The 18th century

I’ve read two books recently about the Eighteenth Century and they couldn’t be more different except that they came out around the same time, 2004-5, and show the supreme power of the Catholic church and the state over the individual in general. It was a different world before universal right existed, before feminism, civil rights etc. Glad that I live now. But this can all vanish in a second.

The first book, A Venetian Affair, by Andrea di Robilant, an Italian writer—now 60, tells the true story of Guistiana Wynne and Andrea Memmo, (the writer”s ancestor.) Giustiana and the man she lovingly calls Memmo were Catholic Venetians, 18th century lovers, dear friends and super well suited. But they could not get married because he was too high born and she, half English, was too low. The Venetian Republic had the final say. They tried to marry but were finally trumped by the dubious origins of her mother, After all Memmo was a noble Venetian patrician with a glittering career before him and his marriage back then had to be to a similar gal with a good pedigree.
Similarly, Prof Gerson David Hundert. a renown historian, wrote about Jews in the eighteenth century in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. I think, Hundert’s intention was to show how liberal and grand the Commonwealth was to Jews and it indeed had elements of freedom before the West.

But even after Emancipation, Jews, were far from free. Even in places like France, Germany, and the USA (and later Poland) there was anti semitism. The Dreyfus Case was one example; the Holocaust is another.

And though I would like to think that today such feelings cant return, I wonder…Just one charismatic leader can turn things around and lead us back to a different time. How? He can keep harping on things such as the news is fake, everyone lies but him. All this hyper nationalism is unhealthy. The hatred of strangers is wrong. Don’t rely on Ivanka or Jared. A non Jewish friend recently sent me an article on George Soros, that was full of antisemitism. I am not sure this friend comprehended this article’s venality. Soros was accused of “taking over the world.” Im just happy that Harvey Weinstein is not the only alleged sex offender in town.

Do we want to go back in time perhaps to the 18th century? No way

About the Author
Netty C. Gross-Horowitz is a journalist who worked for many years at The Jerusalem Report Together with Susan M. Weiss, she is co-author of "Jewish Marriage and Divorce Israel's Civil War," published by Brandeis University Press and the University Press of New England, December 2012.
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