The report on the activities of the American Joint Distribution Committee, published this week by Joseph C. Hyman, the secretary of the committee, is the best key to the Jewish position in Europe. It not only discloses the fact that the Joint Distribution Committee has spent $82,000,000 since 1914 for helping the Jews abroad, but it gives us a clear picture of what the actual Jewish situation in each country is today.
The major portion of the work done by the Joint Distribution Committee was naturally confined this year to Germany. But mistaken are those who think that the work of the JDC was limited to Germany alone. Almost a third of the money which the Joint Distribution Committee assigned for helping German Jews was actually spent for Palestine; it was spent to finance the Palestine Amt in Berlin; it was spent for supporting the Hechalutz activities in Germany; it was spent for the Hachschara, the adjustment of German Jewish youth to different forms of labor in Palestine.
HUGE SUMS SPENT FOR REFUGEE RELIEF
Of the $900,000 which the Joint Distribution Committee spent during its calendar year of 1934 for Germany, about $300,000 was given to the different organizations in Germany and outside of Germany dealing chiefly with preparing the German Jews to migrate to Palestine. Not less than $150,000 was spent for transportation of German Jewsâ€”from Germany and from the countries of exileâ€”to Palestine. This does not include the sums which the Joint Distribution Committee allotted directly for child care work in Palestine and for other activities there.
In addition to helping German Jews to migrate to Palestine, the Joint Distribution Committee has also done a tremendous piece of relief work for the Jews in Germany by helping their vocational readjustment. The funds spent by the Joint Distribution Committee this year in Germany was of great assistance to those German Jewish organizations which were engaged in training the Jews for new professions, in preparing them for artisanship and for agriculture, in taking care of emergency relief and welfare aid, in helping with small loans the Jews in the smaller communities and in reconstructing the entire German Jewish life along new lines not yet affected by the “Aryan” paragraph.
EAST EUROPEAN JEWRY AIDED
With the serious obligations which the Joint Distribution Committee felt that it had towards German Jewry, it has also not forgotten its obligations towards the Jews of the East European countries. Relief and reconstruction aid was given by the Joint Distribution Committee during the year to the Jews of Poland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Rumania, Russia and other countries where the JDC has been operating since the very first days of its existence. The work of the JDC in Poland was especially helpful this year, since the misery of Polish Jewry has assumed unprecedented proportions.
The JDC report made public this week by Mr. Hyman is therefore a document which will be thoroughly studied by every student of European Jewish life. It gives facts and figures on the actual Jewish position in many countries and illustrates the great need which European Jewry is now facing.
The wide scope of the work which the JDC is conducting in Europe makes this organization outstanding as compared with other Jewish relief organizations. No other Jewish relief organization existing today has such a variety of activities to its credit as the JDC has. While other Jewish organizations limit themselves to specific fields of work, the JDC is active in almost every phase of Jewish life requiring aid.
PALESTINE BENEFITS THROUGH JDC FUNDS
It must not be forgotten that in addition to the large sums of money which the JDC spends annually, this organization is also responsible for immense activities conducted with revolving capital by institutions such as the Palestine Economic Corporation, the Joint Foundation, the Loan Kasses and other institutions which are recognized as great factors in the reconstruction of Jewish economic life. The Palestine Economic Corporation, which was organized in 1926 on a business basis, for productive aid in Palestine, has been substantially supported by the JDC. The JDC has turned over to the Palestine Economic Corporation approximately $1,800,000. It was with this asset that the Palestine Economic Corporation was able to conduct its work of assisting the economic development of Palestine.
This brings indirectly to the forefront the present conflict between the JDC and the Zionist Organization, which is growing behind the scenes of American Jewish life. This conflictâ€”which I believe will eventually be settled peacefullyâ€”is due to the fact that the Joint Distribution Committee wishes to renew the arrangements with the Zionist Organization of America for a united campaign for funds, on condition that the Zionist Organization should receive not fifty per cent of the funds raised, hitherto, but a smaller proportion.
I shall still have the opportunity to explain why the Joint Distribution Committee is justified in its demand. Aside from the fact that the Jews in Palestine today live more prosperously than the Jews in Eastern Europe, where urgent JDC relief is now required, there are also other motives as to why a larger proportion of relief funds must in the forthcoming year be assigned for countries other than Palestine.
MORE PALESTINE LAND MAY BE ACQUIRED
A report from Palestine this week discloses that the Jews are about to obtain 400,000 dunams of new land on the Palestine-Syrian border. This report, though coming from Arab circles, ought to be taken seriously. Though the figure of 400,000 dunams may be exaggerated, there is some truth in the report that large stretches of Huleh land will now come into Jewish possession.
There have been lengthy negotiations between certain Jewish groups and those Arabs who hold the concession on the Huleh land. These negotiations, I understand, have now been concluded. The Palestine government, as well as the Colonial Office in London, has approved of the deal. A large plan for draining the Huleh region for Jewish settlement may therefore soon come into operation.
The deal now concluded is the result of efforts made by private Jewish groups in Palestine to obtain the Huleh land. Mr. Smiliansky, the president of the Farmers Association in Palestine, figures as the largest investor in the project.
AUSTRIA AND GERMANY SHOW NO LETUP
While the Jewish growth in Palestine is expanding, Jewish persecutions in the countries of Eastern Europe are assuming a more and more serious character. In Germany a new drive against the Jews was started this week in many provincial cities, where the German population is beginning to feel the first signs of the approaching hunger. Under the pretext of “Jewish speculation” the local Nazis have invaded many Jewish stores in different districts of Germany and have attacked Jewish merchants.
In Austria the government of Premier Schuschnigg made another step this week to invalidate the citizenship of 410 more Jews. A delegation of the American Jewish Congress visited this week the Austrian Minister in Washington and told him what American Jews think of the anti-Jewish discriminations now going on in Austria. The Austrian Minister will convey the opinion of American Jews to his government in the form of a special memorandum.
LASKI URGES PRESSURE ON POLAND
The Jewish situation in Poland is still growing worse. Bombs have been thrown this week by anti-Semites into Jewish stores and anti-Jewish riots have taken place in the Krakow University. The Jewish position in Poland has reached a point where Neville Laski, the most reserved Jewish leader and president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, came out openly this week and urged that pressure must be used against Poland, since no signs of alleviation are seen.