Thursday, September 2, 2010

Chapter 4, Secular Antisemitism: The Enlightenment and the Jews

“Jack sold his egg to a rogue of a Jew,

Who cheated him out of half his due.”

A 19th century Mother Goose verse

Emile Zola wrote in 1897:

“The Jews such as they are today are our work, the work of our 1,800 years of idiotic persecution.” To free the Jews from their oppression meant to free the Christians from their prejudices against them. But, alas, those who held high the banner of the ideological revolution turned to be Judeophobes themselves.

Denis Diderot, the principal writer of the famous Encyclopédie (1765) pointed out some Jewish virtues, for example that the Jews are the oldest nation and never succumbed to polytheism. At the same time he wrote about the Jews as being “ignorant and superstitious,” capable of any villainy. Paul D’Hollbach went further. In “The Spirit of Judaism,” he claimed that Judaism is evil, that its corruption led to the creation of Christianity, that Moses was the most harmful legislator ever, who taught hatred for mankind and parasitism. The Jews’ God is blood-thirsty and causes them to commit genocides, the patriarchs were lascivious liars, the prophets a bunch of fanatics, and so on. The Jews were the vilest people on earth. (It is paradoxical that after two millennia of Jewish suffering under Christian domain, D’Hollbach and others now blamed the Jews for having created Christianity).

On the whole, Montesquieu favored the Jews and empathized with their sufferings (“Judaism is a mother who has given birth to two daughters who have struck her a thousand blows... If you do not want to be Christian, at least be human”) he also warned that “wherever there is money there are Jews.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a noteworthy exception to the rule and adopted a stand consistently favorable to the Jews.

The most ill-mouthed of all Enlightened Judeophobes was none other than the man who incarnated the ideas of the French Revolution based upon “liberty, equality and fraternity.” Voltaire, champion of the Enlightenment, enemy of the Church, wrote a Philosophical Dictionary. In more than a quarter of all the entries in the Dictionary, Voltaire insulted the Jews “the most imbecile people on the face of the earth, enemies of mankind, most obtuse, cruel absurd...” The longest entry of the book is “Jews” and there we read: “The Jews never were natural philosophers, nor geometricians, nor astronomers...” Is it possible that Voltaire had not heard of Maimonides or Spinoza? No, but Judeophobia had the power to twist the reasoning of even this most reasonable man. And he touches the nerve. If there was an area in which Jewish accomplishment was outstanding it was education. Wrote Voltaire: “So far away were they from having public schools for the instruction of youth that they have not a term in their language to express such an institution.”

This great liberator from superstition actually approved of the endless persecutions and massacres of the Jews and supported the blood accusation (“your priests have always sacrificed human victims with their sacred hands.”) And it is not acceptable that “Voltaire struck at the Jews to strike at Christianity,” as some claim, because Voltaire also attacked the Church openly. He did not need to do it via the Jews. He signed his letters with “Écrasez l’infâme” (“destroy the infamous” referring to the Church), except for letters sent to Jews (where he signed “Christian gentleman of the very Christian king’s chamber”). “In short,” ends the Dictionary, “we find in them only an ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched. Still, we ought not to burn them.”

Voltaire’s Judeophobia was commonplace among freethinkers. As with the Church Fathers, they expressed hatred and disdain whenever they referred to the Jews. The English were exceptional in their Judeophobia-free outlook, with the likes of John Locke and John Toland. However, full Emancipation in England did not arrive until 1858 when Baron Lionel de Rothschild took his seat in Parliament, taking an oath specially formulated for the occasion.

Modern Judeophobia was basically a reaction to the Emancipation of the Jews, which took the form of three trends, each one respectively exemplified in three countries, namely: the socioeconomic (France), the racial (Germany) and the conspirational (Russia).

The Emancipation of the Jews and the Reaction

In France the revolutionaries’ National Assembly debated whether the principle of “Liberty, Equality and Brotherhood” should apply to the Jews. After two years, in September 1791, Jews were granted civic freedom, and Napoleon then saw it as his task to make good Frenchmen of the Jews.

