As part of the introduction to my forthcoming volume of essays, Talmud and Taboo, I’ve included an overview of key developments in the historical relationship between Jews and Europeans. During the course of this overview I emphasize the historical suppression of European responses to Jewish group behavior, an important and perennial aspect of Jewish-European interactions. This suppression/taboo, as a thing in itself, tends to be less explored and understood when compared to the attention devoted to more obvious manifestations of Jewish influence (e.g. assertive action in influencing immigration control), but consideration of it is crucial to a complete understanding of Jews as a hostile elite. A working theoretical definition of what is meant by “Jews as a hostile elite” is of course also necessary, and is taken here as the implication not only that Jews have historically been opposed/hostile to the interests of the European masses, but also that Jews have had direct access to political power, or significant levels of influence over European elites in possession of it. While writing the introduction to Talmud and Taboo I was primarily concerned with the origins of the Jewish acquisition of this power or influence in Europe, the mode of its expression, and its evolution over the course of centuries. Due to restrictions of space in the introduction to Talmud and Taboo, I want to take the opportunity here to expand on one such example.
To date, our best understanding of modern Jewish political strategies in the context of the “taboo” can be found in Chapter 6 of Kevin MacDonald’s Separation and Its Discontent: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism, titled “Jewish Strategies for Combatting Anti-Semitism.” One section deals with “Political Strategies for Minimizing Anti-Semitism.” MacDonald notes that Jews have been flexible strategizers in the political arena, buttressed by an IQ substantially above the Caucasian mean, and argues that the foundations for Jewish influence are wealth, education, and social status. Today, Jews apply this influence in order to stifle negative discussion of their group, and at times to stifle any discussion of Jews at all. MacDonald points out that this is normally done via extensive communal support for “self-defense committees,” which are a feature of every Diaspora population. These committees invariably lobby governments, utilize and influence legal systems, produce pro-Jewish and pro-multicultural propaganda, and fund pro-Jewish candidates or initiatives. Another of their vital functions has been to monitor and expose “anti-Semites,” and to use legal systems in order to exact individual punishments, thereby making an example of individuals and thereby imposing a deterrent atmosphere on the rest of the population.
It almost goes without saying that in the modern era Jews have been very successful in making anti-Semitism a disreputable and unsavory enterprise. Perhaps more than any other shaming device, accusations of anti-Semitism can be socially and professionally devastating. Academic studies which argue that anti-Semitism has a rational and understandable basis, such as MacDonald’s work, are monitored and excluded from scholarly discourse in an unceasing effort to maintain Jewish control over narratives concerning their group and deflecting antagonism to it. A foundational idea underpinning the creation of this most modern taboo is that anti-Semitism is a personal flaw indicative of psychiatric disorder and a social aberration, epitomized by the writing of the Frankfurt School of Social Research. Despite achieving an almost monolithic position in the public mind of most European populations, it is particularly noteworthy that such conceptualizations of anti-Semitism as an irrational and inexplicable form of psychosocial illness are extremely recent, having been developed only in the last sixty years by a cast of Jewish intellectuals—particularly those at the nexus of psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School.
This reframing of European understandings of anti-Semitism has been due not only to Jewish influence in academia, the media, and the development of social policy, but also to a general ignorance among Europeans of the historical experiences of their ancestors. Europeans cannot come to terms with the issue of Jewish influence purely by confronting its contemporary manifestations – they must engage with the experiences of their forebears, and understand how and why they viewed Jews as a hostile elite.
All of these considerations led me to one question: when and how did this “hostile elite” begin? Although Jewish influence was noted during the life of the Roman Empire, I excluded this period from my deliberations for a number of reasons. The first was that I wanted a close contextual proximity to present conditions; in other words, as a bare minimum I felt it necessary that I should find an early example of Jewish influence that still mirrored enough features of the modern experience to be broadly valid in comparison. Despite a proliferation of expatriate communities, during the Roman Empire, or at least until the sack of Jerusalem by Titus in AD 70, Jews could be considered as predominantly a national people rather than a Diaspora. It could thus be argued that relations between the Roman Empire and Jewish populations could on some level be understood within the framework of traditional diplomacy and power relations.
