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Preceding -- Following



by Bernard LAZARE

Translated from the French


Chapter Thirteen


THUS it would seem as if the grievance of the antisemite were well founded; the Jewish spirit is essentially a revolutionary spirit, and consciously or otherwise, the Jew is a revolutionist. Not content, however, with this, antisemitism would have it that the Jews are the very cause of revolution. Let us see what truth there is in the charge.

Taking him as he was, the tendencies of his nature and the direction of his sympathies made it inevitable that the Jew should play an important part in the revolutions of history; and such a part he has not failed to play. Nevertheless it would be too much to say, with the great mass of Israel's enemies, that every public commotion, every uprising, every political overturning has originated with the Jews, or has been provoked or occasioned by the Jews, and that governments change and take on new forms because the Jew in his secret counsels has plotted such changes and transformations. In maintaining such a proposition we violate the simplest of historical laws, by assigning to a minute cause a totally disproportionate effect, and concentrating our attention upon one phase of historical development to the exclusion of a thousand others of its manifold aspects. Had the Jews perished to a man behind the walls of Zion, the destiny of nations would not have been changed, and though the Jewish element were wanting to this wondrous totality which we call progress, society would have developed notwithstanding. Other forces would have taken the place of the Jews and accomplished what the Jews have accomplished in the general scheme. Given the Bible and Christianity, the intellectual and moral mission of the Jew would have been carried out without him.

Theologians who resort to reason for the defense of dogma, will inevitably end by asserting the superiority of reason to dogma, with fatal results to the latter. Exegesis and freedom of investigation are powerful destroyers, and it is the Jews who originated biblical[150] exegesis, just as they were the first to criticize the forms and doctrines of Christianity. The importance of the controversial literature of the Middle Ages has already been shown. If we study closely we find in it all the arguments advanced by the scholars of our own day. It might, indeed, be maintained in denial of the revolutionary role said to have been played by the Jews, that the greater part of their exegesis was addressed to Jews only, and that it consequently could not have been a means of inciting to change, inasmuch as the Jew knew well how to reconcile the results of textual criticism with the minutiae of his practices and the integrity of his faith. This, however, is not altogether true, for Jewish doctrines did find their way out of the synagogue, and this in two different ways. In the first place the Jews could always find an opportunity for proclaiming their ideals, thanks to the prevalence of public disputation. In the second place, they were the means of disseminating the Arabian philosophy, and were its expounders at a time, twelfth century, to be precise, when Al Farabi and Ibn Sina were being anathematized in the mosques, and orthodox Muslims were feeding the fires with the writings of the Arabian Aristotelians. The Jews of this period translated the writings of Aristotle and of the Arabian philosophers into Hebrew, and these, retranslated into Latin, afforded the scholastics an opportunity for becoming acquainted with Greek thought. The most famous of the scholastics, "men like Albertus Magnus and St. Thomas Aquinas, studied the works of Aristotle in Latin versions made from the Hebrew." 226

The Jews did not stop there. They preached the materialism of the Arabian philosophers which was to prove so destructive to the Christian faith, and carried abroad the spirit of skepticism. Their activity was such as to give rise to a general belief in the existence of a secret society sworn to the destruction of Christianity. 227 During the thirteenth century, a century which witnessed the rapid development of that complex of humanism, skepticism and paganism which we call the Renaissance, at a time when the Hohenstaufen defended the cause of science against dogma, and showed themselves the protectors of Epicureanism, the Jews occupied the first place among scholars and rationalist philosophers. At the Court of the Emperor Frederick II, "that hotbed of irreligion," they were received with favour and respect. It was they, as Renan has shown, 228 that created Averroism; it was they who established the[151] fame of that Ibn-Roshd, that Averroes whose influence was destined to become so great. Without doubt they had their share, too, in the dissemination of the "blasphemies" of the impious Arabians; blasphemies which an Emperor, fond of science and of philosophy, encouraged. These find their type in the so-called "Blasphemy of the Three Impostors," Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, invented by the theologians, and their spirit is tersely summed up in the saying of the Arabian soufis, "What care I for the Kaaba of the Mohammedan, the synagogue of the Jew, or the convent of the Christian !" Truly has Darmesteter written: "The Jew was the apostle of unbelief, and every revolt of the mind originated with him, whether secretly or in the open. In that immense foundry of blasphemy maintained by the Emperor Frederick and the princes of Suabia and Aragon, he acted a busy part." 229

