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Jews and their place in Europe pre-WW2


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#1 Wolfy

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Posted 13 February 2009 - 11:25 PM

I'm at loss to understand what the pre-WW2 paranoia over them was all about. They numbered merely 11 million in Europe and seemed to be above average, productive (and educated) citizens.

#2 LRusso216

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 01:42 AM

I'm at loss to understand what the pre-WW2 paranoia over them was all about. They numbered merely 11 million in Europe and seemed to be above average, productive (and educated) citizens.

Boy, what a can of worms you are opening! Anti-Semitism was not new in the pre WW2 era. You can go far back in history, not only European history, and find the same kind of paranoia, or outright hatred. Part of it stems from the mistaken view of early Christians that the Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus. This feeling became more ingrained as Christianity took hold of the Roman Empire and later became the dominant faith of the continent. As you said, in many cases the Jews were educated and productive, and thus a threat to the ruling elites and their followers. One need only to look at some of the atrocities in Russia with their periodic pogroms to find similarities. Anti-Semitism could be found in many European countries throughout the centuries. Germany was not the first or only country to single out the Jews for mistreatment. The Dreyfus Affair in France at the end of the 19th Century is one prominent example of the institutionalized anti-Semitism on the continent. Books have been written to try to explain the phenomenon, so it would be difficult to do the topic justice in the space of this post. Suffice it to say that the Jews were a convenient and easy target as scapegoats for any number of shortcomings in a variety of countries and their populations.

#3 Wolfy

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 01:45 AM

I'm aware about the roots of antisemitism, but I'm not sure about how wealthy or strong their place in European society (particularly German, of course) was in the 1920s-1930s to adequately convince masses of people that they were an enormous threat.

Were they the richest group in Germany at the time and to what extent did they rival the German upper class?

#4 LRusso216

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 01:50 AM

I'm not sure if many people in that time frame needed much convincing. Granted there were Jewish owned banks and businesses, but I would say that most Jews were solid middle-class citizens. However, there were plenty of examples of anti Jewish sentiment throughout the continent. There was a predisposition to look for someone to blame for the troubles of society. Germany's economic difficulties of the early 20's was blamed on socialists, democrats, and Jews. The freikorps, in particular, fueled this. Again, it was not limited to Germany, but became most virulent there.

#5 Kai-Petri

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 02:17 PM

Jews were not the only ones the nazi machine killed. They might have been blamed for being the paracite of the system, but the machine put homosexuals, communists, disabled,criminals, and gypsies to the camps as well. Before the war the system was killing the disabled and brain damaged or Down sdr patients, and I saw a film of a German man who was just missing one finger in both hands nothing else and they sterilised him when he was 5-6 years old.

You must remember it was about purifying the whole nation.

We know the problem about blaming Jews has been alive in Europe for a long time and this probably is one of the "best examples" of the 19th century as mentioned above:

Alfred Dreyfus - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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#6 brndirt1

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Posted 14 February 2009 - 04:23 PM

I'm at loss to understand what the pre-WW2 paranoia over them was all about. They numbered merely 11 million in Europe and seemed to be above average, productive (and educated) citizens.


You have received a couple of fine answers from both "Kai-P.." and "Irusso...", so I'll just add a little bit to their's. Hitler himself didn’t "hate Jews" because of his mother’s Doctor being Jewish when she died of breast cancer. In fact there was fine treatment Hitler extended to the Jewish Dr. (E. Bloch) who attended his mother Klara in her final fight against breast cancer (before Hitler left Linz for good). Dr. Bloch was a respected man to whom Adolf sent money, New Years cards (he had drawn himself), Hitler also sent letters of appreciation to Dr. Bloch for many years after his mother’s death, and don't forget that in 1938 when Austria became part of Germany, Dr. Bloch (even being a Jew), was allowed, on specific orders from the Führer to not wear the "yellow jew star", continue to practice medicine, and remain in his own home. He later resettled in the UK and finally the US with all his property value, family members, and credentials. Very un-Nazi like treatment of a Jew.


And he didn’t try to hide his "birth records" because of a possible Jewish grandparent, but because of his own father’s illegitimacy. With that "taint" he couldn’t even pass muster for his own "race laws"! In his Vienna days he had many Jewish friends both in and out of the Mannerheim Men's Hostel, and one Jewish businessman was even the only gallery owner who would display and sell Hitler’s paintings.

