Jewish Ethnocentrism

Christopher Donovan on Melvyn Weiss: Being Jewish Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Jews amass great fortunes by unethical means, can depend on a network of high-powered figures to defend them, and continue their shamelessness even after having been convicted of a crime.  Released from prison, they sit around their Florida homes with deep tans and gold jewelry and want to wax serious about Israelis and Palestinians with a friendly reporter from the Jewish press.

Valid pattern revealed by sustained analysis, or a nasty stereotype?

Before answering, read through this recent story from The Jewish Week about Melvyn Weiss, the class-action fraudster.

The article is almost too juicy to quote any one part — read the whole thing, as Instapundit says.  Weiss comes off like a cartoon caricature of the oleaginous Jew:  vain, self-centered, ethnocentric, excuse-making, ruthlessly unethical, lauded by the Anti-Defamation League — and through it all, completely unapologetic.  His Holocaust legal efforts are a nice comedic touch.  His own prosecution is simply a sign of how the “government is taking our rights away,” though it’s easy to imagine Weiss taking the precise opposite stand on the Justice Department’s Nazi-hunting efforts, hate crimes, or sending federal troops to force school integration.

Should Whites adopt the same aggressive and shameless approach?  Could they, even if they wanted to?

Self-Deception and Guruism among Jews

Life is really easy if you are in the business of refuting “anti-Semites” in the Mainstream Media. There is a ridiculously low standard for arguments and an easy confidence that contrary voices will not be heard.

Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal has a predictably vacuous column on the comments of Karel De Gucht–a topic previously discussed here. Mr. De Gucht stated, “Do not underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill.” Stephens says that the comment dispenses with “the usual fine-grained, face-saving distinction about the difference between a ‘Jewish’ and an ‘Israel’ lobby.”

What makes it so easy for Stephens is that he doesn’t have to actually provide any data showing the relationship between Jews and the Israel Lobby. It’s enough to simply say that De Gucht failed to make the distinction to brand him an anti-Semite. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered if he referred to the Israel Lobby when talking about “the grip [the Lobby] has on American politics—no matter whether it’s Republicans or Democrats.”  That too would doubtless cast him as an anti-Semite. Titling their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy certainly didn’t prevent John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt from being labeled anti-Semites.

Stephens uses the same tactic in dismissing De Gucht’s statement that “There is indeed a belief—it’s difficult to describe it otherwise—among most Jews that they are right. And it’s not so much whether these are religious Jews or not. Lay Jews also share the same belief that they are right. So it is not easy to have, even with moderate Jews, a rational discussion about what is actually happening in the Middle East.”

Stephens comments:

Here, then, was a case not of “criticism of Israel” or “anti-Zionism,” the usual sheets under which this sort of mentality hides. Mr. De Gucht’s target was Jews, the objects of his opprobrium their malign political influence and crippled mental reflexes. If this isn’t anti-Semitism, the term has no meaning.

Again, Stephens feels no need to actually discuss whether Jews tend to behave this way. The subject is out of bounds—automatically; nothing more than “anti-Semitism.”

Since Mr. De Gucht will not attempt to defend his comments (he has already profusely apologized for his indiscretion—rejected, of course, by Stephens), I’ll give it a try. Part of the issue is self-deception, as per my previous comments on De Gucht. We are all prone to self-serving biases. But in particular, people who are highly ethnocentric are prone to not seeing how their own ethnocentrism blinds them to rational discussion of anything related to their ethnic interests. One of the more laughable mainstays of neoconservative rhetoric is the assertion that, despite their easily-documented strong Jewish identification and their close ties to Israel, they really believe that their policy recommendations are in the interests of the United States—including the disastrous war in Iraq and the impending war with Iran. Anyone who has taken a course in Social Psychology 101 would be aware of how naive that is. But of course, that doesn’t prevent it from being asserted with absolute self-confidence by writers like Jacob Heilbrunn (see here, p. 16).

