Fluttering Things

These poems are excerpted from Richard Pope’s recent collection, Fluttering Things: Poems about Birds. The book is beautifully illustrated with watercolors and photographs.

All proceeds go to Thicksons Woods Land Trust and Matt Holder Environmental Research Fund.

Chickadees

In feather-white silence
I hear them
discussing me
soft reedy whistles and thin nasal
chickadee
talking it over
unafraid.
In a straggling swoop
a chatty wave invades
comic
endearing
they inundate the clearing
all over the trees
these chickadees
upside down on branches
swaying in the breeze
constantly chattering
dee dee dee
audibly pecking
unconcerned by me.
One cocky fellow
in immaculate dress
with glossy black evening cap
bolder than the rest
drops down for a look
not fearing to land
on my outstretched hand
he cocks his head to watch me
10
set to fly
my eye to tiny jewel-like beady eye
then satisfied
flit
he’s in the crowd again
which swoops off
boisterously
sudden as it came
and for minutes
I can hear them
dee dee dee
then once again the snow hush lights on me.

Considerable Specks
Winter Wrens

Doughty trout lilies
curled like unborn babes
force their way
through last-year’s leaves.
The crowns
of towering hardwoods
colour and swell.
Apart from teetering partridges
gorging on buds
no birds can be seen
and the April woods
though poised for a mad rush of life
are chilly and spare
and one would say
spring is far away
were not the woods exploding with exquisite song
tumbling rushing melodies
loud
high
and clear
trills and crescendos
liquid
ornate
and sustained –
powerful singing by masters
with soul and finesse.
Though nothing is visible
no matter how hard you look
the birds that produce this
Must be substantial in size.
No point checking your book
For the tiniest wren.
By June
the live warm greenwood
is quiet
and still.
There is sneaking
and skulking
and hiding
and streaking down holes
and an awful lot of furtiveness
by chipmunks
and voles.
Every time I walk past my pile of boughs
something whirs near the ground
and flits out of sight.
Sometimes
from afar
out the corner of my eye
I pick up action
a darting in or out
shrews
or mice
or the like
seeking cover
no doubt.
Hrrrrrrrr.
Certain something has just darted in
I lie on the ground
and peer into the tangle
at its most snarled spot.
Slowly
I probe the impenetrable wall
of interwoven hemlock slash
and suddenly
as if by magic
I am seeing a bird
a tiny motionless milk-chocolate-flecked brown bird
a feathered ping-pong ball with a tiny sharp bill
and a stumpy tail
cocked ninety degrees to its back
with a jauntiness
hardly expected
in so small a mite,
which,
once it knows it’s been seen,
flits further back in the brush pile
out of my sight.
No question about it
the books must be wrong
this shy silent lifespeck
can’t be the one
who shatters the wide glass woods
with his April song.

Lament in a Minor Key

Something of the ghost about the loon
silent
smooth
no ripples
no splash heard
Indian mists
souls yearning
past lives blurred
its necklace makes the loon a totem bird
Oh,
how can one withstand
the plea
forlorn and phantom
lakes away
lost forever
soulflight
echo play
through damp night valleys from some hollow bay
63
Nighttime laughter
a maniac’s cry
The revelling of some werewolf spirit
exhuberant counterpoint to the long plaintive sigh.
Am I to be the last lost soul to hear it?


Richard Pope is a retired professor of Russian literature, and a lifelong birder. Aside from various scholarly publications, he is also the author of Flight from Grace: A Cultural History of Humans and Birds, Me n Len: Life in the Haliburton Bush 1900-1940, and a novel, Shadows Gathering.


“I Wanted More”: A Selection from An Excess Of Love

The following selection comes from my recently released memoir, An Excess Of Love. The book concerns my 12 years teaching at a traditional Catholic school in Connecticut, the long scandalization and strangulation that sect worked on my affection, and why, if one must be idealistic, they must never waste their energies on middle class people. In my own bibulous and pissy way, the story is in fact optimistic; for, when one sloughs off half lovers and hobbyists, one finds out what the Holy Spirit can do with one’s vocation. You may purchase the book HERE.

What I saw in traditional Catholicism, and what I would see with my coming work at St. Esau’s school, was a system which could give secular modernity a run for its money. That is still my conclusion. Nothing in my beliefs changed with the failure of St. Esau’s high school. What drove me from traditional Catholicism, what I am trying to convey in this paper, is how I came to the realization that religious conservatives are too puny to establish their principles in society.

Always have I seen one enemy and one alone, secularism. I still believe the only system which is brawny enough to scotch secularism, at least in the West, is Catholicism. Unfortunately, it is the work of this essay to show how the mighty system of Catholicism is lodged in socio-economic strata which will never be able to establish it as a social reality. This is to say as long as Catholicism is strongest among the middle class there will be no Christendom.

Mission & Sacrifice

We will not dawdle on the history or legal irregularities of the Society Of St. Pius 501(c)3. Others have done this better than I can. It is not our focus here anyway. To grasp the doggedness of the St. Esau’s Project we must look at something more important. We must look at the SSPD’s sense of mission.

The founder of the Society was Archbishop Marcel Proust. He was a missionary in Africa for most of his career. This missionary spirit infused all of the clerics I came across in the SSPD. If one only understands the group from Internet apologetics and the sometimes lame and erratic laymen who frequent their chapels and glory in their pretended affiliation with the Society – for the Society are only the vowed religious and their hirelings – one will miss the fuel which fires the actual SSPD. That fuel is the missionary spirit.

There was additionally a spirit of sacrifice which greatly appealed to me. Everything could be united and supercharged by uniting it with Christ on the cross. No privation was too small to go unnoticed by heaven; no work too obscure but that it could contribute to the salvation of the world. This deeply jived with my total war mentality. Everything for the cause, and the cause was the salvation of everything.

Here were people – I thought – who were bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. They were more pacific than I, I suppose. What I called total war they termed the Little Way. Tomayto-tomahto. Adduced to witness this idea in history were the thousands of martyrs they read out each morning at Prime. And sure, wasn’t auld Jesus the only god worth a sin and a prayer and a beheading.

Diamonds for Souls

Because of my experiences at ‘Round Abouts Danbury, and their coreligionists farther afield, I do not believe traditional Catholics take themselves seriously. No matter how much my creed and praxis matched theirs, I eventually could no longer tarry with them when my final patience was exhausted. When those people take themselves seriously others will take them seriously. It is the work of this essay to explain how I arrived at this conclusion.

Still and all, I do not hesitate to mention that I met a handful of extraordinary people over my 12 years in Tradville, at the school, on pilgrimages, at camps. Wallahi, had I not seen these people I would not believe such men could exist! They were like people out of the books. For a rare few of them Christianity, too, was like a physical thing.

How taken aback I was my first Good Friday to see people emotionally overcome with the theme of the day. I remember one woman composed but forlorn enough to excuse herself from the ceremony. There was one cleric who walked the Camino so intently his toenails fell off afterwards. I saw people turned out by their families for their religious principles. I saw people turn out great addictions with the power of faith. I bloody the noses of not a few broads in this book; by God, though, didn’t I see some of them hold their family together with a will. When all of warm and massaging Postmodernity nibbled on their ears and said, “Divorce, divorce,” they roared back with Cathal Brugha, “I shall not!”

And for those divorced, as the Freemason attorneys reckon such things, I saw traditional Catholics take up their station with lonely Cato in Carthage; I saw these walking wounded from The World embrace singularity and continence in loyalty to their vows when their own married partners went the way of all flesh. The world stares in awe at these last ones. For while their matrimonial loyalty was strange to the world, these everlasting Penelopes were also written off as damaged goods by their haughty coreligionists.

Circumstances provided the pressure, Allahu alam, doctrine and narrative gave the matter, to forge diamonds of their souls. For all the overweening mediocrity I would discover, there were a few good skins at ‘Round Abouts Danbury.

First Contact

When I was young and I was in my day, I first found myself on St. Ignatius’ feast 2005 at the complex which would consume the next 12 years of my energy. I’d have been in the guts of my seventeenth year then. I was greeted by one of their priests, Fr. Habakkuk. He was a rotund man both holy and jolly. Often the genuine version of the former will naturally produce the latter characteristic. As I would find out with nearly every traditional cleric and religious I would come across, he was a man very much a credit to his vocation.

When I rolled in he and an old timer were putting an air conditioner into a window frame. He had the old guy, The Bull McCabe, guide me about the property. Bull McCabe was finishing up a years’ long project of soldering the stained glass windows. They were salvaged from a closed church, which could care less for them, and placed into this new temple. In a nutshell this was traditionalism: salvaging the patrimony of the past for the grateful. The Bull is long dead now but his window panes are as snug as ever. I was eventually taken by him to the office where I was given pamphlets concerning the SSPD by the kindly blue haired secretary.

On my way home I stopped at the Danbury Mall food court. Eating what I still remember was an excellent turkey grinder, I read through the packets and savored the memory of their hospitality.

In Retrospect

It must be understood that the SSPD(c)3 in 2005 was a different creature than it is today. This fundamentally had to do with the second generation of priests – those men ordained by Marcel Proust following their 1988 schism – being in their prime. As with all such ideological groups, this second generation had much of the fire in the belly which motivated their parents to embark on the protestant path before them.

What happened during my temporal footprint is that this second generation would be replaced by younger clerics who had no interaction with the actual Catholic Church nor the spirit that fired their traditional grandsirs. They and their parents were brought up in a traditional Catholicism which was already up and running.

Likewise with the laity. When I was involved with traditionalism we were seeing the third generation of people come up. These were the grandchildren of people who had seceded from Catholicism – or kept the faith when everyone apostatized, as you like. In any case, these ones were the generation I was to teach. I can tell you this rising cohort did not have anything like the grasp of Vatican II-related topics I understood, I who had read myself into the movement at 15. As they say, the first generation builds, the second coasts, the third wrecks the work. This is all of history, sacred and profane. Rinse and repeat.

In line with this, as the years wore on the SSPD would embark on a program of professionalization which would ensconce these dynamics. Pagan, Christian, or Jew, religious or secular, every group that has ever been must inevitably confront a scenario in their growth where they must soften their edges – or water things down, as you like – if they are to grow. Come to think of it, this is something all major languages have done as well. Religion is a group’s soul language, so perhaps we have stumbled on a big principle here. Anyway, during my footprint at ‘Round Abouts Danbury this necessary softening was happening.

All that was a ways off. That summer of 2005 I threw my energy into traditional Catholicism. In short order I began attending their liturgies, going on retreats, and entering into the rhythm of their parish life. A pivotal point would come the following summer of 2006. At that time I attended a pilgrimage which my new church organized. About a year later I was invited to teach at their school.

When the Saints Go Marching In

Before I explain the circumstances which hailed me into the school of St. Corporate Whore Church for the next decade, a word on that summer pilgrimage. This was the incarnation of everything I had hoped for, and more than I had hoped for, about traditionalism. The event went like this.

I worked in those days at a notable fast food chain specializing in roast beef sandwiches. In the best capitalist fashion of doing the most with the least, the night before my holy journey I was up late closing the store. We were understaffed. Circumstances at that time required me to walk some miles home afterwards at midnight. I did not have a car. Indeed I needed to bum a ride to the pilgrimage the next day. I had arranged a lift sight unseen with a man and his wife who would be important in my entry into St. Esau’s a year later. The man’s name was Van Dyke, the wife’s name was Mrs. Van Dyke.

Anyhow, about my fatigue. I worked late into the night the evening before the pilgrimage and walked home afterwards. I awoke early to meet Van Dyke and his wife for the three hour journey from Danbury to the shrine in Upstate New York, the pilgrimage start point. I began the subsequent 10-mile trek under moderate sleep deprivation and fatigue. I only ground down from there. There is something to be said for sleep deprivation. I suppose that’s why religions often use it. It puts one into a different state of mind.

In this triptych – the penny pinching, the fatigue, the determination to press on nevertheless – was the next decade of my life. Here too was the thing which explained the day and the decade: the beauty of that journey.

Labbaik Allahumma Labbaik

At that time the Auriesville Pilgrimage was held around Midsummer. School was just out, the baby priests were making their rounds of first blessings, and the liturgical fireworks finale of Pentecost-Trinity-Corpus Christi-Sacred Heart was fast approaching.

If memory serves, in fact, the Saturday of this pilgrimage was the Vigil Of Pentecost that year. Following the pilgrimage things got to be very quiet on the grounds of St. Corporate Whore’s, and at all Society chapels; so on top of everything there was the consciousness that people would only see each other sporadically over the next few months.

Thus for Northeast trads, regardless of age, the Auriesville pilgrimage was like both the first day of school and the last day of school at once, and the gate of heaven besides. They wanted to make the most of their time together. All of this combined with the natural exuberance of early summer to imbue the day with a fine energy for one so new “to tradition,” as the parlance was.

When we arrived it was the pissing down of rain. Van Dyke left me to my own devices, so I began wandering around. I haven’t the slightest recollection of how this came about, but I ended up in the back of a U-Hall van assisting some young men move equipment around. That year the head of the SSPD, Bishop Bernard Mallard was at Auriesville. This meant that attendance was much bigger than it normally would have been. He was going to preach from the back of the van this rainy morning, and we were getting that set up.

I spent the first half of the pilgrimage with the work crew. The foreman that day was a man who lived in the Retreat House, The Gaffer. I got to know him some in the years ahead and we’d come to get on like a house on fire. On our way to the lunch site, leap-frogging ahead of the pilgrimage, the lunch crew stopped at a gas station for some snacks on The Gaffer. I would find out in after years that this was a yearly ritual, his buying goodies for the lads. I’ve never forgotten this paltry kindness of his, and I don’t think all the guys who cycled through the U-Hall truck over the years ever have either.

Well, after the opening sermon, the step off, and the lunch set up, I walked the second stretch of the pilgrimage.

The weather had broken and a beautiful afternoon presented itself. The rail trail we were using was steaming. The procession went on for several miles. At the front of it teenage boys traded with their fathers in carrying a life-sized cross. Though hollow, that bastard weighed a lot. In time I came to find that traditionalist women loved denim skirts and sneakers for casual wear. As the lot of us were doffing our slickers, or our trash bags if we didn’t have proper coats, the beors took off their shoes. In women of a certain age the braids and bare feet and scapulars is a fetching look.

Yes, it was a pretty sight altogether: the steam and asphalt and the kids, and everyone jabbering out the Rosary and holy songs. A great quote of Brendan Behan’s comes to mind apropos to the mood that afternoon. He says, “I always get grateful and pious in good weather and this was the kind of day you’d know that Christ died for you. A bloody good job that I wasn’t born in the South of France or Miami Beach, or I’d be so grateful and holy for the sunshine that St. Paul of the Cross would be only trotting after me, skull, crossbones and all.”

I remember the sun and humidity and mosquitoes as big as a brick that afternoon. What I remember most is one young mother that day. She was with child. Herself was easy on the eyes which is how I suppose she got to be a mother in the first place. Now there were provisions made for the elderly and the knackered by way of a fleet of golf carts which patrolled the length of the march. She hailed one cart from behind me. As the trolly came trundling by I thought she looked as beautiful and delicate as a butterfly.

I briefly met that couple years later in Syracuse. The Butterfly was with child once again. Our plans that morning were scuppered by her having morning sickness. Her husband, slightly embarrassed by her digestive faux pas, was most generous in joining me for breakfast sandwiches and coffee after holy Mass. I learned after that a job offer eventually sucked the family into the wiles of Ohio and forever out of the East Coast orbit. It’s funny how people come in and out of your life. So it goes.

The last stretch of the hike was up a hill which people dubbed Purgatory Mountain, a la Dante. Some of the religious and the high schoolers from somewhere or other formed ranks on either side. As the balance of the procession hauled its way up the hillock they sang the Litany Of The Saints. It sure felt like Purgatory after 10 miles, or five in my case. At the High Mass which concluded the pilgrimage I nearly fell asleep – standing – during the Creed. I was terribly tired. The sense of completing the pilgrimage was a fine sensation, as the maid said to the soldier.

The Parting Glass

I should never forget that final scene as I prepared to return with my ride to Connecticut. The Shrine was on top of a hill whose head was flat. I’ve never had a problem reconciling the gospel accounts of the Sermon On The Mount vs. the Sermon On The Plain, because this Shrine was located on a plain which sat atop a mount. Because of the tension between the SSPD and the actual Catholic Church, the shrine authorities in fact limited our encampment to a neighboring field and parking lot. It was on the gift store side of the property, and, whatever the canonical status of the trads, their money was good in the store. In God we trust; all others pay cash.

What a scene we had the sultry sun-sinking evening! How the clerics rejoiced in their vocations; yes, how the packs of boys saw each priest a hero as they blessed and shrived and preached the day through; how the women rejoiced in their families; yes, how for one day in common – and women do all things in common – their arrayed minivans and strollers were trophies of defiance towards a sterile modernity which sneered at their fertility; how the children danced to folk music which had struck up from somewhere or other; how the fathers rejoiced in another year of being able to pay for those families. There is something in a pilgrimage completed, and a school year done, which briefly approximates for a man the paying off of a mortgage.

Blessing this bless’d scene were hundreds of sandwiches delivered on platters by the cutest children you ever saw, and plenty of chips and beer besides. It was all paid for by a man as kind as he was anonymous. You’ll remember that Bishop Mallard was at this thing, so all the stops were out for that big man with a big hat. The lot of us blessed the unknown mensch as we downed his drink and ate his food. That lot of us were, indeed, a lot of us, and a very hungry bunch we were after hiking ten miles in the summer sun and singing ourselves through a High Mass.

Since my fourteenth year I have said the breviary. There are many things in this book which must strike you, kind reader, as strange about me. This sentence is the only place where I join you. Yes, I have said the Office since I was 14. What a queer thing to do for one so young. Well, on that holy, hilly pilgrimage plateau I remembered that auld canticle of Jeremiah’s: “Shouting, they shall mount the heights of Zion, they shall come streaming to the Lord’s blessings; The grain, the wine, the oil, the sheep and the oxen; They themselves shall be like watered gardens, never again shall they languish. Then the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well.”

By inches the day would come that I would snicker at those clerics as primadonnas, those children as disappointments for cluelessly joining as adults a ruling class bureaucracy fundamentally at war with their nominal Christianity, and those fathers as simps who could not control their wives any sooner than their deracinated society from which this pilgrimage was such a welcome relief.

