Review of John Glad’s “Jewish Eugenics”

Kevin MacDonald


Jewish Eugenics, by John Glad. Washington, DC: Wooden Shore Publishers, 2011; 464pp. (Downloadable at either www.whatwemaybe or www.woodenshore.org. These sites also have Glad’s Future Human Evolution.)

John Glad begins Jewish Eugenics by noting that “much of what might be termed  ‘accepted eugenics narrative’ is in crass discordance with the historical facts” (p. 8). In other words, we are about to enter one of those academic minefields where “truth” is rigorously cleansed to make sure it is compatible with ethnic interests. Indeed, “writing books about Jews used to be a far easier undertaking than it is today, with Jewish anxieties over ‘anti-Semitism’ having been so elevated as to render dispassionate scholarly discourse nearly impossible” (p. 8).

I am not so sure that dispassionate scholarship is impossible, but it is surely the case that findings that diverge from the self-image desired by any ethnic group will surely be vigorously contested by academic activists or, more probably, consigned to oblivion. Dr. Glad assures me that in his case, it is the latter, writing of his frustration at the silence that has greeted his work. Welcome to the club.

As a university professor, Glad is quite attuned to the politics of having a good career. Critics of eugenics, like the notorious Ashley Montagu (a disciple of Franz Boas), get fat honoraria for delivering superficial, factually challenged lectures sponsored by numerous academic departments and programs. (Glad characterizes a lecture by Montagu as “an impressive demonstration of indoctrination” [p. 91].) On the other hand, those who defend eugenics “are subjected to academic shunning” (p. 91), their books are not used in classes and not purchased by academic libraries. They get no invitations to attend conferences or deliver lectures.

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Broken down to its bare essentials, eugenics aims to incorporate human reason to influence the future human gene pool. Rather than let nature take its course, the idea is to plan our genetic future with the same care and rational concern as we plan the future in other areas, such as urban planning or animal husbandry. In general, eugenicists have prized traits like high IQ and behavioral restraint, seeking to maximize these traits in the population, and to minimize low IQ, genetic diseases, and psychopathogy.

The logic behind eugenics is impeccable. In its classical form, it proposes that qualities such as health, intelligence, and moral character are socially valuable. Eugenicists were correct that there are strong genetic influences on these traits, and they argued that society can promote these qualities by policies such as discouraging reproduction of people with negative traits (negative eugenics) and encouraging reproduction of people with positive traits (positive eugenics). Many of those who advocated eugenics were leftist social radicals with utopian visions, including Jewish radical Emma Goldman who “was arrested on a morals charge for distributing a 4-page pamphlet in English and Yiddish entitled Why and How the Poor Should Not Have So Many Children” (p. 162). (Goldman’s extensive Wikipedia biography leaves out any mention of her advocacy of eugenics.)

In the case of eugenics and Jews, the reason for this historical obfuscation is clear: In recent decades, eugenics has been reconstructed as an anti-Jewish ideology—indeed, as the ideology of the Holocaust. Therefore, all Jewish involvement in eugenics must be expunged from the historical record. “You are reading a book on a topic that supposedly not only does not exist, but one that is even inconceivable” (p. 10). Given this motivation, it is not surprising that when Glad refers to what he labels the “eugenics-bashing industry,” that he notes that the industry is “mostly Jewish” (p. 21). “Even as Russia was shaking off the mythology of Lysenkoism, the West was celebrating its betrothal to Lysenko’s heirs. An intellectual coup d’état had taken place, and many of the purge masters were Jews shoving aside other Jews” (p. 27).

Nevertheless, the reality is that Jews have been prime beneficiaries of eugenic practices. Glad’s thesis is that “for all its excesses, eugenics has been an astounding, indeed an existential success for Jews, molding them into a uniquely resourceful and intelligent people, and the current assault on eugenics by an understandably emotion-driven minority Jewish faction represents a frontal assault on the very essence of Judaism” (p. 11). This group has intimidated Jewish supporters of eugenics, at least in Western countries. As we shall see, a watered down version of eugenics is alive and well in Israel.

