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by Herman Bernstein

Twenty-four years ago I wrote a little piece entitled “Israel,” which was published in The Independent, a literary weekly magazine, then edited by Dr. Hamilton Holt. That article has been translated into Hebrew, and several translations into Yiddish have been published.

I have received numerous requests to reproduce it again. In the light of what is happening in Jewish life today, particularly with regard to the World Jewish Conference in Geneva and its repudiation by other Jewish leaders here and abroad, it seems to me that my little article on Jewish leadership, written in 1910, is quite as timely today. The readers of the Jewish Daily Bulletin may be interested in reading it at this time:


A nation of leaders with no one to lead; a nation of dreamers, a nation of practical men; though small in numbers, yet your financiers often decided the destiny of nations, your poets and prophets have inspired the world, your tradesmen are perhaps more cunning, your millionaires perhaps more ostentatious, your poor starve more wretchedly—you great, petty, noble, scheming, rich, poor, ideal, practical, eternal wanderer—Israel, O Israel!

Blessed and cursed, you who have given to the world your saints and your prophets, true and false, your heroes and your traitors, great and small; O nation of leaders with no one to lead; you whose consciousness was steeled in the fires of hate and whose hearts remained tender despite the prejudice and cruelty of centuries; you who as a pitiful wanderer have begged for the right to live; you who are hated and feared by the envious; you who are loved or merely tolerated because you are weak; you who, armed with the Bible and the Talmud, have passed unscathed through the furnace of superstition; you whose bankers preach to you, and whose preachers bank on you—on the “Jewish question,” the eternal Jewish question, a football for friend and foe, kicked and tossed from side to side with mercy and without. O weak-willed, weary, tenacious wanderer, O nation of “leaders” with no one to lead! Some send you West, some drive you East, some draw you back to your cradle, others plead with you that you forget your mother. O pitiful, strong, stiff-necked wanderer, Israel!

You who have been crucified for centuries, though you bear the undeserved stigma of the most tragic crucifixion in history; last for war and first for peace; a stormy petrel; the barometer of history; sometimes a hero, sometimes a clown, always a martyr; ever organizing, ever preaching solidarity, yet none so helpless, so disorganized; torn asunder from within and from without; O nation of leaders with no one to lead! Some would awaken in you haughty pride because of your past; others preach to you humiliation, oblivion, self-destruction; some rouse you, others lull you to sleep; some attack you as if you were not human, others sing your praises as though you were divine; some attack you for your “separatism,” others drive you to separatism by attacking you, O chosen people, chosen for suffering, marked for derision, even for slaughter—you who are as good as the rest and as bad as the rest! Can you find your way amidst the tumult and chaos created by your counsellors, your organizers, your well-wishers, your destroyers, O nation of leaders with no one to lead? Do the leaders of Israel and the foes of Israel realize what they are doing with the clay and the spirit that have been moulded, through the bonfires of persecutions and martyrdom, by the host of great thinkers and dreamers and reformers since the time of Moses to this day?


According to a Berlin report in The New York Times, the notorious “Putzy” Hanfstaengl, Hitler’s intimate friend and foreign press attache, published a series of conversations with William Randolph Hearst whom he recently met at tea in Munich. The article, featured prominently in the German newspapers, was distributed by the official German news agency.

Mr. Hearst is quoted as saying:

“The results (of the plebiscite) represent a unanimous expression of the popular will. This overwhelming majority with which Hitler astonishes the world must, as we now learn, be accepted as self-evident and in a sense must open up a new chapter in modern history. If Hitler succeeds in pointing the way of peace and order and an ethical development which has been destroyed throughout the world by war, he will have accomplished a measure of good not only for his own people but for all humanity.

“Germany is battling for her liberation from the mischievous provisions of the Treaty of Versailles and for her redemption from the malicious suppression and encirclement to which she has been subjected by nations which in their avarice and shortsightedness have only shown enmity and jealousy over her advancement. This battle, in fact, can only be viewed as a struggle which all liberty-loving peoples are bound to follow with understanding and sympathy.”

According to Hanfstaengl, Mr. Hearst has promised to attend the Nazi party gathering in Nuremberg next month.

It is strange that the Hearst newspapers in this city have not published Hanfstaengl’s version of Mr. Hearst’s enthusiastic endorsement of Hitler.

“If Hitler succeeds in pointing the way of peace and order and ethical development, he will have accomplished a measure of good not only for his own people but for all humanity,” Mr. Hearst is alleged to have said to Hanfstaengl.

Is it possible that Mr. Hearst considers the ruthless persecutions along religious, racial and political lines, the personal butcheries conducted by the Leader, the feverish preparations in Germany for rearmament and war, the complete suppression of the freedom of the press and conscience, as “pointing the way of peace and order and ethical development?”

We cannot believe that Mr. Hearst made any such statements.

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