“The Jews” by Hilaire Belloc: Various Theories

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Editor’s note: The following comprises the fourteenth chapter of The Jews, by Hilaire Belloc (published 1922).

(Continued from Chapter 13: Their Duty)


Before approaching my conclusion it may be well to review certain subsidiary theories which I have not hitherto touched in my discussion, because they stand apart from its argument.

There is a whole group of historical and other theories upon the position of the Jews which either imply that there is no problem, or if there is one that it cannot be solved, or even that if there is a problem it is of a sort that does not need solution, because that solution would be of no practical value.

There come in the first place those theories upon the international position of the Jews which are frankly non-rational, and which vary from those which may be defended with some show of reason from the history of the past, to those which are wholly imaginary. None of these, even though some one of them should be true, can find much place here because none lends itself to discussion.

Thus there is the conception of a curse; the conception that Israel must, until its conversion, suffer a perpetual pilgrimage and perpetual hostility. It is a statement bound up with that other popular prophecy that in the last days Israel will be reconciled with the Universal Church. Those who have these ideas at the back of their minds (they are more numerous than modern thought would like to admit), at heart despair of any solution, and would not attempt to urge it with any hope of success. They say, “The thing is fated and must continue.” But even they, I think, must admit that just as philosophy admits a paradox of determination and free will, so political effort must admit a paradox of foreseen failures and our duty, in spite of them, to aim at a political good.

Whether it be indeed true or not, that reconciliation is impossible and that in the long run the quarrel must drag itself out, it is certainly profoundly immoral to look on at the spectacle with no attempt to ameliorate its evils.

There is again the theory (which I mention in passing and leave to its adherents) that the British and the Jews are in some way mysteriously allied by Providence, so that any solution which does not give the fullest satisfaction to Israel (no matter at what cost to poor Japhet) is treason. These people mystically regard Britain as the handmaid of Jewry, and there is a section of them who further regard their fellow-countrymen as the ten lost tribes. I have in my library some specimens of their literature.

There is an opposite and, to me, detestable theory (but I must mention it because it exists), that the antagonism hitherto found perpetually, whether latent or active, between this people and the world about them is the use of the one as a necessary and divine oppressor of the other. To those who hold such a theory I can only reply that two can play at that game, and it certainly absolves those whom they would oppress from any obligation whatever of seeking a solution on their side. If a man thinks he can do harm to Israel wantonly, without suffering the reproaches of his own conscience, he is in error; and I confess that were I free (as I am not in a book of discussion and argument) to indulge in mere affirmation I should be inclined to say that those who set out with this remarkable object in view will catch a Tartar.

There is the opposite theory that a special and Divine protection is still exercised, not only for the preservation of the Jews but for judgment upon their enemies. That theory, I think, lies at the back of many a Jewish action in history and of much Jewish policy today. Non-rational, religious in origin, it is, I fancy, to very many of the race which has suffered so much, a consolation and a support.

Now all these non-rational theories (I use the word without any bad connotation: the non-rational—what is often inaccurately called the mystical—attitude towards any problem may well be more practical than the rational approach to it) I leave on one side as improper to rational discussion.

I have heard it maintained, again, by both parties to this debate, that the presence of an alien force, migratory, intense, full of tradition, experience and cohesion, was essential to the height and the activity of our own civilization.

These are not content to discover individual instances of Jewish excellence in the mass around them, or to extend the renown of individual Jewish genius. They are rather concerned with the general proposition that some such flux is necessary to the full action of a high and diverse culture. They tell us that but for the Jew the civilization of Europe would have grown torpid, would have settled into a fixed groove, incapable of change and of creative progress. The Jew, by this theory, is regarded as a sort of activating principle, who, whether as an irritant at the worst, or an inspiration at the best, keeps all our European life agog, and is necessary to its continuous business. These also incline to see the Jew at the origin of every great movement in European thought. They see him indirectly producing the vast transformation of the Roman Empire from a pagan, not indeed to a Jew but to a Christian, that is (in their eyes) to an Oriental mood. They see the Jew at the root of the great revolutionary philosophy which springs from the eleventh century and reaches its culmination in the great scholastics of the thirteenth. They insist upon the name of Averroës (Ibn Roshd), the philosopher of the twelfth century, the Kadi of Cordova: the exponent of Aristotle, the expositor—whom the Jews preserved: upon the great Moses ben Maimon, our Maimonides. These also put Nicolas de Lyra at the root of the Reformation: “Si Lyra non lyrasset Luther non saltasset.” But I may remind them that the Jewish character of this man is at least doubtful, that he was of the religious Orders of Christendom.

