~E\aSN

The Twentieth Century Library Edited by V. K. Krishna Menon

THE JEWS

OTHER VOLUMES IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY LIBRARY

DEMOCRACY THE SCHOOL PRISONS

WAR

MONEY

THE HOME ART

WOMEN

THE BLACK RACES PROPERTY

THE THEATRE COMMUNISM HEALTH RELIGION ARCHITECTURE LITERATURE THE TOWN

J. A. Hobson W. B. Curry M. Hamblin Smith, M.D. C. Delisle Burns

M. A. Abrams

Naomi Mitchison

Eric Gill

Winifred Holtby

J. H. Driberg

H. L. Beales

Theodor Komisarjevsky Ralph Fox

Edgar Obermer

Julius F. Hecker

Erich Mendelsohn Philip Henderson David Glass

THE JEWS and a changing civilisation by NORMAN BENTWICH

JOHN LANE THE BODLEY HEAD LTD. LONDON

First printed March 1934 Reprinted November 1934

PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY WESTERN PRINTING SERVICES LTD., BRISTOL

PREFACE

| ete sought to write this little book on the Jews of to-day from my knowledge of their life as much as from a study of the literature. Cir- cumstances have enabled me to watch the develop- ment of Jewish life and thought in Palestine which is a microcosm of Jewry, and to obtain direct knowledge of the principal Jewish communities in most countries of the world; and I have made that experience the basis. It is one of the hardships of the Jew that he has always to explain himself; and the explanation calls for some account of his history and of his economic conditions in the past. But the book is neither history nor “apology.” Whilst I have a conviction of the destiny of the Jews in our civilisation, I have tried to avoid what Feuchtwanger calls “the Jewish passion for always being in the right.”

Jews are weary of being a problem; but they cannot cease to be that by wishing it, or by trying to be something else than they are. And I have had to touch on that problem.

For the guidance of those readers who wish to make a fuller study, I have appended a short list of books dealing with the Jews in modern times.

NorRMAN BENTWICH September, 1933

CONTENTS

CHAP. I THe BACKGROUND OF HISTORY .

II THe GEOGRAPHICAL AND ECONOMIC DISTRIBUTION

Ill THe Reticious BACKGROUND

IV ANTI-SEMITISM

V THE MODERN JEWISH CONTRIBUTION

VI Tue JewisH NATIONAL Hope BIBLIOGRAPHY

INDEX

PAGE

22 49 74

117 142 143

THE JEWS

CHAPTER I THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

oo Jews are the most historical and the most international of peoples. Jewish life ranges over vast areas of space and time; and it is the peculiar interest of the Jewish nation that it is met with at every epoch of history, and in every land and Empire. “Alone among the nations Israel has shared in all great movements since mankind became conscious of their destinies.” In the ancient world it played its part in the rise and fall of the Egyptian, the Assyrian, the Babylonian and the Persian Empires, in the vast expansion of Hel- lenism, and, above all, in the transformation of Imperial Rome to the Christian Empire. In the Middle Ages it was for a time the sole national element in the disintegrated denationalised com- munities of Europe and Asia; and at the same time its members were the principal intermediaries of trade and of thought between country and country and between East and West. In modern times it has remained an anomaly and a problem—for the Jews are still “‘a —— people’ —but its members have been in the van of ideas, and one of the principal agencies of progressive and international movements.

THE JEWS

As Heine put it, the Jews “have fought and suffered on every battlefield of human thought.” For the last two thousand years the record of the people has been for the most part one of suffering and sufferance. Since the early centuries of the Christian era they have been without a homeland, wanderers over the face of the earth ; and deprived, in most countries, of an equal place in the civil society. “In every land a guest, In many lands a lord, In no land King is he.”

That dispersion and that segregation, and the popular hatred and religious persecution which accompanied it, have deeply influenced their social and economic life and their character, and made their genius appear very unlike the genius of the Hebrew people of the Bible.

