NEW YORK (May. 24)
Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, tonight summoned the American Zionist movement to “become one of the decisive and determining forces in American Jewish life and play a similar role now in American Jewry after the creation of the State of Israel as it has played in the great years of the struggle for the emergence of the State.”
The world Zionist leader issued this call at a dinner at the Hotel Statler-Hilton, commemorating the 13th anniversary of the State of Israel at which he was presented the first Louis D. Brandeis Award of the American Zionist Council in recognition of his outstanding services to Israel, Zionism, and the welfare of Jewry.
The presentation of the Award was made by Rabbi Irving Miller, chairman of the Council, the coordinating body of nine Zionist organizations in this country. The Award read: “To Nahum Goldmann, who with rare gifts and boundless energies has labored for the re-birth of Israel, for world Jewish unity, for justice to his people, and for human freedom everywhere.”
In a tape-recorded address of tribute, Israel Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion said: “The guest of honor, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, is no stranger either to you or to me. On the occasion of his being presented the Justice Brandeis Award, I send him my warmest greetings and congratulations. Nahum has given himself wholeheartedly to the service of his people and we all unite in wishing him well. Nahum and I have had and may still have differences of opinion on matters of principle and this is as it should be for free and healthy discussion is a concomitant with democracy. While these differences exist they have never beclouded the warm personal relations between us. May you, Nahum, and all of our friends see the realization of our ideals speedily and completely and may you carry on in health and good fortune with your most useful labors.”
Addresses of tribute lauding Dr. Goldmann’s lifelong services to the furtherance of Zionism, to the cause of Jewish statehood, and the welfare of the Jewish people everywhere, were delivered by Israel Ambassador to the United States, Avraham Harman, Label Katz, president of B’nai B’rith and chairman of the Conference of Presidents; Philip M. Klutz-nick, member of the United States Delegation to the United Nations; Dr. Miriam Freund, former president of Hadassah and chairman of the executive committee of the American Zionist Council; Louis Lipsky, Lady Reading and Rabbi Miller.
Close to one thousand representatives from all nine constituent organizations of the Council, together with leaders in all walks of American life attended the dinner which marked the first formal national public function of the American Zionist Council in its expanded form since it took over from the Jewish Agency an enlarged program of major activities in this country. Rabbi Miller formally announced the establishment of a National Sponsor Society under the chairmanship of Dr. David Lowenthal of Pittsburgh. This Society, Rabbi Miller said, is to consist of eminent men and women throughout the country who are prepared to give moral and material support to the expanded program of the American Zionist Council.
ANSWERS BEN-GURION’S ATTACKS ON AMERICAN ZIONISTS
In his address responding to the tributes, Dr. Goldmann, in acknowledging the receipt of the first Brandeis Award termed the late Justice Brandeis. “one of the greatest figures in Zionist history both intellectually and morally.” Obviously alluding to the recent controversial statement by Mr. Ben-Gurion on the status of a Zionist, Dr. Goldmann emphasized: “In his (Brandeis) work and his personality he personified in a classic way the compatibility of being a good Zionist and a full and loyal citizen of the country in which he lived.”
“The misunderstandings which have recently arisen because of the statements of the Prime Minister of Israel questioning such a synthesis are partly due to the use of the same term meaning different things,” Dr. Goldmann said. “In Eastern Europe, to which the Prime Minister alluded in his statement in the Knesset, the concept of the State was one which was the property of the majority nationality, granting the national minorities special protection through national autonomy or specific national rights. Therefore, it was only natural for a Jew in Eastern Europe to think of himself primarily as a member of the Jewish nationality while being at the same time a citizen of his country.
“This concept,” Dr. Goldmann continued, “does not exist in Western Europe and certainly not in the U.S.A. There is no concept here of a majority and a minority. This country is a melting pot of dozens of peoples of various national, racial and religious origins trying to form one state and one community. ‘National’ here means a citizen of the state, a member of the community, and therefore the whole parallel with Eastern European notions, the antithesis between a Jew or a Zionist, and being an American or a Canadian is misleading and without any basis.”
Dr. Goldmann further clarified this point in stating that “at the same time, Jews and Jewish communities, even when fully integrated into the life and citizenship of the countries, have the full right to be linked intimately with the Jewish people in the world, with its new Jewish center in Israel, naturally not on the basis of any political loyalty but emotionally, religiously and spiritually.”
“To deny American Jews this right which the anti-Zionists do is just as wrong as construing a conflict between being a Jew and being an American. The discussion how to define the Jewish community is unproductive and sterile. None of the usual terms: people nation, race, religion, cover the specific character of the Jewish people adequately. We Jews are a little of all of these definitions and as a whole a unique historical entity which cannot be fully defined, by any non-Hebrew terms.”
Continuing on the same subject, Dr. Goldmann further maintained that “to regard the Jewish community exclusively as a religious group is just as incomplete and wrong as to define it exclusively as a nationality.” He further asserted that “whoever denies the right of Jewish communities and individual Jews to regard themselves as members of the Jewish community with a sense of solidarity with all the Jews of the world and being deeply attached to the Jewish center in Israel destroys the basic foundations and characteristics of our history and future.”
URGES AMERICAN ZIONISTS TO PENETRATE JEWISH COMMUNITY LIFE
The world Zionist leader reiterated the unfulfilled tasks of the Zionist movement. He stressed that “as long as only a minority of the Jewish people is concentrated in Israel, as long as the State of Israel is not secured neither politically nor economically, and as long as Jewish life outside of Israel is not tied up with it and not secure in its future, Zionism is still unfulfilled.” Dr. Goldmann further said that “the main tasks the movement will have to face lie within the American Jewish community which, under present circumstances, is determining the direction of Jewish history.”
At this point, Dr. Goldmann issued his call to the American Zionist movement to try and become one of the decisive and determining forces in American Jewish life and to play a similar role now as it has done in the great years of the struggle for the emergence of the State.
To attain this end, Dr. Goldmann said that American Zionism “has to penetrate more and more Jewish community life, cooperate closely with other Jewish organizations not only in the field of aid to Israel, but in the spheres of Jewish education and youth work.” He added that “it must have the ambition to become the main powerhouse of American Jewish life both by organizing American Jewry and linking it with Israel.”
“One of the great unfulfilled tasks of the American Jewish community is to have it organized and create a representative body which can coordinate its efforts and be able to speak for this largest community in the world,” he said. He made it clear that “this does not imply the standardization of American Jewish life whose definite tendencies and nuances should be developed but it should do away with the chaotic situation as no other community would tolerate it where nobody can rightfully speak on behalf of this powerful community. Jewish unity solidarity is one of the basic conditions of Jewish survival and one of the main aims of Zionism.”