Thus, over time, much more passive and theological set of attitudes developed, representing both the average Jew and the Jewish leadership.
This attitude was reinforced by a new and different historical reality in which the Jews increasingly found themselves.

As the Jews moved into Diaspora lands, they found themselves increasingly dependent on the goodwill of the surrounding host culture for protection. The guarantor of Jewish safety was the political and military power of their hosts, rather than any power that they might have held themselves.

Even in those centres where Jews attained a certain amount of political power, it was limited: it never translated into any kind of independent political or military power. Such a situation would have been inconceivable.

Indeed, ironically, the idea of Jewish political or military power was thought to be so unrealistic, that in those places where Jews did indeed gain some kind of political power, it was the very idea that the Jews represented no threat which enabled the rulers to give them power.

The Jews could thus be granted this power because, ultimately, they were powerless; they relied on the goodwill and the self-interest of the rulers in the places where they lived. It would be allowed them for as long as the Jews proved their value to the host society - and for as long as the hosts remained pragmatic.

But the Jews would never have independent power: if they were ever (erroneously) perceived as holding such power, some historical rule of life in the traditional centres of the Diaspora always appeared to function, whereby they were soon removed from that power - because they came to be considered a threat to that society




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31 May 2005 / 22 Iyar 5765 0