Over 14,000 Gazans have died from the relentless Israeli bombardment of the last few weeks, two-thirds of them women and children and almost none of them members of Hamas. That total represents the official figures of identified bodies, and with most of the local medical system destroyed and so many thousands more missing, buried under the rubble of the tens of thousands of demolished buildings, the true death toll probably already exceeds 20,000.
We are certainly witnessing the greatest televised slaughter of helpless civilians in the history of the world, with nothing even remotely comparable coming to mind. Over the last two years of the bitter war in Ukraine, a Russian missile fired at a military target occasionally caused twenty or forty civilian deaths as accidental collateral damage, and the resulting story spent days dominating the global headlines, then sometimes suddenly vanished once evidence appeared that an errant Ukrainian missile had actually been responsible.
By contrast, what we are now seeing is the deliberate massacre of civilians, aimed at driving out the Palestinians living in Gaza and rendering their enclave uninhabitable. Most of Gaza’s hospitals and medical facilities have been eliminated, and when the Jordanians established field hospitals in South Gaza, those too were bombarded. Schools, bakeries, and other facilities necessary for continued human existence have also been deliberately destroyed, along with the bulk of the housing stock, while the Israelis have blocked the inhabitants from any access to food, water, and fuel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly identified his Palestinian adversaries as the tribe of Amalek, whom the Hebrew God had commanded be exterminated down to the last newborn baby, and many of his country’s other political leaders have used equally genocidal language, with one Cabinet minister suggesting that Israel utilize its illegal nuclear arsenal to eradicate Gaza and its population. Polls show that more than 80% of Israeli Jews support their government’s extremely harsh military measures, hoping to see all the Palestinians killed or expelled.
More and more evidence has steadily accumulated that a majority, perhaps even a large majority of the Israeli civilians killed in the Hamas attack died at the hands of their own country’s trigger-happy military, the victims of tank shells and Hellfire missiles. So the actual number of unarmed Israeli civilians killed by Hamas fighters might have been as low as just 100 to 200, suggesting that the body-count of Palestinian civilians is at least 100 times larger. Yet despite this 100-to-1 casualty ratio, a recent front-page article in the New York Times by longtime correspondent Roger Cohen treated the tragedy in less than even terms, with a decided tilt towards the Israelis.
In recent years, public life in America and the rest of the West has become inordinately sensitive to the nuances of political correctness, with many regarding the misuse of pronouns as morally unconscionable. Therefore, the widespread graphic images on social media of the public slaughter of so many thousands of helpless babies and children has produced considerable unease, with well over half of Democrats being critical of these developments along with a substantial minority of Republicans.
Back in 2015, the widely broadcast image of a single, accidentally-drowned Syrian toddler led European governments to open their borders to millions of migrants, both from Syria and from everywhere else in the world, mostly young men in the prime of health. Greater Syria had traditionally encompassed Palestinian Gaza, so if a single accidental victim from the former had such enormous, nation-transforming political impact throughout Europe, surely the images of the many thousands deliberately killed in the latter must at least be raising a few personal concerns, though since some of these countries have prohibited expressions of pro-Palestinian sentiment, it’s difficult to be sure.
Many European Jews have wholeheartedly backed the Jewish State even as it commits this gigantic public massacre, and this has naturally provoked a certain amount of popular criticism. Deeply concerned by this latter situation, the New York Times last week ran yet another major article on the desperate need to combat such “anti-Semitic” sentiments in Europe, obviously one of the world’s most dreadful problems.
A few days ago, I’d asked an American academic friend of mine how his colleagues were reacting to this astonishing situation and he replied:
People are too scared to broadcast their views, I think…But I think a good fraction of even normie academics realize there is something monstrous going on.
This sounds plausible to me, and another senior academic I know reported a roughly similar situation. Fear stalks the land.
Students at our most elite universities have been threatened with permanent employment blacklisting if they supported the Palestinian cause, and a long list of Jewish billionaires have mounted similar attacks against the academic institutions themselves, something I cannot recall ever happening in the past. As a result, a legal analysis article commissioned and approved for publication in the prestigious Harvard Law Review was scrapped at the last moment.
From its earliest roots in the terroristic Irgun, Israel’s ruling Likud party has always endorsed the creation of a Greater Israel—“From the River to the Sea”—proclaiming that territory must be placed under Jewish rule, with all non-Jews subjugated, expelled, or killed. But in recent decades, progressive anti-Zionists have co-opted that same ambiguous slogan, using it to symbolize their goal of a unified country of Palestine, a secular democratic state providing equal rights for both Jews and non-Jews, two populations of similar size. This would naturally involve the dissolution of the existing Jewish state, absolute anathema to committed Zionists.
Propelled by the horrific images of dead babies in Gaza, this controversial phrase soon began trending among anti-Zionists on Twitter along with talk of “decolonizing” the Israeli settler-state. Wilting under intense Zionist attacks, owner Elon Musk—the world’s wealthiest man—declared that these rather vague and innocuous progressive slogans constituted incitement to “genocide,” with their use being grounds for an immediate ban from his platform. By contrast, I haven’t heard that Musk has banned any of the Israeli politicians or activists publicly calling for the total annihilation of all Palestinians.
Famed Hollywood actress Susan Sarandon had spent decades as a prominent progressive activist, involved in a very wide range of political causes, many of them denounced as “anti-American” by her conservative opponents, and she earned the enthusiastic praise of her peers for her commitment. Yet when she recently showed some public sympathy for the Palestinians, a helpless people now being butchered by the thousands and perhaps soon by the tens of thousands, she was summarily “cancelled” by her longtime talent agency, and others have suffered a similar fate. Around the same time, Maha Dahkil, one of Hollywood’s top talent agents, was demoted and nearly fired for similar reasons. Even before the current fighting began, 80-year-old leftist rockstar Roger Waters of Pink Floyd had been vilified in the international media for supporting Palestinian rights and even bizarrely threatened with a German arrest warrant for supposedly glorifying Nazism.
