The Jewish Question continues to mount the scale of public attention, attracting ever a higher type of mind to the discussion of its significance. When THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT first began to print some of the results of its research into the Question, the initial response was largely from those who disliked the Jew because he was a Jew. This class expected to find in THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT a spokesman for all their coarse humor and abuse.
The method that was followed by this paper, however, was not abusive enough, nor bitter enough to satisfy Jew-baiters and Jew-haters, and gradually a new response from another class began to be heard, which by this time has attained massive proportions. The better class of people, seeing that racial and religious prejudice had no part in the work, began to consider the Question with relation to our American life and the future of this nation as a Christian people.
Upon this ascent of the discussion to its proper plane, the better periodicals began to give thoughtful attention to the matter. These publications have been referred to in previous articles. There is to be added to the list the Century Magazine for September, which contains an article by Herbert Adams Gibbons which clearly intends to be fair and is certainly able, in spite of a difference of opinion that might exist with regard to some of the author’s conclusions. Mr. Gibbons states some matters more plainly than they have been stated outside the pages of THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, and some matters he states just as plainly; and he will be justified by the unprejudiced reader.
One of the most notable studies of the Jewish Question has come out of the University of the South, at Sewanee, Tennessee. It is entitled “Zionism and the Jewish Problem,” the author being the Rev. Dr. John P. Peters, formerly canon residentiary of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Morningside Heights, New York, also rector emeritus of St. Michael’s Church, New York, and professor of New Testament Languages and Literature in the University of the South. The article has been reprinted from the Sewanee Review and makes a brochure of 29 pages.
Dr. Peters begins with an historical sketch of the development of the two lines of thought among the Jews: the nationalistic which made for exclusiveness, and the religious which made for inclusiveness, and he describes the domination of the latter by the former with the coming of modern Zionism, which he finds to be racial and not religious. He says “the dominant control of the Zionist party is at present in the hands of those who are not religious but merely racial Jews.” He believes that the development of race-consciousness along these lines “must be inevitably in the end to make the Jews bad citizens of the United States or of any other country and to keep alive and increase the hostility to the Jews . . . .”
This monograph by Dr. Peters will repay study. By permission, THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT reprints the article from page 20 to the end, this portion being selected because it deals with Dr. Peters’ testimony as an eyewitness of certain conditions in Palestine: (The italics are ours, there being none in the university reprint.)
“The experiment of the Zionist homeland is now being tried. It is too early to determine fully how it will work, but it is at least of interest to consider its manifestations so far. My earliest contact with Zionism and Zionistic influences in Palestine dates from 1902. When I first visited Palestine, in 1890, the Jews in Jerusalem were almost exclusively of old oriental Sephardic families. Jerusalem was then still the old Jerusalem within the walls. There were no houses without. Jewish colonization, economic and philanthropic in character, had just then begun on the Sharon plain, but what little there was in the way of colonization was a feeble, unsuccessful exotic—an attempt to replace the persecuted Jews of Russia on the land, where, however, the Jew, unused to manual and especially farm labor, sat under an umbrella to protect himself from the sun and engaged native Syrians to do the work.
“On my next visit, in 1902, more colonies had been planted, and a serious effort was being made to turn the Jewish colonists into farmers. The majority of Jews who had come to Palestine, however, were settled about Jerusalem, and the new Jerusalem without the walls was larger, in space at least, than the old Jerusalem within. The Alliance Israelite had developed there splendid schools to teach agriculture, and manual and industrial arts. I was urgently solicited by the management to visit and inspect these schools. Here I found Jew, Moslem and Christian working side by side without prejudice. This was, in my judgement, the best work of any sort being done in Palestine, for two reasons: first, these schools were teaching the dignity and the worth of manual labor, which the oriental of all sorts had theretofore despised, regarding it as unworthy of any man of intelligence or capacity; secondly, because they brought Moslem, Christian and Jew together on a plane of common work and common worth, the most valuable agent for the breaking down of those ancient prejudices, religious, racial and social, which have been the curse and bane of the land.
“I was asked to put this down in writing because, I was told, great pressure was being exerted—I regret to say, especially from America—to prevent the management from continuing this particular work of teaching the Jew, Christian and Moslem on the same plane, the demand being that the Jew should not be brought into such contact with the Moslem and the Christian, and that he alone should be trained, that he might not be infected, as it were, by the others, and that they might not be prepared to compete with him for possession of the land. This spirit I met in a more thoroughly organized and offensive form on my latest visit in 1919 and 1920.