The dispersion and separateness, indeed, go back to the Biblical times; for in the book of Esther it is written that Haman said about the Jews to King Ahasuerus of Persia: “There is a certain people scattered abroad, and dispersed among thy people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all people.... Therefore, it is not for the King’s profit to‘suffer them.” From the days of the first Captivity—of the Babylonians —about 700 B.c., the bulk of the Jews have been a national minority, living amid other peoples on sufferance. From the days of the second Captivity

2

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

—of the Romans—they have lacked everywhere litical power; during long periods they have fom forced to be passive, and suffering has been the badge of their tribe. But more than any other people, they have been distinguished by patience, endurance, and an ultimate hope of restoration. The final dissolution of the Jewish State took place in the first century of the Christian era, when the Romans, under Titus, destroyed the Temple and razed the City of Jerusalem. They sought, according to the Roman morals, to war down the proud people which, alone in a cosmopolitan society, strove to maintain its political and religious and national independence. During the so-called Golden Age of the Antonine Emperors, when Gibbon would have us believe that the world was happier and better governed than at any other period, the Jews were driven by oppression, time and again, to burst out into desperate revolt against the lords of the world; and the repression of their efforts took the form of wars of extermination. Yet Judaism and the Jewish people survived and carried on vigorously a religious mission. They won for their faith from the military conqueror the privileges of a legalised religious community and an autonomous nationality, and they spread their tenets in all parts of the Roman world, and out- side it. The words which Seneca, the Roman statesman and philosopher, used of them a few years before the struggle began: “The customs of this most abandoned race have prevailed so far as 3

THE JEWS

to be received in all countries’—these words equally describe the position after that life-and- death struggle. Till the beginning of the fourth century, when the Edict of Tolerance was issued by the last of the Pagan Emperors, only to be the prelude of an age of Intolerance, they were pre- ferred to thte followers of Christianity. Their tenets were “privileged,” while those of the Chris- tian teaching were only “allowed.”

Their rightfulness in the Pagan Roman epoch is contrasted with their rightlessness in the Christian Empiré and the Dark Ages. The link between these two conditions is the intricate system of legal disabiliry and legal persecution which marks the anti-Jewish legislation of the early Christian Em- perors, and culminates in the laws of the Gothic rulers of the Western Empire and the decrees of the Popes. The aim was to isolate the Jewish congregations from the civil society. The Jews could bold no public office whatsoever; they could own or possess no land, and employ no Gentile servant: they were forced to wear a badge and submit to other outward marks of inferiority. Instead of being “a most excellent religion” they were regarded as “‘a nefarious sect.” The holding of certain beliefs was set up as a rigid test for the enjoyment of civil rights; and so they became second-class citizens, and finally rightless aliens.

When Christianity was installed on the throne of the Czsars, the Jewish religious liberties also were radically curtailed. It was the policy of the

4

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

Church, indeed, to let the Jews exist as a separate community; for they were the witnesses to the truth. But their lot must be made miserable, and they must be placed in a condition of glaring inferiority to that of the true believers, in order that the predictions against those who refused to accept the Messiah should be fulfilled.* As late as the sixteenth century an Ecclesiastical Synod in Poland passed a resolution stating: “Whereas the Church tolerates the Jews for the sole purpose of reminding us of the torments of our Saviour, they must not be allowed, under any circumstances, to increase. At first the persecution and discrimina- tion were directed against a rival mission. Judais- ing was made a capital offence, both for the converter and the converted. Jewish “exclusive- ness, often made a reproach by the latter-day theologians, was the forced outcome of a deliberate Christian policy. After the battle was won against Jewish influence, the hatred was maintained against a people who, reduced and enfeebled, shut up in their Ghettoes, kept at a distance from Christians, powerless and defenceless, had ceased to be a danger to the Church, but were, none the less, an object of abomination.

The Jewish dispersion was driven to the utter- most ta of the Christian Empire and beyond it, in order to escape the persecution from the centre. The repressive legislation forced them from their

* Dean I tells of a king who commanded a bishop to prove the truth of Christianity in a sentence: “The Jews, Your Majesty,” was the reply.

