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Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

September 13, 1926
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[The purpose of the Digest is informative: Preference is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]

Light on the subject of national minority rights, of special significance at this time owing to the controversy that has resulted from the recent renunciation by the Turkish Jews of the minority rights guaranteed them by the League through the Treaty of Lausanne, is yielded in the September issue of “International Conciliation,” publication of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. This issue is devoted entirely to the minority rights question, containing among the other articles one by Dr. William Rappard, Swiss representative on the League and head of the Permanent Mandates Commission.

The article on “Rights of Minorities in Central Europe,” by Dr. Louis Eisenmann, professor at the University of Paris and noted authority on the subject, discussing the fundamental principle underlying the rights of minorities, its origin, the reason for its inclusion by the League in the international treaties and its practical application, confirms the stand taken by Mr. Louis Marshall in regard to the Turkish Jews. The three cardinal points emphasized by Dr. Eisenmann are, first, that the rights of minorities “are not based upon a contract between the state in question and its minority citizens, but are based upon a contract between the state in question and the League of Nations,” second, that the League holds that the rights of nationality belong to persons individually and hence it is individuals who are protected by the minority rights and, third, that fundamentally the rights of minorities belong to the League of Nations.

Dr. Eisenmann writes:

“In studying the whole problem of the protection of minorities one fact of capital importance does not as a rule receive adequate consideration. This fact is that the rights of minorities are not based upon a contract between the state in question and its minority citizens, but are based upon a contract between the state in question and the League of Nations, thereby making them really effective. The importance of this lies in the fact that the protection of minorities is brought under the League’s judicial and political system. The right of complaint, of intervention, of demanding redress in case of violation of the rights of minorities, lies juridically with the League of Nations. Assuming the moral authority of the League of Nations, and assuming its politically effective authority which is constantly increasing, minorities exposed to the possibility of oppression and those who are the beneficiaries of protective clauses in treaties have here a guarantee which cannot be too highly estimated. The statement of this incontrovertible fact, that the protection of minorities is a matter between the League of Nations and the interested states, carries important consequences which will serve to determine the character of the principle for the protection of minorities, the third point indicated at the beginning of this address.

“First, for whose advantage is the working out of this principle of the rights of minorities? There is, in theory, some uncertainty as to this. In his study which is very exhaustive, and the result of mature reflection, M. de Mello-Franco (of Brazil) has indicated that for certain theorists of international law, it is the minorities as a body who are guaranteed protection. For these theorists then, it is not a question of saying that the rights of minorities are granted to X, Y, and Z, members of minorities. I take the first example which comes to my mind, the example of the German minority of Czechoslovakia. These rights are not guaranteed to Wagner, Schulze, or Muller, Germans of Reichenberg or of Carlsbad or of Iglau, but to the Germans of Bohemia as a whole who form a legal judicial and political entity. According to this thesis there would be a right belonging to the collectivity from which one might draw many inferences.

“The League of Nations has stated its position on this matter. This position has been sustained in its Assemblies and in the Council by the representatives of the most diverse nations. The League of Nations maintains that it is the individuals who are protected. Take the example which I cited just now. It is Schulze of such and such a place or Wagner or Muller, who has his rights to maintain and it is he alone as an individual. The rights of nationality are the rights which belong to him individually and not to him as a member of a religious body. This position appears to me impregnable. It is in conformity with the progress of ideas which have brought about the protection of minorities, in conformity with the democratic idea.

“The conclusions at which we have arrived,” Dr. Eisenmann writes further, “appear to me of value in view of current misunderstandings and false impressions and of certain forms of opposition to the protection of minorities. The main fact is, that in the matter of the protection of minorities the supreme authority is the League of Nations. In an informal publication of the League of Nations signed by one of the highest functionaries, I have found this statement with which I am in agreement, that fundamentally the rights of minorities belong to the League of Nations; the League proposed them to the interested states in the form of treaties and it is the League which has made the interested minorities benefit by them. The debates of the League of Nations indicate in what manner it desires the rights of minorities be interpreted and the procedure which should be followed.”

ON THE PROPOSED PALESTINE PARLIAMENT

The attitude of the Zionist leaders on the subject of a Palestine Parliament, about which “Falastin”, organ of the Palestine Arab Executive, has been writing considerably of late, is touched on in the “Palestine Weekly” of Jerusalem, in the issue of Aug. 13. “Falastin” had claimed that secret negotiations have been going on between the Arab leaders and British officials for the creation of a Parliament, wherein the Arabs would demand thirty seats against three for the Jews. Writes the “Palestine Weekly”:

“From the metropolis (London), the report comes that the Zionist leaders have firmly expressed their view that the authorities will not be able to take any definite step in this connection so long as the party whom they represent withholds its assent to the proposition. Certainly this is the only proper course which the Zionist Organization can take under the circumstances.

“Meanwhile, more details of the negotiations have filtered through from the Arab press. According to translations that appeared in Hebrew newspapers, the prime mover in the conversations was a member of the Arab Nationalist Party, Mr. Boulos Shehadeh, editor of ‘Meraat UI Sherk.’ Mr. Shehadeh had taken the initiative of assembling some leading Arab personalities and of approaching the Government with his scheme to constitute a parliamentary body in Palestine. The spokesman on behalf of the Government, according to the translated reports, was Mr. S. Mills, who has been acting as Chief Secretary during the absence of Col. G. S. Symes.

“So far the information does not indicate that any official attempts have been made to create a parliamentary body. The matter is still in an embryo stage, and–in accordance with the attitude outlined in our leading article last week–it will not be allowed to pass into the concrete without a good deal of haggling on the part of the elements at present constituting the primary forces in Palestine.”

BREVITIES

The body of Dr. Samuel J. Littenberg, forty-one, of No. 923 Hoe Avenue, the Bronx, was found floating in the Bronx River, near the Bronx Park boat house Friday morning.

At his home it was learned that Dr. Littenberg recently had found his eyes were failing, following a search for health after an attack of sleeping sickness more than two years ago.

He was connected with the Jewish Memorial Hospital and the Vanderbilt Clinic in advissory capacities as a specialist in skin diseases when he contracted the illness. Upon his recovery he was left with an impairment of sight.

During the summer, Dr. Littenberg went to Battle Creek, Mich., to regain his strength and later passed a vacation at Long Branch, N. J. He returned two weeks ago and attempted to resume his practice. Friends declared he had suffered no financial troubles during his illness.

Members of the family think Dr. Littenberg stumbled into the lake while walking through the park.

Dr. Felix Adler will address the sixth international congress of philosophy, which will open today at Harvard University.

An attenance of approximately 300 members is expected at the congress. Sixty-nine members, representing eighteen countries, will be in attenance from outside of the United States.

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