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Looking Back: October 28

100 Years Ago in the Forward

On trial for running a prostitution ring, Morris Cohen, a resident of New York City’s Lower East Side, pleaded not guilty. His defense was based on the fact that he was a drunk and was not in command of his faculties when he was pimping young women. Unfortunately for Cohen, his wife, Lina, who was also arrested for her participation in the ring, testified against him, thereby creating an airtight case for the district attorney. It was also determined that Cohen was not a drunk and was in good health when his crimes were committed. When the jury got the case, it deliberated for less than a half-hour and came back with a unanimous “guilty” charge. The judge threw the book at Cohen, sentencing him to two years in prison and a $5,000 fine. But because Cohen has no money and cannot pay the fine, he will have to spend an extra 30 days in prison.

75 Years Ago in the Forward

Pitched battles are occurring daily in Warsaw universities, between Polish National Democrats and Jews following the official start of the Warsaw school year. The fascist National Democrats are demanding that Jews either sit on “ghetto benches” in the rear sections of the lecture halls or not come to classes at all. Jewish students aren’t pleased with being forced to sit in the back and are fighting back with the help of the socialists. Even though the Polish Ministry of Education has issued appeals against the persecution of Jewish students, fights are still taking place daily in many of the city’s universities. Warsaw’s business college saw some of the worst attacks: After the school’s rector canceled classes, National Democrats attacked the administration building, smashing down the door and breaking water pipes, causing a flood. The police battled with them for hours before things calmed down.

50 Years Ago in the Forward

After brutal pogroms in 1945 and 1948, most of Libya’s 40,000 Jews — who lived there for generations — left for Israel. For the Jews who remained, numbering about 6,000, life has been very difficult, despite the fact that Libya’s constitution is supposed to guarantee freedom of expression and equal rights for all citizens. As it turns out, Jews are not permitted to vote, nor are they allowed to obtain passports. The government has the right to take their property at any time, and a Muslim commissioner regulates their religious institutions. They are systematically libeled and attacked in the Libyan press, and there are frequent demonstrations against Israel. Also, if they are found with letters from the State of Israel, they can be put in jail.

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