Jewish World Conference a Colossal Blunder Which Can Do No Good and May Do Harm: Public Condemnation
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Jewish World Conference a Colossal Blunder Which Can Do No Good and May Do Harm: Public Condemnation

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A colossal blunder which can do no good and may do harm is Dr. Cyrus Adler’s description of the proposed Jewish World Conference which is being convoked for Geneva in August by the American Jewish Congress, in an official statement issued to-day in his capacity as President, in the name of the American Jewish Committee.

Dr. Adler points out in his statement that in 1929, on the initiative of the American Jewish Congress, it was agreed that the American Jewish Committee should be consulted on matters where joint action between the two bodies is possible, but the Committee was not approached, he says, with regard to the proposed Jewish World Conference.

The annual Conference of the American Jewish Congress held in 1929 adopted a resolution to establish co-operation with the American Jewish Committee, and in pursuance of the resolution, after correspondence and an interview between the late Mr. Louis Marshall, then President of the American Jewish Committee, and Mr. Bernard Deutsch, President of the American Jewish Congress, Committees of Five were appointed of both bodies to meet from time to time for the purpose of co-operation.

Dr. Cyrus Adler, then Vice-President of the American Jewish Committee, was one of the Committee of Five representing his body, the others being Mr. Louis Marshall, Mr. Justice Irving Lehman, Mr. Lewis L. Straus, and Mr. Morris Waldman, the Secretary of the American Jewish Committee. Dr. Stephen S. Wise, the Honorary President of the Congress, Mr. Bernard S. Doutsch, the President, ex-Congressman Nathan Perlman, Mr. ### Baruch Zukerman, and Mr. Bernard G. Richards were appointed the representatives of the Congress.


A few days ago Dr. Stephen Wise, speaking at an informal discussion with press representatives in New York, said that the American Jewish Committee had been approached by the American Jewish Congress with an invitation to participate in the Jewish World Conference it is convening in Geneva in August, and that the American Jewish Committee had declined to participate in the Conference.

The Jews who are opposed to the Conference idea are moved by fears, and nine tenths of the antagonism, Dr. Wise claimed, rises from the “assimilationist”, the Jew “who believes that the only distinction between the Jew and the rest of the world is a matter of creed, and fears the segregation of Jewry as a distinct race”.

We must meet in Conference with representatives of other Jewish communities throughout the world, he urged, in order to plan together for mutual aid instead of “our treating them again like a lot of damnable beggars”.

Dr. S. Margoshes, editor of the “Jewish Day”, asked Dr. Wise whether the contemplated world Congress, for which the proposed Conference was to prepare, would be representative and effective unless American Jewry were united in its support.

Dr. Wise replied that American Jewry should not be guided by the American Jewish Committee’s opposition to the idea, because the Committee represents but a minority view-point.

Mr. Jacob Landau, Managing Director of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, thereupon pointed out that Dr. Wise had not answered the question put by Dr. Margoshes.

Mr. Landau expressed his conviction that the Zionists would oppose a Congress which excluded the question of Palestine rehabilitation. The Zionists would not permit the Congress to assume leadership of world Jewry and push the Zionist Organisation into a corner.

Even if Dr. Wise’s statement with reference to the American Jewish Committee was correct, he said, it would be equally true to say that the American Jewish Congress represents only a minority.

It is premature, he contended, to consider the convening of a Congress and its programme until and unless American Jewry is united to support the Congress idea in truly representative and effective fashion.

Mr. Jacob Fishman, editor of the “Jewish Morning Journal”, urged the need of creating unity among Jewish leaders before an effort is made to unite the masses.


When the American Jewish Congress decided to convoke jointly with the Committee of Jewish Delegations the Conference on Jewish Rights held in Zurich in 1927, the late Mr. Louis Marshall, as President of the American Jewish Committee, declared his opposition to the projected conference, as his successor, Dr. Cyrus Adler, has now done.

You are asking my opinion regarding the so-called Conference on Jewish rights which is to be convened in Geneva, under the auspices of the Committee of Jewish Delegations in Paris and the American Jewish Congress, for the purpose of protecting the rights guaranteed under the so called Minority Treaties, Mr. Marshall said in his statement.

There will always be two contrasting methods of meeting a situation – one, that of the soap-box orator, who sometimes is not even conscious of what he says or what the consequences of his eloquence may be; the other, that of a laboratory worker, who seeks to ascertain the facts and to deal with them constructively. The former to evoke applause will tear a passion to tatters in the presence of all the world. The latter shrinks from heroics and prefers to avoid needless irritation by adopting tactful and diplomatic means. The former is indifferent to results and is oblivious of the moral of the ancient fable that what is fun for boys is death for the frogs. The latter is unwilling to forget that he is under responsibility to those with whom he seeks to befriend and that he may not jeopardise their safety by the blare of trumpets and the clashing of cymbals.

I feel that it is my duty to voice with all solemnity regret for the step about to be taken. This conviction is not inspired by fear or cowardice, certainly not by fear of our enemies. I am not afraid to confess, however, that prudence admonishes me to fear the consequences of the ill-considered words and acts of men however well-intentioned. At the best it will only result in working at cross purposes with those, who, to say the least, have not been recreant to their duties and have had no axes to grind.

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