What of those glowing mammies? Those traditional Catholic mothers, so young and holy and alive on that New York plateau in June of 2006, would in time earn my blackest and immortal opprobrium. All this was in the future, though. With the summer sun westerning as I flopped into Van Dyke’s car to go back home, surfeited on subs and very tired, I saw Catholicism lived. I wanted more.


John Coleman co-hosts Christian History & Ideasand is the founder of Apocatastasis: An Institute for the Humanities, an alternative college and high school in New Milford, Connecticut. Apocatastasis is a school focused on studying the Western humanities in an integrated fashion, while at the same time adjusting to the changing educational field. Information about the college can be found at its website.


Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: The Defeat of the Vanquisher

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from Colonel Jacques Baud’s latest book, which deals with the genocide in Gaza currently being carried out by Israel. The book is entitled, Operation Al-Aqsa Flood: The Defeat of the Vanquisher. We will update this page as soon as this book becomes available. in the meantime, here is the excerpt.

Doctrinal Apparatus Ill-Suited to an Asymmetrical Conflict

The BETHLEHEM Doctrine

This doctrine was developed by Daniel Bethlehem, legal advisor to Ben-jamin Netanyahu and then to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It postulates that states are entitled to preventive self-defense against an “imminent” attack. The difficulty here is to determine the “imminent” nature of an attack, which implies that the terrorist action is close in time and that there is a body of evidence to confirm it.

In February 2013, NBC News released a Department of Justice “White Pa-per” defining “imminent:”

the imminent threat of a violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have proof that a specific attack against American persons or interests will take place in the immediate future.

While the principle appears legitimate, it’s the interpretation of the word “imminent” that poses a problem. In intelligence circles, the “imminence” of an attack is defined in terms of its proximity in time and the likelihood of it taking place. But, according to Daniel Bethlehem, this is no longer the case here:

It must be right that states should be able to act in self-defense in cir-cumstances where there is evidence of imminent attacks by terrorist groups, even if there is no specific evidence of where such an attack will take place or of the precise nature of the attack.

In this way, a terrorist attack can be considered “imminent,” even if the de-tails and timing are unknown. This makes it possible, for example, to launch an air strike simply on the basis of suspicions of an imminent attack.

In November 2008, while a ceasefire was in force, an Israeli commando raid killed six people in Gaza. The explanation given by the Israeli army illustrates the BETHLEHEM doctrine:

This was a targeted operation to prevent an immediate threat […] There was no intention to break the ceasefire, rather the aim of the op-eration was to eliminate an immediate and dangerous threat posed by the Hamas terrorist organization.

This doctrine is similar to the one enunciated in 2001 by Dick Cheney, then Vice President of the United States, also known as the “Cheney doctrine” or the “1% doctrine:”

If there’s a 1% probability that Pakistani scientists are helping terrorists to develop or build weapons of mass destruction, we have to treat that as a certainty, in terms of response.

It’s the strategic/operational version of the Wild West “hip shot.” It’s symp-tomatic of the way we understand the law and the way we wage war: without values and without honor.

The problem with the BETHLEHEM doctrine is that it has been systematically used by Israel to justify ceasefire violations. This is true of extra-judicial kill-ings, which are not considered ceasefire violations. A study of Palestinian rocket attacks shows that they are always carried out in response to an Israeli attack, which does not generally appear in our media. From this stems our perception that Palestinian organizations—Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Ha-mas in particular—wantonly attack Israel with their rockets, and therefore engage in terrorist practices.

In its February 2018 report, the Human Rights Council (HRC) reports that during the Gaza border protests (Return Marches), the Israeli army shot dead 183 civilians, including 154 who were unarmed and 35 children. In February 2019, he reports that the Israeli army “intentionally” shot children, medical personnel (wearing badges and shot in the back!), journalists and disabled people. The Palestinian children shot by Israeli snipers with fragmentation bullets while simply standing in front of the border in Gaza in 2018, or the handcuffed and blindfolded Palestinian youth shot in the back in April 2019, are war crimes.

Israel’s supporters claim self-defence, but this is fallacious, as the videos published by the United Nations show. Firstly, because the victims were in a 150 m security strip inside Gaza, separated from Israel by a fence and a wide berm, from which Israeli snipers fire. Secondly, because those killed were “armed” only with stones, and thirdly, because some of those hit (notably children) were shot in the back.

So much for the world’s most moral army, which the United Nations has asked to stop shooting children.

The DAHIYA Doctrine

The Israeli army deliberately ignores the principles of international humani-tarian law and applies the “Dahiya doctrine,” drawn up by General Gadi Ei-senkot, now Chief of the General Staff. It advocates the use of “disproportion-ate force” to create maximum damage and destruction, and considers that there are “no civilian villages, these are military bases… This is not a re-commendation. It’s a plan.”

It’s a doctrine that presents itself as a deterrent, but contrary to Wikipedia’s assertion, it’s a tactic that can only work in a symmetrical context, i.e. when the action has a linear effect on weakening the adversary. In an asym-metrical context, where the determination of combatants depends on the brutality of their adversary, such destruction only serves to stimulate the will to resist and the determination to use a terrorist approach. This is the essence of jihad.

In fact, the very existence of this doctrine shows that the Israelis have failed to understand their adversaries and their operating logic. This explains why Israel is the only country in the world not to have mastered terrorism in three-quarters of a century.

In October 2023, the same logic will be applied. The British newspaper The Telegraph quoted Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesman for the Israeli army, as saying that for the strikes “the emphasis is on damage, not precision,” the aim being to reduce Gaza to a “tent city” by the end of the campaign.

***

The HANNIBAL Directive

Our media never mention the “HANNIBAL directive,” which came into force in 1986 in the Israeli army, designed to prevent Israeli prisoners from being used as bargaining chips by the Palestinians. It stipulated that those holding the prisoner were to be destroyed by any means necessary (including at the cost of the prisoner’s own life and that of civilians in the area). Applied during Operation PROTECTIVE EDGE, it was behind the total destruction of a Rafah neighborhood on August 1st, 2014, an event known in Palestine as Black Friday.

This directive seems to be still in use, naturally without much publicity. It ex-plains why the Israelis are not impressed by the hostages taken by Hamas:

The European diplomats were also struck by the lack of interest shown by the Israeli government in prioritizing the lives of the hostages held in Gaza.

Very soon after the start of the Hamas operation, Israel announced the deaths of 1,400 Israeli civilians. This number became a leitmotif for refusing any dialogue with Hamas and other Palestinian groups. But this number was revised downwards after 200 charred bodies were recognized as those of Ha-mas fighters. Then, on December 2, 2023, it was lowered again to 1,000 in a tweet from the Israeli government.

An Israeli air force colonel would later confirm that on October 7, a “free fire” was ordered from the air force, described as a “mass HANNIBAL.”

The HANNIBAL directive is applied not only in cases of hostage-taking, but also when soldiers are at risk of capture. For example, on January 24, 2024, near Khan Younès, a tank was damaged by rocket fire, and the Israeli military was unable to approach it to retrieve the three wounded crewmen. The gen-eral staff therefore preferred to bomb the tank and its occupants rather than risk them falling into the hands of Hamas.

In any case, we can see that the Israeli army applies the precautionary prin-ciple neither to the Palestinians nor to its own men. One could say with a cer-tain cynicism that, at least here, Palestinians and Israelis are treated equally.

In mid-December 2023, the discovery of three bodies in a tunnel in Gaza sparked controversy. They were three men held by Hamas, whom the Israeli army spokesman had declared killed by the Palestinian organization. They have no apparent injuries and appear to have been killed by poisoning. Were they killed by the deliberate use of a combat toxicant or accidentally by toxic fumes from explosions (such as carbon monoxide)? We don’t know, but the mother of one of them, Ron Sherman, believes he was deliberately sacrificed by the army. In any case, this illustrates the Israeli army’s failure to respect the precautionary principle.

Extrajudicial Executions

Extra-judicial executions are an important element in Israel’s policy of de-terrence against Palestinian movements. They consist of eliminating militants outside the judicial process, using killers or “one-off” strikes such as air attacks. Legally questionable, they are often strategically ineffective. Three countries use them regularly: the United States, Israel and France. Presented as a preventive measure, they are generally carried out in a punitive manner, like Sicilian vendettas, without any real assessment of their strategic conse-quences. In practice, they fuel a growing process of violence and are a source of legitimacy for terrorism. In fact, they often reflect a lack of real coun-ter-terrorist strategy.

The archetype of this mode of action is Operation ANGER OF GOD (Mivtza Za’am Ha’el), also known as Operation BAYONET, carried out by the Mossad to punish the perpetrators of the attack on the Israeli Olympic team in Munich in 1972 (Operation BERIM & IKRIT). Within a year, almost the entire Palestinian commando was eliminated: Wae Zwaiter (Rome, October 16, 1972), Mahmoud Hamchari (Paris, January 9, 1973), Abd El-Hir (Nicosia, January 24, 1973), Basil Al-Kubaissi (Paris, April 6, 1973), Ziad Muchassi (Athens, April 12, 1973), Mohammed Boudia (Paris, June 28, 1973), Kamal Nasser, Mahmoud Najjer and Kamal Adouan (Beirut, April 9, 1973). Its leader, Ali Hassan Sala-meh, was killed in Beirut on January 22, 1979, followed by his sec-ond-in-command, Khalil al-Wazir (alias Abou Djihad), on April 16, 1988 in Tunis. In the end, only one member of the group, Jamal al-Gasheï, seems to have escaped the wrath of GOD, while an innocent man was mistakenly killed in Lillehammer (Norway).

These actions are punitive operations. What our countries and Israel con-sider part of the game is called terrorism when others do it. By accepting it from Israel, we create a permissive environment that could well legitimize the elimination of some of our political leaders. Which could happen.

Since 1988, Israel has been using specially trained units to operate clandes-tinely in the occupied territories. Known as “mista’aravim” or YAMAS, these are ad hoc formations that operate clandestinely (in Arab clothing—hence their name) in the occupied territories for reconnaissance missions, comman-do actions or extra-judicial executions. Mista’aravim actions are mainly car-ried out in the West Bank by Sayeret Duvdevan (Unit 217).

The best-known of these was Mossad’s attempt to poison Khaled Mashal, political leader of Hamas in Jordan, in 1997. It ended in failure: the two Israeli agents carrying Canadian passports were arrested; then Israel had to provide an antidote and release Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in exchange for the release of his agents. The result was Israel’s loss of credibility with the international com-munity and the mistrust of Jordan—with which Israel has a peace treaty.

Mista’aravim are the equivalent of the Groupe Antiterroriste de Libération (GAL) units used in Spain in the 1980s, which are considered a form of state terrorism. However, the advantage of this type of action is that it can elimi-nate an individual without razing an entire neighborhood or destroying entire families. But it requires agents who are all the more competent and coura-geous because the Palestinians have strengthened their counter-espionage and internal security capabilities. This is why this type of operation has be-come almost impossible to carry out in Gaza, but is still common practice in the West Bank. In Gaza, Israel prefers to carry out its actions “at a distance,” using more sophisticated means such as drones or guided missiles, which have a devastating effect on the civilian population.

With some 2,300 known assassinations, Israel rivals the United States as the country that regularly assassinates opponents and terrorists. When carried out on foreign soil, an “elimination” is a complex operation, relying on a net-work of local informers (“sayanim”), most often recruited from the Jewish diaspora. But this has a perverse effect: it turns the previously well-integrated Jewish community into an object of distrust, perceived as a “5th column” in many countries of the Near and Middle East.

But extra-judicial executions not only carry a significant political risk if un-successful, they tend to legitimize illegal violence and terrorism, as evidenced by the Arabian Peninsula Jihad Base’s (APJB) Inspire magazine:

[The assassination of leaders of the civil and military unbelievers] is one of the most important arts of terrorism and one of the most advanta-geous and deterrent types of operation. These methods are also used by the enemies of Allah. The CIA has authorization from the US gov-ernment to assassinate presidents, if it is in the national interest of the United States, and they have used it more than once. In the CIA, there’s a special department for that! So I don’t know why we’re prevented from doing it?
This is a case of Islamist asymmetry: the “cure” is worse than the “disease.” The assassination of leaders has no dissuasive effect. It makes the dead a martyr and an example to follow. It hardly ever leads to the end of terrorist action, but keeps the flame of resistance alive and takes on more varied forms.

With highly decentralized structures, the elimination of cadres does not necessarily weaken the terrorist group, but it does force its hierarchy to renew itself more rapidly and apply new methods and policies of action. This is what happened with Hamas.

But on August 21, 2003, Israeli forces eliminated Ismaïl Abou Shanab. At the time, he was considered a Hamas moderate, and his assassination triggered widespread condemnation and an unprecedented mobilization of the Pales-tinian population. Attacks resumed in step with the eliminations carried out by Israel.

In September 2023, on the LCI channel, where journalist Darius Rochebin praises the assassinations carried out by the Ukrainian secret services, Gen-eral Christophe Gomart explains that France also carries them out. He is a perfect illustration of the Western way of thinking. Like the Israelis, he thinks it’s useful to shoot a leader “because in fact it’s the leaders who decide, and it takes longer to train a leader than it does to train an ordinary soldier,” so:

We destabilize, we disorganize, and the idea in war is to disorganize the adversary in order to weaken him and make it possible to win, and therefore to overthrow him… that’s what we did in the Sahel against the terrorist leaders: we sought to disorganize the terrorist or jihadist Not only does this illustrate a tactical approach to the fight against terror-ism, but it is not valid for highly decentralized insurgent structures, made up of small, quasi-autonomous groups. This partly explains the operational and strategic failure of French action in the Sahel.

This somewhat childish vision of war may work in a conventional conflict, but not in an unconventional context, and certainly not in a jihadist one. It flies in the face of what a British SAS officer told me during my counter-terrorism training in Britain during the war in Northern Ireland in the mid-1980s. The British had extremely detailed files and information on the various command-ers of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), down to knowing their every move. When I asked why they didn’t eliminate them, the officer replied:

Because we know them. We know their psychology, their families, their networks, their way of fighting, and we can better anticipate their ac-tions, even pre-empt them. If we kill them, others will come along, per-haps more effective, more aggressive, and we’ll know nothing about them.

Of course, such an answer is only possible when you have studied your op-ponent thoroughly and know him in great detail. The fact is that today, we know very little about our opponents. Even public figures like Vladimir Putin are so poorly known that he is diagnosed with illnesses he doesn’t have. It’s the same in Palestine.

Experience shows that extra-judicial executions have no operational effect. On the contrary, they encourage the spirit of vengeance and tend to mobilize the spirit of resistance. This phenomenon is all the stronger when civilians are killed in the process. They inspire contempt rather than admiration, as they represent a success not achieved in face-to-face combat. Moreover, as in the case of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, the Israeli military are not fighting a “brave” battle. This is why these executions become a substitute for real suc-cess against terrorism. They therefore appear more as proof of weakness and incapacity than as a demonstration of effectiveness.

According to some (unconfirmed) reports, SHABAK has set up a clandestine unit, code-named INDIGO, whose mission is to hunt down the perpetrators of the crimes of October 7, 2023. But with evidence mounting that the vast majority of these crimes were the result of errors of conduct, the question of the extent to which this group will punish the real perpetrators of the massacres remains open.

***

Operation Al-Aqsa Flood

Strategic Objectives

Over and above the historical objectives of Palestinian resistance, which are aimed at creating a Palestinian state or returning to the land taken from them, the objectives of Operation AL-AQSA DELUGE essentially concern the situation in Gaza.

The operation’s central strategic objective is to end the blockade of the Gaza Strip and restore normal living conditions for the population. This includes the end of permanent surveillance by Israeli forces, restrictions on trade in goods, and measures that prevent economic and social development. This objective follows on from the “Marches of Return,” which were led by civil society, but were met with sniper fire.

Achieving this goal involved enabling objectives, the most important of which was to bring the Palestinian question back onto the international stage. In November 2012, the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine the status of “non-member observer state of the United Nations.” Since then, however, no progress has been made in dealing with the Palestinian question, and the situation has even deteriorated with the arrival of Israel’s ul-tra-nationalists in power.

The second intermediate objective was to interrupt the normalization pro-cess between Israel and certain Arab countries. Not because of normalization itself, but because it sidelined the Palestinian question. The Palestinians had always wanted these issues to be linked, so that there would be leverage to force Israel to implement UN decisions.

The third intermediate objective was to rally the Muslim community around the issue of the future of the Esplanade of the Mosques (or Temple Mount), which is closely linked to the Palestinian question. As Ihsan Ataya, a mem-ber of the political bureau of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PID) and head of the PID’s Arab and International Relations Department states:

The aim of Operation AL-AQSA RELIEF was stated from the outset: to prevent the Al-Aqsa Mosque (in Jerusalem) from being attacked, Muslim religious rites from being insulted or defamed, our women from being assaulted, efforts to Judaize the Al-Aqsa Mosque and normalize its occupation by Israel from being implemented, or the mosque from being divided in time and space.

It has to be said that, while the blockade of Gaza has not been lifted, these three intermediate strategic objectives have been at least partially achieved. To what extent they will lead to a lasting and just solution to the Palestinian question is an open question, but Hamas has clearly underlined the responsi-bility of the international community to enforce the decisions it has taken.

Operational Objectives

First Objective: The Gaza Division

The first objective was to destroy the elements of the Gaza Division and the surveillance installations encircling the Gaza Strip. On October 12, Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Al-Qassam Phalanges, explains:

Operation AL-AQSA DELUGE was aimed at destroying the Gaza Division, which was attacked at 15 points, followed by 10 more. We attacked the Zikim site and several other settlements outside the Gaza Division headquarters.

This objective may seem outdated to us, since it was clear from the outset that the Palestinian operation could not maintain its momentum for very long, and that the fighting would necessarily continue in the Gaza Strip itself. Con-sequently, the destruction of infrastructure could only be temporary, but highly symbolic.

To understand this, you have to put yourself in the Palestinians’ software. Victory is not achieved by destroying the adversary, but by maintaining the determination to resist. In other words, whatever the Israelis do, however much destruction and death they cause, the Palestinians have already emerged victorious from this operation. Faced with a numerically and materi-ally stronger adversary, victory in the Western sense of the term is not possi-ble. On the other hand, overcoming fear and feelings of powerlessness is al-ready a victory. This is the very essence of the notion of jihad.