It was only after Rome’s demolition of the Second Jewish Commonwealth in the first century that the Exilic period ushered in significantly novel forms of Jewish political activity. These political activities also became uniform, with Amichai Cohen and Stuart Cohen noting of the new Diaspora: “Notwithstanding variations dictated by vast differences of location and situation, all Jewish communities developed and refined a remarkably similar set of broad [political] strategies.” The second reason is related to the first in the sense that this set of Jewish political strategies had to be present in a broad geographical area of Europe. This breadth of geographical dispersion, and the subsequent extension of Jewish interactions with European populations, only occurred after the fall of the Roman Empire. A third and final reason for omitting the period of the Roman Empire was that my precondition of close contextual proximity required that the nation states of today, at least in their prototypical form, should be broadly recognizable. Finally, the Jews of Visigothic Spain, although wealthy, powerful, and incredibly hostile, have been discounted due to their failure to establish a relationship with Visigothic elites. This failure most notably resulted in the Jews providing assistance to a replacement elite — Muslim invaders.
The set of “broad political strategies” referred to above requires further elaboration. Lacking a state, and insistent on remaining apart from their host nations, Diaspora Jewish populations developed an indirect and at times highly abstract style of politics in order to advance their interests. In Jewish sources it became known as shtadtlanut (“intercession” or “petitioning”), and represented a personal and highly involved form of diplomacy or statecraft that, in the words of the Cohens, “prioritized persuasion.” In the modern era we are familiar with such shtadlans as the Anti-Defamation League, and AIPAC. These bodies claim to represent all Jews, and the interests of all Jews, and do so when interacting with, interceding with, or “persuading” host nation governments or other arms of the White elite. However, the shtadlan as a large formal body or committee is a relatively modern development, and was a necessary response to the end of absolute monarchy at the beginning of the nineteenth century (and the corresponding rise of parliamentary democracy and the modern state). Prior to c.1815, Jews often pursued their interests via a small number of very wealthy and “persuasive” individual shtadlans who would form personal relationships with a king, prince, or other powerful members of the European elite. This was most pronounced during the Early Modern period when Hofjuden, or Court Jews, negotiated privileges and protections for Jews with European monarchs. An excellent example is that of Daniel Itzig (1723–1799), the Court Jew of Kings Frederick II the Great and Frederick William II of Prussia, who used his wealth and influence to persuade these monarchs to abolish many restrictions on Prussian Jews and grant them a succession of privileges. Put simply, the concentration of power in individuals meant that Jewish interests could also be negotiated by individuals.
However, although we may still see echoes of the old shtadlans in individuals like George Soros or Sheldon Adelson, the dispersal of political power following the collapse of the absolute monarchies required a greater number of Jewish “persuaders,” thus necessitating the development of the modern Jewish “diplomatic” organization. Of course, the majority of these modern bodies vigorously deny their “diplomatic” or political function, preferring to style themselves as “self-defense” bodies or similar abstractions. Writing on the subject of shtadtlanut Samuel Freedman has argued that Jews have “become wedded to a “crisis model” in community-building, in which either Holocaust commemoration or opposition to anti-Semitism are the raison d’etre for the largest communal organizations, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center to the American Jewish Committee.” This masking of deeper political interests should be seen as combining deception (of Europeans) and self-deception (among some Jews) in the broader Jewish strategy, or at least as a device designed to boost the recruitment of “persuaders.” Jews (at least those not consciously engaged in deception) and Europeans are thus led to believe that such bodies are necessary to defend and protect a vulnerable community in crisis, when in fact their primary function is to advance the interests of an extremely wealthy, culturally invulnerable, and politically powerful community — a hostile elite.
