< Back

War and Jewish History: Presidential Address

Albert M. Hyamson

<plain_text><page sequence="1">War and Jewish History1 By Albert M. Hyamson, O.B.E., F.R.Hist.S. It is but a truism to say that Jewish history fits itself into several compartments that at a superficial glance may be thought to be independent or almost independent of one another. In the first place one can divide Jewish history into the histories of the several Jewish communities, each to a large extent self-contained, in England, Poland, Spain, among countries?Venice, Rome, Vienna, complete entities among smaller groups?but not infrequently touching one another. On a wider canvas one may group Jewish history as the history of the Jews in the Eastern Lands, in Spain and Latin America, if one likes, in the British Empire or the English-speaking world. Jewish history of this character may as a matter of convenience be termed the History of the Jews. Yet although these separate histories are distinct and largely self-contained there are one or more currents common to them all, a thread that connects all the Jewries of the world of all times with one another. In this sense the history of the Jews, although it can be and often is separated into many parts, is one, and thus merges into the History of Jewry. However, Jewish history, taken as a whole, can be divided on other than a geographical basis. The history of Jewry also falls easily into two parts, also connected and touching one another, but perhaps less closely than the histories of the Jews in Amsterdam and of those in London touch. These two parts of the history of Jewry can be defined as the History of Judaism?the internal life and development of the people and its thought?and the history of the Jewish people, of the relations of Jews and the universal Jewish community with the outer world?the external history of Jewry. The beginning of the study of the History of Judaism at once convinces the student, if he has not already realized the fact, that Judaism is something more than a religion in the sense that the other universal religions are religions?to some extent a civilization and a way of life, but still something more. Judaism, he will find, is also a history and a tradition. Thus there is far more scope for the historian in the History of the Jews, to use a convenient term which like all other convenient terms is concise if not strictly accurate, than merely to narrate the exploits of Jewish leaders and groups of Jews throughout the ages, even when their spiritual and intellectual development is taken into account. This afternoon I propose to speak to you on the subject of War and Jewish history, a section of what I have just termed the History of Jewry. To give expression to another truism, for which I hope you will forgive me, the history of Jewry falls into two periods and here again I use a convenient phrase, for the earlier period should more accurately be termed the History of Israel or of Israel and Judah. The earlier of these periods is the one in which Israel formed a gradually developing political entity, a state, at times sovereign independent, as the modern phrase goes, sometimes, very often, under the close control of a neighbouring empire. This period came to an end in the year 70 or at the latest with the unsuccessful revolt of Bar Gochba in 135. In this earlier period Jewry, although it hardly ever attacked a neighbour, apart from its kindred nation, was frequently at war, almost always Presidential Address delivered before the Jewish Historical Society of England, 18th October, B</page><page sequence="2">2 WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY a victim of aggression, if not the object of covetousness on the part of an adversary, then of hatred because it would not conform to its wishes. With the completion of the Dispersion and the end of a Jewish state, the second period of Jewish history, which stretches down to the present day, commences. Throughout the succeeding nineteen centuries Jewry has had an uninterrupted history, but a history of a people, of a civilization, of a way of life, rather than of a nation. Jewry was never again able to wage any war of its own. It had not the means, constitutional or material, of waging a war, even if it had wished to do so. Yet Jewry, or large sections of Jewry, at times found themselves involved in wars not of their own making or of their own choice. Involved not as practical participants, although individual Jews fought in the armies of many nations and there were occasions on which Jews fought on one side or the other as Jews in Jewish formations, the most recent but by no means the only instances in our own day, but in consequence of the influence on the fortunes of Jews and of Jewry of wars in which they had no formal part, in the causes of which they had no direct interest. So active and so useful were these Jewish soldiers on occasion on the battlefield that the story runs that in one of the innumer? able wars in Spain between Moslems and Christians, the Christian king actually suggested to his Moslem opponent that the impending battle should be deferred until the Monday so that the combatants should be free to pursue their worship on the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday respectively. There were considerable bodies of Jews in both armies. At the best