|ANTI-SEMITISM - THE DEADLY CYCLE OF
THE LAST 100 YEARS
by Irving Kett (Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired)
|1. The Position of Jews in the United States: 1880-1945
Social discrimination against Jews became the norm in American society soon after the Civil War. When one of my grandfathers
landed in Boston from Europe in the 1880's, he was frequently confronted with the sign NO JEWS OR DOGS ALLOWED.
By 1900, Jewish university students were barred from membership in fraternities and sororities. Jews found it increasingly
difficult to obtain faculty positions. Certain professions, such as engineering and teaching English literature were especially
hostile to Jews.
In the 1920's, Jewish quotas became commonplace in most of the prestigious colleges and universities, curtailing the number of
Jewish students, and the immensely wealthy automobile manufacturer, Henry Ford spent millions of dollars popularising the
fraudulent anti-Semitic tract THE PROTOCOLS OF THE ELDERS OF ZION. In 1924, the Johnson-Reed Immigration
Act of 1924 was enacted - mainly to restrict the number of Jews entering the United States.
American anti-Semitism climbed to even higher levels in the late 1930's and continued to do so during the period 1940-1944. In
the decade before Pearl Harbor, there were reputed to be over 100 active organizations engaged in spewing anti-Semitic hate
propaganda throughout the United States. As a teenager, I remember listening to one of the leading purveyors of Jew-hatred on
nationwide radio, a Catholic priest named Father Charles E. Coughlin from Royal Oak, Michigan, who had a following of
millions. I recall attacks on Jews in Yorkville, Manhattan, by gangs from Fritz Kuhn's German-American Bund. Some of these
organizations were disbanded when the United States entered the war, but others took their place under different guises. The
hatred for Jews, promoted and nurtured during many years, had devastating results - particularly for European Jewry. One of
the reasons why American Jews maintained such a low profile during WWII, even when reports of the mass extermination of
their European brethren could no longer be doubted, was the fear of pogroms and official anti-Semitism in the American Jewish
During World War II, I served as a soldier in the US Army. Most military training camps were in the south and a high percentage
of training personnel were southerners. As a youngster born and raised in New York City, I was shocked at the intensity of
anti-Semitism I was suddenly confronted with. Everyone knew that the US entered the war only in response to the December
7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Germany ordered her navy to attack US shipping the following day and formerly declared
war on the United States on December 11th. Yet most American soldiers were convinced they had been forced to fight in a war
that could only benefit the Jews. I served in the ranks and saw combat in the Pacific theatre, but there is no reason to think that
in the European theatre the sentiments were different.
Surveys published in the New York Times, Time and American Mercury, show that during the period starting with summer
1940 until the end of World War II 15%-24% of respondents to polls considered Jews to be "a menace to America." These
and many other publications reported that Jews were considered a greater threat to the security and welfare of the US than
Japanese or Germans with whom America was at war in a life and death struggle. In Congress, attacks on Jews could be so
vicious that a Jewish Congressman from New York, Michael Edelstein, collapsed and died from a heart attack after hearing a
Nazi-style diatribe from Congressman John Rankin of Mississippi. Anti-Semitism in the United States climbed to very high
levels in the 1930's and according to Elmo Roper, a leading pollster of that era, reached its historic peak in 1944.
2. The Situation of Jews in Germany: 1870-1939
The situation of Jews in Europe after World War I varied. The status of Jews in Eastern Europe was vastly inferior to that of
Jews in Western Europe, with differences from country to country. In general, the Jews of Western Europe fared similarly to
the Jews in the United States. The prominence of Jews in the Bolshevik revolution that toppled the Russian Tsar created powerful anti-Semitic forces on both sides of the Atlantic. Probably in no country, however, did the Jews do so well or feel
so secure as in the Germany of the 1920's.
According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica, in Germany 44.8% of Jewish marriages between 1921 and 1927 were to a Gentile
spouse. Danger seemed remote. The Weimar Republic was a liberal state where Jews were free to rise to the top - and many
did so, especially in the arts, the sciences, business and the media. The Jews of Germany assimilated rapidly and often totally.