These also will certainly and with some reason ascribe to Jewish influence the great economic revolution of the seventeenth century, which has been followed by so vast an extension of wealth and of population, though hardly of human happiness.

Now for all this there is certainly something to be said as an aspect of historical truth. How far it may be extended to cover, as its exponents would make it cover, the whole historical field, may be debated, but I would ask my readers to consider what change we should have seen in the development of Europe if by some magical instrument Jewish influence had been upon some one date removed. It is a theory fascinating, in a way applicable, and arresting. It is, at any rate, not nonsense.

It is particularly true that something in the continuous exercise of analysis by the Jewish intelligence perpetually moves European intelligence to action—The great disputations of the Early Middle Ages were, largely, either directly disputations with Jews or disputations provoked by the intellectual attitude of the Jew; and the Jew, in the famous name of Spinoza, stands at the origin of that merely natural, that Lucretian interpretation of the world which continued through Descartes to its great expansion in the present day. You find that element in economics as you do in philosophy, in political science as you do in economics; and, talking of economics, it must not be forgotten that the greatest name at the foundation of modern economic science is the name of a Jew, Ricardo, while the most prominent name in the development of its most prominent direct application is also a Jewish name—the name of Karl Marx.

It is not without significance that any one of these names recalls, side by side with its Jewish origin, an aloofness from the general community of the Jews. That community, I think it is fair to say, abandoned Spinoza; Ricardo and, I believe, Karl Marx were alien to the national religion, and the latter married out of his people and exercised his enormous influence extraneously to the blood from which his family sprang. For though it is true that the direction, the staff of Communism is Jewish, yet its convinced adherents are in the mass of our blood.

And in that connection I am reminded of another theory or fact attaching to the history of Israel, which is that the intellectual independence of the Jew has been as marked throughout the ages as his solidarity. There are many, I know, of that nation who regard such exceptions as vagaries and almost condemn them as traitors; yet they are no small asset to the reputation of their people and their names, however much they may be repudiated by their compatriots, shed lustre upon the whole body from which they sprang. These include (let it be remembered) not only the “sceptical” philosophers, not only the materialists, but also those extraordinary exceptions who have lent the vigour, the tenacity and the lustre of the Jewish intellect to the service of the Catholic Church. I make bold to say that in no one of the Faith has there been more devotion than in those who, like Ratisbonne (and he was but one among many), have put such qualities at the service of what they have discovered to be alone divine. A cynic might add St. Paul, but, for that matter, the whole origin of the Church was intermixed with the intense individual efforts of such men.

In this connection also every wise man will admit that there is no greater error than to exaggerate the consciousness of Jewish action whether the error proceed from those who admire or who detest it. To hear their modern opponents talk one might imagine that the Jewish people formed a small club of which every member knew every other while each worked in the unison of a disciplined body. That aberration I have dealt with more than once upon former pages. The truth is that no nation on earth presents so many surprising exceptions to its general action as does this nation, and that no nation on earth, when it moves in one general direction, as it often does, is actuated by a common motive less conscious. We who stand outside the Jewish body may mark its cohesion, and will mark it, I hope, to its honour; but its own members complain rather of its lack of cohesion. I have heard them complain—I know not how often—of the way in which the wealthier Jews left their society for that of an alien body, sneered at the general body of Israel, and remained indifferent to the common cry of the race. It is this unconsciousness in action, this frequent replacement of motive by instinct which accounts for what all observers have noticed, especially in times of persecution. I mean the bewilderment of the oppressed at the action of their oppressors.

I remember once listening to a most eloquent speech delivered in the course of a debate in which, with that long recollection which is characteristic of his people, an Israelite passionately declaimed the gratitude of that people to St. Bernard who saved their remnant upon the Rhine from the popular fury. I remember also how another in a debate (for I have attended many such up and down the country and have heard from as many aspects as possible what the Jewish attitude towards us is) stated simply, in reply to my description of the Jewish financial position in this country after the Conquest: “Your cathedral and your abbeys and even your castles were built with our money.” The phrase was significant of the way in which what the English community of the time regarded as a tolerated abuse, those fortunes which they never thought of as Jewish at all, but as moneys temporarily unjustly wrung from the people at large, were regarded in contemporary Jewry as private property legitimately acquired, held in full possession.