Jews and Jewries in these wars were but pawns played by some stronger power. Jewry was never at war during this long period, although it was often the victim of a war over which it had no influence, the causes and objects of which were in no sense its concern. Of course Jews suffered from the wars waged in or near their own countries, like all other human beings who fell within their orbit. The people, the common people, in which almost without exception Jews are to be included, have never benefited, nay, may be said to have invariably suffered, from every war. Throughout the history of the Jews runs one almost continuous thread?war brings only mis? fortune to Jews and to Jewry. Even the English wars of the Middle Ages, by their impoverishment of the members of the small Jewish community of England?to secure the means of waging these wars intolerable burdens were imposed on the richer members of the Anglo-Jewish community?decreased their value to the king, and their economic value to the state. An element that was no longer an appreciable object of taxation was considered of little concern and in consequence the influences that led to the Expulsion in 1290 were not diminished but increased by these con? tinuous wars between English and French rulers. Most of the wars with which Europe has wounded itself have thus affected and harmed Jews and individual Jewries. But there have been a few of the major wars of history that have had a far greater influence on Jewry as a whole or in large measure than the slaughter of individuals or the destruction of self-contained or almost self-contained Jewish communities. Take for instance the series of wars, or the long extended war, known as the Crusades. We know that these wars were initiated with massacres of Jews and destruction of Jewries in Northern France and the neighbouring German regions, so thorough that the greater part of Jewry in that part of Europe was laid waste. As a defence of the criminals came a recrudescence of fabricated charges against the Jews such as desecration of the Host, poisoning of wells, ritual murder, even treason or hostility to the constitutional authorities. If</page><page sequence="3">WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY 3 that were all, terrible as the consequences were to hundreds, nay thousands, of Jewish individuals the effects would not have passed beyond them and the small communities in which they lived. Before the Crusades the Jews of Germany to a large extent dwelt in peace. They were treated as the equals of their neighbours with similar rights and privileges and disabilities, with respect, each man judged for himself and not by the extraneous conditions of race or religion. In those days the problems of race or nationality did not arise. A man was the subject of one ruler or another, not the citizen of some specific state or the victim of the doctrine of irredenta or its converse. The Crusades may be deemed the opening of the modern period of Jewish history, which, despite interludes of light, cannot be termed a happy one. They opened with a great outburst of anti-Jewish hatred, aroused and fuelled by the intense religious fervour dependent on its part on religious, i.e. anti-Jewish prejudice, which made the Crusades in the first instance possible. By many the killing of a Jew was considered a sort of vicarious atonement, almost as praiseworthy as the killing of a Moslem. In Palestine the entry of the Crusaders meant the end of the Jewish community that had again grown up there. However by no means all of the Jews of the Rhineland and Northern France were killed. Relatively large numbers escaped and fled eastwards. Poland was then a great kingdom and flourished under a relatively liberal autocracy. The Jewish fugitives who reached the frontiers of Poland were welcomed by king and people, that is to say the small section of the people that was politically of any consequence. Sympathy with the fugitives may have helped towards the welcome?there was some charity in human nature even in those days?but apart from any sentiment, the benefit that Jewish merchants and organizers might bring to a polity, practically devoid of a middle class, was realized. The welcome was therefore certainly not entirely one of charity. Personal or national benefit also came into consideration. Before the influx that followed the opening of the Crusades the Jewish population of Poland was insignificantly small. From the twelfth century it began to take its place as one of the great centres of Jewry, ultimately to become the largest and in thought the greatest and most influential, the spiritual and intellectual centre of the Jews of the world. The refugees from Western Europe brought with them their own language which has survived until to-day, with not very great changes, as the lingua franca of the greater part of Jewry. Yiddish, very close to the Middle High German of the Middle Ages, is not the only gift of Polish Jewry, whose existence may be said to be a consequence of the Wars of the Crusades, to the Jewries of the World. There is now in almost every Jewish centre a Polish-Jewish element that has brought with it the Polish-Jewish way of thought and way of life. In some cases it has disappeared or practically disappeared, but it has always left a legacy. There are few if any Jewish communities to-day in which