The Anti-jewish Boycott Agitation in Poland: the View of a Jewish Editor.
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The Anti-jewish Boycott Agitation in Poland: the View of a Jewish Editor.

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The renewed boycott movement started by the Polish antisemites is not a pleasant appearance, writes Mr. Lazar Kahan, the editor of the Yiddish daily “Unser Express” and a prominent Folkist, who was at one time Secretary of the Folkist Party, in an editorial in his paper to-day. We certainly do not want it, he says. None of us in this present difficult time wanted an economic war. Even at the best of times the Jews in Poland consistently endeavoured to establish normal relations between all sections of the Polish public, seeking to live at peace with all people in Poland. In the present desperate period through which Poland is passing, the Jews have repeatedly shown their good intentions and their desire to live at peace with the rest of the Polish population. The Jewish artisans tried to establish collaboration with the Polish artisans, who constitute the principal element from which the National Democrats obtain their support. A great deal has been achieved in this direction, and those artisan elements who have liberated themselves from antisemitic influence have shown that they understand the need of collaboration between all artisans in the country. The Jewish merchants have tried hard to collaborate with the Polish merchants to the benefit of both sides. There have also been efforts made to bring about an understanding between Jews and Poles in other directions. Naturally, we do not want a declaration of war from any part of the Polish public, not even the National Democrats. We must never underestimate an enemy, and it is a mistake to dismiss the power and influence of the National Democrats in the country as of no account. Even if the enemy is not powerful, a war is always disastrous.

The fact remains, however, he continues, that war has been declared. Willy-nilly, we must take up the fight, and in conducting a defensive war we must recall what happened during the boycott of 1912-13. We have had a boycott war with the National Democrats once before, and just in the same way as we must not underestimate the power of the National Democrats in Poland, we must not exaggerate it either. Remembering what negligible results were obtained by the boycott in the days when the National Democrats were much stronger and more influential than they are now, there is no need to despair or to be overmuch afraid of the present boycott.

Before the war the Russian Nationalists proclaimed a boycott against American goods. That was when America took up the cudgels for the persecuted Jews and the Russian antisemites wanted to hit back at America by boycotting her goods. The boycott was a complete fiasco. The Russian “Black Hundreds” succeeded only in giving an advertisement to American goods.

The boycott by the National Democrats against the Jews certainly did damage to the Jews, but it is a moot point who suffered most. It was an economic war, and in any war both sides sustain losses. It is not easy to eject Jews from trade and industry in Poland. People who have established themselves for centuries in certain positions cannot be pushed out by the most powerful boycott movement.

In the spring of 1913, at the very height of the boycott, Mr. Kahan relates, a National Democratic leader asked a priest to preach the boycott from his pulpit, and the priest replied: You build your factories first, in which you will give employment to the workers in the Lodz factory region, and then I shall preach boycotting the Jews. The Jews in Poland, he pursues, are in a way placed in a special economic structure, and there are positions in which Jews are so firmly rooted that the whole boycott agitation conducted by the National Democrats when they were in power could not remove them. It will take years to break all the strong links which the Jews have forged in centuries, and when they are broken at last the question will still remain-who will suffer most? The boycott is not a pleasant thing, he concludes, but in the end the National Democrats will have to realise that they will suffer more from the boycott than even the Jews.

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