Jewish Writing on Anti-Semitism

Exodus Redux: Jewish Identity and the Shaping of History

“Under the pretext of recording fables and current reports about the Jews, he [Manetho] took the liberty of introducing some incredible tales, wishing to represent us as…condemned to banishment from Egypt.”
Flavius Josephus, Against Apion

I’ve been intrigued by the story of the Israelite Exodus from Egypt for more than a decade. More than any of its close rivals, including the tale of Haman in the Book of Esther, the Exodus looms large as an early and extremely influential psychological landmark in the lachrymose and highly dubious pseudo-history of the Jewish people. Most obviously, the putative liberation from Egypt is commemorated by Judaism every year, in the form of the Pesach, or Passover festival. Indeed, this festival is one of the most important features of the Jewish religious calendar. Historian Paul Johnson remarks that Exodus “became an overwhelming memory” and “gradually replaced the creation itself as the central, determining event in Jewish history.”[1]

Exodus has a power that exists independently from the trappings of religious myth, acting through the centuries as a defining narrative of victimhood, group vindication, and self-validation. Jews living under the Tsar produced endless Yiddish plays and satires containing barely concealed allusions to the Tsar as the latest incarnation of Pharaoh.[2] Exodus is a foundation upon which Jewish identity, as well as Jewish religiosity, is built, and for this reason it has greatly preoccupied even the most atheistic of Jews, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud among them. Moses, as a subconscious archetype, squats in the shadows of the Jewish psyche.

The early reception of Exodus by non-Jews also plays an important role in the Jewish worldview, in the sense that the “virus” of “anti-Semitism” is said to have originated in response to it. In this regard, there is an almost universal consensus among Jewish intellectuals that the earliest origins of “anti-Semitism” can be traced to the writings of an Egyptian priest allegedly offended by the account of the Israelite escape from Pharaoh. The theory relates specifically to a history of Egypt, the Aegyptiaca, written by an Egyptian priest named Manetho around the third century BC. Although the Aegyptiaca is lost to us, we are able to piece together much of its contents based on subsequent rebuttals by later Jewish writers such as Flavius Josephus, and also references to the text by several Greek and Greek-Egyptian intellectuals.

In summary, Manetho reported that centuries earlier a foreign population had entered Egypt’s eastern border via “infiltration of the Delta.” This foreign population subsequently rose in power within Egypt, becoming a burden and a pestilence to the natives. At some point, the foreign population developed a serious disease of the skin, and the Egyptians were finally motivated to expel the invaders, who later relocated to Jerusalem. Read more

The big chill on free speech hits Britain

It is a fair bet that any ‘media reform’ welcomed by Dr Moshe Kantor, President of the European Jewish Congress, will be bad news for the defenders of free speech. So it is with his reaction to the British government’s groundbreaking new definition of anti-Semitism.

Kantor said:

We welcome the UK’s landmark decision to define anti-Semitism, particularly in the face of rising attacks against Jews. We must now look towards other European governments to follow the example set by the UK.

He is referring to the British government’s decision to adopt a “legally binding definition” which will be used by police forces, councils, universities and public bodies. This ratchets the law sharply in the direction of making Jews a legally protected group and placing them beyond criticism. It would certainly sharply curtail academic and journalistic discussion of Jewish group behaviour.

For if the ethnic agendas of this very powerful and ethnocentric group cannot be discussed, it would effectively end legitimate academic and journalistic inquiry on the matter. It would certainly curtail discussion of all unflattering examples of Jewish group behaviour such as those outlined in the Culture of Critique.

The definition drafted by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition (IHRA) is broadly the same one contained in the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act that quietly went through the US senate. The aim seems to be to create a global standard on stifling free speech about Jewish power.

The definition itself is so open-ended as to be meaningless. Read more

T.S. Eliot and the Culture of Critique, Part Two

eliot

‘We must discover what conditions, within our power to bring about, would foster the society that we desire. … Reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable.’
 T.S. Eliot, After Strange Gods, 1934.

One of the most striking features of Julius’s T.S. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form is that it is no mere literary critique. This basic and relatively short work is a multi-pronged and vicious ad hominem masquerading, with odious pretentiousness, as criticism. Eliot, the man, is attacked in multiple, often scurrilous, forms throughout.

These are subtle attacks, perpetrated under the cover of a flimsy, indeed petulant, thesis. This thesis, such as it exists, is two-dimensional. Summed up, it consists of two basic arguments. The first is that Eliot drew on “anti-Semitic” themes for some of his poetry, themes that were characterized by their disdainful attitude towards Jews. The second is that “anti-Semitism” was an intrinsic part of Eliot’s art, and therefore Eliot himself was ‘anti-Semitic.’ Of course, in and of itself, the accusation that Eliot wasn’t fond of Jews is hardly damning. However, in the hands of Jewish ethno-activists the accusation of “anti-Semitism” is often loaded with deeper and more insidious aspersions. As such, the thesis and the ad hominem nature of its arguments and content are bound up intricately via a single common thread: Julius’s own corrupt understanding of what “anti-Semitism” is.

Julius’s professed understanding of anti-Semitism is identical to that of other Jewish ethno-activists. In this perception, “anti-Semitism” is a mixture of “incoherent” discourses riddled with “internal contradictions.”[1] It arises, at worst, in the sick, irrational mind. At best, it develops ex nihilo, since, as Julius puts it, “no external factor can induce it.”[2] In this remarkable psychological bubble, Jews are entirely blameless. Ever passive, they lack all agency. They exist merely to register the irrational mental undulations of “the nations,” that confused, miasmic mass of humanity they have been tasked by Jehovah to act as a “light unto.” The problem with such a perception, of course, is the existence of an overwhelming amount of contradictory evidence. Read more

T.S. Eliot and the Culture of Critique, Part One of Two

ts-eliot

“My house is a decayed house,
And the Jew squats on the window-sill”
T.S. Eliot, Gerontion, 1920.

