David Ben-Gurion

Among the entiles"

1949

 
Introduction

The excerpt below is translated from an article by David Ben Gurion  in the Hebrew periodical  Bama'aracha Volume 4, Part I, published in 1949 and presented his thought at that time, four years after the Holocaust regarding Anti-Semitism  the Diaspora and the need for the Jewish State,

The article should be viewed as presenting a Zionist point of view rather than the Zionist point of view. The explanation of Anti-Semitism presented by David Ben Gurion is:

...every nation designs their life style out of their own needs and wishes -- and the framework of their existence and relations result from their historical reality, and it is not to be imagined that these will try to adapt themselves to the existence and mentality of the universal exception called "Judaism."

The thesis that the Jews excite Anti-Semitism because we are different and separate is hardly new. It is found in the words of Haman in the scroll of Esther (Megilath Esther) and in the works of the pagan anti-Semite, Apion. It might explain some outbreaks of anti-Semitism. It is not a thesis that Herzl would have adopted for example.  Herzl was an assimilated Austrian Jew who was inspired to Zionism by the wave of Anti-Semitism  that accompanied the Dreyfus Affair. The Holocaust, the most ferocious and vicious outbreak of Anti-Semitism in history was initiated in Germany and directed at Jews who insisted that Judaism was not a nationality, but a religion. It was also directed at people who were totally assimilated and denied that they were Jewish. It is difficult to believe that Hitler's genocidal persecution of the Jews satisfied any developmental requirement of the German people. In the USSR likewise, anti-Semitism was directed at Jewish communists who insisted they were part of an international proletariat and put their allegiance to the Communist party first.

Anti-Semites and anti-Zionists frequently insist that the Jews or Zionists claim some special exclusivity or differentness. Perhaps with this in mind,  Ben Gurion explained that:

We shall be different from all peoples -- as each nation differs from others

 

Ami Isseroff

April 27, 2011


Copyright

The introduction and the  translation are copyright 2011 by Ami Isseroff.


...Anti-Semitism is not worrisome. I believe the Jewish people erred in blaming anti-Semitism for all the trials and tribulations that befell it in the Diaspora. That is one of the blind spots affecting the Jews in foreign lands. Should and can the entire world behave toward us as ministering angels? Does a people base its existence on the existence of the rule of justice --- within other peoples? Do the Jews maintain the rue of justice amongst themselves? Do we not have within us jealously and hatred with good cause and with none/ Do we treat members of other Jewish communities and other parties with understanding and perfect objectivity?

We. who differ from every people and language, who maintain with unique stubborness our peculiar customs, ethics, beliefs and habits, and who have refused for hundreds of years to give up to renounce the irritating and suspicious difference that discriminates between us and the peoples amongst whom we are settled, Yet we assume that that others  will empathize with us, will satisfy our wants, will accept us with love and brotherhood. If they do not do so. we are angry and warn of their bad heartedness and lack of understanding, their  evil nature and poor character.

Do we really fail to understand that every nation designs their life style out of their own needs and wishes -- and the framework of their existence and relations result from their historical reality, and it is not to be imagined that these will try to adapt themselves to the existence and mentality of the universal exception called "Judaism."  Our enemy is not the wickedness  of the gentiles that we call anti-Semitism -- but our peculiar status that does not suit the framework of normal life of the nations of the world, and what is anti-Semitism that we should complain of it? Our existence as Jews is threatened, and hatred of Jews increases in the world,  not when gentiles become more wicked to us -- but when the requirements of the peoples amongst whom we are settled can only be satisfied by changes in the political, social or economic structure that do not suit our peculiar existence  as a Jewish minority that seeks to maintain its connection with the Jewish people and assure its national future.

Our problem is not posed by anti-Semitism. The trends and laws of development of the peoples amongst we dwell are not subservient to the needs of Israel - That are peculiar needs of a people unlike any other in the world, and there is no logical or ethical  reason to demand that the world adapt its way of life, ways of thinking, and state policies to the needs of a scattered and separated minority that is unexampled in history, rather than to the requirements of the majority peoples, that are concentrated in their own countries and based upon accepted universal principles that are similar in all countries.

The existence of the Jewish people without a state is impossible.

We shall be different from all peoples -- as each nation differs from others. But in order to be different we must be -- and we shall not be if we do not have a state.     

 

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