The Washington Conference for the Allied Jewish Campaign, which was held Saturday and Sunday, is hailed as the beginning of a new intensified activity by American Jews on behalf of their harassed brethren of Eastern Europe and Palestine in editorials in the Saturday issues of both the “Forward” and the “Day.”
“This conference will certainly draw to itself great attention,” says the “Forward.” “It takes into account the Jewish situation everywhere. And the Jewish situation is everywhere a terrible one. One catastrophe follows another. It seems like one great catastrophe whose end one can hardly see.
“Let us take the Jews of Eastern Europe, Jews of four countries: Soviet Russia, Poland, Roumania and Lithuania. Life there is gruesome. A dark night has descended upon them. Not long ago there was a confidential report from Russia, and the report told that out of the 2,700,000 Jews who are now living in Russia, a half-million are virtually sentenced to destruction, while a million are wavering between life and death. The Jewish cities and towns in Russia present a harrowing picture. Where there was once life, there is now a desert. And in Polandâ€”the Jew in Poland is supposedly a free person, the Jewish tradesman is free to conduct business, but what is the use if the economic situation and the policies of the government are such that more and more Jews are being ruined! The situation is no better in Lithuania. The great industrial undertakings there which once had the Russian market before Lithuania became an independent country now lie dead. Besides, the Jews are being driven out of their economic positions through the competition of the Lithuanian artisans, who are constantly increasing. The same is true of the tradesmen. In Bessarabia the Jews once took an active part in the industries. Since Bessarabia became a part of Roumania, the market for Bessarabian products was wiped out completely. The nearly three hundred thousand Jews who live in Bessarabia are in a desperate situation, like the Jews in other East European countries. Everywhere need, everywhere destruction, everywhere ruin.
“Everywhere hopeless? Jews in America can still do much, Jews in America can still save much. The Joint Distribution Committee has plans before it. Its department which works in Russia, the ‘Agrojoint,’ which devotes itself to the Jewish colonization there, has hopes of being able to settle thousands of more Jews upon the land, of creating new colonies. During the coming year it hopes to be able to colonize 4,500 families. It is a drop of help in the ocean of troubles, but still it is help. For the other countries the ‘Joint’ plans to enlarge the credit and artisan cooperatives, to strengthen the People’s Banks, through which thousands upon thousands are helped with loans. With regard to Palestine, there is an opportunity for the Agency to begin to carry out several important plans. All this is in the minds of the Jewish leaders who will participate in the Washington Conference. May the conference in Washington be a success!”
Answering those who claim that Palestine will get too large a percentage of the Allied Jewish Campaign funds, more of which should go to Eastern Europe where the need is so great, the “Day” says:
“First of all, there are special campaigns for Eastern Europe, just as there are for Palestine. In the second place, the Agro-Joint has the ten-million dollar Rosenwald Fund which goes exclusively to the Jews in Russia. In the third place the Russian Jews have a government which is in duty bound to provide them with means of existence, since it took other means away from them.
“Realizing this, Russian Jewry will get from the campaign about $50,000. The rest of the three and a half million dollars will go for the Jews in other countries.
“But what interests us here mainly is the harmony between Zionists and ‘Joint’ people which this conference will bring. And here we find it necessary and important to say: Don’t allow yourselves to be influenced by pessimists and those who love to make trouble. The people with whom we are starting a joint campaign are not unknown in Jewry. If good deeds for the Jewish people are the determining factor here, how many of us can come up to them?
“Let us have the greatest respect for and the greatest confidence in our new co-workers in the Agency. If there have been misunderstandings they have been wiped out.
“We wish the conference success and we have faith in it.”