The Dartmouth Observer

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Diaspora and the Jewish Contribution to History

Eric Hosbawm concludes in the London Review of Books: "there are those [Jews] who wish to withdraw from it into the old segregation of religious ultra-Orthodoxy and the new segregation of a separate ethnic-genetic state-community. If they were to succeed I do not think it will be good either for the Jews or for the world." These sentences conclude an excellent essay reflecting on Jewish success, and lack thereof in some centuries, as it relates to diaspora, integration, antisemitism, and the ghetto. He offers that the Jews have benefited most when they lived with Gentiles and when they were not experiences discrimination. However, the most productive moments came when emancipated and secularized Jews were the most aware of their perpetual otherness in the gentile, white imagination. One of the ironic effects, he notes of the Holocaust, is that it has greatly reduced the Jewish diaspora among the Islamic countries and destroyed most of the vestiges of Western antisemitism. This has produced a concentration of Jews in Israel, a move by some Jewish theocratic communities to withdraw again from the world, and widespread acceptance. A very good essay from an amazing historian.