MONTREUX, Switzerland (Jun. 28)
A clash between delegates from Eastern and Western countries to the second convention of the World Jewish Congress developed today as the general debate got under way.
The first speaker to follow Dr. Leon Kubowitsky, secretary-general of the Congress, who delivered a lengthy report on the organization’s activities since the last convention, was Joseph Mirsky, Communist member of the delegation from the Central Jewish Committee of Poland. In the midst of protests from the delegates, Mirsky accused certain “forces in America” of attempting to “set the world aflame.”
He asserted that two major dangers face the Jews today: anti-Semitism which “no longer means pogroms, but annihilation,” and the splitting of the world into two parts. After praising the Soviet Union for its efforts in behalf of the creation of the state of Israel, Mirsky insisted that what the Congress must do is decide on a program of action to strengthen Israel, rather than hold an ideological debate on it.
He urged the W.J.C. to become an instrumentality for organizing Jewish forces throughout the world to aid Israel, which, he said, will play an important role in the fight against anti-Semitism. The delegate from Poland also called on the Jews to unite with “non-Jewish democratic, progressive and anti-racist forces” in the campaign to aid Israel.
Mirsky was joined in the debate by Lajos Stoeckler, president of the Central Board of Hungarian Jewish Communities, who stressed that Hungarian Jews owe their survival to the Red Army. Meanwhile, American delegate Rabbi Max Kirschblum of New York warned the convention against working with “progressive” elements,” We know what happened after a progressive government succeeded Winston Churchill,” he declared.
After a caucus attended by members of the leftist Poale Zion movement from various countries, the party delegation announced a three-point program which it will support at the convention. Firstly, the Poale Zion advocates that the Palestine situation occupy the leading place in convention debates. Secondly, it favors overhauling the constitutional machinery of the Congress and democratizing it. Finally, the party demands that the voting strength of each delegation be based on the comparative strength of its membership within the Congress.
When the general debate ends, the 260 delegates will be divided among four major committee: the political, cultural, reconstruction and administrative. Sidney Silverman, British M.P. and leader of the British section of the Congress, is expected to head the political committee. An invitation was sent to Israeli President Chaim Weizann to attend the sessions. Dr. Weizann, who is now in Switzerland, will decide within the next few days whether he will make an appearance at the convention.