Incensed by complaints from Alsace about Jewish usury, Napoleon called for an Assembly of Jewish Notables, holding sessions from July 1806 to April 1807. The Assembly was made up of 111 rabbis and community leaders, who had to respond to twelve questions about Jewish habits namely: polygamy, divorce, marrying out, French patriotism, relationship towards the Gentiles, obedience to French law, rabbis’ appointment and authority, forbidden professions, and usury. During the last months of the sessions, 71 Jews, mostly rabbis, were appointed to translate the answers of the Assembly into religious binding laws. This was called the Napoleon Sanhedrin.

This same year the first modern Judeophobic myth was born. The Jesuit Augustin Barruel claimed that this Sanhedrin had been “brought out to light” after having been underground for almost fifteen centuries, during which it exercised powerful control over Europe. Napoleon’s Sanhedrin was dissolved.

The pre-Emancipatorial Judeophobic atmosphere again reared its ugly head. The term “Sanhedrin” was a misnomer which could be understood to imply that it had the legal power to enforce its decisions. However, this was clearly not the cause but rather an arbitrary detonator (Judeophobia finds excuses everywhere). Pope Pius VII believed Barruel, and in the Papal States and in Germany, the downfall of Napoleon (1815) undid the Emancipation. Those few years had sparked a wave of assimilationism among Jews, many of whom had desperately knocked on the doors of gentile society long before it was open to them. The vanguard of the assimilationists was in Berlin. Hugo Valentin wrote in his book “Anti-Semitism” that “more German Jews were baptized between 1800 and 1818, than in the previous 1800 years put together”.

It was now that the Jews learned to their sorrow that Judeophobia was not neutralized by a mere governmental decree, nor by theories of Enlightenment, nor by assimilation. There was rising agitation against Jews in many German towns and in 1819 it reached a new point of violence with the cry “Hep, hep, death to the Jews!” accompanying the riots. The authorities argued that Emancipation should be withheld from Jews because of the ill-will it caused the masses.

In France several philosophers turned this Judeophobic reaction into their ideology. François Fourier (d. 1837) established a school of social reform, and pursued his aim with passionate dogmatism and intolerance. For Fourier “commerce was the source of all evils and Jews the incarnation of commerce.” It had been a big mistake to emancipate slaves and Jews, “the most despicable nation.” His disciple Alphonse Toussenel wrote in 1845 a two-volume work “The Jews, Kings of the Epoch,” which served as the inspiration for a conservative, rural Judeophobia that eventually developed into a political movement. Toussenel warned the reader that in his book he used “the word Jew in the sense of banker, usurer,” but he openly supported the persecutions that the Jews had previously suffered as a people. This semantic manipulation allowed him to include under the “Jewish” epithet even the Protestant countries.

This type of pun can be misleading. It is true that Toussenel was anti-Protestant too, but the fact that he blames the Jews for everything he disliked illustrates the essence of Judeophobia. He limited himself to reproving Protestant influence, but not want to destroy the Protestants as a group. In the same vein, it is misleading to claim that D’Hollbach was as Judeophobic as he was anti-Christian, or that Stalin was as Judeophobic as he was anti-religious, or that Hitler was Judeophobic as he was anti-Communist. It is one thing to express reservations about an idea (even if that idea is Judaism!) and a very different one to attack a group who incarnate any “evil” idea which the attacker chooses to deride.

The 'Jews Control France' Myth

The hostile atmosphere in France was the backdrop for another book which was a watershed in Judeophobic history: “La France Juive” by Edouard Drumont (1886) described France as subjugated to the Jews in the political, economic, social, and cultural spheres. In a short time it had over a hundred editions. In 1889 Drumont founded the Anti-Semitic League (remember Marr’s league in our first lesson?) and a few years later he was elected to the chamber of deputies. This paradigm describing Jews dominating the nation was oft-repeated, regarding any number of nations. The usual way is to mention the names of Jewish bankers, newspaper editors, top industrialists and so on, and then bundle all this power together as claiming it belongs to “the Jews.” (Everyone would see the absurdity in attributing financial power to “the short” because many bankers are 5 ft 2’’, or to claim that the press is in the hands of the “visually challenged” because many journalists wear glasses. And this is the strategy: to note Jews in key positions and to imply that they are secretly coordinated - “the Jews.”) That many Frenchmen are still infected by this, was apparent last March when Jean-Marie Le Pen, a French opposition leader who is supported by 15% of the population, claimed that the President of France is controlled by “the Jews.”

