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East European Jews - Essay Example

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The 350 years of association with the United States have provided Jews with certain unique freedoms and advantages compared to minorities in other parts of the world. However, the challenges they had to surmount had been quite considerable. Not least of which is the Catholic and…
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East European Jews
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Download file to see previous pages They were greeted with hostility the moment they landed in New Amsterdam. The government of the day also treated them with contempt and denied them religious freedom as is evident from Governor Peter Stuyvesant’s view that “If we grant liberties to the Jews, we will have to grant them also to the Lutherans and the Papists” (Kampelman 586). It was indeed a long and hard struggle for the community to gain basic rights.
“What shall we do with these rejected and condemned people, the Jews?” (Noble) Surprisingly, these were the words of Martin Luther King Jr., the champion of the civil rights movement and an iconic figure in American history. In his speech, he goes on to propose-
“synagogues should be burned to the ground; their houses destroyed; their prayer books seized; their rabbis forbidden to teach on pain of death … they should be prevented from traveling in the countryside and their wealth confiscated … the young and strong should be forced to do menial work in order to prevent them feasting and farting … we should toss out these rogues by the seat of their pants” (Noble)
Across the Atlantic, the Nazis did not miss this propaganda opportunity. Hitler mentions in Mein Kampf that Luther is a “great historical protagonist” and someone he admired greatly. Irrespective of his real intentions, Martin Luther offered in his writings a historical and intellectual justification for the Holocaust, which the Nazis took pains to exploit” (Noble).
The attacks in West Hartford, Connecticut and New York City stand out among numerous other occurrences in the 1980’s. There was a series of such incidents leaving behind burnt synagogues, destitute families and shattered livelihoods. The expressway shootout was another example of such pattern of events where Yeshiva students and other Jews, descendents of East European Jews, were targeted in 4 such shootouts during a 3 month period (Time 18).
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