I could wish in this connection that some learned Jew would produce a History of Europe from the point of view of his people: a short textbook, I mean, intended for our consumption; to show us ourselves from a standpoint very different from our own. It may be that such a book exists. I am certain it would be more useful than those indirect attacks (for they are attacks) upon the Christian tradition which pretend to a spirit of impartiality but are none the less hostile to that tradition in every line. I would much rather read the story of Europe as it was seen by a practising Jewish scholar than a so-called impartial and agnostic account which grotesquely represents the Church as something external to the body of Europe and even inimical to it.

In this connection also we should have (what now we lack), and that is a conspectus of the Jewish action over Christendom and Islam combined. We are aware of the tolerance, or rather favour, displayed to their Jewish subjects by the Mohammedans of Spain. It was neither universal nor continuous. What we do not sufficiently hear, what we have to piece together from chance allusions, is the connection between the Moorish Jews, before and during the Reconquista, and their fellows to the north.

Before I leave these cursory and sporadic notes on what I have called the “theories” upon our problem, I should mention one which would unhappily seem to have acquired widespread support today and which is surely the least satisfactory of all—even less satisfactory than the now dying fiction which pretended that the Jewish nation was not present in our midst, but consisted only of a mass of individuals already absorbed by their alien surroundings. I mean the theory that it is possible to continue in a sort of simmering atmosphere of partial repression, with the Jew treated as something alien and hostile, yet his presence unceasingly tolerated. That would seem to be the imperfect conclusion implied, if not stated, in a hundred modern pamphlets and discussions, the authors of which repudiate the name of Anti-Semite though they sympathize apparently with action even less logical than the politics of the Anti-Semite. There is no such equilibrium possible, even if its establishment were as moral as it is in fact immoral. If a frank solution be not found, nothing firm can be established. All we shall be establishing will be a violent and successive fluctuation. It is impossible to maintain an attitude permanently hostile to one’s neighbour, yet count on that hostility remaining permanently repressed. You fall inevitably along the slope of such a tendency into those excesses which it should be our whole object to condemn, to foresee and to prevent.

You cannot continue, as so many modern men seem, from their conversation, to wish, with political equality on the one side and a living spirit of enmity upon the other. You cannot get peace by giving a mere legal definition to the status of a minority, which is also necessarily your neighbour, and refusing a social action consonant with the legal definition. If you try to do that you are trying to do two things, one of which will destroy the other. No one can doubt which will be victorious in a conflict between a living sentient motive and a mere definition in public law.

One attitude towards the question which I have heard fairly often in the mouths of Jews and seen in their writings is something like this: “Our affairs have nothing to do with people outside our nation. This discussion of what you call ‘the Jewish problem’ is an impertinence upon your part. There is a Jewish problem indeed, but it is a domestic problem, and we request you (with some asperity) to mind your own business.”

If this attitude were sound, the search for what I have called a solution, though it might satisfy the intelligence, would be a breach of civic morals. In the same way it would be a breach of civic morals for me to work out a solution for the quarrel between Mr. Jones and his mother-in-law, neither of whom I have ever met and with whom I have no relations, and then to press this solution upon the contending parties. But the flaw in this attitude is that the problem is essentially one involving two parties, the Jews and the non-Jews. The problem we are attempting to solve is a problem expressed in terms of both. Some would even say that there is hardly a domestic question within the Jewish nation which does not have its reaction upon society outside it, and which it is not the business of that society outside to inquire into. That would be pressing things rather far. But the main problem is intimately concerned with both parties and as much with the one as with the other. It is true, indeed, that the consequences of a false solution, or of shirking the solution altogether, would be more acute for the Jew than for us; but we should both suffer, and even on our side the suffering would be grievous.

Even if there were no question of suffering in the ordinary sense of the term, there would still be the question of justice. The Jews who resent a statement of the problem and an attempt at solving it are not doing their own people any good and are at the same time denying us the right of putting our own affairs in order, which denial is, of course, intolerable: for the position of the Jews in our great States and in Islamic society is something which those States and that society have to determine. They cannot leave it in the air. To some conclusion they must come, and soon, and on the nature of that conclusion depends their peace.

Two theories, proceeding from very different states of mind, the opposite each of the other, but each exclusive of any solution, spring from the root idea that there is something inexorably malignant in the relations between the Jew and his surroundings. In the one form this takes the shape of affirming that the unfortunate Jew is invariably ill-treated by his wicked hosts and always will be so ill-treated. In the other it takes the form of saying that the wicked Jew will always be conspiring and trying to hurt his good, kind hosts and always will be so conspiring. In either case it is no good trying to find a solution, for it is affirmed that the quarrel is in the nature of things. People will say to one, “Why attempt to change something which cannot be changed? Why talk of your material as something other than what it is? Cats will always quarrel with dogs, and if you want to avoid a quarrel the only thing to do is to keep the dogs and cats of your household apart.”

