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HOME > Classical Novels > On the Eve of Redemption > JUDEA AND ROME
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 Even history has its reasons that reason often fails to understand. When news reached Rome in August 70 C.E. that Judea was conquered, the temple burned and the Jewish people , the Roman populace greeted it with the cry, "Hierosolyma est perdita"; there was rejoicing at the downfall and of the Jewish state. Eighteen hundred and forty-seven years later, after the cries "Hierosolyma est perdita" were shouted in the streets of the eternal city, an Italian army leaves Rome with Palestine again as its objective; but this time it marches not with the object of Judea, but, as an official message puts it—to enable the powers to the Holy Land from the Turks, to turn it over eventually to the Jews, and thus to rebuild Judea. Even if there should be little to the Roman announcement, it is not lacking a pathetic touch; it testifies to the grim of history. The same Rome that once destroyed Judea is making public its intention today to help rebuild it. Our ancestors, who were the witnesses of the cruel destruction of Judea, would surely not think of the possibility that after a of nearly two thousand years, an army should leave Rome for Palestine with the object of to reinstate the Jewish people in the land of its ; nor could anyone have foreseen that the Rome of old, that aimed at the of small nationalities, would be succeeded by a new Rome that pronounces its stand for the rights and political re-establishment of small and oppressed nationalities.  
Of course, people will say that modern Rome can in no way be compared to ancient Rome and that the two have nothing in common. However, those who have read Montesquieu and Hegel on the deeds of ancient Rome and those who have followed the development of modern Rome, will recognize the close similarity between the two. As far as power and political and strategic genius go, modern Rome, it is true, cannot be compared to its of two thousand years ago; but if traditions, surroundings and other sociological factors that give a people shape and form count for anything, the Roman of today is bound to have a good deal in common with the Roman of two thousand years ago, even if the one is not racially the offspring of the other.
Present-day Rome has much in common with ancient Rome. The main difference between them is, of course, this: While ancient Rome, dominating the entire world then known to humanity, and forming the centre of the civilization, was the world power of the time, modern Rome holds neither the political position of ancient Rome nor is it the representative and bearer of the Mediterranean civilization. The predominance of Mediterranean civilization has gone with the last great Doges of Venice, and modern Rome is no longer the centre of gravitation of humanity that ancient Rome was two thousand years ago. In the course of the last millenium, the centre of civilization has shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic. It is the Atlantic civilization that is today. The whole terrible fight that is going on today in all parts of the world is not a fight about the Mediterranean and its , but it is a struggle for the Atlantic and its predominance—and, in this struggle, Rome is no longer playing a leading part.
In the course of the fight about the Mediterranean, Judea was destroyed and the whole Semitic race nearly . The wars of Rome against Carthage, the people of which Hebrew and formed a branch of the Aramaic family of nations, were fought with the only object of preserving Roman supremacy in the Mediterranean. The fight for the Atlantic, however, has already resulted in the re-establishment of one Semitic nation—the Arab—and will probably also result in the re-establishment of old Judea. That is where the difference between the fight for the Mediterranean, fought by ancient Rome, and the fight for the Atlantic, in which modern Rome participates, comes in.
The ancient Mediterranean Rome was not only to the core, but universalistic as well. The chief aim and plan of ancient Rome was to the whole world, then known to humanity, with a view to dominating it. The idea of a universal at the expense of the independence and freedom of other nations first originated in ancient Rome. Rome of today, which takes part in the fight for the Atlantic, is imperialistic, although no longer striving for political universalism and world domination; it announces that it stands today for the of the individuality of the small nations.
The re-establishment of Judea, as one of the consequences of the present war, cannot be a blind chance of fate. There is historical in this development. Palestine, as a Mediterranean country could not maintain its independence in the face of a rising Mediterranean world power that strove to master not only the Mediterranean but all the other parts of the globe then known to mankind. Our of old found a thousand and one moral and political reasons for the downfall of ancient Judea and for its destruction by Rome. They ascribed the downfall of ancient Judea not only to political, but even to moral causes and to the growth of individual and dissensions among the Jews themselves. The internal political and moral reasons advanced by our sages for the downfall of Judea may have contributed to the destruction, but the main reason was the determination of Rome to master all the shores of the Mediterranean and to dominate the entire ancient world. In the face of this fact, even an internally solid and strong Judea would have finally as[6] did Carthage, which produced greater generals and gave a better military account of itself than did Judea. The destruction of Judea was a tragic historical necessity and could only have been avoided if Rome had, by a miracle, suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth. Were present Rome what ancient Rome was, the centre of civilization that strove for the mastery not only of the Mediterranean countries but also of the entire world, the prospective re-establishment of Judea today would have as little chance as ancient Judea of surviving or resisting Roman . The prospective re-establishment of Judea is only possible because the centre of civilization has been shifted from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Why did the Jewish people suffer two thousand years under the dispersion and why did they not try during this long period to re-establish their political sovereignty in the land of their ancestors? Even the best of our thinkers ascribe this national default and political to a sort of lethargy of which the Jews were the victims. To many a Jewish thinker, Ahad Ha'am not excepted, the past two thousand years of Jewish existence appears to be planless and one great historic confusion; but on looking closely at developments, one will come to recognize that not because of lethargy, but because of given historical conditions, the Jewish people could not up to our times have attempted to re-establish their national sovereignty in the land of their forefathers. More than a thousand years after the downfall of western Rome, Mediterranean civilization, though , remained supreme and was identical with civilization at large. The chief move of its centre from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic and the of a new center was only after a struggle of nearly five hundred years. So long as Atlantic civilization was not supreme and so long as the fight for its supremacy was not finished, the political re-establishment of Judea, closely connected with the settlement of the solution of questions arising out of the fight for the Atlantic and all that there is to it—the individualization of international politics, the preservation of the small nationalities, their political restoration, etc.—could not be taken up and no serious attempt to re-establish the Jewish nationality in Pales tine could be made by the Jews or other nations interested in the settlement of the Jewish question.
For these reasons, the re-establishment of Judea, as one of the post-bellum problems, is as historically logical now as was the downfall of Judea a historical necessity two thousand years ago.
There are no blind chances in history, nor are there moments in history. History has its reasons, which, however, reason often fails to understand.

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