Tuesday, May 08, 2007

The paper below is circulated on the Internet only. I have submitted it to quite a few academic journals but all the editors have found it too risky for them to publish. Although the theory put forward is one that various Jewish scholars favour, it is still a bit politically incorrect to have a Gentile saying it!
The paper may be used, reproduced or circulated in any way anyone wishes without charge, let or hindrance from the author as long as it is reproduced in full and not altered in any way. For any other usage of the paper permission is required from the author. The paper may however be freely quoted and cited as long as appropriate acknowledgment of authorship is made. The version of the paper below is the update of June, 2012 but the first version of the paper was submitted in 1974.
John Ray (Jonjayray@hotmail.com)



J.J. Ray

University of New South Wales, Australia


Although all types of antisemitism are overgeneralizations, it is important to note that there is more than one type and source of antisemitism and that not all types are equally pernicious. It is the extreme examples of antisemitism that are dangerous and they are most safely seen as sui generis (requiring study in their own right). Contrary to the popular impression, extreme antisemitism has been in recent centuries mostly Leftist but this paper is primarily concerned with non-extreme antisemitism -- widespread but not usually important low-level grumbling about Jews. Social psychology textbooks now describe everyday racism as normal and at times rational. This suggests that some antisemitism too could be rational in at least some cases. Jewish authors such as H.F. Stein and C.Y. Glock have argued to that effect in recent years. To help examine this possibility, some case studies of ordinary Australians are presented which tend to suggest that such people's dislike for Jews is ultimately traceable to a significant subset of Jews acting out the central Jewish belief that they are a chosen and hence superior people. It is suggested that such beliefs lead to a tribal morality which sours business interactions between Jew and Gentile. This in turn suggests that the only relatively safe future for Jews over the long term may be either assimilation or migration to Israel. Another alternative may however be the one adopted by the Parsees of India. Various criticisms of these conclusions are considered.


Ever since the Pharaohs, Jews have been persecuted. To be a Jew is to be at serious risk of adverse discrimination and persecution. It is arguably the single feature that unites Jews of all eras. Religion once had that role but most Jews today seem to be atheists or something not far short of that.

To academics like me such a unifying feature cries out for a unifying explanation. Explaining the complexity of reality in terms of much simpler underlying processes is what academics do. But academic caution also requires one to note that things which seem the same on the surface may often not be at all the same underneath and it is my contention that EXTREME examples of antisemitism are sui generis -- i.e. they have to be understood in their own terms and in their own context. For instance, the "final solution" of England's King Edward I in 1290 cannot safely be seen as similarly-motivated to a certain later "final solution". I think, however, that there is nonetheless one generalization about extreme antisemitism in the last couple of centuries that has some explanatory power and I will initially say a few words about that:

The most extreme example of antisemitism in recent times was of course the thinking and deeds of the avowedly socialist Adolf Hitler. Leftist propaganda has convinced many that he was not a true socialist because he violently disagreed with the Marxist notion of class war. But most Leftists in the last 200 years have not agreed with the goal of class war. They want reform that falls somewhere short of that. So Hitler was in fact a fairly normal Leftist in that regard. There are probably few readers here, however, who are ready to unlearn the propaganda they have been fed about Hitler being a Rightist so I refer such doubters to a really thorough exposition of the matter here

And who wrote this?

"Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew -- not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be the self-emancipation of our time.... We recognize in Jewry, therefore, a general present-time-oriented anti-social element, an element which through historical development -- to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed -- has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry".

Most people would identify those words as the words of Hitler but they are in fact the words of that great hater, Karl Marx. So I think that does lead us towards one useful generalization about extreme antisemitism in the last 200 years or so: It is characteristically Leftist. By Hitler's time, antisemitism in particular, as well as racism in general, already had a long history on the Left. August Bebel was the founder of Germany's Social Democratic party (mainstream Leftists) and his best-known saying is that antisemitism is der Sozialismus des bloeden Mannes (usually translated as "the socialism of fools") -- which implicitly recognized the antisemitism then prevalent on the Left. And Lenin himself alluded to the same phenomenon in saying that "it is not the Jews who are the enemies of the working people" but "the capitalists of all countries." For more on the socialist roots of antisemitism see Tyler Cowen's detailed survey here.

And when we contrast the socialist Hitler with people who really were conservative, the difference in treatment of Jews could hardly be more stark. In the clearly more racist 19th century to which Hitler belonged intellectually (He was born in 1889), the British Conservative Party made a flamboyant Jew -- Disraeli -- a most honoured and influential Prime Minister. Could that be a greater contrast with the gas ovens he could have expected under Hitler? And it was of course Conservative party member and eventual leader Winston Churchill who was Hitler's most unrelenting opponent.

And Leftist antisemitism was only briefly interrupted by the aftermath of Hitler's defeat and horror at the holocaust. The most virulent expressions of non-Muslim antisemitism are now once again emanating from the Left -- sometimes but not always in the form of "anti-Zionism" (Translation: Hatred of Israel). If Hitler were alive today, his attitude to Jews would make him once again a fairly mainstream Leftist. He would certainly get on well with America's famous Grinning Peanut (See here and here for details of Peanut's addled thinking).