It is precisely because I do not believe either form of this idea to be true that I have sought for a solution. I do not believe either form of doctrine to be true because the evidence is against it. That evidence is to my hand and can be examined by my own unaided powers, as it can be examined by any other person in our modern society. I cannot recollect one single case in all the hundreds of Jews I have come across—not one in the score whom I can count as intimates—who showed any sign of this malignant hatred. I have heard many outbursts of exasperation which, when we think of the past, are natural enough; but of some persistent and evil desire to hurt those among whom they live, some instinctive desire unconnected with past suffering, and acting as a sort of instinct, I have seen no trace. If such were to be discovered in some exceptional Jew out of a large acquaintance I should conclude that it might be true of a small minority, but common sense and common experience are sufficient to show that it does not affect the mass.

Of the causes of friction, even of acute friction, which I have enumerated in former pages, there is the habit of secrecy, there is the mutual contempt, arising in each from a sense of superiority over the other; there is the quarrel between what is national and what is international, between what is of us and what is alien. There are, in a word, plenty of elements suggesting accidental antagonism, but of intrinsic antagonism there is no evidence—there is no evidence, I mean, that the Jews would still desire to destroy a society in which they found themselves at their ease.

And, if we examine ourselves, we shall be equally convinced that there is no corresponding desire upon our side to do a wrong to the Jew. We also are exasperated by the memory of insult in moments of quarrel, of international action opposing our national interests and of friction between what is native and what is alien; but that is a very different thing from permanent and necessary antagonism. I know very well what is called “modern thought” gives to the unconscious part of man a large place and reduces, as much as it can, the field of reason. I cannot agree with it. It seems to me that man is essentially rational; and his political relations can be arranged consonantly with his conscious morals and his conscious logic.

At any rate, if they cannot, there is an end of all statesmanship and of all useful political action even in details.

Next, there are the two converse attitudes towards the question which certainly are affecting, the one an increasing audience upon our side and the other perhaps an interested though but secret audience upon the other; I mean those two converse theories whereby, on the one side, there is the Messianic idea of the Jew ultimately controlling the world, on the other an extreme dread of that idea and a belief that it is being actively pursued to the destruction of our institutions and religion.

I can understand that, with the traditions of his race behind him and with the tone of their sacred writings in his ears, a Jew should lean in some degree to such a conception, or at any rate that some Jews should lean towards it. Certainly in face of the ridiculously exaggerated power of the Jews in recent times (it is now declining, for secrecy was of its essence and it has now been brought into the arena of open discussion) it was natural that men should fall into the exaggeration of panic. They saw the Jew, a tiny fraction of most communities, not more than a twentieth of any community, exercising a power quite out of proportion to his numbers or, indeed, to his ability; and they saw that power directed towards ends which were Jewish ends and therefore hostile or indifferent to the rest of mankind. But my reason for rejecting not only exaggerations of this idea but its fundamental implication is that it seems to me practically impossible. It connotes abilities upon the Jewish side, a continuous will upon the Jewish side, both of which are obviously absent. And you have only to look at history to see that long before things come to anything like a struggle for supremacy it is the Jew who suffers most from the suspicion of holding such a design, not we. Indeed, that is one of the important elements in the dangerous situation which has been created to-day.

That large and greatly increasing body of men who so fear Jewish domination, and are vigorously reacting against the Jews under the influence of that fear, are much more likely to end with injustice to the Jew than with subservience to him. It is from this atmosphere that the great misfortunes of the past have arisen. It is of the essence of any solution that this mood should be exorcised upon the one side as upon the other.

There is another theory which I have read of in more than one learned Jewish treatise and which has been repeated (after Jewish authors themselves had launched it) by many non-Jewish societies and historians, to the effect that the very survival of the Jews, their very existence as a separate community, was due to conditions common in the past, now disappeared, and that therefore the present difficulties can safely be left to time.

