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Mizrachi and Labor to Vote No Confidence in Weizmann

August 9, 1923
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The question of a vote of confidence to the present Zionist leadership has almost displaced the much debated Agency issue, at the sessions of the Congress Friday and Saturday night.

The Mizrachi by a two-thirds majority decided against voting confidence in the Administration. The Poale-Zion and Zierie-Zion radical groups together number 18 delegates, also voted against giving a vote of confidence when the question comes up. The Gruenbaum faction decided to abstain from the voting.

At the meeting Saturday night, Dr. Soloweitchik declared that extension of the Zionist activities was undoubtedly essential, provided the Agency is the product of an interterritorial all-Jewry conference, otherwise the body might come to take too much of its tendencies from one or another particular country. Dr. Soloweitchik also demanded that the non-Zionist elements be given only a consultative voice. He proposed that the composition of the non-Zionist section be analagous to the composition of the Zionist Organization.

Firstly, he would have a non-Zionist Palestine conference representing Jewries of individual countries, organizations and kehillahs. This non-Zionist Palestine conference would name a central council, analagous to the Zionist Actions Committee, and the non-Zionist Central Committee would name its Executive which, with the Zionist Executive, would form the Agency Executive.

The Gruenbaum faction at the meeting Saturday night submitted a resolution declaring that the transfer of the Zionist Organization’s mandate rights was permissable only to elected representations of Jewish people, in other words, the proposed Jewish World Congress. United the creation of such a World Congress, it would be permissable, the resolution declares, to extend the Agency by permitting the entrance of elected representatives of individual countries, subject to the approval of the Actions Committee.

Until such time, the Zionist Organization, must function as the Agency exclusively.

The reason why America had only eleven recognized delegates at the Congress was because America concentrated its efforts on the Keren Hayesod, Morris Rothenberg told the Congress. American Zionists had worked hard to cover the budget and to augment the collections for the Keren Hayesod, therefore there were fewer shekel payers.

“Deputy Gruenbaum continues to dwell on the necessity of bringing in the Jewish masses”, Mr, Rothenberg said. “But if Weizmann, Sokolow and Levin are not able to bring the “Volksmassen’ in, it is doubtful if Gruenbaum will, since the Polish masses themselves voted against him. I respect the ‘Volksmassen’ but for the raising of sixty millions in America for war relief, thanks should be tendered the influential Jews.”

At the Friday session, S. Kaplansky of the Poals Zion demanded that the religious needs referred to by the Mizrachi be met by a special religious budget and not from the general budget. The Poale Zion leader also demanded that there be no cut in the appropriation for the Palestine Colonization work. If the appropriation were cut he threatened the Poale Zion would refrain from participation in the Keren Hayesod.

“It would not be much loss” several of the Mizrachi leaders interjected.

“The Palestine Administration”, Mr. Kaplansky continued”, was both anti-Jewish and anti-Zionistic. The Conservatives in England were becoming constantly more anti-Zionist”, he said. “Only the British Labor Party was unfalteringly pro-Zionist. A World Congress”, he declared, “requires patience; meanwhile new elements could be introduced, but only through the Keren Hayesed.”

Merminsky, representing the Young Socialist (Zeire Zion) Zionists, said “the new elements constantly harped on should first participate in Palestine reconstruction then they could come to us. Banquet Zionism and Efsher (perhaps) Zionism was insufficient”, he declared.

“The Palestine Jews,” he declared, “had stopped fighting for their rights because the London Executive had ordered them to do so. A virtual numerus clausus against Jewish workers had been introduced by the Jewish employers in Palestine”, he declared. He had no confidence in leadership that produces such results he stated.

De Lieme of Holland, a former member of the Executive, now in opposition to the Weizmann regime, declared that he was on principle against the proposals regarding the Jewish Agency but he would nevertheless agree to extension of the work.

“The talk that the Administration was seeking to turn the Zionist movement from a peoples’ movement to a movement of notables was merely an effort to create an artificial issue” Dr. Alexander GoIdstein declared. “The American proposals”, he declared, “were not intended to deliver the Zionist Organization to any notables. The political situation and the economic situation in Palestine were both bad and Congress must protest against the English attitude towards Palestine reconstruction.

Goldstein assailed the Zionist policy as regards economic activities in Palestine. “I am no friend of Soviet Russia”, Goldstein said,” but the first act of the new Russian army was to remove the old generals.

“Shall we shoot the old Palestine generals?” one of the delegates queried.

“No, make generals of the lieutenants” was Dr. Goldstein’s reply.

Dr. Schmarya Lewin praised Dr. Weizmann and expressed great satisfaction with American Zionistic work. “New York Jews alone”, he declared, “could build Palestine twice over. We will win American Jews to our side. America perhaps,” he predicted, “will become the future Zionist political center.”

Dr. Lewin’s mention of the Lodge-Fish resolution favoring the Jewish Homeland was greeted with cheers.

