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The Grand Old Game of Diagnosis

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL by James Waterman Wise; E. P Dutton and Company, New York, 1926 $1.00.


THIS is a frank treatment of the Jew-problem from the point of view of the modern Jew contributed by Rabbi Wise's son to the "Today and Tomorrow Series."

Mr. Wise dismisses all superficial explanations of the sharp cut distinction between Jew and Gentile. He ascribes it not to religion, nor to surface racial characteristics, but to an innate emotional feeling present from the beginning in the Jew, strengthened and intensified by centuries of persecution during the Middle Ages. This feeling is expressed in that strong group Jewish clannishness which makes Israel a problem.

It was to be expected that any present day treatment of the Jew would lay emphasis on the quite secondary but popular problems of religion and of Palestine. Mr. Wise's attitude toward the former is an assumption that as theological faith it will disappear along with theological Christianity. Of Palestine, while enthusing over its possibilities as an experimental station for Jewish ideals, the author admits that it cannot solve the Jewish problem as such.

It is in the last chapter, on the "Future of Israel's Soul," that Mr. Wise becomes important. Since the difference between Jew, that is the average Jew, and Gentile will continue indefinitely, since Palestine is a subject for interest to the Jew which will not affect this difference, what are the future relations between this people and the rest of the world to be?

The basic reason for the undeniable antipathy toward the Jew is the division of his loyalty between the society in which he lives and that indefinable Jewish group consiousness mentioned above. This places him apart to a certain extent from the position and duties in society of the non-Jew. One often hears the remarks at Harvard that the average Jew contributes nothing to the life of the University. He only takes. In a narrow and superficial sense this is true, and it might be applied to the average Jew and the world. But the Jew has made great contributions to the progress of education in general, as he has to religion, economics, science, philosophy, music and a dozen other fields of activity. This same loyalty of his which makes him moderately free spiritually and emotionally of ties binding other people perhaps is partially responsible for the courageous independence so characteristic of Jewish thought. The future then lies in the sane recognition of the marked difference between Jew and Gentile, and the mutual benefits which ultimately arise from it. As Mr. Wise concludes, "For if once it be accepted as a fact that the Jewish group, the Jewish people, even the Jewish problem, is not to disappear but is to go on as a distinctive part of the composite life of the world, there may come into and through the life of Israel much that will be of value both to itself and to all mankind."

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