Sartre’s “Anti-Semite and Jew”: A Critique [Part One]

“That book is a declaration of war against anti-Semites, nothing more.”
 Jean-Paul Sartre, 1980.

A little over a decade ago I decided to research the Jewish Question in earnest. The precise chain of events leading to this decision was complex, but the main engine driving it was sheer intellectual curiosity. Here was a subject at once profound and deeply entwined with European history, and yet also obscure and apparently also half-sunk in a quagmire of shame. As a young developing scholar in the Arts, I felt the Jewish clash with Europeans had it all — economic aspects, religious factors, the opinions of philosophical giants, the dictates of kings and the risings of peasants. Here was history in raw, perpetually political form. As a result, I found myself haunting college and public libraries, slowly absorbing the topic’s mainstream texts, along with the not so mainstream, until one day I came across a small, unassuming volume just barely visible between two much larger books.

The name of the author brought about a spark of recognition, but it was the title that made me reach for it. There was something about Anti-Semite and Jew (1946) that suggested a personal approach to the subject that I felt had been hitherto lacking in the works I’d consulted. I took Sartre’s slim monograph to a nearby table where I devoted an afternoon to some but not all of its contents. I couldn’t finish it. Materially sparse and logically recondite, the book disappointed all initial hopes. I returned it to the shelves, and for the next ten years never felt the need to consult Sartre’s contribution to the discussion of anti-Semitism.

Until now. Prompted by a public radio discussion on Sartre (mainly focussing on his childhood and private life), around three months ago I decided to return to the Frenchman’s ideas on anti-Semitism — not because of any value inherent in the ideas themselves, but because of what a thorough critical treatment of them might tell us about Sartre and about philo-Semitic apologetics in general. During that time, I examined the text in full, making notes as I progressed. These notes eventually formed the following essay, which is, as far as I am aware, the first time that an ‘anti-Semite’ has replied to Sartre’s work.

The Significance of Anti-Semite and Jew

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980) was a French philosopher, writer, political activist, and literary critic. In 1964, Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for his literary work but refused it on the grounds it was a cultural symbol with which he did not wish to be associated. He is perhaps best known as one of the key figures in the philosophy of existentialism, an area of philosophy which contends that Man is a self-creating being who is not initially endowed with a character and goals but must choose them by acts of pure decision — existential ‘leaps.’ Sartre was born into a bourgeois Parisian family of comfortable means but would go on to be generally regarded as one of the most important Marxist philosophers of the 20th century. His father died when he was 15 months old, something which I believe profoundly affected the philosopher, consciously or not, throughout his life.

Sartre may be usefully characterized as someone in several respects at war with his roots, a fact demonstrated in stories (almost certainly apocryphal) from his autobiography and related to friends. Among them, for example, is an account of Sartre throwing his family tree into a waste basket.[1] Much of his future intellectual work could be seen as a rebellion against his own deeply bourgeois roots and perhaps even a form of self-loathing or an attempt to escape the Self. Never growing more than five feet tall, and painfully aware from a young age of his physical unattractiveness, Sartre invested a great deal of time on philosophical speculations on ugliness. Importantly, he viewed his ugliness as a form of social marginalization. It is particularly interesting that in these discussions he linked ugliness to other forms of perceived social marginalization, and even more interesting that he sometimes used the formulation “Aryan/Jew, handsome/ugly.”[2] Read more

The Euro Rightwing Stunt in Jerusalem

If you can’t beat them join them. This is what one can conclude after observing the results of the recent PR stunt in Israel by Heinz-Christian Strache, head of the Austrian FPÖ, Geert Wilders of the Dutch PVV, and Filip De Winter of the Vlaams Belang. Faced with the Muslim invasion of Europe, there are rightwing voices in Europe who seriously think that European nationalists need to strike a deal with Zionists. Their working hypothesis goes that criticizing the Islamic threat can be best countered if and when framed within the parameters of anti-Arab Zionist discourse. The assumption is widespread that eventually some green light will start blinking in Tel Aviv and provide a safe venue for Muslim bashing in Europe.

But more is at stake with the Jerusalem visit by these three politicians.   Many European nationalists, similar to all politicians across the board in the USA and Europe, realize that political legitimacy at home can only be achieved if it receives prior blessing in Israel. Thus the visit of these brave Euro right-wingers only bears testimony as to who is the real boss in world affairs. Who wants to stay in endless opposition, cut off from the mainstream public by a “cordon sanitaire” and vilified forever as a bad Nazi? Read more

Geert Wilders and the Growing Jewish Influence in Dutch politics

The rise of Geert Wilders and the new Dutch government

The Dutchman Geert Wilders is a break-away parliamentarian from the Liberal Party who founded his own Freedom Party in 2004. Since his youth he has developed an emotional bond with the Jewish state and has visited Israel at least more than 40 times. As a youngster he went there to work in the Kibbutz, a socialist experiment of collective farming, and had an abortive relationship with a Jewish girl. His second wife is the Jewish-Hungarian diplomat Krisztina Marfaimarried.

The reason for his breakaway from the Liberal Party was their point of view about immigration in general and Muslims in particular. Wilders’ concern for Muslim immigration is because he believes that Israel and the West are confronted by the same enemy. He recently declared in an interview for the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that the Palestinians are not a puny guerrilla force fighting a last stand against dispossession by the settler movement backed by the Israeli military juggernaut. They are the first line of defense of the Western world:

The Palestinians believe – and this is the nature of Islam – that Israel is their country and that they are fighting the non-Muslims in the West through it. The struggle against Israel is a struggle against us. We are Israel. The reason Dutch parents can sleep calmly without having to worry about their kids is that Israeli parents stay awake at night because their children are in the army. This doesn’t mean Israel cannot be criticized, but I’m not ashamed to fight for Israel. Read more

The Monstrous Winston Churchill

In his book Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World, Pat Buchanan places particular emphasis on the role of Winston Churchill for his role in promoting both World War I and World War II.  Buchanan is scathing in his criticism of Churchill, correctly pointing his bellicosity, his vanity, and his desire for personal power. There are also strong hints of his corruption as a result of being rescued by wealthy Jews from near bankruptcy after the stock market crash of 1929.

Buchanan carries on this theme in a recent column on the Katyn executions, Pat Buchanan once again comments on Winston Churchill’s treachery.

When Polish patriots, whose sons had flown with the Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain, went to … Churchill to demand that he get answers from Stalin about the atrocity, he brushed them off.

“There is no sense prowling around the three-year-old graves of Smolensk,” said the Great Man.

At Stalin’s request, Churchill bullied the Poles into acceding to Soviet annexation of all the Polish land Stalin had been awarded for signing his pact with Hitler.

Michael Colhaze’s current TOO article, To Be a German, Part II, credits Buchanan with shedding light on the truly horrifying spectacle of Churchill. Ever the artist, Colhaze expresses it beautifully:

[It boils down] to one single, terrible truth, namely that this man and his paymasters were the instigators not only of the death of Britain’s and America’s finest young men, but also of the greatest carnage, the worst fratricide committed in Mankind’s entire history. It is really here, in the inordinate hate for Germany as the old heartland of our incomparable Christian-European civilisation, that the roots can be found for the ever intensifying assault on the White Man’s right to exist.

I wonder sometimes how this man must have felt during the twilight years of his life. Terrible, most likely. Fiddling with some pitiful canvas utterly devoid of human warmth, let alone artistic gratification. Abandoned by his old paymasters because that’s what they inevitably do once you’ve lost your expediency. Deserted by his political cronies who knew damn well what mess he had landed them in. Prowling the casinos of Monte Carlo where a greasy Onassis dropped an occasional chip into his pocket since he had blown his pension already at the tables. Bored to death by all the glorifications and laurels and distinctions which honoured, as he himself knew perfectly well, only the one great lie that was his life.

Churchill’s philosemitism is legendary. This review of three books on Churchill’s relations with Jews indicates that indeed, he was “among the greatest friends the Jewish people have had.” The record shows that Churchill repeatedly stood up for Jewish interests throughout his entire very long career in politics — often in opposition to those around him. Churchill’s family was philo-Semitic and socialized with Jews; he received expensive gifts as a young man from Jewish friends of his father. In Parliament, Churchill was an eloquent spokesman for Jewish immigration, and later he had a long career in support of Zionism.