They felt themselves to be thoroughly German. The ablest Jews loved Germany because it was the best place to live and
to work. It also had by far the best educational system. As a nation, it duly achieved universal adult literacy. Between 1870
and 1933, German universities were the finest in almost every discipline. Moreover, between 1870 and 1914 Germany emerged
as the most powerful state in the world and the Jews were an integral part of this achievement. So how did this highly civilized
nation turn with such violent, organized brutality against the Jews?
In Imperial Germany, Jews could not possibly imagine that they would be persecuted in the future. Germany was then probably
the most staid, law-abiding country in the world. The German Jews' complete confidence in Germany was exquisitely portrayed
in Katherine Ann Porter's stupendous novel Ship of Fools. Germany was defeated, humbled and economically ruined by World
War I. It is a moral tribute to the Weimar Republic that it took 15 years after Germany's military surrender in 1918 for their
persecution to begin. As usual, they were the most convenient scapegoat.
3. Arab Anti-Semitism and the Arab Response to Zionism: 1920-2003
There was little Arab opposition to Zionism between the official launching of the movement by Theodore Herzl in Basel in
1897 and the end of World War I, probably because most Arabs still felt powerless to free themselves from Turkish, British
or French colonial regimes during this period. The first of many Arab riots against the Yishuv, as Palestine's Jewish community
was called before the establishment of the State of Israel, took place in April 1920. It's main instigator was Haj Amin
Al-Husseini. The British sentenced him to 10 years in prison, but reprieved him in 1921. From then until 1948 many hundreds
of Palestinian Jews were killed and thousands wounded by Arab attacks.
Sir Herbert Samuel, a Jew and an ardent Zionist, was the first British High Commissioner for Palestine (1920-1925). Britain
had received a mandate from the League of Nations to administer the territories stipulating that a National Home for the Jews
should be established there. Yet Sir Herbert appointed Haj Amin Al-Husseini as Grand Mufti of Jerusalem shortly after his
release from jail in 1921. It was an attempt to appease Arab nationalism and preserve the balance of power between fiercely
rival Arab clans. It proved a disastrous mistake that cost Britain dearly.
Haj Amin Al-Husseini remained Grand Mufti until 1937. He was a violent anti-Zionist and, like most fanatically religious
Arabs, hated Jews intensely. He orchestrated the murderous anti-Jewish riots of 1929, as well as those in 1936, which
continued with some interuptions until 1939. These activities helped to make him an international figure and a rallying point
for anti-British Arabs and the Middle East and for fascists around the world. Eventually, he had a valid claim to being
instrumental in killing more Jews than any other Arab. From the Mufti's sanctuary on the Haram esh-Sharif (the Temple
Mount), he organized the first jihad against the Jews. He succeeded to make an independent Arab Palestine and opposition to Zionism a pan-Arab and pan-Islamic goal. He also organized the systematic killing of elements in Arab society that wished to cooperate with the Jews of the Yishuv for the benefit of both peoples.
In 1937, the violence instigated by the Grand Mufti became so unbearable to Britain that he had to escape from Palestine and
found refuge in Lebanon, where the French welcomed him. In 1941, with German encouragement, he helped to organize a
revolt of the Arabs in Iraq against the British. When it failed, he made his way to Berlin, where he remained until the end of
World War II as the guest of Adolf Hitler. While in Berlin, he broadcast Nazi propaganda to the entire Middle East. He
organized the Muslims in Bosnia, Albania and Kosovo for the German war effort and against the Jews. He constantly urged
the Nazis to exterminate the Jews of Europe at a faster pace. His hatred for the Jews surpassed Hitler's. At the 1946/47
Nuremberg War Trials, Adolf Hitler's deputy, Dieter Wisliceny, testified "The Mufti was one of the instigators of the
systematic extermination of European Jewry and has been a collaborator and advisor of Eichmann and Himmler and the
execution of this plan."
After World War II, the former Grand Mufti managed to escape from Europe and ensconced himself in Cairo. From there he
continued to encourage the Arab assault on the Palestinian Jews. In 1948, Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi, Jordanian and Lebanese
forces invaded Palestine but were defeated. The work of Haj Amin Al-Husseini was continued by Gamal Abdul Nasser of
Egypt, who created the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964.
