London (Feb. 2)
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency)
An investigation of the report from Bialystock concerning a Jewish riot in protest against the moving picture, “Ben Hur”, was made by the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in Poland. The report of the riots was circulated in the entire European press and in America.
The British press published an interview with the manager of the Tivoli Theater here, where the film is now being shown. The manager expressed astonishment at the report of the riots as in his opinion the film does not cast any slur on the character of the Jewish people.
The press of Germany, particularly the nationalistic press, featured the story largely, making the charge of fanaticism against the Bialystok Jews. The same papers, however, have attacked “Ben Hur” because, in their opinion, it exalts the character of the Jewish people.
The investigation made by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent in Poland disclosed, however, that no riots or disturbances of any nature took place in connection with the showing of the film there. The facts of the case are as follows.
The film was shown in the Apollo Theatre in Bialystock, which is owned by an Orthodox Jew. One of the rabbis of the town pointed out in a sermon that although “Ben Hur” extols Jewish national pride and heroism, it nevertheless conveys the idea of apostacy as the hero ends in proclaiming Christ as the king of Judah. The rabbi’s sermon induced a group of Orthodox Jews to demand that the theatre owner withdraw the film. The owner complied with this demand.