My own personal pet theory (likely wrong) is that Hitler originally "latched on" to the anti-Semitism which had been prevalent in Europe for centuries (for political expediency, needing a scapegoat), and got caught up in the "ease" with which the Communists and Jews could be blamed for all of Germany’s and even his own failings. His own feeling toward Jews he knew personally had little to nothing to do with the political advantage he found in fostering hatred toward them as per Karl Haushofer’s teachings. Then the mad ruthless, reckless, and wasteful expenditure to "complete" the extermination of the Jews and other "untermensch" in the last few months was (to my mind) more an act of total frustration in being thwarted since Stalingrad at every other turn as the war wound down. This was the one final "thing" which he had some control over. Industrialized murder of the defenseless and weak.

And as Franz Neumann wrote in 1944:

"National-Socialism, which claims to have abolished the class struggle, needs an adversary whose very existence can serve to integrate antagonistic groups within a common society. That enemy can not be too weak. If it were too weak, it would be impossible to present it to the population as its supreme enemy. Nor can it be too strong, for that would commit the Nazis to a difficult struggle against a powerful enemy. It was for that reason that the Catholic church was not promoted to the rank of supreme enemy. But the Jews fit the bill admirably. As a result, such an ideology and such anti-Semitic practices entail the extermination of the Jews, the only means to achieve an ultimate aim: the destruction of institutions, beliefs, and groups still remaining free." (F. Neumann, Behemoth, "A Paper Eichmann,"; p. 513.)
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#7 Mussolini

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 02:04 PM

Jews were also looked down upon because they dressed differently and segregated themselves from the 'locals' of the places they moved into. (IE. Jewish Neighborhoods). Jews were also typically more educated and kept the business in the family. Often times, Jews were the clergymen (bankers, etc) or made up the vast majority of such a profession. When economic hard times hit an area, it was very easy to blame the 'Jews' because they were the ones in charge of all the money. It didn't help (the Jews) that they did segregate themselves and dress 'differently' from everyone else.

Germany is an interesting case because the Jew was their version of the racial hatred the rest of Europe showed towards Africans. Germany did have African colonies, but was barely involved in the slave trade, and very few slaves were brought to Germany, so you didn't have that 'black' hatred/inferiority that you had elsewhere in Europe. Instead, it was more focused on the Jew.
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#8 brndirt1

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:41 PM

Jews were also looked down upon because they dressed differently and segregated themselves from the 'locals' of the places they moved into. (IE. Jewish Neighborhoods). Jews were also typically more educated and kept the business in the family. Often times, Jews were the clergymen (bankers, etc) or made up the vast majority of such a profession. When economic hard times hit an area, it was very easy to blame the 'Jews' because they were the ones in charge of all the money. It didn't help (the Jews) that they did segregate themselves and dress 'differently' from everyone else.


While different clothing is correct here, sometimes the personal choice of the Jews, i.e. caftans and such; living in segragated communities isn't correct in toto. Since ghettos for Jews had been established when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity under Constantine. But that said, I personally believe this anti-Semitism goes back a LONG, LONG way. It didn’t spring "full grown" from the head of Hitler like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. The suspicion, dislike and distaste for the "other" in any society is far easier to understand in that light, and how easy it was for the Nazis to exploit and focus upon.

After the last Diaspora when the Romans Empire (under Augustus) took full control of the Levant, the Jews who had not been taken to Rome and other areas as slaves, dispersed over the rest of the "civilized" world. Since they couldn't take much "stuff", they carried light weight but valuable goods they could trade. Then later, with ties to other Jews (through religion if not family), in multitudinous areas they were "naturals" in establishing international trading connections. Even as slaves, traveling with their masters they could find other Diaspora Jews in other areas, speak for, and "make deals" for their masters. Then later on; "During the reign of Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), a special tax was imposed on the Jews of Rome to pay for his military operations against the Turks. Later popes during the first half of the 16th Century were more sympathetic to the Jewish community than Alexander VI. The Medici Popes, Leo X (1513-1521) and Clement VII (1523-1534), treated the Jews well. Leo X abolished certain discriminatory levies, did not enforce the wearing of the badges Jews had been forced to put on in the 12th century and also sanctioned the establishment of the Hebrew Printing Press. Leo X, as well as other popes from this period, such as Sixtus IV, retained Jewish physicians in Rome."