“I found immense progress in the development of agricultural colonies. There was still difficulty in persuading the Jew, except only the African or Arabian Jew, to do the actual work of the colony, but colonies were prospering, and fruit-culture, vine-culture and especially the manufacture of wine and liquors on a grand and most scientific scale, had progressed wonderfully. In general, the land occupied by those colonies was not in a proper sense ancient Jewish land. They were on the Sharon and Esdraelon plains and in the extreme upper end of the Jordan Valley; but those regions were being enriched, and the country at large benefited by the colonists. The great bulk of the Jews were still gathered in Jerusalem as heretofore, and there were on one hand the intellectuals and on the other the parasitic or pauperized Jew, what would ordinarily be regarded as the very best and the very worst. Life in the colonies was often very sweet and very lovely, a wholesome, normal family life, and an exhibition in peace and prosperity of what religious Judaism at its best may be.
“In Jerusalem one found the extremes of intensely narrow and bitter orthodoxy, and unbelief with extreme Bolshevik radicalism. Here, too, aggressive Zionism manifested itself in an attitude of bumptiousness and aggressiveness. The country was for the Jew. It belonged to him and he would shortly take possession. One was made to feel that one’s presence in the land was objected to. The Hebrew press contained angry diatribes against the existence of Christian schools and missions. The attitude taken by these Zionists at first alarmed, then aroused and irritated enormously, the native population, both Christian and Moslem, making the Jew an object of dread and hatred as he had never been before. I had opportunities to talk on intimate and friendly terms with leaders in all camps, albeit I was unable, through language difficulties, to communicate with the rank and file as freely as I should like to have done. I myself felt the annoyance and in some places the danger of the animosity aroused. Under government order I was not permitted to visit certain sections of the country on account of the raids or uprisings of the Arabs, partly due to animosity roused by their apprehension of the Jewish invasion, and partly due to banditry, which took advantage of that as an occasion. In other parts it was difficult to travel, because any stranger, unless he could prove the contrary, was suspected of being an agent of the Zionists, spying out the land for possession by the Jews. It was difficult to obtain lodgings or food, and there were sometimes unpleasantly hostile demonstrations on account of these suspicions. Everywhere it was believed that the Jew by unfair means was seeking to oust the true owners and to take possession of their land.
“In Jerusalem it was asserted that the Zionist funds, or the Jewish funds which the Zionists could influence or control, were used to subsidize Jewish artisans or merchants to underbid Christians and Moslems and thus oust them by unfair competition, and that similar means were being used to acquire lands or titles to lands. It was even believed by many that the English authorities were unduly favoring and helping the Jews in these endeavors, as is shown by a letter from a Christian in Jaffa published in the Atlantic Monthly:—
“‘We are already feeling that we have a government within a government. British officers cannot stand on the right side because they are afraid of being removed from their posts or ticked off.’
“From time immemorial the Jews the world over have contributed for the help of pious Jews in Jerusalem and the other sacred cities, Hebron, Tiberias and Safed, the so-called halukha, or dole, in return for which the Jews in those cities were to win merit for themselves and those who contributed to their support by study of the law, prayer and pious observances. St. Paul carried over the same practice into the Christian Church, causing alms to be collected in the different congregations to be transferred to Jerusalem for the benefit and support of the Christians living there. To this day annual collections are taken in the Roman Catholic churches throughout the world which go to the Franciscans for the same use in Jerusalem. The Greeks and Armenians have like customs. In the past there had been no prejudice with regard to these doles, but now, it was claimed, the Zionist committees were using the moneys thus collected or contributed to organize and help their people in a systematized attempt to gain the upper hand in the land.
“Perhaps the attitude of the extremists who possessed the dominating power in the community can best be shown by the utterances of one of their own organs, written in Hebrew. (It should be stated that the English edition of this journal was, as a rule, quite different in its contents from the Hebrew edition. One article, entitled, ‘Malignant Leprosy,’ is a denunciation of parents who allow their children to go to any school except those under the control of Jews and conforming to the demands of the local Zionist Committee. Parents are notified that a list has been made by the Zionist Committee of all children who are attending foreign schools, even though they are not subjected to any religious teaching, and it is demanded that they shall be withdrawn from those schools and placed in schools where they shall be taught the Hebrew language, customs and traditions, and kept separate from contamination by the Gentile, with his different ways and customs. Those teaching in foreign schools, or schools not complying with the conditions laid down by this committee, are ordered to withdraw from their positions. The ‘malignant leprosy’ is the contamination by the outside world which results from education with the Gentiles. It is admitted in this article, in answer to protests, that the opportunities in some non-Jewish schools are better than in the Jewish schools—for example, in the teaching of foreign languages, so important for conducting business or securing employment; that there is greater diligence in instructing; and better hours and better care of pupils. Nevertheless, parents are informed that they must sacrifice for the sake of their race those chances for their children, doing their best meanwhile to raise their own schools to the higher level. Those who are failing to live up to these ideals are designated as ‘traitors’ and by other opprobrious names, and the article ends with this threat of persecution to any who do not obey the orders of the Zionist Committee thus conveyed:
“‘Let him know at least that it is forbidden him to be called by the name of Jew and there is to him no portion or inheritance with his brethren, and if after a time they will not try to reform, let them know that we will fight against them by all lawful means at our disposal. Upon a monument of shame we will put their names for a reproach and blaming forever, and until the last generation shall their deeds be written. If they are supported, their support will cease, and if they are merchants, with a finger men will shoot at them, and if they are Rabbis, they will be moved far from their office, and with the ban shall they be persecuted, and all the people of the world shall know that there is no mercy in judgement.’