And it is no mystery why Leftists should be antisemitic. Hatred of success and prominence in others -- envy -- is the major driving force behind Leftism and Jews do have the perhaps unfortunate attribute of tending to be prominently successful in all sorts of ways. And the remarkable exceptionalism of modern-day Israel would make it hated by the Left whether it was populated by Jews or Calathumpians. But it IS mainly populated by Jews so extreme antisemitism gets a new lease of life.

I will not go on to discuss further the characteristically Leftist nature of extreme antisemitism as we have seen it in the last couple of centuries because I think that the two links I have given above do a pretty thorough job of that. And there is what will probably be a surprising comparison between Hitler and American Leftists of his day here.

Before I leave the topic, however, I think I should quote a summary (originally published in the Leftist magazine "Dissent") of where Leftists at the beginning of the 21st century stood with regard to Israel:
"If one is not at least a serious doubter of the legitimacy of the state of Israel (never mind the policies of its government) and if one does not dismiss everything American as a priori vile and reactionary, one runs the risk of being excluded from the entity called "the left." There has not been a common issue since the Spanish Civil War that has united the left so clearly as has anti-Zionism and its twin, anti-Americanism. The left divided, and divides, over Serbia, over Chechnya, over Darfur, even over the war in Iraq. There are virtually no divisions over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and over the essence of the United States.

And guess from what era the quote below comes. It is is from a prominent American Democrat -- at one time a candidate for the Democrat Presidential nomination.

When we asked him what made him so sure the *** administration was headed in this direction, he replied: "You just have to read what's in the Israeli press. The Jewish community is divided but there is so much pressure being channeled from the New York money people to the office seekers."

It sounds fresh out of the 1930s with its reference to "New York money people" (rich Jews) but it was in fact a public comment by retired General Wesley Clarke in the year 2007 -- commenting on the supposedly Jew-run Bush administration. As the French say, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

{And, to pre-empt a Leftist wriggle-out, I should note that Clarke was at the time no fringe figure or ill-educated "redneck". He was in his youth a Rhodes scholar and was later Supreme Commander of NATO. He had for some time been much fawned-over by Democrats. And the comments by Democrat supporters published along with his words above were generally supportive. As an Israeli put it: "I read your posting on Clark's comments to the Huffington Post (or Puffington Host) and the comments of the "progressive" and "enlightened" anti-Semites cheering on Clark's anti-Semitic diatribe and was blown away.}

There are many more examples of the truly insane antisemitism emanating from the early 21st century Western Left here -- in an article by Alvin H. Rosenfeld for the American Jewish Committee.

I now want to move on to my main focus in this article: a look at a much lesser-known type of antisemitism -- antisemitism of a low level "grumbling" sort -- antisemitism that is not at all extreme but which is nonetheless widespread among many modern Western populations.


I want to make clear at the outset that what I discuss below is a particular type of antisemitism in a particular type of context. What I say is most unlikely to account for ALL types of antisemitism or all contexts. But the type and the context are common ones: "Incidental" antisemitism in a context where Jews are a small minority. I am NOT talking about the sort of people who believe in Jewish conspiracy theories or those who have "studied" Jews. I have a whole separate article devoted to such people. This is, in other words, one of two companion articles.

Also: I do mention it below but I think I should attempt a pre-emptive strike here at popular conceptions of stereotyping. Crazily enough, stereotyping is often stereotyped. People think they know what goes on in stereotyping -- but they don't. As you might expect, there is a very large academic literature in which psychologists have researched what exactly goes on in stereotyping and they find that it is the OPPOSITE of how it is popularly conceived. It is popularly conceived as being rigid and imprisoning and as somehow dictating what people will see and think. It isn't. The truth is that human beings form generalizations very quickly and on the basis of most limited evidence but they also CHANGE their generalizations equally readily and again on the basis of a few impressions rather than waiting for ALL the evidence to be in. Stereotypes are in fact highly flexible and contain what Allport long ago described as a "kernel of truth". They ARE based on (very limited) experience. There are summaries of the academic literature on the subject, complete with full citation details, here and here.

And the generalizations that I discuss below ARE stereotypes -- but in the reality-based sense I have just described: Generalizations based on very limited experience. Such generalizations are however common and need to be addressed. So this article is in fact another contribution to the literature on stereotyping: I look at how one particular stereotype is formed in one particular population type in one particular context.


It is perhaps encouraging that research into racially and ethnically denominated antagonisms ("racism" for short) seems to be one field where knowledge and understanding among psychologists has undergone steady development and, hopefully, progress. Throughout the 50's, 60's and even later the most common view of racism among psychologists seems to have been the one propagated by Adorno et al (1950) -- i.e that racism was an attribute of sick deviants only and that it was possible to "educate" people out of it. How much things have changed! Now it is a textbook view that ethnocentrism and stereotyping are "universal ineradicable psychological processes" (Brown, 1986. See also Tajfel & Fraser, 1978) and reviews of research into racism now hardly mention the Adorno et al claims (e.g. Tajfel, 1982; Brewer & Kramer, 1985; Messick & Mackie, 1988). Even in 1974 my claim (Ray, 1974, Ch. 46) that racism on some occasions can be in some senses "rational" (have some basis in reality) was something of a voice in the wilderness. Now social scientists generally and sociologists in particular (including sociologists of many different orientations) are quite ready to agree (e.g. Banton, 1983; Moreh, 1988; Wellman, 1977; Brown, 1985; Hechter, 1986; McClendon, 1984) and some go so far as to make the somewhat startling claim that all racism is rational (e.g. Hechter, 1986). Hechter is, however, referring to active racial discrimination rather than mere sentiment so it is perhaps arguable that some rational self- interest has to be mobilized before attitude will be transformed into action.