(a few short years later) "During the Reformation, in 1555, Pope Paul IV decreed that all Jews must be segregated into their own quarters (ghettos), and they were forbidden to leave their home during the night, were banned from all but the most strenuous occupations and had to wear a distinctive badge — a yellow hat. More than 4,700 Jews lived in the seven-acre Roman Jewish ghetto that was built in the Travestere section of the city (which still remains a Jewish neighborhood to this day)"

The bold print is from:

The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Rome

Through the years these necessities of "existence" also (perhaps) spurred the education of the Jews in other languages and traditions so as to succeed in one of the few areas open to them for advancement in society. Many did so well they were able to purchase their freedom, but the existing western Christian doctrine after the "Great Schism" (Roman/Orthodox) forbade non-Christians from owning land, joining guilds, or western Catholic Christians from loaning money and making money off of the loan (usury). Since the "nobility" of the area in which the Jews were "lending money" took a cut of the usury the Jews collected, it was in their own best interest to allow the Jews to make the loans and "skim" from them; without "endangering their own souls".

As a consequence of those Roman Catholic Christian "laws", Jews were by necessity; a) local merchants, B) money lenders, and/or c) traveling dealers in lightweight goods (gems spring to mind). The need for these vocations in turn drove the education levels up in the Jewish community, while the Christian youth didn't NEED to be educated in anything much above "growing cycles" of the crops, and perhaps simple "sums" if they were serfs, and only slightly more if they were nobles. When Christians went on their Crusades, starting in 1096 it was to the advantage of the nobility to "kill the Jews", thus canceling the debt and halting the growth of the debt through the usury. Thus, whole communities of Jews living in their separate walled (by law) Ghettos were massacred just to be sure there would be no "relative" of the money lender to come back and demand payment on the loan when the "noble warriors" returned.

Two hundred years after the Crusades (about 1290), the Christian English and Dutch merchants and bankers had figured out how to loan money and collect fees on the loan by calling it something other than "usury", hence "interest". And out went the Jews of their area (for the most part). Couple that in with the Jews being wrongly blamed for "poisoning wells" during the Plague years, and their popularity was fast declining to nil in most if not all of Europe. The same types of things were happening in Italy, France, and the Low Countries by the end of the 15th Century, and in the German states the position of Jews became even more tenuous with the rise of Martin Luther. He hated Jews as much or more than he despised the Papal power of Rome.

These combinations of events forced the Jews further and further east, so they ended up sort of clustering in today's Poland, and the steppes west of the Urals, north of the Black Sea. These areas lacked a "middle class" of any note before they arrived, and the Jews filled the niche with their financial and commercial trading skills with ease. Their education (light weight nes pas?), and language skills were also welcomed in these areas. Now, while I am not positive of this next, I am reasonably sure that the Russian version of the Eastern Orthodox Church, i.e. Russian Orthodox did NOT forbid them from owning land and so it would appear that in many cases the Jews actually became land owners. This also might have been the driving force behind the pogroms of the Tzarist troops latter, kill the Jewish land-holders and reapportion the territory.

Now here is my "pet theory" as to why the Jewish intellectuals made up such a large portion of the original Socialist/Communist movement. Hope I am not going too far out on the limb here. If the "state" owned everything, and "no-one" owned anything privately, there would be no jealousy between peoples regardless of position by birth, hence the Jews and everyone else would be "included" in the state rather than "excluded" from the state. It may have appeared that if you don't have any more or any less than your neighbor, the "state" as a whole is more stable with no motive for greed and jealousy. Unfortunately for that empty hope as per either Socialism or Communism, humanity is by its very nature; greedy. Most all of human kind, not just one or two sections of the group, but most humans can be if given the opportunity.

