Merger of General Zionist Confederations Discussed at Parley

The proposal to merge the two competing Confederations of General Zionists–the one headed by Mrs. Rose Halprin and Dr. Israel Goldstein, the other headed by Dr. Emannel Neumann–was subjected to basic discussion here today as the Halprin-Goldstein Confederation convened for its world conference. Mrs. Halprin and Dr. Goldstein were the principal discussants. The conference was also addressed by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and Hanan Cidor, Israel’s Ambassador to The Hague.

Speaking on the topic of merger, Mrs. Halprin told the conference: “I need hardly say that I am against the projection of political parties, and the strife that is inevitably centered around them, in the Diaspora. But, conversely, I do not believe it is possible to eliminate, nor desirable to eradicate differences that exist and are imbedded in the philosophical approach to Jewish and Zionist life. While I think that projection of political parties is bad, I think the existence of different groups within a country is natural and, perhaps even desirable.

“In connection with this problem,” she continued, “the question has often been asked: What is really the difference between the Zionist and the non-Zionist? The question is hard to answer–not because there is any doubt that there is a difference but because it must be expressed in semantic form. We say that we believe in survival, that this implies the deepening of Jewish education, that we recognize the central role of Israel. Many non-Zionists may accept this definition. And yet, in practice, they and we will follow divergent patterns of activity. For we believe that only in Israel, where the community lives within geographical boundaries, where the keys of development lie in its own hands, can a move be set which will give it a distinct character. No other Jewish community in the world has those same characteristics.”

MRS. HALPRIN EXPLAINS OPPOSITION TO MERGER; DR. GOLDSTEIN GIVES HIS VIEWS

“Our Confederation,” Mrs. Halprin told the conference, “will not be part of a Confederation in which Israel is represented by a political party.” She then gave these reasons for this position: “A political party is an admixture of principle and expediency; it can not be hidebound by principle; it can not live only be expedience. The Liberal Party may consider it desirable tomorrow to invite Herut. Today it is in opposition to the Government, tomorrow it may be within the Government coalition.”

Dr. Goldstein called the question of the reunification of the two existing Confederations of General Zionists “the most pressing organizational problem which faces our Confederation today.” “The main question,” he said, “is whether the other Confederation is willing to state simply, clearly, in whatever form will make the meaning unmistakable, as we have stated again and again, that it is in the best interests of world General Zionism that its organizations in the Diaspora should not be identified with any political party in Israel.

“We believe that any such identification or commitment would be delimiting and contrary to the broad, independent spirit which has been the tradition of General Zionism. Only a world Confederation of General Zionists so conceived, so based and so constituted would be able to hold together without strain or a variegated constituency, and would be in best position to render the greatest service to the Zionist movement as a whole.

“If such a declaration would be made by the other Confederation, there will be no reason, in my judgment, for our Confederation to oppose reunification. Indeed, it would be a vindication of the basic reason which prompted us to maintain our separate existence in these recent years. This does not mean that a World Confederation of General Zionists should have no views on important developments in Israel. Immigration, absorption and colonization are obviously a major part of Zionist budget, concern and responsibility–and the Zionist organization not only raises funds but also helps formulate policy together with the Government of Israel.

“In addition, there may be other phases of life in Israel, social, economic and political, which should be the concern of the Zionist organization. It is unthinkable that Zionists should set up an artificial wall between themselves and the prime interest of their heart. Such platonic relations can be left to non-Zionists. Zionists in the Diaspora, and the Jews in Israel are of one another. This quality should not be strained.

“But the points of procedure upon which our Confederation is based, and on which reunification between the two existing Confederations must be based, is that whatever views we may hold are determined by our independent judgment of what is right and what is in the highest interests of Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people–not on the basis of what a political party in Israel may decide in line with its party interests.”

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