In the early 1970's I wrote two papers that were essentially field reports of studies I had made among various Australian Neo-Nazi groups. These were published (Ray, 1972 & 1973) in Jewish journals. I also wrote a companion paper that described antisemitism among ordinary citizens in the community. The conclusions of the paper were, however, that antisemitism can on some occasions be rational (have some basis in reality). This, however, seemed to breach a fundamental taboo and meant that the paper did not find a publisher. In fact, the editors of one allegedly academic journal (Ethnic & Racial Studies) completely stopped corresponding with me, presumably because of my reprehensible conclusions. Now that racism generally is widely acknowledged by psychologists as not necessarily irrational or psychopathological, however, it seems that the time might be ripe to extend the same analysis to antisemitism in particular. Below, therefore, are presented the previously unmentionable observations.

Before getting to that point, however, it should be noted that the conclusions I come to are novel only in that they come from a Gentile. Similar conclusions are old stuff among Jewish intellectuals, most notable of whom is perhaps the widely influentual and ethnically Jewish philosopher, Karl Popper (Hacohen, 2000, pp. 304-307).

And they continue to be well-known in Jewish circles. For instance, in his bitter commentary on the controversy in Germany over the performance of the Fassbinder play Der Muell, die Stadt und die Tod, Broder (1986) concludes that antisemitism is an ineradicable human folly that Jews will always have to live with and which is therefore best overt rather than covert (a view also more recently supported by Eugene Volokh). In particular, he concludes that hidden antisemitism is still pervasive in Germany and he clearly views this as the worst sort of antisemitism.

This subsidiary conclusion is rather controversial, however. While the reasoning behind the conclusion is clear enough ("Better the devil you know...."), might it not be said that the era before the Second World War represented a test of where open antisemitism led? At any event, Broder's subsidiary conclusion does seem worth examination and it so happens that the data I gathered in Australia in the late 60's and early 70's do make an examination of it possible. This is because antisemitism still does seem to be fairly openly acknowledged in Australia (Yes, Australia, not Austria). Beswick & Hills (1972) found that among a random sample of Australians 47% agreed with the statement that, "One trouble with Jewish businessmen is that they stick together and prevent other people from having a fair chance in competition". Naturally, racism is generally regarded as socially undesirable in Australia at the present time so we must regard this 47% as the lower bound of antisemitism in Australia. In a secret ballot, the level would certainly be much higher. At any event, there are a lot of overt antisemitic beliefs in Australia. Broder would be pleased.

Two present-day Jewish social scientists who present much the same view that I do are H.F. Stein and C.Y. Glock. See Stein (1977, 1978 & 1984), Quinley & Glock (1979) and Glock, Wuthnow, Piliavin & Spencer (1975). Glock worked under the auspices of the anti-defamation league of B'nai B'rith and what he found was that antisemitism was highest where Jews were most visible: No Jews, no antisemitism. Since prejudice must have an object, this is not perhaps an intrinsically surprising finding and similar findings have in fact been reported for non-Jewish minorities (e.g. Fossett & Kiecolt, 1989; Mitchell, 1968) but it does raise the possibility that a significant subset of Jews in some way cause, stimulate or at least collaborate with prejudice. Glock himself deals with this deduction by in essence resorting to the old "jealousy" explanation: Many Jews tend to be successful in various ways and success always invites envy. This would appear to be essentially a version of the popular "economic rivalry" explanation for racism (Banton, 1983; Hechter, 1986; Fossett & Kiecolt, 1989) but the empirically very limited explanatory power of such theories should be noted (Studlar, 1979).

Stein, by contrast, is more innovative. In his various works he puts forward the theory (cf. Volkan, 1985 & 1988) that Jews NEED persecution for their survival. He posits that the quite unprecedentedly long time that Jews have survived as a distinct ethnic group needs an extraordinary explanation and that the best explanation is that they survived not in spite of but because of the persecution that they have always unconsciously invited. Persecution leads to ingroup cohesion just as external threat encourages unity among citizens of nation-states. As it is a common modern observation that the State of Israel holds together today only because of the Arab threat (See Eisenstadt, 1986, for an account of just some of the tensions within modern-day Israeli society) Stein's hypothesis has considerable contemporary context to recommend it. Although Stein's version of the hypothesis is extreme, could there not be something characteristic or at least common in Jewish behaviour which at least enables or collaborates with prejudice? Jews do tend to have a distinctive culture which is proudly maintained in one way or another by at least a substantial minority of them and many writers (e.g. Park, 1950; Manheim, 1960; Rokeach, 1960; Byrne, Clore & Smeaton, 1986; Walker & Campbell, 1982) maintain that people with different values, beliefs and attitudes will tend to be disliked -- so we could entertain a "culture clash" explanation of antisemitism even if we do not wish to accept Stein's psychoanalytic musings. Some examination of how Jews are generally perceived does therefore seem needed.