Nazi Germany’s approximately 565,000 Jews made up only 0.8% of its population. But one must remember that the "Holocaust" is the term describing the Nazi annihilation of about 6 million Jews (two thirds of the known pre-World War II Euro-population), in an "event" including 4,500,000 from Russia, Poland, and the Baltic; 750,000 from Hungary and Romania; 290,000 from Germany and Austria; 105,000 from The Netherlands; 90,000 from France; 54,000 from Greece. European Jewry made up a very small proportion Europe’s population. On the eve of WW2 and the eventual Holocaust, some 9 million Jews were recorded as actually living in and owning property in continental Europe, or 0.02% of the total population. Of these, the largest Jewish community was in Poland, about 3,250,000 to 3,500,000 Jews or 9.8% of the total Polish population. The more territory the Nazis conquered, the larger their "Jewish Problem" became.

But along with the Jews, another 5 to perhaps more than 6 million non-Jewish peoples, Gypsies, Slavs (Poles, Ukrainians, and Belarussians), homosexuals, and the disabled were also exterminated in the same types of actions. Their numbers aren’t quite as well documented as those of the Jews however since they had less "wealth" to record when it was confiscated by the Nazis.

Here is another interesting little tid-bit (just for you "Musso"!: "… Following the end of the papal states, Jews fully integrated into Italian society. They comprised a significant percentage of the university teachers, generals and admirals. A number of Jews were involved in government and were close advisors of Mussolini; they convinced Mussolini to intervene in the First World War. Five Jews were among the original founders of the fasci di combattimento in 1919 and were active in every branch of the Fascist movement. Both Mussolini’s biographers, Margharita Sarfatti, and his Minister of Finance, Guido Jung, were Jews."

Bold print again from:

The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Rome
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#9 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 07:16 PM

The bold print is from:

The Virtual Jewish History Tour - Rome

Your link contains some very strange errors, I would be wary of taking all it writes as truth. I live in Rome just outside what used to be old ghetto, and it's on the other side of the river from Trastevere, the only jewish building I know of in the Trastevere side is the school that is modern !!! While there may be 13 synagogues in Rome most Romans will only know the one in the old ghetto which is still the heart of the jewish comunity.
Mussolini in WW1 was a socialist politician with very little power so "convincing him" to enter the war makes no sense. These errors, which should have been avoided by any serious researcher, make me wary of the rest of the contents.
Also the "history" makes no mention of the fascist racial laws of 1938, while the "fascisti" were not thinking in terms of genocide they did have an antisemitic attitude which the site overlooks, I suspect some revisionism ......

#10 brndirt1

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 08:02 PM

Your link contains some very strange errors, I would be wary of taking all it writes as truth. I live in Rome just outside what used to be old ghetto, and it's on the other side of the river from Trastevere, the only jewish building I know of in the Trastevere side is the school that is modern !!! While there may be 13 synagogues in Rome most Romans will only know the one in the old ghetto which is still the heart of the jewish comunity.
Mussolini in WW1 was a socialist politician with very little power so "convincing him" to enter the war makes no sense. These errors, which should have been avoided by any serious researcher, make me wary of the rest of the contents.
Also the "history" makes no mention of the fascist racial laws of 1938, while the "fascisti" were not thinking in terms of genocide they did have an antisemitic attitude which the site overlooks, I suspect some revisionism ......


I was confused by that portion of "convincing him" (Mussolini) as well, however what I supposed (perhaps incorrectly) was that the Jewish community convinced the socialist journalist Mussolini to cease advocating remaining allied to Austria-Hungry and out of the conflict, and to move his articles more toward collaboration with the western allies.

Perhaps I am reading that in a different way than yourself Sir. Not that Mussolini was either a politician or member of the government, but an influencial jounalist whose opinion was widely read and respected before Italy got into the contest.

Could be wrong, often am. But "revisionism"? I wonder at that considering the source itself.

Edited by brndirt1, 16 February 2009 - 08:04 PM.
spelling

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#11 Wolfy

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 08:34 PM

Great informative posts about the history of the Jews in Europe.

#12 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 08:43 PM

Could be wrong, often am. But "revisionism"? I wonder at that considering the source itself.

