The Jewish Angle

Published: 1994-10-01

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Beware of Ally

Joseph Sobran is a nationally-syndicated columnist, author and lecturer. He is a former senior editor of National Review, and currently Washington, DC, correspondent for The Wanderer, a traditionalist Roman Catholic weekly. He edits a monthly newsletter, Sobran's ([ defunct; ed.]). "Beware of Ally" is reprinted from the October 1994 issue of Sobran's, and "The Jewish Establishment" from the September 1995 issue.

You can't understand American politics and culture nowadays without grasping the enormous power and influence of the Jews. The Jewish angle is complicated; it's not all to the bad; but from a Christian standpoint, it deserves criticism, because the interests of Jews and Christians naturally diverge. It is sentimental nonsense to pretend otherwise.

But since sentimental nonsense is obligatory in the American media, anyone who tries to talk frankly on the subject is "out of the mainstream," "extremist." The Israeli press is remarkably blunt about Jewish power in this country; but its coverage, though written from a Jewish perspective, would violate settled taboos in America. A Hebrew-language newspaper, Ma'ariv (the Israeli equivalent of the Washington Post), recently [Sept. 2, 1994] ran a long, detailed article on Jews in the Clinton Administration: "The Jews Who Run Clinton's Court"! The idea that there may be a Christian perspective on the subject is unthinkable.

The notion that two profoundly different cultures can easily mix, under shibboleths of "pluralism" and "multi-culturalism," is naive. You might as well expect a character from Homer to walk into a Thackeray novel. A culture is almost by definition a set of things that can't mix, because they have their full meaning only in relation to each other and lose their meaning in any alien context.

Joseph Sobran

Joseph Sobran

Unfortunately, the Jews – the organized Jews, the ones who, for our purposes, really count (leaving out unaffiliated Jews, mavericks, eccentrics, Mrs. Goldberg down the street, so to speak) – are quick to damn any criticism as "anti-Semitism," "Jew-hating," and, when that criticism comes from independent Jews, "self-hate." (The idea of "self-hate" is so tortured you wonder how on earth it arose. You get the impression that the only people Jews ever hate are themselves.)

The word "anti-Semitic" can usually be translated "Semitically Incorrect." Jews in America don't have to worry about persecution. The organized Jewish power is actually enforcing an ideological orthodoxy, and its habitual resort to personal abuse and intimidation is itself part of what deserves criticism. Such charges wouldn't be daunting to potential critics if "the Jews" weren't powerful. Like such ugly neologisms as "racism," "sexism," and "homophobia," "anti-Semitism" doesn't belong to the classic English language, as it has been used from Shakespeare to Dr. Johnson to Dickens to Hemingway. It's a term of vilification. Its function is not to define and distinguish but to conflate. (Nobody speaks of "anti-gentilism.") So many people and places have been damned as anti-Semitic countries.

Nevertheless, certain things must be said. And to be said they must be sayable. The Jewish question is part of my beat. Part of the reason for this newsletter is to utter a Christian viewpoint and to defend Christian interests at a time when public discourse is choked with fear of the Jews, in large part because of Jewish control of the major media – by ownership, pressure, false delicacy, and the constant threat of calumny.

Why is this urgent? Well, because, for instance, Israel can get a lot of Americans killed. In his book The Samson Option [Random House, 1991], Seymour Hersh described in detail how Israel's secret nuclear arsenal implicated, and even endangered, the United States. Maybe Hersh was wrong. But he is a distinguished reporter, and he was making an assertion of considerable gravity. His thesis deserved, you might think, some discussion. The book was an attempt to alert us to an unsuspected danger and a vindication, by the way, of the foreign policy of America's founders. But The Samson Option died a quick death.

I began to understand the problem in 1982, when I ceased to be an automatic defender of Israel (which I had been since the Six-Day War in 1967). The savage war on Lebanon opened my eyes. I saw, first, that the American alliance with Israel was making us enemies throughout the Muslim world. That was good for Israel and also good for the Soviet Union; but very bad for the United States. Moreover, I had a personal stake: my two sons were approaching draft age at a time when it looked as if the draft might be restored, and I saw no reason why they should be sent to fight in the middle East. The thought of it made my blood run cold. For that matter, I didn't want any American boy to die for a foreign country.

I also came to realize how treacherously Israel was dealing with the United States. I'd tried to ignore evidence of this, starting with the attack on the Liberty in 1967. When Menachem Begin lied to Ronald Reagan about his intentions in Lebanon, the pattern was too clear to ignore. I learned a good deal about Israel espionage against the United States even before the Pollard spy case broke in 1985.

