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Zionist Leaders Assail Decision to Bar Dr. Goldmann from Addressing World Zionist Congress Session

December 29, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

American Zionist leaders sharply criticized today the decision by the Jewish Agency Executive to cancel Dr. Nahum Goldmann’s speech at next month’s World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem. The invitation to Dr. Goldmann, president of the World Jewish Congress, was withdrawn last Friday by a vote of 7-2 with one abstention because of the “circumstances” following his Dec. 19 remarks in London on Soviet Jews.

Dr. Judah J. Shapiro, president of the newly organized Labor Zionist Alliance, called the Jewish Agency Executive’s decision “a shock to those who regard the (World Zionist) Congress as a forum for the free and open exchange of ideas on the liberation of the Jewish people.” The Agency Executive, Dr. Shapiro said, was committing “a betrayal of democracy and freedom of expression” by “punishing Dr. Goldmann for a public statement expressing his honest convictions on Soviet Jewry.”

Dr. Shapiro concluded: “Even if one disagrees with the particular position of Dr. Goldmann, the question still remains as to whether or not the Jewish Agency may allow itself the effrontery to insult a leading figure of the Zionist movement and one who has made unusually imaginative contributions to world Jewry for almost half a century. The present action can be a serious blow to ideological Zionism in America.”


In his address to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Dr. Goldmann hailed the aliya of Soviet Jews and added that for those who remain in the Soviet Union “it would be an untenable proposition that we should give up the fight for the right of Soviet Jews to live as Jews.” The Times of London, however, erroneously reported that Dr. Goldmann had said that it would be a betrayal to take the view that Soviet Jews should be released to go to Israel. Dr. Goldmann repudiated this report in a letter to The Times.

Dr. Joachim Prinz, chairman of the Governing Council of the WJC, viewed the Jewish Agency decision “with great concern.” commenting that “responsible Jewish organizations concerned with the plight of Soviet Jewry” have always demanded, In addition to aliya rights, “that Jewish citizens of the USSR should be accorded the right to maintain their Jewish identity, develop their cultural freedom, establish their own institutions and enter into contact with fellow Jews in other countries.”

Speaking as an individual, Dr. Prinz maintained that “there is not, and cannot be, an inherent contradiction between these two demands.” He explained: “World Jewry can never abdicate or be silent about the rights of Jews everywhere to live as equal citizens and as Jews, nor do the advocacy and defense of these rights weaken in any sense our insistence on the right of freedom of immigration.”


Rabbi Joseph Karasick, chairman of the WJC-American Section, registered “shock and dismay” at the withdrawal of Dr. Goldmann’s invitation to speak on “Seventy-five Years of Zionism.” He had been invited, Rabbi Karasick noted, by a panel to whom his views were “well known.”

The “paramount issue,” he said, is “whether there is not infiltrating into Jewish public life an almost hysterical insistence on absolute conformity which is repugnant to the principles of any kind of democracy, and which deserves no place whatever in the councils of Jewish leadership.” Least of all, Rabbi Karasick said, “does one expect censoring and censuring of opinions in the World Zionist Organization, one of the great revolutionary movements of modern times, a movement whose history has been shaped by the constant clash of ideas.”

Americans for Progressive Israel-Hashomer Hatzair voiced “strenuous” objections to the Jewish Agency Executive’s “high-handed” action, calling its emphasis on the centrality of aliya a “flimsy excuse.” In a cable to Louis A. Pincus, chairman of the Executive, in Jerusalem. API-HH said of Dr. Goldmann that “There’s no other man scheduled to speak or who is a member of WZO who has done more for Zionism and who has better Zionist credentials.” The API-HH cable was signed by Bruno Aron, national chairman of API-HH, and Moshe Kagan. chairman of its Executive.

Pincus had advised Dr. Goldmann that “Russian Jewish activity is the peak of 75 years of Zionist activity and therefore the majority of the Executive members thought it would be inappropriate that you should be the sole or main lecturer in evaluating the 75 years of Zionism.”

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