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- 1 The K.K.L. archives are located in the Central Zionist Archives in Jerusalem; henceforth: C.Z.A.
- 2 Thanks to two scholarships, each for a period of one month, awarded to researchers by the Centre de (...)
- 3 Joseph Fisher was permanent commissioner general of the K.K.L. in France because he would only reti (...)
- 4 C.Z.A, C.M. 467/35, doc 427; statement filed at the Paris Prefecture of Police, July 9, 1926 declar (...)
1The abundant archives at the Jewish National Fund (Keren Kayemet Le-Israel) in Jerusalem1 shed light on the activities of these associations in the Diaspora to promote the purchase of land in Palestine. A large collection of documents concerning France is available on microfilm2 and illustrates the intense involvement of the Paris K.K.L. Bureau from 1925-1936, through the close relationship between two men, the key members of the association: Aimé Pallière, its vice president, and Joseph Fisher, its commissioner-general. They corresponded practically every day (scribbled notes, telegrams, reminders of meetings, minutes of meetings with annotations). In addition these documents provide a glimpse of the difficulties of being a Zionist propagandist, which was Pallière’s role in France and abroad for almost ten years. In 1925, the Jerusalem executive board sent Joseph Fisher3 to set up the K.K.L. Paris bureau. Officially founded on May 16, 1925, and restructured on May 25, 1926 following a meeting that brought together twenty of the Zionist associations in Paris which supported its goals, the Jewish National Fund proceeded to hold elections for its Paris executive board on June 24, 1926. A lawyer, Marcel Mirtil, a member of the Central Consistory, was appointed president and Aime Palliere was elected vice president.4
- 5 Aimé Pallière, Le sanctuaire inconnu. Ma “conversion” au judaisme, Éditions de Minuit, 1950, p. 223 (...)
- 6 André Baur (March 8, 1904 -March 13, 1944) son of the banker Charles Baur (1862-1927) and Rachel We (...)
- 7 Association for Religious Education founded in 1919 by Maurice Liber, the Rabbi of the Victoire Syn (...)
2A liberal Christian and Semitist, A. Pallière was a main figure in Judaism in the period between the two World Wars. Without ever converting to Judaism, he was one of the founders of the Reform Jewish Union in 1907 and as of 1922 became the assistant lecturer under Rabbi Louis-Germain Levy (1870-1946) at the Reform Synagogue on Copemic Street. I will be dealing with his role as propagandist for the K.K.L. and the means made available to him by the Zionist organization, rather than presenting his life story. When writing his memoirs, Pallière emphasized the initial motivation for his activities in the K.K.L.: “I always preferred my work at the Keren Kayemet because it had its basis in the Torah itself and its duty in the unbroken tradition of Israel. In the light cast gradually by events over my entire destiny, I grasped the meaning of the kiss which I, as a young child, gave to flowers brought back from the Holy Land.”5 The terms chosen to describe Palestine are indicative of the degree of sacredness of his commitment as a religious Zionist. Fisher, on the other hand was political and very pragmatic, and used this to make contacts, as of 1925, with the reform and orthodox communities of the Capital who were a-priori opposed to such initiatives. Palliere rallied the faithful of the Copemic synagogue, such as André Baur6, who became treasurer of the K.K.L. in 1927 or 1928 and who opened the doors to salons such as those hosted by gentlewomen like Mrs. Alfred Schwob, Mrs. Henry Leven and Alice Blum. His duties as lecturer at Chema Israel7 enabled him to infuse Zionist ideas into the orthodox community and to have personal contact with Rabbis whom he regularly heard, such as Jules Bauer (1868-1931) and Maurice Liber (1884-1956), both of whom were successively the principals of the Vauquelin Street Rabbinical School.
- 8 Pallière spoke and wrote fluent Italian, German and Hebrew.
- 9 For instance: C.Z.A., C.M. 467/38, doc. 423 from Fisher to Pallière, November 8, 1928: “(...) if yo (...)
- 10 For instance: C.Z.A.,C.M. 467/36, doc. 475 from Pallière to Fisher, April 8, 1927 and 477 from Fish (...)
- 11 For instance: C.Z.A, C.M. 467/37, doc. 522, from Fisher to Pallière, December 19, 1927. “The situat (...)
- 12 Pallière was elected president of Union Universelle de la Jeunesse Juive, (U.U.J.J.) on August 6, 1 (...)