Another thing also is worthy of notice. If the Jews as followers of Averroes, or as unbelievers, skeptics and blasphemers, sapped the foundations of Christianity in spreading the doctrines of materialism and rationalism, they were also the creators of that other enemy of Catholic dogma, pantheism. In fact the Fons Vitae of Avicebron was the well at which numerous heretics drank. It is even quite possible that David de Dinant and Amaury de Chartres, were influenced by the Fons Vitae which they knew in a Latin translation made in the twelfth century by the archdeacon Dominique Gundissalinus. It is certain that Giordano Bruno borrowed from the Fons Vitae, whence his pantheism came in part. 230

If, therefore, the Jews were not solely responsible for the destruction of religious doctrine and the decay of faith, they may at least be counted among those who helped to bring about such a state of desuetude and the changes which followed. If they had never existed, the Arabians and the heterodox theologians would have filled their place; but they did exist, and existing they were not idle. Moreover the Hebrew genius worked not only through them, for their Bible became a powerful aid to all advocates of freedom of thought. The Bible was the soul of the Reformation, just as it was the soul of the religious and political revolution in England. Bible in hand, Luther and the English recusants blazed the path to liberty, and it was through the Bible that Luther, Melanchthon and others broke the yoke of Roman theocracy and overthrew the tyranny of dogma. But they made use, too, of that Jewish scholar-[152]ship which Nicholas de Lyra had transmitted to the Christian world. Si Lyra non Iyrasset, Lutherus non saltasset, it used to be said, and Lyra had studied with the Jews; in fact, he was so steeped in the science of Hebrew exegesis that he was taken for a Jew himself.

In like manner we would have to inquire what was the importance, I will not say of the Jew, but of the Jewish spirit throughout the period of fierce revolt against Christianity which characterized the eighteenth century. We must not forget that in the seventeenth century, scholars like Wagenseil, Bartolocci, Buxtorf and Wolf, had brought forth from oblivion old volumes of Hebrew polemic, written in refutation of the Trinity and the Incarnation and attacking all dogmas and forms of Christianity with a bitterness entirely Judaic, and with all the subtlety of those peerless casuists who created the Talmud. They gave to the world not only treatises on questions of doctrine and exegesis, like the Nizzachon or the Chizuk Emunah, 231 but published blasphemous tracts and pseudo-lives of Jesus, of the character of the Toldoth Jesho. The eighteenth century repeated, concerning Jesus and the Virgin, the outrageous fables invented by the Pharisees of the second century; we find them in Voltaire and in Parney, and their rationalist satire, pellucid and mordant, lives again in Heine, in Boerne and in Disraeli; just as the powerful logic of the ancient rabbis lives again in Karl Marx, and the passionate thirst for liberty of the ancient Hebrew rebels breathes forth again in the glowing soul of Ferdinand Lassalle.

I have sketched here, and that in the broadest strokes, the function performed by the Jews in the development of certain ideas which helped to bring on the general revolution; but I have not yet shown how the activity of the Jew revealed itself in the very work of revolution. I believe I have established the fact, on more than one occasion, that the Jews acted as a leaven upon the economic development of the age, 232 even though their influence may have proved to be, as the partisans of the old regime assert, a source of disorder; order and stability being represented by the Christian monarchical state. If we are to believe Barruel, Cretineau-Joly, Gougenot des Mousseaux, Dom Deschamps, Claudio Jannet, all those who see in history the mere work of secret societies, the role played by the Jews in the political and social upheavals of history has been one of capital importance.[153]

True it is that, during the last years of the eighteenth century, secret associations exercised a great influence on the course of events, and though they may not have been formulators of the humanitarian, rationalistic and revolutionary theories of the time, societies certainly were the cause of the enormously widespread dissemination of revolutionary ideas. They were, in fact, great centres of agitation. It cannot be denied that Free Masonry and Martinism were powerful agents in bringing about the revolution, but it must be remembered that their importance increased only as the theories for which they stood became predominant in society, and that, far from being the creators of that spirit of the times which was the fundamental cause of the Revolution, they were in themselves but one of its effects, though an effect to be sure which reacted in its turn upon the course of events.