Jews govern everything. This is a modern myth, which was almost absent in previous Judeophobia and which we will consider further in our ninth lesson. In France, the peak of the Judeophobic trend was the Dreyfus affair.

Seventeenth century

During the mid-to-late 17th century the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was devastated by several conflicts, in which the Commonwealth lost over a third of its population (over 3 million people), and Jewish losses were counted in hundreds of thousands. First, the Chmielnicki Uprisingwhen Bohdan Khmelnytsky's Cossacks massacred tens of thousands of Jews in the eastern and southern areas he controlled (today'sUkraine). The precise number of dead may never be known, but the decrease of the Jewish population during that period is estimated at 100,000 to 200,000, which also includes emigration, deaths from diseases and jasyr (captivity in the Ottoman Empire).[40][41]

[edit]Eighteenth century

In 1744, Frederick II of Prussia limited the number of Jews allowed to live in Breslau to only ten so-called "protected" Jewish families and encouraged a similar practice in other Prussian cities. In 1750 he issued the Revidiertes General Privilegium und Reglement vor die Judenschaft: the "protected" Jews had an alternative to "either abstain from marriage or leave Berlin" (quoting Simon Dubnow). In the same year, Archduchess of Austria Maria Theresa ordered Jews out of Bohemia but soon reversed her position, on the condition that Jews pay for their readmission every ten years. This extortion was known as malke-geld (queen's money). In 1752 she introduced the law limiting each Jewish family to one son. In 1782, Joseph II abolished most of these persecution practices in his Toleranzpatent, on the condition that Yiddishand Hebrew were eliminated from public records and that judicial autonomy was annulled. Moses Mendelssohn wrote that "Such a tolerance... is even more dangerous play in tolerance than open persecution."

In 1772, the empress of Russia Catherine II forced the Jews of the Pale of Settlement to stay in their shtetls and forbade them from returning to the towns that they occupied before the partition of Poland.[42]

[edit]Nineteenth century

Historian Martin Gilbert writes that it was in the 19th century that the position of Jews worsened in Muslim countries. Benny Morris writes that one symbol of Jewish degradation was the phenomenon of stone-throwing at Jews by Muslim children. Morris quotes a 19th century traveler: "I have seen a little fellow of six years old, with a troop of fat toddlers of only three and four, teaching [them] to throw stones at a Jew, and one little urchin would, with the greatest coolness, waddle up to the man and literally spit upon his Jewishgaberdine. To all this the Jew is obliged to submit; it would be more than his life was worth to offer to strike a Mahommedan."[43]

In 1850 the German composer Richard Wagner published Das Judenthum in der Musik ("Jewishness in Music") under a pseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner's contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, but expanded to accuse Jews of being a harmful and alien element in German culture.

Jewish Emancipation.

Glenn R. Sharfman

Jewish Emancipation, 1848 Among the primary causes of the revolutions of 1848 was the longstanding call for liberation, particularly of the middle class. Thus, a universal objective was the call for elections for assemblies to write constitutions which would "throw off the iron leading strings of the aristocracy" (Heine) and guarantee basic rights universally to all citizens. The objective of Jewish emancipation that would grant them equal civil and political rights with the rest of the citizens was part of the great burgher movement of emancipation of all citizens from the old aristocratic order Therefore, in central Europe, where Jewry continued to suffer legal discrimination, Jews were often part of a demand for civil rights as the part of radical programs. The liberation of Jews from the legal complexity of the old order became one of the principal issues in the various constitutional deliberations. The ensuing public debate on the rights of the Jews, however, led to ambivalent results.

