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David Ben-Gurion Once Agreed That American Jews Are “Americans”; Israel Is Now Abandoning That View

Allan C. Brownfeld
Spring - Summer 2013

By Abba A. Solomon,  
206 Pages, $14.95.  
Available through Amazon.com  
Shortly after the creation of the State of Israel, the American Jewish Committee (AJC), which had abandoned its opposition to Zionism and now sought to strengthen Israel’s position with the U.S. Government, struggled with the proclamations of Israel’s prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, that Israel represented the Jewish people and that Jews living outside of Israel should emigrate to that country.  
A 1942 conference with Ben-Gurion to plan the coordination of the AJC with the Jewish Agency and the 1946 decision of the AJC to support Partition had been, it understood, in exchange for the Zionist Organization agreeing to moderate its vision of a Jewish state to an American-style non-nationalistic identity.  
In a June 3, 1949 letter, AJC President Jacob Blaustein describes calling Israeli Ambassador Elath: “I told him that one of the things that disturbed us when we were in Israel was the notion held by quite a number there that American Jews are insecure here and will ultimately have to flee to Israel — which of course is utter nonsense. I also told him that we had fully discussed this situation with Ben-Gurion at Tiberias and had pointed out to him that any campaign over here to get American youth to go to Israel as pioneers — especially if a fear complex were injected, and even without it — would be resented by American Jews (Zionists as well as others) and would lose Israel much financial and other support.”  
Anger and Exasperation  
Blaustein wrote in anger and exasperation to his wife Hilda, about a statement by Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann at the 1953 World Jewish Congress (WJC) which reportedly mentioned a “duty” of Jews to go to Israel. “It goes to show how alert we have to be with these people all the time.” In 1960, the AJC protested a WJC speech of Ben-Gurion, where he quoted, “Whoever dwells outside the Land of Israel is considered to have no God, the sages said,” and of Western Jews warned that, “Judaism faces death by a kiss — a slow and imperceptible decline into the abyss of assimilation.”  
In an important book, The Speech, and Its Content, Abba A. Solomon writes that, “With varying success, the AJC pressed its concerns on other issues: Orthodox religious authority over personal matters such as marriage in Israel, the continuing plight of Arab refugees, and Israel’s Nationality Law, the Jewish ‘Right of Return.’” The organization declared that, “The AJC has long regarded as undemocratic the preferred legal status given to Jews under the Nationality Law, which provides that a Jewish immigrant automatically acquires Israel citizenship on arrival in Israel, unless he signs a formal declaration refusing it.”  
In Solomon’s view, “By the distance of 60 years, it is difficult to clearly recognize the issue resolved by the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein exchange. It was provoked by ongoing announcements from leaders of the new state of Israel that aliyah (ascension in Hebrew) to the Land of Israel was expected from the Jews of the ‘West.’ Worse, possibly, was the implication of the statement that Jews owed Israel a sort of national loyalty.”  
All Jews to Israel  
The oratory of Ben-Gurion that had most provoked AJC anger was reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news bulletin of Sept. 1,1949: “Our next task consists of bringing all Jews to Israel … We appeal chiefly to the youth in the U.S. and in other countries to help us achieve this big mission. We appeal to the parents to help us bring their children here. Even if they decline to help, we will bring the youth to Israel, but I hope this will not be necessary.”  
Blaustein reproached Ben-Gurion and recalled that in Blaustein’s visit earlier in the year, Ben-Gurion had promised that, “You did not expect and would not indulge in any organized campaign for the immigration of American Jewish youth.” Blaustein promised to “do what is in our own power to call the attention of our fellow Jews in the U.S. to the futility and danger of the theory implicit in the speech attributed to you.”  
Jacob Blaustein, a native of Baltimore, built with his father an iconic American enterprise, the American Oil Company, later ARAMCO. He was involved in the first meeting of the United Nations in 1945 in San Francisco and later was appointed a U.S. delegate to the 10th General Assembly in 1955. In 1958, he was chairman of the U.N.’s celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which he had championed along with Eleanor Roosevelt.  
