A campaign to raise half a million pesos to be used in settling German Jews in Palestine and for other direct ways of helping the victims of Hitlerism was announced at a meeting of delegates of fifty-six Jewish institutions here. The meeting was called by the local protest committee.
The decision to announce the campaign came as a result of the cabled appeal, signed by leading English statesmen and Jewish leaders, which the committee received from London.
The work of the committee was spurred on by the fact that the Argentine government rejected a petition that it relax its immigration restrictions for the benefit of German-Jewish refugees. Three Jewish organizationsâ€”the Jewish Colonization Association, the Jewish Immigrant Aid Association, and the Association of German-Speaking Jewsâ€”sponsored the petition. It was presented to the Minister of Agriculture, who is in charge of immigration. The text of the petition was kept secret by the organizations concerned. When, however, a leading local Yiddish newspaper carried the story, it was felt that the cause was lost. Several days later came the official pronouncement to the effect that no mass immigration of German Jews would be permitted.
In the government’s report, the negative outcome of the petition is ascribed to the fact that the petition referred to refugees and not to immigrants. Moreover, the petitioning institutions requested that the incoming Jews be not asked to prove their physical and cultural fitness or their moral and political rightness, concerning which the present German government officials would certainly refuse to give them true statements.
The Jewish organizations also asked that the refugees from Germany be exempt from payment for visas and other papers, which totals about thirty-three dollars for each individual.
Essentially there can be no quarrel with the Argentine government for not making these concessions to the Jews of Germany. The unpleasant thing about the matter is the fact that the tone of the answer is unfriendly and that it was published in the newspapers before being sent to the organizations which had presented it.
The failure of the petition is explained in some circles as being due to an incident in which a vice-minister was offended by a tactless representative of one of the Jewish organizations. However the case may have been, Argentina remains closed to the Jewish exiles from Germany, except for those who have relatives here or who can find someone to vouch that they are farm laborers.
As has been said, the rejection of the petition gave an added impetus to the relief work. The Sephardic Jews have evinced a particular enthusiasm for it. And the German Jews will now, for the first time, not only contribute to, but also work for, a Palestine campaignâ€”a Palestine campaign for German Jews.