The Secularization of Relations between Jews and Non-Jews: An Introduction


kind of anti-Jewish discourse . Those who wanted to make use of the - real and imagined - singularity of the Jews were always to be found , mainly in Central and Eastern Europe , where the various national movements were forced to contend with the thorny issue of self-definition . At times , hostility to other foreigners served the same purpose . For example , seething hatred of France and Frenchmen developed in Germany , mainly since the Napoleonic conquest , and particularly within the liberal wing of the budding national movement . New studies show that in the early phases of English nationalism , as well , hostility to France served as a defining tool of decisive importance . In addition to such an external enemy , an internal enemy , too , could contribute to the construction of a sturdy national “ self . ” It was in this context that in Germany , for instance , the pair “ Judaism and Germanism ” replaced “ Judaism and Christianity . ” Long before the racist doctrine was formulated and disseminated , modern hatred of the Jew was poured into a distinctly secular mold by nationalism . This mold did not , generally speaking , replace the old pattern of Christian anti-Semitism . Indeed , the force of modern anti-Semitism lies in its combination of old and new . Nationalist slogans , like that of the liberal historian Heinrich von Treitschke : “ The Jews are our misfortune !” - or those that blamed the Jews for all the ills of modern society , such as “ the social issue is the Jewish question , ” did not replace traditional religious anti-Semitism , but were rather grafted upon it . They appealed to a public that wanted to adopt modern forms of life , but was not willing to pay the full price that this demanded ; to those for whom religion was no longer an obligatory moral framework , but who did not fully accept the principles of secular enlightenment . Even before racist doctrines were applied to “ the Jewish question , ” nationalism – often in its liberal garb - enabled the emergence of a new anti-Semitism . Afterwards , beginning in the middle of the nineteenth century , and under the influence of the writings of Ernest Renan and the Comte de Gobineau , terms originally used to denote differences of language and origin were now harnessed for the formulation of racist doctrines with deterministic biological features , and new , pseudoscientific tools were invented in order to suggest a total removal of the Jews . The liberal national discourse , that had gradually lost its vitality , was replaced by one that was conservative in essence , and at times racist and radical . The “ scientific ” racial doctrine provided an additional stratum of reasons for the “ old hatred . ” Those who had not been tainted by this hatred before would usually not be convinced now , either . Many liberals , in Western , Central , and Eastern Europe , continued to support emancipation . They did so despite their fervent nationalism , sometimes even because of it . And , in addition , not all the proponents of racism gave it an anti-Semitic interpretation . Jewish life in the nineteenth century was therefore characterized , more than anything , by the concurrent existence of emancipation , with its political , social , and cultural consequences , and by the competing new anti-Semitism in all its forms and colorations . Five models of the reformulation of relations between Jews and non-Jews in that period present themselves . The first model , the Anglo-American , was in a certain sense the most principled . The emancipation of the Jews in the United States was not the result of a separate struggle on their behalf , but was part of the constitutional undertaking of the thirteen colonies that set forth the general principles of equality . A demand to waive all signs of group singularity was not included in these principles , and the integration of the Jews in society was perceived as a positive force that provided a firm basis for the Jews ’ sense of belonging to their land , without violating their collective identity . In England , and in most of the states established under overseas empire , emancipation was granted to the Jews - albeit after strenuous debate - both as individuals and as a group . Equal rights did not entail the explicit surrender of any collective singularity - religious , cultural , or any other .

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