Zionism and Anti-Semitismby MAX NORDAU, GUSTAV GOTTHEIL
Among the persons of the educated classes who follow with any attention all the more important movements of the times, it would now be difficult to find one to whom the word "Zionism" is quite unknown. People are generally aware that it describes an idea
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Among the persons of the educated classes who follow with any attention all the more important movements of the times, it would now be difficult to find one to whom the word "Zionism" is quite unknown. People are generally aware that it describes an idea and a movement that in the last years has found numerous adherents among the Jews of all countries, but especially among those of the East. Comparatively few, however, both among the Gentiles and the Jews themselves, have a perfectly clear notion of the aims and ways of Zionism; the Gentiles, because they do not care sufficiently for Jewish affairs to take the trouble to inform themselves at first hand as to the particulars; the Jews, because they are intentionally led astray by the enemies of Zionism, by lies and calumnies, or because even among the fervent Zionists there are not many who have probed the whole Zionist idea to the bottom, and are willing or able to present it in a clear and comprehensible fashion, without exaggeration and polemical heat.
I will endeavor to furnish readers of good faith, who are not biased, and have no other interest than that of gaining authentic information about a phenomenon in contemporary history, as concisely and soberly as possible with all the facts, as they really are, not as they are reflected in muddled brains, or distorted and falsified by calumniators.
THE TRUE NATURE OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE
Anti-Semitism would be simply ridiculous if it were not so terribly in earnest. People who make that word a war cry upon a whole race ought to know its meaning, especially if it is to express the chief reason for their hostility. Before they prefix the "anti" to a word they should be sure that they understand the "pro," lest they be found to fight shadows merely, specters of their own creation. But how far is this the case? How many ever tried to learn the sense of the designation under which they have enrolled themselves? Suppose we ask, "What does Semitism mean?" Only this, must be our answer,—that it is a summing up of the ruling dispositions, habits, mental endowments, and moral peculiarities of all the races comprised under the name of Semites, so named from their supposed descent from the eldest of the three sons of Noah. So ineradicable are these features supposed to be that, no matter where the races have lived or are now living, no matter what stage of civilization they have passed through or have reached now, no matter what influence non-Semitic races have exercised upon them, they remain essentially the same. What are these features? Who will formulate the precise standard by which a descendant of Shem is unfailingly known and set apart from those of Ham or Japhet? When we consider that we are pointed back for the meaning of Semite to antediluvian times, that is to say, to one of the oldest myths of the world, we must admit that it would indeed be the wonder of wonders if a large section of mankind have a family likeness so clear that they are marked off from the rest. And this, despite the long ages that have passed since the supposed separation of the sons of Noah and their wide dispersion; despite their triumphs and defeats in wars, in state building, and church formation; despite the wide diversity between them in their literature, their philosophy, their art, their trades and industries. Are the Semites still characterized by the same gifts and tendencies of mind and heart, ruled by the same passions, subject to the same limitations, as were their ancestors in all their generations?
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