Antisemitism In The Contemporary World. Edited by Michael Curtis. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 1986, 333 pp., $42.50. ISBN 0-81330157-2.
Reviewed by Paul Grubach
In November 1983, a conference … "Antisemitism in the Contemporary World" … was held at Rutgers University. This book, a collection of papers which were presented by renowned scholars attending the conference, deals with what its authors perceive as current expressions of anti-Semitism. According to a paragraph on the dust jacket, the volume addresses "the questions of whether there are new forms of antisemitism [sic - hereafter anti-Semitism], whether there has been a resurgence of antisemitism in the current age." Alleged anti-Semitism in the following entities … the Soviet Bloc nations, the Arab world, the Islamic and Christian religions, American blacks, Western leftist and religious groups, opponents of political Zionism, and the Holocaust revisionist movement - are some of the more prominent subjects dealt with in the book.
Unluckily, if the reader is looking for fair and objective analyses of the causes and effects of anti-Jewish feeling, he certainly will not find it here. Instead, the analyses of alleged anti-Semitism are quite flagrantly constructed to satisfy two objectives. First, all blame (the burden of guilt) for the avowedly ubiquitous phenomenon of anti-Jewish antipathy is shifted onto gentile groups, while, simultaneously, Jewish groups are exonerated. The substantial evidence which shows that certain powerful segments of world Jewry (organized Zionism, the State of Israel, Jewish Marxists) are to a significant extent responsible for many outbreaks of anti-Semitism is totally ignored. 
Secondly, nearly all of the writers of the essays quite recklessly attempt to include most intellectual, social and political criticism of organized Jewry and its power and influence under the rather melodramatic rubric of anti- Semitism. This attempt would seem to reveal more about the motives of the assembled experts than about the criticism in question. For although the word "anti-Semitism" is alleged to have been coined by an "anti-Semite," the term, with its pseudo-scientific veneer of objectivity and its shift in emphasis from Jewry (not Semitism) to its critics, has been eagerly embraced by Jews eager to stifle any challenge to their interests.
In a word, what one finds in this volume is not objective analysis, but rather, what political scientists would call ideology; that is, a body of distorted ideas and interpretations of reality which are continually promoted - not because of their inherent truthfulness - but rather, because they serve the sociopolitical, economic, and psychological needs of a power elite.  Not surprisingly, the ideology of anti-anti-Semitism as presented here reflects the values and interests of the major sponsors and organizers of the conference. Among these were the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the Bronfman Foundation, and numerous individual Zionists. (p. xi)
It would be impossible here to discuss all of the 24 different essays, the range of topics covered, and the numerous distortions and fallacies which this volume contains. However, three examples will be offered to illustrate my point.
The late Terence Prittie, British author and journalist, contributed a paper which discusses economic boycotts and discrimination directed against Jewish people. (pp. 206-213) Prittie gives one the distorted impression that, in the ongoing economic boycott wars between Jews and Arabs, the Jews are totally blameless and innocent, and the Arabs totally guilty. Jews are never aggressors, only quite saintly victims defending themselves against "Arab racists". And why are the Arabs guilty of racism? Because, Prittie claims, when they utilize the boycott weapon, all Jews are targeted: the Arabs never differentiate between Zionist and non-Zionist Jews.
An ideological distortion such as this may gratify the ethnocentrism of many Zionist Jews, but it certainly does not serve the interests of truth. One is left with the false impression that only Arabs have used economic boycotts against Jews. Prittie never informs the reader that Zionist Jews, in their takeover of Palestine, utilized the economic boycott as a major weapon against the native Palestinians.  The economic warfare historically waged by Arabs against Zionism and Israel (e.g., Arab trade boycotts of Jewish goods or refusals to do business with firms which have Zionist Jews in management positions) is a reaction to the challenge of repeated Jewish-Zionist aggression against the Arab world and racial discrimination directed against the Arab people in Israel.  This is not to justify indiscriminate economic measures against all Jews, even those unsympathetic to political Zionism.
