Goldmann Urges New Zionist Approach at Opening of 27th Congress in Israel
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Goldmann Urges New Zionist Approach at Opening of 27th Congress in Israel

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The 27th World Zionist Congress, at its opening session here tonight, was told by Dr. Nahum Goldmann that “Zionism will have to learn a new intellectual and spiritual language if it wants to appeal to 20th century young minds.” Dr. Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, and President Zalman Shazar of Israel delivered the opening addresses before some 3,000 delegates to the Congress and their guests from all over the world in a hall decorated with Zionist banners dating from the flag designed by Theodor Herzl in 1897.

Dr. Goldmann’s theme was that 70 years after the first Zionist Congress in Basle, the focus of the movement is not the creation of a Jewish national homeland but assembling the Jewish people in the Jewish State founded 20 years ago. This, he said, is the fundamental task–the Zionist movement will stand or fall on what happens with aliyah (immigration). “This will become the great historical test for the survival of Zionism.” It is a crucial test, Dr. Goldmann continued, because “many progressive and left-wing elements, not to mention the Communists, are today anti-Zionist. Young Jews and other youths who do not feel any loyalty to their own countries can, only with difficulty, be brought to the quest for self-realization as Jews. Zionism will have to learn a new intellectual and spiritual language if it wants to appeal to the 20th Century young minds. All the discussions on who should handle immigration or absorption do not even begin to touch the real problem involved in aliyah which are the consequences of the revolutionary character of our period,” Dr. Goldmann said.


The Zionist leader’s reference was to debates and arguments during the months preceding the Congress’ opening about the future role of the Jewish Agency in immigration and the absorption of newcomers. Only today, the Cabinet announced that it had decided to establish an absorption ministry to handle that aspect of aliyah. A Government spokesman said that the Government and the Jewish Agency would work out jointly the area in which the new Cabinet ministry will function, Jewish Agency leaders have insisted on a formula whereby the Agency would retain responsibility for the initial stages of absorption which, they said, could not be divorced from the process of immigration. The latter would remain a Jewish Agency task. The question to be worked out jointly with the Government is where to draw the line between initial and later absorption.

Immigration and absorption are the principal items on the Congress agenda, along with a proposal to drastically re-organize and streamline the Jewish Agency so that it can more efficiently handle its tasks. One aspect of the program is reduction of the number of departments in Israel to nine and in the United States to five with a resultant reduction in the number of members of the Executive. One veteran member, Mrs. Rose Halprin, of New York, who is chairman of the American Section of the Jewish Agency, has already asked to be relieved of her post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency learned from reliable quarters today. A possible successor, sponsored by the World Confederation of General Zionists, is Mrs. Mortimer Jacobson, president of Hadassah, a post held by Mrs. Halprin before she joined the Jewish Agency Executive more than 20 years ago.

Another question expected to be hotly debated at the Congress is a proposal to abolish the office of president of the World Zionist Organization in favor of a form of collective leadership. Dr. Goldmann announced some months ago that he does not intend to stand for re-election. Some factions, at pre-Congress party caucuses, spoke of drafting Dr. Goldmann. The Labor Zionists resolved not to ask Dr. Goldmann to run again and expressed a preference for a WZO without a presidential office. Shimon Peres, a leader of the Israel Labor Party, suggested four possible successors to Dr. Goldmann–Gen. Chaim Herzog, who was director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, Prof. Amos de Shalit, head of the Weizmann Institute of Science, Philip Klutznik, honorary president of B’nai B’rith, and Joseph Schwartz, executive vice president of the Israel Bond Organization in the U.S.


Control of the Jewish Agency’s aliyah department will apparently be a crucial post in view of the emphasis expected to be placed on immigration during the years ahead. The rightist Herut party, a member of the national coalition Government, is making a bid for that post. Herut leader Joseph Klarman said at a party caucus that the other parties that had hitherto managed the aliyah department failed to bring Jews from the free world to Israel. “We have experience in this field and we would like to try. We would demand the post of aliyah department head for our party.” he said. Mr. Klarman said he believed further that aliyah should be separated from absorption, even in its initial phases, and that two departments should be set up for the tasks. An opposite view was taken by Mrs. Rose Halprin. who said at a meeting of General Zionists in Tel Aviv last night that there can be no division between absorption and immigration. “A family arriving at Lydda or Haifa cannot be let loose to find its own way under Government guidance and supervision but has to be accompanied on another stretch of its way by the Jewish Agency bodies which organized its aliyah.”

The General Zionists, who caucused in ZOA House in Tel Aviv for several days preceding the Congress opening, was told by its leader, Dr. Emanuel Neumann last night that the main functions of Zionists today are to support Israel in the arena of international diplomacy and to promote aliyah. He rejected any idea of limiting the designation”Zionist” to only those people who actually immigrate to Israel. Leon Dultzin said that many of the demands made by the General Zionists years ago are now being implemented by the Israel Government and the Jewish Agency. Among these are inducements and concessions to immigrants and individual treatment of newcomers.

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