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Dr. Goldstein: Expansion of Jewish Agency Great Challenge to Zionists

The expansion of the Jewish Agency to include 50 percent representation by non-Zionists represents “a great challenge to Zionists to work for aliyah as an ideology, not merely as a philanthropy.” Zionism needs “more than ever before to demonstrate its rationale. Its reason for existence.” Dr. Israel Goldstein, a Zionist member of the Jewish Agency and world chairman of the Keren Hayesod United Israel Appeal, made those observations today in an exclusive interview with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in his study at Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, of which he is Rabbi Emeritus. “Israel is no longer the monopoly of the Zionist movement.” Dr. Goldstein said. “The expansion of the Jewish Agency puts the Zionist on the spot more than ever before to justify his existence as a Zionist.” Dr. Goldstein, who was here to preach at his congregation’s High Holy Day services, noted that the Zionist half of the Agency will be responsible for aliyah “propaganda.” Zionist education, and the “counteracting” of New Left inroads among the youth. The non-Zionist half will be responsible for the health and welfare of Israeli immigrants. The reorganization was agreed upon in August, and took effect then. A similar 50-50 plan was launched in 1929, but, in the words of Dr. Goldstein, “it petered out after five years.”

The 1970 reorganization, given impetus by Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, was “done slowly and deliberately.” Dr. Goldstein explained. “We didn’t want to rush this thing. We wanted to give it time to mature.” Consultations alone took up more than a year and a half. Dr. Goldstein accorded Dr. Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Jewish Agency Executive, most of the credit for the evolution of the new plan. Zionist quarters expressed “some doubts” about the plan, Dr. Goldstein noted, but “the preponderant opinion was in favor.” The chairmanship and treasure ship of the reorganized Jewish Agency are reserved for the soon-to-be-elected chairman and treasurer of the Zionist faction. Dr. Goldstein said it was likely that the non-Zionist group would be headed by Max M. Fisher, the Detroit-based industrialist, Jewish leader and Presidential confidant. Dr. Goldstein emphasized that the Jewish Agency would continue to forego positions on Middle East and other political and military issues. Under the new alignment, 30 percent of the Zionist half of the administration will be allotted to Americans, and 20 percent to the rest of the world, based on the size of each country’s Jewish community. Keren Hayesod reaches to 54 countries around the globe.

In 1967, $250 million was raised in the United States for Jewish Agency operations, with Keren Hayesod raising another $150 million, for a total of $400 million. The Jewish Agency budget for the 1969-70 fiscal year was $380 million; the budget for 1970-71 has been put at $600 million–an increase of more than 60 percent. Is the new reorganization plan feasible, workable, in view of the failure of the 1929 effort? That first try, Dr. Goldstein replied, although “very encouraging.” nevertheless “did not work out too well” because the non-Zionists who participated–such as the Americans Louis Marshall and Felix M. Warburg–were essentially “stellar soloists” who had no time to go to Palestine and not enough time to devote to the organization. They delegated deputies to represent them in Palestine, said Dr. Goldstein–“fine men, but the principals were not there themselves.” Now, in contrast, the non-Zionist participants will be “recognized leaders of great Jewish organizations who are prepared to give a great amount of their time.” With the full-hearted support of those “committed” organizations, Dr. Goldstein continued, the Jewish Agency will have “a much broader and firmer foundation.” And “the fact of Israel’s existence.” recognized more than ever after the Six-Day War, was he added, a “guarantee” for the success of the expanded Jewish Agency.

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