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Nahum Goldmann Will Not Seek Re-election As President of World Zionist Organization

April 9, 1968
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. Nahum Goldmann announced today that he will not seek reelection to another term as president of the World Zionist Organization. His announcement was contained in a telegram from Geneva to Itzhak Koren, chairman of the preparatory committee for the forthcoming World Zionist Congress which opens here on June 9. Dr. Goldmann requested the committee to seek another candidate for the office in time for the Congress opening.

The World Zionist leader meanwhile was the subject of arguments in the Israeli Cabinet and in the Jewish Agency Executive. They arose from his recent conversations in Washington, with Senator J. William Fulbright, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to remarks made by Senator Fulbright in a subsequent appearance before a Jewish group in Cleveland, Dr. Goldmann had asked his intercession with the Israeli Government on the side of moderates to bring about a speedy termination of the Israel-Arab conflict.

Dr. Goldmann denied that he had ever suggested any such intervention. Yesterday, Prime Minister Eshkol advised the Cabinet that Dr. Goldmann had received a letter of apology from Senator Fulbright conceding that he had used “inaccurate language” and expressing regret. News of the Fulbright apology was contained in a letter to Mr. Eshkol from Dr. Goldmann who promised to send him a copy of the Fulbright letter and a complete report of his conversations with the Senator. Dr. Goldmann wrote to Israel’s Prime Minister, “I assure you I did not ask for any intervention, neither regarding the American Government, nor, especially, the Israeli Government.”

The remarks attributed to Dr. Goldmann by Senator Fulbright, created a furore in the Cabinet which spilled ever into the Jewish Agency Executive. The latter issued a statement today formally dissociating itself from Dr. Goldmann’s meeting with Senator Fulbright but rejected a move to censure the Zionist leader. The subject was raised in the Cabinet by Menachem Beigin, of Herut, Minister Without Portfolio. Following Prime Minister Eshkol’s announcement that Senator Fulbright had apologized, Foreign Minister Abba Eban noted that it was general knowledge that Dr. Goldmann does not represent any official Israeli body and anyone talking to him takes that into consideration.

A different view was taken by J. Klarman, of Herut, at today’s meeting of the Jewish Agency Executive. He claimed that Senator Fulbright met with Dr. Goldmann only because the latter is the WZO president and leader of the Zionist movement and not because he was interested in Dr. Goldmann’s private opinions. Klarman demanded that the Executive dissociate itself specifically from “Goldmann’s seeking out of Fulbright and the content of their conversations as disclosed by Goldmann himself.” This would have been tantamount to censure. But the Executive adopted a statement saying that Dr. Goldmann’s meeting with Senator Fulbright and the content of their conversations had been without the knowledge or agreement of the Executive.

Dr. Goldmann first hinted that he might not seek another term as WZO president in a statement to Prime Minister Eshkol, published by the Jewish Agency last March 4. He informed the Prime Minister that he had not, at the time, decided whether to continue as head of the WZO and promised to let Mr. Eshkol know his decision by May. He also asked the Prime Minister to suggest a fitting candidate to succeed him because “that would make my decision easier.”

The Jewish Agency published the statement in order to clarify press reports that Prime Minister Eshkol had questioned Dr. Goldmann as to whether he thought he could continue to carry the burdens of the WZO presidency along with those of the several other international Jewish organizations that he heads. According to the statement, Mr. Eshkol at no time suggested that Dr. Goldmann resign from his other posts but asked him to undertake a renewal of the Zionist organization by stimulating immigration from Western countries.

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