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Calm Proceedings Mark Zionist Convention in Session at Detroit

July 2, 1929
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American Zionism has sailed into calmer waters, with no stirring issues or political controversies in sight, it appeared from the proceedings of the first two sessions of the thirty-second annual convention of the Zionist Organization of America, which opened Sunday afternoon at the Cass Theatre here. Three hundred and fifty delegates, mainly from midwestern cities, are in attendance. In contrast to previous years, Hadassah, women’s Zionist organization, is represented by no more than ten delegates. The opposition group, which was responsible for the bitter fight at the last convention in Pittsburgh, was absent.

Two issues which seemingly aroused some interest among the delegates concerned the demand voiced that American Zionists be secured with a larger representation on the Council of the Jewish Agency than is at present contemplated under the Congress distribution key. The second issue, which has already been squelched, was a demand to nullify the result of the popular Congress delegates elections, held for the first time in the history of Zionism in the United States. This question was taken up at Saturday night’s session of the National Executive Committee, presided over by Elihu Stone.

Delegates from New England asserted that among the names placed on the administration ticket by the Hadassah were several young girls recently graduated from high school. A proposal was put forward that the result of the elections be declared illegal and that the slate be resubmitted to the convention which may, as the supreme body, vote again to select from the entire list the twenty Congress delegates to which the Zionist Organization of America is entitled. This proposal was defeated.


More adequate representation for American Zionists on the Jewish Agency Council will be asked in a special resolution as a result of a recommendation made by Morris Rothenberg, acting president of the Zionist Organization of America, who reported to the convention Sunday night on the progress of the Jewish Agency negotiations. While American non-Zionists will be entitled to 44 delegates on the

Council to consist of 220, American Zionists will be entitled to only 16. This may cause a lack of balance in the general American representation and create possibilities of friction. American non-Zionists are likewise concerned that the American Zionist representation be allocated in adequate measure, so that the fund raising responsibility may be evenly distributed.

With regard to the general situation, Mr. Rothenberg reported that on almost all points agreement has been reached with the exception of the manner of dissolution of the Jewish Agency in case this question arises, and on the composition of the Zionist Executive in Palestine. The essential point is that during the negotiations American non-Zionists displayed a spirit of cooperation and willingness to help put the Agency in final shape.

Discussion on readjusting the Zionist movement to the new conditions when the Agency begins to function was raised by Dr. A. Coralnik and Abraham Goldberg. There are no issues before the convention, the delegates complain, said Dr. Coralnik, but the real issue now has an opportunity to be considered and decided upon-the issue of Zionism. The Agency formation creates in the movement a mood which is both optimistic and pessimistic, optimists believing superficially that the task is becoming easier and there is no further need for the Zionist Organization to work energetically or even to exist. This optimism causes, in thinking Zionist circles, a discouraging pessimism, since it indicates that the union between Zionists and non-Zonists may lead to Zionists assuming the point of view of the non-Zionists. The deepening of Zionist ideology now has an unprecedented opportunity, which is likewise the greatest need of the hour, he said.

Dr. I. M. Rubinow reported on administrative economics attempted during the past year. The Zionist Organization is still laboring under a deficit. Financial reform to eliminate deficits, in order to provide for a normal conduct of the work and its expansion is urgently needed. This may be effected by increased membership dues, a recommendation which will be submitted to the convention.

The leadership of the convention was constituted by the election of a praesidium of six consisting of Morris Rothenberg, Judge William Lewis, Max Shulman of Chicago, Elihu D. Stone of Boston, Mrs. Archibald Silverman and Mrs. Robert Szold. Secretaries chosen were Dr. S. Margoshes, Yiddish; Ephraim Lisicki, Hebrew and Philip Slomowitz, English. Colonel Benjamin Evarts, Holyoke, Mass., was named chairman of the Committee on Committees and Moses Slonim, St. Louis, chairman, Credentials Committee.