At first led by Achmed Shukairy, the PLO was soon taken over by the Grand Mufti's kinsman, Yasser Arafat. Arafat's goal
is to destroy the Jewish State. He wants to complete the extermination of the Jews begun by Hitler. His terrorism - popluar
among the Arabs and even in some West Euorpean circles - has served as a model for all other terrorist groups, helping them
to recruit members and raise funds. Arafat's policy towards Arabs who desire to cooperate with the Jews of Israel is no less
murderous than that of Mufti's was.
The Egyptian connection with the PLO easily survived the 1979 peace treaty with Israel. Anwar Sadat, who signed this
treaty and was consequently assassinated by Islamic fundamentalists, was no friend of the Jewish State. After signing it, he
explained to Hafez Asad of Syria that their strategic goals were identical, but to achieve them Israel had to be deprived of the
Sinai Peninsula. And in 1954, while editor of Al Ahram, Egypt's leading newspaper, he said that the only thing he had against
Hitler was that he did not kill all the Jews.
Significantly, the peace treaty made no difference to the vicious outbursts against Israel in the state-controlled Egyptian press,
including Caricatures of Jews modeled on the Nazi Der Sturmer. When Hosni Mubarak succeeded Sadat the provisions
relating to normalization and abstention from anti-Israeli propaganda were systematically disregarded, perhaps because Israeli
governments took no steps to counter this (e.g. stopping the imports of Egyptian oil or threatening anti-Egyptian propaganda
in the United States.) Besides, Egyptians began to be persecuted for advocating normalization with Israel. Mubarak has never
visited Israel and probably feels contempt for Israeli leaders visiting him. But the peace treaty may survive for as long as the
United States arms Egypt and supports it financially.
Elsewhere in the Arab world, with the possible exception of Jordan, the situation is no better. Everywhere (Jordan included),
the terrorist attacks of the two Palestinian intifadas have intensified the hatred of the Jewish State in the Arab street. Terrorism
against infidels is popular. The hatred of Jews began with Prophet Mohammed. It is preached in mosques and taught at
school. Eradicating it is a well-nigh impossible task.
The mediaeval charge that Jews drink the blood of Muslim children and bake Passover Matzot with it has been periodically
surfacing in the Arab world during the 19th and 20th centuries. Syria's current Minister of Defense, Mustafa Tias, published
an Arab bestseller in 1983 entitled The Matzah of Zion. It featured "proof" of the veracity of this blood libel. A few years ago,
Egypt's Al Ahram "reported" that the libel was "true". And in 2002 the Egyptian television began to broadcast a series on this
subject. There is no sign and no hope of a decline in Arab anti-Semitism during the 21st century. But if Islam receives a major
military blow, it may be concealed and lay dormant for a while.
4. The Jewish Condition In 2003 - 70 Years After the Rise of Hitler
For approximately fifty years after the end of World War II and the Holocaust, anti-Semitism seemed, at long last, a spent
force in the world's more enlightened societies. Except for the Arabs and Russia, all indicators pointed to a drastic decline in
antagonism towards the Jews. Yet subsequent events showed that this was but a temporary somnolence from which arousal
was easy. The two identifiable factors that mainly contributed to the latest anti-Semitic outbreaks were the Arab-Israel
conflict and the Moslem attack on the United States on September 11th 2001.
An interesting difference between the current wave of anti-Semitism and previous ones is that the menace now comes chiefly
from the so-called political Left instead of from the extreme political Right. In every West European country there are
shocking reports of anti-Semitic articles, speeches, and actions reminiscent of the tragic 1930's and 1940's. Anti-Semitism
is as rife in the France of today as it was a century ago at the time of the Dreyfus Affair. It is resurgent in Germany and
Austria, Belguim and Holland, Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
The current anti-Semitism is qualitatively different from the incitement against Jews by the Catholic and Lutheran churches in
the 19th century. It is the conjoined product of religious Islam and the largely atheist left. By placing terrorist on the same
moral plane as their victims, the left denies the Jewish People of Israel even the moral right of self-defense.