Consequently, all the humiliations the Israelis can inflict on their prisoners or the civilian population can only make the Palestinians feel better, and lower the military’s thirst for vengeance. In fact, this is what is happening around the world: the Israelis are obliged to use their censorship to hide the crimes com-mitted by their soldiers, and the idea of “the most moral army in the world” is now totally discredited.

Second Objective: Take Prisoners

The second objective was to seize prisoners in order to exchange them for those held by Israel. Very quickly, testimonies in the Israeli press showed that the aim of the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PID) fighters was not to carry out a “pogrom,” but to seize soldiers in order to exchange them for Pal-estinians held by Israel. The aim was to gain leverage to resume the negotia-tions interrupted by the Israeli government in November 2021. Since then, it has been known that Hamas would carry out such an operation. The depu-ty chief of staff of the Al-Qassam Phalanges, Marwan Issa, had declared that “the prisoners’ file will be the surprise of the enemy’s next surprises.”

Clearly, the aim was not to kill civilians, but rather to obtain a bargaining chip for the release of some 5,300 prisoners held by Israel. Eyewitness ac-counts in the Israeli press suggest that the original idea was to take only mili-tary prisoners (who are “more valuable” than civilians for an exchange). These same accounts show that the Palestinians were surprised to find so few mili-tary personnel on site, which can be explained by the fact that part of the gar-risons had been redeployed to the West Bank a few weeks earlier. Yasmin Porat’s testimony, mentioned above, shows that Hamas fighters stayed with civilians in their homes, waiting for the security forces to intervene. The testi-monies indicate that the Palestinian fighters left with civilian prisoners only after the Israeli military had intervened, firing indiscriminately into the houses with their tanks. It therefore appears that the capture of civilians was more the result of a combination of circumstances than a decision taken in advance.

The death of civilians was therefore not an objective, and the fact that the freed hostages declared that they had been treated with respect, and even in a friendly manner, tends to confirm that this was not a “pogrom” against the Israeli population.

The prisoner exchanges of November 2023 illustrate Hamas’s strategy, at the heart of which were military prisoners, not civilians. That’s why the Pales-tinians released the women and children first, and kept the military (especially the top brass) for later. We’ll come back to this later.

Tactical Objectives

The Hamas attack targeted 25 military objectives located in the “Gaza en-velope.” The three main tactical objectives of the operation were:

  • the Zikim naval base in the north of the Gaza Strip, which was attacked by Hamas marine commandos, who resisted Israeli counter-attacks for several days;
  • the Erez checkpoint, in the north of the Gaza Strip, which manages part of the fence’s surveillance facilities; the Gaza Division command post at the Re’im site, where the heaviest fighting will take place on October 7; and the Urim intelligence center some 17 km from the Gaza Strip, in order to damage Israeli surveillance installations.
  • A document discovered near Kibbutz Mefalsim, 2 km from the Gaza Strip, containing data on the number of soldiers and security forces, shows that the operation was meticulously prepared and directed against military installations.

The Problem of Zionism

There is an attitude for which my friends and I were for a long period rebuked and even reviled; and of which at the present period we are less likely than ever to repent. It was always called Anti-Semitism; but it was always much more true to call it Zionism. At any rate it was much nearer to the nature of the thing to call it Zionism, whether or no it can find its geographical concentration in Zion. The substance of this heresy was exceedingly simple. It consisted entirely in saying that Jews are Jews; and as a logical consequence that they are not Russians or Roumanians or Italians or Frenchmen or Englishmen. During the war the newspapers commonly referred to them as Russians; but the ritual wore so singularly thin that I remember one newspaper paragraph saying that the Russians in the East End complained of the food regulations, because their religion forbade them to eat pork. My own brief contact with the Greek priests of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem did not permit me to discover any trace of this detail of their discipline; and even the Russian pilgrims were said to be equally negligent in the matter. The point for the moment, however, is that if I was violently opposed to anything, it was not to Jews, but to that sort of remark about Jews; or rather to the silly and craven fear of making it a remark about Jews. But my friends and I had in some general sense a policy in the matter; and it was in substance the desire to give Jews the dignity and status of a separate nation. We desired that in some fashion, and so far as possible, Jews should be represented by Jews, should live in a society of Jews, should be judged by Jews and ruled by Jews. I am an Anti-Semite if that is Anti-Semitism. It would seem more rational to call it Semitism.

Of this attitude, I repeat, I am now less likely than ever to repent. I have lived to see the thing that was dismissed as a fad discussed everywhere as a fact; and one of the most menacing facts of the age. I have lived to see people who accused me of Anti-Semitism become far more Anti-Semitic than I am or ever was. I have heard people talking with real injustice about the Jews, who once seemed to think it an injustice to talk about them at all. But, above all, I have seen with my own eyes wild mobs marching through a great city, raving not only against Jews, but against the English for identifying themselves with the Jews. I have seen the whole prestige of England brought into peril, merely by the trick of talking about two nations as if they were one. I have seen an Englishman arriving in Jerusalem with somebody he had been taught to regard as his fellow countryman and political colleague, and received as if he had come arm-in-arm with a flaming dragon. So do our frosty fictions fare when they come under that burning sun.

Twice in my life, and twice lately, I have seen a piece of English pedantry bring us within an inch of an enormous English peril. The first was when all the Victorian historians and philosophers had told us that our German cousin was a cousin german and even germane; something naturally near and sympathetic. That also was an identification; that also was an assimilation; that also was a union of hearts. For the second time in a few short years, English politicians and journalists have discovered the dreadful revenge of reality. To pretend that something is what it is not is business that can easily be fashionable and sometimes popular. But the thing we have agreed to regard as what it is not will always abruptly punish and pulverise us, merely by being what it is. For years we were told that the Germans were a sort of Englishman because they were Teutons; but it was all the worse for us when we found out what Teutons really were. For years we were told that Jews were a sort of Englishman because they were British subjects. It is all the worse for us now we have to regard them, not subjectively as subjects, but objectively as objects; as objects of a fierce hatred among the Moslems and the Greeks. We are in the absurd position of introducing to these people a new friend whom they instantly recognise as an old enemy. It is an absurd position because it is a false position; but it is merely the penalty of falsehood.

Whether this Eastern anger is reasonable or not may be discussed in a moment; but what is utterly unreasonable is not the anger but the astonishment; at least it is our astonishment at their astonishment. We might believe ourselves in the view that a Jew is an Englishman; but there was no reason why they should regard him as an Englishman, since they already recognised him as a Jew. This is the whole present problem of the Jew in Palestine; and it must be solved either by the logic of Zionism or the logic of purely English supremacy and, impartiality; and not by what seems to everybody in Palestine a monstrous muddle of the two. But of course it is not only the peril in Palestine that has made the realisation of the Jewish problem, which once suffered all the dangers of a fad, suffer the opposite dangers of a fashion. The same journalists who politely describe Jews as Russians are now very impolitely describing certain Russians who are Jews. Many who had no particular objection to Jews as Capitalists have a very great objection to them as Bolshevists. Those who had an innocent unconsciousness of the nationality of Eckstein, even when he called himself Eckstein, have managed to discover the nationality of Braunstein, even, when he calls, himself Trotsky. And much of this peril also might easily have been lessened, by the simple proposal to call men and things by their own names.

I will confess, however, that I have no very full sympathy with the new Anti-Semitism which is merely Anti-Socialism. There are good, honourable and magnanimous Jews of every type and rank, there are many to whom I am greatly attached among my own friends in my own rank; but if I have to make a general choice on a general chance among different types of Jews, I have much more sympathy with the Jew who is revolutionary than the Jew who is plutocratic. In other words, I have much more sympathy for the Israelite we are beginning to reject, than for the Israelite we have already accepted. I have more respect for him when he leads some sort of revolt, however narrow and anarchic, against the oppression of the poor, than when he is safe at the head of a great money-lending business oppressing the poor himself. It is not the poor aliens, but the rich aliens I wish we had excluded. I myself wholly reject Bolshevism, not because its actions are violent, but because its very thought is materialistic and mean. And if this preference is true even of Bolshevism, it is ten times truer of Zionism. It really seems to me rather hard that the full storm of fury should have burst about the Jews, at the very moment when some of them at least have felt the call of a far cleaner ideal; and that when we have tolerated their tricks with our country, we should turn on them precisely when they seek in sincerity for their own.

But in order to judge this Jewish possibility, we must understand more fully the nature of the Jewish problem. We must consider it from the start, because there are still many who do not know that there is a Jewish problem. That problem has its proof, of course, in the history of the Jew, and the fact that he came from the East. A Jew will sometimes complain of the injustice of describing him as a man of the East; but in truth another very real injustice may be involved in treating him as a man of the West. Very often even the joke against the Jew is rather a joke against those who have made the joke; that is, a joke against what they have made out of the Jew. This is true especially, for instance, of many points of religion and ritual. Thus we cannot help feeling, for instance, that there is something a little grotesque about the Hebrew habit of putting on a top-hat as an act of worship. It is vaguely mixed up with another line of humour, about another class of Jew, who wears a large number of hats; and who must not therefore be credited with an extreme or extravagant religious zeal, leading him to pile up a pagoda of hats towards heaven. To Western eyes, in Western conditions, there really is something inevitably fantastic about this formality of the synagogue. But we ought to remember that we have made the Western conditions which startle the Western eyes. It seems odd to wear a modern top-hat as if it were a mitre or a biretta; it seems quainter still when the hat is worn even for the momentary purpose of saying grace before lunch. It seems quaintest of all when, at some Jewish luncheon parties, a tray of hats is actually handed round, and each guest helps himself to a hat as a sort of hors d’oeuvre. All this could easily be turned into a joke; but we ought to realise that the joke is against ourselves. It is not merely we who make fun of it, but we who have made it funny. For, after all, nobody can pretend that this particular type of head-dress is a part of that uncouth imagery “setting painting and sculpture at defiance” which Renan remarked in the tradition of Hebrew civilisation. Nobody can say that a top-hat was among the strange symbolic utensils dedicated to the obscure service of the Ark; nobody can suppose that a top-hat descended from heaven among the wings and wheels of the flying visions of the Prophets. For this wild vision the West is entirely responsible. Europe has created the Tower of Giotto; but it has also created the topper. We of the West must bear the burden, as best we may, both of the responsibility and of the hat. It is solely the special type and shape of hat that makes the Hebrew ritual seem ridiculous. Performed in the old original Hebrew fashion it is not ridiculous, but rather if anything sublime. For the original fashion was an oriental fashion; and the Jews are orientals; and the mark of all such orientals is the wearing of long and loose draperies. To throw those loose draperies over the head is decidedly a dignified and even poetic gesture. One can imagine something like justice done to its majesty and mystery in one of the great dark drawings of William Blake. It may be true, and personally I think it is true, that the Hebrew covering of the head signifies a certain stress on the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, while the Christian uncovering of the head suggests rather the love of God that is the end of wisdom. But this has nothing to do with the taste and dignity of the ceremony; and to do justice to these we must treat the Jew as an oriental; we must even dress him as an oriental.

I have only taken this as one working example out of many that would point to the same conclusion. A number of points upon which the unfortunate alien is blamed would be much improved if he were, not less of an alien, but rather more of an alien. They arise from his being too like us, and too little like himself. It is obviously the case, for instance, touching that vivid vulgarity in clothes, and especially the colours of clothes, with which a certain sort of Jews brighten the landscape or seascape at Margate or many holiday resorts. When we see a foreign gentleman on Brighton Pier wearing yellow spats, a magenta waistcoat, and an emerald green tie, we feel that he has somehow missed certain fine shades of social sensibility and fitness. It might considerably surprise the company on Brighton Pier, if he were to reply by solemnly unwinding his green necktie from round his neck, and winding it round his head. Yet the reply would be the right one; and would be equally logical and artistic. As soon as the green tie had become a green turban, it might look as appropriate and even attractive as the green turban of any pilgrim of Mecca or any descendant of Mahomet, who walks with a stately air through the streets of Jaffa or Jerusalem. The bright colours that make the Margate Jews hideous are no brighter than those that make the Moslem crowd picturesque. They are only worn in the wrong place, in the wrong way, and in conjunction with a type and cut of clothing that is meant to be more sober and restrained. Little can really be urged against him, in that respect, except that his artistic instinct is rather for colour than form, especially of the kind that we ourselves have labelled good form.

This is a mere symbol, but it is so suitable a symbol that I have often offered it symbolically as a solution of the Jewish problem. I have felt disposed to say: let all liberal legislation stand, let all literal and legal civic equality stand; let a Jew occupy any political or social position which he can gain in open competition; let us not listen for a moment to any suggestions of reactionary restrictions or racial privilege. Let a Jew be Lord Chief justice, if his exceptional veracity and reliability have clearly marked him out for that post. Let a Jew be Archbishop of Canterbury, if our national religion has attained to that receptive breadth that would render such a transition unobjectionable and even unconscious. But let there be one single-clause bill; one simple and sweeping law about Jews, and no other. Be it enacted, by the King’s Most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons in Parliament assembled, that every Jew must be dressed like an Arab. Let him sit on the Woolsack, but let him sit there dressed as an Arab. Let him preach in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but let him preach there dressed as an Arab. It is not my point at present to dwell on the pleasing if flippant fancy of how much this would transform the political scene; of the dapper figure of Sir Herbert Samuel swathed as a Bedouin, or Sir Alfred Mond gaining a yet greater grandeur from the gorgeous and trailing robes of the East. If my image is quaint my intention is quite serious; and the point of it is not personal to any particular Jew. The point applies to any Jew, and to our own recovery of healthier relations with him. The point is that we should know where we are; and he would know where he is, which is in a foreign land.

This is but a parenthesis and a parable, but it brings us to the concrete controversial matter which is the Jewish problem. Only a few years ago it was regarded as a mark of a blood-thirsty disposition to admit that the Jewish problem was a problem, or even that the Jew was a Jew. Through much misunderstanding certain friends of mine and myself have persisted in disregarding the silence thus imposed; but facts have fought for us more effectively than words. By this time nobody is more conscious of the Jewish problem than the most intelligent and idealistic of the Jews. The folly of the fashion by which Jews often concealed their Jewish names, must surely be manifest by this time even to those who concealed them. To mention but one example of the way in which this fiction falsified the relations of everybody and everything, it is enough to note that it involved the Jews themselves in a quite new and quite needless unpopularity in the first years of the war. A poor little Jewish tailor, who called himself by a German name merely because he lived for a short time in a German town, was instantly mobbed in Whitechapel for his share in the invasion of Belgium. He was cross-examined about why he had damaged the tower of Rheims; and talked to as if he had killed Nurse Cavell with his own pair of shears. It was very unjust; quite as unjust as it would be to ask Bethmann-Hollweg why he had stabbed Eglon or hewn Agag in pieces. But it was partly at least the fault of the Jew himself, and of the whole of that futile and unworthy policy which had led him to call himself Bernstein when his name was Benjamin.

In such cases the Jews are accused of all sorts of faults they have not got; but there are faults that they have got. Some of the charges against them, as in the cases I have quoted concerning religious ritual and artistic taste, are due merely to the false light in which they are regarded. Other faults may also be due to the false position in which they are placed. But the faults exist; and nothing was ever more dangerous to everybody concerned than the recent fashion of denying or ignoring them. It was done simply by the snobbish habit of suppressing the experience and evidence of the majority of people, and especially of the majority of poor people. It was done by confining the controversy to a small world of wealth and refinement, remote from all the real facts involved. For the rich are the most ignorant people on earth, and the best that can be said for them, in cases like these, is that their ignorance often reaches the point of innocence.

I will take a typical case, which sums up the whole of this absurd fashion. There was a controversy in the columns of an important daily paper, some time ago, on the subject of the character of Shylock in Shakespeare. Actors and authors of distinction, including some of the most brilliant of living Jews, argued the matter from the most varied points of view. Some said that Shakespeare was prevented by the prejudices of his time from having a complete sympathy with Shylock. Some said that Shakespeare was only restrained by fear of the powers of his time from expressing his complete sympathy with Shylock. Some wondered how or why Shakespeare had got hold of such a queer story as that of the pound of flesh, and what it could possibly have to do with so dignified and intellectual a character as Shylock. In short, some wondered why a man of genius should be so much of an Anti-Semite, and some stoutly declared that he must have been a Pro-Semite. But all of them in a sense admitted that they were puzzled as to what the play was about. The correspondence filled column after column and went on for weeks. And from one end of that correspondence to the other, no human being even so much as mentioned the word “usury.” It is exactly as if twenty clever critics were set down to talk for a month about the play of Macbeth, and were all strictly forbidden to mention the word “murder.”

The play called The Merchant of Venice happens to be about usury, and its story is a medieval satire on usury. It is the fashion to say that it is a clumsy and grotesque story; but as a fact it is an exceedingly good story. It is a perfect and pointed story for its purpose, which is to convey the moral of the story. And the moral is that the logic of usury is in its nature at war with life, and might logically end in breaking into the bloody house of life. In other words, if a creditor can always claim a man’s tools or a man’s home, he might quite as justly claim one of his arms or legs. This principle was not only embodied in medieval satires but in very sound medieval laws, which set a limit on the usurer who was trying to take away a man’s livelihood, as the usurer in the play is trying to take away a man’s life. And if anybody thinks that usury can never go to lengths wicked enough to be worthy of so wild an image, then that person either knows nothing about it or knows too much. He is either one of the innocent rich who have never been the victims of money-lenders, or else one of the more powerful and influential rich who are money-lenders themselves.

All this, I say, is a fact that must be faced, but there is another side to the case, and it is this that the genius of Shakespeare discovered. What he did do, and what the medieval satirist did not do, was to attempt to understand Shylock; in the true sense to sympathise with Shylock the money-lender, as he sympathised with Macbeth the murderer. It was not to deny that the man was an usurer, but to assert that the usurer was a man. And the Elizabethan dramatist does make him a man, where the medieval satirist made him a monster. Shakespeare not only makes him a man but a perfectly sincere and self-respecting man. But the point is this: that he is a sincere man who sincerely believes in usury. He is a self-respecting man who does not despise himself for being a usurer. In one word, he regards usury as normal. In that word is the whole problem of the popular impression of the Jews. What Shakespeare suggested about the Jew in a subtle and sympathetic way, millions of plain men everywhere would suggest about him in a rough and ready way. Regarding the Jew in relation to his ideas about interest, they think either that he is simply immoral; or that if he is moral, then he has a different morality. There is a great deal more to be said about how far this is true, and about what are its causes and excuses if it is true. But it is an old story, surely, that the worst of all cures is to deny the disease.