The title of Heilbrunn’s book is relevant to De Gucht’s comments: They Knew They Were Right. The other part of this syndrome is absolute confidence in their ideas–what one  might term ‘guruism’. Heilbrunn calls attention to the neocons’ penchant for “sweeping assertions and grandiose ideas” (p. 26). There is a towering self-confidence that is doubtless exaggerated by being within an echo chamber of like-minded others. I remember talking to an academic psychiatrist long before psychoanalysis became a chapter in Culture of Critique. As a biologically oriented psychiatrist, he was not a believer in psychoanalysis, but he said what struck him about psychoanalysts in their heyday was their absolute self-confidence and sense of superiority. They were completely immune to empirically-minded naysayers–of which there were plenty, even at the height of their power. Keep in mind that psychoanalysis is perhaps the greatest intellectual fraud of the 20th century–a set of beliefs that explained everything but had only the most tenuous connection to reality and an ideology that empirical research was for bean counters.

The same thought crossed my mind while reading Thirteen Bankers, by Simon Johnson and James Kwak. Near the heart of the financial meltdown was the towering self-confidence of Larry Summers, Robert Rubin and Alan Greenspan in opposing any regulation on the derivatives market. Summers seems to be pivotal. When Brooksley Born, head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, proposed that some thought should be given to regulation,  Summers reportedly said “I have thirteen bankers in my office, and they say if you go forward with this you will cause the worst financial crisis since World War II.” As Johnson and Kwak note (p. 9), we don’t actually know if there were any bankers in Summers’ office; “more likely he came to his own conclusion.” The point is that Summers had an unshakable faith that what he was saying was correct—a faith that was ominously unrelated to empirical reality. Nevertheless, Ms. Born was successfully pushed aside and ultimately a law was enacted  preventing any regulation of the derivatives market. It’s quite analogous to Freud’s total confidence in the Oedipal Complex as a core doctrine of psychoanalysis and expelling anyone who disagrees.

Self-deception is not the entire story here. More likely, it relates to the centrality of charismatic leadership among Jews—a theme of Culture of Critique and very apparent in the Bernie Madoff scandal: The rabbi guru surrounded by worshipful disciples. Madoff was “like a God” People around him regarded Bernie like a messiah. He was spoken of as if godlike.” “He was received like visiting royalty, mysterious and unapproachable(see John Graham and Kevin MacDonald, “Is the Madoff Scandal Paradigmatic?”) He was brilliant; a genius. Because of his financial wisdom, everything turned to gold. Naysayers were ignored, and Jewish naysayers were labeled anti-Semites for not believing in the wisdom of Bernie.

Of course, Madoff exploited this tendency toward hero worship  among Jews to his own advantage and defrauded others in the process. In the case of the imperial wars so confidently trumpeted by the neocons and in the case of the financial meltdown, the victims are the entire country. And the scary thing is that Summers is still running the economy.

Kevin MacDonald: Solzhenitsyn’s Chapter 23 of 200 Years Together

The current TOO article discusses Chapter 23 of Solzhenitsyn’s 200 Years Together. I solicit comments here. The main theme is Jewish self-deception–the inability to see things without ethnic blinders, in particular, the history of the Jews in the USSR. After writing it, another example surfaced—they’re not hard to come by—although, as usual, it’s hard to know if it’s more a matter of aggressive intimidation than self-deception. Yet another government official has gotten in trouble for saying the obvious. This time it’s Karel de Gucht, the EU Trade Commissioner (“EU Trade Commissioner  Apologizes for Jewish Comments”).

The European Jewish Congress, an umbrella group, had demanded a retraction of De Gucht’s remarks in which he maintained that Israel frustrates U.S.-led peace efforts and warned not to “underestimate the Jewish lobby on Capitol Hill.”

“That is the best organized lobby that exists there,” the former Belgian foreign minister said in the interview with the Dutch-speaking VRT radio network.

“Don’t underestimate the opinion … of the average Jew outside of Israel,” he said. “There is, indeed, a belief, I can hardly describe it differently, among most Jews that they are right. So it is not easy to have a rational discussion with a moderate Jew about what is happening in the Middle East. It is a very emotional issue.”

De Gucht was saying (he’s since apologized profusely) that Jews honestly believe what they are saying is true, so it’s pretty much impossible to have a rational discussion–self-deception by any other name. It’s the same with the history of the Jews in the USSR—and a great many other things.