The lethal accusation of “anti-Semitism” is the charge leveled against all of these individuals, and fear of suffering a similar fate surely keeps a vast number of their like-minded peers silent. In our current Western world, that indictment carries the same weight as “congress with Lucifer” might have held in the Old Salem of the Witch-Trials era.
I discovered that such timidity even extends to many alternative websites and left-liberal bloggers. Although the horrific events in the Israel/Gaza conflict have totally dominated the global headlines during the last few weeks, I’d become rather disappointed that the coverage of such matters had seemed relatively subdued and circumspect.
The Moon of Alabama blogger had fearlessly reported so many controversial facts about the Ukraine war and other important matters, but a few days ago he ran a rather apologetic post entitled “There Are Certain Things I Can Not Write About,” opening with:
I have tried to write about Gaza. But I am too aghast, outraged and depressed to create a sensible piece.
So instead of coming up with something by myself I will leave you with a few links…
Given that the blogger is a German living in Germany, he may have also reasonably feared a knock on the door and a prison cell if he were too candid in his views.
Although the Naked Capitalism blogsite was originally launched with a heavy economics focus, other topics regularly constitute a substantial majority of the total content, and I’d therefore been disappointed at the lack of heavy Gaza coverage. However, its proprietor Yves Smith finally published a good post last Wednesday, arguing that the proposed truce and prisoner exchange might merely represent a bump in the road for Israel’s success in achieving its extreme objectives, with her closing sentences reading:
Perhaps enough international pressure could eventually be brought on the US to get us to finally pull Israel’s choke chain. But by then, it seems highly likely that Israel will have established facts on the ground in Gaza (deaths plus built environment destruction) for Israel to have decisively won in its aim of removing substantial numbers of Palestinians from Israel permanently.
I only very rarely glance at the resulting discussion-threads, but for some reason I did so this time, and I noticed this exchange between a commenter and Lambert Strether, one of the bloggers:
cnchal: The choke chain runs the other way. Since the “globalists” sit at the top of the economic heap they could induce an instantaneous world wide depression with a capital strike. Now, where would Biden be if that happened?
Fifteen to twenty thousand dead Palestinians so far and another million, nine hundred and eighty five thousand to go, then off to the West Bank for moar is the trajectory. Peace in the desert will be achieved eventually on the globalist’s terms.
Lambert Strether: The only way that your “choke chain” comment makes sense to me is if “‘globalist’” (your quotes) is a euphemism for (capitalist) Jews, since in general, global capital is doing very well for itself right now. Therefore, there’s no reason for capitalists qua capitalists to stage a strike. Since this euphemism is both analytically false and politically destructive, please clarify your usage of the term.
cnchal: Yes, my use of the word globalist in this context is a substitute for the word Jew…
Lambert Strether: Your statement is anti-semitic. We can’t have that here. We’re not entertaining it. (It’s also just analytically terrible and destructive, positing as it does that the first loyalty of capitalists is not to capital, absurd on its face.)
And that goes for anyone else with the same view.
UPDATE And if anyone’s thinking of sneaking this false construct through using artful language, don’t even try it. Our moderators are good at doping out things like that, and we’ll whack you, too.
The Jews of Israel are currently committing one of the worst public massacres in the history of the world, with the actions of their government loudly cheered on by many or most of the Jewish elites and populations of Europe and America, but taking notice of that obvious fact even using euphemistic constructs is regarded as a mortal sin. In a 2018 article, I described this sort of bizarre reaction now so widespread across the West:
I believe one factor is that over the years and the decades, our dominant media organs of news and entertainment have successfully conditioned most Americans to suffer a sort of mental allergic reaction to topics sensitive to Jews, which leads to all sorts of issues being considered absolutely out of bounds. And with America’s very powerful Jewish elites thereby insulated from almost all public scrutiny, Jewish arrogance and misbehavior remain largely unchecked and can increase completely without limit.
This distressing media landscape also exemplifies a very shrewd aphorism widely misattributed to Voltaire:
To know who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.
As these examples suggest, the accusation of “anti-Semitism” has become an enormously powerful political weapon in today’s West, wielded by Jewish and pro-Israel groups as a trump card that still seems to carry the day against all others. So the historical reality of that concept is an important and interesting topic, one that I had discussed at length in a pair of 2018 articles.
The first of these explained how my discovery twenty years ago of a crucial historical fact regarding the true history of the Bolshevik Revolution led to a complete upheaval in my understanding of the issue.
Obviously, this entire landscape was totally transformed by the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, which swept the old order from power, massacring much of its leadership and forcing the remainder to flee, thereby ushering in the modern world era of ideological and revolutionary regimes. I grew up during the final decades of the long Cold War, when the Soviet Union stood as America’s great international adversary, so the history of that revolution and its aftermath always fascinated me. During college and graduate school I probably read at least one hundred books in that general topic, devouring the brilliant works of Solzhenistyn and Sholokhov, the thick historical volumes of mainstream academic scholars such as Adam Ulam and Richard Pipes, as well as the writings of leading Soviet dissidents such as Roy Medvedev, Andrei Sakharov, and Andrei Amalrik. I was fascinated by the tragic story of how Stalin outmaneuvered Trotsky and his other rivals, leading to the massive purges of the 1930s as Stalin’s growing paranoia produced such gigantic loss of life.
