[Repost from '07. With I/P wars heating up again, it seems worth doing. Please note, I give no opinion as to what is happening in Gaza now.]
I am going to attempt to address a single issue which continuously arises in I/P debates, to everybody's consternation- accusations of anti-Semitism, and cross- accusations of abuse with same. I am going to write about the "dog whistles" of anti-Semitism.
A dog whistle is a whistle used to train dogs- it works in a frequency inaudible to human ears. "Dog Whistle Politics" plays on the term, defining words in speeches intended only for a limited crowd, words that just slip by everybody else. Gorge W. Bush (or his speechwriters, to be exact) is a master of dog whistle politics when addressing the nation but speaking to his "base." His mention of the Dred Scott decision in the '04 State of the Union Address is a perfect example- most people just said "Whaaaat?," but the anti-choice crowd heard If elected to another term, I promise that I will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Curiously, the concept of the dog whistle, in a negative use, can explain both how anti-Semitism can be hidden within apparently legitimate debate, and how those who can't hear in the right frequency INSIST that it's just not there.
There are really four classic anti-Semitic themes that have been for centuries to justify mass murder, mass expulsion, or both. They are that Jews have control the world's media, that Jews have an international conspiracy to control the world's money, that Jews join national governments and undermine them from within for their own purposes, and the "blood libel," a claim that Jews use the blood of Gentiles, usually children, to bake their Passover matzoh. Below I will try to define each of them, discuss their history, and explain why they remain important to this very day.
Let me start with the last, the "blood libel." There are a couple of different forms of the blood libel. One is that Jews drink Christian or Muslim blood outright, and the other is that Jews use Christian or Muslim blood in matzoh. This is a slander with a long and inglorious history. The first iteration was the the story of William of Norwich, recorded in the Peterborough Chronicle. This story from 1144 alleged that a boy, William of Norwich, was kidnapped by Jews, tied to a cross, stabbed in the head to stimulate Jesus' crown of thorns, and killed. His blood was drunk and used in matzoh. This story was a rumor and the Jews were vindicated by five different Popes, but the legend lived on. But it was more than a legend. It was an excuse for slaughter and mayhem.
Jewish leader in the area around Norwich were executed in response to the rumor, and that was just the beginning. Twenty-seven years later, in Blois, France, the accusation arose again, and every Jew in town was burned alive. A contemporary history survives:
At the wicked ruler's command they were taken and put into a wooden house around which were placed thornbushes and faggots. As they were led forth they were told: "Save your lives. Leave your religion and turn to us." They mistreated them, beat them, and tortured them, hoping that they would exchange their glorious religion for something worthless, but they refused. Rather did they encourage each other and say to one another: "Persist in the religion of the Almighty!" [A Christian historian of that time says that some did convert.] ...
It was also reported in that letter that as the flames mounted high, the martyrs began to sing in unison a melody that began softly but ended with a full voice. The Christian people came and asked us s "What kind of a song is this for we have never heard such a sweet melody?" We knew it well for it was the song: "It is incumbent upon us to praise the Lord of all." [This prayer, the Alenu, or Adoration, now recited daily, was then a New Year's prayer with a special] melody].
O daughters of Israel, weep for the thirtyone souls that were burnt for the sanctification of the Name, and let your brothers, the] entire house of Israel, bewail the burning.
Because of our sins these men were not even given a Jewish burial but were left at the bottom of the hill on the very spot where they had been burnt. It was only later the Jews came and buried the s bones. There were about thirtytwo holy souls who offered themselves as a sacrifice to their Creator; and God smelled the sweet savor, for him whom He has chosen does He cause to come night unto Him.
In 1181, the same year Jews were expelled from France, three boys disappeared on a frozen river. Witnesses said Jews slaughtered the boys and three hundred Jews were burned at the stake. The boys bodies were found after the spring thaw, drowned to death but otherwise untouched.
In 1199 the same accusations arose in Erfurt, Bischofsheim, and in 1235 again in Lauda, Fulda. In both, Jews were executed.
The accusations kept on coming, and Jews were executed, throughout the centuries, and across Europe. They were revitalized by the Nazis, and have found a new home in the Arab States today.
