[The purpose of the digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does indicate approval-Editor.]
The shooting of Semion Petlura, leader of pogrom bands in the Ukraine, by Sholom Schwartzbard, the first conspicuous deed of its kind in Jewish history-an act of personal retribution for the ruthless torturing and massacre of thousands of innocent Jews-is widely discussed in the Jewish press.
The “Jewish Morning Journal,” terming it “the modern vengeance of a Jew,” explains the historical background of this act as follows:
“The horrible outrages for which Semion Petlura was responsible, directly and indirectly, belong to the Middle Ages, perhaps even earlier. The revenge is modern. Jews were massacred two thousand years ago and a thousand years ago, three hundred years ago and a hundred and fifty years ago; there were pogroms in the eighties, twenty years ago and six years ago. It is a long chain of murdering and persecution which extends back to ancient times. But we have no tradition nor legend of personal vengeance for such acts. From Titus to Chmielnicki and from Ignatiev to Machno, the wholesale murderer of Jews has been safe from the personal attack of Jews.
“We are not grieved by this incident nor are we afraid of the possible consequences.” the paper writes further. “Would that every pogrom leader felt unsafe, then there would not be so many to head such movements. It there were the possibility of an avenger for Jewish blood the criminal bands would not so easily find men to lead them.”
The paper suggests, in conclusion, that the Jews of the world raise a fund for the defense of Schwartzbard who, it says, has “heroically risked his life for the Jewish people.”
The “Forward” feels that Perlura “received the punishment he deserved” for his name had become “bound up with bloody pogroms, the ruin and destruction of tens of thousands of Jewish lives.” There can be no difference of opinion regarding Schwartzbard, the paper says, declaring :
“He killed in Perlura the man whom he held responsible for the cruel murder of his father and mother. The terrible feeling of pain, wrath and vengeance aroused in him found expression in this act, when he shot Petlura. And with this personal feeling was bound up the desire to avenge the thousands of other Jewish victims of Petlura’s bands. It is natural that the Jews should look with admiration at Sholom Schwartzbard.”
The “Day” while refusing to see in Schwartzbard’s personal vengeance an act of heroism, declares that “Petlura deserved to die as he did at the hand of a Jew. From a historical and social point of view and as a matter of justice, it is well understandable that there should have been a man who lifted his hand against Petlura. We do not justify any act of murder,” the paper says, “but the one who was really to blame for Petlura’s killing was not Schwartzbard but Petlura himself who gave sufficient cause for the act. And guilty, too, is ‘society’ which calmly accepted and calmly endured the presence of such a type as Petlura was.”
A similar attitude is taken by the “Jewish Daily News,” which disapproves of Schwartzbard’s act. The paper finds. however, that “Schwartzbard’s feelings which moved him to wipe out the life of one of the blackest and ugliest of men that arose in recent times in Russia or any other country, can be understood. In the history of murder and ruthless brutality,” the paper says, “it would be hard to find an equal to the cannibal, the beast in human form, whom Schwartzbard killed. The most fitting thing that can be said on the occasion of Petlura’s death is, in the words of the Bible: ‘Let the name of the wicked rot’.”
The “Freiheit.” Jewish Communist daily of New York, declares that “the Communist movement does not believe in acts of personal revenge and individual terror,” but adds: “However, we understand the feelings of the young terrorist, although we are far from approving his act. Schwartzbard should have sought another method and another opportunity of serving the Jewish masses in the Ukraine than by killing Petlura.”
The Ukrainian daily paper, “Ukrainski Schodenni Visty,” published in New York, takes the following stand: “It is our opinion that the Jew who killed Petlura is crazy. What was the purpose of killing Petlura? What did he represent now?
“No doubt the nationalistic Jewish public will justify this act on the ground of vengeance for the pogroms perpetrated upon the Jewish population the Ukraine under Petlura’s regime. This nevertheless, does not jutisfy the silly act of the ‘avenger.’ Because Petlura cannot be held individually responsible for the pogroms, but rather the whole clique of Petlura’s followers. among whom there were Jews too.
“As for Petlura’s death.” the paper says. “there is nothing to say. It is accepted that nothing bad be spoken of the dead. And since nothing good can be said of Petlura, so let him ‘rest in peace’.”
The sum of $72,000 was raised in the building fund campaign for $78,000 for a Synagogue Center in Chester. Pa., conducted by the Jewish Welfare Board, under the direction of Isadore Abelson, field secretary for Pennsylvania. Dr. Mordecal Soltes of New York and Mr. Abraham Wernick, were the principal speakers at the campaign dinner. Dr. Harry Coben is the Rabbi of the Congregation and A.W. Wolson is chairman of the Campa### Committee. Among the larger contributors are A. W. Wolson. Harry Beilin, and Simon Brunner, each of whom contributed five thousand dollars.