5 B

THE JEWS

old vocations, the settled cultivation of the soil and skilled manual crafts, to the more mobile vocations of commerce. They formed, as it were, a Jewish fringe colouring the life of the remoter provinces ; and it was from these frontier-Jews that the medieval communities in Western Europe derived their origin.* The centre of the dispersed nationality, indeed, was removed in the sixth century from the Christian Byzantine realm in the Holy Land to the Zoroastrian Persian Empire. When both those contending realms were overthrown in the seventh century by the inspired warriors from Arabia, who were moved by a religious teaching that derived from Judaism and Jewish missionaries, the Jews outside Arabia and Christendom attained a new tolerance and humanity. They were not recog- nised as equal with the “true believers’ in the widespread brotherhood of Islam; but they were respected as a ‘‘People of the Book”’ in the public and cultural life.

They were, it is true, excluded from Arabia where they had hitherto pursued an active mission. But in Mesopotamia, in North Africa, and above all in Spain, the Jews and the Moslems were intel- lectually associated, and emulated each other in the pursuit of philosophy, poetry, science and art. The Jews were the great carriers of culture as well as of goods, the a ome middlemen of civilisation. They were masters of Arabic as of Hebrew, of Aristotle as of the Talmud. They translated the thought of the ancient world first for the Arabs,

6

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

and then for the Latin Christians. Without a homeland they were unable to produce the finest fruits of their own genius; but he developed the culture of others to new uses and blended it with their own.

The tolerance that accompanied the conquests of Islam induced a meed of tolerance amongst some of the Christian peoples between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries. The Christian kingdoms that bordered on the Moslem Empire, in Northern Spain, Provence, and Italy, were led to harbour the Jews as merchants and as craftsmen. The Norman kings encouraged them to settle in England, and there, as in other feudal countries, they were instruments of the strengthening of the Royal power over the barons. By a hard privilege they alone were allowed by the Church to lend money on interest, and were used by their Royal master, whose chattels they were in law, to extract money from the barons and burghers. The Church, too, profited by their financial ability and their intro- duction of credit to obtain advances of large sums which were required for the building of cathedrals, abbeys and monasteries, and the first hostels that grew into the Universities of Oxford and Cam- bridge. Their financial function inevitably drew upon them the fierce resentment of the common

ople. They were the whetstone on which the blade of the popular liberties was sharpened in England and in Western Europe; and they paid for their unloved services to the kings by massacre and

7

THE JEWS

expulsion as soon as the peoples became strong enough to make demands of their overlord. They were driven from England at the end of the thir- teenth century; from France a century later.

In Central Europe the march of the Crusaders, seeking to vent their zeal upon a defenceless infidel people, laid waste the Jewries. “Shall knights risk their lives,” it was said, “to rescue the tomb of Christ, when his very murderers live in security in our midst?’ After that destruction the visitation of the Black Death drove the credulous masses to wreak vengeance upon a people who were believed to possess diabolical powers. Tens of thousands of hapless Jewish exiles from the German towns were forced to look for a precarious haven in the remoter countries of Poland and Lithuania.

As the strength of Islam receded, and the strength of Christendom advanced in Spain, so in that region of tolerance and intellectual achievement the reli- gious liberty and the security of the Jews were undermined. Finally, in 1492, a year after the dissolution of the Moorish kingdom, the proudest and most intellectual Jewish community, which had produced a remarkable culture for four cen- turies and was still eminent in science, was ruth- lessly expelled from the Peninsula. That was a crushing blow to all Jewry, and was felt to be a third destruction of their centre. Before the final disaster, tens of thousands, under the threat of death or banishment, had been received into the Christian Church. They and their descendants

8

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

sought to cling to a secret Judaism in their homes, and carried on a desperate struggle for life against the Inquisition of the Holy Order of the Church, which burned at the stake any man, woman or child suspected of relapse or Judaising. The homeless mass of the expelled, or such as survived the perils and massacres of the journeying, made their way eastwards. Most of them turned to that new Moslem Empire erected by the Turks, who conquered the last Byzantine stronghold shortly after the Christian Majesties of Castile and Aragon had taken the last stronghold of the Moors.

The Arab-Jewish culture of the Middle East had been wrecked some centuries earlier by the Tartar hordes; and but slender communities survived in the old home of Israel. Small bands of the exiles brought a new kindling of the light of learning in the land. The intellectual predominance amongst the dispersed people was divided between the Sephardic exiles from Spain, who settled in the Levant and to a less extent in Italy and Northern lands, and the Ashkenasic exiles from Western Europe, who were congregated in Poland and Lithuania.

The Reformation and the Renaissance which brought a religious and intellectual stirring to Western Europe, and opened a new era of liberty of the mind for Western Christendom, brought no relief or enlightenment for the Jews. Indeed, the darkest ages began for them in the fifteenth century with the coming of light to Europe. While the

9

THE JEWS

expulsion as soon as the peoples became strong enough to make demands of their overlord. They were driven from England at the end of the thir- teenth century; from France a century later.

In Central Europe the march of the Crusaders, seeking to vent their zeal upon a defenceless infidel people, laid waste the Jewries. “Shall knights risk their lives,” ‘it was said, “to rescue the tomb of Christ, when his very murderers live in security in our midst?” After that destruction the visitation of the Black Death drove the credulous masses to wreak vengeance upon a people who were believed to possess diabolical powers. Tens of thousands of hapless Jewish exiles from the German towns were forced to look for a precarious haven in the remoter countries of Poland and Lithuania.

As the strength of Islam receded, and the strength of Christendom advanced in Spain, so in that region of tolerance and intellectual achievement the reli- gious liberty and the security of the Jews were undermined. Finally, in 1492, a year after the dissolution of the Moorish kingdom, the proudest and most intellectual Jewish community, which had produced a remarkable culture for four cen- turies and was still eminent in science, was ruth- lessly expelled from the Peninsula. That was a crushing blow to all Jewry, and was felt to be a third destruction of their centre. Before the final disaster, tens of thousands, under the threat of death or banishment, had been received into the Christian Church. They and their descendants

8

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

sought to cling to a secret Judaism in their homes, and carried on a desperate struggle for life against the Inquisition of the Holy Order of the Church, which burned at the stake any man, woman or child suspected of relapse or Judaising. The homeless mass of the expelled, or such as survived the perils and massacres of the journeying, made their way eastwards. Most of them turned to that new Moslem Empire erected by the Turks, who conquered the last Byzantine stronghold shortly after the Christian Majesties of Castile and Aragon had taken the last stronghold of the Moors.

The Arab-Jewish culture of the Middle East had been wrecked some centuries earlier by the Tartar hordes; and but slender communities survived in the old home of Israel. Small bands of the exiles brought a new kindling of the light of learning in the land. The intellectual predominance amongst the dispersed people was divided between the Sephardic exiles from Spain, who settled in the Levant and to a less extent in Italy and Northern lands, and the Ashkenasic exiles from Western Europe, who were congregated in Poland and Lithuania.

The Reformation and the Renaissance which brought a religious and intellectual stirring to Western Europe, and opened a new era of liberty of the mind for Western Christendom, brought no relief or enlightenment for the Jews. Indeed, the darkest ages began for them in the fifteenth century with the coming of light to Europe. While the

9

THE JEWS

revival of Hebrew and Hebraism was one of the features of Humanism and the Illumination, and the Hebraic spirit was making its great contribution to the new civilisation of Europe through Luther and the Puritan sects, the Jewish people suffered their severest exclusion from the civil and social life. They had to carry on a desperate struggle for three centuries to preserve their existence as a people, till the dawn of civil emancipation broke in the eighteenth century. Thrown back on them- selves, pent up in their Ghettoes, excluded from the intellectual as well as the civil life of the growing nations, they helped to save Europe by their literature, but had to save themselves in isolation by their law and their schools.

Outwardly, as well as intellectually, they were a segregated alien community. When no longer forced to wear a badge they clung in Central Europe to their special costume, the Gaberdine and Strumel of medieval Poland. They were marked out also by the ringlets which they grew in obedi- ence to the Mosaic precept not to cut the corners of the hair. They dropped, perforce, their univer- sal aspiration, and were compelled to straiten their religious and their lay life.

The Jewish masses were no longer living, as in the Middle Ages, in the hearths of civilisation. For the centre of intellectual as of economic interest moved, after the age of Discovery, from the Mediterranean region to the countries of Western Europe, from which the Jews were almost entirely

10

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

excluded. They were concentrated in countries of relatively low intellectual culture, Turkey, Poland, and the Ukraine. They had nothing to assimilate of intellectual things from their neighbours, and so they were engrossed upon their traditional lore, the Talmud and the Kabbala, the one a collection of legal, the other a collection of mystical interpretations of the Bible. They were, in a double sense, the People of the Book.

