German Anti-Semitism circa 1870

Charles Ryan
Charles Ryan

Some of the best and most interesting books I’ve ever read were those I’ve randomly picked out while wandering through the stacks at university libraries.  Occasionally you’ll find nuggets of information and forgotten stories you never would have gone looking for intentionally.  One book, in particular, made a lasting impression on me.  It was entitled, “With an Ambulance during the Franco-German War,” and was published in 1896 by Charles Edward Ryan.  In those days an “ambulance” was a sort of mobile field hospital, occasionally, as in this case, manned by volunteers.  Their neutrality was respected by both sides, and, occasionally, as the lines moved one way or the other with the fortunes of war, they would find themselves under a different flag than the day before.  In fact, this happened to the author at the decisive Battle of Sedan, where Napoleon III and his entire army were surrounded and forced to surrender, and on several other occasions.  War was a great deal less professional in those days.  Instead of shooting the author as a spy, the Germans gave him a pass to travel through France and Germany at will, requisitioning billets and train passes as needed to tend the sick.  So it was that on one occasion he found himself on a train in the same compartment with some German officers and a hapless Jew. 

I have occasionally read and heard claims to the effect that the German officer corps was not tainted by the anti-Semitism of the Nazis.  See, for example, the memoirs of von Papen, a conservative who agreed to serve as Vice-Chancellor in Hitler’s first government in the fond hope that he could be “managed.”  Based on Ryan’s account, however, that wasn’t entirely true.  I will let him speak for himself.

I had seen Ferrieres, the palace of a Frankfort Jew, with admiration, all the more that it had been respected as a sanctuary by orders from the Prussians. Yet it was during this same journey that I witnessed an incident in which a Jew was the hero or the victim, that filled me with astonishment, as it may do my readers who happen not to be acquainted with the ways of the Fatherland. I had frequently heard the Jews spoken of by my German friends in language of supreme contempt; but never did I realize the depth of that feeling until now.

In the railway compartment in which I travelled, all were German officers except myself and one civilian. The latter had got in at a wayside station, and sat at the furthest corner opposite me. My companions began without delay to banter and tease him unmercifully, all the while addressing him as Lemann. He was a small stunted person, in make and features an Israelite, and not more than twenty-five. The behavior of his fellow-travelers seemed to give him no concern ; as they fired off at him their sneering jests, he scanned them with his sharp eyes, but did not move a muscle.
I inquired of the officer next me, who spoke English well, how it came to pass that they knew this stranger’s name. He explained that Lemann was the common term for a Jew in their language, going on to describe how much the sons of Jacob were detested throughout Germany ; and for his part he thought they were a vile horde, who laid hands on everything they could seize, in a way which we English were incapable of fancying. The officers, he added, were all getting down to have some beer at the next station, and by way of illustration he would show me what manner of men these Jews were; and as he said the words, he took off his hairy fur-lined gloves, and threw them across the carriage to our man in the corner, remarking, “There, Lemann! it is a cold day”. The Jew picked up the gloves eagerly, which he had missed on the catch, and pulled them on. When we were nearing the station, the officer who had thrown the gloves at him, took off his fur rug, and flung that also to the Jew. Once more he accepted the insulting present, and quickly rolled the rug about him. Finally, a third threw off his military cloak, and slung it on the Jew’s back as he was passing out. This, again, the wretched creature put on ; and their absence at the buffet left him for the next ten minutes in peace.

Presently the horn sounded, and our Germans came back. One seized his rug, another his cloak, and finally, my first acquaintance recovered his gloves by one unceremonious tug from Lemann’s meekly outstretched fingers. My own face, I think, must have flushed with indignation ; but the others only laughed at my superfluous display of feeling; and Lemann, shrugging his shoulders, — but only because of the sudden change of temperature when his wraps were pulled away,—took out of his pocket a little book with red print, which he began to read backwards, and, turning up the sleeve of his coat, began to unwind a long cord which was coiled round his wrist and forearm as far as the elbow. Every now and then he would stop the unwinding, and pray with a fervor quite remarkable, then unwind his cord again, and so on till the whole was undone. For a time the officers resumed their jeering ; but, seeing that it was like so much water on a stone, they turned the conversation, and allowed the unhappy Jew to continue his devotions unmolested till he got out at Strasburg. What would these officers have done, had they travelled in the same railway carriage with M. de Rothschild?

