Lloyd, Anne Patricia
Jews under fire: the Jewish community and military service in World War I Britain
University of Southampton, School of Humanities,
Jewish and national histories have been interwoven in this study to probe the collision between perceptions of Jewish identity and the legacy of an imperial hierarchy of martial masculinity, conditioned by the pressures of war. It was to create significant dislocation, both in the traditional relationship between Jews and the State, and within the Jewish community.
The negative stereotype of the Jewish male, which emerged in fin de siècle, is examined from three inter-connected perspectives; Jewish responses to the evolution of a masculine cult in the prelude to 1914, the changing dynamics of Jewish interaction with State officialdom in the war years, and issues of integration and separation which contributed to the multi-faceted profile of the Jewish soldier.
The results of archival research suggest that vested interests concerning the question of Jewish military service created tensions between Government Departments and within the community, where patriotism clashed with nationalism, both concepts being anathema to a large number of immigrant Jews. The consequences divided Jews in Britain, challenging the authority of the Anglo-Jewish elite, and revealing to the State its misconception of a Jewish corporate entity. Despite the Jews’ military record, and the incipient demise of ‘imperial man’, negative perceptions of the Jewish male were diminished but not eliminated.
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