Patriot, Judge, and Zionist
Louis D. Brandeis played an integral role in promoting Zionism in the United States during the early part of the 1900's. Read on to learn more...
Brandeis is the name of a place near Prague, the capital of Bohemia. Here, in one of the oldest ghettos of Europe, members of the Brandeis family lived for generations. In these narrow alleys they remained true to their faith and their people in spite of all humiliations and persecutions. The Prague ghetto produced rabbis, scholars and poets; it developed a high standard of culture and had many synagogues, among them the Alt Neuschul, where the flag, bearing the Star of David, given to the Jews by the Emperor, Karl IV, was kept. They were given the right to parade the flag in public and, on rare occasions, they marched with it, proudly and solemnly, through the streets of Prague.
During the siege of Prague (1648), the Jews distinguished themselves again by courage and bravery. They formed a fighting group to defend the city and the ghetto, driving back the Swedish invaders with long spears. In recognition of their deeds, they were given a "Schwedenhut" (Swedish Helmet), permission to have a clock with Hebrew numerals and to build a tower on the Jewish town-hall. But they did not gain any legal rights and their martyrdom did not cease. Frequently, they were banished, and often, when hostile mobs pillaged their homes, they sought refuge in the cemetery, praying at the graves of their rabbis and waiting for God's miracle to deliver them from their misery. In the ancient cemetery, among the 20,000 tombstones, could be found some with the name of Brandeis inscribed upon them-names of rabbis, merchants or artisans who belonged to Jewish guilds.
The sinister atmosphere of the ghetto, with its special Jewish taxes and tolerance taxes, could not break their resistance nor their spirit. The Jewish community in Prague had its own "self-defense" and occasionally the organized butchers' guild managed to withhold
"Golem" from clay, could be seen and through the other window Prague could be admired with its magnificent buildings and the oldest German university in Europe.
The outbreak of the French revolution and the ensuing Jewish Emancipation Act of 27th September, 1791, gave confidence to Bohemian Jewry but it took a long time before the chains of slavery were finally shaken off. There were still in existence a great number of regulations about Jewish taxes and restrictions regarding their rights of occupation and residence.
Simon Brandeis preferred the view from the ghetto window and his son, Adolf, the European window. The Jews of Prague thirsted for the literature of the outside world. They longed for a broader education and were anxious to belong to the circle of European culture. They learned languages, ordered books from Paris, read Klopstock, Lessing and Goethe and knew Schiller's "Lied von der Glocke" ("The Song of the Bell") by heart. The desire for freedom which developed in the ghetto sought liberty in the works of European poets. Abraham Kisch was the first Jewish student from Bohemia to study medicine at the University of Halle. By the end of the 18th century others could also attend the University of Prague. It did .not take long before Bohemia had its own Jewish men of letters and orators who took an active part in the fight for emancipation in Prague and even in Vienna, the capital of the Austro Hungarian monarchy.
The sons of Simon Brandeis yearned for a new world. One of them, Samuel, studied medicine and became a doctor in Prague, the other, Adolf, attended a technical college. However, he came up against difficulties when trying to build a career for himself in Prague, as the old restrictions against the Jews hampered his progress. So he went to Hamburg and later to England but returned, at the age of 26, to Prague, on hearing of the outbreak of the 1848 revolution.
On 13th March, stirred by the speeches of two Jewish doctors, Dr. Adolf Fischof and Dr, Josef Goldmark, and in the hope of gaining civil rights, the Jews joined in the uprising with the citizens of Vienna. Some of them were among the first victims of the revolution.
In Bohemia there lived at that time 21/2 million Czechs, l,800,000 Germans and 50,000 Jews. Czechs, Germans and Jews, especially the students of Prague, banded together in order to present a petition to Kaiser Ferdinand. At the beginning they thought of including a request for the emancipation of the Jews, but between one sitting of the revolutionary committee and the next, the ideas and aims of the revolution were forgotten. Finally the view prevailed that more could be obtained from the Government by the non-Jewish population of Bohemia if the Jewish claims were abandoned. The emancipation of the Jews was no longer included but in its place freedom of self-expression for all religious denominations, and more freedom for citizens and for universities was demanded.
Even before the Jewish-tax was lifted in Vienna, an increase of antagonism towards the Jews could be felt. The reactionary feelings became more powerful, particularly with regard to the question of Jewish emancipation and the Jews were punished for their participation in the revolution. And on 1st May, 1848, anti-Jewish disturbances broke out in Prague. Some of the Jewish leaders then initiated a campaign for emigration to America where freedom and work could be found. Special associations were formed to facilitate emigration to countries where Jews could settle and where they would be free to practise their religion and have equal rights with other citizens. In America, the land of freedom. wrote a contemporary Jewish writer, they could remain honest men, faithful to their religion and bring honour to the Jewish people.