I was not so totally naive that I did not recognize some of the powerful taboos surrounding discussion of the Bolsheviks, particularly regarding their ethnic composition. Although most of the books hardly emphasized the point, anyone with a careful eye for the occasional sentence or paragraph would surely know that Jews were enormously over-represented among the top revolutionaries, with three of Lenin’s five potential successors— Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev—all coming from that background, along with many, many others within the top Communist leadership. Obviously, this was wildly disproportionate in a country having a Jewish population of perhaps 4%, and surely helped explain the large spike in worldwide hostility towards Jews soon afterward, which sometimes took the most deranged and irrational forms, such as the popularity of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion and Henry Ford’s notorious publication of The International Jew. But with Russian Jews so much more likely to be educated and urbanized, and suffering from fierce anti-Semitic oppression under the Czars, everything seemed to make reasonable sense.
Then perhaps fourteen or fifteen years ago, I encountered a rip in my personal space-time continuum, among the first of many to come.
In this particular instance, an especially rightwing friend of evolutionary theorist Gregory Cochran had been spending long days browsing the pages of Stormfront, a leading Internet forum for the Far Right, and having come across a remarkable factual claim, asked me for my opinion. Allegedly Jacob Schiff, America’s leading Jewish banker, had been the crucial financial supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution, providing the Communist revolutionaries with $20 million in funding.
My first reaction was that such a notion was utterly ridiculous since a fact so enormously explosive could not have been ignored by the many dozens of books I had read on the origins of that revolution. But the source seemed extremely precise. The Knickerbocker columnist in the February 3, 1949 edition of The New York Journal-American, then one of the leading local newspapers, wrote that “Today it is estimated by Jacob’s grandson, John Schiff, that the old man sank about 20,000,000 dollars for the final triumph of Bolshevism in Russia.”
Once I checked around a little, I discovered that numerous mainstream accounts described the enormous hostility of Schiff towards the Czarist regime for its ill-treatment of Jews, and these days even so establishmentarian a source as Wikipedia’s entry on Jacob Schiff notes that he played a major role financing the Russian Revolution of 1905, as was revealed in the later memoirs of one of his key operatives. And if you run a search on “jacob schiff bolshevik revolution” numerous other references come up, representing a wide variety of different positions and degrees of credibility. One very interesting statement appears in the memoirs of Henry Wickham Steed, editor of The Times of London and one of the foremost international journalists of his era. He very matter-of-factly mentioned that Schiff, Warburg and the other top Jewish international bankers were among the leading backers of the Jewish Bolsheviks, through whom they hoped to gain an opportunity for the Jewish exploitation of Russia, and he described their lobbying efforts on behalf of their Bolshevik allies at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference following the end of the First World War.
Even the very recent and highly skeptical analysis in Kenneth D. Ackerman’s 2016 book Trotsky in New York, 1917 notes that U.S. Military Intelligence reports of the period directly made that astonishing claim, pointing to Trotsky as the conduit for the heavy financial backing of Schiff and numerous other Jewish financiers. In 1925 this information was published in the British Guardian and was widely discussed and accepted throughout the 1920s and 1930s by numerous major media publications, long before Schiff’s own grandson provided a direct confirmation of those facts in 1949. Ackerman rather cavalierly dismisses all of this considerable contemporaneous evidence as “anti-Semitic” and a “conspiracy story,” arguing that since Schiff was a notorious conservative who had never shown any sympathy for socialism in his own American milieu, he surely would not have funded the Bolsheviks.
Now admittedly, a few details might easily have gotten somewhat garbled over time. For example, although Trotsky quickly became second only to Lenin in the Bolshevik hierarchy, in early 1917 the two men were still bitterly hostile over various ideological disputes, so he certainly was not then considered a member of that party. And since everyone today acknowledges that Schiff had heavily financed the failed 1905 Revolution in Russia, it seems perfectly possible that the $20 million figure mentioned by his grandson refers to the total invested over the years supporting all the different Russian revolutionary movements and leaders, which together finally culminated in the establishment of Bolshevik Russia. But with so many seemingly credible and independent sources all making such similar claims, the basic facts appear almost indisputable.
Consider the implications of this remarkable conclusion. I would assume that most of Schiff’s funding of revolutionary activities was spent on items such as stipends for activists and bribes, and adjusted for the average family incomes of that era, $20 million would be as much as $2 billion in present-day money. Surely without such enormous financial support, the likelihood of any Bolshevik victory would have been far lower, perhaps almost impossible.
When people casually used to joke about the total insanity of “anti-Semitic conspiracy theories” no better example was ever tossed around than the self-evidently absurd notion that the international Jewish bankers had created the worldwide Communist movement. And yet by any reasonable standard, this statement appears to be more or less true, and apparently was widely known at least in rough form for decades after the Russian Revolution, but had never been mentioned in any of the numerous more recent histories that shaped my own knowledge of those events. Indeed, none of these very comprehensive sources had ever even mentioned Schiff’s name, although it was universally acknowledged that he had funded the 1905 Revolution, which was often discussed in enormous detail in many of those very weighty books. What other astonishing facts might they similarly be concealing?
When someone encounters remarkable new revelations in an area of history in which his knowledge was rudimentary, being little more than introductory textbooks or History 101 courses, the result is a shock and an embarrassment. But when the same situation occurs in an area in which he had read tens of thousands of pages in the leading authoritative texts, which seemingly explored every minor detail, surely his sense of reality begins to crumble.
