You Gentiles

You Gentiles

By Maurice Samuel

Author of “The Outsider/’ “Whatever Gods.”

New York



The Question ^

Sport … 38

Gods 64

Utopia 78

Loyalty g X

Discipline „ 107

The Reckoning 124

But as Moderns 135

We, the Destroyers . , . , „ *. 144
The Games of Science . . . .156

The Masses 177

Solution and Dissolution 188

The Mechanism of Dissolution . . . . 196

Is There Any Hope? 210

A Last Word 221

The Question

These last ten years and more I have been
asking myself, with increasing urgency, a
number of questions:

Is there any special significance in the dis-
tinction I have so long cherished — the dis-
tinction of cc Jew-gentile” — not to be found
in the class of distinctions implied in
“American- Foreigner” or “Englishman-For-
eigner”? Is there, between us Jews and you
gentiles, that is between the Jew on the one
hand and the Englishman, the Frenchman,
the American on the other hand, that which
transcends all the differences which exist
among yourselves, so that, in relation to us,
you are gentiles first, and afterwards (and
without particular relevance in this connec-
tion) Englishmen, Frenchmen, Americans?


You Gentiles

Or is there nothing more implied in that
distinction, Jew-gentile, than (in a general
way) in the distinctions Jew-American, Amer-
ican-Englishman, Englishman-Frenchman ?

In other words, are we Jews but part of
the gentiles, Americans, Englishmen, Jews,
Frenchmen, or is there a deeper cleavage be-
tween us? Is this Western world divided pri-
marily into two parts—you gentiles; we

From the outset I shall be asked: “Even
if you suspect the existence of such a primal
cleavage, beyond the reach of ordinary
national or racial classifications, what pur-
pose can you have in urging it upon the at-
tention of the world? Has it any practical
application? Does it in any fashion clarify
the status of the Jew, or give greater cogency
to such claims of his as are still unsatisfied?”
This question will be asked of me by many
Jews— but in particular it will be asked with
the utmost insistence by those Jews who have
based our case for national rights, national


The Question

equality, precisely on this assumption — that
we Jews are a people like all other peoples,
similar in needs and impulses: that we are
Jews, you are Englishmen, you are Italians,
you are Americans; that we, the world’s races
or peoples, are all of us similar in our differ-

Leaving on one side those who deny the
existence of any distinctions at all, those, that
is, who say that the Jew is either a French-
man, an American or an Englishman accord-
ing to the place of his birth, I would answer:
“For me the ordinary nationalist or racial
classification has not sufficed.”

If I have long pondered this question of
Jew and gentile it is because I suspected from
the first dawning of Jewish self-consciousness
that Jew and gentile are two worlds, that
between you gentiles and us Jews there lies
an unbridgeable gulf. Side by side with this
belief grew another, which is related to the
practical aspect of the distinction.

I do not believe that, situated as we are


You Gentiles

in your midst, scattered among you from one
end of the Western world to the other, we
have the right to retain our identity if we
are but another addition to the gentile peo-
ples. (Nor, by the way, do I believe that
we could have retained it so long had this
been the case.) If we are but one more peo-
ple added to the long roster of peoples, living
and dead, we have no claim worth while,
under these circumstances, to continuity of
separate consciousness. Such a claim could
never have arisen had we remained secure,
segregated on our own soil — it would have
been our tacit birthright. But as it is, our
existence is secured at an infinite expense of
special effort on our part, and of peculiar dis-
comfort to you. Wherever the Jew is found
he is a problem, a source of unhappiness to
himself and to those around him. Ever since
he has been scattered in your midst he has
had to maintain a continuous struggle for the
conservation of his identity. Is it worth
while, in the face of this double burden, our
own and yours, to perpetuate what may be,


The Question

after all, an addition of one unit to scores
of similar units? Were these centuries of
alternate torture and respite not a dispro-
portionately high price for the right to in-
crease by one page the already overburdened
records of the nations?

Were it my belief, as it is, at least in ex-
pression, the belief of many fellow-Jews, that
our right to exist is founded on our similarity
to other peoples, that where American or
Belgian or Italian has a right to homeland,
culture, history, parliament, we Jews have
the same right, for the same reasons^ and
for no other reasons— were this my belief, I
could not find the heart to continue the
struggle or to urge the struggle upon others.
The effort is too severe; the price is too high:
the guerdon is insignificant. Were we like
other peoples we ought to have done what
other peoples, under similar circumstances,
would do: a people driven from its homeland,
a people ground into dust and carried by
winds of misfortune into every corner of the
world, has no right to inflict its woes and


You Gentiles

longings on others. It should cease to exist,
it should rid the world of its importunate

Such would be my belief if I saw in our-
selves only the replica, with the proper vari-
ations, of the rest of the world. But this is
not my belief, for I see otherwise. Years
of observation and thought have given in-
creasing strength to the belief that we Jews
stand apart from you gentiles, that a primal
duality breaks the humanity I know into two
distinct parts; that this duality is a funda-
mental, and that all differences among you
gentiles are trivialities compared with that
which divides all of you from us.

I am aware that this is a thesis which can-
not be supported by diagrams, tables and
logarithms. It cannot even be urged with
the apparent half-compulsion of social and
economic laws. The cogency of what I have
to say does not depend on reference to ob-
vious and ineluctable laws, natural processes
acknowledged and accepted. I am also aware
that the weight of what is called learned opin-


The Question

ion will be thrown against me, that my con-
tention will meet with the ridicule of facile
common sense and of scholarship. Neverthe-
less I set it down clearly that in this Western
world there are essentially two peoples as
spiritual forces, only two human sections with
essential meaning— Jew and gentile.

But at least what credentials have I to
offer— since the presentation of credentials
must always precede the presentatibn of the
thesis? What claim have I on the attention
of the world? I can only answer that this
book, being a serious book, must carry its
own credentials, and does not attempt to bor-
row importance from outside sources. I offer
myself only as a Jew who has lived, observed
and thought: my experiences and contacts
have been somewhat more varied than those
of most men, but this has little to do with
my views. The truth which is spread over
the whole world is also contained in any part
of it. The laws of gravitation are implied
as completely in the falling of a pebble to
earth as in the rush of the sun against the


You Gentiles

counter-rush of its companion stars. The law
of Einstein works no less truly in the crawl-
ing of a snail than in the dizzy vibration of
the fastest atomic sub-unit. These laws are
more easily observed in the one set of cases
than in the other: that is all.

If I have touched the truth it has been
primarily through contact with life — and I
have regarded books as but a class of living
things, to be observed and interpreted and
placed in their setting. Life itself, observa-
tion of men and women, singly and in masses,
a knowledge of their works (among which
books are important), a feeling for their de-
sires, perception of their intent in cities,
laws, theaters, games, wars, all this has
brought me to the conception I shall set forth.
All scholarship— particularly that scholarship
which deals with the manifestations of man’s
desires and fears— consists of unauthoritative
marginal notes, which are of interest chiefly
as giving us some insight into the nature of
those who jotted them down.
It does no harm to know the history that

The Question

is in books; but the only authentic history is
around us. It is made daily in newspapers,
theaters, meetings, election campaigns. And
is it less valuable to know what the waiter
said at the Simplicissimus cabaret in Vienna
when I was there three years ago than to
know what Terence reports a slave to have
said in Rome when he was there two thou-
sand years ago? What if my neighbor, the
Professor, reads Greek rather less fluently
than did a certain thick-witted Athenian citi-
zen who lived in the time of Pericles and by
no means as well as I read English? Is that
proof of wisdom or understanding? And
supposing my neighbor on the other side, the
famous professor of History, knows rather
less about the Peloponnesian war than the
intelligent college student knows about the
World War — is that Professor therefore wiser
than most men, is his opinion on life more
valuable? And supposing another scholar
purports to tell us what the ancient Egyp-
tians believed, and from his account of this
dead religion pretends to teach the secrets


You Gentiles

of faith. Can he tell me what John Doe
or Isaac Levy believes? Does John Doe be-
lieve that Christ rose from the dead? Really
believe that, as a plain truth, as he would be-
lieve it if his mother, whom he buried five
years ago, should suddenly come walking
into his house, rotted away and clad in her
tattered cerements — believe it as simply and
as terribly? And does Isaac Levy believe
that the waters of the Red Sea were divided ,
as he would believe it if one day, below the
Williamsburg Bridge, he were to see the
waters split, rear, and fall again? And if
neither John Doe nor Isaac Levy believes as
cogently as this, then what do they really
believe, if they believe anything at all? And
if the professor cannot answer these ques-
tions, what does he mean when he says that
the Egyptians believed that Osiris rose from
the dead? And what do his reports matter?
There is- no test or guarantee of a man’s
wisdom or of his reliability beyond what he
says about life itself. Life is the touchstone:
books must be read and understood in order


The Question

that we may compare our experience in life
with the sincere report of the experience of
others. But such and such a one, who has
read all the books extant on history and art,
is of no consequence unless these are to him
an indirect commentary on what he feels
around him.

Hence, if I have drawn chiefly on experi-
ence and contemplation and little on books —
which others will discover without my admis-
sion—this does not affect my competency,
which must be judged by standards infinitely
more difficult of application. Life is not so
simple that you can test a man’s nearness
to truth by giving him a college examination.
Such examinations are mere games — they
have no relation to reality. You may desire
some such easy standard by which yon can
judge whether or not a man is reliable: Does
he know much history? Much biology?
Much psychology? If not, he is not worth
listening to. But it is part of the frivolity
of our outlook to reduce life to a set of rules,
and thus save ourselves the agony of con-


You Gentiles

stant reference to first principles. No: stand-
ardized knowledge is no guarantee of truth.
Put down a simple question — a living ques-
tion, like this: “Should A. have killed B.?”
Ask it of ten fools: five will say “Yes,” five
will say “No.” Ask it of ten intelligent men:
five will say “Yes/’ five will say “No.”
Ask it of ten scholars: five will say “Yes,”
five will say “No,” The fools will have no
reasons for their decision: the intelligent men
will have a few reasons for and as many
against; the scholars will have more reasons
for and against. But where does the truth

What, then, shall be the criterion of a
man’s reliability?

There is none. You cannot evade your re-
sponsibility thus by entrusting your salvation
into the hands of a priest-specialist. A sim-
pleton may bring you salvation and a great
philosopher may confound you.

And so to life direct, as I have seen it
working in others and felt it within myself,
I refer the truth of what I say. And to


The Question

books I refer only in so far as they are mani-
festations of life.


But another question, more subtle and dis-
turbing, must be faced. I have said, “There
are two life-forces in the world I know: Jew-
ish and gentile, ours and yours.” If this be
a truth, we must not be driven from it if,
like many other truths, it is overlaid and ob-
scured by the ir relevancies of life, by the in-
tersection and confusion of currents. Here
is the gentile life-force: here is the Jewish
life-force. What their origin was I cannot
say. I can only surmise dimly what circum-
stances, reacting upon what original impulses,
produced the Jewish life-force and the gentile
life-force. I can only affirm — to the Jews,
in the main, belongs the Jewish life-force, a
consistent and coherent force, a direction in
human thought and reaction. To you others
belongs the gentile life-force, a mode of life
and thought distinct from ours. But the bor-


You Gentiles

The Question

der line is not clear. Not all of us Jews are
representative of the Jewish life-force: not
all of you gentiles are altogether alien to

We have lived for many centuries in close
contiguity, if not in intimacy. Our prophetic
books, our most characteristic influence, have
been read to you for many hundreds of years.
Something in these books has developed here
and there, among you, a latent individual im-
pulse to our Jewish way of life and thought.
Essentially our prophetic books cannot change
your gentile nature: but in stray, predes-
tined hearts they bring forth fruit. Your
outlook on life, your dominant reactions, are
the same to-day as they were two thousand
years ago. All that has changed is the in-
strument of expression. You live the same
life under different faiths. But something
clings to you here and there resembling the
original form of the faith we gave you. Here
and there our somber earnestness breaks out
on the dazzling kaleidoscope of your history.
And we, for all our segregation have caught,


particularly of late, something of your way
of life. As a few gentiles have spoken in
Jewish tones, so more than one Jew speaks
the language of the gentile. Jews live a gen-
tile life here and there, while gentile lives
give expression to Jewish emotions.

Yet the cleavage is there, abysmal and un-
deniable. In the main, we are forever dis-
tinct. Ours is one life, yours is another.
Such accidental confusions as make some
Northerners darker than Southerners does not
affect the law that the Southerner is darker-
skinned. The law holds none the less for
accidental and contradictory cases.

You may even have Jews in your midst
who did not learn their way of life from us,
and did not inherit it from a Jewish forbear.
We may have authentic gentiles in our midst:
these single protests are of no account: they
are extreme and irrelevant variations.

And of as little account are the occasional
transferences of customs and conventions,
taken over in the mass. We may have cus-
toms and conventions of yours imposed on


You Gentiles

our fundamental way of life — even as you
have the surface credo of a Jewish faith im-
posed on your way of life. But in the end
your true nature works itself into the pattern
of the borrowed faith, and expresses itself un-
deniably. So we ; borrowing from you, finally
assimilate the loan and in time make it es-
sentially ours.

Beyond all these irrelevancies which hide
at times but do not change the issue lies that
clear and fateful division of life — Jewish and
gentile. Because I have mingled intimately
with the Jewish world and with the gentile
world, I know well how easily exceptions ob-
scure the rule: but I know just as well the
unsounded abyss between us. What I have
learned in your midst stands in my mind
sharply severed from what I have learned in
the midst of my people. I listen to your life,
to the brilliant chorus which goes up from
lands, governments, cities, books, churches,
moralities: and in my mind I can no more
confuse it with the tone of Jewish life than
I could confuse the roaring of a tempest with


The Question

the deliberate utterance of the still, small
voice. I repeat: it is of life I speak, of masses
of men and women: of the things they say
and do : of their daily selves, as I have known
them. It is of life at first hand that I speak:
of yourselves as you are in masses and singly,
of my own people as I know them. My con-
viction came first from this contact, and from
meditation on its meaning. I learned, this
belief of mine not in books, not in history, but
in Manchester, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, New
York. So gentiles, I concluded, have a way
of living and thinking, wherever they may
be. So Jews have a way of living and think-
ing. Had no books ever been written, were
there no histories to refer to, I would have
come to this belief.

I do not believe that this primal difference
between gentile and Jew is reconciliable.
You and we may come to an understanding,
never to a reconciliation. There will be irri-
tation between us as long as we are in inti-
mate contact. For nature and constitution
and vision divide us from all of you forever


You Gentiles

■ — not a mere conviction, not a mere lan-
guage, not a mere difference of national or
religious allegiance. With the best -will on
both sides, successful adaptation to each
other will always be insecure and transient.
Waves of liberality may affect our mutual
relationship from time to time: we shall de-
lude ourselves — you and we — with the belief
that we have bridged the gulf. Many will
pass their lives in that delusion. But, as has
come to pass so often, the difference which
is deeper than will, deeper than conscious-
ness, will assert itself. There is a limit to
our moral or mental possibilities. We cannot
climb out of ourselves. The complete and
permanent reconciliation of your way of life
with ours is beyond that limit.

Of course it is the frequent theme of edi-
tors, of popular professional optimists and
of gullible and facile publicists that the path
to reconciliation between Jew and gentile is
the path of knowledge — or, rather, of infor-
mation. The more you know concerning our
history, our customs, our beliefs, the nearer


The Question

you will find us to you, the less you will dis-
like us. But this is futile (and unreliable)
amiability. It is by no means even a general
rule that the best-informed people are the
least accessible to anti-Semitism, that the
most backward countries are .the most in-
fected. Here is a cult, or at least a feeling,
which sits with equal grace on the grossest
of your peasantry and the most refined of
your aristocracy. In the one case it is forti-
fied by superstition, in the other case by all
the information that “scientific” research into
philosophy, history, ethnography and anthro-
pology can accumulate. Not that, in my
opinion, the aristocrat knows us better than
the peasant, the scholar better than the boor.
But even if you should understand us — and
I offer you this toward that end — we would
not find mutual tolerance any easier.

This book, therefore, cannot be presented
as an effort to achieve an end which from
the outset is declared impossible. I do not
propose to combat anti-Semitism. I only
wish to present what seems to me its true


You Gentiles

explanation in the hope of changing some of
its manifestations.


We shall not come to understand the na-
ture of the primal difference between gentile
and Jew if we attempt to treat it merely as
a difference in accepted dogmas and philoso-
phies. A religion, in its formulated essence,
is seldom the real religion , the practice and
belief. Creeds which in their formulated es-
sence are alien to a people may be accepted
by the people. But this true nature of the
people asserts itself. The form and dogma
of the religion are retained: but the fabric,
the institutions, the true reactions which
make the religion what it is outside of its
sacred books— these are the indices to its ac-
tual force and significance. There is such
a thing as conversion of a man’s opinions:
there is no such thing (outside the field of
long and laborious psychotherapy in individ-
ual cases) as conversion of a man’s nature.


The Ouestion

That is beyond the reach of conscious effort,
certainly beyond the reach of the missionary.
Change a man’s opinions and his nature will
soon learn to express itself through the new

This I preface to my observations on the
difference between Jew and gentile because
I anticipate the commonplace allusion to the
similarity of our creeds, to the identity of
source and to the origin of the founder of
your religion. Christianity (the reality, not
the credo) is not a variant of Judaism, what-
ever Christ or his chroniclers may have in-
tended. Your nature is the same to-day as
it was before the advent of Christianity.
Within the framework of another creed your
instincts would have woven a similar design.

And if not religious, this difference cer-
tainly cannot be in the nature of a philoso-
phy or a Weltanschauung. It is true that a
man’s nature dictates his philosophy and
Weltanschauung, even as it does his religion.
But we must also remember that our logic
is nearly always at variance with our natures:


You Gentiles

a man’s nature expresses itself only indirectly
—is never found in the face value of his as-
sertions. Surely we differ in religion and phi-
losophy-but only if we consider religion and
philosophy not as assertions but as the prac-
tice, or art of life, presented in their name.
Though you and we were to agree on all fun-
damental principles, as openly stated, though
we should agree that there is only one God,
that war is evil, that universal peace is the
most desirable of human ideals, yet we should
remain fundamentally different. The lan-
guage of our external expression is alike, but
the language of our internal meaning is dif-
ferent. You call that line, in that part of
the spectrum, red; so do we. But who will
ever know that the sensation “red” in you
is the sensation “red” in us?

Life is fluid and dogmas are fixed: and life,
trying to come to terms with dogmas, does
not easily break with them, but endows them
with almost infinite plasticity. Under the
same dogmas a man will kill another or die
rather than lift his hand to kill. One gen-


The Question

eration means one thing in a dogma: another
generation means another thing. And at last
even the elasticity of the dogma will not stand
the strain: a sudden wave of emotion comes
to reinforce accumulated resentment: there is
a revolution and a new religion is founded;
new dogmas are accepted. Perhaps they do
not answer the need; perhaps they express
only a passing fashion ; perhaps they are no
nearer than the old dogmas to a reconcilia-
tion between philosophy and instinct. But
they may take root. And the process begins
all over again. Instinct endures for glacial
ages; religions revolve with civilizations.

