Jews and Gun Control: A Reprise
Editor’s note: The immediate reaction by the left, including Pres. Obama, to the shootings in Roseburg, Oregon was to demand greater gun control. This has now become a ritual after every multiple shooting. This article by Andrew Joyce originally appeared on August 2, 2014, but is re-posted because it discusses the role of Jews as a critical component of the coalition in favor of gutting the Second Amendment and places the Jewish role in historical context.
The thorny issue of Jewish support for gun control has reared its head once more, this time in Washington State. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has called for the resignation of Brian Judy, a National Rifle Association lobbyist who reportedly linked gun control to that untouchable icon of Jewish victimhood, the Holocaust. At a news conference at the Federation’s Seattle headquarters, President Keith Dvorchik said Judy should resign for connecting an anti-gun ballot initiative to policies pursued by Nazi Germany. Dvorchik further demanded the national office of the NRA “make clear that it rejects his ignorant and unproductive dialogue.”
Judy’s remarks first surfaced on the liberal blog Horsesass.org. An audio clip plays over a still image of a gathering and features Judy talking about Jews who support gun control. The remarks were made at a gathering in Silverdale opposing I-594, a measure on the ballot this fall that would further expand background checks for gun purchases. In the recording, Judy references Nick Hanauer, a Seattle Jew who has contributed more than $300,000 to an independent-expenditure group supporting I-594, in addition to an earlier $1 million pledge. Other significant funds have come from Jewish billionaire and former Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer who, along with his wife Connie, is a major contributor to the Hanauer-founded organization, Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility. Hanauer wrote recently in Politico about how his family fled Nazi Germany. The speaker on the recording references Hanauer’s piece: “Now [Hanauer is] funding, he’s put half a million dollars, toward this policy, the same policy that led to his family getting run out of Germany by the Nazis. You know, it’s staggering to me, it’s just, you can’t make this stuff up. That these people, it’s like any Jewish people I meet who are anti-gun, I think, ‘Are you serious? Do you not remember what happened?’ And why did that happen? Because they registered guns and then they took them. Why did you have to flee to this country in the first place? Hello! Is anybody home here?”
Dvorchik, in calling for Judy’s resignation, failed to mention broader Jewish interests in achieving the disarming of the civilian populace (which I will discuss below), claiming instead that the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle has an interest in the issue because of a shooting that occurred eight years ago. Naveed Haq, an apparently deranged Muslim, forced his way into the federation’s offices with a handgun, killing one employee and wounding five others. Dvorchik has demanded that the national office of the NRA disavow Judy’s remarks and the “idiotic, simplistic and simply wrong” idea that the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany has anything to do with a ballot measure that calls for background checks for gun purchases. He added that to question whether the Jews don’t “understand history is the most vile rhetorical question that has ever been asked.” Dvorchik has been joined by anti-gun Jewish state politicians Reuven Carlyle and David Frockt, who have said Judy’s statements “carry dark, ugly and subtle undertones of anti-Semitism.” Additionally, Hanauer’s Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility reports on its website that the following Jewish organizations now support I-594 as a matter of policy: The Anti-Defamation League, Bet Alef, Congregation Beth Shalom, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Kavana Cooperative, Kol HaNeshamah, National Council of Jewish Women, Stroum Jewish Community Center, Temple Beth Am, Temple Beth Hatfiloh, Temple Beth Or, Temple B’Nai Torah, Temple De Hirsch Sinai, Tikvah Chadashah, Herzl Ner Tamid, Temple Beth El and the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center.
High-profile Jews have a nasty habit of finding themselves at odds with the NRA. The Judy case is almost a carbon copy of 2013’s fiasco involving Jewish mayor of Jersey City, Steve Fulop. In November Fulop announced that he would he would use the buying power of his police force’s weapon purchases to essentially blackmail gun vendors into making it much more difficult for regular customers to purchase arms. Shortly after Fulop made his intentions public, Scott L. Bach, an NRA board member and executive director of the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, reportedly told an audience: “His (Fulop’s) grandparents were Holocaust survivors according to Wikipedia. So you’ve got to wonder why he is not getting it.” ADL Chief witch hunter Abe Foxman in turn, condemning Bach’s remarks not only for invoking of the Holocaust to score political points (presumably only Jews are afforded that privilege), but also adding that Bach’s summoning of Fulop’s family’s personal history “makes it all the more offensive.”
