In a 2010 essay in The Atlantic, the late great Christopher Hitchens offered an explanation for the prevalence of anti-Semitism. He argued that it was the Jewish rejection of the false prophets Jesus and Muhammed.
The traditional story goes that not only had the Sanhedrin rejected the teachings of Jesus, but they insisted, one could say lobbied, that the Roman governor of Judea crucify him. This act of deicide would become the justification for centuries of persecution, expulsions, murder and genocide by Christians against the Jews.
Centuries later, in the far corners Arabia a new religion was espoused by Mohammed who claimed to be the final messenger of God. Not only did very few Jews join Mohammed’s new faith, but the respected Jewish tribes in and around the oasis city of Medina shunned the exiled Meccan merchant. Mohammed and his followers would later take revenge and slaughter Arabia’s Jews. As the new religion expanded into Asia, North Africa and even Europe, the Jewish communities of these lands were given an inferior status. They were tolerated as ‘people of the book’. In a process which intensified after the 1948 Palestine War, the Jews of the Middle East were largely expelled.
But Jesus and Mohammed were not the only prophets who were perceived to be rejected by the Jews. We should not rule out the perception that through action and deed Jews rejected the enlightenment era political economist Karl Marx. Now Marx was of course himself was a baptised Jew. Not only were many of his followers Jewish but so were generations of Marxist philosophers, politicians, sociologists and political scientists. You’re probably listing some of them in your head right now. You might also be formulating a challenge based on the idea that much of the anti-Semitism of the radical right, both then and now, often depicts the Jew and Communist as one and the same. Sure, I’ll grant you these points, but remember I am talking about the perception of rejection rather than actual.
There is a thread in anti-Semitic discourse, repeated increasingly by some in the far Left, that associates Jews with Zionism, which is made powerful through Jewish control of international finance. Much of this this narrative emanates from Soviet propaganda which adopted traditional anti-Semitic motifs that associated Jews with being international in outlook, unpatriotic in worldview and purveyors of bourgeois capitalism. Public state-sponsored attacks were often directed against “rootless” or “homeless cosmopolitans,” a euphemism for Jews if ever there was one. The story of anti-Semitism in Communist Russia is well known - the persecution of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, the fabricated Doctor’s Plot, the unofficial quotas in government positions. In these cases, the idea of the Jew being cosmopolitan, unpatriotic and bourgeois were central.
However, Soviet anti-Semitic propaganda also took the guise of anti-Zionism. Again, borrowing from classic anti-Semitism, it linked the international and unpatriotic cosmopolitan Jew to Israel and global financial conspiracy. In 1967, after the failure of Russia’s Arab clients to defeat Israel, the Young Communist League, stated that Israel was backed by "an invisible but huge and mighty empire of financiers and industrialists.” In other words, Jews. This was just one typical example of Soviet propaganda which was disseminated after 1967 near and far and regurgitated over again. Indeed, this is the very image that was conjured by street artist Mear One whose mural was defended by the leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn a couple of years ago.
As Michael Segalov explains, the imagery of the mural borrows from the Russian Czarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a malicious and fictitious tract purporting a conspiratorial cabal of powerful Jews to plan and scheme world domination. In the mural, the image of the crooked nosed and bearded Jew counting money is telling, as are other images associated with conspiracy theories such as the Illuminati. Taken together with the depictions of the Jewish Rothschild’s financier, the message in the iconography is unmistakeable. Jewish capital/international Zionism/the Jewish Lobby lurks behind the shadows, pulling the levers of international policy for its own benefit or for Israel. Had the mural been painted in, say, 2007, prominent Jewish Neo-Conservatives such as Leo Straus, Richard Perle or Paul Wolfowitz might have been added to the scene.
These images are the legacy of Soviet anti-Semitism. And as we have seen, they have been picked up by some in the radical Left (and by Islamist movements). They depict the Jew as the hidden hand behind the evils of global capitalism and colonialism. In other words, the Jews are a secretive force fighting the realization of historical materialism. By action and deed they are the ultimate enemies of Marxism.
Jeremy Corbyn, who described the visceral anti-Semitic Hezbollah and Hamas as his friends, wasted the opportunity to stamp out anti-Semitic currents within his party in 2016. Back then alarm bells starting ringing after his allies such as Ken Livingstone, Naz Shah and Jackie Walker made shocking anti-Jewish statements. Instead to tackling the problem head on, Corbyn enlisted lawyer and civil-right activists Shami Chakrabarti to investigate the matter. But as is well known, Chakrabarti whitewashed the inquiry. Soon after she was suspiciously awarded with a Labour peerage and took a seat in the House of Lords. Meanwhile, Jackie Walker, who said that Jews were financiers of the sugar and slave trade, went on to create a one-person stage show about her apparent victimisation and received standing ovations by a hard Left audience.
There were scores of anti-Semitic incidents which took place in 2017 and 2018 in the Labour Party. These including Labour council candidates asking what good have Jews done for the world and demands that the existence of the Holocaust be allowed to be questioned. When the anti-Semitism debate resurfaced after Luciana Berger MP asked for answers for Corbyn’s endorsement of the aforementioned mural, she received a tirade of attacks.
It was very telling that Corbyn’s supporters said that the claims of anti-Semitism are nonsense and part of a nefarious plot against Corbyn. In other words, it’s all just another Jewish conspiracy. In their cult-like following of their leader, the “Corbynistas” will no doubt continue to believe that this is just one big conspiracy against their saviour. Another case of the Jewish scorn for a prophet.
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