Evidently, anti-Semitism was alive and well in the German officer corps long before the rise of the Nazis.  I had often thought of scanning Ryan’s book myself to preserve this and the many other interesting historical anecdotes it contains, such as his account of one Dr. Pratt, a former large slave owner who had served with the Confederate medical staff, and was now in exile along with one of his slaves, who had joined him to serve as cook for the ambulance.  When I found the book in the stacks of the University of Maryland, I found its pages badly deteriorated because of the acid paper they were printed on.  The initial printing had been very small, and I suspect very few copies remained by the time I discovered the book.  However, as can be seen by the link above, Google has already preserved a digital copy.  I don’t know how or why they undertook the massive effort of preserving so many valuable old books, but, regardless, I am grateful to them for it.  In this day of Holocaust deniers, 911 truthers, and assorted other tribes of historical revisionists, the more source material we preserve, the better. 

In answer to your question, by the way, no, I am not Jewish.

Israel, Sweden, and the Modern Face of Anti-Semitism

If events in Sweden are any guide, European anti-Semitism is in the process of reverting from the coded “anti-Israel” version to the full blown “Protocols of the Elders of Zion” version that prevailed in the days before the Third Reich. The “anti-Israel” form of anti-Semitism has been the prevailing flavor on the left for some time. For example, one can usually find artifacts of it in the form of a grotesque double standard on any given day at the BBC’s “news” site. Now, at least one Swedish tabloid has decided to dispense with the mask and promote the “blood libel” version in unvarnished form.

It has been the unfortunate fate of the Jewish people to fit perfectly into the role of an “out-group” for many centuries (see my post on the Amity-Enmity Complex). Obviously, things haven’t changed. Hatred of the Jews, hidden beneath a thin veneer of “anti-Zionist” camouflage for the sake of political correctness, has been a defining characteristic of the ideological left for some time. An interesting expression of this phenomenon has been the wholesale adoption of leftist “anti-imperialist/anti-colonialist” rhetoric by right wing Islamists.

The lesson here is the same one that history has been beating our heads with for millenia, but that we still stubbornly refuse to learn. It is that the spinners of ideological utopias and the authors of the latest “modern morality” will, inevitably, fail as long as they continue to ignore the facts of human nature. Those facts aren’t going to change any time soon. In the meantime, we must understand and accommodate them. Human beings must have out-groups. They must hate. These things are as much a part of their nature as the “good” aspects of their behavior. Our predisposition to hate and despise an “out-group” must and will have an outlet. One can easily confirm this by visiting any political blog or forum on the ideological right or left and reading the comments posted there. Unless we finally accommodate ourselves to what we really are, we will continue to stumble from one holocaust to another, even as we chase after the latest chimerical ideals. Let us finally accept the fact that we must hate, understand the roots of that hate in our nature as a species, and try to find outlets for it that are not self-destructive. If we fail, self-destruction may well be our fate.

BBC Declares Military Aggression Legitimate!

According to the BBC, the Arab seizure of Palestine in a successful act of military aggression was legitimate, and the Jews must now be considered “occupiers” in their own homeland. According to that logic, the Indians are illegal “occupiers” of their reservations and the other lands they control in the United States. I would be very grateful to the BBC if one of their spokespersons would explain the difference. The attempt should prove very amusing.

Apartheid Walls, and how to Distinguish Them

Harry’s Place notes the construction of a new Apartheid Wall. I checked the BBC’s website to confirm the story and was astonished to find no mention of it whatsoever. After all, aren’t they world experts in such matters? Odd, how they only notice “apartheid walls” when they’re built in certain countries.

NPR, Israel, and the “Progressive” Narrative

On my way to work this morning, I happened to turn on NPR in the middle of a story about the miseries of Bedouins, who were apparently being forced to live near an unsanitary dump. Bedouins exist in Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Eritrea, much of north Africa, and a host of other countries, but I knew with virtually absolute certainty which country was the scene of these unfortunate events. Surely, you, too, can guess unless you’ve been asleep for the last 40 years. Of course! It was Israel.

NPR, in common with the BBC, its big cousin on the other side of the pond, promotes the “progressive” narrative. At this point in time, one of the slats in this particular dogmatic box happens to be hatred of Israel. As a result, the Bedouin story was “news” because it cast Israel in a negative light. If it had happened in any other country not on the current list of “progressive” bad guys, it would not have been “news.”

If you want to fact check me on this, just follow the “news” at the NPR or BBC websites for a week or so. You’ll see the same pattern repeated over and over. In modern parlance, this is referred to as “objective journalism.”