The blood libel found its way to the Arab States from a claim in Damascus, in 1840. There, an elderly priest, Padre Tommaso, and his servant disappeared in the Jewish part of town. Jewish leaders were seized and tortured. Sixty of their children were taken and starved to force confessions. Several were ultimately executed. The Tommaso story remains part of the Arab mythos of anti-Semitism. The Matzoh of Zion, a book said to have been written by Syria's Minister of Defense, reiterates this slander. It is even being made into a movie by Egyptian producer Munir Radhi.
It's not just a movie, either. Egypt's biggest newspaper, Al-Ahram, ran an article on October 28, 2001, entitled "A Jewish Matzah Made from Arab Blood." It concluded:
The bestial drive to knead Passover matzahs with the blood of non-Jews is [confirmed] in the records of the Palestinian police where there are many recorded cases of the bodies of Arab children who had disappeared being found, torn to pieces without a single drop of blood. The most reasonable explanation is that the blood was taken to be kneaded into the dough of extremist Jews to be used in matzahs to be devoured during Passover.
The libel persists in non-Arab states as well. You can read about it on lots of Western sites as well. I will not link them, for they are far too loathsome. But I will quote them.
At the dawn of civilization, the blood rite, in which human blood is drunk from the body of a still-living victim, was known to many tribes. However, only one people, that has never progressed beyond the Stone Age, has continued to practice the blood rite and ritual murder. This people are know to the world as Jews. Arnold Toynbee, a noted scholar, has called the Jews "a fossil people."
In so doing, he must have been aware of the fact that they still practice ritual murder and the drinking of human blood (especially Christian blood). As a scholar, he could not have failed to note the many attested incidents of this practice of the Jews, for hundreds of example of ritual murder by the Jews are cited in official Catholic books, in every European literature, and in the court records of all the European nations. ...
They believed that by drinking the blood of a Christian victim who was perfect in every way, they could overcome their physical short comings and become as powerful as the intelligent civilized beings among whom they had formed their parasitic communities. Because of this belief, the Jews are known to have practiced drinking blood since they made their first appearance in history.
The Jews are under a terrible suspicion the world over. Who does not know this, does not understand the Jewish problem. Anyone who merely sees the Jews, as Heinrich Heine (Chaim Bueckberg) described them, "a tribe which secures its existence with exchange and old trousers, and whose uniforms are the long noses," is being misled. But anyone who knows the monstrous accusation that has been raised against the Jews since the beginning of time, will view these people in a different light. He will begin to see not only a peculiar, strangely fascinating nation; but criminals, murderers, and devils in human form. He will be filled with holy anger and hatred against these people.
The suspicion under which the Jews are held is murder. They are charged with enticing Gentile children and Gentile adults, butchering them, and draining their blood. They are charged with mixing this blood into their masses (unleavened bread) and using it to practice superstitious magic. They are charged with torturing their victims, especially the children; and during this torture they shout threats, curses, and cast spells against the Gentiles. This systematic murder has a special name. It is called RITUAL MURDER. ...
"It is also befalling other nations. The accusation is immediately raised loudly, anywhere in the world, where a body is found which bears the marks of ritual murder. Historically, the accusation is raised only against the Jews. Hundreds and hundreds of other races, tribes, and nations live on this earth, but no one has ever attempted to accuse them of the planned murder of children for religious purposes. All nations have hurled this accusation against the Jews, and many great men have confirmed the accusation. Dr. Martin Luther writes in his book THE JEWS AND THEIR LIES: "They stabbed and pierced the body of the young boy Simon of Trent. They have also murdered other children...The sun never did shine on a more bloodthirsty and revengeful people as they, who imagine themselves to be the people of God, and who desire to and think they must murder and crush the heathen. Jesus Christ, the Almighty Preacher from Nazareth, spoke to the Jews: 'Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning.'"
So what is the point of writing this essay? First, I will tell you what it is not. It is not to claim that Jews are the only victims of ___ism in the world. It is also not to claim that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism for, as you can see, nothing here is about Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, etc. No, it is far simpler. It is a primer, an attempt to alert diarists and commenters that there is a certain delicacy in certain accusations, a delicacy (ironically) written in blood. It is to explain why, if you write a diary in the superheated environment of the I-P debates, and choose to describe the people on one side of the issue as "blood-suckers," or "vampires," you are going to hit a nerve that is going to distract from your argument. It is to explain why some phrases, in certain areas, are more hurtful than others. Finally, it is to explain why what you perceive as a perfectly innocent statement, or a criticism of AIPAC, or Likud, or the third Israeli soldier from the right, will be HEARD as coming from an uglier place, with an uglier agenda.
