Political antisemitism is the propagandistic tool applied by regimes, often in its attempt to conserve itself from decay through channeling the frustrations of its population toward the Jewish minority. Throughout the history of Europe and especially today in the Islamic world, political antisemitism is readily applied. Classical rhetoric patterns such as anti-zionism, holocaust denial and conspiracy theories are utilized, to explain socioeconomic problems in simplified terms, thus shifting focus from the true issues, which exists in semi-feudal, totalitarian societies.
The most tangible and reproducible pattern of anti-zionism in especially Europe before World War II and the Islamic world is the conspriacy theory manifested by the wide acceptance of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which is a text purporting to describe a plan to achieve Jewish global domination. Thus, the view upon Jews is its essence is a representation of anti-progressive and anti-liberal ideas.
The Jewish Question
The Jewish question encompasses the issues and resolutions surrounding the historic unequal civil, legal and national status between minority Ashkenazi Jews and non-Jews, particularly in Europe. The first issues discussed and debated by societies, politicians and writers in western and central Europe began with the Age of Enlightenment and the French Revolution. These included issues of legal and economic Jewish disabilities, equality, Jewish emancipation and Jewish Enlightenment. Issues including assimilation within the Diaspora andZionism continued into the twentieth century. The term became closely associated with periods of increased antisemitism in the 1880s, as well as the struggle to establish a Jewish state.\
Jewish Bolshevism is an antisemitic canard based on the claim that Jews have been the driving force behind or are disproportionately involved in the modern Communist movement, or sometimes more specifically RussianBolshevism.
The expression was the title of a pamphlet, The Jewish Bolshevism, and became current after the 1917 October Revolutionin Russia, featuring prominently in the propaganda of the anti-communist "White" forces during theRussian Civil War. It spread worldwide in the 1920s with the publication and circulation of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It made an issue out of the Jewishness of some leading Bolsheviks (most notably Leon Trotsky) during and after the October Revolution.Daniel Pipes says that "primarily through the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the Whites spread these charges to an international audience." James Webb wrote that it is rare to find an antisemitic source after 1917 that ..."does not stand in debt to theWhite Russian analysis of the Revolution."
The label "Judeo-Bolshevism" was used in Nazi Germany to equate Jews with communists, implying that the communist movement served Jewish interests and/or that all Jews were communists. In Poland before World War II, Żydokomuna was used in the same way to allege that the Jews were conspiring with the USSR to capture Poland. According to André Gerrits, "The myth of Jewish Communism was one of the most popular and widespread political prejudices in the first half of the 20th century, in Eastern Europe in particular."The allegation still sees use in antisemitic publications and websites today.
In many European countries the 18th century "Age of Enlightenment" saw the dismantling of archaic corporate, hierarchical forms of society in favour of individual equality of citizens before the law. How this new state of affairs would affect previously autonomous, though subordinated, Jewish communities became known as the Jewish question. In many countries, enhanced civil rights were gradually extended to the Jews, though often only in a partial form and on condition that the Jews abandon many aspects of their previous identity in favour of integration and assimilation with the dominant society.
Following legislation supporting the equality of French Jews with other citizens during the French Revolution, similar laws promoting Jewish emancipation were enacted in the early 19th century in those parts of Europe over which France had influence. The old laws restricting them to ghettos, as well as the many laws that limited their property rights, rights of worship and occupation, were rescinded.
Despite this, traditional discrimination and hostility to Jews on religious grounds persisted and was supplemented by racial antisemitism, encouraged by the work of racial theorists such as Joseph Arthur de Gobineau and particularly his Essay on the Inequality of the Human Race of 1853–5. Nationalist agendas based on ethnicity, known as ethnonationalism, usually excluded the Jews from the national community as an alien race. Allied to this were theories of Social Darwinism, which stressed a putative conflict between higher and lower races of human beings. Such theories, usually posited by white Europeans, advocated the superiority of white Aryans to Semitic Jews. Muslow and Popkin assert that, " the antisemitism of the early modern period was even worse than that of the Middle Ages; and nowhere was this more obvious than in those areas which roughly encompass modern-day Germany, especially among Lutherans."
Civil rights granted to Jews in Germany, following the occupation of that country by the French under Napoleon, were rescinded after his defeat. Pleas to retain them by diplomats at the Congress of Vienna peace conference (1814–5) were unsuccessful. In 1819, German Jews were attacked in the Hep-Hep riots. Full Jewish emancipation was not granted in Germany until 1871, when the country was united under the Hohenzollern dynasty.
In 1850, the German composer Richard Wagner published Das Judenthum in der Musik ("Jewishness in Music") under apseudonym in the Neue Zeitschrift für Musik. The essay began as an attack on Jewish composers, particularly Wagner's contemporaries (and rivals) Felix Mendelssohn and Giacomo Meyerbeer, but expanded to accuse Jewish influences more widely of being a harmful and alien element in German culture.