Israel and its Enemies: The Peace Process that Isn’t

While Obama was “forging partnership” in Moscow, the real quagmire in the Middle East dragged on. The problem with the Middle East “peace process” is that no “process” is needed, or even possible as things now stand. One thing is necessary and sufficient for peace in the Middle East; recognition of Israel’s right to exist by her enemies. If that right were granted, there would be peace tomorrow. Without it, no magical “process” will bring peace.

Acceptance of Israel’s right to exist is the sine qua non for peace in the region. There is no question of Israel’s willingness to live in peace with her neighbors if they concede her right to exist and stop attacking her. They are not willing to concede her that right. They are determined to wipe her off the face of the earth.

The question is, then, “Does Israel have the right to exist?”  Let us examine the question.

Nothing is easier than to use political correctness as a bludgeon against Israel.  She is “apartheid”, she “discriminates,” she engages in “ethnic cleansing.”  This neatly passes over the fact that, if she deserves these epithets, her enemies deserve them doubly.  They accuse her of desiring ethnic cleansing, but in their lands ethnic cleansing is a fact, a fait accompli.  In those lands, where Jews lived for centuries, they left, or, if they didn’t leave, were driven out.  They would be ill-advised to return if they value their lives.  In these lands, Jewish minorities are now virtually nonexistent.  This is real apartheid, and real ethnic cleansing.  If the Arabs and their Moslem supporters regained control of Israel, the Jews would certainly be victims of gross discrimination and violence.  It is highly likely that those not able to flee would be massacred.  The result would, again, be real ethnic cleansing and real apartheid.  We have already seen it happen in Gaza.  How many Jews live there now?  How is it that the professionally pious “progressives” who constantly whine about Israeli “apartheid” and “discrimination” have no problem at all with real apartheid and ethnic cleansing if the victims happen to be Jews?

The Jews certainly have a historical claim to the land.  By the time they were conquered by the Romans, they had lived there for centuries.  The Arab “right” to the country is based on nothing more substantial than a successful military aggression in the seventh century.  Notice how those who continually flog the US today for aggression against the Indians, much of which happened before the US existed, do not seem to notice that this earlier aggression ever took place.  The seventh century was a long time ago.  So was 1492.  Is anyone telling the original inhabitants of North America that, if they don’t either leave their reservations or wait to be massacred, they are guilty of “apartheid?”  What, exactly, happened between the seventh century and 1492 to account for the difference?

Sometimes political correctness must yield to political realities.   The reality is that, if Israel’s enemies and their “progressive” pals  had their way, the result would be not only real apartheid and real ethnic cleansing, but probably mass slaughter as well.  They refuse to face that reality.

We are told that the Jews can go to the United States, or to some other “friendly” country.  This ignores the humiliation, subjugation, and violence they have been subjected to in the other “friendly” countries they have sought refuge in after they were banished from their homes or the violence against them became too great to bear.  It also ignores the history of anti-Semitism in the US, and the lack of any guarantees that it won’t raise its ugly head again.  In fact, it already has, in the form of “anti-Zionism,” a convenient cloak for bigotry, always recognizable by a double standard that takes the form of an obsession with the sins of Israel, but blindness towards those of her enemies.

Given the history of oppression the Jews have suffered, unequaled for its severity and duration, one certainly can’t blame them for wanting a homeland of their own.  In the process of creating that homeland, Palestinians lost their homes.  Well, unoffending Jews lost theirs as well at the same time.  The difference between them now is that, if the Jews lose their homeland, there will be no refuge for them among others who share their religion and culture.  They will, once again, assume the historical role they have already played for many centuries; a hated out-group without a country.  It should surprise no one that the Jews have chosen to stand and fight to preserve their homeland under the circumstances.  For their enemies, the question is one of regaining control over a small strip of land their ancestors seized in a war of aggression.  For the Jews, it is a question of life or death.

In a word, then, the Middle East “peace process” is an absurdity.  There is no “process” that will secure peace, no matter how clever.  The only thing that will secure a lasting peace is acceptance of Israel’s right to exist.  We must insist on that right, and continue to stand behind her until it is granted.

Charles Krauthammer and the “Double Standard” Variant of Anti-Semitism

In a recent article, Charles Krauthammer wrote:

“Obama the Humble declares there will be no more “dictating” to other countries. We should “forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions,” he told the G-20 summit. In Middle East negotiations, he told al-Arabiya, America will henceforth “start by listening, because all too often the United States starts by dictating.”

“An admirable sentiment. It applies to everyone — Iran, Russia, Cuba, Syria, even Venezuela. Except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Clinton imperiously explained the diktat: ‘a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions.'”