He left a long record of activism for Jewish causes and was rarely deterred from these, even when he found himself in a distinct minority. When overruled by his own Cabinet, he often sought ways around the problem to help Jews and Zionism. The personal and official papers consulted in these studies confirm the picture of a man who rejected anti-Semitism in public and private, something that can be said of very few of his colleagues.

Churchill may have been the greatest friend the Jews ever had. But he certainly was not a friend for his own people.

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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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Christian Zionism

Max Blumenthal has a post that he  claims shows that “Biden should have known that Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu intended to upset his plans by Netanyahu’s appearance with John Hagee.” This refers to one of the oddest phenomena in American politics: The rabid pro-Israel activities of the Christian Zionists as exemplified by Pastor Hagee. Hagee is the ultimate Christian Zionist, using his speech before a who’s who of the Israeli government and other elements of the Israeli far right to state that Jerusalem is “the undivided, eternal capitol of the Jewish people.” He called Iranian President Ahmadinejad “the Hitler of the Middle East” and denounced the Goldstone Report as “character assassination by an unbiased and uninformed committee.”

In the audience was “Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of the illegal West Bank settlement of Efrat who gained notoriety for lobbying President Bill Clinton to pardon his friend, fugitive billionaire Marc Rich. Ayalon had stirred controversy days before when he refused to meet with a US congressional delegation brought to Israel by the progressive Jewish group J Street.”

What’s amazing to me is that the point of Hagee’s speech was to tout the $58,000,000 (!) that his group of Christians have donated to far-right causes in Israel since 2001, including settler groups and a group that aims to ensure” that students in Israel are on the right path, the path of Zionism, the love of Israel, the path of solidarity.”

As it was explained to me, Hagee, believes that God actually decreed not one, but two, plans of salvation:  one for the church, which requires faith in Christ’s atonement, and another for the Jews, which does not require them to have faith in Christ at all, but is a parallel covenant that bypasses the Church and Christ completely.  They regard the creation of the modern state of Israel as nothing less than the precursor of that heavenly kingdom, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the sign of Christ’s imminent return.

Christian Zionism is a very powerful force for philosemitism in the US.  There is a fascinating history (see, e.g., here) that suggests but falls short of proof that early Zionists like Samuel Untermeyer were important in promoting and publicizing the work of C. I. Scofield whose annotated Bible, published by Oxford University Press in 1909, is the basis of Christian Zionism. In any case, the above source discusses footnotes to the Scofield Bible added in 1967 that emphasize Zionist aims. For example,  “For a nation to commit the sin of anti-Semitism brings inevitable judgment.” ” God made an unconditional promise of blessing through Abram’s seed to the nation of Israel to inherit a specific territory forever.” “It has invariably fared ill with the  people who have persecuted the Jew, well with those who have protected him. The future will still more remarkably prove this principle.” (Footnotes to Genesis 12:3)

Jews have not stood by idly on this but have actively supported the Christian Zionism movement. Beginning in 1978, the Likud Party in Israel has taken the lead in organizing this force for Israel, and they have been joined by the neocons. For example, in 2002 the Israeli embassy organized a prayer breakfast with the major Christian Zionists. The main organizations are the Unity Coalition for Israel which is run by Esther Levens and Christians United for Israel, run by David Brog. The Unity Coalition for Israel consists of ~200 Christian and Jewish organizations has strong connections to neocon think tanks such as the Center for Security Policy, headed by Frank Gaffney, pro-Israel activist organizations the Zionist Organization of America, the Likud Party and the Israeli government. This organization claims to provide material for 1,700 religious radio stations, 245 Christian TV stations, and 120 Christian newspapers.

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Kevin MacDonald: The Genteel Mr. Bradlaugh

I agree with everything in Christopher Donovan’s blog on Bradlaugh’s take on the AmRen cancellation. But a couple of things Bradlaugh wrote stick in my craw. It used to be that Jews complained about genteel anti-Semites. Now we have people like Bradlaugh who spout genteel philo-Semitism: He complains about “the antisemitism of the AR followers, which rubs me the wrong way. I fall in line with the long tradition of British philosemitism (Cromwell, Victoria, Lloyd George, Maggie Thatcher), and just have no patience with the other thing.” He could have included Winston Churchill who was philo-Semitic to the point of corruption.

