Menu JTA Search

R. D. B. Speaks

Download PDF for this date

A good many people appear to be under the impression that they have only to be ferocious in their renunciation of anti-Semitism to insure immunity from further attacks. Their idea of achieving the Promised Land with sovereignty of the modern land of Canaan is to blow trumpets and scare off all evil spirits which beset the path of all good Jewish people. That surely was not the way of Moses when he led his people from the wilderness.

He took pains to cause them to prepare through all those forty years to fit themselves for the conquest of what, even then, thousands of years ago, they considered to be their rightful, ancient home.

I have been led to these observations by a series of conversations in the past few days on board the Olympic which carried me back from New York to England after an interrupted visit to the U. S. These conversations took place with a highly intelligent young Jewish businessman proceeding to Europe. The burden of his talk was concerned with the misdeeds of the Hitlerites and the inexplicable indifference of people who had not the privilege of being Jews or of Jewish descent.

Now, I have for my part performed my part in the denunciation of Hitlerism and have not been unsparing in criticism of what is certainly a miserable and cruel persecution of innocent people. But I never ceased to advise my readers in all parts of the world to act as well as to talk.

The mere wailing about the attitude of the anti-Semites in Germany does not help matters one whit.

I had to listen for a couple of days to bitter, though eloquent, denunciations on the part of my fellow-traveller and then, losing patience one morning, I turned to him and put some questions to him. In reflection, I think they may perhaps be applied with equal force to a large number of vociferous, indignant Jews anywhere.

“What have you done for your part to help in the present situation aside from talking about it? Have you contributed anything in the way of money or services? Have you sent your name to any of the relief organizations intimating willingness to aid either with money or work? Have you studied the situation at all? If so, are you prepared to make a weekly contribution to an organization in your neighborhood? If you have not an organization near, will you let me direct you to one? If you are not prepared to help the Zionist movement, will you help towards convincing your Jewish neighbors they must not be afraid of Nazi threats with regard to German relations in the matter of reprisals?”

This Nazi bluff appears to have caused thousands upon thousands of Jews, particularly in America, to hold their hand. “I am afraid,” they say, “that if I lend my name and influence to any kind of aggressive, even protective, movement, the Nazis will revenge themselves on members of my family who still live in Germany.” So they hold back, completely bluffed by Nazi blusterers.

I can understand that it is difficult to deny this claim on one’s blood ties, but surely the past has shown over and over again that there are always ways and means to help one’s cause. It is not at all necessary if one has the will to help that the fact of doing so should be advertised for all to see. Why not, for instance, send your contribution anonymously and so do your duty as well as relieve your apprehension?

If every Jew in New York City, for instance, would contribute, say, only twenty-five cents weekly for the next six months, how much do you think that would mean towards helping the German Jews on the one hand or advancement of any general policy for the benefit of world Jewry on the other hand? I am told there are two million Jews in New York City. Twenty-five cents per week for twenty-six weeks would mean thirteen million dollars.

With half that sum, we could settle the Arab question in Palestine where all trouble, past, present and prospective, is concerned with wages alone. Give the Arab a few piastres more in weekly wages, treat him as a friend and neighbor and there will be no Arab-Jewish problem. All this can be done if the Jews do their duty. As I said, the talking season is over. The doing season is now here.

I put forward the above suggestion in the hope and belief that there are sufficient numbers of young energetic men and women in New York to make a beginning. I am sure Jacob Landau of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, in whose judgment I have great faith, would assist in directing such an enterprise in its proper course. Do not start a new organization. There are already too many. Work through an existing agency, but do it quickly.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund