In Defense of Jews
When I was growing up in rural North Carolina, I found anti-Semitism genuinely puzzling. How could it be any other way since I didn’t know any Jews and the only stereotypes I had ever heard about Jews were positive? Jews are frugal. Jews are good with money. Jews run their own businesses. To me, that sounded like a description of people that were smart, capable, and successful. Hating people like that is like hating Asians. How? Why? I’ve only met one person in my entire life who genuinely hated Asians and that came from his time being shot at by Asians in Vietnam. That didn’t excuse it or make it logical, but you could at least understand why he felt that way at a gut level. Nobody in America is dodging bullets being fired by Jewish gangs out celebrating Hanukkah.
As I got older, I got to meet some Jews in the flesh, learned some history, and was exposed to more anti-Semitic arguments, and… it still didn’t make a lot of sense. I met some Palestinian women in college, all of whom seemed to be rabid anti-Semites. Again, like the guy I knew who hated Asians, it made a certain kind of sense. Israelis and Palestinians have been at each other’s throats for decades and they were Palestinians that were root, root, rooting for the home team. Some non-Palestinians also buy into that argument, but I’m not one of them because I’ve read history books, including our own.
Historically, societies like the Palestinians that continuously antagonize and torment their more powerful neighbors usually get wiped out. In the United States, when Indian tribes and American settlers clashed, our response was to massacre any Indians in the vicinity followed by putting guns to the heads of everyone left alive, ordering them to sign over their lands, and then forcing them to move across the country while shooting them if they did it too slowly. If we were in the same situation as the Israelis and having rockets fired across our borders by terrorists who were fully supported by the Palestinian government, do you think we’d sign up for decades of pattycake or do you think we’d smash them, take their lands, and shoot anyone who protested? You might say, “no,” but I’m guessing that if you were polling Afghans, American Indians, Germans, and the Japanese about how ruthless we can be, they wouldn’t agree.
Another thing that gets trotted out sometimes as a weak tea excuse for anti-Semitism is the bombing of the USS Liberty that occurred back in 1967. The Six-Day War had kicked off and the Israelis were fighting to prevent their annihilation at the hands of their Muslim neighbors. The US was officially neutral in the war, and we sent the USS Liberty nearby, in international waters, to gather intelligence. The Israelis confused the USS Liberty with an Egyptian ship and they attacked. Thirty-four Americans died during that attack. Afterward, there were numerous investigations by the US and Israel that all seemed to indicate the attack was a case of mistaken identity. The Israeli government apologized and paid restitution for the deaths and the damage to the ship. Under normal circumstances, that would be it, but because there were Jews involved, some people think it must be part of some nefarious plot to achieve… who knows what? As if friendly fire isn’t a sad part of every war. In fact, one of our pilots killed four Canadians in Afghanistan in 2002. That happened despite the fact that we have communications and tech capabilities that are several orders of magnitude better than they were thirty years earlier.
You could even reach all the way back to the oldest excuse for Jewish pogroms – that they’re responsible for the death of Christ. While it’s certainly true that there were Jews of that time calling for Christ’s death, it doesn’t change the fact that the whole Christian religion revolves around things playing out as they did. If you’re a Christian, you understand that Jesus had to be crucified so the rest of us could be saved. It was His decision to allow that to happen and His decision to return three days later. His Jewish enemies at the time played their role, but they could have no more had Christ crucified than you or I could stop the tide or order the earth to stop spinning. He chose to allow it to happen for our sake.
Of course, those are just appetizers. The real main course of the anti-Semitism meal is again a form of a backhanded compliment to the Jewish people mixed with a malevolent conspiracy theory. What is it? Well, in the early days of Right Wing News, one of the things I used to do to create content was mock posts on white supremacist forums. It was entertaining, they deserved it, and a good time was had by all. Still, you couldn’t help but note the not just hateful, but STRANGE way they talked about Jews. I wrote about it in a 2009 review of “The Turner Diaries,” which was a bit of poorly written fiction full of unlikable characters that supposedly inspired Timothy McVeigh’s Oklahoma City Bombing among other attacks:
Their view of different minorities was also a bit surprising, although I suppose it shouldn’t be. They didn’t focus much on Hispanics — but blacks, the book portrayed as violent, dumb muscle — and of course, they were hated. However, as much as they hated blacks, it didn’t compare to the venom sprayed at Jews who weirdly, were practically seen as evil supermen. Of course, if you believe a few million Jews are really pulling the strings of the government, big business, the media, and most of the nations in the world, then you practically have to also believe they have capabilities beyond those of other humans to pull it off.
