This post is going to be dedicated to Vox's assertion that Israel's deportation of African Immigrants would provide and ex post facto justification of the medieval deportations of Jews and the Arab expulsions in the 1950s. This is of course, laughable, but before I start, I want to point out a few places where Vox has conceded my arguments in his last post on the subject. Vox wrote:
I do agree that Americans are largely unprepared for European openness about matters of race in general and Jews in particular. I would simply assert that I am using primarily American language on the blog, though I suppose it's entirely possible that I'm not always as conscious of the distinctions anymore given how long it has been since I left.In this paragraph Vox has conceded the following points:
- He did not dispute that there is a correlation between the frequency anti-semitic speech and actual violence against Jews.
- He did not dispute that an increase in anti-semitic speech often proceeds actual violence against Jews.
- And that his writing regarding Jews can reasonably be viewed as a change in discourse for the subject of Jews in America... so can be reasonably be classified as dangerous.
...which was the the whole point of my original post, that the alt-right philosophy is dangerous. So, thank you Vox for conceding the point.
On to today's subject. First, I would like to remind Vox that I believe that a mass deportation of the 60,000 African immigrants in Israel is not likely to happen. The government of Israel has willingly taken them into the country (if unlawfully) and now bears some responsibility for their welfare. Even the proposals of deportation floated by the Israeli government envisions giving the immigrants a stipend after deporting them.
However, since Vox's assertion is phrased as a hypothetical, I will assume for the sake of this argument that Israel will deport en mass the 60,000 African immigrants who have entered the country illegally. Vox believes:
It seems to me that if Israel is justified in deporting these African immigrants, that action will provide a powerful ex post facto justification for the many non-violent historical deportations of the Jewish people from European countries during the medieval period. I am, of course, distinguishing these non-violent deportations from the historical massacres that took place from time to time during the same historical epoch, especially in Germany and Russia, which cannot be justified regardless of what the current Israeli government ends up doing. It will also offer similar ex post facto justification for the more recent expulsion of Jews from the Arab nations.Vox makes several errors in this paragraph that I have to address before I can even begin to refute it.
First, I take issue with his characterization of the deportations as non-violent. All deportation actions are by their very nature violent, in that the threat of violence is required to compel compliance with the deportation order. I assume he is using non-violent vs. violent as a proxy for the government exercising legitimate vs illegitimate authority... and that he believes that the massacres were illegitimate, while deportations were a legitimate exercise of the authority of state. If that is the case, he should have said so, because to characterize the deportations as non-violent fits a rhetorical pattern Vox has of minimizing and trivializing the impact of European persecution of the Jews and reveals to some extent his bias against them.
Second, any discussion of illegal immigration in the medieval world is anachronistic and inappropriate. There were no nation states in the modern sense. The concepts of a constitution, the rule of law, and national borders were very different than they are today. There was no clear legal authority, but only different power bases struggling for dominance in political affairs. The edicts of the local princes could and often did contradict the edicts of the regional monarch, which were often different from edicts of the Catholic Church. In this environment, who is to say what immigration is legal if it is allowed by one party, but forbidden by another? Vox asserts that Jewish immigrants in the medieval world were illegal and provides this example in the comments as proof:
The Jews were driven out of France in 629 by Dagobert and there is no mention of them in the French historical record until 768. And yet, there were enough of them in France that they were expelled in 1182 by Phillip Augustus, before they were recalled by him 16 years later. And after the expulsion of 1394, Jews again began to reenter France illegally long prior to their presence being made legal in 1785.Remember that the medieval period is also referred to as the Dark Ages, which means that there is a relative lack of written historical documentation when compared to other periods. So, how does Vox know that the Jews were not legally allowed in after Dagobert drove them out in 629? He doesn't, he just assumes it. He makes the same mistake in the period between 1394 and 1785... assuming that Jewish migration into France was illegal. However, I will point out that 1785 is the enlightenment period, where the modern forms of the nation state developed, so a law legalizing the Jews is not a declaration that they were illegal prior to the passage of the law, but an attempt to normalize the treatment of the Jews within France and a vindication that they were French subjects and in the country legally. Additionally, it can be safely assumed that wherever the Jews settled in Medieval Europe, they at a minimum had the blessing of the local prince, because settlement would have been otherwise impossible.
