ZOA Plans Ambitious Program
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ZOA Plans Ambitious Program

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In an atmosphere fairly exuding optimism and gratification at the remarkable recovery of the Zionist Organization of America, which doubled its membership in the last year and reduced a budgetary deficit by $80,000, delegates to the thirty-seventh annual convention of the organization, which closed here late last night, unanimously adopted and pledged to carry through in the coming year an exceedingly ambitious program designed to secure the support of all American Jews; adopted a program of organizational changes calculated to increase to a maximum the efficiency of the organization and reaffirmed their faith in the mission of General Zionism and in the future of Palestine.

Characterized by veteran Zionists as the most peaceful convention in the history of the organization, the gathering still had hectic, fighting sessions during which resolutions containing implied attacks on the Revisionist Zionist group for opposing the supremacy of the World Zionist Executive were heatedly debated.

Despite the fact that after the fighting on the floor of the convention was over, all the controversial resolutions including the one on the Stavsky case were passed unanimously, it was obvious that much bitter feeling had been engendered and that the lines of the Zionist political battle here, which will culminate next year in the election of delegates to the nineteenth World Zionist Congress, had been definitely laid.


Fuel to the smoldering fire of group and party antagonism, which here as in Europe and Palestine is shaking the Zionist movement to its very roots, was added by the brilliant, fighting speeches delivered by Jacob Fishman, New York editor, and by Berl Locker of London, Laborite member of the World Zionist Executive. Both speeches attacked the Revisionist group in the bitterest terms and both called for the upbuilding of Palestine on a national cooperative basis Mr. Fishman demanded in fortright terms that the General Zionists, whose mission and place in the Zionist movement he warmly defended, come out and support the Laborite position “100 per cent.”

While neither speech was implemented in the resolutions introduced, they were thoroughly discussed in the debate on other resolutions. It was evident from comment in the convention lobby and from the debate that many of the delegates were opposed to the views expressed by Mr. Fishman. In fact, a declaration protesting against the speech was signed by some sixty delegates, and was read to the convention, but the opposition having no real issue on which to fight, faded out. That the pro-Laborite group in the convention was strong and would probably have won in a straight out-and-out fight was indicated by the applause during the debates and by the votes on the resolutions.

But the majority of the delegates seemed desirous of a reaffirmation of the principles of General Zionism and a neutral stand, endorsing neither one faction or the other, but calling for the end of all internecine strife in the Zionist movement.


The political struggle, however, was clearly subordinated this year to the consideration of measures involving the basic structure as well as the future of the Zionist movement in the United States.

Resolutions were adopted following the speech on “The Future Program of the Zionist Organization of America” delivered by President Morris Rothenberg, making it possible to enroll Zionist “endorsers,” who do not share the full Zionist viewpoint; granting funds to the education group to carry on Zionist education work among American Jewish youth; easing the path of organized groups into the Zionist Organization. A series of resolutions was also adopted outlining a number of reforms in the regional and district Zionist organizations all over the country.


Probably the most interesting and unusual resolution adopted by the convention and which called upon the new Zionist administration to initiate conversations with Soviet leaders to the end that Russian Jewish Zionists might have freedom of expression in that country brought out the interesting revelation that Mr. Rothenberg and other Zionist leaders had been in touch with Maxim Litvinoff, Foreign Minister of the Soviet government, and with Ambassador Alexander Troyanovsky in the presence of Ambassador William C. Bullitt.

Mr. Rothenberg disclosed that while the Soviet officials had been noncommittal, their attitude coupled with the promise of Ambassador Bullitt to make a thorough investigation of the situation in the Soviet Union and to act accordingly, had encouraged the Zionist leaders to believe that much could be accomplished for Russian Jewry through negotiations.


Another resolution certain to create a stir in the Jewish world and in League of Nations circles called upon the Jewish Agency to initiate steps to secure the admission of representatives of Jewish Palestine to the community of nations in the League of Nations.

Of equal importance with the resolution on the Soviet Jewish position was the resolution introduced at the close of the vitriolic attack on the immigration restrictions imposed by the Palestine government made by the veteran Zionist leader, Louis Lipsky. Picturing the tragic position of European Jews beset by anti-Semitism, hatred and economic discrimination, Mr. Lipsky told of the anxiety of these Jews to find a haven in Palestine, only to find the doors shut to them. He urged the convocation of an all-Jewish conference, consisting of representatives of all groups in American Jewry, to bring pressure to bear upon the mandatory power to open the gates of Palestine.


Mr. Lipsky recalled the role of the American Jews at the end of the World War, when thanks to their intervention, minority rights were granted persecuted European Jews, and declared that a united American Jewry could influence the British government.

The resolution, unanimously adopted, called for the convocation of the all-Jewish conference not later than December, 1934.

The convention also adopted a resolution calling for the continuation of the economic boycott against Nazi Germany until such time as the present regime was replaced with one willing to do “justice to the persecuted Jews of Germany.”

The celebration of Palestine Day all over the United States to coincide with the week-end including November 2, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, was also decided upon by the convention. The purpose of the day is to focus attention to all Americans on the achievements of the Jewish National Home and the Zionist movement.


Other resolutions adopted praised James G. McDonald, League of Nations High Commissioner for German refugees, for his efforts on behalf of the refugees, and called upon Great Britain to open Transjordania to Jewish settlement.

One of the highlights of the convention was the personal appearance of Felix M. Warburg, chairman of the United Jewish Appeal. Comparing Zionist work and individual leaders to an army, Mr. Warburg reviewed in detail the work of the Zionist “generals” and “army” in the upbuilding of Palestine. He praised Zionist achievement in Palestine and hailed the alliance of the Zionists in Jewish community work in the United States. Mr. Warburg also praised the work of the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

The noted financier paid a warm tribute to President Rothenberg, who mhe praised for his steadfast devotion to Zionist principles and for bringing closer understanding of Palestine among non-Zionists. Mr. Wanburg expressed the greatest admiration for Mr. Rothenberg’s determination and talent for keeping all forces engaged in building Palestine together despite divergencies.


Rabbi Israel Goldstein, president of the Jewish National Fund of America, sounded a warning to American Zionists that the present trend of development, unless checked, contains an element of danger of overemphasis on urban as against agricultural settlement. Dr. Goldstein declared that the influx of immigrants into Palestinian cities because of lack of land called for the immediate creation of an agricultural counterbalance. Dr. Goldstein charged American Zionists with neglecting the Jewish land problem in Palestine, declaring that not enough attention was being paid to the extension of Jewish land holdings in Palestine. He called for a New Deal for the Jewish National Fund.

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