Majority of Yiddish Papers Favor World Jewish Conference
Menu JTA Search

Majority of Yiddish Papers Favor World Jewish Conference

Download PDF for this date

The world Jewish congress continues to occupy the forefront of editorial opinion in the Jewish press.

A number of papers have utilized the second statement of Dr. Adler, president of the American Jewish Committee, elaborating his oppostion to a world congress idea, to express their sympathy toward that endeavor.

The majority of the Jewish papers favor the idea of the world Jewish conference which is to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 14, for the purpose of discussing the advisability and the feasibility of constituting a world Jewish congress.

Excerpts from several publications follow:


Jacob Fishman, writing in the Jewish Morning Journal, takes up the opposition of Dr. Cyrus Adler, presisdent of the American Jewish Committee, to the forthcoming world Jewish conference and states that the latter’s points are not well taken.

It is high time, Mr. Fishman writes, that the Jews stopped worrying about the impression their actions make upon the anti-Semites, since nothing they say or do will be other than distorted by the latter group.

“As for tolerant Christians,” writes Mr. Fishman, “it is difficult to see how a conference of Jewish leaders to discuss Jewish interests can evoke suspicion and mistrust of the Jews.”

The psychology of fear must be uprooted, for unless this is done the situation remains hopeless for the Jews, says Mr. Fishman.

Discussing Dr. Adler’s argument that German Jewry is opposed to the conference, Mr. Fishman declares that even if the question of the situation of German Jewry were not on the agenda of the conference, there would still be much of vital importance to consider.

Mr. Fishman holds further that the question of German Jewry can not be disposed of so easily. He asserts: “Naturally they have a right to suffer patiently without demanding intervention from abroad. The question is, however, whether they are acting sensibly this time. And if they, on their part, think they are acting sensibly, it does not follow that influential Jews in other countries should ask permission from them to raise their voices against the Hitlerist pest.

“Dr. Adler says the conference can accomplish nothing. We do not agree with him. Such a conference can accomplish much. We must prepare ourselves for the moment-it would be better were it not necessary-when influential Jews in all countries of the world will be compelled to raise their voices high against the attempt of the Nazis to restore the Middle Ages.

“Moreover,” says Mr. Fishman, “there are Jews in Germany outside of the Central Union. There are, it appears, thousands of so-called East European Jews. Under the Nazi regime they will be the first to be sacrificed. Perhaps the leaders of the Central Union do not take to heart the plight of the East European Jews. But have we the right to foresake these Jews to their destiny? They will certainly not forbid us to represent them at a conference of Jewish communal leaders.

“The essential thing is that the controversy around the conference is much more harmful than the conference itself can be even in Dr. Adler’s imagination,” Mr. Fishman asserts.


Opinion writes:

“Of greater importance at this time is the necessity of demonstrating in unmistakable terms the futility and the impotence, save for purposes of negation and destruction of the attitude toward world Jewish problems exhibited by the president of the American Jewish Committee. Thus concerning the desire on the part of the Jews of Germany to participate in a World Jewish Congress, Dr. Adler states ‘that they not only do not wish any such conference or congress to be held on their behalf but that they object.’ In support of this statement Dr. Adler does not offer a shred of evidence. Moreover he continues to ignore the very definite evidence to the contrary in the already expressed willingness of various German groups to participate in the Conference as well as the declaration of Professor Albert Einstein-who may be presumed to know almost as much as Dr. Adler about the attitude of German Jews.

“Again it would be easy to expose the unjustifiable conclusion of Dr. Adler as to the unrepresentative character of the forthcoming Geneva Conference. For not only do all signs point to the exact opposite but Dr. Adler is in no position to know whether or not the bodies invited will be represented at the Conference. Should the invitations be refused by large numbers of those invited there might be justification for his assumption, but it is insupportably presumptuous to state in advance that invitations which in some instance have not yet been received have already been declined.

“It is hardly necessary to demonstrate again the tragic fallacy of the point of view represented in Dr. Adler’s statement that nothing is to be hoped or expected from a World Jewish Conference. But to this defeatist attiude expressed in his earlier statement, Dr. Adler now adds a list of specific subjects with which an international conference would be, in his judgment, unfit to cope. Thus without daring openly to commit the Jewish Agency, or at least the non-Zionist half of it, against the conference idea, he implies that a World Jewish Congress would interfere with the work of the Agency. This is another instance of the irresponsibility which characterizes the statement throughout, for as yet no other member of the Jewish Agency has expressed himself as opposed to or even dubious of the value of a World Jewish Conference and Congress in furthering the aims of the Jewish people in Palestine.

“Dr. Adler further declares ‘there are loud complaints in this country in the matter of discrimination in employment, or in summer hotels or in clubs, colleges, or in other matters of this sort. Are the Jews of Hungary or Poland to be invited to intervene in helping to remove these difficulties?’ It is this cynical question which reveals perhaps most clearly the irreconcilable viewpoints of Dr. Adler and of the American Jewish Congress. The Congress does not expect the Jews of Poland or Hungary to ‘intervene’ in these matters but it is not afraid as Dr. Adler evidently is to face openly and to discuss these and all other problems of Jewish life in America with its fellow Jews elsewhere. It recognizes, as Dr. Adler does not and will not, the international character of the Jewish people.