Along the way I perceived an unmentionable fact: that many Jews in the media were committed, sometimes fanatical Zionists, who justified everything Israel did, would never admit any deep divergence between American and Israeli interests and would shed no tear if my sons died for Israel. They included most of the neoconservatives I'd previously thought of as my allies and, in some cases, friends. In other respects they were decent-enough people. But even the Pollard case didn't seem to shake their primary loyalty to Israel.

I also couldn't help noticing the hypocrisy of organized Jewry, which pushed one set of principles in America – racial equality, secularism, and so forth – and their polar opposites in Israel, whose reason for being is to confer privileged status on Jews and Judaism. Jews won't let American Christians pray in their own public schools, but they are willing to tax them to subsidize and protect Israel. That, too, is both obvious and unmentionable. It cries out for discussion.

And I became aware that most Christians in the media, including friends of mine, were afraid to say what, deep down, they knew. They were afraid of being smeared by the same neoconservatives they professed to regard as friends. They didn't dare to draw the obvious inference from the Pollard case, even when it transpired that the documents Pollard stole had probably been passed to the Soviets by the Israelis. They were in the same position as liberals in the 1940s and 1950s who had been afraid to admit that their ranks had been infiltrated by Soviet sympathizers and agents. (The cry of "anti-Semitism" was a bullying diversion from the real issue, as the cry of "McCarthyism" had been.)

Even knowing all this, I was shocked at the violence of the personal attacks against me when I began writing against the US-Israeli alliance. The neoconservatives, whom I'd naively expected to respect my right to disagree, were the most vicious. I was even more shocked when some of my Christian friends betrayed me – though one of my great consolations was that I found stalwart and honorable friends among non-Zionist Jews. (When the chips were down, some of my best friends were Jews).

Pat Buchanan got the same treatment a few years later, when he observed that Israel's "Amen Corner" was leading the cry for war with Iraq just as I'd expected it would. He, too, was attacked with special venom by neoconservatives, some of whom he'd befriended, as well as by some Christian conservatives who saw their chance to win favor with the people they feared and toadied to. (Among those who were brave and decent enough to defend him was Michael Kinsley, his liberal Jewish antagonist on Crossfire.)

You can agree with the neocons on nine out of ten issues – but if the tenth is Israel, the other nine count for nothing. You may want to keep their friendship, but it's not up to you; they treat you as their mortal Joseph Sobran enemy (which is why I define an anti-Semite as a man who is hated by Jews). There is no clearer proof of the absolute priority of Israel for them. But the gentiles in the conservative movement, who still talk in their sleep about Alger Hiss, have put up little resistance to Zionist infiltration.

And it's one of the constants of journalism that the Amen Corner eggs this country to fight with any country it sees as a threat to Israel: Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, even North Korea. Moreover, it favors military intervention abroad in general, though it's less unanimous when Israel isn't menaced; some oppose intervention in Bosnia or Haiti, because the loss of American lives would lead to "isolationism" – their word for making American interests paramount.

Why does Zionism rely so heavily on deceit, camouflage, insinuation, betrayal, propaganda, and calumny? At bottom it may be less a matter of mendacity than of a cultural gulf. Most Zionists, even those who are otherwise honest people, resist open debate because they correctly sense that their cause – Jewish chauvinism – is indefensible in terms of both American interests and Christian culture. They need gentile support but can't afford to say what they really think of gentiles; though what they think can be gathered from the way Israeli law treats gentiles. Where gentiles are the majority, the Jewish power calls for equality, secularism, and "pluralism"; but Israel, where the phrase "Judaeo-Christian" is used sparingly, is exempt from those other wise universal standards. (Hence the tortured Israeli debate over whether to annex the occupied territories: what if the Arabs became the national majority!) The occasional gentile who catches on must be silenced and ostracized. Find, if you can, and American Zionist who demands equality for Israeli Christians. Such a Zionist is nearly as rare as an American Christian who sticks up for his fellow Christians in Israel.

Israel is no worse than many other countries. But it is worse than any other ally, except Britain – another country that likes its American friends to do the fighting. The analogies are interesting. At home, Churchill spoke of "the British Empire"; but for American consumption, he sang of "the great democracies" and "the English-speaking peoples." Nor has Mrs. Thatcher been shy about telling us where to send our boys. The Zionists have a long way to go before they will match British mischief; but Britain is an exhausted power, and Zionism poses the chief dangers to America at the moment.

There are other aspects of organized Jewry that deserve our critical attention too, its virtues as well as its proclivities. Up to a point, its tribalism is healthy and deserves emulation by a society whose weakening bonds of kinship are plunging us into crime and general decadence. But its liberalism, self-absorption, and deep hostility to Christianity are both excessive and self-destructive. The intellectual brilliance of the Jews is one of the wonders of the world; but it also has its dark side, a facile skepticism, an insensitivity to the dumb virtues of tradition (even, at times, Jewish tradition), a reckless radicalism.

