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American Jewish Congress Disavows Zangwill Views Zangwill Says He Was Misrepresented Congress is “pr

October 16, 1923
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The American Jewish Congress at its convening Monday officially disavowed the views of Israel Zangwill as expressed in his address the night before at Carnegie Hall.

As soon as the Congress assembled Monday, it was evident that the delegates were strongly aroused against the views of Mr. Zangwill and particularly against the manner in which it had been presented in the general press.

Mounting the platform, Rabbi Wise declared that the Congress had listened with entire respect to the address of its distinguished visitor but it “could not be made too clear that Mr. Zangwill spoke for himself and not for the Congress”.

Rabbi Wise maintained that the address of Mr. Zangwill had been misconstrued by the press “headline writers”. He said that Zangwill was a Zionist and that his address was not directed against Zionism but against the present Zionist policies.

Mr. Lipsky proposed that the remarks of Rabbis Wise declaring that the views of Zangwill were purely personal and not that of the Congress be taken as expressing the official stand of the Congress. The motion was adopted.

Spirited denunciation of Mr. Zangwill’s views were also expressed by Nathan Straus who declared that Zangwill’s statement that “political Zionism is dead” was a “beautiful illustration of misinformation”. “I wouldn’t care if he was my own son” said Mr. Straus, referring to Mr. Zangwill, “I would denounce him for what he said last night”. The Zionism Mr. Zangwill proclaimed”, he added, “is counterfeit Zionism. I speak from experience. He speaks from hearsay. I have devoted my life to this one cause and I am not going to have people misinformed. I have been in Palestine. I have lived in Palestine. My mind is there. My money is there and my heart is there”.

“I saw Mr. Zangwill this morning, “continued Mr. Straus. “He said how did my lecture suit you. I said, I differ with you so much we had better go and play golf”.

Mr. Zangwill was the guest of Mr. Straus at luncheon Monday and took occasion then to defend his much attacked address. He contended that the press had misrepresented his views and put them out of proportion.

The sessions of the Congress Tuesday morning were devoted to the heating of the reports of the Resolution Committee headed by Judge Hugo Pam. Seven resolutions proposed by the committee was adopted Tuesday.

The only one which met opposition on the floor of the Congress declared “The American Jewish Congress believes that for the achievement of its aims and purposes it is vitally important that there be created a World Jewish Congress, democratically elected and representing the Jewish people of the world as a unit, therefore instructs its Executive Committee to communicate with responsible and representative Jewish national and international organizations to the end that such a world’s Jewish Congress be convened as soon as possible”.

The fight arose when it was proposed to insert the words “primarily for Palestine” in the clause defining the scope of the Congress.

Judge Hugo Pam urged that the original resolution be adopted, declaring that there would doubtless come before the world Congress many other Jewish problems, such as the situation of Jewry in Eastern Europe. Those championing the amendment however contended that the amendment making the primary purpose of the Congress, Palestine, did not bar it from considering other phases of the Jewish problem.

Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, Chairman of the Congress, asked Louis Lipsky to take the Chair so that he (Rabbi Wise) could take the floor and discuss the question. He proposed that the words “primarily for Palestine” should be interpolated in the resolution.

“After what happened Sunday night”, said Rabbi Wise, referring to Israel Zangwill’s denounciation of the programme of Zionism, “It is necessary to emphasize with all earnestness that any such organization should be for and primarily on behalf of Palestine before anything else”.

Nothing, he declared, could be gained by passing resolutions about Mr. Zangwill or what he said, or what he left unsaid, or what he should have said.

“Our answer to Mr. Zangwill should be”, declared Rabbi Wise, “We’re going to call the World Jewish Congress primarily for Palestine”. There was only one way, contended Rabbi Wise, to unite the Jewish people. It was to build up Palestine. Others had objected that any limiting of the phraseology might shut out certain classes of Jews who were not Zionists, but Rabbi Wise said: “Any Jew who refuses to enter a Congress for Palestine is little enough interested in Jewish rights or law, and I don’t care to meet him”.

Another resolution calling on the Jews of America to unite in a permanent organization under the American Jewish Congress was adopted by the delegates. A resolution on emigration urged that the “abolition of the restrictions on immigration that have been adopted since the World War”.

Referring to the Jewish refugees problem, the resolution adopted points out that “changes in boundaries affected by the Versailles Treaty have deprived many Jews of Central and Eastern Europe of their rights of Citizenship. It therefore demands that the Jews affected by those changes shall have the right to free movement within the pre-war boundaries until they have had ample and fair opportunity for choosing and establishing their citizenship”.

A resolution expressing appreciation for Lloyd George’s stand on the Jewish question and another expressing appreciation of the services of Dr. Weizmann were also adopted.

At the luncheon which was given to Mr. Zangwill on Monday at the Commodore, he said.

Now I am persuaded that you gentlemen who are against my views are too near them and you have also read perhaps perversions in the press which have misrepresented and put them out of proportion – I was careful to supply the synopsis, as long as I dared, to the press – but I find that especially the New York Times has put in even more than the synopsis. It is a great compliment. But they should either have put in all or should have put in the portion which I gave them.

I think that when you take a long view of my speech, when you wait a few weeks, when you see the effect upon the Arabs and upon the British Government, you will perhaps change your view of what I said. What I said was per pended for long weeks at home, was per pended on the watches of the night on the ship coming here, and prevented my sleeping many nights over here till I delivered the speech, because I was so anxious to do justice to all sides. It is the most difficult speech I ever made in my life.

But I find that my Zionist friends are of the opinion that Arabs are fools. They do not read the Arab newspapers. The Arabs say straight out that they know quite well that you wish to swamp them and that you can’t have a Jewish National Home in Palestine unless you are masters there. This is their idea. They understand what politics means. This is Jewish people do not understand what politics means having been away from their own politics for 1850 years, they have ceased to have the sense of what it means to be a people and to be a nation and to control its affairs.

I as a Jew am supposed to be bitterest enemy of the Arabs and have told them that under the British mandate they have a right to a free constitution. But at the same time (as I know why they want that free constitution in order to pass an anti-Jewish Immigration Law), I also pointed out that the Balfour mandate says that the English are in Palestine to build up a Jewish National Home there and therefore they can’t do anything with their parliamentary government to stop the building up of that Jewish National Home. And therefore I have said that the British government must have a veto upon any measures of anti-Kmmigration of Jews or any measures against the spirit of the Balfour mandate. Therefore, I am playing fair for both sides.

I have also reminded the British government that in the very word of the mandate they have to give us the waste lands and the public lands not otherwise utilized. They have not given us a single acre. I have never known in the whole of history a piece of work thrown upon the people like this – such a Shylock piece of work against us that we are to build up a country where we have to buy every single piece of land by the square yard, and every purchase we make puts up the price for us. You will search the pages of history in vain to find any similar example of such a colonization.

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