The official Jewish reaction has been to see De Gucht’s comments as an example of “a growing wave of anti-Semitism in Europe,” explicitly said to be on a par with Thilo Sarrazin’s comments on Jewish genetics. Again, there is a blind spot where facts are irrelevant. In a comment that is worthy of Abe Foxman, Moshe Kantor of the European Jewish Congress stated, “It has somehow become acceptable to attack Jews through Israel, even at the highest levels,” said Kantor. “The old anti-Semitic libels of the all-powerful Jewish cabals, the recalcitrant Jew and the irrational Jews only caring for their own, are remade to fit 21st- century hostility to the Jewish State.”

Of course, besides self-deception there is the very real possibility in this case that Kantor knows full well that this is just bluster and intimidation attempting to prevent public discussion of Jewish power and relying for its effectiveness on cowed European elites whose defining characteristic since WWII has been terror at being labeled an anti-Semite. Tough call.

Kevin MacDonald: Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's “The 1920s.” Chapter 18 of 200 Years Together

The English translation of Chapter 18 of 200 Years Together, “The 1920s,” is now available. (See here, and notice the link requesting donations.) It has a very different feel from Chapter 20, on the Gulag. Whereas Solzhenitsyn’s account of the Gulag stresses his own experiences, this chapter relies on a wide range of academic historical writing to paint his picture of the USSR during the critical decade of the 1920s. His account is therefore based on mainstream scholarship and overall is similar to other accounts, such as Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century. However, it goes beyond other accounts in several important ways and provides a great deal of new information for Western audiences. It is a very long chapter (>26000 words). In the current TOO article, I summarize some of the main points and draw analogies to the current situation in the West. I encourage comments on Solzhenitsyn’s chapter and my article here.

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Kevin MacDonald: The Coen brothers' "A Serious Man"

Kevin MacDonald: I happened to see A Serious Man, the Coen brothers’ meditation on Jewishness, at the same time that Peter Beinart’s now  famous article is making us think about the future American Jewish community as more nationalist and ethnocentric. A Serious Man is really about the consequences of the breakdown of the traditional Jewish community in the  Diaspora.

The movie opens with a scene from a traditional Polish shtetl community in which the wife stabs a man that she thinks is a dybbuk — the point being that  these people had strong unquestioned beliefs and were willing to act on them.

But fast forward to 1960s, and things are falling apart. The main character, Larry Gopnik, is undergoing all sorts of crises–his wife’s affair and her desire for a religious divorce so she can marry another Jew; his troubles at his job; his brother’s health and psychiatric problems; financial problems, his own health.

But the three rabbis he goes to for help are completely useless: The young one mixes platitudes with irrelevancies about the parking lot at the synagogue. The middle-aged rabbi tells him a weird, pointless story about a non-Jew with Hebrew lettering on his teeth; the letters don’t make any sense but he translates them into a phone number — of a grocery store. The old rabbi won’t talk to him because he’s “thinking.”

Meanwhile his son and  the rest of the students are completely bored with Hebrew school–blank faces and vacant stares.  The teacher is old and decrepit, as is the school secretary. The son listens to pop music during class on on a 1960s version of an Ipod and smokes pot with his friends. His older sister has no interest in Judaism, hangs out with non-Jews, and seems to be saving money for a nose job (so she won’t look so Jewish). She’ll probably marry a goy.

The movie ends with a tornado bearing down on the school, the rabbi fumbling with the door lock and unable to protect the children, just as he and the other rabbis were unable to help the father. The message seems to be that it’s no use to look to the rabbis for help with life’s problems. The safety and security provided by the powerful traditional communal ties and strong, unquestioning belief (of the kind that motivated killing the dybbuk) are gone.

The ties within the community are fractured: The son thinks about repaying the money he owes to the school bully, but he doesn’t. Why pay him back when he won’t be part of the community in the future? The father learns that his wife’s lover was writing malicious letters to his tenure committee at the university. The Jewish lawyer he hired to deal with a property issue with his (viciously stereotyped non-Jewish) neighbor drops dead, and the Jewish lawyer he hired to defend his brother charges him $3000, prompting him to accept a bribe from a student to raise his grade.