Some respected and well-to-do families left Prague for America. Among the first emigrants was Adolf Brandeis.
In 1848 there were 50,000 Jews in America. The first settlers to arrive about 200 years earlier were Sephardic Jews from England and Holland, and later came the German-speaking Ashkenazim. In 1728 there were two synagogues in New York and the Jews had a share in developing the land and its economy and took part in the War of Liberation.
When young Adolf Brandeis entered the New World, the Jews had for a long time enjoyed equal rights and opportunities with all the other citizens of that country. This pioneering Brandeis visited New York and other cities in order to choose his future place of residence and later advised his relatives in Prague to follow his example. And in due course the families of Brandeis, Dembitz and Wehle arrived.
Adolf married Frederika Dembitz and settled in Louisville. Frederika's brother, Dr. Lewis Naphtali Dembitz, whose father, Sr. Siegmund, was a very interesting character, also came to Louisville. While a student of medicine, he joined the Frankists sect but later found his way back to Judaism.
Adolf Brandeis had four children; the youngest, Louis David, was born on 13th November, 1856. He was a bright pupil, able and hard-working and at the top of his class. Had he been born in the Prague ghetto and studied the Talmud, he would have certainly been described as "liui" (brilliant student).
The children of Adolf Brandeis received an American education. They felt free and enjoyed their freedom; the Jewish misery and the Jewish problem were unknown to them. In 1872 the Brandeis family made a tour of Europe. Louis David remained in Dresden (1873-1875) in order to study at the Annen-Realschule. But he longed for free America and at the age of 19, with the ascetic face of a Yeshiva bachur, he became a student at the Harvard Law School. Under the influence of his uncle, Dr. Lewis Naphtali Dembitz, he decided on Law and, as a token of his appreciation changed his middle name, David, to Dembitz.
Dr. L. N. Dembitz, assistant city attorney in Louisville, was the only one of the family who had an interest in Jewish matters. Dembitz (1833-1907) was the author of several books, among them the "Jewish Services in the Synagogue and the Home" and he contributed to Jewish periodicals and wrote an essay on Talmudic law. His name was well-known in America and he was a recognised Jewish scholar. The Jewish Seminary of America conferred on him the honorary degree of Doctor of Hebrew Literature. Dembitz was one of the first Zionists in America, a member of the Executive of the Zionist Federation, and inspired many American Jews to take an active part in the development of Palestine. At the age of 74 he wrote a Zionist message to the Jews of America which was published shortly after his death.
Louis Brandeis was the favorite of both professors and fellow students. His colleagues chose him as "class orator" and in 1877, when still in his 21st year, his professors allowed him to graduate as Bachelor of Law. He started a practice in St. Louis and later, together with a colleague from the university, Samuel D. Warren, opened an office in Boston under the name of "Warren and Brandeis". Between 1897 and 1916 he worked in the legal firm of "Brandeis, Dunbar and Nutter".
In 1891 he married a relative, Alice Goldmark, the daughter of Dr. Josef Goldmark. Goldmark was a doctor in Vienna and played a prominent part in the 1848 revolution. He, together with Dr. Adolf Fischof, was elected to the Reichsrat. Both of them, leaders of the Jews in Vienna, were brave and courageous men, ignoring danger and making fervent speeches in favour of rights for the Jews. With the victory of the counter-revolution, Dr. Fischof was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment and Dr. Goldmark to death, but he saved himself by escaping to America.
Counsel of the People
The secret of the successful career of Louis Brandeis was that he transmuted the love of freedom and democracy, which had brought his family to America, into a cornerstone of his ideology. He put into daily practice the political and economic theory of freedom. His inherited sense of justice made him an enemy of social injustice. Whenever the need arose he stood by the oppressed. He became the counsel of the people and defended them against powerful financiers and monopolists. He influenced the workers, making them understand that obsolete regulations must be replaced by new legislation, and he became the spokesman of the man in the street in his fight for economic freedom. He helped to increase the well-being of the masses and often made representations against public abuse. He was a realist, searching for and collecting detail, getting to the root of the most difficult problems and he loved clarity and statistics. Ex facto jus oritur. He was an ascetic and was considered a second Lincoln. He had the ability to think clearly and to analyze. He could listen patiently to counter arguments and when he arrived at a decision he promoted it with enthusiasm. He excelled in legal interpretations, in bringing out the facts, and he was regarded as a great advocate, lawyer, legal reformer and social philosopher. People had confidence in him and he was called the "Counsel of the People" and "People's attorney". He fought successfully against the 10-hour working day for women and for the minimum wages bill; he helped to eliminate the sweat-shop system and fought for the abolition of employment of children, for the protection of factory workers, for labour legislation, and he inspired the saving-banks life-insurance by lower-cost insurance for workers.
