With detailed reports before it of the spread of “modern anti-Semitism” in various countries of Europe, the American Jewish Committee devoted the greater part of its 24th annual meeting to a discussion of means to prevent a new world-wide growth of Jewish persecution. The report of the Executive Committee, read at the morning session of the meeting, which was held all day Sunday, Nov. 9, at the Hotel Astor, contained but few complaints of overt evidence of anti-Jewish prejudice in the United States. But reports of conditions in Poland, Russia. Roumania and Germany, were filled with descriptions throwing light on the serious situation there. The report was read by Dr. Cyrus Adler, president of the committee.
Morris D. Waldman, secretary of the Committee, who was sent abroad last summer to make a study of conditions of Jewries in Europe, supplemented the Executive Committee’s reading with a report of his own observations, in which he pictured vividly the unchecked tide of anti-Semitism in Roumania, and the amazing open anti-Semitic campaign being carried on by the National Socialist party in civilized Germany.
The meeting, which was composed of 60 members from various parts of the United States, and in addition to them, 17 representatives of other Jewish national organizations, also concerned itself with the Palestine question. A vigorous resolution protesting the White Paper was unanimously passed. The American Jewish Committee pledged its whole-hearted cooperation to the Jewish Agency in any efforts it may make to bring about a change of policy.
PROTEST BRITISH PLAN
The resolution is as follows:
“Whereas, at a special meeting held on April 28, 1918, the American Jewish Committee adopted a resolution expressing profound appreciation of the Balfour Declaration regarding Palestine, pledging cooperation to those who, attracted by religious or historic associations, shall seek to establish in Palestine a center for Judaism, for the propagation of our faith, for the pursuit of science and art in a Jewish environment, and for the rehabilitation of the land; and
“Whereas, on March 1, 1929, the American Jewish Committee joined with other bodies in submitting to Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States, a memorial asking ‘that the Peace Conference recognize the aspirations and historic claims of the Jewish People in regard to Palestine,’ and ‘that such action be taken by the (Peace) Conference as shall vest the sovereign possession of Palestine in such League of Nations as may be formed and that the government thereof be entrusted to Great Britain as the mandatory or trustee of the League;’ and
“Whereas, on April 24, 1920, the Supreme Allied Council meeting at San Remo, did indeed agree to entrust the mandate of Palestine to Great Britain, and on July 22, 1922, the Council of the League of Nations defined the terms of the mandate, stipulating that, in recognition of the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine, the Mandatory was to be responsible for placing that country under ‘such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home,’ and providing that ‘an appropriate Jewish Agency shall be recognized as a public body for the purpose of advising and cooperating with the administration of Palestine in such economic, social and other matters as may affect the establishment of the Jewish National home and the interests of the Jewish population in Palestine;’ and,
“Whereas, in August, 1929, an extended Jewish Agency representative of all the elements of the Jewish people interested in the development of a Jewish home in Palestine was organized, and
“Whereas, officers of the Jewish Agency have recently resigned in protest against the new policy in respect to Palestine announced by the British Government on October 20, 1930, which these officers unite in regarding as an unjustified attack on Jewish work in Palestine, and a land and immigration policy calculated to arrest the further development and the Jewish National Home; now, therefore, be it
“Resolved, that the American Jewish Committee in annual meeting assembled, joins with these officers of the Jewish Agency in expressing its profound disappointment with the new policy of the British Government as enunciated in the White Paper of October 20, 1930; a policy which the committee deems to have no basis in either the Balfour Declaration or the Mandate and to be a fallacious interpretation of these two charters underlying the trusteeship of Great Britain on behalf of the League of Nations; and, be it further
“Resolved, that the American Jewish Committee express its confidence in the sense of justice and fairness of the people of Great Britain, and its hope that the British Government will revise its present policy as respects Palestine so as to bring it into full harmony with the spirit of the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate; and, be it further
“Resolved, that the American Jewish Committee offer its whole-hearted co-operation to the Jewish Agency in any efforts it may take to bring about such a change of policy.”
In discussing the evidence of discrimination against Jews seeking employment, said to be prevalent in the United States, the Executive Committee in its report said that it had begun a study of such discrimination. Other citizens of Germany in particular with Germany’s enemies.
