W. J. C. Assembly Opens; Goldmann Advances Jewish Demands to Moscow
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W. J. C. Assembly Opens; Goldmann Advances Jewish Demands to Moscow

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A call to the Jewish people to make their contribution towards the achievement of co-existence and peaceful competition between the East and the West was voiced here tonight by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, at the opening session of the ten-day Assembly of the WJC at which 300 Jewish leaders from more than 40 countries will study problems affecting Jews throughout the world.

The session was formally opened by the Swedish Premier, Tage Erlander, in the City Hall here. It will continue in the Swedish Parliament building, which has been put at the disposal of the World Jewish Congress by the Swedish authorities. Present at the opening session tonight were members of the Swedish Cabinet as well as members of the diplomatic corps.

Surveying the position of world Jewry, Dr. Goldmann said in his presidential address that “nothing would be more tragic than if the Jewish people were as a whole forced into an anti-Soviet position. ” However, he added: “We do not want to become participants in the cold war, but the Soviet Government cannot expect us to keep silent and to refrain from reiterating our demands.”

Dr. Goldmann deplored the split between East and West. He pointed out that, as a result of this split, ” about 9, 000, 000 Jews in the Western world are cut off from their brethren behind the Iron Curtain.” He also deplored the absence of delegations at the Assembly from the Soviet Union, Hungary and other countries behind the Iron Curtain.


The only delegation from East European countries participating in the Assembly is one from Yugoslavia. A five-man delegation representing Polish Jewry arrived today from Warsaw, but will participate as observers only. The Jewish community in Hungary had earlier notified the WJC that it would send a delegation to the Assembly. But, last night, a telephone call from Budapest to Dr. Goldmann here notified him not to expect such a delegation, adding that the reasons are explained in a letter on the way. It is assumed by WJC leaders that the reversal took place under pressure from Moscow.

Invitations to the Assembly sent by the World Jewish Congress to about a dozen of the largest Jewish communities in the Soviet Union have brought replies from congregations there that they would not attend the world Jewish parley because they consider themselves “purely religious bodies” and it would, therefore, not be appropriate for them to be represented at an assembly with political aims. The replies were received from the Jewish religious congregations in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Odessa, Minsk, Vilna and Tiflis. Congregations in other cities did not answer at all to the invitations.


Dr. Goldmann, in his presidential address, said that Jews today face three main problem: 1. The danger that assimilation and disintegration may follow the generally successful fight for equal rights for Jews as citizens; 2. The fight for the right of Jews to remain Jews in a period when it is increasingly difficult to remain non-conformist; 3. The will of the Jews to remain Jews, as the coming generation has now to find “new motives and sources of strength to maintain its Jewishness. “

To meet these tasks, Dr. Goldmann urged drastic changes in the present communal structure. ” All efforts and funds which were devoted to fighting anti-Semitism, as well as of organized Jewish relief and philanthropy, will have to be switched to the great problem of Jewish education and creativeness, and in the participation of the upbuilding of Israel, ” he said.

Another task facing Jewry, Dr. Golmann declared, is “to insist on the basic rights of every human being to choose the country where to live, or at least the right to leave a country in which he does not want to remain. ” He deplored the fact that, in Eastern Europe and in North Africa, these rights are either challenged or denied de facto.

The World Jewish Congress president concluded his address by reviewing the problems of Israel and its relations with the Jewish communities outside Israel. “The relationship between these two parts will have to become one of mutual give and take, of mutual influence, of making Jewish communities and individuals in the countries outside of Israel a part in the achievement and the creativeness of Israel, and of making the life of Israel and its civilization a part of Jewish communal concern the world over,” Dr. Goldmann stated.

“The time has come, ” he said, “when we will have to create the one overall organizations which will organize the Jews outside of Israel for cooperation with Israel, and Israel for its tie-up with the Jewish communities in other lands. Also, to further the framework for the totality of our people.”


Premier Erlander, in his welcoming address to the delegates, told the Assembly: “The World Jewish Congress, in its own sphere, can make a valuable contribution to the future welfare of the world. It can help create a world where all people, irrespective of race, religion or political belief, will have the possibility of human existence. “

The Swedish statesman reminded the delegates to the Assembly of “the close links” which have tied his nation to the Jewish people. Stockholm’s Mayor Carl Albert, addressing the opening meeting and welcoming the Assembly officially on behalf of the city, struck the same them, referring with satisfaction to “the countless Jewish refugees who found haven here during the dark days of Nazi Germany.”


Opposition to the fact that the Ambassador of West Germany was invited to the opening session of the Assembly was expressed by some of the Israeli delegates. The opponents, consisting of members of the Mapam, Achdut Avodah and the Religious Block in Israel, asked for a caucus of the Israeli delegation.

The opponents also demanded that the West German flag, among all the flags flying in front of the Parliament building where the plenary session is to be held, be lowered to half-mast in memory of the Jewish victims of Nazism. However, the moves in the Israeli caucus were defeated.

Later it was announced that, Monday morning, all of the flags of all nations in front of the Parliament Building would be lowered in memory of the victims of Nazism. It is understood that, during the political debates before the Assembly, some Israelis, including representatives of Mapam and Achdut Avodah, will raise the question of Israel’s sale of arms to West Germany.

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