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    Issue 1, 2007

    Conversation 3

 

   Some Notes on Anti-Semitism

 

The phenomenon of anti-Semitism has been widely discussed in the literature. A non-specialist writing about the subject is motivated by ignorance or ambition (the latter reflecting his faith in non-triviality of his methodology in discussing this age old problem) or perhaps both. Being a nonspecialist, I would like to think that my observations on the subject belong at least to the last case.

The essay will be limited to two main questions: causes of anti-Semitism and ways of dealing with the "Jewish question".

 

I. Causes of anti-Semitism

 1. The many causes of anti-Semitism and variety of groups supporting it.

It seems to me that any social phenomenon that has persisted throughout long periods of time measured in centuries must have heterogeneous roots; i.e. it must find support in the most diverse segments of the population and have roots in a variety of causes that may be intertwined in the most peculiar manner in each individual group.

Indeed, if we look at the phenomenon of anti-Semitism, we see that the most diverse groups of people in a given country sometimes motivated by very different reasons have expressed anti-Semitic sentiments. Urban and rural population alike has been infected with anti-Semitic spirit; educated as well as uneducated classes; intellectuals and "people of the earth"; poor people as well as middle and wealthy classes; persecutors and the persecuted; slaves and free citizens; lumpen and proprietors; and so on and so forth.

Causes of anti-Semitism are many and diverse. Among the most significant are the religious motives (in countries belonging to the Christian world expressed in such accusations as the crucifixion of Christ, ritual slayings of infants) and the fear of being unable to compete with the activeness of the Jews. The latter assumed a variety of forms: general fear before the all encompassing cooperation among the Jews in conjunction with their ability to penetrate all spheres of social life from business to politics[1]; fear of the Jews grabbing the hot spots, perhaps taking native women due to their ability to achieve a better standard of living as well as greater responsibility and respect towards wife and children.

In some cases these fears were not rationally unfounded. The most grave danger was the Jews taking over a particular sphere especially if this sphere was vital for society's well being. For instance, if too many Jews become shepherds, doctors, traders, etc. and they then decide to leave the country and return to the Promised Land this will cause disruptions in the life of the country by depriving it of essential personnel.

Here I want to refer to a wonderful essay by Z. Zhabotinskij - "Four Sons". The author notes that at the basis of anti-Semitism is the conflict between the fact that initially, when the Jews settle the territories of other nations, they are willing to perform work important to the native people but which for various reasons (including lack of know-how to do these jobs, especially complicated ones) is considered "repulsive" by the latter. Eventually, the native population becomes familiar with these tasks and one day discovers that the Jews are too powerful in that rather important area. This leads local authorities to devise all kinds of tricks to get rid of the Jewish domination. This is what happened to the Jews in Egypt where they agreed to become shepherds "for every shepherd is an abomination unto the Egyptians" (Genesis, 46:34); the same took place in the middle Ages when Jews turned to trade and money lending.

Above mentioned reasons for anti-Semitism can arise from direct contact with the Jews, a situation characteristic of the so called "everyday anti-Semitism" or from widespread notions of the dangers the Jewish race holds for other peoples (especially if the Jews settle in the territories of other nations although in isolation from them). For instance, in prerevolutionary Russia, everyday anti-Semitism was prevalent in the western part of the empire, in the pales where local inhabitants came in contact with the Jews. Here envy was combined with religious superstition and myths of the Jews as devils. As for the greater share of the Russian population their contact with the Jews was rather limited and the roots of their anti-Semitism are primarily religious, such as the crucifixion of Christ and the ritual slayings, and widespread notions of Jews as the devil's race capable of inflicting tremendous harm. It was only after the revolution when the Jews left the pales and settled in the cities did everyday anti-Semitism become the prevalent form among the masses of the Russian population.

Diversity of groups infected with anti-Semitism as well the variety of its causes can be observed throughout the ages and all different countries. Of course, the composition of the groups of people engulfed by anti-Semitism, the strength of various motives (sometimes a particular reason may be absent altogether - for instance, the crucifixion of Christ in non-Christian countries) and especially the severity of anti-Semitic sentiment changes depending on the culture of a given country and the particular situation it finds itself in.

All this leads me to conclude that anti-Semitism represents a very very difficult problem. But is there a solution at all?

2. Can anti-Semitism ever disappear?

In science, before solving the problem one attempts to establish existence of a solution. It was characteristic of XYII-XYIII century science, which achieved outstanding results in many different fields of human endeavor, to believe in the absolute possibility - from the construction of perpetuum mobile to the creation of utopian social systems where all people will be forever happy. XIX century science is more sober limiting the bounds of what is possible. During the first part of the XIX century with the advent of thermodynamics impossibility of constructing a perpetual motion machine becomes clear. Galois' outstanding work of 1821 revealed that equations of degree greater than four cannot be solved in radicals (by means of a formula); many other discoveries in mathematics concerned proofs of existence or nonexistence of a solution irrelevant of the actual methods of finding it. Social sciences were less fortunate. I know of only a single rigid proof of impossibility of solving a specific social problem pertaining to democratic methods of decision making; the proof was conceived by K. Arrow in the second half of the XX century.

I cannot claim to have a rigid proof of the impossibility of eradicating anti-Semitism. I only want to note that it seems to me to be a far-fetched possibility. In fact, such specific causes of anti-Semitism as a priori false accusations of ritualistic slayings can be dropped; much of the responsibility for the death of Christ can be lifted. Envy towards the Jews can be subdued as directed specifically against the Jews and reduced to general envy (in all its might) of one human being towards another.

The argument that the Jews are capable of capturing key positions in society thus threatening its well-being in case they decide to leave can be rebuked by citing the number of Jews in each country to be too small to capture the "critical mass" of key positions of power; besides, at the time of exodus unlike a forced extradition majority of Jews remain in a given country. Moreover, Jewish presence can be considered beneficial in that it forces local population to become more active. Imposing quotas on the number of Jews in certain fields creates the danger of native unqualified population streaming into that area and willing to accommodate their superiors in fighting the "Jewish domination". I realize the ambiguity of all these arguments since socio-economic sphere defies clear cut formulation of the conditions under which "protectionism" is more advantageous than "free trade".

Nevertheless, a number of features attributed to the Jewish character and used in rational justification of anti-Semitism cannot be overcome in principle. I want to discuss one such anti-Semitic argument prevalent among a very specific segment of the population - intellectuals. It seems to me that the argument advanced by this group plays a particularly important role and largely renders eradication of anti-Semitism impossible.