Let us differentiate, then, between a re-
ligion as a dogma and the same religion as
a practised art or way of life. We may com-
pare religion with religion: that is legitimate
and fruitful But let us, in so doing, com-
pare dogma with dogma, practice with prac-
tice: and even when we treat of dogma let
us be careful to distinguish between the
dogma as proclaimed and the dogma as it is
transmuted by the emotions.


You Gentiles

And certainly between the dogmas of your
religions and ours there is little difference—
for we gave you the dogmas. It is absurd
to assert that the sole difference between you
and us is that you believe the Messiah has
already come while we believe that he is yet
to come; or that you believe (even in theory)
in the doctrine of forgiveness while we be-
lieve in the doctrine of retaliation. Even in
theory this difference is trifling in the face
of the overwhelming bulk of common inspi-
ration. The difference between us is abys-
mal: it is not a disagreement about a historic
fact or about a commandment which neither
of us observes. In some of these dogmatic
disagreements we may find the key to our dif-
ferences: they do not constitute the differ-
ence. A few of them (those which have not
been stretched to accommodate your instincts
but express them readily) were caused by the
difference between us. They did not cause it.
That primal difference, which I have
sensed more and more keenly as I have tasted
more and more of life, your life and our life,


The Question

is a difference in the sum totals of our re-
spective emotions under the stimulus of the
external world; it is a difference in the es-
sential quality or tone of our mental and
spiritual being. Life is to you one thing — ,
to us another. And according to these two
essential qualities we make answer to the
needs and impulses which are common to
both of us.

To you life is a game and a gallant ad-
venture, and all life’s enterprises partake of
the spirit of the adventurous. To us life is
a serious and sober duty pointed to a definite
and inescapable task. Your relations to gods
and men spring from the joy and rhythm of
the temporary comradeship or enmity of
spirit. Our relation to God and men is dic-
tated by a somber subjection to some eternal
principle. Your way of life, your moralities
and codes, are the rules of a game — none the
less severe or exacting for that, but not in-
spired by a sense of fundamental purposeful-
ness. Our way of life, our morality and code,
do not refer to temporary rules which govern


You Gentiles

a temporary and trivial pastime: they are in-
spired by a belief (a true belief, a belief
which reaches below assertion into instinctive
reaction) in the eternal quality of human en-
deavor. To you morality is “the right
thing/’ to us morality is “right.” For all the
changing problems of human relationship
which rise with changing circumstances you
lay down the rules and regulations of the
warrior, the sportsman, the gentleman; we
refer all problems seriously to eternal law.
For you certain acts are “unbecoming” to
the pertinent ideal type — whether he be a
knight or a “decent fellow.” We have no
such changing systems of reference — only one

And all your moral attributes are only va-
rieties of Queensberry rules. Honor, loyalty,
purity — these are sets of regulations. The
best of you will not swerve from them: you
will die in their defense — like the gallant gen-
tlemen you are. But you will not brook the
question whether your system of honor is
founded on right, whether loyalty has rela-


The Question

tion to intelligence, whether purity has rela-
tion to the state of mind. Honor means but
one thing — to do the honorable thing, whether
it be honor in dueling, honor among thieves,
honor of women; loyalty means the quality
of being loyal independent of right or wrong;
purity means the chastity of the body or the
denial of desire — as such; it is related to the
game, not to God.

For us these distinctions do not exist, for
we are serious in our intentions. We will not
accept your rules because we do not under-
stand them. Right and wrong is the only
distinction we are fitted by our nature to ap-
preciate. We are puzzled by your punctilios,
your quaint distinctions, your gentleman’s
cotnme il fauts. We are amazed when you
fight for them; we are struck dumb when
you die for them — a song on your lips.

Not that me do not know how to die for
a cause. But we must die for a serious cause,
for a reason, for right, for God. Not for a
slogan without meaning, for a symbol for its
own sake, for a rule for its own sate. We


You Gentiles

will die for the right — not for “the right

This difference in behavior and reaction
springs from something much more earnest
and significant than a difference in beliefs: it
springs from a difference in our biologic
equipment. It does not argue the inferiority
of the one or the other. It is a difference in
the taking of life which cannot be argued.
You have your way of life, we ours. In your
system of life we are essentially without
“honor.” In our system of life you are essen-
tially without morality. In your system of
life we must forever appear graceless; to us
you must forever appear Godless.

Seen from beyond both of us, there is
neither right nor wrong. There is your West-
ern civilization. If your sense of the imper-
manence of things, the essential sportiness
of all effort, the gamesomeness and gameness
of life, has blossomed in events and laws like
these I have seen around me, it cannot, from
an external point of view (neither yours nor


The Question

ours) be classified as right or wrong. Wars
for Helen and for Jenkins’ ear; duels for
honor and for gambling debts, death for a
flag, loyalties, gallant gestures, a world that
centers round sport and war, with a system
of virtues related to these; art that springs
not from God but from the joyousness and
suffering of the free man, a world of play
which takes death itself as part of the play,
to be approached as carelessly and pleasantly
as any other turn of chance, cities and states
and mighty enterprises built up on the same
rush of feeling and energy as carries a football
team — and in the same ideology — this is the
efflorescence of the Western world. It has a
magnificent, evanescent beauty. It is a val-
iant defiance of the gloom of the universe,
a warrior’s shout into the ghastly void — a
futile thing to us, beautiful and boyish. For
all its inconsistencies and failures within it-
self, it has a charm and rhythm which are
unknown to us. We could never have built
a world like yours.


You Gentiles

The efflorescence of our life, given free
room, is profoundly different. We have none
of this joyous gamesomeness. We fight and
suffer and die, even as we labor and create,
not in sport and not under the rules of sport,
but in the feeling and belief that we are part
of an eternal process. We cannot have art
such as you have, a free and careless lyrical
beauty, songs and epics. Our sense of beauty
springs from immersion in the universe, from
a gloomy desire to see justice done in the
name of God. Morality itself we take simply
and seriously: we have none of your arbitrary
regulations, your fine flourishes and disci-
plined gallantries: we only know right or
wrong: all the rest seems to us childish irrel-
evance. When God speaks in us, when his
overwhelming will drives us to utterance we
are great: otherwise we are futile. With you
there cannot be a question of futility. We
belong to the One mastering God: you belong
to the republic of playful gods.

These are two ways of life, each utterly
alien to the other. Each has its place in the


The Question

world — but they cannot flourish in the same
soil, they cannot remain in contact without
antagonism. Though to life itself each way
is a perfect utterance, to each other they are




The most amazing thing in your life, the
most in contrast with ours, is its sport. By
this I do not mean simply your fondness for
physical exercise, your physical exuberance,
but the psychological and social institutionali-
zation of sport, its organization, its predomi-
nant role as the outlet and expression of your
spiritual energies.

I will not go into the history of sports
among you, contrasting it with its absence
from our records and emotions. But surely
there is something of extraordinary signifi-
cance in the predominance of sports in your
first high civilization, their religious charac-
ter and their hold on the affection and atten-
tion of the masses. That the overwhelming
significance of this manifestation of life has
been ignored is due essentially to the pom-
posity of historians, who care for dignity and



“scholarship” more than for truth, and who,
often lacking the shrewdness, insight, cyni-
cism, craftiness, vulgarity, affection and live-
wireness, in brief, the worldliness, to under-
stand what is going on around them in news-
papers, politics and movements, think they
can nevertheless understand history, which
they seem to regard not as yesterday’s acts
of the people around them to-day, but as a
detached and peculiar system, inaccessible to
ordinary and uncultured intelligence. I need
not go to ancient history. When I read
“serious” accounts of the history of our own
times, and see in what a seeming conspiracy
of stupidity our historians ignore the most
potent manifestation of modern life — sport,
football, baseball — and concentrate almost
exclusively on such trivialities as politics,
which no one takes seriously, I am filled with
astonishment and despair. Such men cannot
write true history. But some records there
are, and however small the attention which
“serious” historians have given to this, we
must feel that the chief free passion, that is,


You Gentiles

the chief passion not inevitably aroused by
the struggle for existence, the chief spiritual
passion, was sport: witness the elaborate re-
ligious celebration of sporting events built
on athletic contests: witness the adulation,
the love, that was poured out to athletic
prodigies ; witness the dedication of the high-
est, most inspired talents, to their glorifica-
tion: witness the tremendous mass passions
enlisted in sporting events in Athens, in
Rome, in Byzantium and elsewhere.

But in this regard, as in most others, his-
tory is by far less important than contact with
life. I need not study history or read books
to know what sport means to you. I have
only to feel the emotions around me, read
your newspapers, watch the records of your
universities. The most certain, the most con-
sistent, the most sustained and intense free
emotion in your life is sport. And when here
in America (as, indeed, elsewhere too) some
of your professors and educationalists deplore
and condemn the preponderating role of sport
in the schools, they fail to understand your



spirit. Your spirit is sport: particularly your
young men, who are not yet absorbed in the
struggle for existence, and whose emotions
are therefore for the largest part free, must
find in sport, in games, in contests, the most
satisfactory expression of their instincts.

For the most part, of course, both profes-
sor and public, despite occasional jokes at
their own expense and at the expense of the
institution, sympathize with the attitude of
the young and encourage it not only by their
energetic interest in organized sport outside,
but by the passionate attention with which
they follow the sporting records of the col-
leges. It is a commonplace that the scholas-
tic achievements of the universities are both
unintelligible and uninteresting to the vast
mass of graduates, and that academic work
can in no wise compete with athletic achieve-
ment in taking the heart and interest both of
these and of the general public. And even
those who can understand the content of
scholastic achievement are also drawn more
powerfully toward sporting achievement,


You Gentiles

I do not agree at all with the few critics
of your universities who see in this state of
affairs the decline of the spirit of the coun-
try and of its educators. This state of affairs
is not decadence, but the full and vigorous
blossoming of your spirit. This is your way

of life.

The contention of the majority of your
educators, that the moral instinct is trained
on the football and baseball field, in boxing,
rowing, wrestling and other contests, is a true
one, is truer, perhaps, than most of them
realize. Your ideal morality is a sporting
morality. The intense discipline of the game,
the spirit of fair play, the qualities of en-
durance, of good humor, of conventionalized
seriousness in effort, of loyalty, of struggle
without malice or bitterness, of readiness to
forget like a sport— all these are brought out
in their sheerest and cleanest starkness in
well-organized and closely regulated college
sports. And on the experiences and lessons
which these sports imply your entire spiritual
life is inevitably founded.



It is therefore unjust to treat this aspect
of your life flippantly: you yourselves often
fail to recognize (except in unacknowledged
instinct) how deeply it is rooted in your life.
In having sundered it from the overt and or-
ganized homage which you pay to spiritual
values (in the church, that is) you have split
yourselves. Hence the comparative weak-
ness of your organized churches, which are
founded on a misconception. Sport is for
you a serious spiritual matter. It is the
proper symbolization, the perfect ritual,
wherein your spiritual forces, finding expres-
sion, also find exercise and sustenance. They
were cleaner-witted who, before the advent
of Christianity, associated sport intimately
with your religious life. To-day you are prac-
tising on a vast scale the troubled hypocrisy
of unhappy converts who have been con-
vinced in reason of a new religion, but
whose proper and healthy instincts drive
them to surreptitious homage to older gods.
Were sport given its right place again in
your acknowledged spiritual institution, the


You Gentiles

church, you would be happier, cleaner,

For, the premise once granted that life it-
self is but a joyous adventure, a combat, a
passage-at-arms, you cannot do better than
symbolize this premise in your athletic con-
tests, in Olympiads, with local worship con-
ducted on the village green and in the athletic
halls and academies of the cities. The rigor
of the rules (or sacred rites) which attended
the open association of sport with religion
testifies to the profound inner compulsion
which makes the two identical. Indeed, even
when religion and sport have been sundered,
there is more moral odium attached to bad
sportsmanship (cheating in the game, cow-
ardice, selling out, striking foul and so on)
than to the contravention of a moral injunc-
tion bearing no sporting character. You can-
not, therefore, do better, from your point of
view, than instil into your young a keen love
and admiration of right sportsmanship, and
encourage their participation in sports gov-
erned by severe regulations. Trained with



sufficient consistency, they will carry into their
adult life an ever-immanent sense of right
and wrong according to your lights. And
no better training could be devised, of course,
than that which is associated with your most
powerful educational institutions.

It is true that the system, even when seen
from its own point of view, has its potential
evils. Partisanship may become so keen that
it thwarts the purpose of the sport institu-
tion. The desire to win or to be on the
winning side may become so bitter as to over-
rule the moral sense; and combats between
champions (as once between the principals
of opposing armies) may actually discourage
individual participation. But every system,
if it is a living thing, is subject to this dan-
ger. And even out of the evil side you may
draw good. If millions watch with breathless
interest the combat of champions, that com-
bat, conducted under the truest sporting
rules, becomes a great influence, and fine, gen-
tlemanly athletes may become the teachers
of the nation.


You Gentiles

And again ; seen within itself, sport-moral-
ity has as severe a discipline (if not, from
our point of view, any spiritual sincerity) as
a God-morality. It is as difficult and as
exacting to be a gentleman as to be good.
In many respects, of course, the two concepts
overlap, though they are differently centered.
Both call for restraint, for consideration of
rules. Both are an advance on moral an-

In thus characterizing your ethical con-
cepts, I have already Indicated the essential
difference which separates them from ours.
There is no touch of sport morality in our
way of life, in our problems of human rela-
tionship. Our life morality cannot be sym-
bolized in a miniature reproduction. We
have no play-presentation of life. Our young,
even like our adults, are referred at once to
the first source, to the word of God, to the
word of the prophet or teacher speaking in
the name of God. Or, to secularize this state-
ment, our young, like our adults, are imbued
with a feeling of the absolute in their moral



relations. Our virtues lack the flourish ano
the charm of the lists: our evils are not miti-
gated by well-meant and delightful hypocri-
sies. Murder (except in self-defense) is
murder, whether committed in a duel, with
all its gentlemanly rules, or in unrestrained
rage. When we are set face to face with
an opponent, and one must kill the other, we
proceed in the most effective way: we can-
not understand the idea that rules of con-
duct govern murder. We cannot understand
a man who, attacking another, insists that the
other, in self-defense, shall strike only above
the belt. That strange character, the gentle-
man thief, the gallant and appealing des-
perado, who recurs with such significant fre-
quency in your fine and popular literature,
perhaps points my meaning best. The idea
of a “gentleman thief” is utterly impossible
to the Jew: it is only you gentiles, with
your idealization of the sporting qualities,
who can thus unite in a universally popular
hero, immorality and Rittersittlichkeit. It is
probable, of course, that the majority of your


You Gentiles

Robin Hoods and Claude Duvals were noth-
ing but low ruffians, devoid even of chivalry:
but their significance is not in what they were,
but in what you make of them in worship.
The persistence of the types is evident to-day
as much as ever, when popular fancy is
charmed and youth tempted into emulation
by the “Raffles” and “Lupins” of the world
of books. At no time have we Jews sympa-
thized with this type. We are insensible to
the appeal of “the correct” and the graceful
as a substitute for our morality. Knightly
or unknightly, courtly or uncourtly, sports-
manlike or the opposite in our real life mean
nothing. We only ask: Is it right or is it

For the rules which you bring into life
from the athletic field have no relation to
the ultimate moral value of your acts and
serve only to give you the moral satisfaction
of having obeyed some rule or other while
doing exactly what you want to do. Thus,
grown and intelligent as you may be, you
govern the hunting of animals with the most



curious and seriously-taken regulations. You
must not shoot a pigeon or a rabbit in sport
unless such and such regulations are obeyed
— it is “unsportsmanlike.” You make a great
moral to-do about these regulations. But
what, in God’s name, has this to do with the
right or wrong of killing defenseless animals
for sport?

You have attempted to infuse into busi-
ness, which you have made the stark transla-
tion into modern social terms of the old kill-
and-be-killed chaos, an ineffectual gallantry
which will again give you the sense of “play-
ing the game” while giving free course to
your worst instincts. I mean that, apart
from the necessities of the law, you attempt
to bring into the field of business the curious
punctilio of the fencing master — courtesies
and pretenses, slogans and passwords, which
mitigate only in appearance the primal sav-
agery of the struggle. “Service,” “the good
of the public,” “a square deal”— all the catch-
words of the advertising schools which give
a flavor of gamesome friendliness to a world


You Gentiles

that is essentially merciless — this is not in-
tentional lying, it is not deliberate hypocrisy.
You believe that homage to these forms con-
stitutes a morality. It does constitute a
morality — of a kind. We, on our part, rec-
ognize no particular system that divides
business from the rest of life. One is as hon-
est in business as in anything else. For us
business has not a specialized idealism or
court etiquette, a particularized code of
honor. We are honest and truthful or we
are not honest and truthful: it has nothing
to do with our being in “this game” or in
“that game/’ a shopkeeper or a tailor or a
banker. And because we cannot, by reason
of our nature, follow you in these playful
caracoles and curvetings, but drive straight
to the purpose, using the plain common sense
and honesty or dishonesty of the occasion,
you are bound to regard us (as many of you
do) as lacking in “etiquette” — that is, in
your morality.

A similar division in other essential opin-
ions illustrates the primal difference between
‘ 50


us. Your attitude toward combat (duels,
wars) and all the virtues pertaining to it, is
one from which we shrink. To you courage
is an end in itself, to be glorified, worshiped,
as imparting morality to an act. To us, cour-
age is merely a means to an end. Hence your
courage is combative, ours passive, yours of-
fensive, ours defensive. Heroics play a great
part in your idealism — none in ours. To fight
is never a glorious business to us. It is a
dirty business: we perform it when we must
(and I suppose there is very little to choose
between you and us in the matter of courage) ,
but we cannot pretend that the filthy neces-
sity is a high virtue. “Duke et decorum est
pro patria mori” is not a Jewish sentiment:
for it is not sweet to die for anything: but
if we must die for it, we will.

Nor do we glorify the warrior as a warrior,
despite occasional individual defections of
ours from that view. If my brother goes
mad and attacks me, and I must slay him
in self-defense, how can I be happy over it?
It is a cruel and miserable business, to be


You Gentiles

finished with as soon as possible, to be for-
gotten as soon as possible. This is essentially
the Jewish attitude toward war and warriors.
I do not find in the Bible delight in war and
warriors. Our exultation in victory was not
the glorification of the warrior, but only a
fierce joy at having survived. We fought bit-
terly, vindictively, in order to kill: and our
God was a God of war. But however this
may be, I know with utter certainty concern-
ing us as we are to-day that the conscious
Jew, the Jew steeped in Jewish life, despises
the fighter as such, abhors war: and though
he can die for his faith as well as any one else,
refuses to make a joyous ritual of combat.

For when you gentiles assert that you ab-
hor war, you deceive yourselves. War is the
sublimest of the sports and therefore the most
deeply worshiped. Do you mourn when you
must fight? Is a nation plunged into gloom
when a declaration of war arrives? Do you
search your hearts closely, cruelly, to discover
whether you yourselves are not to blame that
this monstrous thing has come to pass? Does



a tremor of terror go through you — “Perhaps
we are guilty 7 ‘? Do you clamor for the rec-
ords of the long complications which have
ushered in this horror? Do you go to your
task of defense or offense darkly, grimly, bit-
terly? No, you hang out your most gorgeous
banners, you play merry music, your blood
runs swiftly, happily, your cheeks brighten
and your eyes sparkle. A glorious accession
of strength marks the throwing down or the
acceptance of the gage. From end to end
of the land the tidings ring out, and every
man and woman of mettle — every “red-
blooded” man and woman, itches for a hand
in it.

