France Faces Anti-semitism for First Time Since Dreyfus

The following is the first of three articles on “Anti-Semitism in France” by the Paris correspondent of the Jewish Daily Bulletin and Jewish Telegraphic Agency. The second article will appear tomorrow.

For the first time since the settlement of the Dreyfus case, the question of anti-Semitism in France is on the program of the day. This does not mean, of course, that during the more than twenty-five years which separate us from the final phases of the famous trial, there were no occasions when some sheet or other did not publish an article derogatory to Jews, that in this period no hysterical orator could be found, who, sincerely or otherwise, accused the Jews of all the ills of humanity.

Drummond is dead, but La Libre Parole continues its existence to this very day. The pupils of Drummond—Leon Daudet and Charles Morras—continued and continue vicious assaults upon the Jews in the organ of the French legitimists, Actions Francaise. This signifies only that public opinion in France, not only the liberal public opinion, but also the conservative, no longer believes that the rebirth of mankind and the welfare of the French nation depend on the presence or absence of the Jewish element in France and its participation in public life. The yellow packet of La Libre Parole hides in the farthest corner of the newspaper kiosk and is taken out only on request of some curious Jewish passerby. There was not much arguing with Action Francaise in France; it was read only for the sake of the brilliant articles of Daudet and the violent polemics of Morras.

A SECOND NAPOLEON

In 1928, the French perfume manufacturer, Francois Coty, having acquired a fortune from Jewish exporters and customers, conceived himself as a second Napoleon, although he did not have for this assumption other basis than his Corsican descent and short stature. He decided to fill the gap left by lack of Napoleonic genius by undertaking a crusade {SPAN}agai###{/SPAN} the Jews. He succeeded in concentrating in his hands most of the stock of the French aristocratic newspaper, Figaro, and also in setting up a large daily, Ami du People, calculating that the cheapness of the publication would attract wide masses of readers which as yet remained unsympathetic to his ideas.

For a number of years Coty repeatedly attempted to arouse public opinion, first against foreign Jewish bankers, whom he charged with supporting Germany during the war, and later against Jews who had participated in the war for France, whom he accused of revolutionary-terroristic tendencies. Both of these attempts terminated in failure, and Coty, having lost a substantial portion of his money in those newspaper ventures, left the stage, but not before, in September, 1933, he endeavored to present himself as a supporter of Jewish nationalistic aspirations and publicly repudiated his anti-Semitic activities.

This sharp turn received cool treatment from Jews and non-Jews alike. No one in France believed in Coty’s sincerity when he made his attacks against the Jews, and even less so when he proclaimed himself an unasked friend of the Jewish people.

During the post-War period in France one could more readily observe sentiments that were directly opposite of anti-Semitism. Jewish problems frequently became exceedingly “fashionable.” In due time, one newspaper after another devoted a series of questionaires to Zionism and Jewish Palestine. The status of the Jewish population in the lands of the Diaspora also repeatedly made the columns of the “big-time press.” The culminating point of these sentiments must be considered the period between 1927 and 1933—from the acquittal of Petlura’s assassin, Sholom Schwartzbard, to the memorable appearance of Senator Beranger at the joint meeting of the Council of the League of Nations, on the question of persecution of the Jews in Germany.

From 1931 there began to appear in public life of France certain dissonant notes in regard to the Jewish situation. The economic crisis swept over France in that year. Articles appeared in the press devoted to the question of alien labor in France. It is essential here to explain the talk was not of Jewish labor, but about that mass of foreign workers, Spaniards, Italians and Poles—more than 1,500,000 persons—who constantly live and work in France, without losing contact with their native countries, without being absorbed into the surrounding population and who, when they accumulate some capital, return to the land of their birth.

Despite this “pacifying” feature, the Jews, and especially the native French Jews, began to show signs of excitement. Large French Jewish organizations began to undertake measures designed to lessen the flow of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. In French Jewish salons conversations emphasized that Eastern Jews would create anti-Semitism in France. This alarm was premature. The danger arrived not from the economic side, but from the political.

To Be Continued Tomorrow

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