President Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth today called Japan’s new policy of anti-Semitism a tribute to the patriotism of Jews in the occupied islands. Praising Philippine Jews as “quiet, energetic and productive,” he expressed the hope that he would be able to work with them again after the war in accordance with the Philippine principle of religious freedom.
There are between 1,000 and 1,500 Jews in the Philippine Commonwealth. Several hundred came as refugees from Nazi Europe. President Quezon gave some of them land from his personal estate on the Island of Luzon, and took great interest and satisfaction in their progress as farmers. Others went into business.
On January 26, Berlin broadcast the following news items for distribution to German papers: “The Japanese military administration in Manila has issued a stern warning to Jews living in the Philippines. Owing to the lenient and magnanimous attitude of the Japanese authorities, it is stated that the Jews have tried to obtain advantages for themselves and made themselves guilty, not only of black market dealings and profiteering, but also of attempted espionage. In the future the authorities will meet such attempts with drastic measures.” The Tokyo and Japanese-controlled Manila bodies echoed this report.
PRAISES LOYALTY OF PHILIPPINE JEWS; SAYS JAPAN IS APING GERMANY
In his statement today, replying to the Japanese anti-Jewish allegations, President Quezon said: “Translated from the crude tongue of Nazi-Japanese propaganda, these words are a tribute, unintended, to be sure, to the Jewish citizens and residents of the Philippines. They testify to the fact that the Jews are standing loyally and firmly at the side of the other groups in the Philippine population, risking their lives and their goods in opposition to the Japanese invaders. I am proud of this evidence of the rightness of the Philippine principle of religious freedom. It proves that all the religions in my beloved country are helping each other and fighting together in the cause of freedom.
“The people of the Philippines have never been guilty of the barbarous and divisive error of religious bigotry. Ever since the commonwealth was established, the majority of the Filipinos, who are Catholics, have lived peacefully and in friendship with their non-Catholic neighbors – whether Protestant, or Jewish, or Mohammedan, or Pagan. The small number of Jews in the Philippines is a respected section of our population. After Hitler introduced official persecution into Germany, we offered our hospitality to a number of refugees, who came to the Philippines and quickly adjusted themselves to our way of life. These people were quiet, energetic and productive. They have become a welcome and loyal part of the Filipino population.
“Now the Japanese are aping Nazi Germany by manufacturing their own anti-Jewish propaganda and persecution. I am convinced that Tokyo has announced this policy as a cheap way of pleasing the fanatical Nazis who are its allies, and as a trick to destroy the unity of Philippine resistance. The Nazi propaganda machine is undoubtedly exploiting this story to justify its brutal philosophy among those of its own citizens who are beginning to doubt.
“There is a sharp contrast between the principle of equality as practiced by the Filipino people, on the one hand, and the principle of prejudice and discrimination practiced by the Nazis and Japanese, on the other. This contrast marks one more sector in the moral conflict underlying this war. We shall be victorious in this as in every other sector. I look forward to the day when all the peoples of the earth are again able to work together peacefully and fruitfully to build a better 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.