Historically, just as political Zionism never differentiated between Arabs who oppose Zionism and those who do not oppose it,  neither have the Arabs differentiated between Zionist and non-Zionist Jews in carrying out economic reprisals. In order to evaluate fairly Arab economic warfare against Jewish Zionism, one must acknowledge the Jewish- Zionist political, economic, and military warfare which has been and is being waged against the Arab world. 
Professor Michael Curtis, the editor of the this collection, defines anti-Semitism as "hostility toward Jews." (p. 1) This alleged hostility, however, is often gauged by what must appear to impartial observers as highly subjective sensors. It is not only difficult to measure, weigh, or otherwise quantify: even such manifestations as the (blissfully rare) pogrom or the occasional scurrilous graffito may have been evoked by some perceived offense tendered by corporate Jewry. (Students of anti-Semitism will note additionally the disturbing tendency of the anti-anti-Semites to draw a discreet veil, at least for the mulititudes, over truly hair-raising expressions of anti- Semitism emanating from such modern luminaries as Voltaire, Byron, Goethe, Carlyle, Dostoyevsky, Henry James, Henry Adams, and others too numerous to be named.)
In this volume, the criteria put forth to determine the existence of anti-Jewish hostility are nebulous and so broad and general that the charge of anti-Semitism can be utilized as the need arises. When the criticism in question is either psychologically threatening (that is, irritating to a righteous and benign collective Jewish identity), or is politically threatening (i.e., negative criticism which may give rise to demands that the power of organized Jewry be reduced), then the authors apply the anti-Semitism label to the critic and his criticism, regardless of whether the criticism may be justified.
Observe how Curtis's mind works. He writes:
"What distinguishes anti-Semitism from the ever-present prejudice or hostility directed against other [non-Jewish] people and groups is not so much the strength and passion of this hatred as its many-faceted character and the range of arguments and doctrines that see Jews as best as peripheral (or as pariahs, to use Max Weber's term) in society and at worst as destructive monsters and forces of evil. In its lowest form, … antisemitism takes the form of pornography … Elsewhere, arguments - whether of a political, economic, social, religious, or psychological nature - make a greater claim to rationality. Always the claim is that Jews, because of their religious customs or insistence on monotheism or dietary habits or tribal exclusiveness, were alien to the traditions and ways of life of the societies in which they lived or tried to subvert those societies or were able to control both these societies and other diabolical forces in the world."(p.3)
The implication here is obvious. Those who claim that certain powerful segments of organized Jewry are culturally alien to Western society and that they attempt to subvert Western culture supposedly harbor a hatred of all Jews. And, of course, it is reflexively assumed that the claim is a false, anti-Jewish slander.
All Jews are not cultural aliens to Western society, nor do all Jews attempt to subvert Western society. Yet there certainly exist powerful and influential segments of Jewry which do fit this category. A small portion of the evidences culled from Jewish sources, illustrates the point.
Stanley Rothman and S. Robert Lichter are two political scientists who studied the relationship between left-wing radical politics and psychological development. They gathered evidence which supports the claim that the Jews of the New Left student movement of the 1960s were motivated by a hatred of European-Christian culture, and that this hostility induced them to identify with leftist movements which undermine Western society's social order.  Rothman and Lichter point out that Jews, occupying a marginal - alienated position in Western societies, are more prone to identify with political movements which subvert the dominant Gentile culture. In their own words:
"Political radicalism … is but one form of the attack leveled by the marginal person upon the larger society. The basic thrust is to undermine all aspects of the culture which contribute to his or her marginality. Thus Jews in the United States and Europe have been in the forefront of not only political radicalism but also various forms of cultural 'subversion.'"
Concerning the motivations of these left-wing Jews, Rothman and Lichter write:
"In sum, the aim of the Jewish radical is to estrange the Christian from society, as he feels estranged from it. The fact that the United States is no longer Christian" in any real sense, or that Jews have moved to positions of considerable power and influence, is of little import Its Christian base is still unconsciously identified as the decisive oppressive element … thus many radical Jews, even when they do not identify with Judaism, unconsciously retain a generalized hostility to Christian culture."
