BERNSTEIN, PEREZ


BERNSTEIN, PEREZ
BERNSTEIN, PEREZ (Fritz; 1890–1971), Zionist leader, publicist, and Israel politician. Bernstein, who was born in Meiningen, Germany, studied commerce. In his youth he went to Rotterdam, Holland, where he entered business. In 1917 he joined the Dutch Zionist organization, and soon attained a prominent position. He later served as secretary of the Dutch Zionist Federation and as its president for four years. From 1930 to 1935 he was chief editor of the Dutch Zionist weekly, in which he fought for "unconditional Zionism," both in relations with non-Jews and in debate with the socialist and the religious Zionists. In his major work Der Anti-semitismus als Gruppenerscheinung (1926; Jew-Hate as a Sociological Problem, 1951) he tried to prove that antisemitism is a sociological phenomenon which cannot be eliminated by better knowledge, by persuasion, or by education. He also rejected the theory that the Jews in the Diaspora have negative traits which encourage antisemitism. Another of his books is: Over Joodsche Problematiek (1935). In 1936 Bernstein settled in Palestine and became editor of the General Zionist newspaper Ha-Boker. From 1941 he was chairman of the union of general zionists which, in 1946, elected him a member of the Jewish Agency, where he was responsible for commerce and industry. Bernstein was a member of the Knesset from its inception until 1965, and minister of commerce and industry in 1948–49 and from 1952 to 1955. When the Liberal Party was established he was elected one of its two presidents. Following the party split in 1964, he became honorary president of the larger faction which retained the name of the Liberal Party. Bernstein continued his journalistic activities during his political career. He often opposed the left wing in his articles and advocated a business-oriented policy. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: Y. Nedava (ed.), Sefer Pereẓ Bernstein: Mivḥar Ma'amarim u-Massot (1962); D. Lazar, Rashim be-Yisrael, 1 (1953), 62–66; Tidhar, 3 (19582), 1395. (Jozeph Michman (Melkman)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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