Dr. Weizmann Elected President of Zionist Congress; Four Americans in the Praesidium
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Dr. Weizmann Elected President of Zionist Congress; Four Americans in the Praesidium

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Dr. Chaim Weizmann was today elected president of the World Zionist Congress to direct the sessions of the assembly, assisted by a praesidium of 15 which includes Dr. Abba Hillel Silver, Mrs. Judah Epstein, Hayim Greenberg and Dr. Joseph Shechtman representing the Zionist Organization of America, the Hadassah, the Zionist Laborites and the United Zionist-Revisionists of America, respectively.

Dr. Stephen S. Wise disclosed after the balloting chat Dr. Weizmann had proposed two days ago that Wise be named Congress president, but “nothing but the vulgar machinations of underlings–probably prompted by the high command–alone prevented the election of the first American president of the Congress,” He had not declared himself a candidate for the presidency, Wise added, but Weizmann suggested that he be elected as “an honor owing to Dr. Wise as a life-long Zionist leader.”

The elections were marked by sharp clashes which highlighted the political cleavages among the delegates. Following Dr. Weizmann’s election by a vote of 191 to 48–with the Mizrachi delegates abstaining–Samson Yunichaman, a Revisionist delegate, arose and bitterly attacked the aged Zionist leader, declaring that his policy had brought the movement to its present “catastrophic situation.”

The Revisionists cannot “approve Weizmann’s policy now when Zionism has entered a new phase of resistance and offensive,” Yunichman stated. “Weizmann cannot symbolize the movement as a whole. We cannot believe that he will lead the movement to revival.”


After the unanimous elections of the presidium, which consists of four representatives of the Mizrachi, four of the Mapai, four General Zionists, two Revisionists and one Hashomer Hatzair delegate, the Revisionists came under fire from both the Hashomer Hatzair and the Tenua L’Achdut Avoda, which are at the extreme left of the groups represented at the Congress.

Moshe Erem, speaking for the L’Achdut Avoda, called the Revisionists “Jewish fascists,” and charged that they should not be allowed to sit in the Congress, since the New Zionist Organization has not been dissolved. Eliezer Prai of the Hashomer Hatzair said his party considered the Revisionists “an element foreign to Zionism, which perverts the real picture of our struggle.” He also charged that the Revisionists were at the Congress illegally, since their readmission to the World Zionist Organization had never been approved by the Zionist Actions Committee or the Congress.


Speaking last night at memorial services arranged by the Congress for the 6,000,000 Jews murdered by the Nazis in Europe, Dr. Weizmann reviewed the martyrdom of Jewry and its struggle to rebuild a national life in Palestine. “Be strong,” he told the audience, “remember we are going to have a Jewish state, if not in my generation, then in the next.”

The memorial services brought tears to the eyes of most of the delegates as they stood in silence for a minute, while the lights in the auditorium were dimmed and the flickering shadows cast by two huge black candles played over Dr. Weizmann as he stood beneath black-draped Zionist flags.

Speaking in Yiddish, Weizmann said that the Crusades, the Russian pogroms and the Inquisition had been child’s play compared to the havoc wrought among European Jewry by the Nazis. Declaring that the world will one day be judged for its failure to save the Jews, he added that “we still believe that the plough is the instrument to rebuild our future and national revival.”

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