This is not an attempt to censor anybody's writing. It is, quite simply, an attempt to explain why some writing might be unwittingly vituperative, and hence far less effective. As a sideline, it can also be heard as a request NOT to repeat the ancient slanders that have led to so much misery and death.
The most famous example of this theme is the German post-WWI theme of the "stab in the back."
The Stab in the Back myth claimed that the German Army was victorious along the battle lines, but suffered a "stab in the back" from disloyal Jews. I hope I need not go into any detail as to where this led.
At the same time Hitler was exercising his Final Solution, Jews were being sent to Siberia by the Soviets. Jewish disloyalty has been a common theme throughout Russian history, and led to the pogroms of the late 19th century.
Another famous case of accusation of disloyalty is the Dreyfus Affair (also a source for one of my cartoons- it took hours to draw so I'm going to post it here, relevant or not. It was part of a "Cheney through history" series):
Alfred Dreyfus was a French artillery officer. He was accused of being a German spy and was railroaded all the way to Devil's Island. The entire case was not about anti-Semitism, but the hue and cry from the right-wing press MADE it a case about Dreyfus' Jewishness.
But even this was not the beginning of claims of Jewish disloyalty. That is another old canard, and another one responsible for a tremendous amount of tragedy.
In 1278 the King of England needed a way to finance his war in Wales. So Edward I taxed Jewish moneylenders. When they ran out of money he accused them of disloyalty. 300 Jewish leaders were arrested and killed. Jews were expelled from England in 1290, with loss of life, as well as the property that was the REAL reason for the King's actions.
Expulsions occured throughout Jewish history, including Spain in 1492, France in 1182, Portugal in 1497, Germany, repeatedly in individual cities (1236 Emperor Frederick II issued the Servi Camerae Nostrae making Jews the property of the State), and on and on and on.
But expulsion based upon accusations of disloyalty is not just history. It has happened in modern post-WWII times, including in Poland in 1968, where Jews were banned from holding jobs and were forced to emigrate:
The campaign equated Jewish origins with Zionist sympathies and thus disloyalty to Poland. Jewish organizations were shut down, Yiddish was banned and anti-Semitic slogans were used in rallies.
By 1968, most of Poland's 40,000 remaining Jews were assimilated into Polish society, but over the next year, they became the center of an organized campaign to equate Jewish origins with Zionist sympathies and thus disloyalty to Poland. Approximately 20,000 Jews lost their jobs and had to emigrate. The campaign, despite being ostensibly directed at Jews who had held office during the Stalin era and their families, affected most of the remaining Polish Jews, regardless of background.
Even today, accsuations of Jewish disloyalty, often as claims that Jews are more loyal to Israel than their own country, are common. A recent survey of 2,714 people in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland found that 51 percent of respondents believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to the countries they live in.
David Duke has a lot more to say on the subject, but I won't link to him here.
So, again, what is my point? Is it to shut down one half of the I-P debate, or to say you can't argue about AIPAC? Nope. Not at all. It is to explain both the canard, and how the use of it is more likely to shut down debate than to enhance it. If you are writing a diary or a comment about Israel, or Palestine, or AIPAC, etc., if you include an accusation that some of the people involved are disloyal, or more loyal to Israel, or have "dual loyalties" and therefore can't be trusted, you are blowing a dog whistle and will be greeted with rage. It might be a rage you do not understand, but it is not false rage calculated to shut you up. It is rage based upon a thousand years of tribulations, of slaughters and evictions.
This one flows from history, and can be seen throughout history. The "Jewish money-lender" is the central figure in The Merchant of Venice, and actually has some historic validity. You see, usury was considered unChristian (remember Jesus and the money-lenders) and was therefore illegal for Christians. That put people trying to pay for wars or put in new crops (which would not generate cash until the harvest was in) in a difficult position, as nobody was willing to lend money without interest. From this came a fairly common theme- Kings and nobles borrowed money from Jews, paid the interest as long as they thought they needed access to more money, then took all the Jews' property, prosecuted them for usery, or expelled them from the country. Another variation was simply declaring the Jews themselves property of the State.
The word "ghetto" comes from the history of Jews in Venice. Jews were required to live an old foundry, or getti, though they were allowed to leave during daylight hours to lend money.
