“Liberalism is always being surprised.” That was how Lionel Trilling used to describe the characteristic liberal failure to imagine what reason and common sense appeared to gainsay. During the past century few things have surprised and offended the liberal imagination more than the weird persistence of the Jewish nation. Liberal friends of the Jews expected that their emancipation would put an end to Jewish collective existence. Count Stanislas de Clermont-Tonnerre, the French revolutionary, told the French National Assembly in 1789 that “the Jews should be denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals.” Wilhelm von Humboldt, the great liberal reformer of Prussia whose ethical idealism is celebrated in Mill’s On Liberty, considered the disappearance of the Jews as a distinct group a condition for taking up the cause of their emancipation.