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Congress Votes Confidence in Weizmann, Sokolow

August 14, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The warmly contested question at the Thirteenth Zionist Congress of giving a vote of confidence in the Weizmann-Sokolow leadership terminated today in a meagre victory for the administration when the assembly by a vote of 146 to 67 voted to express its thanks to the Administration for its achievements. By a second vote of 147 against 72, the Congress decided to “place on record” the reports of the Jewish Executive headed by Dr. Chaim Weizmann, President of the Zionist Organization and Nahum Sokolow, Chairman of the Executive Committee, respectively.

Louis Lipsky, Chairman of the American Delegation, and one of the Vice-Chairmen of the Congress, was in the Chair when the vote of confidence issue was brought up for a decision. He announced that owing to the want of agreement among the Permanent, Committee, that Committee had decided to present no resolution itself on the question but to permit the various groups to submit their reports individually.

Beryl Katzenelson, representing the Union of Young Zionists, declared that his delegation of 33 ###it there was much to praise and also some to condemn in the record of the Administration. They suggested the Congress “place on record” the report of the presidents of the Congress and of the Executive.

Herman Struck, the German artist and orthodox leader who spoke for the Mizrachi group acknowledged the Executive’s success with the Keren Hayesod or Foundation Fund but criticised the political work of the leaders, particularly for their failure to “consider the religious needs”. The Mizrachists voted as a body no confidence. It was this solid Mizrachi vote which resulted in 67 voting against the leadership.

Deputy Gruenbaum of Poland, representing the “democratic” group also expressed satisfaction with some of the work of the leaders, but condemned other phases. This group abstained from voting. The Socialist Zeirie Zion and Poale Zion groups, each numbering nine delegates, also abstained from voting.

The announcement of the result of the vote, which gave a compromise victory to the Administration, giving it thanks but not expressing full confidence, was greeted with a loud ovation and the Congress in token of the crossing of the bridge which threatened the harmony of the assembly broke forth into singing Hatikwah, the Jewish national anthem.

The text of the Zeirie Zion resolution upon which the confidence vote was based was as follows:

“Since the report of the Executive shows that owing to the lack of agreement within the Executive itself not all available forces were fully made use of resulting in insufficient homegeneous responsibility, recognizing however the achievements of the Executive, especially in the ratification of the Mandafe, secondly in the colonization work in Palestine, through which new Jewish positions have been created and old ones maintained, thirdly, having due regard to the great results achieved by the Keren Hayesod largely through the efforts of both presidents, Dr. Weizmann and Mr. Sokolow, the Congress places on record the Executive Committee’s report.”

Justice Louis D. Brandeis of the United States Supreme Court was referred to frequently in the discussion of the Jewish Agency plan for the enlistment of non-Zionist forces in the work of the up building of the homeland.

The Agency plan was branded as the “new Brandeisism” by Mordecai Lipson, of New York, representing the Young Zionists, who opposed the proposal which is being generally supported by the Americans.

Mr. Katzenelson, Palestine labor leader, also opposed the plan. The “economic board”, created during Justice Brandeis affiliation with the regular Zionist Organization, had also entertained the same aims now being entertained by the adherents of the Jewish Agency proposal and achieved nothing, he charged.

Another reference to the former leader of American Zionism, was made by M. Ussishkin who declared that proponents of the Agency idea forgot that the non-Zionist forces which might be brought to aid in Palestine construction were largely opposed to the political aims of the Zionist movement, Baron Rothschild of Paris with whose funds the Jewish Colonization Association is doing its colonizing work in Palestine, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and even Judge Brandeis will have nothing to do with the political phases of the movement, Mr. Ussishkin asserted.

Ab Goldberg of New York, member of the American Zionist Administration assured the Congress that the American Zionists had not become “anti-democratic”. He recalled the fight at Cleveland two years ago by the regular American Zionists on the group headed by Justice Brandeis, Judge Julian W. Mack and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise as proving his contention.

A warm defense of Dr. Weizmann was made by Mr. Bernard A. Rosemblatt of New York.

The real beginning of the present Agency discussion Rosenblatt said, was the Palestine Foundation Fund which was established to enlist the support of all Jews for the economic up building of Palestine. What was being asked for by the Agency adherents, said Rosenblatt is merely “the extension of the same system in a political direction.

“I don’t believe”, Rosenblatt exclaimed, “that the fight on the Agency is the real reason for this debate. The debate,” he declared, “was merely a smoke screen to hide the opposition’s real desire to get control of the Organization. There is a desire not to endorse the Executive policy” Rosenblatt declared, “and through that method loosen their hold on the delegates”.

“American Zionists are of the opinion”, he warned, “that if you destroy Weizmann, you destroy the Zionist Organization”. Mr. Rosenblatt read from the letter of Samuel Untermyer, President of the American Keren Hayesod, extolling the work of Weizmann.

Rosenblatt urged that an Executive of five be elected instead of the present Executive consisting of nineteen. This demand was met by a ruling from the Chair that he was out of order.

Others who participated in the Agency debate were Mr. Avisaar who spoke for Mesopotamia and the other Oriental Jews. He spoke in favor of the Agency. His address was marked by a solemn protest against the “chronic pogroms” perpetrated upon the Jews of Perisa and Yemen. He declared these pogroms were worse than the Ukraine massacres. “The big Jews of the world”, he charged, “were indifferent to these outrages which they have prevented if they would! He demanded representation for Sephardic Jews on all Zionist bodies.

Margulies of Germany also spoke for the Agency. Beryl Katzenelson, representing the Achduth Haowodah, the Palestine Labor Union, spoke against the extension.

M. Schechter, representing the Roumanian delegation, favored the Agency. Suchowitzky on behalf of the Mizrachi declared that “extension was possible only through organizations recognizing the principle of the Jewish national homeland, and only if the Congress elects a special commission for convocation of a world Congress within two years. Until then the Zionist Executive might provisionally extend the Agency.

Speaking in behalf of the East Galician Zionists, Herr Landau declared himself for extension if the new elements accepted the Jewish national homeland principle.

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