Brandeis was one of the most prominent members of the Democratic Party. He was regarded as its most progressive advocate and lawyer. He influenced the policy of the party and his philosophy of regulated competition, free enterprise and economic freedom had a special influence on his friend, Woodrow Wilson. Brandeis's views on "New Freedom" were reflected in Wilson's speeches and helped him to secure presidential election in 1912.
President Wilson was greatly impressed by Brandeis's ability and learning. He had full confidence in his judgment, frequently sought his advice and recognised his outstanding services to America. He originally intended to have him as his Attorney-General and later as his Minister of Justice, but it was not until 1916 that he appointed him as member of the Supreme Court. This appointment provoked a storm of protests in certain quarters. Brandeis's enemies were not only those who saw in him a radical with socialist leanings but also those who saw in him the Jew. Even in free America there was no dearth of anti-Semites. When somebody drew Wilson's attention to the fact that Brandeis was a Jew, he replied: "But he would not be Brandeis were he not a Jew". Wilson, explaining this appointment, wrote in full to Senator Culberson, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee: "I cannot speak too highly of his impartial, impersonal, orderly and constructive mind, his rare analytical power, his deep human sympathy, his profound acquaintance with the historical roots of our institutions and insight into their spirit, or of the many evidences he has given of being imbued to the very heart with our American ideals of justice and equality of opportunity; of his knowledge of modern economic conditions and of the way they bear upon the masses of the people, or of his genius in getting persons to unite in common and harmonious action and look with frank and kindly eyes into each other's mind, who had before been heated antagonists". The Senate confirmed the proposal and on 1st June, 1916, Brandeis became a member of the Supreme Court. His appointment meant a defeat for the forces of reaction and a triumph for American democracy. Brandeis remained in this high position till 1939 and carried out his duties conscientiously, fearlessly and for the benefit of the citizens who recognised his sagacity and judgment.
Brandeis and Zionism
In America in the 18th century, there were Christian scholars and priests, although fewer in number than in England, who preached and wrote about the "restoration of Israel" and about the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. A few of the American Jews could also be regarded as forerunners of Zionism. Mordecai Manuel Noah (1785-1851), appealed to the Jews in 1825 to establish on Grand Island a place of refuge, called Ararat, where they could prepare themselves to carry out the restoration of their ancient Fatherland. Noah, who believed in the return of the Jews to Zion, wanted to establish a shelter, a "Nachtasyl" where Jews could study the art of government before leaving for Palestine.
The poetess Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) believed in "Daniel Deronda". She loved her people and fanned their faith in Jewish Palestine with her songs, her prayer being for the appearance of a new Ezra who would again become the standard-bearer of the Jews. Following the outbreak of pogroms in Russia in the 1880's, the great wave of emigration of East-European Jews to America began and at the end of the last century the number of the Jews there reached the two million mark.
The "Hovevei Zion" was never a mass movement, not even in Russia. But in America, too, a few associations calling themselves "Shovei-Zion" made an appearance. They were led by a few rabbis, scholars, Hebrew and Yiddish writers. They supported the Jewish colonies in Palestine even though their financial contributions were small. When Theodor Herzl's "Judenstaat" appeared in 1896 he found in America many enthusiastic followers but even more adversaries of Zionism. "Protestrabbiner" declaimed against him not only in Berlin, London and in the Russian towns but also in American cities. The local Jewish papers took up the issue, publishing many pro and counter-arguments but also articles by Herzl and Nordau. In the Jewish quarter of New York, as in Whitechapel, Zionist meetings took place. American Hovevei Zionists to a very large extent supported the idea of political Zionism and decided to work for the establishment of the Jewish State. Delegates were sent to the Zionist Congress in Basle. Indeed, a few new Zionist associations appeared. But on the whole the organised Zionist movement attracted only a small number of Jews. Together with the Federation of American Zionists in New York, which comprised a number of associations in various states, there was also another federation, "Order Knights of Zion", in Chicago. Between the two there were differences similar to that which existed between the English Zionist Federation in London and the Order of Ancient Maccabeans in Manchester.