Scratch the surface even lightly in almost any state and you will find influential Jews leading the movement to restrict the right to bear arms. The strongest supporter of gun control measures in Connecticut is Jewish Senator Richard Blumenthal. The biggest gun control group in Pennsylvania is CeaseFirePA. The board of CeaseFirePA is dominated by Jews and includes such figures as Nancy Gordon, a member of the Jewish Social Policy Action Group, and Shira Goodman, Che Saitta-Zelterman and Fred Kaplan-Mayer. In New York Michael Bloomberg has formed and financed Everytown, a new gun control organization, and has already pledged $50 million to the cause of making it harder for citizens to purchase arms and ammunition. The Huffington Post reports that in California Dianne Feinstein has “long been one of the Senate’s strongest advocates for gun control.” In Michigan, Jewish Senator Carl Levin has been at the forefront of gun control efforts, earning him an “F” score from Gun Owners of America. I could go on.
Of course, the reason why influential Jews keeping clashing with the NRA is the simple fact that Jews lead the gun control campaign. Kevin MacDonald noted in January 2013 that:
The gun culture of traditional America, especially rural America has been particularly loathed by Jewish intellectuals. There is also a deep fear of Christian culture that is most vibrant in rural America. For example, Israeli patriot Elliott Abrams acknowledges that the mainstream Jewish community in America “clings to what is at bottom a dark vision of America, as a land permeated with anti-Semitism and always on the verge of anti-Semitic outbursts.” According to Abrams, because of this vision, Jews have taken the lead in secularizing America. In fact, the key role of Jewish organizations in shaping the Constitutional law on Church/State relations is well known. And it’s not much of a mystery who’s behind the war on Christmas. And by successfully changing immigration policy, Jews have reduced the political power of the rural White subculture of America to the point that even though roughly 7 in 10 White males voted Republican (and ~60% of White females), Obama and the Democrats won the recent election. Even if the current push for gun control fails, we can expect that Jewish organizations will continue the push to disarm White males. Jewish organizations are not at all against guns when they are in the hands of the police and other authorities. The ADL (see the ADL’s Law Enforcement Agency Resource Network) and the SPLC (Law Enforcement Training and Law Enforcement Resources) have made strong alliances with law enforcement in America.
Right, but while officials in the NRA are obviously aware of the prominence of Jews in the “control” campaign, their understanding of Jewish motivations is severely lacking.
I happen to think that linking the issue of gun ownership to the deaths of Jews during World War II is inappropriate, though for somewhat different reasons to Abe Foxman and the ADL. The fundamental problem I have with current NRA reasoning is that it betrays a lack of knowledge of Jewish history. NRA evocations of Jewish civilian casualties during World War II irritate me primarily because I think the group has so many more sophisticated and legitimate arguments to make on behalf of its cause; and bringing up the Holocaust in any argument has always struck me as intellectual cheap-shot.
On a deeper level however, the assumption underlying the current NRA approach is that governments historically have been the biggest threat to Jews. With the single exception of Nazi Germany, while some elites have had ambiguous relations with their Jewish populations (which on occasion led to expulsions) the overwhelming trend throughout Jewish history has been that Jews have been willing agents and partners of the ruling elite. Whether as Medieval tax farmers, early modern ‘Court Jew’ financiers, or the intellectual shock-troops of Bolshevism, Jews have only very rarely found themselves threatened by government or monarch.
Nowhere is this made more evident than in the simple fact that in Orthodox Judaism the prayer Hanotayn Teshu-ah is not said for the nation or the people of the country in which the Jews have settled, but rather for the monarch or government. Gordon Freeman explains that “In fact, a prayer for the government is a feature of every type of prayer book of every land of the Jewish diaspora irrespective of the specific religious movement of the community.” This stance is ancient. The rabbinic commentary, Pirke Avot, tells Jews to “pray for the welfare of the government, because were it not for the fear it inspires, every man would swallow his neighbor alive.”
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to extrapolate that what is really intended and understood by this injunction is that were it not for the fear inspired by the government, the goyim would swallow their Jewish neighbors alive. The favored Jewish position is thus to support a strong, feared, government which is capable of harnessing the resentments, real or imagined, of the gentile masses.
