Manual Europe’s Eastward Gaze: How Far Should It Reach?

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Shylock my fullest, silent compassion. Naipaul's portrayal of the enthusiastic young immigrant, who has his heart set on becoming a true Englishman, is, of course, ripe with irony. But there is also something unsettling in this description; as we, the readers, cannot help but notice that Singh's object of admiration is not a true Englishman at all, one graced with "the physiognomy and complexions of the North. Indeed, the man Singh is trying to mimic in order to become an authentic Englishman is in himself a "mimic man.

Here, the tables are suddenly turned, and the Jewish landlord's mimicry assumes center stage, announcing itself most clearly. Naipaul's short episode offers a tantalizing expression of the dilemma inherent in the "Jewish situation" in Europe. Throughout the history of Europe, Jews have occupied a sensitive location at the discursive crossroads of "sameness" and "otherness.

In the canonical text of the Mishnah the first compendium of rabbinic tradition, c. Over the years, this "in between-ness" of the Jews, with its religious, cultural, political, and historical implications, has received a great deal of scholarly attention. Historians, anthropologists, theologians, and others have dedicated studies to exploring the Jews' ambivalent status in Europe; their political and social marginalization have been studied rigorously, the Janus-faced and often tormented relationship between Jews and Christians has preoccupied scholars throughout the ages, and the question of Jewish otherness, uniqueness, or difference continues to excite the imagination of many of our own contemporaries.

In contrast, however, to this scholarly enticement with the question of Jewish-Christian relations, very little attention has been given to the other side of Jewish "otherness," so to speak. The question of Jewish perceptions and representations of other Others, and their relationships with them, has been virtually neglected by historians. This scholarly tendency to overlook the question of Jewish agency in the history of race conveys a preconception of what race history—indeed, what race—is all about.

It is motivated by two dominant historiographical paradigms: the "colonial paradigm" on the one hand and the "antisemitism paradigm" on the other. The colonial paradigm presupposes that there exists an inherent link between the emergence of race and the histories of colonialism and slavery. According to this formulation, the modern concept of race was invented sometime during the early modern period as a means to justify colonial expansion and plantation slavery.

It was then imported into Europe, where it was subsequently applied to various groups that were not enslaved, such as the Jews, the Sami, or the Roma. The outcome of this kind of understanding of the history of race is a tendency to downplay or overlook the intense preoccupation with questions of difference in non-colonial countries, or amongst non-hegemonic groups, such as women or Jews. The past few decades, however, have witnessed a growing dissatisfaction with this scholarly approach. A large corpus of studies has shown that the emergence of racist thought was closely linked to the emergence of other types of biological determinism, such as modern conceptions of gender and childhood.

Indeed, racist imagery was often used in order to discuss precisely these other identity groups, and not necessarily in order to convey colonialist messages. In light of this new historiographical trend, more and more research has been dedicated to the study of racial imagery in non-colonialist countries. In addition, scholars have also begun to devote attention to the uses and representations of race amongst non-hegemonic groups, and particularly amongst women. However, these new historiographical trends have somehow overlooked the Jews. Only a handful of studies have been dedicated to the exploration of Jewish attitudes toward race in early modern Europe, and, of these, none have devoted significant attention to the long eighteenth century as the period between and is often called , which is widely considered a formative period in the history of race.

But, of course, Jews have never really been excluded from the history of race. Quite the contrary: they are widely considered to be some of the primary victims of racialist or racist thought. Numerous studies have attempted to unravel the history of antisemitism, of racist or protoracist attitudes and practices toward Jews. These studies focus on different periods and regions, and offer a wide variety of perspectives and methods, and yet they all seem to share the assumption that in regard to the history of race, Jews are always passive objects of racialist thought and hardly ever its subjects.

The reasons for this one-dimensional portrayal of Jews by historians of racial discourse are manifold. Amongst other considerations, they have to do with the traditional distinction between "Jewish" and "general" histories, and the tendency exhibited by scholars of European history to view European Jewish history as "somebody else's business," as it were, an issue to be dealt with by scholars of Jewish history.

