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

By Thomas A. Kolsky | Go to book overview

Epilogue and Conclusion

One week after the Israeli declaration of independence, the Council officially accepted the reality of the Jewish state. At the same time, however, it clearly dissociated itself from that state. To American Jews, the ACJ declared, Israel was neither the state nor the homeland of "the Jewish people. " It was simply a foreign state. Distrustful of Israel and Zionists, the ACJ reiterated its commitment to oppose their interference in the affairs of American Jews. 1

The establishment of Israel precipitated a major crisis within the ACJ. Berger and his partisans believed that the organization should continue its work. On the other hand, many members, feeling demoralized by the Zionist success, lost the desire to fight. Some of them thought the creation of the Zionist state would lead to the dissolution of the movement responsible for its formation and thus render anti-Zionism unnecessary. Others felt that opposition to Zionism was now futile because the power of a sovereign state made the movement invincible. "We fought a good fight, but we lost," they argued, let us not be spoilsports." 2

Before it had time to evaluate the new situation, the ACJ came under devastating attack from its disillusioned founder, Rabbi Wolsey. In a speech at Temple Rodeph Shalom on 15 May, he called on the Council to disband. But his bitter denunciation of his former associates did not imply his conversion to Zionism. On the contrary, Wolsey also appealed to Zionists to "dissolve into a unity of world Jewry for the creation of a Jewish culture and a Jewish life in the land of Israel." Despite mistakes on both sides, he felt that Israel offered a great possibility "of freedom, decency and dignity" for suffering Jews. 3

Wolsey's attack and the publicity surrounding it were serious blows to the ACJ. The Zionists exploited them to the utmost. They sent copies of the speech and articles about it to ACJ members. Rabbi James G. Heller, once his archenemy, was delighted with Wolsey and thanked him for the "great deal of good" he had done. Playing on the old rabbi's anger with the

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