Nahum Goldmann

World Jewish Congress

The founder and president of the World Jewish Congress from 1948 to 1977, Nahum Goldmann (1895-1982) balanced his Zionism with support for a vibrant Diaspora.

We thought we held a promissory note in our hands, and we were impatient to see it honored. We took the hesitant British policy as a breach of promise and felt it to be anti-Zionist. As a result, soon after the “honeymoon” that followed the Balfour Declaration, most Jews felt a deep dissatisfaction with British policy that varied in intensity according to party and temperament, but in effect dominated everything. Young and radical, I was among the more dissatisfied. I had never overestimated the importance of the Balfour Declaration. Without rationally knowing why, I sensed that the main factor Zionism had to reckon with was not Britain but the Jewish people, and that the second factor was the Arabs. All the same, I was among the bitterest critics of British policy because I was unable or unwilling to understand the British attitude to the Palestine problem.

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