What then was the connection between these secret societies and the Jews? The problem is a difficult one to solve, for respectable documentary evidence on the subject there is none. It is clear, however, that the Jews were not the dominant factors in these associations, as the writer whom I have just now quoted would have it; they were not "necessarily the soul, the heads, the grandmasters of Free Masonry," as Gougenot des Mousseaux maintains. 233 It is true, of course, that there were Jews connected with Free Masonry from its birth, students of the Kabbala, as is shown by certain rites which survive. It is very probable, too, that in the years preceding the outbreak of the French Revolution, they entered in greater numbers than ever, into the councils of the secret societies, becoming, indeed, themselves the founders of secret associations. There were Jews in the circle around Weishaupt, and a Jew of Portuguese origin, Martinez de Pasquales, established numerous groups of illuminati in France and gathered a large number of disciples, whom he instructed in the doctrines of reintegration. 234 The lodges which Martinez founded were mystic in character, whereas the other orders of Free Masonry were, on the whole, rationalistic in their teachings. This might almost lead one to say that the secret societies gave expression in a way to the two fold nature of the Jew, on the one hand a rigid rationalism, on the other that pantheism which, beginning as the metaphysical reflection of the belief in one God, often ended in a sort of Kabbalistic theurgy. There would be little difficulty in showing how these two tendencies worked in harmony; how Cazotte,[154] Cagliostro, 235 Martinez, Saint-Martin, the Comte de Saint Gervais, and Eckartshausen were practically in alliance with the Encyclopaedists and Jacobins, and both, in spite of their seeming hostility, succeeded in arriving at the same end, the under-mining, namely, of Christianity.

This, too, then, would tend to show that though the Jews might very well have been active participants in the agitation carried on by the secret societies, it was not because they were the founders of such associations, but merely because the doctrines of the secret societies agreed so well with their own. The case of Martinez de Pasquales is an exceptionable one, and even with regard to him, it should be remembered that before he became the founder of lodges, Martinez had already been initiated into the mysteries of the illuminati and the Rosicrucians.

During the Revolution the Jews did not remain inactive, considering how few their numbers were in Paris; the position they occupied as district electors, officers of legion, and associate judges, was important. There were eighteen of them in the capital, and one must wade through provincial archives to determine what part they played in affairs. Of these eighteen some even deserve official mention. There was the surgeon Joseph Ravel, member of the General Council of the Commune, who was executed on the ninth Thermidor; Isaac Calmer, President of the Committee of Safety at Clichy, executed on the 29th Messidor, Year II; and Jacob Pereira, who had held the post of commissioner of the Belgian government with the army of Dumouriez, and who as a follower of Hebert, was brought to trial and condemned at the same time as his chief, and was executed on the 4th Germinal, Year II. 236 We have seen how, as followers of Saint Simon, they bought about the economic revolution in which the year 1789 was but a step, 237 the important position occupied by d'Eichthal and Isaac Pereira in the school of Olinde Rodriguez. During the second revolutionary period, which begins in 1830, they displayed even greater ardour than during the first. They were actuated by motives of personal interest, for in the great number of European countries they were not as yet completely emancipated. Those, therefore, who were not revolutionists by temperament or principle, became such through self-interest. In labouring for the triumph of liberalism, they were looking for their own good. It is beyond a doubt that the Jews, through their wealth, their energy and their talents,[155] supported and furthered the progress of the European revolution. During this period Jewish bankers, Jewish manufacturers, Jewish poets, journalists, and orators, stirred perhaps by quite different motives, were, nevertheless, all striving towards the same goal. "With stooping form, unkempt beard, and flashing eye," writes Cretineau-Joly, 238 "they might have been seen breathlessly rushing up and down everywhere in those countries which were unhappy enough to be afflicted with them. Contrary to their usual motives, it was not the desire for wealth that spurred them on to such activity, but rather the thought that Christianity could no longer withstand the repeated shocks which were convulsing society, and they were preparing to wreak on the cross of Calvary revenge for eighteen hundred and forty years of well-deserved suffering."