The prominent Jewish-Zionist author, Maurice Samuel, writing for a Gentile audience, accurately epitomized the feelings of these segments of alienated Jewry:
"I do not believe that this primal difference between Gentile and Jews is reconcilable. We [Jews and Gentiles] may come to an understanding, never to a reconciliation. There will be irritation between us as long as we are in intimate contact For nature and constitution and vision divide us [Jews] from all of you [Gentiles] forever …"
Later in the same essay, Samuel admitted that these alienated Jews do attempt to subvert the Gentile social order:
"The Jew, whose lack of contact with your [Gentile] world had made him ineffective, becomes effective. The vial is uncorked, the genius is out. His [Jewish] enmity to your [Gentile] ways of life was tacit before. Today it is manifest and active."
"We Jews, we, the destroyers, will remain the destroyers forever. Nothing that you will do will meet our needs and demands. We will forever destroy because we need a world of our own …"
If it is true, then, that certain segments of Jewry regard themselves as cultural aliens and gleefully subvert Western culture, pointing this out does not necessarily indicate broad anti-Jewish hostility.  Even if the "anti-Semitic" accuser does dislike Jews, that is not sufficient to disprove his charge of deliberate cultural subversion by Jews.
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize, the Jewish author, Elie Wiesel, stated: "It would be unnatural for me not to make Jewish priorities my own: Israel, Soviet Jewry, Jews in Arab lands."  Can it be entirely different for Gentile intellectuals of European descent? It would be unnatural for at least a few of them not to be concerned about the forces which are undermining their society and promoting what political scientist James Burnham called "The Suicide of the West." That which Professor Curtis would label "anti-Semitism" is in many instances only a thoughtful concern with the welfare of Western culture and a healthy vigilance in relation to those alienated segments of Jewry which attempt to undermine it. One need think only of the writings of such humane, tolerant, but culturally engaged Christian gentlemen as Hilaire Belloc, G. K. Chesterton, and T. S. Eliot.
Stephen J. Roth, director of the Institute of Jewish Affairs (London), provides the reader of Antisemitism in the Contemporary World with a short discussion of Holocaust revisionism and the legal attempts to proscribe it. His short dissertation contains many of the distorted views which the Holocaust lobby continually promotes about Revisionism.
Mr. Roth writes:
"One of the most pernicious new forms of anti-Semitism is the denial of the facts of the Holocaust by so-called Revisionist historians and neo-Nazis (the two are often identical). Their allegations that no systematic extermination of Jews occurred, that there were no gas chambers, and that 6 million Jews did not perish, propagated in an atmosphere of increased anti-Jewish activity, has become one of the most significant weapons in the neo-Nazi arsenal."(p. 222)
In other words, according to Roth's line of thought, Holocaust orthodoxy is definitely, positively true, and thus, revisionist viewpoints must of necessity be irrational and confused falsities. Because this is so, he concludes that every revisionist must harbor a hatred of all Jews and be furthermore of an irrational, unbalanced state of mind. The revisionist refuses to accept the Holocaust orthodoxy, and thus employ the Freudian defense mechanism of "denial."
Unfortunately, however, one cannot empirically observe psychological defense mechanisms of denial as biologist empirically observes microorganisms under a microscope. One infers that another individual is subjectively employing denial mechanisms. Failing a set of objective criteria by which it can be inferred that, if the individual in question is employing a mechanism of denial, he refuses to accept reality, the notion of "denial" is of little scientific use.
In the case of Holocaust, revisionist academics, if it could be demonstrated objectively that their reservations about a German attempt to exterminate Europe's Jews are utterly false, one might be justified in hypothesizing that they are employing some such mechanism of denial. Basic to that inference, however, would be evidence which demonstrates that exterminationism is true. Roth is obligated, by the canons of scholarly ethics, to give the revisionist school a fair hearing, and show that its arguments are irrational and unfounded. Only after so doing would he be justified in claiming that revisionist historians are irrational reality deniers who deny the facts because they hate Jews.
Roth, however, cites no studies which demonstrate that Holocaust orthodoxy is true, or demonstrate the absurdity of revisionist arguments. He doesn't because he can't. After nearly a two-year search, this reviewer has been able to find no exterminationist study which gives an accurate and honest presentation of revisionist arguments, and then refutes them. By contrast the revisionist writings are filled with studies which, in a rational, logical, and scientific manner, confront and strive to refute the major contentions of exterminationism. 