Surprisingly perhaps, Glad ignores the vast amount of population genetic research showing substantial genetic commonalities among widely dispersed Jewish populations, instead quoting two gynecologists to the effect that although “contemporary Jews share several chromosome markers and polymorphisms as well as genetic mutations … there is no such thing as a Jewish genome and Jews are no more likely to share sequences with fellow non-Jews than with each other” (p. 39). While it is true that there is no such thing as a Jewish genome (no one ever said there was, probably because the idea is incoherent), there is a great deal of evidence against the latter claim (seeherefor discussions of recent papers in Jewish population genetics).

For Glad, then, despite quite a bit of evidence to the contrary, Judaism is nothing but a cultural construct, albeit one with a particular eugenic dynamism. That is, according to Glad, Judaism is not about preserving an ethnic coherence but about creating a superior group with no ethnic connotations. My view is that it is both about ethnic  coherence and that eugenics was an important force in shaping modern Jewish groups, particularly the Ashkenazim.

A prime area where Jews have benefited is intelligence. Glad accepts the idea that Jews are smarter on average as a result of eugenic practices, although he doesn’t provide any detail on exactly how this happened or how much smarter they are. He rejects a purely internal model of selection for intelligence within the Jewish community such as proposed in Chapter 7 of my A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy, claiming that it “would probably reduce the absolute number of high IQs. In any case, ‘marrying brains’ would be a zero sum game if practiced only within one’s own community” (p. 29).

Neither of these arguments is coherent. In traditional societies, assortative mating for intelligence resulted in a higher mean intelligence for the group as a whole because intelligent people tended to be wealthier, and wealthier people had more children.  Within-group assortative mating for high intelligence was a standard part of the eugenic argument from the beginning—nothing more than Darwinism applied to human mating. It’s the same in animals were it is common for females to select mates with desirable qualities to pass down to the offspring. Doing so is not a “zero sum game” even in small breeding populations. The important thing is that some genotypes contribute to evolutionary success more than others and are therefore passed on disproportionately.

Supporting the theory of eugenic selection within the traditional Jewish community, Glad quotes well-known Jewish anthropologist Maurice Fishberg writing in 1917 who claimed that in traditional Jewish society “wealthy persons and scholars were little concerned with the physical appearance of their future sons-in-law. Intellectual abilities were the main thing. If a bridegroom was a significant, promising scholar, even a physical defect was ignored” (p. 168). (Interestingly, Fishberg also notes that in addition to eugenic practices, traditional Jewish communities encouraged everyone to marry, even people with gross mental and physical defects. Eugenics can still work under such circumstances if the well-endowed have more children, as was the case in traditional societies.)

A standard aspect of eugenic thinking was that natural selection wasn’t doing its job anymore because of medical science and welfare benefits for low-IQ people, with the result that the average genetic potential  for IQ was declining. Lothrop Stoddard (The Revolt Against Civilization: The Menace of the Under Man), for example, was keen on this point, and among recent exponents of eugenics, Richard Lynn and Helmuth Nyborg make the same argument.  Such arguments can easily be tied to concerns about the future of the race. For example, Stoddard argued that without eugenics the White race would gradually degenerate and be in a relatively less competitive position vis-à-vis other races. It would seem that Lynn and Nyborg are similarly concerned about the future of Europeans.

Glad proposes “infiltration theory” as an alternative to internal eugenic selection, proposing that Jewish IQ increased as a result of the infiltration of high-IQ non-Jews into Jewish groups. While there is a great deal of evidence for eugenic practices for IQ within Jewish groups as prescribed by canonical Jewish religious writing, Glad does not provide evidence for his infiltration hypothesis apart from non-Jewish Soviet citizens attempting to emigrate to Israel in order to flee the USSR.Even if true, this would not explain why higher Jewish intelligence was apparent long before the late 20th century.

Moreover, there is no evidence that Jews had a policy of admitting high-IQ non-Jews. In traditional societies — and Jewish IQ was clearly shaped well before the modern spike in intermarriage — non-Jewish representation in the Jewish gene pool was always illicit and occurred at very low rates. A substantial percentage of the genetic inflow in traditional societies may have resulted from rape, an unlikely source of eugenic benefits. It is an intriguing possibility that genetic inflow from Europeans contributed substantially to Jewish intelligence. However, I know of no data that show this.

Glad’s data suggesting a 9.1% intermarriage rate in Germany in 1875 may be correct, but this is far higher than occurred in the pre-modern era and, in any case, it is unlikely that the offspring of mixed marriages remained within the Jewish community.  Glad quotes a Jewish publication from 1845 discussing “the great evil” of marrying a non-Jew (p. 113); as a quote he provides from 1846 shows, in those days (far more than now), the intermarried couple and their children would be banned from the Jewish community, so that there could be no eugenic effect on the Jewish gene pool.

Recent studies suggest there was some admixture in founding populations but that marriage within the group was the rule after that. And in any case, there are subsets of the Jewish population that have remained completely untouched by intermarriage—particularly the Orthodox and in Israel. Indeed, the importance of retaining racial purity was a prime motivation for the racial Zionists in establishing Israel (see below). Oddly, given that Glad believes that Judaism is nothing but a culturally created eugenic group, he bemoans the high rates of intermarriage because of its effects on “uniquely Jewish genes” (p. 34).

Glad sees Jewish intelligence as entirely benign vis-à-vis the people and culture of the West. He quotes Seymour Itzkoff’s Fatal Gift: Jewish Intelligence and Western Civilization: “Had Western civilization been able to proclaim the truth that Jewish accomplishment was not part of a sinister conspiracy to take over the world, here a people apart, tainted with peculiar cultural traditions, could we have not been able to stop the insanity of ‘National Socialism’ and other pseudo-egalitarian crusades against human accomplishment?” (p. 21).

The problem with Jews is not that they are intelligent or that they are an elite. All societies necessarily have elites, and because of their high intelligence and ethnic networking, Jews have tended to be an elite throughout history. The problem has been that Jews in European societies have tended to form a hostile elite, supporting policies, such as massive non-White immigration, that are not in the interests of the great majority of the non-Jewish populations. (Glad mentions “Jewish-promoted immigration of non-Jews” [p. 111] without discussing why Jews are thus motivated.)

Indeed, Glad has a wonderful quote from German Studies scholar Sander Gilman illustrating well the hostility of Jews toward the people and culture of Germany, and showing as well that Jewish scholars often have very sharp axes to grind when they approach their academic subjects:

I will no longer hear the libel of anti-Semites within the field; I reject their claim for a ‘fair hearing’ within the profession because their fair hearing will be used, as it always has been, to vilify me, to dehumanize me and my pain. The Holocaust remains and must remain for me … the central event of modern German culture, the event toward which every text, every moment in German history and, yes, culture, moved inexorably. I am not neutral. I am not distanced, for serving as an outsider does not mean to be cool and clinical, it must mean to burn with those fires that define you as an outsider. My stereotypes of the German (and my awareness of them) lead me to examine the stereotypes that the German has of me. It is from this that I must move. For me this is not the age of ‘post-modernism,’ it is the post-Holocaust age. That is the silent marker for our present world, and our work is to understand the world of the German in the light of that moment in history. (p. 88)

It’s easy to find similar statements by important Jewish intellectuals (reviewed in The Culture of Critique). The problem is that the academic world is full of Jews like Gilman brimming with hatred because of their perceptions of anti-Jewish attitudes and actions in the past. Obviously one cannot expect unbiased points of view in their scholarship.

The greater problem is that people like Gilman generalize their hostility far beyond Germany and Germans to the entire people and culture of the West. And of course, these attitudes pervade not only the academic world but also Jewish activist organizations like the ADL and SPLC, as well as Jews in the media and in politics.

Glad is also a bit facile in discussing Jewish assimilation, citing sporadic claims by individual Jews to have assimilated in Germany prior to the rise of National Socialism without evaluating the evidence that the great majority of Jews retained a sense of separateness and sense of cultural alienation from Germany. (Sander Gilman is an exemplar of this attitude in the contemporary world.) This alienation is generally true now throughout the West: For example, even though Jews are in some sense assimilated to American culture and indeed have had a very large impact on American culture, in general they retain a strong sense of Jewish identity that informs their attitudes and behavior. Compared to the traditional White people of America, their attitudes are far more favorable to massive non-White immigration, and they tend to be far more hostile to traditional icons of American culture, such as Christianity in the public square. Jewish assimilation has therefore not precluded hostility toward and conflicts of interest with the traditional people and culture of America.