In spite of the fact that the number of Jews in America increased to over three million, there were only about ten thousand organised Zionists. The income of the Zionist Organisation was approximately $14,000 and it was Shmarya Levin's task to increase it to $20,000. The Zionist leaders of America became aware of their new duties and convened a conference on August 20th, 1914, in New York in order to mobilise fresh forces and in case of necessity, to undertake action independently of the Zionist Executive in Europe. Louis D. Brandeis was elected President of the Provisional Executive Committee for General Zionist Affairs.
At this conference the Zionists were quite unexpectedly given an organiser, a leader and a statesman united in one person. And it evoked in the man, who until then had been a realist- a man of facts and figures, the inborn spiritual awareness and inherited longings of the old Prague ghetto. Brandeis was able to unite the descendants of old immigrants with the East-European elements, and to bring together Jews of all social classes and inspire them with a common goal. With the help of Rabbi Stephen Wise, Judge Julian Mack, Jacob de Haas, Dr. Harry Friedenwald, Prof. Felix Frankfurter and others, he created a powerful movement. He set in motion the wheels of the organisation. In a very short time the number of shekel-holders increased to 150 thousand and there were two to three times as many non-organised Zionists and pro-Zionist sympathisers. The Zionists, who up till then had been on the defensive, launched, under the leadership of Brandeis, an attack on the anti-Zionists, who were then particularly active among the workers ("Bundists"), and the wealthy Jews.
Brandeis brought America into the history of Zionism. Public opinion in America sympathised with Zionist aims and from that time Zionism became a standing item on Washington'$ agenda. Brandeis taught American Jewry not only to think politically, but also to bear heavy responsibilities. Where formerly contributions to Zionist work were in cents and dollars, the income of the Zionist Organisation now increased from thousands to a million. Until 1914 it was Europe which carried the main financial burden of supporting the Jewish colonies in Palestine; gradually this was taken over by America. The needs of Jewish colonists in Palestine, and in particular of those expelled from there during the first world war, were met mainly with the help of American Jewry.
Joseph Cowen, President of the English Zionist Federation, had contact with the Provisional Executive Committee and visited New York in November, 1915, to consult Brandeis and other Zionist leaders in America and to establish a united political front. He informed them that he had obtained an interview with Lloyd George about Zionism. Lloyd George had told him that the demands of united Jewry ought to awaken the interest of the nations.
Both England and Germany sought the friendship of America at that time and tried by every mean$ to win American public support. Whichever country obtained an alliance with America could be certain of final victory. Lucien Wolf, the Secretary of the Conjoint Foreign Committee of the Board of Deputies of British Jews and of the Anglo-Jewish Association, was asked officially to advise how to gain the sympathy of American Jewry for the cause of the Allies. In his memorandum, written at the end of 1915 and addressed to Robert Cecil of the Foreign Office, he replied that they should, in the first place, take into consideration the Zionist movement of America. Lucien Wolf underlined in his memorandum that he himself was not a Zionist and was opposed to the idea that the Allies should promise the Jewish people to establish a Jewish State. However, he proposed that the Allies should guarantee reasonable facilities for emigration to and colonisation of Palestine, some measure of local government for the existing colonies, the foundation of a Hebrew University and the recognition of Hebrew as one of the vernaculars of the land. Lucien Wolf was convinced that, should such a promise be made, "the whole of American Jewry will enter into enthusiastic allegiance" with the cause of the Allies. Robert Cecil forwarded this memorandum to Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British Ambassador in America.
James Malcolm, and under his influence Sir Mark Sykes, later came to the same conclusion. If England wanted to have President Wilson's friendship she must win over Judge Brandeis.
Louis Brandeis believed in the just cause of the Allies and in the sanctity of the Basle Programme. Every nation, small or great, had its own State. Why should not the Jews, too, have their ancient Palestine? Democracy and freedom would reign in the Jewish State. In Zionism he saw the only hope for the elevation of the Jewish people and that prompted all his endeavours. He negotiated with the English and French Ambassadors, was in con tact with Sokolow and Weizmann, had an interview with Balfour who visited America in April, 1917, and found President Wilson to be a devoted friend of Zionist ideals. On 6th April, 1917, America entered the war and its influence on the Palestine question carried great weight in Downing Street.