To recognise the reality of the Jewish problem is very vital for everybody and especially vital for Jews. To pretend that there is no problem is to precipitate the expression of a rational impatience, which unfortunately can only express itself in the rather irrational form of Anti-Semitism. In the controversies of Palestine and Syria, for instance, it is very common to hear the answer that the Jew is no worse than the Armenian. The Armenian also is said to be unpopular as a money-lender and a mercantile upstart; yet the Armenian figures as a martyr for the Christian faith and a victim of the Moslem fury. But this is one of those arguments which really carry their own answer. It is like the sceptical saying that man is only an animal, which of itself provokes the retort, “What an animal!” The very similarity only emphasises the contrast. Is it seriously suggested that we can substitute the Armenian for the Jew in the study of a world-wide problem like that of the Jews? Could we talk of the competition of Armenians among Welsh shop-keepers, or of the crowd of Armenians on Brighton Parade? Can Armenian usury be a common topic of talk in a camp in California and in a club in Piccadilly? Does Shakespeare show us a tragic Armenian towering over the great Venice of the Renascence? Does Dickens show us a realistic Armenian teaching in the thieves’ kitchens of the slums? When we meet Mr. Vernon Vavasour, that brilliant financier, do we speculate on the probability of his really having an Armenian name to match his Armenian nose? Is it true, in short, that all sorts of people, from the peasants of Poland to the peasants of Portugal, can agree more or less upon the special subject of Armenia? Obviously it is not in the least true; obviously the Armenian question is only a local question of certain Christians, who may be more avaricious than other Christians. But it is the truth about the Jews. It is only half the truth, and one which by itself would be very unjust to the Jews. But it is the truth, and we must realise it as sharply and clearly as we can. The truth is that it is rather strange that the Jews should be so anxious for international agreements. For one of the few really international agreements is a suspicion of the Jews.

A more practical comparison would be one between the Jews and gipsies; for the latter at least cover several countries, and can be tested by the impressions of very different districts. And in some preliminary respects the comparison is really useful. Both races are in different ways landless, and therefore in different ways lawless. For the fundamental laws are land laws. In both cases a reasonable man will see reasons for unpopularity, without wishing to indulge any task for persecution. In both cases he will probably recognise the reality of a racial fault, while admitting that it may be largely a racial misfortune. That is to say, the drifting and detached condition may be largely the cause of Jewish usury or gipsy pilfering; but it is not common sense to contradict the general experience of gipsy pilfering or Jewish usury. The comparison helps us to clear away some of the cloudy evasions by which modern men have tried to escape from that experience. It is absurd to say that people are only prejudiced against the money methods of the Jews because the medieval church has left behind a hatred of their religion. We might as well say that people only protect the chickens from the gipsies because the medieval church undoubtedly condemned fortune-telling. It is unreasonable for a Jew to complain that Shakespeare makes Shylock and not Antonio the ruthless money-lender; or that Dickens makes Fagin and not Sikes the receiver of stolen goods. It is as if a gipsy were to complain when a novelist describes a child as stolen by the gipsies, and not by the curate or the mothers’ meeting. It is to complain of facts and probabilities. There may be good gipsies; there may be good qualities which specially belong to them as gipsies; many students of the strange race have, for instance, praised a certain dignity and self-respect among the women of the Romany. But no student ever praised them for an exaggerated respect for private property, and the whole argument about gipsy theft can be roughly repeated about Hebrew usury. Above all, there is one other respect in which the comparison is even more to the point. It is the essential fact of the whole business, that the Jews do not become national merely by becoming a political part of any nation. We might as well say that the gipsies had villas in Clapham, when their caravans stood on Clapham Common.

But, of course, even this comparison between the two wandering peoples fails in the presence of the greater problem. Here again even the attempt at a parallel leaves the primary thing more unique. The gipsies do not become municipal merely by passing through a number of parishes, and it would seem equally obvious that a Jew need not become English merely by passing through England on his way from Germany to America. But the gipsy not only is not municipal, but he is not called municipal. His caravan is not immediately painted outside with the number and name of 123 Laburnam Road, Clapham. The municipal authorities generally notice the wheels attached to the new cottage, and therefore do not fall into the error. The gipsy may halt in a particular parish, but he is not as a rule immediately made a parish councillor. The cases in which a travelling tinker has been suddenly made the mayor of an important industrial town must be comparatively rare. And if the poor vagabonds of the Romany blood are bullied by mayors and magistrates, kicked off the land by landlords, pursued by policemen and generally knocked about from pillar to post, nobody raises an outcry that they are the victims of religious persecution; nobody summons meetings in public halls, collects subscriptions or sends petitions to parliament; nobody threatens anybody else with the organised indignation of the gipsies all over the world. The case of the Jew in the nation is very different from that of the tinker in the town. The moral elements that can be appealed to are of a very different style and scale. No gipsies are millionaires.

In short, the Jewish problem differs from anything like the gipsy problem in two highly practical respects. First, the Jews already exercise colossal cosmopolitan financial power. And second, the modern societies they live in also grant them vital forms of national political power. Here the vagrant is already as rich as a miser and the vagrant is actually made a mayor. As will be seen shortly, there is a Jewish side of the story which leads really to the same ending of the story; but the truth stated here is quite independent of any sympathetic or unsympathetic view of the race in question. It is a question of fact, which a sensible Jew can afford to recognise, and which the most sensible Jews do very definitely recognise. It is really irrational for anybody to pretend that the Jews are only a curious sect of Englishmen, like the Plymouth Brothers or the Seventh Day Baptists, in the face of such a simple fact as the family of Rothschild. Nobody can pretend that such an English sect can establish five brothers, or even cousins, in the five great capitals of Europe. Nobody can pretend that the Seventh Day Baptists are the seven grandchildren of one grandfather, scattered systematically among the warring nations of the earth. Nobody thinks the Plymouth Brothers are literally brothers, or that they are likely to be quite as powerful in Paris or in Petrograd as in Plymouth.

The Jewish problem can be stated very simply after all. It is normal for the nation to contain the family. With the Jews the family is generally divided among the nations. This may not appear to matter to those who do not believe in nations, those who really think there ought not to be any nations. But I literally fail to understand anybody who does believe in patriotism thinking that this state of affairs can be consistent with it. It is in its nature intolerable, from a national standpoint, that a man admittedly powerful in one nation should be bound to a man equally powerful in another nation, by ties more private and personal even than nationality. Even when the purpose is not any sort of treachery, the very position is a sort of treason. Given the passionately patriotic peoples of the west of Europe especially, the state of things cannot conceivably be satisfactory to a patriot. But least of all can it conceivably be satisfactory to a Jewish patriot; by which I do not mean a sham Englishman or a sham Frenchman, but a man who is sincerely patriotic for the historic and highly civilised nation of the Jews.

For what may be criticised here as Anti-Semitism is only the negative side of Zionism. For the sake of convenience I have begun by stating it in terms of the universal popular impression which some call a popular prejudice. But such a truth of differentiation is equally true on both its different sides. Suppose somebody proposes to mix up England and America, under some absurd name like the Anglo-Saxon Empire. One man may say, “Why should the jolly English inns and villages be swamped by these priggish provincial Yankees?” Another may say, “Why should the real democracy of a young country be tied to your snobbish old squirarchy?” But both these views are only versions of the same view of a great American: “God never made one people good enough to rule another.”

The primary point about Zionism is that, whether it is right or wrong, it does offer a real and reasonable answer both to Anti-Semitism and to the charge of Anti-Semitism. The usual phrases about religious persecution and racial hatred are not reasonable answers, or answers at all. These Jews do not deny that they are Jews; they do not deny that Jews may be unpopular; they do not deny that there may be other than superstitious reasons for their unpopularity. They are not obliged to maintain that when a Piccadilly dandy talks about being in the hands of the Jews he is moved by the theological fanaticism that prevails in Piccadilly; or that when a silly youth on Derby Day says he was done by a dirty Jew, he is merely conforming to that Christian orthodoxy which is one of the strict traditions of the Turf. They are not, like some other Jews, forced to pay so extravagant a compliment to the Christian religion as to suppose it the ruling motive of half the discontented talk in clubs and public-houses, of nearly every business man who suspects a foreign financier, or nearly every working man who grumbles against the local pawn-broker. Religious mania, unfortunately, is not so common. The Zionists do not need to deny any of these things; what they offer is not a denial but a diagnosis and a remedy. Whether their diagnosis is correct, whether their remedy is practicable, we will try to consider later, with something like a fair summary of what is to be said on both sides. But their theory, on the face of it, is perfectly reasonable. It is the theory that any abnormal qualities in the Jews are due to the abnormal position of the Jews. They are traders rather than producers because they have no land of their own from which to produce, and they are cosmopolitans rather than patriots because they have no country of their own for which to be patriotic. They can no more become farmers while they are vagrant than they could have built the Temple of Solomon while they were building the Pyramids of Egypt. They can no more feel the full stream of nationalism while they wander in the desert of nomadism than they could bathe in the waters of Jordan while they were weeping by the waters of Babylon. For exile is the worst kind of bondage. In insisting upon that at least the Zionists have insisted upon a profound truth, with many applications to many other moral issues. It is true that for any one whose heart is set on a particular home or shrine, to be locked out is to be locked in. The narrowest possible prison for him is the whole world.

It will be well to notice briefly, however, how the principle applies to the two Anti-Semitic arguments already considered. The first is the charge of usury and unproductive loans, the second the charge either of treason or of unpatriotic detachment. The charge of usury is regarded, not unreasonably, as only a specially dangerous development of the general charge of uncreative commerce and the refusal of creative manual exercise; the unproductive loan is only a minor form of the unproductive labour. It is certainly true that the latter complaint is, if possible, commoner than the former, especially in comparatively simple communities like those of Palestine. A very honest Moslem Arab said to me, with a singular blend of simplicity and humour, “A Jew does not work; but he grows rich. You never see a Jew working; and yet they grow rich. What I want to know is, why do we not all do the same? Why do we not also do this and become rich?” This is, I need hardly say, an over-simplification. Jews often work hard at some things, especially intellectual things. But the same experience which tells us that we have known many industrious Jewish scholars, Jewish lawyers, Jewish doctors, Jewish pianists, chess-players and so on, is an experience which cuts both ways. The same experience, if carefully consulted, will probably tell us that we have not known personally many patient Jewish ploughmen, many laborious Jewish blacksmiths, many active Jewish hedgers and ditchers, or even many energetic Jewish hunters and fishermen. In short, the popular impression is tolerably true to life, as popular impressions very often are; though it is not fashionable to say so in these days of democracy and self-determination. Jews do not generally work on the land, or in any of the handicrafts that are akin to the land; but the Zionists reply that this is because it can never really be their own land. That is Zionism, and that has really a practical place in the past and future of Zion.

Patriotism is not merely dying for the nation. It is dying with the nation. It is regarding the fatherland not merely as a real resting-place like an inn, but as a final resting-place, like a house or even a grave. Even the most Jingo of the Jews do not feel like this about their adopted country; and I doubt if the most intelligent of the Jews would pretend that they did. Even if we can bring ourselves to believe that Disraeli lived for England, we cannot think that he would have died with her. If England had sunk in the Atlantic he would not have sunk with her, but easily floated over to America to stand for the Presidency. Even if we are profoundly convinced that Mr. Beit or Mr. Eckstein had patriotic tears in his eyes when he obtained a gold concession from Queen Victoria, we cannot believe that in her absence he would have refused a similar concession from the German Emperor. When the Jew in France or in England says he is a good patriot he only means that he is a good citizen, and he would put it more truly if he said he was a good exile. Sometimes indeed he is an abominably bad citizen, and a most exasperating and execrable exile, but I am not talking of that side of the case. I am assuming that a man like Disraeli did really make a romance of England, that a man like Dernburg did really make a romance of Germany, and it is still true that though it was a romance, they would not have allowed it to be a tragedy. They would have seen that the story had a happy ending, especially for themselves. These Jews would not have died with any Christian nation.

But the Jews did die with Jerusalem. That is the first and last great truth in Zionism. Jerusalem was destroyed and Jews were destroyed with it, men who cared no longer to live because the city of their faith had fallen. It may be questioned whether all the Zionists have all the sublime insanity of the Zealots. But at least it is not nonsense to suggest that the Zionists might feel like this about Zion. It is nonsense to suggest that they would ever feel like this about Dublin or Moscow. And so far at least the truth both in Semitism and Anti-Semitism is included in Zionism.

It is a commonplace that the infamous are more famous than the famous. Byron noted, with his own misanthropic moral, that we think more of Nero the monster who killed his mother than of Nero the noble Roman who defeated Hannibal. The name of Julian more often suggests Julian the Apostate than Julian the Saint; though the latter crowned his canonisation with the sacred glory of being the patron saint of inn-keepers. But the best example of this unjust historical habit is the most famous of all and the most infamous of all. If there is one proper noun which has become a common noun, if there is one name which has been generalised till it means a thing, it is certainly the name of Judas. We should hesitate perhaps to call it a Christian name, except in the more evasive form of Jude. And even that, as the name of a more faithful apostle, is another illustration of the same injustice; for, by comparison with the other, Jude the faithful might almost be called Jude the obscure. The critic who said, whether innocently or ironically, “What wicked men these early Christians were!” was certainly more successful in innocence than in irony; for he seems to have been innocent or ignorant of the whole idea of the Christian communion. Judas Iscariot was one of the very earliest of all possible early Christians. And the whole point about him was that his hand was in the same dish; the traitor is always a friend, or he could never be a foe. But the point for the moment is merely that the name is known everywhere merely as the name of a traitor. The name of Judas nearly always means Judas Iscariot; it hardly ever means Judas Maccabeus. And if you shout out “Judas” to a politician in the thick of a political tumult, you will have some difficulty in soothing him afterwards, with the assurance that you had merely traced in him something of that splendid zeal and valour which dragged down the tyranny of Antiochus, in the day of the great deliverance of Israel.

Those two possible uses of the name of Judas would give us yet another compact embodiment of the case for Zionism. Numberless international Jews have gained the bad name of Judas, and some have certainly earned it. If you have gained or earned the good name of Judas, it can quite fairly and intelligently be affirmed that this was not the fault of the Jews, but of the peculiar position of the Jews. A man can betray like Judas Iscariot in another man’s house; but a man cannot fight like Judas Maccabeus for another man’s temple. There is no more truly rousing revolutionary story amid all the stories of mankind, there is no more perfect type of the element of chivalry in rebellion, than that magnificent tale of the Maccabee who stabbed from underneath the elephant of Antiochus and died under the fall of that huge and living castle. But it would be unreasonable to ask Mr. Montagu to stick a knife into the elephant on which Lord Curzon, let us say, was riding in all the pomp of Asiatic imperialism. For Mr. Montagu would not be liberating his own land; and therefore he naturally prefers to interest himself either in operations in silver or in somewhat slower and less efficient methods of liberation. In short, whatever we may think of the financial or social services such as were rendered to England in the affair of Marconi, or to France in the affair of Panama, it must be admitted that these exhibit a humbler and more humdrum type of civic duty, and do not remind us of the more reckless virtues of the Maccabees or the Zealots. A man may be a good citizen of anywhere, but he cannot be a national hero of nowhere; and for this particular type of patriotic passion it is necessary to have a patria. The Zionists therefore are maintaining a perfectly reasonable proposition, both about the charge of usury and the charge of treason, if they claim that both could be cured by the return to a national soil as promised in Zionism.

Unfortunately they are not always reasonable about their own reasonable proposition. Some of them have a most unlucky habit of ignoring, and therefore implicitly denying, the very evil that they are wisely trying to cure. I have already remarked this irritating innocence in the first of the two questions; the criticism that sees everything in Shylock except the point of him, or the point of his knife. How in the politics of Palestine at this moment this first question is in every sense the primary question. Palestine has hardly as yet a patriotism to be betrayed; but it certainly has a peasantry to be oppressed, and especially to be oppressed as so many peasantries have been with usury and forestalling. The Syrians and Arabs and all the agricultural and pastoral populations of Palestine are, rightly or wrongly, alarmed and angered at the advent of the Jews to power; for the perfectly practical and simple reason of the reputation which the Jews have all over the world. It is really ridiculous in people so intelligent as the Jews, and especially so intelligent as the Zionists, to ignore so enormous and elementary a fact as that reputation and its natural results. It may or may not in this case be unjust; but in any case it is not unnatural. It may be the result of persecution, but it is one that has definitely resulted. It may be the consequence of a misunderstanding; but it is a misunderstanding that must itself be understood. Rightly or wrongly, certain people in Palestine fear the coming of the Jews as they fear the coming of the locusts; they regard them as parasites that feed on a community by a thousand methods of financial intrigue and economic exploitation. I could understand the Jews indignantly denying this, or eagerly disproving it, or best of all, explaining what is true in it while exposing what is untrue. What is strange, I might almost say weird, about the attitude of some quite intelligent and sincere Zionists, is that they talk, write and apparently think as if there were no such thing in the world.

I will give one curious example from one of the best and most brilliant of the Zionists. Dr. Weizmann is a man of large mind and human sympathies; and it is difficult to believe that any one with so fine a sense of humanity can be entirely empty of anything like a sense of humour. Yet, in the middle of a very temperate and magnanimous address on “Zionist Policy,” he can actually say a thing like this, “The Arabs need us with our knowledge, and our experience and our money. If they do not have us they will fall into the hands of others, they will fall among sharks.” One is tempted for the moment to doubt whether any one else in the world could have said that, except the Jew with his strange mixture of brilliancy and blindness, of subtlety and simplicity. It is much as if President Wilson were to say, “Unless America deals with Mexico, it will be dealt with by some modern commercial power, that has trust-magnates and hustling millionaires.” But would President Wilson say it? It is as if the German Chancellor had said, “We must rush to the rescue of the poor Belgians, or they may be put under some system with a rigid militarism and a bullying bureaucracy.” But would even a German Chancellor put it exactly like that? Would anybody put it in the exact order of words and structure of sentence in which Dr. Weizmann has put it? Would even the Turks say, “The Armenians need us with our order and our discipline and our arms. If they do not have us they will fall into the hands of others, they will perhaps be in danger of massacres.” I suspect that a Turk would see the joke, even if it were as grim a joke as the massacres themselves. If the Zionists wish to quiet the fears of the Arabs, surely the first thing to do is to discover what the Arabs are afraid of. And very little investigation will reveal the simple truth that they are very much afraid of sharks; and that in their book of symbolic or heraldic zoology it is the Jew who is adorned with the dorsal fin and the crescent of cruel teeth. This may be a fairy-tale about a fabulous animal; but it is one which all sorts of races believe, and certainly one which these races believe.

But the case is yet more curious than that. These simple tribes are afraid, not only of the dorsal fin and dental arrangements which Dr. Weizmann may say (with some justice) that he has not got; they are also afraid of the other things which he says he has got. They may be in error, at the first superficial glance, in mistaking a respectable professor for a shark. But they can hardly be mistaken in attributing to the respectable professor what he himself considers as his claims to respect. And as the imagery about the shark may be too metaphorical or almost mythological, there is not the smallest difficulty in stating in plain words what the Arabs fear in the Jews. They fear, in exact terms, their knowledge and their experience and their money. The Arabs fear exactly the three things which he says they need. Only the Arabs would call it a knowledge of financial trickery and an experience of political intrigue, and the power given by hoards of money not only of their own but of other peoples. About Dr. Weizmann and the true Zionists this is self-evidently unjust; but about Jewish influence of the more visible and vulgar kind it has to be proved to be unjust. Feeling as I do the force of the real case for Zionism, I venture most earnestly to implore the Jews to disprove it, and not to dismiss it. But above all I implore them not to be content with assuring us again and again of their knowledge and their experience and their money. That is what people dread like a pestilence or an earthquake; their knowledge and their experience and their money. It is needless for Dr. Weizmann to tell us that he does not desire to enter Palestine like a Junker or drive thousands of Arabs forcibly out of the land; nobody supposes that Dr. Weizmann looks like a Junker; and nobody among the enemies of the Jews says that they have driven their foes in that fashion since the wars with the Canaanites. But for the Jews to reassure us by insisting on their own economic culture or commercial education is exactly like the Junkers reassuring us by insisting on the unquestioned supremacy of their Kaiser or the unquestioned obedience of their soldiers. Men bar themselves in their houses, or even hide themselves in their cellars, when such virtues are abroad in the land.

In short the fear of the Jews in Palestine, reasonable or unreasonable, is a thing that must be answered by reason. It is idle for the unpopular thing to answer with boasts, especially boasts of the very quality that makes it unpopular. But I think it could be answered by reason, or at any rate tested by reason; and the tests by consideration. The principle is still as stated above; that the tests must not merely insist on the virtues the Jews do show, but rather deal with the particular virtues which they are generally accused of not showing. It is necessary to understand this more thoroughly than it is generally understood, and especially better than it is usually stated in the language of fashionable controversy. For the question involves the whole success or failure of Zionism. Many of the Zionists know it; but I rather doubt whether most of the Anti-Zionists know that they know it. And some of the phrases of the Zionists, such as those that I have noted, too often tend to produce the impression that they ignore when they are not ignorant. They are not ignorant; and they do not ignore in practice; even when an intellectual habit makes them seem to ignore in theory. Nobody who has seen a Jewish rural settlement, such as Rishon, can doubt that some Jews are sincerely filled with the vision of sitting under their own vine and fig-tree, and even with its accompanying lesson that it is first necessary to grow the fig-tree and the vine.

The true test of Zionism may seem a topsy-turvy test. It will not succeed by the number of successes, but rather by the number of failures, or what the world (and certainly not least the Jewish world) has generally called failures. It will be tested, not by whether Jews can climb to the top of the ladder, but by whether Jews can remain at the bottom; not by whether they have a hundred arts of becoming important, but by whether they have any skill in the art of remaining insignificant. It is often noted that the intelligent Israelite can rise to positions of power and trust outside Israel, like Witte in Russia or Rufus Isaacs in England. It is generally bad, I think, for their adopted country; but in any case it is no good for the particular problem of their own country. Palestine cannot have a population of Prime Ministers and Chief Justices; and if those they rule and judge are not Jews, then we have not established a commonwealth but only an oligarchy. It is said again that the ancient Jews turned their enemies into hewers of wood and drawers of water. The modern Jews have to turn themselves into hewers of wood and drawers of water. If they cannot do that, they cannot turn themselves into citizens, but only into a kind of alien bureaucrats, of all kinds the most perilous and the most imperilled. Hence a Jewish state will not be a success when the Jews in it are successful, or even when the Jews in it are statesmen. It will be a success when the Jews in it are scavengers, when the Jews in it are sweeps, when they are dockers and ditchers and porters and hodmen. When the Zionist can point proudly to a Jewish navvy who has not risen in the world, an under-gardener who is not now taking his ease as an upper-gardener, a yokel who is still a yokel, or even a village idiot at least sufficiently idiotic to remain in his village, then indeed the world will come to blow the trumpets and lift up the heads of the everlasting gates; for God will have turned the captivity of Zion.

Zionists of whose sincerity I am personally convinced, and of whose intelligence anybody would be convinced, have told me that there really is, in places like Rishon, something like a beginning of this spirit; the love of the peasant for his land. One lady, even in expressing her conviction of it, called it “this very un-Jewish characteristic.” She was perfectly well aware both of the need of it in the Jewish land, and the lack of it in the Jewish race. In short she was well aware of the truth of that seemingly topsy-turvy test I have suggested; that of whether men are worthy to be drudges. When a humorous and humane Jew thus accepts the test, and honestly expects the Jewish people to pass it, then I think the claim is very serious indeed, and one not lightly to be set aside. I do certainly think it a very serious responsibility under the circumstances to set it altogether aside. It is our whole complaint against the Jew that he does not till the soil or toil with the spade; it is very hard on him to refuse him if he really says, “Give me a soil and I will till it; give me a spade and I will use it.” It is our whole reason for distrusting him that he cannot really love any of the lands in which he wanders; it seems rather indefensible to be deaf to him if he really says, “Give me a land and I will love it.” I would certainly give him a land or some instalment of the land, (in what general sense I will try to suggest a little later) so long as his conduct on it was watched and tested according to the principles I have suggested. If he asks for the spade he must use the spade, and not merely employ the spade, in the sense of hiring half a hundred men to use spades. If he asks for the soil he must till the soil; that is he must belong to the soil and not merely make the soil belong to him. He must have the simplicity, and what many would call the stupidity of the peasant. He must not only call a spade a spade, but regard it as a spade and not as a speculation. By some true conversion the urban and modern man must be not only on the soil, but of the soil, and free from our urban trick of inventing the word dirt for the dust to which we shall return. He must be washed in mud, that he may be clean.

How far this can really happen it is very hard for anybody, especially a casual visitor, to discover in the present crisis. It is admitted that there is much Arab and Syrian labour employed; and this in itself would leave all the danger of the Jew as a mere capitalist. The Jews explain it, however, by saying that the Arabs will work for a lower wage, and that this is necessarily a great temptation to the struggling colonists. In this they may be acting naturally as colonists, but it is none the less clear that they are not yet acting literally as labourers. It may not be their fault that they are not proving themselves to be peasants; but it is none the less clear that this situation in itself does not prove them to be peasants. So far as that is concerned, it still remains to be decided finally whether a Jew will be an agricultural labourer, if he is a decently paid agricultural labourer. On the other hand, the leaders of these local experiments, if they have not yet shown the higher materialism of peasants, most certainly do not show the lower materialism of capitalists. There can be no doubt of the patriotic and even poetic spirit in which many of them hope to make their ancient wilderness blossom like the rose. They at least would still stand among the great prophets of Israel, and none the less though they prophesied in vain.

I have tried to state fairly the case for Zionism, for the reason already stated; that I think it intellectually unjust that any attempt of the Jews to regularise their position should merely be rejected as one of their irregularities. But I do not disguise the enormous difficulties of doing it in the particular conditions Of Palestine. In fact the greatest of the real difficulties of Zionism is that it has to take place in Zion. There are other difficulties, however, which when they are not specially the fault of Zionists are very much the fault of Jews. The worst is the general impression of a business pressure from the more brutal and businesslike type of Jew, which arouses very violent and very just indignation. When I was in Jerusalem it was openly said that Jewish financiers had complained of the low rate of interest at which loans were made by the government to the peasantry, and even that the government had yielded to them. If this were true it was a heavier reproach to the government even than to the Jews. But the general truth is that such a state of feeling seems to make the simple and solid patriotism of a Palestinian Jewish nation practically impossible, and forces us to consider some alternative or some compromise. The most sensible statement of a compromise I heard among the Zionists was suggested to me by Dr. Weizmann, who is a man not only highly intelligent but ardent and sympathetic. And the phrase he used gives the key to my own rough conception of a possible solution, though he himself would probably, not accept that solution.

Dr. Weizmann suggested, if I understood him rightly, that he did not think Palestine could be a single and simple national territory quite in the sense of France; but he did not see why it should not be a commonwealth of cantons after the manner of Switzerland. Some of these could be Jewish cantons, others Arab cantons, and so on according to the type of population. This is in itself more reasonable than much that is suggested on the same side; but the point of it for my own purpose is more particular. This idea, whether it correctly represents Dr. Weizmann’s meaning or no, clearly involves the abandonment of the solidarity of Palestine, and tolerates the idea of groups of Jews being separated from each other by populations of a different type. Now if once this notion be considered admissible, it seems to me capable of considerable extension. It seems possible that there might be not only Jewish cantons in Palestine but Jewish cantons outside Palestine, Jewish colonies in suitable and selected places in adjacent parts or in many other parts of the world. They might be affiliated to some official centre in Palestine, or even in Jerusalem, where there would naturally be at least some great religious headquarters of the scattered race and religion. The nature of that religious centre it must be for Jews to decide; but I think if I were a Jew I would build the Temple without bothering about the site of the Temple. That they should have the old site, of course, is not to be thought of; it would raise a Holy War from Morocco to the marches of China. But seeing that some of the greatest of the deeds of Israel were done, and some of the most glorious of the songs of Israel sung, when their only temple was a box carried about in the desert, I cannot think that the mere moving of the situation of the place of sacrifice need even mean so much to that historic tradition as it would to many others. That the Jews should have some high place of dignity and ritual in Palestine, such as a great building like the Mosque of Omar, is certainly right and reasonable; for upon no theory can their historic connection be dismissed. I think it is sophistry to say, as do some Anti-Semites, that the Jews have no more right there than the Jebusites. If there are Jebusites they are Jebusites without knowing it. I think it sufficiently answered in the fine phrase of an English priest, in many ways more Anti-Semitic than I: “The people that remembers has a right.” The very worst of the Jews, as well as the very best, do in some sense remember. They are hated and persecuted and frightened into false names and double lives; but they remember. They lie, they swindle, they betray, they oppress; but they remember. The more we happen to hate such elements among the Hebrews the more we admire the manly and magnificent elements among the more vague and vagrant tribes of Palestine, the more we must admit that paradox. The unheroic have the heroic memory; and the heroic people have no memory.

But whatever the Jewish nation might wish to do about a national shrine or other supreme centre, the suggestion for the moment is that something like a Jewish territorial scheme might really be attempted, if we permit the Jews to be scattered no longer as individuals but as groups. It seems possible that by some such extension of the definition of Zionism we might ultimately overcome even the greatest difficulty of Zionism, the difficulty of resettling a sufficient number of so large a race on so small a land. For if the advantage of the ideal to the Jews is to gain the promised land, the advantage to the Gentiles is to get rid of the Jewish problem, and I do not see why we should obtain all their advantage and none of our own. Therefore I would leave as few Jews as possible in other established nations, and to these I would give a special position best described as privilege; some sort of self-governing enclave with special laws and exemptions; for instance, I would certainly excuse them from conscription, which I think a gross injustice in their case. [Footnote: Of course the privileged exile would also lose the rights of a native.] A Jew might be treated as respectfully as a foreign ambassador, but a foreign ambassador is a foreigner. Finally, I would give the same privileged position to all Jews everywhere, as an alternative policy to Zionism, if Zionism failed by the test I have named; the only true and the only tolerable test; if the Jews had not so much failed as peasants as succeeded as capitalists.

There is one word to be added; it will be noted that inevitably and even against some of my own desires, the argument has returned to that recurrent conclusion, which was found in the Roman Empire and the Crusades. The European can do justice to the Jew; but it must be the European who does it. Such a possibility as I have thrown out, and any other possibility that any one can think of, becomes at once impossible without some idea of a general suzerainty of Christendom over the lands of the Moslem and the Jew. Personally, I think it would be better if it were a general suzerainty of Christendom, rather than a particular supremacy of England. And I feel this, not from a desire to restrain the English power, but rather from a desire to defend it. I think there is not a little danger to England in the diplomatic situation involved; but that is a diplomatic question that it is neither within my power or duty to discuss adequately. But if I think it would be wiser for France and England together to hold Syria and Palestine together rather than separately, that only completes and clinches the conclusion that has haunted me, with almost uncanny recurrence, since I first saw Jerusalem sitting on the hill like a turreted town in England or in France; and for one moment the dark dome of it was again the Templum Domini, and the tower on it was the Tower of Tancred.

Anyhow with the failure of Zionism would fall the last and best attempt at a rationalistic theory of the Jew. We should be left facing a mystery which no other rationalism has ever come so near to providing within rational cause and cure. Whatever we do, we shall not return to that insular innocence and comfortable unconsciousness of Christendom, in which the Victorian agnostics could suppose that the Semitic problem was a brief medieval insanity. In this as in greater things, even if we lost our faith we could not recover our agnosticism. We can never recover agnosticism, any more than any other kind of ignorance. We know that there is a Jewish problem; we only hope that there is a Jewish solution. If there is not, there is no other. We cannot believe again that the Jew is an Englishman with certain theological theories, any more than we can believe again any other part of the optimistic materialism whose temple is the Albert Memorial. A scheme of guilds may be attempted and may be a failure; but never again can we respect mere Capitalism for its success. An attack may be made on political corruption, and it may be a failure; but never again can we believe that our politics are not corrupt. And so Zionism may be attempted and may be a failure; but never again can we ourselves be at ease in Zion. Or rather, I should say, if the Jew cannot be at ease in Zion we can never again persuade ourselves that he is at ease out of Zion. We can only salute as it passes that restless and mysterious figure, knowing at last that there must be in him something mystical as well as mysterious; that whether in the sense of the sorrows of Christ or of the sorrows of Cain, he must pass by, for he belongs to God.

This is an excerpt from G.K. Chesterton’s The New Jerusalem, published in 1920.


Featured: Build the Jewish homeland now. Palestine restoration fund $3,000,000. American Zionist poster, by Mitchell Loeb; published in 1919.


The Zionist Movement

There are fifteen million Jews in the world to-day, scattered over the face of the earth. Their ancestors once lived and ruled in Palestine, a country now no bigger than our own state of Vermont. For centuries, while peoples of alien faiths possessed their ancient land, each Jew kept warm in his bosom a belief that the Promised Land would one day be restored to him and the Holy City rebuilt to the glory of Jehovah.

During the last century Jews the world over began to discuss practical means for making the age-long dream of their people come true. This discussion grew into an organized movement which has rolled up in size like a snowball. Zionism, as it is called, is giving the statesmen of Christendom, as well as the Jew and the Mohammedan, a mighty problem to wrestle with. It involves the biggest colonization scheme since the settlement of America, as well as religious and political controversies likely to keep the world stirred up for a good many years to come.

This little country has been the battleground of the nations since long before the time of Moses. Egyptian and Hittite, Assyrian, Persian and Greek, Roman and Arab, the Crusader and the Turk have succeeded one another in their conquests. In the World War another[197] name was added to the long list, that of the Briton, who drove out the Turk. Under a mandate John Bull took over the rule of Palestine, and the holy places of three great religions, Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism, came under his trusteeship.

The British Government proclaimed its intention to “favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people” and to “use their best endeavour to facilitate the achievement of this object.” At the same time they promised that nothing should be done to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the Christians and the Moslems in the Holy Land, nor to hurt the position of Jews in other countries. In this way the British became the chief sponsors of Zionism, while other great nations, including our own United States, expressed themselves more or less formally in sympathy with the aims of the movement. The British appointed a Jew, Sir Herbert Samuel, first High Commissioner of Palestine, and promised to coöperate with the international Zionist organization in working out Palestine affairs.

I have told you of the Jewish colonies I have seen in the Holy Land. When the first colony was founded there were not enough Jews in all Palestine to hold a prayer meeting. Under Zionism their number rapidly increased, and within three years after British control there were more than seventy-five thousand Jews in the Holy Land, with about sixteen thousand living in the colonies. But the number of Jews forms only about one tenth of the total population, four fifths of whom are Moslems, with about the same number of native Christians as Jews. After the war Jews poured in for a time at the rate of fifteen[198] hundred a month, and thousands more are eager to come as soon as permitted.

The founder of the Zionist movement was Dr. Theodore Herzl, who called together the first world congress of Jews. He travelled over Europe for many years, getting the leading men of his time interested in Zionism. The Pope received him, and so did the Kaiser, while Joseph Chamberlain in England gave his support to the movement. He had two interviews with the Sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid, on whom he made such an impression that the Sultan once said:

“That is a good man. As he looks, so I imagine the Christ must have looked.” Some of the Jews called Herzl the “Twentieth Century Messiah.”

I once had a talk with Israel Zangwill, one of the most famous Zionists, about this Jewish movement. He said:

“We Jews have always hoped that Palestine would again belong to us. This hope has lasted for more than two thousand years, and from time to time various projects based upon it have been formed to repossess the land. Nearly all of these have been visionary and many of them have been founded upon the second coming of a Messiah who should suddenly rise and lead us, in some miraculous way, back to our Mother Country. Many Jews confidently believe that will occur. At present the Jews are scattered all over the earth. There are more than fifteen million of them. About ten million are in Russia and the other countries of eastern Europe. As it is now, the Jews are congested in the large cities. London has many times the number in the Holy Land, and there are at least twice as many Jews in New York as the whole population of Palestine. Chicago has a[199] quarter of a million, and Philadelphia more than two hundred thousand. New York City has the largest Ghetto of the world, and adds to it by thousands of immigrants a year.

