London Magistrate Who Sentenced Refugees Denies Bias Against Jews
Menu JTA Search

London Magistrate Who Sentenced Refugees Denies Bias Against Jews

Download PDF for this date

In a letter in the Jewish Chronicle, Herbert Metcalfe, the Old Street Magistrate, whose statements in sentencing three Jews to prison for entering the country illegally received wide publicity and comment, declares that “I have not the slightest animosity towards those who are of the Jewish race and faith” and “I have nothing whatever to do with the so-called Nazi movement, nor have I the slightest sympathy with anyone associated with it.”

“So far as foreign Jews are concerned,” Mr. Metcalfe continues, “I see no reason at all why, with proper safeguards and in reasonable numbers, they should not be admitted to these shores. My remarks were directed against aliens, not necessarily Jewish aliens, who, many of them with criminal records, come into this country under cover of darkness. You will agree with me that many of these adopt a life of crime, otherwise in many cases they become chargeable to the rates. You will understand that the immigration laws are now being sturdily enforced. Whether that is right or wrong is not the matter for me. I have an open mind, I trust I have no prejudices, it is merely my duty to administer the law as it stands.

“In the case of the three aliens who went to prison for six months each, it was urged upon me by the authorities in open Court that they should be adequately punished. There has been some adverse criticism of the sentence I passed upon the woman: let me say this at once: that sentence was passed after careful consideration and after consultation with our Jewish welfare officers.”

An editorial note welcomes Mr. Metcalfe’s letter and points out that “by his wise step in thus making clear his attitude, he cuts the ground from under the feet of those mischievous influences which have not hesitated to employ the incident to whip up anti-Jewish feeling in this country under cover of an anti-aliens scare.”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund