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A General Assembly of German Israelites (1893)

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Be that as it may. The painful insult that the current movement presents, and must present, to us German Israelites lies in the fact that we know that we are of one spirit with the German people, while also realizing that some nevertheless seek to erect a wall of separation and push us back before the time of Moses Mendelssohn. For that, and nothing else, is the goal of our bitter enemies. They want to rob us of our share of the cultural life of the German people, which they begrudge us even more than the supposedly immense treasures of a few great Jewish capitalists and merchants. But we will not let them rob us of this our share in the indestructible German idealism! It is true that German idealism is showing a few worrisome blind spots at the moment. But that will pass, and when it glows again in its clarity and brightness, which encompasses the whole world, the nocturnal ghost of Jew-baiting in Germany will also come to an end.

We must not remain inactive, however, with regard to this process of development; we must not simply wait out the time with folded arms. Rather, it is our duty to take up the fight against the enemy with all legitimate means. If we do that, we fulfill a duty not only toward ourselves, but also toward the general public. For the fight that our enemies have forced upon us is a fight to assert a right that was finally won after unspeakable exertions: namely, the right of civic equality among the believers of all religions! This right is a precious possession of the entire German people, not only the German Israelites. This right must remain inalienable, untouchable. And our task in this difficult time is to ensure that this is so. Thus, by investing our moral and intellectual powers in asserting a right that has been won, we simultaneously take up the fight for the right as such. In so doing we fulfill one of the very first commandments of general ethics.

We believe that there cannot be the least bit of doubt about this. Opinions, however, diverge on the means by which this battle should be waged. Some have suggested that it is necessary to provide for a representation of specifically Jewish interests in the parliaments of the individual states, that is, chiefly in Prussia and in the German Reichstag. [Original text illegible] that is the worst thing that could happen. The constitution knows only representatives of the people as a whole, and none whatsoever of any kind of special interests. Through this kind of interest representation, we would considerably diminish the moral force of our position within the generality. This entire struggle is not about Jewish interests so much as about legal interests, namely legal interests of the highest order. Of course, we Israelites participate in the assertion of these interests more fully than all other citizens of the state. All those members of our parliaments whose passion for partisanship has not clouded their sense of the law are the natural representatives of our Israelite interests, to the extent that these interests pertain to citizenship, and to the extent that the same appear threatened by the machinations of our enemies.

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