Nevertheless, it was not such feeling that animated Moses Hess, Gabriel Riesser, Heine, and Boerne in Germany, Manin in Italy, Jellinek in Austria, Lubliner in Poland, and many others besides who fought for liberty in those days. To discover in that all embracing crusade which agitated Europe until the aftermath of 1848 the work of a few Jews intent on revenging themselves on the Nazarene, argues a remarkable mental attitude. Still, whatever may have been the end pursued, self-interest or idealism, the Jews were the most active, the most zealous of missionaries. We find them taking part in the agitation of Young Germany; large numbers of them were members of the secret societies which constituted the fighting force of the Revolution; they made their way l into the Masonic lodges, into the societies of the Carbonari, they were found everywhere in France, in Germany, in England, in Austria, in Italy.

Their contribution to present-day socialism was, as is well known, and still is very great. The Jews, it may be said, are situated at the poles of contemporary society. They are found among the representatives of industrial and financial capitalism, and among those who have vehemently protested against capital. Rothschild is the antithesis of Marx and Lassalle; the struggle for money finds its counterpart in the struggle against money, and the worldwide outlook of the stock-speculator finds its answer in the international proletarian and revolutionary movement. It was Marx who gave the first impulse to the founding of the International through the manifesto of 1847, drawn up by himself and Engels. Not that it can be said that he "founded" the International, as is maintained by[156] those who persist in regarding the International as a secret society controlled by the Jews. Many causes led to the organization of the International, but from Marx proceeded the idea of a Labour Congress, which was held at London in 1864, and resulted in the founding of that society. The Jews constituted a very large proportion of its members, and in the General Council of the society, we find Karl Marx, Secretary for Germany and Russia, and James Cohen, secretary for Denmark. 239 Many of the Jewish members of the International took part subsequently in the Commune, 240 where they found others of their faith. In the organization of the socialistic party, the Jews participated to the greatest extent. Marx and Lassalle in Germany, 241 Aaron Libermann and Adler in Austria, Dobrojan Gherea in Roumania, are or were at one time its creators and its leaders. The Jews of Russia deserve special notice in this brief resume. Young Jewish students, scarcely escaped from the Ghetto, have played an important part in the Nihilistic propaganda; some, among them women, have given up their lives for the cause of liberation, and to these young Jewish physicians and lawyers, we must add the large number of exiled workingmen who have founded in London and in New York important labour societies, which serve as centres of socialistic and even of anarchistic propaganda. 242

Thus have I briefly depicted the Jew in his character as a revolutionist, or at least have attempted to show how we might approach the subject. I have described his achievements both as an agent in the dissemination of revolutionary ideas, and as an actual participant in the struggle, and have shown how he belongs to both those who prepare the way for revolution through the activity of the mind, and those who translate thought into action. The objection may be raised that, in joining the ranks of revolution, the Jew as a rule, turns atheist, and ceases practically to be a Jew. This, however, is true only in the sense that the children of the Jewish radical lose themselves more easily in the surrounding population, and that as a result the Jewish revolutionist is more easily assimilated. But as a general thing, the Jew, even the extreme Jewish radical, can not help retaining his Jewish characteristics, and though he may have abandoned all religion and all faith, he has none the less received the impress of the national genius acting through heredity and early training. This is especially true of those Jews who lived during the earlier half of the nineteenth century,[157] and of whom Heinrich Heine and Karl Marx may serve as fitting examples.

