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 not indicate approval.--Editor.]

The attitude of the American Jewish Committee, as expressed by its president in his report at the twentieth annual meeting of the organization, on the question of the Schwartzbard case, is subjected to criticism by the Jewish press of New York. Exception is taken particularly to the observation of the report that the attitude of the Jewish newspapers “anticipates the decision of the French court as to the extent of Petlura’s responsibility for the massacres,” and the further remark that Schwartzbard’s defense must be sought “in the field of mental responsibility and not in that of justification.”

The “Day” (November 16) expresses its opinion thus: “Does the gathering of material in favor of one who is accused of murder mean ‘anticipating’ the decision of the court? We do not agitate nor propogate, we are only gathering material. This material will be presented to the court. The court will have to decide to what extent this material deserves to be considered or not: the court will prove through its verdict to what degree it recognizes the motives of the murder of sufficient weight to temper Schwartzbard’s sentence or not. By furnishing the available material to the court we are not influencing its decision. On the contrary, we are helping it to unravel the bloody drama, to take the right road in its approach to the trial. Does this mean ‘anticipating’ the decision of the court?

“Anticipating the French court is precisely what the American Jewish Committee is doing. It is worried above all that the ‘Ukrainians are being irritated.’ hence it gives the French court the advice that ‘his (Schwartzbard’s) defense must be sought in the field of mental irresponsibility.’

“Does this not mean anticipating the decision of the French court? And it is known moreover–according to the testimony of experts–that Schwartzbard is mentally responsible. At best such action is tactless.”

In the “Jewish Morning Journal,” Jacob Fishman points out that the Jewish press regards Schwartzbard not as a ‘national hero’ but as a ‘national victim.’

“Mr. Marshall thinks,” we read. “that to express the opinion that Petlura was officially as well as personally guilty of the pogroms, is ‘to anticipate the decision of the French court.’ Mr. Marshall is greatly in error. He places Petlura on the same scale with one ordinarily accused who is entitled to the benefit of every doubt. Petlura, however, does not belong to this class. His public actions are known to hundreds, perhaps thousands of persons and his Jewish victims count over a hundred thousand. Yet he was never brought before a court because Ukrainia was then in a state of chaos and he found protection under the excuse of war.

“The present trial of Schwartzbard is indirectly the moral trial of Petlura And in this we Jews are interested even more than in Schwartzbard. We have no doubt that Petlura was personally responsible for the massacres. We are convinced of this because the Jewish leaders on the other side have ample evidence of Petlura’s guilt and because thousands upon thousands of pogrom victims who are now in America are in a position to substantiate this. Shall we then ignore all these facts and leave the entire case to its fate? Who will bring these facts out before the public if not the Jewish representatives, and a number of Jews who had personal dealings with Petlura and the hundreds of Jewish victims?”

Regarding the belief of the American Jewish Committee that Schwarizbard’s defense must be sought in the field of mental responsibility, the “Morning Journal” further declares: “That is exactly what the Ukrainian representatives have requested of the Schwarzbard committee in Paris which is composed of prominent Jews. They asked that Schwartzbard be declared insane, that nothing be said at the trial regarding Petlura, and they would then be satisfied if Schwartzbard would be freed. The committee refused this request, and rightly so. No Jew desired the Schwartzbard tragedy, but since it has taken place, it would have been cowardice of the worst sort to hide from the world the circumstances of Petlura’s massacres which until now have been ignored by the whole world as through a ‘conspiracy.’ (The British Chief Rabbi. Dr. Joseph Hertz, used this expression a couple of years ago.)”

The “Jewish Daily News” writes in the same vein, concluding its observations in the following words: “The statement of the American Jewish Committee that the Jewish newspapers and Jewish public opinion regard Schwartzbard’s assassination of Petlura as an act of national heroism, is thoroughly false. The Jewish press and Jewish public opinion never endorsed murder in any form whatsoever. All that the Jewish press desires is to make clear the connection between Schwartzbard’s act and the pogroms perpetrated by Petlura. We never fell and never will fall so low as to hide Petlura’s dark deeds because the Ukrainians will be irritated by it.”

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