English literature in favour of "Restoration of Israel" extending over 300 years and the political intervention of Theodor Herzl in London, created deep sympathy in this country for the ideals of ...Zionism. The initial efforts of Theodor Herzl to secure a Charter were the basis of negotiations which were crowned by the Balfour Declaration. In no other country but England was such a declaration possible, even when based on entirely practical issues.
It was due to the historic work of Weizmann and Sokolow, of Gaster and Lord Rothschild, their collaborators and their English friends, but also due to Brandeis, who even influenced the style of the text. The words "Jewish race" were changed into "Jewish people.". A few days after the Balfour Declaration, Weizmann wrote to Brandeis expressing thanks for his valuable and effective assistance.
The Jewish "Landespolitik" was also under discussion in America, and early in the war Jewish leaders came to the conclusion that it would be necessary to elect a special representative body which would be able to act at the forthcoming Peace Conference as spokesman for the religious, national and political rights of the Jews in certain European countries. Wherever minority rights were recognised these should be extended to cover the Jewish minority. This was the beginning of the Congress movement which aimed to obtain Jewish solidarity and unity of action, in the first place in America but later on also in Europe. Under the leadership of Brandeis, Stephen Wise and Judge Mack, the Jewish Congress Organisation Committee was established in March, 1915. The vehement discussions and propaganda for and against the Congress movement stirred American Jewry and made it acquainted with the Jewish problem. The endeavours of Brandeis to bring in the American Jewish Committee (established in 1906) and some other Jewish organisations were unsuccessful. These organisations were quite willing to participate in a conference of appointed representatives, but were opposed to Brandeis's idea of convening a congress of delegates elected by the Jewish population. Nevertheless, one year later, 367 delegates, representing over one million Jews, came together in Philadelphia and formulated Jewish demands for submission to the Peace Conference and elected a National Executive Committee under the honorary chairmanship of Louis D. Brandeis.
The Committee planned an international Jewish conference of Jews from allover the world to discuss their common problems, to make Ii known their claims and to establish a permanent organisation (the World Jewish Congress) to act and speak in the name of the Jews. On 16th May, 1916, Brandeis sent a detailed memorandum on this subject to Lucien Wolf of the Conjoint Foreign Committee, but Wolf thought it desirable that "each community shall pursue an independent course" and declined to participate in such an inter national organisation.
On 10th June, 1917, 335,000 American Jews cast their votes I and elected their delegates who, together with representatives of some 30 national organisations, established on a democratic basis the American Jewish Congress. The efforts to bring into existence a World Jewish Congress lasted nearly 20 years until the first meeting took place in Geneva in August, 1936.
Brandeis, who, in July, 1916, was appointed a member of the Supreme Court, had to relinquish his honorary chairmanship. However, he took an interest in the work of the American Jewish Congress and should, therefore, be described as one of its architects. His main work at that time was centred on Jewish Palestine.
Sir Cecil Spring- Rice, before being replaced as British Ambassador by Lord Reading, wrote on 4th January, 1918, in his last report to Balfour, informing him that he had had an interview with Brandeis, "the accepted leader of the Zionists". Brandeis explained to him why he and his Zionist friends had turned a deaf ear to the promises and cajolery of German propaganda. Brandeis said that "under German control the (Zionist) idea could never be realised and that under English control their idea could be realised". Brandeis, who was a faithful admirer of British democracy and civilisation, advocated Britain as Mandatory Power for Palestine, "from Dan to Beersheba". President Wilson welcomed this idea which was realised at the San Remo Conference on 24th April, 1920, when the Balfour Declaration was incorporated into the Peace Treaty with Turkey.
New difficulties arose, both of a political and economic nature. Again and again the leaders at Great Russell Street, headquarters of the Zionist Organisation, sought assistance in New York and in Washington. Brandeis and his collaborators never refused help. They redoubled their efforts to save Jewish Palestine from economic i collapse and Zionism from threatened dangers.
The Balfour Declaration met with an enthusiastic reception everywhere, but emotion alone could not assure a Jewish Palestine. Poverty and disease reigned in that land and the network of Jewish colonisation was nearly destroyed. Contact with Russian Zionists was cut off by the revolution and one of the consequences of the war was that East-European Jews were themselves in need of help and could not be of any great assistance in the reconstruction work of Palestine. New burdens and duties again fell upon the Jews of America.
