“There has always been an abyss between Europeans and Semites, since the time when Tacitus complained about the odium generis humani.”
Heinrich von Treitschke, Ein Wort über unser Judenthum, 1879.
In 1989, the Jewish screenwriter and journalist Frederic Raphael was invited to deliver the 25th Anniversary Lecture at the University of Southampton’s Parkes Institute for the study of Jewish/non-Jewish relations. Founded by Rev Dr James Parkes (1896–1981), a neurotic Church of England minister who made a career out of the promotion of philo-Semitism in Christianity and the promotion of guilt narratives among Christians (in 1935 he was both celebrated by Jews and targeted for assassination by National Socialists), the Institute quickly became a hub for the production of scholarly-appearing pro-Jewish propaganda. Rather than offering objective analyses of Jewish/non-Jewish relations, the Institute furthered the familiar narrative that Jews were the blameless and catastrophic victims of an entirely irrational European hatred. Raphael, given the honor of addressing the 25th anniversary of this project, opted on the appointed evening to be a witty gadfly, choosing “The Necessity of Anti-Semitism” as the title of his address. It could be the title of a book, said Raphael, one that could sit in the Parkes Institute library but for the fact it had never been written, and did not exist.
In the meandering speech that followed, Raphael explored the putative contents of this imaginary book, suggesting its potential arguments, and what they might say about the author and about European culture. Confirming the opinions of everyone present, Raphael offered the assurance that although this ghostly and ghastly book did not exist, such a haunting product would not be out of place on a continent where anti-Semitism is “a constant and essential working part of Europe’s somber and unreformed logic.” For Raphael and his smug audience, “The Necessity of Anti-Semitism” lay only in its utility in salving the pathological European mind. Anti-Semitism was in fact extremely illogical and, in a moral sense, completely unnecessary.
Since reading Raphael’s speech several years ago, The Necessity of Anti-Semitism has, in a sense, haunted me too. As a single book, of course, it does not exist. But it perhaps has existed, after a fashion, in the thousands of tracts, pamphlets and books on the Jewish Question that have been written by Europeans over many centuries. In this collected body of anti-Semitic apologetics, one finds The Necessity of Anti-Semitism inflected in varying religious, political, and social hues. But what would the book look like if it was in fact written today? How could any author distill the various aspects of the Jewish Question into a single volume? In the essay that follows, part literary experiment, part historiography, I want us to join Raphael in imagining that this spectral book exists, even if our approach is rather different.
I imagine our author to introduce his volume with the broad case for The Necessity of Anti-Semitism, namely the presence of Jews and their influence in the four primary cultures of White decline: the Culture of Critique, the Culture of Tolerance, the Culture of Sterility, and the Culture of Usury. Read more