Introduction: When I began this journey one year and 48 articles ago I had hoped today to have at least some sense of a direction regarding, "the future of the Jewish People." Instead I seem still at nearly the point at which I began. The West''s Jewish problem is in sharper focus, but how to overcome Jewish Denial regarding the Holocaust, the Key to a "Jewish Solution" to the West''s Jewish Problem, is not. And that, after all, is the purpose of my writing.
Neither did the secularization of Christendom following the Enlightenment and the emancipation of the Jews diminish antisemitism. The opposite. With “enlightenment” came science, and it was by way of science that Jews would remain excluded from society: alien by “nation,” then by “race,” and ultimately as not even human.
The Past: Two thousand years ago Judea was locked in a desperate war against pagan Rome which would end in the destruction of Jerusalem, temple and soveregnty. Nation in shambles, despairing that God had not intervened with a messiah to lead the Jews to victory over the pagans, some Jews sought solace in a transcendental "messiah," one providing salvation after death. THe sect was a tiny minority in Judea and took root, competed with Judaism proper for converts among the pagans, in the Diaspora. the competition, at least for the sect, was intense and the leterature that would eventually be adopted as "scripture" reflects the depth of that intensity. While Paul and the gospels can be "interpreted" to to soften offending passages, some lines of the gospels are so graphic in portraying purported "Jewish" offenses agains "Christians" and their messiahthat even today they haunt the relationship between parent and daughter.
Over the months I have referred to what I consider the most dangerous such examples. Matthew 27:25 condemns "the Jews" eternally for what it portrays as their murder of Jesus while, peppered throughout the John gospel are references to "the Jews" as Satan''s "children," his allies in a war against Christianity. From scripture and theology they were morphed in popular culture into thos mediaeval stereotypes still familiar in Western culture today.
Nor is the Church the only source of anti-Judaism/antisemitism. Martin Luther, father of Protestantism, provided a "modern" face to Jew-hatred which Nazi war criminal Julius Streicher and others at their Nuremberg trial would offer as justifying, as having inspired the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.
The Future: What is above outlined is a historically-supported and deep-seated antipathy towards Jew and Judaism, people and religion in Western society with no possibility of escape. Nor is this view original to me: several eminent Christian theologians, Catholic and Protestant arrived at similar conclusions. Although we Jews are believers in education to counter antisemitism there is little evidence to support our belief. On the contrary. In an act described as “contrition” for the part centuries anti-Jewish persecution contributed to making the Holocaust possible, in 1965 the Church adopted Nostre Aetate. The document “absolves” present day Jews from responsibility for the death of Jesus by, in part “redefining” certain words, and instructing Catholics through parish priests to read scriptural anti-Judaism as applying only to the first century. But surveys of antisemitism in the years following Nostre Aetate reflected not a decrease, but an increase in antisemitism. If even the authority of the Church fails to educate Catholics away from antisemitism, what likelihood that Jewish educative efforts can overcome twenty centuries of prejudice?
Over the past year I referred to opinion surveys (e.g. ADL, 2011) indicating the persistence, slightly rising, slightly falling but always present, of antisemitism in the United States. Should the fact that nearly every non-Jew interviewed in those surveys displayed some degree of antisemitism, and that there is a consistent 10% bedrock of Americans expressing extreme antisemitic sentiments not, at the very least, give pause?
While there are no precise studies of antisemitism in Germany before the Third Reich, considering the degree to which Jews assimilated into that country, Jewish prominence in government, the arts and science; that the rate of Jewish intermarriage was higher than the alarming rate in the United States today; antisemitism may have been comparable, or even lower among Germans before Hitler than among Americans today.
Of course that was before National Socialism slowly “educated” Aryan Germans towards “racial” antisemitism; before the 1935 Nuremberg Laws removed Jews from German society; before Christians were classified Mischlinge, non-Aryan, due to a Jewish grandparent. Today Nuremberg and “Jewish by a grandparent” are topics only interesting to historians. But for a decade they were legal in Germany and as such remain precedent for a future “Germany.”
That the Final Solution failed to achieve the goal Hitler set for it in the 1920’s was due to Germany losing the war. That Germany would lose was unclear to the Allies as late as 1942, when the Wehrmacht became bogged down in the Russian winter. But what if Roosevelt had lost the 1940 election (two years before Russia); what if America’s charismatic young hero Charles Lindbergh, an open admirer of Adolph Hitler and Nazism, chose to run against Roosevelt as a Republican? Under Lindbergh the US would almost certainly have remained neutral. There is a good likelihood that an anti-communist President Lindbergh would have joined Hitler’s crusade against the “godless” Russians.
I, for one, have no illusions that had Germany won the war that the Final Solution would have ended at the English Channel.
American antisemitism today is mostly “invisible in public view.” Opinion surveys represent antisemitism as a consistent presence, plus or minus one or two percent. During the First World War the Brahmin leadership of American Zionism described America as “exceptional” in providing a welcoming home to Jews. American “Zionism,” Brandeis concluded, was about building a homeland in Palestine for our needy co-religionists “over there,” certainly not for Americans. Only five years later Congress passed the antisemitic Immigration Restriction Act of 1923 intended to ban immigration by those same “Eastern Jews,” a law that would seal the fate for European Jewry trapped by the Holocaust.
Denial means willful disregard of facts because we choose not to see them. That Jews in America rarely experienced pogroms does not mean that antisemitism is absent, or even less intense than in Europe. If such prominent persons of the day as Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh were public antisemites and openly admired of Adolf Hitler; if American industrialists such as the Carnegies, Harrimans and Rockefellers funded racist eugenic studies in Hitler’s Germany (and America) that would justify the Holocaust: does that suggest that America was an island of security in a world bent on our extermination?
While we rarely admit this openly, Jews in America today are aware of our lack of security. How else explain that when, for example, Jonathan Pollard was arrested for spying for Israel that we collectively blamed him for subjecting us to the “dual loyalty” canard? Or that our defensiveness fits a pattern, demonstrated also during the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg twenty years earlier? Or that it took young Palestinian Jews, the Bergson Group, to arouse us and lead the protest against American passive complicity in the murder of European Jewry?
I opened this discussion with an expression of despair that I feel little closer to a response to Jewish denial today than when I began writing a year ago. Of a Jewish solution to the West’s Final Solution I have little more than hints. Regarding a future Final Solution in the West I am today more convinced than ever. But how breach Jewish Denial? Because if we cannot even accept that the Holocaust was neither “unique” nor “mysterious” but the most recent and dangerous in an unfolding historical process, how deal with the next Shoah certainly in our future?
Recent writings in this Series: