There is a lot of foolish sentimentalism talked about us Jews, as if we were a weak and flabby people. There is too much self-commiseration, too much preoccupation with our sufferings and our needs. We are looking at things out of perspective, we have lost our sense of proportion.
Not in any one phase alone of our life are we to seek its significance, but in the whole of it, in the sum total of all its gain and loss, its failings and its greatnesses. We are not all persecuted and oppressed, refugees or refugee mongers, Zionists or anti-Zionists. None of our organizations, which, after all, comprise only a fraction of the intellectuals and the would-be intellectuals, have the people with them. Not this or the other are we, but all things, a complete entity, possessing every quality and gradation of quality, good and bad, which compose a comprehensive whole.
How can folk induce themselves to believe that all truth lies only in their one direction? Is not truth everywhere, all around us? Harmony is not a continual repetition of one single note.
Not only suffering and want have we, not only sorrow and distress. Our cry is not the cry of one in pain, but the universal song, now plaintive, now joyous, rising and falling, falling and rising.
There is nothing to fear. If we have our weaklings, we have our heroes too. If we are conquered, we conquer also. Persecution will not hurt us. Parts of us will fall off; parts of us always fall off, suffering or no suffering but we the people go on.
We do not move like a sluggish river, always the same, always at dead level. We are a mountain torrent, rushing along, and if there are rocks in the way, we leap over them. No dam has yet been able to stop us. There need be no fear that we shall be stopped now. Rivulets may trickle away from us to feed other rivers, the whole stream may lose itself at length in the sea, but behind are ever-rushing new waters, and the stream goes on.
We, the common people, we, the Jews of everyday life, we have no pretensions and no demands on anyone. We live our lives, good or bad. Are not both good and bad parts the same, complementary to each other, proceeding from one source, achieving the everlasting balance which is life? There is no devil in Jewish thought. Shadow is not an independent something, and what light casts no shade?
We grow into one another, merge and become one inextricable wholeâ€”scholar and cattle thief, braggart and saint, all the vital elements that together form the Jewish people. And woe to those who would make us all uniform beings, drilled into drab similarity ! Futile is their effort, mischievous their aim.
If we are plunged down, it is to strive upward again, if we are today afflicted, it is to rejoice tomorrow. We do not question, and we do not complain. We do not seek exemption from any experience that goes to make up our Jewish life.
We will not shut ourselves out from any part of Jewish life, we will not proclaim ourselves even nationalists for that reason, for nationalism shares the fault of all isms, that it excludes much of our people which we cannot afford to exclude. We do not fear to accept Jewish life as it is, in its entirety. We have heard too much of that nationalism which speaks deprecatingly of the Diaspora, which is ashamed of it and looks for salvation in a new Jewish life to be built elsewhere. We do not understand such nationalism. We have no desire to emulate the nations, to build up a State like one of theirs, to curb our wild scattered prowess, and discipline ourselves into normal forms. We cannot be content with such. Nationalism of that kind is assimilation, the wish to be like others. Our resources are wide flung, our achievements are written everywhere, in every tongue and in every land. And if our bones rot in all places, our seed grows there too. We cannot be cooped up into one place. Wide as the world is our home, wide as” the world is our suffering and our joy.
We bring good to the world, we bring evil upon it, How can we do otherwise? Bring we not good and evil upon ourselves? All-pervading is the interplay of forces which make up our Jewish life. How can we escape it? Why seek to escape it? Here we stand, a living people, not fawning, not asking patronage, acknowledging when we do wrong, and not afraid to acknowledge it. What river is there that is composed of distilled water?
We are not all saints and martyrs. Many of us deserve our blows, and we must stand up manfully to them. Life moves on, and we cannot stand still, brooding on our injuries. Not in any one phase of our life are we to seek its significance, but in the whole of it, in the sum total of all its gain and loss, its, failings and its greatnesses.
The division in the ranks of the German-American societies here betrays the insidious effects of Nazi propaganda and the weakness of the liberal impulse which might be counted upon, in other peoples, to resist such propaganda influences.
The United German Societies of New York, at a meeting this week voted to invite Dr. Hans Luther, German Ambassador at Washington, to graceâ€”if that’s the wordâ€”the German Day exercises to be held Oct. 29th. This invitation implies the necessity of flying the Swastika flag here. Even to this the Jewish organizations were willing to agree, could they have gained the adoption of a resolution that no anti-Semitic policy was intended, but even, this assurance was denied What else then was left but for the representatives of the Federation of German Jewish Societies to walk out in protest, which they did.
In Germany, the Nordic friends of liberalism have had as excuse for their silence against Nazi oppression of the Jews that, by speaking out, they would run the risk of violence or imprisonment. Outside of Germany, they have had no such justification for silence. These societies refrained from speaking up against the Hitler Terror long before the propaganda process of co-ordinating” them with the Hitler regime was commenced. Surely, as American citizens they ran no risk of reprisal, but they feared to speak out. At least, whatever their motive, they did not speak out. And today, either through craven fear or because of their actually concealed affection for brutal German authority, they will be the instrumentality through which the hated Swastika of the Nazis will be unfurled in New York City, a liberal republic’s metropolis.
Some of the methods of the Nazis have been borrowed, they can neither copyright those methods nor prevent the application of them by their enemies. The Austrians are learning swiftly about the business of reprisal and hostage-seizing. Two Austrian auxiliary police, having accidentally set foot on German soil, were arrested and jailed. Where upon the Austrians seized ten Salzburg Nazis, two of them German citizens. Whereupon Austrians were released. No wonder European radio listeners who tune in on Dr. Habicht, from Munich, can almost hear the foam that flecks his chops when he issues threats against the Austrians.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.