there is not some influence emanating originally from Poland. The building up of Polish Jewry was, however, not the only direct consequence of the Crusades so far as Jewry was concerned. At the period at which they com? menced European Jews were in effect the only international merchants. To go into the reasons for this is not necessary : they are doubtless familiar. However the fact was that the Jews had the monopoly of international trade between Europe and the East and also one can say of international thought. To the Europeans, apart from the Jews, the world ended in effect at the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles if not further west. Beyond these straits lay an unknown country. But the Jew had pene</page><page sequence="4">4 WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY trated into it and with his passion for travel and for wandering was continuing to penetrate it. To him it was not an unknown country. He had correspondents and acquaintances there and whenever he returned from the East he brought back with him its products?the eagerly sought after luxuries of the nobleman, and the rich merchant and even of the opulent priest. The trade with the East, a lucrative one, was in effect entirely in the hands of Jews. The Crusades, by opening up the lands of the Levant, and indirectly their hinterland, changed this. Non-Jew as well as Jew was now familiar with and in Western Asia. Trade between Europe and Asia was no longer a monopoly of Jews. Jews for long, almost to this day, continued to be engaged in this trade, but their former position of paramountcy disappeared when this region was opened by the Crusades, and the activities of large numbers of Jews who would otherwise have continued on the lines followed by their fathers had to take a new direction. But the opening of the east to the Christian trader meant much more than competition to his Jewish colleague and forerunner. Competition was not sufficient : it was monopoly that was desired, and monopoly not only in the East but also in the West. Among the expanding body of Christian merchants the jealousy of the Jewish merchant took hold and the Jews of Europe were gradually forced out of legitimate trading even in the lands of their birth and into such occupa? tions as money-lending, thereby increasing still further the number of their enemies. The last Crusade is dated by the year 1270 although the last soldier of the Cross to enter Palestine to fight the Unbelievers had done so more than seventy years earlier. But the last Crusade was not the last of the wars of Christianity against the Unbeliever. There were others, for instance the wars waged between the supporters of the Church and the followers of John Huss in the fifteenth century. These also were no concern of the Jews, whose only wish was to remain neutral. But the Hussites were heretics and Jews lived among them in Bohemia. In the then state of public opinion the suggestion that the Hussite heresy owed at least much to Jewish inspira? tion rose almost spontaneously in the minds of the mob and perhaps of their leaders. The early victories of the heretics or reformers were avenged on the Jews of Bohemia and when the Imperial forces finally defeated their enemy there was left an aftermath so far as the Jews were concerned of physical persecution and the revival of anti Jewish church legislation that had passed into desuetude. From the foregoing we can deduce the influence on the fortunes of Jewry of one long-drawn-out war. Now let us turn to another war or series of wars, those of the French Revolution, which still less concerned Jewry as a whole or even any section of Jewry, in which as warriors individual Jews took part only in a few instances. Until that explosion of human forces Jewry, apart from a few numerically unimportant fragments, was still, one might say, in the era of the Middle Ages The world as a whole had pro? ceeded far from there, but not so the Jews. The ghetto system still prevailed, in many cases by statute, in others by custom, throughout almost the whole of Jewry. The Jewries of the Continent were self-contained, living apart to a large extent, certainly in the most important relations of life, from the surrounding population, living their own lives, thinking their own thoughts, and except in trade and in the irksome necessity of dealing occasionally with the governing authorities?unconscious of, certainly unconcerned with, the existence of other peoples. The wars of the French Revolution swept all of this away. In France itself Jews who had hitherto, apart from a small number of Sephardim, been confined to Alsace, an inheritance from the period when that province was a part of Germany, were after an interval free to live</page><page sequence="5">WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY 5 in any part of the Empire as French citizens in the fullest sense. Neighbouring lands as they passed under French conquest and influence underwent a similar change. Wherever French influence penetrated the Jew was released from the ghetto in which he had been confined, or had confined himself, for centuries. Then also the reign of liberty and equality opened, liberty and equality for Jew as well as for Gentile. Even in matters that concerned Judaism as a religion and a philosophy a considerable relaxation came in the wake