Let me say clearly that I do not think
all of you are fighting heroes. I have no
doubt that millions of you, in every country,
went to war reluctantly. But this does not
contradict my contention. It only means that
millions of you are not capable of living up
to the ideal morality which you cherish. But
even the greatest coward, even the most un-
willing conscript toys, in his emotions, with


You Gentiles

the adventures and triumphs of war. I
speak, throughout this book, of the ideals
to which you aspire and from which you
draw your moral inspiration. And it is cer-
tain that war itself, independently of all aims
and justifications, is a prime necessity to you:
and a declaration of war is the long-awaited
signal of release, greeted with extravagant
and hysterical joy. It is not love of country
which induces this flood of happiness — it is
combat, the glory of sport, the game, the
magnificence of the greatest of all contests.
Again, they were cleaner-witted, those of
you who declared openly and frankly that
war is the natural pursuit of noblemen and
of kings. The highest and most life-passion-
ate among you, the most exalted, were to be
dedicated above all others to your way of life.
Conversely, the basest among you were ac-
counted as unworthy of admittance into the
splendid company of warriors. The scullion
must not dare to aspire to combative distinc-
tion. To-day, as of old, you have nothing
but contempt (revealed in its true intensity



in time of war) for the true pacifist. Your
nature is to-day what it was a thousand years
ago. £ Tn the somber obstinacy of the British
worker still survives the tacit rage of the
Scandinavian Berserker.” And vain and fu-
tile and foolish are all these efforts to dam
up and to choke the extremest and most cher-
ished outlet of your natural instinct.

But in war, as in all other games of life,
you satisfy your morality by means of amaz-
ing punctilios. To kill thus leaves you clean:
to kill otherwise is ungentlemanly. In a few
of these fine points in the conduct of war and
of duels there may lurk some true moral sig-
nificance. But it amazes us that in the exer-
cise of this punctilio you find sufficient right-
eousness to ease your conscience altogether.

Were you truly concerned with right and
wrong instead of with the sporting ” right
thing,” with honor, what a flood of horror
and of pity and of prostration would follow
each of your wars: with what frantic haste
you would fly to the consolation of each
other; with what tremors of moral terror


You Gentiles

you would examine again and again the catas-
trophic madness from which you have just
emerged. Merciful God! You have just
slain ten thousand, a hundred thousand men,
fathers and sons: in the red rage of combat
you have * disemboweled them, suffocated
them, drowned them, torn them limb from
limb, blinded them. A million loving parents,
children, friends have wakened sweating in
the night out of a terrible vision of last de-
spairs, of contracted, screaming agonies. And
now, when it is over, do you run to your
churches, and with streaming eyes, fling
yourselves at the foot of priest and altar,
terrified lest the murder you have committed
might have been avoided, lest at least some
of the guilt rest upon your head? For surely
if even the faintest stain of culpability, the
minutest blot, a grain, an all but invisible
fleck, an oversight, momentary impatience,
pride, carelessness, leave you not utterly,
utterly, utterly blameless, you have need of
all the Divine Compassion, all the infinite
forgiveness of God.



But your wars have never ended, since his-
tory records them, save with the same out-
bursts of pride and insolence as began them.
Was there ever a Te Deum turned into a cry
of Mea culpa? Was ever a war entered in
a history book save as a glorious adventure,
glorious in victory, glorious in disaster? And
even if, after a hundred years, a historian
here and there dares tarnish the stainless rec-
ords of your purposes with a single plausible
doubt, was there ever an awakening of guilt
a thousandth part as strong as the awaken-
ing of pride and happiness which accompanies
the recalling of the exploits of any war, how-
ever remote?

You have just passed through the wildest
and most universal of all wars. Search your
memories and your press well. Where was
the hushed humility, the awe, the shuddering
amazement which should have fallen on the
world when the Armistice was declared? Did
you not straightway send forth emissaries to
bargain and barter, to accuse and to de-
nounce? And above all to maintain your


You Gentiles

national dignity! What dignity, pray?
What was left of dignity to a single one of
you? What was left of decency to any who
had joined in the furious and blasphemous
revelries of those five years?

You hate war? Nonsense; you enjoy it.
If, in the passing tiredness which follows the
strenuous exertion, you pause awhile to re-
flect, you do not dare to think into the root-
causes and evils lest indeed you make war
impossible. You tinker with a few regula-
tions, gas laws, Flammenwerjer rules, armed
and unarmed ships and similarly futile triv-
ialities. You call each other “bad sports” —
and a day later you are prepared, if the occa-
sion offers, to embark again on the exhilarat-
ing enterprise.

Yet, I say, for all this, you can never be
guilty in your own eyes, not one of you. De-
nunciation can only come from one who does
not share your morality. Your conscience
cannot be seared, for you have done no wrong.
War is the high-mark of your life, the true
and triumphant expression of your instincts.



And therefore, whatever church and religion
may preach in the intervals between actual
fighting, you remember all your wars with
wistful and longing pride as the greatest
events in your existence. The splendor cf
war, in preparation and in action and in recol-
lection, in the rhythm of training armies, in
the frantic excitement of battle, in the glori-
ous commemoration of monument and song
and tapestry, is the flower of your civiliza-
tion, material and spiritual. In nothing are
you as efficient as in war; in nothing as true
to yourselves. Strained to the utmost in this
terrific game your splendid faculties find full
and vehement exercise. And whosoever from
under the shadow of God upbraids you and
discourages you, is your eternal enemy,

I cannot undertake, while developing this
theme, to answer all of the objections which
occur even to me. In part, of course, some
of these objections are unanswerable, and are,
in my opinion, only overborne by counter-
objections. In part they are futile objec-


You Gentiles

tions. But in touching on some of them, I
may make my viewpoint clearer. I shall be
reminded that wherever war was declared we
Jews have responded as readily and as eagerly
as you gentiles. Statistics (which are quite
reliable in such rule-of- thumb matters) bear
this out. But I do not believe that we did
so from motives that resembled yours. Many
reasons compelled us. We are everywhere,
to a large extent, aliens. A sense of inferior-
ity in status drives us to extremes of sacrifice
in justifying our claims to equality. More
than that: we Jews are so frequently and so
vigorously reminded, in all constitutionally
governed and liberal countries, that we ought
to be grateful for permission to live there,
that we develop a gratitude which is not only
disproportionate but occasionally grotesque.
Our children, in schools and elsewhere, are
taught, year in, year out, to contrast their
present freedom and equality of opportunity
with the oppression and bitterness which
was the lot of their parents elsewhere. Fre-
quently the contrast, as painted in their



imagination, is not a duplicate of the reality.
However this may be, these incessant and
vehement reminders produce their effect.
The child almost comes to believe that it was
for the especial benefit of oppressed foreign-
ers that America became a “free country”
and, instead of accepting American forms of
government level-headedly, with the proper
degree of appreciation and criticism, he de-
velops a suppressed hysteria of gratitude.
This is not a healthy and natural feeling.
Children should not be made to feel such
things. And if it comes to the matter of con-
tributions to liberty, we Jews have done as
much for the enfranchisement of man as any
other people. But the Jew, the oppressed par
excellence, begins to look upon America’s lib-
erty as a personal favor. No wonder then
that Jews will rush to fight for America. Yet,
despite the contradiction of figures there is
still a strong impression abroad that the Jews
“failed in their duty,” were “slackers.” This
feeling rises from an instinctive appreciation
of that difference between us. We Jews don’t


You Gentiles

like fighting. You gentiles do. Moreover,
because you like fighting, you are much more
skilful than we in hiding occasional reluctance
to fight. Indeed, it is obvious that the more
fearful you are of taking a hand in the com-
bat, the more you will glorify and idealize it:
while the Jew who is afraid adds actual and
overt dislike to his cowardice.

But apart from this, we must not forget
that with the schools of the Western world
open to our children, your view of things is
gradually being imposed on our alien psy-
chology. Of the real and apparent successes
of your effort I write elsewhere in this book.
But here let me note that the Jewish child
in your schools is made to feel that not to
like fighting is a sign of complete inferiority.
Determined to become your equal, he essays,
often with success, to become warlike in his
attitude. But it is an artificial success. He
does from an imperious sense of duty what
you do by instinct. He fights by forcing him-
self to it. He has not your natural gift and
inclination for it,



Of course I shall be told, in establishing
this distinction among others, that it is “dan-
gerous to generalize.” It is curious with
what finality this commonplace is supposed
to crush the generalizer. Suppose it is true
that it is dangerous to generalize: are not
many necessary things dangerous — like bear-
ing children and digging coal? A truth is none
the less a truth because it is a dangerous truth
— i.e., open to easy abuse. Nevertheless, the
most serious truths can only be stated — as
generalities. And this most serious truth is
among them, this contrast in attitude toward
war of Jew and gentile. And as long as the
contrast exists, it will be stronger than will,
stronger than reason. As long as we are at
opposite poles, we shall have to make con-
tinuous and strenuous efforts to get on side
by side.





This is the essence of our difference: that
we are serious, you are not. The French
shading of the word comes nearer my mean-
ing: vous n’etes pas serieux. Not as a mat-
ter of intent, but as a matter of constitution.
This lack of seriousness, thus uttering itself
in your ethics, and governing the character of
your relations to each other, must also gov-
ern your religion, your symbolized relations
with the universe. And I have always felt,
in contemplating your religious experiences
and declarations, the same alienation from
them as from your morality. Your feeling
for Godhead partakes of the imaginative and
lyrical playfulness which is your essential na-
ture, and whatever may be the formal creed
in which your feelings are wrapped their true
nature cannot be hidden,



You gentiles are essentially polytheists
and to some extent idol worshippers. We
Jews are essentially monotheists. I would as-
sert this even if it were not known that we
have been singled out for centuries by our
obstinate monotheism. I would assert it on
the basis of my observations of the worlds I
have known.

Monotheism is a desperate and overwhelm-
ing creed. It can be the expression of none
but the most serious natures. It is a funda-
mental creed which engulfs individual and
mass in an unfathomable sea of unity. In
monotheism there is no room left for individ-
ual prides and distinctions, no room for joyful
assertiveness. Monotheism means infinite
absolutism, the crushing triumph of the One,
the crushing annihilation of the ones.

To the serious nature it is inconceivable
that this world should be at the changing
mercy of opposing and uncontrolled forces:
that gods of varying power and purpose
should be making a sport of their own with
us and themselves. But to the sporting na-


You Gentiles

ture the ghastly unity of all life and power,
the grim and sempiternal-settled predestina-
tion of all effort is, when accessible, an in-
tolerable thought.

We Jews are incapable of polytheism. You
gentiles are incapable of monotheism.

Given, in the most explicit terms, the defi-
nition of monotheism, which you have tried
as sincerely as lies in your power to accept,
you still fail to make it your own. If life here
is a sport and an heroic epic, the origins of
life must be the same. Let the exceptions
among you proclaim what they will: I know
that the creeds of your masses, as I have heard
them expounded from pulpits and in homes,
as I have read of them in books and in period-
icals, are polytheistic creeds. Of the three-
in-one, the three is stressed^ the one is the re-
luctant concession to the dogma.

For where there is the happy and imagina-
tive gentile spirit there cannot be the com-
plete and unconditional prostration of the
individual. This utter breakdown of self
which is revealed in our prayers before God,



in our feelings towards him, is an experi-
ence which you are too proud to share.
Most of our prayers are helpless repetitions
of our helplessness, the stammerings of a
child overwhelmed, overmastered, by con-
templation of the supreme Unity. You can-
not pray thus: at no time, even in the pres-
ence of the gods, do you lose your self-pos-
session, your dignity. You too pray, but
your prayers, compared with ours, are re-
quests. Your offers of service to Christ the
God are the offers of a vassal to a power-
ful superior. Our prayers, too, beg some-
thing, but requests of ours are folded in an
abasement, a humility which would be revolt-
ing to you.

Hence it is that you have never, in these
many centuries of Christianity, produced ut-
terances like those of the prophets, of Job
and of David. Your inspirations come from
other sources, not from the one source. Your
gods are essentially gods of the world, not of
the universe. The universal aspect of divin-
ity, its attributes of infinity and eternity, its


You Gentiles

omnipotence — these find only your formal
acknowledgment: but emotionally you are
unfitted to give them the true acknowledg-
ment of complete and almost incoherent
abasement. That language is alien to your
spirit — the terror of the infinite cannot touch
you, the eternal you know as it were by sym-
bol and formula — but not by horrified experi-
ence. Your very professions of humility are
like proud trumpet-blasts, and all your abase-
ments of royalty, your Hapsburg burial cere-
monies and anointings by priests are but ar-
tistic flourishes which bring into graceful re-
lief the true soldierliness of your character,

I do not remember even having met the
exceptions which must exist among you : I do
not remember ever having heard a gentile
pray with that abandonment, that abjectness,
that (as it must seem to you) fulsomeness of
homage which characterizes our prayer.
Only they who (like us) are broken under
the burden of realization of the infinite can
pray thus; only they who, in dreams and in
waking ecstasies and, above all, in instinct,



have been touched with the rage of the Un-
deniable Power can utter such adoration as

Our very anthropomorphisms reflect the
difference in our spirit. With our personified
God we hold speech such as you would never
hold. When we translate infinite extent into
infinite individual power, we shadow forth a
Being, charged with an intensity of existence,
a concentration of life and force, which you
are unable to apprehend, being too free in
spirit to attribute to any outside force such
untrammeled and unapproachable tyranny.

So your gods, too, are playthings, higher
powers in the tempestuous game of life. All
your mythologies were tales of adventure —
for your very gods are not serious. And most
fascinating are the tales of those gods which
you fashioned when your first brilliant blos-
soming in Greece started out of your turbu-
lent soil. Who could conceive the mythology
of Greece as a product of the Jewish people?
That grace, that sunny charm, that adventur-
ousness, that quarrelsomeness — could gods


You Gentiles

like these ever have sprung from us? The
emptiness of life and space and time brought
forth out of your free and bounding imagina-
tion a host of beings, which you imaged with
infinite loveliness in stone. One god for
heaven and one for the bowels of earth and
one for the sea, and gods for music and trag-
edy, gods for commerce and for voyaging — –
was not this a charming game, a game of
children? Can any one say that this was a
serious and desperate attempt to become,
in concept, one with the universal spirit of

Compare with this our own first gropings,
our own first clumsy expression of the univer-
sal spirit which sought utterance in us. Even
as an absolute tribal ruler our God was One,
was master, a serious God. And out of that
God-unity which we felt even in our primi-
tive limitations, grew at last that concept
which touched with undying ecstasy the lips
of our prophets and cast over the life of the
entire people, for all time, the shadow of
omnipresence and omnipotence. Even when



our God was a jealous God, his jealousy was
absolute: he would brook no, homage but to
him, no acknowledgment but of him. But the
jealousies of your gods were only the jealous-
ies of sport. They did not seek universal
mastery and exclusiveness — only superiority.
To be primus inter pares was the ambition of
your gods, with mastery each in his own do-
main; but our God sought universal dominion
in our hearts — such dominion as made all
other homage inconceivable.

Your gods gave you loveliness and joy and
battle. You liked your gods and served them
with alternating loyalties: you pitted one
against the other, appealed from one to the
other, plotted with one against the other.
Your gods were kings and princelings, might-
ier than you and more splendid. But no god
of yours was the King of Kings in your soul.
Your gods have never grown up, nor any sin-
gle one among them. Nor have you grown
into your god, but have always remained ex-
ternal, proud and warlike and free, paying
homage as of old, but retaining the mastery


You Gentiles

over yourselves. You do not know of a God
who is ALL, a God in whom you are, a God
who has reduced you to the dust, to the infin-
itesimal, in whom you are a breaking foam —
a bubble on an infinite sea — it breaks: and
it was born and is gone, for ever and ever.

And so, despite occasional exceptions,
which I acknowledge freely, the dedication of
all life, all being, to God’s will and way, is
alien to you. You are not naturally steeped
in God. You salute him and bring him hom-
age. Your relations with your gods are occa-
sional, even if inevitable: but you cannot
compare that with the immanence and inti-
macy of God-head in Jewish life. God is a
common-place experience in Jewish life. He
is the tacit continuous miracle of all our days
and nights, thoughts and experience.

We cannot conceive of a duality — religion
and life, the sacred and the secular. A Jew is a
Jew in everything, not merely in prayers and
in synagogue. In the eyes of a pietist, a Jew
who does not follow the rules and regulations
of the synagogue, who even denies all dogma



is not a non-Jew: he is a bad Jew, a sinful and
rebellious Jew.

In the orthodox world of Jewry, every act
and incident is an acknowledged Jewish phe-
nomenon: acknowledged, that is, openly, by
prayer. The whole day is saturated with
God, or with Jewishness. Our Jewishness
is not a creed — it is ourself, our totality.

Indeed, it may be fairly said that the sur-
est evidence of your lack of seriousness in
religion is the fact that your religions are not
national, that you are not compromised and
dedicated, en masse, to the faith. For what
value has God for you if you do not surrender
to him, even formally, all your gifts and facul-
ties, all your skill and emotion? This is an
amazing duality of allegiance: one is an Eng-
lishman first — and then a Christian 1 An
American first, and then a Baptist! Your
most generous loyalties, your readiest sacri-
fices, are inspired by your nationalism. Your
faculties are national: you claim, “This is
typically American/ 7 “This is typically Brit-
ish/’ “This is typically French.” You cut


You Gentiles

this off at once from God, and the best of
yourselves you withhold from him.

But in the Jew, nation and people and
faculties and culture and God are all one.
We do not say: “I am a Jew/’ meaning, Cf I
am a member of this nationality”: the feeling
in the Jew, even In the free-thinking Jew like
myself j is that to be one with his people is to
be thereby admitted to the power of enjoy-
ing the infinite. I might say, of ourselves:
“We and God grew up together. ”

To have built up a great nation, millions of
human beings — schools, armies, art galleries,
books, legislatures, theaters, immense news-
papers — is not this the all in all of national
achievement, the best and strongest in you?
— to have done this without your god as the
central ideal Is that taking your religion
seriously? No: any nation that takes its re-
ligion seriously is a nation of priests.