Since Mr. Roth's judgment has apparently not been informed by the rational procedures of modern historiography, would we not be justified in asking what irrational psychological forces shaped his thinking?
One can infer the psychological process at work here. Convinced exterminationists such as Roth can say "revisionists are irrational, unbalanced, and neurotic Jew- haters with a need to deny the reality of the Holocaust. Revisionism, therefore, need not be analyzed, except as the logical product of such an unfounded body of mentality. As such, it is not even worthy of our consideration." By such formulations can a convinced exterminationist avoid the painful experience of having his deeply cherished beliefs about the Holocaust challenged, or, God forbid, disproven, thereby freeing him from the responsibility of critically examining the whole Holocaust dogma, as well as obviating the discovery of facts about the Holocaust which would be too psychologically painful to confront consciously.
Mr. Roth next proceeds to explain why he believes that revisionism is the most effective weapon in the "neo-Nazi" arsenal:
"If the crimes of the Nazis can be wiped off the record of history, if the Nazi regime can be whitewashed and made to appear as admittedly somewhat disciplinarian and tough on law and order but basically harmless and more efficient than our allegedly lax Western democracies with their growing disorder, their crimes, violence, and riots, then the neo-Nazis would have won a great victory. The system advocated by them would also look harmless and acceptable, and the ideological resistance to it, largely based on awareness of the horrors of the past, would be undermined - particularly among younger people who have no personal experience of Nazi rule."(p. 222)
Roth has fled to what in contemporary America has become the last refuge of the academic and political scoundrel: the imputation of a National Socialist agenda, a covert desire to restore the Third Reich, or bring on the Fourth, to scoffers at the regnant historical or political orthodoxy.
Should the revisionists succeed in convincing the peoples of Western democracies that the "gas chambers" never existed, however, these would still harbor considerable resistance to the philosophy, political system, and policies implemented during the Third Reich. The National Socialists advocated a command state, with one-party control of society and censorship of the press. By contrast, inherent in the modern political culture of the West is acceptance of a multiparty state, independence of the press from overt political control, and a disdain for open regimentation. 
One thing the acceptance of the nonexistence of the "Hitler gas chambers" does threaten is the belief that National Socialism was a greater menace to humanity than Stalinist Marxism, and that the Western democracies had to ally with the Soviet in the Second World War. Yet the realization that National Socialism was not the unremitting evil that it is portrayed to be, and that Stalin's system inflicted far more human misery, is a very far cry from urging the National Socialist political model be adopted throughout the West. One can be a Holocaust revisionist, and simultaneously, be anti-National Socialist.
In a word, Roth's claim - that mass acceptance of revisionism will bring about mass acceptance of National Socialism - is absurd. His argument scants the ethic of self-interested individualism prevalent in today's West, even among self-professed "nationalists" and "racialists." Furthermore, the populations of the democracies, particularly America, seem fixed in the belief that a certain quota of disorder and dishonor - from riots and street crime to political and economic corruption - is an acceptable price to pay for the maintenance of the democratic society. Even with mass acceptance of Holocaust revisionism in the democratic West, resistance to National Socialism still would be strong.
On ideology, the political scientist James B. Whisker has written:
"Ideologies are seen by neutral commentators as illusions about real concrete experiences. The ideology does not develop as a result of the experiences themselves; rather, the ideology is born out of unusual or bizarre interpretations given to the concrete experiences. The ideology is fabricated in order to cover up distorted knowledge or interpretations of real factual situations and it acts compulsively on its true believers so that no other interpretation can be fitted to the situation."
The ideology of anti-anti-Semitism as expressed in his book is an excellent example of what Dr. Whisker writes. As long as intellectuals and politicians are mesmerized and intimidated by this veil of illusions there will never be an open and honest discussion concerning the undeniable problems which burden Jewish-Gentile relations. Nor will we be able to resolve those problems in a manner which is rational, humane, and acceptable to both Jews and Gentiles.
Source: Reprinted from The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 233-242.
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