In 1999, Harvard University published the English edition of The Black Book of Communism, whose six co-authors devoted 850 pages to documenting the horrors inflicted upon the world by that defunct system, which had produced a total death toll they reckoned at 100 million. I have never read that book and I have often heard that the alleged body-count has been widely disputed. But for me the most remarkable detail is that when I examine the 35 page index, I see a vast profusion of entries for totally obscure individuals whose names are surely unknown to all but the most erudite specialist. But there is no entry for Jacob Schiff, the world-famous Jewish banker who apparently financed the creation of the whole system in the first place. Nor one for Olaf Aschberg, the powerful Jewish banker in Sweden, who played such an important role in providing the Bolsheviks a financial life-line during the early years of their threatened regime, and even founded the first Soviet international bank.
When one discovers a tear in the fabric of reality, there is a natural tendency to nervously peer inside, wondering what mysterious objects might dwell within. The Ackerman book denounced the notion of Schiff having funded the Bolsheviks as “a favorite trope of Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda” and just prior to those words he issued a similar denunciation of Henry Ford’s Dearborn Independent, a publication which once would have meant almost nothing to me. Although Ackerman’s particular book had not yet been published when I first began considering the Schiff story a dozen years ago, many other writers had similarly conjoined those two topics, so I decided to explore the matter.
Ford himself was a very interesting individual, and his world-historical role certainly received very scanty coverage in my basic history textbooks. Although the exact reasons for his decision to raise his minimum wage to $5 per day in 1914—double the existing average pay for industrial workers in America—can be disputed, it certainly seems to have played a huge role in the creation of our middle class. He also adopted a highly paternalistic policy of providing good company housing and other amenities to his workers, a total departure from the “Robber Baron” capitalism so widely practiced at that time, thereby establishing himself as a world-wide hero to industrial workers and their advocates. Indeed, Lenin himself had regarded Ford as a towering figure in the world’s revolutionary firmament, glossing over his conservative views and commitment to capitalism and instead focusing on his remarkable achievements in worker productivity and economic well-being. It is a forgotten detail of history that even after Ford’s considerable hostility to the Russian Revolution became widely known, the Bolsheviks still described their own industrial development policy as “Fordism.” Indeed, it was not unusual to see portraits of Lenin and Ford hanging side-by-side in Soviet factories, representing the two greatest secular saints of the Bolshevik pantheon.
As for The Dearborn Independent, Ford had apparently launched his newspaper on a national basis not long after the end of the war, intending to focus on controversial topics, especially those related to Jewish misbehavior, whose discussion he believed was being ignored or suppressed by nearly all mainstream media outlets. I had been aware that he had long been one of the wealthiest and most highly-regarded individuals in America, but I was still astonished to discover that his weekly newspaper, previously almost unknown to me, had reached a total national circulation of 900,000 by 1925, ranking it as the second largest in the country and by far the biggest with a national distribution. I found no easy means of examining the contents of a typical issue, but apparently the anti-Jewish articles of the first couple of years had been collected and published as short books, together constituting the four volumes of The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem, a notoriously anti-Semitic work occasionally mentioned in my history textbooks. Eventually my curiosity got the best of me, so I clicked a few buttons on Amazon.com, bought the set, and wondered what I would discover.
Based on all my pre-suppositions, I expected to read some foaming-at-the-mouth screed, and doubted I would be able to get past the first dozen pages before losing interest and consigning the volumes to gather dust on my shelves. But what I actually encountered was something entirely different.
Over the last couple of decades, the enormous growth in the power of Jewish and pro-Israel groups in America has occasionally led writers to cautiously raise certain facts regarding the untoward influence of those organizations and activists, while always carefully emphasizing that the vast majority of ordinary Jews do not benefit from these policies and actually might be harmed by them, even leaving aside the possible risk of eventually provoking an anti-Jewish backlash. To my considerable surprise, I found that the material in Ford’s 300,000 word series seemed to follow this exact same pattern and tone.
The individual 80 chapter-columns of Ford’s volumes generally discuss particular issues and events, some of which were well-known to me, but with most totally obscured by the passage of almost a hundred years. However, as far as I could tell, almost all the discussions seemed quite plausible and factually-oriented, even sometimes overly cautious in their presentation, and with one possible exception I can’t recall anything that seemed fanciful or unreasonable. As an example, there was no claim that Schiff or his fellow Jewish bankers had funded the Bolshevik Revolution since those particular facts had not yet come out, only that he had seemed to be strongly supportive of the overthrow of Czarism, and had worked toward that end for many years, motivated by what he regarded as the hostility of the Russian Empire towards its Jewish subjects. This sort of discussion is not all that different from what one might find in a modern Schiff biography or in his Wikipedia entry, though many of the important details presented in the Ford books have disappeared from the historical record.
Although I somehow managed to plow through all four volumes of The International Jew, the unrelenting drum-beat of Jewish intrigue and misbehavior became somewhat soporific after a while, especially since so many of the examples provided may have loomed quite large in 1920 or 1921 but were almost totally forgotten today. Most of the content was a collection of rather monotonous complaints regarding Jewish malfeasance, scandals, or clannishness, the sort of mundane matters which might have normally appeared in the pages of an ordinary newspaper or magazine, let alone one of the muckraking type.
However, I cannot fault the publication for having such a narrow focus. A consistent theme was that because of the intimidating fear of Jewish activists and influence, virtually all of America’s regular media outlets avoided discussion of any of these important matters, and since this new publication was intended to fill that void, it necessarily provided coverage overwhelmingly skewed toward that particular subject. The articles were also aimed at gradually expanding the window of public debate and eventually shaming other periodicals into discussing Jewish misbehavior. When leading magazines such as The Atlantic Monthly and Century Magazine began running such articles, this result was hailed as a major success.
