Rabbi, The Brooklyn Jewish Center
If one may be pardoned for quoting an ancient Rabbinic comment in ### discussion of a modern problem, the writer would recall the interpretation of the Talmud to the curse which the Bible threatened would come upon a backsliding Israel: “And I will break the pride of your strength.” “The pride of your strength”, say the Sages, “this refers to your leaders, the princes, the great amongst you.”
It is needless to repeat for the thousandth time the seriousness of the tragedy that has come in our day upon Israelâ€”particularly in present-day Germany. That it is the greatest crisis that has visited our people since the days of the Spanish Expulsion will be admitted by every thoughtful observer.
But there is a tragedy in the midst of this tragedy, which makes the situation far more serious and far more critical than it presumably is The great curse has come upon us,â€””the pride of our strength” is broken. There is no leadership in Jewry today. We have leaders, but no leadership! We have great men, men of ability and wisdom, men who could and should lead. But alas, these men amongst themselves are so leaderless, are so non-cooperative with each otherâ€”aye, at times even antagonistic to each otherâ€”that of necessity all leadership is destroyed. Every one acts by himself, every one thinks for himselfâ€”there is no counsel, no unity, no harmony in a time when unity in leadership is most essential.
In Germany, the Jews, although hitherto divided into parties and sections, have now created a united leadership to speak and to act in behalf of all German Jewry. We in America have not yet risen to this political vision, nor have we yet learned to realize this political necessity.
And the saddest fact in the entire situation is that not for many years have the great mass of our people been so willing and so eager to be led, to follow true leadership as they are today. The masses seem to sense the seriousness of the hour, they are willing to subserve themselves in a spirit of discipline, to act under the guidance and inspiration of a real leadership. And their greatest disappointment is that they wait in vain. There is a feeling among them that their leaders have lost heart, that their leaders are dismayed and at a loss what to do,â€”and so they, too, become despondent with a despair that knows no bounds.
For a little while it looked rather hopeful. We read of a union that was to be achieved among the great organizations to which American Jewry looks for action. But, alas, it seems to be only a paper union,â€” a union in letter but not in spirit; and the people continue to look in vain for a leadership that shall truly lead.
This curse of the Tochecho must go from American Jewish life. The “pride of our strength” must be restored. Our leaders must unite and lead unitedly! A real leadership must appear that shall restore the spirit of confidence in the hearts of the masses. In that way alone can we hope to drive the darkness from our midst and to bring Jewry into the light of victory and peace!
TO WHAT DO THE GERMAN AMERICANS PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE?
German Americans in and about New York City who are not Jews will be enabled after all to swear spiritual fealty to the Swastika and to Hitlerism while affirming, with tongue more or less in cheek, their devotion to the Star Spangled Banner and the Constitution and the laws of the United States. The German Day shindig against which protests closed the 165th Regiment Armory will be held on December 6th at Madison Square Garden under the auspices of the Steuben Society of America, composed of citizens of the United States, the United German Societies cooperating, minus the Jewish units which, formerly, were an intergral part of the Societies.
The holding of this German Day rally constitutes a tacit, if not explicit, affirmation of anti-Semitism in the New York district, under auspices which are more German than American, for the gathering will have the dubious blessing of the German Ambassador to the United States, Dr. Hans Luther, whose obligations to the Nazis, as against the nation he represents, compel him to speak only within sight of the hooked cross.
The German Jewish Federation had sought to make its peace with that hooked cross, a compromise peace of most uncertain duration. Some weeks ago the spokesmen of the Federation had explained their willingness to accept the Swastika provided that the United German Societies would pass a resolution disavowing anti-Semitism. The Societies refused to promise such a disavowal. To say, as Dr. Fritz Schlesinger, of the Federation, said, that “We do not reject the Swastika, the Swastika rejects us,” is to attempt nothing short of a cowardly evation of the inescapable fact that Jews cannot accept the Swastika and the Swastika does not accept Jews.
The German Americans who attend the German Day gathering will, in effect, protest their allegiance to the Stars and Stripes under the shadow of another flag which mocks at every implied and stated demand for tolerance, for justice, for fair play. Let them say Heil Hitler to their heart’s content, as Germans, ### not as hypocritical German Americans. Let them emerge in their true colors.
THE ARAB RIOTING
Comparative peace has been restored in Palestine, a comparative and an insecure peace which has been purchased at the price of the deaths of thirty, all Arabs, and of the wounding of more than one hundred. Several members of the Arab Executive have been imprisoned for fomenting disorder, but, on the whole, it would appear that the wavering and uncertain attitude of the English mandate government in Palestine has given the Arabs cause for rejoicing, modified by mourning for the demonstrators who were, of necessity, shot down by the Constabulary in their effort to prevent further spreading, and intensification, of the disorders.
The Arabs, against the express commands of the English government, decided to sponsor a demonstration protesting the further immigration of Jews into Palestine and the continued sale of land to Jews. Even as the English were, almost unwillingly, enforcing law and order against the Arabs they were at the same time giving them reason to believe that there was justice in their protest by holding up, at Port Said and the island of Cyprus, several boat-loads of immigrants for whom certificates had been granted and not allowing them to land until after the edge of the disturbance had been blunted. In fact, several hundreds were debarked at Port Said and were allowed to enter through Egypt by rail. Furthermore, by receiving a protest delegation representing the Arab Executive, the English authorities lent a shadow of sympathetic agreement to the protest, or at least signified that the protest was on debatable ground.
The English government holds a mandate in Palestine for the Jews not for the Arabs. Palestine is only secondarily Arab ground; the center of the Arab universe, so to speak, is farther north and east. If the Jews are not to be allowed an opportunity to make a nation in Palestine, in the industrial and agrarian, in the artistic and racial and spiritual senses of the word, where else are they going to be allowed to make a nation? In Madagascar, say the intellectual Nazis. Thank you, no.