 

3. Intellectuals, "programming sphere", and anti-Semitism.

 

First, a few words about the intellectuals. More than any other group, intellectuals not only observe but can also conceptualize the demands of the situation for the future development of society. The distinguishing role of the intellectuals lies in the "integratiion" of a society, in conciliating the authorities with the masses. Intellectual ideas transform into a force used by the authorities to legitimize and expand their power.[2]

This does not preclude other groups holding different views formed on their own accord from playing a very significant role in the life of the country. These groups may in turn influence  the intellectuals providing the latter with "empirical data". But it is the intellectuals who represent the driving force behind the ideas consumed by those in power as well as the masses.

Although sometimes intellectuals repeat the same arguments as other groups they come up with more sophisticated ones based on actual facts which reflect some very real aspects of life and their concerns cannot be written off easily.

It seems intellectuals are capable of advancing arguments in favor of anti-Semitism that have a real basis and are difficult to rebuff. These arguments are directed specifically at the Jews and touch the deep core of the Jewish outlook on the world. Therefore, as long as the Jewish culture continues to exist we should not expect to overcome them. Only by accepting the attitudes ( and especially religion) of the "host" nation can the Jews hope to put an end to anti-Semitic persecution. Moreover, certain groups of intellectuals may adhere to racial theories of anti-Semitism, i.e. distinct genetic characteristics of the Jews. (I shall consider this point below). In this case, the solution of the problem lies along the lines of annihilation of the Jews at worse or, at best, their expulsion from the country.

Before proceeding to discuss aforementioned problems, I want to make the following remark. There exist certain spheres of society which would, if penetrated by foreign elements with a radically different system of values, present grave dangers for they are in a position to affect the system of values of the country as a whole (its major ethnic group) diverting it from its inherent course of development. To clarify the statement, let us distinguish between the "programming sphere" and the "executive sphere" of society.

Programming sphere includes all activities related to the formation of genetic code of society and its transformation into subsystems which form the foundation of all the diverse social structures and their mechanisms of operation. These two functions, i.e. creation and transformation of the genetic code, interlinked and having a feedback on one another comprise the programming sphere.

Areas comprising the core of creation of the genetic code are primarily those connected with culture: ideologies, art, and basic science; areas such as mass media, education, political and economic leadership (especially at the higher levels of the hierarchy and at key positions), etc. embody the system of code transformation linked to the first one by mutual interactions.

The executive sphere encompasses all activities, mental as well as physical, dealing with the transformation of nature according to the "passed down" genetic code. Executive sphere may have feedback on the "genetic code".

Thus, it is the infiltration of the Jews into the "programming sphere" that is considered most dangerous to the development of the native ethnos since the Jewish system of values may affect its " genetic code". It is precisely in this sense that the Jews of the diaspora are viewed as viruses which, as we know, have no protein membrane of their own but penetrate the host cell changing its genetic code.

There is abundant evidence for this attitude towards the Jews. It assumes many different and most phantasmagoric forms such as "documents" known as "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion". Interesting in this respect is a letter (dated June, 1987) circulating in the USSR and addressed to Plenum of the CC CPSS. The letter is signed by three rather prominent members of Russian intelligentzia: V. G. Brusova, Ph. D. in art history, member of the Union of Soviet Artists, recipient of the RSFSR State Prize; G. I. Litvinova, Ph. D. in law; and T. A. Ponomareva, member of the Writers Union of the USSR. Excerpt from this letter which denounces the reasons for the "exploitation" of the Russian people in the USSR reads:

 

"Statistics, objective and scientific, indicates that the much greater share of positions at the top of the social pyramid is presently occupied by individuals belonging to the Jewish race.

...Everyone of us knows from his own personal experience that an illegal possession of the "brain trust" is not a wild fantasy of "the Learned Elders of Zion" but is the most real of realities. A flagrant overtaking of all key leading positions in economics, science, and culture, "accelerated" social growth, have all become a sad reality.

...What has this "international", actually "Jewish brain trust" bestowed upon us? It has bestowed upon us uncountable damage to national economy, trade, ecology, and culture. We were forced to count all these losses and "mistakes" and their scope was too great. It bears responsibility for the destruction of agriculture, dissolution of "unprofitable villages", anti-human projects of altering the course of northern rivers, destruction of Volga; Baikal is under siege. One experiment after another, each one throwing us back, making the fly-wheel of the powerful Soviet economy perform idle motions. Our system is the most progressive in the world, and we cannot even feed ourselves; at one time we fed all of Europe, part of Africa, and Asia with a plow and a cart. It turns out we cannot survive without the help of capitalist powers. And the people work in the sweat of their brow struggling with new unsolvable problems which suck our finances, labor power, deeper and deeper into the disastrous whirlpool inflicting greater and greater crisis like alcoholism and drug addiction, series of catastrophes, and so on and so forth.

A new heroic effort is called for now to pull the country out of its crisis and clear the way for progress through perestroika. All this is taking place because "internationalists" refuse to acknowledge the traditions and the lifestyle of the people or the land which is not at all dear to them (how much of our best flood-lands have sunk under water forever!) nor with the man himself. Are Russians at the GOSPLAN capable of thinking up a scheme to ensure workers' wages from the sale of alcohol? No. This is a historically well known shadow of a publican robbing and turning people into drunkards.

And the degradation of theater, proliferation of rock music, charlatanism in painting? And desertion to enemy countries - USA and Israel, and an almost triumphant return!

No, let us not be "at the leading edge", let us not be so hasty in our decisions, we shall not experiment with the most precious thing we hold so dear - our mother land."[3]

 

What is this mysterious Jewish system of values that is capable of penetrating the "programming sphere" and which the intellectuals fear so much?

 

4. Parity of Man and God in the Jewish mentality.

 

Values inherent in the Jewish mentality reflect the concept of parity between the Jew and the forces of the universe. This quality of the Jewish outlook is especially vivid in Judaism. It is reasonable to think that this religion professed only by the Jews is in agreement with the Jewish mentality: lack of a strong correlation between the type of mentality and the chosen religion is very doubtful. It follows from the most sacred source of the Jewish faith - the Torah that Man is comparable with God as the master of the universe. In fact, it follows that this Jewish trait should be understood in the broad sense, i.e not only with respect to God but also with respect to the environment including leaders of state.