I was just as surprised as you looking at the source, but the enphasys on the links between the Italian jewish comunity and the early fascist movement while totally omitting any mention of the 1938 racial laws left a bad taste.
I have some jewish friends and I doubt they would recognize themseves in the picture described by the "tour", it's not a matter of crearly wrong facts more an enphasys on things they would consider irrelevant while omitting more important ones. The impression I got was the author has spoken to very few roman jews and definetly didn't ask any of them to proof read it.
Mussolini was socialist journalist and his shift in October 1914 from the "internationalist" neutral stand (the socialist believed war to be a capitalist affair the masses should have nothing to do with) towards a nationalist interventionist position caused him to be thrown out of the party.
He then founded a new newspaper that supported Italian intervention in the war but I doubt his shift was very influential in the goverment's decision.

#13 brndirt1

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:00 PM

Understood "TiredOldSoldier", but that was the most convenient link I had to use to make my point about the ghettos not being voluntary. I probably shouldn't have even inserted that portion about Mussolini, but did it more as a giggle toward or at our own "Mussolini".

If I had left that out, the post would have probably been better received, n'est pas?

Perhaps you or your Jewish friends should take advantage of the "contact us" part and ask them exactly what they meant, and why they left out what they did?

goto:

aiceresearch@gmail.com

Edited by brndirt1, 16 February 2009 - 09:08 PM.
forgot something

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#14 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:45 PM

Your own post was quite good and informative, and any jibe at our own "Musso" is well deserved for choosing that very "politically incorrect" namesake :D.

Your idea is good, I will show the linked site to a jewish friend and see what he thinks of it, he may just laugh it off and say I'm seeing malice where none exists.
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#15 LRusso216

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 01:59 AM

Posted by brndrt1:
While different clothing is correct here, sometimes the personal choice of the Jews, i.e. caftans and such; living in segragated communities isn't correct in toto. Since ghettos for Jews had been established when the Roman Empire adopted Christianity under Constantine. But that said, I personally believe this anti-Semitism goes back a LONG, LONG way. It didn’t spring "full grown" from the head of Hitler like Athena from the forehead of Zeus. The suspicion, dislike and distaste for the "other" in any society is far easier to understand in that light, and how easy it was for the Nazis to exploit and focus upon.


Thanks brndrt. This is more expansive of what I was trying to say earlier. Anti-Semitic attitudes were developed long before the 20th century. Hitler and others simply tapped into a ready well of beliefs. Your bit about money-lending and property ownership were spot on.

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Professor Robert Wistrich, a professor at Hebrew University in Israel, deal with anti-Semitism is Britain.

Literature Drenched in Antisemitism

"We also studied Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist, from the Victorian era, in which a Jew is again the archetype of the villain. In addition, there were modern twentieth-century authors who portrayed their characters in a partly antisemitic way. Among them were Edwardian writers like John Galsworthy, H. G. Wells, and Nobel Prize winner T. S. Eliot. The latter was the major twentieth-century poet whose work we had to study. There were few authors devoid of any antisemitism. One exception was George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans), an eccentric though remarkable woman who understood the Jewish plight. Her book Daniel Deronda can be considered a pro-Zionist work, as well as being a classic Victorian novel.
"From my experience with this syllabus, all these authors, however admirable their contribution to English and world literature, were unintentionally transmitting culturally embedded antisemitism to future generations. The influence of such a process should not be underestimated. It is difficult to neutralize antisemitic images like that of Judas-the betrayer of Christ-in the Gospels.
"English literature and culture are drenched in anti-Jewish images, perhaps even more than many of the great literary traditions of Europe. Obviously, though, there are analogies in France, Spain, Germany, Romania, and Russia. One cannot understand attitudes toward Jews in Britain today without taking into account the antisemitism embedded in the national culture. It exists without even being noticed and is often silently soaked up. Many well-educated and well-meaning people fail to understand the long-term impact of such a cultural factor on their society, and are not even aware of their own latent prejudices. That was my experience during the thirty years I lived in Britain and it has got much worse because of anti-Israeli sentiment."


