Jewish Testimony on "Are Jews a Nation?"

The International Jew, by Henry Ford


"I will give you my definition of a nation, and you can add the adjective 'Jewish.' A Nation is, in my mind, an historical group of men of a recognizable cohesion held together by a common enemy. Then, if you add to that the word 'Jewish' you have what I understand to be the Jewish nation."


"Let us all recognize that we Jews are a distinct nationality of which every Jew, whatever his country, his station, or shade of belief, is necessarily a member."

Justice of the United States Supreme Court. 

This article is designed to put the reader in possession of information regarding the Jew's own thought of himself, as regards race, religion and citizenship. In the last article we saw the thought which Jewish representatives wish to plant in Gentile minds concerning this matter. The Senate committee which was to be convinced was made up of Gentiles. The witnesses who were to do the convincing were Jews.

Senator Simon Guggenheim said: "There is no such thing as a Jewish race, because it is the Jewish religion."

Simon Wolf said: "The point we make is this * * * that Hebrew or Jewish is simply a religion."

Julian W. Mack said: "Of what possible value is it to anybody to classify them as Jews simply because they adhere to the Jewish religion?"

The object of this testimony was to have the Jews classified under various national names, such as Polish, English, German, Russian, or whatever it might be.

Now, when the inquirer turns to the authoritative Jewish spokesmen who speak not to Gentiles but to Jews about this matter, he finds an entirely different kind of testimony. Some of this testimony will now be presented.

The reader will bear in mind that, as the series is not written for entertainment, but for instruction in the facts of a very vital Question, the present article will be of value only to those who desire to know for themselves what are the basic elements of the matter.

It should also be observed during the reading of the following testimony that sometimes the term "race" is used, sometimes the term "nation." In every case, it is recognized that the Jew is a member of a separate people, quite aside from the consideration of his religion.

First, let us consider the testimony which forbids us to consider the term "Jew" as merely the name of a member of a religious body only.

Louis D. Brandeis, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States and world leader of the Zionist movement, says:

"Councils of Rabbis and others have undertaken at times to prescribe by definition that only those shall be deemed Jews who professedly adhere to the orthodox or reformed faith. But in the connection in which we are considering the term, it is not in the power of any single body of Jews — or indeed of all Jews collectively — to establish the effective definition. The meaning of the word 'Jewish' in the term 'Jewish Problem' must be accepted as co-extensive with the disabilities which it is our problem to remove * * * Those disabilities extend substantially to all of Jewish blood. The disabilities do not end with a renunciation of faith, however sincere * * * Despite the meditations of pundits or decrees of councils, our own instincts and acts, and those of others, have defined for us the term 'Jew.'" ("Zionism and the American Jews.")

The Rev. Mr. Morris Joseph, West London Synagogue of British Jews: "Israel is assuredly a great nation * * * The very word 'Israel' proves it. No mere sect or religious community could appropriately bear such a name. Israel is recognized as a nation by those who see it; no one can possibly mistake it for a mere sect. To deny Jewish nationality you must deny the existence of the Jew." ("Israel a Nation.")

Arthur D. Lewis, West London Zionist Association: "When some Jews say they consider the Jews a religious sect, like the Roman Catholics or Protestants, they are usually not correctly analyzing and describing their own feelings and attitude. * * * If a Jew is baptized, or, what is not necessarily the same thing, sincerely converted to Christianity, few people think of him as no longer being a Jew. His blood, temperament and spiritual peculiarities are unaltered." ("The Jews a Nation.")

Bertram B. Benas, barrister-at-law: "The Jewish entity is essentially the entity of a People. 'Israelites,' 'Jews,' 'Hebrews' — all the terms used to denote the Jewish people bear a specifically historical meaning, and none of these terms has been convincingly superseded by one of purely sectarian nature. The external world has never completely subscribed to the view that the Jewish people constitute merely an ecclesiastical denomination. * * *" ("Zionism — The National Jewish Movement.")

Leon Simon, a brilliant and impressive Jewish scholar and writer, makes an important study of the question of "Religion and Nationality" in his volume, "Studies in Jewish Nationalism." He makes out a case for the proposition that the Religion of the Jews is Nationalism, and that Nationalism is an integral part of their Religion.

"It is often said, indeed, that Judaism has no dogmas. That statement is not true as it stands." He then states some of the dogmas, and continues — "And the Messianic Age means for the Jew not merely the establishment of peace on earth and good will to men, but the universal recognition of the Jew and his God. It is another assertion of the eternity of the nation. Dogmas such as these are not simply the articles of faith of a church, to which anybody may gain admittance by accepting them; they are the beliefs of a nation about its own past and its own future." (p. 14.)