Jews in the Middle Ages were very restricted in permitted employment. A Rabbi discusses the history HERE:
The same was true during the Middle Ages, long before anybody acknowledged the fact of the time value of money. Feudal lords, for example, needed money to plant their crops, at a season when they might not have much cash on hand. At the same period of time, Jews were generally not permitted to own or work the land, which was really the only way to support a family back then. With regret, Jews often turned to the practice of lending money to gentiles on interest. The Torah permitted the practice, but Jewish money lenders knew that their business was viewed as less than noble. Moreover, the practice of money lending often cast Jews in a bad light, in the eyes of their Christian neighbors. Too many times in our history, Jewish people were persecuted, even murdered or expelled from their homes, when the Christians to whom they lent money could not repay the loans. Even more often, when wealthy medieval lords faced an economic crunch, they continued to live high on the hog, while their serfs suffered. When the poor workers would begin to rebel, they would be told not to blame the wealthy Christian land owners, but rather that the fault rested with supposedly greedy Jewish money lenders. Inevitably, a pogrom would ensue, as understandably angry serfs, their rage displaced, would attack the Jewish village. Tragically, these violent outbreaks of anti-Semitism were not isolated and did not end in the pre-modern era. Hitler, too, utilized calumnies against Jewish bankers to stir up anti-Semitism among his people and to justify genocide.
The Jewish people need not be ashamed of our history as money lenders to gentiles in medieval Europe. The oppressors offered our ancestors very few legitimate methods of earning a living, and in fact needed Jewish money lenders. In some times, and in some places, Jews were highly valued and greatly respected by European nobles who knew they could not achieve their goals and feed their people without borrowing money on interest from Jews.
From this history flows another of history's canards- Jewish control of the world's finances. This Jewish banking conspiracy was not only a big piece of the "Stab in the Back" myth, but also provided the basis for the fictional Czarist "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," perhaps THE classic anti-Semitic screed. The Protocols were used to justify horrible pogroms in Czarist Russia. Modern American history is not immune, either, as the Jewish banker was a theme in Henry Ford's "The International Jew."
Even today if you google "Jewish Banker" you will find things like (and no, I won't link this crap):
The "Jewish Banker Conspiracy" is not a chimera. It is the plan of Rothschild-controlled central bankers to create a totalitarian system to protect their illegal private monopoly of the world's credit. They print government currency for the price of the paper and then lend it to the government with interest.
In 1180 Phillip Augustus of France expelled the Jews and cancelled all debts owed to them, including his own.
In 1356 Charles IV of Germany alienated all Jewish property rights, expelling them from some areas and permitting them to reside in others.
Etc., etc., etc.
So, again, why do I write this? To stifle debate? Not at all. I write it to inform, to tell you that if you are writing a diary and want your words to be read, you should probably avoid references to Jewish banking or Jewish money-lending. Dressing it up in different clothes probably won't help for if you mention "AIPAC money-lenders" (a real example from a Daily Kos comment), there is a very strong probability that you will be accused of being anti-Semitic, not to shut you up, but because you are repeating an ancient and modern canard, one that is a "dog whistle" to those who have personally, and historically, been grossly abused as a result.
This one seems to come directly from The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It was enhanced and reprinted by Ford in "The International Jew." Father Charles Coughlin used his enormous radio following to perpetrate these lies.
Claims that Jews run the media are common today. That alone might be a generalization based upon ownership and participation at a rate higher than the percentage of Jewish population. But "Jews control the media" is only the first half of the claim. The other half is "... and they use that control for their own evil ends." Here is one example (and again, I won't link to sites like Jew Watch or its ilk):
The control of the opinion-molding media is nearly monolithic. All of the controlled media — television, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, motion pictures speak with a single voice, each reinforcing the other. Despite the appearance of variety, there is no real dissent, no alternative source of facts or ideas accessible to the great mass of people which might allow them to form opinions at odds with those of the media masters. They are presented with a single view of the world — a world in which every voice proclaims the equality of the races, the inerrant nature of the Jewish "Holocaust" tale, the wickedness of attempting to halt a flood of non-White aliens from pouring across our borders, the danger of permitting citizens to keep and bear arms, the moral equivalence of all sexual orientations, and the desirability of a "pluralistic," cosmopolitan society rather than a homogeneous one. It is a view of the world designed by the media masters to suit their own ends — and the pressure to conform to that view is overwhelming. ...