Glad shows that Jews were prominently involved in the assault on biology in the social sciences. He calls attention to Marx, Freud, and Boas and notes the special role of Jews in the furor over E. O. Wilson’s Sociobiology (all themes of The Culture of Critique). He also mentions three other villains of the assault on biology discussed in The Culture of Critique:  Richard Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon Kamin. Jews also were the main force behind Lamarckianism in the USSR and in the West, at least until certain critical experiments were shown to be frauds.

Glad is particularly colorful in describing E. O. Wilson’s opponents:

Wilson’s attackers were not Bible-belt fundamentalist preachers with eighth grade educations, but his sophisticated secular Jewish colleagues at Harvard — evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould and geneticist Richard Lewontin —precisely those who logically could have been expected to be his most enthusiastic supporters. … Wilson’s opponents were soon emulated by a largely Jewish cottage industry of anti-Darwinian scholars and activists who reviewed each other’s books and appointed each other to academic positions. (p. 77)

Glad is also correct when he describes the basic trajectory of the New Left: “The New Left fused with the counterculture to produce a ‘revolutionary consciousness’ with overwhelming Jewish participation and leadership” (p. 78). However, as the left identified Israel as “Kosher imperialism” after the Six Day War, “Jewish participation in leftist activities fell off, and the belief that eugenics had been the driving ideological motor triggering genocide of the Jews became accepted Holocaust narrative” (p. 78).

At the same time that Jews dominated the left in the Diaspora, Zionist Jews have always had a strong attraction to eugenics and biology (reviewed also in Chapter 5 (p. 152ff) of Separation and Its Discontents).  The following are some choice quotes from Glad:

  • Proto-Zionist Moses Hess: “The Jewish race is one of the primary races of mankind that has retained its integrity, in spite of the continual change of its climatic environment, and the Jewish type has conserved its purity through the centuries” (p. 115).
  • Vladimir Jabotinsky, the patron saint of the now dominant Israeli right: “The preservation of national integrity is impossible except by a preservation of racial purity, and for that purpose we are in need of a territory of our own…. If you should ask me in a sense of revolt and outrage: but surely in that case you want segregation at all costs! I would answer that one must not be afraid of words and not of the word ‘segregation’” (p. 136).
  • Arthur Ruppin, a prominent early Zionist: Jewish racial pride “was passed on all the more easily thanks to the racial haterd of the Jew for the non-Jew, and its reaction — the racial hatred of the non-Jew for the Jew” (p. 139). Notice the claim that racial hatred is a fundamental, presumably biologically-based human emotion.

Glad notes that “the major Anglo-American eugenicists came out forthrightly against racial hatred” while at the same time “eugenicists were arrested, exiled, and murdered under both Hitler and Stalin, not to mention facing fierce hostility in the United States.” Nevertheless, “it is also true that antipathy toward Jews was evident among an undetermined minority of eugenicists.” Here Glad singles out Madison Grant and his views on Africans and Jews. Regarding the former, Grant claims that having Blacks adopt the accouterments of White culture does not make them into White people—a claim that is surely quite within the mainstream of the racial research of Richard Lynn and J. Philippe Rushton. Grant expressed similar concerns about the lack of assimilability of Polish Jews “whose dwarf stature, peculiar mentality, and ruthless concentration on self-interest” (p. 62).

It is perhaps odd that Glad is eager to dismiss genetic arguments on Jewish behavior at the same time that he enthusiastically argues that Jews have in fact used eugenics to promote certain traits, particularly intelligence. It is unclear what Grant meant by the “peculiar mentality” of Eastern European Jews, but it is not at all unreasonable to suppose that the upward mobility and intense activism displayed by this group can be attributed at least partly to genetic causes. On the face of it, a strong sense of self-interest vis-à-vis outgroups would be a very advantageous trait to have in intergroup competition. I have arguedthat hyper-ethnocentrism, intelligence, psychological intensity, and aggressiveness are traits that distinguish Ashkenazi Jews. If, as Glad argues, intelligence is a result of Jewish eugenics, I see no reason why he should preclude the other traits as being exaggerated as a result of eugenics, producing what Grant terms a “peculiar mentality.” In fact, all of these traits show substantial heritability and thus are prime candidates for eugenic selection.