An opposite to the Jewish system of values could be based on two extremes: either subordination of Man to the forces governing him (be it God, a leader, or both) or superiority of Man over the forces of the universe. Most religions and ideologies profess the first kind of attitude; in fact, I know of no other religion which claims any kind of equality between Man and God. A system of values proclaiming mans superiority to the forces of nature corresponds to communist ideology in its pure form. But its actual implementation in many countries is accompanied by instituting an authoritarian regime which is prone to the dangers of transforming into an ideology directed at subjugating man to forces governing him, i.e an ideology which is fundamentally foreign to a great number of Jews.

To substantiate my point regarding the Jewish system of values I want to quote some passages from the Torah.

Authors of the Torah had a concept of man as created in God's image and after God's likeness (Genesis, 1:26). God Himself is presented not as a frozen omnipotent and omniscious force but as an evolving Entity. Man, endowed with creative powers and free will expands God's power. It is by the people and through the people that God implements subsequent development of the universe.

Moreover, the role of man is so great that God stands on a par with some chosen ones and concludes a covenant with them. According to the covenant God promises to multiply the nation coming from Abraham and make Abraham the father of many peoples; in return a Jew agrees to obey God's commandment obliging all Jewish males to be circumcized.

In principle, a contract between an omnipotent God and Man can turn into a pure formality introduced purely for demagogic purposes. For instance, in the USSR enterprise management makes a yearly contract with the union, a contract that is supposed to reflect the interests of the workers. But this contract is really an empty formality since the unions are under complete control of the government which in this case is represented by the Party and the managerial body.

A sufficient condition for a genuine contract between Man and God is that it be based on God's acceptance of His own imperfection, on the one hand, and the greatness of Man and mans indispensability for God as an independent force, on the other. Moreover, the contract becomes ever more feasible if a certain equality, physical as well as intellectual, is established between the two sides.[4]

Mans physical strength is affirmed in the legend about the struggle between Jacob and God (Genesis, 32:24-32). God could not overcome Man in this struggle but could only inflict a minor wound: "and the hollow of Jacob's thigh was out of joint" And God said to Jacob:

 

"Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed." (Genesis, 32:28).

 

"And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved." (Genesis, 32:30).

Whatever the interpretation of this passage is, even assuming that Jacob struggled not with God but with an angel, Man still was physically on an equal footing with a heavenly force.

Mans intellectual comparability with God in affirmed by the authors of the Torah in the most general terms in the description of Adam after he tastes from the tree of knowledge: Adam even becomes intellectually equal to God. What distinguishes Adam from God is that Adam is mortal. And God banished Adam from the garden of Eden so he would not taste from the tree of life and become immortal.

 

"And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden..." (Genesis, 3:22-23).

Authors of the Torah tell other stories confirming intellectual comparability between Man and God. When God was enraged at the disobedience of the Jewish people during their stay in the dessert and decides to annihilate them and replace them with another nation originating from Moses, Moses argues with God and persuades Him to preserve the people.

 

"And the Lord said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?

 I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they.

 And Moses said unto the Lord, Then the Egyptians shall hear it, (for thou broughtest up this people in thy might from among them;)

 And they will tell it to the inhabitants of this land: for they have heard that thou Lord art among this people, that thou Lord art seen face to face, and that thy cloud standeth over them, and that thou goest before them, by daytime in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.

 Now if thou shalt kill all this people as one man, then the nations which have heard the fame of thee will speak, saying,

 Because the Lord was not able to bring this people into the land which he sware unto them, therefore he hath slain them in the wilderness.

 And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my Lord be great, according as thou hast spoken, saying,

 The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation.

 Pardon, I beseech thee, the iniquity of this people according unto the greatness of they mercy, and as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now.

And the Lord said, I have pardoned according to thy word..." (Numbers, 14:11-20).

 

Jewish attitude towards God as an equal force (in some sense), defiance and rejection of idols, all finds an explicit manifestation in the Torah in a very critical attitude towards the leaders of state. Evidence for this can be found in the sermons concerning the future king of the Jews in the Promised Land addressed to the Jews during their plight in the desert.

 

"When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me;

 Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

 But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: for as much as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

 Neither shall he multiply wifes to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

 And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites:

 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them:

 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days and his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel." (Deuteronomy, 17:14-20).

All in all, it follows from the preceding discussion that anti-Semitism can hardly be overcome, that the Jews will for various reasons be incompatible with at least a great number of the surrounding peoples.

I want to note in passing that the category of compatibility as a general systems phenomenon is rather unresearched. Medical science achieved major progress in this area, both theoretical and practical only in this century. I mean classification of compatible blood groups essential in blood transfusions; organ transplant accomplished first by donor selection and subsequent integration of the transplanted organ with the host by means of medicine, etc. Still, the problem of compatibility is one of the least researched areas of medical science, not to speak of psychology or social processes. These observations apply equally well to the problem of compatibility of different ethnic groups.

How can the "Jewish problem" be solved under these circumstances?

 

II. Ways of dealing with the Jewish problem

 

1. Methodological remarks.

 

Solution of the Jewish problem, i.e. preservation of the Jews as an ethnic entity, has many aspects to it. I want to examine this issue within the framework of the more general problem into which the Jewish problem is immersed.[5] The general scheme consists of at least the following: humanity-Jewish race-Jewish state-Jewish family-Jew as an individual. Assigning priorities to these categories, simple combinatorics shows that there are one hundred and twenty - five factorial possible combinations. There exist 120 different groups of people (of course, different in size) distinct in terms of their system of priorities. For instance, one group would place development of the Jew as an individual at the forefront, then the Jewish family, then the Jewish state, Jewish race in fourth place and mankind in fifth place. Another group might assign top priority to mankind, and then in receding order to the Jewish race, Jewish state , Jewish family , and Jew as an individual. All these differences manifest themselves at a very practical level, splitting Jewish public opinion right down the line. As far as Jewish emigration from the USSR is concerned, the first group will assume interest primarily in those Jews who immigrate to Israel, perhaps even thinking it reproachable to help Jews not going to Israel; next they will evaluate the diaspora Jews in terms of the latter's views and willingness to extend help to Jews not going to Israel; finally they will be strongly opposed to sending Israeli invitations to non-Jews desiring to leave the Soviet Union through that channel. The second group will proceed to resolve the problem first by advocating for human rights in general, viewing it as a major avenue for Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union; secondly, they will defend the right of a Jew from the Soviet Union to settle in the country of his choice; next, they will encourage Jews to go to Israel; then support Jewish upbringing in Jewish families, and finally they will help an individual Jew to maintain his Jewish identity (by giving him the necessary books, for instance).

