Today’s report from Moscow that the Soviet government has officially decided to permit the settlement of 4,500 Jews from abroad in Biro-Bidjan during this year, will be welcome news to many Jews in Poland, as well as to a good number of German Jewish refugees.
There is no doubt that, if properly organized, the migration of Jews from Poland into Biro-Bidjan can be converted into one of the broadest relief measures for Polish Jewry. With the Agro-Joint and the ORT interested in experimenting with the settlement of Polish Jews in Biro-Bidjan, and with the Soviet government encouraging such settlement, the colonization of foreign Jews in Biro-Bidjan may assume the same proportions as the colonization of Soviet Jews in Crimea and in the Ukraine during the first years of the Agro-Joint activities.
A WISE SOVIET POLICY
It is a wise policy on the part of the Soviet government to restrict the immigration of foreign Jews to Biro-Bidjan during the first year of experimentation. Only a select element of settlers can adjust itself to life in the Bureya before a mass colonization is developed there under the supervision of such organizations as the Agro-Joint or the ORT. Only a select element of settlers is needed there, for the time being.
From the manner in which the first group of 4,500 foreign Jews will adjust themselves to conditions in Biro-Bidjan, the Jews all over the world will be able to judge whether to encourage further immigration of foreign Jews to the Soviet Far Eastern autonomous Jewish republic, or whether such encouragement is not warranted.
A TWO YEARS’ TRIAL
The new settlers from abroad, according to the provisions of the Soviet government, will restrain their foreign citizenship for two years, and will have the right during these two years to return to their native lands if life in Biro-Bidjan does not prove to their taste. This two-year trial period will give them a chance to acquaint themselves with all the prospects which life in the new territory can promise them, and thus choose for themselves whether to remain in Biro-Bidjan or return to their old country.
Under the present conditions in Poland, where Jewish misery is growing from day to day, it is easy to predict that very few of the Jewish immigrants will leave Biro-Bidjan to return to Poland. This will be true especially of those Jews who are qualified workers. Jewish artisans who are actually starving in Poland will find life much brighter for them in the Bureya. The same is true also with regard to Jewish youth. Having no prospects whatsoever in Poland, they will find Biro-Bidjan a land of many opportunities for them.
AMERICAN LEADERS INTERESTED
One can foresee that once the first group of Jews from abroad is settled in Biro-Bidjan under the supervision of foreign Jewish organizations, our Jewish leaders will obtain a more concrete idea of the possibilities in the Far Eastern Jewish autonomous district. One can also foresee that the time is not far distant when leaders of American and European relief organizations might like to visit Biro-Bidjan in order to see for themselves how things are there.
Today’s report from Moscow about the government decision to permit the first 4,500 Jews from abroad to Biro-Bidjan is therefore of great historical value. No one can predict what this important decision may lead to. It may open a new chapter in Jewish readjustment. It may stimulate unprecedented emigration of East European Jews to the Far East since the war danger, which is menacing the Western world, is now over for the Far East.