Daily Digest of World Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

“Oldocracy”

In a lengthy article in The Day of Nov. 1, Dr. A. Coralnik states his opinion that American Jewry should not permit its political will, with regard to Jewish matters, to remain in the hands of a few elderly men of wealth. He says:

“Every people has its ‘ocracy’. With some it is autocracy, with others it is democracy, etc. There are ancient nations today, who until very recently preserved the political form of the ‘rule of the elders’, or, as I call it, oldocracy’.

“But there is one people that still cannot rid itself of this old form of political expression. ‘Oldocracy’ still survives among the Jews. Old men, who have acquired great wealth and social prestige, speak and act in the name of the Jewish people.

“Several years ago, when the Jewish Congress was created, it looked as if the Jewry of America had at last come to a realization of its own powers and would finally emancipate itself from the grip of the few self-appointed leaders, the ‘elders’. On all sides it was asked: Why should Mr. Marshall speak in the name of American Jewry? Why should a group of elderly bankers, who stand in back of Mr. Marshall, continue their autocratic, even if well-meaning, rule?

But things went on just the same. The group of wealthy Jews have continued their rule and their work; they have been distributing help with a generous hand to the Jews in Europe and they have done many other things-all of which was very noble indeed, but it savored just a little too much of charity.

“Now, however, it seems that the ‘elders’ have tired of their alms-giving they’ve had enough of it. The J. D. C. is liquidated, let the European Jews take care of themselves.

“Today when the cry of the stranded refugees has reached us Mr. Marshall and his group of ‘elders’ have again hastened to assume the responsibility, they have created the ‘Emergency Fund’-everything is left to them-but they are in no hurry to produce the actual results, they take it in a leisurely way.

“I am not trying to reproach them for this. After all, they cannot crawl out of their skin; the burden is too much even for the strongest shoulders. But I do reproach them for monopolizing the leadership of American Jewry, for assuming control of everything without a mandate from the people.

“But much greater is my reproach against the 4 million Jews of America who refuse to use their own volition, to do their own thinking, who cast all the troubles and sorrows of Israel, the responsibilities of Jewish life and the leadership of Jewry upon the heads of a few elderly men who are willing to accept the responsibility.

“If the ‘elders’ are tired, the young men should take up their work. If one organization is ruined a new one should be built in its place. There is no excuse for the J. D. C. to be closed, for stopping all activities of relief and reconstruction. We created a Jewish Congress-the Congress should have resumed the work. Unfortunately the Congress has been transformed from all its vast pretensions and illusions into an office, a secretary and a few clerks.

“That is the Jewish disease: we want All or Nothing. We wanted a World Jewish Congress a Universal Parliament. Not achieving that we have returned to the American Jewish Committee. to Mr. Marshall, to our ‘oldocracy’.

“It seems hard for an old people to adjust itself to new ways, even if the old ways no longer lead anywhere.”

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