The term "antisemitism" was coined by the German agitator and publicist, Wilhelm Marr in 1879. In that year, Marr founded the Antisemites League and published a book called Victory of Jewry over Germandom. The late 1870s saw the growth of antisemitic political parties in Germany. These included the Christian Social Party, founded in 1878 by Adolf Stoecker, the Lutheran chaplain to Kaiser Wilhelm I, as well as a German Social Antisemitic Party and an Antisemitic People's Party. However, they did not enjoy mass electoral support and at their peak in 1907, had only 16 deputies out of a total of 397 in the Reichstag.
The defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1) was blamed by some on the Jews. Jews were accused of weakening the national spirit through association with republicanism, capitalism and anti-clericalism, particularly by authoritarian, right wing, clerical and royalist groups. These accusations were spread in antisemitic journals such as La Libre Parole, founded byEdouard Drumont and La Croix, the organ of the Catholic order of the Assumptionists.
Financial scandals such as the collapse of the Union Generale Bank and the collapse of the French Panama Canal operation were also blamed on the Jews. The Dreyfus affair saw a Jewish military officer named Captain Alfred Dreyfusfalsely accused of treason in 1895 by his army superiors and sent to Devil's Island after being convicted. Dreyfus was acquitted in 1906, but the case polarised French opinion between antisemitic authoritarian nationalists andphilosemitic anti-clerical republicans, with consequences which were to resonate into the 20th century.
Beginning in the early 1880s, declining farm prices also prompted elements of the Populist movement to blame the perceived evils of capitalism and industrialism on Jews because of their alleged racial/religious inclination for financial exploitation and, more specifically, because of the alleged financial manipulations of Jewish financiers such as the Rothschilds.Although Jews played only a minor role in the nation's commercial banking system, the prominence of Jewish investment bankers such as the Rothschilds in Europe, and Jacob Schiff, of Kuhn, Loeb & Co. in New York City, made the claims of anti-Semites believable to some.
The Morgan Bonds scandal injected populist anti-Semitism into the 1896 presidential campaign. It was disclosed that President Grover Clevelandhad sold bonds to a syndicate which included J. P. Morgan and the Rothschilds house, bonds which that syndicate was now selling for a profit, the Populists used it as an opportunity to uphold their view of history, and prove to the nation that Washington and Wall Street were in the hands of the international Jewish banking houses.
Another focus of anti-Semitic feeling was the allegation that Jews were at the center of an international conspiracy to fix the currency and thus the economy to a single gold standard.
- Krzysztof Szwagrzyk, Żydzi w kierownictwie UB. Stereotyp czy rzeczywistość?, Biuletyn IPN (11/2005), p. 37-42
- Alderman, G. (1983): The Jewish Community in British Politics. Clarendon Press, Oxford.
- Pipes, Daniel (1997): Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From (The Free Press - Simon & Shuster) p.93. ISBN 0-684-83131-7
- Webb, James (1976): Occult Establishment: The Dawn of the New Age and The Occult Establishment, (Open Court Publishing), p.295. ISBN 0-87548-434-4
- Laqueur, Walter (1965): Russia and Germany (Boston: Little, Brown and Company)
- Gerrits, André (2009). The Myth of Jewish Communism: A Historical Interpretation. Peter Lang. p. 195.
- Beller, Steven (2007). Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction. pp. 23–7.
- Paul Webster (2001) Petain's Crime. London, Pan Books: 13, 15
- Dan Cohn-Sherbok (2006) The Paradox of Anti-Semitism. Continuum: 44-46
- Steven Beller (2007) Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction: 64
- Steven Beller (2007) Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction: pp 57–9
- Mulsow, Martin; Popkin, Richard Henry (2004). Secret conversions to Judaism in early modern Europe. BRILL. p. 85.
- Dan Cohn-Sherbok (2006) The Paradox of Anti-Semitism. Continuum: 46
- Dan Cohn-Sherbok (2006) The Paradox of Anti-Semitism. Continuum: 47
- Dan Cohn-Sherbok (2006) The Paradox of Anti-Semitism. Continuum: p 48
- Steven Beller (2007)Antisemitism: A Very Short Introduction: 28-9
- Ronnie S. Landau (1992) The Nazi Holocaust. IB Tauris, London and New York: pp 82–3
- Paul Webster (2001) Petain's Crime. London, Pan Books: pp 23–7
- Knight, Peter (2003). Conspiracy theories in American history: an encyclopedia, Volume 1. ABC-CLIO. p. 82.
- Albanese, Catherine L. (1981). America, religions and religion. Wadsworth Pub. Co.
By the 1890s anti-Semitic feeling had crystallized around the suspicion that the Jews were responsible for an international conspiracy to base the economy on the single gold standard.