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Joint Distribution Committee Appropriates $400,000 for Commencing Jewish Colonization Work in Crimea

August 23, 1924
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The sum of $400,000 for the purpose of starting on Jewish colonization work in the Crimea was appropriated by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, it was revealed today to the correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency by a prominent Jewish communal worker, who arrived here from Moscow. This allotment of the Joint Distribution Committee is to be used on the realization of the colonization plans which were worked out and submitted by Dr. Joseph Rosen, representative of the J.D.C. in Soviet Russia. This is to be an experiment and if it succeeds it is believed that American Jewish organizations will launch a drive in the United States for the purpose of financing the Jewish colonization work in the Crimea on a larver scale.

When asked by the correspondent how Jewish public opinion in Russia looks at this project, the informant of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency stated that Jewish Communistic circles in Russia are very favorably disposed towards this plan, while Jewish communal workers of longer standing are rather skeptical with regard to its practibility. Jewish circles in Russia agree that with the prevailing economic crisis in Russia, the inability of Jews in Russia to find a livelihood in the cities, the Jewish “back to land” movement” is a dire economic necessity. Any attempt made by the Jews to facilitate this movement would be of the greatest benefit to Russian Jews. Fear is however expressed that the grave mistake committed previously should not be repeated again in the new reconstruction activities. American Jewish public opinion, my informant claims is unaware of the abuse of the funds of the J.D.C. committed by the Idgeskom. No one who is familiar with the situation in Russia would deny that the J.D.C representatives there needed the good will and cooperation of the Idgeskom; it is claimed however, that they could have obtained this good will with

comparatively less financial sacrifices, and that there was no need for putting at the disposal of the Jewish Communists millions of dollars which have been used by the Idgeskom to strengthen the prestige and political machinery of the Jewish section of the Russian Communist Party.

The American Jews do not know that the millions collected from Jews throughout the United States have been used by Jewish Communists to crush Jewish life, to destroy the religious and national values which had existed in the Jewish community of Russia. The J/D.O. representatives in Soviet Russia have offended the policy on which the work in all the other European countries, where J.D.C. funds had been so instrumental in reconstructing Jewish economic life, was carried on.

Russian Jews criticize bitterly the J.D.C. representatives in Russian for having surrendered to the Jewish Communistic social workers millions of dollars of the relief funds, without obtaining from them any concessions. With the liquidation of the J.D.C. the machinery of the Idgeskom and of the Jewish Communist party in Russia is broken down to a great extent. Jewish communist circles are very anxious that American Jews should start new activities in Russia, in view of the advantages they expected by them. While non-communistic Jewish circles cannot emphasise strongly enough the need for helping the Russian Jew in his attempt to settle on the land they point out the necessity that nothing should be undertaken by American Jewry unless it will secure the administration of whatever funds will be put at the disposal of this plan by its own representatives.

Mr. Smydovitz, first assistant Secretary to Kalinin, President of the R.S.F.S.R. in his interview which he gave to representatives of the American Jewish Press tried to convey the impression that the Soveit government would not interfere with the activities of the organizations which would engage in Jewish colonial work in the country, but in the course of the interview he stated that local committees would be established which would also include representatives of the Jewish organizations from abroad.

Anybody who is familiar with conditions in Russia knows that “local committees” mean nothing else but Jewish Communist committees and that the foreign organizations despite the fact that they would finance the entire work would only be given a minority representation. This would establish the same condition which existed in the last few years of the relief work of the J.D.C. in Russia where only the Jewish Communist and no other group in Russia had any say. The foreign representatives would be outvoted by the Jewish Communist members on the Committee.

In their attempt to attract again American Jewish funds, the Jewish Communists have not even hesitated to deny the plan put forward by their Comrade Bragin, the well-known Agricultural expert and organizer of the Russian Agricultural Exhibition in

Moscow for the establishment of a Jewish Autonomous Region in the Crimea. The sudden change throws an interesting light on the underhand tactics the Jewish Communists are willing to employ in order to gain more funds for their disposal. The plan of a Jewish Autonomous Region in the Crimea had been welcomed by by the Jewish Communistic circles in view of the change which Russia had undergone by becoming a Federation of Republics. Jewish communities could not be represented in the Federated Soveit unless by territorial representation. But when it was pointed out to them that American Jewry would not support the establishment of a Communistic Jewish republic and that any financial support which would be forthcoming for a mere colonization scheme would be lost, hot denials were issued by Russian Communists that such a plan ever existed and Mr/Smydovitz called the Jewish press representatives in order to kill in an official way the existance of such a scheme.

“If American Jewry wants to aid effectively the Russian Jews let them send a delegation of prominent Jewish leaders, of independent men, who are held in high esteem by the American Jewish public and let them form their judgment on the spot: let them investigate the actual conditions, negotiate with the government, and only if they can obtain guarantee that the funds will be under the control of the representatives of the J.D.C. and that the funds will not be diverted to help in any way the Jewish Communists in their desire to strangle Jewish life–a double crime, a crime toward Russia and a crime toward American Jews who innocently are supplying these funds, should they continue this work,” the Russian Jewish Social Worker stated.

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