Page:A Jewish State 1917.djvu/19

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3
INTRODUCTION

it is useless for us to be loyal patriots, as were the Huguenots who were forced to emigrate. If we could only be left in peace. . . .

But I think we shall not be left in peace.

Oppression and persecution cannot exterminate us. No nation on earth has survived such struggles and sufferings as we have gone through. Jew-baiting has merely stripped off our weaklings; the strong among us were invariably true to their race when persecution broke out against them. This attitude was most clearly apparent in the period immediately following the emancipation of the Jews. Later on, those who rose to a higher degree of intelligence and to a better worldly position lost their communal feeling to a very great extent. Wherever our political well-being has lasted for any length of time, we have assimilated with our surroundings. I think this is not discreditable. Hence, the statesman who would wish to see a Jewish strain in his nation would have to provide for the duration of our political well-being; and even Bismarck could not do that.

For old prejudice against us still lies deep in the hearts of the people. He who would have proofs of it need only listen to the people where they speak with frankness and simplicity: proverb and fairy-tale are both Anti-Semitic. A nation is a great child, which can certainly be educated; but its education would, even in most favorable circumstances, occupy such a vast amount of time that we could, as already mentioned, remove our own difficulties by other means long before the process was accomplished.

Assimilation, which implies, in addition to external conformity in dress, habits, customs, and language, identity also of feeling and manner—assimilation of Jews could only be effected by inter-marriage. But the need for mixed marriages would have to be felt by the majority; their mere recognition by law would certainly not suffice. The Hungarian Liberals, who have just given legal sanction to mixed marriages,[1] have made a remarkable mistake, which one of the earliest cases clearly illustrates; a baptized Jew married a Jewess. At the same time the struggle to obtain the present form of marriage accentuated distinctions between Jews and Christians, thus hindering rather than aiding the fusion of races. Those who really wish to see the Jews disappear through intermixture with other nations can only hope to see it come about in one way. The Jews must previously acquire economic power sufficiently great to overcome all social prejudice against them. The aristocracy may serve as an example of this, for in its ranks occur the proportionately largest numbers of mixed marriages. The Jewish families which regild the old nobility with their coin, become gradually absorbed. But what shape would this phenomenon take in the middle classes, where (the Jews being a bourgeois people) the Jewish question is of far more consequence? A previous acquisition of power would be synonymous with that economic supremacy which Jews are already erroneously declared to possess. And if the power they now possess creates rage and indignation among the Anti-Semites, what outbreaks would not an increase of power create? Hence the first step towards absorption will never be taken, because this step would involve the subjection of the majority to a heretofore scorned minority, possessing neither military nor administrative force of its own. I think, therefore, that the absorption of Jews By means of their prosperity is unlikely to occur. In countries which are now Anti-Semitic my view will be approved. In countries where Jews are now tolerated, it will probably be violently disputed. My happier co-religionists will not believe me till Jew-baiting teaches them the truth; for the longer Anti-Semitism lies in abeyance the more fiercely will

  1. 1895