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Still Blundering

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With the following article, Rabbi Silver of Cleveland begins his series of contributions to the Sunday edition of The Jewish Daily Bulletin. In the case of this article, as in those of others which he will write for these columns, Rabbi Silver assumes full responsibility for the opinions expressed. This announcement is made not to enable The Jewish Daily Bulletin to evade responsibility, but in order that Rabbi Silver’s freedom of expression may not be under the constraint of any policy other than that of his own intelligence and courage.

The League of Nations has a genius for doing meaningless things in a big way. Such was its decision to create a Commission to look after the affairs of the Jewish refugees from Germany.

What the duties of this Commission will be remains obscure. Why the organized Jewish bodies of the world could not themselves look after the German-Jewish refugees as they had done in similar situations in the past remains equally obscure.

What is clear, however, is that by means of this Commission the League has washed its hands clear of the entire German-Jewish problem. This new Commission, unlike earlier commissions of the League on Greek or Russian refugees, will be an independent body divorced from the League which will never report its findings or its actions back to the League. Germany, should she ever decide to return to the League, will thus be spared all future embarrassment because the plight of its exiled Jews will never again come up before that international body.

The American Jewish Congress was so thrilled by this action of the League that it forthwith cabled its congratulations. It even took pains to give the League the gratuitous information that it regarded the separation of the new Commission from the League as a mere technicality, — a view not shared by any member nation of the League and certainly not by the German government which looked upon the separation as the very crux of the whole affair.

Thus the German-Jewish problem which should have been presented to the League exclusively as a political problem, was allowed to be disposed of and to peter out into a dubious philanthropic gesture — a Commission on Refugees! The political problem — the future status of the Jews within the Third Reich and their rights under the minority principle to which the League is pledged, was officially buried with appropriate and eloquent eulogies. The 1922 resolution on minority rights was solemnly re-affirmed but the new article which was to give point and relevancy to the re-affirmation and which was to make it specifically applicable to the position of the Jews in Germany viz: “The Assembly considers that the foregoing principles are applicable to all categories of nationalities who differ from the nation by their race, language and religion,” was thrown out without even a roll-call.

Germany received a great deal of unfavorable rhetoric at the 14th Assembly of the League but she scored a real political victory. Hereafter, no one will presume to raise on the floor of the Assembly or the Council of the League, the question of the treatment of the Jews in Germany. For has it not already been disposed of? All members of the League may now come to feel that they have fully discharged their duties in this matter. The United States, though not a member of the League, will be particularly gratified by the fortunate turn of events. The President will feel vastly relieved. He will now be able to continue his prodigious taciturnity in the conviction that the matter has been entirely disposed of; and his peripatetic ambassador, Mr. Norman Davis, will be free to continue his self-appointed mission of making friends in the world for Nazi Germany without the annoyance of the bothersome German-Jewish question.

The all important thing, it seems, is to make it easy for Hitler to get rid of his Jews. The Commission of the League will now help. The Jewish relief organizations here and abroad will help. Even the Jews of Germany are eager to help along in their own tragic expulsion. To judge by the newspapers, they are now getting behind a one-hundred percent Aryan steamship company which will facilitate the removal of Jews from Germany. By means of this patriotic act they hope to be readmitted into the good graces of the German government which will expedite still further their flight from Germany.

It is clear, of course, that the easier we make it for Hitler to drive the Jews out from Germany, the greater will be the temptation for Hitlers in other countries to do likewise. Why not? Once started, the League will be there to offer its good services. Jewish organizations will be on hand to raise funds and to finance the expulsion. It can all be done in such a nice, quiet and orderly fashion. Why hesitate?

This mass expulsion from Germany promises to be the best organized and most scientific Flight in our history, thanks to the intervention of the League and to the expert schnorrer-diplomacy of our own leaders. It will undoubtedly be hailed as an irrefutable precedent by all the expulsionist agitators of the future….

Perhaps it is not too late for the League, now that Germany has withdrawn, to re-open the minority rights question which was sidetracked at Germany’s insistence and to include in the new resolutions the critical clause which Germany vetoed. This would be a truly epochal achievement for the League, one worthy of its high purposes and one which might give a new turn to the political fortunes of the Jews in Europe.

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