- 13 C.Z.A. C.M. 467/41; list of expenses, October-November 1931; trip by Fanny Weil to Morocco, Novembe (...)
3Fisher often availed himself of Pallière’s diplomatic talent. His advice, translations8, articles9 and letters of thanks for donations or to rabbis or journalists10 who made statements favorable to Zionism are found throughout their correspondence. Fisher wanted his advice on everything.11 They apparently met often, alone at La Chope, the Lutetia Bar, to finalize strategies, motions to submit to the Central Committee of the K.K.L., lecture programs and public events. Little by little, while heading at the same time a Zionist Youth Association (the U.U.J.J.12), Palliere became an official spokesperson for the Paris bureau, as were for example Fanny Well and Yvonne Netter. These three individuals could be found on speaking tours in France and French North Africa in 193113, for the Jewish National Fund, with a clearly defined role, a budget and very specific goals, which are described below.
- 14 According to the C.Z.A., C.M. 467/1, “K.K.L. Explanatory Bulletin”, dated 1936.
- 15 Yvonne Netter (April 10, 1889-August 30, 1985) lawyer, militant feminist, she presided the French s (...)
4Publicity for the Jewish National Fund primarily took the form of speeches. Members of the executive board and the Central Committee went on speaking tours in various cities in the provinces or abroad.14 These representatives were mandated specially to address very well chosen audiences. Pallière was sent to speak to the Orthodox or youth associations, whereas Yvonne Netter15, a lawyer, addressed women's associations and Fanny Weil met with children in schools. In all these cases, Fisher organized the speaking tours, found auditoriums, and drew up the programs. Brochures, documentation, calendars, and post cards were supplied to the representatives.
- 16 C.Z.A., C.M. 467/37, doc.36, flier for the Jubilee evening on January 30, 1927.
- 17 La Terre Retrouvée, February, 1929 n. 4 and C.Z.A., C.M. 467/39, doc.427 and doc.358 from Fisher to (...)
5The main attraction was obviously the screening of films shot in Palestine showing work on the Kibbutzim or Jewish National Fund projects. Pallière began his career as propagandist for the K.K.L. (after being asked to do so by various organizations such as Chema or Emuna) by a speaking tour in March 1925 which took him from Marseille to Luxemburg, via Nice, Strasbourg and Metz, including film screenings. In the archives, a number of titles of these K.K.L. promotional films are listed. For instance, Pallière rented Modern Judea in February 1927 for a U.U.J.J. evening, after its debut at a banquet held on January 27, 1927 in honor of Nahum Sokolov, the president of the Zionist executive, who, returning from a long promotional mission in Africa, Asia and Central Europe, was to preside the 30th, at the Jubilee of the 25 years of K.K.L. at the Trocadero Palace.16 During the banquet festivities, Victor Bash, Leon Blum and Joseph Ascher all spoke. Pallière also narrated a presentation of the pictures from the Funeral of Max Nordau, on January 20, 1929, and, just after his return from a speaking trip in Germany in February, presented Springtime in Palestine on February 24, 1929 at the Majestic Hotel, three times in a row.17
- 18 Edmund Fleg, Pourquoi je suis Juif. Paris, les Éditions de France, “Leurs Raisons”, 1928. See artic (...)
- 19 André Spire, Quelques Juifs et demi-Juifs, Paris, Grasset, 1928.
6The years l927-1928 marked what was known as the “Jewish craze” in Paris. Edmund Fleg published Pourquoi je suis juif18 and André Spire, Quelques Juifs et demi-Juifs19; and films with Jewish themes were even shown in a few movie houses on the Grands Boulevards. The K.K.L. took advantage of this trend and increased the number of screenings with the obvious purpose of garnering larger donations. They also knew how to tap the emotions. A documentary made immediately after the riots of August 1929 in Palestine, Nous nous leverons et nous batirons^e will raise up and we will build'] was a hit in March 1930. A successful slide show was produced of pictures of Inauguration of the Hebrew University by Lord Balfour as well as a documentary on a children's village Kfar Yeladim filmed at Ben Shemen, with the Utopian subtitle: A child's republic in Palestine.
- 20 C.Z.A, C.M. 467/1, in the “K.K.L. Instruction Bulletin” dated 1936, the amount listed for that date (...)
- 21 In 1936, this same “Instruction Bulletin” specifies that the price of trees was 25 francs each. The (...)