You will tell me that such things have been
among you, that you have had national re-
ligions, national gods. I do not believe it: I
have certainly seen no evidence in any rec-



ord which has come to my attention. For we
must distinguish between a patron or tutelary
god and a national god. The first is an espe-
cially assigned power. The second is the com-
plete reflex of the people, a god who is born
with the people, who is its raison d’etre,
without whom the people would not have come
into national existence. You have had patron
or appropriated gods: we have a national God.
In the heart of any pious Jew, God is a Jew.
Is your God an Englishman or an American?
There is no real contradiction between this
confessed anthropomorphism and my claim
that we Jews alone understand and feel the
universality of God. In anthropomorphism
we merely symbolize God: we reduce the infi-
nite, temporarily, to tangible proportions: we
make it accessible to daily reference. For
neither we nor you can carry on the business
of ordinary living on the plane of constant ab-
straction. It is not because of your anthro-
pomorphism that I accuse your religious feel-
ings of being trivial. It is because of the
manner of your anthropomorphism, it is be-


You Gentiles

cause of what your anthropomorphism pro-

And thus, by natural reaction, we in our
anthropomorphism are all the more personal
because in our abstraction we are truly ab-
stract. Because we alone are dedicated to
the infinite, our God, when anthropomor-
phized, is our own God. I might say that
there is no Jew who does not believe in God.
The free-thinking Jews, the agnostic or athe-
istic Jew like myself, simply does not anthro-
pomorphize him. In his religious emotions
the atheist Jew is as different from the atheist
gentile as the confessing Jew from the con-
fessing gentile-Christian,

For if gods are the rationalized explana-
tion of religious emotions they differ in ac-
ceptance and denial even as these emotions
differ. And of course by “religious” emotions
we only mean one aspect of all emotions.
Your emotions, your life-reactions differ
fundamentally from ours — why, I cannot tell.
But as in morality you are freer, sporting and



variegated, so your gods are many, varied and
manly. And our gloomy and merciless mono-
theism, intolerant in abstraction and in per-
sonification, is the eternal enemy of your




The dreams of men concerning the latter
days are a common index to their ideals of
life, for no one will think of the future except
as his own. These dreams, like their close
kin, the night dream, are extraordinarily diffi-
cult of interpretation— much more difficult
than the psychoanalyst would have us be-
lieve. But on occasions they are presented
with unmistakable clarity and directness— by
the prophets.

The functions of the prophet as a seer and
a foreseer have been confounded for this rea-
son. The true prophet sees into the ultimate
longings of his group— longings which may
even run counter to the day’s desires. These
ultimate longings are shifted into the far fu-
ture—beyond the reach of temporal compli-
cations and compromises: and he that unveils



a man’s inmost longings wins credence as hav-
ing foreseen the true finality of life.

I have chosen Plato’s Republic and our
own Hebrew prophets as the basis of contrast
between your dreams of the latter days and
ours, between your longings for perfection
and ours. I have chosen Plato because of all
the seers who have sprung up in your midst
he is the most universally accepted, and of all
Utopias your thinkers refer to his most fre-
quently: that is to say, he comes nearest to
your desires. Hence in discussing him, I am
discussing you.

I have used the phrase “of all the seers who
have sprung up in your midst” because it is
true that you still mention the Hebrew
prophets more frequently than Plato. But it is
of singular and final significance that as soon
as you develop free intelligence and desire
expression for it, you turn from our prophets
to your own. The overwhelming bulk of your
intelligent discussion of life and the end of
life centers round the free philosophers or
seers — and among these you have made Plato


You Gentiles

preeminent. Plato’s analysis of the ideal
life still approaches your dreams most inti-

Investigating the true nature of morality,
Plato bodies forth his ideal of a perfect state,
and, with the license of a dream giving free
reign to his imagination, unfolds step by step
his famous Republic. No considerations of
practicality or of feasibility were there to
check the career of his fantasy. The Repub-
lic is to him life as it should be and as he
would like to see it: the apotheosis of human

Contrast this with the visions of his almost
contemporaries, the Jewish prophets, and in
this contrast you will find again the key to
our essential difference.

The Republic of Plato is an institu-
tion, organized with infinite ingenuity and
dedicated to the delights of the body and
the mind. It draws its inspiration from the
pure jot de vivre of the ideal man of perfect
physical and psychic health. You would seek
in vain that extraneous compulsion of a God



which the Hebrews called inspiration. There
is no somber passion driving to creation, no
intolerant demands impossible of fulfilment.
It is not God creating man in his mold: it
is man creating God, or the gods, in his mold:
gods that are companionable and comprehen-

He sets before you a pretty, intriguing lit-
tle model (“a city not too big to lose the char-
acteristics of a city”) which, sundered from
universal humanity, untouched by the univer-
sal hunger, restricts Supreme Good to the
possession of a comfortably secluded group.
It is a city for the prosecution of the
happy and artistic life; the harmonies and
symmetries shall be carefully guarded, the
satisfaction of body and of mind wisely and
cleverly pursued. Nay, in that supreme hu-
man product there shall even be — astounding
triviality — a censor!

There is a wealth of ingenuity devoted
to these questions: How shall children be
initiated into the art of war? How shall
cowards and heroes be treated? What about


You Gentiles

the plundering of the slain, and the perpetua-
tion of deeds of battle in monuments? “Now,
is it not of the greatest moment that the work
of war shall be well done? Or is it so easy
that any one can succeed in it and be at the
same time a husbandman or a shoemaker or a
laborer or any other trade whatever, although
there is no one in the world who could be-
come a good draught player or dice player by
merely taking up the game at unoccupied mo-
ments, instead of pursuing it as his special
study from childhood? And will it be enough
for a man merely to handle a shield or any
other of the arms and implements of war, to
be straightway competent to play his part
well that very day in an engagement of heavy
troops or in any other military service? . . .”
“Is it not of the greatest moment that the
work of war should be well done? . . .”
This in a vision of human perfection— for it
never occurs to Plato that perfection in hu-
manity precludes the possibility of war.

And treating of God, he says: “Surely God
is good in reality, and is to be so represented,”



but what can we make of his ultimate good?
Is not his good merely “a good thing” — as
right is for you “the right thing”? And what
can we make of his God when, after talking
of the goodness and dignity of God, he goes
on to talk of the gods, and of how the poets
are to be arraigned for not treating them re-
spectfully in that they make them laugh or
portray them in undignified occupations and
postures I

Well does he say: “The inquiry we are un-
dertaking is no trivial one, but demands a
keen sight.” He does not say that it de-
mands the aid of God, or a loving heart, or
hunger after righteousness. But the very
question of God is a trivial one, for, as one
says in this book: “It is urged neither evasion
nor violence can succeed with the gods.
Well, but if they either do not exist, or do not
concern themselves with the affairs of men,
why need we concern ourselves to evade their

This graceful skepticism, which strikes the
opening note of the book, sets the tone for the


You Gentiles

entire theme. “What is justice?” What in-
deed? Does any man that loves true justice
(not the game) ever ask this question? Can
any one truly believe that the subtlest and
skilfulest analysis of justice will help one jot
in creating love of justice, desire for justice?
A vision of the perfection of mankind and
children being trained for warl Contrast it
with this: “In that day there shall be a high-
way out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyr-
ian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian
into Assyria, and the Egyptians shall serve
with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel
be the third with Egypt and with Assyria,
even a blessing in the midst of the land.
Whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying:
Blessed be Egypt my people and Assyria the
work of my hands and Israel mine inherit-
ance.” Or with the better known passage:
“And it shall come to pass in the last days
that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall
be established on the top of the mountains,
and shall be exalted above the hills, and all



nations shall flow into it. And many peoples
shall come and say: Come, let us go up to
the mountains of the Lord, to the house of the
God of Jacob, and he will teach us of his
ways and we will walk in his paths. . . ., And
he shall judge the nations and shall rebuke
many peoples, and they shall beat their
swords into ploughshares, and their spears into
pruning hooks : nation shall not lift up sword
against nation, neither shall they learn any
more war.”

A vision of the perfection of mankind, with
censors and with carefully groomed gods I — –
the limit of his imagination. But this! —
“And the earth shall be filled with the knowl-
edge of God as the waters cover the sea.”
And this! — “And it shall come to pass after-
ward that I will pour out my spirit upon all
flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall
prophesy: your old men shall dream dreams.
Your young men shall see visions. And also
upon the servants and upon the handmaids
in those days will I pour out my spirit. ”


You Gentiles

And because his world is not God’s world,
but the world of his self-created gods, he
must sit down and argue anxiously, “What is
justice?” But he that really loves justice
asks no questions: he cries instead: “Seek
good and not evil, that ye may live: and so
the Lord, the God of Hosts, shall be with
you, as ye have spoken. Hate evil and love
the good, and establish judgment in the
gate.” And: “Let judgment run down as wa-
ters and righteousness as a mighty stream.”

And when, baffled by the inadequacy of his
human standards, your philosopher refers
justice to the “categoric imperative,” he be-
trays the triviality of your world. What is
that “categoric imperative,” thkt helpless
compromise and confession? What man rec-
ognizes it, will bow to it? That phrase
itself is its own denial, for he that refers man-
kind to a “categoric imperative” is himself
neither categoric nor imperative. But even
the deaf will hear and tremble when the
Prophet thunders: “Thus saith the Lord.”
There is the categoric imperative!



For me, conscious of being Jewish and of
the meaning of being Jewish, it is impossible
to write of this contrast without bias, as if
this book were merely an intellectual exer-
cise. Because I am Jewish I look with ulti-
mate aversion on the world which finds su-
preme and ideal expression in Plato’s Repub-
lic. And though I may repeat that this is no
question of right and wrong in these two
worlds, yours and ours, I cannot but feel pro-
foundly and vehemently that ours is the way
and the life.

Yet I would pay what tribute I can to the
dreams of one like Plato. I have at least
touched your world closely enough to have
caught some of the beauty of its freedom.

There is a Jewish legend which tells that
when God brought the Law, his Law, to the
children of Israel assembled at the foot of
Sinai, after he had offered it to all the other
peoples, only to have it rejected, he left them
no choice, but said: Either you take my Law
or I will lift up this mountain and crush you
beneath it. I attach no psychological signifi-


You Gentiles

cance to the fable (the practice of interpret-
ing fables psychologically is , as a rule, a dis-
honest one), but quote it as a handy illustra-
tion. We are not free to choose and to re-
ject, to play, to construct, to refine. We are
a dedicated and enslaved people, predestined
to an unchangeable relationship. Freedom
at large was not and is not a Jewish ideal.
Service, love, consecration, these are ideals
with us. Freedom means nothing to us:
freedom to do what?

Yet in glimpses I understand the charm
of your life and sometimes lose myself in the
fascination of your Plato’s dream. Such a
world as he foreshadows, a world of sunlight,
exercise, singing, fantasy: a world of graceful
and elastic bodies, of keen, flashing minds, of
clash and effort, wars and heroes and monu-
ments, a life wheeling and dashing in splendid
formations, rejoicing under free and lovely
skies: a life without brooding and gloom,
without the intolerable burden of this unre-
laxing immanence. Man and man’s effort,
man’s love and agonies are ends in them-



selves, to be exploited for themselves: the
coming and going of men and nations and
gods are without ultimate significance, a dance
of atoms, a passing ecstasy without thought
of the sinister beyond. Beautiful— but not
for us! While this dance goes on, while na-
tions and gods enter the game and leave it,
we continue through all time, an apparition
almost, a dread reminder of infinity.

Your dreams of perfection are only of a
piece with your present life — the transient be-
come permanent: the skies will be blue for-
ever, your dance will never end. Your bodies
will always be strong, your wits keen, your
battles glorious: the game will reach its limit
of enjoyment!

But for us this is not an apotheosis: this is
not a vision. For us the end is ecstatic unity,
the identification of man with God. Your
ideal is eternal youths ours lifts toward an
unchanging climax of adult perfection. You
would like to play with your gods forever:
we will return to God, to the universe. Yours
is a sunlit afternoon, with the combatants


You Gentiles

swaying forever in a joyous struggle. Ours
is a whole world, with the spirit of God
poured through all things.

Your ideal is Plato’s Republic: ours is
God’s kingdom.



Whenever friendly tribute has been paid
to the higher ethical nature of the Jew, it has
always been made to appear that the Jew
obeys the laws of a common morality more
strictly than does the gentile. Jews and
friends of Jews have wanted to make it ap-
pear that, if we differ from you ethically, it is
in that we are more self-sacrificing, more gen-
erous, more loyal, more honest, etc. I do not
desire to make it appear so, and in the fore-
going pages I have tried to avoid any such
implication. Within our system we need be
neither better nor worse behaved than you
within yours. We may transgress as fre-
quently as you, perhaps more frequently — I
cannot tell: it is on the nature of the systems
that I base the distinction. We deny your
very system, you ours.


You Gentiles

So that, casually, we must seem immoral
to you, you to us. That is why even the low-
est type of gentile despises the Jew; the low-
est type of Jew, the gentile. For it is well to
remember that criminals do not deny a sys-
tem of ethics: they only transgress it. To the
criminal the subverter of a system of moral-
ity is a horrible creature, as (which I have al-
ready intimated) to the coward the pacifist
is particularly abhorrent. This must spring
from the fact that for the professional crim-
inal it is essential that humanity should be
moral: his very existence as a criminal would
otherwise be impossible. Indeed, he has more
reason than any one else to foster a sense of
morality in mankind, for the more exceptional
he is, the better for his trade. Hence his
greatest enemy is not the policeman (for the
policeman maintains the social order which is
Ms prey) , but the moral anarchist. And since
the Jew is to the gentile order of conduct a
moral anarchist, the gentile criminal who has
come into contact with Jews will be the aptest
to hate Jews. It is for this reason, I think,



that criminality is so closely allied to anti-

In the attitude of the public toward liter-
ary and stage censorship I find the clearest
illustration of this distinction between the
breaking of law and the denial of law, A
play which is “indecent” may be so for one
of two reasons. Either it deals with sex within
the frame of morality or it denies the validity
of this morality. In the first case (which
covers most successful plays) we have no at-
tack on current notions of what is right and
wrong in the sexual relationship. We have,
indeed, complete acceptances of the current
principles of sex morality. But with this ac-
ceptance en principe goes a generous denial
in practice ; plays of this kind cover countless
breaches of morality with a knowing wink, a
tolerant appeal to human weakness. It is lu-
dicrous to deny that the desire to tickle and
provoke the sexual appetite, and covertly to
encourage its promiscuous satisfaction, gov-
erns these plays ; but it is not made a principle
at all. It is the breaking of the law, not the


You Gentiles

denial of it. Hence such plays (except when
they become too obvious in their purpose and
thus become an overt attack en masse) are
tolerated by the censorship and encouraged
by the public.

But the play which has little sex appeal
yet seriously denies the validity of accepted
sex morality is dealt with promptly and se-
verely, and among those who condemn it
most vigorously will be found those who fre-
quent assiduously the first type of play. I
see nothing incongruous in this — nothing
illogical even. For the first type of play is
perhaps the safety valve to human nature:
it remits us our unavoidable allowance of
licence, without which morality would be-
come an insufferable imposition. But the
second type of play breaks up morality com-
pletely. To the system of law the amoralist
is more dangerous than the criminal. The
naked chorus-girl is less dangerous than the
naked truth. Such a danger — a danger not
merely of malpractice, but of essential denial
— is the Jew in your morality. And against



the Jew there is a Union Sacree of all classes
and conditions of men, the prince, the la-
borer, the professor, the saint, the thief, the
prostitute, the soldier, the merchant. There
does not seem to be a single country with a
history which has not been anti-Semitic at
one time or another. There is no country to-
day of which the Jew can say, “In this coun-
try anti-Semitism will never become trium-
phant.” Your dislike of us finds uneven and
unequal expression, is lulled into rest for a
time, at times is overborne by generous im-
pulses, but it is a quality inherent in the na-
ture of things, nor is it conceivable to me
that, as long as there are Jews and gentiles, it
should ever disappear.

For your system of morality is no less a
need to you than ours to us. And the incom-
patibility of the two systems is not passive.
You might say: “Well, let us exist side by
side and tolerate each other. We will not at-
tack your morality, nor you ours.” But the
misfortune is that the two are not merely
different. They are opposed in mortal,


You Gentiles

though tacit ; enmity. No man can accept
both, or , accepting either, do otherwise than
despise the other.

No single attribute or virtue shows our mu-
tual enmity more clearly than that of loyalty,
which, among all the attributes contributing
to your morality, is perhaps the most dearly
cherished, the most vehemently advocated*
It is impossible for me, in writing of it, to
take up a purely analytic attitude; but I be-
lieve that the preferences and aversions which
I here express will at least serve to make clear
the irreconcilable difference between Jewish
and gentile morality.

The abstraction, loyalty, is not related to
good and bad. Loyalty is preached naked,
as a virtue for itself. It is proper and right
to be loyal. To do a thing out of loyalty —
science. We are disciplined more bitterly
than you, and we bear the discipline without
the assistance of narcotic rhythms: we bear
our burden like civilized adults.

Nor do I see any contradiction between this
fierce insistence on separate national exist-
ence and our dedication to a universal ideal.
We believe and feel that for such an ideal we
alone, as a people, possess the especial apti-
tude. The orthodox Jew bases it on divine
will and choice: others, like myself, know not
on what to base it (a special racial psychol-
ogy, the result of inbreeding, the result of
accident) — but believe it none the less. We
shall not further that ideal by losing our iden-
tity; to mingle with you and be lost in you
would mean to destroy the aptitude, for ever.
Thus universal ideal and national identity are
inextricably bound up. To the maintenance
of this high union we have given, consciously,



seriously, without kings and courts, without
medals and reviews and Orders, without
cheering and without drills, a bitter and ob-
stinate devotion more exacting than anything
you have known and, in its deliberate effects,
more successful.



The Reckoning

I have spoken of Jews and gentiles — in
mass. Certain of you will assuredly object:
“You cannot deal with masses as with men.
‘You cannot indict a nation.’ ”

The objection is futile — not only has it
been the universal practice to indict and to
punish masses as if they had personality and
to treat nations as such: but you are doing it
to-day, everywhere. And I believe that fun-
damentally, the practice is just, despite the
objections of the few whom I shall answer
here. Particularly consonant is the practice
with your gentile philosophy. Here is your
nation : X. It is composed of militarists and
pacifists and mobs. The government is mili-
taristic — whether it represent a minority or
a majority. And the militaristic government


The Reckoning

engages the whole country in its acts: is re-
sponsible for a war, for oppression. How
shall we treat that nation? Single out the
militarists and pacifists? Go into the work-
ings of it, separate out the constituent ele-
ments? You cannot. Every member of that
country is a member of the team, must take
the good with the bad, must pay the debts
contracted by the government. It cannot be
a nation otherwise.

This from your point of view. And from
the point of view of the workings of justice
it happens to be no less defensible. When
the whole of a nation reaps reward or pun-
ishment, a rough general justice is executed.
If it is only the will of a minority which has
brought on catastrophe, and the majority
must pay, then it pays for having suffered
the will of the minority. Had the German
masses foreseen defeat and its consequences,
Germany would never have gone to war, mil-
itarist minority or none. The masses which
obeyed their masters, readily or sullenly, must
pay for the obedience which gave their mas-


You Gentiles

ters strength. . . . And the same is true of
every other nation which is guilty.

AH extenuation is irrelevant. How shall the
majority learn that it must not acquiesce in-
dolently in the will of the minority? Shall it
not suffef the consequences of its indolence?
A slow, almost impossible process. But as-
suredly a just one. For the impotent or cor-
rupt acquiescence of the majority made the
minority effective.

But if, on the other hand, a nation suffers
for the will of its majority, and the minority
suffers with the majority, then very clearly
effective justice is being wrought, and just as
clearly is the payment supposed to alter the
will of the nation.

As long as there are nations and groups
these laws must hold. And as soon as these
laws collapse nations and groups will cease
to be.

