Appendix I – Zionist Speeches

Draft of speech, no date, ? Zionist society

 

President, ladies and gentlemen,

As you informed me that you have accepted me as a member of your society, I have taken the trouble to understand the duties of a member.

The first thing that a member of a society must know is what the work of the society entails, in order that he should be able to help in the work.

Secondly, he must know the aim of the society and what it intends to achieve, because if he understands the ways and the purpose, he will want to help to the best of his ability.

Thirdly, he must realise the difficulty in the way of accomplishing the work of the society, and also estimate the amount of time it would take to do it, because if a member knows that the undertaking is a difficult task and that it would take a long time to do it, he will not be scared by any difficulty that might occur. He won’t lose his patience, even if it takes longer than he originally thought.

We Jews who have been carrying on our shoulders the galut, which is already 2000 years old, since the first antisemite Amalek[i], who declared war against the Jews for no reason, and all his followers, in their own periods. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, Hamman of Persia, Titus of Rome, the inquisitors of Spain, Khmelnytsky of Poland and Ignatiev von Plehve in Russia although they did not have the chance to annihilate us, each one found ways of torturing the Jew. So the galut became more and more difficult to endure, until in the last years, the Jew has realised that it is impossible to live like this any more.

One must do something and one must find a way of doing it. They have started to think of what to do. We had many advisors from many parties. One said: the Jew is a fanatic. The second complaint was that the Jew did not dress properly, and a third one alleged that he is uneducated and looks comical, that is why he is hated. That is why he is isolated. However what the reasons would be, he would be like everybody else. The Jew started to become civilised. He discarded his clothes and his old customs. He devoted himself to education and progress. He produced doctors, advocates, jurists, and engineers. For ourselves it was fine, but alas all this did not improve the general condition of the Jew.

On the contrary, it became worse. Instead of saying that the Jew is a fanatic, they complained that he was too educated and he looks for the limelight. Afterwards, they started saying that the Jew has become so educated that he is becoming impertinent and that he creeps over one’s head, and for this he should be exterminated. So, we have come to realise that this is not a remedy, and in this way we shall not find … in one place and that the delegates should vote on certain propositions, as is being done now in Basel, all that had not happened yet. Everyone followed his own opinion and acted according to the dictates of his own mind. Irrespective of right or wrong.

And the result was that Baron Hirsch, the Jewish philanthropist, has devoted his whole fortune, consisting of many millions in all, to help the Jews. He found no better way than to mislead them to the deserts of Argentina and Brazil, and to convert them into colonists. Unfortunately, this plan was intractable. As soon as a colonist decided to forsake his farm, he did not consider all the work and trouble that he had put into it. He just abandoned everything. The reason why they could not exist is not because the Jew is no good as a farmer, but because they had no ties to the foreign country to where they had been brought. And so nothing helped and they abandoned their farms.

After seeing the results of Baron Hirsch’s efforts and the futility thereof, there arose Dr Herzl, who was convinced colonisation was a very good plan, but the only place for Jewish farmers is Palestine, because every Jew is tied up with Zion. Because whatever one does, a Jew thinks of Zion, because as soon as a Jew starts talking, he hears that his parents are comforting themselves that the Messiah is due to arrive soon. As soon as he starts going to cheder, he learns the history. How the Jewish nation started and existed in great glory in the land of Zion, and when he studies further, he also learns about the destruction of the Temple, but he also knows the divine words ‘nachamu nachamu ami’ – ‘be comforted, be comforted, my people’ (Isaiah, chapter 40).

This ensures for the Jewish nation its revival. And when the Jew gets older and starts doing business, he gives some of his hard-earned money for Israel, even though he is stingy to spend money – but nobody can refuse Zion. And when he gets still older and he becomes a family man, when Yomtov arrives, even though he is well-off and well-satisfied with his position in life, he still says ‘leshanah haba Yerushalim’ (Haggadah)[ii]. This proves to us that the Jew, however close he is tied up to his place, he still yearns for Zion in spirit. Because this is the only time and place where Jews should settle. And only in Zion, and that is why Dr Herzl’s idea was so universally accepted as the correct one, and the Zionists can be proud to go in the right diirection and we all work for it with devotion, as it is written at the time of Exodus :  ‘everybody with our young and our old’ (Exodus 10: 9), this means young and old without difference. We will certainly progress, and with God’s help, we will find comfort in our work and in the merit thereof the Redeemer will come to Zion and we will say amen.