The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries

During the nineteenth century, matters evolved more favorably for the English Jews. Says Wistrich: "The British Empire reached its pinnacle of power and influence. England had become a relatively liberal society. Jews could feel proud and self-confident in proclaiming that they were British citizens. In the Middle East, Britain was even considered a protector of the Jews. It was more tolerant than most of its rivals and more open to intervening and trying to correct the disabilities of Jews in other parts of the world. So this was a kind of ‘golden age.'
"Yet here, too, the picture is more ambivalent than is often assumed. This was particularly so in the late nineteenth century with the immigration of Jews from Russia and Eastern Europe into Britain. At that time there was strong xenophobia. This dislike of foreigners has always been a factor in the insular British mentality. There was a conservative antisemitism resistant to the Jew as an alien who could never be fully English. The Aliens Bill of 1905, directed at halting the immigration of Russian Jews, was a case in point.
"In the twentieth century, after the Russian Revolution, a linkage between Jews and communism that was intertwined with antisemitism became a pronounced theme in British public discourse. There was considerable publicity around the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This ended when Philip Graves, a London Times correspondent, exposed it as a forgery. Until then, one could read editorials in The Times that were based on the belief that Britain had spilled much blood in the First World War only to fall into the hands of a world Jewish conspiracy-a Pax Judaica!
"Similar accusations had been made before that, during the Boer War in South Africa. There were insinuations that a small clique of cosmopolitan Jewish financiers had dragged the British Empire into a futile, useless, expensive, and wholly destructive war for their own narrow financial interests. It was stressed that these ‘foreign Jews' were well-connected in the upper echelons of British politics. Such claims could also be heard from leading figures in the emerging British Labour Party and trade unions, which were promoting an antiwar sentiment resonant with anti-Semitism.
"In the literature around 1900, one often finds examples of a full-fledged left-wing conspiracy theory in which British imperialism is being manipulated and controlled by ‘Anglo-Hebraic' financiers. The entire issue was connected to the discovery of gold in South Africa. This theory was promoted by distinguished English intellectuals, enlightened journalists and writers, as well as the prominent liberal economist John Hobson.
"The entire episode shows striking similarities with trends in left-wing political circles in recent years. The radical Left asserts that former prime minister Tony Blair was led by the nose into a disastrous, neo-imperialist war in Iraq by a clique of rich British and American Jews. The so-called American neoconservative conspiracy had spilled over to Britain, serving Ariel Sharon and the Likud government that was then in power in Israel. British trade unionists, then and now, proved susceptible to this kind of conspiracy theory."


Right-Wing Antisemitism

"The theme of ‘warmongering Jews' became especially popular in the 1930s with the rise of British fascism under its aristocratic leader, Sir Oswald Mosley, who came originally from the Left. British fascism was stopped by active mobilization against it. Contrary to what would happen a few years later, the communists were among the most militant antifascists in the East End. The Jewish community, which included many working-class Jews, had a kind of unwritten alliance with the Left to stop fascism. That tradition unfortunately seems to be dead and buried today.
"In the Second World War, Britain was not willing to attempt to rescue the Jews of Europe in any meaningful way. It was not only imperial Realpolitikthat made the British close the gates of Palestine. We know that officials in the Colonial and Foreign offices and people in the administration in Palestine were far from immune to antisemitic sentiment while supporting an Arab state after the 1939 White Paper.
"During the war the British government was obsessed by the fear that their fight against Hitler could be construed as a war on behalf of the Jews. To avoid ‘fighting a Jewish war' became a kind of alibi for the British authorities to do almost nothing for the Jews. Britain's solemn commitment to create a Jewish National Home in Palestine was in fact betrayed in the hour of greatest need for European Jewry. This is a serious stain on the British record, which until then had many positive sides."


The whole interview is here Institute for Global Jewish Affairs – Global Antisemitism, Anti-Israelism, Jewish Studies

My point is that one can find anti-Semitism almost anywhere. It's roots are far in the past, but have application to pre-WW2 times as well as today.

#16 Wolfy

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:03 AM

Apparently, the US financial services community is the "New Jew"..

#17 Wolfy

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:07 AM

Is there any serious antisemitism left in the US and Europe today?

#18 LRusso216

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 02:18 AM

Here is a story from the Washington Post in 2007. Often today, in Europe and America, anti-Semitism is more slanted toward an ant-Israel position. You can, however, find more virulent strains in the far right wing, extreme Christian movement, as well as fringe groups like the KKK and white supremacist societies.

