The Jews, because they have for centuries been more mobile than other peoples, not being bound to any particular soil, will in the future “take front rank in helping to do the work of construction in a world which has changed from a world of farmers to a world of machines.” On the other hand, the Jews, being next to the Chinese the most literary people in the world, and having conserved in their books the useful experiences of the white races for thousands of years back, will also in the future “make, through the practice of literature, a heavy contribution to the memory of mankind” in an epoch which has less feeling for such matters than formerly.
This is the opinion expressed by Lion Feuchtwanger, famous German-Jewish novelist and playwright, in an article entitled, “The Trend of the Jews,” which appeared in the magazine section of yesterday’s New York Herald-Tribune. Speaking of the historical development of the Jews, Mr. Feucht-wanger says:
“The historic development of the Jewish group deviates from the development of the other white-skinned groups. The Jewish group, for a long thousand years at least, had a part in the religious and social achievements of the colored cultural races, and for a short thousand years it shared in the first technical achievements of the white races. Then, through isolation in the ghetto, the Jewish group was excluded from the further technical progress of the white peoples. Only in the last two hundred years has it again been able to participate in this development. It has probably not yet overtaken the leading white groups in this technical field; but it is in advance of them in what it very early appropriated in the way of social instinct from the religious heritage of the colored cultural peoples.”
During their early history, according to Mr. Feuchtwanger, the Jews had the advantage of living on the edge of three continents and of appropriating three different cultures. “From the East,” he says, “the teaching was constantly pressed upon them of the necessity of not willing, of not acting, but of ascending into the Great Nothingness. From the West, the teaching was incessantly hammered in on them that man was born for action and for conflict. To the South of them loomed large and shadowy the Egyptian teaching of the conquest of death through persistence and wariness of the eternal conservation of being. The East taught them to pass away; the West taught them to become; the South taught them to be. They took these three lessons to themselves, fused them one with another, adapted them to one another, until a new, great whole appeared, a law they shaped through two thousand yearsâ€”the Bible.”
Its early history, continues Mr. Feuchtwanger, “modeled the Jewish group into representatives of a strange organic blending of Asiatic renunciation and of European thirst for action. It is no accident that the white race’s two fundamental books of doing and non-doingâ€”the Old Testament and the New Testamentâ€”sprang from the Jewish intellectual spirit.”
Of the Jewish role in the world today. Mr. Feuchtwanger says:
“What their enemies formerly reproached them with and condemned as their most contemptible characteristic â€”their cosmopolitanismâ€”their lack of roots in the soil, suddenly discloses itself as an immense superiority. That they were intrigued against for centuries, that they were obliged to adapt themselves always to new men and new conditions, makes them, in a quickly altered time of rapid communications, superior to those who can move only on their own soil. It is consequently their historic mission to take front rank in helping to do the work of construction in a world which has changed from a world of farmers to a world of machines.”