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Zangwill Biss Farewell to New York Jews

December 20, 1923
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Many publishers, editors and contributors to the Jewish press of the United States, as well as the general press, were assembled on December 19, at the Hotel Brevoort in order to celebrate the Fourth Anniversary of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Mr. Jacob Landau, Managing Director of the Agency, opened the dinner and gave a brief sketch of the history of the Agency. The Jewish Telegraphic Agency was founded four years ago by Mr. Meer Grossman and Mr. Jacob Landau in London, and a few months later an office was opened in New York, to be followed by offices in Warsaw, and Berlin; recently, two new bureaus were added to the system, in Paris and Jerusalem.

Oswald Garrison Villard, publisher of The Nation, paid a tribute to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, expressing his high appreciation of the service of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. He said he was very much pleased that Zangwill had expressed the other day his regret that the United States had entered the war, a sentiment which he had expressed years ago. "I cannot help asking you", he continued, "whether if we had won the war, we could have paid with such a victory for some of the aftermaths such as this terrible wave of anti-Semitism, of nationalistic hatreds such as we have, never known before. I cannot think that any victory would have justified that. I do feel, however, that it behooves us to do everything in our power to combat those racial and nationalistic hatreds by printing the truth and in this news agency you have the opportunity to render profound service if you will stick to the regard for the truth and to give those of us in other journalistic walks of life the opportunity to turn to you for that truth which makes men free and gives hope of restoring the world of good will at least to the extent to which it had come before the war".

Dr. Stephen S. Wise, introduced by Mr. Landau as Toastmaster, said that in entering the room he had verily thought that the Messianic era had arrived, judging by the divergence of opinion represented there. He recalled a similar occasion some 25 years ago at which two Journalists" were present: Theodor Herzl and Max Nordau, for so they described themselves. "Herzl described himself as a journalist," said Dr. Wise, "adding that the journalist is the man who tills the story of today in order to make the history of tomorrow. Such a journalist was Herzl. Such another journalist was Nordau. Such journalists indeed I know some of you are.

"I wonder," he continued, "if you know of the significance of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency to the thought and life of our country of this time. I remember that in the ’80’s and ’90’s when I first began to read the Jewish and Yiddish press when I came upon an item concerning Jews in Persia, or Jews in Morocco, it seemed as if I were reading fairy tales. There was a sense of unreality and of unrelativeness to those farr off, impossible, incredible things…… Now, I feel a daily sense of contact with my Jewish brothers throughout the.

World and I believe that every Jewish family in America ought to see that daily bulletin of Jewish news, ought to renew and revive that sense of touch with the Jewish world which comes by getting first hand information."

Gaston Liebert, French Minister Plenipotentiary, interpreted his invitation to the J.T.A. dinner as a compliment to France which, he said, was the first European nation to recognize the political freedom of Jews. He appealed to American Jewry to display real sympathy for his country. "I think, "Mr. Liebert said, "that you, all Jews present here, know that France deserves on your part a real sympathy, that France was the first country in continental Europe to free the Jew; who gave them full, complete citizenship and treated them during the First Empire, as brothers, compatriots and citizens without any distinction whatever. This was confirmed not only in France proper out even in its possessions in North Africa.

"Jews have full access to all public functions, military, naval, diplomatic and others. We do not consider that we are citizens different from the others. We are all Frenchmen and brothers. You can not say that for all countries. There is no question of programs, massacres or persecutions with us. We consider Jews as brothers, as fellow-citizens and this is why I make the appeal tonight to our good friends that the Jewish Telegraphic Agency be fair in their judgment of France and the Frenchmen. I know they will always endeavor to tell the truth, that they are sincere in their efforts to tell the truth and nothing but the truth. I wish prosperity and good luck to the J. T. A."

Prof. Ludwig Stein, Foreign Editor of the "Vossische Zeitung," deplored the persecution of Jews in Germany and insisted that it is only due to Germany’s distress and not to any policy of the Government or constitution. He expressed the hope that American Jews would make efforts to alleviate the sufferings in Germany. "My pupils here," he said, "will know that I always defended not only the god of the cosmos, the god of nature, but more than this: the god of history. I see this god present here this evening in New York among the intellectuals who are represented here. I see him in the shape of events in 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella the same year as Columbus discovered America. Between these two facts my historical brain sees an intimate connection. Columbus discovered America in 1492 so that when Europe, the mother, becomes sick, she will have the daughter, America, to fall back on".

Israel Zangwill made what he called his farewell speech in New York as he is about to leave the city:

"This is my last speech in New York", said Mr. Zangwill, "on the Jewish question. I am leaving the city, but not the country, and if by any chance I make any more speeches I am going to talk on drama and life, a vague subject that will let me say anything I want to.

"Some of my critics", he said, "misconstrue me terribly. One man came to me the other day and said, "You have knocked American culture’. The phrase was itself so cultured that I gasped.

"Again I have been criticized for my talk on Palestine. The whole trouble with Palestine is that the Jews are not there. And to get them there, Jews have got to be there.

"There are schisms everywhere", he said. "The Jews are now in everything, but we have not yet got a Jewish Christian Scientist or a Jewish member of the Ku Klux Klan.

"They are going to Christianize America, they say, because Christ is their God. Christ may be their God but He is not the God of all America."

Referring to his plays, Zangwill said:

"I have plays running in four countries but none in New York because the Jews here are the dominating theatre influence. Mr. Ford might intervene as the god in the car".

Referring to religious unrest, he said:

"Dogmatic bulwarks are breaking down. They are arguing now that the Virgin birth might not be a necessarily accepted fact. The Virgin birth never came into the Christian religion until three, centuries after the birth of Christianity but now it is dogma".

He said the present church dispute was Judaism’s opportunity to show itself firm in its own faith.

James N. Rosenberg, Active Chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee emphasized in his speech the necessity for constructive Jewish news; of the need to have the world know not only the gloomy side of Jewish life but also the cheerful side; of the necessity not to cress personalities so much as achievements by Jews and so give the non-Jewish world a better understanding of Jewish life and achievements.

Mr. S. C. Lamport spoke of the high educational value a reliable news agency had in maintaining Jewish consciousness and in linking up the Jewish communities throughout the world.

Miss Sophie Irene Loeb dwelt on what has been achieved, especially in New York, in alleviating the misery of the Ghetto, Her own participation in this work she traced to the inspiration of Mr. Zangwill’s "The Children of the Ghetto".

Jacob Fishman, editor of the Jewish Morning Journal, traced the relations between that paper and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Reuben Brainin, veteran Jewish writer, sketched the development of the Jewish press and the tremendous growth which made possible the establishment of a world-wide Jewish news service.

William Edlin, Editor-in-Chief of the Day, spoke on the same theme, expressing the appreciation of his newspaper for the services of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

Among those present were Gedalia Bublick, editor, Jewish Daily News; Vicent G.Byers, City Editor, associated Press; Dr. L. Bramso., Head "Ort" Delegation, W. W. Davis, Pres. Ass’n. Foreign Press Correspondents; Prof. Isaac Hourwich, Paxton Hibben, Nansen Relief Committee; Dr. Nathan Krass; David Sarnoff, Vice-President American Radio Corporation; Philip Schuyler, Editor & Publisher; Mrs. Peter Schweitzer; Louis Wiley, Manager, the New York Times.

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