It is not meaningless to say, “This nation
is parsimonious, this nation is treacherous, this
nation is cruel.” It is irrelevant to answer,
“You must judge by the individual, not by


The Reckoning

the nation.” When we say, “Scotchmen are
parsimonious,” we simply mean that out of a
thousand Scotchmen a larger number are par-
simonious than out of a thousand Englishmen.
A Scotchman whom I do not know has there-
fore more probability of being parsimonious
than an Englishman whom I do not know. If
therefore I have to choose for generosity be-
tween two men, an Englishman and a Scotch-
man, both of whom I do not know, I would
choose the Englishman. I stand a better
chance of being in the right. Naturally the
entire assumption may be wrong, and that is
another matter, but it is ludicrous to deny that
tendencies or characteristics in nations exist.
Only the shallow demagogue insists that a
thousand Englishmen, a thousand Frenchmen,
a thousand Germans, a thousand Jews, picked
up at random (or ten thousand or a hundred
thousand) would react similarly to the same
stimulus. Assuredly if I have the opportunity
to check up on the individual I will do it. But
if I must take him on trust I shall sensibly
assume him to possess his race characteristics.


You Gentiles

As for you gentiles and us Jews, we have
both acted on the assumption that the mass
must be treated by a general law. The in-
stinct of the gentile is to distrust the Jew, of
the Jew to distrust the gentile. We only make
exceptions. There is nothing inconsistent in
the anti-Semite who says: “Some of my best
friends are Jews.”

I say, therefore, that in the conflict between
us you have fought us physically, while our
attack on your world has been in the spiritual
field. It is the nature of the gentile to fight
for his honor, in the nature of the Jew to
suffer for his. Whether because we are so
inclined by first nature, or whether because
we have so become through lack of land and
government and army — this is true: you revel
in force, we despise it, even where we can and
do exert it.

And so, since we have lived among you, you
have instinctively appealed to brute force in
combating our influence. When the reckoning
is drawn up your guilt cries to heaven : what-
ever have been your relations to each other,


The Reckoning

we Jews have at least been the common de-
nominator of your brutality. Compared with
each other, you are gentlemen, warriors, de-
mocracies: set side by side with us, you are
bullies and cowards and mobs. In vain do
your quiescent majorities wash their hands;
their quiescence is their effective guilt — I care
not that your minorities struck the blow: I
should not acquit the majority if I could give
judgment and impose punishment.

That you are unable to meet us on the
spiritual level is made evident by the follow-
ing: We are a disturbing influence in your
life not through our own fault. First: we
are not in your midst by our own will, but
through your action; and second (which is
more to the point) : we do not attack you
deliberately. We are unwelcome to you be-
cause we are what we are. It is our own
positive way of life which clashes with yours.
Our attack on you is only incidental to the
expression of our way of life. You too have
this field open to you. As surely as we are
a spiritual discomfort to you, you are a spirit-


You Gentiles

ual discomfort to us: as surely as we attack
you peacefully, so you waste us peacefully
and weaken our numbers. But you do more
than this: you bring the attack down to the
physical plane, where we are defenseless.
You do with us as your animal whims dictate;
you rob us, you slay us, you drive us from
land to land, and while one of you drives us
forth the other shuts the gate in our faces.
From the first day of our contact, since the
first of our communities in exile, you have
made us the sport of your brutality. There
is at least one clear note in gentile world-
history, one consistent theme: the note of our
agony — the theme of your cruelty.

Even from your point of view you have
been guilty. On our side at least the fighting
has been clean; we have not misrepresented
you. On your side the fighting has been dirty.
From the dawn of civilization you have lied
about us; you have accused us of murder-
ing children that we might use their blood
for ritual purposes; you have accused us of


The Reckoning

poisoning wells; you have accused us of pre-
cipitating wars (you! and war is the breath
of your nostrils!); and you accuse us to-day
of fomenting a world-wide conspiracy to seize
the government of the world. Do not answer
us that a minority does this. Does it matter
to us that a minority of America preaches in
the Klan virtual disfranchisement of the Jew,
that a minority in Germany preaches death
to the Jew, that a minority in Poland slew
hundreds of us? I ask an accounting of you
as you ask it of one another: as the allies ask
it from Germany, as Germany asked it from
France — from you as a whole. For this
minority which spreads these lies there is a
complacent majority which tolerates or ac-
cepts them. And it is because, in your oppo-
sition to our way of life, you stoop to such
lies that your masses respond with physical
force. I care not how ignorant a Jew is: you
will not get him to believe of one of you such
foul untruths as millions of you believe of
us; yet we have more cogent reason for hat-


You Gentiles

ing you. And as I hold you all responsible
for these lies, so I hold you all responsible for
the cruelties in which they issue.

And I know that soon enough these crimson
sluices will be opened again , and we shall
bleed from a thousand wounds as we have
bled before. In the Ukraine, or in Russia,
in Poland or in Germany — and who knows
when the same will not come to pass in Eng-
land, in America, in France? What guaran-
tee have we beyond the guarantee of public
opinion? And from a public opinion which
tolerates the slaughter of hundreds of negroes,
how far to the public opinion which will con-
done the slaughter of Jews? Let a spark but
carry far enough, down into the recesses of
your animal natures. How you gloated
among the Allies over stories of Germans
blown to pieces, cut to pieces; and in the
Central Powers over stories of Englishmen,
Frenchmen done to death. Your comic jour-
nals made merry over them, (A good joke
from Life: An Englishman, shaking his head,
says, “Molly, I don’t think this ‘ere bayonet’ll


The Reckoning

go through more’n two Germans at a time.”)
Your women applauded them, your children
screamed for blood: democracy vied in bes-
tiality with aristocracy and royalty. How
shall we trust you?

If we are willing to forget the past, is not
your past your present? Is not the blood
libel alive to-day? And its companion viper,
“the Elders of Zion”? Will poison work
forever in the blood and never break out?
Did not hundreds of thousands of English-
men, Frenchmen, Germans, Americans, read
these legends without protesting, without
seeking to punish the libelers? Do we not
know how easily your morality fits your
mood? “Kill the Jews, the Christ-killers,”
does indeed ring strange these days. But
does “a damn good dose of lead for the Jew-
ish Bolsheviks” sound very remote?

And if, arguing from the individual to the
mass, your Klans and your Awakening Mag-
yars, your Chestertons and your Daudets
shall call us Jews sharks and swindlers, shall
we not answer with better warrant, by the


You Gentiles

millions of our murdered, by the Inquisition
and the Crusades, by the smoking ruins of
the Ukraine and the swinging body of Leo
Frank: Dastards, murderers, and thieves I


But as Moderns

“Let us have done with recollections and
recriminations/’ you say. “You have spoken
hitherto of conditions which are vanishing:
of orthodox Jews mostly, of old customs and
emotions which are dying out You yourself
are not an orthodox Jew; nor are we medieval
Christians. We see the Jew gradually mod-
ernizing. He becomes more like us — more
difficult to recognize as a Jew. Granting
there are occasional relapses, we are still mov-
ing toward real tolerance. The present age
is not like any age before it, and the modern
Jew is not like any Jew before him. You
have lasted two thousand years in exile — –
you will not last for ever. All those cere-
monials of yours are breaking down: your
discipline, your defensive mechanisms. At
least in America, England, France, Germany,


You Gentiles

Russia you are changing, becoming like us,
taking your share in all our activities, sports,
civic duties, achievements, arts. You have
spoken hitherto in the terms of a world which
is fitfully dissolving. You have ignored the
liberal Jews, the radical Jews, the modernized
Jews, the agnostic Jews, now becoming the
dominant element in Jewry, and approaching
us, mingling with us, solving the problem
without deliberate effort.

“Do not your own radicals renounce their
Jewish connections? Will not your modern-
ized Jews be the first to denounce the thesis
of this book?”

I have already said, anticipating this ob-
jection, that there is the same difference be-
tween the Jewish atheist and the gentile athe-
ist as between the orthodox Jew and the be-
lieving gentile: I have said or implied that the
religion itself is but practical expression of
the difference between us, not the cause of
it. It is true that the expression of a view
serves to strengthen it, as the exercise of a
faculty serves to develop it. But expression


But as Moderns

does not create a view nor exercise a fac-
ulty. Even conscious adherence to the Jew-
ish people is but partial expression of our
Jewishness: it was not the conscious desire
to remain a people which gave us the will to
endure: it was our unavoidable commonalty
of feeling which made us and continued us a

Repudiation of the Jewish religion or even
of Jewish racial affiliation does not alter the
Jew. Some of us Jews may delude ourselves
as some of you gentiles do. But in effect
modernization seems to have done nothing to
decrease the friction between us. The dislike
continues: and though your masses may not
know why they dislike us, there must be a
sufficient reason: it is Germany, the mother
of the modernized Jew, that gave birth, with
him, to modern anti-Semitism. Where the
old ostensible reasons for disliking the Jew
collapsed, new ones, more self-conscious, were
substituted. When modernization removed
the old, superstitious form of expression, the
professor replaced the priest, science religion.


You Gentiles

We are disliked on “scientific” grounds, as
we were disliked on “religious.” But both
the “scientific” and the “religious” reasons
were rationalizations. ‘ The true reasons un-
derlay these analyses.

Nor can the revulsion of the war, with its
release of primitive instincts, be blamed for
this. German anti-Semitism antedates the
war. The Higher Anti-Semitism has nothing
to do with either conscious religion or locali-
zations, like patriotism. It is true modern
anti-Semitism. It is the old dislike of the
Jew transvaluated into modern terminology,
and it has been evoked by the appearance
of that new phenomenon, the Westernized

For many Jews were fooled by appear-
ances. They took the word of the gentile lit-
erally. The gentile said: “We dislike you
because you are different from us in religion
and in usages; you are separate; you are old-
fashioned.” And the Jew, believing these
charges to mean what they say, abandoned
his customs and his usages: took to baptism;


But as Moderns

became, externally, similar to the gentile,
thinking thus to evade the issue. It failed.
For no sooner had he made this change in
himself than the gentile shifted ground, went
from the religious to the ethnic.

What happened in Germany is happening
elsewhere. As fast as the Jew modernizes,
so fast does dislike of him adapt itself to the
new situation and find a new excuse. Where
the Jew is disliked it is the modern Jew who
is disliked equally with the old-fashioned.
The Klan, the Consul, the Dearborn Inde-
pendent, the Dwa Grosse, the Action Fran-
gaise no longer preach the modernization of
the Jew as a solution of the Jew problem.
No Jew, however modern, or radical, is ac-
ceptable to the anti-Semite. It is now a
facial question.

But you still have an answer. You say:
“These new forms of anti-Semitism are hang-
overs: we have had anti-Semitism with us
for a long time. It is hard to get rid of. The
effects linger long after the cause disappears.
But in time . . .”


You Gentiles

This I deny, for I am convinced that the
modernized Jew, as long as he retains the
quality of the Jewish people, that is, as long
as he inherits predominantly Jewish charac-
teristics, is as objectionable to you as the or-
thodox Jew was to your fathers — and for the
same basic reasons. The effort of the Jews
to enter your modern life, to become part of
it, has been essentially ineffective: by which
I mean that though hundreds of thousands
of us have taken on your garb, speak like
you, look like you, share your countries, in-
stitutions, games, do all we can to avoid fric-
tion, yet we fail to offer in cross section the
same significance as any cross section of hun-
dreds of thousands of you. Our ability to im-
itate extends only to inessentials, appearances,
surface desires and ambitions. We fail to be

The modernized Jew still stands apart from
the modern gentile world, and his effective
contribution to its life is as disastrously dif-
ferent as if he still put on the phylacteries
every morning. The old racial seriousness,


But as Moderns

somberness, still persists. In a hundred years
of modernity we, an able race, have given
little more than mediocrity to your way of
life. Our best work has been the old, true
work of our people — fundamental and serious
examination of the problems of man’s rela-
tion to God and humanity. In the arts we
have been second-rate, third-rate. While in
moral effort we have exceeded any living race
and have produced an overwhelming number
of revolutionaries and socialists and icono-
clasts of the true prophetic type, we have,
in science, belles-lettres and the plastic arts
been a thoroughly minor people. And even
if in these last fields we have done compara-
tively well for our numbers (which I doubt),
our preponderant contribution of fundamental
moral effort still makes modern Jewry a sec-
ularized replica of old religious Jewry.

The astonishing thing is that this took place
despite desperate conscious efforts on our part
to become like you. We joined your armies
and fought in them beyond our numbers: yet
Jewish pacifism and Jewish pacifists gave the


You Gentiles

tone to the world’s pacifism. We have joined
your capitalistic world in deliberate emula-
tion and rivalry: yet Jewish socialism and
Jewish socialists are the banner bearers of
the world’s a armies of liberation.” Three or
four million modernized Jews, a ludicrously
small number, have given to the world’s icon-
oclastic force its chief impetus and by far
its largest individual contribution. America
and England put together, with their almost
two hundred millions, have not played that
role in world iconoclasm which a handful of
Jews have played. Had we produced as vig-
orously in art and science we should have
flooded the art galleries and the libraries.
But in these we have shown no special apti-
tude: we may have done as well for our num-
bers as England, as France or Germany —
though even this I doubt. But it cannot com-
pare with our role as moralists and prophets.
We modern Jews of the Western world are
in this fundamentally different from you.
The occasional in you (revolution against the


But as Moderns

Game) is the dominant in us. Your instinct
is truer than you know. The dislike of your
modern world for the modern Jew is as rel-
evant as the dislike of your old world for the
orthodox Jew.


We, the Destroyers

If anything, you must learn (and are learn-
ing) to dislike and fear the modern and “as-
similated” Jew more than you did the old
Jew, for he is more dangerous to you. At
least the old Jew kept apart from you, was
easily recognizable as an individual, as the
bearer of the dreaded Jewish world-idea: you
were afraid of him and loathed him. But
to a large extent he was insulated. But as
the Jew assimilates, acquires your languages,
cultivates a certain intimacy, penetrates into
your life, begins to handle your instruments,
you are aware that his nature, once confined
safely to his own life, now threatens yours.
You are aware of a new and more than dis-
concerting character at work in the world
you have built and are building up, a char-


We, the Destroyers

acter which crosses your intentions and
thwarts your personality.

The Jew, whose lack of contact with your
world had made him ineffective, becomes ef-
fective. The vial is uncorked, the genius is
out. His enmity to your way of life was tacit
before. To-day it is manifest and active.
He cannot help himself: he cannot be differ-
ent from himself: no more can you. It is
futile to tell him: “Hands off!” He is not
his own master, but the servant of his life-

For when he brings into your world his
passionately earnest, sinisterly earnest right-
eousness, absolute righteousness, and, speak-
ing in your languages and through your in-
stitutions, scatters distrust of yourselves
through the most sensitive of you, he is work-
ing against your spirit. You gentiles do not
seek or need or understand social justice as
an ultimate ideal. This is not your nature.
Your world must so be fashioned as to give
you the maximum of play, adventure, laugh-
ler, animal-lyricism. Your institutions frame


You Gentiles

themselves to this end: your countries and
ideals flourish most gloriously when they serve
this end most freely. All ideas of social jus-
tice must be subservient to this consideration:
the Game first— then ultimate justice only
as it can serve the Game.

I do not believe that we Jews are powerful
enough to threaten your way of life seriously.
We are only powerful enough to irritate, to
disturb your conscience, and to break here
and there the rhythmic rush of your ideas.
We irritate you as a sardonic and humorless
adult irritates young people by laughing at
their play. For the real irritation lies in the
fact that to our queries regarding your life
there is no answer on our level: as to yours
regarding our life there is no answer on yours.
We Jews are accused of being destroyers:
whatever you put up, we tear down. It is
true only in a relative sense. We are not
iconoclasts deliberately: we are not enemies
of your institutions simply because of the dis-
like between us. We are a homeless mass
seeking satisfaction for our constructive in-


We, the Destroyers

stincts. And in your institutions we cannot
find satisfaction; they are the play institutions
of the splendid children of man — and not of
man himself. We try to adapt your institu-
tions to our needs, because while we live we
must have expression; and trying to rebuild
them for our needs, we unbuild them for

Because your chief institution is the social
structure itself, it is in this that we are most
manifestly destroyers. We take part in the
economic struggle for existence : this necessity
we share with you. But our free spiritual
energies point away from this struggle, for,
unlike you, we have no pleasure in it. You
gentiles fight because you like to fight; we
fight because we have to — and in order to
win. It is not in a spirit of hypocrisy that
you have turned your business world into a
sporting arena, with joyous flourishes, slo-
gans, pretenses. It is not in a spirit of hypoc-
risy that you talk of playing the Game while
you cut each other’s throats in the markets.
You mean it. Your advertising-propaganda



You Gentiles

books, with their sentimental appeals, are not
lies; they are the true evidence of your spirit.
It is only when we Jews, too, use these meth-
ods that there is hypocrisy. For we see
starkly through your life-illusions : yet we are
forced to use them in self-defense. But our
inmost longings turn from this fierce and
clamorously happy struggle: while your in-
most longings are part of it. You give your
best to it, yourselves, your souls. We give
only our cleverness to it. This is why, in
spite of the popular delusion to the contrary,
there are hardly any Jews among the world’s
wealthiest men. The greatest financial insti-
tutions, as well as the world’s greatest busi-
nesses, are almost exclusively non-Jewish.

Dislike of the Jew in business springs from
the feeling that we regard all your play-con-
ventions with amusement — or even contempt.
Our abominable seriousness breaks jarringly
into your life-mood. But you feel our dis-
ruptive difference most keenly, most resent-
fully, in our deliberate efforts to change your
social system. We dream of a world of utter


We, the Destroyers

justice and God-spirit, a world which, would
be barren for you, devoid of all nourishment,
bleak, unfriendly, unsympathetic. You do
not want such a world: you are unapt for it.
Seen in the dazzling lights of your desires
and needs our ideal is repellently morose.

We do wrong to thrust these ideals upon
you, who are not for justice or peace, but for
play-living. But we cannot help ourselves:
any more than you can help resenting our
interference. While we live we must give ut-
terance to our spirit. The most insistent ef-
fort on our part will fail to change our nature.
Not that you are untouched by poverty,
by human degradation: not that you do not
wish at times that these unhappy things could
be destroyed. But this is not in the direct
line of march of your life. If social injustice
were removed together with the Game, you
would unquestionably recall both. Life be-
fore everything, freedom, joy, adventure.

I talk here of the modern, and not of the
orthodox Jew. I talk of the Jew as alien
as you to the forms of our orthodox and con-


You Gentiles

sciously Jewish life: this is the Jew who
forms the backbone both of audience and
contributor to your radical and revolutionary
organs, the Jew who is the precipitating cen-
ter of your spasmodic and inconsistent efforts
for justice. This man, in your midst, is not
to be recognized, on the surface, as a Jew.
He himself repudiates — and in all sincerity —
his Jewish affiliations. He is a citizen of the
world; he is a son of humanity; the progress
of all humankind, and not of any single group
of it, is in his particular care.

It is to this Jew that liberals among you
will point to refute my thesis. And it is pre-
cisely this Jew who best illustrates its truth.
The unbelieving and radical Jew is as differ-
ent from the radical gentile as the orthodox
Jew from the reactionary gentile. The cos-
mopolitanism of the radical Jew springs from
his feeling (shared by the orthodox Jew) that
there is no difference between gentile and
gentile. You are all pretty much alike : then
why this fussing and fretting and fighting?
The Jew is not a cosmopolitan in your sense.


