Nikole writesScrolling down through Vagabond's list of articles -- almost 700 of them -- I found "Long History." Despite my years-long connection with Vagabond, I couldn't remember what it was about. I wonder if I found the essay or if it found me. The topic couldn't be more timely. In "Long History," William looks at storied mass immigrations. Today, on this crowded planet, the drama of refugees seeking asylum, cultures clashing, continues, an unending story.
By William Markiewicz
The history of mass immigrations takes a new turn with the North African mass coming to Europe. Religion, ideology, are topics that invite controversy more than analysis because human emotions enter into the game. Maybe tiny differences grow with time -- psychologically, we accentuate or neglect them according to our interests.
If individual immigrations, especially in youth, may be an exciting adventure, collective immigrations are almost always calamities; in one way or another they have been a source of lasting inter-ethnic conflicts. How to avoid those conflicts?
In Poland, there were ethnic villages. Maybe there still are – German, Czech, Tartar, Ukrainian (the latter, local, not immigrants, of course). Among the more notable immigrations were Germans, Jews and wandering Gypsies. Germans, in the time of King Boleslaw Chrobry (The Valiant) revolted and were defeated by the King. They ended in assimilation because Catholicism united them and religion is probably one the strongest unifying forces. Those who didn't assimilate remained in their own villages living in harmony with their neighbours; everybody lived their own way. So, separation is one solution for resolving ethnic conflicts; together in one country but localized within themselves.
As for Jews and Gypsies, they initiated their own ways which led to a dead end. The Gypsies wandered, and disappeared as was their lifestyle for centuries. The Jews chose 'localization' within intimate coexistence. They ended in 'quarter-ism' or neighbourhoods (in Poland), 'corner-ism', or 'ghetto-ism.' (in the rest of Europe). The two solutions, the Gypsy and the Jewish, led to a dead end because it eliminated the possibility of further development and totally eliminated the possibility of self defense. So, those populations remained at the mercy of powerful neighbours. It couldn't end well.
Why didn't the Jews try to form their own localities as the other newcomers did? If it had happened, not only in Poland but everywhere else, anti-Semitism would never have been born. The Moors, after being defeated by Charlemagne in Poitiers, escaped to the Alps, created their own place in Valais and they are now equal, respected citizens of Switzerland though they have lost their religion and culture. The Druze, after arriving in Lebanon over a thousand years ago, established themselves in the Djebels today called Djebel Druze. They keep their own traditions and have the respect of the rest of the population because they know how to manage their business and handle the sword. The Jewish misfortune came from the fact that they came as invited by the powerful Kings and Princes who took their entrance in their own hands, mostly according to their own interests. Those powerful nobles never lived with the Jews, controlled them from a distance with rules, assigning tasks. Local people had no voice nor right to make decisions about it. Animosity was potentially present from the beginning. The Jews, accustomed to being ruled and persecuted by the religious and secular powers, were obedient. It didn't bring them luck; had they known better, things wouldn't be as they are. The Jews were stuck in the situation forever and they never formed any self defense except now in Israel where they face other powers and dangers. But this is another story. In the present "Diasporas" the Jews are generally prosperous, "influential," but they still don't have personal power. They depend on the 'friends'.Back to the index of the Vagabond