Feuchtwanger Envisions Jerusalem As Great Spiritual World Center
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Feuchtwanger Envisions Jerusalem As Great Spiritual World Center

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“I am bold enough to dream of a world rule emanating from Jerusalem. But the center of this rule should not be a government building, but the University of Jerusalem”, said Dr. Lion Feuchtwanger in an address on “The Cultural Renaissance in the Near East” at a reception given in his honor last night, at the Harmonie Club. “I even dream that Jerusalem might become for the world what the founders of the League of Nations have dreamed Geneva would become for all mankind,” said Dr. Feuchtwanger.

“There is no question but that a great influential center in Palestine would mitigate somewhat anti-Semitism in Europe and America,” he said. “The world rule I think of in Palestine, however, should be a spiritual rule, and one only of the spirit. Its means should be none other than infinitely slow and patient attempts not to overpower the adversary but to persuade him.”

Dr. A. S. W. Rosenbach, President of the American Friends of the Hebrew University, under whose auspices the reception was arranged, introduced Dr. Feuchtwanger. He said that the German novelist had attempted in his books, “Power” and “Josephus”, to show the ways of such Jews who illustrate the conflict between power and mind.

“Dr. Feuchtwanger has tried to show that many individuals, Jews among others,” said Dr. Rosenbach, “have been confronted by the problems as to which way of life to follow,—that of power or that of mind? He has shown in his books the way of such Jews who went from power to mind, who found the way back from bottom the old Messianic mission of Judaism.

“Considered historically, and with the proper perspective, a great class of Jews is now confronted with this problem which way should they go, and the temptation is great to answer the attacks of power with only the will to power. Nothing, however, would be more foolish in every sense than to counter the Fascism of the others, whether German or Polish, with Jewish Fascism.

“It is true countries have till now always been conquered by violence, and the conquerors in part exterminated and in part enslaved the former population. We Jews, when we first took Palestine, did the very same thing. We exterminated and enslaved the natives, and we thought it blessed to settle in cities which we did not build. Later we had to go through very bitter experiences when other people exterminated us and enslaved us and settled in the cities we built. We are in the midst of the third conquest of Palestine. If this conquest is to succeed, and if it is to have significance, then it must be executed by other means than that of violence. The Third Israel has nothing in common with the Third Italy or the Third realm for which the German nationalists long. The task of the Third Realm of Israel, however, means to me the same as the task of the ancient Greeks after they had been defeated politically. Then, you know it, these defeated Greeks conquered the world without the use of violence — only with the aid of exemplary models in the spirit, only through the mind. The same way, I think, should be the way and the task of the Third Realm of Israel.

“For this task, I think, the University of Jerusalem is a most important need. The natural center of a revised and subtilized Zionism, the natural center of the Jewish world and perhaps for the whole spiritual world, is not a government building, but the University of Jerusalem.

“The true Jewish nationalism, I repeat, in contrast to every other nationalism, has the tendency not to materialize itself but to transcend itself. It is cosmopolitan, it is in its essence messianic. Yes, Jewish nationalism longs to be dissolved away in a united world, like salt in water, itself dissolved, no longer visible, yet it is omnipresent and existing forever.

“But I am afraid other long centuries will be required until the world will be united in spirit. Till then, Jewish nationalism is necessary in its current materialistic shape and till then the Jewish University at Jerusalem is doubly necessary in order that Zionism will not forget its ultimate purpose.”

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