We, the Destroyers

He is not one who feels keenly the difference
between national and nation, and overrides
it. For him, as for the orthodox Jew, a sin-
gle temper runs through all of you, whatever
your national divisions. The radical Jew
(like the orthodox Jew) is a cosmopolitan in
a sense which must be irritating to you: for
he does not even understand why you make
such a fuss about that most obvious of facts
—that you are all alike. The Jew is alto-
gether too much of a cosmopolitan— even for
your internationalists.

Nor, in the handful of you who, against the
desires and instincts of the mass of you, pro-
claim social justice as the life aim, is the Jew
any more truly at home, at one with his
milieu, than the old-time Jew in his world.
Our very radicalism is of a different temper.
Our spur is a natural instinct. We do not
have to uproot something in ourselves to be-
come “radicals,” dreamers of social justice.
We are this by instinct: we do not see it as
something revolutionary at all. It is tacit
with us. But with you it is an effort and


You Gentiles

a wrench. Your very ancestry cries out
against it in your blood. . . . And you be-
come silly and enthusiastic about it, with
flag-waving, and shouting, and battle-hymns,
and all the regular game-psychology proper
to your world and way of life. Even of this
you make a play.

But such as these radical and international
movements are, the modern Jew (the best and
most thoughtful modern Jew, that is) is
nearer to them than to anything else in your
world. He is the only true socialist and cos-
mopolitan — but in such a true and tacit sense
that he is completely distinguished from all
of you. It is one of many vital paradoxes —
a thing illogical and yet true to life. It is
our very cosmopolitanism that gives us our
national character, Because we are the only
ones who are cosmopolitan by instinct rather
than by argument we remain forever our-

In everything we are destroyers — even in
the instruments of destruction to which we
turn for relief. The very socialism and inter-

We, the Destroyers

nationalism through which our choked spirit
seeks utterance, which seem to threaten your
way of life, are alien to our spirit’s demands
and needs. Your socialists and international-
ists are not serious. The charm of these
movements, the attraction, such as it is, which
they exercise, is only in their struggle: it is
the fight which draws your gentile radicals.
And indeed, it is only as long as there is an
element of adventure in being a radical that
the radical movement retains any individual-
ity. And it is only in the fierce period of
early combat that you welcome us Jews— as
allies. You are deluded in this— so are we.
You go into the movement boldly, adventur-
ously; we, darkly, tacitly. You make it a
game; we do it because we cannot help our-
selves. And sure enough, in the end, the
split comes again. The liberal and the radi-
cal are as apt to dislike the Jew as the re-
actionaries are. The liberal and the radical
do not use the weapons of the reactionaries:
but the dislike is there, finds expression in
anti-Semitic socialist and workers’ move-


You Gentiles

ments and in the almost involuntary con-
tempt which springs to the lips of countless

Philosophies do not remold natures. What
your radicals want is another form of the
Game, with other rules. Their discontent
joins hands with Jewish discontent. But it
is not the same kind of discontent. A little
distance down the road the ways part for
ever. The Jewish radical will turn from your
social movement: he will discover his mis-
take. He will discover that nothing can
bridge the gulf between you and us. He will
discover that the spiritual satisfaction which
he thought he would find in social revolution
is not to be purchased from you. I believe
the movement has already started, the grad-
ual secession of the Jewish radicals, their re-
alization that your radicalism is of the same
essential stuff as your conservatism. The dis-
illusionment has set in.

A century of partial tolerance gave us Jews
access to your world. In that period the great
attempt was made, by advance guards of rec-


We, the Destroyers

onciliation, to bring our two worlds together.
It was a century of failure. Our Jewish rad-
icals are beginning to understand it dimly.

We Jews, we, the destroyers, will remain
the destroyers for ever. Nothing that you
will do will meet our needs and demands. We
will for ever destroy because we need a world
of our own, a God-world, which it is not in
your nature to build. Beyond all temporary
alliances with this or that faction lies the
ultimate split in nature and destiny, the en-
mity between the Game and God. But those
of us who fail to understand that truth will
always be found in alliance with your rebel-
lious factions, until disillusionment comes.
The wretched fate which scattered us through
your midst has thrust this unwelcome role
upon us.



The Games of Science

Illusions change the instruments of their
expression — but they remain the same illu-
sions. Religions change their gods, but re-
main the same religions. The atheist gentile
has made Science his god, but it has not
changed his religion.

“In the scientific field/’ the atheist gentile
tells me, “we will find world unity. In sci-
ence there is no room for the subconscious,
and it is the subconscious which dictates the
eternal enmities. Place your relations on a
conscious basis, and you may have differences
to be adjusted — but not enmities.

“The solution of the Jewish-gentile prob-
lem, as of every instinct problem, lies in the
pursuit of Truth through science. All other
problems are not really problems, but purely
technical matters, to be settled by the appli-


The Games of Science

cation of mathematics. And as we learn to
make this distinction between instinct-prob-
lem and technical task, the greater is the dis-
credit into which the former falls, the clearer
is the attention which we bring to the latter.
The greatest contribution of science to human
advance has been the opening of paths to our
free intelligence, so that the unconscious and
subconscious mind, with its inheritance of the
beast, might fall into desuetude. The truth
alone will save us—and in science is truth.”
I do not wish to go into an examination
of the nature of truth; I do not wish to ques-
tion the validity of scientific truths. I am
ready to admit that scientific truths are
truths in the accepted sense of this word. Or,
if there are mistakes, if this or that scientific
theory is wrong, I will not argue that there-
fore the scientific method is wrong, or that
science itself does not go nearest to the truth.
My contention is that science, the examina-
tion of facts in literal terms, is quite irrelevant
to the spiritual problems of man. Science is
accurate, but its accuracy is pointless for


You Gentiles

spiritual purposes. The truths which are un-
veiled by the scientific method , and which it
is the special aptness of this method to un-
veil, do not matter to anybody.

Science teaches us that the earth goes
around the sun, rather than the sun round
the earth. Does it really matter which is the
case? Science teaches us that the occasional
retrogression effect in the observed motion of
the planets is not due to “cycle in epicycle,
orb in orb/’ but to changes of perspective
produced along the plane of the ecliptic dur-
ing the revolutions of the planets round the
sun. Well, what of it? It has revealed the
fact that certain diseases are due to the ac-
tion of minute parasites; that there is a mar-
velous structural parallel between man and
the beasts; that forms of energy are inter-
changeable; that the earth is extremely old;
that there were other forms of life on the
planet before us; that we are merely a point
in space. All this is accurate: but is it of any
I ignore, of course, the obvious advantages

The Games of Science

which are supposed to accrue from the appli-
cation of these facts — “the conquest of na-
ture” as it is bombastically called: though
even these advantages are vitiated by our in-
ability to exploit them decently. It is not
to these advantages that the scientist alludes
when he talks of the spiritual value of science.
He means pure science: the perception of
these truths for their own sake or, more accu-
rately, for the sake of the change which they
produce in our attitude toward life, the uni-
verse, each other.

But science and revelation of scientific
truths have no effect on our attitude toward
life, the universe and each other. The mood
of the mind of man, the temper of his out-
look, his essential nature — this totality of
spiritual reaction — has nothing to do with the
additional number of facts which science re-
yeals. It would not alter the effective mood
of civilized man if it happened that light were
revealed as the radiation of corpuscles rather
than as waves in the ether, whatever that may
mean. There may be eighty-eight elements,


You Gentiles

or eight hundred and eighty: the atom may-
be a kind of solar system, or it may be a fig-
ure of speech: life may be the function of a
complicated molecular structure or it may be
an illusion: whichever should turn out to be
“true,” we should remain the same: our only
concern is with the exploitation of -these
things for physical advantages , and as far as
that is concerned it does not matter whether
we have the truth or have hit on a method
by conventional hypothesis. The Ptolemaic
system of astronomy could permit the calcu-
lation of eclipses as accurately as the Coper-
nican. ” Cycle in epicycle, orb in orb” works
as effectively, if the figures are closely enough
watched, as ellipses with the sun at one of
the foci.

For science is a game, a particular system-
atization, which might well be any other
systematization. Indeed, despite the prodig-
ious number of facts which science has un-
veiled, no new type of spiritual outlook has
been evolved. Is the general consciousness
or self -consciousness of the modern material-


The Games of Science

ist different in effect from that of the civilized
Stoic of more than two thousand years ago?
If you substitute “stress in the ether” for the
Pneuma, if you substitute the laws of gravi-
tation, or some electro-magnetic formula for
each other or for “tension,” will that alter
your response to the universe?

Science is so far a game, indeed, that, self-
confessedly, it deals with symbols only.
These are pure abstractions — the ion, X n , the
theory of relativity. We juggle with figures,
with symbols, with arrangements; the things
or truths or facts which are supposedly rep-
resented are utterly beyond our apprehension.
To take the simplest illustration: the sun is
ninety-two million miles from the earth, the
moon a quarter of a million miles. Neither
of these distances means anything to any hu-
man being: a million, or ten million, or a
thousand billion- — we have no spiritual reac-
tion to any of these figures. They are sym-
bols or counters in the game; in themselves
intelligible to no one.

Or to take the most significant of new sci-

You Gentiles

entific truths — the theory of relativity. Its
application is only to the game or system.
No man himself reacts to its implications.
He uses in it the laboratory, in the observa-
tory. He cannot bring it out. He cannot
even lift it off the paper. Indeed, such a
revolution was wrought in our “conception of
the universe” by the exposition of the theory
of relativity that, if scientific truths had any
spiritual significance, there should have been
a religious revolution in its wake. Since the
dawn of science we have been blind to a tre-
mendous and fundamental truth, an all-inclu-
sive and inescapable truth — namely, that the
motion of light rules all our measurements
of time and space and mass — that the length
of a line or of a period of time is nothing but
a function of varying values. A terrific and
sublime discovery, one might say. Yet not
only does it fail to make a particle of differ-
ence to the spiritual attitude of scientists to-
ward the universe: they cannot even the-
oretically integrate it with a spiritual system.
All the effective “spiritual” value of the

The Games of Science

theory of relativity is: “Things are not what
they seem.” To this suspicion— which is a
basic spiritual reaction of man to the uni-
verse—the theory of relativity adds noth-
ing. At most the theory of relativity is an
additional but superfluous illustration.

But I shall be told by the scientist: “It is
not any individual scientific revelation which
matters. What matters is the scientific out-
look, as such, the conception of the universe
as an ordered and harmonious process: the
elimination of the providential and accidental:
the final and decisive removal of the thauma-
turgical. Science means neither the theory
of evolution, nor the discovery of the bacillus,
nor the theory of relativity. Science means
the cancellation of the inherited instinct er-
rors. In brief, science is the substitution of
reason for superstition,”

But even at that variation I contend that
“scientific” pursuit of truth has given nothing
to our knowledge of the ultimate secret of
things. What the scientist would call the
“scientific outlook”— in accordance with the


You Gentiles

above definition — has nothing to do with
“scientific study of phenomena.” Men are
by nature unthaumaturgical or thaumaturgi-
cal in their reaction to the universe. Science
(in its modern sense) does not make them
unthaumaturgical. It is one of the basic
qualities of human thought — this particular
variety of outlook on the universe. I say
it existed before the advent of what we de-
note under the restricted term of science. I
say it would exist just as strongly in these
types of men though not a single discovery
had been added to human knowledge of phe-
nomena since the time of Aristotle. I say
that though science should add a million
startling new revelations to its old ones, it
would not increase or decrease the number
of men who have the “unthaumaturgical”

I referred to the Stoics and said that Stoi-
cism contained as unthaumaturgical an out-
look as any that “modern science” claims to
have inspired. But even if this were not true
I should not change my opinion, for life at


The Games of Science

first hand taught me this view, and what I
know of history I used only as an illustra-
tion. Life at first hand has taught me that
knowledge of science has nothing to do with
the superstitious or unsuperstitious, with
the thamaturgical or unthaumaturgical, with
idealism or materialism. I have known thor-
oughly “ignorant” men who see life quite
rationally, apparently untroubled by uncon-
scious impulses: men who have “the scientific
outlook” without knowing or needing science.
I have known thoroughly scientific men who
are profoundly thaumaturgical, who are sat-
urated with the spirit of superstition.

It is not the knowledge of facts which
changes the man. A man may believe in
ghosts and yet not be superstitious — he may
merely be mistaken. Another man may be-
lieve neither in ghosts nor in an anthropo-
morphic God and yet be essentially of the su-
perstitious type.

It is not even a question of sophistication.
I have known simple and primitive peasants,
quite illiterate, who were as clearly rationalist


You Gentiles

and scientific in outlook as any professor in-
spired by a complete knowledge of the re-
vealed mechanics of the world. I have
known cultured city dwellers, rotten with so-
phistication, whose surface cynicism could
not hide their subjection to the terror of in-
visible, unrevealable possibilities.

Scientific genius is only the genius of the
ingenious. Men who by their nature are
materialists spend their energies in building
intensely ingenious schemata wherein the
known facts of life constitute the sole ma-
terial. But these ingenious schemata do not
alter their nature with their shape or with
the quantity of their material. The mechan-
ics of the universe might be thus or thus;
things might work in this way or in that way;
it might be one formula or another formula.
But the spirit of the thing is the same. For
hundreds of years capable minds have
searched, constructed, reconciled. Their
knowledge of the mechanism is infinitely
greater that any man’s knowledge a thousand
years ago. Yet men who know as little of


The Games of Science

these mechanics as was known a thousand
years ago have come to the same conclusion
regarding the nature of the universe.

The^e is in science a certain naiveti: the
belief that facts differ in their nature; the
belief that a fact which it is more difficult
to unearth is therefore profounder than a
fact which is obvious; the belief that a mi-
crobe, because it needs a microscope to reveal
it, touches truth more deeply than the flea,
which can be seen with the naked eye: yet
a fact is not more valuable for being difficult
of access, any more than a thought is more
profound by having been made obscure.

In the end it comes to this: science, which
is the accumulation of literal fact, hopes that
the accumulation of facts will reveal the na-
ture of fact. Science seems to believe (if I
may use these rather clumsy locutions) that
some facts are of a different order from other
facts, going nearer to the sources of the na-
ture of things. This is untrue. All facts
are on the same plane. Facts are hot ex-
planatory, but expository, and what they ex-


You Gentiles

pose is of the same nature or material as
that which we know without science. To ex-
pect facts to reveal the nature of facts is to
expect the microscope to reveal the nature of
the microscope. You can examine one mi-
croscope by means of another: but its nature,
or secret, is not accessible to this mode of
examination. It is of a different order. The
chain of facts is everywhere uniform. When
you know one inch of this chain, you have
learned as much as you can learn from a mile.
If the chain of causes and effects, fact re-
lated to fact, is infinitely long, any length of
it is equally insignificant. A thousand years
is not nearer to eternity than a moment of

There is, indeed, a certain vulgarity in the
appeal to quantity; it is the democratic vul-
garity, the belief that one million mediocre
people have more spiritual significance than
one mediocrity; that size affects quality; that
one thousand new facts mean more than a
hundred old facts — there is in all this even
the vulgarity of provincialism and cockney


The Games of Science

fashionableness, the belief that the latest is
the best.

But vulgarity is most patent in the common
assertion, that science is of spiritual value
because it reveals the wonders of the uni-
verse. So marvelous a structure, they say,
rouses our astonishment and our reverence —
“the glory of God’s house” and “the infinite
wisdom of his ways,” “science leads to re-
ligion because it teaches us both our own in-
significance and the amazing cleverness of

I hold this view to be patently vulgar be-
cause it is an appeal to headlines: recourse
to the stimuli of the advertiser for the benefit
of a stupid and jaded public. The thinking
man needs no scientist to teach him the won-
der of creation : he needs neither a telescope
nor a microscope in order to see God; nor
do formulae teach him the nature of God.
Life itself, being, the staggering wonder of
mere existence, fills completely, crams beyond
all possibility of addition, the faculty of as-
tonishment and bewilderment in the sensitive


You Gentiles

man. Those to whom existence has become
commonplace by familiarity — or who have
never been smitten prostrate by the riddle of
existence — need a crescendo succession of
“shockers” to touch their brutish minds.
They didn’t know the marvel of the universe
until they learned of electricity; but now that
electricity is as commonplace as sunlight, they
need a theory of relativity; and when that is
played out as an advertising stunt for the
ingenuity of the Almighty, they will need
something else.

Such vulgarity in scientists is not a whit
different from the vulgarity of city mobs,
which crow with astonishment when first they
see an electric light, but afterwards smile
pityingly at those who manifest astonish-
ment. The man of the mass mistakes impu-
dent familiarity for understanding. Because
he uses the electric car, the telephone and the
telegraph every day he imagines that he is
wiser than the barbarian who has never known
of them. If at all, he is less wise, being too
impudent to know his own ignorance. The


The Games of Science

fool that saith in his heart there is no God
is the city fool to whom nothing is wonderful
any more: and those who do not know won-
der do not know God.

Is it not significant that the greatest hu-
man cry of wonder— the Bible— was the ut-
terance of men who knew nothing concerning
the pleiseiosaurus, the amoeba, the nebula of
Orion, Mendeleyeff’s tables, Bode’s law, the
theory of quanta? In them the marvel of
existence shocked like a clash of cymbals:
the echoes of that first, fresh amazement still
put to shame the sophisticated stammering of
this wise age. Have all the revelations of
science brought just a single utterance like
that of Job? Though a man should master
all the ingenuities of science, though he
should double and treble them, though he
should know all the workings of his own body
and of the stellar systems, though earth’s
past and future, the past and future of all
life, should lie open before him, can he say
or feel more than this?

Can science even add anything to skepti-

You Gentiles

cism and doubt? Shall he who suspects that
all life is a phantasm, perception itself the
shadow of a shadow, and our very whispers
to ourselves the ten-times-tampered-with in-
struments of things which are not ourselves:
shall he that suspects that between himself
and himself, himself-speaking and himself –
listening, himself-thinking and himself-
thought-of, there looms, world without end,
system within system, aberration within ab-
erration: shall such a one be rendered more
doubtful because the sky is not an inverted
bowl above our heads, because disease is car-
ried not by demons but by invisible fleas?
If the whole is insecure, does the double in-
security of a part make any difference? If
all is illusory, does it matter that there were
particular little illusions within the general
illusion? If we suspect the very instrument
of our perception, if we doubt our senses and
our thoughts, if we doubt our very doubts,
and in the end, from a frantic hunting of pro-
tean shadows, relapse into utter silence and
impotence — what additional impotence is to


The Games of Science

be derived from the correction of unscientific


The world’s wonder, the world’s doubt, the
terror and illusion of life — these things lie
patent to the naked eye. Life at first hand
teaches everything. The blind cannot see
even through a microscope.

What, then, is science, and wherein lies its
lure? Why are men drawn to its service,
why do the best and ablest give up their lives
to its pursuit?

Science, which can be of no ultimate value
in bringing us nearer to the roots of life, to
Godhead and its secrecies; science is a Game,
a convention. The charm of science is the
charm of gentile life. The ultimate does not
matter: within the system there is the lyric
grace of rhythm and harmony.