He created a formula — the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein Exchange of 1950, to serve, writes Solomon, “as a protective wall against the ambiguity of American Jewish ‘dual-loyalty.’ That provided an authoritative rationale which allowed active support by American Jews of the Israeli government.”  
Refuge for American Jews  
Early in 1950, Blaustein castigated the idea of Israel as a refuge for American Jews: “These frightened men do not learn from history that given emancipation, acceptance, and security, Jews and all other groups throughout modern history have readily sought to become an integral part of the countries of their birth or adoption. They forget that it is only anti-Semitism and political and social threats to their security that breeds separatism and nationalism among Jews. Our appointed task, therefore, is to fork for the continued betterment, the broadening and deepening of American democracy, by the removal of discrimination, by the expansion of civil rights for all Americans, and by the continuing improvement and enrichment of Jewish individuality and of Jewish communal life.”  
Blaustein believed that the view of the Jew as doomed to both fruitless assimilation and hostility, as Theodor Herzl had it, was an irrelevancy to the robust Jewish community in the U.S., one which Zionism never anticipated and which leaders in Israel, the majority of them from Eastern Europe, never came to understand.  
In the ceremonial “Exchange of Views” of Prime Minister Ben-Gurion and AJC President Blaustein, Ben-Gurion acknowledged and repeated many self-evident facts:1. That the State of Israel spoke only for its own citizens.2. That Jews in other countries had no political obligation to the State of Israel.  
Health of American Jews  
Further, Ben-Gurion gave public recognition that the future of Israel depended on not damaging the health and security of American Jews: “It is most unfortunate that since our State came into being some confusion and misunderstanding should have arisen as regards the relationship between Israel and the Jewish communities abroad, in particular that of the U.S. These misunderstandings are likely to alienate sympathies and create disharmony where friendship and close understanding are of vital necessity. To my mind, the position is perfectly clear. The Jews of the U.S., as a community and as individuals, have only one political attachment and that is to the United States of America … Our success or failure depends in a large measure on our cooperation with, and on the strength of, the great Jewish community of the U.S., and we, therefore, are anxious that nothing should be said or done which could in the slightest degree undermine the sense of security and stability of American Jewry.”  
Abba Solomon points out that, “This passage was believed at the time to represent a Ben-Gurion retreat from Israeli statements that American Jews, or at least their children, were expected to emigrate to Israel. Blaustein’s part in the ‘Exchange’ laid out the dynamic tension of American Jews supporting a State of Jews, but resisting the more grand conceptions of Israel as the ‘Jewish state.’”  
In his declaration, Blaustein stated: “The American Jewish community sees its fortunes tied to the fate of liberal democracy in the U.S., sustained by its heritage, as Americans and as Jews … The AJC has been active, as have other Jewish organizations in the U.S., in rendering within the framework of their American citizenship, every possible support to Israel … But we must in a true spirit of friendliness, sound a note of caution to Israel and its leaders. Now that the birth pains are over, and even though Israel is undergoing growing pains, it must recognize that the matter of good-will between its citizens and those of other countries is a two-way street: that Israel also has a responsibility in this situation — a responsibility in terms of not affecting adversely the sensibilities of Jews who are citizens of other states by what it says or does.”  
He continued: “In this connection, you are realists and want facts and I would be less than frank if I did not point out to you that American Jews vigorously repudiate any suggestion or implication that they are in exile. American Jews — young and old alike, Zionists and non-Zionists alike — are profoundly attached to America. America welcomed their immigrant parents in their need. Under America’s free institutions, they and their children have achieved that freedom and sense of security unknown for long centuries of travail. American Jews have truly become Americans; just as have all other oppressed groups that have ever come to America’s shores. To American Jews, America is home.”  
The Ben-Gurion-Blaustein “Exchange” was later reaffirmed by succeeding Israeli Prime Ministers Levi Eshkol and Golda Meir.  
