Jewish Situation in Many Continental Countries Causing Increasing Anxiety Mr. Leonard G. Montefiore

The opening sentence of the Annual Report (given in the J.T.A. Bulletin of April 22nd.), that “the Jewish situation in many Continental countries caused increasing anxiety during the past year”, reflects very accurately the state of mind of all those interested in Jewish affairs, Mr. Leonard G. Montefiore, the President of the Anglo-Jewish Association, remarked at the annual meeting of the Association held to-day.

Going on to recall that in July it will be sixty years since the Anglo-Jewish Association was founded, Mr. Montefiore said that the men who had founded the Association seemed to have shared the Victorian optimism, when they spoke of creating an Association “whose mission should be to deal out benevolence to mankind”. They were for the most part Liberals in politics, who believed that if other countries would only adopt Free Trade and Parliamentary Government, the millenium would soon arrive. Democracy appeared to them to signify liberty, equality and tolerance. The position of the Jews in those countries that enjoyed Parliamentary Government was uniformly good, while under the autocracies of Eastern Europe it was uniformly bad. Only let Parliamentary Government be established, they argued, and all would be well.

To-day autocracies have vanished, Mr. Montefiore proceeded, but the Czar has been replaced by a Government very far from the ideal of our founders. In Germany, the Liberal Party in the Reichstag, which in those days was a power with which even Bismarck had to reckon, has been succeeded by a formidable and new manifestation, the National Socialists. Those 107 Deputies represent a movement far more menacing than did the official and court antisemitism with its few isolated representatives in the Reichstag. The old ideals of 1848, of the brotherhood of man, peace and goodwill among citizens, have disappeared, and their place have been taken by a militant nationalism which seeks to exclude all those whose ancestors, however, remote, were of foreign origin.

Hitlerism, Mr. Montefiore said, presents a serious and also entirely new problem, and one, I think, vastly more difficult than any that confronted our ancestors of sixty years ago.

NO MAN COULD HAVE FORESEEN SIXTY YEARS AGO NEW YORK WOULD BECOME GREATEST JEWISH CITY IN WORLD AND AMERICAN JEWRY BY NUMBERS WEALTH AND PHILANTHROPY WOULD EXERCISE PREPONDERATING INFLUENCE IN ALL JEWISH AFFAIRS: NOR COULD ANYONE HAVE FORESEEN CHANGES ZIONISM HAS INTRODUCED INTO JEWISH AFFAIRS: FOR GOOD OR ILL ZIONISM BECOME DOMINANT QUESTION FOR VAST MAJORITY OF JEWS.

Turning to consider other changes of the past sixty years, Mr. Montefiore went on, I would note the fact that in the first report of the Association it is proposed to found branches in America, “who would give the Association financial support within the measure of their means”. No man then could have foreseen that New York would become the greatest Jewish city in the world, that the American Jewish community by its numbers, its wealth and its philanthropy would exercise a preponderating influence in all Jewish affairs.

Scarcely less likely, Mr. Montefiore said, could any present at that first meeting, or at a later one in 1874, when we read “at the appointed hour every seat was occupied; while hundreds of persons who were desirous of being present could not find admittance”, have foreseen the Albert Hall packed from roof to floor with a Jewish audience, and hundreds if not thousands more outside. Such changes has Zionism introduced into Jewish affairs. For good or ill it has become the dominant and paramount question for the vast majority of Jews, for good or ill it has awakened a response greater and fiercer in its enthusiasm than any other Jewish cause.

HITLERISTS WAR NOT ONLY AGAINST LIVING JEWS BUT ALSO AGAINST JEWISH DEAD CHIEF RABBI SAYS: HOPEFUL SIGNS LIKE RESURRECTION OF MARRANOS BUT OFFSET BY PERSECUTION OF JUDAISM IN SOVIET RUSSIA: IN TURKEY AFTER 400 YEARS OF FAIR TREATMENT JEWS NOW TOTALLY DISFRANCHISED: DR. GASTER SAYS JEWS OUTSIDE ENGLAND NOW LEARNT TO FIGHT THEIR OWN BATTLES AND NO LONGER COME AS BEGGARS TO ANGLO-JEWISH ASSOCIATION: IN ROUMANIA SITUATION TOO RECENT AND PERHAPS UNSTABLE MR. MONTEFIORE SAYS TO COMMENT ON AT THIS STAGE: HAHAM URGES JEWS HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR UNDER PROFESSOR JORGE: I KNOW HIM AND HAVE EVERY CONFIDENCE IN HIM.

To illustrate to you the atmosphere in which our co-religionists in Germany live, the Chief Rabbi, Dr. J. H. Hertz, said, I would remind you that the warfare is not only against the living but is conducted against the dead. 114 cemeteries have been desecrated in spite of the best efforts of the Government to stamp out this inhuman, worse than barbaric practice. It is worse than the tearing up of the Scrolls of the Law that occurred in Roumania.

In reviewing the years from 1924 to the present day, Dr. Hertz remarked that there were hopeful signs that cheered them. There was the resurrection of the Marranos, but that was offset by the systematic persecution of Judaism in Soviet Russia. There is still no freedom for the religious instruction of children in Soviet Russia. There is still no freedom for the religious instruction of children in Soviet Russia, he declared, and religion generally is considerably hampered. The outlook for the Jews of Russia, he said, I refer to it only as far as their religion is concerned is, unless things change, very black indeed.

Then there is the disconcerting news of the complete and total disfranchisement of the Jews of Turkey, Dr. Hertz went on, and that after 400 years of fair treatment.

The Haham Dr. Moses Gaster pointed out that in the countries outside England the Jews in the emancipation which followed the war had learnt to fight their own battles, and not to come as beggars to the Anglo-Jewish Association and ask them to take up the cudgels for them. This indicated a change in the function of their Association. It is no longer the foster mother which is to fight for the rights of the Jews in those countries, but is to be a moral expression of the Jewish conscience. We may not interfere with the politics of the various countries, he said. The Jews of Poland, Roumania and Hungary say that they can fight their own battles, and say to us. “Hands off”. But there must be an association able to morally reprobate or approve what is being done to the Jews. We as the representatives of Anglo-Jewry can stand up and protest to the world against what is being done to Jews.

Mr. O. E. d’Avigdor Goldsmid, the President of the Jewish Board of Deputies, referred to the unity that was being displayed by the Jews in Hungary. I can only hope, he said, that the Jews of other East-European countries will follow the admirable example of those of Hungary and unify themselves. They are suffering from considerable difficulties and if they desire to improve their social and political condition surely they should endeavour to achieve unity and concord among themselves.

Rabbi Dr. Daiches, raising the question of the Jews of Roumania, asked how far the new Jorga Government will affect the Jews there.

The situation that has arisen in Roumania, the President, Mr. Leonard G. Montefiore, replied, is, I think, so recent and perhaps unstable, that it would be wise not to comment on it at this stage.

I have seen the Roumanian newspapers and the Yiddish papers from Roumania, the Haham Dr. Gaster added. Dr. Filderman and Deputy Fischer went to Professor Jorga and obtained satisfactory and explicit answers that the Jews are to receive equal treatment with Roumanians. Professor Jorga has also written to the Archbishop Miron and has informed him of the mischievous activity of certain of the clergy, whom Professor Jorga threatens to unfrock and hand over to the military if they do not cease their activity.

The Jews, Dr. Gaster said, have nothing to fear and will receive better status if Professor Jorga is allowed to remain. As far as the Jews are concerned, he declared, I have every confidence in Professor Jorga, whom I know.

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