Before proceeding any further, however, I should perhaps enter the caveat that I personally find utterly ludicrous any idea that there is such a thing as a "typical" Jew. As far as I can see, from Biblical times to the present day, Jews must be the most fractious (i.e. furiously divided among themselves) people in all of history. Unity is definitely not one of their attributes as a people so any idea of a "worldwide Jewish conspiracy" could hardly be more laughable. If such a conspiracy were ever attempted, there would immediately be a whole heap of other Jews furiously denouncing it! I see much truth in the saying that where there are two Jews there will be at least three points of view! Nonetheless the idea that some things are "typically" Jewish is widespread and needs to be examined. That such views might have originated from observations of a significant subset of Jews and then been overgeneralized to all Jews is not an inherently unreasonable proposition. And I might say at this point that for my purposes I find the definition of "Jew" contained in Israel's "Law of the Return" adequate. In summary: "A Jew is someone who sees himself as a Jew".


I attempted to fill the need for an account of how Jews are perceived in the population at large by making use of case studies or "participant observation". Adorno et al (1950) and Stein (1977 & 1978) both used case studies for their purposes so the methodology obviously has its attractions. Its open-ended character is probably the chief of these. Many writers have highlighted the shortcomings of the laboratory- or survey-based methods that psychologists and sociologists generally use (e.g. Bruyn, 1966; Campbell, 1976) and have exhorted us to make more use of alternative sources of data so the data to be presented below would seem to deserve at least some examination.

The cases I describe below are simply all the people I personally met over a period of about seven years whom I heard making low-level antisemitic utterances. I also encountered some less casual antisemitic utterances but I have described those commenters elsewhere.

I have long been interested in the study of antisemitism, as my early articles on Neo-Nazism (Ray, 1972 & 1973) attest. Whenever therefore I happened to hear any antisemitic utterance, I took some interest in it and endeavoured to find out more about the person concerned and how they felt about Jews. Being in most ways a fairly conventional-seeming WASP Australian, I may have been in a better position to draw out people on the topic than a Jewish social scientist might have been.

Although the cases therefore are not deliberately selected in any way, they may of course have been influenced by the fact that they are drawn from people met in the course of my own social and business life. Academics probably tend to mix with people not too dissimilar from themselves so any one circle of acquaintances can hardly hope to be in any sense representative. There is also of course the difficulty that not every antisemitic utterance is encountered in circumstances where one can follow it up with a detailed discussion of the sentiments behind it. The cases described are, in other words, only those where I could assure myself that the antisemitism was seriously meant and where I could find out how the person justified it. I must also enter the caveat that for none of the people described was their antisemitism an important thing or even something that they often thought about. If it had not been for my interest in antisemitism, they would probably in fact never have been "picked up" as antisemites. This "low-level" antisemitism is, however, the form that antisemitism generally seems to take in Australia today: People may have a general dislike or suspicion of Jews but this does not imply any desire to persecute or oppress them. This may be a reservoir of sentiment with frightening political potential in certain circumstances but as it stands at the moment it is simply a dislike of Jewry much as one might dislike people who drive flashy cars or part their hair in the middle.

And I hope I do not need to stress at this point that, like much else in psychological studies of attitudes, predicting antisemitic behaviour from antisemitic attitudes would be extremely perilous. The attitude/behaviour gap has been well-known in studies of racism at least since the work of La Piere (1934) and has been amply confirmed since (See e.g. Crosby, Bromley & Saxe, 1980; Rule, Haley, & McCormack, 1971 and Stephan, 1985). Perhaps the most spectacular "gap" of that type however is the example of one Richard Milhous Nixon. President Nixon was much prone to antisemitic slurs in private but was exemplary, if not philosemitic, in his actual treatment of Jews. And I hope that no lover of Israel will ever forget Nixon's ferocious defence of Israel in its hour of greatest need. So any assumption of evil in the people I describe below could well be the reverse of the truth if it is deeds rather than words that count.