During this long period of repression, the Jews in Central Europe maintained a measure of auto- nomy and their internal organisation of nationality. They had their own tribunals, not only for matters of personal law, but for civil affairs; representative lay bodies among them exercised powers of taxa- tion for communal purposes; and synods and conferences of their rabbinical authorities exercised a power of legislation over the communities within a state, and sometimes within several states, which was none the less effective that it had not any sanction of physical force. They maintained their own schools and, despite the attempts of their enemies to burn their books, they preserved their tradition of a literate people. “Shut out from the general pool of learning, they flowed into little eddies of their own.”” They had too, their own language, which was in Western and Central Europe the Yiddish, a low German dialect of the Middle Ages, and in the Ottoman countries of the Levant was Ladino, a Spanish tongue of the fifteenth century that was carried far and wide by

Il

THE JEWS

the exiles from Spain. Both were written in Hebrew characters. But the devotion to learning was restricted to the heritage from the past, on which they exercised their intellect with endless dialectic, or used it as a starting point for mystical speculation. They were out of touch with the political, social, literary and artistic movements of Western Europe; and having been for centuries in the full stream of intellectual life, chey were now left as in a backwater.

It has been said that the epoch of the Peace of Westphalia, 1648, which marks the beginning of the modern European system of national states, marks also the “nadir” of Jewish culture. Narrow- ness and bigotry affected their communal leaders, and led to the excommunication of a Spinoza and a Luzzatto. And the latter half of the seventeenth century saw a terrible destruction of the Jewish centre in Poland and the Ukraine by the Cossacks, who took a merciless revenge on the Jews for their actions as agents of the Polish nobility. In the next century came the partition of Poland with the utter disintegration of the Jewish communities. Assimilation in thePrussian provinceof the dismem- bered Polish State, impoverishment in the Gali- cian, and oppression in the Russian, completed the

ruin.

After the Reformation religious orthodoxy was

the basis of citizenship throughout Europe, save

only in the Ottoman Empire; and in the national

Church-States the Jew was more completely 1?

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

degraded and isolated than he had been in the single Christian Commonwealth of the Middle Ages. Yet, although the mass were cut off from the general culture, individual Jews still played an important part in the march of ideas. The seeds of tolerance were indeed sown in Europe by the carriers of Jewish tradition, the descendants of those secret Jews from Spain and Portugal who had for a time endeavoured to maintain their position by outward conformity but were driven, by con- science or persecution, to flee from the tyranny and assert the faith that was in them. Spinoza, the son of a Marrano or secret Jew, who found a refuge in Protestant, liberty-loving Holland, Montaigne, the son of a Jewish mother who was a refugee in Bordeaux from the Spanish Inquisition; Bodin, another French philosopher of semi-Jewish origin —these were the prophets of a more liberal con- ception of the State. Spinoza’s country, Holland, was the first type of the welfare-state which re- garded the well being of all its inhabitants without distinction of race or creed as its aim; and it was in Amsterdam that a growing congregation of Spanish and Portuguese Jews was able, from the end of the sixteenth century, to play an important part in the development of the commercial and colonial greatness of the Dutch people.

Oliver Cromwell learned from the Dutch the value of tolerance; and moved by the elaborate Latin persuasion of a mystical Rabbi from Holland, Manasseh ben Israel, enabled the Jews to return to

13

THE JEWS

England—as merchants, though he could not over- bear the Christian scruples of his counsellors so as to secure them civil rights. Yet, with Jewish participation, London came gradually to take the place of Amsterdam as the centre of international trade and finance. The Spanish and Portuguese Jews, who were the first settlers, were pioneers of the trade in bullion and colonial produce. It is significant that Addison, in an essay on the Jews, writes at the beginning of the eighteenth century: “They are indeed so disseminated through all the leading parts of the world that they are become the instruments by which the most distant nations converse with one another, and by which man- kind is knit together in the general correspon- dence.”