The scientific development of your Western
world is an inevitable consequence of your
nature. It is inevitable that you should wor-
ship science, because your very skepticism is
the substitution of one set of illusions for
another, the adoption of one set of conven-


You Gentiles

tions in place of another. You are bound to
find “spiritual value” in science because you
do not want ultimate spiritual value— only
the spiritual value of immediate lyric enjoy-
ment. You who worship gods instead of God
must naturally worship science. Science is
merely idol-worship: for eikons instruments,
for incantations formula: the palpable, the
material, the enjoyable. Science is not a seri-
ous pursuit: your grave professors of chem-
istry, astronomy, physics, your Nobel prize-
winners are but bald or bearded schoolboys
playing mental football for their own delight
and the delight of spectators.

Science, then, is an art, though its technique
is of so peculiar a nature as to divide it from
all the other arts: but we most easily recog-
nize it as an art because the true scientist
takes an artistic delight in science.

And because your science is not serious, we
Jews have never achieved in it any peculiar
preeminence. We have our few exceptions:
we can master as well as you the system and
the scheme, but we lack the spiritual urge,


The Games of Science

the driving joy, the illusion that this is the
all in all.

We know nothing of science for science’s
sake — as we know nothing of art for art’s
sake. We only know of art for God’s sake.
If there is art or beauty in our supreme
production, the Bible, it is not because we
sought either. The type of the artist is alien
to us, and just as alien is the delight of the
artist. The artist is one who seeks beauty,
goes out of his way to find her. But the He-
brew prophet, who wrought so beautifully, did
not go out of his way to find God. God pur-
sued him and caught him; hunted him out
and tortured him so that he cried out. Un-
til this day we have no artists in your sense:
such art as we have created has been the by-
product of a fierce moral purpose.

Art and science — this is your gentile world
a lovely and ingenious world. Kaleidoscopic
graceful, bewilderingly seductive, a world, al
its best, of lovely apparitions, banners, strug-
gles, triumphs, gallantries, noble gestures anc
conventions. But not our world, not for u:


You Gentiles

Jews. For such Field-of-the-Cloth-of-Gold
delights we lack imagination and inventive-
ness. We are not touched with this vigor of
productive playfulness. Under duress we
take part in the ringing melee, and give an
indifferently good account of ourselves. But
we have not the heart for this world of yours.



The Masses

It would be absurd to pretend that the Jew-
ish masses are distinguished from your masses
by a conscious appreciation of the difference
I have described. Indeed, very few even of
the thinking Jews understand the nature of
the problem. It is certain that the Western-
ized masses of Jews are doing their best to
minimize, or to ignore, the difference between
Jew and gentile: they and their leaders as-
sert, frequently and vehemently, that there
is no difference. Jew and gentile are alike
except in their opinions regarding certain
very simple “matters of faith.”

You, too, will assert: “Even if we grant this
distinction between gentile and Jewish genius,
are we to understand that it permeates the
masses, that the strain of seriousness is to
be found in your hundreds of thousands of


You Gentiles

Westernized workers, lawyers, salesmen, mer-
chants, manufacturers, contrasting’ with a
corresponding levity or lack of seriousness in
the same classes among us? It is incredible.
The same language, the same occupations, the
same sports, the same pursuits are common to
both of us. Let any intelligent man live first
for ten years among middle-class gentile fam-
ilies and then change his milieu completely
and pass into the environment of middle-
class, assimilated Jewish families. What will
there be to give him the impression of an-
other world? Will he not find the same
amusements, the same ambitions, the same
morality, the same taboos, the same abilities
and the same stupidities? Do not the Jew-
ish and gentile middle-class families admire
the same heroes, vote for the same politicians,
read the same newspapers and magazines,
frequent the same theaters, weep over the
same movies, laugh at the same comic strips?”
But the question cannot be put so simply.
This world is yours, and you are the ones
who set the standards. You are the ones


The Masses

who supply the material for the reactions.
And when we Jews want to become part of
your world, enjoy its privileges and pleasures,
we must accept your standards, speak, as it
were, the same language. But just as a word
can never mean quite the same thing to two
persons, so a common expression does not
mean the same emotion.

The fact is that as long as Jews retain
their identity there is the same tension be-
tween your middle classes and ours as between
your genius and ours. Our middle classes,
even when thoroughly modernized, retain a
certain individuality which is repugnant to
you. And though, if forced to a yes-or-no
answer to the question above enunciated, I
should have to answer: “Yes, there is a differ-
ence, difficult to describe, but felt and re-
sented none the less.”

Our modernized Jews have done their best
to take up your life and become part of it,
but despite outward appearances they have
failed. There is, first of all, too eager and
intense a desire to be gentile. What you do


You Gentiles

tacitly, and by the grace of God, we do de-
liberately and in the gracelessness of ambi-
tion. You grew into this new life of yours.
We contort ourselves into it. In one or two
generations we would achieve what it took
you a hundred generations to reach. We take
up your life with an anxiousness, a ferocity,
which is its own undoing. Whatever in you
can be imitated, we do imitate admirably, but
though you cannot quite define it, you are
aware of a deception. Our patriotisms are
hysterical; our sport pursuits are unnaturally
eager; our business ambitions artificially
passionate. We seek the same apparent ends
as you, but not in the same spirit. Would
you have us fight and die for country? We’ll
do it as well as you. Would you have us run
fast, box skilfully? We’ll do it. Would you
have us build up enterprises? We’ll do that
too. But one thing we cannot do. Do it for
the same reason and in the same spirit.

Since you insist, we will measure values
with your standards and register the results.
But you know, you feel, that the standards


The Masses

are not ours. We betray ourselves, singly
and in mass. We haven’t the manner. And
we haven’t the manners— for manners are but
a manner with you.

We Jews are lacking in manners because
manners, as you have evolved them, are a
spirit, a reflex of your play world. Manners
cannot be copied: one must have the aptitude
for this charming triviality. A single note of
insistence spoils it all And we Jews insist
too much.

And just as Jews are without manners, so
they are without vulgarity, I have observed
that between the vulgar gentile and the so-
called vulgar Jew there is a singular and
dreadful difference. The vulgar type of gen-
tile is not repellent: there is in him an ani-
mal grossness which shocks and braces, but
does not horrify: he carries it off by virtue
of a natural brutality and brutishness which
provide a mitigating consistency to his char-
acter. But the lowest type of Jew is ex-
traordinarily revolting. There is in him a
suggestion of deliquescent putrefaction. The


You Gentiles

gentile can be naturally, healthily vulgar.
The Jew corrupts into vulgarity — he has not
the gift for it. What is vulgarity in the gen-
tile is obscenity in the Jew. I am able to
watch, either with amusement or indifference,
a vulgar performance on the gentile stage.
On the Jewish stage I find it intolerably loath-
some. In the company of low and brutish
gentiles “let loose” I may not feel at home,
but I can be an unmoved spectator. But
when Jews try to imitate this behavior I feel
my innermost decency outraged. Well-man-
nered gentile society rejects us. So does vul-
gar gentile society.

An individual genius cannot be taken as
the higher type of the people which produced
him: but in the mass there is an inevitable
correspondence between the product of the
geniuses of a people and the people itself.
Studied actuarially, the people finds utterance
in the geniuses. There is an undoubted con-
sistency in all the products of the greatest
Jewish minds. Whether we take these statis-
tics laterally, through an age, or vertically,


The Masses

through history, we will obtain a similar re-
sult. Whether we begin with the Bible and
take the sum total of our work down to Karl
Marx, or confine ourselves to a single country
and generation (America to-day, for instance
— with Untermeyer, Lewisohn, Frank, Hecht)
we will find the same appeal to fundamentals,
the same passionate rejection of your sport
world and its sport morality, the same ulti-
mate seriousness, the same inability to be
merely playful, merely romantic, merely lyri-

It is unthinkable that the masses of a peo-
ple can mean one thing, its geniuses another.
Were this so the utterances of great minds
would lose all relevance, would become point-
less and impotent. If we symbolize a people
as a single organism, its geniuses may be lik-
ened to an organ of self-consciousness; and
the self-consciousness of a man is not an in-
dependent function, but the instrument of all
of him: all his body and being thinksr-
through the brain.

That which genius illuminates is the life

You Gentiles

from which it springs. The amorphous is
crystallized in it: the confused diffusion is
brought to a focus, so that the pattern is
made clear. Our geniuses, in the midst of
your world, are an alien and destructive ele-
ment, more clearly revealed as such because
they are articulate. They are our spokes-
men; or, better said, ourselves in utterance.
They, like us, being us, cannot join your
game. You say, “Because they lack imagina-
tion.” In a sense it is true. We are unimagi-
native, as old people are unimaginative in the
presence of young people. We neither play
with emotions nor with things; we lack ro-
manticists as we lack inventors — because we
lack inventiveness.

Even among the masses, where diffusion
confuses, an apt instance points to the truth.
Among our simple people you do not find the
delight in constructive trifles which is one of
your characteristics. Your simple people like
to build things, fix this and that in the house,
play the handy man; they take pleasure in
putting up shelves, looking to the plumbing,


The Masses

adding and altering. We are devoid of this
kind of craftsman’s pleasure; we do what is
necessary, only because it is necessary. And
as a man, engaged happily in such pleasant,
childlike pursuits, resents the chilling indif-
ference of an unsympathetic onlooker, so
your world resents our uncalled-for analysis
of your acts and occupations. This is your
life and you enjoy it. Why do we disturb
you with questions concerning ultimate

We lack inventiveness. You will say that
this springs from our lack of vitality. Men
are lyrical because life sings in them; they
are inventive because life is restless in them
and drives their fingers to activity. I will
not argue the cause of the difference, but,
lacking inventiveness, we also lack sympathy
for it. In your delight you call inventiveness
the conquest of nature. But the boast is,
to us, a foolish and a childlike boast. The
problem with which man is faced cannot be
answered by scientific inventions. The con-
quest of nature does not lie in evolving keener


You Gentiles

sight ; swifter motion, larger strength. This
is but magnification, which leaves the element
of the problem untouched. Can you conquer,
not nature, but the nature of things?

For it is in the nature of things that the
bitter problem resides. If science should
double the span of human life, will the nature
of life and death be altered? Will we not
feel as mortal, as insignificant? Will we even
be aware of living longer? If science should
bridge the planets and the stars, will the new
playground be larger than the old to those
that ]ive in it? You have found a whole
world since the days of the Greeks: they lived
on a tiny plot of earth, an ant-hill; and you
have a gigantic globe to build on. What dif-
ference has it made? What significant con-
quest have you achieved? Not things but
the nature of things baffle us, the dreadful
circle, the eternal balance, for every gain a
compensating loss, for every new revelation a
new deception, for every new extension a loss
of intensity.

The nature of things cannot be solved be-

The Masses

cause we partake of that nature. We can
never get round ourselves: we can only turn
round. Your world spins in a joyous illusion
of progress; we, untouched by that illusion,
destructive of your mood, stand aside, static,
serious. We will be satisfied with nothing but
the absolute.

That aloofness speaks clearly or obscurely
in our masses as well as in our geniuses.
Dealing with objects, instead of with laws,
they betray the same unenthusiastic objec-
tivity in their attitude to your world.

And as long as they retain their Jewish
identity, they will, despite denial and effort
to the contrary, remain the same.



Solution and Dissolution

Does the situation which I have described
constitute a problem? Or is it merely one
of the insoluble difficulties of life which, be-
ing insoluble, should be understood as such
and suffered tacitly? Death is not a prob-
lem, being inevitable. Is this struggle be-
tween our two worlds as inevitable? Shall
we resign ourselves to the struggle and do
what we can to mitigate its worst effects, or
shall we continue the search for a complete

The one solution which is generally offered
as complete and satisfactory is, quite apart
from its feasibility, not a solution at all : only
a dissolution. The disappearance of the Jew-
ish people by complete submergence in the
surrounding world would not, in reality, solve
the problem; any more than one solves a


Solution and Dissolution

chess problem by burning chess-board and
figures. But it would seem to do the next
best thing: it would apparently destroy the
situation which creates the problem. The
problem, without having been solved, would
at any rate cease to exist.

And by the dissolution of the Jewish people
can be meant only one thing — the disappear-
ance of Jewish identity in individuals or
masses, the complete obliteration of Jewish
self-consciousness, down to the very name and
recollection. When it will be impossible for
any man to say of himself, “I am a Jew,” or
“My father, or grandfather was a Jew” this
consummation will have been achieved.

There is only one instrument to this end:
free and unrestrained intermarriage. This
act or fact alone will count. The mere chang-
ing of names, the substitution of religious
forms, the so-called “liberalization” and
“modernization” of Judaism is ineffective: it
is a matter of common observation that there
is no inverse ratio between the Westernization
of the Jew and anti-Semitism. And this very


You Gentiles

fact will have to be considered again in its
relation to the feasibility of this proposal. If
we talk of the submergence of the Jew we
must not play with words: words alone can-
not submerge the Jew. If there is anything
in what I have said you cannot make a gentile
of a Jew by arguing with him any more than
by lynching him. You can make his children
half gentile, his grandchildren only a quarter
Jewish — and so on till the balance is perfect.

And this truth seems to have worked in
the minds of some Westernizing Jews. Re-
form Judaism, or modernized Judaism, is the
halfway house to baptism: or at least to in-
termarriage. Its very purpose is such, de-
spite the protestations of Reform Jews. It
cannot be anything else, for if the desire is
to become “like the world around us/ 7 then
all barriers must go down, and the real bar-
rier, the conservator of all distinctions, is our
practice of endogamy.

One thing is quite certain: a Jew is never
baptized for the purpose of becoming a Chris-
tian ; his purpose is to become a gentile. Yet


Solution and Dissolution

obviously you do not make a gentile of a Jew
by baptizing him any more than you would
make an Aryan of a negro by painting him
with ocher. The sole (and sufficient) value
in this direction of baptism is the removal of
all conscious prohibition against intermar-

Of course even baptism is not a necessary
preparation. Jews marry gentiles without
this preliminary formality. The case is some-
what different here. This is a natural wastage
or attrition: individual passion, not policy,
is the cause, though the effect is the same—
the disappearance of the Jew. And it cer-
tainly connotes, even if indirectly, the renun-
ciation first of Judaism and then of Jewish
affiliation. A Jew married to a gentile may
remain a Jew ostensibly, as he is in fact. His
children seldom, if ever, profess Judaism or
associate themselves with the Jewish people.

In this case the evasion is even more dis-
honest than in the first. A man who professes
to belong to the Jewish faith and the Jewish
people and who nevertheless gives his chil-


You Gentiles

dren to the gentiles is making the best of
both worlds. He evades the odious name of
renegade which attaches to the baptized Jew:
(also salving his conscience] and at the same
time contributes effectively to the dissolution
of the Jewish people. It is well to note that
the Westernized or “Reform” Jew may de-
plore the practice, but will not exclude such a
man from the Temple. The orthodox Jew
considers such a man lost to Judaism: the
view, whatever its ethics, is clearer and

But I want to consider not the accidental,
but the deliberate, or politic. Accidental in-
termarriage, being accidental and therefore
uncontrollable, is not a policy. Baptism is a
policy: the weakening of Judaism by the re-
moval of its “nationalist” implications, and
by its “modernization,” is also a policy — the
same policy, in fact, but more circumspect
and less self-confessed. This policy has as
its objective the solution of the Jewish prob-
lem by the dissolution of the Jewish people.


Solution and Dissolution

I will consider later whether this policy
can obtain this objective. The question here
concerns the objective. Will the “dissolution
of Jewish identity” by free and prolonged in-
termarriage resolve the struggle of the two
types? Or will the struggle continue in an-
other form, less obvious but equally uncom-
fortable? Will the struggle center round iso-
lated individuals, recurrent types? Or will
the final product be homogeneous and, in re-
lation to this particular struggle, static?

Both the negative and affirmative answers
to this question are unsatisfactory. Suppose,
on the one hand, the struggle continues? Sup-
pose the Jewish character persists in strains,
breaks out in individual atavisms, long after
the Jewish name has perished? The problem
will be the same: your world will be con-
fronted with recurrent instances of alien and
destructive types, all the more dangerous be-
cause they are not isolated in a recognized,
repudiated group. Their power of destruc-
tion will be the greater because they will


You. Gentiles

work from within. The “J ew i s h” problem
will have disappeared , but the gentile prob-
lem would remain as bitter as ever.

Let us examine the negative answer. Sup-
pose there are no Reversions to type.” Sup-
pose the Jew is so completely absorbed as to
be lost beyond possibility of detection in the
surrounding world. Such a consummation, if
possible, calls for one inevitable condition;
that is, the proportionate Judaization of your
world. It is unthinkable that so vivid an ele-
ment as the Jewish people should be absorbed
into your world without producing an appre-
ciable alteration in its constitution. A world
that has absorbed the Jews will to that extent
be a Jewish world.

And this is precisely the condition which
you refuse to admit. You want no tamper-
ing with your identity; you want to remain
what you are. You have no intention of
meeting us at the point of balance. You do
not want a world tinged with Jewish blood.
You want us to be absorbed in you without
leaving a trace. And with the best intentions


Solution and Dissolution
in the world we cannot oblige. We can, in
that sense, no more destroy ourselves than
we can destroy a single particle of matter.

But I shall show in the following pages
that all this talk of dissolution is academic.
Even if you should tolerate in prospect both
of these alternatives, there are insuperable
obstacles which make it highly improbable
that you will ever be faced with either.



The Mechanism of Dissolution

This would be an ideal condition, presum-
ably — the merging together of Jew and gen-
tile, for the production of a world neither
wholly gentile nor yet dual with Jew and gen-
tile — but composed of both in certain propor-
tions fixed by our numbers and the laws of
heredity. That is, at least, the best solution
within view, and if we are to be reasonable — ■
on paper at least — it would be the only one
to be considered.

But we must remember that this ideal can-
not be realized in one generation or in two,
or in five. If we were to assume (the as-
sumption is an absurd one) that within .this
generation the Jewish world could be won
over to this point of view, it would still need
four or five generations (probably more) to
obliterate our identity. At that it would call


The Mechanism of Dissolution

for forcible inter-marriage, for even when we
cease to believe in endogamy, we will prac-
tise it because our affections so incline us.
It would have to become a sort of principle — •
that in the name of the great ideal of a solu-
tion of the Jewish problem, the Jew shall be
forbidden (morally, at least) to marry among
his own. But it is clear that even if inten-
sive propaganda were to break down (it could
not, for reasons I shall return to) our pro-
hibitions against inter-marriage, it would have
to work progressively. It would take many
generations to carry the change successively
through all the strongholds of Jewish life.
And when we add to the time thus needed
the time needed for actual absorption by in-
termarriage, we are faced with a task for

But I will deal with ideal conditions. I will
deal with a single large group of Jews deter-
mined to abandon their identity and to lose
themselves and their children in the surround-
ing gentile world. We know well that their
children will not yet be assimilated in the full


You Gentiles

sense of the word: children of mixed Jewish-
gentile percentage still carry the Jewish
stigma. The child of a half- Jew and com-
plete gentile is in better plight; and a Jewish
great-grandfather is hardly any handicap at
all. The third generation, as the saying is,
produces the gentleman.

It needs at least these three generations of
intermediary stage — probably more. It
would be absurd to expect absorption in a
single generation: it never happens. There
is needed a transition period and it is this
transition period which you gentiles will not
tolerate. Even if you believe (as most of
you do) that the best thing that could happen
to the Jew would be his complete absorption
by inter-marriage, you oppose, tacitly, but
not the less obstinately, his steps in that di-
rection. You want us to inter-marry — but
you don’t want to inter-marry. You want us
to produce gentile offspring without having
taken your sons and daughters as mates.

