The American Jewish Congress is severely criticized for failing to call a mass meeting to protest against the “dollar inquisition” against Jews in Soviet Russia by Ben Zion Katz, leading member of the Tel Aviv Committee for the Affairs of Jews in Russia, writing in the “Yiddische Stimme” of Kovno which has just arrived here.
The writer takes the Congress to task for limiting its interest in the arrests of Jews in Soviet Russia in the so-called “dollar inquisition” to the question of whether or not the arrests are legal.
The legality of arrests is a matter which nationals in the land where they occur must perforce be guided by, he asserts.
In other countries, fine humanitarian instincts alone must be the judge of the action to be taken.
He points out that in 1891 when the Jews were ordered expelled from Moscow, the Jews of Russia remained silent, but that did not prevent Jewries abroad from raising a vast protest with the result that the Russian Government was called upon to defend itself.
The American Jewish Congress has its own precedent to go by, Ben Zion Katz says. He recalls that the American Jewish Congress took the initiative in raising a general and widespread protest against the wholesale confiscation of synagogues and churches and the arrests of rabbis and other clergymen.
At that time, Ben Zion Katz asserts, the Congress did not hesitate to call a protest meeting. “And in my opinion,” says Ben Zion Katz, “an inquisition against human beings is much more important than an inquisition against religious institutions.”
He points out, morever, “that there is no law in Soviet Russia which says that he who receives money from relatives in America must deposit them in the government treasury.” The only thing forbidden, he says, is the sale of dollars at speculators prices.
Tens of thousands of Jews in the small towns of Ukraine have been arrested although they had no money and they were compelled to procure from $10 to $20.
“Were the acts of terrorization current in Soviet Russia to take place in any other country there would be numerous protests,” writes Ben Zion Katz, “and there would be none of this present hedging about legality or its lack. But where Soviet Russia is concerned, even the American Jewish Congress is not certain in its conception of ‘legality’,” he concludes.