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Dr. Neumann Calls for ‘open Mind’ on Modifying Zionist Structure

Emphasizing that he was expressing his individual, personal opinion “as an American Zionist,” Dr. Emanuel Neumann called upon all Zionists to be “open-minded” and receptive to any ideas that may be advanced for modifying the present structure of the World Zionist Organization. He addressed the annual convention of the New England Zionist Region.

Declaring emphatically that “organizational shortcomings are by no means the basic problem that has affected the Zionist movement since the State of Israel was established, ” Dr. Neumann nevertheless urged serious consideration of plans designed to strengthen the movement by broadening its base, closer unification of Zionist forces, and mitigating the effects of party rivalries. “It is the General Zionists everywhere, who should be in the forefront of such efforts, in keeping with our fundamental outlook,” Dr. Neumann asserted.

“As General Zionists we have never been a party in the strict sense of the term, but on the contrary have been historically committed to advance the general interest, setting it above the particular interests of any party, class or section. We have viewed with regret the excessive fragmentation of the movement through numerous parties and splinter parties on the Right and Left. General Zionists have been forced to accommodate themselves to the organizational pattern which developed over the years; but it remains their proper role to help correct the effects of the rigid party system.

“But I must warn, ” Dr. Neumann added, “that any effort at serious organizational reform in the framework of Diaspora Zionism, will fail unless the problem is first tackled at the source and center –in Israel. The attitudes prevailing in the Diaspora are largely a reflex of the situation in Israel where the party system has been developed and refined to an unwarranted degree. It is the large and powerful parties, based and centered in Israel, that must first demonstrate a readiness to relax their control and forago past efforts to enhance their influence in the W.Z.O. and the Jewish Agency, with the support of their adherents or partisans in the Diaspora.

“This challenge is addressed more especially to the largest and strongest party enjoying a dominant position in the Government and the Jewish Agency. If Mapai should take the lead in the direction of renunciation, moderation and change, other groups are likely to follow. A change of course initiated in Israel, is indeed a prerequisite and condition precedent to any important, organizational changes in the rest of the Zionist world.”

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