Menu JTA Search

Goldmann: Pincus Distorted Facts Challenges Pincus’ Authority to Speak for 3 Million Soviet Jews

Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, replied sharply today to recent remarks by World Zionist Organization Executive chairman Louis Pincus justifying the WZO Executive’s withdrawal of its invitation to Dr. Goldmann to address a festive session of the forthcoming World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. Dr. Goldmann said that Pincus’ references to his remarks on Soviet Jewry in a speech to the Board of Deputies of British Jews here Dec. 19 “distorted the facts.”

He denied vigorously that he had “belittled” aliya (immigration) of Soviet Jews, as Pincus charged or had given it a lower priority than the struggle for the rights of Jews who remain behind in the Soviet Union. He challenged Pincus’ authority to speak for three million Soviet Jews and his right to proclaim a Zionist policy without the authority of a Zionist Congress.

Asserting that he had “no desire to enter into any polemics with Mr. Louis A. Pincus,” Dr. Goldmann said “I cannot leave unanswered the statements made by him both on the personal level… and much more important on the level of principles in regard to policies on Soviet Jewry.” Dr. Goldmann declared “In his reference to my address to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Mr. Pincus distorted the facts. I never belittled the emigration of Soviet Jews to Israel and I never said that only a small number would leave.”

ADHERES TO CLASSIC POSITION

Continuing, Dr. Goldmann stated: “I said that the majority would remain. I do not assume that Mr. Pincus expects the majority of three million Jews to come to Israel in the foreseeable future. Nor did I try to diminish the centrality of the demand for emigration. I stressed again and again that I hoped that aliya would increase, and that we must fight for it. But taking these demands for granted and accepted by all Jewish organizations without exception, I criticized the position of those extremists, to whom it seems Mr. Pincus now belongs, who think that we have to stress only emigration and forget the fight for the rights of Jews who will remain in the Soviet Union.”

In criticizing Dr. Goldmann, Pincus stated that it was not possible to conduct a struggle on two levels at the same time–namely the struggle for the right of aliya and the struggle for the right of Soviet Jews to a Jewish life. Pincus added that Dr. Goldmann reversed the priority and added that Soviet Jews themselves had chosen to fight for aliya.

Referring to this, Dr. Goldmann said “There is no difference of opinion that at this moment priority should be given to the struggle for the right of aliya and it is absolutely incorrect that in my speech to the Board of Deputies I was reversing the order of priorities in the Jewish demands,” he said. “But to go as far as to say that we should drop, or not press, the demand for the right to live as Jews for those who will not emigrate, is a serious departure from the classic Zionist position the world over.”

Dr. Goldmann said he accepted the original invitation to address the Congress session devoted to an appraisal of 75 years of Zionist history “only after pressure on the part of members of the Zionist Executive, including Mr. Pincus himself.” He said that he had “informed Mr. Pincus that if there should be any danger of demonstrations against me at the festive session I would rather withdraw my acceptance….There fore, had Mr. Pincus been a little more considerate, he could easily have solved the problem by informing me that he could not guarantee that their would be no demonstrations, whereupon I should immediately have withdrawn.”

NEXT STORY