In searching for the origins of the hostile elite I was therefore looking for the earliest possible example of a Diaspora Jewish community in which shtadtlanut was in evidence — the obtaining of privileges and protections from a European elite, contrary to the interests of the masses of a given European population. Although I would very much welcome further suggestions from readers, the earliest convincing case that I have come upon concerns that of the Carolingian dynasty during the lifetime of Archbishop Agobard (c. 779–840). Agobard was a Spanish-born priest and archbishop of Lyon during the Carolingian Renaissance. A fearless controversialist, Agobard gained fame and notoriety during his lifetime — and a place in posterity — by expressing his opposition to Jewish political influence in the Frankish kingdom. Agobard’s Spanish origins are important. Bernard Bachrach notes that Agobard would have been very much aware of the scale and impact of Jewish influence, writing that “Agobard was born and raised in the Spanish March and Septimania where the Jews were extremely powerful. … He was aware of the power that the Jews of the Narbonnaise had exercised for centuries.”
The Frankish context in which Agobard found himself also contributed to an inevitable clash at Lyon. Although some of the early Carolingians had passively tolerated the steady expansion of Jewish economic activity in the Frankish kingdom, Emperor Louis the Pious (778–840) “systematized” a “pro-Jewish policy” by eliminating or disregarding earlier restrictions on Jews, and issuing a charter granting them a number of privileges and protections. Kenneth Stow remarks that “the charters of privilege that Louis the Pious granted to Jewish merchants were the forerunners of all others the Jews in medieval Europe would receive.” Essentially, what we see here is the birth of the formal, symbiotic relationship between Jews and self-interested European elites. The charter of Louis the Pious enacted laws that protected Jews and also developed an administrative apparatus to enforce his policies — mainly via the office of the magister Judaeorum. Louis encouraged Jewish economic activity in the belief that he would be personally enriched by doing so.
This “encouragement” involved some very dark aspects. In particular, it involved turning a blind eye to the incredibly hostile and often illegal behavior of the Jews in his realm. Bachrach describes the Jews of Lyon as “militant, aggressive, and powerful,” and notes that Louis and his officials “apparently ignored gross violations of the law by Jewish slave traders who bought and sold Christian slaves and kidnapped and castrated Christian youths for the Muslim markets in Spain.” Jewish slave trading was of course nothing new, nor was it unusual for European elites to permit Jews to trade in slaves. Pope Gelasius (reigned 492–496) had formally allowed Jews to bring slaves into Italy from Gaul, and Charlemagne had also allowed Jews to engage in slave trafficking during the middle of the eighth century. The Spanish Jews of the tenth century made most of their wealth selling Slavonian slaves to the Caliphs of Andalusia. William Phillips argues that by the time of Louis the Pious, Jews “predominated” among the slave traders supplying Muslim Spain. What truly set this period apart from earlier tolerances, however, was the fact that it had become common knowledge that Jews under Louis were actively kidnapping, castrating, and selling Christians with impunity — something that was not only nominally illegal in Frankish lands, but throughout Christendom. And it is here that Agobard enters the stage.
According to Jeffrey Cohen, around the year 822 Agobard began a campaign in Lyon against the Jews based on his “horror over indications that Jews enjoyed a social status superior to that of Christians.” His primary focus from the start was the issue of Jewish trading in Christian slaves. In a letter titled “On the Insolence of the Jews,” sent to Louis the Pious in 826/7, Agobard explained:
A certain man from Cordoba arrived, fleeing from Spain. He said that he had been stolen as a little boy by a certain Jew of Lyon 24 years before and sold, and that he had fled this year with another boy from Arles who had been likewise stolen by a Jew six years earlier. When we sought out those known to the man who was from Lyon and found them, some said that others had been stolen by this same Jew, others bought and sold, and that this year another boy was stolen and sold by a Jew. At that moment it was discovered that many Christians are sold by Christians and bought by Jews and that many unspeakable things are perpetrated by them which are too foul to write.
Agobard goes on to stress that his campaign involved preaching “to Christians that they should not sell Christian slaves to [Jews]; that they should not allow these Jews to sell Christians to Spain nor to possess them as paid domestics.”