It is impossibly to say which of these 120 groups is right. I believe all of them are needed. Nevertheless, a specific historical situation may call for advancement of particular groups as being more conducive to expanding the variety of ethnic groups comprising mankind.

So, let us for the sake of definiteness proceed to analyze the Jewish problem from the general to the specific and examine some major issues within this framework.

 

2. Essentiality of diversity of ethnic groups.

First of all, I want to note that I am a proponent of solving the problem by preserving the Jewish race as a distinct ethnic group. I understand that I cannot prove the validity of my point of view. However, the opposite point of view that all ethnic groups ought to be mixed together and assimilation is the true path is not dear to me for general philosophical considerations. It is reasonable to assume that the leading goal of development is differentiation and integration is the accompaniment. Naturally, it is tempting to try to integrate on the basis of sameness, of unification. However, such systems are incapable of developing, and in the end unable to even grow or survive. At the very least what I have said does not contradict past evolution of inorganic as well as organic or social worlds. I believe the same will hold true in the future just because no single system can completely predict the future, on the one hand, and on the other, no single system can function best in this uncertain world while preserving the diversity and the possibility of altering proportions between its elements depending on the prevailing conditions.

Current developments in genetics support the claims of more conservative scientists that genetic make up creates predisposition towards a particular culture. Interesting in this connection is a book by Lumsden, C. and Wilson, E., Genes, Mind, and Culture, Harvard University Press, 1981. The authors claim to undertake the first attempt to follow the chain linking genes, conscienceness and culture. Their concept is structured in such a way as to incorporate all kinds of cultural systems, from protocultures of macaques and chimpanzees to the modern culture of homo sapiens, as well as cultures which can only be construed in the realm of imagination.[6]

Naturally, we should exercise extreme caution when we speak of cause-effect relationships between genes and culture for we are prone to all kinds of primitive racial theories. First of all, we should bear in mind that certain genes are perhaps linked with one's personality which in turn affects, but not determines, an individuals predisposition towards certain type of culture. Furthermore, diversity of genetic structures and a corresponding diversity of cultures of undifferentiated value should be viewed from the standpoint of evolution as the primary unit. From the global evolutionary point of view, preservations and expansion of both the gene pool and cultures is vital.

When I advocate for variety in the above sense of the word I make an explicit assumption that each object belonging to this manifold is not comparable with any other. Only in a particular situation and from a particular perspective can objects be distinguished and their relative importance established. But even here, our comparison is only local and the preservation of the manifold retains its key role.[7] I realize that even the preservation of the manifold is prone to certain dangers: one ethnic group wanting to preserve itself must be on guard against other groups if only to avoid an all out intermixing, because the intentions of other groups having different system of values are not always clear, etc. Perhaps here lie the biological roots of being watchful towards other ethnic groups.

Preservation of the manifold is further complicated by the mechanisms of selection which are aimed primarily at choosing the best alternative under the circumstances. Selection mechanisms can be so rigid as to ruin the manifold. The manifold of ethnic groups and the resulting inequality at a particular point in history may give rise within the selection mechanism to the notion of exclusivity of one particular group. This is especially dangerous in large countries where chauvinism may put the existence of the entire human race in question. Therefore, I understand the arguments of in favor of all people mixing together. Nonetheless it seems to me, based on the discussion above, that the paths to solving world problems ought to be sought in the successful integration and expansion of diversity of ethnic as well as biological and socio-cultural groups[8] each one maintaining its distinct identity, rather than in their unification.

From this point of view, it is essential to resolve the Jewish problem by preserving the ethnic group. Indeed, acknowledging the necessity for a manifold of ethnic groups does not determine how they should be organized. Preservation of the Jewish race poses questions regarding its spatial structuring. In extreme, an ethnic group can either be scattered throughout the world or be concentrated in one region. In general, the existence of home base territory does not exclude the possibility of living in other areas. Neither does it close the question of proportions between the populations in the central land and the peripheries. In other words, here arise a well known problem of the the Jewish state vs. the diaspora. The problem defies an unequivocal solution for neither alternative can proved to be the best.

The critical size of the territory or the number of people which would in effect reduce the role of the diaspora to zero is not known to me. In principle, the presence of statehood for a given ethnic group does not at all mean that "all eggs should be put in one basket".

 

2. Is diaspora needed?

I realize that acknowledging the need for diaspora is subject to strong criticism for it creates the danger of Jewish annihilation especially at times when the host countries experience troubles and they look for a scape goat to appease the native population. In principle, such methods of appeasement can take place in any country. For instance, attempts to solve this problem in the Soviet Union which proclaimed the most favorable conditions for the preservation of the Jewish race lead to many tragedies. Throughout Soviet history, Jews were persecuted under various banners: struggle with Trotskijtes[9], cosmopolitanism, and Zionism.

Not to speak of the danger of assimilation of the Jews in diaspora with the native population. Moreover, my defense of diaspora is inadvertently colored by the personal desire to justify my decision to live in the diaspora.

Still, I risk thinking that there are considerations in favor of combining statehood and the diaspora, particularly if the territory of the state is not very large and it is surrounded by a very hostile environment.[10] These considerations include financial help extended to the Jewish state by the Jews living in wealthy countries; influence of the Jewish lobbies in establishing friendly relations with Israel, and so on and so forth. For instance, from Momzen's History of Rome, the strength of the Judea was in that Jews had, together with their own state, major settlements in the most developed cities of the day - Alexandria and Rome.

The danger of assimilation of the Jews in the diaspora is not so clear cut. Assimilation process in one group of Jews in the diaspora is accompanied by the strengthening of the sense of ethnic identity in another, especially prominent with the appearance of Jewish state. Of course the ratio between these two groups varies from country to country. Perhaps, in free countries where Jews are not afraid to show their ethnic origin, those rejecting assimilation and strengthening their ethnic background comprise the greater share of the Jewish population. This is visible in the USA where growth in interest among Jewish youth to Judaism in the past 30 years scarcely calls forth doubt.

I call this latter phenomenon the "Reverse Pyramid Effect". It is usually thought that the older generation, grandfathers and grandmothers are the most conservative and maintain the religion and culture of their people. Their children are already less inclined toward these things and their grandchildren become completely atheist "without clan or tribe." At the same time, we can also observe opposite tendencies in the diaspora. The present day grandfathers, having grown up in the conditions of assimilationist ideas, often encouraged by the anti-Semitic sentiments of the people among whom they lived, tried to forget their Jewish ancestry. They attempted to find a solution of the problem in renouncing the ideas of their Jewish minded parents. The next generation - their children - became already convinced that escaping Jewishness does not solve the problem. But they still had hopes of adapting to their surroundings along the same lines as their fathers. Yet the grandchildren largely understood the illusion of such an answer to the problem. Thus the pyramid was turned upside down - it exhibits a tendency that its pinnacle will once again consist of Jewishness.

Let me put forth some thoughts which come to mind when we attempt to generalize the history of the Jewish tribe in the diaspora.

There arise four possible combinations generated by two factors - degree of hostility of the environment towards the Jews and the size of the Jewish population. In rather simplistic terms, the degree of hostility can be denoted as either strong or weak and size of the population as either sufficient or insufficient in having the critical mass to preserve the Jewish identity.

Under favorable surroundings but with the size of the population small (in a sense of lacking the critical mass needed to maintain distinct identity) Jews dissolve among the native peoples. This is what happened with old Jewish settlements in China. With hostility from the environment Jews in sufficient numbers can preserve their ethnicity for a limited period of time. An example of this situation are the Jews of Spain during the time of the inquisition when they managed to survive as Marranos. Perhaps, this is also true for Russian Jews especially if we account for the emigration of the active part of the Jews having Jewish identity. Combination of favorable conditions and sufficient size is evident in Jewish communities in England, USA, and some Latin American countries. Nevertheless the historical perspective of this experience is too narrow to make any definite conclusions about the prospects of the Jews in these countries. Hostile environment in conjunction with small population practically leads to disappearance of the Jews. Modern day Poland is an example of this situation.

All this leads me to conclude that the Jewish problem probably defies solution if the Jews want to stay an independent ethnic group in a foreign country.

 

3. The need for a Jewish state. 

It is stressed in the Torah that the Jewish people ought to have land of their own and God promises this and leads them to the land of Canaan.

Of course, the last thesis may be disputed. The Jews survived in diaspora as did the Gypsies (who had no land of their own) and the Armenians. But past experience, both of the Jews and non Jews, is no proof for the future. The lack of statehood could in certain critical situations turn out fatal to a particular ethnic group, especially with the development of inexpensive means of mass destruction and the imbalance between the strength of the armed killers and their defenseless victims.

I further believe that statehood is apparently a necessary (but perhaps insufficient) condition for the stable long-run maintenance of an ethnic community inasmuch as it protects the culture - the genetic code of society, as well as all ethnic institutions stemming from it. History shows that without statehood and without their own territory, Jews have repeatedly become the objects of oppression ranging from attempts at direct physical annihilation of the Jews (at times very successful) to their expulsion from the country where they lived. It is enough to recall the Torah to illustrate this. Some rulers even invited Jews to live their lands and crested favorable conditions for them to do so. But then, when the Jews has become strong there and begun to play a noticeable role in the country's growth, at best they were asked to leave and at worst attempts were made to exterminate them.

   Thus "Abraham dwelt in the land of the Philistines many years as a stranger." (Genesis, 21:34) He lived there in peace under King Abimelech. Then in the days of famine Abraham's son, Isaac, came to the land of the Philistines. He was received joyously. Isaac flourished in his affairs.

 

      "And the man waxed great and he grew more and more until he became very great: he acquired flocks and herds, and a large household, so that the Philistines envied him. And the Philistines stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of his father Abraham, filling them with earth. And Abimelech said into Isaac:  Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we.' And Isaac departed thence. . ." (Genesis, 26:13-17)

 

   Joseph, who ended up by Egypt by accident, was singled out by Pharaoh. Joseph's fame was great and he did much for the flourishing of Egypt and the strengthening of Pharaoh. When Joseph informed Pharaoh that his, Joseph's fame was great and he did much for the flourishing of Egypt and the strengthening of Pharaoh. When Joseph informed Pharaoh that his, Joseph's, father and brothers had come to Egypt,

 

      "Pharaoh spoke unto Joseph saying: Thy father and thy brothers are come unto thee; the land of Egypt is before thee; in the best of the land make thy father and thy brothers to settle; let them dwell in the land of Goshen. And if thou knowest any able men among them, then make them rulers over my livestock.'" (Genesis, 47:5-6)

After Joseph died

"the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them. Now there arose a new king over Egypt who knew not Joseph. And he said unto his people: Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply and it come to pass that there befalleth us a war, they then join themselves unto our enemies and fight against us, and gain ascendancy over the land."(Exodus, 1:7-10)

   Then Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, "Every son that is born ye shall cast into the River..."(Exodus, 1:22)

 

 The end of this story is well know. Jews succeeded in leaving Egypt, overcoming enormous difficulties in the process and under the threat of complete disappearance.

The "Joseph Model", as Prof. B. Moishezon termed it, is instructive through and through. It has been frequently replayed; in just this century "quite successfully" in Germany, USSR, and Poland. Who knows where it will flare up next?

Thus I share the opinion of those who believe that a Jewish state is needed. I also agree with those who have realized already by the end of the XIX century that it is needed now. There was time when God promised Abraham the Land of Canaan for the great nation that shall spring from him. But God said that the time has not come yet, that 300 years are needed "for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full". (Genesis, 15:16) The holocaust demonstrated the validity of the Zionist perspective that the time for establishing a Jewish state had arrived.

Let us further assume that all my arguments in favor of combining the diaspora with the Jewish state are wrong and that all Jews ought to live in their own country. Still, there are difficult problems arising in this connection concerning the creation of such a state.

I anticipate a question a perplexed reader: "What is all this discussion about the creation of Jewish state since such a state, namely Israel, already exists?"

Indeed I share the opinion of those who believe that a Jewish state is needed and needed now. I also share the opinion of those who see in Israel the best solution to this question at present (more on this point later). However, I cannot consider this solution the only possible one as far as solving the problem of Jewish statehood as a whole is concerned.

 

4. Creation of the Jewish state with a view to the past, the present, and the future.

 

The establishment of a Jewish state could go in at least three different directions: with a view to the past, the present or the future.              

