Mr. Wilson to Mr. Hay.
Athens , November 15, 1903.
Sir: Referring to previous correspondence on the Jewish question, I have the honor to inform you that I have received a “Report of the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration.” This commission was appointed by the King of England in March, 1902, to report upon “the character and extent of the evils which are attributed to the unrestricted immigration of aliens.”
In order to make a thorough study of the subject, one of the members of the commission, Major Evans-Gordon, was sent to inquire into the causes of immigration to England from the various countries.
For this purpose he visited Russia and Roumania to study the condition of the Jews, and the part of the report dealing with the latter country has caused a great deal of feeling there, as it has again stirred up the already troublesome Jewish question.[Page 707]
In Russia, it seems, Major Evans-Gordon finds that Jewish emigration is due partly to economic causes and partly to oppressive measures; in Poland, mainly to economic causes, while in Roumania he states:
The expulsive force is undoubtedly the intolerant attitude of the Government toward the Jews and the series of oppressive measures which, contrary to treaty engagements, have appeared upon the statute books of that country.
The Jewish question has been a burning one ever since Roumanian independence was granted, and even long before. At the time of the Berlin conference, in 1878, an attempt was made to place the Jewish subjects of Roumania upon a footing of equality with the other classes of the population.
The evident intention of the powers throughout the negotiations was to establish a complete religious and civil equality for the Jews. The policy of the Roumanian Government was then and is still directly opposed to this intention. Rightly or wrongly, they have always asserted that such equality, if given to the Hebrew race, would end in the subjugation of their country by an alien people, and far from complying with the conditions laid down by the great powers, their policy tends toward the suppression, political extermination, and expulsion of the Jews.
The value of the report of Major Evans-Gordon on the condition of the Jews in Roumania seems to me not to be great, as he spent less than a week in the country, principally in Sinaia, where there are no Jews, and the rest of his time in Bucharest. He did not see the condition of the Jews in the country districts, nor in the cities which are centers of Jewish life. Neither did he attempt to see the King, nor Mr. Sturdza, the prime minister, who from his long public service knows the country and its conditions better than any man in the kingdom. On the contrary, Major Evans-Gordon obtained all the information necessary for his report from Mr. Take Jonesco, the leader of the opposition, and from others of the same party. The opposition in Roumania always uses the Jewish question as a means of attacking the party in power, but, in spite of this fact, have never done anything to improve the condition of the Jews when the opportunity has come to them.
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An official report of this nature has caused much indignation, not only in Government circles, but in general, as the numerous newspaper articles showed, for it is felt that this report will have great weight abroad and that the country has been misrepresented. Objection is also made, and very naturally, to the unfavorable comparison between the condition of the Jews in Russia and Poland and those in Roumania. This objection seems well founded, in view of the Jewish massacres in Russia, while in Roumania the Jew is never in danger of personal violence of any sort.
That the condition of the Roumanian Jew is not so bad as it would seem to be from Major Evans-Gordon’s report, or as it is generally believed to be, seems to be shown by the fact that, according to statistics, while a certain number of Jews do emigrate from Roumania each year, yet the number in the country is constantly increasing, due to immigration from Russia and Austria.
The report does not take into consideration at all that, in the opinion of Roumanians of all classes, as well as of most foreigners who understand the conditions of the country, the restrictions placed upon the Jew in Roumania are absolutely necessary for their national preservation.
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I have, etc.,
Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.