNITY AFFAIRS
Max Bressler, the new ZOA president, called for the “return to the Zionist fold of all those who abandoned the organized ranks with the establishment of the State of Israel in the mistaken belief that there is no need for the continued existence of the movement.” He presented a program of activities in behalf of American Jewry, in behalf of Israel, in behalf of world Zionism, and activities within Israel proper.
“All these activities,” he asserted, “are designed to bring to American Jewry, through education a full understanding of Israel and its mission in our history and to bring about a mutual and better understanding by Israel and American Jewry of their historic partnership. He also emphasized the need of American Zionists to play a greater role in the affairs of the American Jewish community. He announced that the first step in this direction to be taken by his administration, “is to educate our constituency to the necessity of active Zionist participation in all local community affairs.”
“We must oppose the indoctrination of American Zionists with the belief that Jewish community affairs in America are beyond the concern of American Zionism and virtually the monopoly of non-Zionists,” he said. He charged that “it is because of this notion that the whole Jewish institutional system of America, widely supported by Zionists and in many instances led by Zionists acting in individual capacities has fallen under the domination of elements which are either anti-Zionists or lukewarm friends of the State of Israel.”
He further charged that “in many instances education fell into the hands of professional philanthropists and treated as an object of charity where relief of an affliction was sought.” Mr. Bressler called upon Zionists to recapture the leadership in the Jewish communities. “It becomes our immediate duty to intensify Hebrew education, to foster deeper Jewish consciousness, to revitalize American Jewish life, to enhance the feeling of mutual interdependence with the State of Israel to foster greater Jewish unity.”
Dr. Emanuel Neumann told the delegates that “Zionism is not a philanthropy–and vastly more than an aid-to-Israel movement. It has another aspect and dimension of deepest significance to Jewish life in America and the world over. As conceived by Herzl, Zionism signifies a return to Judaism and a Jewish spiritual renascence.” Declaring that the fundamental concept underlying the Zionist movement is the existence and historic continuity of the Jewish people as an organic entity, he said: “Henceforth it must be the role of American and of world Zionism to foster this relationship and provide for reciprocal influence of interaction between Israel and the diaspora in the interest of our prophetic ideals and common destiny.”
Rabbi Irving Miller said that the varied issues confronting American Jewry today cannot be discussed in “isolated fashion” with each group and segment of the Jewish community determining for itself the answers to these questions. “They deserve discussion and debate on a common platform with every point of view properly represented and listened to. Agreement may not be reached; differences will undoubtedly continue; but enough of a common understanding will emerge to set a general direction for the community and to channel even differences in constructive ways.” Rabbi Miller asserted.
Jacques Torczyner, national World Zionist Affairs chairman of the ZOA, cautioned against any optimism concerning the World Zionist Congress that is scheduled to open in Jerusalem next December. He voiced the opinion that since the establishment of Israel as a nation, the Zionist Congress “has lost its unique position as the sole world form for open discussion of the problem facing the Jewish people and the Israel community.” He pointed out that while Israel’s parliament serves as the legislative body of Israel, “international organizations have been created and international conferences called with the purpose of reducing the role of the Zionist movement as spokesman of the Jewish people.”
Z.O.A. HAS 103,000 MEMBERS; RAISED $356,000 FOR PROJECTS IN 1959
In his annual report covering all aspects of the organizational activities, Dr. Sidney Marks, executive director and national secretary of the ZOA, announced a membership of close to 103,000 including some 9,400 members. He announced that in the past year $356,285 was raised for the American Zionist Fund to finance the ZOA’s major projects–the ZOA House in Tel Aviv and the agricultural vocational training institute Kfar Silver, near Ashkelon.
A discussion was held at the convention on the Arab boycott. In an introductory statement, Israel Consul Shimshon Arad remarked that “for the Arab countries the boycott has always been just another weapon in their war against Israel.”
“Defeated in the battlefield,” Mr. Arad stated, “they moved to another area where they have deluded themselves that by blackmail, blacklisting and boycott they could be more effective. As they were wrong in 1948 so they are today. More and more companies are investing in Israel and many more are trading with her. This is the best testimony that the Arab boycott is failing.”
Albert Schiff, president of the Jewish National Fund of America, was accorded a citation at the convention, Mr. Bressler pointed out that a total of $200,000,000 has been raised for the JNF under Mr. Schiff’s leadership. A citation was also presented to Morris Weinberg, publisher of The Day-Jewish Journal, a Yiddish daily newspaper, in recognition of his “accomplishments and career in the field of Yiddish journalism.”