The reason the current Jewish taboos should be broken is so that the whole truth can be told, and not just those things that are discreditable to the Jews. Actually, the Jews are nowhere near as bad as some of their defenders make them sound. They sometimes take advantage of our gullibility; which is not to say we gentiles were all innocent before they arrived. They do us harm; but not because they really want to harm us. As I say, cultures are more than just different flavors of ice cream. They are more like different cosmologies. The most important fact about any man, as G.K. Chesterton pointed out, is what kind of universe he thinks he's living in.

The Jewish Establishment

In the early 1930s, Walter Duranty of the New York Times was in Moscow, covering Joe Stalin the way Joe Stalin wanted to be covered. To maintain favor and access, he expressly denied that there was famine in Ukraine even while millions of Ukrainian Christians were being starved into submission. For his work Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To this day, the Times remains the most magisterial and respectable of American newspapers.

Now imagine that a major newspaper had had a correspondent in Berlin during roughly the same period who hobnobbed with Hitler, portrayed him in a flattering light, and denied that Jews were being mistreated – thereby not only concealing, but materially assisting the regime's persecution. Would that paper's respectability have been unimpaired several decades later?

There you have an epitome of what is lamely called "media bias." The Western supporters of Stalin haven't just been excused; they have received the halo of victimhood for the campaign, in what liberals call the "McCarthy era," to get them out of the government, the education system, and respectable society itself.

Not only persecution of Jews but any critical mention of Jewish power in the media and politics is roundly condemned as "anti-Semitism." But there isn't even a term of opprobrium for participation in the mass murders of Christians. Liberals still don't censure the Communist attempt to extirpate Christianity from Soviet Russia and its empire, and for good reason – liberals themselves, particularly Jewish liberals, are still trying to uproot Christianity from America.

It's permissible to discuss the power of every other group, from the Black Muslims to the Christian Right, but the much greater power of the Jewish establishment is off-limits. That, in fact, is the chief measure of its power: its ability to impose its own taboos while tearing down the taboos of others – you might almost say its prerogative of offending. You can read articles in Jewish-controlled publications from the Times to Commentary blaming Christianity for the Holocaust or accusing Pope Pius XII of indifference to it, but don't look for articles in any major publication that wants to stay in business examining the Jewish role in Communism and liberalism, however temperately.

Power openly acquired, openly exercised, and openly discussed is one thing. You may think organized labor or the Social Security lobby abuses its power, but you don't jeopardize your career by saying so. But a kind of power that forbids its own public mention, like the Holy Name in the Old Testament, is another matter entirely.

There is an important anomaly here. The word "Jewish," in this context, doesn't include Orthodox or otherwise religious Jews. The Jews who still maintain the Hebraic tradition of millennia are marginal, if they are included at all, in the Jewish establishment that wields journalistic, political, and cultural power. Morally and culturally, the Orthodox might be classed as virtual Christians, much like the descendants of Christians who still uphold the basic morality, if not the faith, of their ancestors. Many of these Jews are friendly to Christians and eager to make common cause against the moral decadence they see promoted by their apostate cousins. Above all, the Orthodox understand, better than almost anyone else in America today, the virtues – the necessity – of tribalism, patriarchal authority, the moral bonds of kinship.

The Jewish establishment, it hardly needs saying, is predominantly secularist and systematically anti-Christian. In fact, it is unified far more by its hostility to Christianity than by its support of Israel, on which it is somewhat divided. The more left-wing Jews are faintly critical of Israel, though never questioning its "right to exist" – that is, its right to exist on terms forbidden to any Christian country; that is, its right to deny rights to non-Jews. A state that treated Jews as Israel treats gentiles would be condemned outright as Nazi-like. But Israel is called "democratic," even "pluralistic"!

Explicitly "Jewish" organizations like the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League enforce a dual standard. What is permitted to Israel is forbidden to America. This is not just thoughtless inconsistency. These organizations consciously support one set of principles here – equal rights for all, ethnic neutrality, separation of church and state – and their precise opposites in Israel, where Jewish ancestry and religion enjoy privilege. They "pass" as Jeffersonians when it serves their purpose, espousing rules that win the assent of most Americans. At the same time, they are bent on sacrificing the national interest of the United States to the interests of Israel, under the pretense that both countries' interests are identical. (There is, of course, no countervailing American lobby in Israel.) The single most powerful Jewish lobbying group is the American Israel Public Affair's Committee (AIPAC), which, as its former director Thomas Dine openly boasted, controls Congress. At a time when even Medicare may face budget cuts, aid to Israel remains untouchable. If the Israelis were to begin "ethnic cleansing" against Arabs in Israel and the occupied lands, it is inconceivable that any American political figure would demand the kind of military strike now being urged against the Serbs in ex-Yugoslavia.

