Voluntary Tax on All Jews and Communities Proposed at World Congress
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Voluntary Tax on All Jews and Communities Proposed at World Congress

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The Jews of the world would be asked to pay a special voluntary tax for the World Jewish Congress, according to a plan submitted at today’s session by Dr. Leon Kubovitzky of Belgium in a report on a permanent representation for the Jewish people. In addition, every Jewish community would contribute a certain percentage of its income.

The congress opened last night in the League of Nations Assembly hall in the presence of more than 300 delegates from 32 countries, said to represent a third, or about 5,000,000, of the Jews of the world. Diplomats, representatives of the League secretariat and the Nansen office, and many other distinguished guests were present.

Dr. Kubovitzky’s plan provides that the congress be elected once every four years and hold sessions every two years. A special committee of the congress would meet every six months.

He proposed that the World Executive of the congress be divided into four departments:

1- Political, to combat anti-Semitism and to fight against anti-Jewish propaganda, which would be internationally recognized as a criminal act.

2- Social-economic, which would control Jewish relief funds and deal with migration of Jews from one country to another.

3- An organizational and propaganda department.

4- A financial department.

Orthodox delegates formed a special bloc under the initiative of Dr. Mordecai Nurok of Latvia and Leon Gellman, of St. Louis, president of the Mizrachi Organization of America. A similar bloc was formed earlier by laborite delegates of various countries, including both Zionists and non-Zionists.


Creation of a central bureau of Jewish social relief and an economic statistical service was urged by Dr. Israel Efroykin, president of the Federation of Jewish Societies of France, speaking on the aims and methods of Jewish relief work.

He also urged representation of Jewish relief units before international organizations and establishment of a central Jewish peoples’ fund under administration of the central bureau to help groups suffering from anti-Semitic persecution.

Dr. Arieh Tartakover of Lodz, Poland, addressing the afternoon session on "Jewish Migration and Emigration Policy," called for the establishment of a central bureau or migration to enable maximum utilization of existing possibilities and to create new possibilities.

He also recommended the training of emigrants, renewal of colonization activity and conduct of negotiations with individual governments, the League of Nations and other international bodies.

Dr. Tartakover charged existing bodies with having neglected the fight against restrictions and for the creation of new emigration possibilities. He accused United States consular officials of aggravating the stringency of American immigration laws through complicated formalities.


With about 5,000,000 Jews deprived of rights and ruined economically, the Jewish position in Europe was described as "catastrophic" today by Jacob Lestschinsky, noted Polish Jewish economist.

He singled out Germany, Poland, Rumania, Lithuania and Latvia as among the countries in which the Jewish population has been severely hit. Thirty-five per cent of the Polish Jews and a third of the Rumanian Jews have been deprived of their livelihood, he said.

There is no hope for the Jews in Germany, he asserted. Twenty-two per cent of them are dependent on charity and 20 per cent of their businessmen are liquidating their enterprises and awaiting the opportunity to emigrate.

The delegates rose for three minutes in tribute to the Jews who have fallen in Palestine disorders. A Hebrew greeting was read from the Jewish National Council of the Holy Land.

An address was delivered by Shalom Asch, the author. Others who greeted the assemblage were William Rappard, rector of the Geneva University and M. Ehrler in behalf of the Geneva canton.


A heavy police detail was on hand last night at the opening of the congress to prevent possible provocations by local Nazis.

In the opening address, Dr. Stephen S. Wise, moving spirit in organizing the congress, held anti-Semitism a challenge to civilization. He defended the convocation of the congress and invited its opponents to join.

Dr. Wise opened his speech with an account of the reasons why the congress must unite the Jews and why it must be regarded with sympathy by non-Jews.

"Anti-Semitism," he declared, "is a challenge not only to Jews, but to civilization. Christendom cannot afford morally and spiritually to leave the answer to anti-Semitism to be given solely by Jews who are its victims.

"Anti-Semitism is a world problem. If Hitlerism had been faced by the world powers when it was little more than an anti-Semitic, electioneering expedient, the world would not be called upon today to face the ever-growing peril of barbaric Nazi Germany.

