Moscow (Nov. 18)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
The work of settling Jews on the land in Soviet Russia may lead to the creation there of a Jewish republic. The Union of Socialist Soviet Republics would favor and actively assist in the creation of such a unit within the Union.
This was the burden of the address delivered by Michael Kalinin, president of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics at the Jewish land settlement conference called by the Ozet, the Society for settling Jews on the land, which is in session here with an attendance of 15 delegates from foreign countries, including the United States, and 200 delegates from all parts of Russia.
Michael Kalinin, who was rendered a tremendous ovation, declared in his address that the Jewish land settlement conference characterizes the policy of the Soviet government toward the various nationalities living within the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Formerly the Jews in Russia retained their nationality due to the policy of oppression which was conducted against them. Now they are retaining their nationality, not through oppression, but through freedom. In Soviet Russia, which is a state of classes, there is no reason nor a desire for the assimilation by the Russian people of any nationality. The contrary is true. The Soviet government aims at giving a maximum of economic, political and national independence to all the nationalities who live within the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. If it would be otherwise, the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics would not deserve the name of a Union, he declared.
Since the October revolution, even the smallest and almost forgotten nationalities of former Russia have obtained their independence. There is no wonder, therefore, that the higher developed Jewish nationality yearns to gain its nationality. By settling on the land in compact masses, the Jews subconsciously aim at gaining their own nationality. The first territorial Jewish units have already been built in the form of Jewish districts. The rest depends on the Jews alone. They can fully rely on the support of the Soviet government in this respect. The Jewish peasants feel themselves masters of the land because the land has not been granted to them, but they have fought for it alongside of the workers and the peasantry, he declared.
“I see no reason for Jews of Soviet Russia to go to Palestian, which holds for them only the promise of exploitation and poverty, while they have all the opportunities and possibilities to build their fatherland in Russia. Of course, it is understood that the Soviet government, having settled peasants of other nationalities on the land can assign for the purpose of Jewish colonization only limited means. We, therefore, count on the support of foreign organizations to aid the Jewish colonization,” he said.
Amid uproarious laughter, the president of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics proceeded to comment on this phase of the relations between the Soviet government and foreign Jewish organizations aiding in the colonization work.
“The foreign Jewish capitalist feels himself guilty before his eastern brethren. By helping them, he hopes to reach heaven. We will support his efforts by accepting the money. However, if he grudges, the government will not leave the Jews in Russia to their fate,” Kalinin dec###a red.
Kalinin further expressed his confidence in the fact that the process of turning the Jewish n###sses in Russia from petty traders into a class of productive people will kill anti-Semitism, which is not, he stated, deeply rooted among the toilers.
The New York “Times” Moscow correspondent, Walter Duranty, gives the following account of Kalinin’s address and his observations on the present stage of the anti-Semitti movement in Russia.
“The wholehearted assistance of the Soviet Government to the Jewish land colonization scheme was pledged today by President Kalinin, in a speech to the Colonization Communities, a number of foreign delegates and the peasant representatives of the ? colonies already established.
“President Kalinin insisted strongly on the national character of the colonization movement and concluded:
“A Jewish territorial and should be formed in Russia. Even without assistance from abroad the Soviet Government would cooperate and facilitate its formation.
“The President began his speech by explanation of the Soviet federative system. The country is no longer one nation, but a union of free, brotherly people, each with its cultural, social and political autonomy, living in its own fatherland, he said.
“If any national group fails to have its town fatherland, there can be no true brotherly union, he declared. This conference shows that the Jews are beginning to acquire the character of a nation. As a result of oppression the Jews have maintained their national traditions, but they have not been assimilated.
“The Soviet Government does not want them assimilated, it wants to see them an autonomous nation in the Soviet Union.
“President Kalinin admitted that the October revolution, while giving the Jews the same rights as the rest of the peoples formerly composing the Czar’s empire, had struck them a blow by suppressing private trade in the cities and smaller towns and villages.
“The Government wished to repair this by establishing the Jews on the land and developing the handicraft of their peasants and workers.
SOME CLASSES OPPOSE THE JEWS
“He declared that there is little anti-Semitic feeling, but in the cities, among the small bourgeoisie and the intelligentsia, it is worse than under the Czar, because when these classes declined to cooperate with the soviet Government the Jews were willing to do so.
“While the prime object of the colonization scheme is economic, to provide work for workless Jews, the Government at the same time sympathizes with the national sentiment of the Jews and wishes to preserve the national character of the movement. It has been said that the Jews were obtaining the best land, but this was quite untrue, President Kalinin said. Crimean land was not available to Russian settlers, because irrigation was too expensive; Azov land was also unavailable because draining it is too expensive.
“The Soviet Government was opposed to Jewish emigration of the Palestine settlement, because there the Jews have lived a thousand years, and here they should make a free fatherland by their own constructive labor.
“The speech was received with great applause and the delegates were greatly impressed by M. Kalinin’s straight forwardness and sincerity. They got the impression that the Soviet Government not only is anxious to help the Jewish colonization by every means within its power, but also is determined to eliminate as far as possible the Jewish fears that danger might result from an anti-Semitic feeling among any section of the population.
