The anxiety of the French Government to avoid creating a “Jewish problem” in Madagascar if Jewish settlement on a large scale were carried out there is revealed by Leon Alter, a member of the Polish Madagascar mission and a Jewish authority on emigration, in a long article in the Polish democratic journal, Epoka.
Mr. Alter declares that the Polish delegation was informed by the French authorities that one of the conditions of the settlement of the Jews was that they should be confined to an area. If the Jews overran the island, they would be deported, it was stated, because France did not wish to create a “Jewish problem” on the island.
“The colonization problem of Madagascar,” Mr. Alter says, “does not only concern the question of choosing the right province for colonization and of securing the cooperation of the French Government. It is, in the first place, a question of selecting the right human material and of creating an organization which should supply all the necessary financial backing for the scheme. The colonization of the Jews will be particularly difficult since they consist of an urban element which is not bound to the soil and which requires a long period of instruction and assistance to prevent them from overrunning the whole island which would eventually lead to their being deported from Madagascar.
“It is further necessary to remember that Jewish colonization has given positive results only where other tendencies of an emotional and idealistic character were at play, such as in Palestine, for example. But even in Palestine only 120,000 Jews have immigrated in the last 18 years, and of these only 25 per cent, i.e., 30,000, were settled on the land according to the most optimistic data supplied by Zionist circles. On the other hand, the largest Jewish colonization society ICA, which has acquired in the Argentine the most fertile tracts of country, only succeeded in settling 3,000 Jewish families in the last 30 years, who, together with their relations and artisans, amount altogether to 30,000 souls. These dry figures from the history of Jewish colonization must dispel all illusions held by other people who regard colonization as the only solution of the Jewish problem in Poland.
“If, however, an organization to colonize Madagascar is in time established, then it must be remembered that France is anxious to colonize Madagascar not for imperialist but for humanitarian reasons. Both the French central authorities and the French authorities in Madagascar are entirely free of any racial prejudice, and this a fact that must be particularly emphasized at the present moment.”
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.