7There were many means of collecting donations. Before a lecture or a screening, the speaker, with the help of a few devoted individuals, set up stands at the back of the hall. Requests were made for donations to the K.K.L. Golden Book. The idea was to write the name of a well-known pro-Zionist figure and make donations to pay for his or her membership dues.20 The books were deposited solemnly in Jerusalem as a permanent way of honoring this individual. There were also donations of trees for the reforestation of Eretz Israel and the Central Committee had a detailed map of all the tree planting sites21. The very popular “blue boxes” (or blue piggybanks) were placed permanently by the hundreds in shops or in homes. There was also a ‘luxury’ version, and folders for children. The holder promised to donate a set minimum sum and the “box emptier” had to be “a committed Zionist.” He or she needed to engage in discussions with the donor and inform him/her of K.K.L. progress in Palestine. Stamps were sold after meetings; these were supposed to be pasted on letters, documents and fliers. The stamps featured the portraits of famous people. K.K.L. telegrams were also sold as well as “benefactor books” (pinkassim) that were started in Zionist families at events such as marriages or engagements. Each guest committed himself a certain sum and signed the book. Later in 1934, the “child’s book” (sefer hayeled) appeared. All the important events in the life of the future Zionist were recorded and a sum of money was donated to the K.K.L. that day. Badges were also sold in the hall at every Zionist meeting, arid it was considered good taste to wear one when visiting Palestine.
8The only way to make these sales and collect donations from each row of seats was to begin before the audience left at the end of the lecture. This is why Fisher was interested in youth groups and asked them for their help. For instance, on November 16, 1927, the youth group members failed to show up on time, and there were no takings that night. The Zionist Federation of France, who had organized the evening, explained that no money was collected for the K.K.L. “because of the absence the young men and women from the UUJJ and the Histadrut, whose assistance is indispensable for our ticket-talcing and collection activities…”
- 22 C.Z.A., C.M. 467/39, doc. 632, from the K.K.L. Univers Israélite, October 22, 1928. Request for pub (...)
9The Jewish holidays were obviously the high points for Zionist promotional activities and special stands were set up to sell Palestinian products, such as honey in small glasses before Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), and willow branches for Sukkot (the Feast of Booths). The month of Tishri (September/October) was set aside exclusively for collecting donations to the K.K.L. and Pallière did his utmost to be allowed to enter synagogues, borrow Torah scrolls or convince a rabbi to attend a meeting, in order to give lectures in makeshift places of worship in tents or auditoriums transformed into “K.K.L. prayer22 houses”, as in September 1932 at the Paris Municipal Conference Hall, Because the largest donations were made on Yom Kippur, the Central Committee tried more or less successfully, as was done in America, to sell seats in synagogues. “Entrance tickets were sold beforehand, and a K.K.L. stamp was pasted on them.” Over time, the K.K.L. was able to collect between 5 % and 25 % of its annual donations, but it was an uphill battle. The central committee archives in Paris have records of sharp rebuttals in 1928 from the Consistory in the capital and from the Chief Rabbi of Marseille, refusing to let the K.K.L. collect donations. In July, Fisher wrote to Pallière suggesting he should send a delegation to both places to plead their case, because the month of Tishri was fast approaching.
- 23 C.Z.A. C.M. 467/37, doc. 53, from Fisher to Beilin, December 5, 1927. Document 529 from Fisher to P (...)
10The K.K.L. came to view Hannukah (The Feast of Lights) in December as the national holiday of the future Israel. It held special drives at that time such as donation campaigns, and gifts for candle lighting sold by the K.K.L. This was easier in secular communities and it was known that Fisher had planned for Pallière to lecture on December 25, 1927 in Nancy. He was supposed to have given “a talk on the Hasmonean Festival, and on the reconstruction of Palestine” with a slide show on the agricultural settlements and the cities of Eretz Israel, upon invitation from the Association of Jewish Students of the city, as a benefit for the K.K.L.23 Pallière however fell and sprained his ankle, forcing Fisher to cancel the meeting. For the other Jewish holidays, the K.K.L. sold “Palestinian” costumes for the costume ball on Purim, fruit Juice for Tu Bishvat (the holiday of the trees), celebrated on the 15th of Shevat (January-February). Lag Ba’omer, celebrated on May 18th was devoted to “Palestinian WorkingYouth Day in Eretz Israel.” Lag Ba’omer was also a day for trips, whereas the WIZO ladies gave the holiday a more cultural feel, by inviting writers and artists.
