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54
ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT.
I have no hesitation as to the course I have adopted, for the Prime Minister himself some years ago approved of the action of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight in bringing forward the question of the Bulgarians under precisely similar circumstances. The right hon. Gentleman, on that occasion, said—
" Five attempts had been made to penetrate the mystery of the official mind, and, after a sixth and a seventh had failed, the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight brought up the subject for discussion. I believe that the voices of Members on both sides of the House will be raised in support of humanity and justice."
I trust those words of the Prime Minister will be realized on this occasion. Certain statements have been put forward by the Russian Government in defence—if defence there can be— of the atrocities that have been committed. I think it will be well that the English public should know that those statements are mere subterfuges. The whole history of the question shows unmistakably that the worst element in that persecution was religious fanaticism. In 1817 the State Papers Nos. 1, 2, and 3 showed that the Emperor Alexander had promised perfect liberty to the Jews in Russia provided they became converted. There could not be a better proof than that that the persecutions to which the Jews have been subjected have originated in their desire to retain their ancient faith. In fact, that is their only crime. But General Ignatieff's Rescript of the 3rd September, 1881, under which Commissions have been appointed with a view to imposing further disabilities on the Jews, alleges, in justification of this course, that they are guilty of very serious crimes, and that they follow nefarious callings. I deny the truth of that. There probably are some out of 3,500,000 who may follow nefarious callings ; but many of those who do, do so from necessity rather than from inclination. The truth is that the effect of the Ukase of 1827 has been to force the Jews into all sorts of callings they would not voluntarily have accepted. They are forbidden to traffic in the interior of Russia, they are not allowed to sell in shops or at their lodgings, nor to hawk about wares, to open workshops, nor to take apprentices in any department of trade whatever. The action of the Russian Government towards the Jews could not be better described than in the words used by Macaulay, when he made his speech in favour of removing the Jewish disabilities—■
"Bigots never fail to plead in justification of persecution the vices which persecution has engendered."
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