It seems to me that anyone writing on politics has a responsibility to write honestly about the various forces that influence public policy. For Bradlaugh, it’s simply not genteel to discuss embarrassing things like Jewish power. I suppose Mearshimer and Walt rub him the wrong way as well. I had this to say about John Derbyshire, Bradlaugh’s alter ego:

Derbyshire is, apart from some minor irritations, quite uncritical about Jewish motives and influence, even when they conflict with the interests of people like himself. He implies that non-Jews should understand Jewish motivation to break down the ethnic homogeneity of their own societies while advancing the interests of Israel as an ethnostate. … Derbyshire lives in a sort of childlike world in which Jewish interests are legitimate and where Jewish attempts to pursue their interests, though they may occasionally be irritating, are not really a cause for concern much less malice. It doesn’t require an evolutionary theory to realize that good, reasonable people can have conflicts of interest, and that the results of conflicts of interest can be devastating to the side that loses.

I think that Bradlaugh’s problem is that he sees himself as genteel and that being genteel is a very good thing. (Definition: 1. Refined in manner; well-bred and polite. 2. Free from vulgarity or rudeness. 3. Elegantly stylish: genteel manners and appearance. 4. a. Striving to convey a manner or appearance of refinement and respectability. See Synonyms at polite. b. Marked by affected and somewhat prudish refinement.)

He seems very impressed with good manners, a well-rounded education, and being polite. Genteel people simply don’t discuss Jewish power and influence for fear of offending the Jews. In the same way, genteel people would not want to offend others by calling attention to their garish clothes. To do so would make one impolite and vulgar and therefore consign one to a lower order of society.

His gentility is probably also why he doesn’t resonate with AmRen’s “ethos of the South, which I don’t really … get. I wonder if a foreigner ever can get it. It’s as odd and particular, in its own way, as Tibetan Buddhism.”

The reality is that White Southerners are by far the largest identifiable group of White Americans who have held onto their culture and identity in the face of the onslaughts of the last 50 years. The White vote for Obama was nearly in the single digits in three southern states, and lopsidedly Republican in the others. White Southerners understand, at least implicitly, that it’s about racial and ethnic conflict. As the racialization of American politics continues, all Whites will tend even more in this direction. (The recent election in Massachusetts certainly supports this). Conservatives who think they can take back the country without Southern Whites are seriously deluded.

Bradlaugh’s gentility also leads him to entirely avoid framing the issue in ethnic or racial terms at all:

My own strong preference, as I argued in that debate with Jared, would be for everybody to shut up with the race business. There doesn’t seem to be much prospect of this happening, though, so it’s not hard to see the AR-ers point of view. In any case, I say again, whatever you think of that point of view, it’s a point of view. It shouldn’t be shut out of the public square; and if it is so shut out, by goons phoning in death threats to hotel employees, there ought to be a fuss made. Well, here I am on Secular Right, making a fuss as best I can. Freedom of speech! Freedom of assembly! Liberty! Liberty!

This is “proposition conservatism” at its finest. If only people would stop talking about racial and ethnic conflict, then we could frame everything in terms of principles like free speech without soiling ourselves like the AR crowd. For people like Bradlaugh, massive immigration would presumably be fine if the immigrants were all principled people like himself.

The reality, of course, is that whether or not we talk about it, racial and ethnic conflict will continue. There is no other possible outcome given that 100 million more non-Whites are to be added to the population of the US in the next few decades.

The bottom line is that no one has come up with a formula to get rid of ethnicity as a form of identity and as a vehicle of expressing interests. None seems on the horizon. And in the process of losing the ethnic battle, the society will be less and less committed to Bradlaugh’s cherished principles because, in the end, the principles of free speech, individual liberty, and the rest of the corpus of Western individualism are ethnic creations.

But people like Bradlaugh are more willing to lose the ethnic battle than to become anything less than genteel by mentioning the ethnic conflict that is at the heart of the political divisions in the US. It just wouldn’t seem proper.

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