- 24 C.Z.A. CM 467/43, doc 276 from Fisher to Joseph Kessel, May 28, 1933. The article Fisher asks him t (...)
11The K.K.L. balls, concerts and benefit performances were also excellent times for collecting donations. In May 1933, Fisher asked Joseph Kessel to write an article that would be published in Paris newspapers on Tchirikoff’s Les Juifs, a play that was currently at the Vieux Colombier theater and performed by Georges Pitoeffs troupe. Pitoeff donated one evening’s takings to the K.K.L.24 Another event was the attractive Palestinian Bazaar held once a year in Paris and in the provincial cities. The Bazaar primarily sold Palestinian products but the economy in Palestine was at times so weak that this type of shipment was uncertain, which meant improvising an “artistic stand” of ladies’ handicrafts. The Bazaar day was meant to be an official ceremony, where city notables were invited, the building was draped with flags in the Zionist colors, there was a buffet dinner with flowers, and waiters dressed in blue and white. Door prizes, entertainment, paid (“but inexpensive”) entrance fees were designed to attract large Jewish crowds.
- 25 Speaking tours by Pallière solely for the K.K.L.: I. March, 1925, speaking engagements in France an (...)
12A key feature of these events was obviously the popularity of the speaker, sent to uplift the political and cultural level of the Bazaar, concert or film screening. It is easy to imagine how tired these men and women must have been after spending long hours on the train to reach their destinations on time. For example, Fisher asked Pallière, on December 14, 1928, to leave Paris at 8:45 to get to Colmar at 15:48, where there were connecting trains to Haguenau where he was to speak that evening. This meant Pallière would spend a whole day in the train, in order to speak for several hours in the city, and then return the next day, because Fisher was not always able to set up combined speaking tours. Pallière apparently received small lecture stipends and reimbursement of his traveling costs. Fisher sent the money to the organizers of the Zionist meetings in the provinces, who then added what they wanted or were able to do. Aside from numerous one-day trips to the provinces for a single promotional evening. Fisher set up four exhausting money raising tours25 in France and abroad between 1925 and 1931, exclusively for the Jewish National Fund.
13From his beginnings with speaking tours in the provinces and abroad in 1925, Pallière gradually became the K.K.L.’s star speaker. Fisher, as we have seen, used his connections with the rabbinate to handle such sensitive issues as the loaning of Torah scrolls, collecting donations in the synagogues, setting dates for evening events in the communities or placing donation boxes. At times, however, Pallière's efforts as a go-between were riot sufficient. For instance, beginning in 1928, Fisher tried unsuccessfully to convince Chief Rabbi Primer of Besançon to let him organize a promotional evening for the K.K.L. including the screening of a movie. The situation appeared to be more favorable when a certain Mr. Oderberg founded a “Zionist Club” in the city. The club asked to take advantage of Pallière’s presence in Besançon to give lectures at Chema Israel in March 1930, to host him in his capacity as vice president of the K.K.L. The religious community did not however agree to authorize the event. After an exchange of letters and a meeting between Pallière and Chief Rabbi Pruner in December 1930 that lessened apprehensions, an evening was finally set for January 4, 1931 – but Pallière fell sick. Fisher had planned a whole speaking tour from Lyon to Dijon, with a stop-over in Belfort, and had been able to squeeze in Besançon. For this reason, he suggested replacing Pallière. This appeared to be out of the question, and Fisher received a stinging reply from the Belfort community: “We feel it necessary to tell you that many people whom we were able to interest in the work of the K.K.L. asked to hear Mr. Aimé Pallière (…). We are convinced that this would be in the best interests of the K.K.L.” Fisher, annoyed, canceled the whole speaking tour.
14Pallière was thus the star speaker of the K.K.L., as confirmed by his presence at large public gatherings. In May 1930, the K.K.L. even organized a meeting “in his honor” where he would give a lecture followed by festivities. The date was finally set for May 18, squeezing the event into Pallière's busy Chema lecture engagement schedule and the preparations for the Jewish holidays.
- 26 C.Z.A.,C.M. 467/41, doc. 425 from Fisher to Pallière, March 5, 1930. “Please find enclosed a copy o (...)
- 27 Joseph Milbauer was a French poet and the translator of Bialik, who published a poem on Chanukah, f (...)
