Books: Vicious Circle

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Almost more disheartened by such signs of confusion and disunity in Jewish ranks than by the tales of oppression he heard, Author Gessner went on to Poland, smuggling his notes out of Germany. The picture got blacker as he traveled East. Jews in the U. S. Middle West were better off than in Manhattan, Manhattan Jews were more prosperous than those in London, Londoners were more fortunate than Parisians, Jews in Paris were happy compared with those in Germany, but even in Germany, with anti-Semitism incorporated into the state, Jews were better off than the poverty-oppressed masses living in medieval squalor in the crowded ghettos of Poland. There Writer Gessner learned that Poland's 3,300,000 Jews pay six and a half times more taxes than Poles. He visited Cracow, Vilna, Lodz where, when Jewish factories are closed, looms are bootlegged and operated in homes behind closed doors, and where he met more abject and hopeless poverty than he knew existed. He got to Palestine as Tel-Aviv was experiencing a building boom and as the Arab-Jew conflict was approaching a climax. He found the country confusing, exhilarating, depressing, its life a strange mixture of the Soviet Union, boom Florida and Nazi Germany. Profoundly disapproving of the Zionist policy of discrimination against Arab labor, he concluded that Jewish nationalism encouraged Arab nationalism, while the depressing of Arab wages made conflict inevitable. Jews who had been persecuted in Germany now persecuted Arabs and preached a doctrine of racial purity as relentless as the one under which they had suffered. A little dizzy from following this vicious circle all the way around, Gessner came reluctantly to a doubtful conclusion: "If we can't get along with the Arabs, we have failed."

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