He will have to find some other way out of his difficulties than rely on communal ties. The only help he gets from being Jewish (and this seems odd given the rest of the story) is that the Jewish department head assures him he will get tenure (even though he hasn’t published anything). But right after hearing the news, he receives an ominous phone call from his (Jewish) doctor about his x-rays. Getting tenure isn’t really going to help.

So what, if anything, does this say about the American Jewish community? Probably not a lot. Despite the main thrust of the movie, there’s still a huge benefit to Jews from ethnic networking with other Jews–the story of Elena Kagan shows that Larry Gopnik wasn’t the last Jew to benefit greatly from Jewish ties in the academic world, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

On the other  hand, Beinart’s concerns about young Jews with less commitment to Israel are doubtless reflected in the young people represented in A Serious Man — smoking pot, bored with Hebrew school, getting nose jobs, and dating non-Jews. But these reasons for this lack of Jewish commitment fit more with Steven M. Cohen‘s theory than Beinart’s: It’s not because of the behavior of Israel, but rather assimilation and intermarriage that draw Jews away from Israel. Indeed, one of the remarkable things about the movie was the complete lack of the ADL-type bunker mentality: No obsession with anti-Semitism, no mention of Israel, no gung-ho liberal politics, no mention of what an evil, racist, anti-Semitic place America is. No mention of politics at all.

If all Jews were like Larry Gupnik, the ADL would be out of business and the Israel lobby would grind to a halt. Not a bad outcome at all. But, as Beinart notes,  in the real world, the more conservative branches of Judaism are thriving and are projected to be a large and increasingly dominant segment of the American Jewish community. Quite a few Jewish children are not bored with Hebrew school, and they are the ones who are having the  children.

These are the people who staff the Jewish activist community now and in the future, so it’s very doubtful that there will be any change from its posture of strong and effective support for the dispossession of Whites at home and equally strong and  effective support for ethnonationalist Israel abroad.

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Philip Weiss: "The American Jewish revolution is over"

Philip Weiss is a unique American Jewish voice — a Jew without all the usual rationalizations and blind spots–at least most of them. A recent piece of his, titled “This is how the world now sees Jews,” consisted simply of this photo, with a note that it probably depicted Israeli settlers:

How the world now sees Jews

Below is a Palestinian woman whose house in East Jerusalem has been occupied by settlers. She is arguing with nationalist Jews.

Making the case for seizing Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem

The photo is from Weiss’s article, “Making the case for Zionism,” which quotes Peter Beinart in the NY Review of Books:

In the American Jewish establishment today, the language of liberal Zionism—with its idioms of human rights, equal citizenship, and territorial compromise—has been drained of meaning.

Weiss comments: “Why? Because the territorialist-nationalists have won, and from Deir Yassin to Al-Atatra to Sheikh Jarrah, they have uprooted and humiliated Palestinian women.”

The point is that Israelis are  thugs with machine guns and ethnic cleansers. More importantly, all Jews, including the organized American Jewish community which supports Israel to the hilt, have lost the moral high ground.

This is familiar territory for Weiss, but his article “Lame Specter, Blumenthal, and Kagan show — the American Jewish revolution is over” extends his critique of Jews to their role in the contemporary American elite.  The basic message is that Jews in America started out as morally aggrieved outsiders who have ultimately morphed into symbols of the worn out establishment (Arlen Specter), liars (Richard Blumenthal), and calculating achievers and hacks (Elena Kagan).

Although I am far less romantic about the Jewish left and its moral imperative of revolution against the traditional people and culture of America than Weiss is, he certainly does understand that the new Jewish elite is fundamentally corrupt. This Jewish elite consists of people like Adam Kirsch “who steps into the New Yorker and all the other magazines with an air of entitlement, and who can blame him, Jews run the important magazines, with all the passion of printing a train timetable.”

Notice that Kirsch “steps into” his job at the New Yorker — his position as the editor of an elite publication simply handed to him as part of his Jewish entitlement. No need for struggle or for particularly great qualifications. Jews have arrived.

Kagan too “stepped into” her position as Supreme Court nominee. Her only qualifications are being Jewish and knowing the right people. The entire passage bears quoting:

Kagan is the ultimate sign that our brand is finished. She is the best of breed, as they say at Westminster. According to this Times profile, she comes out of the same hothouse I came out of, in her case the Upper West Side. Achievement, liberalism, and no partying. Arguing at the dinner table. Presumably no physical life. [Interesting comment on what it means to be Jewish. On the other hand, there’s that famous photo in the WSJ of her playing softball.]