15Because Pallière was well-known, in demand, and appreciated by all, Fisher called on him to thank famous individuals who were favorable to the cause. Palliere was the one to find the right words26 in a letter asking Univers Israélite to publish K.K.L. news. There was also a need for someone who could complain when the Consistory weekly, which was fairly anti-Zionist, took the liberty of altering a text written by Pallière for Rosh Hashanah 1928, replacing the word “Jews” by “Israelites”– a subtle detail which clearly showed where the battle ground was located. Six years later, in September 1934, Pallière again wrote an article to extend the best wishes of the K.K.L. to Univers Israélite, which was celebrating its 90 years of existence. Between times things had changed and Pisher asked him to stress “the changes in the magazine” as regards Zionism, “because since Mr. Milbauer27 became editor in chief, the editorial board has adopted an attitude of benevolent neutrality. Mr. Milbauer has done us many favors in the columns of his paper,” Pallière diligently wrote an article where he praised the liveliness of the magazine and its friendly, almost ‘family’ style, before saluting the magazine's new policy supporting Zionism. “For some time now, under editorial leadership which is as discrete as it is intelligent, Univers Israélite has shown a positive interest in the work accomplished in Palestine. It has welcomed K.K.L. announcements and all the articles informing its readership of the impact of these efforts.”
16Pallière was also in charge of meeting important donors, such as Mrs. Bernheim from Mulhouse who expressed the wish to commemorate the name of her husband in Palestine. For 50,000 francs, the central committee suggested founding a work camp. Each year a Kaddish (prayer for the dead) would be said on the anniversary of the death of her husband, in the synagogue of a nearby Settlement. Mrs. Bemheim did not respond to this proposal and Pisher asked Palliere, who accepted, to visit her in Mulliouse while on a speaking tour in November 1931.
17As another feather in his cap, Pallière sometimes spoke during public events organized by the K.K.L. He hardly ever accepted because he had a soft voice that did not carry, which served him better in smaller places, such as in “meditations” in synagogues. He always preferred writing to speaking and although he rarely addressed large crowds, in all cases he helped organize these events and wrote articles in the Jewish press. Here are a few examples.
18On the eve of the XVI Zionist Congress that was held in Zurich from August 11-14, 1929, the Zionist executive committee planned major celebrations for the 25th anniversary of the death of Herzl, on July 3, 1929. The World Zionist Organization needed a federating event at the start of a Congress where it had succeeded in bringing together non-Zionist Jewish organizations for the purpose of expanding the Jewish Agency, in line with the stipulations of the British Mandate. Thus strengthened, it would better represent the Jewish community in Palestine in its dealings with the British authorities, foreign governments and international organizations.
- 28 C.Z.A., F9/30: file with list, texts by the authors, and photos.
19The commemoration was to be Impressive and take place simultaneously abroad, in Paris, and in several provincial cities, with the help of all the Zionist organizations. To unify the event, it was decided to ask famous people to write a few lines about Herzl. These same texts would be read all over the world during the commemoration. Rabbis, historians, writers, scientists, poets and Nobel laureates were contacted. The list is of interest here because it is indicative of Pallière’s international acclaim, because he was included. In the order that their texts were read, the following public figures responded: Sigmund Freud, Bernard Shaw, Stephan Zweig, Mahum Sokolov, Justin Godart, David Prato, Albert Einstein, Simon Dubnov, I. Klausner, Aimé Pallière, R. Avernheimer, Emile Vandervelde, Fernand Corcos, George Bernhard, Paul-Louis Couchoud, Max Brod, J. Wilenski, A.D. Stern, I. Nacht.28 Pallière’s message, as one of the celebrities, was read along with the major supporters of the Zionist cause. The message differs slightly in its tone, stating that even as “a pure product of emancipated Zionism” and apparently conducting his activities at a distance from all religious ideas, Herzl could not escape his mission. Pallière saw Herzl as a new incarnation of the prophetic voice of Israel through which “God speaks to His people” and he saw a divine hand guiding Herz’s life, unbeknownst to him.
20Pallière returned to this theme in a speech he gave during the ceremony in Paris on July 3, in the presence of Edmond Fleg, Justin Godart, professors Hadamard and Langevin and Rabbis Julien Weill (Orthodox) and Louis-Germain Levy (Reform) who had also written texts for Fisher. On the 4th, he went with Fisher to a lecture given by a Mr. Belkind. There, they both make an appeal to plant trees in honor of Herzl and collected addresses of potential donors. On the 8th, Pallière spoke during the annual pilgrimage of the Friends of Max Nordau and Marmorek; on the 10th he delivered another speech in the Great Hall of the Scientific Society where HerzPs death was commemorated once again as was Marmorek’s, just before leaving for Zurich for the start of the XVI Zionist Congress.