Another important goal was to make ordinary Jews more aware of the very problematical behavior of many of their community leaders. Occasionally, the publication received a letter of praise from a self-proclaimed “proud American Jew” commending the series and sometimes including a check to purchase subscriptions for other members of his community, and this achievement might become the subject of an extended discussion.
And although the details of these individual stories differed considerably from those of today, the pattern of behavior being criticized seemed remarkably similar. Change a few facts, adjust the society for a century of progress, and many of the stories might be exactly the same ones that well-meaning people concerned about the future of our country are quietly discussing today. Most remarkably, there were even a couple of columns about the troubled relationship between the earliest Zionist settlers in Palestine and the surrounding native Palestinians, and deep complaints that under Jewish pressure the media often totally misreported or hid some of the outrages suffered by the latter group.
I cannot vouch for the overall accuracy of the contents of these volumes, but at the very least they would constitute an extremely valuable source of “raw material” for further historical investigation. So many of the events and incidents they recount seem to have been entirely omitted from the major media publications of that day, and certainly were never included in later historical narratives, given that even such widely known stories as Schiff’s major financial backing for the Bolsheviks were completely tossed down George Orwell’s “memory hole.”
- The International Jew
The World’s Foremost Problem
Henry Ford • 1920 • 323,000 Words
- American Pravda: The Bolshevik Revolution and Its Aftermath
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • July 23, 2018 • 6,900 Words
I found these revelations shocking, both with regard to the crucial role of Jacob Schiff in the Bolshevik Revolution and the rather mundane and plausible contents of Ford’s notorious work The International Jew. This forced me to completely reassess my framework of assumptions, and in my next article, I carefully investigated the historical reality of “anti-Semitism.”
I recently published a couple of long essays, and although they primarily focused on other matters, the subject of anti-Semitism was a strong secondary theme. In that regard, I mentioned my shock at discovering a dozen or more years ago that several of the most self-evidently absurd elements of anti-Semitic lunacy, which I had always dismissed without consideration, were probably correct…
When one discovers that matters of such enormous moment not only apparently occurred but that they had been successfully excluded from nearly all of our histories and media coverage for most of the last one hundred years, the implications take some time to properly digest. If the most extreme “anti-Semitic canards” were probably true, then surely the whole notion of anti-Semitism warrants a careful reexamination.
All of us obtain our knowledge of the world by two different channels. Some things we discover from our own personal experiences and the direct evidence of our senses, but most information comes to us via external sources such as books and the media, and a crisis may develop when we discover that these two pathways are in sharp conflict. The official media of the old USSR used to endlessly trumpet the tremendous achievements of its collectivized agricultural system, but when citizens noticed that there was never any meat in their shops, “Pravda” became a watchword for “Lies” rather than “Truth.”
Now consider the notion of “anti-Semitism.” Google searches for that word and its close variants reveal over 24 million hits, and over the years I’ve surely seen that term tens of thousands of times in my books and newspapers, and heard it endlessly reported in my electronic media and entertainment. But thinking it over, I’m not sure I can ever recall a single real-life instance that I’ve personally encountered, nor have I heard of almost any such cases from my friends or acquaintances. Indeed, the only persons I’ve ever come across making such claims were individuals who bore unmistakable signs of serious psychological imbalance. When the daily newspapers are brimming with lurid tales of hideous demons walking among us and attacking people on every street corner, but you yourself have never actually seen one, you may gradually grow suspicious.
Over the years some of my own research has uncovered a sharp contrast between image and reality. As recently as the late 1990s, leading mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times were still denouncing a top Ivy League school such as Princeton for the supposed anti-Semitism of its college admissions policy, but a few years ago when I carefully investigated that issue in quantitative terms for my lengthy Meritocracy analysis I was very surprised to reach a polar-opposite conclusion. According to the best available evidence, white Gentiles were over 90% less likely to be enrolled at Harvard and the other Ivies than were Jews of similar academic performance, a truly remarkable finding. If the situation had been reversed and Jews were 90% less likely to be found at Harvard than seemed warranted by their test scores, surely that fact would be endlessly cited as the absolute smoking-gun proof of horrendous anti-Semitism in present-day America.
It has also become apparent that a considerable fraction of what passes for “anti-Semitism” these days seems to stretch that term beyond all recognition. A few weeks ago an unknown 28-year-old Democratic Socialist named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scored a stunning upset primary victory over a top House Democrat in New York City, and naturally received a blizzard of media coverage as a result. However, when it came out that she had denounced the Israeli government for its recent massacre of over 140 unarmed Palestinian protesters in Gaza, cries of “anti-Semite” soon appeared, and according to Google there are now over 180,000 such hits combining her name and that harsh accusatory term. Similarly, just a few days ago the New York Times ran a major story reporting that all of Britain’s Jewish newspapers had issued an “unprecedented” denunciation of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, describing it as an “existential threat” to the Jewish community for the anti-Semitism it was fostering; but this apparently amounted to nothing more than its willingness to sharply criticize the Israeli government for its long mistreatment of the Palestinians.
It was obvious that in today’s political world, “anti-Semitism” had become a wildly-exaggerated, even meaningless accusation. So I decided to carefully explore its historical reality in the past, especially in the years prior to the Bolshevik Revolution, given that the very heavy involvement of Jews in the event had subsequently produced a popular backlash in other countries.
In 1991 Cambridge University Press published The Jew Accused by Albert Lindemann, a noted scholar of European ideological movements, and his book focused on exactly that era and those sorts of incidents. Although the text is quite short, running less than 300 pages, Lindemann built his discussion upon a huge foundation of secondary literature, with his footnotes drawn from the 200 works included in his extensive bibliography. As far as I could tell, he seems a very scrupulous scholar, generally providing the multiple, often conflicting accounts of a given incident, and coming to his own conclusions with considerable hesitation.