"For Judaism has no message of salvation for the individual soul, as Christianity has; all its ideas are bound up with the existence of the Jewish nation." (p. 20.)

"The idea that Jews are a religious sect, precisely parallel to Catholics and Protestants, is nonsense." (p. 34.)

Graetz, the great historian of the Jews, whose monumental work is one of the standard authorities, says that the history of the Jews, even since they lost the Jewish State, "still possesses a national character; it is by no means merely a creed or church history. * * * Our history is far from being a mere chronicle of literary events or church history."

Moses Hess, one of the historic figures through whom the whole Jewish Program has flowed down from its ancient sources to its modern agents, wrote a book entitled "Rome and Jerusalem" in which he stated the whole matter with clearness and force.

"Jewish religion," he says, "is, above all, Jewish patriotism." (p. 61.)

"Were the Jews only followers of a certain religious denomination, like the others, then it were really inconceivable that Europe, and especially Germany, where the Jews have participated in every cultural activity, 'should spare the followers of the Israelitish confession neither pains, nor tears, nor bitterness.' The solution of the problem, however, consists in the fact that the Jews are something more than mere 'followers of a religion,' namely, they are a race brotherhood, a nation * * *" (p. 71.)

Hess, like other authoritative Jewish spokesmen, denies that forsaking the faith constitutes a Jew a non-Jew. "* * * Judaism has never excluded anyone. The apostates severed themselves from the bond of Jewry. 'And not even them has Judaism forsaken,' added a learned rabbi in whose presence I expressed the above-quoted opinion."

"In reality, Judaism as a nationality has a natural basis which cannot be set aside by mere conversion to another faith, as is the case with other religions. A Jew belongs to his race and consequently also to Judaism, in spite of the fact that he or his ancestors have become apostates." (pp. 97-98.)

Every Jew is, whether he wishes it or not, solidly united with the entire nation." (p. 163.)

Simply to indicate that we have not been quoting outworn opinions, but the actual beliefs of the most active and influential part of Jewry, we close this section of the testimony with excerpts from a work published in 1920 by the Zionist Organization of America, from the pen of Jessie E. Sampter:

"The name of their national religion, Judaism, is derived from their national designation. An unreligious Jew is still a Jew, and he can with difficulty escape his allegiance only by repudiating the name of Jew." ("Guide to Zionism," p. 5.)

It will be seen that none of these writers — and their number might be multiplied among both ancients and moderns — can deny that the Jew is exclusively a member of a religion without at the same time asserting that he is, whether he will or not, the member of a nation. Some go so far as to insist that his allegiance is racial in addition to being national. The term "race" is used by important Jewish scholars without reserve, while some, who hold the German-originated view that the Jews are an offshoot of the Semitic race and do not comprise that race, are satisfied with the term "nation." Biblically, in both the Old Testament and the New, the term "nation" or "people" is employed. But the consensus of Jewish opinion is this: the Jews are a separate people, marked off from other races by very distinctive characteristics, both physical and spiritual, and they have both a national history and a national aspiration.

It will be noticed how the testimony on the point of "race" combines the thought of race and nationality, just as the previous section combined the thought of nationality with religion.

Supreme Justice Brandeis, previously quoted, appears to give a racial basis to the fact of nationality.

He says: "It is no answer to this evidence of nationality to declare that the Jews are not an absolutely pure race. There has, of course, been some intermixture of foreign blood in the three thousand years which constitute our historic period. But, owing to persecution and prejudice, the intermarriages with non-Jews which have occurred have resulted merely in taking away many from the Jewish community. Intermarriage has brought few additions. Therefore the percentage of foreign blood in the Jews of today is very low. Probably no important European race is as pure. But common race is only one of the elements which determine nationality."

Arthur D. Lewis, a Jewish writer, in his "The Jews a Nation," also bases nationality on the racial element:

"The Jews were originally a nation, and have retained more than most nations one of the elements of nationality — namely, the race element; this may be proved, of course, by the common sense test of their distinguishability. You can more easily see that a Jew is a Jew than that an Englishman is English."

Moses Hess is also quite clear on this point. He writes of the impossibility of Jews denying "their racial descent," and says: "Jewish noses cannot be reformed, and the black, wavy hair of the Jews will not turn through conversion into blond, nor can its curves be straightened out by constant combing. The Jewish race is one of the primary races of mankind that has retained its integrity, in spite of the continual change of its climactic environment, and the Jewish type has conserved its purity through the centuries."

Jessie E. Sampter, in the "Guide to Zionism," recounting the history of the work done for Zionism in the United States, says: "And this burden was nobly borne, due partly to the commanding leadership of such men as Justice Louis D. Brandeis, Judge Julian W. Mack, and Rabbi Stephen S. Wise, partly to the devoted and huge labors of the old-time faithful Zionists on the Committee, such as Jacob de Haas, Louis Lipsky, and Henrietta Szold, and partly to the aroused race consciousness of the mass of American Jews."

Four times in the brief preface to the fifth edition of "Coningsby," Disraeli uses the term "race" in referring to the Jews, and Disraeli was proud of being racially a Jew, though religiously he was a Christian.

In the Jewish Encyclopedia, "the Jewish race" is spoken of. In the preface, which is signed by Dr. Cyrus Adler as chief editor, these words occur: "An even more delicate problem that presented itself at the very outset was the attitude to be observed by the Encyclopedia in regard to those Jews who, while born within the Jewish community, have, for one reason or another, abandoned it. As the present work deals with the Jews as a race, it was found impossible to exclude those who were of that race, whatever their religious affiliations might have been."

But as we are not interested in ethnology, the inquiry need not be contained further along this line. The point toward which all this trends is that the Jew is conscious of himself as being more than the member of a religious body. That is, Jewry, nowhere subscribes in the persons of its greatest teachers and its most authoritative representatives, to the theory that a Jew is only "a brother of the faith." Often he is not of the faith at all, but he is still a Jew. The fact is insisted upon here, not to discredit him, but to expose the double minds of those political leaders who, instead of straightforwardly meeting the Jewish Question, endeavor to turn all inquiry aside by an impressive confusion of the Gentile mind.

It may be argued by the small body of so-called "Reformed Jews" that the authorities quoted here are mostly Zionists. The reply is: there may be, and quite possible are, two Jewish programs in the world — one which it is intended the Gentiles should see, and one which is exclusively for the Jews. In determining which is the real Program, it is a safe course to adopt the one that is made to succeed. It is the Program sponsored by the so-called Zionists which is succeeding. It was made to succeed through the Allied Governments, through the Peace Conference, and now through the League of Nations. That, then, must be the true Jewish program, because it is hardly possible that the Gentile governments could have been led as they are being led, were they not convinced that they are obeying the behests of the real Princes of the Jews. It is all well enough to engage the plain Gentile people with one set of interesting things; the real thing is the one that has been put over. And that is the program whose sponsors also stand for the racial and national separateness of the Jews.

The idea that the Jews comprise a nation is the most common idea of all — among the Jews. Not only a nation with a past, but a nation with a future. More than that — not only a nation, but a Super-Nation.

We can go still further on the authority of Jewish statements: we can say that the future form of the Jewish Nation will be a kingdom.

And as to the present problems of the Jewish Nation, there is plenty of Jewish testimony to the fact that the influence of American life is harmful to Jewish life; that is, they are in antagonism, like two opposite ideas. This point, however, must await development in the succeeding article.

Israel Friedlaender traces the racial and national exclusiveness of the Jews from the earliest times, giving as illustrations two Biblical incidents — the Samaritans, "who were half-Jews by race and who were eager to become full Jews by religion," and their repulse by the Jews, "who were eager to safeguard the racial integrity of the Jews"; also, the demand for genealogical records and for the dissolution of mixed marriages, as recorded in the Book of Ezra. Dr. Friedlaender says that in post-Biblical times "this racial exclusiveness of the Jews became even more accentuated." Entry into Judaism "never was, as in other religious communities, purely a question of faith. Proselytes were seldom solicited, and even when ultimately admitted into the Jewish fold they were so on the express condition that they surrender their racial individuality."

"For the purposes of the present inquiry," says Dr. Friedlaender, "it is enough for us to know that the Jews have always felt themselves as a separate race, sharply marked off from the rest of mankind. Anyone who denies the racial conception of Judaism on the part of the Jews in the past is either ignorant of the facts of Jewish history, or intentionally misrepresents them."

Elkan N. Adler says: "No serious politician today doubts that our people have a political future."

This future of political definiteness and power was in the mind of Moses Hess when he wrote in 1862 — mark the date! — in the preface of his "Rome and Jerusalem," these words:

"No nation can be indifferent to the fact that in the coming European struggle for liberty, it may have another people as its friend or foe."

Hess had just been complaining of the inequalities visited upon the Jews. He was saying that what the individual Jew could not get because he was a Jew, the Jewish Nation would be able to get because it would be a Nation. Evidently he expected that nationhood might arrive before the "coming European struggle," and he was warning the Gentile nations to be careful, because in that coming struggle there might be another nation in the list, namely, the Jewish Nation, which could be either friend or foe to any nation it chose.

