JANUARY 13, 1950
THE CANADIAN JEWISH REVIEW
The Exodus Of An Entire
Community With A History Of 2,000 Years
By Dr. Maurice L. Perlzweig, World Jewish Congress Consultant
To The United Nations
The Jewish community in the various territories which constitute Libya dates back to Biblical times. Tripoli has become the port of exit for the many Jewish communities %hich two or three years ago had been situated in all parts of Tripo-Htania and Cyrenaica. Only a handful of Jetfs remain in Beng-hasi, the ct�|tal of Cyrenaica, while a score or more of Jewish communities in the interior of Tripolitania have been totally .evaluated.
Thousands of people have streamed into the ancient ghetto of Tripoli, and are being steadily and systematically transported from that city to Israel. This extraordinary phenomenon, the exodus of an entire community with a history of two thousand years,
has escaped the notice of the Western world, chiefly because the American press is completely unrepresented in Tripoli.
The significance of this extraordinary exodus for the forthcoming'discussions on the former Italian colonies has been lost to public opinion in the Western world. I can put the situation with brutal simplicity. The Jews, and this applies also to other minorities, are completely without confidence in the proposed arrangements for the future of these territories which have emerged from the discussions among several of the great powers.
If any thought has been given to the problem of human rights or to the protection of minorities, no evidence of it has appeared in any
CANADIAN GENERAL ELECTRIC
of the statements which have been made. The great powers seem to be concerned only with questions of sovereignty and strategy. The question is now being asked in these colonies, and not by Jews alone, whether the Western advocacy of human rights is only a tactical incident in the 'cold war', or whether it represents an integral part of the policy of Western democratic powers.
This skepticism springs from a tragic experience. During the past few years, the Jews of Tripolitania have twice been subjected to murderous and unprovoked assaults. What will happen when the troops of the occuping power leave ? Last May I twice warned the Political Committee of the United Nations, in the clearest language, of the dangers of the situation and asked for measures for the protection of minorities in accordance with the provisions of the Chapter. The Jews of Tripolitania know that Britain and the United States were among the powers that opposed my right to appear before the Political Com-mitec. Although this opposition was unsuccessful, the resolutions which were finally submitted to the General Assembly were totally devoid of any proposals for the protection of minorities. It is small wonder that Jewish communities in the interior have abandoned or'destroyed the properties and institutions which they have built up over centuries and have decided to go while the going is good.
It is a devasting commentary on the failure of the United Nations, under the leadership of the great powers, to safeguard the rights of minority groups. And this is one case in which the United Nations, under the leadership of democratic powers, has a complete and unfettered opportunity to safeguard these rights. In the name of these otherwise defenseless people, I make a most solemn appeal to democratic statesmanship to take steps before it is too late to repair this wrong.
On the day following my arrival, I visited the great synagogue in the ancient ghetto, among other institutions. There was no announcement, but the* news of my arrival TuuTqtrickly "spread through the ghetto. The synagogue was packed from floor to ceiling, and I had to fight my way through the narrow streets jammed by thousands of people who were unable to get in.
After short speeches by Dr. Raf-faele Cantoni, the head of the Union Italian Jewish Communities in Rome who had accompanied me, and myself, we made our way out of the synagogue. Surrounded by civil Jewish police, we forced our way slowly through the narrow packed streets of the ghetto in a
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procession which I .was without precedence. Jews from all parts of the country, some in European and others in native costume and many wearing the picturesque and colorful costume of the mountain Jews of the interior, greeted us with a roar of welcome which I shall never forget.
As we moved slowly down the streets, the crowds on the roofs and balconys sprinkled us with perfumed water, the local equivalent of New York's ticker tape. High above the cheering and the characteristic oriental cries of jubilation of women couhl be heard the steady rhythmic cry of a single word, "Aliyah," "Aliyah," "Aliyah".
The "Aliyah" means immigration to Israel. It is written up on every wall in Hebrew and Latin characters, it represents the. main activity of Jewish communities, it embodies a whole philosophy and represents to what now amounts to a religion.
The Jews of Tripoli, including thousands from Cyrenaica and the interior of Tripolitania, arc now organized with this one object in view. I cannot too highly praise
Musician At 100 Heads Family Musicians
One hundred and sixty elderly residents of the Warschauer Haym Salomon Home for the Aged at 136 Second Avenue on the lower East Side of New York, lifted their wine cups high in tribute to a close friend and fellow-resident, Isaac Fishberg. For Isaac became 100 years old and his birthday fell on the eve of Chanukah, the Feast of Lights..