Kagan’s world is the Jewish success world, she stepped into it like Kirsch did. She loved the hothouse. She emulated Felix Frankfurter, who didn’t stand for much either, and is pals with Sarah Walzer,daughter of Michael Walzer, the political theorist and Jewish parochialist. She went to Jeffrey Toobin’s wedding, she was picked by Larry Summers at Harvard around the time he was saying that divestment was anti-semitic. Eliot Spitzer, Ted Weiss and Elizabeth Holtzman were among her backers. She clerked for Abner Mikva, a Chicago macher who backed Obama.

It’s a Jewish world — a world where being in the right circles counts far more than genuine talent. Kagan, the Harriet Miers of the Obama Administration, simply “steps into” her position in the top court in the land.

This reminds me of Jews as an elite in the Soviet Union, where a nascent Jewish elite motivated by moral fervor  and hatred unleashed by their exclusion under the Czar morphed easily into a corrupt, nepotistic elite that was hostile to the traditional people and culture of Russia. A report to the Soviet Central Committee reminds me of Kagan’s route to success: “They gather around themselves people of the same nationality, impose the habit of praising one another (while making others erroneously believe that they are indispensable), and force their protégés through to high posts” (see here, p. 78). Another report, from 1942, noted that elite cultural institutions “turned out to be filled by non-Russian people (mainly by Jews)” (see here , p. 51, ff). For example, of the ten top executives of the Bolshoi Theater—the most prestigious Soviet cultural institution—there were eight Jews and one Russian. Similar disproportions were reported in prestigious musical conservatories, the Soviet Academy of Science Institute of Literature, and among art and music reviewers in elite publications. Ethnic nepotism, not IQ, is the only way to explain these disproportions.

So now we are looking at a Supreme Court that is one-third Jewish–another disproportion that can’t be explained by Jewish IQ but reeks of ethnic nepotism. The ADL will of course attempt to squelch anyone who talks about the new Jewish elite publicly. But as time goes on, it’s going to be more and more apparent who runs the US.

Fundamentally, White Americans have to wrap their minds around the fact that this new elite is corrupted by nepotism,that it supports policies like massive non-White immigration aimed at the racial dispossession of Whites, and that it has no moral standing, most obviously because of the gap between its moral posturings in the US versus the reality Israel as a an aggressive, ethnonationalist state.

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Philip Weiss on Philosemitism and Ethnocentrism

Philip Weiss has yet another meditation on being a Jew married to a non-Jew (“Philosemitism’s threat to Zionism”). He and his wife live in a social world made up of mixed couples., and his wife prefers it that way.  I’d love to hear exactly what his wife means when she says that she prefers to socialize with mixed couples because some all-Jewish couples are too “strong” for her. Are we talking about the old stereotype of psychological aggressiveness, or is that an indelicate topic? Maybe it’s like the Jewtopia skit where a non-Jewish character says he loves Jewish girls because Jewish girls make all the decisions when they go out–where to eat, what friends to have, what to wear, etc., so that he doesn’t have to think any more. (Be sure to continue listening to see what happens when a Jew orders food at a restaurant; it’s the same psychological profile.) Maybe these Jews see life as a whole lot more peaceful with a non-Jewish spouse.

Weiss is the sort of Jew that most Americans think about when they think of Jews.  He is wonderfully liberal and open-minded, gushing at a marriage between a Jew and a Hindu. He does not have a sense of historical injustice, at least when he thinks of his own experience in America. As he acknowledges, in this regard, he is quite unlike most American Jews and certainly unlike the activists who staff the organized Jewish community — the Jews like Abe Foxman who use their sense of persecution as a badge and sword. Weiss notes that the Israel Lobby  “cannot trust [non-Jews] to act wisely without being politically coerced and bribed. The lobby has returned the incredible trust that Jews have been granted in the U.S. with suspicion.”