“Jews are being accused by the Hitlerites of being responsible for the War, for the defeat of Germany, for the Treaty of Versailles, as well as for the Young Plan. The Jew is the scapegoat. Hitlerism without anti-Semitism would not be our concern as Jews. Under such circumstances, it would be a matter for the German people to deal with, and for such other nations whose interests are involved in the effect upon them of Germany’s failure to meet its war obligations. But when a political party of any country, with prospects of holding the balance of power, threatens to deprive the Jews of their property and of their rights of citizenship, to subject them to all manner of economic repression, to eliminate them from public service and public honors, in short, degrade them to an inferior economic and political status, the world is confronted with the boldest and most ruthless manifestation of anti-Semitism ever shown in any country.
“Even Roumania before the War felt obliged to hide its discriminations behind the subterfuge that the Jews were not citizens. And today there are no legislative discriminations against Jews in Roumania, virtually only evasions of the law, and there is no political party which professes anti-Semitism except the Christian National Party which has one representative, Cuza. Nor are there parties in any other country who openly profess anti-Semitism. In other words, it has been left to this highly civilized country of Germany to make a political issue of what Painleve recently characterized as barbarism, and Gorky has called ‘this disgusting filth of anti-Semitism.’
“Social ostracism is humiliating, but can be tolerated by a people who are conscious of their own worth. That exists in other so-called enlightened countries, but the incorporation of mediaeval persecutory measures in the program of a political party is a shocking defiance of the decencies of modern civilization and a black shadow upon democracy.
“Albert Einstein who has raised the curtain upon the unknown wonders of the universe, or to use Bernard Shaw’s words, has actually created a new universe, Heinrich Heine whose immortal poetry has become part of the folk music of the Germanic race, Albert Ballin, whose genius helped his country to build a merchant marine that enabled it to conquer many of the markets of the world, Walter Rathenau who not only established the huge organization which alone made it possible for Germany to hold out with raw materials to the end of the War, but whose various efforts for a self-respecting yet reasonable solution of the reparations problem strengthened Germany’s position before the worldâ€”these men who brought undying glory to Germany and the countless others who have in more modest ways contributed to German civilization in every direction have been branded by these bigots as unassimilable aliens, and it is sought to legislate them out of German life and memory, and out of the German territory for the protection of which many thousands of its Jewish citizens, far in excess of their proportion in the population, readily gave up their lives.
“And we cannot overlook the dangerous augury for the future in the impregnation of the seeds of anti-Semitism upon a receptive and impressionable youth. The situation furnishes cause for anxiety to all Jews, even those who have seen no reason for identification with Jewish affairs. Even baptized Jews are not exempt from the Hakenkreuzler objective of hate.”
The following officers were re-elected for the American Jewish Committee: President, Cyrus Adler; Vice-Presidents, Judge Irving Lehman and Julius Rosenwald. Judge Horace Stern of Philadelphia was elected chairman of the Executive Committee. Samuel D. Leidesdorf of New York was elected treasurer to succeed the late Col. Isaac M. Ullman of New Haven.
In addition to the officers, the following were elected members of the Executive Committee: James H. Becker of Chicago, David M. Bressler of New York, Leo. M. Brown of Mobile, Fred N. Butzel of Detroit, Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo of New York, James Davis of Chicago, Judge Abram I. Elkus of New York, Judge Eli Frank of Baltimore, Henry Ittleson of New York, Louis E. Kirstein of Boston, Max J. Kohler of New York, Lt. Gov. Herbert H. Lehman of New York, Judge Irving Lehman of New York, James Marshall of New York, Dr. Milton J. Rosenau of Cambridge, Lewis L. Strauss of New York, Sol. M. Stroock of New York, Cyrus L. Sulzberger of New York, Felix M. Warburg of New York, and Morris Wolf of Philadelphia.
Jewish bodies are assisting in gathering evidence of cases where Jews are refused employment simply because they are Jews.
The Executive Committee stated that an accurate study of such a tendency is difficult, as “often the discrimination is practiced in subtle ways.” Particular efforts are being made to eliminate such discrimination in employment agencies, and especially in cases where employment upon public works, or employment by public or semi-public bodies, is concerned.
