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William Gorman

American Jewish Conference Reveals
Terrible Plight of World Jewry

(September 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 39, 29 September 1943, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The American Jewish Conference that met in New York City at the end of August was a significant and impressive landmark in the history of the Jews of this country. It was the first time in twenty-five years that a gathering of such a size had taken place.

The more than five hundred delegates represented higher than ninety per cent of Jewish organizations, encompassing an estimated two and a quarter million people. Nor was publicity lacking. The New York Times, well known for its indifference to the struggles of minority races (Jews and Negroes alike) front-paged the conference twice.

Even the New York capitalist politicians, keeping their ear to the ground and realizing that elections are not far away, came out a week after the conference to request the government to help the Jewish victims of Nazi brutality.

Yet in spite of these superficial signs of momentary success, the conference was a marked failure. More than ever, the Jews today are victims of total reaction and unparalleled anti-Semitism. In contrast with this all-decisive moment, the conference was only an exhibition of futile words, gestures for “unity,” dramatic scenes and endless, speeches.

In short, the conference did not bring the wracked Jews of Europe one inch nearer to their salvation.

In a Quarter of a Century

It is obvious that the position of the Jews has changed drastically and tragically since the First World War. At that time, the Jews, although numerically not large, had a disproportionate influence in Europe and America.

In Eastern Europe, in the Balkans, Poland and Russia they made up almost the entire middle class, a vital part of the rising capitalist states. In Western Europe and America the

Jews made up a not unimportant section of the capitalist class and of the middle class intelligentsia, journalists, propagandists, civil servants, writers and teachers.

What has happened in the interim of twenty-five years?

Very simply, the Jewish economic and social position in Europe has so deteriorated that the Jews have ceased to play any economic or political role whatever. Instead, a rotting European capitalism has made Jewry into a permanent scapegoat, held responsible for the hunger, war and misery that it produces. Just as in Czarist Russia, every time the corrupt and degenerate monarchy faced the anger of the masses, it would rouse the “Black Hundreds,” who would channelize, this anger into pogroms on the Jew, so too the Southern Bourbons and the Detroit auto magnates, fearing the consequences of unity of the black and white worker, incessantly fan the flames of race hatred.

The impoverished merchant and professional classes of the semi-feudal Balkans and imperialist Germany were now exhorted to rob, plunder and murder their Jewish competitors. The “foreign” Jewish capitalists were squeezed out by the native ruling class. With their wealth confiscated, their merchants boycotted, their intelligentsia ghettoed, their workers chronically unemployed, the Jews lost all influence in Eastern Europe.

The Terror Against the Jews

In Nazi Germany, the process was swifter, and the terror better organized by the totalitarian capitalist government.

In France, the same process was to culminate in Petain’s anti-Jewish laws.

In England and America, anti-Semitism is undoubtedly rising, and the economic dislocation of Jewry has been hastened by the war. If we do not have government-sponsored pogroms, economic pauperization of the Jewish masses, it is only because we are not yet in the throes of a social upheaval. The Allied economy, compared to that of pre-war Germany and Poland, is relatively healthy. But the American and British ruling classes are holding their Coughlins and Mosleys on leash for the ever-threatening tomorrow, when they will have to defend their wealth in the same manner as did the Polish, German and French capitalists, by pogroms, hooliganism, the murder and expropriation of Jewry.

The liberal New Republic, writing on the Jewish problem, stated:

“It is an astonishing and disquieting fact that during the long series of negotiations and conferences ... in Munich, which were marked by a constant stream of major concessions to the Nazis, no serious attempt was made by the democratic governments to obtain at least a modification of anti-Jewish barbarism ... There were at times, on the contrary, a marked impatience in official circles with the agitation against the Nazi policy of persecution ...”

Evian and Bermuda

Is it any wonder that the Evian conference for refugees, which met in 1938, is hardly remembered by anybody, least of all by the wracked Jewry of Europe! The dignified representatives of the leading capitalist countries got together to convince each other why their respective countries could NOT take in any refugees! And not very must later, Earl Browder, pressed against the wall by a Jewish newspaper columnist, had to admit that Soviet Russia did not allow admission to any sizable number of refugees!

The Jews, fleeing from fascist terror, were left to drown in the seven seas – on the typhus-ridden ghost-ship St. Louis, on cattle boats in the Danube, on the Struma only seventy miles from shore, on the Patria in the very harbors of Palestine!

Even the Nazi paper, Völkischer Beobachter, gloats over the anti-Semitism of the so-called democratic countries. On June 20, 1943, it wrote:

“For years the democratic world has had time to demonstrate in action its alleged love for Jewry by opening its frontiers to them.”

And when the victims of Nazi brutality landed “illegally” in Palestine they promptly became victims of British imperialist brutality. The immigrants were clubbed, herded into concentration camps and even transported to Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean, where they were left to die of malaria!

Only two successive general strikes by the Jews of Palestine have obtained a more tolerable treatment for the impoverished, tortured Jewish immigrants.

And now we have the latest mockery – the Bermuda Conference. Originally planned to be held in Montreal, it was packed off to the island of Bermuda so that nobody could witness the empty gestures of its organizers. Five years have elapsed between the cynical Evian Conference to the fraudulent Bermuda Conference. In that time, approximately three million Jews were murdered. In that time the Allies have neutralized entire countries, bribed politicians, invaded a continent, but have not carried out one concrete action to save the Jews from being slaughtered.

This, then, is the terrible reality facing Jewry today. Did the American Jewish Conference realize it? Did they formulate a consistent program and methods of struggle to defend the very physical existence of the Jewish people and for the ultimate end of anti-Semitism and persecution? Hardly!

These problems we will consider in another article.

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