“This was followed about a month later by a second article, also in Hebrew, entitled ‘Fight and Win,’ which announced that the threatened persecution would now be carried out:
“‘The names of the traitorous parents and of the boys and girls who have not taken notice of the warnings ought to be published at once and without delay, in the papers and on public notices, placarded at the entrance of every street. The list of these names should be sent to the heads of every institution and to the rulers of the synagogues, to hospitals, to those who arrange and solemnize marriages, and to the directors of the American Jewish Relief Fund, and so on. It should be the title of “Black List” and “Traitors of Their People.” An order should go forth to all, and if one of these men has a son, he shall not be circumcised; in case of death the body is not to be buried among Israelites; religious marriages will not be sanctioned; Jewish doctors will not visit their sick; relief will not be given to them when they are in need, if they are on the list of the American relief fund—in short, we must hunt them down until they are annihilated. Men will cry to them: “Out of the way, unclean, unclean!” Because these people will be considered as malicious renegades, there can be no connecting link between them and us. Again, the society of young men and girls of Jerusalem must accept it as a principle to expel from their societies all those who visit these schools; to point the finger of scorn at them; and to make them see that they are put out of the camp. These traitor scholars, boys and girls, must understand themselves that they are sinners and transgressors, who are isolated, driven from all society, separated from the Jewish community, after they have once despised Israel and its holiness, and it will be interdicted to all sons of Israel to come near them . . . . War against the traitors among our people. War by all means legal. War without pity or mercy; that the traitors may know that they must not trifle with the sentiment of a people. Fight and win.’
“The Zionist Committee, of whom one was an American, followed this by a printed announcement that the time of grace had passed and that forthwith the names of those who were still refractory would be posted publicly on street-corners, and the boycott begin. Miss Landau, a devout Jewess, the head of the best and highest Jewish school for girls in the city, the Eva Rothschild School, one of those, however, whose pupils and teachers were threatened under these rulings because they would not follow the dictates of the Zionist Committee, appealed to the civil authorities. The committee was haled into court and the threatened boycott enjoined.
“With such an attitude on the part of Zionist leaders in Jerusalem it might be expected that violence would ensue. Easter is a time of great excitement and unrest in Jerusalem for Christians, Jews and Moslems alike, for with Easter coincide the Jewish Passover and the Moslem pilgrim feast of Nebi Musa, when Moslems gather from all over Palestine to hear sermons in the Haram Esh-Sherif, and then march to the so-called tomb of Moses near the Dead Sea. The religious excitement of that season which vents itself in curses of each against the others, is always likely to produce physical outbursts if the cursers come into contact with one another. The Turks wisely segregated at that time each religion in its own quarter. This, in spite of warnings and requests from the Moslem religious leaders, the English failed to do, either through ultra-confidence in the pax angelicana, or because of objections from Jewish representatives against such segregation as applied to them. For days beforehand hot-heads among the Jews and Moslems were inciting to riot, and in their quarter Jewish trained bands were preparing for the conflict, a preparation of which Moslems from long wont probably had no need. On Easter morning, 1920, the fanatical Moslems of Hebron arrived at the Jaffa gate with their sacred banner, singing their songs of religious intolerance. There numerous Jews were waiting to greet them. The English Tommies with their officers were all in church. Whose insults were the worst and who struck the first blow is not clear. Battle was speedily joined. The Jews were better armed, with guns against the Moslem knives; but the Moslems were the better fighters. The city within the walls was speedily in their hands. The Jews living there were the old-time Sephardic families, dwelling close packed in miserable slums, with no sympathy with Zionism, peaceful and quite unprepared. Moslem fury vented itself on these poor wretches. Without the walls the Jews were in the vast majority. All told, by official count there were at that time 28,000 Jews, 16,000 Christians and 14,500 Moslems in Jerusalem. What the Moslem did within the walls the Jew endeavored to do without the walls. Before my eyes an Arab camp just below the great Jewish quarters was set upon, burned and plundered, the poor inhabitants fleeing for their lives while guns popped from the Jewish quarter. Two men were killed there. When the troops reached the scene the great bulk of rioters whom they rounded up were Jews. The subsequent court proceedings also seemed to place the chief responsibility for the outbreak on them. The major sentences were equally divided between Jews and Moslems, but of the criminals who received lighter sentences the majority were Jews. For a week we lived in a state of siege, not allowed to pass in or out of the city gates, or to show ourselves on roof or balcony after sundown, and for months there were guards at every turn, assemblies were prohibited and there was continual danger of a new outbreak.