Meaning of Palestine Partition  
AJC leaders Blaustein and Joseph Proskauer had been concerned for some time about the claims Israel was making upon American Jews. In a Feb. 15, 1948 address, “The Meaning of Palestine Partition for American Jews,” Blaustein objected to Israeli leaders stating or implying that Jews, especially Western youth, should “return home” to the new State of Israel. Blaustein’s speech, notes Abba Solomon, represents “a key moment when the American Jewish world transformed to ours: the creation of now-familiar methods of defense and justification for the State of Israel, and the exclusion from the American Jewish mainstream of questioning the political nationalism of the Jewish people. Baltimore was a center of both Zionist and anti-Zionist American Jewish activity. It was the home of Henrietta Szold, the founder of Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron, a founder of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism (ACJ). In the speech, we saw the moment when the die was cast for American Jewish policy in the new State of Israel, and the arguments which will be asserted.”  
These arguments, notes Solomon, were: “That the State of Israel is an American ally; is essentially like the U.S. in values and culture; and represents U.S. interests in the Middle East; that U.S. Jews should be innocent of political connection to the ‘foreign’ state of Israel, and at the same time be fraternally helpful, that the State of Israel only acts with force when that is necessitated by irrational adversaries, but hopes for reasoned settlement of the conflicts … that the creation of Arab refugees was regrettable; existence of Jewish refugees was intolerable.”  
Blaustein, Solomon argues, sought to reconcile irreconcilable views of the nature of Judaism and that of Zionism: “He saw combating Jewish nationalism as an important value for the welfare of Jews, who knew that the State of Israel flag was a banner of a factional movement, Zionism, within Jewry, who after the state’s creation faithfully advocated for the new state to the American government, who valued the American Jewish way of life in a heterogeneous and non-sectarian country, whose vision of the Jewish settlement in Palestine was of a homeland coexisting in equality with Palestinian Arabs.”  
Baltimore Speech  
In the Baltimore speech, according to Solomon, “a pattern is set — violence by nationalist Jews in Palestine is excised from the discussion, and the AJC would not treat the emerging State of Israel as an alien force, even as it incarnated ‘the worldwide Jewish nationalism’ the AJC deplores. In earlier years, the AJC had experienced stinging ‘criticism and invective’ from Zionists, when it attempted to distinguish between helping Jews in Palestine and building a national Jewish state … Blaustein and Proskauer’s later efforts to extract the Blaustein-Ben Gurion Statement from the Israeli executive — of respect for Jewish life outside the State of Israel — ran counter to the larger ‘Zionizing’ of diaspora Jewish life, foreseen in a late 1945 AJC memo on Zionist planning … The mechanism of the change of the AJC’s position — from opposition to ‘Jewish nationalism’ to lobbying for the new state — is illuminated in the speech. Creation of a taboo against public opposition to Zionism is laid out for the American Jewish community. The AJC’s efforts to make the American Council for Judaism (ACJ) ‘cease’ public criticism of American Zionists grew from this. In the speech is the ‘anti-Zionism aids anti-Semitism’ syllogism …”  
The AJC tried to do what turned out to be impossible, declares Solomon: “The AJC tried to curb Jewish nationalism and identification of Jews with the State of Israel, but within definite limits of ‘propriety’ that limited full debate among American Jews in public fora … In 1949-50, Proskauer and Blaustein … explicitly contested the claim of Israel to be the Jewish State. What in 2009 Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded of the Palestinian Authority — recognition of Israel as ‘the nation state of the Jewish people’ — Blaustein insisted Ben Gurion deny in the … ‘Exchange of 1950.’”  