Draft of speech, no date

Zionist Conference Report Back, 1926

Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The English nation has a saying as follows, ‘give and take’. In plain words, it means that when you give you must take also. Well, gentlemen, I can tell you that when you proposed me as a representative of the conference, I was frightened. I call it fright because it is a spiritual pleasure, and in such pleasures there is no way to weigh or measure, to say it is so much and so much. That is why I ask myself, what can you take in exchange for your giving? So it is with us Jews. When we have to go in their ways – and we know that the Jewish God only desires a good heart… so I hope that you will accept my thanks, which I give with a full heart… for good, and that will cover part of my account which is due to you. Further about the report.

You know that I am not a speaker, and the best you can hear from our scholarly and talented Rev Efron, but because of a minor matter, I don’t want to say now – I will be the appetiser, and the real meal you will receive when he talks. I just want to talk over a few points that struck me amongst others. I will divide them into three parts: what I saw, what I did and what I heard. I will answer them in the same order. I have seen in my time Jews in synagogues who prayed ‘and return us to Zion’ (from Musaph and Rosh Chodesh) and bring us ‘with exaltation to Zion thy city’ and ‘have mercy on Zion’, and I have also seen people who said and read lamentations on Tisha B’Av. I have also seen Jews who stood in the crowd and waited to get their baklish (boxes), as you know is found in every Jewish home, and before lighting candles, every Jewish woman used to throw a kopek or two in the charity box for Israel, and when the husband came back from the market, he also used to throw in a few kopeks. And when you think of it, you could see how powerless were the Jews who read lamentations, and how hopeless were the boxes with the kopeks.

It is no wonder that it is related that the first Napoleon, when he came to Russia he passed a shul and he heard people crying, and he asked ‘Why are they crying?’

He was told ‘it is the day when they lost their land’.

He said, ‘oh, what fools, do they think that by crying they will regain the land?’

And what do we see today? That the few lamenting Jews have been converted into a nation, with branches all over the world, who stand as one man all prepared to make the biggest sacrifices for Zion, and the old few kopeks are converted into a stream of gold, which has enabled hundreds of thousands of Jews to go to Israel with such power and who sew and plant and build and we can learn a lot from this conference. It encompassed all the Jews of Africa from Cape Town to the Belgian Congo where there are 180 towns and villages and every delegate has expressed their opinions of his town or congregation and who asked for even more information because they wanted to know what’s going on? And the Jewish world wants to know whatever it can do. And what is even more encouraging is that our children, who have grown up and studied and spent their time in a Christian atmosphere, and I  myself was sometimes pessimistic and asked myself ‘what can become of them?’

I can tell you that it was a great pleasure to see how they stood in the conference hall and appealed to be included, and asked for a special department for young Zionists, which would give them literature and propaganda; because they want to do and to help and to get more information.

Now, I want to come to the chief point in the report, which our great leader Sokolow[iii] has given from Israel. It was proposed by the Pretoria Zionists that the Conference should ask the British government for the wasteland which she has in Palestine. It should be given to the Jews. The delegate expressed himself in a hurry, that our leader is too modern. We must get it.

Sokolow explained that he could not say that, but in private conversation he said “there are two ways of knocking, at the door and on the table, I’ve already knocked on the door many times, but to knock on the table, you must be at a ministerial meeting in London or the House of Commons and there is no such thing  because in politics, you must see how the wind blows and to wait for the proper moment.”

In general I can say that we are satisfied with our work in Palestine. It is a credit for England, and it is for our own good. The fact is that England has obtained the mandate over Palestine, and France got a mandate over Syria at the same time. And yet the world sees in Syria a revolutionary war… blood is pouring in the streets, and in the streets of Palestine, we see progress and prosperity. And this by itself is enough for us. In the course of time, we will obtain more by exercising patience. Not with the hand of Esau (not by force), Sokolow meant – not with Jabotinsky’s plan and Jewish soldiers. But what you want to bring is your spring offering, as in the olden days the Jews brought their best fruit in a beautiful basket to the Temple, and for that they were rewarded by God with everything of the best.

 

Draft of speech, no date

Chairmen, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As Dr Herzl remarked in his speech at the third Congress in Basil, ‘we try for Zionism, not because of honour or money, but as a duty.’ We owe our parents and the Jewish nation and we cannot repay it in any other way except to work for Zionism, because this is a sacred undertaking which is being done for the whole Jewish nation.

Therefore, in order to understand properly that Herzl is right and that one must work for Zionism, we can prove it by a saying in the Talmud, ‘the Gemara in the tractate Tarmit’ relates a story of the great scholar Choni Hameagal[iv], a discussion he had with a farmer in his day.

The story goes like this: one day he was passing on the road, and he saw a man who was planting a carob tree (like a broad bean grows very slowly), the nature of the tree is that it bears fruit after seventy years.  

When Choni Hameagal saw it, he thought, ‘is it possible that this man has a purpose apart from his own use? As a farmer he surely expects to enjoy the fruits of his labour’.

So he asked him, ‘Are you sure that you will live another seventy years in order to enjoy the fruit of the tree?’

The farmer replied: ‘when I arrived in this world I found many trees with fruit ready for my eating. So just as my parents and previous generations have planted for me and did not expect any profit either, in money or honour, but they have prepared it. And when I arrived on the scene, I found everything ready for me. So therefore I found it my duty to plant a tree that later generations will enjoy in the same way that I enjoyed what previous generations had planted.’

And the same applies to us Jews today. When we arrived in this world, we found the whole Jewish world already planted with Zionists addresses. Wherever a Jew goes, he meets reminders of Zion, of Jerusalem, of the Temple, of the Messiah – who has done all this work? It was done by order of the first generations of Jews. When they saw that the Jewish state was being destroyed, and that the Jew would have to endure a long and dark galut, they calculated that in the course of time, after many years of galut, the Jew will forget his origin and his old home, and that he would be assimilated with Christians wherever he would find them, and the Jewish nation would be lost. So they called a public meeting and told the people, ‘although you are going out to the galut, because there is no other way, you should remember that this is not forever. A time will come when you will be redeemed, and you will be returned to your own home and your own Temple and your own king, and you must always hope for that, in order to strengthen the hope in such a way as never to forget it, and this will preserve you from all annihilation.’

The Jewish public accepted this heartily and took the oath, ‘if I should forget thee, Oh Jerusalem, may my right hand be forgotten’ (Psalms quotation). This was the spiritual will which those people have granted the Jewish public. Whoever will carry out this will and transmit it to his children we will know. All this was done for us, by our parents, by grandparents and great grandparents. They have offered their lives. They passed through fire and water, through blood and sword, and the address of Zion and the Jewish history they have not forgotten. All the writings from Egypt, which were engraved with iron on stone, in the course of time were blurred and overgrown with moss, and they were forgotten, but the Jewish address, which was written with ink on paper, is still very clear, so that every child can read it and know it. All this was the work of our parents and they have received no credit or honour from it, and certainly no money – except tsoris and pain… and they did it all for the sake of Zion and the Jewish nation. And therefore, it is our duty to work for Zion, not because of honour or money, but out of love for Zion and the Jewish nation.

Dr Herzl understood all this and he said : ‘we must understand and we must know that we must work for Zion, even more than our parents, because we have better means of doing it. Because we find ourselves under the flat of civilised powers, and today there is no need to risk one’s life for one’s nation or religion. All we need to give is a shilling when it’s needed, and to attend a meeting when it’s called for. And their main work should be (and this is not difficult) to encourage in each other the spirit of patriotism. It means that every Jew should know that besides being a child of his parents and a member of his family, he should also know that he is a member of the whole Jewish nation. And just as one is devoted to one’s parents and family, one should have the same feeling for the whole nation. Because the progress of a nation or its destruction does not depend on (? mazzarieta ??), how many people are in that nation or how strong they are, it depends only on their feelings for the nation… and to prove this we need not go far.

As we find in the Torah: ‘when we were given the laws how to conduct ourselves in our land, we find a rule – how to conduct ourselves in time of war, as when the Jewish people were prepared to go to fight. The commander said (Deuteronomy 20:5-8 sentences)’ Because a person may be unwilling to abandon his house, his garden or  his bride, and the feeling of a nation. Therefore let him leave the army and return home, even though the army will be smaller. This shows us that our main strength lies not in mazzarieta, but it depends on national feeling – to the extent that we are prepared to give for the nation; although we are not going to war, we would like to become a nation, and we should know how our nation progresses. Our might and strength consists of our unity and our striving for our olim to go under the flag of Zion, because this is our hope and our final goal. We must desire it and God will help us.

Bad times have arrived – business is weaker and expenses are increasing for orthodox Jews, because we are now convinced to live in the old way and sit in the Beit Hamedrash and to study, and the wife should carry on the business – it is possible that one must oneself take a hand in the business. Because the wives are not efficient enough in business. And so the husbands had to leave home, and they may come to the conclusion that it would be a better plan to go to Eretz Yisrael, because that is a country that is tied up with our religion and we belong there and are free, as in America and Africa.

Notes:

 

[i] In the Torah, Amalek is described as a nation that is the enemy of the Israelites.

[ii] Next year in Jerusalem- said at the end of the Passover seder.

[iii] Nathan Sokolow (1859 –1936) was a Zionist leader, author, translator, and was the secretary general, later president of a World Zionist Congress. He visited South Africa in 1926.

[iv] Choni ha-Me'agel was a Jewish scholar of the 1st-century  BCE.

© Kaplan Centre
Letters courtesy of Phil Kretzmar