In Britain, the novelist A.M. Wilson published an article in the London Evening Standard on October 22nd 2000 stating his
"reluctant conclusion" that the Jews of Israel have no right to exist as a nation. A more recent article by Petronella Wyatt in
the London Spector reported that "since September 11th anti-Semitism and its open expression have become respectable at
London dinner tables." Mrs. Wyatt also recounts being told by a liberal member of the House of Lords, "the Jews have been
asking for it, and now, thank God, we can say what we think at last." The British Government instituted an embargo on
military equipment ordered by Israel. And British ambassador Sherard Cowper-Cole clearly had Arafat's terror against Israel
in mind when he commented at a recent High-level conference in Berlin, "We can all think of times in history when the use
of terrorism has been justified." Recently, Prime Minister Tony Blair invited Syria's dictator Beshar Assad to London where
he was accorded red carpet treatment. Assad is undeniably one of the world's leading sponsors of terrorism - mainly against
Jews but against Americans too. Israel's Foreign Minister could not even meet his counterpart in London.
Oriana Fallaci, a 73-year-old Italian journalist of great moral persuasion, who never minces words or hankered after "political
correctness," wrote a brilliant expo on the anti-Semitism sweeping Western Europe. In France, they tried to ban her best-
selling book The Rage and The Pride supposedly because it was offensive to Islam. I take the liberty of quoting from her
recent article I Stand With Israel: I Stand With The Jews.
"I find it shameful that the state-run television stations in Italy contribute to the resurgent anti-Semitism, crying only over
Palestinian deaths while playing down Israeli deaths, glossing over them in unwilling tones. I find it shameful that in their
debates they host with much difference the scoundrels with turban or kaffiah who yesterday sang hymns to the slaughter in
New York and today sing hymns to the slaughters in Jerusalem, in Haifa, in Netanya, in Tel-Aviv.
"I find it shameful that they are on the side of the very ones who inaugurated terrorism, killing us on airplanes, in airports,
at the Olympics, and who today entertain themselves by killing Western journalists. By shooting them, by abducting them,
cutting their throats, decapitating. (There's someone in Italy who, since the appearance of The Rage and The Pride would
like to do the same to me. Citing verses of the Koran he exorts his 'brothers' in the mosque to chastise me in the name of
Allah. To kill me. Or rather to die with me. Since he is someone who speaks English well, I'll respond to him in English:
"I find it shameful and see in all this the rise of a new fascism, a new Nazism that is more grim and revolting because it is
conducted and nourished by those who hypocritically pose as do-gooders, progressives, communists, fascists, Catholics,
or rather Christians, and who have the gall to label a warmonger anyone like me who screams the truth. I have often had
disagreements with the Israelis, and in the past I have defended the Palestinians a great deal. Maybe more than they deserve.
But I stand with the Jews. I defend their right to exist, to defend themselves, not to let themselves be exterminated the second
time. I am discusted by the anti-Semitism of many Italians, of many Europeans. I am ashamed of this shame that dishonors
my country and Europe. At best, it is not a community of states, but a pit of Pontius Pilates. And even if all the inhabitants
of this planet were to think otherwise, I would continue to think so."
The events of September 11th 2001 acted as such potent catalyst of anti-Semitism because they led consciously or sub-
consciously, to an enormous fear of the Moslems in the West. In Western Europe this was accentuated by the enormous
influx of Moslems often with extremist views and an admiration for their terrorists, during the last four decades. Very few
of these Moslems became in any real sense part of Western society. Usually they kept themselves apart, living according
to their own social dictates forged in the distant past, while expecting their new home country to accept and even finance
this, though considerable funds were invested by some Arab oil states (especially Saudi Arabia) in buiding mosques and
other communal centers for them. The indigenous Western population felt trapped. Expelling these people was not
feaseable, not only because it contravened the accepted ideas of open borders and globalism, but also since the West needed
Moslem oil and gas. Treating them badly or with suspicion might provoke terrorist acts. So the Jews again assumed the role
of a psychologically essential scapegoat for a detested situation they had nothing to do with. Basically, the support of
Palestinian terrorism against Israel has similar roots: "I fear they may do it to us too!"
