Goldberg Can’t See Biro-bidjan As Threat to Palestine Supremacy
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Goldberg Can’t See Biro-bidjan As Threat to Palestine Supremacy

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Possibilities of competition between Biro – Bidjan, autonomous Jewish unit in the Soviet Union, and Palestine as a national home for Jews were ridiculed yesterday by B. Z. Goldberg, associate editor of The Day. Mr. Goldberg recently returned from a six-month trip which took him through the Soviet Union, Japan, China and home again by way of the Pacific Ocean.

“The two ideals do not conflict in any way” Mr. Goldberg declared. “There is nothing of the nationalistic element in Biro-Bidjan. The only settlers who go there are out-and-out Communists or those who are content to live under a Communist regime. The tradition of Zionism and of Hebrew are missing there and would not be encouraged if they did exist.


“Biro-Bidjan will be a national home for radical—Jews from all over the world. It is also a powerful force in combating assimilation of the Jews.

“Another factor that must be taken into consideration is the fact that a powerful Jewish republic in Biro-Bidjan, and I am sure that this will come about, will exercise a definitely moderating force on anti-Semitism elsewhere. Such a Jewish republic will heavily influence Soviet opinion and will be a factor in the policies of nations desiring to maintain friendly relations with the Soviet government.


“Economically Biro-Bidjan is no longer essential for the Jews of the Soviet Union, but culturally it is highly important and significant. There is a heavy influx of immigrants from all parts of the Soviet Union, Jewish youth in the Soviet Union does not need Biro-Bidjan, they can work as they like anywhere else. For the older generation, the life is too hard. So the Jew who does go there is actuated by a desire to work on the land and to develop a virgin country.

“They develop there the real frontier spirit. Thus I found a family of Jewish bee keepers living alone deep within a forest. The father of the family, a bearded Jew, said to me: Do you think that I would ever have dared to live alone in a forest in the Ukraine, where I came from? But here, why the forest is mine, why shouldn’t I live here? The Jews there are also good hunters and fit in well with the rough frontier life.”


Potentialities in Biro-Bidjan are enormous, Mr. Goldberg said, adding that this year 2,000,000 rubles which the Soviet government had assigned to the region could not be used and had been lost since the conditions were that it be used during the current year.

He also stressed the difficulties in the way of housing and the ever present shortage of workers, which is characteristic of every new country.

The much discussed war danger to the Jews of Biro-Bidjan, Mr. Goldberg dismissed as exaggerated. “There is no point for the Japanese to cross the Amur River and penetrate into the country,” he said.


“Such an invasion would be ridiculous for they would be caught in a vise between two Soviet armies. I saw no fortifications anywhere in Biro-Bidjan, but it is true that it is a border country and frontier guards were plentiful. But an invasion is highly improbable, since there would be no gain for a Japanese army and a great danger of being destroyed.”

Generally, the situation of the Jews in other parts of the Soviet Union has improved tremendously, the Jewish writer declared, adding that he had been surprised at the extent of the improvement.

“Even in the small towns,” he said, “I found that the Jewish youth were employed. They were either in school or gainfully employed. The older generation was also taken ca## of in the shops of the Dopomoga, constructive Jewish relief organization and in some of the factories I saw elderly bearded Jews working away peacefully.”


About collectivization of the farms, Mr. Goldberg said, “The edge has been taken off and the process has been humanized.”Jewish collectives,” he declared, “compare favorably with all others. And somehow the Jews always manage to make themselves more comfortable than their Gentile neighbors. Naturally there are human problems which give rise to little squabbles, but on the whole they get {SPAN}##ong{/SPAN} well enough.

“On one Jewish collective I found that one of the members was peeved. Cows had been alloted, but he had no cow and was not even applying for one. When I asked for the reason he said that he was angry because a neighbor had been given an animal one year old, while he had been offered a young calf. Later, I found that the neighbor was the best worker on the collective and had been accordingly treated better while the peeved one was not rated as a good worker.”

In Harbin, Manchukuo, Mr. Goldberg had an amusing experience. Interviewed by a representative of a “white” Russian paper, he related his impressions of the Soviet Union. The reporter listened and thanked him for the information. The next day Mr. Goldberg found himself quoted as admiring the ladies of Harbin.

In Tien Tsin, Mr. Goldberg addressed an audience of some 300 Jews who spoke Russian and German. He told them that to save trouble he would address them in Yiddish. He was heartily cheered by the entire audience.

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