Clearly, there is also a political aspect to the reluctance to study Jews as active agents in the history of race, which has to do with the understanding of Jewish history as a history of persecution in Diaspora and subsequent liberation in the land of Israel. This metanarrative of Jewish history dictates an image of the Jews as a persecuted minority that is so strong it completely overshadows other possible images.

This, then, is the lacuna the present book aims to fill. My fundamental premise throughout this study has been that, contrary to their traditional portrayal as mere objects of racialist discourse, European Jews' attitudes toward non-European peoples offer a compelling platform for the study of the history of race in general and in the eighteenth century in particular. Indeed, from their unique vantage point at the central nervous system of European identity, eighteenth-century Jews afford an invaluable view into the ways in which, upon the threshold of modernity, new religious, cultural, and racial identities were imagined and formed.

In what follows, then, I attempt to unfold the ways in which those "intimate Others," the Jews, who were the objects of anthropological scrutiny, internalized, adapted, and revised the emerging modern discourse of difference to meet their own ends, and the various roles this discourse played in their perception of the "exotic Other," the "hegemonic Other," and the construction of their own identity. Were European Jews, indeed, "chameleons"—as claimed by Dutch philosopher Isaac de Pinto—who merely assumed the philosophy, culture, and values of their surrounding environments?

Were they simply passive recipients of the dominant discourse on identity and alterity, or did they articulate their own unique notions of difference, ethnicity, race, and selfhood?

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Of the few studies that have addressed the question of Jewish representations of non-Europeans, almost all have focused on the relationships between Jews and Blacks from ancient times and into the modern period. The vast majority of these studies view Jewish attitudes toward race through a colonialist prism, and ignore such fundamental questions as the connection between notions of gender and race; the Jewish uses of non-European peoples as a means for self-reflection; or the widespread Jewish tendency to utilize the image of the non-European as a means to discuss Jewish-Christian relations.

The ensuing result is a small corpus of studies focused almost exclusively on colonial Jews, while ignoring European Jews in general and Ashkenazi Jews Jews of Western, Eastern, or Central European descent in particular. In this seminal work, Schorsch exhibits a keen awareness of the introspective aspect of Jewish discourse on the colonial Other. Indeed, one of the book's primary arguments is that throughout the early modern period, "Blacks served Jewish authors. This is most clearly expressed in the author's characterization of Jewish and, for that matter, general discourse on Blacks as almost unchanging throughout the period, a discourse marked by "a remarkable stasis.

In fact, it is difficult to see why previous scholarship has focused almost exclusively on Jewish attitudes toward Blacks when most early modern Jewish texts do little to discriminate between Blacks and other non-European peoples, who are most often lumped together under the highly ambiguous term "savages.


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Still, notwithstanding its ambiguities, savagery was the most basic category of eighteenth-century anthropology. The scholarly focus on Jewish-Black relations appears therefore to be an anachronism, a symptom perhaps of what Roxann Wheeler has diagnosed as "our current preoccupation with chromatism," which in much contemporary research "is reproduced rather than challenged by historical difference.

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In fact, most eighteenth-century Ashkenazi writings on "exotic peoples" tended to associate the physical appearance and cultural practices of these peoples with the different climates in which they lived, or with their different nutritional practices. Accordingly, in most cases the opposition between Jews and Christians on the one hand, and non-European peoples on the other, was established not by turning to skin color or other biological traits, but rather by addressing cultural and religious differences.

Cannibalism, nudity, homosexuality, infanticide, atheism, lack of technology or manners, polygamy, and other cultural characteristics served as prime markers of difference for Jews and Christians alike. It was only later, toward the end of the eighteenth century, that these contingencies were to be gradually replaced by other, more essentialist notions of difference, most notably skin color. Indeed, the central thesis of the present study is that something did change —and change radically—in the ways in which Ashkenazi Jews understood difference during the early modern period.

Throughout the book, I ask two fundamental questions concerning this change. First, I attempt to expose the contours of the change itself, and tackle the ways in which it affected the uses and representations of race in Jewish discourse over the long eighteenth century. Second, I review how these Jewish uses and representations of race correspond with racial discourse in non-Jewish thought during the same period.

