Jewish history is a study of a people in exile. Since the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, the experience of the Jewish individual in relation to non-Jewish society has often been that of an outsider looking in. In addition, the distinct Jewish culture, religion, and philosophy identifiably marked the Jews as a separate people. Although this demarcation exposed the Jews to many negative ideological trends, Isaac Deutscher’s “The Non-Jewish Jew” argues that this marginalization enabled the great thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries to revolutionize the European continent. As the title suggests, the non-Jewish Jews were individuals that abandoned Judaism. Deutscher argues that the historical exclusion imbued Jewish people with the innate perspective of the external critic. When the individuals liberated themselves from the ideological shackles of Judaism this now double marginalization provided the perspective of the extreme outsider. Once freed from both the restrictions of Jewish and Christian ideology they were then able to reinterpret society and develop the theories that would revolutionize the world. Deutscher asserts that the famous non-Jewish Jews such as Spinoza, Heine, Marx, and others were representatives of this perspective. In essence, their independence from society enabled them to criticize and fundamentally change the ideological landscape of Europe in ways that other thinkers bound by Christian or Jewish ideology could not. However, with an analysis of Deutscher’s argument through Franz Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” it becomes clear that his “Non-Jewish Jews” were not only dependent upon society, but also more importantly they were not actually Jewish.
Initially, Kakfa’s “...
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...by the subjects of Deutscher’s “The Non-Jewish Jew” are reflected and exhibited in Deutscher’s work. His assertion that Jews have a special ability to critically analyze society because of their historical isolation supports the same race based ideology that the historical figures worked against. Additionally, the association of Marx, Heine, and the others to this racially decided independence from society fails to acknowledge their deep connection to their non-Jewish culture. Therefore, through an analysis of Deutscher’s work through the context of Kafka’s “A Report to an Academy” it becomes apparent that Deutscher undermines his argument by failing to appropriately state the relevance of the historical figures connection to society and most importantly, by allowing racial inflections to manipulate his perspective of his subject revolutionary individuals.
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