On one side Jews stood shoulder to shoulder with non-Jews in their fight for emancipation; two of the five victims in Vienna in the March 1848 violence were Jews, while at least ten Jews died in the fighting in Berlin. Yet on the other side, the 1848 uprisings ushered in a new more intense anti-Jewish hostility as many Christians feared that emancipation would be tantamount to Jewish domination. The German theologian David Friedrich Strauss commented on the ambiguity that "at the very time when on one side an overwhelming vote of confidence has been carried in favor of the Jews . . . we see on the other side a clear vote of no confidence interposed." There is no question that in most states trying to liberate themselves, Jews played an active role. Equal rights for Jews were inextricably tied with demands for constitutions and civil rights, and consequently the vast majority of Jews sided with the revolutionaries.

Liberals advocated Jewish emancipation for a variety of reasons. Some liberals did so with the premise that discriminatory laws were anachronistic and morally unjust, while others wanted to rescind prejudicial laws believing that this would be an effective way to encourage assimilation or conversion. Most liberals believed that emancipation would compel Jews to adapt to the ways of the majority. They were less persuaded to liberate Jews out of an abstract political morality than they were out of economic utility. Both Jews and liberals thought the first step toward an equal society was to have laws guaranteeing basic freedoms. Paragraph 13 of the Basic Rights of the Frankfurt Parliament stated that civil rights were not to be conditional on belonging to a particular religious faith. For the Jews, this was a great improvement over the Act of 1815 which allowed special legislation dealing with Jews. In practice, each state in the German Confederation enacted different ways of dealing with its Jewish population ranging from minor acts of discrimination to outright bans against Jews. Part of the enthusiasm that Jews exhibited for a united Germany stemmed from the belief that one uniform law would be more beneficial than thirty-nine separate ones. It must be pointed out though that perhaps a quarter of European Jews could be considered conservative, and that a majority of Jews were not politically active during the events of 1848. Those Jews who did participate in the rebellions were however liberal or radical.

Each nation treated Jews distinctly before 1848. Only in France and the Netherlands were Jews earlier emancipated, and thus the events of 1848 had little influence on their legal status. Nonetheless, two Jews, Adolphe Crémieux and Michel Goudchaux, were active in the French provisional government, and Rabbi Aron joined the bishop of Strasbourg and the Protestant clergy in 1848 to bless liberty trees and praise the Republic. Like in France, Great Britain abolished all legal restrictions in 1846 so the Jewish debate in 1848 was a minor factor. Most other countries, except for Russia, had been gradually debating and ameliorating the restrictions against Jews in the previous half century. This piecemeal move toward emancipation coincided, in many areas, with greater Jewish assimilation. As the barriers to citizenship fell, Jews began to play a prominent role in public life, and, at least in the cities, commenced to be more accepted by their fellow countrymen. One historian wrote that "public opinion...of the middle class opposition had come round to the cause of emancipation. The demand for emancipation, raised by Christian and Jew alike, was clearly in agreement with the Zeitgeist, and thus, the ambiguous attitude of a number of bourgeois politicians notwithstanding, Jewish emancipation became an important plank in the political programs of the Liberal and Democratic movements." Thus, in many ways 1848 can be seen as a culmination of a half century of progress as the constitutional guarantees extended earlier initiatives.

Most Jewish and non-Jewish liberals hoped that with one broad stroke, all social and economic inequalities would be abolished. Some Jews like Gabriel Riesser, the most prominent Jewish spokesman for emancipation in the German states, believed new laws would erode the social gulf by encouraging mixed marriages. "A consequence of our new law," he asserted, "will be that marriages will be mixed, and that religion will no longer be a permanent and insuperable dividing wall preventing a union of peoples." This sentiment was taken further by David Strauss who hoped that emancipation would inevitably lead to mixed marriages which would "bring about the disappearance a peculiarities and ossified traits which have so far made of the Jews such a burden on our civil society." One Jewish liberal became so enthralled by the promise of emancipation that he wrote: "The messiah, for whom we prayed these thousands of years, has appeared and our fatherland has been given to us. The messiah is freedom, out fatherland is Germany." Gabriel Riesser asserted, "If you will grant emancipation with one hand, and with the other the realization of the beautiful dream about the political unification of Germany, I would take the second hand unhesitatingly, because I am convinced that a unified Germany will also include emancipation."