- 29 Stephen Wise (March 17, 1874-April 19, 1949) American reform Rabbi and committed Zionist, he headed (...)
21Four days before the riots of August 19, 1929 took place in Palestine which would decimate the Jewish and Arab communities (133 Jews and 116 Moslem Arabs), and take all by surprise, there was much self-congratulation in Zurich. Fisher stayed until the end of the Congress and was elected substitute representative of the Jewish Agency. He wrote enthusiastically from Zurich to Pallière who was tired and went home for a few days’ rest in Nice, and who had asked him for news. “I must tell you, my dear Mr. Pallière, that I am extremely satisfied with the Congress and in particular with the Jewish Agency despite the hesitations I have always had as regards this organization (or rather the form of its constitution).” It was also a fruitful meeting for Pallière, at the peak of his popularity. He met Rabbi Stephen Wise29, who invited him for a vast speaking tour in America. He would leave in 1929, determined to make a trip that, despite the Depression of 1929 in the USA, would astound him…
- 30 See Catherine Nicault, La France et Ie sionisme, Une rencontre manquée ? (1897-1948) Paris, Calman (...)
- 31 C.Z.A. C.M. 467/40 invitation box. Senator Justin Godart was the president of the France-Palestine (...)
22Following the riots of August 1929, the Mandate administration in Palestine began by halting all immigration, and in March 1930, the report of the Shaw commission attempted to determine the causes of the riots. The experts’ conclusions prompted Lord Passfield in August to publish a White Paper that further reduced Jewish immigration and financial transactions in Palestine.30 In the aftermath of these decisions, the Zionists believed it was necessary to remind the public of Britain’s commitments by a “Balfour Campaign”, and in Paris a great deal of energy was expended on an evening honoring Lord Balfour, April 3, 1930. The initiative was taken by the Zionist Federation and the K.K.L., and was supported by France-Palestine. Senator Justin Godart31 accepted to preside over the evening that was held in the auditorium of the Palais d’Orsay. Paul Painlevé, a former minister and the diplomat Henri de Jouvenel were invited and Pallière wrote an appeal for a Balfour “Golden Book”. Who attended this event?
- 32 C.Z.A., C.M. 467/1 from the Jerusalem K.K.L. to committee heads of the K.K.L., June 24, 1930.
23The archives of the Paris bureau do not provide information on the audience or on whether the invited speakers actually attended. We often have letters from Fisher but not the replies. Asking a political figure to speak does not necessarily mean that he will accept or that there will be a large audience to hear him. Overall, the “Balfour Campaign” launched internationally by the K.K.L. in March-April 1930 was a failure. Paradoxically only the Yishuv, although affected directly by Mandate moves, responded better than all the Diaspora countries, with 90 registrants in the Golden Book, according to a confidential message sent by the Jerusalem Central Committee. The reasons given were fatigue and overly frequent solicitation, but the National Fund refused to stop the campaign “that would be solemnly proclaiming the rendition of the Jewish people to the threats from a malevolent power.”32
- 33 Charles Gide (1847-1932) was one of the founders of Protestant-cooperative school Social Christiani (...)
- 34 Albert Thomas (1878-1932) was the assistant secretary of state for Public Works before becoming Min (...)
- 35 La Terre Retrouvée, ibidem, p. 14. Jean Longuet, a member of Parliament, represented the Amis du Si (...)
24Some Parisian events were doubtless a fiasco, despite the amount of energy put into them. This was the case for the commemoration in honor of Aristide Briand, Charles Gide33 and Albert Thomas34 on May 26, 1932. Since February 2, in Geneva, the World Disarmament Conference had convened and the Left, who had made pacifism its key message under the guidance of Briand and Herriot, proposed still another solution: to prevent the Reich from re-arming, what was needed as quickly as possible was total disarmament. When the K.K.L. organized a massive commemoration “to the memory of the three great French friends of Zionism” soon after the death of Briand, in one of the auditoriums of the Maison de la Mutualité, Aimé Pallière presided and gave the opening speech. He was followed by Jean Longuet, Sam Meyer, Gaston Levy and finally René Cassin.35 The latter, contacted by Fisher, had expressed enthusiasm and anxiety: “I must tell you that I came back from Palestine full of admiration for the Zionist effort and I believe it would be impossible and harmful to stop en route, but (…) I do not consider the Zionist settlement in Palestine as obligated to necessarily found a Jewish state or solve the world Jewish problem.” He however agreed to speak on Aristide Briand that night, “because I am not sufficiently competent to praise Mr. Gide.”
