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Political Zionism is Dead, Zangwill Tells Congress Zangwill Speaks to Congress Not for Congress, Rab

October 15, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Before an audience that filled every seat of Carnegie Hall, Israel Zangwill gave what he described as an "airplane view" of the Jewish situation.

The climax of the speech came when Mr. Zangwill contended that "political Zionism is dead. The proudest will", he said, "must sometimes acknowledge honorable defeat. When King David’s child was sick he fasted andlay upon the ground, but when the child died, he arose and washed and anointed himself. I see no saner policy for political Zionism, now finally bereaved of its hope".

In the earlier afternoon session, Rabbi Wise in introducing Mr. Zangwill warned that Mr. Zangwill "might say somethings which it will not be possible for this meeting to give unqualified assent. Mr. Zangwill speaks not for the American Jewish Congress but to the American Jewish Congress. He speaks not for Israel but for Israel Zangwill".

Rabbi Wise during the course of the evening also presented a message from President Coolidge expressing general sympathy with the aims of the Congress. The message follows:

"The President of the United States in the course of a visit by Rabbi Wise of the Central and Free Synagogue of New York and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Congress, in session October 14-16, New York, expressed himself as being in sympathy with the general aims and purposes of the American Jewish Congress which is to meet in New York Sunday afternoon.

"American Jews are justified in seeking to safeguard the rights of their brother Jews in all lands in which these may be in any way imperilled; and the more because the Jew in this country is secure in those religious, civil, political rights, which are the inalienable possession of every law-abiding American.

"The President declared himself to be particularly interested in the effort of American Jews to take part in the building up of Palestine under British mandate as a Jewish homeland, where homeless Jews may rebuild their ancient and historical home, wither Jews and all peoples may turn for the inspiration with which Palestine has long blessed mankind.

"When told that it is felt in Jewish circles that immigration restrictions bear especially upon the Jews, and that in somemast European countries would-be Jewish immigrants to America are not fairly dealt with by our consular representatives, the President stated:

" ‘This Administration will continue to refuse sanction and tolerance to any anti-Jewish discrimination in the matter of immigration, or in any other matter’

"He felt sure that a careful investigation, if needed, would reveal that these so-called discriminations were unreal.

"In closing, the President earnestly wished Godspeed to the American Jewish Congress, under the leadership of one of the best of Americans, Nathan Straus, in seeking to lift the Jewish peoples of all lands to a level equality of status, which is the deserved lot of the loyal and partriotic American Jew".

Mr. Zangwill characterized his speech as "the greatest labor of his life". After xonsiderable discussion of the rights of the American Jews to be represented in a Congress Zangwill warned the East Side of New York that it could not expect to survivie without a burning religious faith. Even the Ku Klux Klan with all its absurdities was to him more respectable than a racial Jewry that had lost its soul.

Arraigning "the political mishandling of Zionism" Mr. Zangwill said that "too late the Carlbad conference has voted its protest that not even the State lands and waste lands mentioned in the mandate have been allotted to the Zionists. Indeed, a colonization without a territorial charter, in which the land has to be bought literally by the square yard and every purchase puts up the price of land against yourself", he continued, "is a monstrosity unknown to history.

"National politics is the realm of might, and if, as Dr. Hertz warns us, the menace of massacre still lies over the whole Russian Jewry should the Soviet Government be overthrown, we must face the sad fact that Jewish might does not exist. We are like those children whose fate Thomas Hardy deplores in one of his novels, trailed helplessly hither and thither in the wake of drunken and improvident parents. Armed defence in the ghettos may do something to mitigate pogroms, but the only hope for the Jewish Diaspora, as for so many other racial minorities in the resurrected or parvenu countries created by the Treaty of Versailles, lies in the enforcement by the League of Nations of one of the few righteous sections of that treaty, namely, the clause providing for the protection of minorities.

"Sir Willoughby Dickinson, the President of the Minorities Commission of the League of Nations Union, says Great Britain regards the protection of the Jewish minorities as an especial aim. But this Union has only moral power: and of political power the League of Nations itself has only a spurious institution, which, as I have said, is less a League of Nations than a League of Damnations.

"But even if Russia and Germany were admitted to it, and America joined it, it would still be a defective institution so long as its members mutually pledged themselves to maintain the integrity of their existing territories without first inquiring whether the existing distribution of these territories was equitable, especially in relation to populations, port facilities, and free opting of nationality, and without providing for the expansion of contraction of territories in accordance with the growth or decline of populations. For, in the world of flux, the justice of day is the injustice of tomorrow. The readjustment to a changing reality has been the main factor in producing war, and any League that omitted to provide for the inevitable movement of life might produce peace, but it would not produce justice. There is only one way to world peace and that is the absolute abolition of passports, visas, frontiers, custom houses and all other devices that make of the population of our planet not a co-operating civilization, but a mutual irritation society. I present this idea to Mr. Bok, though I am sure he will not award me his peace prize. It is the overlooking, willful or foolish, of the raw realities of the case that turns so much peace idealism into hot air or spilt ink. The nations do not want peace because they are unwilling to pay the price the surrender of sovereign rights".

"To cal a world congress for Zionism exclusively, declared Mr. Zangwill was to repeat the mistake that Herzl made. "A world Congress for our world affairs, Zionism included", he added, "would leave no excuse to any Jew of remaining unrepresented in it unless his solution of the Jewish question was dissolution". A Congress representing all Jewry need not be organized centrally, he went on to say, suggesting that every country have its own Jewish Congress. Each of these congresses acting as an electoral college would then create the world concoul, "the shanhedrin so long extinct". By this Sanhedrin, he said, the spheres and finances of the various relief and other organizations could be adjusted so as not to overlap.

The Jewish problem lies between Palestine and the Diaspora, Mr. Zangwill asserted. Palestine, a little country, no larger than Wales, has already suffered diminution by "French imperialism which has lopped off a northern slice of its extensibility eastward" at the best it could shelter one-fourth of the 16,000,000 Jews of the Diaspora.

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