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Zionist Congress Closes with Weizmann Triumphant

August 20, 1923
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After a session which lasted from sundown Saturday until 5 o’clock Sunday morning, the Thirteenth World Zionist Congress came to a close with the election of the Executive as championed by Dr. Weizmann’s adherents on the Standing Committee. The victory of the Weizmann following came after a whole night of stormy discussion in which the retention in the Executive of M. Ussishkin as Director of the Palestine activities was the central point of conflict.

The Weizmannistes demanded the elimination of Mr. Ussishkin, insisting that as the opponent of the proposed reorganization of the Zionist forces and the general opponent of Dr. Weizmann’s political policies, his presence in the Executive would only tend to bring discord and retard its activities. Supporters of M. Ussishkin contended that as the veteran bearer of “the national idea” he was entitled to remain in the Executive.

When Dr. Robert Stricker at 4 A. M. mounted the platform to ###resent the findings of the Standing Committee on the Executive nominations, the Gruenbaum following, knowing the nature of the report in advance, left the convention hall in a body. Finally when Dr. Stricker brought in nomination of Dr. Weizmann for President of the Organization, a storm of applause broke out. Dr. Weizmann was not in the hall at the time and efforts to find him proving unavailing, reports spread that he contemplated resigning his victory.Notwithstanding, Dr. Stricker then continued with the recommendations of the Standing Committee, presenting the name of Nahum Sokolow for President of the Zionist Executive. The nomination of Sokolow was also greeted with vociferous applause.

As members of the Executive which will have its offices in London, Louis Lipsky, head of the American Zionists, Dr. Soloweitchick, formerly Lithuanian Minister for Jewish Affairs and Joseph Cowen, veteran English Zionist were named. The Jerusalem members of the Executive are Dr. Athur Ruppin as colonization expert, Colonel Kish, as political representative, Dr. Van Vriesland, former treasurer of the Executive, Professor Pick as representative of the Mizrachi and J. Sprinzak as representative of the Hitachauth of the Zeirie Zion. For the Economic Council, with voting rights in the Executive on economic questions, Izhek Naiditch, Dr. Ge###rg Halpern, Dr. Berthold Feiwel were named. For the Economic Council with advisory powers only, seven were named, including Bernard A. Rosenblatt, of New New York.

Five New Yorkers were included in the Actions Committee of Forty. They are: Herman Conheim, treasurer of the American Keren Hayesod, Ab Goldberg of the Zionist Administration, Jacob Fishman, of the Jewish Morning Journal, Morris Rothenberg, and Rabbi Meier Berlin, the Mizrachi leader. Others chosen members of the Actions Committee are Rabbi Fishman, Mizrachi, and the former member of the Executive, M. Ussishkin.

The nominations offered by Dr. Stricker were approved without dissenting vote, the Poale Zion and the Socialist Zeire Zion refraining entirely from voting and the Gruenbaum faction being absent during the balloting.

Ussishkin supporters started a demonstration when the Mizrachist, Dr. Nacht, deplored in addressing the Congress the elimination of Ussishkin from the Executive declaring that “one of our best men has not been chosen for the Executive”. ‘Dr. Leo Mitzkin, secretary of the Committee of Jewish Delegations, and Dr. Richard Lichtheim were also eliminated from the new Executive body.

A surprising feature of the voting was that the entire Mizrachi bloc, severy some strong, despite their previous strong fight on Weizmann, joined in solidly supporting the Weizmann slate.

Before the balloting, Dr. Hantke submitted a proposal that representatives of the Zionist finance institutions should act as advisors to coordinate the financial activities of the Zionist Organization. The proposal was adopted, as was also a proposal that the new Actions Committee of forty should be constituted in the same fashion as representation in the Congress is accorded.

A resolution proposed by the labor groups that only Zionists who have made good their obligations to the Keren Hayesod should be eligible for election to Congress was adopted.

A proposal to abolish the present practice of each of the various factions gathering their own Sheakim and substituting a united Shekel canvass was defeated, despite the havey vote of the general Zionists in its favor.

The following resolution, presented by Dr. Schalit on behalf of the Political Commission was adopted:

“This Congress hails the confirmation of the Palestine Mandate and the recognition that the nations of the world have given of the indissoluable ties that connect the Jewish people with Palestine. The solution of the Jewish problem is an act of simple justice and a prerequisite of world peace.

“The Congress holds the revivial and upbuilding of the East as a necessary step towards world reconstruction. The Jewish people is resolved to labor with all its might to become a part of the Eastern world. The Congress reiterates its contention that all communities in Palestine shall be accorded equal rights. The Jewish people will seek its utmost to obtain an understanding with the Arabs. The Jewish people are prepared to make the greatest sacrifices for its emancipation, believing that the world will understand and sympathize with its strings.”

The Executive in the resolutions is also called upon to make plain to the public opinions of the world, and particularly of the East, the real aims of the Zionist movement.

A series of other resolutions were adopted, one declaring that the entire Jewish people was responsible for the fulfillment of the Zionist aims. Another calls upon the Executive to draw the attention of the British Government to deviations from the Palestine program as set forth in the Balfour Declaration and Mandate. It specifies that the British Government be made aware in particular of the injustice in the distribution of the land of Palestine, and that protests be also made against the immigration restrictions and of the failure to accord full rights to the Jewish communities therein.

The Executive is also called upon to demand that the Vaad Leumi be equipped with legal rights and with the powers to assess taxes on Jewish citizens for Jewish purposes.

It is recommended also that the Executive recognize America as a political center of Zionism. Thanks were also expressed to the American Senate and House of Representatives for passage of the Lodge_Fish resolutions favoring the Jewish Homeland.

In behalf of the Poale Zion and the Socialist Zeirie Zion factions, S. Kaplansky explained that they had not participated in the voting because they were not entirely in sympathy with the point of view of the majority. Kaplansky declared that the laborite considered the British Labor Party as the only dependable surety that the British promises would be put into action.

Bernard Rosenblatt of New York introduced a resolution protesting against the growing anti-Semitic movement and condemning in particular the “numerus clausus” agitation throughout Europe.

In closing the Congress, Nahum Sokolow declared “this has been a difficult but good Congress”. Despite the many conflicts, there has been internal unity. As in 1897, when Dr. Horzl convoked the first Congress in Basle, we stand determined that Eretz Israel shall indeed become Eretz Israel. Proudly and worthily we take stand toward England, resolved to defend with all spiritual weapons our rights, determined that in Palestine we shall build a Hebrew national Jewry”.

“We believe that it was necessary to introduce non-Zionists into the work of upbuilding Palestine” said Sokolow referring to the Jewish Agency, “but many of us have differed as to the manner in which this should be accomplished.”

Sokolow defended the group division of the Zionists. “The right wing, the Mizrachi, defends the Jewish traditions; the left battles for the protection of the Jewish working pioneers. The conflicts merely reveal the strength of our organization. But we must observe certain principles. Friends and opponents alike, deplore the open violations in Palestine of the laws of the Torah. I reiterate that the resolutions which were adopted at the “Twelfth Zionist Congress” on this point must be strictly carried out.

The Mizrachi applauded vigorously sokolow’s last remarks, but the Left wing voiced protests. The Congress was closed with the singing of the Hatikwah, after a short prayer by Rabbi Meyer Berlin.

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