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“A Certain Type of Liberalism”: Minority Rights in Jewish Liberal Discourse, 1848–1948

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Jews, Liberalism, Antisemitism

Part of the book series: Palgrave Critical Studies of Antisemitism and Racism ((PCSAR))

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Abstract

The story of Jews and liberalism has long been told as a unidirectional process by which Jews relinquished premodern collective autonomy in order to become individual citizens. But over the course of the century from 1848 to 1948 Jewish political thinkers in Europe and North America nourished an alternative communitarian tradition of liberalism with group rights. This chapter reconstructs this overlooked political tradition, examining in the process how experiences of empire, nationalism, and internationalism shaped the political imaginary of Jews in the framework of the modern nation-state.

For comments and critique, I am grateful to Jacob Abolafia, Julie Cooper, Arie M. Dubnov, William Forbath, Jaclyn Granick, Abigail Green, Nathan Kurz, Lisa Moses Leff, Charles Lesch, Simon Levis Sullam, Samuel Moyn, Michael Silber, and Eliyahu Stern.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Reinhold Niebuhr, “Jews after the War,” The Nation, Feb. 21, 1942, 215.

  2. 2.

    Gedaliah Bublick, “Vi azoy der yidisher natsionalizm iz anderzh fun goyishe natsionalizm,” Morgn-zhurnal, July 29, 1945, 6.

  3. 3.

    Hayim Greenberg, “Notes on the Melting-Pot,” Jewish Frontier, April 1944, 26–28, reprinted in Mark A. Raider, ed., The Essential Hayim Greenberg: Essays and Addresses on Jewish Culture, Socialism & Zionism, 230.

  4. 4.

    Aaron Revel, “Observation on Behalf of the Jews of Avignon for the National Convention,” quoted in translation in Shmuel Trigano, The Democratic Ideal and the Shoah: The Unthought in Political Modernity, 16.

  5. 5.

    Nomi Maya Stolzenberg and David N. Myers, “Community, Constitution, and Culture: The Case of the Jewish Kehillah,” University of Michigan Journal of Legal Reform 25, nos. 3–4 (1992): 635, 669; Wendy Brown, “Rights and Identity in Late Modernity: Revisiting the ‘Jewish Question,’” in Austin Sarat and Thomas Kearns, eds., Identities, Politics, and Rights, 88–93.

  6. 6.

    Greenberg, “Notes on the Melting-Pot,” 230.

  7. 7.

    Duncan Bell, “What Is Liberalism?” Political Theory 42, no. 6 (2014): 682–715.

  8. 8.

    For a recent survey of this burgeoning literature, see David Myers, “Rethinking Sovereignty and Autonomy: New Currents in the History of Jewish Nationalism,” Transversal 13 (2015): 44–51.

  9. 9.

    James Loeffler, “Between Zionism and Liberalism: Oscar Janowsky and Diaspora Nationalism in America,” AJS Review 34, no. 2 (2010): 289–308; Noam Pianko, Zionism and the Roads Not Taken: Rawidowicz, Kaplan, Kohn (Bloomington, Ind.: University of Indiana Press, 2010); Daniel Greene, The Jewish Origins of Cultural Pluralism: The Menorah Association and American Diversity; Daniel Katz, All Together Different: Yiddish Socialists, Garment Workers, and the Labor Roots of Multiculturalism.

  10. 10.

    Joshua Shanes, Diaspora Nationalism and Jewish Identity in Habsburg Galicia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013); James Loeffler, “‘The Famous Trinity of 1917′: Zionist Internationalism in Historical Perspective,” Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 15 (2016): 211–238; Gil Rubin, “The Future of the Jews: Planning for the Postwar Jewish World, 1939–1946,” Columbia University Ph.D. Dissertation, 2017; Dmitry Shumsky, Beyond the Nation-State.

  11. 11.

    On the problem of nomenclature, see Kai Struve, “‘Nationale Minderheit’: Begriffgeschichtliches zu Gleichheit und Differenz,” Leipziger Beitrage zur juedischen Geschichte und Kultur 2, no. 2 (2004): 233–58.