Theodor Herzl created the Zionist World Organisation and other institutions so that on receiving the Charter, or, as it turned out to be, the Balfour Declaration, the Jewish State could then be established without delay through mass emigration and large-scale colonisation. Times had changed and different people were leading the Movement. Moreover, the World Zionist Organisation was not as active as it might have been after the momentous and historic act of 2nd November, 1917. No great organiser seemed capable of gathering the Jews in the Diaspora and leading them into immediate action. Hundreds of thousands emigrated to new countries but only a few thousand went to Palestine. Weizmann, Nordau and Brandeis together could have accomplished this vital task. The total population of Palestine was at that time approximately 650,000 Arabs, Jews and Christians. Had these three men been united in their leadership and programme, Palestine might have had a Jewish majority in a very short time. But their differences in political, economic and organizational outlook grew increasingly and in consequence the World Zionlst Organisation was much weakened.
When the Zionist Commission, under the Presidence of Weizmann and with Israel Sieff as Secretary, reached Palestine on 14th April, 1918, it ran into difficulties with the
British military administration, which was far from sympathetic to Zionist aspirations. This Commission, which went to Palestine with the consent of the British Government and stayed there for some years, did not fulfill the hopes of the Zionists and was criticised by Brandeis.
Immediately after the Balfour Declaration, Brandeis drew up a plan for the reconstruction of Palestine and presented it to the Zionist Commission at the beginning of 1918,In June, 1918, a convention of the American Zionists adopted the proposals of Brandeis and his friends. The Pittsburg Programme, as it was called, became well-known in Zionist history and was often quoted at Zionist Congresses. It runs as follows:
1. We declare for political and civil equality irrespective of race, sex or faith for all inhabitants of the land.
2. To insure in the Jewish National Home in Palestine equality of opportunity we favour a policy which, with due regard to existing rights, shall tend to establish the ownership and control by the whole people of the land, of all natural resources and of all public utilities.
3. All land, owned or controlled by the whole people, should be leased on such conditions as will insure the fullest opportunity for development and continuity of possession.
4. The co-operative principle should be applied so far as feasible in the organisation of all agricultural, industrial, commercial, and financial undertakings.
5. The system of free public instruction which is to be established should embrace all grades and departments of education.
In June, 1919, on his way to Palestine, Brandeis stopped for a short time in London where he met Weizmann for the first time. 1 In a letter to his wife, Brandeis wrote that Weizmann "is neither as great nor as objectionable as he was painted. But he is very " much of a man and much bigger than most of his fellows". Weizmann in his "Trial and Error" describes Brandeis as "upright, austere, of a scrupulous honesty and implacable logic". He was, continues Weizmann, like Wilson, "apt to evolve theories, based on the highest principles, from his inner consciousness, and he expects the facts to fit with them". In Palestine, Brandeis visited towns "and colonies, collected figures, studied documents and problems. He was visited by a great number of people, among them Vladimir Jabotinsky. They all sought his advice and intervention with the British military authorities. In 1917, Brandeis supported the idea of the creation of a Jewish Legion propounded by Jabotinsky, and in the United States, too, a few thousand Jews soon volunteered to serve in the Legion. But in 1919 a difference of opinion developed between the two men. Unlike Jabotinsky, Brandeis trusted the British administration in Palestine. Whenever Brandeis stopped on his way to and from Palestine, he took the opportunity of having consultations on Zionist matters. In Cairo he saw Col. T. E. Lawrence, in Alexandria General Allenby, in Paris President Wilson, Balfour, Baron Rothschild, and he undertook diplomatic action to improve the position of Palestine.
"The differences between Brandeis and Weizmann increased and came to a head at the Annual Conference of July, 1920, in London. Three years after the Balfour Declaration and a few months after the San Remo Conference, about 250 delegates and members of the Zionist Actions Committee gathered in London to discuss the position in Palestine, where just at that time Sir Herbert Samuel had taken over office as the first High Commissioner. Max Nordau was elected Honorary President of the Conference, Brandeis Honorary President of the World Zionist Organisation, Weizmann President of the World Zionist Organisation and Sokolow Chairman of the Zionist Executive.
Max Nordau insisted that it was imperative to send about half a million young men and women to settle in Palestine immediately, even were this to involve suffering and sacrifice. It was the only way to combat the Arab danger and achieve the establishment of a Jewish State. But the overwhelming majority at the conference was against Nordau. Fears were expressed that the settlers would, at the beginning, be exposed to many dangers-hunger, fever and hardship. "It is much better to have some losses now," replied the old Zionist prophet, Nordau, "than to endanger the future of the Jewish people".
