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Problems of Humanity - Chapter IV - The Problem of the Racial Minorities
1. The Jewish Problem

This problem is so old and so well known that it is difficult to say anything about it which will not be in the nature of a platitude, that will not indicate a bias of some kind (from the point of view of the reader) and that will not arouse in the Jewish reader above all an undesirable reaction. There is little usefulness, however, in saying that which will be acceptable or which agrees with all points of view or is a statement of all that has hitherto been said. There are things to be said which are not so familiar and which have seldom been said, or have been said in a spirit of criticism or of anti-Semitism instead of in a spirit of love, as is attempted here.

Let us look for a moment at the situation of the Jews, prior to the bitter and unpardonable attack made upon them by Hitler and prior to the war 1939-1945. They were to be found in every land and claimed citizenship in every country; within the nation of their birth, they preserved intact their own racial identity, their own peculiar way of life, their own national religion (which is everybody's privilege) and a close adherence to those of their own race. Other groups have done this but to a much lesser degree and have been eventually absorbed and assimilated by the land of their citizenship. The Jews have always constituted a nation within a nation, though this has been less marked in Great Britain, Holland, France and Italy than elsewhere, and therefore, in none of these countries has there been any strong anti-Semitic feeling.

In every country and down the ages, the Jew has turned to commerce and has worked with money; they [97] are a strictly commercial and urban people and have shown little interest in agriculture, except lately under the Zionist Movement in Palestine. To their extremely materialistic tendencies they have added a great sense of the beautiful and an artistic conception which has added much to the world of art; they have ever been the patrons of the beautiful, and have also been amongst the world's great philanthropists and this in spite of undesirable and devious business methods, which have made them greatly disliked and mistrusted in the world of business. They are and remain an essentially oriental people - which the occidental is apt to forget; if he remembered it he would realize that the Eastern approach to truth and honesty and to the use and possession of money is widely different to that of the Western, and herein is to be found a part of the difficulty. It is not so much a question of right and wrong as one of different standards and inherent racial attitudes which are shared with the whole of the East.

The modern Jew is also the product of many centuries of persecution and of migrations; he has wandered from country to country and from city to city, and in the course of these wanderings he has inevitably developed certain habits of living and thinking which, again, the occidental fails to recognize and for which he makes no allowance; the Jews are, for instance, the product of centuries of tent-dwelling and hence the untidy effect they have on any community in which they live and which the more organized Westerner (a cave-dweller) fails to recognize. They are also the product of their need, down the centuries, to live off the people among whom they wander, to seize the presented chance to take what they want, to see to it that their children get the best of everything available, no matter what the cost to others, to cling to their own people in the midst of the alien races among whom they cast [98] their lot, and to preserve inviolate, as far as may be, their national religion, their national taboos and the ancient landmarks. This has been essential to their existence under persecution; it has been compulsory for them to preserve these factors in their ancient forms as far as possible, so as to provide evidence to other Hebrews in new lands and cities that they were Jews as they claimed to be. It is this that makes them the most reactionary and conservative race in the world.

Racial characteristics have become increasingly pronounced owing to the inevitable intermarriage during the past centuries and the emphasis laid by the orthodox Jew in the past upon racial purity. The young and modern Jew lays no emphasis upon this and has usually no objection to intermarriage with the Gentiles, but this is only a late development which meets with no approval from the older generation. The Gentile also objects in many cases.

The Jew is a good citizen, law-abiding, kindly and decent in his ways, anxious to play his part in community life and ready with his money when asked for it but - he still remains apart. The Ghetto tendency, as one might call it, can be seen spreading everywhere, particularly in the larger cities in the different countries. Down the ages, the Jews for measures of protection and for communal happiness tended to herd together and to seek each other out, and the Gentiles among whom they found themselves fostered this tendency; thus habits of association were formed which still control. Added to this, and due to the separative action of the Gentile world, restricted areas and cities began to appear in many countries in which no Jew was permitted to reside or to purchase property or to settle. Because of the aptitude of the Jew to live off other people and to live within a nation, benefiting by its customs, culture and civilization but retaining a separate identity and not [99] becoming a true part of the national life, the Jew has ever been subjected to persecution; as a race, he is nowhere liked and people are on guard against him and his methods.

This general statement is often untrue where the individual Jew is concerned. There are Jews in every nation and locality who are deeply loved by all who know them whether Jew or Gentile, who are respected by all around them, who are sought after and valued. These belong to the great spiritual aristocracy of humanity, and though they function in Jewish bodies and bear Jewish names, they join forces with men and women gathered out of all nations who belong to humanity and who have outgrown national and racial characteristics. These men and women are, as a group, the hope of humanity, the guarantee of the new and better world for which we all wait; their numbers are increasing daily. In a broad generalization about any race or nation, the individual necessarily suffers, but the statements made about the race or nation as a whole are correct, true and verifiable.

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