of the Revolution. The spirit of reform was abroad. The rule of authority was being undermined. People were no longer satisfied to accept what they were told and began to question matters even that they had been taught to believe were above human reason and were divinely inspired. This development of course began before the outbreak of the Revolution but the Revolution gave it a great impetus. One direction it took was a tendency to modernize, to Westernize Judaism and even to go further. Above all, the French Revolution and its aftermath brought to the end the concept that the Jews of the world con? stituted one nation. One religious community was admitted : perhaps one people, but politically, in Western Europe at any rate, Jews were considered members of the British, French, American nations, of the nation of whose state they were citizens. It is true that after the fall of Napoleon there was a reaction and in some places the ghetto walls were re-erected and remained for some years longer. But the first shots fired in the War of the French Revolution had their permanent effects. There was a break with the past, and the position and prospects of the Jews of Europe never became again as they were previous to 1791. A new era opened in the story of the Jewish people. The influence of the Revolution and the legislation regarding Jews that followed in its wake even showed itself in Russia, then the darkest and most reactionary region in Europe, and the early days of the nineteenth century saw a liberalizing of the attitude of the governing authorities to the relatively large and, from the new European point of view obscurantist, Jewish population. So rapid and outstanding was the change, so far as the Jews of France were concerned, that in the course of little more than two generations France passed from a state in which the residence of Jews was virtually forbidden to the seat of one of the two or three leading and most influential Jewries of the world. I return to the east of Europe. We have seen how the Crusades shifted, albeit not in one lightning stroke but gradually, perhaps hardly perceptibly as the story of humanity always moves, the centre of North European Jewry from the west, in Germany and Northern France, to the east, in Poland. A somewhat similar outbreak of war, not religious, but political and economic in its incentive, was half a millennium later to begin the movement, which is perhaps culminating in our time, to shift the centre of Jewry?this time not merely of Northern Europe?back from the east to the west. There were Jewish settlements in Russia, in the great region now known as that of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics so long ago as the year 1000 and earlier. In fact Russian Jewry, to use a convenient term, was undoubtedly large and important in those days. The story of the kingdom of the Khazars, of which most that is known is derived from the correspondence between its king and Hasdai ibn Shaprut, the Jewish scholar, physician, and man of affairs who was at the same time Vizier to the Caliph of Cordoba in the tenth century, gives evidence of that. Russian Jewry must in those days have been of some importance and influence for the ruler and a large part at least of the governing class of his kingdom to adopt Judaism and to continue its allegiance to it, despite difficulties that afterwards arose.</page><page sequence="6">6 WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY The kingdom of the Khazars in course of time succumbed to the attacks of the Muscovites. The Royal family fled to Spain where it became absorbed in the Jewish community. Among the people Judaism, reinforced from without by natural born Jewish immigrants, continued for a time. With the barriers between Khazaria and the neighbouring Russian lands removed, movement from one to the other became relatively easy. The Jews of Khazaria spread north and west and became a part of Russian Jewry and was so when the Tartar invasions of the middle of the thirteenth century drew down a curtain over that Jewry that remained impene? trable for centuries. These invasions, another series of wars, cut off a great and virile section of Jewry from the parent stem. If they had never been waged the course of Jewish history in Eastern Europe, and perhaps in the whole of Europe and America, would have followed a different line. The Tartar invasion of 1240 was the first but by no means the only invasion from the East that left its permanent impress on the fortunes of Jewry. Poland was also invaded, but more fortunate than its eastern neighbours was able to repel the invaders : but only at a very great cost, at one that left the towns smoking ruins and their inhabitants decimated. The middle class, in so far as there had been one, disappeared and with it went the nascent industry and commerce of the country. The rulers of the state realized the existence of the gap which they recognized their own subjects could not fill. To fill it they offered generous hospitality to the neigh? bouring population of the German states, and these responded, Jews as well as Christians. The immigration of Jews from Germany was given its first impetus, as has already been mentioned, a century and a half earlier by the Wars of the Crusades. Another war, that of the Tartars against the Christians, gave this immigration a