These questions are answered in four separate chapters of the book, which are organized both chronologically and thematically. My method is to begin each chapter by focusing a narrow lens on one key text, an archetypical test case, and then slowly expanding the view to include other texts.

I begin by comparing my key text to a corresponding non-Jewish text or corpus of texts from the same period. This technique satisfies the synchronic aspect of my work, and allows me to arrive at an answer to my question regarding the difference between Jewish and non-Jewish notions of race. I then continue by comparing my key text with later and earlier Jewish and non-Jewish texts that are preoccupied with similar issues. This analysis satisfies the diachronic aspect of the work and directs me toward an answer to the question of change in Jewish notions of difference throughout the period.

Operating at the level of the text enables an examination of the racial imagery employed by Jewish authors in all its complexities. It permits us to view these texts in their proper context, to examine their intertextual aspects, the ways in which they engage other texts, both Jewish and non-Jewish, in a multifaceted and often perplexing dialogue.

The focus on four different sets of texts should not be read, however, as providing an exhaustive account of Jewish attitudes toward the question of race in the long eighteenth century. Largely excluded from this study are halakhic Jewish legal discussions, such as those surrounding questions of conversion, burial, and other such issues. Though I do touch upon some rabbinical texts, such as those written by Jacob Emden or Abraham ben Elijah, the focus of my study is on secular conceptions, and halakhic discourse surrounding race cannot be adequately treated within its confines.

For the most part, this work also excludes Sepharadi Jewry, as well as colonial Jews, such as the Jewish community of Jodensavanne. For these Jews, difference was an altogether different matter. The routine encounters with other peoples, the importance of economic considerations, their different status in European society and culture, the different kind of political motives which came into play in their treatment of non-Jews—all these elements make the reality of colonial and Sepharadi Jewry quite different from that of Ashkenazi Jews in Europe, and particularly the maskilim thinkers of the Jewish Enlightenment , for whom race was a deeply introspective category, and the Other, primarily a conceptual or rhetorical tool.

In terms of corpus selection, the four texts or sets of texts selected for this study correspond with four different literary genres—folktales, philosophical literature, scientific writing, and children's books. These four genres represent the most dominant modes of writing about race during the long eighteenth century, and correlate with the changes in racial discourse throughout the period.

In the move from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, the image of the savage was relocated from the realm of myth and folklore into the philosophical literature of the Enlightenment, where it assumed a dominant position until the rise of anthropological positivism toward the beginning of the nineteenth century. The increasing emphasis on skin color, skull shape, brain size, and other physiological or pseudo-biological traits made the non-European Other a much less appealing philosophical tool. The savage was thus gradually removed from the philosophical laboratory of the Enlightenment and introduced into the physical laboratory of nineteenth-century hard science.

A corresponding literary trend may be found in the relocation of colonial discourse from philosophy books and novels into children's books. Any military options to challenge the West must, therefore, count on a swift resolution, exploiting Russia's local superiority before the full but distant potential of the West is brought to bear.

To deter Russia from attempting to use its large and well-equipped ground forces either to intimidate its neighbors to the West or to conduct a lightning war against the Baltics, Poland, Ukraine or Romania, NATO must have a robust conventional capability deployed in Eastern Europe. The Obama Administration, which had withdrawn all U. Given the growing Russian conventional threat to its eastern neighbors, including NATO members, more needs to be done.

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In particular, the U. What is required are heavy forces including armored brigades, aviation formations, and long-range fires units, positioned in Eastern Europe. To be credible and to draw additional Alliance forces eastward, the central pillar of these new deployments must be from the U. Additional NATO heavy forces would need to follow.

Months ago, the United States began negotiating with Poland over the deployment of additional U. The Polish government was hoping for the permanent deployment of a full U. Apparently, the United States and Poland agreed for the time being to deploy a more limited set of forces deployment than that which will be necessary to confidently deter Russia. The core of such a deployment would be elements of a full U.

Instead, units from the continental United States will be continually rotated forward. With an additional ABCT based on prepositioned vehicles and equipment and the airborne and Stryker brigades already forward deployed in Europe, the Army could form a capable heavy division.

The decision to deploy key elements of an armored division to Poland is a step in the right direction. But it is only the first step. This would allow the U.