B. The United Nations - "The Moral Conscience of The World"
Jeanne Kirkpatrick was United States ambassador to the UN when it equated Zionism with Racism in 1975. She said that
she was shocked by the intensity of the anti-Semitism she encountered there. The resolution accusing Israel of racism passed
by an overwhelming majority in the General Assembly, dispite strong US opposition.
Israel holds about one-thousandth of the world's population. Yet despite the recurrent massacres in Africa involving millions
of people. The conquest of Tibet by the Chinese, the bloody conflict over Kashmir on the Indian sub-continent and decades
of slaughter in Indonesia and the Philippines, fully three-quarters of all resolutions passed at the United Nations during the
last 35 years involved the condemnation of Israel - the sole beacon of democracy and Western values in the Middle East.
The UN has become the leading instrument lending legitimacy to Jew-hatred and the war against Israel. This worldwide
assault is not directed against the behavior of the Jews of Israel but against their very existance. Anti-Semitism today is more
powerful than it has been ever since it went into temporary eclipse with the liberation of the Nazi extermination camps in
1945. The UN, in sharp contrast to its predecessor, the League of Nations, which approved the British Mandate of Palestine
on condition that a Jewish National Home be established there, has done about everything it could to meet the territorial
demands of the PLO and Syria and give Israel indefensible borders. Even UN Resolution 194, which would submerge the
Jewish State beneath a flood of Arab refugees, effectively destroying it, has not been revoked. If the UN gets its way (which
owing to the US veto is by no means certain), we might yet enter another phase of Hitler's "final solution of the Jewish
"The Arabs and their European sycophants are fostering a new, virulent hatred of the Jews and their State. This new, Nazi-
like animus singles out Jews not only for discriminatory treatment but also for targeted terrorist assault. One of the peaks
of the current propaganda campaign was the UN-sponsored anti-Racisim conference in Durban, South Africa in September
2001. The leading defamers were the Arab states, including Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel. Other Moslem
countries and many supposedly "progressive, human rights conscious" Western non-governmental organizations sponsored
them. Terms such as "Nazi", "ethnic cleansing" and even "Holocaust" have been subsumed by the Jew-haters against the
Jewish victims of Hitler's crimes to benefit the PLO of Yasser Arafat. The wheel has come full circle. For Arafat is a
relative and spiritual successor of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who urged Hitler to exterminate the
The use of the United Nations for the moral undermining of Israel is not a trivial matter. The aim is Israel's total isolation,
so that at the appropriate time it may have to face overwhelming powerful forces alone and disappear from the map. And
the resulting mass murder of Jews may not be confined to Palestine.
C. Anti-Semitism in American Universities and Colleges
The present administration of President George W. Bush is probably the most supportive of Israel the US ever had. It is
easy to imagine the dire consequences of the loss of this support to Israel and the Jewish People. However, large segments
of US population are hostile to Israel - and by extension to the Jews. These include Moslem groups that have been growing
more rapidly than the rest. The only group which, as such, is really friendly to Israel are the fundamentalist Christians, whose
motives are moral and theological. Their important weight within the Republican Party influences the foreign policy of this
party. On the other hand, the Democratic party is slowly being taken over by radicals and Third World elements who are
viscerally pro-Arab and anti-Semitic.
Nowhere has this dangerous constellation of forces been more evident than on university campuses - among both faculty
members and students. A similar situation existed in Germany during the halcyon days of the liberal Weimar Republic in the
1920's. Then, the Nazi Party flourished on the university campuses of Germany but did poorly at the polls. The virus of
Jews-hatred is spreading from an increasing number of American colleges and universities to the elites of the United States.
At some point, we should be prepared for US foreign policy and societal norms toward Jews to be affected by this. One can
only hope that the situation of the Jews in America will not deteriorate to the level now prevailing in Europe.
The past three years have been particularly difficult for Jewish students on American campuses. There has been a sharp rise
in the number of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic demonstrations, posters, flyers and speeches from coast to coast. Numerous
ugly incidents are being reported and supporters of Israel feel the growing hostility around them. A disturbing phenomenon
is the appearance of "Anti-Zionist Week" on many campuses with the support of academic administrations. Jonathan Berg,
a 21-year-old senior at the University of San Diego, complained that much "very, very anti-Semitic stuff is passed around,"
from faked Talmudic quotations saying that Jewish males may violate any non-Jewish females over the age of three to
quotations from The Protocols of Elders of Zion.
