Zionist Actions Committee Discusses Role of Non-zionists; U.S. Developments Analyzed
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Zionist Actions Committee Discusses Role of Non-zionists; U.S. Developments Analyzed

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The role of non-Zionist Jews in the absorption of immigration and the development of Israel was the center of a heated debate today and last night at the Zionist Actions Committee meeting here. The recent dispute in American Jewish life centering about the United Jewish Appeal was in the foreground as speakers of all political factions within the Zionist movement rose to present their views.

Leading off for those members of the Actions Committee opposed to expanding the role of the non-Zionists, Itzhak Gruenbaum, former Minister of the Interior, and a General Zionist, referred to Henry Morgenthau, Jr., general chairman of the U.J.A., as a “good friend,” but added that he “would not entrust the fate of Zionism to him,” Asserting that it would be a “fatal mistake” to create the impression that Zionism will be limited to helping Israel absorb the new immigrants, Gruenbaum stressed that the Zionist organization must continue its work since “what has been achieved is only the beginning.”

Gruenbaum also suggested the establishment of a joint Israeli Government-Jewish Agency commissariat for immigration which would be able to work independently of both bodies, but would have the power to request specific legislation of the government. He also urged the setting up of a “labor service” for the building of towns and villages, He recommended that the service be run on a “quasi military” basis rather than within a “trade union framework.”

Referring directly to the split in the American movement, Rabbi Samuel Brot, American Mizrachi leader, appealed to the body to “preserve Zionism’s moral standards and vigor, and not expel an old, faithful Zionist veteran for several millions of dollars,” The guaranty of the success of Zionism is its purity of ideal and its moral standards, Rabbi Brot maintained.


Levi Eshkol, head of the Immigration and Settlement Department of the Jewish Agency, a Laborite, defended the role of the non-Zionists in aiding Israel, He opposed Rabbi Brot’s juxtaposing “moral Zionist fervor, on one side, and non-Zionism and unfaithfulness, on the other.” Those who have been named non-Zionists, Eshkol emphasized, “are good, faithful and devoted Jews who are proud to participate in the up building of Israel.” There is no evidence that “they will desert when the Zionist tide turns,” he insisted.

Asking why there is such a “skepticism toward this new group,” Eshkol pointed out that Zionism began as a small movement which in the course of years gained new members who eventually became “ardent followers of the Zionist ideal.” He also announced that 70 agricultural settlements had been established since last year and that between 25 and 30 percent of the newcomers were turning to agriculture.

Meir Grossman, world Revisionist leader, said that the present weakness of the Zionist movement could be traced to the fact that political activities had been removed from its scope. He demanded that the Zionist movement have the right to express its own political opinion.

“We must have the right to say to the Israeli Government: ‘We are not satisfied with the Transjordan pact or the situation in the triangle and we demand the whole of Palestine,'” Grossman stated. “If such a right is not granted us,” he added, “the Actions Committee and the Zionist Congress will be converted into a debating club which the youth and practical leaders will avoid.”

Joseph Schechtman, American Revisionist leader, also complained that Zionist work was lacking in political content during the past year. S. Yunitchman, another Revisionist, demanded that the World Zionist Congress change its “Basle Program” since the goal of a Jewish state–its central point–had been achieved and a new program was needed to attack the new tasks facing the movement.

Sam Zacks and Zvi Lurie, speaking- for the Mapam, stated that there were now two forces at large in the Jewish community- -“Israelism” and Zionism. The former, Louis asserted, was much larger as a movement in the United States. Louis Segal, American Laborite, said that the Zionist movement must take the leadership among the Jews outside Israel, especially in the U.S.


Israeli Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan, the only member of the government to serve on the Agency executive, estimated that $800,000,000 would be needed annually for the next few years to finance the absorption of immigrants and other constructive work in Israel. He asked that in view of this situation the Agency devote its entire budget to building the state and absorbing the immigrants.

Pointing out that there are four sources of income for the Jewish state–taxes, fund-raising campaigns, loans and the mobilization of private capital–he declared: “We cannot reckon ‘this man or that institution.'” The government has not borrowed any money for civil purposes, he revealed, but has taxed its citizenry heavily.

Following the conclusion of the general debate, the delegates divided into various committees which will formulate resolutions and plans to be presented to the plenary session this week-end. The political committee heard Premier David Ben Gurion this afternoon. His analysis of the current political situation was delivered to a closed session and no details are available. It is expected that the session will conclude this Sunday.

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