The first Soviet convention which opened yesterday in Biro-Bidjan to appoint a local Jewish government for the autonomous Jewish region there can be considered more a decorative episode than a practical move towards the development of this territory.
What the Jews in Biro-Bidjan need is not a Jewish government but good facilities for settlement. They need better dwellings, better food, more roads and better sanitary conditions.
Nevertheless, the outcome of this convention will be watched with great interest by the Jews abroad in view of the fact that the Soviet government has now agreed to permit the migration of Polish Jews to Biro-Bidjan.
Biro-Bidjan, as a territory for Soviet Jews, is not something to be excited about. The Jew in Soviet Russia today is a free citizen. He can move wherever he wishes. He does not have to go way out into the Far East to find his bread. He can settle on land in Crimea. He can find employment in industrial enterprises in the Ukraine. The doors are not closed to him anywhere in Russia.
Different is the situation of the thousands of Jews in Poland who are seeking a land where they could find at least their daily bread. These Jews, if admitted into Russia would not enjoy the freedom of movement which the Soviet Jew does. They will be welcomed by the Soviet government only if they agree to live and to work in Biro-Bidjan.
It is with a view to protecting the interests of these Polish Jews that the outside world will watch the present conference in Biro-Bidjan. From the plans adopted by this conference it will be possible to judge as to whether or not Jews from Poland should be encouraged to migrate to Biro-Bidjan.
During the last four yearsâ€”from October, 1930â€”twenty thousand Soviet Jews emigrated to Biro-Bidjan and ten thousand re-emigrated. Will the Soviet government see to it that the Jews from Poland, when coming to Biro-Bidjan, should not find it necessary to re-emigrate? The convention now held in Biro-Bidjan may give an answer to this question.