Leaders, Friends of Jewry Favor and Oppose Boycott in Opinion’s Symposium

In a symposium entitled “Shall We Boycott Germany?” which appears in the September issue of Opinion — a journal of Jewish life and letters, important leaders in American and Jewish life urge an organized boycott of German goods both here and abroad, by Gentiles and Jews.

Dr. John Haynes Holmes, chairman of the City Affairs Committee and Minister of the Community Church, writes:

“The boycott is a terrible weapon — so terrible as not to be used, perhaps, except as a last resort. But surely we are driven to the last resort in such a case as Hitler. The worst we ever feared, or even dared to imagine, of this Swastika horror, is now stark truth. We must fight it as we would fight the plague. Not by violence, for violence is Hitler’s weapon. But by non-cooperation (boycott), which is Gandhi’s weapon.”

Similarly, Will Durant, author of “The Story of Pholosophy,” expresses readiness to join in a boycott movement “whenever the Jews think it advisable.” And Bernard S. Deutsch, President of the American Jewish Congress, states:

“Fully cognizant of the great responsibility which it assumes, the American Jewish Congress nevertheless urges the organization of a publicly proclaimed boycott against German manufacturers in the belief that this may save the Jews and bring about a repudiation of Hitlerism by the German nation.”

Irwin Edman, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University, holds that the “power of the Hitler regime depends on its economic success, and I shall do all I can and think every decent human being should, to make its economic success impossible. I cannot do much, but everyone can do a little by refusing to buy anything German…. If enough people can come to share this attitude, I do not think a regime nourished on hate and climaxed by economic depression can long endure. It is a tragic world where one must resort to such pressures, but it is a tragic world that Hitler has made more tragic and I willingly write a word in support of the only possible pressure that may help to destroy the infamous present government of Germany.”

Differing from the viewpoint of those in favor of the boycott, Rabbi Leo M. Franklin of Detroit opposes the proposed “organized” boycott on both practical and ethical grounds:

“(1) Any organized movement of this kind is likely to react to the hurt of the very people we wish to help.

“(2) We sink to the ethical level of the persecutor when we adopt his methods. That which makes him despicable in the eyes of thinking men, will make them equally despise us. ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth’ was dictated neither by a high morality nor a wise statesmanship.”

His view is shared by the Reverend Everett R. Clinchy, Director of the National Conference of Jews and Christians.

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