“While recognizing that the situation in respect of employment discrimination is serious, the Committee does not regard it with pessimism,” says the report. “The facts already at hand appear to indicate that the Jews are not only being absorbed within the American economic structure, but have also done a great deal in the direction of strengthening and expanding that structure itself.”
It is pointed out that in New York City, where half the Jews in the United States live, the Jews, though comprising 29.56% of the population, comprise 34.13% or more than their share of the membership in the fifty labor unions from which statistics were taken. Jews no longer are confined to commercial occupations, as was largely true of their immigrant parents, but are included in such manual work as food preparation and distribution, clothing, leather, building, printing, amusement, jewelry, and ornament trades. There are also 75,000 Jewish farmers in America, it was pointed out.
In regard to social anti-Jewish prejudice, the Committee reported that its investigation showed 19 states to have laws prohibiting the denial of accomodations at places of public resort and by common carriers to persons on account of their religion or race. The Committee is making efforts, it was announced, to have such legislation included in the remaining 27 states.
The Executive Committee called attention to the action of the Philadelphia Real Estate Board in recently adopting a resolution deprecating as un-American, prejudicial, and opposed to the promotion of the best feeling among all citizens toward each other of the practice of advertising real estate for sale in a manner which casts reflection upon any race or creed.
The meeting then gave its attention to reports of the situation abroad.
Mr. Waldman stated that, after spending ten days of his visit in Roumania during the early part of his visit, he had found conditions so appalling that he had decided to come back for a more extended study at the close of his trip. He concluded that the persecution of Jews, manifested in riots, burning of houses, beatings of Jews on trains, and violence at universities, was traceable to the seriously unstable economic conditions of Roumania. University students were allowed to pursue their persecutions, which, when not overlooked by the government, were characterized as “the healthy outgrowth of exuberant youth!”
ACUTENESS OF ROUMANIAN SITUATION
The Executive Committee, in its report, also emphasized the acuteness of the situation in Roumania. “Maltreatment of Jews on railroad trains has become a favorite sport,” it was said. “In one case, where a Jew pulled the emergency cord, to be saved from such persecution, he was arrested and fined for pulling the cord.”
The report discussed the situation of Jews in Poland, where anti-Semitism is not so strong a menace as the economic reorganization of the country, which, by eliminating the middleman, has withdrawn the means of livelihood from a huge number of Jews. Worse, “there is boycotting of Jews through racial discrimination; and the taxation system, designated so that the fiscal burden falls most heavily upon the urban population, terribly emburdens the Jews, who live mostly in the cities.”
“Certain Czaristic restrictions,” says the report, “are still in force in Poland. Jews are discriminated against in the matter of bank credits, and are not admitted to administrative positions. Though they pay 40% of the taxes while constituting only 11% of the population, they are forced to maintain institutions of learning at their own cost.”
In Russia, the committee reports, “religious persecution seems to have abated for the time being.” As religious education is still illegal and possible only where the teacher sits with three or fewer pupils, the rabbis and Jewish teachers are “in a state of abject misery and degradation.”
Mr. Waldman, in discussing the situation in Roumania, said, “It must not be imagined from these occurrences of the past year (referring to riots and burnings) that the government as a whole consciously encouraged anti-Semitic propaganda and excesses. Nor should it be thought that the Roumanian people as a whole have been in sympathy with them. On the contrary, the Roumanian press has continuously decried them and urged the government to take severe measures against them. The trouble was that the government regarded them for a long time as merely sporadic and unimportant occurrences and was averse to strong measures because, in contra-distinction to the more despotic preceding government, it was averse to do anything which might appear as subversive of freedom of speech and assembly.
GUILT LIES IN LENIENCY
“The guilt of the government lies in its leniency, in its persistent policy of underestimating the dangerous effects of anti-Semitic agitation and propaganda which by its own laws it could have and should have effectually suppressed, its failure to punish the male-
factors, in its wholly mistaken interpretation of democratic principles and procedure, and not the least in continuing a policy of legislative evasions and administrative acts of discrimination against its Jewish citizens which only tend to emphasize the traditional feeling of the population at large that the Jews are still to be regarded as aliens of an inferior civic status.
