Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Zionists Vote to Coopt New Forces to Jewish Agency

June 20, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Parts of this report appeared in the two issues of the BULLETIN which the Convention was in session

The 26th annual Zionist convention has just ended here. No great controversies, such as at the Cleveland meeting two years ago, wrought a cleavage in the Zionist ranks nor the hotly contested question of reconciliation with the former leaders which marked the Philadelphia arose to disturb the Baltimore Convention.

The paramount issues of this year’s convention were the Jewish Agency and the World Congress. But both of these questions were debated from an intellectual plane and involved no question of personalities or leadership.

By a vote of 154 to 10 the convention went on record in favor of the proposal introduced in behalf of the Administration recommending that pending the convening of the Jewish World Congress the approaching Zionist Congress give the Zionist Executive power to establish immediately a Jewish Agency by inviting into its membership representatives of other Jewish organizations interested in the upbuilding of Palestine.

A counter proposal fathered by Abraham S. Schomer and supported by Bernard G. Richards and A. M. Seldin for the early convening of the World Congress with the provision that in the meantime the Zionists act as the Agency was defeated.

The convention’s attitude towards the World Congress appeared to be summed up in the words of Dr. Weizmann who, addressing the Convention on the subject declared “The call for a world Congress will come from Palestine when WE DOUBLE THE JEWISH POPULATION THERE.

“If certain circles who were formerly unfriendly are coming around now”, Dr. Weizmann declared, “it is because 30,000 Chaluzim have come to Palestine in the last two or three years.”

During the debate on the question, however, Dr. Weizmann refrained from expressing any opinion. It was only when the results of the ballot were announced that he took the floor and in a speech lasting over an hour and which held the undivided attention of his hearers, despite its delivery at one-thirty in the morning, Dr. Weizmann declared that he was in sympathy with the decision of the convention regarding the World Congress as expressed by their vote.

Dr. Weizmann told of the many hardships which the Zionist organization had weathered during the past year. “Another such year would break the backbone of the organization. God only knows what would have happened if Palestine last Easter had been in the same position as in January”, he said referring to the recent financial crisis.

“Zionists hoped”, he said, “that the Balfour Declaration the San Remo Decision and the ratification of the Mandate had made the way open for smooth sailing. Instead of that one crisis had followed another, necessitating his coming to America to raise money to balance the budget.”

The Convention, while leaving the door open to all engated in Zionist endeavors ended for the time being all negotiations towards a rapproachment with the Brandeis group by discharging the reconciliation committee appointed by the Philadelphia convention. The action of the Convention followed the report of Morris Rothenberg, Chairman of the Reconciliation Committee, who

declared that efforts towards bridging of the chasm between the Zionist organization and the Palestine Development Council had produced no palpable results, Mr. Rothenberg declared, that while he, as chairman of the committee, had immediately following the last convention requested Judge Mack to appoint a similar committee, the P. D. C. failed to make any response until November 29. The first meeting of the representatives of the two groups took place on December 4th. While the P. D. C. ‘s representatives appointed to negotiate were all Zionists, they insisted on dealing exclusively on non-Zionist measures, Mr. Rothenberg said. Finally, the P.D.C. agreed to consider cooperation on the Rutenberg project, appointing Julius Simon and Samuel Mosensohn to confer with him and Louis Robinson, representing the Zionist Organization. These negotiations, however, were brought to an abrupt termination by Julius Simon, who wrote the change in financing the Rutenberg scheme made cooperation in the meantime unnecessary.

Mr. Rothenberg’s account of the negotiations included the reading of the minutes of the only meeting between the representatives of the two bodies. According to the minutes, Messrs. Edlin, Robison and Judge Moses pleaded for cooperation on Zionist basis, while Judge Mack, Rabbi Wise and their associates insisted that the deal only as representatives of a “non-Zionist Organization” and consider only social and economic measures.

Here the matter rests now, declared Mr. Rothenberg, concluding the report. A motion to discharge the committee with thanks was then adopted, Mrs. Vixman of Pittsburgh subsequently asking reconsideration saying that if the door must be closed, let the onus be on the Palestine Development Council and not on the Zionist Organization.

Mr. Lipsky indignantly denied that the Zionist Organization was closing the door to any Organization which desired to cooperate. It was ready at all times to work together with any other bodies for Palestine, he said.

The Chair refused to grant a request of Mr. Brodie, formerly an active member of the Zionist Administration, but now with the P. D. C. who desired to make a statement. Mr. Brodie was not a delegate to the Convention.

