IV By William B. Ziff
This is the fourth of a striking and important new series by the author of “Jewry Must about Face!” which the Jewish Daily Bulletin printed last month. So unprecedented was the response of readers to the earlier articles that it has been decided to regroup the two series and publish them in pamphlet form. The author’s trumpet-like command to action represents a new force in Jewry, a new Jewish philosophy which will seize the hearts and minds of those in whom the spark of pride and manhood still burns bright. He presents no vague theories, but a concrete program, machinery for which already has been placed in motion.
He requires therefore not only a corporate structure enabling him to defend himself as a group, but an individual philosophy as well.
He will not dare to become once more what the Arabs graphically call “the children of death.” He must not only rid himself of the defeatist, wailing, cringing viewpoint, but give over all theories of human regeneration in favor of a practical common-sense solution of his own difficulties.
The new Jew will be neither a ghetto mystic nor a dehydrated imitation of his gentile fellows.
He will discipline himself to an orderly viewpoint and curb his intense individualism in favor of the common welfare.
THE PRAGMATIC JEW
He will regenerate himself into a hardy, purposeful man who will compel respect and admiration by his very existence.
He will make an effort not only to understand his position in the world but to understand himself as well.
He will not withdraw from communion with his civilized fellows, but will evolve a virile, definitely Jewish, ethical viewpoint on which he can rest.
He will more especially reanalyze the Jewish spectres of extreme ambition and endeavor to weigh them for their true worth.
It will occur to him finally that this driving ambition is the curse of modern Jewry since in itself it is a distortion of normal life. A Jewry which seems to feel that every sacrifice of spiritual and physical health is necessary in order to attain professional success is an unhealthy body.
Our group attitude toward success itself is nothing more than at attempt at escape from the repressions surrounding the Jewish group. It becomes thus a mere translation of the mystic one-sidedness of the Yeshiva into physical terms. In this sense at least it is the product of a weak attitude. It is by no means a sound compensation for a satisfactory emotional and balanced life.
In large degree it represents abandonment of the Jewish cultural strength, since it depends upon acceptance by the non-Jewish majority, thus inevitably fostering apprehension and an ingratiating attitude.
It is a pleasant thing for a man to be successful and to stand above his fellows. It is an unpleasant thing, however, when this success becomes the purpose of life itself, and exposes the individual to emotional intensity, and spiritual collapse.
A REVISED OUTLOOK
It is not necessary for a man to be a lawyer or doctor in order to live successfully.
It appears to me that we must revise our outlook, borrowing our substance again from the old Hebraic mind. Without derogating ambition in itself, we could rationally conceive that the really great success of life is merely in being happy, healthy and spiritually normal. There is no sense in making an obsession even of self-evident injustice, and it is here that the resourceful integrity of the race should make itself felt.
We young Jews have no fanatic viewpoint on this subject unless the desire to be strong, dynamic, healthy and serene, constitutes fanaticism. We simply feel that our birthright as men is a calm, balanced, pleasant life, and we do not wish to exchange it for a mess of pottage, whether that goes under the name of professional success or any other.
We have made up our mind that our great obligation at the moment is to ourselves, and that we are going to cease being an abnormal, neurotic people.
As a matter of first principles, the new Jew will value his own manhood. He will consequently give no ground whatever and make no concessions. When it comes down to the question of his rights as a man, he will feel himself unable to make any compromise.
Far from merely resisting renewed assaults, he will lead a counter-attack upon existing disabilities.
He will say to the railroads and utilities that they are semi-public institutions which are kept up by the taxes and industry of all citizens. If they present us with a de facto condition whereby they do not give Jews employment, we can tell them in cold simple language that we do not acquiesce. As a matter of our pride alone, we cannot agree to this unprovoked assault upon our prerogatives.
If necessary we will lead a counter-assault, preaching public ownership of these behemoths. If required, we will go back to kerosene lamps. But we will not agree to any liquidation of our quality as men. We cannot allow anyone to consider us as obsequious pariahs.
We can at least adopt a non-cooperative attitude with any corporation of any kind which fosters this mean, unkindly attitude. We must rigidly deny the right of any corporation to deprive our people of the privilege of work in accordance with their abilities.
We can at least serve notice all around to all these supercilious arrogant dealers in hate that they are looking at a New Jew, who, come what will, cannot agree to accepting this condition.
MEETING SOCIAL SNOBBERY
We can even face the lines of social snobbery drawn against us with the same indomitable will. While none of us who have strength wish admission into these forbidden circles, we are never going to agree to the inference of inferiority implicant in the denial. That attitude at least is manly, and if we absolutely refuse to have anything to do with any individuals who participate in this kind of hateful arrogance, we can live our lives at peace with ourselves.
Spineless poltroons can safely be predicted who will arise and argue the consequences in matters of dollars and cents.
As far as we are concerned, we politely wish them to the devil.
Every attitude that I postulate must be done with the cold, proud dignity with which the Jewish character should gird itself, as befits the sons of the oldest of all the civilized races. We must repress our noisy, disgusting individuals who carry their complaints and chest-beating to high heaven. We must be calm granite, not pitiful, sniveling outcasts.
We should turn the full force of our anger with equal impartiality to those bad mannered, cringing, unctious Jews who are making a shambles of our Jewish pride and spirit. We should visit them with the utter contempt they deserve. We should treat this Jew who besmirches the Jewish character with his actions, to the same thundering dislike that we do the non-Jewish anti-Semite.
A WARNING TO ANTI-SEMITES
This latter we should warn in few words that he is not dealing with the acquiescent Jew he has grown used to. He should be told that any attempt to deprive us of our full civil rights will be successful only over our prostrate bodiesâ€”and perhaps his.
If necessary, we will break rocks in the desert, but we will not agree to whittling off one shaving from our manhood here or anywhere else.
After all, why shouldn’t we Jews take this position? On the face of it it may sound impolitic, but it is our true position. The disgusting amenability of our past leaders has not served to halt even the least rabid of our foes.
Can we not say that we have won every right we claim? We have contributed our good citizenship, our labor, intellect and industry. Our blood has flowed freely on every battlefield in defense of our countries welfare. What we ask for belongs to us by right and we cannot quietly see it taken away from us, not even by degrees.
PROTECTING OUR NATIVE LAND
In the years to come history will perhaps say that in protecting ourselves, it was we who protected our country from the collapse of her free democratic institutions, and live to thank us for it.
The course I suggest is obviously difficult. Spiritless Jews have already rubbed their hands together and whined that it was faced with monumental hardships. These are the contemptible creatures who simply parade in men’s clothes, and are willing to let someone else fight their battles for them and if no one will, to sacrifice spirit, honor and name.
It is axiomatic to those of us who have faced the world with some attempt at gallantry that what is worth getting is worth fighting for. We can only agree to a courageous, spirited race which will meet its troubles with a grim smile and a will to win through.
We do not even admit that there is any Jewish question. There is certainly no Jewish question of our own making. The very term is an affront to us. All we can admit is that there is an anti-Semite question.
Neither can we admit that anyone can set up as a “friend of the Jews.” There is a disparaging, patronizing air to the entire assertion which we cannot accept. We require no professional friends and simply ask to be treated as men and to be judged as men. We want the same decent respect which exists between a Baptist and a Methodist, and require no specious handling.
We young Jews have no intention of being combative or self-asertive. We will face our lives with quiet strength and self-respect.
But we intend to give no ground anywhere.
To Be Continued Tomorrow