Indeed, he feels suffused by philosemitism, but then there’s the guilt at abandoning the tribe:

The objects of philo-semitism, myself included, feel some guilt about it. We know, or ought to, that we’re participating in an assimilatory process. We are hurting the tribe’s future as a tribe. And so for those who care about tribe, Israel gains a new significance: it is the bulwark of Jewishness, the place where Jews marry Jews.

Israel is indeed the bulwark of tribalistic Judaism. Weiss claims that the motive for Zionism was anti-Semitism in Europe. But in fact, a very large motive, especially for the racial Zionists, was retaining racial purity, and in that they have succeeded. Racial Zionists were part of the trend toward racial nationalism in Europe, and their descendants — the followers of Jabotinsky — are now in charge of Israeli politics. Here’s Arthur Ruppin, a prominent racial Zionist writing in the early 20th century:

Intermarriage marks the end of Judaism. Mixed marriage is regarded as destructive of Judaism even where the non-Jewish side adopts the Jewish religion, for it is understood, be it merely subconsciously, that Judaism is something more than a religion—a common descent and a common fate. Were it only a religious communion, assimilated Jews would actually have to welcome a mixed marriage which gains a proselyte for Judaism, but even among them this view is conspicuously absent. (Quoted in Separation and Its Discontents.)

An interesting recent example of Israeli racialism is Baruch Marzel, a former member of the Kach Party who would presumably still be a member except that Kach has been outlawed for its racist views. According to Haaretz, a Marzel has voiced his opposition to Leonardo DiCaprio marrying Bar Rafaeli, an Israeli model, because “it would dilute the Jewish race.”

Marzel is doubtless on the fringe of Jewish thinking — at least overtly. But the reality is that deep concerns about racial purity are always just below the surface in mainstream Israeli society. As reported in the Forward, a recent Knesset bill shows the continuing power of the Orthodox over conversion. The immediate concern was that foreign workers in Israel might convert to Judaism and therefore become eligible to be Israeli citizens via the Law of Return. As the bill moves forward, the trick is to write the legislation so that foreign workers would not be able to convert to Judaism while leaving intact the validity of conversions done by Reform and Conservative congregations in the Diaspora. The concern of Diaspora Jews is that ultimately the Orthodox will nullify all conversions except those performed by the Orthodox. Since the Orthodox already control marriage within Israel (so that Israelis who wish to marry people who can’t establish their Jewish ancestry must marry outside Israel), this would ensure the triumph of racialist Judaism in Israel.

Weiss understands that liberal forms of Judaism that exist in the Diaspora are dead ends. And he understands that therefore he will have “little influence over the body of Jewish life in the U.S. so long as I can’t imagine a corporate future.” So the tribe will endure without people like Weiss and his belief that “ethnocentric arrogance is unsustainable in a globalized environment.”

The problem that I have with this is that the racialists in Israel are firmly in charge and they have the overwhelming support of the organized Jewish community in the Diaspora. This isn’t going to change. Moreover, given the historical trends within Israel, Israeli racialism may well get even more extreme. People like Weiss and organizations like J Street function to give Judaism a softer veneer that is consistent with post-racial, multicultural America without having any effective influence on the “ethnocentric arrogance” at the heart of Judaism or even lessening the support of the Israel Lobby for Israel as an apartheid, racialist state. Intermarriage has many benefits for Diaspora Judaism as long as the racial core is not threatened, and the existence of Israel ensures that Jewish tribalism will remain long into the future.

Yet liberal Jews with many of the same beliefs as Weiss are the main bulwark of the left in America that has so successfully pathologized any sense of ethnocentrism by Whites — and only Whites. Pardon me if I refuse to disavow White ethnocentrism as I am sure Weiss advocates. I think we are going to need a very healthy dose of White ethnocentrism if Whites are to survive in a world that remains governed by the ethnocentric arrogance of others.

And pardon me if I predict that as Weiss gets older he will return to his Jewish ethnic roots. This is one of my working hypotheses about Jews and probably people in general. I discussed several examples in my books on Judaism, such as Heinrich Heine. Other examples (and counterexamples) are needed to make a good case, but the idea is that as we get older, our ethnocentrism tugs at us. We worry about the future of our people –what the world will be like in a hundred years, not just for our children and grandchildren, but for the wider group of people like ourselves. And right now, for people like me, it doesn’t look good.

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