second impetus and thus helped to build up the great Polish Jewry that continued until our own day. Incidentally this German-Jewish immigration, reinforcing the earlier one of the first victims of the Crusades, a direct consequence of the Tartar invasion of Europe, brought reinforcement also to Yiddish, the Judaeo-German language. The newcomers brought with them their own German language. It underwent changes under local influences in the course of the succeeding centuries, but in its essentials it remained the language that was spoken in Germany in the thirteenth century. I had a curious confirmation of this when I was in Danzig some twenty years ago when my host one Friday night, a Jewish doctor of medicine, mentioned that during the war of 1914 he had been stationed in Warsaw, where some regiments from Alsace were quartered. He found that the Alsatians with their German dialect, differing in some respects from modern German and retaining some of the medieval characteristics, found themselves able to understand with little difficulty the Yiddish of the Jews of Warsaw, and the latter were able to converse with the soldiers from Alsace. For centuries Poland was the land of happiness and of refuge for the Jews of Europe?almost a spiritual el Dorado. The Jews lived there contentedly in their own autonomous communities, under their own laws. It was not until the middle of the seventeenth century when, as a consequence of another invasion from the East?a war in which again Jewry was not directly concerned?that this happy state of affairs came to an end. The lands in which the Jews of Eastern Europe dwelt were again ravaged with fire and sword and in the common destruction the Jewish privileges and the Jewish prosperity were engulfed. The rising of the Hetman Chmielnicki was in its origin a revolt of the Cossacks</page><page sequence="7">WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY 7 of the Ukraine against the oppression of their Polish masters. The revolt was economic and religious as well as political. On political grounds the Cossacks could have no hostility to the Jews, but in the economic sphere the Jews were closely involved in the Polish policy and practices of which the Cossacks complained, while on religious grounds Judaism was as detestable, if not more so, as the Roman Catholicism of the Poles. Apart from all alleged reasons for the revolt and the subsequent invasion of Poland, there was the usual orgy of outrage, torture, and massacre that follows in the wake of foreign invasion, especially in the case of a semi-civilized people such as were the Cossacks of the Ukraine. The ruler of Moscow took the Cossacks under his protection and joined in the invasion. Almost simultaneously Charles X of Sweden invaded Poland from the west?a close parallel to more recent events in that part of the world. Even when the foreign invasions ended there was the inevitable aftermath of internal disturbance and suffering and as late as 1768, a hundred and twenty years after the rising of Chmielnicki, there was another outbreak in the Ukraine on the part of the Haidamacks?in the Tartar language partisans?a curious forecast of modern terminology?in which the Jewish remnant in Poland and the Ukraine was in the forefront of suffering. The whole population of the country suffered, but the Jews, as always more exposed, suffered as a body even more than their neighbours. A new flight began, one that resembled the flight of the Jews eastwards five centuries earlier. This was, however, in a reverse direction. Descendants of those who had fled to Poland from Germany in the twelfth century, fled again in the seventeenth back from Poland to Germany. But not all the fugitives went back to the homes of their ancestors. The world, even Europe, had grown larger in the meanwhile. New lands had been discovered : fresh possibilities were open to Jewry. The flight of Polish Jewry meant the strengthening and replenishment of the Ashkenazi communities of Germany and Central Europe generally. It meant also the beginnings of Ashkenazi communities elsewhere, in Holland, to a slight extent in Scandinavia, that is to say Denmark, even in North America and in England. The beginnings, for in these outposts another century had to pass before Ashkenazim were to be found in appreciable numbers. Jews of Poland even fled or wandered as far as Italy and Turkey and North Africa?not in large numbers?where in course of time they were absorbed into the local Sephardi communities. Jewish communities in all parts of Europe taxed themselves almost beyond their strength for the assistance of these fugitives from Poland. It is said that the Jews of Jerusalem, dependent on support from abroad, found their means of subsistence cut off and that half of them died of starvation. But the sufferings of the Jews of Poland at the hands of Chmielnicki and his Cossacks undoubtedly constituted one of the several motives that induced Manasseh ben Israel to come to England and to plead for the readmission of the Jews to this country. Here comes in an illustration of how the history of Jewry, despite its divisions and its separations, is still one. Then as now the terror against the Jews produced large numbers of Jewish orphans and then as now many of these friendless little ones were taken into Christian religious establishments and brought up as Christians. One such child, some years later when her childhood had passed, was found one night wandering in a Jewish cemetery in Poland, perhaps in a state of somnambulism. Her explanation was that her dead father had in a vision carried her there. The local Jews, in view of her baptism were afraid to keep her with them and sent her to a relative in Amsterdam. There her story spread, probably with exaggerations.