Jews are not supermen, but like Asians, they do tend to embrace a culture that allows them to demographically punch above their weight class, and yes, you will find Jews overrepresented in places like Hollywood, the banking industry, and the media. Somehow, this has all been woven into a malevolent Jewish plot designed to achieve world domination at everyone else’s expense. You know, “It’s not actually the Illuminati or Rothchild’s pulling the strings, it’s the Jews!” Jewish writer Isaac Saul did a good job of discussing this concept in a response to Kanye West’s weird outburst against Jews back in October:
First off, it is true that there are a lot of Jews in the media. At nearly every news organization I’ve worked or freelanced for there have been Jews. Simple Google searches about famous journalists or top media executives will reveal that, yes, lots of sons and daughters of Jewish mothers picked up the hobby of writing. I struggled to find any recent hard data on this. An academic paper from the 1980s noted that Jews were just slightly overrepresented in media ownership and in journalism as a profession. Still, I feel comfortable saying that today, Jews — who make up about 2% of the U.S. population — are probably still overrepresented in the press.
Jews are also overrepresented in Congress. 6.2% of Congress is Jewish, compared to just 2% of the U.S. population. But good luck getting Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Lee Zeldin to agree on anything. There are some big-name corporate executives, lawyers, and — I can’t help but cringe — bankers who are Jews, too.
...In the flier above, which was recently distributed in Los Angeles, Jews are framed as responsible for the Covid-19 response. The CDC, HHS, Pfizer and Moderna are all cited. Perhaps fliers like this are convincing for some people, but — again — the absurdity of it shouldn't be hard to spot. There are over 10,000 employees at the CDC, 60,000 at HHS, 80,000 at Pfizer, and 1,800 at Moderna. They found 11 who were Jews, and two who were “Shabbos Goy” — a term meaning non-Jew employed by Jews and which, even as a Jew, I had to look up.
Never mind that none of the people most responsible for the initial Covid-19 response — President Donald Trump, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and then-CDC Director Robert Redfield — are Jews, the more potent idea is that if you are looking for this kind of thing it isn't hard to find. It’s even easier if you claim any involved non-Jew is just “working for their agenda.”
It’s classic cherry-picking: taking the pieces of evidence that fit your theory and ignoring the ones that don’t. Like Mark Miller did in 1996, I could point to the old CEOs of GE (NBC), Westinghouse (CBS), or TCI (the largest cable company), who are all non-Jews. Same for the bigwigs at Hearst, Times Mirror, Chicago Tribune, Reader’s Digest, Sony, DreamWorks, and, today, The Washington Post (Jeff Bezos). Ye mentioned that rappers (i.e., himself) wear Ralph Lauren, but notably leaves out Gucci, Versace, Dior, or Tommy Hilfiger (who, notably, has long been accused of anti-Semitism). The face of TMZ, which reported endlessly on Ye’s mental illness and is well-known for damaging the lives of celebrities, is Harvey Levin. Levin is — you guessed it — a Jew. The editors of Us and People, however, are not, so those pieces of evidence get discarded.
There are two big points here. The first is that it’s one thing for a small group of people to punch above their weight class percentage-wise in certain professions, but dominating those professions is something else entirely. Jews don’t dominate or control any profession in America. If they did, since Jews in America lean to the Left, Democrats would almost certainly uniformly rule. Instead, we currently have a cyclical political system where both sides move in and out of power as the voters get sick of them.
