J. D. B. News Letter

Vienna’s two hundred thousand Jews, the great majority of whom are ardent Jewish nationalists and Zionists, are now being torn by dissensions. Should the Jews of Vienna maintain their own political party, or should they—what in effect amounts to—join the Social-Democrats, the only non-Jewish political party in Austria which is, officially at least, free from anti-Semitism? This is the question which is today agitating nearly all of Vienna Jewry and which is causing such bitter internal quarrels.

HAD OWN PARTY BEFORE WAR

The Jews in the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy, especially the thickly settled Jewish communities of Galicia and Bukowina, had, like the other national groups living there before the war, their own political party which defended Jewish rights. After the war when the old Austro-Hungarian monarchy fell and thousands of Jews from various parts of the former monarchy flocked to Vienna, they brought with them this tradition of a separate Jewish political party. In the early years after the war, years which were filled with Zionist victories and with great nationalistic Jewish enthusiasm, this course gave hope of suceeding. At that time Vienna succeeded in electing several Jewish nationalist deputies to the Austrian parliament, the Vienna Landtag and the City Council.

JEWS DEPRIVED OF LIVELIHOOD

When the Vienna Social-Democratic Party gained the upper hand in the municipal government and began to give city jobs only to those who were members of the Socialist Party, many Jews who were formerly in the government service were thus deprived of their livelihood. For economic reasons therefore, many Zionists and members of the Jewish intelligentsia, such as doctors, engineers, etc., were forced to become members of the Social-Democratic party. Today there are certain Jewish sections in Vienna where more than half of the Zionists are at the same time also members of the Socialist Party, bearing in each pocket a different party card. As a result, Austrian Zionism has become completely paralyzed, since it is impossible to reconcile the activities of two such vastly different organizations. The Zionist Organization still conducts a separate Jewish political activity in Austria, while the Austrian Social-Democracy is according to its character and its program, German and International-Socialist at the same time, and besides, it is often anti-Zionist, too.

This question is now plaguing Vienna Jewry. If Austrian Zionism were suddenly to renounce separate Jewish politics and allow the Jewish citizen to vote for which ever of the other parties he may wish to vote, the entire Jewish population, with the exception of a very thin layer of capitalists, would then enter the ranks of the Social-Democracy, since, as has been said, it is the only non-Jewish party that is at least officially free from anti-Semitism. But this again would have very serious consequences for Vienna Jewry, since the other parties would then immediately increase their anti-Semitic propaganda, and the Heimwehr movement, very dangerous even today, would make this an excuse for propagating a bloody pogrom anti-Semitism.

ZIONISTS’ GROUPS SPLIT

On the question of what should be done in the present impasse, the various Zionist groups are torn among themselves. As far back as several years ago, the Poale-Zion decided not to act together with the General Zionists in questions of Austrian politics, but to join the Social-Democrats. Now the Hitachduth, another Zionist-Socialist party, is planning to do the same and is proposing to the General Zionists to take Austrian politics out of their program. But the Radical-Zionists and the Zionists-Revisionists on the other hand demand that the nationalistic-political program of the party be carried out to the full. Each group is threatening to secede from the United Austrian Zionist Executive if its demands in this matter aren’t carried out.

Meanwhile the Austrian Zionist convention is coming around, and as yet no one can foresee how the fight will end and how this sore problem will be solved.

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