</page><page sequence="8">8 WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY She herself readopted Judaism and proclaimed herself the Bride of the Messiah. Simultaneously there arose a self-proclaimed Messiah?Sabbatai Zevi?whose prophecies and hopes began to stir the whole of the Jewish world and whose false promises left their wounds on Jewry for a century and longer. When he heard of the Polish orphan girl he sent for her to come to him as his spouse. Together they secured the blind allegiance of half of Jewry and together they led Jews and Judaism to the edge of the abyss. Hitherto I have dealt solely with the Jews and Jewries of Central and Eastern Europe, with the Ashkenazim, and the effect of wars to which they were not parties on their fortunes. But the Ashkenazim in those days comprised only half of Jewry, for a long period the lesser half. The more important section of Jewry, whose import? ance and relative size have gradually and continuously diminished during the past half a millennium, was the Sephardim, the Jews of Spain and Portugal. There was also once, at the beginning of the era of Jewish history with which we are dealing, a third section, rivalling in importance the Jews of the Iberian peninsula. Its import? ance passed, however, centuries ago, long before the events of which I have been speaking. These Jews of the East and of the Moslem lands, however, survive and still are for the most part neither Ashkenazim nor Sephardim. In ritual and in early environment and culture, however, they are closer to the Sephardim than to the Ashkenazim and it is customary, when dividing Jewry into two great branches, to link the Jews of the East with the Sephardi branch of Jewry. Accepting this conven? tion one must point out at once that the history of the Sephardim, both in the East and the West, was for a long period distinct from that of the Ashkenazim. One is almost justified in saying that the parts of Jewry did not become one until about a hundred and fifty years ago, for until then not only socially and culturally but also politically, the Sephardim of southern France were as distinct from the Ashkenazim of Alsace certainly as were Walloon and Provengal Frenchmen from one another. Napoleon's political reforms swept away the political differences and the social and cultural ones followed in their wake. Simultaneously in this country the separation which was almost entirely, apart from minor points of religious ritual, social began to break down. This was to a large extent a consequence of the deliberate efforts of Sir Moses Montefiore, the most influential Jew of England of his time. A leader in the real sense he was determined, doubtless influenced by events on the Continent, to endeavour to weld the two branches of Anglo-Jewry into one. How large was the gap is shown by the public disgrace of a member of the Sephardi Bernal family, holding the high position of Treasurer of the Community, for having in the middle of the eighteenth century dared to marry a Tudesca and the avowed preference by many Sephardim for non-Jewish spouses or even permanent celibacy over matri? monial alliances with members of the sister community. These last remarks may be considered a digression from the theme I have set before myself, but they are not really so. If the mutual approach between the Sephard and Ashkenaz out of which has since been welded our worldwide Jewish community, many of the manifestations of which are patent to us all to-day, began to develop at the beginning of the nine? teenth century the movement, as I have endeavoured to show, was influenced by the French Revolution. This Revolution was itself both a cause and a consequence of a war, until recent years considered the most widespread of all wars. As I have said Jews as Jews had no concern with this war, but the war in its effects despite several retrogressions led to the emancipation of the Jews of the Continent</page><page sequence="9">WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY 9 and also to the welding together of the two principal sections of Jewry into one community. But perhaps I have after all digressed. I had intended to touch briefly on the principal wars in which the Sephardi half of Jewry was involved, as a rule passively, not actively, and the influence of these wars on the Jewish fate and future. If I take the definition of Sephardim in the very wide sense, with a consciousness especially of the relations of the Sephardim, in all aspects of this sense, with the Moslems?the Arabic speaking ones?I can commence with the Moslem-Arab invasions and wars that accompanied and followed that great outburst and revolution, that changed the face not only of the East but also for a long period of a great part of the West. The flood overwhelmed many of the principal centres of Jewish residence and Jewish culture. The Moslem Power in its heyday included probably the majority of the Jews of the world