The early abolition of the Czaristic restrictions against the Jews of Poland, the relaxation of taxation and measures to improve the Jewish economic position in Poland were forecast by the Polish Ambassador to the United States, Titus Filipowicz, in a conference with Dr. Cyrus Adler, Judge Horace Stern, and Morris D. Waldman, president, chairman of the executive committee, and secretary respectively of the American Jewish Committee, Dr. Mieczyslaw Marchlewski, Polish Consul General in New York, also attended.
The following authorized statement on the conference was issued today through the Jewish Telegraphic Agency:
Dr. Adler stated to the Ambassador that the Jews of America were much gratified at the establishment of the Republic of Poland by the Peace Treaties and had every wish that the Polish Republic should succeed. He also stated that he fully recognized that the Pilsudski Government was not anti-Semitic and that with certain exceptions, which he would mention later, the Jews in Poland had equality before the law.
JEWS INVITED TO POLAND
Their brethren, who had come into Poland in the Middle Ages at the invitation of Poland which was then the freest country in Europe, had been specially invited because they served an important economic need, as at that time Poland was divided between landowners and peasants and there was no middle mercantile class. He recognized the fact that the modern development in Poland and in other parts of Central Europe was changed by reason of the displacement of the middle-man in favor of the co-operative movement, a movement to which the Jews gave hearty assent and which itself had been largely furthered, if not originated, by the Jewish statesman, Luigi Luzzatti.
This displacement, however, had produced an economic situation among the Jews in Poland of such magnitude as to be an oppressive economic problem for the Polish Government and this was somewhat aggravated by the fact that restrictions, which especially hampered the Jewish population and which had come down from the previous Russian regime, still remain on the statute books and in force.
U. S. JEWRY INVESTED $60,000,000
Dr. Adler also pointed out that the Jewish people in America, first through War Relief when such relief was needed and then through actual constructive measures, such as the establishment of small credit banks throughout Poland, had brought into Poland and utilized there capital which had a turnover of nearly $60,000,000, in the course of the past ten years, which in itself had been a constructive effort in Poland. Dr. Adler also pointed out that in spite of the impoverishment of the Jewish population, taxation fell unequally upon them and that they were further deprived of employment through the turning over to the State of certain large industries as monopolies, such as tobacco, salt, etc., from which Jews were excluded.
The Ambassador deplored the existence of separate sectarian credit organizations and other types of social agencies which, in his opinion, inevitably tends to antagonisms. The representatives of the American Jewish Committee pointed out that separate Jewish agencies had been rendered inevitable by the exclusion of Jews from Polish institutions, but that in spite of this, many Jewish social welfare agencies are serving all elements of the population without regard to race and religion.
The Ambassador stated that he understands that the Czaristic restrictions will be abolished in the near future; he admitted that the percentage of Jewish workers in some monopolies and other state-owned enterprises is often very small, adding that the Government intends to increase it to a just proportion, wherever possible, and the Government will lend its good offices to influence municipalities and other enterprises which are not under Government control to adopt the same policy; he recognized that the present taxation system is detrimental to the city dwellers and therefore to the Jews, and indicated that his Government intends to bring about a revision of the taxes, diminishing taxes on commerce, especially the turn-over tax.
SETTLEMENT REQUIRES TIME
He added, too, that in his opinion the Jewish question in Poland cannot be settled at once, but requires time and expressed confidence that the removal of present restrictions and measures for the improvement of the Jewish economic position would make them good and enthusiastic citizens of Poland. In order to offset the hardships suffered by Jews in their dislodgment owing to newly created state monopolies, it was pointed out by the representatives of the American Jewish Committee that it was the moral obligation of the Polish Government as well as to its interest to see that the Jewish employes are not discharged from their employment in these industries, and to provide for the large number of Jewish merchants and artisans deprived of a livelihood by the new industrial development in Poland, the Government should encourage new industries in which the Jews might find opportunity for employment.
It was also indicated by the Polish representative that inquiry is being made into the question of utilizing waste lands in Polesie and that the Government is favorably disposed to settlement of Jews on these lands.
