web analytics
July 24, 2014 / 26 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Strategies Of Jewish Survival

Front-Page-082313

For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.

How did Jews politically survive in the lands of their dispersion despite statelessness and dependency? How were the terms of their struggle transformed in the era of official political and social equality that came in the wake of the European eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Emancipation? Tracing this trajectory further, what political strategies emerged in an increasingly secular America, where Jews defined themselves more as a “people” than as a religion? With the creation of Israel and the trappings of a sovereign state, how did power replace powerlessness for the one nation more than any other branded as a pariah?

Though these are weighty questions all deserving book-length answers in their own right, certain basic traits enabled the Jews to master all of these epochal challenges. Ingenuity, inventiveness, improvisation and guile were the skills with which they triumphed over the threatening political environment. When this adaptation succeeded, those Jews who were inventive enough remained alive for another day, not merely as survivors but as actors in God’s plans.

Hebrew University’s Eli Lederhendler described Jewish political behavior in that milieu: “Ideologically, Jews viewed pragmatic efforts to maintain the security and stabilities of their communities as consistent with, and therefore legitimized by, their belief that their own efforts mirrored a divine plan for their people.”

Jews in the lands of their dispersion survived not because of brotherly love or “multicultural” accommodation but also by making themselves useful or by providing needed services. Often they were wards of their rulers. When Jews depended on local gentiles who held power, they used this relationship optimally, whether as artisans in Spain’s Golden Age or as tax collectors in Poland or as bankers in Austria. For their contributions, the trade-off was that Jews were protected by those in power.

But it remained a dependent relationship with Jews never knowing when their powerlessness would be exposed by pogroms, expulsion, or gas chambers. Strategically, Israel’s record among the nations also was marked by improvisation, schemes and feats of daring. Agricultural training programs in third-world Africa, international medical rescue missions, programs of cultural diplomacy, fighting United Nations “Zionism is racism” resolutions and such were designed so that some tacit international political acceptance, i.e., legitimacy, would replace political isolationism.

Despite the rise of nationalistic sentiment in early twentieth-century Europe, liberal Jewish thinkers found this Jewish powerlessness not a vulnerability but a blessing. Ruth Wisse painfully showed in her 2001 essay “The Brilliant Failure of Jewish Foreign Policy ” how pleased they were “with the sense that their ethical national identity had been purified of the dross of politics.”

To these upstanding global citizens, the translation of politics into social ethics represented a giant step in human progress.

Thus, Wisse noted, Hermann Cohen, the main spokesman for liberal Judaism in that period, maintained that with the destruction of the Jewish state in 70 CE and the end of the political center of gravity in Jewish history, “the development of the Jewish religion alone has to be presented as the driving cultural force…. Religion must become politics insofar as it ought to educate the citizens on the duty of love of humanity.”

Similarly, the eminent Russian Jewish historian Simon Dubnow argued that the Jewish nation had reached its high level of humanity as a result of its being removed from national politics for some two millennia. This progress showed that Jews had transcended an “egotistical” dimension of power and could sustain national unity through institutions of culture.

According to Dubnow, “A nationality which lacks a defensive protection of state or territory develops, instead, forces of inner defense and employs its national energy to strengthen the spiritual and social forces for unity.”

* * * * *

In the modern period, liberalism has served as the Jewish political religion. Whether in the United States or in Israel, taking the liberal side was considered as more moral, more humanitarian, more in sync with the strategy of how a minority can be best accommodated and cultivate goodwill. (Accommodation, as in medieval times, continued as the Jewish political goal.)

About the Author: Ron Rubin is professor of political science at the Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. He is the author of several books including “The Unredeemed” and “Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World's Greatest Footrace.”


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

3 Responses to “Strategies Of Jewish Survival”

  1. Shemayah Shiloh Phillips says:

    They still are. But in America we can be pets where they kill us slowly often with our own assistance.

  2. Janice Rogers Lilly says:

    SHAME ON YOU! God gives life, they are Gods Chosen and yet He loves and forgives you as well. Think about!

  3. David Kieserman says:

    In America the Jewish support of the liberal cause is simply wrong. The liberal/progressives we have now in power with take down the Jews, at the first chance they get. Not to be trusted..

