“Survival or Extinction” by Elisha Friedman (Thomas Seltzer), bearing the sub-title “Social Aspects of the Jewish Question,” is an exhaustive critical analysis of the causes operating for the persecution and survival of the Jews in the past and the possibilities for their survival in the future.
The author, approaching the subject in the light of modern findings in the social sciences and experimental psychology, considers the various theories advanced for the survival of the Jews in the past: the theological, the racial, – and regards the Ghetto and the persecutions which preserved the solidarity of the Jewish social group as a main factor in their survival. He points out that the assimilation of the Jews always follows in the wake of the breaking down of the Ghetto walls. Mr. Friedman answers in the affirmative the question of whether the Jews are worth preserving as a people, on the score that variability of cultures and groups enriches the general culture of humanity. The author, rejecting religion as a lasting common bond for the future on the grounds of the general broadening of religious tenets and falling off of traditional ceremonial, offers as the only real means for survival, the establishment of a Jewish Homeland in Palestine, which he considers also an advantage for the assimilationists and those Jews who wish to remain in the Diaspora and preserve their Jewish heritage. An alternative solution that the author fails to give serious consideration to is rights for national minorities which are guaranteed under the Versailles Treaty in several East-European countries, and which while quite inadequate at present may be developed into full cultural autonomy for national minorities.
In all; “Survival or Extinction” is a lucid analysis of the Jewish problem based on a thorough study not only of the social, but the natural sciences as well. The book is an important contribution to the subject as a fundamental and scientific treatise, with the added advantage that its popular treatment makes it accessible to the general public.