Mr. Filipowicz stated too that he considers the so-called Minority Treaty as beneficial for Poland, but shares the view of Foreign Minister Zaleski, that this treaty should be extended to Germany. Dr. Adler stated that according to his recollection. Germany gave at Versailles written assurance that Germany will grant her minorities at least the same rights and safeguards as are provided for in the minorities treaties.
A memorandum was requested by the Ambassador from the American Jewish Committee for transmission to the Polish Government.
APPROVES ROUND TABLE PARLEY
Mr. Filipowicz endorsed the advisability of calling a round-table conference of Jewish and non-Jewish leaders and experts in Poland, at a conference with a delegation consisting of Dr. Joseph Tannenbaum, president of the Good-Will Committee of Poles and Jews in America. The whole complex of Polish Jewish relations was discussed at great length and the following statement authorized:
The Jewish leaders voiced their satisfaction that Poland is happily free from such active anti-Semitic outbursts as are rampant in some of the neighboring countries. This, no doubt, is due to a wise and forward-looking government in conformity with the best traditions of Polish history.
Unfortunately, there is great economic distress prevailing among the three million Jews in Poland, as a result of economic and political discrimination, over-taxation and monopolization of industry and commerce operating at the expense and to the detriment of the Jewish productive element, which cannot be alleviated unless all legal and administrative discrimination in the political and economic fields shall be removed and no distinction made between Jewish and non-Jewish citizenry.
The leaders have particularly emphasized the shame of the so-called Czaristic laws, which are a source of annoyance and disappointment to the many Jewish friends of Poland who take pride in the glory and pray for the greatness of the Polish Republic.
PRESENT GOVERNMENT CAN HELP
The Jewish leaders are aware that the precarious position of the Jews in Poland antedates the incumbency of the present Polish Government, but it is being intensified by lack of aggressive attempts at its alleviation. It is the opinion of the leaders that the present government is in a position as never before to inaugurate a new area of understanding and amity between Jews and non-Jews in Poland.
It was pointed out to the Ambassador that the present moment seems most appropriate for the undertaking of such a step, as the government, strengthened by the recent victory at the polls, has a rare opportunity to accomplish a historical mission of settling the Jewish question in Poland, thereby saving three million of their most dependable citizens and the acclaim of active friendship of Jewry all over the world.
As an important step towards this accomplishment, the Polish Government is being urged to call a round table conference of Jewish and non-Jewish leaders and experts in Poland with the participation of the representatives of the Good Will Committee, at which all the problems relating to Polish-Jewish shall be discussed, and ways and means found for the rebuilding and upbuilding of Jewish production. A new economic policy must be adopted aiming at the removal of all barriers stifling Jewish productiveness, and new avenues and revenues opened for those who have become disgruntled as a result of new developments in the economic life of Poland. This is important, not only for the Jews, but for the whole country of Poland; for as there can be no prosperous Jewry in a Poland steeped in poverty so, conversely, can there be no prosperous Poland with its Jewish citizens impoverished and disgruntled.
The plea for the calling of such a conference was unanimously adopted in a resolution passed by the Jewish and non-Jewish members of the Good Will Committee, and communicated to the Polish Government through the good offices of the Polish Embassy in Washington.
CONFERENCE MAY BE MILESTONE
It is hoped that this conference will serve as a milestone in creating a new psychology of approach between the two peoples who bled and toiled side by side for centuries for the welfare of the country, and on whose shoulders rests the future fate of the Republic.
The Ambassador, who exhibited a remarkable understanding of and sympathy with the arguments of the Jewish leaders, took a keen interest in the discussion and promised to cable to his government the views voiced and expressed together with his personal endorsement of the advisability of calling such a conference. He also envisaged a new era of legislation started by his government, tending to a just apportionment of taxation and removal of discrimination in employment, in governmental positions, and the abrogation of the Czaristic laws, in the near future. The tenor of the discussion and the exchange of views was of a most cordial and friendly character.
At this conference were also present Consul General Dr. M. Marchlewski and Dr. A. W. Zbyszewski.