In other words, you want an end without
permitting the means. The prospect of a


The Mechanism of Dissolution

Jew-less world is charming indeed, but who
will enjoy the actuality? Your grandchildren
and great-grandchildren. And who will have
to pay the price of the first embarrassing con-
tact, the first difficult intimacy, Jewish sons-
and daughters-in-law, Jewish fathers and
mothers-in-law? You yourselves. The pros-
pect is too distant, too hypothetical, to exert
any influence. It is much too much like the
promise of heaven and the threat of hell.

I have alluded more than once to the fact
that Westernization of the Jew is nowhere
a guarantee against anti-Semitism. Indeed,
conscious modern anti-Semitism, the formu-
lated fear of the Jew as the racial bearer of
alien and dangerous ideas, is the result of
Westernization. Far from encouraging or
tolerating our inter-marriage with you, you do
not even relish the results of our Westerniza-
tion or gentilization. It is an amazing and
terrifying paradox: you would like us to be
absorbed, but you shrink from the process.
The inoculation is painful, even revolting.
You are uneasy and unhappy when we swarm


You Gentiles

into your universities, your professions: the
nearer we come to you, the more you dislike
us. You dislike us because we are different,
and when we make efforts to overcome the
difference we are forced into a proximity
which rouses your inmost resentment. The
Ku Klux Klan, the Awakening Magyars, the
Consul, no longer warn you against the re-
ligious and secluded Jew, the Ghetto and the
Talmud. They warn you against the baptiz-
ing Jew, against the assimilating Jew, against
the inter-marrying Jew. They warn you, in-
deed, against that part of the Jewish people
which is apparently in the process of realiza-
tion of that ultimate ideal — the disappear-
ance of the Jewish people.

Another aspect of the mechanics of dis-
solution makes clear a difficulty somewhat
more subtle but even more effective. The
death of a people or of a type can be natural
only. Race suicide as an ideal is a contradic-
tion, for an ideal is a manifestation of life.
Deliberate] ? to set before ourselves the ob-
jective of s< f-elimination would be as absurd


The Mechanism of Dissolution

as a man insisting on watching himself fall
asleep. It can be done tacitly only. It can
happen, but it cannot be propagated. We
might drift out of consciousness, but every
effort to accelerate the pace would retard the
process. To appeal to Jews to cease to be
Jews because they are Jews is to accentuate
their Jewishness.

Of course the effort has been made, but
with those grotesque and unnatural results
which are in part responsible for your aver-
sion to the process. There is nothing more
ludicrous and pitiful than the Jew who has
made his gentilization a deliberate ideal. His
anxious self-repression, his self-disclaimers,
his demand to be considered a gentile, his un-
easy sense of inferiority, his impotent resent-
ment of all that reminds him of his origin,
make him an object of scorn alike to you and
to us. There are "assimilated" Jews who
hate with an ignoble and consuming hatred
the "unassimilated" part of the Jewish peo-
ple; Jews, who, rousing your secret contempt
as renegades and your resentment as intrud-


You Gentiles

ers, attribute their discomfort, falsely, to
those Jews who are most obviously Jewish.
For the gentilizing Jew is reluctant to admit
that his very gentilization accentuates his
Jewishness to you. His only recourse to save
the last remnant of his self-respect is to blame
the unassimilating Jew: in eager self- vindica-
tion he points at the object-lesson of the suf-
ferings of orthodox and national Jewries and
associates his own severer sufferings with the
same cause. He deliberately ignores the fact
that the cradle of the newer anti-Semitism is
the country which witnessed the first efforts
of the Jew to make a high ideal of assimila-
tion. Germany, which in the nineteenth cen-
tury offered the classic example of Jewish as-
similation, both internal (in adaptation of
our own life) and external (in baptism and
inter-marriage) also became the country of
classic anti-Semitism. Terrified at the infil-
tration of Jewish blood, the German gentile
recast his formulae of Jew-hatred in such
wise as to arrest the process.

When we examine the mechanism of disso-

The Mechanism of Dissolution

lution in detail and come down to an exam-
ination of its working on the individual, we
understand better the revolting character of
at least its first effects. It is one thing to say
that a people in the first stages of dissolution
is as horrible a spectacle as a body in the first
stages of putrefaction: but this sounds some-
what academic—perhaps even metaphysical.
Even so there is little conveyed in the state-
ment that a country is starving: we realize
the import of the statement only when we
speak of hungry men and women. When we
examine the personal reactions of the deliber-
ately assimilating Jew we see more clearly
why he is not a pleasant spectacle either to
Jew or to gentile.

A Jew who has made the repression of his
Jewishness an ideal must be prepared to suf-
fer and to seem to ignore every slight, every
rebuff which he encounters. He must not
permit an open sneer to sting him into Jew-
ish self-consciousness: such a " weakness"
would undo his purpose. He must seem to
be unaware of the occasional coolness which


You Gentiles

follows the accidental revelation of his ori-
gin. He must bear silently with those count-
less unspoken snubs, half-snubs, unuttered
queries, faint Ah-yes astonishments, which
will be his lot until the day of his death. He
must not feel himself implicated in a general
slander of the Jews : he may only protest in a
generous, disinterested sort of way, as a fair-
minded "gentile." An angry retort or repudi-
ation might be the ruin of him — he would
suddenly realize the intolerable nature of his
position. . . . It is not an easy thing to kill
one's self by degrees.

Such a Jew has the whole way to go. He
is not entering a world already made easier
for him by an admixture of Jewish blood. He
does not move forward to a partly prepared
position. All is alien around him. His
claims have no precedent. There is some-
thing pitifully impotent in his demand: "But
I am an Englishman, like you; an American,
like you. I have no affiliations outside of this
country except those general human affilia-
tions which I share with you. I feel for my


The Mechanism of Dissolution

co-religionists abroad nothing more nor less
than you feel for your fellow-Christians
among the Turks. Between me and my fel-
low-Jews in this country there is nothing more
than between Protestant and Protestant,
Catholic and Catholic." (Or, if he is baptized,
this incriminating confession may presumably
be omitted.) "I am part and parcel of your
country. Our forefathers came later, but our
posterity will stay as long. There is no dif-
ference between you and me except a very
slight difference of faith — nothing really worth
mentioning. In all else we are utterly alike.
Do not let yourself be misled by the apparent
contrast between me and my unassimilated
co-religionists. It is merely a matter of ex-
ternals. In a little while, in a generation or
two, they will be like me — indistinguishable
from you. They will be Americans (or Eng-
lishmen or Frenchmen) in every respect.
Your destiny and ours, your outlook and ours,
your hopes and ours, are identical."

But his plea falls on skeptical ears. There
is that in the very name of Jew which invali-


You Gentiles

dates his protestations. And the more vehe-
mently he urges his case, the more suspicious
and uneasy you become. For he is urging as
an accomplished fact that which is nothing
but a hopeless personal aspiration. Your de-
mand is not connected with behavior or with
views: neither of these makes the American
or the Englishman. It is a question of iden-
tity. You want us to be Anglo-Saxons, or
Teutons, if you are to call us Englishmen or
Germans. And we cannot be that — at best
our great-grandchildren can be as nearly that
as matters. But we cannot remarry our

We cannot but exasperate you by such
importunate assumptions. That strangers,
aliens to your blood, should come to dwell in
your midst, is one thing. That they should
claim, after a sojourn of a generation or two,
complete identity with you, is as absurd as it
is insolent. And even if they should dwell in
your midst a thousand years, yet should keep
apart, neither giving nor taking in marriage,
they are not identical with you. In those


The Mechanism of Dissolution

words, "our ancestry," "our forefathers,"
there are implied the dearest and tenderest of
human associations. The love of his forbears
and of his posterity is all that man has of
earthly immortality; the pride and affection
which are the natural counterparts of these
concepts are as narrow and as broad, as po-
tent for good and evil, as sexual love, as life
itself. Shall we come to you and share your
ancestry? Shall we intrude on these exalted
recollections, with a a we too"?

You cannot help resenting these claims.
They savor at once of ingratiating humility
and arrogant blasphemy. Try as you will
you cannot make the concession. You are
trapped by a vital paradox.

You may ask: What difference is there be-
tween a Jew claiming to be an American and
an Italian claiming to be one? Is it more hu-
miliating for one than for the other? Is the
Italian of our ancestry more than you?

There is some similarity in the plight of all
foreigners: and we Jews suffer all that for-
eigners suffer. But our case is unique because


You Gentiles

we are unique. If there is anything in what
I have said, the cleft between you, Americans
and Italians, Frenchmen and Germans, is but
a wide jump as compared with the chasm be-
tween us and any one of you. What is true
of the gentile foreigner in this regard is ten
times true of us.

For our very record testifies against us.
The older the past from which we attempt to
flee, the closer it pursues us. To you, who
share with us the human attribute of pride of
ancestry, it seems incredible that, having re-
tained our identity for a hundred generations,
we should abandon it in one. It is suspicious
— and odious. For you suspect (rightly) that
in this tenacity of identity, which has outlived
so many nations and civilizations, there is im-
plied a kernel of individuality which is as sin-
gular in its nature as in its history.

Among yourselves assimilation is problem
enough. The birth and death of nations is
attended by wars, pains, humiliations. But
what you have done a dozen times over in


The Mechanism of Dissolution

the last four thousand years we have not
done once.

We cannot assimilate: it is so humiliating
to us that we become contemptible in submit-
ting to the process: it is so exasperating to
you that, even if we were willing to submit,
it would avail us nothing.



Is There Any Hope?

There is little more to be said. I would
only like to set down, before concluding, a
few considerations which might help to clarify
the issue between us. For I cannot believe
that the contest between our two ways of
life will come to an end within measurable
time, and I cannot believe that while the con-
test continues it will ever be lifted to purely
spiritual levels. I will not confound eschatol-
ogy with daily experience: if ever the dream
of the prophet should come true, if ever men
should live at peace with each other, express-
ing their antagonisms without enmity — why,
they will no longer be men, but another spe-
cies, and talk of Jew and gentile will be as
irrelevant then as it might have been twenty
thousand years ago. The world is getting
better, no doubt, but the improvement is not


Is There Any Hope?

to be measured in generations or centuries,
and what will come to pass ten thousand years
from now does not concern me in connection
with this problem. Certainly I have no pa-
tience with those who bid us wait dumbly for
the apotheosis of mankind, as though the
millennium were round the corner, as though
every year registered a perceptible and even
considerable improvement. If ever, within
the span df one generation, mankind could
suffer visible improvement, it should have
been now, within the generation which wit-
nessed the war. But only the fool and the
professional optimist will assert that our way
of life to-day, our utterances, our emotions,
our ambitions, are at all cleaner than they
were ten years ago, when the war started.
The same handful of sensitive men and
women struggle hopelessly against the pas-
sions of humanity: the same ugliness and
meanness, the same selfishness and lying, the
same lust for bloody adventure, the same de-
light in physical triumph, the same wilful self-
deception and abuse of lovely phrases have us


You Gentiles

In thrall. The race is still to the swift and
the battle to the strong, and the goal and the
prize are what they were ten years ago. What
I say, then, is not prompted by the hope that
words of mine — or of any one else — can give
a new complexion to the general struggle be-
tween Jew and gentile : but only by the desire
to clarify, for the encouragement of a few,
the nature of this struggle, convincing them,
perhaps, that behind the sordid stupidity
which seems to govern our Jew-gentile rela-
tionship there may be found a compensating
grain of eternal principle. And my conclud-
ing words are addressed less to practical ex-
pectations than to the desire for complete-

What are we Jews prepared to give you
which, in my opinion, you should consider suf-
ficient? Obedience to the laws of the State
and readiness to defend it (even if against
our inmost belief) in time of danger. This
constitutes a full payment for the privilege of
citizenship and the protection of the laws.

But this offer on the part of the Jew be-

Is There Any Hope?

comes inadequate when the State begins to
assume functions which seem to me totally
beyond its capacity. What was intended only
for the regulation of the external actions of
a given group is becoming a growing tyranny
against the inmost values of man, an at-
tempted violation of our most inaccessible
privileges. And this despite the professions
of your statesmen and political thinkers.

It is acknowledged, in principle, that a
man's religion is beyond the reach of law, and
his God need neither pay taxes nor take out
citizenship papers. But the acknowledgment
of this principle is gradually becoming mean-
ingless (perhaps it never had any meaning)
in the light of the growing spiritual tyranny
of the State. Perhaps nothing that you have
ever feared from the economic tyranny of
Socialism approaches the oppressive spiritual
tyranny of your great democracies. These
seek to control not only the acts, but the emo-
tions of the individual. They would compel
us to love and hate, to admire and despise,
as part of our civic duty and, not content with


You Gentiles

that part of us which alone affects the well-
being of government, would also conquer and
control that part of us which belongs to no
one but to each man and God.

They would control our culture, as though
culture were controllable — except for the
purpose of destruction — tell us in which lan-
guage to create, as though they could fructify
us, and direct our ecstasies, as though these
were run along wires and commanded by
switches. Our obedience, our tribute, our
bodies, will not do: they would have the. very
secrets of the heart torn out of us and deliv-
ered to Washington or Berlin or London. In
the terror of Socialism they depict the intoler-
able misery of the man who can claim nothing
for himself , but must yield up the fruit of his
labor, down to the last husk, to the disposi-
tion of the State. But they have instituted a
spiritual Socialism infinitely more hideous,
and for economic equality they have substi-
tuted a spiritual homogeneity which the com-
munist can never hope to parallel in the phys-
ical field. And woe to him who dares to


Is There Any Hope?

practise private initiative in the spiritual-
Socialistic State! His punishment is not only
spiritual, but physical too. And we Jews, the
most obstinate and most enduring sinners in
this respect, are the best measure of the vin-
dictive fury with which this tyranny is armed.
If, then, the struggle between us is ever to
be lifted beyond the physical, your democra-
cies will have to alter their demands for racial,
spiritual and cultural homogeneity within the
State. But it would be foolish to regard this
as a possibility, for the tendency of this civili-
zation is in the opposite direction. There is
a steady approach toward the identification
of government with race, instead of with the
political State: and since this is largely be-
yond your conscious control, it is perhaps as
foolish as it is futile to expect a change. The
best fighting unit is a nation which is homo-
geneous in blood and emotions no less than
in political allegiance, and since the chief
function of the State is to fight (witness the
proportion of your taxes spent in payment
and in preparation for wars) you will inevi-


You Gentiles

tably demand the subordination of all human
functions to that end.

The demand for racial homogeneity within
the State has led, in America — still the
most unexploited country in the whole world
— to the exclusion of the immigrant, and par-
ticularly of the immigrant who will not lend
himself to the type of assimilation — or self-
destruction — which you demand. Without
for a moment admitting that any kind of ex-
clusion is justifiable in a world which God
created before the nations appeared to dis-
figure it, I submit the case of the Jew as an
exception. The Jew has no homeland of his
own. When the Jew migrates from one coun-
try to another, it is almost invariably under
the pressure of persecution. To close the
gate against the Jew is not the same, then,
as closing it against the Italian or the Pole.
In the latter cases you insist that certain
races stay in their own homes — whether or
not the land will support them. But the Jew
is not being forced to stay at home: while
one part of the gentile world persecutes him,


Is There Any Hope?

the other part refuses him a chance to escape.
For very shame— if you were capable of it—
you should give the Jew free immigration
everywhere. The irony of it is, of course,
that it is chiefly against the Jew that anti-
immigration laws are passed here in America
as in England and Germany. And the liberal
countries which could make room for the
hunted Jew, cooperate, despite a few gallant
and unsustained gestures, with the most illib-
eral in the persecution of their common vic-
tim. He that refuses asylum to a victim
fleeing from a murderer is, before God, a free
and willing accomplice in the crime.

And to me it is infinitely strange that, even
from your point of view, the sporting point of
view, you should be able to reconcile your
morality with your acts. If there is anything
at all in your professions, you should be filled
with admiration and astonishment at the in-
credible pluckiness of a small people which,
in the face of infinite discouragement, has
clung with such tenacity to its identity and
cult. Without understanding us at all, you


You Gentiles

might have paid the homage of warriors to
the courage of an unconquerable enemy.

That you watch us with vicious irritation
rather than with respect, that you load us
with contumely when so much in your own
instinct should have given us a peculiar place
in your regard , makes me feel that nothing
which can be urged upon your conscience will
avail to lighten the burden of our destiny.
We have just witnessed, in America, the repe-
tition, in the peculiar form adapted to this
country, of the evil farce to which the experi-
ence of many centuries has not yet quite ac-
customed us. If America had any meaning at
all, it lay in the peculiar attempt to rise above
the trend of our present civilization — the
identification of race with State. In the old
world the evil had taken root in the course of
centuries: its hideous fruit was therefore in-
evitable. But America seemed to offer the
hope of a change: whatever other evils
America had inherited, at least this one she
had avoided. America was therefore the New
World in this vital respect — that the State


Is There Any Hope?

was purely an ideal, and nationality was
identical only with acceptance of the ideal.
But it seems now that the entire point of view
was a mistaken one, that America was incapa-
ble of rising above her origins, and the sem-
blance of an ideal-nationalism was only a
stage in the proper development of the uni-
versal gentile spirit. The ideal which for a
time constituted American nationality disap-
pears now, and in its place emerges again,
with atavistic certainty, the race.

It is true that even while the ideal flour-
ished, triumphant over race, the seeds of our
enmity lay securely imbedded in our natures.
But the passing generosity kept the seeds in
slumber. It is not the first time that gentile
nations, forgetting themselves for a brief per-
iod, have offered us friendship and even affec-
tion. But the strange and unnatural exalta-
tion passed, and bitter sobriety succeeded.
To-day, with race triumphant over ideal, anti-
Semitism uncovers its fangs, and to the heart-
less refusal of the most elementary human
right, the right of asylum, is added cowardly


You Gentiles

insult. We are not only excluded, but we are
told, in the unmistakable language of the im-
migration laws, that we are an "inferior" peo-
ple. Without the moral courage to stand up
squarely to its evil instincts, the country pre-
pared itself, through its journalists, by a long
draught of vilification of the Jew, and, when
sufficiently inspired by the popular and "scien-
tific" potions, committed the act.

How, then, shall I delude myself into the
belief that the considerations covered in this
chapter will produce any effect? Have we
Jews not known this evil long enough?
Should we not have known better, by this
time, than to repose hope in any of the na-
tions? Perhaps we were foolish in our over-
confidence, but our credulousness does us less
dishonor than your cruelty does you. And if
it savors again of foolish simplicity to make
this plea to you, I am willing to take the risk.


It would have been a happier task for me if
I had been able to write this book, with sin-
cerity, in another tone; if I had been able to
record a struggle of two ideals and types
which was never compromised and obscured
by physical lusts and cruelties. But rather
than utter the old, untruthful courtesies, tem-
pering resentment with caution and tact, it
would have been better not to write at all,
and I was driven to write. I believe that
though I may have erred here and there, I
have been mainly right: and I console myself
with the thought that if this book offends by
its assertiveness, God knows that the infinite
tactfulness of thousands of other Jews seems
to have offended no less. Whatever we do we
are damned — and I would rather be damned
standing up than lying down.



Published on August 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm  Leave a Comment  

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