In the same epoch and for the same reasons, Colbert, the French statesman, encouraged their return to France. It was not till the middle of the eighteenth century—the century of reason—that the monarchs began to heed the teachings of the social philosophers, and to apply in their State- craft the principle of religious freedom. That was the era of the benevolent despots, Frederick the Great of Prussia, Joseph the Second of Austria and Catherine the Second of Holy Russia. Frederick the Great, listening to the instruction of Voltaire, sought to build up a state which should not inter- fere in any way with religious belief and opinion, but “let each man go to Hell in his own way’ ; his ancestors had Ict Jews driven from Vienna settle

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

in his capital of Berlin. Joseph II of Austria went further; and, by the Edict of 1781 opened military service to the Jews, and placed them on the same level with other dissenters from the State Church. In England a Bill was laid before the Parliament in 1753 to provide for Jewish naturalisation. Though the Bill failed to pass, the movement for emanci- pation and religious freedom made way both in the mother country and, still more fully, in those American colonies which were soon to achieve their independence, to reject the doctrine that a State was concerned with the religion of its citizens, and to lay down as the basis of the Commonwealth the principle that all men are created equal, and are endowed with certain inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The French Revolution was one of the few great movements of human thought in which the Jews played no active part. It did on the other hand fundamentally affect the Jewish position in Europe. The Jews as men enjoyed the Rights of Man. The ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity were extended to the Jewish communities which came within the French orbit of Napoleon’s conquests. A measure, indeed, of civil emancipation was already given to the Jewish inhabitants of pre- revolutionary France by Louis XVI; and one of the prophets of the Revolution, the Abbe Gregoire, claimed: “Freedom and happiness for the Jews, in the name of the sacred principles of my religion.

The France of to-morrow, he declared, 15

THE JEWS

“‘will be eager to blend and marry her ideals with those that spring from the Hebraic spirit of justice.” Napoleon gave more concrete expression to the liberal ideas in a Concordat which he made with a Sanhedrin, or representative assembly of the French Jews, composed of forty-six rabbis and twenty-five laymen, that was summoned to consider the terms of the Jewish admission to political life. As a con- dition of emancipation the Jews denicd any separate national aspiration and claimed to be a religious community. They were to be Frenchmen or Germans of the Jewish faith, to speak the language of the country ; to adapr the law of the Synagogue concerning marriage and divorce to the law of the land, and not to oppose mixed marriages with Genules, even cae ie could not celebrate them in the Synagogue.

The movement for emancipation, civil and intel- lectual, was fostered from within the Jewish community. Shortly before the French Revolu- don, a self-taught Jewish philosopher in Germany, Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786) sought to win for his people both civil freedom and intellectual communion with their neighbours. The friend, himself, of Lessing, who wrote under his inspira- tion a celebrated plea for tolerance in the drama Nathan der Weise, he translated the Hebrew Bible into modern German, printing it in Hebrew letters for his brethren, in order to bridge the gap between the Jewish and general cultures. He induced, also, the Prussian Minister, Von Dohm, to write a

16

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

treatise advocating the grant, by stages, of Jewish civil rights in Germany ; and he set out his philo- sophy of the relation of the state to religion in a book Jerusalem, of which Kant wrote: “I consider your book as the herald of a great reform which will affect not only your nation.” His ideas were gradually adopted by a large part of the Jews of Germany and Central Europe, and his influence opened a new era for the Jewish communities. The Jews stepped out again into the arena of culture and science. It was the era of the so-called cultural “enlightenment, which aimed at integrating Jewish life with that of the peoples among whom they lived.

The struggle for political emancipation was long drawn. The liberal enthusiasm of the Revolution was followed by the reaction of the Holy Alliance ; and, save in France and the Netherlands, the newly- won rights were restricted or abolished. But the Jews were now active in political life, and if not yet politically free, they were mentally emana- pated. They were prominent in the Liberal movements of 1830 and 1848; and in the Revolu- tion of the latter year they vindicated for them- selves, as for others, rights of citizenship. Political emancipation was fully and completely won for them in Western Europe by the middle of the nineteenth century. Their intellectual and spiritual energies, so long cribbed and confined in the Ghettoes, burst out with an amazing spate of genius in the Liberal democracies. They began to resume

{7

THE JEWS

their part as the carriers of culture and the creators of ideas ; and their dispersion was carried further to the ends of the earth which were now annexed by the irresistible White race.