“The guilt of the government rests also in its persistent policy to minimize the complaints, sometimes even to extenuate or deny the facts, and worse than this, to accuse its Jewish population of disloyalty because they appeal for intervention or assistance from their fellow-Jews in other parts of the world.
“Because of the instability of Roumanian governments they have been sensitive to every current of dissatisfaction within as well as outside the country. So long as anti-Jewish outbreaks were sporadic and of comparatively wild effect and so long as discriminations remained subtle and difficult of indictment before the League of Nations, the government avoided taking strict measures with the student bodies, the thoughtless and exuberant instruments of the anti-Semitic agitators, because the students are, so to speak, the darlings of the people.
“Only when the situation began to assume the aspect of international scandal, to threaten countrywide anarchy, to evoke the dissatisfaction of its new King, did it finally take necessary measures.
JEWISH QUESTION NOT CHIEF PROBLEM
“The voluminous reports in the Jewish press should not give us the impression that the Jewish question is the chief problem with which the government is dealing. To the government it is a minor, even though a vexatious problem. Roumania has the larger task of welding together its various populations into a united, if not homogenous, Roumanian citizenry. That includes the Bulgarians in the Dobruji, the Russians in Bessarabia, the Ruthenians in Bukowina, and the Hungarians in Transylvania, the smaller groups of German Saxons in Transylvania and the Jugo Slavs in the Banat, as well as the Jews scattered all over the country.
“I carried away the impression that Roumania, though suffering a serious economic setback together with the rest of the world, is earnestly endeavoring to set its house in order and enjoy the prospect of becoming one of the most progressive, if not the best governed countries of Europe. And it is fatuous to believe that the Jews of the world and of Roumania are not eager for Roumania’s prosperity. Roumania’s one million Jews, constituting little over five per cent of the population, can readily be absorbed into the economic life of the country without disadvantage to the non-Jewish population; on the contrary to their great advantage.
“Though at present anti-Jewish demonstrations have been suppressed, the causes of your Committee’s continuing its interest have not been entirely removed. Full citizenship has not yet been accorded to all the Jewish population. A satisfactory community organization law has not yet been enacted. Adequate support of the Jewish communities and schools have not been made. Nor has complete justice been done with regard to Jewish teachers. Discrimination in the field of financial credits has not yet been removed. In short, the rights of the Jewish population under the minorities treaties and the guarantee of the League of Nations are still in a measure only paper rights.”
“It is in Germany, however, where the situation is the basis for genuine consternation,” said Mr. Waldman. “The anti-Semitic movement in Germany, in my opinion, is cause for greater anxiety than the anti-Jewish manifestations in Eastern European countries. The phenomenal gains of the National Socialist Party in the recent elections, far in excess of what was even anticipated at the end of August, when I left Berlin, threaten to throw the balance of political power in the hands of a group whose ruthlessness is matched only by its organizing ability.
“The situation in Germany differs in character from that in countries further east. First, unlike the other countries, Germany has entered into no treaties dealing with minorities rights; secondly, the present federal government has in no way abetted or encouraged anti-Jewish agitation. On the contrary, it has taken severe measures to repress all such demonstrations and has taken all steps legally possible to restrain anti-Jewish propaganda. In spite of this, anti-Semitic agitation assumed alarming proportions within the past year, and in most brutal and offensive forms. Though the economic burdens under which the German people have been suffering have fertilized the soil for this propaganda and a return to prosperity is likely to diminish its effect substantially, the situation is fraught with great danger not only to the Jewish people in Germany, but to the Jews of the whole world.
AVOID UNBALANCED PERSPECTIVE
“Again we must be careful to avoid an unbalanced perspective. Hitlerism comprehends much more than anti-Semitism. Not every member of the National Socialist party is an anti-Semite. Nevertheless, anti-Semitism is an essential and important element in its philosophy. Moreover, there are many enemies of the Jews in other parties, especially in the Hugenberg National Party. The danger of Hitlerist and Hugenberg nationalism rests in the fact that while raising national issues involving the repudiation of the Versailles treaty and reparation payments, which evoke the sympathy and support of great numbers of Germans outside of these two parties, it insidiously identifies the Jewish people in general and Jewish