[FOUNTAIN]Now comes the hard partThe history of Jews is the history of their diaspora. “Diaspora” is the classical Greek term for “dispersion,” and in this usage it refers to the history of the Jews that were driven out of their original land in Palestine. The term is nearly three millennia old; the first dispersion was in the 8th century B.C. when Assyria conquered the area.
The Jews of the diaspora found a second home in Alexandria, an international port of the time. Jews are said to have lived better lives there, engaging in international trade and handicrafts, than did their brothers who remained in Palestine. Others in Alexandria envied the success of Jews and anti-Semitism started there.
The United States is the place where dispersed Jews have swarmed since the 19th century. Jews, who had lived on the European continent for more than 2,000 years, crossed the Atlantic during periodic persecutions there. The biggest migration was by Jews from Germany. They headed for the new continent in the early 19th century, expecting oppression after the defeat of Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo. At that time, more than 300,000 left Germany for the United States and other Jews in Eastern Europe and Russia followed the same path, the latter group called “Ashkenazi.” More than 80 percent of Jews now in the United States are of Ashkenazi heritage.
Another big migration of Jews from Europe occurred in the early 20th century with the advent of Nazism in Germany. During that migration, such eminent people as Albert Einstein moved to the United States. It has been often said they have led the world, leveraging their position in the United States. From basic science to banking to literature and the performing arts, Jews play prominent roles in the United States. More than 20 percent of wealthy Americans are Jews; they make up 7.5 percent of chief executives of large businesses, 35 percent of major journalists, and 60 percent of movie producers and directors. Paul Wolfowitz, the most hawkish of the U.S. officials who devised the Iraqi war plan, Elliot Abrams, the National Security adviser for the Middle East and Ari Fleischer, the White House spokesman, are all Jews.
The British weekly magazine The Economist recently noted that the completion of the war aims in Iraq includes the settlement of the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Persuading Jews in the United States could be harder than conducting the war. Mr. Bush still has long way to go.
by Oh Byung-sang
The writer is the London correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.