Heine, who in France was regarded as a German, and was reproached in Germany with being French, was before all things a Jew. As a Jew he sang the praises of Napoleon, for whom he entertained a fervent admiration common to all the German Jews, who had been freed from their disabilities by the Emperor's will. Heine's disenchantment, his irony, are the disenchantment and the irony of the Ecclesiastes; like Koheleth he bore within him the love for life and for the pleasures of the earth; and before sorrow and disease ground him down, death to him was the worst of evils. Heine's mysticism came to him from the ancient Job. The only philosophy that ever really attracted him was pantheism, a doctrine which seems to come naturally to the Jewish philosopher who in speculating upon the unity of God by instinct transforms it into a unity of substance. His sensuousness, that sad and voluptuous sensuousness of the Intermezzo, is purely oriental, and has its source in the Song of Songs. The same is true of Marx. The descendant of a long line of rabbis and teachers he inherited the splendid powers of his ancestors. He had that clear Talmudic mind which does not falter at the petty difficulties of fact. He was a Talmudist devoted to sociology and applying his native power of exegesis to the criticism of economic theory. He was inspired by that ancient Hebraic materialism, which, rejecting as too distant and doubtful the hope of an Eden after death, never ceased to dream of Paradise realized on earth. But Marx was not merely a logician, he was also a rebel, an agitator, an acrid controversialist, and he derived his gift for sarcasm and invective, as Heine did, from his Jewish ancestry.

The Jew, therefore, does take an active part in revolutions; and he participates in them in so far as he is a Jew, or more correctly in so far as he remains Jewish. Is it for this reason, then, that the conservative elements among Christians are antisemites, and is this predisposition of the Jews for revolutionary ideas a cause of antisemitism? We may say at once that the great majority of conservatives overlook entirely the historic and educative role of the Jews. It is appreciated only, and that very imperfectly, by the theorists and the literary men among the antisemites. The hatred against Israel does not come from the fact that the Jews were instrumental in bringing about the Terror, or that Manin liberated[158] Venice, or that Marx organized the International. Antisemitism, the antisemitism of the Christian conservatives, says: "If modern society is so different from the old regime; if religious faith has diminished; if the political system has been entirely changed; if stock-gambling, if speculation, if capital in its industrial and financial forms, knowing no spirit of nationality dominates now and is to dominate in the future, the fault rests with the Jew." Let us clearly examine this point. The Jew has been living for centuries in the midst of those nations which, so it is said, are now perishing on account of his presence. Why, it may be asked, has the poison taken such a long time to work? The usual answer is, because formerly the Jew was outside of society; because he was carefully kept apart. Now that the Jew has entered into society, he has become a source of disorder, and, like the mole, he is busily engaged in undermining the ancient foundations upon which rests the Christian state. And this accounts for the decline of nations, and their intellectual and moral decadence: they are like a human body which suffers from the intrusion of some foreign element which it cannot assimilate and the presence of which brings on convulsions and lasting disease. By his very presence the Jew acts as a solvent; he produces disorders, he destroys, he brings on the most fearful catastrophes. The admission of the Jew into the body of the nations has proved fatal to them; they are doomed for having received him. Such is the very simple explanation which the antisemites advance to account for the changes which society is undergoing.