Where Glad is at his best is in discussing the Jewish politics of eugenics. He notes that the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum has an exhibit that states that eugenics caused the Holocaust. This mantra is also endlessly repeated in the mass media. Glad rebuts this assertion by first quoting from a Rabbi’s sermon given in 1926: “”Whether regarded hygienically, morally, or religiously, the whole purport of the Torah, the Law of Moses, is to separate Israel from the rest of mankind as a Chosen People, in order to be a noble people, a well-born race of men for their own superior happiness, as well as, by way of example, to be a blessing to the world” (p.  63). And he shows that eugenic practices are alive and well in the contemporary Jewish community, especially genetic screening for Jewish genetic diseases. Indeed, “eugenics lies at the very core of Jewish identity” (p. 64).

Glad notes that many Jewish scientists contributed to the academic journal Eugenics Quarterly prior to its name change to Social Biology in 1985. In the list provided, I note Benson E. Ginsburg (a behavior geneticist, expert in wolf behavior, and my Ph.D. thesis advisor) and Nathaniel Weyl (who published on Jewish intelligence and accomplishment). But more surprisingly, the list includes Ashley Montagu and Melville Hershkovits (disciples of Franz Boas), as well as Richard Lewontin and Jerry Hirsch (both prominent opponents of behavior genetics and sociobiology); all are discussed in Chapter 2 of The Culture of Critique as ideological opponents of Darwinism as it applies to humans. Glad’s list would seem to show that Eugenics Quarterly published articles from a wide variety of views indeed, including some from an anti-eugenics perspective.

One element of the campaign against eugenics is the association between National Socialism and eugenics. Glad defuses this by showing that Churchill was also an advocate of eugenics, deeply concerned about the propagation of the feeble-minded and unapologetic about the conquests that Whites as a “stronger race” carried out against other races.

But Jews have been able to have their cake and eat it too:

The upshot of the situation is that a group of largely Jewish activists have so successfully undermined the very eugenic mechanism that made Jewry what it is as to pose an existential threat to Jewry. But Jewish common sense … has not only continued to hold sway in the practice of eugenics, it has even managed to surf the scientific tide of newly found genetic knowledge— all the while paying lip service to the Holocaust-from-eugenics gospel. (p. 72)

The movement against eugenics was part of a much larger picture for Jewish activists:

In 1975, the UN General Assembly … declared that Zionism is “a form of racism and racial discrimination,” essentially declaring the state of Israel to be illegitimate. As a counterbalance, Jewish groups massively funded the Holocaust Memorial Movement.  In it turn, the Holocaust Memorial Movement attacked the eugenics movement with every increasing fury.

However, the last 20 years has seen a huge upsurge of identifying eugenics as the cause of the Holocaust. Between 1945 and 1992, only one book associated the Holocaust with eugenics. Since that time, 51 books have mentioned this connection.

The supposedly causal relationship was accepted with no mention of Jewish participation in the eugenics movement, of the fact that eugenics was popular among the left and the right, of the condemnation by Anglo-American eugenicists of Germany’s National Socialist Regime, or of Jewish eugenicists who had perished in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. The eugenics-is-evil message was imprinted, almost indelibly. (pp. 79-80)

Since [the beginning of the crush of books on the Holocaust in 1968], four decades have passed, and all the while a cohort of Jewish writers continues to attack the eugenics movement, which supposedly threatens at any moment to rip out the stake driven into its vampire heart and once more stalk the planet in search of new victims. In the meantime, precisely as feared by Jewish eugenicists for over a century, the Jews are decimating their own ranks by low fertility and high intermarriage rates. [Note that Glad seems to condemn intermarriage as non-eugenic despite his theory that genetic infiltration was the cause of high Jewish IQ.] Soon there will be no need for Shabbat goy to turn out the lights on Shabbat; there won’t be any Jews left. (p. 81)

Many of these books (Glad emphasizes Daniel Kevles’ In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity ) were intensively promoted in the prestigious mainstream media where there is a large Jewish ownership and influence. For example, Glad notes that Kevles’ influential book was serialized in The New Yorker, at the time owned by Samuel Irving Newhouse.