Mission of AJC  
“The way Jacob Blaustein interpreted the mission of the AJC, and forbore to publicly express and thus legitimate Jewish opposition to the more aggressive implications of Zionist ideology,” argues Solomon, “is a story setting Palestine’s fate. His opposition to the Jewish nationalist philosophy consisted functionally, with the support of every kind a Jewish American citizen could provide to the State of Israel … In Blaustein’s advocacy for the new state there is a ‘twinning’ with Israeli actions confounding each intention: with his assertion that there is no ‘dual loyalty’ danger in American Jews’ identification with the new state, the repetition from the state’s leaders that Jews belong in Israel, with the AJC’s construction of the American image of Israel as an American-like pioneering and open society built on values shared with the U.S., the privileging of one ethnic group in antithesis to the American ideal, reflected in a 1952 Knesset bill establishing that, ‘The State of Israel regards itself as the creation of the entire Jewish people’ and tasking the Jewish Agency with expanding to represent Jews worldwide.”  
In his speech in Baltimore, Blaustein rejected the claims Israel was making upon American Jews and Jewish residents of other countries. He declared: “We made it plain that American Jews would continue to give their whole allegiance to this country; and to no other, and the same thing would apply to Jews residing in other countries, with respect to their countries. From that position we have never receded … We did not consider then, nor do we now, that Palestine is the only place to which these unfortunates should go; nor did we consider — as the extreme, political Zionists insisted that the solution lie in an immediate Jewish state of the whole of Palestine. That would have meant that a minority of 600,000 Jews ruling a majority of 1,200,000 Arabs. That would have been undemocratic and, in addition, in our opinion, was unrealistic.”  
Blaustein believed that, “The anti-Semite may say that the Partition of Palestine presents a problem of possible inconsistency between our obligations as Americans and as Jews in what is termed dual allegiance. This possibility also seems to be the fear, unfounded in my opinion, of a small segment of American Jewry. There is no such problem.”  
Permanent Home  
He quotes a declaration of the AJC made in April 1918 at the time it endorsed the Balfour Declaration: “The Committee regards it as axiomatic that the Jews of the United States have here established a permanent home for themselves and their children, have acquired the rights and assumed the correlative duties of American citizenship and recognize their unqualified allegiance to the U.S., which they love and cherish and of whose people they constitute an integral part.”  
In its Statement of Views of 1943, the AJC stated: “There can be no political identification of Jews outside of Palestine with whatever government may there be instituted.” In his speech, Blaustein declared that, “This continues to be the case today. It is axiomatic. Factually, there can be no real confusion about it … As to the constitution, it must be democratic and based on a Bill of Rights without any link between Church and State. Arabs and Christians, representing minorities, must be assured equal rights in fact as well as in theory. A constitutional system must be devised, preferably modeled on the American presidential system.”  
In his 1948 speech, Blaustein goes so far as to declare that, “It seems to be that Zionist organizations, throughout the world and Zionists in America, will have no more of their original function and could be dissolved. Their ultimate aim will have been achieved. The former divisions into Zionists, non-Zionists and anti-Zionists would then probably disappear. The Jews of America could create an organization like ‘American Friends of Palestine’ or of the final name of the country, which would be a non-political agency with activities limited to securing material and moral support for the newly created state.”  
As if not understanding the philosophy of Zionism or the agenda of Zionist leaders, Blaustein declared that, “Any attempt at political identification between the Jews in America and the newly created state must be fought vigorously. We must continue to assert, if and when the question arises, that we American Jews do not have a dual allegiance. In the main, the charge will be by propagandists — the work of anti-Semites.”  
Real Nature of Zionism  
Jacob Blaustein and his friends in the AJC understood the real nature of Zionism far less clearly than the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism, as Abba Solomon shows in his book. Blaustein wanted the ACJ to remain silent. In his 1948 speech, he declared: “I wish our anti-Zionist friends would realize that expositions given out to the general public implying that a large number of Jews in the U.S. have, or may, put their allegiance to the new state in Palestine parallel with or over their allegiance to the U.S., are playing right into the hands of anti-Semitism. Refraining from this, of course, would not preclude free speech on this topic among our own groups.”  
In this formulation, the ACJ could tell the truth about Zionism within the Jewish community, but not to the general American public. Truth, in this case, had to be carefully rationed. The AJC, created in 1906, was in its early years vigorously opposed to Jewish nationalism. After World War I, an American Jewish Congress was convened in Philadelphia in Dec, 1918. The Congress endorsed “the development of Palestine into a Jewish commonwealth.” The members of the congress joined in singing the official Zionist song “Hatikvah,” while a delegate jumped on the stage and waved the Stars and Stripes together with the blue and white Zionist flag.  
A few days later, the NEW YORK TIMES published a letter and an article opposing the Congress’ action by a prominent AJC member, Simon Rosendale, former New York State Attorney General. The letter began, “In view of the pretentious Jewish organization … known as ‘Zionism,’ and of the recent holding of a ‘Congress’ in Philadelphia … it may be of interest to know that there is a large body of Jews who dissent from and are opposed to the movement.”  
Historic Opposition to Zionism  
Rosendale reviewed the Reform movement’s historic opposition to Zionism: “Their religion is concerned with the State only to the same extent to which all other denominations share the common aim of praying and working for the highest welfare of one’s native or adopted country. But the implications of a Jewish Palestinian State included those distasteful, dangerous and outworn doctrines of a combination of Church and State from the evils of which the world is being more and more saved, hence they neither participate in, nor approve of, the efforts to establish a Jewish Palestinian state.”  
Beyond this, Rosendale points out, “It goes without saying that any effort to provide a place where oppressed or persecuted Jews may find a place to live in peace, as well as any movement toward educational or cultural advancement, must meet with universal approval. Thus, if the British declaration had been for a free state, open to all with protection to all, no such opposition would be raised. But this is very different from, and the issue is taken on, the proposition establishing Jewish nationality.”  
Professor Edward Bliss Reed told the committee, “The reason that I do not want your vote for this resolution is because it is absolutely un-American” in that it ignored the rights of Palestinian Arabs. He told the committee, “The Arabs, who form 93 per cent of the population, are decidedly disaffected. They complain of a great injustice being done to them.”  
A Dangerous Doctrine  
AJC President Louis Marshall and the Executive Committee began considering a response to the Balfour Declaration at its Jan. 1918 meeting. The statement was approved at a special AJC meeting in April, 1918. At a February meeting, Marshall presented the following news report of a statement by prominent historian Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart of Harvard: “Hart decided that Jews either have to renounce their citizenship or else have to give up Zionism … Zionism is a dangerous doctrine, and is bound to be given up sooner or later by the Jewish people.”  
In response to a survey of AJC chapters, Isaac W. Bernheim sent a statement to the February meeting: “To becloud the title to his American citizenship by creating the impression that he is only a sojourner in this land; that he is ready when the proper moment will have arrived to transfer his allegiance to a foreign land is in my humble opinion nothing short of a crime towards those rugged pioneers and their descendants who by their wholehearted and unselfish devotion to their fatherland succeeded in securing for the American Israelites, proper recognition and the fullest opportunities politically and otherwise.”  
During this period, Zionists denied that they were making a claim upon the national identity and allegiance of American Jews. In February 1924, AJC leader Louis Marshall chaired a “Non-Partisan Conference to Consider Palestinian Problems.” One of the speakers, Dr. Solomon Solis-Cohen, told the meeting that he left the Zionist organization on the question of a Jewish state. He said: “As one who … went outside of the Zionist Organization upon the political question, because he believes that Jews of America should be American by nationality, and the Jews of Britain, British in nationality, and the Jews everywhere loyal citizens of the governments under which they reside … “ Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann interrupted. He declared, “So do the Zionists.”  
