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The Influence of International Jewry in the Founding of Israel Essay

Related Topics: Religion Germany Europe Palestine

Pages:6 (1816 words)




Document Type:Essay


1. Thinking as a historian, how would you answer the question, “are the Jews a religious group, a nation, or an ethnic minority?”

When thinking as an historian, one can easily say that the Jews are a religious group, a nation, and an ethnic minority—though the terms and conditions under which all of these categorical associations are valid or legitimate is subject to some debate. First of all, Judaism today is different from what it was in pre-Christian times. Of the three largest sects of Judaism today—Reform, Conservative and Orthodox—there is a great deal of dispute about what kind of group the Jews are. There are atheist Jews and agnostic Jews, but they still identify as Jews. Jewish nationalists are typically referred to as Zionists, but not every Jew wants to live in Israel. Even for much of their own history the Jews have been without a nation of their own. Ethnically speaking, the Jews can be seen as a people—but many of today’s Western Jews are Ashkenazim, i.e., the Khazarian converts who spoke Yiddish and lived for centuries in Eastern part of Europe and had no real racial connection to the Jews of pre-Christian times. Yet, in spite of all these contextual factors, “the Jews” are still widely recognized as a people who have their own culture—as diverse as it may be and as full of sub-groups as it may be.

Yet the Jews were without a nation of their own for thousands of years and it was not until after WWII that the nation-state of Israel was recognized by world powers. Today, Israel is a state, and yet it does not exist without controversy. The Palestinian question continues to loom over the existence of Israel, as more and more land is occupied or annexed by Israel and Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza are marginalized. Some Jews protest these actions of Israel, which creates tension with the larger Jewish group. Even in Israel there is disagreement about religion, with many Zionist Jews who originally settled in Palestine prior to Israeli statehood being recognized around the world viewing religion as incidental to Jewish identity.

Thus, it could best be argued that Jewishness is cultural and that the cultural identity of Jewishness is a combination or integration of religion, politics, society, community, history, ethnicity and shared sense of place in the world. Because Jews were essentially outside the main within Christian society for hundreds of years, there is a sense among many Jews of having a shared past even though the story of Jewishness is different for Middle Eastern Jews, Sephardic Jews, Khazarian Jews, and so on.

Since there are so many different Jewish lineages it is also difficult to say that Jewishness is a specific ethnicity, as there are different ethnic groups of Jews. This complicates the matter still further—but one thing that is clear is that Jewishness is an identity that still matters to virtually all Jews, primarily because of the context that being a Jew has for most people, whether they are part of the Jewish group or not. The media has created a picture of Jewishness, as have the history books, which indicates that Jewishness is something separate and distinct from other groups. Whether it is pronounced by individual Jews in all places at all time is something quite different. It is not always the case that Jews want to self-identify first and foremost as Jews before they identify as something else—for example, as American or as white or as an Iraqi or as a…

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…1917 announced support for a Jewish state in Palestine, which at the time was controlled by the Ottoman Empire. However, this control was taken away by the British by the end of war. The British were thus in a position to make good on the promise of the Balfour Declaration and the Zionists very much wanted this to happen.

Zionists were not just in Europe but in America too. Jewry was indeed international in character, just as Hitler described. Jews tended to support the idea of a Jewish identity and Jews in powerful positions in finance, industry and government were able to influence the British to support Jewish immigration to Palestine. This matter was one of intense focus for much of the internecine years.

The Nuremberg Laws and other German edicts continued to show to the British that the socio-political situation in Germany was untenable for Jews and Jewish influence around the world, from Russia to America, was used to put pressure on the British government to take action.[footnoteRef:5] [5: JMW, X. Zionism: #42-55; JMW, IX. American Jewry: #52


Hitler’s own prophecy of Jewry’s Annihilation was a titillating enough treatise that served as an indication of why the Jews needed a home outside of Europe. The mandate for a Jewish state was thus a product of a combined series of events and influences. From the rise of the Third Reich to the role of the Focus in British government to the role of the Zionists both in Germany and outside it—it all played a role in leading to the creation of Israel. The British were in a position to grant the land to the Jews, and the Jews who had influence both in America and in England, made certain that they received the mandate…

Sample Source(s) Used


JMW, XII. Jewish Identity Challenged and Redefined: #16

JMW, XI. The Shoah: #21-41

JMW, VIII. Sephardi & Middle Eastern Jewry #32-35

JMW, X. Zionism: #42-55

JMW, IX. American Jewry: #52

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