The accusation has not been limited to this alone. The Jew, it is said, is not only a destroyer, but also an up-builder; arrogant, ambitious and domineering, he seeks to subject everything to himself. He is not content merely to destroy Christianity, but he preaches the gospel of Judaism; he not only assails the Catholic or the Protestant faith, but he incites to unbelief, and then imposes on those whose faith he has undermined his own conception of the world, of morality and of life. He is engaged in his historic mission, the annihilation of the religion of Christ. Are the Christian antisemites right or wrong in this respect? Has the Jew retained his ancient notions; is he still in his actions anti-Christian? I say in his actions, because he is necessarily anti-Christian, by definition, in being a Jew, just as he is anti-Mohammedan, just as he is opposed to every principle which is not his own. The answer[159] is that the Jew has retained his ancient animosities precisely where he has been kept outside of society; wherever he herds apart; in the Ghettoes, where he lives under the guidance of his rabbis, who unite with the powers in authority to prevent him from attaining light; everywhere, in fact, where the Talmud still dominates, and especially in eastern Europe where official antisemitism still prevails. In western Europe where the Talmud nowadays has lost its influence and the Jewish cheder has given place to the public school, the hereditary hatred of the Jew for the Christian has disappeared in the same proportion as the hatred of the Christian for the Jew. For we must not forget that though we speak frequently of the animosity of the Jew against the Christian, we speak very rarely of the animosity of the Christian against the Jew, a feeling which always thrives. Prejudice against the Jew, or, better still, the numerous prejudices against the Jew are not dead. We find in the publications of the antisemites all the ancient charges, which were brought forward in the Middle Ages, and which the seventeenth century revived, accusations which find support in popular belief. The most persistent of all accusations, however, and the one which typifies best the historic struggle of Judaism against Christianity, is the charge of ritual-murder. The Jew, it is maintained to the present day, has need of Christian blood in order to celebrate his Passover. What is the origin of this accusation which goes back to the twelfth century?

The first instance of such an accusation being brought against the Jews occurred at Blois, in 1171, when they were accused of having crucified a child during their celebration of Passover. Count Theobald of Chartres, after having caused the accuser of the Jews to undergo the ordeal by water, which proved favourable to him, condemned thirty-four Jewish men and seventeen Jewish women to be burnt.

We can see clearly enough why the Romans should have brought the identical charge against the early Christians. It arose from a materialistic conception of the Lord's Supper, from a literal interpretation of the words employed in consecrating the flesh and blood of Jesus. But how could the Jews, whose sacred books breathe forth a horror of blood, have given occasion, and still give occasion, for such a belief? This question must be discussed to the very bottom. We must examine the theories advanced by those who would have it that human sacrifice is a Semitic institution, whereas, as a matter[160] of fact, it is found among all peoples at a certain stage of civilization. In this manner we would prove, as has in fact been proven, that the Jewish religion does not demand blood. Can we, however, prove, in addition, that no Jew ever shed blood? Of course not, and throughout the Middle Ages there must have been Jewish murderers, Jews whom oppression and persecution drove to avenge themselves by assassinating their persecutors or even perhaps their children. To this general belief there were added the accusations, often justified, which were brought against the Jews as being addicted to the practice of magic. Throughout the Middle Ages the Jew was considered by the common people as the magician par excellence. As a matter of fact, a number of Jews did devote themselves to magic. We find many formulas of exorcism in the Talmud, and the demonology both of the Talmud and the Kabbala is very complicated. Now it is well known the blood played always a very important part in the arts of sorcery. In Chaldean magic, it was of the utmost consequence; in Persia it was considered as a means of redemption, and it delivered all those who submitted themselves to the practices of Taurobolus and Kriobolus. The Middle Ages were haunted by the idea of blood as they were haunted by the idea of gold; for the alchemist, for the enchanter blood was the medium through which the astral light could work. The elemental spirits, according to the magicians, utilized outpoured blood in fashioning a body for themselves, and it is in this sense that Paracelsus speaks when he says that "the blood lost by them brought into being phantoms and larvae." To blood, and especially to the blood of a virgin, unheard of powers were assigned. Blood was the curer, the redeemer, the preserver; it was useful in the search for the Philosopher's Stone, in the composition of potions, and in the practice of enchantments. Now it is quite probable, certain, in fact, that Jewish magicians may have sacrificed children, and thence the genesis of ritual murder. The isolated acts of certain magicians were attributed to them in their character as Jews. It was maintained that the Jewish religion which approved of the Crucifixion of Christ, prescribed in addition the shedding of Christian blood; and the Talmud and the Kabbala were zealously searched for text that might be made to justify such a thesis. Such investigations have succeeded only through deliberate misinterpretation, as in the Middle Ages, or through actual falsifications like those recently committed by Dr. Rohling, and[161] proven spurious by Delitzch. The result, therefore, is this, that whatever the facts brought forward, they cannot prove that the murder of children constituted, or still constitutes, a part of the Jewish ritual any more than the acts of the marechal de Retz and of the sacrilegious priests who practiced the "black mass" would prove that the Church recommends in its books assassination and human sacrifice.

