The Universality of Anti-Semitism
“In researching Jewish history, the investigator discovers a wide variance of written material. Work by authors expressly critical of Jews (and they include a surprisingly number of Jewish commentators, mostly “apostates” of one kind or another) is invariably labeled by today’s political conventions to be “anti-Semitic” in nature. There is a large body of such material extending throughout history, written by critics wherever Jews were to be found. Some of the criticism is ridiculous; the accusations of Hitler are absurdly exaggerated. But other observations about Jewish life by non-Jews is startlingly consistent over two thousand years. Consistently credible Gentile themes in attacks against Jews include Jewish elitism, their insularity and clannishness, their disdain for non-Jews, their exploitive and deceptive behavior towards those not their own, the suspicion of Jewish national loyalties and allegiance to the lands they lived in, excessive Jewish proclivity for money and economic domination, and an economic “parasitism” (the concentration of Jews in lucrative non-productive fields of finance — usury, money lending, etc. — at the expense of non-Jewish communities).
“Anti-Semitism,” remarks Oliver Cox, “is an ancient social attitude probably coeval with the rise of Jewish tribalism. It is thus an immemorial trait identified with Jewish culture … Anti-Semitism has been identified with Jewish behavior in the sense that it is a reaction of other groups to the Jews’ determination to assert and perpetuate their identity … Unlike race prejudice … anti-Semitism or intolerance is essentially an inherent social response — a retaliation [against] the Jewish determination to resist merger of their civilization with that of a host people” (Cox, 183-184).”
The French Jewish intellectual (and eventual Zionist), Bernard Lazare, among many others in history, noted this obvious fact in 1894, long before the Nazi persecutions of Jews and resultant institutionalized Jewish efforts to deny, or obfuscate, crucial — and central — aspects of their history:
“Wherever the Jews settled [in their Diaspora] one observes the development of anti-Semitism, or rather anti-Judaism … If this hostility, this repugnance had been shown towards the Jews at one time or in one country only, it would be easy to account for the local cause of this sentiment. But this race has been the object of hatred with all nations amidst whom it settled. Inasmuch as the enemies of Jews belonged to diverse races, as they dwelled far apart from one another, were ruled by different laws and governed by opposite principles; as they had not the same customs and differed in spirit from one another, so that they could not possibly judge alike of any subject, it must needs be that the general causes of anti-Semitism have always resided in [the people of] Israel itself, and not in those who antagonized it (Lazare, 8).”
While fascists on the political right like Hitler decried the Jews, 18th and 19th century leftists like socialists Charles Fourier, Alphonse Tousenel, Pierre Le Roux, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Johann Gottlieb Fichte were, according to Jewish analysis in our own era, also vehemently irrational anti-Semites. These men wrote tracts like this, by Proudhon: “The Jew is by temperament an anti-producer, neither a farmer nor an industrialist nor even a true merchant. He is an intermediary, always fraudulent and parasitic, who operates, in trade as in philosophy, by means of falsification, counterfeiting, and horse-trading” (Lewis, 111).
“I see no other means of protecting ourselves against them,” wrote Fichte, “[other] than by conquering their Promised Land and sending them all there” (Lewis, 111-112). Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin declared that Jews were “one exploiting sect, one people of leeches, one single devouring parasite closely and intimately bound together not only across national boundaries, but also across all divergences of political opinion … [Jews have] that mercantile passion which constitutes one of the principle traits of their national character” (Lewis, 113).”