The Jewish Question
Who coined the term, what is the question and why is there a need of a question?
The term “Jewish Question” was first used in Great Britain in around 1750, as a neutral expression, regarding the negative attitude toward the Jews as a people, who were persistently surrounded by historical friction, from a national, ethical, financial and legal view-point.
The histories of Jewish emancipation and of so-called European ‘Antisemitism’ are filled with a great variety of proffered ‘Solutions to the Jewish question.’
The question was next discussed in France (“la question juive”) after the French Revolution in 1789, before arriving in Germany via Bruno Bauer’s treatise ‘Die Judenfrage’ (The Jewish Question).
From that point, hundreds of tractates, pamphlets, newspaper articles and books were written on the subject, with many offering solutions including resettlement, deportation and assimilation of the Jewish population. Similarly, hundreds of pieces of literature were written opposing these solutions and have offered solutions such as re-integration and education.
This debate however, could not decide whether the problem of the Jewish Question had more to do with the problems posed by the German Jews’ themselves, or their opponents?
From around 1860, under the newly coined description to the historical problem, Jews were described as a stumbling block to the identity and cohesion of the German nation and as enemies within the Germans’ own country. The ‘Question’ was declared by many as a racial problem unsolvable through integration and that the removal of Jews from their over-representation and socially dominant positions, of the press, education, culture, state politics and economy, was necessary to restore ethical balance in the lives of the German people.
An early use of the expression “Jewish question” appeared during the ‘Jew Bill of 1753’ debates in England.
Bruno Bauer, in his book ‘The Jewish Question’ published in 1843, argued that Jews can achieve political emancipation only if they relinquish their particular religious consciousness, since political emancipation requires a secular state, which he assumes does not leave any “space” for social identities such as religion. True political emancipation, for Bauer, requires the abolition of religion.
Mordechai Levi ( better-known as Karl Marx), replied to Bauer in his 1844 essay titled, ‘On the Jewish Question.’ Marx contradicted Bauer’s view that the nature of the Jewish religion prevented Judaism’s assimilation. Instead, he focused on the specific social and economic role of the Jewish group in Europe which, according to him, was lost when capitalism, the “material basis for Judaism,” assimilated the European societies as a whole.
Marx argues that Bauer is mistaken in his assumption that in a “secular state”, religion will no longer play a prominent role in social life. In Marx’s analysis, the “secular state” is not opposed to religion, but rather actually presupposes it.
Theodore Herzl, stated in his pamphlet, ‘Der Judenstaat’ (The Jews State);
The “Jewish Question” persists wherever Jews live in appreciable numbers. Wherever it does not exist, it is brought in together with Jewish immigrants. We are naturally drawn into those places where we are not persecuted, and our appearance there gives rise to persecution. This is the case, and will inevitably be so, everywhere, even in highly civilised countries—see, for instance, France—so long as the “Jewish Question” is not solved on the political level.”
The ‘British Uganda Programme’ or, the “Uganda Scheme,” was a plan in the early 1900s to give a portion of British East Africa to the Jewish people as a homeland. The idea was brought to the Zionist Congress at its sixth meeting in 1903 in Basel. There a fierce debate ensued. The African land was described as an “ante-chamber to the Holy Land” and a Nachtasyl (temporary night shelter), and many felt that accepting the offer would make it more difficult to establish a Jewish State in Palestine, and also that the Jewish nation would not be able to claim itself as native to that land. Before the vote on the matter, the Russian delegation stormed out in opposition.
The Uganda Debate is still used as a metaphor in present-day Israeli politics. Israeli settlers place supreme importance on, what they see as settling in the Biblically-hallowed Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and some have used the term “Latter-Day Ugandists” to describe others who are simply willing to accept a Jewish state based on the 1947 United Nations plan or the 1949 Armistice Agreements (excluding the West Bank). This term implies that liberal Israelis—like the adherents of Uganda Programme—are simply interested in a place where Jews can live in peace, and care little about supposedly historical and/or biblical matters.
Chaim Weitzman stated in a 1907 speech;
“The governments of the world will pay attention to us only as they will become convinced that we are capable of conquering Palestine through persistent practical work.
Political Zionism means, to make the ‘Jewish Question’ an ‘International question’. It means going to the nations and saying to them: “We need your help to achieve our aim; but we ourselves are doing all in our power to strengthen our position in the land, because we regard Palestine as our homeland.” We must explain Zionism to the governments in such a manner that they shall understand it as the Jews understand it.”
In National Socialist Germany, the term “Jewish Question” (Judenfrage) referred to the sense that the existence of Jews in Germany had posed a problem for the nation (especially well founded since Versailles). In 1933, theorists Johann von Leers and Achim Gercke, both proposed that the Jewish Question could be solved most humanely by resettling Jews in Madagascar or elsewhere in Africa. Both intellectuals discussed the pros and cons of supporting the German Zionist Jews as well, but von Leers asserted that establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine would create humanitarian and political problems for the region.
Alfred Rosenberg, Representative for the German delegation for the Jewish Question, discussed openly with other international representatives of the ‘International Refugee Committee’, that a Reservation for the Jewish people had come down to two locations, Guana or Madagascar. He ruled out Alaska due to the harsh climate and also Palestine, as it was too small and experience had shown that England could not come to agreement with the Arabs. He proposed that a Jewish ‘Reservation’ be set aside with contributions by Jewish millionaires and billionaires from all the world. Supervision of the ‘Reservation’ by a police administration, under the command of a Governor or a “League of Nations” but no ‘Self-Rule’ or establishment of a “Jewish State.”
Rosenberg added, “If the democracies want to prove the truth of their friendship for Jews now, they must within a reasonable time make clear which of these territories shall be established as a Jewish Reservation.” He continued, “I stress the word ‘Reservation’ for there can be no talk either in the present or in the future about a ‘Jewish State’.”
The only “Question” that should be accurately answered and absent of fanciful and emotional theories of unfounded prejudice is…
Why hasn’t there been a persistent;
“Spanish Question” or
“All other peoples Question”
just the “Jewish Question”?
And now we have an additional modern day question…
How do we hold criminals accountable, now they’ve established for themselves a legally impunitive state to retreat to?
Video: some insight into the numerous historical expulsions, why there might be a “Question” and perhaps an explanation to the purported, unwarranted “persecution”.