|ARE JEWS JEWS?|
PRESIDENT OF THE JEWISH HISTORICAL SOCIETY.
IN the December (1898) and January (1899) numbers of Appletons' Popular Science Monthly Prof. William Z. Ripley concludes the remarkable series of articles on the Racial Geography of Europe, originally delivered as Lowell Institute lectures, by a couple of articles on the Jews. Strictly speaking, the articles might seem to have no right in the particular series in which Professor Ripley has included them, since their main object is to show that the Jews are not a race but a people, and have therefore no claim to be considered in the racial geography of any continent. But one can not regret that a daring disregard for logic has caused Professor Ripley to conclude his interesting series with the somewhat startling paradox that Jews are not Jews, in the sense of the word in which both their friends and their enemies have hitherto taken it. As Professor Ripley has been good enough to refer to me as having written with some authority on the subject, and as I have not been convinced by his arguments against the comparative racial purity of the Jews, I am glad of an opportunity to discuss the question, which is of equal theoretic and practical interest.
The theoretic interest, with which alone we need concern ourselves here, seems to me of two kinds. Professor Ripley, as a student of anthropology, declares, as the result of his inquiries, that there has been so large an admixture of round skulls with the (hypothetically assumed) original long skulls of the Hebrews that all signs of racial unity have disappeared. I, on the other hand, who have approached the subject as a student of history, see no evidence of any such large admixture of alien elements in the race since its dispersion from Palestine, and have come, therefore, to the opposite conclusion—that the Jews now living are, to all intents and purposes, exclusively the direct descendants of the Diaspora. Here, then, anthropology and history—if Professor Ripley and I have respectively interpreted their verdicts aright—appear to speak in two opposite senses, and no conference at La Hague or elsewhere can appoint a court of appeal which can decide between contrary propositions by two different sciences.
- To prevent misunderstanding, I should perhaps add that I have not neglected the anthropological aspects of the question. My paper on The Racial Characteristics of Modern Jews, which appeared in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute for 1885, contained, I believe Professor Ripley would allow, the fullest account of Jewish anthropometry collected up to that date.