MEYER WEISGAL. . . SO FAR: An Autobiography by Meyer Weisgal

MEYER WEISGAL. . . SO FAR: An Autobiography

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Weisgal's autobiography takes in virtually the entire history of modern Zionism from the Balfour Declaration of 1917 to the establishment of Israel in 1948. Son of a chazan, he came to America from Polish Kikl in the early years of the century and was quickly and permanently smitten by the Zionist bug which became unabashedly ""my full-time occupation, my vocation, avocation, obsession -- my monomania."" An intimate of Chaim Weizmann, head of the World Zionist Organization and first President of lsrael, Weisgal served the movement with complete devotion as an unofficial jack-of-ail-trades -- editor, publicist, fund-raiser, organizer and even, theatrical producer. He was the New York Director of the Jewish Agency for Palestine between 1941-46 and the architect and guiding spirit of the Weizmann Institute for Science in Rehovot from 1949 to 1969. His unique position in the movement made him privy to the internecine factionalism of Zionist leaders, and here, age 75, he recounts it all with candor and relish: the break between Weizmann and Brandeis which splintered the American Zionists in the '20's; the tempestuous association with Max Reinhardt which brought The Eternal Road (""artistically and Jewishly the greatest theatrical production of all time"") to New York; the proselytizing of Richard Crossman and the protracted negotiations with the post-war Labour government over Jewish immigration to Palestine; the tribulations of fund-raising in the Jewish community; the wooing of luminaries from Einstein to Niels Bohr. Magnanimous and conciliatory, he tends generally to paper over old quarrels, departing only rarely from the jovial bonhomie which makes him treat the Zionist community as a large and disputatious family. His strongest sally is directed at Ben Gurion who is charged with unseemly self-seeking and a crude lust for power which led him to usurp credit for the historic 1942 Biltmore Resolution (which united all factions to a common platform pledged to the creation of an independent Jewish state) from Weizmann, its true father. Weisgal's lifelong devotion to ""My Chief"" makes this a necessarily partisan account but one certain to be of enormous interest to historians of 20th century Zionism. His warm, haimisher style invites wider readership.

Pub Date: Feb. 29th, 1972
Publisher: Random House