“We were once an agricultural and pastoral people,” continued Mr. Zangwill, “and we could make Palestine again a land of milk and honey. We should like to have the country as a Jewish colony, made up of our own people, where we could govern ourselves in our own way. We should not object to being colonially dependent upon some great power, but we want home rule and a national home of our own.”

There are really three kinds of Zionists, and the Jews themselves are divided. Some would be satisfied to make Jerusalem merely the centre of their religion and of Hebrew culture. A larger number want Palestine to be a place of refuge, where Jews from all over the world may live in freedom from political, religious, or economic oppression. But a still larger number will not be satisfied until there is set up in Palestine a Jewish state, with Jews in control of the land, the government, and the holy places. These Jews say they wish to do full justice to the other natives of Palestine, with whom they believe they can live in peace, and expect the British to retain control until the Jews form a majority of the population. To put through this programme powerful Jewish organizations have set out to raise a fund of one hundred and twenty-five million dollars in five years.

The non-Jewish people of Palestine have objected to the Zionist scheme, and demanded of the British that all Jewish immigration be stopped for ten years. Christians and Moslems in Palestine have wasted no love on[200] one another, but the prospect of a great wave of Jewish settlers united them to the extent that a Moslem-Christian league was formed, whose members agreed to sell no land to Jews. Nevertheless, the Jews have continued to increase their land holdings, but the British have limited the number of Jewish immigrants who can come into Palestine. At times the feeling between Jew and non-Jew has been so acute as to result in riots in which many people were killed.

The Moslems say that the Jews have no right to Palestine since their people have not lived there for nearly two thousand years. The Zionist programme, they state, is based on the theory that might makes right, and they accuse the British of ignoring the wishes of the majority in Palestine and consulting only the Jews, whom the Moslems outnumber almost ten to one.

They complain that leaders of Jewish organizations in other countries have more influence in Palestine affairs than the native Palestinians themselves, and say that some of them are sending communists to the Holy Land to stir up class warfare.

The Zionists feel that what the Jews have already done in Palestine goes far to justify their aim to make it a Jewish homeland. “Our people,” they say, “have established over seventy colonies on land, much of which was reclaimed from swamp and sand. They have created gardens and orchards where once was waste. They have started modern schools, and the first act of the Zionists under British control was to lay the cornerstone of a national Jewish university in Jerusalem. They have put in sanitary improvements in their villages, opened hospitals and given medical service to Jew and Gentile[201] alike. They have started new industries, and are preparing to harness the water power of the Jordan so as to make it possible to irrigate the land and furnish electricity for the whole country.” These things, the Zionists say, are but the beginning of further benefits to come as the Jews flock back to the Promised Land and work out their big programme.

There is plenty of room for Jews and Moslems, according to Zionists, who estimate that the land could be made to support from three million to five million people. But one fourth of the land is now in use, and the population is only about fifty to the square mile.

The Jews have begun to revive the Hebrew language in Palestine. In Jerusalem, where most of the learned gather, it is already spoken by many Jews from different countries who find it their common tongue. Outside Jerusalem it is not spoken so much, but it is being taught in the Jewish schools. Before the war, German organizations backing certain colonies and schools tried to compel the use of German in the Polytechnic Institute built at the foot of Mount Carmel, but succeeded only in starting a great quarrel in which they were utterly defeated.

With the revival of the ancient language has come an effort to revive Hebrew art. In the Bezalel Art and Craft School of Jerusalem characters of the old Hebrew alphabet have been made the basis for new designs in weaving rugs and decorating vases. Young Jewish painters have been attracted to Palestine to take part in this revival, and musicians have begun to collect the old Hebrew melodies. The ancient church council of the Sanhedrin, told of in the Bible, has been set up again in Jerusalem, with women admitted to its membership.

The Hadassah Medical Organization in Palestine, formerly called the American Medical Unit, now has three hospitals and a dispensary maintained at a cost said to be more than five hundred thousand dollars a year. Hadassah grew out of an American organization of Jewish women. Ten years ago it was a small society of one hundred and ninety-three members. To-day it is a national organization with a membership of fifteen thousand. It is especially active in health work among children, and in the care of mothers and infants, and it teaches Palestine girls to be nurses. There were twenty-two girls in the first class graduated from the nurses’ training school.

Another thing the Zionists have done to help their brethren in Palestine is to organize a bank, with a capital of $800,000. They plan to make long-time loans to farmers who have had to depend in the past on loans from the Jewish organizations backing the colonies, or on private lenders in Palestine. The latter have charged interest at the rate of 10 per cent. and more.

But the Moslems say that all these activities on the part of the Jew prove that political Zionism aims at nothing less than Jewish control of the Holy Land and everything and everybody in it. There is a story of an American who found a Jewish friend weeping at the “Wailing Place.”

“What is the matter with you?” he asked.

“Me? I’m wailing!”

“What are you wailing for? Aren’t there plenty of Jews in Jerusalem? And haven’t you got a Jew for a governor?”

“Yes, I know, but I want the Mosque of Omar.”

There are also Jews who favour a more moderate Zionism, and fear that setting up a Jewish state will make trouble both in Palestine and in the countries where Jews are now citizens with a part in business and public affairs.


Frank G. Carpenter (1855 – 1924) was a well-known American journalist, traveler, travel writer, photographer, and lecturer. This is an excerpt from his book, The Holy Land and Syria (1922).


Featured: Jews! The Key to Zion is in Your Hands. Open the Gates! Poster by Reuven Rubin, published in 1921.


Gaza, A Reflection

On Dissent

Why is it so difficult, even impossible, to accommodate Palestinians in the Jewish understanding of history? Why is there so little perceived need to question our own history and the one we have given others, preferring instead to embrace beliefs and sentiments that remain unchanged?

Why is it virtually mandatory among Jewish intellectuals to oppose racism, repression, and injustice almost anywhere in the world, but unacceptable—indeed, for some heretical—to oppose it when Israel is the oppressor?…

****

…I tried to remember my first real encounter with the occupation. One of the earliest was a scene I witnessed standing on a street with some Palestinian friends. An elderly man was walking along leading his donkey. A small child of no more than three or four, clearly his grandson, was with him. All of a sudden some nearby Israeli soldiers approached the old man and stopped him. One of them went over to the donkey and pried open its mouth. “Old man,” he asked, “why are your donkey’s teeth so yellow? Don’t you brush your donkey’s teeth?” The old Palestinian was mortified, the little boy visibly upset.

The soldier repeated his question, yelling this time, while the other soldiers laughed. The child began to cry and the old man just stood there silently, humiliated. As the scene continued a crowd gathered. The soldier then ordered the old man to stand behind the donkey and demanded that he kiss the animal’s behind. At first, the old man refused but as the soldier screamed at him and his grandson became hysterical, he bent down and did it. The soldiers laughed and walked away. We allstood there in silence, ashamed to look at each other, the only sound the sobs of the little boy. The old man, demeaned and destroyed, did not move for what seemed a very long time.

I stood in stunned disbelief. I immediately thought of the stories my parents had told me of how Jews had been treated by the Nazis in the 1930s, before the ghettos and death camps, of how Jews would be forced to clean sidewalks with toothbrushes and have their beards cut off in public. What happened to the Palestinian grandfather was equivalent in principle, intent, and impact: to humiliate and dehumanize. In this critical respect, my first encounter with the occupation was the same as my first encounter with the Holocaust, with the number on my father’s arm. It spoke the same message: the denial of one’s humanity.

****

…the Holocaust and the Palestinian issues in a sense are related. Among the many realities that frame contemporary Jewish life are the birth of Israel, remembrance of the Holocaust, and Jewish power and sovereignty. And it cannot be denied that the latter has a critical corollary: the displacement and oppression of the Palestinian people. For Jewish identity is linked, willingly or not, to Palestinian suffering and this suffering is now an irrevocable part of our collective memory and an intimate part of our experience, together with the Holocaust and Israel. Thisis a linkage that informsthe core of Ellis’s work.1 How, he asks, are we to celebrate our Jewishness while others are being oppressed? Isthe Jewish covenant with God present or absent in the face of Jewish oppression of Palestinians? Isthe Jewish ethical tradition still available to us? Isthe promise of holiness—so central to Jewish existence—now beyond our ability to reclaim? For the answers, at least in part, I look to Gaza.

****

… Gaza is a place, Israel argues, where innocent civilians do not exist. The presence of such civilians in Gaza is suspect, they say, because Palestinians elected a terrorist organization to represent them. Retired Israeli Major General Giora Eiland stated, “[T]hey [Gazans] are to blame for this situation just like Germany’s residents were to blame for electing Hitler as their leader and paid a heavy price for that, and rightfully so.” The goal is to use “disproportionate force,” said another official, thereby “inflicting damage and meting out punishment to an extent that will demand long and expensive reconstruction processes.” According to this logic there is no such thing as a civilian home, school, hospital, mosque, church, or playground in Gaza; all these places are therefore legitimate targets of Israeli bombs since every home is a non-home; every kindergarten a nonkindergarten; and every hospital a non-hospital.

During Operation Cast Lead (OCL), Israel’s 2008–09 offensive against Gaza, Reserve Major Amiran Levin similarly stated, “What we have to do is act systematically with the aim of punishing all the organizationsthat are firing the rockets and mortars as well as the civilians who are enabling them to fire and hide,” while the IDF spokesperson Major Avital Leibowitz argued that “anything affiliated with Hamas is a legitimate target.” Not surprisingly the UNcommissioned Goldstone Report whose mandate it wasto investigate all violations of international human rights and humanitarian law that might have been committed during OCL found that the “humiliation and dehumanization of the Palestinian population” were Israeli policy objectivesin its assault on Gaza, an assault that was nothing less than “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.”

That the area being bombed was urban, with over 20,000 human beings per square kilometer, does not weigh on the majority of Jewish people. That my friends and their children were among those being bombed, people who have always welcomed me as a Jew into their homesin Gaza, is of no consequence. “22 members of my family huddled under the stairwell,” describes Hani, who lived in the heart of Shejaiyeh, one of the areas that witnessed the greatest destruction that summer.

For General Eiland, Majors Levin and Leibowitz, and too many others, there are no parents in Gaza, there are no children or sisters or brothers; there are no deaths to mourn. Rather, Gaza is where the grass grows wild and must be mowed from time to time. The desolation inflicted on Gaza is powerfully seen in the almost complete destruction of Khuza’a, a village once known as Gaza’s orchard.

This begs the question, can Jews as a people be ordinary, an essential part of our rebirth after the Holocaust? Is it possible to be normal when we seek remedy and comfort in the dispossession and destruction of another people, “[o]bserving the windows of [their] houses through the sites of rifles,” to borrow from the Israeli poet, Almog Behar?

How can we create when we consent so willingly and with such complacence to the demolition of homes, construction of barriers, denial of sustenance, and ruin of innocents? How can we be merciful when speaking out against the wanton murder of children, of whole families and of entire neighborhoods is considered an act of disloyalty and betrayal rather than a legitimate act of dissent, and where dissent isso ineffective and reviled? How can we be humane when, to use Jacqueline Rose’s words, we seek “omnipotence as the answer to historical pain?”

Instead we condone the cruelty, even celebrating the murder of Palestinians while remaining the abused, “creating situations where our victimization is assured and ourinnocence affirmed” as seen in the words of General Eiland: “Because we want to be compassionate towards those cruel people [in Gaza], we are committing to act cruelly towards the really compassionate people – the residents of the State of Israel.” In this way, Gaza speaks to the unnaturalness of our own condition as Jews.

Will we one day be able to live withoutthe walls we are constantly asked to build? When will we be obliged to acknowledge our limits?


Sara Roy is a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. She is also a leading authority on Gaza and Hamas. This is an excerpt from Prophetic Voices on Middle East Peace.


Libertarian Autobiographies: Moving Toward Freedom in Today’s World

The following is an amended excerpt from Libertarian Autobiographies: Moving Toward Freedom in Today’s World, co-edited by Jo Ann Cavallo and Walter E. Block. The book gives voice to 80 libertarians from around the world who share their hopes, fears, expectations and achievements, in their efforts to acheive a freer world. Please consider supporting the work of Professors Cavallo and Block and purchase a copy of this inspiring work.

It is our fervent belief that libertarianism is the last best hope for humankind with regard to economics, liberty, justice, prosperity, peace, and thus even survival (pardon us for hyper-ventilating, but we maintain this is indeed the case). This belief of ours is predicated upon the crucial importance of the non-aggression principle (NAP): proper law should allow all people to engage in whichever acts they prefer, with the one exception being any behavior that violates this precept or any threat thereof. Thus, murder, rape, theft, kidnapping, fraud, and similar evil actions should be prohibited, and virtually everything else should be legally permitted.

But why assemble a collection of autobiographies penned by libertarians? Why not, instead, offer a collection of scholarly articles demonstrating the benefits of liberty? Many of the contributors to this volume have published just that sort of work on numerous occasions. Why not do so one more time? Although people may gain an understanding of this philosophy via rational argument, it cannot be denied that autobiographies, too, are important for the promotion of liberty. The personal touch may reach some people not approachable via any other means. Additionally, we all want to know the libertarian stories of people such as those who appear on these pages. Indeed, we find that libertarians have the most interesting stories to share because they often embrace this philosophy as the result of intense encounters with foundational texts or life-changing experiences.

One of the big “problems” we have with some of the best-known libertarians throughout history—such as John Locke, Lord Acton, Ludwig von Mises, Isabel Paterson, Henry Hazlitt, Friedrich Hayek, and Murray Rothbard—is that they never wrote an autobiography. Of course, if they had, alternative costs being what they are, they would likely not have been able to write other precious publications of theirs. But what about libertarians alive today? Would they be willing to share their stories? We already have the example of two volumes of libertarian autobiographies: Why Liberty: Personal Journeys Toward Peace & Freedom (Cobden Press), with 54 autobiographies edited by Marc Guttman, and I Chose Liberty: Autobiographies of Contemporary Libertarians (Mises Institute), with 82 autobiographies edited by one of the co-editors of this present volume, Walter Block (available as a free pdf at https://mises.org/library/i-chose-liberty-autobiographies-contemporary-libertarians). Both volumes were published over a decade ago, however, in 2010. We wanted to learn more about the lives of contemporary libertarians not covered in these two volumes and of others who have emerged since the time of these publications.

We therefore reached out to a number of influential scholars, activists, professors, journalists, and cultural icons who have worked toward a freer society across the globe, inviting them to write a brief autobiography for this collection. We asked them to articulate, for example, what their lives and thoughts were before they embraced libertarianism; which people, texts, or events most influenced their intellectual formation; what experiences, challenges, tribulations, and achievements they have had as participants or leaders in this movement; and how this philosophy has affected their personal or professional lives.

A volume of autobiographies on the part of libertarians immediately raises the question of precisely what constitutes this political economic philosophy. In our “big-tent” view, it comprises several strands. They all have something in common, such as an appreciation for individual liberty, private property rights, the rule of law, and free enterprise, but there are also discernible differences. That is why if you get ten libertarians in a room and ask them a question, you’ll likely get eleven (or more!) different responses. In this volume, we invited libertarians across the political-philosophical spectrum, including (1) anarcho-capitalism; (2) minimal government libertarianism, or minarchism; (3) constitutionalism; (4) classical liberalism; (5) thick libertarianism. The contributors to this volume range over the five main viewpoints mentioned above, and also fill in the gaps between them. Their essays express different perspectives on many issues even while articulating the same core principles. In fact, it is our desire that their very differences of opinion on some matters will invite readers to think for themselves. What we have sought to present is a sampling of the myriad individual journeys toward libertarianism, however defined.

Although the majority of contributors to the volume live in the United States, we are grateful to the libertarians from around the world who accepted our invitation to share their stories. This volume thus includes voices from Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, England, Germany, Guatemala, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Nigeria, Peru, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Ukraine.

It is the hope and expectation of the editors that by bringing together a range of contemporary voices from outside the dominant left–right paradigm, this volume will contribute to the viewpoint diversity that is crucially needed in today’s public discourse. Moreover, these personal and intellectual journeys not only offer compelling insights into their individual authors and the state of the world in our lifetime, but may also serve as an inspiration for the next generation who will feel called upon to make our society a freer one.


Stalin’s Gamble: The Search for Allies against Hitler, 1930–1936

Michael Jabara Carley has just published Stalin’s Gamble. The Search for Allies against Hitler, 1930–1936, which is the first volume of his tour de force trilogy on Soviet-Western relations during the 1930s. This work will be an indispensible text in Russian studies.

True to form, Stalin’s Gamble is meticulously researched, lucidly written and prodigious in its many insights. The book has that rare quality in that it appeals both to the scholar and the general reader. We are pleased to bring you an excerpt, courtesy of the University of Toronto Press.

This is a book well worth spending time with., Make sure to pick up your copy.

Prologue to Crisis

On 1 January 1930, few Europeans worried about the outbreak of a Second World War. Parisian fortune tellers might have ventured such a sensational prediction on their advertising coupons. The French, of course, worried instinctively about a new war with a revanchist Germany. In fifteen years, predicted the French politician Edouard Herriot. That was in 1922, and he was not a fortune teller. The Soviet commissar, or narkom for foreign affairs, Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov, sometimes speculated about such possibilities. Marxist ideologues thought of world war as the inevitable result of capitalist and imperialist rivalries. Litvinov opined that with the possible exceptions of the Italian fascist leader, Benito Mussolini, and Jozef Piłsudski, the Polish generalissimo, no government in Europe wanted war. Sure, there was a “war scare” in the Soviet Union in 1927, but Litvinov did not make much of it. Apparently, many rank-and-file communists did not take the war scare too seriously either, considering it “a tool of social agitation,” which undoubtedly it was. Besides the Italian Duce Mussolini, another fascist leader was emerging in Germany. This was Adolf Hitler, who headed a fringe party, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) or Nazi Party, who had ideas about a German renaissance of power relying on war as a means of achieving it. He even published a long book, Mein Kampf, in 1925, where he elaborated his plans for the future domination of Europe. It was hard to read Mein Kampf to the end, but you did not have to read every page to understand the message. The Nazi Party did not win a great many votes in the Reichstag elections during the 1920s, and thus did not appear to be a threat to European peace. In January 1930, it is unlikely that Litvinov or anyone else among the Soviet leadership worried much about Hitler.

