Jews and the Imperial Social Hierarchy

Benjamin Nathans

in Beyond the Pale

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2002 | ISBN: 9780520208308
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520931299 | DOI:
Jews and the Imperial Social Hierarchy

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This chapter investigates Russia's regime of legal disabilities specifically aimed at its Jewish population when Jewish emancipation had swept from west to east across nearly the entire European continent. It observes that the Russian Jews in the decades before 1917, who were themselves victims of official discrimination, emphasized the distinctiveness of tsarist policy toward the Jews as compared to the treatment of the empire's other ethnic and religious groups, citing specifically anti-Jewish motives among ruling elites as the prime cause. It notes that recent studies treat the absence of civil and political rights for Jews within the context of a general absence of legal rights in Russia, and argue that Jewish emancipation as enacted in Europe across the long nineteenth century would have made little sense in a society lacking the principle of equality before the law, without denying the presence in the tsarist government of strongly negative attitudes toward Jews.

Keywords: legal disabilities; Jewish emancipation; European continent; Russian Jews; official discrimination; tsarist policy; civil and political rights

Chapter.  9123 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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