Anti-Jewish Authors

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


The Jew in European Literature


There are three kinds of culture. Material culture, such as the chair we are sitting on and the atomic bomb. Then there is ideological culture, consisting of that which we believe, such as the belief in democracy. Thirdly there is behavioral culture, consisting of that which we do, such as eating with fork and spoon or greeting someone by shaking hands.

Culture is so pervasive and important that we conduct ourselves according to that which our culture has taught us. In European culture, hatred of Jews is so much part of their heritage that Europeans cannot rid themselves of anti-Jewish behavior because anti-Jewish beliefs have been with them for 1900 years.

These beliefs are part of European literature. Anti-Jewish hate is found in children’s books, in poetry and songs, and most certainly in European novels. Stage plays are of course also affected by this teaching of contempt. This is best known by Shakespeare’s (1564-1616) play The Merchant of Venice. This play is the product of religious bigotry and hate. It is also the product of ignorance, since William Shakespeare never saw a Jew. There had been no Jews in England since they were driven out by King Edward in 1290. Therefore Shakespeare had to write what he believed, even though it had nothing to do with reality.

It is unique among all the ethnic groups in America that Jews, and only Jews, participate in their own denunciation. There are Jewish actors who actually act out the role of Shylock, a caricature of a monster who demands a pound of flesh from a decent Christian. Equally disgusting are Jews who produce such plays or who attend them. The reality is that Europeans have literally slaughtered millions of Jews over the centuries, including 6 million murdered during the so-called Holocaust. No, we did not demand a pound of flesh from anybody. We were the victims of others who actually did this and committed such brutalities that they have no right to pretend that we are a gang of Shylocks. Of course, Shakespeare was not the only one to besmirch European literature with this revolting hate.

Prior to him there was Chaucer, who in his Canterbury Tales demeaned and insulted Jews. The truly great novelist Charles Dickens left out his bigotry and hate in his novel Oliver Twist, in which a Jew named Fagin is the brutal leader of a gang of street thugs.

The American author Ezra Pound depicted Jews as money manipulators and Nathaniel Hawthorne in The Marble Faun did the same. Henry James, an American author, slandered Jews in The American Scene, as did the French philosopher Voltaire (Arouet) in Candide, which Leonard Bernstein set to music. Also in French literature, Honore Balzac demeans Jews in his Human Comedy, and in German there seems to be no end of anti-Jewish diatribes, including Jud Süss by Hauff, which the Nazis made into a movie, Hebbel’s Judith, and Grillparzer’s Die Jüdin von Toledo.

The Russian author Bulganin wrote Ivan Yitshigin, a slanderous anti-Jewish hate sheet, Turgenev wrote Zhid, which is the pejorative Russian word for Jew, and Dostoyevsky wrote House Of the Dead, a not unexpected anti-Jewish slander as well.

Is it is therefore not surprising that despite the mass murder of 6 million innocent Jews in the European gas ovens, the hatred continues. New generations of European children are taught this trash year in and year out while finding all kinds of excuses for the mass murders committed by their grandparents and great grandparents. Even now, the 1,400,000 Jews living in Europe amidst 750 million inhabitants continue to be harassed and assaulted, insulted, humiliated, and threatened. Even now, Europeans cannot tolerate the sight of a kippa or a synagogue. It is therefore the cultural heritage of Europe which will never allow so much as one Jew to be treated like an equal human being. Obviously, the few Jews still living there need to leave as many have already done, by moving to Israel and the United States.

There is of course, in addition to culture, one more reason why Jews have been the target of so much antagonism. That second reason is our numbers. In the whole world of over 7½ billion people, we are only 13 million. Such small numbers make us look defenseless. Let us assume that Europe had 750 million Jews. Undoubtedly no one would attack such a huge number. Moreover, the European Jews never had arms with which to defend themselves. Being unarmed and vulnerable is always a cause for persecution and murder. The evidence is that the 5½ million Jews in Israel cannot be murdered by the 1.5 billion Muslims surrounding them because the Israelis have an army, a navy, an air force and the atomic bomb.    

The lesson is plain. If you cannot defend your lives you will be murdered, but if you have a whole lot of weapons you also will have many friends.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including End of the Patriarchy (2015).

Home ] Up ]