That separateness was now intensified. From the normal separateness of one geographically defined nation from neighboring nations, it became everywhere the abnormal separateness of a minority group living by the grace, whether more or less grudging, of the people of the land. Now every minority group living within or side by side with a majority is notoriously in an evil case. It exists at the mercy and by the dictates of the majority; it feels the repercussion of the majority's moods and fortunes. It need not be enslaved by law or fiat. It is enslaved by nature and circumstance. It can determine neither its mode of life nor its aims. Laws may be enacted for its protection, as they were for the American Negro. Those laws are nullified by the majority group.
Nor was this all. The Jewish minorities, cleaving to their law and faith, maturer through the long discipline of civilization, utterly disillusioned since the Hadrianic wars with force in any manifestation, were felt by all the majorities among whom they lived to be a living reproach and a living negation of all the ideals most dear to those majorities. No wonder that they were feared or hated and fear and hate are one. Consider someone who is weaker than yourself, who is at your mercy, and who, by his walk and conversation, denies all your most cherished values. Worse, much worse who upholds values to which as an individual Christian you give lip service or even a sincere allegiance, but which have little relation to your world's practical life of pagan loyalties and pagan splendor and pagan panoply of war. Of course the alternative that Europe placed before the Jew of the dispersion was first the baptismal font or death, and later the degradation of the ghetto or expulsion. Of course his activities were limited. He could own no earth; he could join no guild. Because moneychanging was held to be unChristian, the Jew was picked as the world's moneychanger. And so it came about that the most passionately agrarian of peoples, which in millennial exile from its land continued to celebrate in home and temple the spring and harvest festivals of that land, was forced by brute compulsion into urbanization and into trading with money and with goods.
But degradation degrades, and hate does not soften the heart of the hated. To endure life at all, the Jew clung with an iron tenacity to his law and way of life. His sages told him, and he accepted the saying, that a pagan who practices essential righteousness is equal to a high priest in Israel. But for centuries he saw few such. By his standard of the uncompromising practice of love and peace, he saw none. The hammer of destiny forged him ever more permanently into himself.
The civic emancipation of Jewry, first in France, next in England, later everywhere, came too late. Nor was it ever given on equitable terms. The Jews, dazzled since the Renaissance by the brilliant and beautiful life of the Western world, plunged passionately into that world. They adored its arts and its sciences, its culture and its glow. In their enchantment they forgot, they wanted to forget, that the nations had given them freedom at a definitely stipulated price the price of being Jews no more. And it was a price which, profoundly as they often desired to do so, they could no longer pay. They tried to pay it. They lived for their new fatherlands and, pretending to themselves to share the martial spirit of those lands, died for them on all the battlefields of modern wars. But they remained Jews recognizably such in both their spiritual and their physical being. The hammer of destiny had done its work. The most assimilated Jew, himself in Europe often born of baptized parents, having no content in his consciousness except the culture of his European country, remains a Jew by the character of that consciousness, by his special relation to time and beauty, to love and peace, to man and God.