Simon Dubnow, also spelled Semyon Markovich Dubnov
Dubnow, also spelled Semyon Markovich Dubnov
Russian Jewish Historian, Writer and Activist
I would not have interfered in this controversy if it did not concern one of the most vital problems resulting from the World War. After the peace treaties had officially recognized the East European Jewish groups as minorities whose rights are under the protection of the League of Nations, it is necessary to form a Jewish interterritorial organization to co-ordinate all the efforts to protect these rights in the different countries ? Poland, Roumania, Latvia, Hungaty, Lithuania. The German minority in Poland, Italy or Checko-Slovakia can appeal to Germany?s representatives in the League of Nations. The Jews have no representative in the League, and must therefore unite in one solid body which will serve as the Jewish mediator and seek to bring about complete fulfillment of the guarantees of the rights of minorities vouchsafed in the Treaties of Versailles in 1919.
It is a mistake to believe that Minority Rights means only national-cultural autonomy; no, it implies all kinds of rights of the minorities- citizens, political and cultural. For are not the Jews of Roumania or Poland fighting to-day that they should not be attacked in the streets, that their students should not be expelled from the schools, that the ?numerus clausus? should be withdrawn, that they should have access to government posts, etc.? When they ask for government subsidies for Jewish schools, is that illegal? Are not all minorities doing the same?
It is said that it is dangerous to consider the Jewish national groups in East Europe as national minorities because the word ?national? is not mentioned in the peace treaties in connection with the Jews, but even those assimilated, West European Jews, who argue thus, must also agree that the Jews are in all the countries at least a religious minority,? Dr. Dubnow continued. ?Can they overlook the fact that these rights are not safeguarded and not raise any protest ? Is it of no concern to the Chief Rabbi of France if a Jewish student is being attacked in Jassy or Bucharest, whether he be considered a member of a religious minority as he thinks, or as a member of a national minority as the unassimilated Jew thinks.
It is said that it is dangerous to form an international Jewish organization for the protection of Jewish minorities, but those who think so speak in the name of such organizations as the Joint Foreign Committee in London, the American Jewish Committee in America, the Alliance Israelite in Paris and other interterritorial Jewish organizations. Would it not be more tactful in the eyes of the world if the grievances of the Jews were voiced by only one all-powerful organization and not by five or six alliances or committees, who very often are not able to come to any understanding?
The Conference on Jewish Rights for the protection of Jewish Minorities must convene and Dr. Leo Motzkin and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise are to be commended highly for their initiative in calling a Conference consisting of representatives of all the Jewish organized parties, regardless of their political tendencies. A democratic committee should be selected by the Conference which will unite our forces in the difficult struggle for rights.
This is the only method for the Jewish leaders if they do not wish to return to the old method of secret diplomacy-?Shtadlonus? and to seeking degrading personal favors from ministers and diplomats, whose stay in power is so doubtful. One thing must not be forgotten before the war the Jew, each in his own country, fought for his emancipation or the fulfillment of the emancipation granted him, but to-day we have the right to appeal to the international bodies, which have guaranteed all minority rights in the rebuilt Europe.
Men must beware of looking upon religion as an ideal to be yearned for, it should be an ideal to be applied.