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Jewish Agricultural Colonisation in Russia: Soviet Authorities Have Full Confidence in Agrojoint and

The charges made recently in the Jewish Communist press in Russia against the Agrojoint, the organisation which is continuing the agricultural activities started by the Joint Distribution Committee of America among Russian Jewry, were replied to by Dr. Joseph Rosen, the head of the Agrojoint, at a gathering of press representatives held here to-day at the European headquarters of the Joint Distribution Committee.

Dealing with the allegation that the Agrojoint has not done anything to prepare dwelling houses or barracks for the new arrivals in the Jewish colonies, Dr. Rosen said that the writers in these papers know very well that the Soviet authorities did not provide the building material.

Dr. Rosen created something of a sensation by producing a letter from the Comzet, the Soviet Government Commission for Jewish Settlement, notifying him that the Comzet has unanimously decided that the various expressions used by individuals do not reflect the view of the Comzet. The Comzet, the letter proceeds, continues to stand by its agreement with the Agrojoint concluded on February 15th., 1929, recognising the great importance of the work done by the Agrojoint, which the Comzet will continue to promote also in the future.

The Comzet’s plan to settle this year 8,000 Jewish families on the land has been only partly carried out, Dr. Rosen said. Up to the present 1,000 Jewish families have been settled in the Crimea, 200 in the Ukraine and 300 in Bureya. The Agrojoint hopes by the end of the year to settle 3,200 Jewish families in the Crimea.

The plan for the year had not been carried through for two reasons, Dr. Rosen explained, firstly the cold and wet weather that had prevailed during the spring and secondly the fact that the best elements had gone into industry. It was, nevertheless, most important, he said, to maintain their positions in agriculture, because it was possible that the people who have more initiative may leave industry and turn back to agricultural colonisation.

WHAT THE CHARGES WERE

The kind of charges referred to by Dr. Rosen is illustrated by an article which recently appeared in the Ukrainian Jewish Communist organ “Stern”, complaining that “according to the promises made by the Comzet, emigrants of the first and second category were supposed to have been provided on arrival with homes or with money to rent a dwelling place. Actually, however, the building plans have miscarried this year. The Agrojoint, which is responsible for these plans, and which is supposed to carry on this building work, has not lived up to its obligations. Not only were there no homes for the newcomers, but there were not even any barracks prepared for them. It was planned to build 1,200 homes for the old and new immigrants, but the construction of the houses has not yet been even started.

This year was the most critical year in the Jewish colonisation movement, the “Stern” went on. It was planned to move 8,000 Jewish families from the cities of the former Pale to the Crimea and to Bureya. The new emigrants were deliberately chosen from among the poorest sections of the Jewish people. It was expected that many of them would be penniless and in tatters. The most essential thing to do under such circumstances was to provide a proper sort of reception for these newcomers. A shelter house should have been ready for them in the Crimea, where they might get food and lodging until they could be assigned and distributed among the colonies.

We know, the “Stern” said, that our criticism of Soviet organisation will be used against the Soviet leaders by the anti-Soviet press in foreign countries, but we feel that we cannot on that account refrain from disclosing the names of the guilty parties. The responsibility for the catastrophe rests in the first instance with the Comzet, which is charged with the conduct of the migration to the land.

The Comzet has been conducting its work largely on paper, the “Stern” proceeds. Its plans were paper plans. The Comzet must also bear the guilt for the Agrojoint activities which are constantly halting the wheels of the migration campaign. The method of control of the Agrojoint by the Comzet is such that the Comzet officials are helpless in the face of the caprices of the Agrojoint.

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