The Chicago Jewish Courier states: “Whether or not the American Jewish Committee participates in the Jewish world congress now makes no difference any longer, since the other large Jewish organizations in Europe have decided to take part in such a congress.

“It is now certain that the projected congress will be held-not next summer, but this summer. It is also evident that this world conference will be well-attended by all Jewish groups of opinion. For inevery land where Jewish masses live, the need for joint action is conceded to combat the greatest enemy of our history-including the times of Torquemado-Adolph Hitler and his uniformed hooligans, even if he should not secure control of the government.

“It may be necessary to petition the League of Nations against Hitler or to form an anti-National Jewish Commission to personally present anappeal to the League of Nations. It may be that the Jewish Agency, which is recognized by international law as the official representative of the Jewish people, will have to submit a formal complaint to the International Court at The Hague against the German government for aiding the Hitlerite pogrom agitation. It may be that great legal actions in Germany itself may be necessitated-and all those things are bound up with large expenditures. Only a Jewish world congress can undertake the battle against Hitlerism on a large scale.

“The second most important function of the proposed world Jewish congress is to assume a large part of the work the former Jewish Territorial Association wanted to assume and should have assumed, and did not assume, i. e. to help regulate Jewish migration. Today this means to find countries of settlement for Jewish immigrants where they may be certain of livelihood and secure from political, economic and social discrimination.

“A permanent Jewish Congress bureau in Washington could negotiate with the envoys of the various Latin American republics and from them learn the attitude of their governments toward Jewish immigration.

“The congress of a people must be a political instrument in the best sense of that term, because the problems which it will be called to deal with are primarily to political and not philanthropic.”


The Philadelphia Jewish World finds that Dr. Adler’s fears that a world Jewish congress will provide for the anti-Semites is not sustained by logic.

The paper says that nothing the Jews do or say can halt the anti-Semites from their utterances. The postponement of the Congress to such a time when there will be no anti-Semites, the editorial finds ridiculous since it does not conceive such a time will ever come.

“The Jewish man in the ranks, who seeks a way for securing his rights, is now in danger and there is no other danger which so completely overwhelms him,” the paper states. “A world Jewish congress, representative of all elements in Jewish life cannot make the situation worse, because worse than worse there is not. The charge of conspiracy could easily be disproved because the discussions of the congress would be open to the public.”

Whether the congress will improve the situation, says the editorial, cannot be forecast. But that it will not make it worse is certain because a ship which sinks because there are holes in all its sides cannot sink twice.

“It is time that once and for all we drop our begging policy.

“Let the Jews meet together, pour out their hearts and united seek a solution and let know the world, economically shattered, political shifting, that the Jewish question demands a definite answer.

“World Jewry, fearful and enervated as it is, would perforce unite on a platform not only aimed to combat chreatening foes, but one aiming at the solution of the inner Jewish problems.”

The Detroit Jewish Chronicle asserts:

“The broadsides against the movement to convene a World Jewish Congress have availed the opponents of the idea nothing at all. A conference to consider the advisability of calling such a Congress will be held in Geneva, Switzerland, on August 14.

“We fail to see where anything harmful can possibly come to Jewry’s cause as a result of such a conference. As a matter of fact, this movement can bring a great deal of good. What harm can there be in representative Jewish leaders from leading countries of the world gathering to discuss the advisability of convening a World Congress for the purpose of alleviating Jewry’s trying needs? Let the spokesmen for Israel decide whether they wish to create such a body. When this conference is finally opened, we shall know whether European Jewry wishes to form a Congress, or whether it is the idea of publicity-seekers.

“The particular danger in the present controversy over the need for a World Jewish Congress is that it may cause a wider split in the ranks of American Jewry and may place our people in a ridiculous position.”

The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia says:

“Not since the days of 1918-1919, when agitation for an American Jewish Congress began, has American Jewry evinced so profound an interest in communal matter as has been provoked by the present controversy regarding the convening of a World Conference in August, the avowed purpose being to convoke a World Jewish Congress in the near future. The statements issued by Dr. Cyrus Adler in his capacity as President of the American Jewish Committee have served to stimulate intelligent, comprehensive discussion. This, despite, or perhaps because of the abuse showered upon American Jewish Committee leadership by Congress enthusiasts.

“It is conceded even by Congress enthusiasts that the negotiations with the American Jewish Committee were not conducted in good faith. In the statements issued by the Congress officials, as in the speeches from the Congress rostrum, this issue was evaded. Those who attended the sessions in Washington can testify to the correctness of Dr. Adler’s statement that the plea for peace was insincere. Following the meeting many of those present marveled at the ability of the Congress orator to keep a serious face throughout the recital of that paragraph in his prepared speech.

“Several months ago, when the Congress agitation was renewed, its advocates were quite definite in their determination to go to Geneva for the purpose of convening a World Congress. Recent discussion has shown the unwisdom of this step, so much so that even now the official Congress spokesmen find it necessary to change their tone and to speak only in terms of ‘the advisability and feasibility’ of bringing such an instrument into being at this time.

“With these aspects of the situation generally known, the American group will have little to bring to Geneva. Dr. Adler’s prayerful suggestion for ‘an interlude of sanity’ is timely, and should be taken to heart by those who would expose and exploit the woes of their people to further personal ambitions.”

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