The first case I wish to describe is in fact one I have described in a previous study (Ray, 1973). I will call him "E.S.". It will be worthwhile to repeat the description: E. is a very successful businessman of a quite entrepreneurial kind with an attractive wife and three equally attractive children. He was at the time in his early 40's and although of Australian Irish descent, was brought up an atheist. A Communist in his earlier days, he is now politically very much to the Right. He has a formidably well-informed and catholic devotion to classical music. He is a great lover and exponent of Australian working-class traditions and language, perhaps largely because he worked in a highly unionized blue-collar occupation in his younger days. Nazism to him is utterly contemptible and 'sick'. For all that his dislike of Jews is probably rivalled only by his dislike of Aborigines (Australian blacks). Jews to him are 'scabs' -- people who take what they can get with no accompanying sense of obligation or duty to the others who make their opportunities possible. Aborigines he condemns for what he sees as their whining disinclination to work and their tendency to "lower the standards" of their community. Both offend against the universal Australian working-class credo of being "fair dinkum" and allowing a "fair go". He sees both as grasping -- the one by deceit and untrustworthiness and the other by indolent whining. In standard literary English we might say that E. dislikes insincerity and failures of consideration for others. He can relate many vivid anecdotes to show that his "prejudice" is not prejudice at all -- i.e. he condemns after and because he has become to know those of whom he speaks. His profusely exemplified philippics against Jewish and Aboriginal moral defalcations are worthy in fact of an independent literary record. Coming as he does from the "outback" (Australia's sparsely populated and semi-desert inland where many Aborigines still live in a quite primitive state), I have seen him use his first-hand knowledge of Aborigines to devastating effect in informal debates with urban Left-leaning intellectuals. Here then is a racially critical man whose attitudes it is hard not to respect -- whether or not we agree with them. Let it be clear, however, that his ideology of everyone deserving a "fair go" would make him a resolute and formidable opponent to anyone who proposed or practiced any oppression of others on the basis of their race or creed. I hope I have made it intelligible that he would oppose his daughter marrying a Jew but would oppose Belsen and Auschwitz much more.

Similar in many ways was U.Q. U. is a short, stocky, grey-haired businessman and company director with a large house in one of Sydney's "better" suburbs. He is the sort of person whom one would imagine would often be called (ironies aside) "a real Christian". He is characterized by a grandfatherly sort of gentleness and kindness that make him the soul of generosity, consideration and humanity. He did in fact have a definitely Protestant upbringing in an Australian country town. I know personally of instances where he has sacrificed immediate monetary gain simply for the sake of having satisfied customers. He would definitely rather have a reasonable return on his money and the feeling that he had served his customers well than a big return and customer animosity. He was, for all that, a prosperous and successful businessman. His humane business policies he would justify as being in fact good business. He could see that accepting less than what he could get for what he had to sell gave him a stability of customer demand that more rapacious policies would militate against. He felt in fact that he was in the long term no worse off than someone who went all out for a "fast buck" -- and in addition he had the reward of other people's liking and esteem. Given, however, that his business was, like so many today, one where a typical purchase was large so repeat custom would be the exception rather than the rule, the loss or gain entailed by having or not having repeat custom must have been fairly marginal. Certainly he could quite plausibly have acted rapaciously -- with the rationale that you will not see them again so soak them while you have them. It should by now be very apparent that one thing U. would be very contemptuous of was precisely such rapacity. It became apparent also that he had seen enough to conclude that such behaviour was more to be expected of Jewish businessmen than of others. Speaking to me in condemnation of a person whom both of us knew to be engaged in an enterprise that would result in considerable financial gain if certain customers could be "conned", U. said: "But he's not an Australian, is he? That's what makes the difference." There was no ambiguity concerning what ethnic origin this particular "non-Australian" might be presumed to have. U, then, would not explicitly or in blanket terms condemn Jews -- he was far too forbearing a man to do that -- and the suggestion of persecuting them he would receive with horror, but for all that the direction his expectations lay as far as Jews were concerned was quite clear. Being the sort of man he was, it is hard not to credit his judgment with some accuracy. It certainly cannot be dismissed as mere self-justifying prejudice.

Next is O.I. O. was an attractive, Australian-born divorcee of wholly Irish ancestry. She had one child and was at the time in her late 20's. Of obviously high intelligence, she supported herself in some style entirely out of the proceeds of various speculative business deals which represented both her occupation and principal hobby. She completed a couple of years at University but was not interested enough to complete a degree. She was raised as a Catholic but is now an agnostic and sent her daughter to a prestigious Church of England private school. She could to a degree be described as moving "in Society". She has one or two friends who are Jewish and would if formally asked say all the right things about how absurd prejudice is and how people must be treated as individuals. Nonetheless, among familiars it is quite commonplace for her to say such things as: (speaking of her daughter's school, where she is a committee member) "We tried to keep them out but eventually we had to let some of the little Jewesses in." I have, by the way, every reason to believe that the "we" was far from being a royal plural. Her dislike of Jews seems to be justified by her in terms of their separatism and their being in general " not very good types". It should be said that she is herself rather self-centred and aggressive -- compassion is certainly not her strong point. Nazism is not exactly abhorrent to her -- rather foolish and irrelevant. Her attitude towards Jews is certainly one of the least important things to her in life.

Another person in this category was M.K. M. is a Hungarian by birth but migrated to Australia after the second world war. He was at the time about 30 and single. He speaks faultless English and in his social life associates somewhat with students and others of a conventionally Leftist outlook. He is a rather entrepreneurial importer by occupation and has in the past clashed with the officers of Australian customs to the point of having a warrant out against him. His dislike of Jews is quite strong and he will defend it even to his radical friends in terms of his own actual experience of their rapacity and dishonesty in business. Since his business lies in a traditionally Jewish field, he should have had some experience on which to base his judgment. He will not even concede that Jews have to be taken individually. He has found them "all the same".

