Dr. Gold Mann Opens World Zionist Congress; Outlines Major Problems
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Dr. Gold Mann Opens World Zionist Congress; Outlines Major Problems

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The 25th World Zionist Congress opened here tonight in a gala atmosphere in the presence of some 800 full, fraternal and associate delegates, members of the Zionist Actions Committee and members of the Israel Cabinet. The opening address was delivered by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization.

Dr. Goldmann told the gathering that there are no problems more central to Jewish life today than Jewish education and Jewish immigration to Israel. He urged the creation of a system of Jewish education whereby the Jewish youth of the world “will learn the meaning of being a Jew.” Such education, he said, must not rest “on the laurels of having created a Jewish State and the ingathering of a million Jews into Israel, but must continue with faith and vigor toward a large aliyah,”

The “Hebraization of the Diaspora,” making of Hebrew a second language for all Jews, “is not impossible, although it is a heavy task,” Dr. Goldmann said, declaring that “youth must learn reasons for maintaining Jewishness.” As to immigration, he held that there is no more effective or more permanent way to tie the Jewish family with Israel than by seeing to it “that one member of the family settles in Israel.”

“The Zionist solution to the Jewish problem,” he stated, “does not necessarily have to mean the total disappearance of the Diaspora, and the concentration of every substantial part of our people in Israel, but it does mean certainly a much larger concentration of Jews in Israel than is the case today.”


Dr. Goldmann told the delegates there is no reason for deploring “the great debate” that has been going on in the Zionist movement since the emergence of the Jewish State. Such a debate, he said, “is characteristic of a great movement which is a live, which is built around ideologies and ideals.” Indeed, he said, “it would be a sad indication for the movement if Zionist life continued as if nothing had happened with the advent of the Jewish State.”

Touching on the question as to whether “Zionism has been fulfilled.” he said: “There is no doubt that only half has been accomplished. To complete the task, it will require greater efforts, greater patience, more stubbornness. The task ahead will lack much of the drama of the first half. But historically it will be the most real, the vital part of our movement.”

The basic question now, when one examines the nature of Zionism in 1960, 16 years after the establishment of Israel, is Dr. Goldmann declared, not “What is a Zionist?” but “What is Zionism?”

Movements, he said, live by their programs, not by definition of the character of their members whose, only criteria are their acceptance of the movement’s program. “For centuries, the discussion has gone on as to what is Judaism. But when Israel tried to define ‘What’s a Jews’ the only result was a Cabinet crisis, but no definition resulted, Dr. Goldmann pointed out.


“Zionism, in all expressions and in different nuances, was based on three principles: 1. The aim to solve the Jewish problem, namely, the survival of the partner 2. Concentrating the Jewish people in one territory, their old homeland, thereby creating a center for national life; 3. Jews taking their destiny in their own hands, mastering their own future.

“Despite our justified pride in Israel’s unprecedented achievements, it would be a dangerous illusion to assume that the main problems which will determine Israel’s and Jewry’s future and destiny have been solved,” Dr. Goldmann warned. “This applies to the security, political and economic fronts, although spectacular progress has been made in all three areas. The time to relax is still far off. Security, stability and consolidation of the State depend on the numerical size of the people within Israel.

“When Zionism proclaimed the creation of the homeland, or the territorial solution of the Jewish problem, as the only guarantee for survival, it did not indicate what proportion of people will have to be concentrated in the Jewish State in order to safeguard its future. But everyone–minimalists and maximalists–will agree that, if less than a fifth of the people is concentrated in the homeland, the aim of Zionism is far from fulfillment,” the world Zionist leader emphasized.


Dr. Goldmann also dealt with the role and the duty of American Jewry today. “American Jews,” he said, “are determining more than ever the tone of Jewish life everywhere. Therefore, it is the duty of American Jewry to serve as an example in many respects.

“American Jewry is lagging behind–both from the point of view of its internal, overall organization, and from the viewpoint of its full cooperation with other Jewish communities,” he asserted. “In the great, free country of the United States, the Jewish community should not hesitate in its actions and in its attitudes to manifest solidarity with the Jewish people as a whole, and with Israel in particular.”

Next to the task of the present Jewish generation to make Israel secure. “and to complete the Zionist solution of the Jewish problem,” Dr. Goldmann emphasized in his address, “there is no greater issue than the problem of the three million Soviet Jews. It is a tragic, fundamental fact,” he said, “that their actual situation is that they have no real facilities to live as Jews, to develop a Jewish culture–religious, linguistic or otherwise. And they have no possibility of communicating with Jews of other countries.

“The situation of the Jews in the Soviet Union is strikingly different by comparison with the rights accorded other religious and national groups in the USSR. Forty years after the revolution, hundreds of thousands of Jews in the Soviet Union are still loyally determined to be Jews. We cannot keep quiet with regard to the fate of nearly a fourth of our people,” Dr. Goldmann declared. He also stressed the rights of Jews to emigrate from the Soviet Union.

“These rights,” he continued, “are also being denied in some other countries, although the rights are stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It would be wrong and unfair,” he maintained, “to pretend that, factually, only the Soviet Union fails to recognize the right of Jews to a distinctively Jewish life. There are other countries, too, based on the form of Western democratic regimes, where the tendency is to express doubts about the rights of the Jewish communities to their own distinctive existence.

“If a Jew has to pay for equality as a citizen by ceasing to be a Jew, he is not equal,” he said. “In the Nineteenth Century, we had to fight for the right to be equal; in the Twentieth Century we have to fight for the right to be different.”


Dr. Goldmann opened the Congress by paying tribute to the memory of the late Dr. Theodor Herzl, founder of political Zionism, whose hundredth anniversary is being celebrated this year. The president of the WZO also welcomed the principal leaders and guests on the platform, who included President Izhak Ben-Zvi; Mrs. Vera Weizmann, widow of the late first President of Israel; Justice Yitzhak Olshan, president of Israel’s Supreme Court; Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Nissim; Jerusalem’s Mayor Mordechai Ish-Shalom; and Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion. Dr. Goldmann presented Mr. Ben-Gurion as “this inexhaustible dynamo, this super-Zionist among us.”

President Ben-Zvi told the delegates that overseas Jewry has the dual task of supporting Aliyah, the absorption and the integration of immigrants to Israel, as well as making a supreme effort to strengthen their institutions in various communities in order to preserve the Jewish education of future generations.

The streets leading to the Binyanei Ha’ooma–the Building of the Nation–where the Congress is being held, were gaily decorated with flags and pennants, and the building itself was brightly lighted. The great auditorium, Ussishkin Hall, was crowded to capacity as the largest Zionist Congress in all history–and the third Zionist Congress in Israel since the establishment of the State–was called to order.

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