In Morocco, among the Jews of that country, the anti-Nazi boycott has taken firm hold. In Spanish and French, the Mellahs are proclaiming their intention to boycott German goods until the persecution of Jews ceases. One such sign, roughly translated, reads:
Israel’s answer to Hitler, Humanity’s answer to Barbarism: World boycott of Germany.
This was one of the sidelights brought here by Dr. Richard Gottheil, professor of Semitic Languages at Columbia University, now spending a year’s leave of absence or scientific research.
During his leave he represented Columbia University at the University of Granada, on the occasion of that institution’s 400th anniversary celebration and while in North Africa visited the cities of Fez, Tangiers, Rabat and Casablanca. It was during this trip that he saw how the Mellahs were attempting to help their German co-religionists.
He had spoken to the leading Jewish merchants in Morocco, who had told him that they had cancelled all their contracts with German firms, and would not buy a single article from Germany. (Professor Gottheil has himself resigned from all the German societies to which he belonged) As regards the suggestion t### a vigorous boycott might have serious repercussions on German Jewry by way of Nazi revenge, “the point which arises in my own mind,” he said, “is this: Hitler and his band are bound to kill off the Jews in Germany by slow degrees, not by simply driving them out as was done in Spain in 1492 but by silent suppression of all means of livelihood, so that instead of a sudden death they shall come to their end in a lingering torture. In America, Jewish opinion leans very much towards the boycott.”
Referring to Palestine, Professor Gottheil said: “If the English Government wishes, it can offer a haven of refuge and rest for a large number of the victims of German persecution.” Then there was also to be considered South America and the Argentine Republic, where there are already Jewish Communities of sufficient importance to take care of the new-comers.
So far as the intellectuals were concerned, they were trying in Paris to do what they could for these victims of Nazi discrimination, but the Jews of the world, he declared, must furnish the money. France was showing herself most generous in the present crisis, in opening her doors to the Jewish refugees from Germany and was trying in every way to make them welcome. The papers, too, were full of the most friendly and wholehearted sympathy for the Jews.
Professor Gottheil has left London for Oxford, where he is working in the Bodleian Library. He will later proceed to Cambridge in order to work in the library of that university.
Discussing the crisis faced by German Jewry, Professor Gottheil told the London Jewish Chronicle:
“I think the Jews are faced with the worst problem with which they have been confronted for very many centuries. Germany has always been the home of anti-Semitism. Even in the early Middle Ages the Jews were driven from the neighborhood of Cologne to the East, and from that has come the Yiddish language. When I was a student in Berlin, Soecker and his supporters were again inciting the Germans against the Jews.”
He felt perfectly certain that Hitler wished to exterminate the Jews of Germany. What were they to do in the circumstances? Well, the difficulties were tremendous. He had been to see some of the most important Jewish doctors in Paris, all of whom told him that there was no room in France for their Jewish colleagues from Germany and that the French doctors themselves were having a hard time. He suggested the Azores to one leading medical man, but was told that there was no room for them there. He then suggested Portugal, and the answer was that they would first have to learn Portuguese and pass examinations.
“It is doubly unfortunate,” said Professor Gottheil, “that the economic crisis is as great as it is just now in America, but there are four million Jews in the United States; and I think that measures ought to be taken at once to collect one million dollars from these four million people. This can be done if proper means are adopted. At this moment of distress, we must all come to the aid of our suffering brethren in Germany.”
So far as British Jewry was concerned, he knew the sentiment which was animating it in its desire to do everything possible to help German Jewry, and he was very glad to see how prominent non-Jews in this country had expressed themselves upon this subject. He felt bound to confess, however, that he was disappointed and surprised that the British Premier, Ramsay MacDonald, had so far remained silent and not uttered even a word of protest in public.