GOVERNMENT CAN STEM PREJUDICE
“It may be taken for granted that the Soviet Government holds Russia in far too tight a rein for any popular sentiment, whether anti-Semitic or otherwise, to be translated into action without its approval.
“At yesterday’s session of the conference telegrams were read from the Central Executive Committee and the Communist Party Central Committee of the Ukraine wishing success to the colonization scheme and announcing that the first large Jewish administrative territorial unit in the Soviet Union is now being created in the region of Kherson, where the oldest Jewish colonies and several new ones are settled.
“A prominent Communist. M. Larin, declared it was the intention of the Soviet Government to establish a national Jewish autonomous republic in Northern Crimea and the coterminous coast region bordering on the Sea of Azov. It planned, he said, to settle 100,000 Jews in Northern Crimea and 200,000 in the Azov region, where an extensive drainage project is now being undertaken, to occupy four years in construction, at an expense of 5,000,000 rubles.
OLD FEELING WAS ARTIFICIAL
“Extraordinary as it may sound, many people here-belonging, it is true, to the former upper, or bourgeoisie, class-declare that anti-Semitic sentiment is stronger today than ever before. They argue that in the old days, the Russian people, as a mass, felt little hostility toward the Jews and that “pogroms” were almost wholly artificial and fomented by the Czarist police and what now might be called the “Fascist Black Hundred,” an organization for political purposes, to make Israel the scapegoat of all kinds of revolutionary activity and distract public attention from reforms which the Czar’s Government declined to adopt.
“This view has been taken even by a number of Communists; but the latter do not draw the conclusion which their adversaries now put forward, that today there is a general anti-Semitic feeling, due, first, to the echo of this old fictitious identification of the Jews with revolution, which holds them responsible for present hardships; second, to jealousy against the comparatively small number of Jews who profited by the ‘new economic policy,’ and, third, the misunderstanding created among the Russian peasant population by reports ‘that Jewish settlers are receiving the best Russian land.’
PREJUDICE LESS THAN FORMERLY
“Unjust as all three points are, the facts remains that there is a considerable amount of anti-Semitic feeling at present in Russia; but such sentiment is less than in the pre-revolution period. It is also considerably diminished as compared with three or four years ago.
“At that period there was a remarkable efflorescence of gambling rooms, smart restaurants, ‘ thes dansants’ and night cafes in Moscow and Petrograd, where Jewish ‘Nepmen’ reveled in a luxury comparable to the old days before the revolution. In 1923 and 1924 all this was suppressed with an iron hand, and it is only within the last six months that a new note of anti-Semitism began to rise among the peasant population in response to what was called the “favoritism” shown the Jews in the matter of land colonization.
“Some months ago these grievances found voice in a letter from a Communist schoolmaster living in the Crimea to Soviet President Kalinin, which Kalinin answered-with entire truth and frankness-that the land given to the Jews in the Crimea and other parts of South Russia was not only far smaller in comparison to the number of the population than that given to the Russians, but that it was land which was not available for settlement without irrigation, which the Russians were unable to undertake, and which was done by the Jews, thanks to foreign assistance, thus depriving no one and increasing the productivity of the Soviet State.
“Nevertheless, the sentiment persists to a certain extent, despite the fact that the “Agrojoint” and other Jewish colonies have done their utmost to conciliate their Russian neighbors by putting at their disposal tractors, well-diggers, wells and technical instructors.
“Indeed there is every ground for believing a report of the ‘Agrojoint’ and the Soviet Jewish Committee that the Russian peasants neighboring their colonies are on the friendliest terms with them. There remains a certain hostility in villages that do not profile by the close association and yet hear reports of the sudden progress and-comparatively – superior standard of living of the new Jewish peasant groups.
“On such trifling and faulty bases is public sentiment often founded. That is exists is clearly evident from an article in the Soviet press, two or three days ago, by one of the leaders of the Soviet-Jewish colonization committee, deprecating and replying to the unfair anti-Semitic sentiment.
“Yesterday Isvestia contained an appeal on similar lines by the well-known poet Mayakofski, who says:
” ‘You see Jews doing a good business in Moscow and hear that they are getting the best land in Crimea; but do you realize the horrors and misery they suffered-the whips of Cossacks, the Poles’ bullets, the ravishment of partisan leaders? From what floods of tears, what bitter agony, they emerged to try to take a place on land when stark huger cried, ‘Land or death. Barren steppes and encampment huts, then furious, unremitting toil, toil, toil Now you see them, like our peasants, winning a way to prosperity by the sweat of their brow. Soon you will not know them from Russians in a State where there are no nations and no wars.’ “
Five hundred members of the Keren Hayesod Women’s League attended the annual luncheon meeting on Wednesday at the Hotel Astor. Mrs. Richard Gottheil, President, urged support for the bazaar, which is to be held at the Waldorf on Dec. 18, to raise funds for a women’s centre in Palestine. Chaim Arlasoroff, Dr. Maurice Eisenberg, and Dr. Israel H. Levinthal, were among the speakers.