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Russian Zionists Favor Jewish Colonization in Russia, Says Billikopf

September 15, 1926
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Jewish colonization movement in Soviet Russia is recognized as an important measure by all Jewish circles in the Soviet republics, including the local Zionists, declared Jacob Billikopf, Executive Director of the Federation of Jewish Charities of Philadelphia, when interviewed yesterday by the representative of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” on his arrival on the Majestic from Russia.

The Jewish colonization movement in Soviet Russia has no opponents among the Russian Zionists in Palestine, according to Judge Harry M. Fisher of Chicago, who arrived on the same steamer from a tour of Palestine.

“I spoke,” Mr. Billikopf said, “to a great many Zionists and to many sympathizers of the Zionist movement and I also spoke to chaluzim, and the universal judgment was unanimously in favor of the colonization work. “They did not see how anyone could question the wisdom and desirability of the land settlement. I met two or three representatives of a certain wing of chaluzim who qualified their endorsement by saying that if colonization in Russia is to supersede colonization in Palestine, they naturally would be opposed to the work in Russia. I assured them there was no conflict between the land settlement in Palestine and that in Russia and that there is no reason why the Jews throughout the world could not participate in both the work in Palestine and in Russia.”

Mr. Billikopf emphasized that the Soviet government does not persecute the Zionists as such, but as contra-revolutionists. “Mr. Smidovitch, the vice-president of Soviet Russia, told me that the government has never persecuted the Zionists who are not active in contra-revolutionary activities.” As a proof that the Zionist idea is not persecuted by the Soviet government, Mr. Billikopf cited the fact that over 2,000 Chaluzim are now working in the Jewish colonies. They are not interfered with by anybody and they can leave Russia for Palestine if they desire to do so, he stated.

Mr. Billikopf spoke of the success of the Jewish colonization work in Russia. “In the thirty-four Jewish colonies which I visited in Crimea, I found great enthusiasm.”

Mr. Billikopf admitted that the anti-Semitic tendencies in Russia have not been uprooted, but, he stated, Russian Jews at present are not concerned with the remnants of anti-Semitism in the country. Anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia can be compared to that in the United States. Just as the Jews in America are not afraid of anti-Semitism, so the Jews of Russia do not fear it. The greatest insult that a Gentile Russian can now hear in Russia is to be charged with being an anti-Semite, Mr. Billikopf stated. The government combats anti-Semitism, which is much weaker than in Poland and other European countries, he stated.

Mr. Billikopf also, declared that he brought a number of letters and documents from several non-partisan Jewish leaders in Russia who express the conviction that Jewish colonization is the only method of rescue for the Jews in Russia. Among these Mr. Billikopf had a letter from Mr. Weizmann, a brother of Dr. Chaim Weizmann and very active in the colonization movement in, Moscow.

Judge Fisher stated that the Russian Zionists in Palestine consider the Jewish colonization movement in Russia favorably, believing that it ought to be encouraged. They believe that the Jewish colonization in Russia will prepare good Jewish material for the colonization in Palestine.

“The present unemployment situation in Palestine is only of a temporary nature. Palestine has very good economic possibilities. The difficulty of the situation lies in the fact that the Zionist leaders did not succeed in persuading the British government to consider the Jewish immigrants in Palestine as settlers,” he stated.

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