by Herman Bernstein Contributing Editor
Former Ambassador James W. Gerard is quoted in the New York Times as having said in an address before the forum of a temple in East Orange, N. J., as follows:
“As a friend of the Jewish people I want to state that if the American nation ever gets the idea that the Jewish race and communism are synonymous there is a possibility of a pogrom in the United States that will make those of the Tsar’s era in Russia look like a small parade. The Jewish race is noted for its ability to build up culture and nations, and the members of the race have nothing in common with communism, which seeks to tear down culture and government.”
Stating that his remarks were based on his personal observations of a Communist gathering at Union Square, where a large majority of the participant were Jews, he added:
“I believe it is the duty of the responsible Jews of the country to devise some means of keeping the people of the United States from obtaining the idea that the Jews and the Communists are the same people by discouraging members of the race from embracing communism.”
Former Ambassador Gerard is a friend of the Jewish people. He has displayed his friendship on various occasions, and has combatted all forms of bigotry in this country as well as in foreign lands. He attacked the Ku Klux Klan years ago when that organization was menacing American institutions. He has fought these anti-American destructive forces not for the sake of his friendship for the Jews but rather for the sake of the welfare of this country.
Mr. Gerard has an effective way of saying things that attracts much attention in the press. His latest utterance, warning the Jews of America with regard to Communism in this country and pointing to the possibility of a pogrom that would make the Tsarist pogroms “look like a small parade,” may be misconstrued.
First of all, the Communist movement in America, like the bolshevist movement in Russia, could not under any circumstances be regarded as a Jewish movement. Just as Lenin and Stalin, Gentiles, were not regarded as Christians, so Trotzky and Kamenev, of Jewish origin, could not be regarded as Jews in the sense that they represented the Jewish people. Bolshevism in Russia was not a Christian movement merely because of the leadership of Lenin and Stalin and other non-Jewish Communist leaders. Much less ### it truthfully be styled a Jewish movement because of Trotzky, Kamenev and a few other Communist leaders of Jewish origin. The Jews among the Communists were as much opposed to Judaism as the non-Jews among the Communists were and are opposed to Christianity. They are combating religion in every form. Nevertheless, the Russian White Guards, monarchists and anti-Semites, endeavored to circulate all sort of false stories about the predominance of Jews in the Russian Communist ranks, and they branded Communism in Russia as a Jewish movement. They distorted the facts and included Gentiles in the “Jewish” list of Communist leaders.
American Jews, who are in the vast majority devoted to the ideals of America and who love this country for the opportunities of liberty and equality as deeply as those who trace their ancestry to the immigrants that came here on the Mayflower, cannot be held responsible for some of the Jews who have joined the communist ranks.
Responsible Jewish leaders cannot influence these communists as they cannot influence American Jews to change their Democratic or Republican political affiliations. The number of communists who happen to be of Jewish origin in this country is comparatively small. In Union Square, in the densely populated East side, a communist meeting would naturally be attended by a considerable number of “Jewish” communists. In other parts of the country, communist meetings are attended by larger groups of “Christian” communists. Communism in this country, as elsewhere, outside of Germany, has been considerably helped not only by the prolonged economic depression and unemployment but also by the outrages of Hitlerism. In this country, communism cannot hope for any success as long as America adheres to the American ideals that have made this country so great and powerful. To offset any of the movements of the extreme Right, such as Fascism, and of the extreme Left, such as Communism, America should practice genuine democracy and true social justice.
The warning about the possibility of a pogrom in this country is unfortunate. Anti-Semites here and abroad will undoubtedly use Mr. Gerard’s warning for their own purposes, distorting the meaning of his words and the motive behind his friendly warning. Pogroms can take place only in backward and uncivilized countries and even there they occur only when the governments or local authorities either organize, instigate or sanction such massacres. In this country such savage forms of barbarism are inconceivable.
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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.