25A little less than 108 people were in the audience as compared to twenty or so reporters, the result of efforts by the Paris bureau to alert the press… a totally unexpected fiasco since certain members of the committee and several Zionist leaders did not even attend… Meeting in urgent session, the members of the K.K.L. asked why. It was pointed out that the theme of the meeting was vague: three very different figures with no common denominator and the “funerear” atmosphere of the event. The general consensus was that there were too many events, always the same speakers and the need for speakers who spoke Yiddish. “Many more people would attend, knowing they would understand at least some of the speeches.” In Belleville, there were more than 50,000 Yiddish speaking Jewish workers. As for promised donations to the Briand Forest announced that evening, the 11,000 francs collected were not enough to do anything. Fisher wanted to ask André Spire to write an article, preferably in Le Matin, or the Countess of Noailles, or else resort to subterfuge and send a news wire from the K.K.L. in Jerusalem announcing the creation of this forest.
26Public events, films, fund raising, collecting in all the synagogues, door prizes, balls, theatrical evenings, speaking tours all entered into the promotional effort but the key to the Paris K.K.L. Bureau’s propagandist activities was its magazine: La Terre Retrouvée. [Refound Land]
27When the first issue came out on November 15, 1928, it was the result of lengthy preparation. From the inception of the K.K.L. Fisher had dreaming of endowing it with a press and promotional outlet. The fact that this dream was materialized at that time illustrates the progress of the idea of a nation within the French Jewish community. La Terre Retrouvée was the monthly “illustrated” magazine of the French Jewish National Fund; its self-defined purpose was to provide information on both Jewish renewal movement in the Diaspora and the repurchasing of land in Palestine to build settlements. The headquarters of the magazine were located at 11 Etienne Marcel Street (in the 3rd district of Paris), and in the offices of the K.K.L. The main contributors were Guerda Arlosoroff in Tel Aviv, and in Paris: Ferdinand Corcos, Joseph Fisher, Edmond Fleg, Charles Gide, Justin Godart, Baruch Hagam, Henri Hertz, Raymond-Raoul Lambert, Marcel Mirtil, Yvonne Netter, Max Nordau, Aimé Pallière, Pierre Paraf, and André Spire.
28The monthly had on the average of twenty-four pages, illustrated from the beginning with pictures of projects in Palestine. It rapidly gained readership, rising from 15,000 copies in October 1929 – having benefited from the August disturbances of that year in Palestine and the emotional response it engendered – to take its place, in Jewish opinion, as a current events magazine. This success translated by a larger format, for the November 1929 issue, which initiated the magazine’s second year. Another turning point was in October 1936, when following financial difficulties, the layout was changed and La Terre Retrouvée was published twice a month, with 22 issues a year on the 1st and 15th of the month, with a single issue in July and August. New topics were included such as Jewish life in France and Paris, in Germany, Eastern Europe and North Africa. The cost was one franc per issue but it was primarily sold by subscription. The magazine rose in price to 10 francs in 1928 for the monthly and to 30 francs in 1936 for the bi-monthly. It was published regularly from 1928 to 1940, and only the last issue dated June 1940, although in press, was never printed.
- 36 C.Z.A., CM, 467/38, doc. 431 from Fisher to Pallière, October 22, 1928 and C.Z.A., CM 467/38, doc. (...)
- 37 Histoire générale de la presse française, eds. Claude Bellanger, Jacques Godelhot, Pierre Guiral, F (...)