This is, of course, to make the general assertion that the Jewish race can be absorbed, and that absorption is the solution. That conclusion I summarily rejected in the earlier pages of this book on the historical ground that it has had the most favourable circumstances for success and yet has always failed. But in the particular case stated it has an argument of its own and one needing very special examination: it is this:—

Those who defend this theory tell us that however favourable the opportunities for absorption were in the past they are nothing to the opportunities of the present and the future, and that therefore the argument from history fails. In the past (they tell us) the Jews were exclusive and even made of their exclusiveness a religion. They on their side mixed as little as possible with the world around them and we on our side maintained that exclusion by an equal insistence upon the difference between ourselves and them. We had in those days, it is maintained, a religion based upon the Incarnation and therefore abhorrent to the Jew; that religion is dead or dying, and with it the tendency to exclusion from outside has disappeared; while on the Jewish side there is also a great weakening of the old religious bond, less of the old Messianic dogma, and on both sides the enormous melting-pot[1] that makes for absorption with an intensity and rapidity quite unknown in the past. It was one thing to absorb the Jew when it took a month to go as an ordinary traveller from London to Rome, it is another thing when it takes three days. It was one thing to absorb the Jew when in the greater part of cases there was a bar to the mixing of the races, based upon the nerves of religion, it is quite another thing to absorb the Jew when those most powerful of emotional forces have disappeared—and so forth.

Now the reasons which bring me to reject this theory are two-fold.

In the first place, I think it exaggerates the contrast between the past and the present. In the second place, I know that in the actual world before me and precisely under those conditions where the fusion, the action of the “melting-pot,” ought to be most complete, the most violent reaction against absorption is to be observed.

As to the contrast between the past and the present, I think it is based upon an imperfect apprehension of what our past has been. It comes of that “telescoping up” of history to which I alluded in another connection in my second chapter.

The long story of our race between the Roman occupation of Judæa and the modern local and ephemeral industrial phase of the great modern towns is not divided into two chapters, the strange past and the comprehensible present. It is much of a muchness. The constant developments which astonish us to-day in physical science, for instance, are not more remarkable than the vast new developments in architecture and philosophy which marked the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The disturbance of thought which may be called “modern scepticism” is not anything like so important a spiritual change as that tremendous revolution which we call the conversion of the Roman Empire. The area of scepticism is not larger to-day than it has been in many special periods of the past. The feeling of strong religious emotion which forbids this or that action is still present among us, sometimes attached to its older objects, sometimes (as in the craze for prohibition) to some novel object. The indifference which you will find to the particular religious barrier between Jew and non-Jew is not peculiar to our times. It has come and gone in the past; after a wave of such indifference you have had a wave of the most acute reaction, and I think you are observing a wave of such reaction to-day.

Nor do I see how the rapidity of mere physical communications affects the matter, nor even how the volume of emigration affects the matter. You can get a million Jews from Lithuania to New York—a distance of 5,000 miles—in less time than you could get a million Jews from the Valley of the Rhine into Poland some centuries ago; but the million Jews seem to remain Jews just the same under modern conditions as they did in the past. Indeed, the toleration of Jews, the friendly reception of them, and therefore the opportunities for their absorption were indefinitely greater in mediaeval Poland than they are in modern America. It seems to me that the whole of this part of the argument is based upon that prevalent view of history which comes from reading our little modern text-books: and our little modern text-books are very rubbishy. It is a view which comes from that absurd emphasis upon whatever is contemporary. The modern advance of physical science is regarded as having totally changed the world inwardly as well as outwardly. We have only to look at the modern world and to compare it with any two distant, special periods we know, to discover that the difference between any pair of these three is equally striking. In many ways the modern world is much more like the world of the Antonines than it is like the world of Innocent the Great. In many ways the world of Innocent the Great is much more like the Roman Empire than the modern world. In many ways the world of Innocent the Great and our world have more in common than either has with the pagan Roman Empire. The general lesson is, therefore, that our time, with all its remarkable specialities, is but one specimen out of a great number equally individual, and certainly there is nothing in it either of religious scepticism breaking down old religious barriers or of rapidity of communication, or of any other fundamental factor, which specially suggests the absorption of the Jew.

For instance, the Jews mixed much more readily, on a much more equal footing and with far less friction among the Mohammedans at particular periods during the Islamic occupation of Spain than they do even in England to-day. Yet they were not absorbed there, any more than they were absorbed in Poland. They were not absorbed into that older, tolerant, very denationalized pagan Roman world where they so often had full civic rights and where they even manipulated, as they manipulate to-day, the finances of the community.

As for the decay of exclusiveness on their part, I see no sign of it. For this exclusiveness proceeds not so much from a particular observance which may relax at one period and tighten up at another, as from an invariable national tradition which fluctuates in intensity but never sinks so low as to jeopardize the continuance of the people.