History is replete with examples of Jews benefiting from powerful, feared, governments, though they have been at pains to [literally] re-write this particular aspect of their history. In my analysis of medieval English Jewry I noted that, due to the strength of the Jew-government alliance, retaliatory actions were only capable of being carried out during the very brief period between the end of one reign and the beginning of another. I wrote that:
If we were to have before us today a thirteenth-century English peasant, he would find much to dispute in [Anthony] Julius’ claim that it was the Jew who stood at the bottom of the social and economic ladder. In fact it has been well established that Jews occupied the position of a privileged elite, under royal protection. B. Lionel Abrahams, upon examining centuries of royal charters concluded that “from their first arrival in the country, they had enjoyed a kind of informal Royal protection.” Later, Henry II “gave and secured to the Jews special privileges so great as to arouse the envy of their neighbors,” granted them the use of their own courts, and “placed them under the special protection of the royal officers in each district.” In charging high rates of interest and preying upon the indebtedness of the lesser barons and the freeholders, Jews were successful in acquiring vast numbers of estates, which the king then gradually acquired by accepting them in lieu of tallages. The Jews had a free rein to carry on their regular, and highly profitable, money-lending activities as long as they continued in a mutually beneficial partnership designed to facilitate “the transfer of land from the small landowners to the upper stratum.” Unsurprisingly, Jews thus came to be seen as a hostile elite. They were viewed as such not just by the peasantry but by the barons, who chafed under their interest rates and at their inability to strike at those under royal protection. Irven Resnick writes in a 2007 article for the respected journal Church History that Jews were the “agents of hated royal fiscal policies,” as well as the usurers of the masses. The Crown was aware of this and took measures to increase security for Jews. A lot has been made about Jews first having to wear a badge identifying them at this time. What is far less often publicized is that these badges were first introduced by the English Crown, according to an article in the Jewish Quarterly Review, to better “facilitate their recognition by their protectors.”
Medieval Jews thus benefited from the powerful and feared status of the English Crown. Had it been possible, one can imagine that the prospect of the Crown seizing the arms of the barons would have been especially welcome in Jewish homes, since it would have represented the permanent neutralization of that particular threat to Jewish interests. Unfortunately for the Jews of Medieval England, the barons maintained and increased their arms, and were thus able to use the threat of force to influence the weakened Edward I to expel every Jew from the nation’s soil.
Possessing such knowledge makes it very frustrating to watch NRA spokesmen fumble with clumsy arguments when confronted with the increasingly apparent Jewish role in the gun control movement. Indeed, it would be much better for the NRA, and America, if the NRA confined itself to simply pointing out the preponderance of Jews acting against it. Reaching for ill-understood, and barely applicable, metaphors hasn’t helped its cause at all. The NRA is a lynchpin of Middle America, not cosmopolitan America. The organization should cease assuming that Jews are in any way “just like them,” in the sense that they are for the rights of the individual and against strong government. Looked at through the prism of historical precedent, the NRA and organized Jewry are fated to be natural enemies, with strikingly different priorities and objectives. NRA members may well fear “Big Government.” But one of the biggest Jewish anxieties is “weak government,” because in this scenario, so the reasoning goes, there is nothing to restrain the “lecherous rabble,” “the beasts of the field,” from violent retribution.
Returning to Washington, some of my relatives living just outside Vancouver have told me they’re having a hard time getting ammunition because of bulk-buying by nervous gun owners. As the amount of Jewish money pouring into the gun “control” movement increases daily, their anxieties can’t be dismissed as entirely unfounded. Kevin MacDonald ended his last TOO piece on the subject in a fashion I can’t improve upon, and his remarks bear repetition here:
It has often been observed that Jewish organizations have historically favored a strong central government rather than states’ rights. For example, Jacques Berlinerblau, writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, notes that “Jewish voters … prefer cities and federal governments to backwaters and volatile statehouses. … All things equal, Jews like strong central governments, not a pastiche of local decision makers catering to majorities.” Although Jewish organizations would not phrase it this way, the net result is that the thrust of Jewish activism has been to favor a strong central government with a monopoly on lethal force. Given Jewish hostility to the traditional people and culture of White America, this is a very foreboding combination as we head into the era of a non-White majority America.
 C. Buck, Religious Myths and Visions of America: How Minority Faiths Redefined America’s World Role, (Praeger, 2009), p.67.