According to the first criterion, i.e. with a view to the past, the establishment of a Jewish state is linked with Israel, the land of our ancestors, the Promised Land. This great idea managed to grab hold of millions of Jews and to succeed. In 1948 Israel was created. In a short period of time, Israel established a democratic system (in spite of hostile environment and frequent wars), introduced its own agriculture and industry and put together the pride of Israel - one of the best armies in the world. This is just one more proof that the potential of this nation is so great as to be able to handle new fields that for ages were thought of as foreign to the Jewish people.

On the road to realizing this idea enormous difficulties were encountered insofar as the state was created in a hostile Arab environment supplied with modern weaponry by the great powers. Israel, even if it gathered all the Jews would be hard pressed to produce all various kinds of modern weapons in quantities sufficient to rebuff possible blocks of Muslim countries; the size of the territory makes Israel even more vulnerable.

Take into account that Arab countries have a culture which predisposes them toward authoritarian regimes and rather awkward economic development and aggression; their economic prosperity is ethereal for it hinges on the abundance of one natural resource - oil.[11] Israel on the other hand possesses a culture predisposed towards pluralistic democracy and its counterpart - effective economic development and peaceful foreign policy. Therefore Israel will for a long time represent an unsightly model for Arab countries.[12] But military dependence of little Israel on a great power in an age of advanced armaments will remain strong. Yet great powers have their own interests and may sacrifice their satellites for the sake of these.

Economic problems and the military danger aggravate the problem of attracting and keeping Jews in Israel when they are not faced with any immediate danger in the diaspora. These problems complicate everyday lives of Israelis and make the task of combining this everyday life with a general attachment to the great idea of statehood significantly more difficult.

   Looking toward the present, a Jewish state could be created by the purchase of land (I believe projects were made to buy land in Kenya or Canada or elsewhere). However, the idea of creating a Jewish state by this criterion was not realized further because tradition wasn't with it. For this reason, aggravated even more by the difficulties of its existence (in the sense of a hostile environment), the set of solutions to the problem of Jewish statehood through Jewish autonomy within the borders of an existing great power is unacceptable. It should first of all be noted that large democratic countries do not have such autonomous national entities: these countries primarily develop culture innate to that country. If an ethnic group with its own history and especially its own land happens for some reason to be situated on the territory of such a country it separates into an independent state; an example of this is the separation of Norway from Sweden. Autonomous national entities exist in authoritarian empires but their stability always hangs by a thread because the governing nation attempts to assimilate them for the purpose of control over them (it is good to have unity of language and culture) as well as preventing separatist movements. Therefore, even if instead of Birobidzhan Soviet Jews had received the Crimea, still within the totalitarian Soviet Union, life would nevertheless be unbearable there. Moreover, this autonomy could be revoked at any time.

   With a view toward the future, a Jewish state could be created using pioneering ideas based on new technological means. Let's say, for example, a state could be established on floating artificial islands with the availability of inexpensive thermonuclear energy drawing on unlimited water resources. Already today, on a small scale, such artificial islands are used for the extraction of oil. They want to build them in the coastal waters of Japan and Saudi Arabia on a larger scale. But maintaining the equilibrium of large-scale floating artificial islands would require a lot of energy.

 

   Other fantastic ideas of a Jewish state speak of Jews settling in space.[13] This method is perhaps fraught with even more difficulties in view of the human physiology and its adaptability to prolonged stays in outer space.

These kind of outrageous ideas draw on the Jewish pioneering spirit and might be attractive for a number of Jews who have actively joined in civilization. Recall that the Jewish pioneering spirit has a long history, perhaps longer than the idea of the Promised Land. If we study the biblical history of the Jews, then it's clear from this (naturally in the sense of a hypothesis) that the Jews have been carriers of innovative ideas. Moishezon's series of articles entitled "The Riddles of Ancient Civilizations" in the journal "People and Land" (No. 1,2,3) is enormously interesting in this connection. Let me just cite one excerpt form this series, reminding the reader that anthropologically Jews belong to the Armenoid type.

 

      "Approximately 12,000 years ago sharp changes in the life of peoples on the Earth began. The first dwellings appeared and the first fortified settlements as well as decorations and rock vessels. The first steps were taken toward agriculture and animal husbandry. Archaeologists call these events the "neolithic revolution." The beginning of the neolithic revolution is now connected with the so-called Natufisk culture on the territory of Israel. There the first city was found, the town of "Jericho."

 

      Contemporary data on the development of the Neolithic and subsequent cultures show that viewed as a whole it was a process which was constantly expanding in time and scope. New hearths arose and vanished but in the course of time the Neolithic revolution encompassed all new areas. First northern Mesopotamia and the southern regions of Anatolia, Greece and the Balkans, later the Trans-Caucasus, western and northern Iran, southern Turkmenia and southern Mesopotamia were included. From about the seventh century B.C.E. in Anatolia and northern Mesopotamia cultures began to develop in which pottery and the beginning elements of metallurgy can be found. These cultures correspond to the so-called Halkolite epoch. From them once again waves of progress spread to the west, east and south.

 

      The next archaeological period is the Bronze Era (from 4000 BCE) which, it seems, undisputable had its source in the Gassul- Beersheva culture and the subsequent cultural centers of northern Syria, Shumer and the Caucasus. An analogous picture is drawn as well from analysis of the archaeological and ancient writings record of the so-called Iron Age (from about 1200 BCE).

 

      Aside from the spatial and temporal continuity of the development begun by the Neolithic revolution, archaeologists have found a variety of further links and coincidences of style in cultures separated form one another in addition to simultaneity in a number of significant changes and innovations. It sometimes seems that the process of humankind's progress was only locally determined by freedom of choice and coincidences but as a whole was as if coordinated and directed. Such an almost mystical sensation can be made rational if we assume the presence of a certain continuity and connection within some stable portion of the active human element which intuitively goes beyond the unanimated evidences of archeology.

 

      The evidences of ancient sculpture described earlier and the deformation of skulls as early as Neolithic times as well as the anthropolical correlation between metallurgical centers simply and clearly point in only one direction: the stable portion in the process of cultural evolution in the Neolithic and subsequent eras, that which determined their continuity and connection, were a people, anthropologically belonging to the Armenoid type. Moreover, the Armenoid representation of kings and gods and the connection between the Armenoid deformed heads with their conception of nobility makes a still stronger assumption highly likely. In very ancient times (approximately from 10,000 years BC) the Armenoids were one in the same as the upper class at least in the central part of the Near Eastern cultural center and their expansion basically corresponded with the process of that center's widening."

