Zionist Spokesmen Show Divergency of Views at Congress General Debate
Menu JTA Search

Zionist Spokesmen Show Divergency of Views at Congress General Debate

Download PDF for this date

Supporters as well as opponents of the Weizmann policy in the conduct of the affairs of the World Zionist Organization had their day in Congress when the Zionist legislative body in session here devoted its Tuesday sessions to the general debate on the reports of the Zionist Executive. At the close a vote, equivalent to a vote of confidence, will be taken.

Spirited and high-minded arguments, coupled with emotions of Zionist patriotism, marked the discussion which was held on a level with that of long-established and well-organized parliaments. An audience of several thousand visitors packed the galleries of the Zurich Opera House, where the sessions were held, and was in turn thrilled and saddened, listening to the changing notes of optimism and pessimism as to the progress and fate of the Jewish movement which thirty years ago undertook the task of rebuilding in Palestine a Jewish state or a Jewish national home. Jabotinsky, followed by Gruenbaum and later by Dr. Wise, expressed the grievances of the oppositional groups, frequently winning the applause of the audience in the galleries and even causing a stir among a number of the delegates. Even those delegates who are committed to the support of the administration policy and who have indicated their intention to uphold it when the vote comes, were laudatory of the idealism and patriotism of the oppositional speakers. The oratory of Jabotinsky, Gruenbaum and Wise was the subject of admiration, but the conviction prevalent among the majority of the delegates was epitomized in the statement made by Kurt Blumenfeld, leader of the German Zionists, who, referring to Jabotinsky’s address, declared: “It is good oratory but bad politics.”

Representatives from Canada, South Africa, England, Poland, Germany, the United States and Palestine succeeded one another, bringing before the Congress in Zurich many of the active leaders in the world movement.


Isaac Gruenbaum, member of the Polish Parliament (representing the Zionist oppositional group, Al Hamishmar), continued to thunder against the plan for the extension of the Jewish Agency of which he has been a determined foe since the plan was launched. “We stand today on the eve of the consummation of the most unfortunate plan for the extension of the Jewish Agency. It is necessary that we establish today definitely who is for it and who against it. The Sixteenth Zionist Congress, it appears, will go down in history as the ‘liquidation Congress,’ liquidating as it does the entire Herzl heritage at the very time when we observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death,” he exclaimed.

The speaker described the great possibilities that faced the Zionist movement at the end of the World War. At the same time, the movement, he said, had to combat the greatest difficulties. “Now it has turned to a search for jurists and great capitalists, who

(Continued on Page 4)

(Continued from Page 1)

owe their reputations not to achievements in the field of Jewish endeavor, but to accomplishments in other fields. Not Marshall was our leader, but a former privatdozent (university instructor, Weizmann); not a banker Warburg, but a former editor of the Hebrew daily ‘Hazefirah’ (Sokolow). They were the leaders of the people, expressing the will of the people. After the war, we stood with the Jewish state in the making, but then, disappointments followed not only in Palestine but also in the Diaspora countries. Now we stand on the eve of the Jewish Agency which is a second Uganda project,” Gruenbaum asserted.

“For the sake of the Agency, we sacrifice all the values of the Zionist movement, its impetus and its driving force. We give up the principles of democracy and the conception of a spiritual revolution in Jewish life. It has come so far that when Marshall recognizes Weizmann as the leader of the Jewish people, Weizmann replies: ‘No, you are the Jewish leader.’ We are likewise giving up the aspiration of a Jewish state.” Gruenbaum continued. He also referred to the alleged and denied protest of Mr. Marshall to the Zionist Organization of America against the attitude of the Zionist Federation of South Africa toward the Brainin campagin there in behalf of Jewish colonization in Russia. The speaker was interrupted by Leon Lewite of Warsaw, who declared that the report of Mr. Marshall’s protest was untrue.

Gruenbaum further defended his theory of Jewish nationalism in Diaspora countries. He criticized as narrow-minded the view expressed the day before by Dr. Arthur Ruppin as to the importance of Palestine for the future of the Jews. “What is going to happen to the seventeen million Jews when Palestine will, according to his calculations, have no more than a million Jews in forty years from now?” he asked. He likewise criticized the moderate policy of the Jerusalem Jewish society, Brith Shalom, which seeks understanding at the expense of Zionism. He polemized with the labor groups, chiding them for their support of the Jewish Agency extension plan. “It is difficult to understand why the Left wing was ready to reject the Jewish Agency when the famous five points were doubtful and is willing to accept it when national Judaism is jeopardized. Are these five points more important than national Judaism as a whole?” he asked.