There were some Jews nevertheless who feared that if the liberals succeeded in breaking down the impediments to assimilation the existence of the Jewish community would be threatened. Many Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jews feared that emancipation would not be in the best interest of Judaism or the Jewish people. They worried that many may perceive legal equality as an opportunity for secession, and that the proliferation of intermarriages could lead to the extinction of Judaism.

During 1848 liberals fought against the notion that states should be based on the principles of Christianity, and furthered the idea that individuals made up the cornerstone of the state. They believed that the fewer restrictions placed on people, the more prosperous the state would be. Conversely, many of the revolution's opponents were also opposed to the doctrines of Liberalism, and consequently, to emancipation. The Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV wanted to deprive the Jews of the rights as state citizens in 1847. Conservatives like Prussian Minister of the Interior von Thile argued against Jewish Emancipation by stating that granting Jews any rights in government was irreconcilable with Christendom because they would be expected to take part either in the permeated with the Christian spirit. Thus, opposing Jewish Emancipation in 1848 was just one of the reasons that Conservatives fought against the ideals of the revolution.

Part of the reason that Jewish emancipation became a major issue in many of the deliberations was that Jews themselves participated in the overthrowing of the monarchies as well as the writing of the new constitutions. In August, 1848, Riesser, who was elected Vice President of the National Assembly in Frankfurt, countered demands that Jews be placed under separate legislation because they were not Germans by declaring that: "under just laws, Jews would be the most ardent patriots of Germany; they will become Germans along with, as well as among, Germans. Do not presume that discriminatory laws can be tolerated without dealing a disastrous blow to the entire system of freedom, and without introducing demoralization into it!" Riesser was not the only Jew fighting for German unification, five others joined him at the preparliament (Vorparlament), and seven Jews were elected to the German national assembly.

Like the debate in Frankfurt, the one in Vienna was consequential in deciding the fate of Habsburg Jews. In many cities of the Austrian Empire, like Bratislava and Prague, the insurgency provided a convenient motive for popular attacks on Jews. In fact these attacks were repeated in various locals throughout Europe. Since Jews were associated with the bourgeoisie who were allegedly bent on bringing new capitalist ways of production to society, in addition to of course practicing a cabalistic religion, many farmers and artisans blamed the Jews for their economic troubles. In Vienna, however, attacks against Jews were rare despite the fact that there were many Jews who took part in the Revolution. Dr. Adolf Fischhof became the foremost orator of the insurrection in Vienna where Jews were killed fighting side by side with Christians attempting to bring about a new order, and the Jewish dead were buried in a common grave with the other martyrs. Speaking at the funeral for the fallen revolutionaries, Rabbi Mannheimer of Vienna addressed the Austrians arguing: "You wish that the Jews killed in action be buried alongside your own victims. Then you should also permit those who participated in the struggle together with you to live here on a par with you. Accept us a free men!"

Even though the provisional authorities who came to power in March deferred complete emancipation of Jews until constitutional assemblies were elected, restrictions against Jews ceased to be enforced. On April 25, the government offered civil rights to all religions with the stipulation that the provision dealing with Jews would be reviewed. After renewed violence in May, Jews were given full rights. Both Fischhof and a Viennese student Joseph Goldmark played important roles in bringing about full emancipation. Moreover, several Jews sat in the Vienna Reichstag in July. In October, after a rousing speech by Mannheimer, the Austrian parliament, just before its members fled to Moravia, voted to abolish the remaining taxes on Jews. Likewise, the last act of the revolutionary Hungarian government lifted the final barriers to emancipation.

Yet, when the Austrian monarchy recaptured the city, the new emperor, Franz Joseph, dissolved the Reichstag and nullified the "Basic Laws." Many revolutionaries were arrested including Fischhof who was sentenced to nine months, and Goldmark who was sentenced to death. Goldmark, like many other Jewish and non-Jewish revolutionaries, managed to escape to the United States. In addition, the radical publicist, Hermann Jellinek, was caught and shot. Jellinek's death reminds us that while most Jews were not political radicals, some prominent people of Jewish origin emerged as leaders of the nascent socialist movement.

Franz Joseph's 1849 constitution contained a clause guaranteeing equal rights, but he abrogated the document two years later. By 1853, new bans against Jews acquiring real estate and moving to certain areas of the empire were constituted. Soon "Jewish oaths" were restored, and in some districts, like Galicia, Jews were forbidden to hire Christian domestics. Similarly in Hungary where Jews played a more minor role than they did elsewhere, they were nonetheless blamed by the counter revolutionaries and forced to pay a special tax for their support of the revolution.

The results of 1848 were ambiguous. In many nations, Jews kept some of their newly won freedoms, while in other states their emancipation was repealed. In Germany when the parliament of Frankfurt dissolved, it was replaced by the old Bundestag, and alliance of rulers instead of nations. The "Basic Rights of the German People" was abolished in 1851, and Jews were once again subject to discrimination. The idea of a "Christian state" reechoed in Prussia and many other states. Prussian law included a paragraph stating that: "The Christian religion shall be the basis in all government institutions that are associated with religion." Jews would have to wait until 1871 for legal emancipation to take hold, ironically the Jewish emancipation went hand in hand in once again with German unification. Yet in the decades following 1848 many Jews realized that the social and economic emancipation depended less on legalization and more on the willingness of the population at large to accept Jews as fellow citizens.

[The leading figure of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, had not believed that Jews could ever really become philosophes, and he had therefore, been less than a staunch proponent [[strong promoter]] of their equality. Little more than a century later the newest forms of national anti-Semitism were attacking the Jews as harmful to society precisely because they were regarded with considerable truth, as the most significant single element among the bearers of the tradition of the European Enlightenment. In this task Jews continued to be important in Europe after 1900, but their position was already clearly embattled [[disputed]], and the role was being abandoned, at least in part. By that year the Jewish masses on the move had already made a crucial decision that the future of most of the migrants was to be found in the [[criminal racist]] United States. The ideologists and earliest pioneers of [[racist]] Zionism had moved eastward, out of the European arena to the creation of the renewed Jewish national identity in Erez Israel (Ereẓ Israel) [[Land of Israel, into the eternal war trap against all Arabs]].> (col. 126)]

The Enlightenment was an intellectual and social revolution which swept Europe beginning around 1700. It marked the transition from theological to secular governance. It marked the rise of the nation-state. Along with questioning religion as the basis for identity and behavior it promoted such values as humanism and free will. The Jews, in particular, had reason to believe that their long history of persecution by Christianity and church was finally at an end. But the Enlightenment represented a two-edged sword for the Jewish people. While it questioned religion-based discriminatory laws, and by reason dismissed Christian theological bias against the Jews, yet did it still, without reflection, absorbed seventeen hundred years of social and cultural history based on that religious bias. Reframing Jewish uniqueness in secular and “scientific” terms did not eliminate the bias, it made it worse. Under church-inspired religious persecution Jews were still redeemable upon conversion; reason and “science” opened a new and even more deadly threat to Jewish survival in a secular-Christian Diaspora. “[F]or a time, during the first half of the century, it seemed that anti-Semitism would disappear as nations became more secular and the last vestiges of feudalism and privilege fell to political liberalism and scientific and economic progress. This optimism was mistaken. Hating the Jew was too much an integral art of western culture and tradition and was not to be exorcised,” (Grosser and Halperin, 1978, p. 207).

Voltaire, most famous of the circle of French thinkers known as the “Philosophes,” was a social reformer and inspiration to both the French and American Revolutions. A Catholic anti-Catholic his social conscience is typical of the reformist movement’s ambivalence towards the Jews. In his Dictionnaire Philosophique (1764), Voltaire describes the Jews as, “the most imbecile people on the face of the earth, enemies of mankind, most obtuse, cruel absurd...” In a nod towards the medieval Blood Libel charge he wrote, “your priests have always sacrificed human victims with their sacred hands.” “In short,” he writes, “we find in them only an ignorant and barbarous people who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched. Still, we ought not to burn them.”

