Kovno (Feb. 9)
I want to say that the law is in no way whatever directed against any section of our population; the President of the Lithuanian Republic, M. Smetona, declared in an interview with the J.T.A. representative here, who had asked whether the President was aware of the anxiety among the Jews in Lithuania and abroad with regard to the position of the Jewish Staatenlose under the new employment regulations.
There is no ground for fear, therefore, with regard to the position of the Jews, the President said. I can assure you that we shall carry out the provisions of the law, which is a State necessity for us, with the utmost scrupulousness, and we shall endeavour as far as possible to meet all interests. It is not to our advantage to wrong anyone. You can make this statement public with the utmost assurance, the President declared.
The Lithuanian people is taking the road of humanity, upholding the traditions of its ancient leader and national here, Witold the Great, the President went on, and it make no distinction whatever between the citizens of the country. Lithuania is a small State, inhabited by people of diverse nationalities and faiths. The Government endeavours to meet the needs of all citizens of the country, irrespective of nationality, faith or culture.
Not long ago, the President said, I instructed the Minister of Education to send one of our stipend-holders to Palestine, to attend the Hebrew University there in order to learn the Hebrew language thoroughly, because we need experts to enable us to administer the network of Hebrew schools existing in Lithuania.
We know, he continued, that your modern Jewish culture is bi-lingual. We reckon, indeed, with this fact, although we would prefer it if we had to deal only with one Jewish national language. Being a classicist myself, I am inclined to Hebrew, insofar as it is possible to revive the language and to adapt it to modern life, but it is an internal Jewish question, and administratively we treat both languages on an equal level. In the small town of Wilkomir, for instance, the President said, there are two high schools, one providing instruction in Yiddish and the other in Hebrew, and we support both.