29Pallière was active in all phases of publication, going with Fisher to Busson Printing Press, 117 Poissonniere Street to select the fonts and the layout. Henri Hertz chose the title and suggested putting a map of Palestine on the cover.36 There had been the suggestion of calling the magazine “Terre Promise” [Promised Land] but the name already existed so La Terre Retrouvée was chosen in the end. This was a time of radical changes in the press and the editors, some of whom worked regularly for the major newspapers of the time (like Andre Spire on the Matin), were aware of these innovations. There was a preference for pictures of current events rather than archive photos and pictures were ordered from headquarters in Jerusalem. The inside pages needed to be sequenced and specialized to attract complementary advertising. The Petit Parisien as of 1925 had made a hit with its magazine pages “dealing every day or week with a specific category of readers or trying to satisfy curiosity on a particular theme (sports, literature, films).”37 Pallière gave his opinion on existing feature sections or new ones. Fisher asked him whether they should include a page for children, to which Pallière replied positively. He tried to find volunteer reporters and wanted to introduce Fisher to “a young Palestinian man who is very intelligent and wants to spend one month’s vacation in Eretz Israel and has some ideas which I would like him to present to you.” Tireless, he took his duties to heart and in March 1930 he could be found distributing copies of the magazine during a U.U.J.J. conference. Despite expectations, Pallière wrote very little in the magazine (only 14 articles between 1928 and 1936) and had primarily an administrative role, and handled the layout with Fisher before each Issue was printed, re-reading the proofs, discussing with the printer, helping distribute copies.
- 38 C.Z.A. C.M. 467/1 doc. 33 K.K.L. France activity for the year 5686 (1926) to 5697 (1937) (in francs (...)
30What were the outcomes of this modern form of publicity – modem in the sense that it was based on films, lecture tours and a magazine – and one that was costly since it required permanent offices and staff? Despite the tone of this article, which has tried to capture the frantic pace of activity of the Paris bureau, historians have shown that the impact of the Jewish National Fund was slight on the French Jewish public, which was highly assimilated and content to remain so. However, when the members of the K.K.L. met in their office, assessed their progress, proposed strategies, wrote leaflets, organized meetings, they believed firmly in the success of their endeavor. Thus, when viewed from within, as has been done here, on the basis of Fisher’s correspondence, the Paris Bureau’s activities appear frenetic and humanly exhausting. They plotted curves, drew graphs to show where the collection boxes were placed, counted new members, drew up lists city by city. The archives give the impression of intense activity, although we know today the meager results of their collection box campaigns. The individuals who set them up expended a great deal of energy each time, and believed in what they were doing – the sine qua non condition for their perseverance. This is true for the period between 1926 and 1933, since after that, the figures speak for themselves38 and the members of the Paris bureau could not ignore them.
- 39 C.Z.A., C.M. 467/1. Minutes of the meeting of April 7, 1937. Pallière was requested to attend. The (...)
31For a whole series of reasons (disappointment at his failure to make the U.U.J.J. Zionist, fatigue, religious crisis) Pallière chose the worst moment possible to stop working for the K.K.L. Although he kept his title of vice-president until 1940, he had vanished on tiptoe as of 1934. This was a very bleak period and the annual reports of the Jewish National Fund in France sent to headquarters in Jerusalem were explicit. The Paris Bureau had to cope with a number of difficulties: bankruptcy of the Ivris bank where the Jewish National Fund had its account, a drop in French revenues with the unexpected defection of North Africa and hence a reduction in staff salaries. In addition, La Terre Retrouvée was also in the red39, the World Jewish Congress had been founded, and the agreement to transfer capital and goods between the Jewish Agency for Palestine and Nazi Germany dealt a blow to the boycott campaign supported by the K.K.L. These topics have not been discussed here, because Pallière was no longer mentioned in the deliberations and the minutes of the central committee of the Paris Bureau and his correspondence with Fisher became much too sporadic to be informative.
I consulted the microfilm series classified C.Z.A., C.M. 46/71 to C.M. 467/43 dealing with the archives of the Jewish National Fund in France: C,M. 467/3: salaries paid by the association; from C.M. 467/6 to C.M. 467/34: list of donations to the K.K.L. by city in France and by French province from 1922 to 1940; C.M. 467/35 to C.M. 467/43: complete correspondence of Joseph Fisher classified in alphabetical order from 1928 to 1936. This correspondence is partially preserved for 1937 in C.M. 467/1 and for 1938 in CM 467/2. The nature of this article makes it impossible to provide the references for each individual document contained in this correspondence. Only those documents requiring commentary are indicated in the notes.
Pour citer cet article
Catherine Poujol, « The Daily Life of a Propagandist at the Paris Bureau of the Jewish National Fund (K.K.L.) », Bulletin du Centre de recherche français à Jérusalem [En ligne], 8 | 2001, mis en ligne le 11 mars 2008, Consulté le 22 mai 2013. URL : http://bcrfj.revues.org/2132Haut de page
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