Saturday, 22 March 2008

Letter 24 - April 17, (1919)

Zionist Commission to Palestine

Dear Family,-

I am thoroughly discouraged and disappointed. We are making no headway, things look worse and worse every day. We lack men, we lack authority, and we lack cooperation—in short our work is about to become a hopeless failure.

To begin with, the only persons in the entire Zionist organizations of Europe who are in any way worthy of the tremendous responsibility placed upon them by our American Jews, who are without a doubt the idealistic as well as material source of practical Zionism today, are Julius Simon of England and Commandante Bianchini. Weitzmann is not a big man, he is a clever and calculating politician, he knows how to play the game of diplomacy—but he is not an organizer, and executive, or a constructive worker. Sokolov has passed the stage where he can be of real active value to the Organization—at present his chief virtue seems to lie in his ability to antagonize Weitzmann and yet live in the same suite of rooms. The worth London Bureau which is supposed to be our guiding light and source of inspiration is made up of a crowd of old fogies and Simon, most of whom gather together at intervals, during their spare time, and casually discuss the mistakes which are being made in Palestine and send us telegrams. Simon is a business man of some apparent ability, at least that was the impression he made on me during our stay in London, tho the recent narrow escape we had from total disaster due to lack of funds or credit and a debt of a half million dollars, do not seem to verify my original impression.

In Palestine at present there are only three men capable and worthy of the tremendous responsibilities of their positions. Dr Friedenwald is a wonderfully good man, and is proving himself daily to be the only real leader the Z.C has ever had. Until he came-- well for the sake of the “cause” I will have to leave it to your imagination. Let me only say that after we had been here three weeks and the bottom was about to drop out and everybody crawled out from under and a meeting was called in order to definitely turn the affairs of the Z.C. to Dr. F. and to definitely establish and limit the personnel, the Chairman opened the meeting by stating that the purpose was for reorganization, the Commandante laughed and said no, it was for organization. Dr. F.’s only fault is his persistent faith in the inherent goodness of people he meets.

Mr. Robert Szold is doing the work of three. He is proving to be an executive, a financier, a politician, a diplomat and a good fellow. His work is invaluable. And yet political conditions are such that if Frankfurter*, for whom we have been wiring for the last week, doesn’t come Szold must go to Europe that our people may be advised of the serious problems which we are facing.

The Commandante Bianchini is a delightful gentleman. He is suave, keen, level-headed, never out of temper or excited, and a man of firm principles. His work on the Commission is handicapped in many ways because of his connection with the Italian Govt. He is unable for instance to take the responsibility of anything done by us, he can only act as our adviser. But in official circles he is highly respected and has constant entry.

The remaining active member of the C is Mr. Lewin-Epstein. He is a fine man personally, but as an executive for any work is a failure. Then of course there is myself, the present Secretary of the Commission. As such I have a little of everybody’s business constantly before me and a lot of interesting work.

As to the nature of our work and its progress the renewed censorship in Egypt and also the very nature of it would not make it advisable for me to speak of it at present. However my Diary is working overtime.

I have received very few letters from you as yet, but was glad to get your telegram today, dated the 5th. I suppose that the trouble in Egypt is to blame.

Lots of love and Kisses,


*Frankfurter, Felix:-b. Vienna 1882 – d. Washington D.C 1965; Law professor and Zionist associate with Brandeis in Zionist leadership; Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1939-1962; Legal advisor to Zionist delegation at the Paris Peace Conference

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