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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/51

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47
THE JEWS: RACE AND ENVIRONMENT

population, and in fact show a relative decrease in number. And judging by the fact that the birth and marriage rates keep on decreasing, while the mixed marriages and conversions to Christianity keep on increasing in number, as was shown in the preceding articles, the future of Judaism in Germany is, to put it mildly, not very bright. The same process of decadence is observed among the Jews in Italy, France, England, America, etc., in varying degrees of intensity. If immigration of Jews from eastern Europe should for some reason cease, the number of native Jews in these countries would dwindle away at a rate appalling to those who have the interests of their faith at heart. In the United States the original Jewish settlers, the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of the seventeenth, eighteenth and the first half of the nineteenth centuries who refrained from intermarriage with their German and Polish coreligionists, have practically disappeared; very few of them have been left. The Jews are thus paying a high price for their liberty and equality—self-effacement.

Another important conclusion we arrive at while studying the above facts and figures is that most of the demographic phenomena are not rooted in ethnic causes. The high rates of proliferation, the exclusiveness of the Jews manifesting itself in part by endogamy, the alleged excessive proportion of male births, the rates of suicide, etc., were all attributed to racial influences, to 'Semitic' characteristics. This opinion has its origin in the observations on Jews made during the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth centuries, when the Jews all over Europe were a homogeneous social mass, all to the same extent abused, persecuted and confined in Ghettos. Uniformity of social conditions brought about uniform demographic phenomena, which were considered racial traits. But the emancipation of the Jews in western European countries, releasing them from isolation, bringing them into intimate contact with their non-Jewish neighbors, has completely transformed them. Racial traits are not to be obliterated by a change of milieu during a comparatively short period of fifty or one hundred years, nor do they show such wide limits of variation as is displayed by the Jews in different countries. There are to-day more pronounced differences between the Jews in Prussian Poland and Eussian Poland than between Prussian and Italian Jews, although but one hundred years ago the Prussian and Polish Jews were demographically on the same level. The part of Poland which was taken by Prussia with its liberal government has given the Jews an opportunity to assimilate with the christian population, while in the part of that country taken by Russia they were compelled to live isolated from the general population and they remained backward.

The demographic phenomena of the Jews are rooted in the social, economic and intellectual conditions in which they find themselves.