Gruenbaum concluded by declaring: “At first we believed that the Agency will only be a companionate marriage between the Zionists and the non-Zionists. Then we were told that it will be a marriage with the possibility of divorce. Now it appears to be a Catholic marriage. Before we thought that the Agency is only a bad business: now we see that it is only bad.” The speaker expressed doubt whether the expectations of the Zionists that the Jewish Agency will raise a sufficient amount to cover the Palestine budget will be fulfilled.

“The Zionist Congress is the most sacred possession we have. It is holier than Yom Kippur. This sacred thing is now being destroyed by the Zionist administration. Through the Agency it will be reduced to a debating society. May God and history pardon them!”


Kurt Blumenfeld of Berlin, president of the Zionist Federation of Germany, advocated the creation by the Congress of a coalition Executive in case an appropriate platform will be agreed upon among the component parties. He demanded, however, that those parties which will enter the Executive must give up their opposition propaganda. The members of this Executive must be responsible to the entire organization and not to their own party alone.

Herr Blumenfeld took occasion to answer the arguments of Vladimir Jabotinsky. Jabotinsky, he said, is a genius as a speaker, but a poor statesman. He took it, he said, that the applause given Jabotinsky by the assembly was not in approval of his policies but of his oratoric talents. Herr Blumenfeld then proceeded to point out inconsistencies in Jabotinsky’s point of view. Jabotinsky, he said, attacks the Palestine government, but pleads for the recognition by the Zionists of the idea to transform Palestine into a seventh dominion of the British Empire; he champions the cause of democracy and demands the creation of a Jewish Legion in Palestine. In addition, it is rumored that Jabotinsky’s party, the Zionist-Revisionists, may leave the Zionist Organization in case the Agency plan is adopted by the majority. Under the rules of democracy, the minority subjects itself to the decision of the majority. Jabotinsky represents, perhaps, the most unpolitical conception of Zionism. “What we may achieve in Palestine depends chiefly on our concrete upbuilding forces in the country. The number of American non-Zionist delegates to the Agency is larger than that accorded to Poland because the entire plan for Agency representation was so arranged as to win a larger number of non-Zionists in such countries where Zionism is weaker and a smaller number in such countries where Zionism is stronger, the purpose being to ‘Zionize’ the respective Jewries through making the cause of Palestine popular by the increased number of representatives on the Agency.


S. Kaplansky, Palestine labor leader, declared that his party will enter the extended Jewish Agency, but announced that Jewish labor will continue to exercise pressure in the Agency as it did in the Zionist Organization for the principle of organized labor. He criticized the Palestine government’s methods, which he termed “a policy of unfriendly neutrality.” There has been up to now a fiscal exploitation and a systematic exclusion of Jewish workers from government employment. Jewish labor demands proportionate employment in government works. In the Haifa harbor construction Jewish workers are to be given employment under normal conditions as the wage scale proposed is under the human minimum. The taxation policy is disquieting. The British government, with the Labor party in power, cherishes a deeply felt friendship for Jewish labor and it is therefore without a doubt that it will inaugurate a new policy in Palestine. “We expect a just policy of active support,” he said.

The laborite spokesman warned against the danger of what he termed “the invasion of private capital.” Against this there is only one protection and that is the strengthening of national capital, he said. The Palestine Executive has done nothing to aid the National Fund in the acquisition of land reserves. Jewish workers are to receive a fair amount of the rentable lands. He protested against the tendency to depict labor as the scapegoat for whatever happens in Palestine and sought to prove that the unemployment problem was solved principally through the struggle of the labor organization against the government and the Zionist Executive.


The laborite spokesman protested on this occasion against the acceptance by the Berlin session of the Zionist General Council and by the Zionist Executive of the report of the Joint Palestine Survey Commission. This report, he said, was a declaration of war against organized labor in Palestine and against the Herzl principles of the social basis for the entire colonization. The survey report sought to deprive the Zionist movement of all social ideals and to keep the labor movement from Zionism. He concluded by declaring that the Jewish labor organization stood for twenty-five years on guard in defense of the national character of the Palestine upbuilding and that it will continue to protect it in the future.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund