Sunday, May 18, 2008

Quote of the day

The Jews lived in Europe for centuries, but without ever being accepted as “European”: To enjoy their belated acceptance as Europeans, they had to move to the Middle East. Reviled on the Continent as sinister rootless cosmopolitans with no conventional national allegiance, they built a conventional nation state, and now they’re reviled for that, too. The “oldest hatred” didn’t get that way without an ability to adapt.
Mark Steyn.


dearieme said...

Not European? Ho hum. Well, if you make a fuss about your ancestors coming from the Near East, then indeed you are asking to be viewed as non-European. But that's not the same as being abysmally treated. Were Jews abysmally treated in post-Cromwell Britain, or the Netherlands or Italy? Bad treatment may be true of late-medieval Spain, and intermittently of France and of parts of Germany. But then Spain and France had a record of treating Protestants pretty abysmally too. Isn't he generalising from essentially two things -(i( the Nazi holocaust, and (ii) the Russian pogroms? And isn't he in some way accusing my ancestors of a nastiness they had no part in simply on the racialist grounds that they were European? These Europeans, they all stick together and get up to no good.

Peter Risdon said...

You have a point, though Steyn was also writing about his own ancestors. There was a sense, so far as I can see, of otherness among Jews themselves, in Europe, though this undoubtedly owes something to the fact that they were from the start to some extent an involuntary diaspora. That continues, and suggests that multiculturalism isn't going to be a long term success, to be mild about it.

But I think you underplay the oppression they have suffered; Henry II felt it necessary to prohibit the attacking of Jews on sight, assuming the debts of the Jews was a recurring revenue raising exercise for English Kings, and I have lived in a place, Glasgow, where the expression 'Jewboy' was common currency.

We have also conveniently forgotten how widespread anti-Semiticism was in France and Britain in the 1930s (I have a post brewing that features Mosely's reflections on this).

I think Steyn's point remains valid, overall.