In a letter to the New York Times dated September 30, 1990 Arthur Hertzberg, commented on Voltaire’s antisemitism. “[I]n his Letter of Memmius to Cicero, (1771), Voltaire wrote: ‘'They (the Jews) are, all of them, born with raging fanaticism in their hearts, just as the Bretons and the Germans are born with blond hair. I would not be in the least bit surprised if these people would not some day become deadly to the human race…” The year after writing the Memius letter Voltaire wrote, again quoting Hertzberg, ''You have surpassed all nations in impertinent fables, in bad conduct and in barbarism. You deserve to be punished, for this is your destiny.''

The French revolution represented a decisive break with the church, introduced the humanistic principles of equality and citizenship for all, including the Jews. And the victorious Napoleonic army spread those revolutionary ideals throughout most of Europe and across most of Europe the Jews, serfs under the old regime, finally looked forward to their emancipation. All equal, all citizens, but at a price.

Napoleon, unconscious inheritor of Christian history and culture, was committed to the idea of democracy, but he was not a philosemite. His promotion of Jewish emancipation carried within it the condition that Jews stop being Jews. “I do not intend to rescue that race, which seems to have been the only one excluded from redemption, from the curse with which it is smitten, but I would like to put it in a position where it is unable to propagate the evil,” (Poliakov, Leon, the History of Anti-Semitism, volume III, U of PA, 2003, p.226). The age of “scientific anthropology” had not yet dawned, and Napoleon, as did the church, saw “conversion,” admittedly a secular version, as the passport to social inclusion. Still, compared to their treatment under the church, conditions for the Jews in France were an improvement.

Napoleon heralded the process eventually to be called Emancipation, promoted laws governing the inclusion of Jews as relative equals and citizens. But freeing the Jews from centuries of serfdom was not without its opponents, and reversals. Even within revolutionary France there were those who preferred an exclusionary solution to the problem of the Jews. According to Katz, “The possible expulsion of Jews from France had been mentioned in the National Assembly debate… as the unreasonable and unthinkable alternative to the obvious solution, the radical integration of the Jews into the newly created body politic,” (my italics, Katz, Jacob, 1980, From Prejudice to Destruction, Anti-Semitism, 1700-1933, p. 109, Harvard University Press).

”Jewish success following their emancipation caused resentment on the part of many Christians… The scientific age and mindset gave anti-Semitism a new respectability. As religion lost ground to science, anti-Semitism became in part scientific. No longer based solely on religious belief, this new version of [Jew hatred] became respectable and acceptable to the modernist,” (Grosser and Halperin, 1978, pps. 208-9). The term “anti-Semitism,” first appeared in the 1870’s. Coined by the journalist Wilhelm Marr it provided a scientific respectability to define Jews outside the Christian community, to classify Jewry within theories of race and history. Reaction to Jewish inclusion inspired more organized antisemitic movements.

The First Anti-Jewish Congress was convened in Dresden (September 11-12, 1882). The website, German History in Documents and Images (GHDI) describes the concluding document of the Congress, Manifesto to the Governments and Peoples of the Christian Nations Threatened by Judaism, begins by describing the Jewish Problem, and goes on to prescribe its cure. “In the following manifesto,” according to GHDI’s introduction to the document, “participants wove virtually all the threads of the “Jewish question” into the fabric – the fabrication – of a monumental struggle against international “Jewish parasitism.” Claiming that all Christian nations had no choice but to recognize the Jew as biologically alien, it called for a reversal of Jewish emancipation and for the expansion of an antisemitic “movement of self-protection.”” The preamble to the manifesto reads, “[the] Christian religion is the most powerful reaction against Jewish tendencies to achieve world domination. It is an insurmountable protest against the elevation of the Semitic above the Aryan race, and so it is only natural that the Jewish clan is a sworn mortal enemy of both the founder of this religion and the Christian religion itself.” (German History in Documents and Images website)

The congress included three members of the Hungarian parliament. By October 1883, those three parliamentary members were joined by others representing all social opinion, the right, moderates and leftists, to form Hungary’s National Antisemitic Party. The rest of Europe was not far behind.