Are there still in existence in the East sects maintaining such practices? It is possible. Do Jews constitute a part of such societies? There is nothing to support such a contention. The general accusation of ritual murder, therefore, is shown to be utterly baseless. The murder of children, I speak of cases where murder was actually proved, and these are very rare, can be attributed only to vengeance or to the practices of magicians, practices which were no more peculiar to Jews than to Christians.

Among the nations of the West, the orthodox Jew likewise affords evidences of his conservatism. He holds to the law and to the regulations of society. He knows how to reconcile his Judaism with a spirit of patriotism, which in its excess amounts at times almost to jingoism. As we have seen, it was only a minority of emancipated Jews who took part in the French Revolution. These emancipated Jews, even though they might abandon their faith, could not for all that cease to be Jews. And, indeed, how could they have done otherwise? By embracing Christianity, it is said, a course of action followed by some, but from which the majority have recoiled, as merely hypocrisy on their part, inasmuch as the emancipated Jew speedily arrives at a state of irreligion. They have therefore remained Jews by apathy. All those revolutionaries of the first half of the nineteenth century, of whom I have spoken, were brought up in Judaism, and if they abandoned Judaism in the sense that they no longer practiced it, they remained its adherents in retaining the spirit of their nation.

The emancipated Jew, being no longer bound by the faith of his ancestors, and owning no ties with the old forms of a society in the midst of which he had lived an outcast, has become in modern nations a veritable breeder of revolutions. Now it has happened that the emancipated Jew has drawn perceptibly nearer to the Christian unbeliever; but instead of observing that the Christian has allied himself with the Jew, because he, too, like the Jew, has lost his religion, the antisemites would have us believe that the [162] Jew, by his very contact, has undermined the faith of the Christians who have joined him. The Jews, therefore, are made responsible for the disappearance of religious belief, and the general decay of faith; and in doing so, moreover, the antisemite does not distinguish between the Jew who is still faithful to his religion and the emancipated Jew. To the impartial observer, however, it is not the Jew that is destroying Christianity. The Christian religion is disappearing like the Jewish religion, like all religions, which we may now observe in their slow agony. It is passing away under the blows of reason and of science. It is dying a natural death, because it essentially was in harmony with only one period of civilization, and because the further we advance, the less in harmony it is with changing conditions. From day to day our yearning for the irrational and our need of the supernatural is disappearing, and with them our need for religion, especially for the rites of religion: for those even who believe in God, do not believe in the necessity nor in the efficacy of worship.

These, then, in brief, are the political and religious mainsprings of antisemitism. First and fundamental are hereditary dislike and prejudice; then, as a result of these prejudices, an exaggerated conception of the role which the Jews have played in the development and organization of modern society; a conception in which the Jews appear as the representatives of the revolutionary spirit, against the spirit of established order; of change against tradition; a conception which makes them responsible in this age of transition for the fall of antiquated institutions and the disappearance of ancient beliefs.

The nineteenth century witnessed the last effort on the part of the Christian state to retain its dominance. Antisemitism represents one phase of the struggle between the feudal state, based upon unity of belief, and the opposite notion of a neutral and secular state, upon which the greater number of political entities are at present based. The Jew is the living testimony of the disappearance of that state which had its foundations in theological principles and the restoration of which is the dream of the Christian antisemite. The day when the Jew was first admitted to civil rights, the Christian state was in danger. This is true, and the antisemites who say that the Jews have destroyed the idea of State could more justly say that the entrance of the Jew into society marked the destruction of the State, meaning by State, the Christian State.


226 S. Munk, loc. cit.

227 Cf. the poetic account of the Descent of St. Paul into Hell, cited by Ernest Renan in his Averroes et l'Averroisme, p. 284.

