Page:Littell's Living Age - Volume 132.djvu/259

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253
THE JEWS IN THE EAST.

is carried on in Servia and Roumania, and as it would be carried on if fresh Christian tributary provinces were carved out of European Turkey, the murder of ten Jews by servants of the government is as instructive as the murder of a hundred would be. It is a crying wrong which Europe in one way or another ought to find the means to remedy.

It is interesting to inquire why the Jews are so hated and persecuted in Servia and Roumania — that is, in countries where Christianity presents itself in its lowest form. It is not so very long since Jews were treated with a very imperfect degree of toleration in most European countries, and it has evidently required that a Christian nation should be something more than Christian, and have reached a high degree of civilization, before it will really consider Jews on an equality with Christians. It would have seemed very strange to Englishmen of the last generation to see a Jew master of the rolls, and even now no Jew can sit in the House of Lords. Practically, however, there is now complete toleration of the Jews in France and Austria, and almost complete toleration of them in Germany and England. The first cause of the hatred of the Jews was of course the religious one. They were in Christian eyes an accursed race, who had despised and rejected the founder of Christianity. When this special cause of animosity had lost something of its force through the increased intercourse of the Christian with the non-Christian world, the Jews fell into the general rank of the unorthodox. This is the light in which they are at this day regarded in Russia. They share the general condemnation of those who refuse to dwell in the light of the Greek Church. They are treated as an iron and relentless despotism treats those who do not please it; and, like the Roman Catholics, are kept down, harassed, and worried by all the arts of bureaucratic ingenuity. Russia, backward as it is, does not go further than this; but in Roumania and Servia other feelings are allowed to come into play. There the Jews are hated, not only because they are not Christians, but because they are an alien race, keeping to themselves, having their own traditions and customs, marrying among themselves, and seeming like wanderers encamped on a territory which does not belong to them. They rouse the distrust which gipsies pitching their tents on a wayside green rouse in the breasts of English villagers. In accordance with this view, the Roumanian courts have held that a Jew cannot be considered a Moldavian or Wallachian by birth, and therefore that the clause in the constitution by which the affairs of the principalities are regulated, providing that all persons born Wallachians or Moldavians shall be regarded as civilly equal, does not apply to the Jews. The Roumanian government has even gone so far as to insist that the subjects of those countries with which it has concluded treaties of commerce shall, if Jews, not reap the benefits of those treaties; so that, whereas an Austrian or an English Christian is entitled to hold land or trade in the principalities, an Austrian or an English Jew is not. In the eyes of a Roumanian there is not, and cannot be, any such person as an Austrian Jew or a Roumanian Jew. All Jews are born, live, and die as aliens to every government. Lastly, these barbarous Christians are afraid of the commercial cleverness of the Jews. They do not see how they are to do business if Jews compete with them. One of the greatest causes of offence which the Jews have given is that they have offered to lend money at lower rates than the native usurers would take. Accordingly the Jews are kept out of every branch of trade by which it was thought they would thrive. They may not sell drugs, or liquors, or tobacco, or raw articles, or colonial produce. This prohibition reduces them to something like starvation, but it is really only an instance of protection gone mad. That the laws should be so shaped as to injure the consumer, and that the energy of those who could do business well should be debarred a field in order that those who do business badly may flourish, is the basis of protection all over the world; and if the Jews are once looked on as aliens, they are logically excluded as foreign interlopers. That they happen to live in the same country with the protectionists, and must starve before their eyes if protection asserts itself to the full, is only an accident in the development of a great principle.

Lord Derby received the Jewish deputation with every mark of cordial concurrence of opinion, and promised that what he could do to further their wishes should be done. So far as Turkey goes, everything is easy. England is certainly not going to interfere in Turkey in order to make the condition of the Jews worse than it is. It will not acquiesce in any settlement which will enable people on a level with the Servians to treat Jews as Jews are treated in Servia. If good government is introduced, it must be a gov-