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Goldmann Stresses Urgency of Problem of Bolstering Jewish Identity

January 12, 1966
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The main problem of strengthening the Jewish identity of the Jewish people and of securing a creative future for Jewish communities throughout the world is becoming daily more urgent, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, president of the World Zionist Organization, declared last night at the opening session of the World Zionist Actions Committee.

The festive opening session of the Actions Committee, the ruling body of the World Zionist Organization between Zionist Congresses, was attended by President Zalman Shazar, Parliamentary Speaker Kaddish Luz, Supreme Court Justices, Cabinet Ministers and many visitors, as well as the Actions Committee’s 132 members from 41 countries.

Dr. Goldmann declared that he did not regret the integration and emancipation of the Jewish people and that he was opposed to the idea of the Jewish people returning to the segregated life of the pre-emancipation ghetto. Historical processes like the emancipation cannot be reversed, he noted, but the “inevitable consequence” of the emancipation was the permanent danger of the Jewish people losing its Jewish consciousness and identity, he said.

He asserted that modern Jewish life was largely based now on fund-raising and the fight for prestige and positions and has therefore eliminated Jewish intellectuals from leading positions in Jewish activities. In this situation, he said, Israel must have a leading role in becoming the kind of a society which would impress and attract such young Jews into joining international Jewish organizations.


He drew attention to the fact that links with Israel were used as the basis for attacks on Jewish communities involving charges that pro-Israel Jews were loyal to a foreign state. He said some persons even regarded Zionism as a nationalistic and racial movement and the instrument of “imperialism.” He cited the statements of Soviet and Arab spokesmen equating Zionism with Nazism.

It was “inevitable” that such an atmosphere would affect Jewish life throughout the world, he said. He added that to think that Zionism had become a self-evident truth in Jewish life, after creation of the Jewish state, was a “dangerous illusion.”

“We are under attack today,” the world Zionist leader warned,”and we must react strongly. The Zionist movement must be restored as the great central movement of our people in this century.” He stressed that Zionism “after a year’s passivity and decline,” must again become “a fighting movement.”

The Actions Committee began today an eight-day working session. One of its principal tasks is election of a new Jewish Agency executive. The current Actions Committee membership was elected by the 26th World Zionist Congress which met here in December 1964 and January 1965.

The session opened last night with a eulogy by Actions Committee chairman Yaacov Tsur, for the late Moshe Sharett, who served Israel and Zionism as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister and Agency executive chairman. Mr, Tsur then expressed concern over the fate of Soviet Jewry and discussed the problems facing Jews generally outside of Israel.

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