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Jews and the MilitaryA History$
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Derek J. Penslar

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691138879

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691138879.001.0001

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When May We Kill Our Brethren? Jews at War

When May We Kill Our Brethren? Jews at War

(p.121) Chapter Four When May We Kill Our Brethren? Jews at War
Jews and the Military

Derek J. Penslar

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on Jewish wartime sensibilities. As Jews began to serve in substantial numbers in the armies of Europe and North America, their patriotic inclinations clashed with their transnational attachments to Jews in the lands against which their country was fighting. This problem first emerged during the revolutions of 1848, when Jews fought both as rebels and as soldiers in the Habsburg armies, and it was the object of considerable discussion in the European-Jewish press. The Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71 was far more traumatic as it sundered the French- and German-Jewish communities, which had long known close business and familial ties. Rabbinic sermons, fiction, and Jewish apologetic literature displayed a powerful transnationalist sensibility, a feeling of Jewish commonality even in times of war. As such, the willingness of Jews to fight each other was heralded as the ultimate proof of worthiness for equal rights.

Keywords:   Jewish wartime sensibilities, patriotic inclinations, transnational attachments, Habsburg armies, Franco-Prussian War, French-Jewish communities, German-Jewish communities, transnationalist sensibility, Jewish commonality, equal rights

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