When the Disney Company was run by the Gentile Disney family prior to its takeover by Eisner in 1984, it epitomized wholesome, family entertainment. While it still holds the rights to Snow White, under Eisner the company has expanded into the production of graphic sex and gratuitous violence. ...
Warner Music was an early promoter of "gangsta rap." Through its involvement with Interscope Records, it helped popularize a new genre whose graphic lyrics explicitly urge Blacks to commit acts of violence against Whites. ...
Redstone, who actually owns 76 percent of the shares of Viacom ($3 billion), offers Beavis and Butthead as teen role models and is the largest single purveyor of race-mixing propaganda to White teenagers and sub-teens in America and Europe. ...
And how do Jews control the media? Through their control of commerce:
Since the beginning of this century, when Jewish mercantile power in America became a dominant economic force, there has been a steady rise in the number of American newspapers in Jewish hands, accompanied by a steady decline in the number of competing Gentile newspapers — primarily as a result of selective advertising policies by Jewish merchants.
Newspapers, you see, are Jewish-run enterprises, especially PARTICULAR newspapers:
The New York Times was founded in 1851 by two Gentiles, Henry J. Raymond and George Jones. After their deaths, it was purchased in 1896 from Jones’s estate by a wealthy Jewish publisher, Adolph Ochs. His great-grandson, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., is the paper’s current publisher and CEO. The executive editor is Max Frankel, and the managing editor is Joseph Lelyveld. Both of the latter are also Jews.
The Washington Post, like the New York Times, had a non-Jewish origin. It was established in 1877 by Stilson Hutchins, purchased from him in 1905 by John R. McLean, and later inherited by Edward B. McLean. In June 1933, however, at the height of the Great Depression, the newspaper was forced into bankruptcy. It was purchased at a bankruptcy auction by Eugene Meyer, a Jewish financier and former partner of the infamous Bernard Baruch, the industry czar in America during the First World War.
The Washington Post is now run by Katherine Meyer Graham, Eugene Meyer’s daughter. She is the principal stockholder and board chairman of the Washington Post Co. In 1979, she appointed her son Donald publisher of the paper. He now also holds the posts of president and CEO of the Washington Post Co.
The Wall Street Journal, which sells 1.8 million copies each weekday, is the nation’s largest-circulation daily newspaper. It is owned by Dow Jones & Company, Inc., a New York corporation which also publishes 24 other daily newspapers and the weekly financial tabloid Barron’s, among other things. The chairman and CEO of Dow Jones is Peter R. Kann, who is a Jew. Kann also holds the posts of chairman and publisher of the Wall Street Journal.
William Pierce pushed this lie in The Turner Diaries. You might recall a little something that flowed from that particular text.
But the Oklahoma bombing was not the only result.
This man, Buford Furrow,
attacked a Jewish day care center, trying to murder Jewish children.
Why? I guess we will never really know the underlying pathology, but part of what makes somebody feel that it is okay to shoot at children because of their (parent's, really) religion must be a feeling of helplessness, that the people you hate are so powerful you have no other recourse. Perpetuating lies has consequences.
Again, why am I writing this? Just to tell you that if you are writing a diary and decide to talk about how a group with any affiliation with Jews "runs the media," or "controls the New York Times," or anything like that, you are stepping close enough to another old lie to reek of something unpleasant, even if you did not mean to. The result will be to lose the power of your argument, and to start an unneccesary storm of recriminations and counter-recriminations.
I know this will probably turn into another pie fight, but it need not. Nowhere here have I accused anybody of being anti-Semitic. Instead, I have done my best to do a few things. First, to explain why certain "dog whistles" are so strongly heard as anti-Semitic by some while others are either completely confused or absolutley sure the accusations are a conspiracy to censor. Second, to discuss why those "dog whistles" are so shrill to some, as they are not just a matter of "sticks and stones," but have repeatedly led to murder and mayhem, century after century, and can again. Third, to note that these particular "dog whistles" will actually REDUCE the effectiveness of whatever you are trying to say, as they are far more of a distraction that a contribution to any theme you might have. And fourth, and finally, simply to educate, because I know there are people out there, people of good intentions, who simply don't get where this is all coming from. It is coming from the graves of millions, from England to Russia, and all points in between, from Edward I to today, and all times in between.