The peaceful atmosphere prevailing among the delegates is best indicated by the decision of the convention directing the Credentials Committee to recognize United Palestine Appeal delegates as full-fledged delegates to the convention. Another sign of the times was seen in the presence on the platform of Dr. Julian Morgenstern, president of the Hebrew Union College, who, in addressing the convention explained the reasons for the action of the College in conferring the degree of Doctor of Hebrew Law on Dr. Chaim Weizmann recently. Zionists generally, he stated, had an exaggerated notion that the College was a seat of rabid anti-Zionism or, at least, that Zionist doctrines or ideals were taboo there. That this is not so is best evidenced by the fact that Dr. Magnes and Dr. Abba Hillel Silver are Hebrew Union College graduates. He added, however, that the recent action does not indicate and should not be interpreted that the College has changed its position.

The honor conferred on Dr. Weizmann was due to a desire to confer on him recognition for his work in promoting Jewish unity through the consummation of the Jewish Agency extention, in which he and Mr. Marshall had the leading roles. The College conferred a similar honor on Mr. Marshall ten years ago.

On the motion of Judge Lewis, who informed the delegates that the Central Conference of American Rabbis in session here had just adopted a warm resolution endorsing the Jewish Agency, the delegates decided to send a message of greetings to the Rabbis’ conference.

The convention heard greetings from President Hoover who, in a letter to Philip Slomowitz, chairman of the Detroit Zionist District, stated: “I pray that their deliberations may be, as always, richly fruitful in that spiritual wisdom for which the Jewish race has been noteworthy in all ages.”


Nahum Sokolow, president of the World Zionist Executive, who is a guest at the convention, welcomed the delegates in behalf of the Executive. The convention is meeting under influence of the fact that the Jewish Agency will soon come into existence. It is necessary, however, to abstain from exaggerating or belittling its importance. The Zionists will not only have to continue their work for their ideal, but will have to increase their activities and to strengthen their organization. The convention is in a peaceful and better mood because Palestine is in a more peaceful and better mood, he said. Mr. Sokolow expressed the hope that the new Labor cabinet in Great Britain “will now do more quickly what, in our opinion, the British government has done too slowly in Palestine, in particular in regard to giving us more Crown land for Jewish colonization and creating for Zionist work greater facilities.”

The absence, for the first time in thirty years, of Louis Lipsky, president of the Zionist Organization of America, was noted among the delegates. His message, written in Jerusalem before his departure for Switzerland was read to the convention by Rabbi James Heller of Cincinnati.

The proceedings were opened by Philip Slomowitz, who introduced Judge Vincent Brennan. Judge Brennan welcomed the delegates in behalf of Mayor Lodge. Charles Rubiner, Assistant Attorney General of Michigan, spoke on behalf of Governor Green. British Consul General in Detroit, John Cameron, addressed the delegates. Mrs. Robert Szold, acting president of Hadassah, welcomed the convention in behalf of the women’s Zionist Organization. She expressed her regret that the Hadassah this year was not represented by a large number of delegates at the Zionist convention. This is due to the fact that the Hadassah convention, as decided, is to be held after the Congress.


In his message, Louis Lipsky, speaking of conditions that will face the Zionist Organization after the Agency is formed, declared “the achievement of Jewish unity with regard to Palestine will doubtless require thorough reconsideration of our methods of Zionist propaganda. It is plain that we should not be diverted to the intellectual pleasures of controversy. Our interest lies in winning for our ideals and principles, the understanding and cordial support of Jews who are not in agreement with us. We are not greatly interested merely in words and dogmas.

“The things that are to be done are a truer reflection of what may be going on in a man’s mind, regardless of the words he may use. I venture to say that the day of acrimonious controversy, so far as Zionist aims are concerned, has come to an end. Such controversies at this time would lead us into blind alleys of partisanship and prejudice. They are of no practical value.

“New groups come to us with good-will and in full accord with the chief objective of our movement. Let us meet them with the same good-will and cordiality. We move into an era of peace and good-will. Let us make the most of it. But there are Zionists who fear that the new policy will somehow undermine the authority of the Zionist Organization. This fear is based upon the notion that the Zionist Organization is to cease to function as a corporate expression of Zionist aims and that the extended Jewish Agency is to take its place. This is an unfounded fear. A sharing of responsibility does not alter the Zionist Organization status. If anything, the acquisition of partners who are potentially capable of strengthening our position in Palestine will give added prestige and influence to the Zionist Organization both in Palestine and in Galuth,” the president of the Zionist Organization of America declared.

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