Elmer Berger  
Rabbi Elmer Berger, the long-time executive director of the ACJ, wrote that Weizmann was executing a Zionist organization plan of misdirection “for enlisting the support and participation of the leadership of essentially anti-Zionist American Jews. To bridge the gap, Weizmann coined the term ‘non-Zionism.’ The nomenclature was intended to identify a Jew who was willing to contribute material aid to the building of the ‘national home’ but was recognized as opposing the concept of ‘Jewish’ nationalism … The principal focus of Weizmann’s ‘diplomacy’ were leaders of the AJC, in the mid-1920s the most prestigious collection of American Jews, generous philanthropists, but anti-Zionist almost to a man. How this misalliance was finally consummated is a story of naiveté on the part of American Jews. They believed Weizmann’s tactically watered-down version of Zionist aspirations and relied upon the Mandatory to enforce the ‘safeguard’ clauses of the Balfour Declaration, protecting both Palestinian Arabs and anti-Zionist Jews from any possible threats to their existing nationality status by any unrestricted Zionist aggressiveness.”  
Abba Solomon writes that, “The British declaration was ambiguous in what a Jewish ‘national home’ in Palestine meant, and the Zionist Organization wrote to Major Lionel de Rothschild of the League of British Jews, ‘No claim is made or will be made that Jews constitute a separate political nationality all over the world,’ and that, ‘neither in the present or in the future should there be any discrimination among the inhabitants of Palestine with respect to citizenship or civil rights.’ The League extracted these pledges in exchange for its approval of the Declaration.”  
In detailed exchanges of letters with Louis Marshall of the AJC, de Rothschild, of the League of British Jews, “An Association of British Subjects Professing the Jewish Religion,” approved of the AJC statement on the Balfour Declaration, “except that we object on principle to the phrase ‘a National home for the Jewish people.’”  
Louis Marshall  
Louis Marshall wrote for the AJC: “You will note that we have carefully refrained from accepting the phrase ‘the homeland of the Jewish people,’ which has latterly sprung into vogue. Not even Herzl used it. To my mind it is an historical and practical absurdity. The objection to the words ‘a National Home for the Jewish People’ is from your point of view entirely natural. Let me, however, call upon your attention to the fact that we do not in our Statement use capitals, as you do in your quotation, and that a home is mentioned, ‘the home for the Jewish people.’ Nor is the phrase ours. It is that of the British Declaration.”  
The AJC was conscious of the presence and importance of the Arab population of Palestine, and reluctantly favored a plan for partition in 1946 to allow a Jewish-majority area, but with a distinctly American goal, as Blaustein says in his Baltimore speech: “… the Jewish section, when thought of in terms of a Jewish state, will be a Jewish state only in the sense that the U.S., with a preponderance of Christian population might be termed a Christian state.”  
The AJC differed sharply with Jewish nationalism, but seemed not to properly understand exactly what Zionists believed or had in mind for the future. An AJC memo of Jan. 13, 1948 declares that, “Whether these extreme Zionists realize it or not, the fact remains that behind their mentality and program there is no less monstrosity than the idol of the State as an absolute totalitarian substance in itself, the State which is complete master not only over its own immediate subjects but also over every living Jewish body and soul the world over, beyond any consideration of good or evil.”  
Rejecting Zionism Privately  
The AJC, while rejecting Jewish nationalism privately, objected to the ACJ and its public opposition to Zionism. In a late 1945 memo executive committee members of the AJC are listed who were also members of the ACJ and it is stated that they should not be re-elected at the Feb. 1946 annual meeting.  
The evidence indicates that AJC leaders knew very well what Zionism’s real intentions were but, somehow, talked themselves into thinking that Zionist leaders really didn’t mean what they said and that, through private persuasion, they might alter the most objectionable elements of their program. In May, 1941, Jacob Blaustein, Morris Waldman and Edward Warburg of the AJC were present at a meeting where Chaim Weizmann said that there must be Palestinian Arab resettlement in order for the Zionist vision to be properly realized. Weizmann explained that at the proper time, “when the world has quieted down,” it could be explained to Arab statesmen, “We are there; we have to be there.” Land in Trans-Jordan or Iraq would be purchased to which Arabs would be moved. In Nov. 1939, Louis Brandeis is quoted by Isadore Breslay as objecting to a planned visit to the U.S. by Weizmann: “He believed the whole thing was a mistake. He was afraid Weizmann would press his plan for political action, based on future re-shuffling of populations.”  