“In the Habsburg Empire, the emerging national movements often perceived Jews as agents of the dominant German culture and instruments of imperial authority. Thus, several political parties supported programs aimed at restricting or revoking the rights Jews had acquired through emancipation, and the “Jewish question” became a useful device for mobilizing voters… An Alliance Antijuive Universelle was established in 1886.” (YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe)

By 1905 Russia could boast two antisemitic parties, The Russian Assembly, comprising ranking military and government officials, and the Union of Russian People. Poland described the Jews as, “the main threat to Polish society.”

The Free Committee for a German Workers' Peace was created in Bremen, Germany in 1918. It underwent several name changes until finally settled on the National Socialist German Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) in 1920. In 1021 Adolph Hitler became its chairman.

Two incidents of the 19th century are symbolic of past and future. The Edgardo Mortara kidnapping by the Vatican, and the Dreyfus Affair in Paris.

In June, 1858 several local police appeared at the door of the Mortara family with orders to deliver their son, Edgardo, to the Vatican. The six year old boy as an infant had been reportedly baptized by a girl servant. That which the world called a kidnapping is described by Robert P. Lockwood, writing for the Catholic League for Civil Rights merely the action of Pope Pius IX in upholding Church law. According to that law any child baptized in the Church cannot be raised in a Jewish home. To do so at that time would be seen as being a party to apostasy.

In his book, The kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara, David Kertzer describes the night the Chief of Police tells Edgardo’s parents, "You have been betrayed... Someone, he says, has secretly baptized the boy, and now that the boy is Christian, he cannot remain with Jewish parents… little Edgardo was removed by the police and sent to a Church institution in Rome dedicated to the conversion of the Jews. The parents, still believing that the taking of their son was a mistake--for they were sure Edgardo had never been baptized,put their faith in Pope Pius IX. The Pope, however, stood firm in the face of a storm of international protest demanding that he send Edgardo back to his parents. Indeed, he began to see Edgardo regularly and to regard Edgardo as his own son.”

According to Lockwood, (op.cit.),sounding more apologist than a historian, “Kertzer makes the argument that the Mortara affair was a sign of the roots of racial anti-Semitism that would emerge in Italian Fascism, and as such the Church played a role in establishing the framework for the Italian racial laws of 1938. This misunderstands the motivations involved in the Mortara affair at the time, and forgets that it was the Church that protested vehemently the 1938 laws and was the single greatest protector of Italian Jews during the war years.” In other words the Holy See considers itself misunderstood, hurt for not being appreciated for its efforts on behalf of the Jews during the Holocaust, a subject we will return in a later chapter.

Raised Catholic, Edgardo would eventually join the priesthood. He died age 80 in 1940.

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was, as Theodore Herzl, an assimilated Jew. Falsely accused of selling military secrets to the Germans he was, despite evidence to the contrary, convicted of treason in 1894 and sentenced to life in prison on Devil’s Island. Two years later convincing evidence was found pointing to an officer in military intelligence as the source of the treason. But the army chose to ignore this and a military court acquitted the real traitor. It later came to light that military counter-intelligence had even fabricated evidence exonerating the traitor and supportive of the conviction of Dreyfus.

The Affair, clearly antisemitic in motive, was strongly supported and defended by the church. Pro- and anti-Dreyfussards clashed in the press and on the street, set church and other social conservatives against liberal secularists. The case was re-opened in 1898 due in large part to the efforts of Emile Zola and his open letter, j’Accuse, in which he charged the court with serious judicial errors and lack of evidence. The letter, and efforts by Bernard Lazare and others, resulted in the case being reopened in 1899. During the second trial the original charges were found to be baseless and Dreyfus was acquitted. Although it took seven years for the army to relent, Dreyfus was reinstated in the army in 1906. For his own efforts Zola was prosecuted and found guilty of libel.

The Dreyfus Affair was, in some respects, the opening of a new and more dangerous chapter in Jewish existence in the Christian Diaspora. It represents the slowly opening door on the road towards lethal antisemitism, the secular radical and final solution to Christendom’s 2000 year long Jewish Problem.


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Harris, James. "Public Opinion and of Proposed Emancipation of the Jews in Bavaria in 1849-1850," Leo Beck Institute Yearbook, XXXIV (1989).

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