   Thus, I have briefly described the arguments for and against the variants of the creation of a Jewish state according to three possible criteria. From this description it follows that the idea of founding a Jewish state based on the first criterion, a view toward the past, succeeded because it was based on a very powerful tradition and, moreover, was "technically" attainable. The view to the present apparently failed because in it there was no cementing idea flowing either from the past or toward the future (but connected with the past), and the pragmatism of the present prevailed. The third criterion, a view toward the future, even if it does have a potential for survival from the point of view of exploiting tradition, must first of all become technically feasible. Thus for floating islands in open waters cheap energy is needed in great quantities. Controlled thermonuclear reaction is a source of unlimited amount of cheap energy from independent (in a sense of not belonging to anybody) water sources. But alas! How many more years will it be until this is possible! Scientists put the earliest date at XXI century.

Thus, only the first path to creating a Jewish state remains realistic, the one which was realized.

Furthermore, assume that the Jewish state of Israel is the sole solution to the problem and that all Jews, i.e. Jews not wanting to assimilate, must live in Israel. Still, how can one organize a mass exodus of Jews in diaspora to Israel if they are not yet faced with critical situation in diaspora countries?

 

5. Jewish immigration to Israel.

 

   It is far and away difficult for me not having been born in Israel not possessing deep roots there, and with the opportunity to live under favorable conditions in the diaspora, to move to a country which is a besieged fortress requiring hardness of spirit form the newly arrived and enormous faith in the possibility for a long-term blossoming of Israel.Immigration of Jews to Israel requires time. Time to change the psychology of the people - a factor as objective as their situation in the diaspora.

   The Torah contains many deep reflections on the psychology of Jews faced with radical decisions. When God led the Jews our of Egypt to the Promised Land he could have immediately brought them by way of a short path through the land of the Philistines. Another path was chosen and here is what the Torah has to say on this point:

 

"Now when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although it was nearer; for God said, `The people may have change of heart when they see war, and return to Egypt.' So God led the people round-about, by way of the wilderness at the Sea of Reeds." (Exodus 13.17-18)

As everyone knows, the Jewish people walked through the wilderness to the Promised Land 40 years. This was a punishment to all who had scorned God. Having met with difficulties they were frightened by them since they had grown up in Egypt in slavery and were afraid of enemies and had tasted the benefits of the good life which they had before the arrival of the last Pharaoh. Torah speaks on this point:

"Your carcasses shall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, which have murmured against me.

Doubtless ye shall not come into the land, concerning which I sware to make you dwell therein, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun.

But your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, them will I bring in, and they shall know the land which ye have despised.

But as for you, your carcasses, they shall fall in this wilderness.

And your children shall wander in the wilderness for forty years, and bear your whoredoms, until your carcasses be wasted in the wilderness.

After the number of days in which ye searched the land, even forty days, each day for a year, shall ye bear your iniquities, even forty years, and ye shall know my breach of promise." (Numbers 14, 29-34).

 

In place of conclusion

    By what I have said I do not want to remove from myself the moral guilt for leaving the USSR on an Israeli visas and yet not going to Israel.

   My right was to the leave the Soviet Union and go to any other country which I liked and was prepared to accept me. But the entire question was how to emigrate. There is an ugliness in such an emigration first of all because it was a lie. Of course, much can be said to justify my decision on this point. First of all the ban on lying is not one of the ten commandments (the Torah mentions the unacceptability of lying only in the book of Leviticus, 19:11). And how much our forefathers lied especially in foreign lands (see Genesis, 12:10-20; 20:1-18). But for me a lie is a lie regardless of its purpose.[14] And if a man is too weak and happens to lie, he should not justify it but repent in all manner.

   In leaving the USSR, I also used the slogans under which a group of steadfast Soviet Jews began the campaign for permission to emigrate to their historical homeland, to the Jewish state. They could resoundingly say to me: why didn't you organize your own movement for emigration form the USSR but not to Israel. It seems to me that such an opinion has serious foundations.

 The Soviet leaders were not allowing Jews to go to Israel. They were cynically selling Jews regarded as government property[15] to the US in exchange for detente and the benefits arising for them thereby. Of course, formally it was more comfortable for the Soviet leaders to permit the Jews to go to Israel. It gave them the opportunity to deprive those emigrating of Soviet citizenship even before they left and to avoid all kinds of trouble which the emigrants could cause them if they should want to return to or just visit their friends or relatives in the USSR.

Such revocation of citizenship played upon public opinion for the emigration was to a state with which the given state did not have diplomatic relations.[16] In the eyes of other Soviet peoples having their historic homeland within the borders of the Soviet state the emigration of Jews to Israel also justified the right of the Jews to emigrate (same for Germans; Armenian emigration was explained by the fact that they were not born in the USSR but brought there by their parents after the war). Moreover if Lithuanians or Ukrainians wanted to leave, the government could always claim that these people's land is her - within the boundaries of the USSR and if they want to unite with their countrymen then they may be invited to return to their homelands in the USSR.

 

What conclusions are to be drawn from all which has been said? The reader should once more reexamine his views on the place of Jews in this world, try to better understand the strengths and weakness of various conceptions guiding a Jew in preserving his ethnicity or choosing his country of habitat. But in any case, whatever his personal choice is, let it not be regarded as the sole possible path for evolving such a complex problem.

 

______________________________________________________

[1]I happened to know a man close to Khrushchev working in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He related a conversation he had with one of Khrushchev   aids. The man I knew tried to convince the aid to hire a few smart jews in the CC apparatus arguing that they are needed for the cause. Khrushchev's aid responded: "Are you crazy? No sooner will we take one Jew he will bring others along turn this place into a synagogue and throw both you and me out."

[2]Interesting in this connection is the following statement by an outstanding English economist J. Keynes: "...the ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas. Not, indeed, immediately, but after a certain interval for in the field of economic and political philosophy there are not many who are influenced by new theories after they are twenty-five or thirty years of age, so that the ideas which civil servants and politicians and even agitators apply to current events are not likely to be the newest. But, soon or late, it is ideas, not vested interests, which are dangerous for good and evil." Keynes, J. M., The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, New York: Harcourt Brace, 1936.

[3]Quoted from the newspaper  New Russian Word, January 6, 1988.

