Comment and Reflection on Topics of the Day

The National Conference of Jews and Christians has arranged a tour through the United States for three men representing Catholicism, Protestantism and Judaism. The purpose of the tour is to resist “the duplication in this country of the outbreak of intolerance abroad.” The purpose is, of course, excellent, the motives praiseworthy and the men chosen as the spokesmen of the three faiths, Father John Elliott Ross, Rev. Everett R. Clinchy and Rabbi Morris S. Lazaron, unquestionably the best qualified for the work in hand. Their recognized abilities and their past records leave no doubt concerning the high plane of scholarship, dignity and earnestness upon which this evangelism of Good Will will be pursued.

But we question the effectiveness of this latest attempt to stem the tides of ill will as we did its predecessors. We followed closely similar efforts at better understanding launched under the auspices of the Good Will Committee of the Federal Council of Churches of Christ and of other agencies. We watched the seminars and round tables which were conducted in colleges and universities by the National Conference of Jews and Christians. We followed the deliberations of the National Conference of Jews and Protestants which were held in Washington in March, 1932. We also noted the Good-Will activities of various Jewish magazines and the medals which were presented to individuals for their services in this field.

And we must confess to an overwhelming sense of weariness and futility which these activities brought to us. We could not help feeling that these people and their movements, well-intentioned as they undoubtedly were, were simply not “biting into” the problem. They were not “digging into” the real situation with sufficient candor and courage.

Thus it is clear to anyone that the friction between Jews and non-Jews, here and abroad, is certainly not the same as that which exists between Catholics and Protestants. Why then, in Heaven’s name, are they grouped together, thereby roiling and muddying the problem? It is equally clear that the principle cause of anti-Semitism in the modern world is not the religion of the Jew. Why then put the discussion upon that plane? Why approach this intricate economic, racial and social problem from the naive angle of religious toleration and why send ministers of religion to discuss it and to enlighten men about it?

“The outbreak of intolerance abroad” was not due to any recent increase in religious bigotry or to any new discovery that Judaism was not a good religion. Nor is the spread of anti-Semitism in this country due to any such causes.

Why not face the problem for what it really is, an economic and racial problem; and if tours for propaganda are desirable, why not send in place of clergymen, noted economists and ethnologists, sociologists and professors of ethnic psychology to expose the new vicious race myth, the horrible blood cult, which is now leading captive the minds of youth in so many countries, and to inform men concerning the true reasons for the abnormal and unbalanced economic status of the Jew in the world and what can be done about it.

A Good Will tour which “means business” will project into the arena of discussion the whole ghastly problem of the economic ghettotizing of the American Jew. To this discussion should be invited the leaders of American industry, heads of corporations, banks, public utilities and men who stand at the head of the professions and the educational institutions of our country.

American non-Jews should be made keenly aware of the increasing difficulties which Jewish men and women are encountering in trying to earn a living in the trades and the professions and of the corollary to this economic isolation and frustration—the intensification of that very unrest and radicalism among our people which feed the flames of anti-Semitism. There is very little that is theological about all this and there is very little that theologians can do about it.

Any movement which attempts to localize the Jewish problem, to confine it to its religious phase and to utter no word of criticism or indignation when Jewish life is being assaulted in other parts of the world consigns itself to utter futility and irrelevance in the world of hard realities in which we live.

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