It’s also worth noting that Jews aren’t all playing for the same team on any subject, including Israel. Even though Jews in America lean to the Left, Republicans are the more pro-Israel party, which probably has a lot to do with most devout Christians believing that Jews are God’s chosen people than anything Republican Jews are doing. Along similar lines, Woody Allen, Jon Stewart, and Sean Penn probably don’t see eye-to-eye with Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, and Dennis Prager on much of anything. In other words, there is such a thing as individual Jews, but there is no such thing as “the Jews.” “The Jews” don’t agree on much of anything other than a big “no thank you” to being part of another Holocaust.
However, here’s the grain of truth in that web of lies that I have come to believe is the core part of anti-Semitism. It goes back to a concept that the great Thomas Sowell has talked about at length. In societies all over the world, across time and cultures, minority groups that enter a country and outperform much of the population in certain professions are heavily resented for their success. Here’s Sowell on middlemen minorities:
What these other groups—the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, Ibos in Nigeria, Marwaris in Burma, overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia, and Lebanese in a number of countries—have had in common with the Jews has not been religion, race, or language, but their economic and social roles.
These groups have all been, at some point in their history, “middleman minorities”—that is, people whose work takes place somewhere between producers and consumers, whether in retail trade or moneylending. Often these middleman minorities began at the petty level of a peddler with a pack on his back or a little pushcart. Even such large enterprises as Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, and Levi Strauss among the Jews, and Haggar and Farah among the Lebanese, began at the level of the lowly peddler.
...What has been remarkable about such groups has not been simply their eventual prosperity but the utter poverty from which their prosperity arose over the years or generations. People on welfare in America today live better than the immigrant Jews did on New York’s Lower East Side. A 1908 study, for example, found that about half the families on the Lower East Side slept three or four people to a room, nearly one-fourth slept five or more to a room, and fewer than one-fourth slept two to a room. During that same era, Chinese immigrants typically arrived in Southeast Asian countries in similar rock-bottom poverty. According to Victor Purcell’s landmark study, The Chinese in Southeast Asia, “Immigrant Chinese arriving in Indonesia usually brought nothing but a bundle of clothes, a mat, and a pillow.” It was much the same story with Lebanese immigrants to colonial Sierra Leone and, in a later era, Korean immigrants and Vietnamese refugees to the United States.
These and other similarities among middleman minorities in countries around the world have caused the overseas Chinese to be called “the Jews of Southeast Asia,” the Ibos to be called “the Jews of Nigeria,” the Parsees to be called “the Jews of India,” and the Lebanese to be called “the Jews of West Africa.”
What is chilling is what other things these groups have been called. “Parasites” has been another epithet applied to middleman minorities because, as retailers or moneylenders, they do not produce any physical product but are simply intermediaries between manufacturers and customers. “Bloodsuckers” is another epithet expressing the notion that middleman minorities do not add anything to the wealth of a community or nation but simply manage to extract a share of the existing wealth for themselves, at the expense of others. This charge has rung out against innumerable middleman minorities, from the villages of India to black ghettos in the United States.
In many times and places, middleman minorities have been forced to flee for their lives from mobs or have been expelled en masse by political authorities. Yet the departure of these supposed “parasites” and “exploiters” has not been followed by a more prosperous life by the rest of the population but usually by economic decline—sometimes catastrophic decline, as the economy of Uganda collapsed after middleman minorities from India and Pakistan were expelled during the 1970s.
People who are failing, who are hurting, who feel like they are coming up short in their lives in some way, love to find excuses and people to blame. For some of them, a group they don’t identify with that seems to have “magical” (to them anyway) levels of success, seems like a good place to pin their failure. In healthy societies, those people are encouraged to improve themselves and stop blaming others for their own failures. In societies like ours, grievances are nursed, encouraged to grow, and next thing you know, people are blaming anyone and everyone but themselves for their miserable lives. You’re having problems? Well then, It’s whites, it’s blacks, it’s women, it’s CIS white males, it’s Christians, it’s Asians, or it’s the Jews. Of course, it’s actually not the Jews. It’s not any of the other groups either. It’s just you, the person you see in the mirror, and what the two of you make of your life. Once people stop looking for scapegoats for their problems and accept that, their lives start to get better.