As was suggested above, even among Leftists antisemitism is far from a remote possibility. Q.N. was a divorcee of about 30 and an active worker for one of Australia's Leftist political parties. A tall, blonde and very attractive woman of Catholic nominal background, Q. worked in a responsible position with a firm in the heart of Sydney's financial district. Her attitude towards Jews is an obviously well thought-out one. She greatly dislikes Hungarian Jews in particular: "Even their own people (other Jews?) don't like them". Her complaint is that in their business dealings they are completely untrustworthy and know no honour. For money they would sacrifice every human and social value. So deleterious has been their influence on the standards of the business community that she is in favour of deporting the lot of them. To her Leftist friends she says: "When I was at University I thought as you do but now I know differently. I have to deal with these people every day." Whatever her own attitude to Jews, however, she would regard Nazism as the epitome of everything she opposed.

Another young woman who would see herself as radical and "progressive" was M.E. M. was in her late twenties, had a pleasant personality, was of presentable appearance and happily married. She was of Protestant nominal background and worked as a teacher. Her recipe for solving any financial crisis is: "I will have to go out and kill a fat Jew". Since she was a very gentle-natured and caring person, this was, of course, not a literal proposal. It was, in fact intended as facetious. For all that, she did have a definite dislike of Jews -- based on their presumed personal characteristics of being money-hungry, insincere etc. I gathered that the attitude, as well as the formula quoted is something she inherited from her family but it is nonetheless strongly held by her, and she will defend it as realistic even to horrified Leftist friends.

Perhaps a final person in this category is X.H. X works in a semi-professional field where he has ample contact with Jews. He was in his mid-twenties and unmarried. He is Australian-born and of nominal Protestant background. He is very sociable and good-humoured and is well-liked among his large circle of "mates" (male friends). His dislike of Jews is as something automatic. There is no apology for it or expectation that his friends will disagree with him. It is based again on his seeing Jews as generally untrustworthy and always ready to "take you down". As the very epitome of a young, beer-drinking Australian who is nonetheless keenly intelligent and successful in a necessarily creative occupation, his impressions are hard to dismiss.

All the impressions given so far were written up in the early 70's very much as given above. I present them in such a way to show that, being written before the Stein/Glock work, they represent an independent confirmation of it. From later experience, however, examples such as those given above could readily be multiplied. I can, for instance, think of two young men with higher degrees in Humanities fields whom I have heard express general dislike of Jews on much the same grounds as repeatedly emerged in the cases quoted above.

None of the people described above were saints by any means but they all seemed to be people of normal goodwill and it is their normality and sanity which is the central datum of this article. There were also some antisemitic people I met who seemed unusually ill-willed but they all fitted into one of the categories described in my article on more serious antisemites -- which see.


Perhaps the first impression one gains from what is reported above is that Broder seems to be right. Antisemitism seems to be fairly open in Australia and is also far from virulent or even important there. Whether the second is a consequence of the first, however, remains debatable.

Another interesting feature of the above cases is that they were all gathered (between 1968 and approx. 1973) in Sydney -- a city with a substantial Jewish business community. This is in some contrast with Brisbane -- another large Australian city I have spent many years in but where Jews seem very few and far between. Brisbane did have neo-Nazis but not any low-level general population antisemitism that I could detect. The only person from Brisbane that I could have included above was in fact an American now living in Australia who himself traces his antisemitism to business experiences with Jews in America (He is, incidentally, a notable Brisbane welfare worker, admired for helping blacks and homosexuals). The present observations are, then, very much consistent with the observations by Glock et al (1975): Antisemitism is highest where Jews are most present.

What the "cases" above actually say about their attitudes is also consistent with the Stein/Glock observations. Australian low-level antisemites assert consistently that it is actual experience with Jews that has made them antisemitic. Are we then to take seriously what these people say? Is actual association with people who define themselves as Jews aversive for many non-Jews? If so, why? I submit that we ignore what these generally young people say at our peril. As I have been at pains to point out, the claims they make are not the isolated claims of eccentrics. They are mainstream views. I believe therefore that we should accept that a significant subset of Jews do often behave in ways which are offensive to such people. We must enquire, therefore, just how this comes about.

The obvious first response is to say that Jews generally maintain a different culture and people will dislike anyone who is different. There probably is some truth in that. The psychological literature is replete with studies showing that those most attractive to us are those who are most like us in beliefs, attitudes, values, dress etc. (e.g. Rokeach, 1960; Byrne, Clore & Smeaton, 1986; Walker & Campbell, 1982). Trivial though it may seem, even strange hats can alienate. That is far from the end of the story, however. Why, for instance, are not redheads generally disliked? They are certainly a small minority and their difference is an obvious one. There have even been suggestions that they are characteristically more intelligent and more emotional. Yet the idea of a Pogrom against redheads is merely amusing. We must conclude, then, that it is not difference per se which is disliked but rather certain types of difference. What we have to ascertain is why some types of difference (such as being Jewish) are disliked while other types are not.

