Laski Sees Revival of Barbarism
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Laski Sees Revival of Barbarism

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The United States and England stand out as among “the civilized and liberal leaders of the world” if their attitude toward their Jewish citizens is any criterion, Neville Laski, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said Friday in a speech made under the auspices of the American Jewish Committee and broadcast over a CBS network.

Referring to persecution of the Jews in Germany, Austria and Poland as “a revival of barbarism,” Mr. Laski asserted the measures taken in Central Europe against the Jews are regarded in England as “a denial of humanity and a betrayal of civilization.”


“The spectacle of Jews reduced to an inferior grade of citizenship, ousted from civil and political life, deprived of the opportunities of advancement in education, in the professions, in business and in art, sent a shudder of horror throughout the length and breadth of my country,” he declared.

The cruel anti-Semitism of present-day Germany, Mr. Laski went on, is incomprehensible to most Englishmen in that “an organized government, aspiring for respect of other countries and even pretending to be superior to them, should, in these days, lend itself to the suppression of fundamental human rights and the physical and moral degradation of an unoffending section of a large community.”


“History,” he said, “tells us that in times of economic stress, under the bludgeonings of a spiritual and material depression, people of the baser sort look about for a scapegoat and vent their wrath upon a defenseless minority. What future history will not condone is that a government should methodically propagate race hatreds, and stimulate a racial arrogance that, unchecked, can only lead to a renewal in Europe of that war spirit and even actual war that is the daily fear of decent and civilized men and women everywhere.”

Dr. Morris D. Waldman, secretary of the American Jewish Committee, introduced the speaker.


Mr. Laski said the Fascist movement is making no headway in England, adding: “It will make none while British ideals live.” He predicted a similar failure in this country of those who are “misleading their followers into medieval bypaths of bigotry and ignorance.”

“The fate of democracy, indeed of civilization,” he declared, “rests with those countries who are prepared to continue to preserve the fundamental and inalienable rights of the individual. The experience of both our countries has shown that only in mutual understanding, only in amity among all the groups composing the interdependent society in which we live, only by putting into practice the ideals that make for the brotherhood of man, can we show our true devotion and loyalty to our country and our deepest concern for the peace of the world. On the basis of this common experience and common philosophy, we can look forward to a happier future.”

The chief hope for the rescue of Western civilization, Mr. Laski said, lies with the sanity of the English-speaking peoples in the midst of a world “filled with fears and alarms, with the threat of economic disaster and the shadow of war constantly hovering over us.”

“Jews naturally watch with great apprehension the tide of illiberalism that has arisen in so many parts of the world,” he pointed out.

“But we are equally concerned about these manifestations as loyal citizens of the countries in which we live. We recognize that there are dangers, not for Jews alone, but for the entire civilized world, in racialism run riot; in a Fascist philosophy that denies the basic rights of the individual and seeks to ride roughshod over religious conscience and stimulates the twin forces of arrogant nationalism and militarism.”


Guarantees of civil and religious equality were incorporated in the peace treaties signed at the conclusion of the World War, Mr. Laski related, because of a realization that the flouting by governments of “the most sacred of human rights” of its least fortunate citizens soon becomes an international danger “since arrogance and chauvinism feed on themselves.”

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