At the University of Chicago, Jewish students formed a coalition which is holding the university responsible for the atmosphere
of intimidation and hate faced by the Jewish students. They noted that the increase in anti-Semitic incidents kept pace with
the escalation of violence in the Middle East and related that an obviously Jewish student was walking on the campus one
evening when a car drove up beside him its inmates shouting "Death to the Jews. Hitler should have finished you off when
he had the chance." The group wrote: "These incidents are symptomatic of an increasingly alarming problem for Jewish
students [here]. Jews are being mistreated and intimidated on campus. In the University of Chicago, anti-Semitism has been
made acceptable, even fashionable, by a long process of academic delegitimizing of Israel and Judaism. Outbursts against
other religions and ethnicities, including Islam, are not considered acceptable and they occur much more rarely.
[Responsible for] this delegitimizing are professors, students, administrators, and a host of institutional practices."
On May 7th 2002, a major anti-Semitic incident occurred at the State University of California in San Francisco. Professor
Laurie Zoloth, Director of its Jewish Studies program attended the Hillel's Peace in the Middle East rally with several
hundred students, faculty and members of the Jewish community who heard speeches supporting Israel and sang Hebrew
songs. Arab supporters advanced on a group of 50 students who stayed behind to clean up. Professor Zoloth described what
ensued: "As the counter-demonstrators poured into the plaza screaming at the Jews 'get out or we will kill you!' and
'Hitler did not finish the job,' I turned to the police and to every administrator I could find and asked them to remove the
counter-demonstrators from the plaza, to maintain the separation of 100 feet that we had been promised. The police said
that they had been told not to arrest anyone, and that if they did 'it would start a riot.' I told them that it was already a riot ...
This is not civic discourse, this is not free speech, this is the Weimar Republic with brown shirts it cannot control." She
noted that in the e-mail she circulated that the anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and anti-American atmosphere pervading the campus
extended far beyond the scope of one protest that spun out of control. She concluded: "After nearly seven years as
Director of Jewish Studies and nearly two decades of life here as student, faculty member and wife of the Hillel Rabbi ...
I am saddened to see the San Francisco State University return to its notority as a place that teaches anti-Semitism, hatred
for America and hatred .... for the Jewish State of Israel ..."
In the United States, the principle bastions of political correct left-wing causes - academia and the media, where Jews are
greatly over-represented - are the hotbeds of Israel bashing, with many self-hating Jews allied with the anti-Semites. At
the other end of the political spectrum, the strongest support for Israel comes from the Bible belt. The fact that the United
States is now probably the most Christian country in the world is undoubtedly an important factor helping to maintain the
US role as Israel's champion, though this is mainly apparent when the administration is Republican. Today, the voices
defending Israel can be heard only rarely in the parts of society where many Jews ashamed of their heritage cooperate with
anti-Semites. They come mainly from religious Christians who back Israel for theological reasons and from Orthodox Jews
proud of thier religion.
The unholy anti-Semitic alliance between Arab terrorists, both fundamentalist and radical, and the radical left in the US
and especially in Western Europe (whose ranks are replete with academics and "progressive intellectuals") threatens
world Jewry as well as the State of Israel. Less obviously, it also threatens to destroy Western democracy and liberal
The Holocaust did not happen in a vacuum. It was preceded by an intense propaganda campaign of the kind we are
witnessing now. Jew-haters demonstrated in the streets and on the campuses, carrying placards with caricatures of Jews
and inflaming passions, just as today. They wrote inflammatory articles and preached inflammatory sermons. The fiendish
nature of the Jews they painted made it permissible, indeed desirable to kill them in any possible manner to rid the world of
the terrible Jewish scourge. This is no time for Jews anywhere, including the United States to be complacent and think they
will not be affected, however pro-Palestinian they may be. A second Holocaust, when Jews in Europe and in America are
killed merely for being Jews, is no longer impossible.