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Rabbi Philip Bernstein Raps Victor Cadere’s Statement on Status of Jews of Roumania

October 9, 1930.

To the Editor of the Bulletin:

This morning’s Jewish Daily Bulletin contains a statement on the status of Roumanian Jewry by Victor G. Cadere which is so plausible, and at the same time so false, so typical of the ingratiating lies with which the Roumanian Government has sought to conceal its sins, that it compels one, who through a recent extened visit to that land knows the truth, to reply. I will confine myself to those glaring falsehoods which are so shocking because they must be deliberate. For Mr. Cadere who has actually investigated the situation must know that he is not speaking the truth.

He declares, “There are no anti-Semitic elements whatsoever in the present government.” Has he forgotten the anti-Semitic record of Mr. Vayda Voevod, Minister of the Interior, who has been subsidizing the anti-Semitic activities of the Student organization? Has he forgotten Mr. Tasleanu, chef de cabinet in the Ministry of the Interior, who is himself a leader in these vicious societies?

GOVERNMENT’S INTENTIONS

He speaks of the government’s “intentions of continuing to combat to the utmost extent the activities of all extremist propaganda including that of anti-Semitic groups…. We are anxious to check anti-Semitic propaganda as such even if it does not express itself in accompanying public disorders.” This contradicts the statement which Minister of Justice Junian made to me (I quote his words exactly as the Bucharest correspondent of the New York Times repeated them to me); “The holding or expressing of anti-Semitic ideas is not a crime in Roumania.” The facts speak even louder than Mr. Junian’s words. Before me, as I write, is a cartoon which appeared in a leading Bucharest newspaper. It shows two Jews gleefully stripping the last garments of clothing from a peasant’s back, and is typical of the hundreds of equally vicious cartoons and articles which appear in the press. Why doesn’t the Government which is “anxious to check anti-Semitic propaganda as such” begin with the newspapers? One who knows that the violent Jew-baiting propaganda and activities of the student organizations which are largely responsible for the recent outbreaks, are encouraged and even subsidized by members of the present government, finds it hard to write calmly of Mr. Cadere’s “intention of continuing (italics mine) to combat to the utmost extent the activities … of anti-Semitic groups.” In heaven’s name when will he begin?

Mr. Cadere’s worst misstatements were concerning the Bukowina disorders which he personally investigated. Maintaining that the cause of these attacks was economic, not racial, he states as facts (1) “Not only Jews but non-Jews of wealth were attacked; (2) No poor Jews whatever were molested.” I was in Balaceano, which suffered an outbreak on July 11. Not a single Christian was attacked but every Jewish home in the village was smashed. Of these thirty Jewish families only four owned shops. The balance were peasants, barely wresting a living from the soil. In the town of Borscha the fire destroyed every Jewish home (poor and rich alike) and did not even touch the house of a Christian.

Mr. Cadere knows these things, but still has the brazenness to say “It is a matter of conscience for me to place right first,—and as my first objective in my public capacity.” This only confirms what I learned in his country last summer:—Roumanian official sources cannot be trusted,—and American Jews who have the interests of their Roumanian brothers genuinely at heart, must be eternally vigilant.

Philip S. Bernstein,

Rabbi of Temple B’rith

Kodesh, Rochester, N. Y.

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