The only instance that I am aware of that could be called illegal immigration by Jews comes later in the period on the cusp of enlightenment. This concerns migration to England. When Oliver Cromwell ruled over England there was an appeal by the Jewish community of Europe for him to repeal an old expulsion order and allow Jews back into England. There was a lengthy inquiry into this subject and after a review by the commission, it was determined that there was no law in England that forbid Jews from settling there as it had been assumed. When this was determined, some crypto Jews (Jews who had converted to Christianity, but secretly continued to practice Judaism) living in England began to practice Judaism openly. Of course, they were there legally and they only thought they had immigrated illegally. This example tends to support my point that an old expulsion order was not proof that Jews were forbidden from settling and that the law was not clear as Vox would lead you to believe.
The rest of Vox's comment was this:
France is only one of many examples. You've got absolutely no case here, as Jews have been "illegal infiltrators" at one point or another in nearly every country in Europe. You should be embarrassed to be attempting to defend your historical forebears actions when you quite clearly don't know the first thing about what they were.Vox should be careful about accusing others of being ignorant of history, when he so clearly misapplies basic terms out of their historical context and then cherry picks what he terms "observable facts" to support his theories.
Third, Vox characterizes the settlement and resettlement of Jews in Europe as a problem of migration, when it is nothing of the sort. The Jewish community in Europe existed in antiquity. It predated the rise of Christianity in general and the Catholic Church specifically. The fact that Europe even had Jewish migrants was the result of the efforts of Catholic Church to systematically eliminate all of the pre-Christian religions in Europe, of which Judaism is the sole survivor. Jews were not inherently migrants, but were forced into migration in no small part due to the policies of the Catholic Church and its influence on the secular authorities.
It was also not a problem of ethnic tensions or cultural differences between tribal populations. The conflict was a matter of religion. Jews often converted to Christianity in the middle ages in numbers than are greater than most historians care to admit. When they sincerely converted to the Christian faith, they were generally assimilated into Christian society reasonably quickly. Some rose to great prominence indicating that their lack of advancement was a function of religion and not culture.
With these corrections, it becomes easy to dispute Vox's equivalence between a theoretical expulsion of African immigrants from Israel and the actual Jewish expulsions of the medieval period.
- Medieval nation states and citizenship laws were not as clearly defined then as they are now. Any comparison of equivalence is flawed from the start.
- This takes place over a much shorter period of time, the African immigrants have not been in Israel for even a single generation.
- The Jews of Europe were not migrants, but natives whose residence pre-existed the current governments. Their expulsion and the subsequent problems of migration were caused by the Catholic Church's policy of the eliminating religions that predated Christianity (and the secular authorities inconsistent resistance to that policy).
- The expulsion of the Jews in Europe was usually accompanied by wholesale theft of their property, which was accumulated over generations. This is also not the case with the African Immigrants... in fact if Israel were to deport them, it would compensate them with a stipend and any wealth that they had accumulated would be allowed out of the country.
- The Jews could avoid the expulsion orders of medieval Europe by complying with the Catholic Church's social policy and converting to Christianity This was highly encouraged. This is not the case in Israel, in fact, converts to Judaism are actively discouraged. (Interestingly, this is because of the policy of executing rabbis who performed conversions to Judaism in the medieval period). While theoretically, an African immigrant who converted to Judaism would have the right to settle in Israel, avoiding expulsion is not considered a valid reason for conversion... where it would have been considered a valid conversion to Christianity.
- Where Jews settled in Europe, they had some legitimate residency status. Usually, this took the form of a legal charters drawn up between the ruling authorities and the Jewish community. Right now Israel is still trying to determine the residency status of the African population.
The case against the equivalence between the 1950s expulsions of the Jewish community from the Arab lands is even more clear, because Jews were not forced to migrate as much under Islamic rule. They had a legal status of dhimmi which forbid such expulsions under Islamic law. Some of the communities in the Arab lands arguably dated back to the First Temple Period. Not to say that there weren't problems for the Jewish community, but I think it is fair to say that the while they were second class citizens, the Jew's legal status in Muslim lands was more secure than it was in Europe.
In conclusion, Vox is wrong. The two events are in no way comparable, beyond the superficial similarity of the government deporting people against their will.
UPDATE: Vox classified my first argument as a Red Herring in his first response to this post. While I am still waiting for the rest, you can see my response to his Red Herring Comment here.