As the new decade opened, it was more or less business as usual at the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs in Moscow, or the NKID. The principal objective was normalization of relations with the Western powers and the United States. A new world war was not an agenda item. In the autumn of 1929, the British government renewed diplomatic relations with the USSR, which it had broken off more than two years before on a wave of anti-communist hysteria. This was a victory for Soviet diplomacy. The NKID remained alert for Western attempts to organize an anti-Soviet bloc. Litvinov did not consider it a likely possibility, however, since capitalist political and economic rivalries would prevent the Western powers from ganging up on the USSR.

The Soviet Union and Weimar Germany had reasonably functional relations at the beginning of the 1930s. It certainly did not look in Moscow as if they would be at war a decade later. At the beginning of the 1920s Soviet Russia and Germany were pariahs, the one a proscribed revolutionary socialist state and the other condemned to take the blame for provoking the Great War, even though a democratic Weimar Republic had been established in November 1918. The Treaty of Versailles, concluded in June 1919, was supposed to settle the problem of German power, but did not do so. The German government passed the decade attempting to loosen the constraints of Versailles; and the Soviet government, to break out of its diplomatic isolation. What could have been more natural than these two pariah states joining together to escape isolation? In April 1922 they signed an agreement at Rapallo, Italy, to renounce prewar debts and obligations and to re-establish diplomatic and economic relations. The Entente Powers, France and Britain, were furious, realizing that the two outcasts had slipped out of their control. The pressure, both political and economic, would now be on the Entente Powers to come to terms with Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia.

The pattern of relations in Europe was thus set for the decade of the 1920s with attempts at rapprochement with Britain and France more successful on the German side than on the Soviet. If the Entente Powers succeeded in defeating Wilhelmine Germany during the Great War, they failed to overthrow Soviet power after the Bolshevik Revolution. They tried though as much as they dared. The West’s bete noire in Moscow was the Communist International, or Comintern, established in 1919 not only to pursue the cause of world revolution, but also to defend Soviet Russia against foreign intervention. During the 1920s there were ups and downs in Soviet-Western relations, a crisis now and again, but no danger of another world war.

Western Europe appeared more or less stable and prosperous. It was the Roaring Twenties: the European bourgeoisie had money for leisure and conspicuous consumption. In capital cities like Paris and Berlin, men in tuxedos and women in sleek evening dresses rocked to the beat of big band music and American jazz at nightclubs and cabarets. The menus offered expensive cuisine that went down well with wine and champagne, while dancers perspired on the dance floor. Nor were the slick and well-to-do absent from the terrasses of popular cafes where they rubbed shoulders with American expats, painters, writers, and socialists. “It’s class fraternization,” a Marxist ideologue might have joked.

Politically, France and Britain were often at odds; in fact, their wartime alliance appeared to dissolve on 11 November 1918, the day the Great War ended. This allowed room for both Germany and the Soviet Union to manoeuvre. Germany had the better of the diplomacy. The Red Scare of the 1920s and lingering Soviet revolutionary ambitions hampered efforts to normalize relations in the West. After the premature death in January 1924 of Soviet leader Vladimir Il’ich Lenin, a struggle for power erupted between Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin and Lev Davidovich Trotskii. Hatred is the first word that comes to mind in describing relations between these two Soviet leaders. This conflict had its effects on both Soviet domestic and foreign policy. At the end of the decade, the struggle for power was settled. Stalin established himself as the new, indisputable Soviet leader. Trotskii was sent into exile. Stalin calmed the Bolshevik itch to pursue world revolution and launched a five-year plan for industrialization and collectivization of agricultural lands. The troubles created by these domestic policies were an additional incentive to maintain correct relations with the Western powers.

The architects of Soviet foreign policy in the 1920s were Georgii Vasilievich Chicherin, the narkom for foreign affairs, and his principal deputy, zamnarkom Litvinov.

These two were an odd couple, one descended from the Russian aristocracy, and the other from a rather peculiar middle-class Jewish family. They often differed among themselves, both because of personal rivalries and jealousies and because of differences in temperament. Historians have said they pursued conflicting policies, Chicherin being pro-German, and Litvinov, pro-British. This is untrue, they were not pro this or that Western government, they were pro-Soviet. They sought to protect what they defined as the national interests of the Soviet state. In the northwest that meant the Baltic frontiers; in the south, it meant the borders in Central Asia. On the big issues like Rapallo or better relations with other Western powers, or difficulties with the Comintern, they saw eye to eye. It was on tactics rather than on strategy that their personal rivalries played themselves out. If Chicherin argued white, Litvinov would argue black, and vice versa. This rivalry continued until 1928 when an ailing Chicherin went on leave, never to resume his duties. Litvinov became the acting and then formal narkom of the NKID.

Soviet foreign policy was a complicated business. The NKID had to cope not only with hostile Western governments but also with politics in Moscow where foreign policy was often a stake in the struggle for power between Stalin and Trotskii and then other rivals. There were many arenas where the struggle to succeed Lenin unfolded, but none more important than in the Politburo, which was in effect the cabinet of the Soviet government. In most cabinets, the minister of foreign affairs is a high-ranking member. In the Politburo, Chicherin was not a member. He and Litvinov were invited consultants when foreign policy was discussed. On the other hand, during the 1920s, the Comintern, the nemesis of the NKID as well as of the West, was represented in succession by two of Stalin’s provisional allies, Grigorii Evseievich Zinoviev and Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin. These two Bolshevik politicians not only represented the Comintern, but used it as a platform for influence and power in the Politburo where Stalin sometimes gave them leeway as he manoeuvred for power. Politburo members tended to think they knew more about foreign policy than the NKID, which exasperated Chicherin and Litvinov. Zinoviev and Bukharin, they complained, talked too much, did not think enough, and irritated Western governments for nothing. The NKID often played the unwanted roll of concierge cleaning up their messes. Litvinov let it slip from time to time with foreign diplomats that he was fed up with the Comintern. Of course Stalin could not say that.

A persistent idea survives that the Comintern conducted Soviet foreign policy during the interwar years, or that the priorities of world revolution dominated it. “National interest” was not a concept much in use in Moscow.3 Such assertions do not stand up well in a close examination of Soviet archives. After Stalin consolidated his power, the Comintern faded into the background. It still functioned, still sought to direct the business of foreign communist parties, and still annoyed the Western powers, though less than before. If there was local resistance to French or British colonialism, the Quai d’Orsay or Foreign Office blamed it on the Comintern. When Litvinov heard such complaints, his stock reply was that indigenous resistance to Western colonialism flourished without any help from the Comintern. What was the USSR supposed to do? Should it become an advocate of colonial empires? This question came up, as readers will see, when Italy invaded Abyssinia in October 1935. Even capitalists were getting used to the Comintern. It was, like a stone in your rubber boot, which you could not take off until you stepped out of the bog. Among the Western powers, the said and unsaid idea was that the Soviet Union should abandon socialism and embrace capitalism, thus behaving like every other state. Why should Stalin and his colleagues do that? Would capitalists ever abandon capitalism?

In the 1930s the Comintern, at times, played a role in support of Soviet national interests, in Spain, for example, during the civil war, although that was a point debated inside the NKID. There were sometimes residual tensions left over from the 1920s, but it was the NKID that formulated foreign policy most of the time and the Politburo (but in reality, Stalin) that approved or modified it.

Stalin sometimes told the Comintern leadership, Georgi Dimitrov, for example, to develop policy without him. I was too busy, he would say: “Decide by yourselves.” He never said that to Litvinov or his deputies in the NKID. Stalin’s involvement in foreign policymaking began after Lenin took ill in 1922–3. The narkom proposed and most of the time the vozhd’, who was Stalin, approved. Occasionally there were clashes. A pervasive Western view holds that there were two Soviet foreign policies, Litvinov’s, pro-Western, and Stalin’s, pro-German, even after Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. The German orientation was Stalin’s preference, but he let Litvinov “talk him into something” in abandoning Rapallo. One often hears the argument, yes, collective security was Litvinov’s policy, but what about Stalin’s real preferences? This view is widespread among Western historians, seeking to explain away Litvinov and the policy of collective security. The fact is there were no personal policies, no duality of policies, only one policy that was Soviet and, perforce, Stalin’s.

It is widely believed in the West that Stalin was a confidence man just waiting for an opportunity to trick the Western powers and to return to the “old” Rapallo policy with Nazi Germany. In the meantime, he would string them along. Collective security and mutual assistance against Nazi Germany were a sham. Stalin was a would-be conqueror, a kind of red Genghis Khan, just waiting for opportunities to strike. The Soviet archival evidence upon which this narrative is based demonstrates that the Soviet leadership was serious about collective security and that Britain and France were not. In the case of France, one can make a partial exception for the period 1933–4. This revelation may come as a surprise to some readers, or others may simply not believe it, sticking to preconceived ideas. There is little evidence to substantiate Stalin’s clandestine pro-German policy, risible in any case because composition with Hitler during 1930s was not a sin, or if it was, everyone was being sinful. Britain and France, not to mention Poland, led the way. Some historians in the West might argue that the Western states had their “liberal scruples” about dealing with “archenemies.” The trouble was that for many European conservatives, Stalin was the arch-enemy, not Hitler.

Two could play at who loves me, who loves me not. Even the narkom Litvinov argued that a minimum of relations with Hitler, mostly economic, should be maintained in order to avoid a diplomatic rupture. Litvinov feared Soviet isolation, which could facilitate Anglo-French security arrangements with Hitler.

The view of Stalin as trickster, “Germanophile,” and “ally” of Hitler has been around for a long time and originates in the anti-communism and Sovietphobia of the interwar years and the second stage of the Cold War after 1945. A.J.P. Taylor, the great British historian of the mid-twentieth century, commented in 1981 that detached study of Soviet foreign policy was unlikely in his lifetime. “Most of my historical colleagues,” he said, “are so corrupted and blinded by their obsession with the Cold War that it is quite impossible for them to see clearly or to speak honestly about Soviet policies.” The same was true of their Soviet counterparts. Taylor was trying to be “balanced.” The Cold War ended in 1991 – at least many people hoped it had – after the dismemberment and disappearance of the Soviet Union. The immense Soviet archives began to open. It was the most extraordinary experience for historians to go to Moscow for the first time and hold in their hands freshly declassified dela, or files, that no one, apart from archivists and a few Soviet historians, had ever before read, let alone explored. Maybe we should talk about “History BC,” before the opening of the Soviet archives, and “History AD,” after the opening. I would respectfully contend that historians cannot study the origins of the Second World War without reference to the Soviet archival sources. Now that we have those files, or a great many of them, it should be possible to get to the bottom of the big questions that divided Taylor’s generation.

Yet here we are, and so far, it has not been possible. A new generation of English-language writers, seemingly disdainful of their predecessors, has resumed old habits. One evokes “memory” to justify not going to the archival records. Another goes to the files, cherry-picking evidence. He uses that part of the archival record which suits his strong ideological objectives and ignores that part which does not. It is dust in the eyes. Such modi operandi, writes one reviewer, “undermine confidence” in the author. Yet even when reviewers catch an author red-handed, it does not appear to bother either author or publisher. In the early 1980s, an untenured “Marxist historian” at Princeton University was drummed out of the profession for mistakes of documentation. Senior historians accused him “of systematically distorting evidence”; he was “called a ‘liar’ and a ‘faker.’” Now, forty years later, those very words, but not the punishment, might apply to certain academics or politicians of a new generation. As politicians go, the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, comes to mind, or delegates at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

In the flurry of such Western ideas, it goes against the grain to propose that Soviet foreign policy functioned more or less as it did in other states, I mean based on perceptions of national interest. In fact, in the Politburo there existed considerable animosity towards Germany and towards the Rapallo policy, though it continued with ups and downs throughout the 1920s and into the beginning of the 1930s. Germany was the only Western power with which the Soviet Union had tolerable relations. It was the only foothold in Europe and had to be protected lest the USSR risk dangerous isolation. All the better, Litvinov argued, if relations with other powers could be improved, but not at the risk of damaging Rapallo. Litvinov was under no illusions about the permanency of Rapallo. Eventually, Germany and the USSR would part company. Other options, therefore, had to be cultivated, but for the time being such options were “music of the future.”

Western-Soviet tensions came and went like bad weather. Trade turnover rose and fell according to Soviet economic and political needs. Moscow used trade as bait to obtain better political relations, though this strategy never really worked except in Weimar Germany, and even there, bilateral relations were often strained. It was not trade per se but political calculations of national interest on both sides, which kept Rapallo going.

By the end of the 1920s, the Soviet government managed to achieve prewar production levels. It was slow going, too slow for the Bolsheviks, for they were all industrializers and modernizers whatever the disagreements between them on how fast to proceed. The USSR was burdened with millions of peasant smallholdings, which produced only enough grain and other foodstuffs to sustain the peasant producers. Sometimes it did not, and the poorest peasants had to hire themselves out as labourers to the more prosperous so-called kulaks, to make ends meet. There was not enough agricultural surplus to feed the cities, at reasonable prices, in order to support industrialization or to sell in the West to obtain vital foreign exchange. Something had to be done. Having won the conflict to succeed Lenin, Stalin clenched his fists and smashed all the obstacles to industrialization by launching the First Five-Year Plan in 1928 and by forcing at the same time the collectivization of small peasant holdings, grouping them into large collective farms. Forced collectivization provoked a peasant “Luddite” rebellion (a turn of phrase coined by the late Isaac Deutscher), which along with drought and insect infestations, led in 1932–3 to a disastrous concatenation of circumstances, a famine in the Soviet wheat belt. These developments did not affect Soviet foreign policy or the Soviet need to trade. If anything, industrialization increased the need to buy capital goods and to sell agricultural products, lumber, oil, and manganese in the West.

In the 1930s the stakes in Soviet relations with the West changed rapidly. In October 1929, the stock market crashed in New York, setting off what became the Great Depression, which spread from the United States to Europe. The deceptive political and economic stability of the 1920s was shattered. Credit dried up, banks and businesses went broke, industrial production fell, international trade declined, commodity prices plummeted, and unemployment rose to calamitous levels.

The Roaring Twenties became a memory. One imagines that many prized tuxedos and evening gowns collected dust in the closet or ended up in secondhand shops. American expats still flocked to Paris, and jazz men still played the cabarets, but in reality, everything had changed. The music sounded the same, but people were not. The legions of unemployed worried about making ends meet. People were desperate and angry. The far-right leagues (or ligues) in France and the Nazi Brownshirts in Germany went out into the streets looking for trouble, fighting with communists and unionists. There were casualties. It was war, not all-out, but war all the same.

The Depression thus brought renewed political instability, especially in Germany, where the Nazi Party under Hitler made impressive gains in federal elections in September 1930, rising from 12 seats in the Reichstag to 107. Hitler was no longer a fringe politician. Nazi power increased rapidly until Hitler became chancellor in January 1933. This should have set off alarm bells in European capitals and in Washington, and it should have led to changes in policy. Sometimes it did and sometimes not. It certainly did in Moscow. The threat of war, which had largely been a theoretical discussion, became a real, tangible danger. As a result, major changes in foreign policy and in relations with the Western powers took place in the Soviet Union as it turned to face the menace to European peace and security posed by Hitlerite Germany. Sooner or later, Litvinov had said in 1927, Germany and the USSR were bound to go their separate ways. That time had come.


Featured: Joseph Stalin, by Viktor Mikhailovich Oreshnikov; painted in 1948.


Freedom’s Anchor: An Introduction to Natural Law Jurisprudence in American Constitutional History

In Freedom’s Anchor, Andrew P. Napolitano, the well-known American jurisprudent, vigorously demonstrates that the Natural Law is the very lifeblood of the United States—and without it the nation cannot truly and fully exist. The strength of the book lies in its rich array of caselaw, from Colonial America down to the present-day, in which the Natural Law has functioned as the dynamic “logic” for the rulings rendered. This book will not disappoint, so do make sure to get a copy.

Judge Napolitano is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame Law School. He is the youngest life-tenured Superior Court judge in the history of the State of New Jersey. He sat on the bench from 1987 to 1995 and presided over more than 150 jury trials and thousands of motions, sentencings, and hearings. Judge Napolitano taught constitutional law and jurisprudence at Delaware Law School for one and a half years, at Seton Hall Law School for 11 years, and at Brooklyn Law School for four years. He was often chosen by the students as their most outstanding professor. As Fox News’s Senior Judicial Analyst from 1997 to 2021, Judge Napolitano gave 14,500 broadcasts nationwide on the Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. He is nationally known for watching and reporting on the government as it takes liberty and property. His newspaper column is seen by millions every week. He is an internationally-recognized expert on the U.S. Constitution and a champion of personal freedom. Freedom’s Anchor is his tenth book.

This excerpt comes through the kind generosity of Academica Press.

What is the Natural Law Tradition? Is the natural law related to the medieval church and the nature of man as a divine creation? Or is it a philosophical methodology linked to Enlightenment ideas of personhood? Perhaps it is a legal rule with specific form and content incorporated by the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution? The truth is that the natural law is often confounded among many of these questions, and as such, we must look backwards throughout history to discern its complete meaning if we are to look forward and see how we may use it to achieve the best form of government.

Even those who question or reject the existence of a Creator can embrace the concept of natural rights, for they can accept that our exercise of human reason leads us to discern right from wrong, and in turn, discover truth. An atheist will agree that there are certain basic values acknowledged everywhere, in all times and circumstances. After all, even a person deprived of senses has the ability to reason.

The Boston Massacre Trial: Self-Defense as a Natural Right for All

Indeed, “it was not uncommon for colonial lawyers and colonial courts to regard Natural Law and ancient principles of the common law as superior to ordinary legislative acts.” For instance, during the Boston Massacre trial of 1770, in which John Adams and Josiah Quincy II defended British soldiers accused of killing innocent colonial civilians, Adams asserted a self-defense justification. Adams was advised, Roscoe Pound maintained, by Jeremiah Gridley, “the father of the Boston bar, […] that [the] study of the natural, i.e. ideal, law, set forth in the Continental treatises on the law of nature and nations, if unnecessary in England, was important for the American lawyer.” Quincy argued for one of the soldiers by dispelling the notion forwarded by the Crown, that “the life of a soldier was of very little value; of much less value than others of the community.” Quincy argued that “we all reluct at death […] God and Nature hath implanted this love of life.—Expel therefore from your breasts an opinion so unwarrantable by any law, human or divine[.]” He then quoted Blackstone, who… unmistakably invokes the natural law: The law by which the prisoners are to be tried, is a law of mercy—a law applying to us all—a law, judge Blackstone will tell us “founded in principles that are permanent, uniform and universal, always comfortable to the feelings of humanity and the indelible rights of mankind.”