among its subjects, and the status and fortunes of the greater part of Jewry were correspondingly affected. The position of the Jews under Christian rule had by then become by no means an enviable one. To them the change, even though according to Moslem doctrine an unbeliever was necessarily inferior to a believer and could not be treated on an equality, proved an improvement. The Jews, even if unbelievers, were yet a People of the Book and as such entitled to some measure of respect and tolerance, advantages which they had not always received from their previous rulers. Above all a widespread system of self-government in all matters that concerned Jews alone was introduced for the Jews and Jewries of the new Empire. Under this system they were able to live their own lives, to preserve their own way of life and their own culture. This continued for centuries, in its last remnants almost to the present day and to this may be attributed to a large extent the survival of Jewry and of Judaism in the Moslem lands. In its great period the Exilarch or Resh Galutha, the head of Eastern Jewry, was accorded the honours appropriate to the holder of a great office in the state, the head of an important section of the national community. The conquest of Spain by the Moslems that followed the Arab revolution relieved the great Jewish community of that country of an almost intolerable burden of persecution and opened a new golden era in its history. The Jews of the West were linked by freedom of movement and of trade with the Jewries of the East. Arabic and Jewish thought developed a mutual influence, and a new era of Arab-Jewish partnership?especially in matters of the intellect?opened. This great period in the history of the Jews was a direct outcome of the wars in which the Moslem outburst spread over the whole of the Mediterranean world. The wars between the Moslems and Christians of Spain with their changes and vicissitudes reflected the changes of fortune of the contestants on the happiness and misery of the Jewish communities of the Peninsula. In the end, at the close of the fifteenth century, the Moslems were finally defeated and expelled. Simultaneously the Jews, whose fortunes, linked with those of the Moslems, had long been on the wane, were driven into exile and a great chapter of Jewish history that had covered almost fifteen centuries was brought to an end. Henceforth Spain, once the centre of Jewish glories, counted as nothing in Jewish life and Jewish annals. One conse? quence of the end of Spanish Jewry, itself a consequence of the wars between Christen? dom and Islam, was a new dispersion by which the foundations not only of our own Jewry and the kindred and related one of Holland were laid, but also the far larger Jewry of America, North and South, whose discovery was almost exactly con c</page><page sequence="10">IO WAR AND JEWISH HISTORY temporary. The beginnings of this dispersion consisted of refugees from the Spanish terror. Even Palestine, the Tishub, owes much to the flight from Spain. Before the end of the fifteenth century there were, one may say, no Jews in Palestine. The new immigration commenced with the settlement of Sephardi?this time I mean Sephardi in the narrow sense?refugees who made Safad one of the most important spiritual and intellectual centres of Jewry. The large and influential Jewish population of Palestine of to-day is in the direct line the descendant of the victims of the Moslem Christian wars who fled to Safad and Jerusalem four and a half centuries ago. This choice of the lands of the old Byzantine Empire as a refuge for Jewry was also a result of another of the great and long drawn out European wars. Mahomet II took Constantinople on the 29th May, 1453, and with this victory the Byzantine Empire was brought to an end. The fortunes of its Jews immediately underwent a great change. They had fallen almost year by year and had by that date reached almost the lowest possible level. The new dominions were thrown open for Jewish settle? ment, just as the pressure from Spain and Portugal began to become intolerable. In Turkey a new era of peace and quiet opened for the Jews. As has happened more than once in Jewish history, as the fortunes of the Jews of one region fell those of another began to rise. Nowhere is this better illustrated than by the coincidence of the discovery of America and the beginnings of Jewish settlement there with the end of the fifteen centuries of the history of the Jewish community of Spain. The revival of the Jewry of the Turkish dominions, dwarfed by comparison with that of the New World, yet by no means unimportant, coincides also with the expulsion from Spain. Who knows but that in our time the doom of the Jewries of Central Europe may not mark the birth of a great Jewry elsewhere ? All of these developments in the course of Jewish history on which I have touched have been the direct or indirect consequences of war, of wars in which Jewry as a community or a people has had no part. Even in the days in which war was not yet totalitarian the Jewish people was buffeted by one side or the other, perhaps by both, in every war of major importance. Jewry has had more than its surfeit of war. Even though every disaster has had within it the germ of recovery none has ever brought any lasting advantage and none ever will.</page></plain_text>