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Hamas terrorists often misfire their rockets that explode in Gaza civilians areas.
‘Hamas Fired from UN School Area and Prevented Evacuation’ Says IDF
Latest Indepth Stories
IDF soldier injured in Gaza is evacuated by helicopter to Soroka hospital.

The residents of Gaza were not occupied by the Hamas; they voted for the terror organization in democratic elections, by a huge majority, by virtue of its uncompromising struggle against Israel. For this reason, the separation between the armed Hamas terrorists and those ‘not involved’ or ‘innocents’ is false. The Gazans are now paying for […]

Shimon Peres meets with the family of fallen IDF soldier Max Steinberg.

As Peres retires, Israel fights sour legacy: Insistence on setting policy in line with hopes, rather than with reality.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Our capital was not arbitrarily chosen, as capitals of some other nations were.

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay is calling for an investigation of Israel's military actions in Gaza. (archive photo)

UNHRC High Commissioner Navi Pillay accuses the IDF of possible war crimes in Gaza again, cutting slack to Hamas.

Rabbi Kahane spoke of transfer, because it was what the Torah spoke of.

There is much I can write you about what is going here, but I am wondering what I should not write. I will start by imagining that I am you, sitting at home in the Los Angeles area and flipping back and forth between the weather, traffic reports, the Ukraine, Mexican illegals and Gaza. No […]

Should Jews in Europe take more responsibility in self-defense of community and property?

Germany’s The Jewish Faith newspaper ominously noted, “We Jews are in for a war after the war.”

The truth is we seldom explore with kids what prayer is supposed to be about.

Almost as one, Jews around the world are acknowledging the day-to-day peril facing ordinary Jews in Israel and the extraordinary service of the IDF in protecting them.

So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas.

King Solomon said it long ago: “Cast your bread upon the waters” because you don’t know when you’ll hit something. Our job is to do.

The anti-Israel camp does not need to win America fully to its side. Merely to neutralize it would radically alter the balance of power and put Israel in great jeopardy.

We mourn the dead, wish a speedy recovery to the wounded, and pray that God guides the government.

More Articles from Ron Rubin
Chabad-affiliated St. Petersburg Choral Synagogue,

The Jewish population of Moscow numbers well over 100,000.

Front-Page-082313

For two thousand years, Jews exiled from their homeland and lacking political sovereignty were easy targets for elitist rulers on the right and the pseudo-egalitarian mob on the left. When Emancipation came and Jews exited the ghettos, Jewish self-made pitfalls were no less horrific, as many embraced the trendy “isms” of secular society only to spiritually assimilate and disappear from history. Yet despite the persecutions, on the one hand, and the enticements of some host countries’ cultures, on the other, the Jewish nation lives.

Though the ranks of single-issue pro-Israel Jewish voters (they comprise perhaps one-fourth of the Jewish electorate) have contracted as a result of mounting assimilation, those voters have nonetheless learned a lot over the past sixteen years.

Given his swaggered walk and ineloquent delivery, George W. Bush is an easy one to underestimate. But pundits and politicians do so at their own peril, cases in point being Al Gore and John Kerry, two gentlemen who like to think of themselves as high cultivated and erudite.

Having spent earlier sabbaticals here in Israel, I knew the subject of aliyah loomed as a background issue but hardly expected the untold ways it would recast itself.

At the restaurant farewell dinner, Professor Dov Zlotnick asked the dozen or so students of his forty-year-running Saturday afternoon Talmud shiur to continue their learning despite his approaching retirement to Jerusalem.

Thanks to Fred Lebow, founder of the New York City Marathon, some 500,000 Americans will run in marathons this year. In my book Anything for a T-Shirt: Fred Lebow and the New York City Marathon, the World’s Greatest Footrace (Syracuse University Press, 2004), I show how Lebow, a Holocaust survivor, changed the notion of this 26.2 mile race, which this year will be held on Sunday, Nov. 5, from a grueling, sweaty showcase for elite runners into a people’s competition.

Clichéd postmortems analyzing Israel’s failure to deal Hezbollah a clear defeat miss the point in blaming Prime Minister Olmert’s lack of military experience or native ineptness. The key reasons for Israel’s poor performance are deeper and far more ideological.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/front-page/strategies-of-jewish-survival/2013/08/21/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: