A People Apart: The Jews in Europe, 1789-1939

Synopsis

The twentieth century has seen both the greatest triumph of Jewish history and its greatest tragedy: the birth of the nation of Israel, and the state-sponsored genocide of the Holocaust. A People Apart is the first study to examine the role played by the Jews themselves, across the whole of Europe, during the century and a half leading up to these events. David Vital explores the Jews' troubled relationship with Europe, documenting the struggles of this 'nation without a territory' to establish a place for itself within an increasingly polarized and nationalist continent. He examines the clash within the Jewish community between politically neutral traditionalists and a new group of activists, whose unprecedented demands for national and political self-determination were stimulated both by increasing civil emancipation and the mounting effort to drive the Jews out of Europe altogether. Controversially, Professor Vital concludes that the history of the Jewish people was indeed in crucial respects although certainly not all of their own making; at times by their own autonomous action and choice; at others by inaction and default. This powerful and stimulating new analysis represents a watershed in our understanding of the history of the Jews in Europe.