Brandeis thought that the work of political Zionism had ended in San Remo and that Palestine had become Jewish at least from a political point of view. If was therefore necessary to speed up the rebuilding and have a Jewish majority there as quickly as possible. With a Jewish majority the Jewish Commonwealth would become 'a reality. Brandeis advocated that the Zionist Commission should be dissolved and the World Zionist Organisation, which should transfer its seat from London to Jerusalem should be re-formed; that the World Zionist Organisation should concern itself only with practical work for Palestine; that three men, among them Weizmann and Sokolow, should be elected members of the Executive with the right to co-opt another three or four persons. Certain departments should be transferred to Palestine and they should be directed only by experts and not by Zionist politicians or by veteran leaders who had-served in the past. He was in favour of a complete separation between the work in Palestine and the work in the Galuth.
The World Zionist Organisation should concern itself solely with the upbuilding in Palestine and the Zionist Federations with propaganda, culture and education in the Galuth. The Zionist funds should be used only for the reconstruction of Palestine. The money should be raised with a definite purpose- on the one hand by collections for the establishment of the Hebrew University, the buying of land, combating malaria, etc., and on the other, by investments. Brandeis was against projects which would need permanent support and which might lead to the creation of another species of Chalukah Jewry. He demanded the introduction of economies and a strong control over the financial and economic administration. The work for Palestine must be carried out efficiently and he stressed the word "efficiency". People with influence in the financial world, both Zionist and non-Zionist, should be invited to join the "Economic Council". He also wanted to bring non-Zionists into the work of the World Zionist Organisation.
Brandeis's "efficiency" plan began in triumph at the London Conference but ended in defeat. The Americans put the blame on Weizmann who at first supported it, then suddenly, without giving any reason, turned against it. However, what annoyed Brandeis -most of all were the incidents connected with his proposal to invite Sir Alfred Mond and Lord Rothschild to participate in the "Economic Council".
The London Conference accepted resolutions, some of them in the spirit of the Pittsburg Programme and some as compromises c to satisfy the delegates; but this did not appease the majority of the American delegates led by Brandeis. The historic conference of l1920's,established the Keren Hayesod, thus strengthening the European leadership of the World Zionist Organisation under Weizmann, but this only gave rise to fresh complications in the co-operation between Weizmann and Brandeis. The Keren Hayesod, in accordance with a resolution of the London Conference, was expected to collect £25 million within a short period. The Keren Kayemeth was to receive 20% of the money, one quarter to be spent on social welfare, education, emigration etc., and the remainder on national institutions and on economic enterprises. But even these arrangements aroused further controversies between Brandeis and Weizmann. Brandeis was against combining charity with proper investments and wanted to leave charity to the Keren Hayesod, and to launch a special appeal for the Investment Fund would enable the Jews in Palestine to gain their economic independence. Further, they could not agree on the question of organization and control of the Keren Hayesod administration.
After the resignation, on 20th January, 1921 of two members of the executive, Julius Simon and Nehemia de Lieme, who supported Brandeis against Weizmann, the tension between London and New York increased. In April 1921, Weizmann arrived in America at the head of a delegation determined to establish local offices of the Keren Hayesod with or without the goodwill of the American leaders. The initial negotiations between Weizmann and judge Mack smoothed out many difficulties. The Zionist Organization of America undertook to organize the Keren Hayesdo, and all the monies collected in America were to be devoted only to the work in Palestine. A commission of four persons, appointed by Weizmann, was to draft a provisional agreement which would be binding until the next Zionist Congress in Karlsbad in September, 1921. But Weizmann would not accept the proposed agreement and, as President oft eh World Zionist Organisation, issued a manifesto announcing the opening of the Keren Hayesod offices in America, thus burning all bridges between himself and the Brandeis group. The delegation which went to America on a peace mission turned out to be a punitive expedition.
But in the meantime the opposition to the Brandeis group grew stronger even in America under the leadership of Louis Lipsky and Abraham Goldberg. The European delegation, consisting of Weizmann, Ussishkin, Shmarya Levin, Ben-Zion Mossinsohn and Qthers, propagated the idea of Keren Hayesod on the one hand, but on the other vehemently criticised Brandeis's .leadership. Judge Brandeis, being a member of the Supreme Court, could not fight back. He was not ambitious and did not strive either for leadership .1 or for power. In this controversy, which was called the "Pinsk v. Washington: fight, the victory fell to Pinsk (the birthplace of Weizmann). Sentiment, enthusiasm and love for the tradition of the World Zionist Organisation were the decisive factors and a vote of non-confidence in the leadership of the movement was passed at the Cleveland conference in June, 1921. In consequence, Brandeis, Rabbi Stephen Wise, Judge Juliean Mack, Dr. Harry Friedenwald, Nathan Straus, Jacob de Haas, Prof. Felix Frankfurter, Prof. Horance Kallen, Robert Szold, Rabbi A. H. Silver, and 27 other members of the National Executive Committee tendered their resignations. On 19th June, 1921, Brandeis informed the World Zionist Organsation that he was also resigning from his position as it's Honorary President.