A few years later, Lindemann expanded his examination of historical anti-Semitism into a much broader treatment, Esau’s Tears, which appeared in 1997 and was nearly twice as long, providing comparative studies of the social landscape in numerous additional countries, including Germany, Britain, and Italy. Taken together the two volumes ran nearly 900 pages and constituted a very thorough and meticulously objective discussion of a social phenomenon so heavily covered in our media.
Lindemann’s major focus and the centerpiece of his first book were three of the world’s most notorious examples of anti-Semitism prior to the First World War, all of which had had fateful, long-term consequences while receiving attention in my introductory textbooks.
This approach is certainly demonstrated in the first of his major cases, the notorious Dreyfus affair of late 19th century France, probably one of history’s most famous anti-Semitic incidents. Although he concludes that Captain Alfred Dreyfus was very likely innocent of the charge of espionage, he notes the seemingly strong evidence that initially led to his arrest and conviction and finds—contrary to myth-making by numerous later writers—absolutely no indications that his Jewish origins played any role whatsoever in his predicament.
However, he does note some of the underlying social context to this fierce political battle. Although only one Frenchman in a thousand was Jewish, just a few years earlier a group of Jews had been the leading culprits behind several huge financial scandals that had impoverished large numbers of small investors, and the swindlers afterward escaped any punishment by means of political influence and bribery. Given this history, much of the outrage of the anti-Dreyfusards probably arose from their fears that a Jewish military spy from a very wealthy family might be able to walk free using similar tactics, and the public claims that Dreyfus’s brother was offering enormous bribes to win his release certainly strengthened this concern.
Lindemann’s discussion of the 1913 Leo Frank Affair, in which a wealthy Northern Jew working in Atlanta was accused of sexually-assaulting and murdering a young girl, is even more interesting. Once again, he notes that contrary to the traditional narrative, there seems absolutely no hint that Frank’s Jewish background played any role in his arrest or conviction. Indeed, at his trial it was instead his very highly-paid defense attorneys who unsuccessfully sought to “play the race card” with the jurors by crudely attempting to deflect suspicion upon a local black worker by means of racially-charged invective.
Although Lindemann regards Frank as probably innocent, my own reading of the evidence he presents suggests the overwhelming likelihood of his guilt. Meanwhile, it seems undeniable that the outpouring of popular anger against Frank was produced by the vast ocean of outside Jewish money—at least $15 million or more in present-day dollars—that was committed to the legal efforts to save the life of someone widely regarded as a brutal murderer. There are strong suggestions that far more improper means were also employed, including bribery and influence-peddling, so that after Frank was convicted by a jury of his peers and thirteen separate legal appeals were denied, a governor with strong personal ties to the defense lawyers and Jewish interests chose to spare Frank’s life a few months before leaving office. Under these circumstances, the lynch-mob that hung Frank was viewed by the community as merely enforcing his official death sentence by extra-judicial means.
I also discovered that the leading figures in the anti-Frank movement had views far nuanced than I had expected. For example, populist writer Tom Watson had previously been a strong defender of Jewish anarchist Emma Goldman, while ferociously denouncing the Rockefellers, Morgans, and Goulds as the “true destroyers” of Jeffersonian democracy, so his outrage that Frank might escape punishment for murder seemed motivated by the extreme wealth of Frank’s family and his supporters rather than any pre-existing anti-Semitic sentiments.
After some additional research and reading, I eventually concluded that the evidence for Frank’s guilt was absolutely overwhelming and even discovered that the traditional understanding of the case was actually inverted. Frank and his Jewish allies had desperately played upon the notorious racist sentiments of the Old South, attempting to orchestrate the lynching of various totally innocent black men in order to hide Frank’s guilt. But the white Southern jury saw through their scheme and Frank was the one sentenced to hang, as I recapitulated in an article earlier this year:
- American Pravda: The Leo Frank Case and the Origins of the ADL
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • March 27, 2023 • 5,300 Words
The unmistakable conclusion of Lindemann’s analysis is that if the defendants in both the Dreyfus and Frank cases had not been Jewish, they would have suffered identical arrests and convictions, but lacking any wealthy and politically mobilized Jewish community to rally around them, they would have received their punishments, just or unjust, and immediately been forgotten. Instead, Theodor Herzl, the founding father of Zionism, later claimed that the massive anti-Semitism revealed by the Dreyfus Affair was the basis of his personal ideological awakening, while the Frank Affair led to the establishment of America’s Anti-Defamation League. And both these cases have entered our history books as among the most notorious examples of pre-World War I anti-Semitism.
Lindemann’s discussion of the often difficult relations between Russia’s restive Jewish minority and its huge Slavic majority is also quite interesting, and he provides numerous instances in which major incidents, supposedly demonstrating the enormously strong appeal of vicious anti-Semitism, were quite different than has been suggested by the legend. The famous Kishinev Pogrom of 1903 was obviously the result of severe ethnic tension in that city, but contrary to the regular accusations of later writers, there seems absolutely no evidence of high-level government involvement, and the widespread claims of 700 dead that so horrified the entire world were grossly exaggerated, with only 45 killed in the urban rioting. Chaim Weizmann, the future president of Israel, later promoted the story that he himself and some other brave Jewish souls had personally defended their people with revolvers in hand even as they saw the mutilated bodies of 80 Jewish victims. This account was totally fictional since Weizmann happened to have been hundreds of miles away when the riots occurred.
