(By Our Warsaw Correspondent)
The interesting spectacle of a “trial” against the “fourth aliyah,” or middle class Jewish emigration to Palestine, was staged here a few days ago. This extraordinary event was in accordance with an old custom which prevails in East European countries.
The “trial” was based on the charges that the emigrants of the “fourth aliyah” went to Palestine being physically and morally unfit for the difficult role of pioneers, that they had only their own personal material interests in view, that they carried over to Palestine all the undesirable features of small trading as well as the whole mode of life in the diaspora countries of Eastern Europe.
These complaints against the “fourth aliyah” were aired at the public “trial” which began on October 2, before an audience of some 2,000, and at which several members of the “fourth aliyah” who had returned from Palestine after an unsuccessful attempt to settle there, were present as “witnesses.” The “judges” were Deputies Schwartz and Heller and Dr. Bernstein. The “prosecutor” was Deputy Levinson and the “defender” Dr. Gottlieb. Deputy Gruenbaum, former president of the Club of Jewish Sejm Deputies and Engineer Shashkes were also present in the capacity of “experts.”
Following the reading of the “act of accusation” by Deputy Levinson, the “witnesses” were called upon for cross-examination. David Landau, who was first to be questioned, declared in his replies to the “prosecutor” and the “judges” that he has been in Palestine three times and that at present one of his sons and a daughter are living there. Despite the fact that he was unable to settle in the country. Mr. Landau declared that he was still hopeful of doing so in the future. He contended that many of the business men who had settled there long ago are doing very well. He charged that the guilt for the failure of the “fourth aliyah” in Palestine falls largely on the Zionist Executive which has not given the “fourth aliyah” sufficient consideration.
Similar and other complaints were made by the next witness, named Wasserman, who stated that he made an effort to become a farmer in Palestine but did not succeed because he wanted to establish himself on an individual basis while the Jewish National Fund refused to grant him any land for that purpose, and he did not have enough money to buy his own land. In general, he said, he was reluctant to “bury” his money in land. Upon cross examination by Dr. Gottlieb, it appeared that the witness had absolutely no conception about farming and had no preparation whatsoever for such work.
The third witness, Landishtock, was in Palestine twice. The first time, he said, he went there to witness the opening of the Hebrew University, the second time he went there on business. But he was compelled to return. The reason, he declared, is that no attention is paid to artisans. Those in charge are concerned only with the left elements, he accused.
At the conclusion of the cross-examination of the witnesses Deputy Gruenbaum took the floor as an “expert.” There was no need, he stated, to accuse any individuals, even those who acted only in their own material interests. The core of the trouble lies in the conditions which brought about the deplorable situation regarding the “fourth aliyah.” The large emigration of 40,000 individuals in one year, the majority of whom settled in Tel-Aviv, was bound to bring about the land speculation. Questioned by Dr. Gottlieb, Deputy Gruenbaum declared that it would have been impossible to determine in advance which of the immigrants would remain in Palestine and which would return and that in a mass emigration it is practically out of the question to establish a system of selection. Moreover, Deputy Gruenbaum stated his opinion that in all likelihood the recent developments in connection with the “fourth aliyah” will be repeated again and that when the building of the Haifa port will begin it will constitute a second edition of Tel-Aviv.
At further sessions of the “trial” more “witnesses” and “experts” were heard. As a result of the “testimony” presented the “judges” brought in a verdict of “guilty.”
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.