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Excerpts from the Pamphlet by Gabriel Riesser proposing the Emancipation of the Jews (1831)

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From the other side, the opponents of civil equality for the Jews, especially in those countries where the question at hand is still freedom of occupation, make it no secret that they view the exclusionary laws as a means of inhibiting competition!* It is a sad phenomenon, native only to Germany, that where the most noble freedom, the highest moral interests of humanity are concerned, such pitiful considerations are capable of exercising influence. Never has a Briton, never has a Frenchman dared to advance such arguments: and, truly, never would a German have dared if there were laws for all of Germany! Only in the narrow circles of the tiniest of states have such considerations ever been capable of acquiring preponderance even for a moment.

[ . . . ]

4. The problem, therefore, with whose solution on paper Dr. P., if it pleases him, may well continue to occupy himself, has long since been solved in life,** and the question at hand is not whether legislation will do well to acknowledge the Jews as belonging to the nation of the state (following Dr. P's expression), but whether it has already done well in acknowledging them as such, and whether it should allow the simple consequences necessarily resulting from this acknowledgment to become operative. This question has to be discussed now. What Dr. P. adduces is tantamount to having the Jews live according to their own laws. To be clear, nothing more is required than to separate those laws that touch on civic matters from those that, according to the people who observe them, emanate solely from religion. Jews following their own laws about marriages,*** divorces, inheritances, contracts, and similar relations certainly do not exist in even one twentieth – and, for some courts deciding on these laws, not even in one fiftieth – of Germany any longer.+ Where this kind of court still exists, its miserable existence is allowed only by the unforgivable inertia of its legislation, which needs to shy away from stirring up the old mess, so as not to be reminded of the claims of the law and of political prudence with respect to the Jews altogether. But everywhere, Jews as a whole will gladly give up everything relating to that if, in exchange, they would be granted only limited civil rights, not to mention full legal equality. But in the states where the Jews are citizens, such peculiarities may not, in any event, be tolerated in any fashion, since they thoroughly contradict the status of the citizen; but general experience also shows that the Jews will never and nowhere put down obstacles in the way of their abolition.

* I mentioned earlier the Württemberg pharmacist who is especially keen to prevent the Jews from becoming pharmacists. The character of that opposition has really been described with triumphant force by the Minister of Interior to the Württemberg Chamber. Compare the above mentioned minutes, p. 45-46.
** The states in which the Jews are really not yet political citizens are precisely the above-mentioned ones, in which they also lack freedom of occupation. Since the state of affairs in these [countries] is quite different from what Dr. P. represents, since there is still a lack here of that which he himself wants to have conceded, and which he believes to have been conceded, his line of reasoning does not apply to any single state.
*** It goes without saying that, to the extent that marriage is a purely religious action according to the laws of the state, it must be performed according to the regulations of the religion of the contracting parties.
+ Incidentally, these courts, where they existed, were to be viewed from the standpoint of compromise courts, rather like the audientia episcoporum for civil matters and Justinian law.

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