Dr. J. Abelson, of Portsea College, in discussing the status of "small nations" as a result of the Great War, says: "The Jew is one of these 'smaller nations,'" and claims for the Jew what is claimed for the Pole, the Rumanian, and the Serbian, and on the same ground — that of nationality.

Justice Brandeis voices the same thought. He says:

"While every other people is striving for development by asserting its nationality, and a great war is making clear the value of small nations * * * Let us make clear to the world that we too are a nationality clamoring for equal rights * * *"

Again says Justice Brandeis: "Let us all recognize that we Jews are a distinct nationality, of which every Jew, whatever his country, his station, or shade of belief, is necessarily a member."

And he concludes his article, from which these quotations are made, with these words:

"Organize, organize, organize, until every Jew must stand up and be counted — counted with us, or prove himself, wittingly or unwittingly, of the few who are against their own people."

Sir Samuel Montagu, the British Jew who has been appointed governor of Palestine under the British mandate, habitually speaks of the Jewish Kingdom, usually employing the expression "the restoration of the Jewish Kingdom." It may be of significance that the native population already refer to Sir Samuel as "The King of the Jews."

Achad ha-Am, who must be regarded as the one who has most conclusively stated the Jewish Idea as it has always existed, and whose influence is not as obscure as his lack of fame among the Gentiles might indicate, is strong for the separate identity of the Jews as a super-nation. Leon Simon succinctly states the great teacher's views when he says:

"While Hebraic thought is familiar with the conception of a Superman (distinguished, of course, from Nietzsche's conception by having a very different standard of excellence), yet its most familiar and characteristic application of that conception is not to the individual but to the nation — to Israel as the Super-Nation or 'chosen people.' In fact, the Jewish nation is presupposed in all characteristically Jewish thinking, just as it is presupposed in the teaching of the prophets."

"In those countries," says Moses Hess, "which form a dividing line between the Occident and the Orient, namely, Russia, Poland, Prussia, and Austria, there live millions of our brethren who earnestly believe in the restoration of the Jewish Kingdom and pray for it fervently in their daily services."

This article, therefore, at the risk of appearing tedious, has sought to summon from many sides and from many periods the testimony which should be taken whenever the subject of Jewish nationalism comes under discussion. Regardless of what may be said to Gentile authorities for the purpose of hindering or modifying their action, there can be no question as to what the Jew thinks of himself. He thinks of himself as belonging to a People, united to that People by ties of blood which no amount of creedal change can weaken, heir of that People's past, agent of that People's political future. He belongs to a race; he belongs to a nation; he seeks a kingdom to come on this earth, a kingdom which shall be over all kingdoms, with Jerusalem the ruling city of the world. That desire of the Jewish Nation may be fulfilled; it is the contention of these articles that it will not come by way of the Program of the Protocols nor by any of the other devious ways through which powerful Jews have chosen to work.

The charge of religious prejudice has always touched the people of civilized countries in a tender spot. Sensing this, the Jewish spokesmen chosen to deal with non-Jews have emphasized the point of religious prejudice. It is therefore a relief to tender and uninstructed minds to learn that Jewish spokesmen themselves have said that the troubles of the Jew have never arisen out of his religion, the Jew is not questioned on account of his religion, but on account of other things which his religion ought to modify. Gentiles know the truth that the Jew is not persecuted on account of his religion. All honest investigators know it. The attempt to shield the Jews under cover of their religion is, therefore, in face of the facts and of their own statements, an unworthy one.

If there were no other evidence, the very evidence which many Jewish writers cite, namely, the instant siding of the Jews one with another upon any and every occasion, would constitute evidence of racial and national solidarity. Whenever these articles have touched the International Jew Financier, hundreds of Jews in the lower walks of life have protested. Touch a Rothschild, and the revolutionary Jew from the ghetto utters his protest, and accepts the remark as a personal affront to himself. Touch a regular old-line Jewish politician who is using a government office exclusively for the benefit of his fellow Jews as against the best interests of the nation, and the Socialist and anti-government Jew comes out in his defense. Most of these Jews, it may be said, have lost a vital touch with the teachings and ceremonials of their religion, but they indicate what their real religion is by their national solidarity.

This in itself would be interesting, but it becomes important in view of another fact, with which the next article will deal, namely, the relation between this Jewish nationalism and the nationalism of the peoples among whom the Jews dwell.

[THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT, issue of 16 October 1920]