If we turn from argument to observation, the falsity of the theory stares us in the face. We have but to take one point, where the metaphor of the “melting-pot” most applies (and to which it was originally applied), the city of New York. What has been the effect of this great influx of Jews into New York, this turning of New York into a city a third Jewish under our eyes and in so short a space of time? As we all know, the effect has been the uprising, in that once indifferent atmosphere, of such a feeling against the Jews as would appal us did we see it in the Old World. It is red hot. It is an intense reaction expressing itself with greater and greater violence every day; and the spirit of that reaction cannot be better expressed than in a phrase which we owe, I think, to Mr. Ford and his famous propaganda against the Jews, through his paper the “Dearborn Independent.” “It is all very well to talk of the melting-pot,” says he, “but so far from the Jews melting in that pot, it looks as though they wanted to melt the pot itself.”

There you have, in New York, if anywhere, an opportunity for the theory of absorption to prove itself. You have present in the field a score of different races, including great masses of a race so utterly different from ours as the negro. You have a certain small proportion of Chinamen and you have of European stocks an indefinite variety—most of them in large numbers. You have not only in local establishments or even only in civic theory, but in actual practice—in enthusiastic practice—a complete equality and a positive pride in the reception of no matter what elements of immigration, in the certitude that all can rapidly be moulded into the American form. Most of these elements were absorbed, and absorbed rapidly; where they were not absorbed there was at least peace between them. Then arrives the Jew and a totally new situation at once appears. A situation of challenge, of provocation, of admitted exclusion, of violent debate and even of clamour: but no sign of absorption. In presence of all the elements that should make for absorption, difference and hatred between Jew and non-Jew is growing in New York with the vitality of a tropical plant.

There is yet another theory which, if it were not widely held and if it had not been advanced by so many Jews themselves, I should leave aside as something comic, something unfit for serious discussion. But it has been advanced and it must be met. It is no less than the theory that there are no such people as the Jews, that the whole thing is illusion.

This monstrous affirmation is based, I need hardly say, upon what is called a “scientific” examination of the affair: for that word “scientific” has come to be associated with every kind of unreason. Men, especially Jewish men, have been found to affirm most solemnly that they had measured skulls, taken sections of hair, catalogued the colours of eyes, established facial angles, analysed blood, and applied I know not how many other tricks, with the result that no Jewish type could be discovered! People who can reason thus do not seem to appreciate the fundamental quarrel between nominalism and realism, or to have heard of the old philosophic joke on the definition of “a thing.”

We know a horse to be a horse, an apple to be an apple, a Chinaman to be a Chinaman, or a Jew to be a Jew by some process on which philosophers can debate, but upon the virtue of which no sane man doubts and upon the right action of which we base all our lives. The chemist may tell me that the chemical analysis of a lump of coal gives the same result as the chemical analysis of a diamond, to which any man capable of using his reason at all will reply that upon a very large number of other lines of analysis, colour, touch, combustibility, hardness and softness, economic value, prevalence (and so on indefinitely), the two are not the same. No analysis is complete, and if we had made no conscious analysis at all, we could still perceive at once that a lump of coal is not a diamond.

It is just the same with these pseudo-scientific attempts to disprove obvious truth. They pullulate and they are all equally ridiculous because they deduce from insufficient data. The existence and differentiation of the Jewish people as a race ethnically and as a nation politically is as much a fact as the existence of coal or diamonds. They are a nation politically because they act as a nation, because their individual members feel and exercise a corporate function. We know them to be a separate race because we can see that they are. When you meet a Jew, whether you are his enemy or his friend, you meet a Jew. He has a certain expression, a certain manner, certain physical characteristics which you may not be able to analyse at the moment you see him, but which give you the impression and the certitude that you are dealing with a particular thing, to wit, the Jewish race. It is true, of course, that the type, like all general types, fades off at the edges, and there will always be cases where you may be in doubt of whether you are dealing with a Jew or with a non-Jew, but there is a marked central type round which the Jewish racial type is built up. That is as certain as that there is a Mongolian type, or a negroid type, and so forth.

I do not take the objection very seriously. I only note it because it has been made, and may crop up in the course of any discussion on this grave political issue.


[1] I borrow the metaphor from Mr. Zangwill, who applied it to New York particularly. I apply it to the whole modern industrial world.

(Continue to Chapter 15: Habit or Law?)

Raised in a home filled with books on Western civilization, P.G. Mantel became a lover of history at an early age. An amateur writer of verse, he makes himself useful as an editor for Men of the West.

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