The theory and practice of the Church-State were, indeed, maintained almost inflexibly by the heirs to the Byzantine Empire, who held sway over a large part of Eastern Europe. The infection of Liberalism, which penetrated in the middle of the nineteenth century to the realm of the Czars, was soon repressed; and the Jews within that realm, who through the annexation of the greater part of Poland formed the majority of the Jewish people, were denied civil rights. At the same time a autonomous organisation as a nation within a state was broken down. One Liberal-minded Czar, indeed, Alexander II, the emancipator of the Serfs, sought to integrate them with the life of his Chris- tian subjects; but liberal ideas could not be rooted in that bureaucratic soil, and an outburst of medie- val repression followed each successive attempt at emancipation. Under the influence of her power- ful neighbour, Orthodox Rumania which had barely attained national independence with the help of the Concert of Europe, on the condition of granting equal citizenship to all inhabitants, per- secuted the Jewish communities in her midst, and flouted the demands of the guarantors of her liberty.

The repression drove hundreds of thousands of Jews to seck new homes in the more liberal coun-

18

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

tries. The exodus of Russian and Rumanian Jewry invigorated, and in great measure changed the character of, the Jewries of Western Europe and America. It stimulated also the revival of the national feeling in the Jewish communities both emancipated and unemancipated. The hope of a single citizenship, in which Jews should be free and equal members, was proved to be false; and the hope of the restoration of a Jewish nationality in its own home, which had been the ideal of the people for two thousand years of isolation and suffering, revived and came to the beginning of fulfilment. At the same time the Jewries of Eastern Europe claimed to be incorporated in the State as a national unit and to enjoy national cul- tural autonomy.

During the last fifty years, the shadow of per- secution and oppression has again darkened Jewish life. But in the latter end of the nineteenth century the old attitude of passive resistance in Russia was changed to a new attitude of organised effort, hav- ing as its goal Jewish auto-emancipation” within the State, and the conscious striving for a national home where the Jew should recover his full self- respect.

The oldest nation initiated one of the latest national movements in the era of the rise of nationalities. It was not, indeed, till the latter part of the nineteenth century that the Jewish people were in a position to organise the re-building of a

national home. The physical linking up of the 19

THE JEWS

world at last offset their international dispersion, and the economic linking up facilitated collective action. Their age-long ideal of restoration to the Land of Israel, which had been weakened, but not altogether obscured, in the struggle for emanci- pation, was now stimulated by the violent oppres- sion in Eastern Europe and by the social and moral discrimination in countries of Central Europe. The “higher antisemitism” of Germany, Austria and France combined with the brutal violence and reactionary legislation of the Russian autocracy to stir more deeply the yearning for the Promised Land. The genius of a rare Jewish hero, who combined vision and action on behalf of his people, changed that sentiment into an organised national effort, when in 1897 Dr. Theodor Herzl, a dramatist and journalist of Vienna, summoned representatives of the Jewish communities of the world to a Congress at Basel to plan the return to Zion, and laid down the programme of the Zionist movement.

The World War produced a tremendous trans- formation of Jewish life. Through the Soviet Revolution in Russia it at once broke down the prison walls of the last Ghetto, and sought to extinguish the fires in the hearth of Judaism. Through the German defeat and the Social Revo- lution in Germany it broke down for a short— but only for a short—time the barriers of racial and social discrimination which had excluded the Jews from certain positions in public life, and at

20

THE BACKGROUND OF HISTORY

the same time impaired the intellectual hegemony which German Jewry had exercised over other Jewries. Through the break-up of the Austro- Hungarian Empire, and the creation of a number of “succession states” in Central Europe, each with intense national consciousness, it opened a new status for the Jewish communities as recognised national groups; but their hardly-won minority rights were nullified by economic discrimination. Lastly, through the deliverance of Palestine from the Turkish rule, and the adoption by the Inter- national Society, organised in the League of Nations, of the idea of a national home for the Jews in their old country, it gave to Jewish life throughout the world a new hope and a fresh spiritual and moral orientation.

