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A controversy involving the question of “separatism” has arisen among the Jews in Paris, as a result of charges made by “I’Universe Israelite,” organ of official French Jewry, that the presence of foreign Jews and of a Yiddish press in Paris is the cause of anti-Semitic feeling and of the recent anti-Jewish outbreak in the Jewish quarter of Belleville.
In a recent issue “I’Universe Israelite” wrote:
“We must not make a pretense of not knowing anything about this new problem in our midst. The Jews of Paris are aware of the existence of this problem of the foreign Jews in Paris. The Parisian population is on the whole intelligent and ‘bon enfant.’ It would have been possible to explain to it who and what the Jewish emigrants are, and it would have shown them pity, if not sympathy. To do this should have been the duty of the Press. But we must declare that it is essential that the emigrants should adapt themselves to their new life here and try not to shock their neighbors. Who can make this clear to them? Their Yiddish papers? But is not this special Yiddish press sold in the streets just the very sign of the separatism which is so resented by the people? We propose that this question should be examined by ‘Trait-d’Union,’ the new society which was founded for the sake of finding a way of approach between the French and the foreign Jews.”
The “Pariser Hajnt,” the Yiddish daily of Paris, published an editorial on August 31, replying to the complaint of “I’Universe Israelite.”
“The organ of official French Jewry in referring to the anti-Jewish distrubances at Belleville last week,” the “Hajnt” writes, “asks in what respect the foreign Jews offend the sense of decency of the Paris population. Is it we wonder, because of the large number of Jewish drunkards in the streets, or of Jewish apaches? We hardly think so. Or is it because of the religious separatism which leads the Jewish immigrants to keep their businesses closed when others are open? The organ of the Consistory knows that the extent of Sabbath observance and Kashruth among the immigrants in Paris does not go so far as to give cause for alarm. The special Yiddish press it suggests is a sign of separatism. But there are newspapers sold in the Paris streets which are published in dozens of languages. The Russians alone have four daily newspapers in Paris, and there are English papers, Polish, Greek and other papers. They are displayed openly in the kiosks, and there has never been any suggestion that they shock the public taste. We have never heard of a Russian leader saying that reading a Russian paper in Paris is a sign of separatism. It is only among the Jews that such a thing is said.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.