  12. 12.

    See the important new contribution of Jaclyn Granick, “Humanitarian Responses to Jewish Suffering Abroad by American Jewish Organizations, 1914–1929,” Ph.D. Thesis, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, 2015.

  13. 13.

    James Loeffler, Rooted Cosmopolitans, 3–31.

  14. 14.

    Quoted in Struve, “‘Nationale Minderheit’,” 242.

  15. 15.

    See Ian Reifowitz, “Threads Intertwined: German National Egoism and Liberalism in Adolf Fischhof’s Vision for Austria,” Nationalities Papers 29, no. 3 (2001): 452–453; Ian Reifowitz, Imagining an Austrian Nation, 37–88; Mikhael Gratz, “Me-liberalizm le-torah le’umit-‘otonomistit: Adolf Fishhof, 1816–1893,” in Shmuel Almog, et al. eds., Temurot be-historiyah ha-yehudit he-hadashah, 133–34; and Arieh Manchur, “Hagdarah ‘atsmit ve-otonomiyah le’umit be’meah ha-19 - Torato shel Adolf Fishhof,” Kivunim 10 (1981): 93–105; Kai Struve, Bauern und Nation in Galizien: über Zugehörigkeit und soziale Emanzipation im 19. Jahrhundert, 265–309.

  16. 16.

    David Rechter, “A Nationalism of Small Things: Jewish Autonomy in Late Habsburg Austria,” Leo Baeck Institute Yearbook 52 (2007): 90, 96–100; Marsha Rozenblit, Reconstructing a National Identity, 122–24; Marcos Silber, “The Metamorphosis of Pre-Dubnovian Autonomism into Diaspora Jewish Nationalism,” in Minna Rozen, ed., Homelands and Diasporas, 235–55; Joshua Shanes, “Fort mit den Hausjuden! Jewish Nationalists Engage Mass Politics,” in Michael Berkowitz, ed., Nationalism, Zionism and Ethnic Mobilization of the Jews in 1900 and Beyond, 174–78.

  17. 17.

    Dmitry Shumsky, “Leon Pinsker and ‘Autoemancipation!’: A Reevaluation,” Jewish Social Studies 18, no. 1 (Fall 2011): 33–62; Shumsky, Beyond the Nation-State, 24–49; Bella Vernikova, “Atributsiia statei L’va Pinskera v Russko-Evreiskoi pechati, 1860–1880,” Vestnik Evreiskogo universiteta 26 (2003): 41–94; Marc Volovici, “Leon Pinsker’s Autoemancipation! and the Emergence of German as a Language of Jewish Nationalism,” Central European History 50, no. 1 (March 2017): 34–58.

  18. 18.

    Simon Rabinovitch, Jewish Rights, National Rites, 52–78.

  19. 19.

    Quoted in Gassenschmidt, Jewish Liberals in Russia, 1900–1914, 21–22; Rabinovitch, Jewish Rights, 52–61.

  20. 20.

    Quoted in Brian Horowitz, Jewish Philanthropy and Enlightenment in Late-Tsarist Russia, 182.

  21. 21.

    Quoted in Brian Horowitz, Empire Jews, 3.

  22. 22.

    See the discussions in Marcos Silber, Leʼumiyut shonah, ezrahut shavah! Ha-maʼamats le-hasagat ‘otonomyah li-Yehude Polin be-milhemet ha-ʻolam ha-rishonah, and David Rechter, The Jews of Vienna and the First World War.

  23. 23.

    Loeffler, Rooted Cosmopolitans, 28.

  24. 24.

    Louis Brandeis, “The Jewish Problem, and How to Solve It [1915], reprinted in Brandeis on Zionism: A Collection of Addresses and Statements by Louis D. Brandeis, 17.

  25. 25.

    Brandeis, “The Jewish Problem,” 13.

  26. 26.

    Morris Cohen, “Zionism: Tribalism or Liberalism?,” The New Republic, March 8, 1919, 182.

