(in its inmost nature)
IS A RELIGIOUS ONE
(a practising Jew : left Germany in 1937)
THERE are few problems more complicated by contradictory facts and the passions of friend and foe than the Jewish question; and yet few problems need a more careful study and a balanced judgment. As things have developed the Jewish question actually has become one of the issues of the war. Not only because Hitler has vowed the extermination of Jewry—and everywhere where the German armies have conquered he is cruelly executing his plan—hut also for spiiitual reasons. For the persecutions of the Jews have been inclissolu'bly connected with an attack on the fundamental principles of religion; and Martin Borman, the successor of Hess as leader of the Nazi party, has only recently justified tile persecution of the Churches with remarkable bluntness by the very fact that " the teachings of Christianity in their essential points have been taken over from Judaism " Strangers Everywhere The issue, therefore. •goes far beyond the Jewish question itsell; and when in 1933 the Nazis demanded thc abolition of the Old Testament, Cardistal Faulbaber rallied the Catholic population of Munich by a series of sermons undeo the motto: " Verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law."
To judge fairly the political and spiritual forces which have dominated Jewry in recent years one must .keep in mind that the Jews have been wandering over the earth for centuries, and even to-day find themselves in a most abnormal condition of great dispersion.
It is difficult to imagine what a moral effort is needed to lead one's life without a fatherland, bused only on the principles of the Spirit, being a stranger everywhere and without the benevolent influence which the human heart derives from ari agelong uninterrupted tradition in one's own country.
To find a way out of this situation modern Jewry has developed nearly everywhere, with fullest moral and Spiritual dedication, two fundamental conceptions.
Hope of a Haven One group aims at the full integration or the Jews in the nations amongst which they live. Maintaining only their religion, they endeavour to assimilate themselves to the surrounding peoples and to merge in them. This movement, which has been particularly strong in Central Eurofe and the Western world, began about 150 years ago, when the walls of the ghettos were torn down during the period of enlightenment.
One must remember the restrictions under which tile Jews had lived up till then—their stratification even to-day reflects to a certain extent their agelong exclusion from agriculture and handicraft its many countries—in order to understand the intensity with which they threw themselves into Western civilisation; and many of
them have made outstanding contributions to its further remit-minces
But more essential thatt this extension of activities was the hope to find at 'list by integration a haven after their wandering and persecution. The best among them longed to undertake the moral responsibilities of their citizenship. Many excelled in social service and tens of thousands fullheartedly gave their life fighting as soldiers for their respective fatherlands.
Reunion in Palestine The other group, whilst maintaining loyalty to the countries of their domicile, aims at a final reunion ot the Jewish people—wholly or at least partially-sin Palestine.
This movement of Zionism has its roots in the' ancient longing or the Jew to return one day to the country where his ancestors had made their greatest contribution to history, and which always had remained most intimately connected with his religious thought.
As a political movement it started at the end of the nineteenth century and it has always been particularly strong its the eastern part of Europe.
The hope of taking up again the severed threads of Jewish history, of rebuilding their nation and of educating their children under normal conditions. ui ending the unnatural stratificattota by return to a normal life and of reviving for daily te.se Hebrew, the holy language, gave inspiration to many; and when in the last war the Balfour Declaration proclaimed the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine, a great immigration movement began towards the Holy Land.
Life as God Meant It During the twenty years between the two world wars fundamental changes have taken place them. The Jewish population, which in 1918 amounted to 55,000, increased to about 500,000, out of which 100,000 live on the land in various agricultuzal settlements.
Agriculture has been widely developed; land which had been unarable for centuries has been drained, and important industries have been founded. Tel-Aviv, a large town with an entirely Jewish population of 170,000, has been built up, and on the
Mount Scopus above JCRISR IC111 a Hebrew University has been opened.
But the greatest achievement is a new generation of young Jews, devoted to the hardest manual woik, full of vitality and hope and prepared for eve:y sacrifice for their homeland. This new generation can best be described in the following words of a Christian writer :— " To be among then: was a religious experience. They live in great simplicity, with love for the land they are tending and love for one another. They combine hard manual work and great simplicity of living with a high level of culture, and they are happy and Jun of hope. Is not this life as God meant it to be livettl"' Arab Fears
Palestine, however, was not an empty country when the Jewish re immigration began. 'The number of Arabs living there in 1918 amounted to 600,000 and since then has increased to more than 900,000. Although it is beyond doubt that in a matei ial sense the Arabs have prospered as the result of the Jewish immigration, their resistance to it has become increasingly stronger.
Not only do the Arabs fear that they may ultimately be dominated by the Jew, hut they also sec in the Jewish immigrant, notwithstanding his Eastcm n origin, the spearhead of the West; and the conflict for them has become part of the great colonial struggle between West and East. National and cultural tensions, therefore, have led repeatedly to bloody riots, the last of which, encouraged by the Axis Powers, lasted nearly three years and ended only when the Present war broke out.
This tension had as one of its consequences a most unnatural hampering of the Jewish war-effort in Palestine. For whilst the Palestinian Jews together with Zionists all over the world, and particularly in America, demanded the right to form a Jewish Army in order to fight like every other nation in their own name and under their own flag in defence of their national' soil. the British authorities could not see their way to satisfying this demand.
It Was obviously feared that the creation of a Jewish army would have serious repercussions in the Arab world: and thus the Palestinian Jews, to the great disappointment, of most
Zionists, are fighting anonymously within the British units, and only a few among the general public know how gallantly they have fought in Crete. Tobruk and Libya.
Between the Loyalties
Both Assimilationists and Zionists are greatly influenced by the modern trend, which since the secularisation of the West has been directed towards the National Stale. But in both movements elements can be found which arc chafacteristic of Jewish re
ligiosity. There arc some assimilationists who accept the dispersion of the Jews as part of the divine plan, and therefore attach particular importance to their religious responsibility. And there ate Zionists who, not satisfied by the secular Jewish state, aim at a deeper religious community.
If one considers the abnormal situation of the Jews and the difficulties arising out or it, one will not be surprised to find some Jews who have not been able to dedicate themselves fully to any of these ideals, and ale " he
twcen the loyalties." Wherever one finds a lack of community spirit—be it in Jews or Gentiles—it is an urgent task to mintegrate such elements into social loyalty and religious responsibility.
There are, DIN the other hand, Jewish groups who. unnoticed. by the world, live tip to very high religious traditions. Where, as in Central and Eastern Europe, they have become the victims of .brutal persecution. they have revived the traditions of the martyrs, endeavouring to transform their suffering into a spiritual victory and it may well be that they in their humiliation and suffering are making a particular catuributioh to the rebirth of the world.
However manifold the Jewish question appears to he in the political, racial, economic and cultural spheres, its innermost nature—to my mind—is religious. As Maritain says, " Israel is a corpus mystical)), a mystical
body .. . comparable with the Church." It is a religious community of common hope. The inner forces of the Jew have always been rooted in the religious sphere, and it is there that he will have to find the fundamental spiritual principles for the solution of the Jewish problem.
WALTER ZA NDER.