"We needn’t give an explanation to the world for calling the congress. We need explain it only to the Jews who imagine it necessary to explain away every common enterprise, because even the most normal undertaking is regarded as abnormal by too many Jews, especially by those Jewish leaders whose leadership consists of cautiousness, which rarely proves wisdom.

"The lack of organization on the part of Jews has been an inducement and an encouragement to our enemies."

Dr. Wise then invited those Jewish organizations which have elected to refrain from participation in the congress to change their stand.

"The doors remain open for the absentees," he declared, emphasizing that no group of assimilationists was powerful enough to render ineffectual the work of the congress.

His invitation was specifically addressed to the American Jewish Committee, of which Dr. Cyrus Adler is president; the B’nai B’rith, international fraternal order with headquarters in Cincinnati; the Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland, central Jewish relief organization in Germany; and the Board of Jewish Deputies of Great Britain, of which Neville Laski is president.


Dr. Wise devoted a portion of his address to listing arguments of the congress’ opponents. He minimized the strength of the opposition, stating that the congress has no reference either to the possibility of a Jewish state or a Jewish super-state.

The greatest absurdity of all, he said, is to speak of the congress as if it purported to be a parliament. The Jews have no state and therefore cannot have a parliament, he declared, adding that the congress consists of a voluntary association of Jewish communities from various countries.

Referring to Palestine, Dr. Wise declared that although world Jewry has given great assistance to Palestine and also German Jews, not one per cent of the total capital possessed by the Jewish world of western Europe and America has gone towards upbuilding of the Jewish national home and not one-hundredth of one per cent of Jewish possessions has been given for relief of German Jews.

Explaining that the congress would deal with those problems, Dr. Wise said it had not made the claim the present gathering would represent all the Jews of the world, but was a preliminary step toward organization of world Jewry.

Disclaiming any hopes that the congress would accomplish "a miracle," he said it "may bring together the Jews of many different lands and many different views."

Expressing regret at the absence from the congress of German and Soviet Jews, Dr. Wise criticized the Juedische Rundschau, organ of the German Zionist Federation, for opposing the congress in a recent editorial.

He charged Palestine Communists with giving aid to the Arab terrorists, but emphasized that the Congress nevertheless would not exclude any Jews because of their political and economic views.


In another opening address, Dr. Nahum Goldmann, member of the congress executive, attacked the totalitarian state and its "new, barbaric philosophy of racialism."

He appealed to Russia to change its "antiquated policy" toward Zionism, pointing out that Jewry’s attitude towards Communism was similar to its neutral attitude toward any other regime.

The League of Nations minorities guarantees, the speaker declared, were no longer effective because the League no longer has the power to protect minorities. He said guarantee of Jewish rights by individual constitutions were also worthless since they are being "shamelessly violated" by many states through anti-Jewish economic and administrative terror.

Dr. Goldmann declared that Jewry’s fight against Nazism would be continued until the German Jews again are enjoying the fullest rights.

Discussing Palestine, he said upbuilding of the Jewish national home there did not mean sacrifice of Jewish equality of rights in other lands since Palestine required strong Jewish backing throughout the world, without which it would be unable to fulfill its functions.

He appealed to the Soviet Government not to suppress Hebrew culture, declaring such a policy derives from the time when Communist leaders regarded Zionists as their class enemies.

Concluding, Dr. Goldmann counselled Jewry not to despair, referring to the historical triumphs of Jewry over its most powerful enemies.

Greetings were read from Lord Cecil, famous British statesman, who wished the gathering success, and from Joseph Paul-Boncour, Minister of State in France and League of Nations delegate.

M. Paul-Boncour pointed out that it was France which had first emancipated the Jews and declared:

"France is unable to remain silent when a whole race become the butt for persecution."

William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, also sent greetings, declaring that "American labor stands with the congress for defense and protection of the rights of minorities, for the complete protection of human rights and for the fight against discrimination against any groups because of race or religion."

Other greetings were received from Dr. Chaim Weizmann, president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine and the World Zionist Organization; the world congress of Jewish war veterans; M.M. Ussishkin, president of the Jewish National Fund; the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland; the city of Tel Aviv; Prof. Simon Dubnow, noted Jewish historian; Lion Feuchtwanger, the novelist; and Ambassador Henri Berenger of France.

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