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To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:
H. Wishengrad is far too sketchy in your issue of Oct. 12 to create a serious impression. In the first place the older historians were not genealogists, and as a rule the genealogists were not historians. Christopher Columbus was at considerable pains to disguise his origins, and his achievement, not the man held the foreground of history. The Spaniards have good historians but as they are not accepted as classics or did not write in the classic period, maybe they have not been translated.
Research into original documents is a modern attitude. Kayserling apparently had a hunch as to Columbus’ origin, but could make no progress in his investigations. A group of Spanish historians have in the last thirty years been poking into the Columbus story..
My own interest in the problem came through a chance reading of the Columbus diary in 1910. Maurice David in his “Who was ‘Columbus,’ ” (1933) laid bare some new circumstantial evidence on the Jewish origin of Columbus. For the purposes of the Encyclopedia of Jewish knowledge I critically examined a good deal of what has been written on this and kindred cases. I am satisfied that Columbus was a Marano, but it would take several years of persistent, patient, daily research to prove the facts beyond the peradventure of a doubt. I believe the facts can be established though some document in the chain may be missing.
I incline to the belief that the Zarcos, the great predecessors of Columbus in western navigation were also Maranos though that might be still more difficult to prove. In addition I make the Nazis a present of the fact that if they will dig down they will probably be able to prove that Ferdinand the Catholic, husband of Isabella and endorser of the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain was the son of a full-blooded Marano mother.
No one pays or subsidizes systematic research into Jewish matters, therefore we are dependent on accident for the verification of what today have become interesting propositions.
Mr. Wishengrad does the writers of school histories an injustice. They are not historians nor historical research workers. Their task is to summarize in simple language accepted opinion. I would not expect them to acknowledge and repeat the fact, if it prove to be true, that Columbus was a Spanish Jew disguised all his life as a neo-Christian, until something like his birth certificate displaced the accepted traditions.
Yours very truly,
Jacob De Haas
Oct. 12, 1934.
SUPPORTS MR. UNTERMYER
To the Editor, Jewish Daily Bulletin:
Refraining from judging Rabbi Wolsey’s comments in the Bulletin of October 11 on the “undemocratic and un-American campaign of boycotting,” I should like to point out to the eminent Rabbi that being a Jew, while not adhering to religious practices should not be classified by the Rabbi as “religion boycotting,” which he charges against Mr. Untermyer.
This condemnation by the Rabbi might be applied to me and to thousands of other Jews. It is with dignity and pride that I here state that the fact alone that we are known as Jews (and therefore endure all the hardships that go with Jewishness) is sufficient to justify our right to be Jews and meddle with Jewish affairs; especially with the plight of the German Jews today.
If we are not religious en masse today as we were in the eighteenth century, it is because evolution took its course, and we just cannot be as primitive as we were then.
All the more power to Mr. Untermyer for the “boycott campaign”; for unfortunately boycotting, and only organized boycotting, is the sole tool left us to fight with. We should not be deprived of this “civilized” right.
Realize, Rabbi, that our “privilege” of being a buffet must stop, even though the task to bring this about is so enormous, and, as yet, discouraging.
New York, Oct. 10, 1934.