The American delegates were the hosts of the Gruenbaum group at lunch Thursday noon. Lipsky, Rosenblatt and others of the American delegates pointing out that Zionist unity was essential for the successful financing of the movement, urged the opposition to agree to the extension of the Zionist work through the Agency.

The American delegation sent a cable of greetings to President Coolidge expressing their hopes that he would have a successful administration.

The proposal of Dr. Robert Stricker of Vienna, Chairman of the Permanent Committee regarding the Jewish Agency has received a great deal of comment. Stricker’s proposal is that the Zionist Executive should submit the names of those non-Zionists whom it desires to include in the Jewish Agency to the Actions Committee. If the names submitted are satisfactory the Zionist Executive and the group of non-Zionists selected comstituting a common council shall call a world conference of Jewish organizations willing to labor in behalf of Palestine reconstruction which shall compose the Agency.

But before the final constitution of the Jewish Agency, the Zionist Organization shall have the right to ratify or reject the Agency.

At the Thursday evening session, Jean Fisher of Belgium condemned the Executive for signing the British White Paper. The Agency question should be removed from the Agenda, he declared, contending that it had been artificially pushed forward.

Rabbi Farbstein of the Mizrachists, while praising the Zionist leaders for their serfices in conjection with the Keren Hayesod strongly criticised the leaders for their “political yielding and stubborness”. The “best people” he said had been pushed out of the movement, mentioning Vladimir Jabotinsky as an illustration.

Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan of New York urged that the Zionist movement assume full responsibility for Palestine education. He suggested that Weizmann appoint a commission of five members which shall take up the work in connection with the erection of the Hebrew University.

A rapproachment between the Arabs and Jews in Palestine was possible, Chief Rabbi Jacob Meier of Jerusalem declared, but the task must he approached slowly and carefully, through the older Jewish residents of Palestine. “Forty years ago I felt as a stranger in Palestine, but since many Arabs have come to me and said, “We’re glad you have come back to your land”.

The climax of the session Thursday was reached in the early hours Friday morning when before an assemblage that filled every seat on the floor of the convention and in the galleries, Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Sokolow defended their policies from the shafts of criticism which have been hurled at it.

Sokolow who made the first speech commenced by denying the allegation that the differences between Dr. Weizmann and the Executive were due to his stand on the Agency. They were due, he declared, to organization questions.

A thunderous ovation greeted Dr. Weizmann when he arose to speak. “I don’t know where Gruenhaum found the defeatist feeling of which he spoke. The talk that the Agency plan means capitulation is an illusion of a heated phantasy, without a spark of reality. We have flung away no iota of Zionist principles; we throw it back as an unworthy reproach in the faces of those making the charge. It was not I that caused any defeatist mood”.

“The Keren Hayesod,” he declared, “was already the forerunner of the Agency idea. I admit”, declared Dr. Weizmann, “that the near future will bring no political successes. We must fight now for success in the swamps and hills, of Palestine”.

Referring to the charges that Weizmann and Sokolow were not properly encouraging immigration to Palestine, Weizmann said, “If you could bring 200,000 Jews to the streets of Jerusalem you would not ask me. You who demand mass immigration and rapid reconstruction refuse to seek new means to obtain these ends”.

Weizmann defended the conduct of Great Britain. “We elected Britain as the mandatory and we will not allow suspicion to be cast on her good faith and good will”, he asserted.

“There are two systems open to you”, Weizmann condluded, “Greenbaum’s chauvinsim against other Jews and my confidence in them. Elect the system and elect the people who will execute that system. I will bow to the decision of the Congress”.

Mr. Sokolow’s speech, which Dr. Weizmann said he intended merely to suppliment was also an answer to Deputy Gruenbaum.

While the Palestine situation was serious, Sokolow said, it was untrue to state that the Zionist Executive had nothing byt failures to report.

The charges that the Zionist leaders had been humble in their stand before the world was repudiated. “It is untrue we have been too humble. On the contrary we have always worthily defended Zionist rights, but the relationship of the populations of Palestine becomes a strong argument against us.”

“We cannot argue that we derive our strength from the ‘Volksmasse’ because,” he said, “the Jews hitherto had been disunited, a breach in the Jewish position which could only be remedied by the creation of a Jewish Agency, which should speak for all factions.

“Even President Harding noticed this, telling me the Jews were divided on this question, one rabbi favoring it and another being against it”, Mr. Sokolow declared.

“I endorse Deputy Gruenbaum’s speech, but cannot understand the tone of tragedy that prevades it. We have no intention to forget the democfacy of the movement.

“The Congress”, he declared, “was divided between Zionists and ‘Veto Zionists’, causing the first hearty laugh at this Congress.

“I personally,” he concluded, “stand for strengthening the movement by introducing the representatives of other organizations who will work for the cause. Who will dare oppose the extention plan?” he concluded, challenging the Opposition Group.

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