Quincy was quick to remind the jury of the earlier natural law claim he asserted with Adams, including a citation to John Locke. Adams, in his closing discussion of justifiable homicide, also invoked Blackstone and “the laws of nature,” signaling the powerful sway of natural law arguments on juries and the bench at the time.

Of course, as any trial attorney will attest, judges and juries often decide cases on many factors beyond the persuasiveness of the attorneys and compassionate presentation of the defendants or victims. A colonial Boston jury, some scant three-and-a-half years before the signing of the Declaration of Independence, was not sympathetic to a cadre of British soldiers who had just killed or injured several of their fellow Bostonians. However, the natural law appeals of Adams and Quincy were rational rather than sympathetic; and they won the day resulting in the acquittal of six of the soldiers, and convictions for manslaughter, instead of murder, for the remaining two.

Madison, in crafting the Bill of Rights, needed to manage two competing arguments: the disingenuous argument of Alexander Hamilton, that any enumeration of rights “could be used to justify any unwarranted expansion of federal power” as the government is of enumerated powers, and to enumerate rights implies areas of rights the government can reach into beyond those enumerated, on the one hand; and, the Madisonian argument that “any right excluded from enumeration would be jeopardized,” on the other hand. Madison, in this initial proposal to the House “ran together both of these concerns.”

His proposals went to a select committee (of which he was a member) for consideration, and “[e]ventually, the two ideas were unpacked” into the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which deal with “rights” and “powers,” respectively. That is the Barnett-libertarian view of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, which Professor Randy Barnett… termed as power-constraint: The two amendments act to constrain the federal government from either expanding its own powers at the expense of individual persons and of the States, or from infringing on the other unenumerated natural rights of individual persons.

Such a bundle of amendments dispels any argument that the founders disavowed natural law and natural rights.

Why else would such a clause exist? What other rights could there be? Of course, there were the state bills of rights, but Madison addressed that concern too! “The powers not delegated by this Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively.” So, after setting up the Bill of Rights to contain a provision to protect non-enumerated rights, Madison returned to protect the rights of the states which created the Constitution and to emphasize that the Constitution provided government only with the powers that the states ceded to it, and nothing more.

Whereas legal positivism dominated the judicial landscape of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, natural law theory jurisprudence began to reemerge and win small victories starting in the middle of 1946 and persisting through today. That is not to say that the Supreme Court adopted a doctrinal approach that examined matters before it with strong deference to natural law and natural rights, but rather that activist and conservative Courts alike ruled on matters in such a fashion as to incorporate into lofty stare decisis certain natural law principles. All of this occurred much to the chagrin of simple fairweather positivists, who grumbled about statutory law, and so-called legal realists, who believe in the importance and primacy of judicial precedent, though, it seems, only when such reliance suited their ends.

We see now that around the end of the second World War a return to Natural Law theories emerged with renewed vigor. During this time, the Third Reich had revealed to humanity the devastation and atrocities of which contemporary society became capable when deploying modern methods of engineering, science, and manufacturing to sinister, horrific and protracted ends and grounding them in positivism. We have also observed the means by which societies sought to safeguard against future abuses through the passage of laws and rules holding government more accountable, such as the Federal Tort Claims Act in 19462 in the United States, which allowed injured persons to sue the federal government in certain limited circumstances, and the Crown Proceedings Act in 1947 in England, which granted English “subjects” (how I loathe the word when referring to persons) the right to sue the Crown without first obtaining a royal fiat.

Though typically at loggerheads, Natural Law theory and legal positivism can find common purchase through soft-hearted approaches to Originalism that factor in the principles behind the Ninth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the most significant figures in the spread and modern development of Originalism, brought what he believed to be a greater sense of order and consistency to the bench by calling for judges to restrict their decisions in a narrow fashion by adhering to Originalism, a philosophy he believed would lead toward more authentic and honest interpretation of laws and the Constitution itself.

As time passes, language can undergo semantic shift in which the popular meanings of words change. So, in order truly to understand a statute, some argued, one needed to seize the mantel of the historian and endeavor to determine what was meant by a statute at the time of its passage rather than interpreting the statute according to the contemporary meaning of its words. In 1982, Paul Brest, then a professor at Stanford Law School, coined the term “Originalism” which he defined as “the familiar approach to constitutional adjudication that accords binding authority to the text of the Constitution or the intention of its adopters.” According to Brest, “[a]dherence to the text and original understanding arguably constrains the discretion of decision makers [i.e., judges] and assures that the Constitution will be interpreted consistently over time.”

Different flavors of Originalism focus on different original elements involved in the drafting, creation, adoption, and passage of various elements of the Constitution, its amendments, and legislation written under its authority. The textualists look to the language of the text in question.5 “The plain meaning of a text is the meaning that it would have for a ‘normal speaker of English’ under the circumstances in which it is used.”6 Though textualists focus mainly on the words of the text in question, they will occasionally consult outside sources to determine exactly what a word or a term of art meant to the general public at the time the particular provision was adopted or passed. In other words, they may look to newspapers, other legislation, books, speeches, circulars, broadsides, treatises, or treaties contemporaneous to the particular language they seek to understand. However, such an approach looks to extratextual material only in so far as it clarifies the meaning of the words involved in the piece in question and is not used to try to understand what may have been the intent of those who adopted the law. The textualists care only about the plain public meaning of the words at the time they were written, not the intent of the authors.

Intentionalists, on the other hand, seek to divine the intentions of those who adopted or passed a piece of legislation or provision. They endeavor to do so by considering the text of the law or provision as a persuasive—though not controlling—authority.

Intentionalists will look to a nearly endless variety of sources related, directly, or even imaginarily, to the piece in question. The camps of intentionalists diverge or sometimes disagree over whose intent they should consider. Some believe that the intent of the drafters of a piece should carry more weight when it comes to its interpretation, while others argue for heavier consideration of the intent of those who adopted it. Further wrinkles arise when others advocate for the inclusion of ideas of legal structuralism, calling for evaluation of the relationships between the various branches of government at the time of the passage of language in question to determine how different organs of government relate to and interact with one another.

Was Jefferson partly right about the tree of Liberty occasionally, and only when absolutely necessary, soaking up the blood of patriots and tyrants in order to survive? Or was he right when he observed that in the long march of history, governments grow and liberty shrinks? Or, were intellectual giants from Aquinas to Rothbard right when they argued that so long as we can reason, we will have liberty?

But to exercise reason, we must have free will. Both free will and natural law principles have been imprinted in us. Positive law not faithful to the natural law principles is an artificial fabrication of humans, usually for their own good or tenure in power. Yet all rational adults have natural inclinations to know good from evil.

The issues this work addresses are not those of individual fidelity to natural law principles, but government infidelity to them. Government fidelity to natural law principles assures individual choices, personal autonomy, and authorship of one’s own life. Isn’t that the definition of personal liberty – freedom bounded, as Jefferson said, only by the natural rights of others? Isn’t that the pursuit of happiness?

Short of a government committed to the preservation of natural rights, there is darkness and chaos.


Featured: The Tontine Coffee House, New York City, by Francis Guy; painted in 1797.


Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church

David R. Carlin is a former Democratic state senator who was once a leading figure in Rhode Island politics. In his new book, Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church, he explains that the “mind” of the Democratic Party has been converted to atheistic humanism, an ideology (or worldview) that is the deadly enemy of Catholicism. It is this ideology that has given America its present-day culture of sexual freedom, abortion, gay marriage, and transgenderism. More and more this atheistic ideology controls the chief propaganda organs of American culture, that is the entire Media-Education-Entertainment Complex, and of course the Democratic Party itself.

This excerpt from Atheistic Humanism, the Democratic Party, and the Catholic Church comes through the kind courtesy of Lectio Publishing.

When I had finished writing about ninety-nine percent of this book, I happened to be driving through my neighborhood one day (I was driving home following a periodic visit to my cardiologist) when I noticed a colorful cloth banner, rectangular in shape, hanging on somebody’s front porch. It said:

  • Pro-BLM
  • Pro-science
  • Pro-choice
  • Pro-feminism
  • Pro-LGBTQ
  • Pro-humanism
  • Pro-immigrant

I slammed on my brakes in order that I might pause for a moment or two to admire the banner, which is a nearly perfect summary of the dangerous anti-Christianity mentality I am denouncing in this book, a mentality I call atheistic humanism. The person who made the banner is, I suppose, an atheistic humanist, and so, very probably, is the person who owns the porch in question.

If you know how to read the language of atheistic humanism, you will know how to interpret the many “pro” labels listed above.

  • “Pro-BLM” means “the USA is a systemically racist society, ruled by white supremacists”
  • “Pro-science” means “we don’t believe in the Bible or any other divine revelation”
  • “Pro-choice” means “pro-abortion”
  • “Pro-feminism” means “we deplore toxic masculinity”
  • “Pro-LGBTQ” means “we endorse an immense variety of sexual perversions”
  • “Pro-humanism” means “anti-Christianity and pro-atheism”
  • “Pro-immigrant” means “pro-open borders”

Atheistic humanists are smart people, at least usually, and so when making propaganda they know how to clothe their dangerous ideas in harmless, often even attractive, words and slogans. And so, instead of saying, “Let’s mass-murder unborn babies,” they say, “Let’s defend a woman’s right to choose.” And instead of saying, “Almost all white Americans are racists,” they say, “Black lives matter.” Instead of saying, “The Bible is bull***t,” they say, “We believe in science.” And so on.

*****

Great civilizations sometimes collapse. If we have any doubts about that, we can read Arnold Toynbee’s multivolume work, A Study of History; or another multivolume work, Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In the second and third and fourth centuries AD, the old pagan civilization of the Greco-Roman world gradually but (as we now can see in retrospect) inevitably collapsed and was replaced by a new civilization based on Christianity.

It is possible that those of us living today are passing through a somewhat similar crisis of civilization, a crisis in which an old way of life is dying while a new is being born. If in those ancient days paganism, an old thing, was being replaced by a new thing, Christianity, so in our time Christianity, which is now an old thing, is perhaps being replaced something new, a worldview based on atheism. It is not easy for those living through one of these great transitions to know what is happening. Only after the transition is complete, only after the old thing has quite definitely passed away, can we be sure that it is truly dead and that it is therefore too late to save it. As the philosopher Hegel, meditating on the mysterious course of history, once said, “The Owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk.” So I’m not quite sure that our civilization is crumbling; perhaps we are simply going through a bad patch; maybe we’ll have to wait five hundred years before making a definitive judgment on that.

*****

But something is happening, something momentous, whether we call it a bad patch or a collapse of our old civilization. Christianity is under severe attack by a great enemy, and it is this enemy—along with its political arm, the Democratic Party—that I plan to examine in this book. Although this attack is underway in many places, not just in the United States of America…

…But what is this new thing, this new thing that is a great enemy of Christianity? What should we call it? Many Christians, both Catholics and others, like to call it a new paganism, a neo-paganism. I think this is a great misnomer. The ancient paganism of the Roman-Greek world, quite unlike today’s anti-Christianity, was religious. All paganism is religious, paganism being the generic name for polytheistic religions. Ancient paganism certainly wasn’t religious in a Christian or monotheistic way, but without question it was religious. It had multitudes of gods, altars, rituals, and holy days. By contrast, this new thing, this candidate to replace Christianity, is not at all religious. Either it involves outright atheism, or it leans strongly in the direction of atheism. It is a decidedly secular or non-religious faith; more than non-religious, it is anti-religious; very specifically, it is anti-Christianity. At the same time, it is humanistic; or at least in its outwardly most attractive form it claims to be humanistic. A more or less accurate label for it would be secular humanism. A more accurate name still would be atheistic humanism—for atheism is the most thoroughgoing kind of anti-Christianity, and atheism lies at the core of this new and superficially benign faith.

There are various kinds of atheists. Some of them are beastly; they give vent to their basest, most animalistic impulses (think of violent criminals). Others are demonic; they love evil, not for the eventual good it may produce, but for its own sake (think of Nazis). The atheists I will be focusing on in this book are the (apparently) best kind, the humanistic kind. They are neither beastly nor demonic. They make an honest attempt to be human and humane. They even make an attempt (albeit a very unsuccessful attempt) to mimic what they imagine to be the ethic of Christianity. It is atheists of this kind—the “good” atheists, so to speak—that present the greatest danger to Christianity in general and to Catholicism in particular. I should point out, however, that once these “good” atheists are in command of society, the way will open for the entry of atheists of the beastly and demonic.

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Ideological Structure of the Democratic Party

To understand today’s Democratic Party we must understand its ideological structure, and to understand this structure we have to see (a) who produces the party’s ruling beliefs and values, (b) who distributes these beliefs and values, and (c) who consumes them.

We may picture this structure as a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid are the producers, relatively small in number. Below them are the distributors, much larger in number. And at the base of the pyramid are the consumers, the enormous number of rank-and-file Democrats. The beliefs and values move downward, as with the force of gravity. They begin with the people at the top of the pyramid; they are eagerly seized upon by the people in the middle; and these middle people energetically pass these beliefs and values on to the party’s rank-and-file…

The producers of these strongly leftist beliefs and values are people who are commonly referred to as intellectuals, but who more correctly should be denominated as ideologues. “Intellectual” is a very broad category; it can refer to any highly educated person who has a lively and continuing interest in some field of thought. For instance, a Shakespeare scholar would be an intellectual, and so would a physicist, and so would a professor of constitutional law. But not all intellectuals are ideologues; in fact most of them are not. An “ideologue” is a sub-category of intellectual. He (or she) is an “activist” intellectual; an intellectual who is promoting a political agenda; an intellectual whose commitment to a more or less revolutionary outcome shapes his (or her) perception of political reality. The pure intellectual studies reality to see what conclusions ought to be drawn. The ideologue already “knows” the conclusions prior to beginning the study; he then shapes the evidence to fit his a priori conclusions.

The producers of the beliefs and values of the Democratic Party are ideologues, leftist ideologues—progressives they like to call themselves. They have a kind of ideal society in mind, and they believe that the Democratic Party is the political vehicle that can, if guided correctly—which is to say, if guided by themselves—contribute greatly to bringing this ideal society about.

Only rarely are these ideologues elected officials. Far more often they are professors at colleges and universities, including law schools; and these are often America’s very best colleges and universities and law schools. They can also be found in significant numbers at leftist “think tanks.” On some occasions they are journalists. Or they are writers of political or historical or sociological books (this last category largely overlapping with the earlier categories).

The distributors of these beliefs and values are persons who may be described as “passive ideologues” in contrast to the “active ideologues” just described. That is to say, they don’t create the leftist beliefs and values they adhere to, but they receive them with enthusiasm. These are the people who dominate what may be called the “command posts” of American popular culture—or what may alternatively be called America’s “propaganda industry.” I have in mind the leftists who dominate such fields as journalism (both electronic and print), the entertainment industry (Hollywood, TV, popular music, etc.), and our colleges and universities. It is also common for public school administrators to be distributors of these beliefs and values, less common (though far from unknown) for classroom teachers to be so. Minsters of liberal churches and theologian-professors at liberal seminaries are also distributors. Finally, we must count the great majority of Democratic elected officials, from local town councils up the President of the United States, as distributors—along with the political activists who help these officials get elected.

Some of these distributors are more enthusiastic in their leftism than others. Those who are very enthusiastic—an enthusiasm that sometimes, especially among young persons, verges on fanaticism—call themselves progressives, while the more temperate leftists prefer to call themselves liberals. Whether progressive or liberal, however, they take their beliefs and values from “above” and pass them along to the common people “below.” They are like missionaries, spreading a gospel they deeply believe in even though they didn’t invent it.

The producers and distributors of these leftist beliefs and values are of course also consumers of their beliefs and values. But the great majority, indeed the overwhelming majority, of consumers are rank-and-file Democrats who are for the most part non-ideological—or would be if left to their own devices. Their motives for adherence to the Democratic Party are various. Sometimes it is a matter of family tradition: “My parents were Democrats, my grandparents were Democrats,” and so on. Sometimes it is a matter of racial identity: “Most blacks are Democrats, I am black, therefore etc.” Sometimes it is a matter of labor union membership: “My union supports the Democrats, therefore etc.” Sometimes it is a matter of economic interest: “The Democrats are good for my paycheck or my welfare check, etc.” Sometimes it is a matter of personal inertia: “I have always voted Democrat, etc.”

Very often it is a matter of imagining that the Democratic Party today is essentially the same thing it was decades ago: “This is the party of FDR and JFK, so how can I not vote for it?” This is what may be called “the fallacy of essentialism.” Some things—geometrical figures, for instance, or numbers—have eternal essences. They never change. A square always was, is now, and always will be a plane figure with four equal sides and four 90-degree angles. Some people imagine that their favorite political party is rather like this; that it remains essentially what it was in its golden age.

Even though these Democratic voters are for the most part non-ideological, and even though they have little or no personal attachment to the leftist values of abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, recreational drug use, and euthanasia, and even though they don’t believe that the USA is a “systemically” or “fundamentally” racist society, and even though the whites among them (most of them are whites) don’t believe it is racist to assign heavy penalties for crimes of violence committed by blacks and other “persons of color,” and even though they have no wish that public schools should teach little kids to adopt an attitude of tolerance toward a variety of sexual perversions—even though all this, these rank-and-file Democrats are willing to go along with the ideological agenda handed down by the ideological rulers of the party. Why? Because it is their party. It is a party they are in the habit of trusting, a party they are in the habit of supporting. Besides, they don’t like the other party, the rival party, the Republicans—just as Red Sox fans don’t like the Yankees. Like good team players, they operate on the assumption that if the captains of their team say ABC while the other team says not-ABC, they will have to agree with leaders of their team; they too will have to say ABC. To do otherwise in the midst of battle would be an act of disloyalty.

In sum, that’s how a small number of people (the ideological leaders of the party), having persuaded a much larger number of people (the propaganda arm of the party), can shape the political preferences of a vast number of people (the rank-and-file members of the party). And that’s how an intellectual elite whose ideas and values are far out of the mainstream can shape the destiny of a nation. A small number of leftist ivory tower intellectuals/ideologues (at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, great state universities, etc.) win converts at vital propaganda outlets (the New York Times, MSNBC, Hollywood, etc.), and these leftist propagandists in turn tell ordinary Democrats what political and cultural agenda they should support.