AJC leaders seemed to understand that the analysis of Zionism of the ACJ was, indeed, correct. In 1947, the May 11 executive committee of the AJC discussion of Palestine options begins with a report of Judge Joseph Proskauer, which includes his observation, “You cannot have what is called a Jewish State in any sense in a country which is two-thirds Arab. That is a plain, inescapable proposition. Therefore, if you want a Jewish State in any form there is a condition precedent to that, and that is immigration into Palestine.”  
Following the ACJ  
Proskauer noted that, “I have had some people suggest that we ought to follow the course which has been followed by the (American) Council for Judaism and come out in the newspapers with periodical denunciations of the Jewish Agency and of its work. I, for one, shall engage in no such enterprise … I am not criticizing the Council for Judaism. God knows, I am not fighting with them. Many of them are members of this group and many of them are my dearest friends.”  
Publication of Jacob Blaustein’s speech retrieves facts from 1946-48 and what AJC endorsement of partition did and did not mean. The AJC in no sense endorsed Theodor Herzl’s Zionist premise: that Jews were to “get out” from the non-Jewish world where they were not welcome, and create a political home in Palestine.  
The former Zionist and later a leader in the ACJ, Rabbi Morris Lazaron of Baltimore, had a dour view of the process of the Zionization of American Judaism, manifested, in part, by the changing views of the AJC. He declared that, “Zionism insinuated itself into American Jewish life in the guise of philanthropy, and now in these later years it is even more its nationalist philosophy expressed in this country under the guise of promoting ‘Jewishness,’ ‘Jewish unity,’ ‘Jewish education,’ and ‘Democracy in community life.’ … Finally, I came to the conclusion that the Zionists are using Jewish need only to exploit their political goals. Every sacred feeling of the Jew, every instinct of humanity, every deep-rooted anxiety for family, every cherished memory became an instrument to be used for the promotion of the Zionist cause.”  
Silencing Jewish Opposition  
After Israel’s creation, the AJC sought to silence all Jewish opposition to Zionism. Jacob Blaustein wrote the ACJ President Lessing Rosenwald on March 17, 1950, declaring that they shared a “mutual abhorrence for world Jewish political nationalism.” He then repeats the AJC insistence that ACJ criticism of Israel and American Zionists be confined to the “Yiddish and Anglo-American press.” Not challenging the truth and validity of ACJ claims, Blaustein, instead, argued that, “What counts is the fact that the line taken by the Council, even though of different intent, has been virtually indistinguishable from the line taken by the professional anti-Semites …”  
Jacob Blaustein and the AJC thought that it had accomplished a kind of reconciliation between Zionism and the universal, prophetic Judaism in which most of its members believed. The Blaustein-Ben-Gurion declaration was a centerpiece, they thought, of this new understanding. It is now clear that Israel has publicly repudiated that declaration and seeks to speak in the name of all Jews and to stimulate the emigration of all Jews to Israel.  
Abba Solomon points out that, “The activities of the Nefesh b’Nefesh organization — supported by the quasi-governmental Jewish Agency — -to promote immigration from the U.S., seems inconsistent with the agreement reached between Blaustein and the Israeli government … Charles S. Liebman, writing in Jewish Social Studies (July-Oct. 1974) about the (Blaustein-Ben-Gurion) agreement commented, ‘Events and life, have — at least for the time being — rendered the 1950 ‘Exchange’ without substance.’”  
Abandoning Ben-Gurion’s Pledge  
In his address to the Jewish Federation of North America General Assembly in November, 2012, Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, told his audience that, “… in 1950, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion had a correspondence with American Jewish leader Jacob Blaustein. Ben-Gurion pledged never to question the loyalty of American Jews to America. In return, Blaustein promised American Jewish help in forging a secure and robust Jewish state. And the agreement pretty much worked. Israelis mostly refrained from calling for a mass aliya of American Jews. Indeed, in many of the Israel Experience programs for Americans, Israeli counselors are forbidden to press for aliya. But in recent years, something has happened. We, Israel and American Jewry, have changed …”  
The Ben-Gurion-Blaustein agreement, argues Jack Wertheimer, a professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, “did not heed a fundamental premise of spiritual Zionism: the conviction that the Diaspora would be transformed by Zionism and the Jewish state that was born from it.”  