[4]In my article , "Plan, Market and Management", Acta Slavica Iaponica, V. II, 1984, pp. 1-24, I gave a number of socio-economic analogies arising from  the contract between an omnipotent God and Man. These analogies explore the possibility of introducing contracts between the ministries and the subordinated plants within the framework of a centralized economy such as the Soviet economy. In that article I wrote that such contacts are impossible in the Soviet Union since the God of the Old Testament concludes a contract with Man because He, God, is in competition with other Gods and seeks to win followers with the help of the contract. In the USSR, on the other hand, the omnipotent government is above all competition.

At the present time, this point of view seems to me to be somewhat of a simplification. It seems there are two things at the foundation of this contract between God and Man: on the one hand it is God's admission of his own imperfection, and on the other it is the greatness of Man and the fact that he is in principal comparable to God. The above mentioned factor of competing among gods could play a role in the contract between God and Man but not a decisive one. Extending the religious analogy to economics, it would be proper to speak of the contracts between large corporations and small outsiders. It is the realization on the part of large corporation of their weaknesses when it come to innovations that leads them to even finance some small outside firms exploring new avenues of technological development.

[5]I am very grateful to M. Berman for discussing with me his methodological ideas regarding analysis of human behavior based on combinatorics of mans priorities. Naturally, he bears no responsibility for conclusions made here in the application of his methodology to the problem in question.

[6]Relative to genetic characteristics of the Jewish race, the reader is referred to the rather provocative appendix "The Formation and Transmission of Jewish "Differential" Characteristics from the Viewpoint of Contemporary Biology" in the book by L. Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism, New York: Schoken Books, 1965.

[7]This approach to the manifold is manifested in western pluralistic political system. Each party elaborates its own unique program for the country as a whole. Since each specific situation calls for one of these programs to be chosen a mechanism of selection comes into play (elections, a parlament which assigns priorites to each program). In no way does this mechanism of selection lead to the dispersion of the manifold. On the contrary, preservation and expansion of diversity is fundamental to Western political systems. 

[8]I once though about a seemingly simple but paradoxical fact that white blonde people whose skin reflects the sun inhabit more northern regions where sun is short supply while black people whose skin absorbs sun rays inhabit southern regions where there is plenty of flaming sun rays.It turns out that black skin is adapted to the burning sun rays because it contains special pigments which protect the skin against overexposure to ultraviolet rays. White skin lacks these pigments. All other conditions being equal, with an increase in the amount of ultraviolet radiation people with black skin (I do not know about people with red and yellow skin) have better survival chances than people with white skin. 

[9]Prof. B. Moishezon told me in private conversation that in his opinion based on the analysis of the documents from the thirties, the term Trotskijte was at that time associated with the Jews. I share his opinion.

An indirect confirmation of this is the following unique fact relayed to me in the mid sixties  by V. Kaplan. She told me that in 1937 (1938) her husband Kaplan was removed from his post in the Stalin's staff where his job was to edit the leader's works. Others of the same nationality were removed from their positions in Stalin's staff at about the same time. Subsequently Kaplan worked as an editor in a union publishing house and only after Stalin's death did he transfer to the Party Committee for the City of Moscow.

In the early thirties the Kaplan family was very goods friends with A. S. Shcherbakov. By then Shcherbakov played an important role in the Party being appointed in 1934 as its representative to the Writers' Union of the USSR. In 1936 he moved to Leningrad (he was appointed the Second Secretary of the Leningrad Province Party Committee), then to Siberia (as the First Secretary of the Eastern Siberian Region Party Committee), and then to Ukraine. When in Moscow on official visits Shcherbakov would usually stay with Kaplans. During one of his visits to Moscow from Siberia to a meeting of then allpowerful  Peoples' Commissar for Internal Affairs N. I. Ezhov Shcherbakov did not stay with the Kaplans. He called them and apologized for having to stay at the "Savoi" Hotel (presently "Berlin") where he is being guarded by a man from NKVD. He promised to call Kaplans after the meeting. The call never came. This was very troubled time and there was nothing unusual in a person not coming home after a meeting with Ezhov. Kaplans were understandably worried. Early in the morning Kaplan's wife went to the hotel. Being a close friend, she woke Shcherbakov up and asked him why he did not call. In response, Shcherbakov reluctantly (or may be from being sleepy) mumbled something about yesterday's meeting with Ezhov who spoke about the many Jews in the ranks of the enemies of the people. Kaplan's wife said "How can you think that, you know it is not true!" The subject of the conversation quickly changed. They stayed together till two in the afternoon talking about various things. At two they were joined by Kaplan. I believe that was their last meeting.         

[10]Interesting in this connection is the role of the diaspora for Russian and Ukranian people. Russia is country of vast territory and large population; its diaspora is relatively insignificant. Russians that have left Russia assimilate fairly quickly and absorb the culture of the "host" country. Still the presence of the first and second generation is important. For instance, Russian refugees in the West after First and Second World Wars were largely responsible for preserving the great works of Russian literature. It was in the West that the Russian emigrants published more or less complete works of A. Akhmatova, N. Gumilev, O. Mandelstam as well as others.

With Ukranians the situation is very different. Ukraine became part of the Russian empire and the danger of its russification lurks great. Here the role of the Ukrainian diaspora in preserving the Ukrainian culture is immeasurable. We see how much Ukranians of diaspora strive to maintain their ethnic culture and in spite of strong assimilation tendencies they have largely succeeded.    

[11]It is not an accident that S. Kuznets in his book Modern Economic Growth (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966) excluded Arab countries from consideration. While many of these countries have high GNP their development hinges on a single product and therefore does not satisfy the requirements of modern economic growth.

[12]I want to note in passing that the state of Israel with its amplified dynamism  will represent an unpleasant model for its neighbors no matter who these neighbors happen to be.

[13]I cannot vow for this rumor but I heard that one Jewish millionaire has even set aside money for a  foundation, located in New York, to stimulate research on the  possibility of settling Jews in space.

[14]I share the  opinion of Solzhenitsyn that above all one must not live by lies.   Unfortunately, I cannot agree with Solzhenitsyn's embodiment of  his own convictions.  As Vladimir Bukovskij, I think, said,  Solzhenitsyn calls on us not to live by the lies of all truths  and untruths, and for myself I add half truths as well, which is  no better.

[15]Here I want to note that the Soviet Union is a totalitarian country meaning that all capital goods, natural resources, and people belong to the state.

[16]I cannot attest to the exactness of the fact, but unofficial instruction regarding the emigration from the Soviet Union states that Soviet citizenship is revoked when a person emigrates to such countries as Israel or the Republic of South Africa.

 

 

   

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