No BDS and No Need for an Army

A sobering look at the plight of Jews in 19th Century Europe from the new series where genealogist Rivka Goldblatt delves into the more interesting corners of the JC Archive

December 13, 2017 10:20

Sometimes people think that before the Second World War, Jews lived and flourished in Europe much as we do today in the UK and worldwide. It’s not true.

The Jewish Chronicle on the 3rd of December, 1897, is a typical issue. The following articles, scattered among its 40 pages, show that Europe was a hard home for the Jews.


…many synagogues were sacked, and that later in the afternoon the crowd began to plunder German shops and dwellings, especially those in the Jewish quarter, and burnt the goods in the streets… “Down with the Jews!” was the constant cry of the rioters.

In the Austrian Empire, elections are under way. The Jewish voters have a difficult choice.


…to choose between Czechs who illustrate their political opinions by wrecking Jewish houses in Prague, and breaking the windows of the local synagogues, and Christian Socialists, who were led by that detestable anti-Semite, Herr Schonerer, and German Nationalists, whose hatred of Herr Schonerer is manifested by calling him a "dirty Jew” and still grosser names of anti-Semitic import, is indeed difficult.

In Russia:

[excerpt from The Jewish Chronicle, 3rd December 1897]

It is well known that in the Pale there is a Zone in which Jews are not permitted to reside, viz., an area of 50 versts (52 kilometres) on the Western frontier. There happen to be at the Gymnasium in Kamenetz-Podolsk (which lies within this zone), seven Jewish students. The Government authorities are of opinion that these students do not possess the right of residence, and that, therefore, they must be excluded from the Gymnasium.

In France, the Dreyfus trial, a libel against a Jewish Captain who was falsely accused of spying, is going on. It is blatantly antisemitic. And also in France:

[excerpt from The Jewish Chronicle, 3rd December 1897]]

At a meeting held last week in Paris, attended by some of the Socialist Deputies in the Chamber, a resolution was unanimously adopted inviting the Government to take the necessary measures for the expulsion of the Jews from the Army and from public functions.

In this light, the Zionist groups of the world were attempting to create a State in which the Jewish people could be safe. What did they imagine the State of Israel would be like?

The December 1897 newspaper also includes a prediction by S.B. Rubenstein.


December 13, 2017 10:20

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