Although a tendency to lie and exaggerate was hardly unique to the political partisans of Russian Jewry, the existence of a powerful international network of Jewish journalists and Jewish-influenced media outlets ensured that such concocted propaganda stories might receive enormous worldwide distribution, while the truth followed far behind, if at all.
For related reasons, international outrage was often focused on the legal confinement of most of Russia’s Jews to the “Pale of Settlement,” suggesting some sort of tight imprisonment; but that area was the traditional home of the Jewish population and encompassed a landmass almost as large as France and Spain combined. The growing impoverishment of Eastern European Jews during that era was often assumed to be a consequence of hostile government policy, but the obvious explanation was extraordinary Jewish fecundity, which far outstripped that of their Slavic fellow countrymen, and quickly led them to outgrow the available spots in any of their traditional “middleman” occupations, a situation worsened by their total disinclination to engage in agriculture or other primary-producer activities. Jewish communities expressed horror at the risk of losing their sons to the Czarist military draft, but this was simply the flip-side of the full Russian citizenship they had been granted, and no different from what was faced by their non-Jewish neighbors.
Certainly the Jews of Russia suffered greatly from widespread riots and mob attacks in the generation prior to World War I, and these did sometimes have substantial government encouragement, especially in the aftermath of the very heavy Jewish role in the 1905 Revolution. But we should keep in mind that a Jewish plotter had been implicated in the killing of Czar Alexander II, and Jewish assassins had also struck down several top Russian ministers and numerous other government officials. If the last decade or two had seen American Muslims assassinate a sitting U.S. President, various leading Cabinet members, and a host of our other elected and appointed officials, surely the position of Muslims in this country would have become a very uncomfortable one.
As Lindemann candidly describes the tension between Russia’s very rapidly growing Jewish population and its governing authorities, he cannot avoid mentioning the notorious Jewish reputation for bribery, corruption, and general dishonesty, with numerous figures of all political backgrounds noting that the remarkable Jewish propensity to commit perjury in the courtroom led to severe problems in the effective administration of justice. The eminent American sociologist E.A. Ross, writing in 1913, characterized the regular behavior of Eastern European Jews in very similar terms.
These cases are widely regarded as three of the most egregious examples of anti-Semitism in all of human history, and they separately gave birth to the Zionist movement, led to the founding of the ADL, and inspired the revolutionary, anti-Czarist fervor and funding that ultimately resulted in the Bolshevik Revolution. Yet when viewed in the cold light of reality, it was not clear to me whether any of them actually constituted “anti-Semitism” in any legitimate sense of the word, and the same was generally true for the long list of far lesser incidents that fill the remainder of Lindemann’s 900 pages of careful historical analysis. All of this suggested that “anti-Semitism” had always been more of an ideological phantasm deployed as a political weapon rather than any sort of meaningful concept in the real world, not merely today but also in the historical past.
Some Jewish scholars, loathe to accept that possibility, seemed to immediately recognize the potential political threat posed by Lindemann’s objective scholarship and they reacted accordingly, though their harsh attacks were rebutted by other, apparently less ideologically-driven academics:
But although I found his analysis quite useful and interesting, the extraordinarily harsh attacks his text provoked from some outraged Jewish academics seemed even more intriguing.
For example, Judith Laikin Elkin opened her discussion in The American Historical Review by describing the book as a “545-page polemic” a strange characterization of a work so remarkably even-handed and factually-based in its scholarship. Writing in Commentary, Robert Wistrich was even harsher, stating that merely reading the contents had been a painful experience for him, and his review seemed filled with spittle-flecked rage. Unless these individuals had somehow gotten copies of a different book, I found their attitudes simply astonishing.
I was not alone in such a reaction. Richard S. Levy of the University of Illinois, a noted scholar of anti-Semitism, expressed amazement at Wistrich’s seemingly irrational outburst, while Paul Gottfried, writing in Chronicles, mildly suggested that Lindemann had “touched raw nerves.” Indeed, Gottfried’s own evaluation quite reasonably criticized Lindemann for perhaps being a little too even-handed, sometimes presenting numerous conflicting analyses without choosing between them. For those interested, a good discussion of the book by Alan Steinweis, a younger scholar specializing in the same topic, is conveniently available online.
The remarkable ferocity with which some Jewish writers attacked Lindemann’s meticulous attempt to provide an accurate history of anti-Semitism may carry more significance than merely an exchange of angry words in low-circulation academic publications. If our mainstream media shapes our reality, scholarly books and the articles they influence tend to set the contours of that media coverage. And the ability of a relatively small number of agitated and energetic Jews to police the acceptable boundaries of historical narratives may have enormous consequences for our larger society, deterring scholars from objectively reporting historical facts and preventing students from discovering them.
- American Pravda: The Nature of Anti-Semitism
Ron Unz • The Unz Review • July 30, 2018 • 5,500 Words
Jews as a people have existed for thousands of years and their often bitter conflict against others around them certainly stretches back that far, with Wistrich having published a book entitled Antisemitism: the Longest Hatred. The Wikipedia entry on the History of Anti-Semitism runs 18,000 words, containing a multitude of references and well over 200 footnotes.
But while the term “Anti-Semitism” is so powerful in today’s political debate, it was only first coined in the late nineteenth century by journalist Wilhelm Marr, a German nationalist writer and former radical. Although his first three wives were all of Jewish ancestry, Marr became alarmed by the growing control over finance and industry exercised by his country’s tiny Jewish minority, which he viewed in racial rather than religious terms, and he therefore founded the League of Anti-Semites to combat such encroachments. Thus, over the course of a century, Jewish media control has successfully transformed a term originally intended to challenge Jewish power and influence into one of the ideological weapons used to maintain it.