Rather than adhering to the non-interference called for by the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein declaration, writes Wertheimer, “Over the … years since its founding, Israel has come to play a pervasive, if unacknowledged role in virtually every sector of American Jewish public culture … Passages of the liturgy are sung to Israeli melodies, as when references to the restoration of the Jewish people to Zion are chanted to the tune of the ‘Hatikvah,’ Israel’s national anthem, or the iconic song of the Six Day War, ‘Yerushalayim Shel Zahav’ (Jerusalem of Gold) … rabbis across the spectrum routinely deliver sermons about conditions in Israel designed to inspire their flock to identify with Israel … and the flag of Israel is displayed prominently along with the Stars and Stripes in sanctuaries and social halls of synagogues … Ignoring Ben-Gurion’s pledge of non-interference in internal American Jewish affairs, several recent prime ministers and presidents of Israel have looked for ways to shore up Jewish education in the U.S …”  
Call to Immigrate  
Shortly after the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein declaration, at the 23rd World Zionist Congress of 1951, a resolution was passed which called upon the youth of the Jewish community, particularly those in the U.S., to immigrate to Israel. The head of the American Section of the Jewish Agency, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, declared: “We accomplished a great job. American Jews have always been asked for money and came through beautifully. Now we shall ask them for children, and I am confident that they will come through, after much education and effort.”  
Blaustein himself expressed outrage at Israel’s refusal to adhere to the agreement he negotiated. Ever since, Israel has spared no effort in attempting to stimulate the emigration of Jews, not only from the U.S. but from every place in the world where Jews may live. In 1998, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called upon American Jews to make a “mass aliya” to Israel. In a book published in 2000, “Conversations With Yitzhak Shamir,” the former Israeli prime minister declared: “The very essence of our being obliges every Jew to live in Eretz Yisrael.”  
The State of Israel, true to the Zionist philosophy, is not content to be the state of its own citizens but persists in claiming to be the “homeland” of all Jews, whose responsibility, it argues, is to emigrate. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky told The Jerusalem Post (Jan. 11-17, 2013) that world Jewry needs Israel for its identity. “I strongly believe in aliya,” he said. The way to stimulate aliya, in his view, is by strengthening the connection by Jews to Israel through programs such as Birthright. “The percentage of young people who are deciding to make aliya after their Israeli experience is growing,” he said.  
Zionist Mindset  
The Zionist mindset can be seen in an advertisement appearing in The Jerusalem Post (Nov. 2-8, 2012) from a group called the Israel Emergency Aliyah Movement. It reads, in part, “WARNING! JEWS LIVING IN AMERICA! … YOU ARE IN DANGER! … Countless Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups are spreading their venomous message … calling for violence against Jews and praising Hitler as a ‘true hero’ … Come Home to Israel … Before It’s Too Late.”  
Whatever David Ben-Gurion may have agreed to in 1950, ever since the State of Israel has promoted the idea that Jews living outside its borders are “in exile” and that all Jews should emigrate to that state. In recent years, a mass emigration effort organized and partly financed by Nefesh b’Nefesh has sought to boost American emigration to Israel, providing grants of up to $25,000 for each new immigrant. The program, said Prime Minister Netanyahu, will “bring home to Zion our Jewish brethren from the diaspora.”  
Abba Solomon has performed a notable service in recording the history of the Ben-Gurion-Blaustein agreement and the manner in which the AJC completely misunderstood the real goal of Zionism, while, Solomon concludes, the ACJ’s understanding of what Zionists had in mind for American Jews was quite correct. It is time that this history is widely known and properly understood.

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.