The national movement appears to be a fulfil- ment of the Jewish history of the last two thousand years, to give a meaning and a justification to that ceaseless struggle for life. Moreover, the most international people should have a special place in the new international order which is painfully being constructed, and should serve a function in the intellectual as well as in the political co-opera- tion of the nations. The latest years, indeed, have witnessed the most signal expression, both of the recurrent hatred against them, and of their own

creative impulse as individuals and as a people.

2I

CHAPTER II THE GEOGRAPHICAL AND ECONOMIC DISTRIBUTION

f lina Jews are at once the smallest in number of the great nations, and the smallest in number of the great religious communities. Massacre and oppression on the one hand, and conversion and apostacy on the other, through long ages prevented their increase. The number of Jews in the world at the time of the Roman dispersion is estimated at five million; the number in the Middle Ages fell far below that. To-day it has been calculated at about sixteen millions. Of these over ten millions are in Europe, four and a half millions in America, and about three-quarters of a million in Asia. The vast majority are scattered among other nationali- ties. For the Jewish National Home in Palestine contained, at the time of the last Government Census, which was taken in 1931, only 176,000. The steady immigration which has taken place during the last two years has brought up the number to over 200,000. Yet even so, that is less than one and a half per cent. of the Jewish people. It is a smaller total than the Jewish community of Great Britain, although it represents a higher per- centage of the total population, nearly <a than is found in any other country. 72

DISTRIBUTION

The Jews have been forced by religious persecu- tion and economic destitution to wander from country to country. An old Rabbinic saying has it that Israel is never altogether deserted. And history shows some striking coincidences in their expulsion from one country and the finding of a new haven. The most notable is that of the year 1492, when they were expelled from Spain, and Christopher Columbus—who notes in the diary of his voyage the passing of the ships that were carry- ing the exiles—discovered the new Continent of America that was later to become a home of religious freedom. To-day the United States have a larger and a more prosperous Jewish population than any other single State. American Jewry exercises a material hegemony over the scattered people.

The greatest aggregation, indeed, of Jews before the War was in the Western and South-western provinces of European Russia, known as the Pale of Settlement. That region comprised ten pro- vinces of the old kingdom of Poland, and fifteen provinces of Lithuania, White Russia, South- western and Southern Russia. It covered an area of 350,000 square miles, wherein there dwelt six million Jews. The Jews in the Czarist Empire were restricted to this region in 1835, and only in special circumstances sae they receive permission to settle in other parts of the vast realm. The King- dom of Poland had become the principal home of the Jewish people between the fifteenth and the

THE JEWS

centuries; and the provinces of Poland, which were divided between Russia, Austria, and Prussia in the great spoliation of the eighteenth century, continued to be the home of a Jewish mass during the nineteenth century.

The Jewish population, like the population of the rest of the world, grew vastly in the compara~ tive peace and the transformed public hygiene of that century. It was estimated not to exceed two million two hundred years ago, and it was more than quadrupled in the last hundred years. The rate of increase was greater than that of any other Western people, partly because they are immune from certain diseases through observance of their dietary laws.

The economic pressure upon the people con- gested in the towns and villages was intensified by this increase. As emancipation was accorded in the countries of the West, a stream went out from the mass to form settlements of Polish Jews in the principal towns of Western Europe; and the sharp spur of persecution drove out greater numbers in the latter part of the century to the New World. The United States, with its principles of freedom and its boundless opportunity, was to the Jew of the Pale a Promised Land. New mass centres were created in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago; for the Jews moved not to the open spaces but to the large towns. In New York, the Jewish popu- lation grew in the fifty years between 1880 and 1930 from about one hundred thousand to nearly

24

DISTRIBUTION

two million. That is the greatest concentration of Jews in any city, whether in ancient or moder times. Constant attempts have been made to distribute the Jewish immigration to America over the many States and towns of the Union. They have, to some extent, succeeded. But the herd instinct of a people, which has been forced to live in close communities for centuries, remains strong for some generations, and it has been fostered by the easy communications of our age. About half of the Jews of the world live in big cities, and about one-quarter in cities with a population ex- ceeding one million.

After Russia and