I couldn’t agree more. This double standard is currently the favorite flavor of anti-Semitism among the international left, with the BBC leading the way. For example, today we read,

Palestinian killed in West Bank protest

“Israeli troops have shot dead a Palestinian man during a protest over the barrier Israel is building through the West Bank, Palestinian sources say.

“…The Israeli army is also replacing the main access road to the village with a tunnel, to be controlled by the military.

“Palestinians and their supporters say the plan will, in effect, turn Nilin into a ‘prison’.”

…and so on. The snide, biting attacks on Israel in such “objective reports” goes on day after day, and the BBC seldom misses a day. Just check it out for yourself. Think any other country in the Middle East is subjected to similar negative scrutiny or relentless negative spin? Guess again! This, my friends, is anti-Semitism, period!

We are told that Israel is guilty of “apartheid” because it wants to add enough living space for families to stay in their homes on the West Bank. However, the demand that the West Bank be ethnically cleansed of Jews is, somehow, not apartheid. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from Gaza is, somehow, not apartheid. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from homes in North Africa they had occupied for many centuries is, somehow, not apartheid. The ethnic cleansing of Jews from Iran is, somehow, not apartheid. This not-so-subtle variant of anti-Semitism is fobbed off as a “demand for justice” for the poor, oppressed Palestinians, even as they continue their daily attacks on Israel with impunity.

Not one of our brilliant “foreign policy experts,” with their sage pontifications about the “Middle East peace process” and their assorted “roadmaps to peace” is unaware that there would be peace in the Middle East tomorrow if Israel’s enemies conceded her right to exist. Israel’s enemies have made it crystal clear they have no intention of doing so. Why, then, do we keep playing these increasingly abject and ridiculous games?

Here’s a clue for these geniuses. The only way to achieve Middle East peace is to insist that Israel’s Arab enemies, who only occupied the region to begin with by virtue of a successful military aggression, stop attacking her, and recognize her right to exist. When they do that, there will be peace. Until they do it, we should make it clear that we will continue to defend our Israeli ally without reservation.

German anti-Semitism, the Middle East “Peace Process,” and Der Spiegel

Connoisseurs of the German media will appreciate the subtle anti-Semitism in the Spiegel Online coverage of the Obama – Netanyahu summit. Of course, for well known historical reasons, the editors limit themselves to short, mincing steps in dealing with Israel, carefully lacing their coverage with even more than the usual dose of pious platitudes. Still, the thinly camouflaged “anti-Zionist” variant of European anti-Semitism that takes the form of holding Israel to a blatantly disproportionate double standard compared to her enemies is easily recognizable. For example, there are dark warnings from unnamed “experts” (Spiegel has an inexhaustible supply to fit any occasion), that the Chosen One is upset with Israel: “According to the analysis of other observers, it is finally evident that Obama no longer considers Netanyahu an ally on the path to peace in the Middle East – but rather an obstacle.” That bizarre alternative universe, in which President Obama and the Arabs are all clamoring for peace, but are constantly thwarted by Israeli intransigence, is alive and well in Der Spiegel: “’First them, then us,’ is the solution as (Netanyahu) sees it. That sounds a lot different than the bold steps Obama proposes… (he) wants to present the outlines of a comprehensive peace plan, including diplomatic approaches to Iran and Syria as well as Near East negotiations, during the state visits of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian President Abbas as well as in his speech to the Muslim world on June 4.”

Never mind that the “bold steps” Obama is proposing amount to suicide for the state of Israel. She has to go along with the “peace process,” which, as in the past, amounts to making real concessions and getting nothing in return.

The editors of Der Spiegel are as well aware as anyone that there would be peace in the Middle East tomorrow if Israel’s enemies accepted her right to exist once and for all, and stopped attacking her. As German’s, they must also be aware that her right to exist is real, and based on an historical imperative that transcends their pious phrase mongering and moralistic posing. Telling it like it is doesn’t sell magazines, though. Hate always does (see my post below on in-groups and out-groups). Yesterday, the preferred flavor of hate in Europe was anti-Americanism.  I’ve included some representative excrescences thereof that appeared in the German media from time to time, lifted from David’s Medienkritik, currently an inactive site, but with a great archive documenting anti-Americanism in the German and European media.  

 

spiegel-covers1

 

stern-bootmetall-parasite

 

 Today, it is anti-Semitism. Expect more of the same in Der Spiegel as long as the editors think they are just yapping along with the rest of the dogs.