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Daily Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does indicate approval.-Editor.]

The attitude of the Zionist convention in Buffalo on the questions of Revisionism and the Russian colonization plan is the subject of criticism, favorable and adverse, appearing in the Jewish press.

The Zionist convention is taken to task in the “Day” of July 3, by S. Dingol, who writes on “The Sins of the Convention.” Discussing the refusal of the Buffalo convention to have Vladimir Jabotinsky, leader of the Revisionists, address the Zionist delegates, Mr. Dingol say: “If the Zionist Executive had stood on its former high level it would have considered it an honor and a duty to invite Jabotinsky and to let him explain his views. Dr. Shmarya Levin, Lipsky and other spokesmen of the Zionists, could have answered him, and the delegates would perhaps for the first time have listened to an earnest debate on an earnest Zionist question, which would have cleared up the minds of many and would, I believe, have given Revisionism a death blow it it had lost out at the convention, and of this we are quite certain.”

Hence, Mr. Dingol thinks, “though the Revisionists were defeated at the convention, they came out as moral victors.”

The writer also censures the Zionists for suspecting the proponents of the Russian colonization plan of using it for anti-Zionist purposes. This suspicion, he says, “is not altogether true, nor is it advisable to announce it.” And further:

“We desire to win as many forces in Jewry for Palestine as possible; but not to lose the little we have. Felix Warburg is not engaged in ‘anti-Zionist propaganda.’ Marshall is not engaged in ‘anti-Zionist propaganda.’ And generally, it is senseless to tell people that they are anti-Zionists and at the same time to call upon them to joint the Jewish Agency.”

A different opinion is entertained by Ephraim Kaplan (“Jewish Morning Journal,” July 2), who holds that “the Zionist convention did nothing to give the other party (the non-Zionists) ground for complaint against them, and certainly no ground for regretting the proposed partnership (Jewish Agency), if such a regret did not already exist before…”

On the contrary, the writer feels, analyzing the grievance of the Zionists on the ground of the non-Zionists’ failure so far to fulfil their promise of entering the Jewish Agency, “it must be admitted that the attitude of the Zionists (at the Buffalo convention) was essentially right and just. Because the wounds from a pretending friend are more painful and dangerous than those from an open enemy. Louis Marshall has so frequently identified himself with Palestine reconstruction that, despite the fact he never forgot to emphasize that he is not a Zionist, the wide Jewish public is generally inclined to believe that he is.

“And Felix Warburg, too, has given us all sufficient reason to suspect him of genuine, strong Zionist sentiments. He went to Palestine, came back full of enthusiasm and inspiration for the new national Jewish life which is being created there, and promised a large sum for the Hebrew University.

“Perhaps the interests of Zionism demanded that the convention take a more aggressive stand and utter a vigorous protest, telling American Jewry that the attempt to push Palestine into the background and bring the Messiah through the steppes of Crimea cannot come from friendly circles…. Yet the convention overlooked the matter of logic, ignored all these calculations and allowed itself to be swayed by only one strong desire, the desire for peace.”

THE DISCOVERY OF THE DIVAN OF DON TADROS HALEVI EN ABU-ALAFIAH

The discovery of the “Divan” of Don Tadros Halevi en Abu-Alafiah, regarded as one of the finest treasure-troves of Jewish poetry, is described by Dr. Moses Gaster, in the London “Jewish Guardian.”

“A wonderful interlinking of events,” Dr. Gaster writes, “has led up to this discovery, and I can vouch for the accuracy of it, for I have been in some measure connected with it.

“In the middle of the thirteenth century there lived in Seville a family that occupied the highest position among the Jews. Among them the most prominent was Tadros (not Todros, as usually spelled) Halevi en Abu-Alafiah. He was wealthy, fully versed in Jewish and Arabic literature and poetry, of which, however, little was known hitherto, a great Talmudic scholar, a student of the Cabbala, the first to interpret in a mystical manner the legends of the Talmud, yet at the same time a man of the world who played a prominent part at the Court of King Sancho IV and his Queen, Maria de Molina. When the royal pair took a journey to the Provence, the Jews of that country paid great honor to the Jewish courtier, who had come in the retinue of the Queen. The poet, Abraham Bederesi, wrote a poem of welcome in his honor, to which Don Tadros replied also with a similar poetic epistle. At one time he shared the fate of almost every Court favorite. He was deprived of his honors, cast into prison, and was condemned to death. But at the last minute his fortune turned, and he obtained his liberty again. This was one of the many occasions when the Jews of Seville had to suffer persecution and martyrdom. No doubt he owed his life to the protection of the Queen.

“Thus far, very little was known of his literary activity, except those few treatises on Talmudic subjects. Now, however, through the discovery of a collection of close upon one thousand poems, Don Tadros stands out as one of the greatest poets of the Spanish school, and a comparison with all the other great poets will only corroborate this judgment. It is by a rare combination of circumstances that this collection will now become the property of the Jewish people. Many years ago, while lecturing at Cambridge, I made the acquaintance of a young student, Mr. Felix Joseph, of Hong Kong. Whenever in contact with Jews from foreign countries I never fail to inquire after old books and MSS, which they may have somewhere at home. My inquiry elicited the reply from Mr. Joseph that his father, who was a merchant of high standing in Hong Kong, was, above all, a student of Jewish literature. After retiring from business he would spend his nights in reading and writing, and, as far as he could judge at that time, his father’s favorite occupation was with the poets of the Spanish school. He promised me then that, when returning to Hong Kong, his father having suddenly died, he would send me some of the MSS. left by his father, with a view to publishing them if they were found to be worth publi-

“The result was a rich harvest of works written by the late Mr. Saul Joseph. Above all, there turned up a huge volume, beautifully written in the Oriental Sephardic cursive hand, and covering close upon 650 pages, each page neatly framed, and the poems written mostly in two volumes. It was the lost Divan of Don Tadros Abu-Alafiah. From marginal indications, it must have taken Mr. Joseph at least a year to make this beautiful copy, in such manner as only a scholar could do. It was a work of love, and then nothing is too heavy and nothing is too much. It could only have been an inspiration which led him to undertake such a laborious work, for he has thus saved this incomparable treasure from utter destruction. The old original has unfortunately disappeared. It must have fallen a prey to the voracious ants and insects which are the chief cause of the destruction of old books in the East. Thus, if not for this copy, Jewish literature would have been the poorer, and the name of Don Tadros connected only with those Cabbalistic treatises whose merit does not rank very high.”

CRITICIZES SCHWARTZBARD’S ACT ON GROUND OF JEWISH RELIGION

Regret at the act of Sholom Schwartzbard in assassinating Petlura, on the ground that such acts are opposed to the tenets of the Jewish religion, is expressed in the “Israelitisches Familienblatt” of Hamburg, by Rabbi S. Samuel.

“Perhaps Petlura fully deserved to die for the many thousands of slaughtered Jews, even if only a thousandth part of the terrible reports were true. But our religion and ethics recognize only the right of self-defense, when one’s own life is directly endangered by an enemy. But no one can be denied the right of trial before a court. Death sentence, according to rabbinical teaching, can be imposed only by a duly appointed earthly court, or by the hand of God,” Rabbi Samuel writes.

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