Professor Otto Warburg, former President of the World Zionist Organization addressing the Convention complained of the general apathy towards the National Fund, which had collected only $154,000 in the United States.

Referring to the Hebrew University, Professor Warburg said it was hoped to throw open the doors of the chemical, bio-chemical micro-biological departments of the medical faculty and the college for Hebrew and cognate learnings by next April. Professor Warburg stated that he had organized a library committee in America to provide buildings, equipments and books for the University. If the Keren Hayesod would help as much as it had promised, it would be possible to have the initial departments of the University open in the Spring. Professor Warburg stressed the importance of the Technicum at Haifa.

Bernard Rosenblatt reported the successful sale of the Tel-Aviv bond issue. He paid tribute to Rabbi Teitlebaum who interested the State Bank of New York City in the issue. Mahor Disengoff of Tel-Aviv also addressed the Convention. “Tel-Aviv”, he declared, “was built without a cent of charity”.

A resolution was adopted giving the thanks of the Zionists to Messrs. Herman Conheim, Emanuel Neumann and Dr. Simon Rothenberg for their work as officers of the Keren Hayesod. Mr. Neumann’s report showed over four million dollars collected for the Keren Hayesod in the United States since the fund’s inception, by far the largest item in the more than six million dollars contributed by Jews in this country to various Palestine enterprises. William Edlin, editor of the Day, while seconding this resolution, insisted that

Zionists should not be deluded with the impression that the Keren Hayesod was as great a success as it might have been, while Jacob Fishman extolled the Keren Hayesod Administration.

Resolutions fathered by the Hebrew group denounced the suppression of the Hebrew language in Russian and the persecution of Zionists for associating with the movement. This group urged that Hebrew be recognized as part of the heart blood of the Zionist movement.

Resolutions urging that the Zionists initiate conference with the Joint Distribution Committee regarding the possibility of transferring part of their activity to Palestine were opposed by Bernard G. Richards, who argued that in view of the approaching liquidation of the Joint Distribution Committee, it was gratuitous to enter into such negotiations.

Dr. Schmarya Levin pleaded for an adequate recognition of the value and integrity of the Zionist Organization. “We must defend the spirit of the Organization,” Dr. Lewin said. “We must not compromise on the principles. Adulterating them won’t fetch a higher price.

Capitalizing Dr. Levin’s brilliant appeal, Louis Lipsky called for an Organization fund and a sum in the neighborhood of $30,000 was raised. Tribute was paid by Mr. Lipsky at the opening session to distinguished Zionists who had died during the past year. The audience stood in impressive silence as the names of Max Nordau, Ben Yehuda, Peter Schweitzer and Baer Epstein were mentioned.

Among others who spoke were Leo Motzkin, a member of the Zionist Executive who, while holding out for a World Congress admitted all questions in the past had to be submerged in view of the “life and death need” of money raising.

A resolution calling for the establishment of a department of education and propaganda was introduced by Maurice Samuel who denouncing what he called “Babbit Zionism” appealed for the creation of an intellectual atmosphere in Zionism.

Visitors to the convention which met almost uninterruptedly from three P. M. Sunday to two A. K. Wednesday included Rabbi Dr. Sonderling, Prof. Nahum Slousch of Hamberg and Mrs. Peter J. Schweitzer, widow of the first chairman of the Keren Hayesod administration, besides a large number of women from all parts of the country who attended all the sessions pending the opening, Wednesday of the Hadassah Convention.

Greetings were received from Nahum Sokolw, M. M. Ussishkin, M. Lichheim, I. Soloweitchik, all of the World Zionist Executive, Nathan Straus and the Order Brith Sholom which was holding its convention simultaneously at Atlantic City, from Canadian Zionist Organization, and from Dr. Alexander Goldstein now in Canada.

Louis Lipsky was again elected chairman of the Administrative Committee and Boris Grabelsky, Treasurer, Other members of the Administrative Committee are Herman Conheim, Abraham Goldberg, Emanuel Neuman, Louis Robison, Morris Rothenberg, Louis Topkis, and Jacorn Siegel. The re-election of the entire Administration, Reuben Taylor, Hartford, of the nomination committee explained, was an expression of absolute confidence in and loyalty to the leadership which weathered the storm last two years. Mr. Lipsky was given a rousing ovation was his nomination and election was proposed.

Recommended from JTA