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Agudath Israel is Menace to Jewish Unity, Zionist Organ States

January 31, 1926
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Asserting that the existence of the Agudath Israel is a menace to Jewish unity and its activities in America must stop, “The New Palestine,” the official organ of the Zionist Organization of America, launched a scatling attack on the Agudath in an editorial in its issue of January 29th. In its editorial “The New Palestine” reviews what it calls the “unhappy record” of the Agudath Israel for the past few years, which it says, is not sufficiently known in this country. The paper declares:

“The Agudath Israel is trying in every possible way to undermine not only the Zionist Organization, not only Jewish national sentiment but every effort at a united front among the Jewish people. Their policy is ‘divide and rule.’ In Poland as in Palestine, in Austria as in Czecho-Slovakia, they seek to make impossible the creation of a united Jewish front.

“In Poland the Jews succeeded in electing several of their own members to the Polish Parliament, but the Agudath Israel deputies refused to join the Jewish Political Club to which all the other deputies, from Right to Left belonged. Only the anti-nationalist Jewish Socialist members of Parliament remained outside of the Club and their only political allies were the representatives of the Agudath Israel.

“In Czecho-Slovakia there was attempted a creation of a unified Jewish election bloc, but the Agudath Israel forces were the only ones who prevented the realization of these aims. Thanks to their efforts not a single Jew was elected.

“But the activity of the Agudath Israel in Palestine is even more disgraceful. Until the close of the war, the rebuilding of Palestine was not part of their program. They even reproached the Mizrachi for giving so much attention to Palestine in comparison with the Golus at a time when there were very few Jews in the Holy Land. It was only after the war that the Agudath realized that it was possible to make trouble even in Palestine, and since the Agudah is ‘active’ in Palestine, the full effect of its work is felt whenever there is about to be unity in Jewish work. Invariably, at such a moment, the representatives of the Agudath Israel come forth and do not permit a single-purposed effort In the last few months the Agudah leaders in Palestine have placed every obstacle possible in the way of the Asefath Hanivcharim, the Chief Rabbinate, and even of the Kehillah life in Tel Aviv — once a model of good organization. They succeeded in their destructive process by claques in the court room, before non-Jewish judges, who have been unable to orient themselves in matters of inner Jewish interest.

“The same thing on a larger scale is being done by the Adugath Israel in regard to the League of Nations, and all this in spite of the fact that Dr. Weizmann went even further in his negotiations with the Agudah than they asked for: for he proposed special certificates for the immigrants whom they would bring; he proposed certain concessions in regard to the Kehillah life in Palestine, but to no avail. Unity in the Jewish camp, and the Agudath Israel are antithetical.

“Now its representatives have come to America to infect our camp with disunity and disorganization. At a time when all the energies of American Jewry are dedicated to the task of raising the $5,000,000 for all Palestine activities — all religious concerns as well as a part of the Mizrachi budget — at a time when the local Agudath Harabonim issued a statement, even in the heat of the recent controversy, that the Appeal is essential to the upbuilding of the Jewish Homeland, the Agudath Israel issues a call for funds of its own which, as they claim, will give good to thousands of workers. This, at a time when they have not even kitchens for hundreds. They claim to be supporting schools, when, as a matter of fact, they are of so little consequence in Palestine that nobody seems to know where these schools are and how many pupils they have. Their only claim to notoriety is that in spite of the Hebrew Renaissance, Yiddish is the language of instruction.

“The representatives of the Agudath Israel talk in large figures. They say they have a hundred thousand dunam of land. It is a universal mystery where and when they got the land. The fact is that they have only one small colony in the whole of Palestine. They are advertising house building of various sorts at a time when there is not a single house in their one colony. This is characteristic of all their boasts. They talk in large numbers, but do very little, and prevent others from doing things Such a combination of malevolent activity and equally malevolent inactivity must be stopped here and now in America. Their existence is a menace to Jewish unity.”

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