Agobard and his associates apparently also began to purposefully seek out and baptize Jewish slaves in order that they may come under the nominal protection of the law and be freed from Jewish slavery. Agobard’s crucial error was in believing that the law would be enforced. Although aware of Jewish wealth and power, he was confronting something very new — the birth of the hostile Jewish elite. Jews had forged an alliance with Louis the Pious via a prototypical form of shtadtlanut, and their immediate response on hearing of the commencement of Agobard’s campaign (and in particular that Agobard had baptized and was protecting a slave belonging to a Jew) was to turn to their royal ally. Louis, fearing that the economic basis of his mutual arrangement with the Jews would be undermined by the renegade priest, readily obliged, and dispatched the magister Judaeorum to bring Agobard into line.
Agobard’s difficulty in coming to terms with the spiritual and ethnic treason of the emperor is evident in his letter, and for some time he seems to have sought multiple explanations for the failure of Louis to side with his own people. Reading this recently, I became quite emotional upon reflecting that we Europeans still struggle to come to terms with the scale of treason among our elites over a thousand years later — Agobard’s words read as both tragically naive and ominously prophetic. Beginning with his incomprehension that Louis would issue the Jews a formal charter, Agobard writes:
When the Jews first arrived, they gave me a message in your name and another one to the man who rules the district of Lyon in place of the court; [this message] ordered him to offer aid to the Jews against me. We absolutely did not believe that such messages as these issued from your judgment, although they were read out in your sacred name and sealed with your ring. The Jews began to rage with a certain odious insolence, threatening that we would be afflicted with every sort of injury by the agents whom they had obtained to take vengeance upon Christians. After them, Evrard [the magister Judaeorum] arrived and repeated the same thing and said that your majesty was truly angry with me because of the Jews. Then the aforementioned agents arrived, holding in their hands a tax code(?) (stipendialis tractoria) and a capitulary of sanctions which we do not believe exists by your command. [Emphasis added].
Unfortunately for Agobard, he was summoned to the Court at the instigation of the Jews. Bernard Bachrach comments that “The Jews…were forcefully represented by a powerful advocate. They also had influential friends at court. … The court not only found against Agobard, but the emperor added the personal humiliation of dismissing him from the palace in a preemptory manner. Louis provided the Jews with a diploma bearing the imperial seal that bore witness to their victory.” Persisting in his conviction that the emperor couldn’t possibly side with the Jews over his own people, Agobard continued to deliver sermons against Jews and to write to Louis explaining himself (as seen in the above extracts from one such letter). He insisted that Louis had been misinformed or that the edicts bearing his seal were forgeries. Bachrach writes that Agobard believed Louis and other elites at court “were either pawns of Jewish interests or acting from a misunderstanding of the situation.” What he failed to consider was the possibility these figures were willing accomplices of the Jews, together comprising a hostile elite.
The patience of the hostile eventually wore thin. As the missi dominici [envoy of the ruler] set off for Lyon “with a plethora of pro-Jewish documents and a plentitude of power to enforce government policy, Agobard fled.” Agobard noted from his exile “the Jews were made joyful beyond measure.” He added that many of his associates “fled or hid or were detained.” Priests loyal to him were threatened by Jews and royal agents, and, as a consequence, “did not dare to show their faces.” Subsequent efforts to confront Jewish influence in the Frankish lands were forced into more abstract and indirect forms rather than “opposing imperial policy overtly or by attacking the Jews directly.” Jeffrey Cohen remarks that, in the end, Agobard utterly failed to alter Carolingian Jewish policy, or prevent its further evolution. Despite this failing, Agobard entered the Jewish consciousness as an emblematic hate figure, with the nineteenth-century Jewish activist and historian Heinrich Graetz comparing him to the “villainous Haman” of the Book of Esther. He was only dislodged from the bitter expanse of Jewish memory when the twentieth century provided Jews with a new “Haman,” and a new chapter in their lachrymose self-authored history.
