Jews against Zionism: The American Council for Judaism, 1942-1948

By Thomas A. Kolsky | Go to book overview

Preface

The American Council for Judaism was the only American Jewish organization ever formed for the specific purpose of fighting Zionism and opposing the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine. In the 1940s, when the Zionists were engaged in a decisive struggle to create a Jewish state, the Council stood as their most formidable opponent within the Jewish community.

Much has been written about the history of American Zionism, with Melvin Urofsky's American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust and We Are One! providing a thorough survey of the movement. 1 But no comprehensive history of the Council and its activities in the 1940s has been written to date. The major works on the growth of American Zionism, including Urofsky's, have given the Council only marginal attention. My essay, "The Opposition to Zionism: The American Council for Judaism Under the Leadership of Rabbi Louis Wolsey and Lessing Rosenwald," in Philadelphia Jewish Life, 1940-1985, edited by Murray Friedman, is a brief overview of the formation and the main phases of the history of the organization. 2 Elmer Berger, the central figure in the Council's history, presents a highly candid personal account of the organization in Memoirs of an Anti-Zionist Jew. 3 However, besides being too brief, Berger's story, though told frankly, is not free of partisan bias. In short, the story of the American Council for Judaism has remained largely untold.

Throughout my research and writing I have tried to remain impartial. My basic attitude toward the American Council for Judaism has been that its philosophy is as legitimate as that of the Zionists. Both Zionism and Jewish anti-Zionism are products of the powerful historical forces that have shaped the modern Jewish experience.

It gives me great pleasure to acknowledge the help I have received while working on this project. The staffs of the National Archives in Washington, D. C., the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, New York, and the Harry S. Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, offered me

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