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Vivisection

How frequently these days one is tempted to cry aloud: Take the Jewish people out of the anatomical theatre! Stop dissecting the Jewish soul and the Jewish mind! That way madness lies. In Heaven’s name, let us stop being a problem to ourselves! There are problems of Jewish life, many, grave, but a people which regards itself as a problem will never solve any of its problems.

The spread of anti-Semitism in the world in the last few years has spurred many a Jewish pen and tongue to discuss Jew-baiting afresh, systematically from Aleph and historically from Father Abraham on. The Jewish people has again been stretched out helplessly on the dissecting table for anatomical probing and observation. Books and essays in prodigious quantities are appearing, purporting to define, analyze and explain the Jew—that brand new arrival on the world scene—and to lay bare the dark secret of his unpopularity.

We thought that everything that could be said on the subject had already been said—adequately and well. There is not a corner of our racial soul that has not already been pried into. Israel, we thought, has already been Bertilloned “from the sole of his foot unto the crown of his head.” We have been studied physiologically, neurologically, and sociologically. Our hair, our skin, the shape of our heads, feet, hands, and noses have been carefully x-rayed. Our physiognomies have been studied singly and compositely. Our racial metabolism has been charted and the kind of diseases we favor. The diet of Israel, as well as its theology has been most carefully appraised — some even going to the extent of identifying the two….

We thought that every essential characteristic of our race had already been discovered, properly labelled, catalogued and filed in the archives of the anti-Semite or the philo-Semite. Has it not already been established beyond a shadow of doubt that we are, racially speaking, extraverts and introverts, “weiblich” and “männlich” rationalists and mystics, oriental voluptuaries with a weakness for ascetism, arrogant with a pride derived from our slave-mentality, clannish and forward, intensely national and accursedly international, gifted business men with a secret passion to destroy capitalism, political poltroons with a dangerous plan to dominate the world…..

We thought that every possible definition of our status in the world had already been sent in. We were, unquestionably, a race, a religion, a people, a nation, a nationality, a nationhood, a people-hood, a social organism, an organic society, a community, a culture, a civilization, a point of view, a misfortune! …

Every major and minor cause of anti-Semitism, we believe, had already been painstakingly collected and arranged according to size, age, and country of origin and grouped under their various and proper headings, such as political, religious, racial, national, economic, temperamental, etc., along with the classic rebuttal in each case. Some did this work scholastically, ponderously with proper documentation, foot-notes and appendices. Others in a gayer, lighter mood, scherzando, as it were, as if the whole subject intrigued them only as a delightful sport, one which did not seriously involve them….

We thought that we had displayed all our wares, our achievements, our contributions, our talent, and our genius to the world with sufficient energy and persistence that there was nary a goy who did not know how much in debted he was to us. How many Nobel prizes he gave to us and how many scientists, artists, philanthropists, prize-fighters, and movie stars we gave to him. Had we not told him in all modesty over and over again about the Jew and Relativity, the Jew and Psycho-analysis, the Jew and Baseball, the Jew and Rotary, the Jew and Diabetes, the Jew and … the Jew and….

What else was there to say on the subject? And reading some of the books, essays and pamphlets which have been appearing in such profusion of late one is inclined to say that there really is not anything new to say. There is not a new word in the whole pack of them. Only weariness, and vexation of spirit….

One wonders whether the time has not come to call a halt to this neurotic introspection, self-analysis and group exhibitionism. The world is not impressed, and we are only rubbing our sore spot and making it worse. Ought not our writers, journalists, teachers and preachers fight their way out of this sickly world of pathological introversion to a free world of action?

There are great, historic tasks calling upon our generation to duty, labor and sacrifice. We must organize more effectively against those forces which threaten our political and economic positions in many parts of the world. We must normalize our political status in the world by the establishment of a strong, national center in Palestine. We must rationalize our economic status in many lands by courageous economic planning and reorganization. We must develop better methods of integrating our young people loyally and enthusiastically into our group life. All these are problems—grave, concrete, urgent, but their solution depends not upon group apologetics, or national advertising, or endless self-probing, but upon statesmanship, planning, and action.

One Jewish colony in Palestine, one effective boycott crashing down upon the head of a foe of Israel, one new Hebrew School in your community, one upstanding loyal young Jewish life anywhere, is worth a thousand hackneyed, threadbare volumes of Jewish apologetics and mind-probing.

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