By: The Commentator Editorial Board  | 

Illogical, Untenable (Vol. 1, Issue 17)

The decision of the executive committee of the Agudath Harabonim against participation in the World Jewish Congress is a severe disappointment to all who realize the importance of having an active body representing a completely united Jewry in order to cope with the serious problem facing Jews throughout the world. Even more distressing, however, is the nature of the case presented by the rabbis against participation and the alternative method suggested for dealing with the problems facing us.

The argument presented by the rabbis was that the social and political situation of the Jews throughout the world was such as to make a World Jewish Congress harmful and inadvisable. Participation of orthodox Jewry in such a congress would only be to the detriment of orthodoxy, it was maintained, especially since the leader of the movement for the creation of the congress is a well-known opponent of Orthodoxy. It was finally recommended that Jews revert to the methods of the dark ages; that they secure amelioration of their persecutions by courting the favor of those in power. 

It is impossible to understand the logic of an argument which opposes the World Jewish Congress for the very reasons which make it imperative. The physical and economic persecution of the Jews in Europe, the problems of emigration arising from it, and the growth of fascistic anti-semitism can be dealt with only through the united efforts of world Jewry. 

The complicated adjustments necessitated by this situation require the coordination of Jewish activities in all countries. Moreover, unless there exists an official body representing all Jews, no measures taken to solve these problems can be completely successful. 

With regard to the objections which were raised on religious grounds, one is led to suspect a conspiracy of the rabbis to make Orthodoxy totally impotent as a force in Jewish life. By their indifference and even opposition to Zionism they have already succeeded in causing the rebuilding of Palestine in an irreligious spirit. They are now apparently bent upon precluding all possibility of the Congress having a tone favorable to Orthodoxy.

When one considers these arguments and suggestions of our American orthodox rabbis, one realizes not only why they have produced no leaders of the calibre of Stephen S. Wise, but also why they have been so ineffectual in solving any of the problems facing American Orthodoxy. 

Such problems do not exist for people whose minds have been hibernating among the petty questions of the Polish village of last century.