From old Poland the Jews spread north, east and south. In 1880 they were found to have penetrated the prohibited Russian territory to the east. In southern Russia they have added another failure to the efforts of their race to succeed as agriculturists. A considerable migration found its way to Roumania, and to a lesser extent to the Turkish empire. Since the western migration began numbers have gone into Palestine, though not always to remain, and the resources of the Baron de Hirsch fund have been used liberally in efforts to encourage and sustain a migration to South America, but to judge from the reports of the colonists who may be found coming to the United States by every South American ship, the movement has not yet proved a success.
The migration to Roumania went to increase an existing and practically Roumanized Jewish population of Spagnuoli and more ancient Hebrew stock and served to revive troubles that were believed to be past. At the bottom of the present anti-Jewish agitation in Roumania is an economic problem similar to that in Russia, likewise aggravated by a more or less improvident and shiftless indigenous population, but made still worse by the fact that the bearing of the Jew on the economic ills of the country has become a sort of political issue. Complicating the situation are also certain other elements entirely wanting in Russia.
Roumanian territory in the past has constituted a barrier to westward advance of the Mohammedan Turk, and the keynote of its history is resistance to racial religious aggression. As a dependency of Turkey the treaties and conventions which have determined its autonomy have repeatedly emphasized and affirmed a principle of religious inequality, the propriety of withholding full civil rights from a person of non-christian faith and of making a distinction between nationality and citizenship.
When, therefore, the powers in 1878 recognized the independence of Roumania, they overturned all local precedents in prescribing the principle of religious equality within the new kingdom. Subsequent events proved unfavorable to the popular reception of such a revolutionary idea. Stimulated by anti-Jewish agitation in adjoining foreign countries, an abnormal Jewish immigration poured into Roumania, and the alarm and resentment which this movement caused has been intensified by the new national spirit which independence has awakened among the Roumanians themselves.
Still regarded in accordance with old ideas as aliens whose rights were largely a matter for legislative action, the Jews have been deprived even of privileges which they formerly enjoyed, as have German settlers, Italian workmen, and other foreigners as well.