Bucharest (Nov. 3)
The Jewish Party was originally favourable to the Jorga Government, Deputy Manfred Reifer, one of the members of the Jewish Parliamentary Club, said in an interview with the J.T.A. representative here, because it was the first Government to create an Under-Secretariat of State for Minorities. We urged that the Jewish Minority should also have a representative in this Secretariat. During the election campaign, we avoided taking sides against any of the Roumanian Parties, and restricted ourselves to campaigning for our own list. In that way we were in a position to give the Jorga Government carte-blanche. But the confidence which we placed in the Jorga Government has not been justified. We are compelled to place it on record that the Prime Minister, Professor Jorga, has shown inclinations towards Professor Cuza and his Party, and that prominent Cuzists have been entrusted with Government missions to report on the economic position in the country, which we consider an affront to the Jewish population. Furthermore, the Government has paid no attention to the proposals of the Jewish Party with regard to the appointment of Jewish representatives in the various communities and town administrations. In the matter of the school system we have not been able to carry any of our postulates. The amount included in the new budget for subsidising the Jewish communities is entirely inadequate.
The Jewish Parliamentary Club will therefore take up an attitude of opposition to the Government in the next session, Deputy Reifer declared.
Turning to the economic aspect, Deputy Reifer said that the million Jews in Roumania have been worse hit by the crisis than any other section of the population. In the Bukovina, which he represents, Jewish economic life depends on the timber industry, which is now as good as dead, he said. The Jewish spirit industry has been destroyed throughout Roumania, he went on, by a new law which imposes a tax of 115 lei per litre on spirits, while charging only 15 lei per litre on wines. In this way the spirit industry, which has been mostly in Jewish hands, has been simply wiped out of existence, while the wine industry, which is in Roumanian hands, has been furthered at the expense of the Jews. The brewing industry, which is 100 per cent. in Jewish hands in some of the provinces, has also been condemned by the cheapening of wines.
The Government, he continued, is now planning a foods standardisation law. The trade in eggs has already been standardised. The standardisation of the trade in other foodstuffs will drive the Jews completely from all their trading positions. The high rate of taxation and the abnormally high rentals are also contributing to the ruination of the merchant class.
As for the Jewish banks, he proceeded, they have been refused assistance by the National Bank, and 75 per cent. of them have already broken down. In the same way Jewish industry is given no protection by the Government to enable it to survive the crisis, and the Jewish artisan and craftsman class, too, is rapidly dying out.
The Jewish Parliamentary Club will at the next session of Parliament bring up the entire problem of the Jewish economic distress in Roumania, Deputy Reifer said in conclusion, and we shall demand State aid. But meanwhile, with large numbers of Jews faced by destitution during the coming winter we must also direct the attention of the Jewish institutions abroad to the present alarming position of the Jews in Roumania.