There are several distinctions in the life of Isaac Fishberg, but his proudest, is that he is the oldest member of Local 802 of the American Federation of Musicians. And when his friends sat down for the anniversary dinner they were joined by no less than 151 of Isaac's' descendants, foremost of whom were his six sons, each a prominent musician,
The celebrant put aside temporarily his favorite composers, Beethoven and Chopin�and with good reason. James- C. Petrilip, president of the magicians' omo�, arranged to send a small symphonic ensemble to the home to play in honor of Mr. Fishberg. The principal work on the program was "Hat-ikvah",Zionist anthem. He requested that song. "It is Israel's song of hope", he said.
It might be noted that one-third of Isaac's descendants hold cards in Local 802, says the New York Times. And as Isaac, himself speaking in Yiddish, put it, "From my family I can put together the finest and largest string section in the land".
Seated in a deep easy chair, his bright tie glistening in the overhead light, his blue eves sparkling, the old musician fondled the flute in his hand and said: "My six sons can easily become a superb string sextet, but, of course, I can play the flute as a soloist". He still plays the flute and the violin, both of which he taught until about twpnty vears ago, when he retired. He listed his sons. There was Mischa Mischakoff (professional name), who is the concertmaster of Arturo Toscanini's NBC Symphony orchestra: Fishel, double bass plaver; Nathan, violinist: Tobias, viola player; Yasha, violinist, and William, amateur violinist who is in the jewelry business. All, with the exception of William, have olaved with the outstanding symphonic orchestras in America and abroad.
The centenarian apologized for not playine his flute. The mouthpiece was broken but a new one has been urpmised as a birthday present. Every day until bedtime he stars rear the radio, listening tn favorite compositions by Beethoven. Chopin and Mozart.
"If I have to live mv life over arair. rrm�;f aearn would will it," HP said. "What can b� more beautiful than music, any kind of mn�ic".
Mr. Fishier? was born in Pros-Jcurov in the Ukraine swtio� r*t Rus�<a and came to the U.S. shortlv after the first World War ��everal vears after his children arrived. He entered the Vnmp 1a*t vear. Rieht now h� is excited about omp'� tenta^'v* t>Uns to cons-another building for the aged in Brooklyn at a co*t of 11.500.000. He is al.�o the home's strongest stm-porter of its current membersMo drive, of which the fees are used for the maintenance of the home.
Evervone's sense of and his abilitv to work effectively denend to some extent on a nutritions diet. If we want to be healthv and strone. if we want to feel rieht, we must eat ri<?ht-Eatine rieht means eatine a vari-etv of foods which should include each day, milk, fruit, vegetables, cereals and meat.
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the work which is being done by ihe representatives of the Jewish Agency, the Joint Distribution Committee, the OSE (The Jewish Health Organization), and similar bodies in order to prepare and facilitate this immigration.
Virtually the whole of the Jewish community is organized with this end in view. Thousands 'of travel documents have been prepared in cooperation with the British Administration, a regular system of food-rationing distribution has been set up.
A thousand people receive treatment for trachoma alone every day. Kindergarten schools and training centers are in operation, transportation has been organized frcnn the port, so that on an average of two thousand people leave the port every month for Israel with the necessary identity documents, health guards, and clothing which enable them to start a new and healthful life in Israel.
The whole of this enormous labor is accomplished under expert leadership with the help of hundreds of local volunteers and with financial help from the United States, which amounts on an average to $100,000 a month. This money, which comes originally from the United Jewish Appeal, is administered with magnificent efficiency by the American Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency using existing institutions wherever possible.
This movement has been made possible by the realism of the British Chief Administrator, Brighter Bladder. It i� lU tfa�V he wishes the Jews to leave. On the contrary, he knows that it entails the loss of invaluable human material, skills, and economic competence to a territory not too plentifully endowed. But he realizes that in the circumstances this movement has become inevitable, and he does all he can to facilitate it within his limited powers and opportunities,
I should like to pay a warm trib-
ute of respect to this genial and cultivated Irishman, for Tripoli, like New York, is governed by an Irishman, whose judgment I strongly suspect has not been given due weight in international counsels. While the rest of the world, preoccupied with questions of international strategy, have ignored the problem, he has at least made it possible for the Jews of Tripolitania to work out their own. soluti&n in their own way.
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