In a previous article I explored the nature of academic ethno-activism in the deconstruction of the cultural legacy of Ezra Pound. The article adopted the approach of a broad overview, emphasizing the scale of successive critiques and, to some extent, illuminating the psychology of those whose caustic attentions had been aroused by the interplay of Pound’s genius and politics. It was argued that these individuals exhibited a psychological duality of both attraction and hatred. The academic activists drawn to figures like Pound were “appalled because they perceived an unjustified critique upon their ethnic group, and they perceived this critique all the more keenly because of their ethnocentrism. They were impressed because they appreciated, and were threatened by, the talent of their target, often despite themselves. The ‘attraction’ arises from the desire to deconstruct and demean that talent, and thus avenge or assuage the critique.”

Although the previous article fulfilled its purpose of providing a succinct overview of the forms of the critical assault on ostracized cultural figures, in this article I wish to present a more thoroughgoing treatment of the psychology underpinning these forms. Included also are reflections on what this reveals about “anti-Semitism” as it exists in the socio-cultural consciousness of strongly-identified Jews. In order to explore this matter on a deeper level, and to keep our material fresh, we now turn our attention to the academic deconstruction of Pound’s associate, and fellow Modernist poet, T.S. Eliot. Read more

The Troubling Testimony of Alonzo Mann in the Murder of Little Mary Phagan

With today’s centennial of the death by lynching of Leo Max Frank, public attention has been fixed once again on the remarkable dual murders of Mary Phagan and Leo Frank. As is fairly well-known at this point, 13-year-old Mary Phagan was murdered in the National Pencil Factory in Atlanta on April 26, 1913. Leo Frank, her boss and last person to admit seeing her alive, was convicted of the murder.

His appeals went up to the Supreme Court of the United States and his conviction upheld at every level. Frank’s appeals to the administrative agencies of the State of Georgia also brought no change. Only when Governor John Slaton, a law partner of the Frank defense team, commuted the sentence to life imprisonment was Frank’s life apparently spared. But the outrage felt in Georgia over the impropriety of the Governor pardoning a client of his own law firm on his last day in office (and widely suspected of being bribed) resulted in a band of leading Marietta men planning and executing a daring break-in at the State Prison in Milledgeville, abducting Frank and driving over the primitive dirt roads of Georgia all night to hang him in Marietta at sunrise the next day.

The astonishing murder of Leo Frank has tended to soften the public’s view of his guilt in the murder of Mary Phagan.

Was Frank guilty of the murder of Mary Phagan?

His own subsequent murder is not material in establishing his innocence in the matter. It represents what might be called the “Ox-Bow Incident” mentality. We so dislike vigilante justice that we have a tendency to give the benefit of the doubt to the victims of such lynchings. Even in a case like this where Frank’s guilt was upheld at every level of the appellate legal system we recognize his subsequent murder as an assault on the entire legal system. Read more

Joel Pollak and Bill Kristol on Obama’s rabid anti-Semitism

Not to be outdone by the Tablet article labeling Obama a “Jew baiter,” Joel Pollak writing in Breitbart came out with “Barack Obama’s Anti-Semitic Rant on the Iran Deal: President Barack Obama is using anti-Jewish language to sell the Iran deal.”

On Thursday, Obama led a conference call with left-wing activists in which he repeatedly railed against his political opponents by using the old canard of rich Jews using their money to exert control.

Accusing critics of the deal of being “opposed to any deal with Iran”–i.e. of advocating war–Obama railed against “well-financed” lobbyists, as well as the “big check writers to political campaigns,” and  “billionaires who happily finance super-PACs.” He complained about “$20 million” being spent on ads against the deal—a subtle reference to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC–whose support he had repeatedly courted when running for office).

Some of Obama’s references were thinly-veiled attacks on specific (Jewish) individuals—columnist Bill Kristol, for example, the Weekly Standard publisher and former New York Times resident conservative who served in the George H.W. Bush administration, and also helps run the Emergency Committee for Israel, which opposes the Iran deal; or billionaire Sheldon Adelson, who is a prodigious Republican benefactor, super PAC donor, and well-known hawk on Israel issues.

So now merely referring to the fact that the opposition to the Iran deal is well-funded makes Obama’s statements into an “anti-Semitic rant.” Calling attention to the deep pockets of political opponents is fair game with a long history in American politics. But if Jews are the ones with the deep pockets, suddenly, it’s “anti-Semitism” — defined I guess as “something Jews dislike because it brings attention to their actions.”  Read more

“Jew baiter” Obama: The same people who brought you Iraq are opposing the Iran deal

Sometimes Jewish comments related to anti-Semitism seem so unhinged that they surprise even me.  A Tablet article describes the meeting between Obama and a raft of Jewish leaders on the Iran deal (“Obama to Jewish Leaders: Lay Off the Iran Deal, and I Will Lay Off You“).

Words have consequences, and when they come from official sources, they can be even more dangerous, the president was told. The community worked hard to keep it from getting personal and didn’t make it specific to him. The president complained about the lobbying, and said some of the same people who brought you Iraq are opposing the Iran deal. He was told those characterizations are not accurate. Jewish lobbyists didn’t support the Iraq war.

Another participant who also asked to remain anonymous told me that some people expressed discomfort with  “how the debate is being framed—framed as, ‘if you are a critic of the deal, you’re for war.’ The implication is that if it looks like the Jewish community is responsible for Congress voting down the deal, it will look like the Jewish community is leading us off to another war in the Middle East.”

Read more