  27. 27.

    Horace Kallen, “Zionism and Liberalism,” (1919) reprinted in Kallen, Judaism at Bay (New York: Bloch Publishing, 1932), 112–113. See also Noam Pianko, “‘The True Liberalism of Zionism’: Horace Kallen, Jewish Nationalism, and the Limits of American Pluralism,” American Jewish History 94, no. 4 (2008): 317.

  28. 28.

    James Loeffler, “Nationalism without a Nation? On the Invisibility of American Jewish Politics,” Jewish Quarterly Review, 105, no. 3 (Summer 2015): 367–398; William Forbath, “Constitutionalism, Human Rights, and the Genealogy of Jewish American Liberalism: A Comment,” in James Loeffler and Moria Paz, eds., The Law of Strangers, 118–140.

  29. 29.

    Michael N. Barnett, The Star and the Stripes.

  30. 30.

    Rebecca Klein-Pejšová, Mapping Jewish Loyalties in Interwar; Tatjana Lichtenstein, Zionists in Interwar Czechoslovakia; 32–57; Shlomo Netzer, Maʼavak Yehude Polin ʻal zekhuyotehem ha-ezrahiyot veha-leʼumiyot (1918–1922).

  31. 31.

    Loeffler, “‘Famous Trinity,’” 224.

  32. 32.

    Quoted in Loeffler, Rooted Cosmopolitans, 2.

  33. 33.

    Loeffler, Rooted Cosmopolitans, 93. For insightful discussion of liberal ambivalence towards Jewish collective difference during the Holocaust, see Tony Kushner, The Holocaust and the Liberal Imagination, 201, 207.

  34. 34.

    Quoted in James Loeffler, “The Particularist Pursuit of American Universalism: The American Jewish Committee’s 1944 ‘Declaration on Human Rights,’” Journal of Contemporary History 50, no. 2 (2014): 277.

  35. 35.

    Speech by Jacob Blaustein, 1950, Jacob Blaustein Papers, Johns Hopkins University Archives, Folder VV-1-31.

  36. 36.

    Oscar Janowsky, “Introduction,” in Brandeis, The Jewish Problem, 3.

  37. 37.

    Max Laserson, “The Legal Rehabilitation of European Jews,” The Reconstructionist, March 31, 1944, 10.

  38. 38.

    Alexander Pekelis, “Group Sanctions against Racism,” reprinted in Milton Konvitz, ed., Law and Social Action, 188.

  39. 39.

    Alexander Pekelis, “Full Equality in a Free Society: A Program for Jewish Action,” reprinted in Konvitz, Law and Social Action, 219.

  40. 40.

    J. F. Flaiszer [Jacob Talmon], “The Jewish Case at the Paris Peace Conference,” Oct. 20, 1946, American Jewish Archives, World Jewish Congress Collection, MS-361, Series B, Box 64, Folder 16. See also Nathan Kurz, “In the Shadow of Versailles: Jewish Minority Rights at the 1946 Paris Peace Conference,” JBDI / DIYB • Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook 15 (2016): 187–210.

  41. 41.

    “Liberal Europe,” New Palestine, July 13, 1945, 235.

  42. 42.

    “Resolutions adopted by the WJC,” Congress Weekly, Aug. 20, 1948, 15.

  43. 43.

    Letter from Moses Moskowitz to Edward Lawson, Jacob Blaustein Papers, Box 2.90, Folder L-2-11.

  44. 44.

    “The Case against Genocide,” Congress Weekly, April 16, 1948, 13; Robert Marcus, Memo, April 6, 1948, AJA, MS-361, Series B, Box 84, Folder F7.

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Loeffler, J. (2020). “A Certain Type of Liberalism”: Minority Rights in Jewish Liberal Discourse, 1848–1948. In: Green, A., Levis Sullam, S. (eds) Jews, Liberalism, Antisemitism. Palgrave Critical Studies of Antisemitism and Racism. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-48240-4_15

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