With the defeat of "Washington", Brandeis and the best elements of American Jewry were for the time being eliminated from the organizational work of reconstruction in Palestine. American Zionism again became a mere provincial centre within the World Zionist Organization and Zionism lost great men of ideas and experience. As a result, the upbuilding of Palestine in the 1920's was carried out at a snail's pace instead of the usual American tempo. It was years before American Zionism recovered from this setback, in fact not before Stephen Wise, Judge Mack and a few others had returned to active Zionist work.
From Wilson to Truman
Brandeis remained a Zionist and true to his Zionist principles. He and a group of friends established the Palestine Development League (P.D.L.) which encouraged private enterprise and helped the Co-operative Movement. In 1925 the P.D.I_. and other institutions amalgamated to form the Palestine Economic Corporation (P .E.C.). The Palestine Mortgage and Credit Bank and the Central Bank of Co-operatives, both created by the P.E.C. were a blessing to the middle classes, giving credits and loans to the "small men" and to the settlements, thus strengthening industry and the Co-operative Movement.
The reconstruction work of Palestine was for Brandeis the highest Jewish ideal. He constantly initiated new projects and informed the Americans of the industrial development in Palestine. He urged and inspired the Jews not to be discouraged by economic difficulties and by political setbacks in Palestine but to double and treble their help. He believed in the obstinacy of the Jewish people, in their willingness to undergo sacrifices, in the righteousness of Zionism and in the Prophecies. Palestine would develop all that is best and most noble in the Jew. He repeatedly declared that the Jews would be able to solve the Palestine problem through hard work and not by charity, and that Palestine, where malaria raged, could be turned into a land of physical and spiritual health for the Jewish people. He also stressed that Palestine must not be turned into a country of Chalukah-Jewry and that the reconstruction work should be carried out in such a manner that the Jewish population would become self-supporting. Each year he gave tens of thousands of dollars for Palestine and encouraged others to do the same.
Even the Zionist opposition against him and his group had to admit that he fulfilled his Zionist duties and was always ready to co-operate. When Menahem Ussishkin, who had once had serious differences with Brandeis, undertook in 1931 to set up the "Keren Kayemeth League" in America he found Brandeis full of great understanding. At the XVIIth Zionist Congress in Basle in June-July, 1931, Ussishkin stated that Brandeis, the old-new Zionist, had helped him in his important project with his immense influence and authority. Brandeis was often quoted at Zionist Congresses. Some of his ideas were adopted and his Zionist principles recognised within the Zionist Movement. During the violent demonstrations organised by the Arabs in Palestine when Britain appointed Royal Commissions and published White Papers, Brandeis raised his voice. He was in contact with the Zionist leaders, who sought his advice, and he used to intervene in Washington. He was opposed to the idea of a bi-National State; as a friend of the Haganah, he supported illegal immigration and was convinced that the ultimate aim-a National Home for the Jewish people-would be achieved.
Louis D. Brandeis remained a member of the Supreme Court until February, 1939. He was then 83 years old and had served his country for 23 years. He fulfilled his duties fearlessly and endeavoured to foster the recognition of human rights, freedom of conscience and social justice. He was one of the educators of his generation and his name has become a symbol of tolerance and democracy in America.
As adviser to Woodrow Wilson, as a friend of Warren G. Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert C. Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman, he was the man who initiated the pro-Zionist attitude towards Zionism in America. It started with Wilson at the time of the Balfour Declaration and reached its height under Truman when the State of Israel was created.
Brandeis was the guide to American Jewry. His life and his work were a synthesis of loyalty to America and to Eretz-Israel. He taught that the Jew who helps Jewish Palestine becomes not only a better Jew, but also a better American.
Germany. He intervened with President Roosevelt and urged Britain to fulfill her duties.
He died on 5th October, 1941, in Washington, and in his will he bequeathed a considerable sum for the reconstruction of the National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine.
For a long time there had been attempts to establish a Jewish University in America, which were at last successful in 1946 thanks to the efforts of Dr. Israel Goldstein. This University bears the name of a great democrat and a proud Jew-it is called the Brandeis University.
The name of Brandeis has an honoured place in American history and also in the history of the Jewish people.
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