Vigorous denial that the Jews of the United States are in the fore front of political movements aimed at the establishment of dictatorships of one sort or another was expressed yesterday by Dr. Arnold D. Margolin, former justice of the Supreme Court of the Ukrainian Republic and one of the lawyers who defended the late Mendel Beilis. Dr. Margolin has just been appointed lecturer at New York University.
At the same time Dr. Margolin charged that the principle of self-determination for minorities cherished by the late President Wilson has been utterly forgotten in this day and declared that the desires of the majority of the population in various countries are now rarely taken into considerationâ€”not even by the ordinary citizens of other lands.
The majority of the Jews of Soviet Russia, Dr. Margolin said, continue to be adherents of a democratic form of government. Similar feelings, he asserted, can be ascribed to the overwhelming majority of the whole population of that country. “The Russian Revolution and Present-Day Russia” is the title of the course of lectures which he will offer, beginning September 24.
As evidence that what he called a “widespread opinion” that the Jews do yeoman duty in their effort to bring about dictatorships has scant basis in fact, Dr. Margolin pointed to the cleavage in the ranks of the Socialist Party which occurred last spring.
“Whereas Norman Thomas led those who expressed the view that, under certain emergency circumstances, the Socialists ought to seize power without waiting for the approval by vote of the majority,” he said, “such Jewish Socialist leaders as Cahan, Vladeck, Waldman and others very definitely protested against this view and insisted on the preservation of the democratic principle of government.”
Turning to the recent European crisis precipitated by the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss, the former Ukrainian jurist complained:
“When the social state of Austria is discussed, people constantly ask what it is that the Nazis or Mussolini want. Why don’t they ask what the Austrian people themselves, the rank and file, want?”
SCOUTS COMMON BELIEF
Shifting to Russia, Dr. Margolin chided curiosity which goes no further than inquiry as to such Kremlin luminaries as Josef Stalin and Maxim Litvinoff.
“What about the 160,000,000 people who live in Russia? What about the thoughts and aspirations of the Ukrainians, the Georgians, the Tartars and all the other nationalities living under the Communist regime?
“And how about the 3,000,000 Jews living in present-day Russia? What is their attitude toward the dictatorial form of government in Russia?”
Most of them, Dr. Margolin was convinced, are not very strong for Stalinism.
Releasing an attack upon the notion that the Soviet system was brought in through the machinations of the Jews, he said:
“The best illustration that this is not so is the fact that in Poland and Lithuania, where the Jewish population before 1917 amounted to much more than ten per cent of the total population, all the attempts of the Communists to introduce their ideas failed.
“In the Ukraine, where the Jews composed eight per cent of the population, the Soviet regime was established only in 1919, after a vigorous fight and resistance on the part of the citizenry.
“On the contrary, in Great Russia, where the Jews in 1917 made up much less than one per cent, the Bolsheviki established themselves almost at once, not having met any serious resistance on the part of the population.
“This is the best evidence that Sovietism has been and continues to be a Russian phenomenon par excellence.”
Not only are the Jews undeserving of blame for the creation of the U. S. S. R., Dr. Margolin continued, but neither are they its rulers todayâ€”another accusation which he said is made frequently, and unjustly.
“Among the ten members of the Politbureau, which is the real boss of Russia, there is only one Jew, Kaganovitch. Among the Commissars (cabinet ministers), there again is only one Jew, Litvinoff.
“Furthermore, the percentage of Jews in the Russian Menshevik Party, in the Socialist Revolutionist Party and in the so-called Kadet (Liberal) Party always has been higher than in the Bolshevist (Communist) Party.”
CHANGE THROUGH DEMOCRACY
In the view of Dr. Margolin, democracy is “the indispensable condition for any serious economic change which would be in conformity with the desires of the majority.” No regime has any chance of stability if it is based on compulsion and denial of freedom, he said.
“The most efficient way of presenting all the dangers of dictatorships and all the positive features of the democratic form of government is the objective study of the actual conditions in the countries where experiments of post-war dictatorships have been made.
“Fascism, Hitlerism and the Soviet regime in Russia have to be explored and compared with the parallel endeavors of democratic governments to solve the new problems of our machine age.”
Dr. Margolin, who is 56, was born in Kiev and graduated from the university there. In addition to his participation in the Beilis defense, he acted as counsel in the Homel trial of 1904 and several other pogrom trials over a period of years. He came to the United States in 1922. He has written a number of books in Yiddish, English, French and Russian.