General Antisemitism

The Death Wish of the Jewish Intellectual Left


This was published by Barry Rubin, at Pajamas Media.   (Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal)

It’s always fascinating to find historical parallels to contemporary events. When one discovers an obscure gem of this type, cutting the stone to let it reflect the light of truth is irresistible.

For well over a century, the Jewish people have been beset by an eleventh plague inside their own house: extreme left-wing intellectuals who urge they throw away their own interests, concerns, and even lives for the supposed higher ones of humanity or the chimera of being morally perfect.

According to this view, their supposed true interests lie in bringing about utopia for everyone, paved by abandoning their own aspirations, dissolving their identity while other groups are encouraged to do the opposite.

While I admire Bertram Wolfe for things he did in later life, he spent thirty earlier years campaigning for Communism. During that period he produced one of the greatest examples in this genre of left-wing calls for Jewish suicide. On April 6, 1939, Wolfe made a speech to the Keep America Out of War Congress, opposing U.S. involvement in the looming war in Europe against the Nazis, the worst persecutor of the Jewish people (so far) in modern times.

Wolfe was then an exemplar of what has become known recently by the name “As-a-Jew.” That is, those who never identify as a member of the Jewish people or religion except when bashing some aspect of it, usually in our era, Israel. So they start their rant by saying, “As a Jew…” I oppose this or that thing. (With the implied meaning: Aren’t I a great and noble person!)

In this tradition, Wolfe’s speech ordered Jews to sacrifice themselves for a left-wing cause based on a distorted left-wing view of reality:

The element that makes the war party [who want to fight Nazi Germany] so much larger in New York than elsewhere in this country, [are] those whose anguish blinds their visions as each day their spirits are bruised and shocked afresh by the daily budget of news of Jewish persecutions throughout the world. Profiting by their anguish which amounts to hysteria, there are those who would sell them the coming war as a war against antisemitism. And this is the more dangerous delusion because the growth of militarism and reaction in this country is bringing with it the growth of antisemitism.

In those days, “New York” was a code word, often used by anti-Semites, for Jews. True, he expresses sympathy to gain credibility but only uses it to warn that the worst thing Jews could do was to advocate a war against Hitler.

Why? The left always portrays the true threat to Jews in America as being from the right-wing. Of course, historically there was real truth in it — Charles Lindbergh made a similar antis-Semitic speech at the time — and of course it was quite true in Europe at the time. Still, everyone remembers that conservative British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain practiced appeasement; nobody remembers that the Labor Party voted against Chamberlain’s last-minute reversal of that policy to rearm Britain’s army.

The threat to the east came from fascism, but the danger in the west came from not fighting fascism. You are free to make a modern-day parallel to that sentence.

Those conservatives in America — as well as the more numerous liberals doing so — advocating the United States ally with Britain and France to fight Nazi Germany weren’t anti-Semitic. On the contrary, the isolationists were anti-Semites. And those anti-Semites on the extreme isolationist right held precisely the same view as Wolfe and the Communists or pacifists on the left. Both extremes were enemies of the Jews, not just one. And you are also free to make a modern-day parallel to that paragraph.

Read the rest of the essay, here.

1 reply »

  1. All very fascinating from Professor Rubin, but he seems to have mangled history somewhat for the sake of contemporary political expedients.

    The questions we might ask are:

    1) Was Wolfe’s previous 1941 statements unique?

    2) What was the state of the American antiwar movement pre WW2?

    3) What was the composition of that movement?

    4) Is it the case, as implied by Professor Rubin, that most *American* conservatives were opposed to Hitler’s regime prior to Pearl Harbour?