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


Dreyfus’s name . In Russia , as well , a certain measure of recognition of the separate identity , and perhaps even nationhood , of the Jews came quite late ; and this , too , only within the Menshevik faction of the revolutionary socialist movement . Except for the Social Revolutionaries , all the revolutionary factions in Russia were tainted by anti-Semitism to some extent or other , even though some of their leaders were themselves of Jewish origin . Manifestations of anti-Semitism increased on the eve of the First World War , mainly in Central and Eastern Europe . It was present in parties and organizations , in educational institutions , and in the press . Notwithstanding this , the process by which Jews and non-Jews drew closer continued . Jews were now more active than they had ever been , or could have been , in all the lands in which they resided . Much has been written on their notable contributions in different fields . Almost one third of all the German Nobel Prize laureates were Jews . Their place in the faculties of medicine , natural science , and exact sciences , especially in Central Europe , could not go unnoticed . Jews were also prominent in this period in realms that had previously been totally closed to them , such as law and politics . Many Jews were active in the different branches of the socialist movement , and took part , obviously as individuals rather than as representatives of any Jewish position , in movements with humanitarian aims , often in those that promoted international cooperation . Jews also participated in more conservative political movements , and in those countries in which the Jews were allowed to participate in politics , they were to be found in all the camps , except those with openly and explicitly anti-Semitic platforms . A Jewish presence was conspicuous in literature and the arts , as well . Late nineteenth century Vienna was an intellectual hothouse for talented Jews , who were most often quite integrated in the intellectual and creative life of the society in which they lived , and whose Jewishness played a secondary role , if at all , in their life . The way to the full integration of Jews in modern societies seemed now free and open , even if the process was obviously incomplete , and personal and collective regressions were a common experience . Such movement in both directions also typified the years immediately following the First World War . But a dangerous shift occurred toward the end of the 1920 s . It was not immediately evident that the center of this danger was in Germany . At the turn of the century many assumed that evil , if it were to erupt , would come from France . Until the 1930 s , and even after the Nazis took power in Germany , most of the official Jewish bodies , both Zionist and non-Zionist , judged that the main threat of anti-Semitism came from Poland and indeed endangered one of the largest Jewish communities in the world . But with historical hindsight , it is clear now that it was the events in Germany that fundamentally changed all previous trends . The Nazis were the first to aim at implementing a full cancellation of emancipation . The formulation , promulgation , and implementation of laws against the participation of Jews in economic , professional , and social-cultural life in Germany began as soon as Hitler was appointed Chancellor in January 1933 . This is not the place for a detailed description of the Nazi anti-Jewish policy . It should be noted , however , that from the very beginning , the Nazis intended to cancel the achievements that the Jews had attained in the previous century and a half . Initially , their latest achievement was negated : the right to participate in the government administration , which in Germany also included the legal system and the institutions of higher education . Immediately following this , the Nazis set out to isolate the Jews in all realms , and to conduct the exact reverse of the process that had taken place since the onset of modernity . They wanted to remove the Jews from the public realm , to boycott them , to ban their joint activity with non-Jews , and to permit them life only among themselves . The degree of religious non-observance or of conversion , even from a distance of three

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