Eugenics is alive and well in Israel, although the word ‘eugenic’ is typically avoided. Glad cites an expert suggesting that the first human clones will probably be in Israel; this will occur with the support of Orthodox Jews. Yael Hashioni-Dolevshows that Israeli geneticists and the Israeli public strongly favor eugenic practices. Israeli women are “heavily pressured to engage in selection of their embryos, or, in the ultra-Orthodox community, to marry according to ‘genetic compatibility.’” This can be seen as an aspect of racial Zionism that dominates contemporary Israeli political culture.

Nevertheless, these eugenic practices, while important, miss a critical aspect of classical eugenics thinking mentioned above: that steps should be taken to prevent the deterioration of IQ in modern populations resulting from the relaxation of natural selection. See, for example, Helmuth Nyborg’s discussionof decline in the genetic potential for IQ in the Danish population where he notes that by 2072

the damage implies that even if fertile low-IQ non-Western immigrants are the ultimate winners in the third demographic transition [i.e., when low-IQ immigration is added to internal forces lowering Danish IQ], they will conquer a lesser country. Danish average IQ will, for example, then have approached 90, or perhaps even be close to the projected mean immigrant of IQ 86.

These internal dysgenic forces must be assumed to be acting on Jewish IQ as well, since natural selection has been relaxed in Jewish groups. Indeed, the only Jewish groups that are reproducing themselves are the Orthodox and the fundamentalists, and they are likely to be less intelligent than the secular Jews who have been so upwardly mobile and so prone to intermarriage in Western societies. According the Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen’s IQ and the Wealth of Nations, the average IQ in Israel is an unexceptional 94.

As well, Glad does not mention attempting to use eugenic practices to build a more competitive race or ethnic group. As discussed above, Glad conceives Judaism as a non-ethnically defined but eugenically vigorous group.

These two aspects of traditional eugenics de-emphasized by Glad are critical in the long run. That is, racial groups would be well advised to engineer their own future in all of the ways recommended by the classical eugenicists like Stoddard. Failure to do so means that groups that fail to plan for their genetic future will lose out to those that do. The fact that Jewish activists have dominated the anti-eugenics movement in the West and that they tend to hold hostile views toward the traditional people and culture of the West suggest that their opposition to eugenics may also have another motive lurking in the background besides their hatred for anything associated with National Socialism: facilitating the genetic decline of the West as an outgroup. Jewish promotion of massive non-White immigration may also be similarly motivated, although the negative effects of non-White immigration extend far beyond a population decline in IQ (e.g., loss of political power of Whites, less willingness to contribute to public goods like health care, increase in social strife and political alienation).

National Socialism had a strong concern about securing and preserving the racial future of Germans. It is not surprising then that Jewish hostility toward National Socialism would also extend to hostility toward the ability of Germans (and by extension, other European peoples) to take charge of their own genetic future as championed by many in the classical eugenics movement. In the  end, Jewish opposition to eugenics may be seen as just another aspect of the ongoing ethnic warfare between Jews and Europeans.

My impression in reading Glad is that he definitely sees Jews as a superior group. As noted throughout this review, he quite happily states that Jews successfully promoted anti-biological views in the social sciences, mass immigration, the 1960s counterculture, and the “eugenics caused the Holocaust” myth. This would presumably be enough to get him labeled a “self-hating Jew” by the ADL which is always eager to deny that Jews have any influence at all.

Glad’s acknowledgment that Jews are influential is a natural corollary to his views that Jews are superior. Unfortunately, I do not think that he adequately deals with how Jewish influence has often been to the detriment of the interests of non-Jews, particularly non-Jews of European descent.

However, Glad is to be congratulated for his work in showing that Jewish activists were able to manufacture the “truth” that eugenics caused the Holocaust out of thin air. This should not be surprising. The same has happened with the left in general in establishing the currently regnant culture of critique. The leftist social scientists reviewed by Glad — Boas, Lewontin, Kamin, Rose, Gould — managed to create a great many “truths” in the area of IQ and genetics that still remain unquestioned in the prestigious media and throughout much of the academic world. It is therefore no surprise that Jewish activists were able to accomplish truth creation with the “eugenics caused the Holocaust” myth.

Needless to say, this ability to create “truth” out of thin air is a major component of Jewish power in the West today.

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