Despite recent assurances, anti-Semitism and the persecution of Jewish students still continue to hold sway in Roumania, and a much greater improvement than has so far been made manifest would be required before he would be able to accept the optimism of recent reports.
This opinion was expressed by Mr. Irving Fineman, member of the faculty of the University of Illinois, who has recently returned from a trip to Roumania. Mr. Fineman, who made a survey of conditions affecting the Jews in that country, and especially the situation affecting Jewish students, presented a summary of his report last evening to a meeting of members of the Administrative Committee and of the Special Committee on Plan and Scope of the American Jewish Congress. The meeting was presided over by Judge Louis B. Brodsky.
Mr. Fineman’s study of conditions in Roumania was made for the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity at the suggestion of Dr. Stephen S. Wise.
“I have read with considerable interen recent reports in the newspapers concerning the condition of Jews in Roumania–notably one presenting the remarkably different observations of Mr. Leon Fischer and Dr. Charles S. Macfarland, Secretary of the Federal Council of the Churches of Christ of America, and another quoting the remarks of George Cretziano, Roumanian Minister to this country, at a dinner tendered him by the Society of the United Roumanian Jews of America,” Mr. Fineman stated.
“I am inclined to agree with Dr. Macfarland’s finding that the situation of Roumanian Jews is still precarious. As for Mr. Cretziano’s assurances that anti-Semitic excesses in Roumania are a thing of the past, I can only point out that there are still professors openly preaching and practising anti-Semitism in the universities, which in some cases are under the responsible direction of men to whom a Roumanian Jew is always in the category of an undesirable “foreigner”; that student anti-Semitic organizations still hold public anti-Semitic demonstrations and practise persecution within university precincts; that Jewish students still have to retire on occasions to the safety of their dormitory in the ghetto, and are leaving the country as fast as they can find the means to do so; and that there are still in the government men whose one concern has been to attempt to minimize the significance of the Oradea Mare “incident” and who would not scruple again to use the flame of anti-Semitism which has been kindled in Roumanian universities for their own vile ends should a political situation call for it. When the government and university authorities will see to it that professors do not use their chairs to preach anti-Semitism; when practical steps are taken to prevent misguided students from persecuting their Jewish colleagues, and disturbing the peace of their peaceful Jewish compatriots; when the Roumanian government will put a stop to indignities too numerous to mention here which Jews still suffer; when, in short, Roumanian Jews will be treated in fact as Roumanian citizens as regards the fundamental rights of opportunity and protection, then I shall be inclined to join Messrs. Fischer and Cretziano in their optimism.” Mr. Fineman declared.
Mr. Bernard G. Richards, Executive Secretary of the American Jewish Congress, stated that Mr. Fineman’s report would serve to guide the future activities of the American Jewish Congress in behalf of the Jews in Roumania.
HARDSHIPS EXAGGERATED SAYS LEON FISCHER
The hardships of the Jews in Roumania have been greatly exaggerated, declared Mr. Leon Fischer. Vice President of the United Roumanian Jews of America, in an interview yesterday with a representative of the Jewish Daily Bulletin.
Complete confidence in the good faith of the promises made to him by Premier Bratiann. Minister of Interior Duca and others was expressed by Mr. Fisher, who at the same time scored those who impugn the intentions of the Government leaders.
The condition of the Jews, he said, has improved immeasurably in the past two years, and the outlook for a progressive ratin of improvement is excellent as a result of the government pledges, and if the policy of conciliation is continued by Jewish leaders.
Whatever sharpness existed between the Jews and the government was due to the disorganized condition of the Jewish groups scattered in the provinces which make up the new Roumania, and their failure to understand the homogeneous aims of the political leaders. A country only nine years old, such as the new Roumania, cannot be expected to run smoothly at the very outset, he stated.
Mr. Fischer branded as incorrect the statements from abroad that the Jewish communities in Transylvania have not received money for indemnities. He declared that in June he was informed by the Union of Roumania Jews in Bucharest that $75,000 of the indemnity had already been received by them, and by Premier Bratianu that $25,000 additional would be forthcoming immediately.
Asked to comment upon the statement of Dr. Charles S. Macfarland, General Secretary of the General Council of Churches of Christ in America, to the effect that violent attacks against Jews still continue, he stated his own observations lead him to a contrary viewpoint. In the two months of his tour, he visited towns and villages in Bessarabia, Old Moldavia, Transylvania and could find no such instances. Anti-Semitism he said is not a government policy; it is not spread among the peasant masses; it was continued almost entirely to the students. The Government has taken strong arm measures with the Student Body, so that source of infection seems rendered harmless.