One of the reasons why people do not dislike redheads is that few other characteristics can in fact reliably be associated with red hair. As should be evident, a considerable diversity of people have no such difficulty with Jews. Can this be explained away by invoking the "stereotyping" formula? Do people come to their contacts with Jews with a stereotype in their heads into which Jews are fitted willy nilly? Note that if there were only such stereotypes involved, we should expect precisely the opposite generalization to that which was in fact found. If the stereotype were just that and not a true description, then people not having actual contact with Jews should hold with greatest assurance to the stereotype while those who did have most contact with Jews should see it often enough contradicted to lose faith in it. The reverse seems to be true. In fact what I observed was that people seem to start off with (given the terrible events of recent history) a sympathetic attitude towards Jews which is reversed as they actually come to know Jews. Among people who do not know Jews, there is no "stereotype". The "stereotype" is postjudice, not prejudice: It only emerges as the fruit of experience with Jews.


Although the above observations have concerned people for whom their antisemitic views are completely incidental, it would seem that in some cases, similar processes CAN lead on to really serious antisemitism.

And in fact a reading of any biography of Wilhelm Marr -- who in 1879 invented the term "antisemitism" (Antisemitismus) and published a very popular and influential antisemitic tract ("Der Sieg des Judenthums ueber das Germanenthum" -- "The victory of Jewry over the Germanic peoples") will show that he had exceptionally close and frequent contact with Jews -- even marrying one. And as Lindemann (2000, p. 188) says of 19th century antisemites generally: ""an astonishing number of them had at some point in their lives not only extensive contact with Jews but also remarkably positive experiences with them -- close friends, respected teachers, even lovers and spouses!" So what I observed has much historical precedent.

Indeed, according to the extensive account of the matter given in "Mein Kampf" ("My Struggle") much the same is true of Hitler himself. Mein Kampf is unreliable as objective history but there can be little doubt that it is good psychological history -- i.e. it records Hitler's own history as he saw it. And what he says is that in Linz -- where he grew up -- there were few Jews and he saw them at that time as no different from other Germans. So when he moved to Vienna he was horrified at the antisemitism of much of the Viennese press. As he says:

"For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation".

Long before the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, however, Hitler despised the destructive and divisive side of Marxism and when he found that practically every preacher of Marxism that he encountered in Vienna was a Jew, he began to see Jews as bent on the destruction of the German people he loved. In other words, for him too, it was experience of Jews that led to his dislike of them. And he describes his conversion to antisemitism as "a great spiritual upheaval" -- i.e. he abandoned his previous "cosmopolitan" (tolerant) views only with great reluctance.

The conventional account of the origins of Hitler's animosity towards Jews is that his rejection from the Vienna Art Academy (in which Jews were prominent) embittered him. But that is not remotely what he says in Mein Kampf. He does not even mention the word "Jew" in connection with the Academy. He says that the Rector rejected him from the painting school because his main talent and interest was in architecture -- a judgement with which Hitler himself emphatically agreed!

An obvious question that arises from the historical cases I have just mentioned is why observations of Jews in those cases led on to really serious antisemitism when the normal effect is incidental antisemitism.

As I intimated initially, I think such cases have to be treated as sui generis and I do not know enough about Marr and others to comment with any certainty. The case of Hitler, however, is clear-cut. As any reader of Mein Kampf should know, Hitler was a fervent German nationalist (like Engels and other Leftists before him) and the great love affair of his life was a love-affair with the German people (Volk) as he saw them. But in the aftermath of WWI, Germans were furiously divided among themselves and apparently on the verge of class-war. That grieved Hitler deeply and to salvage his romantic view of his Volk he had to attribute the divisions among Germans to outside forces deceiving them rather than as something intrinsic to Germans themselves. And since the active preachers of class war at the time were often Jews, the scapegoat was obvious. So it was Hitler's nationalist passion that transformed him into an active antisemite. It must be noted, however, that nationalism and patriotism are normally NOT related to racism (Ray & Furnham, 1984). Hitler's case was sui generis.

{Since it is still considered authoritative in certain circles to trace ideas to Marxian origins, I might note in passing that the non-necessary connection between nationalism and antisemitism can be seen in the writings of Marx and Engels themselves. Marx was the furious antisemite -- which Engels more or less went along with -- and Engels was the fervent German nationalist -- which Marx more or less went along with. It took Hitler to combine both orientations with great enthusiasm. Those less familiar with Marxian writings should find a browse through the archives here to offer good confirmation for the summary I have suggested.}


It must be noted again that psychological research has now made the view of stereotypes as being rigid and mentally imprisoning quite obsolete (Brown, 1986; McCauley, Stitt & Segal, 1980). Stereotypes are now known to be as fluid as they were once thought rigid. Stereotypes are, in other words, highly responsive to new information about their target. See also Bayton & McAlister (1966) and Stein, Hardyck & Smith (1965) and summaries here and here. At this point, then, it seems we must do something that has probably been rather resisted in the past. We must look at the characteristics not only of those doing the discriminating but also at the characteristics of those discriminated against. What is there in many self-defined Jews that might generally offend today?

