JERUSALEM (Dec. 30)
The 26th World Zionist Congress opened here tonight with an address by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, emphasizing that the 11-day parley will have to act on three major tasks in order to assure the survival of the Jewish people. He listed them as follows:
1. To start a new attack against the present “complacent state of mind” of the Jewish people to make Jews understand that neither the position of Israel nor the future of Jewish communities outside of Israel are safe.
2. To inaugurate a new chapter of close cooperation between the Zionist movement and Israel and to make the Jewish state a major force in securing Jewish survival.
3. To reorganize the organization forms of the world Zionist movement, to do away with “hindering” traditions, and “to open wide its doors to welcome every individual and organization ready to accept the Zionist program but not ready to join one of the existing parties.”
Dr. Goldmann expressed appreciation to the Israel Government, and especially to Premier Levi Eshkol, for “the new spirit of understanding of the necessity to strengthen the Zionist movement” displayed by the government. He lauded the government’s willingness to cooperate with the Zionist movement “fully” and to back the efforts of the Zionist movement “by the tremendous prestige which only Israel possessed today in Jewish life.”
Israel, he said, is no longer looking to Jewish communities in the countries outside of Israel primarily as a source of help but is realizing more and more that just as these communities must share responsibility for Israel’s future, so Israel must feel its co-responsibility for the future of these communities. He expressed his conviction that Israel was ready for such full cooperation “as never before.”
SAYS ISRAEL WILL FOR MANY YEARS NEED AID OF THE JEWISH PEOPLE
Dr. Goldmann told the 3,000 delegates and guests assembled in the Convention Hall that Israel, despite its great achievements, will for many years need the full assistance of world Jewry. “All of us.” he stressed, “will have to be ready to face dangers, challenges and most critical situations.”
The principal task before the World Zionist Congress, he emphasized, is the utilization of Israel as the major instrument for consolidating Jewish existence and the main guarantor for the survival of Jewish communities throughout the world in its spiritual and cultural meaning. He said this was a most urgent task because there had seldom been a period of Jewish history when “the external facade of our life looked so different from our reality.”
“While we enjoy equal rights and anti-Semitism no longer threatens our existence,” he continued, “the dangers are great.” He declared that while the situation of Soviet Jewry presents the “number one” problem, there were other countries where communication between Jewish communities and other parts of the Jewish people was regarded as unpatriotic and where maintenance of specific Jewish institutions–except religions ones was considered undesirable.
LISTS PROPOSALS FOR INTENSIFIED WORK IN JEWISH COMMUNITIES
Dr. Goldmann emphasized the need to deepen among Jews the consciousness of the Jewish heritage and all forms of Jewish life and to appreciate the great role that religion could play. He declared that leaders of Jewish religious life should be ready to enter a “dialogue of historic importance” to adjust the role which the Jewish religion could play in strengthening Jewish identity, to the conditions of modern life.
He also stressed that it was imperative that those Jews choosing not to settle in Israel be imbued with a feeling that they were “junior partners in this, our people’s great common venture.”
He also listed a number of proposals for intensified work in Jewish communities outside of Israel aimed at strengthening the belief among Jews of being part and parcel of one people and ending all tendencies of Jewish isolation. One was to fight demagogic slogans of “double loyalty.” Another was to establish a wide Jewish educational network. Still another was that the Zionist movement become more active as a movement in Jewish communal life to make Jews more Israel-minded.
“The Zionist movement.” he said, “must reconquer the position of being a pioneer movement in Jewish life and while we must be ready to cooperate with all Jewish movements and organizations, we should be convinced that it is primarily the Zionist movement which is historically called upon to embark on such a program.”
The majority of Jews, he stated, “are still far from accepting the centrality of Israel in Jewish life and acceptance of this centrality, with all its consequences, is the real test as between Zionist and non-Zionist.” He added that “as long as the Jewish people as a whole has not accepted this concept, there is a vital need for a strong powerful Zionist movement.”
SHAZAR AND SHARETT WELCOME PARTICIPATION OF NON-ZIONISTS
Israel’s President Zalman Shazar, addressing the opening session of the Zionist Congress, noted the participation of leaders of non-Zionist organizations and communities and voiced the hope that plans for expansion of the Congress base would be fulfilled. He said the Jews outside of Israel and the Jews in Israel “cannot be regarded as separate entities unrelated to one another.” He said the “natural alliance” of the two Jewries must be strengthened.
He expressed the hope that immigration to Israel “will surge more strongly” even from lands where exit is now barred, adding that “we have demanded and will continue to demand immigration from the young but the response remains very weak.” He said that aliyah and basic Jewish education were the main functions of Zionism in other countries.
Moshe Sharett, chairman of the Jewish Agency executive, sent a message to the opening session of the Congress which was read to the audience by Jacob Tzur in his capacity as chairman of the Zionist Actions Committee. In his message, Mr. Sharett told the delegates that a wave of anxiety over the perils ahead and an awakening to meet them was passing over the Jewish world today. He said there was a deepening recognition that without the enriching contact with Israel’s reality and ideals, it was impossible to fortify the young generation of Jews in other countries to meet the threats of Jewish disintegration and assimilation.
Mr. Sharett also told the conclave that the Israel Government was devoting increased attention to the problem of strengthening the spirit of Zionism in Jewish communities outside of Israel and he declared expressly that concern for the future of Jewry was a joint responsibility of the Government and the Zionist movement.
He stressed the participation in the deliberations of the Congress of the non-Zionist representatives who have been invited to contribute their advice. He added that the doors of the movement ought also to be opened for those unidentified with Zionist parties and that the movement should seek the cooperation of new organizations. He concluded with an appeal for a “Zionist offensive” aimed first of all at the young generation.