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When Israel Comes Home

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(M. Pierre Goemaere, the author of this remarkable series of articles on Palestine and the German Jewish refugee, is one of the leading Batholic writers in Belgium and the editor of the important magazine “LaRevue Belge.” Mr. Goemaere his recent visit to Palestine. He was so deeply impressed with the Jewish achievements he witnessed in Palestine that his views about the Jews have undergone a complete cahnge. These articles will be published in the “Soir”, of Brussels, and “Intransigeant”, of Paris. The Jewish Daily Bulletin has obtained the exclusive American rights to this series.)


Elias was quiet for a few moments. He did not seem very unhappy. Philosophically, he sucked on his heavy pipe.

“There are other Jews here”, he said, “who have more to complain of than I. I know very well that my brothers will hurry to rejoin me here in Palesine. Look at that young man sitting on the barrel over there. Do you know why he hasn’t come with the friend who was supposed to accompany him? Do you know why that friend will never come?

“Don’t ask him the story, because he cries each time he tells it. But do you want me to tell it myself?

“Good. Then listen. This young man (his name is Sanuel) was to come here with a friend. Three days before leaving Hamburg, Samuel and his friend were walking in the street when two brown-shirts passed them on the sidewalk. One of the two men stopped and said to Samuel:

” ‘Why are you looking at us like that?’

” ‘We didn’t look at you at all’, Samuel’s friend answered.

“Then the Nazi began yelling as loudly as he could:

” ‘Dirty Jew-dogs! You dare to insult the German people! You dare to say you don’t want to look at Germans!’

“Right away, a crowd gathered. Everybody began shouting: ‘Death to the Jews!’ The two young men were beaten unmercifully. Samuel’s friend, to whom the Nazis had taken a particular dislike, fainted.

“A Nazi stopped a police wagon, and the two boys were taken away. Samuel didn’t want to leave his friend. But they forced him away.

” ‘You can come to find out about him later on’, they told him, ‘at the police station. First we’ll question him. You can be sure that his insults and his attempt at inciting a riot in the street will get him several days in jail. So you needn’t be in a hurry about seeing him: he won’t escape so soon!’

“That same evening, though, Samuel came again to the police station. ” ‘Oh, yes’, they said to him, ‘the Jew they brought here a while ago? You know, he tried to get away by jumping through the window…. Come here.’

“And they took Samuel into a mearby room where the body of his friend was lying, wrapped in a bloody sheet….”

Elias was quiet again. This time he seemed moved. It was the woman-the woman with the coffee-grinder-who finished for him:

“What the foreigners don’t know is that, since the beginning of the persecution, hundreds – yes, that’s reght-many jundreds of Jews ‘killed themselves’ like that in the police stations while trying to escape! And another thing they don’t know is that other hundreds ofr our compatriots officially committed suicide in despair in those same police sations or in their cells, even though they possessed no weapons! Here, do you want me to tell you the story about …”

No, I didn’t want her to tell it. I heard enough. So much treachery in their cruelty (and how well do the men of my generation, who remember the German soldiery in the occupied regions of Belgium and France, recognize their former tormentors!), so much hypocrisy, hurts me. Just now, I would rether talk about things that are more healthy, more serene.

In the group of exiles, there was a little ten-year-old boy. He was rosy-cheeked and good-looking. His hair was blond, and, but for the slight heaviness at the base of his nose, he could have been taken for a little “Aryan.”

He held a puppy in his arms, and pressed himself against a woman. His mother, no doubt?

Yes, his mother. She seemed happy to be able to come to Palestine. But it was because of her son that she came.

“As for me”, she said, “even though I am a widow, I wasn’t alone. I had my family. But I couldn’t have the cild go without any education, could I? And besides, isn’t it too hard for a little child, who only wishes to be loved, to be told one morning, ‘No, you can’t go to the communal swimming pool: little Jewihs boys aren’t allowed …”-or to be forced, another day, to return home without having played in the park, because on the gate at the entrance there is a sign that his nurse wouldn’t let him read (but he will read it soon, in every path of his life), a sign with this inscription: ‘No dogs or Jews allowed!’ “

“You said, Madame, that you didn’t want your child to go without any education? But German shools aren’t closed to Jewish children, are they?”

“Closed! Oh, no! The moment you use that word, with the official sound, you are right. But they do these things indirectly in Germany. Officially, the persecution has ended; in reality, it has never been as violent as since it has ended.

“But I can tell you in a few words about the actual system in the State schools, simply by telling you about my son.

“Several months ago, Jewish parents were told that a certain number of their children were to be expelled from school because, from then on, a fair proportion would be established between the number of Jews and the others. The Jews make up one percent to the population of Germany. (As you know, there are approximately 600,000 Jews as against 60 milion Germans.) Therefore, for each hundred children in the schools, only one Jew would be admitted. You can see that the brutal application of this law in cities like Berlin, Cologe, Hamburg, and the others, is unfair because the percentage of Jews is much greater there than in the rural communities.

“Luckily, however, my little boy was not among the expelled children. When I say ‘luckily’, I speak of relative luck, for I could tell you about the thousand annoyances that the child had to suffer from his comrades. You see, he was that ‘pig of a Jew’, or the ‘stinking Israelite’, and, during the recesses in the school yard, they would force him to sing with them the vile German song, ‘Die, Judea!’

“But that is beside the point. The important thing was that the child continued his education. These annoyances, I told myself, wouldn’t last long….

“But one day I received a visit from the director of the school:

” ‘You know, Madame’, he said to me, ‘that the government has just promulgated a new law according to which our school can no longer keep the little-gifted children (that is the official expression) whose presence in the classes impedes the progress of the others.’

“At first I did not understand. It was so low that I dared not understand. I told the director that, thank the Lord!’ my son had always had very good marks, and that he was often the first in his class.

“But this man answered me, with a pitying look on his face:

” ‘Personally, Madame, I am very, very sad at what is happening. But the reports of the professors having placed your son among the little gifted, I cannot reject this report.’

“And that is why I have come with my child to Palestine, where there are many schools only too glad to accept our children. And I want to add this. The Jewish refugees from Germany who have come to Palestine will perhaps forget the horrors that they went through under the Hitlerist terror. Time wipes out the memory of our most tragic pogroms. But I doubt whether the Jews will ever forget the Hitlerist attack on the intellectual development of our children. Yes, it is, of all the crimes the hate of a race can inspire in man, the one that will be the first to call down the vengeance of heaven!”

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