The New Anti-Semitism

By Denis MacShane
Tuesday, September 4, 2007; Page A17


Hatred of Jews has reached new heights in Europe and many points south and east of the old continent. Last year I chaired a blue-ribbon committee of British parliamentarians, including former ministers and a party leader, that examined the problem of anti-Semitism in Britain. None of us are Jewish or active in the unending debates on the Israeli-Palestinian question.
Our report showed a pattern of fear among a small number of British citizens -- there are around 300,000 Jews in Britain, of whom about a third are observant -- that is not acceptable in a modern democracy. Synagogues attacked. Jewish schoolboys jostled on public transportation. Rabbis punched and knifed. British Jews feeling compelled to raise millions to provide private security for their weddings and community events. On campuses, militant anti-Jewish students fueled by Islamist or far-left hate seeking to prevent Jewish students from expressing their opinions.
More worrisome was what we described as anti-Jewish discourse, a mood and tone whenever Jews are discussed, whether in the media, at universities, among the liberal media elite or at dinner parties of modish London. To express any support for Israel or any feeling for the right of a Jewish state to exist produces denunciation, even contempt.
Our report sent a shock wave through the British government. Tony Blair called us in and told his staff to fan out throughout government departments and produce answers to the problems we outlined. To Britain's credit, the Blair administration produced a formal government response setting out tough new guidelines for the police to investigate anti-Semitic attacks and for universities to stop anti-Jewish ideology from taking root on campuses. Britain's Foreign Office has been told to protest to Arab states that allow anti-Jewish broadcasts.
We made clear that criticism of actions of Israeli politicians was not off-limits. On the contrary, we noted that some of the strongest criticisms of Israeli policy come from Israeli campuses, journalists and political activists, and from the Jewish intellectual elite of many countries. American universities have provided a base for Noam Chomsky and the late Edward Said, among others, to launch campaigns of criticism against Israel, and the bulk of the West's university intelligentsia remains hostile to the Jewish state.
Tony Blair's successor as British prime minister, Gordon Brown, recently said in London that he stood with Israel "in bad times as well as good times," and one of the remarkable turnarounds of the new Labor leadership that governs Britain is a strong support for Israel and its commitment to combating anti-Semitism. The problem is worse in other European countries. The Polish politician, Maciej Marian Giertych, recently published a pamphlet under the auspices of the European Parliament that attacked Jews. No action has been taken against him. France and Germany have seen anti-Jewish attacks. Some references to Jews in the Lithuanian press do not bear translating.
Europe is reawakening its old demons, but today there is a difference. The old anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have morphed into something more dangerous. Anti-Semitism today is officially sanctioned state ideology and is being turned into a mobilizing and organizing force to recruit thousands in a new crusade -- the word is chosen deliberately -- to eradicate Jewishness from the region whence it came and to weaken and undermine all the humanist values of rule of law, tolerance and respect for core rights such as free expression that Jews have fought for over time.
The president of Iran is the most odious example of this new state-sanctioned anti-Semitism. But from the Egyptian Writers Union to the notorious anti-Jewish articles in the charters of Hamas and Hezbollah, hatred of Jews is an integral element of a new ideology rising to prominence in many regions of the world.
Democracies always take their time, often too much time, to recognize and face a totalitarian threat when it is posed in ideological terms. In prewar Europe, conservatives were soft on right-wing ideologies because they were seen as being anti-communist and anti-labor. In postwar Europe, socialists were soft on the Soviet Union because the communists appeared to challenge capitalism and imperialism. Today there is still denial about the universal ideology of the new anti-Semitism. It has power and reach, and it enters into the soft underbelly of the Western mind-set that does not like Jews or what Israel does to defend its right to exist.
A counterattack is being organized. My own House of Commons has led the way with its report. The 47-nation Council of Europe, on which I sit as a British representative, has launched a lengthy inquiry into combating anti-Semitism in Europe. The European Union has produced a directive outlawing Internet hate speech originating within its jurisdiction.
We are at the beginning of a long intellectual and ideological struggle. It is not about Jews or Israel. It is about everything democrats have long fought for: the truth without fear, no matter one's religion or political beliefs. The new anti-Semitism threatens all of humanity. The Jew-haters must not pass.
The writer is a Labor member of the British House of Commons and has served as Britain's Europe minister.

The article is here Denis MacShane - The New Anti-Semitism - washingtonpost.com




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