The story outlined here is important in the history of the Jewish Question for a number of reasons. The first is that it is a very early Western European example of non-religious clashes of interest, by which I mean that although we see two religious communities in confrontation the basis for that confrontation is not rooted in the spiritual. As Jeffrey Cohen concedes, Agobard’s “well-known complaints regarding the Jews hardly amounted to a systematic theological exposition.” Rather than theology, his complaints “address an array of specific, practical issues.” These “specific, practical issues” concerned Jewish hostility towards Europeans, the abuse of Europeans by Jews, and the extent of Jewish wealth, privilege, protections, and political influence in European societies. These issues, more than the putative “prejudices,” “neuroses,” or “religious pathologies” posited by Jewish intellectuals, have been the perennial elements underpinning the Jewish Question for more than a thousand years. They provoked an entirely rational response — European efforts to fight back, or, as it would eventually come to be known, “anti-Semitism.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of Agobard’s tale is that it exposes the origins of one of the most uncomfortable aspects of Jewish influence — its reliance on cooperation with our own elites. Only by engaging in a symbiotic relationship with our own corrupt rulers can Jews gain full access to power and an impunity when wielding it. As such, we should grow in the understanding that answering the Jewish Question will by necessity involve a reckoning with the issue of how we govern ourselves and by what qualifications we select our elites. If Whites possess a weak sense of ethnocentrism and high sense of individualism (certainly when compared with Jews and other non-Whites), then this should provoke a discussion on how to tie the fate of our rulers or governments to our people. In ancient times, both Celtic and Nordic societies took this idea to an extreme, sacrificing their kings in times of famine or hardship (see for example, the Ynglinga Saga). The fate of the king was quite literally tied to the people — if the people suffered, the king would suffer more than anyone. As time progressed, kings became ensconced in their hierarchy, their palaces ever larger and ever more distant. Then came the parliaments and the politicians, they too ever more distant from the needs of the masses and the direction of their interests. Accountability in all instances was reduced to nothing.
To conclude, as I write this news arrives from Austria. The boy wonder Sebastian Kurz issues a statement: “The battle against anti-Semitism and our policy of zero tolerance against all anti-Semitic tendencies is very important to me. It is a clear pre-condition for the formation of any coalition under my leadership.”
Oh Agobard, my brother from centuries past, I would share your feelings of disbelief, had I not seen the same treachery played out for a thousand years and more.
 K. MacDonald, Separation and Its Discontents: Toward an Evolutionary Theory of Anti-Semitism (2004), p.227.
 A. Cohen & S. Cohen, Israel’s National Security Law: Political Dynamics and Historical Development (New York: Routledge, 2012), p.31.
 P. Johnson, A History of the Jews (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1987), p.177.
 A. Cohen & S. Cohen, Israel’s National Security Law: Political Dynamics and Historical Development (New York: Routledge, 2012), p.31.
 There has been some suggestion that Jews enjoyed close relationships and acquired protections in Merovingian Gaul, but details are too vague for any firm conclusions to be reached on the extent of Jewish influence in this period. See, I. Moreira, Dreams, Visions, and Spiritual Authority in Merovingian Gaul (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2000), p.101.
 B. S. Bachrach, Early Medieval Jewish Policy in Western Europe (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977), p.102.
 Ibid, p.104.
 K. Stow, Alienated Minority: The Jews of Medieval Latin Europe (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1992), p.59.
 Bachrach, Early Medieval Jewish Policy in Western Europe, p.104.
 I. Abrahams, Jewish Life in the Middle Ages (London: Began Paul, 2005), p.114.
 W. D. Phillips, Slavery in Medieval and Early Modern Iberia (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014), p.59.
 J. Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), p.133.
 Bachrach, Early Medieval Jewish Policy in Western Europe, p.99.
 Ibid, p.100.
 Ibid, p.101.
 Cohen, Living Letters of the Law: Ideas of the Jew in Medieval Christianity, p.133.
 Ibid, pp.123 & 132.