Praising the Soviet Union as the “political and human center of mankind,” James Waterman Wise, author and editor of Opinion, returned Friday on the Cunard liner Berengaria after having spent one month in visiting Jewish centers in Russia.
Mr. Wise, who was enthusiastic in his praise of the treatment received by the Russian Jews, described his visits to Jewish colonies in the Ukraine and the Crimea. He termed the progress in these colonies as “astounding” and declared that the Soviet government attempt to rehabilitate the declassed J#deserves the sympathetic at###n of American Jewry.
### declared that as far as reli###is concerned, the only dif###e between Russia and other #ies is that Judaism “is dying #ssia without the benefit of #abbinate.” He declared that #fference in the Jewish prob###etween the Soviet Union and ### countries is “what is being ### for the Jews in the Soviet ###; and what is being done to ### elsewhere.”
Wise, who was accompanied ###is wife, Mrs. Elizabeth K. Wise, also visited Poland, Austria and France. He contrasted the rapid progress in the Soviet Union with the situation in other countries, where the tide of Fascism is rising.
Conversations with leading diplomatic and political personages in Europe showed that the opinion is general that the Hitler regime in its present form is doomed and soon will be replaced by a monarchist dictatorship.
“The time that I have spent in the Soviet Union,” Mr. Wise said, “has convinced me that it constitutes the greatest experiment in history, in channeling the collective impulse along peaceful and constructive lines.
“Nowhere is this more evident than in the status of minority peoples and races. These enjoy not a grudging toleration superciliously extended, but fullest equality, in fact as in name, to maintain and develop their group identity. Witness the Jew: from his pre-revolutionary position as pariah and outcast, he has emerged into free citizenship. His cultural and national rights are guaranteed. Quotasâ€”legal and otherwiseâ€”to restrict his entry into the professions and institutions of higher learning are unknown; and discrimination against him is vigorously combatted as counter-revolutionary and anti-social.
NO SPECIAL PRIVILEGE
“This change is due to no special privilege extended to the Jew. He occupies no favored position in Russia, and there were years when he suffered extremes of hardship because of his middleman status prior to the revolution. But as stability has been restored, it has grown clear that anti-Semitism and Communism are irreconcilably opposed. For anti-Semitism is the economic ‘scape-goating’ of the Jew, whereas Communism represents the determination to end economic ‘scape-goatism,’ whether of the Jew or any other race or people.”
Despite the obvious difficulties in redirecting the interests and capabilities of the great mass of Russian Jews, Mr. Wise found that astounding progress has been made.
“Entire districts,” he stated, “have been converted into Jewish settlements and colonies, and conditions of life prevail which, while far from ideal, stand in shining contrast to those of pre-revolutionary Russia and to those of other East European lands today. Every effort should be made further to advance the work which is being done along these lines, and to ensure the fullest absorption of the Jew into the economic structure of the Soviet Union.
“The possibility of Biro-Bidjan as an autonomous home for great numbers of Jews cannot be known in full until after a most intensive investigation, but the preliminary work already done reveals a prospect of peace and decent living conditions which no Jew, who has the interests of his people at heart, can afford to ignore. The obviously sincere proclamation of the Soviet Union in regard to Biro-Bidjan deserves, and I believe will receive, a sympathetic hearing from the Jews of the world.”
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.