Jewish Problem Essentially Religious Says Rabbi Samuel Schulman in Letter Commenting on Dr. Magnes’s
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Jewish Problem Essentially Religious Says Rabbi Samuel Schulman in Letter Commenting on Dr. Magnes’s

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Rabbi Samuel Schulman of Temple Emanu-El has written the following letter to the editor of the “Jewish Daily Bulletin” in which he comments on Dr. Magnes’s pamphlet “Like All the Nations?”, the text of which appeared in the “Bulletin” last week:

“You have rendered a fine service to American Jewry by printing the full text of Dr. Judah L. Magnes’s pamphlet, ‘Like All the Nations?’ The pamphlet will contribute very much to clarifying American Jewish thought on the situation in Palestine. It was a brave thing for Dr. Magnes to do, to present his views, and we could expect nothing else from his courage and his idealism. It is time indeed, that American Jews ceased to be fed by phrases and began to think clearly and practically upon what are the real prospects for the settlement of Jews in Palestine.

“As a non-Zionist, who has fought the philosophy of Zionism from its inception till this day, and who find myself committed, through my support of the Jewish Agency, to practical work in Palestine for Jews, my reaction to this remarkable document is a threefold one. I have read it twice and have been filled with satisfaction, with sorrow and with determination.


“My satisfaction consists in the fact that my opposition to the whole philosophy of Jewish Nationalism and to the conception of a ‘Homeland for the Jewish People in Palestine,’ has been confirmed so brilliantly by one who has been living in Palestine for seven years, and whose love of Zion, no man will dare to question. I gather from Dr. Magnes’s statement that there can be no national homeland for the Jews in Palestine. He speaks of a ‘common homeland’ for Jews and Arabs in Palestine. He believes that ‘the People and the Torah can exist and be creative, as they have existed and have been creative, without the Land,’ that the ‘eternal and far-flung Pople does not need a Jewish State for the purpose of maintaining its very existence,” and he is satisfied with the securing of ‘immigration, land-settlement and Hebrew culture’ in Palestine, without worrying about whether the Jews are a majority. He does not believe that the Jews, even within a generation, will be more than a third of the population, and he desires Jews and Arabs to live together in peace, and recommends a legislative body, which shall satisfy the aspirations of the Arabs, though he would see to it that the three things—immigration, land settlement and Hebrew language and culture—were safeguarded constitutionally, and protected by an international power, so as to be beyond the reach of the Arab majority in that Legislature.


“The very name of the pamphlet, ‘Like All the Nations?’ with a question mark, is a challenge to Zionism. And it is no wonder that the Zionists have severely criticized him. When I was in Palestine in 1926, I told the Zionistic leader, Mr. Ussishkin, that in my opinion, the fundamental difference between non-Zionists and Zionists, consists in the shape of a Hebrew letter. We want to be ‘ba-goyim,’ we want to dwell in the midst of the nations, having ‘common homelands’ with them. And the Zionists want to be ‘ka-goyim,’ like the nations. When I had the privilege of seeing Ahad Ha’Am, he greeted me with the remark: ‘Your bon mot is traveling over Palestine,’ and said that I indeed correctly described the difference.


“The non-Zionists’ philosophy of Jewish life, for which I have contended in discourses for the last thirty years, rejects the idea that the Jews are a nation. Indeed, the sooner the words ‘nation,’ ‘national’ and ‘nationality’ are eliminated from the discussion with respect to Palestine, the better it will be for Jews and Arabs, and the sooner will they be enabled, as two communities, as two historic peoples, to live together in peace and in amity and to build up their ‘common homeland.’ There is a difference between ‘people’ and ‘nation.’ A people is an historic community, kept together by certain cohesive forces. A nation is a

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