As we have seen above, the historical evidence for the existence of “anti-Semitism” in any meaningful sense really seems rather meager, and such apparent hostility was usually either fabricated by heavily distorted accounts or else appeared in direct response to very serious Jewish provocations. With perhaps 20,000 Gazan Palestinians having now been slaughtered by Jews, I don’t doubt that the miserable survivors currently feel a great deal of hostility towards the group responsible, but how could we possibility expect anything else? Do we gain any extra insight by labeling this animosity “anti-Semitism”?
Meanwhile, in sharp contrast, the fundamental tenets of traditional Judaism have always included an enormous amount of inherent hostility towards all non-Jews, something that has been widely remarked upon for thousands of years. As I discussed in 2018:
Obviously the Talmud is hardly regular reading among ordinary Jews these days, and I would suspect that except for the strongly Orthodox and perhaps most rabbis, barely a sliver are aware of its highly controversial teachings. But it is important to keep in mind that until just a few generations ago, almost all European Jews were deeply Orthodox, and even today I would guess that the overwhelming majority of Jewish adults had Orthodox grand-parents. Highly distinctive cultural patterns and social attitudes can easily seep into a considerably wider population, especially one that remains ignorant of the origin of those sentiments, a condition enhancing their unrecognized influence. A religion based upon the principal of “Love Thy Neighbor” may or may not be workable in practice, but a religion based upon “Hate Thy Neighbor” might have long-term cultural ripple effects that extend far beyond the direct community of the deeply pious. If nearly all Jews for a thousand or two thousand years were taught to feel a seething hatred toward all non-Jews and also developed an enormous infrastructure of cultural dishonesty to mask that attitude, it is difficult to believe that such an unfortunate history has had absolutely no consequences for our present-day world, or that of the relatively recent past.
Despite these facts, the reifying power of the term “anti-Semitism” has helped ensure that any hostility displayed by Gentiles towards Jews enjoys an enormously higher profile than any reciprocal hostility in the other direction, with the latter lacking any name to give the concept solid meaning. Indeed, over the years I’ve occasionally seen some anti-Jewish activists attempt to fill that gap by inventing new terms such as “anti-Goyism” or “loxism,” but given their lack of media power, none of these have caught on.
Yet named or not, the phenomenon is certainly real, with bits of evidence occasionally seeping out. Despite the current 100-to-1 civilian casualty ratio, tendentious pro-Israel propaganda has currently stoked enormous levels of Jewish hatred towards Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, which sometimes leads to striking real-world incidents. Just a few days ago, a Jewish former State Department official, a senior figure who had been responsible for Israel/Palestine relations in the Obama Administration, was caught on video berating a random Egyptian immigrant food cart vendor in New York City, promising to use his powerful political connections to have the poor man’s family brutally tortured and killed.
That astonishing video clip together with its longer versions received well over 10 million impressions on Twitter, and provoked such a furor that it led to the man’s arrest on charges of “harassment.” Because the victim was Muslim, the outrageous behavior was described as “Islamophobic.” But under slightly different circumstances, I’m sure the target of his wrath could have just as easily been a German or an Anglo-Saxon or any other Gentile group, with the behavior then lacking any identifying name. Indeed, the same perpetrator had reportedly been similarly accosting and insulting ethnic Russians earlier this year.
Just a few weeks ago, a top Israeli political figure interviewed on KremlinTV had denounced Russia for being insufficiently pro-Israel in the current conflict and outrageously threatened the country possessing the world’s largest nuclear arsenal:
Finally, in the most astonishing example of all, the Israel’s national broadcaster released a propaganda video showing sweet young Israeli children singing songs calling for the total annihilation of Gaza and all of its inhabitants. The video was eventually deleted after the Israelis realized that other peoples around the world may have other ways of thinking and might consider it inappropriate.
Copies of this striking song video remain in circulation and have been viewed many millions of times around the world, perhaps providing an important insight into the thinking of Israeli Jews, and this telling incident was discussed on the Grayzone.
In his sharp criticism, Max Blumenthal characterized this Israeli video as “Nazi-esque” but I think he is almost certainly mistaken. If any such official propaganda project had ever been undertaken in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich, it surely would have subsequently become the centerpiece of every American documentary seeking to demonstrate the unspeakable evil of Nazi Germany. Indeed, I suspect that the notion of the German government coaching young German children into singing songs calling for the total annihilation of Jews or any other group would have been utterly unimaginable in that society. As I half-jokingly suggested in a 2018 article, Nazism might reasonably be characterized as “Judaism for wimps.”
I have explained that decades ago a small handful of shocking discoveries caused me to completely reassess my understanding of the world and begin considering ideas that I previously would have dismissed. I suspect that the graphic images coming out of destroyed Gaza and some of the surprising behavior of Israel’s governmental leaders and its committed advocates may now be having a similar effect upon hundreds of millions of individuals around the world, including some in our own country. And this may be the most important long-term consequence of the sanguinary events that were triggered by the Hamas attack last month.
We must carefully distinguish between the realities of the world and the extreme beliefs that agitated Jewish propagandists have often projected upon their various adversaries, both past and present. I touched upon this issue in several of my pieces from earlier this year, published prior to the outbreak of the current Israel/Gaza conflict.
- American Pravda: Israel, Gaza, and Broader Issues
- American Pravda: War Crimes and Atrocity-Hoaxes in the Israel/Gaza Conflict
- Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and Racialism
- American Pravda: The Bolshevik Revolution and Its Aftermath
- American Pravda: The Nature of Anti-Semitism
- American Pravda: The ADL in American Society