Jewish-owned publications like The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, U.S. News & World Report, the New York Post, and New York's Daily News emit relentless pro-Israel propaganda; so do such pundits as William Safire, A.M. Rosenthal, Charles Krauthammer, Jeane Kirkpatrick, and George Will, to name a few. That Israel's journalistic partisans include so many gentiles – lapsed goyim, you might say – is one more sign of the Jewish establishment's power. So is the fact that this fact isn't mentioned in public (though it is hardly unnoticed in private).

So is the fear of being called "anti-Semitic." Nobody worries about being called "anti-Italian" or "anti-French" or "anti-Christian"; these aren't words that launch avalanches of vituperation and make people afraid to do business with you.

It's pointless to ask what "anti-Semitic" means. It means trouble. It's an attack signal. The practical function of the word is not to define or distinguish things, but to conflate them indiscriminately – to equate the soberest criticism of Israel or Jewish power with murderous hatred of Jews. And it works. Oh, how it works.

When Joe McCarthy accused people of being Communists, the charge was relatively precise. You knew what he meant. The accusation could be falsified. In fact the burden of proof was on the accuser: when McCarthy couldn't make his loose charges stick, he was ruined. (Of course McCarthy was hated less for his "loose" charges than for his accurate ones. His real offense was stigmatizing the Left).

The opposite applies to charges of "anti-Semitism." The word has no precise definition. An "anti-Semite" mayor may not hate Jews. But he is certainly hated by Jews. There is no penalty for making the charge loosely; the accused has no way of falsifying the charge, since it isn't defined.

A famous example. When Abe Rosenthal accused Pat Buchanan of "anti-Semitism," everyone on both sides understood the ground rules. There was a chance that Buchanan would be ruined, even if the charge was baseless. And there was no chance that Rosenthal would be ruined – even if the charge was baseless. Such are the rules. I violate them, in a way, even by spelling them out.

"Anti-Semitism" is therefore less a charge than a curse, an imprecation that must be uttered formulaically. Being a "bogus predicate," to use Gilbert Ryle's phrase, it has no real content, no functional equivalent in plain nouns and verbs. Its power comes from the knowledge of its potential targets, the gentiles, that powerful people are willing to back it up with material penalties.

In other words, journalists are as afraid of Jewish power as politicians are. This means that public discussion is cramped and warped by unspoken fear – a fear journalists won't acknowledge, because it embarrasses their pretense of being fearless critics of power. When there are incentives to accuse but no penalties for slander, the result is predictable.

What is true of "anti-Semitism" is also true to a lesser degree of other bogus predicates like "racism," "sexism," and "homophobia." Other minorities have seen and adopted the successful model of the Jewish establishment. And so our public tongue has become not only Jewish-oriented but more generally minority-oriented in its inhibitions.

The illusion that we enjoy free speech has been fostered by the breaking of Christian taboos, which has become not only safe but profitable. To violate minority taboos is "offensive" and "insensitive"; to violate Christian taboos – many of them shared by religious Jews – is to be "daring" and "irreverent." ("Irreverence," of course, has become good.)

Jewry, like Gaul, may be divided into three parts, each defined by its borders vis-a-vis the gentile world. There are the Orthodox, who not only insist on borders but wear them. They often dress in attire that sets them apart; they are even willing to look outlandish to gentiles in order to affirm their identity and their distinctive way of life. At the other extreme are Jews who have no borders, who may (or may not) assimilate and intermarry, whose politics may range from left to right, but who in any case accept the same set of rules for everyone. I respect both types.

But the third type presents problems. These are the Jews who maintain their borders furtively and deal disingenuously with gentiles. Raymond Chandler once observed of them that they want to be Jews among themselves but resent being seen as Jews by gentiles. They want to pursue their own distinct interests while pretending that they have no such interests, using the charge of "anti-Semitism" as sword and shield. As Chandler put it, they are like a man who refuses to give his real name and address but insists on being invited to all the best parties. Unfortunately, it's this third type that wields most of the power and skews the rules for gentiles. The columnist Richard Cohen cites an old maxim: "Dress British, think Yiddish."

Americans ought to be free to discuss Jewish power and Jewish interests frankly, without being accused of denying the rights of Jews. That should go without saying. The truth is both otherwise and unmentionable.

Additional information about this document
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Author(s): Joseph Sobran
Title: The Jewish Angle
Sources: The Journal of Historical Review, vol. 15, no. 6 (November/December 1995), pp. 22-26; "Beware of Ally" is reprinted from the October 1994 issue of Sobran's, and "The Jewish Establishment" from the September 1995 issue.
Published: 1994-10-01
First posted on CODOH: Dec. 25, 2012, 6 p.m.
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