“The appointment of Sir Herbert Samuel, a Jew, as governor of the new protectorate under the Zionist Mandate, greatly increased the excitement. In Moslem towns like Nablus it was openly said in my presence that no Jew might enter the place and live. The Christians, who had taken no part in the riots, were nevertheless to a man in sympathy with the Moslems, and one saw the curious spectacle of Cross and Crescent making common cause. It was prophesied that should Sir Herbert come as governor, he would never enter Jerusalem alive. In point of fact, he landed at Jaffa and came up to Jerusalem under strong guard, with machine-guns before and behind, and the following week made a visit to Nablus and Haifa in the same manner. That was the situation when I left Palestine. Sir Herbert had at that time just issued his declaration and his interpretation of the mandate. English officers and officials almost to a man were against the Zionist Mandate, and their utterances in many cases were extraordinarily frank. Some of the most prominent and best-trained sought transfers to other posts because of their feelings on the matter, and some resigned.
“It has since that time been extremely difficult to obtain reliable information of prevailing conditions. It would seem, however, from all the information I have been able to gather, that Sir Herbert, who is, I believe, not himself a Zionist, has acted with singular tact and discretion. He has shown great fairness and indicated his intention to govern with impartiality, granting no special favors to any, nor allowing outside committees or local organizations to dictate or assume to dictate unfair policies. When I left Palestine, Jews were leaving in considerable numbers, especially those claiming American citizenship, so that the outgo was larger than the income. Since then, if I may judge by reports, Jews have been coming in, chiefly from eastern European countries, some parasitic and objectionable, others of a higher type. Some of the latter, graduates of universities, both men and women, may be seen engaged in hard manual labor, I am told, building roads and the like, not despising to do such work in order to secure their Palestinian home and fulfill their aspirations.
“It is too soon to judge the future of the Zionist experiment in Palestine. If the English authorities will give fair play to all, and if the Jews will pursue the old policy of the Alliance Israelite and its schools of seeking to benefit all dwellers of the land alike, to break down, not to build up, religious, racial and social prejudices, then the Jew may perhaps overcome the present prejudice against him, and his invasion of Palestine may prove to be a blessing both to himself and to the land. The methods of those in control of the Zionist movement in Palestine while I was there were, however, aimed in the opposite direction and tended to make the Jew an object of hatred and violence wherever the opportunity for violence offered. This has been illustrated again by the recent bloody riot in Jaffa which compelled the expedition of a British warship to that port; and the order issued holding up all immigration shows that not Jaffa only but the whole country is unsafe. The Jews in Palestine are now protected only by force of British arms. Were the British troops withdrawn, the Jews would be exterminated by the angry natives, of whom the Moslems alone outnumber them in the ratio of more than ten to one; and with such action the neighboring countries would sympathize, yielding ready assistance if any were required. Mesopotamia and Egypt are seething with disaffection against British rule, and racial-religious ferment, and Palestine is to them and to the Arabs of Arabia a holy land included in the heritage of Islam. Moslem India also feels this keenly, and the British have been obliged to withdraw Moslem Indian troops from Palestine, because they will not fight fellow-Moslems.
“In this country the Jewish problem which we have hitherto had to face is not a result of religious antipathy. Religiously, politically, and economically, the Jew has the same opportunity as everyone else. The Jewish problem here has been merely a matter of social prejudice, resulting from the extremely difficult task of amalgamating with great rapidity an enormous population, alien in race, culture, custom and habit. In 1880 there were, according to Jewish statistics, 250,000 Jews in this country. The Jews now claim 3,500,000, for the most part an undistributed mass huddled together in a few of the great cities—one-third of them in New York. Coming in such great numbers in so short a time and herding together thus, intentionally or unintentionally they help one another to resist the process of Americanization. This enormously increases the incidence of social prejudice. Those who have no conscious prejudice either of religion or of race, are in danger of imbibing or developing such prejudice as a method of protection of their institutions, their traditions and their habits. The Zionist movement, with its intentional development of race consciousness and race peculiarity on the part of the Jew, is an additional obstacle against the efforts of those Jews and those Christians who are seeking to break down prejudice and to bring Jew and Christian together within a common recognition of the Golden Rule: that each should treat the other as he, in like instance, would wish to be treated by him. One of the greatest of English Jews, honored and respected by Jew and Christian alike for his learning, his philanthropy and his godly piety, says of this racial-political Zionism that it has broken his heart, and set the clock backward for his people a hundred years. The Christian lover of his country and his fellow-men may well express a similar feeling on his side.”
[THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 17 September 1921]