228 E. Renan, loc. cit.

229 James Darmesteter, Coup d'oeil sur l'histoire du peuple juif, Paris, 1881. 230 p. 582.

231 See Chap. vii. -- Wolf, Bibl. Hebr., vol. iv, p. 639.

232 I hope to establish the point still more completely in my Economic History of the Jews, of which The Role of Jew in the French Revolution forms but a part.

233 Gougenot des Mousseaux, loc. cit.

234 M. Matter, Saint Martin et le philosophe inconnu.

235 The statement is often made that Cagliostro was a Jew, but the assertion is based on no real evidence.

236 See Emile Campardon, Le Tribunal revolutionnaire de Paris, Paris 1866. -- Proces instruit et juge au tribunal revolutionnaire contre Hebert et ses consorts (1-4 Germinal), Paris, An. II. -- Leon Kahn, Les Juifs a Paris (Paris, 1889).

237 Capefigue, Histoire des grandes operations financieres. -- Toussenel, Les Juifs rois de l'epoque.

238 Cretineau-Joly, Histoire du Sonderbund, p. 195 (Paris, 1850).

239 Besides Marx and Cohen, mention might be made of Neumayer, secretary of the bureau of correspondence in Austria; Fribourg, who was one of the directors of the Parisian Federation of the International to which belonged Loeb, Haltmayer, Lazare and Armand Levi; Leon Frankel, director of the German section at Paris; Cohen who acted as delegate from the Cigar Makers' Union of London to the Congress of the International held at Brussels in 1868; Ph. Coenen who, at the same Congress, represented the Antwerp section of the International, etc. See O. Testut: L'lnternationale, Paris, 1871; and L'Internationale au ban de l'Europe (Paris, 1871-72); Fribourg, L'Association internationale des travailleurs (Paris, 1891).

240 Among the others Fribourg and Leon Frankel.

241 There are at present four Jewish social-democrats in the German Reichstag, and among the younger element in the ranks of the socialists, collectivists and communistic anarchists, the number of the Jews is very large. Of the reform part in Germany we may mention Doctor Hertzka, the founder of the Freiland colony, an attempt at realizing the ideal social organization. (See Eine Reise nach Freiland, von Theodor Hertzka.)

242 In April the members of the Jewish revolutionary party in London, celebrated the anniversary of the founding of heir club in Berners Street. In reviewing the history of the social movement among the Jews, the orator of the occasion declared that "during the last seven years, the Jew has made his entrance as a revolutionary; and now wherever there are Jews -- in London, in America, in Austria, in Poland, and in Russia -- there are Jewish revolutionists and anarchists." By seven years, the speaker was referring to the date when the proletarian class among the Jews first declared their adhesion to the revolutionary propaganda.


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This text is chapter 13 of the English translation of L'Antisémitisme, son histoire et ses causes, by Bernard LAZARE (real name: Lazare BERNARD), first published in Paris in 1894, several times republished, lastly by the publishing house La Vieille Taupe (= the Old Mole) in 1982, reprinted in 1985, ISBN 2-903279-09-8. The book is still on sale and may be ordered from the publisher, BP 98, 75224 Paris cedex 05, France. We believe it costs 80 F (around 15 US$) This republication triggered a controversy which is documented in a booklet later published by Les Editions de la Différence, Contre l'antisémitisme, Histoire d'une polémque, Paris, 1983, 127 p. This material will be displayed with the French text of Lazare>

WARNING An English translation, under the title Antisemitism, Ist History and Causes, appeared in London in 1967, by Britons Publishing Company. No name is given for the translator. In fact, this is more an adaptation than a proper translation. Paragraphs are quite often abridged and sometimes altogether suppressed. Serious students should refer to the French original text. Nevertheless, as this book provides a glimpse into an epochal reflexion on antisemtism, we follow this text and do not interfere with the translation itself. A US edition was later done on this English publication: University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, Nebraska, 1995, 208 pages. pbk $10.

We thank the Australian friend who lent us this rare and deeply thought book.

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