Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/497

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493
THE CROSSING OF THE RACES

And now we come to consider the other type of immigrant which is making itself so strongly felt in our land and which, if we are to judge by the history of other nations, will continue to be an unsolved and vexatious problem long after the Pole and the Hun and Italian are forgotten. The Jew has been a source of worry and discomfort to every nation in which he has ever settled in any numbers, unless we except our own. Whether this is his own fault, or the fault of the people among whom he has cast his lot, is entirely beside the question. The point to be determined is, whether he will, or will not, in time, lose his racial identity and mix with the general population around him. Is there anything to warrant the conclusion that he has at last found his haven in this country, and being left free to practise his religion without persecution, will become one of us in every sense of the word, except in the matter of religious belief, which is, after all, a matter of no great importance so far as citizenship is concerned. Let us answer the question in the particular instance by ascertaining how it has been solved, in the aggregate, during times already past, and then considering whether there are any essential differences in the conditions of the past and present. The first historical account of anti-semitism occurs in the book of Esther, third chapter and eighth verse — "And Haman said unto King Ahasuerus, there is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people of all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from those of every people, neither keep they the King's laws: therefore it is not for the King's profit to suffer them." "We all know the sequel to this speech, and how the contemplated massacre and expulsion was obviated by the wiles of the beautiful Esther. The story of this attempted expulsion of a whole race of people, almost at the dawn of history, would have no particular interest for us now had it not been the forerunner, so to speak, of like movements repeated with almost dreary monotony throughout all the centuries since. That anti-semitism is not a modern movement, having its essential cause in the crucifixion of Christ, but was, on the contrary, a well-defined policy of many nations long before the question of Christianity arose as a complicating factor to confound the real issue, is a fact attested to by the Jewish historians themselves. We learn from Josephus that there were considerable Jewish colonies in all the eastern towns and among the various Greek possessions. They lived an exclusive life, mingling but little with the people, and having their own customs and laws which they refused to abandon at any price; although at utter variance with those of the Greeks about them, the authorities were continually called upon to settle disputes arising between the Jews and the people among whom they settled. Thus, in the year 14 b. c., the Ephesians requested that the right of citizenship be taken from the Jews if they would not consent to join in the worship of Diana. Nicolas, of Damascus, pled the cause of the Jews and they won the suit. Now, among all the nations of