I would like to suggest that the explanation might be found (cf. Stephenson, 1940) in what one might call Semitism (or, as Stein calls it: "Anti-Gentilism") -- the well-known rejection of "Goyim" (Gentiles) by some Jews themselves. In fact, if we go by Brown's (1965) "codability" theory, Semitism is much more important to Jews than antisemitism is to Gentiles. English does not have a single word for "Jewish female", let alone a contemptuous one, but the Yiddish term "shicksa" (meaning roughly "Gentile bitch" and synonymous with "prostitute" in German) is well-known. In explaining antisemitism a very humble reference source (Pears Cyclopaedia, 1971) puts it all rather well: "Jews tend to form a closed society and incur the suspicions attached to all closed societies within which social contacts are largely limited to members; marriage outside the group is forbidden or strongly disapproved of and the preservation, among the orthodox, of cultural and religious barriers tends to isolate them from their fellow citizens. Discrimination, hateful as it is, does not come from one side only and it is such barriers as these that help to maintain an old and cruel folly".

It seems then that the offence some Jews give may stem from what Sumner (1906) long ago described and which is only too familiar to anthropologists: The tendency to have different standards for the in-and the out-groups. In such a "tribal morality" ingroup members tend to be treated in highly ethical ways but outsiders are "fair game". Many Jews would seem to see themselves as part of such a "tribe". To swindle an unperson is no crime at all and if one is challenged in the matter, a wealth of justifications and rationalizations is available under the general formula: "Look what they did to us" or Shylock's "If we are wronged, shall we not revenge?" Such behaviour can even be pious: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". It matters not that the individual upon whom the revenge is wreaked has done nothing wrong; where groupthink exists, the individual Jew need find little moral difficulty in justifying exploitation of Gentiles. The sad point is that even a member of the most primitive tribe could justify murdering members of other tribes in a similar way.

Such a tribal morality among a significant subset of Jews, then, very well explains the constant refrain from my informants about the dishonesty and untrustworthiness that they encountered when dealing with individual Jews. Those who live by a tribal morality, however, would seem to overlook the enmity they must arouse among the "unpersons" among whom they move and whom they treat less ethically than they might. Even an unperson knows the difference between good treatment and bad. And even unpersons can fire bullets and wield bayonets.

What is proposed here, then, is that the very "We" feeling that is prized by many Jewish community leaders is the thing that most endangers that community. Hitler showed what the effects of having the enmity of those among whom you live can be. The price of earning the enmity of your neighbors can be a terrible one indeed to pay. Is any pride or any temporary material gain worth it?

The last thing that should matter is to whom we trace the blame for this state of affairs. Persecution breeds "We" feeling and the Catholic Church persecuted Jewry for over a millennium, but then institutional Jewry had brought about the slaying of the Catholics' God. What a towering insult and injury that must have seemed! Not to slay a father, not to slay a King, but to slay a God! To me as an atheist of course the Catholic (and early Protestant) abhorrence of Jewry seems hopeless superstition and ignorance. But then so does the common Jewish view (shared by 70% of Israelis in 2012) that they are a chosen people. It is easy for a Jew to think of his own people as guiltless. When we realize that the Catholic and even the Nazi also think of themselves as guiltless it becomes apparent how pointless the ascription of guilt is. If instead it is the future towards which we are oriented, we may well live to see that future. A tribal morality is something that the future cannot justify and something that threatens the future of those that adhere to it today.

The sympathy that has gone out to Jewry after the Hitlerian horror became fully known could well lull Jews into a false sense of security. One could be tempted to identify all antisemitism with Nazism and give it no heed. To do so would be to squander a dearly bought breathing-space. The sympathy will one day run out as memory fades and public criticisms of Jews will then no longer be suppressed. It takes no wisdom at all to know what will follow then.

I am not, of course, suggesting that Jews themselves are unaware of the importance of developing goodwill and all sorts of ties with non-Jews. It is even my impression that Jews are unusually philanthropic once they have made their money. I am suggesting in fact that it is mainly in or perhaps only in business dealings that the tribal morality often emerges. It is only in the ultimately vital (survival-related) field of economics that the crunch comes. As I once heard H.N. say: "Socially they're lovely but in business......!". Certainly it has been my strong impression that it is mainly people who have had business dealings with Jews who dislike them. This for many will simply be contact as the customer of a Jew but even here a certain contempt by a Jew for his customers may be and is perceived. This is most usually where the Jew is in a limited competition position. A shopkeeper in competition with others cannot afford to be contemptuous but a landlord where housing is scarce may well be so able.

Let me elaborate a little on how many Jews may generally come to offend. Cut-throat though it may be, I think that there are nonetheless many ways in which business in our society works under ethical restraints. This is, of course, simply a matter of long-term self-interest. If a man's word is as good as his bond, it does obviate the need for bonds -- with all their attendant rigidities and inconveniences. The way one can (at least in Australia) simply ring up his stockbroker and order a purchase of shares is surely an instance of this. The transaction is one requiring trust and the broker is taking a risk. Given the moment to moment movement of the market, however, the advantage of preserving this trust and its attendant convenience are obvious. Verbal agreements are as convenient and advantageous as they are legally difficult to enforce. I gather from Q.N. that their ability to breach verbal agreements and even deny that they had been made is one of the things which makes Jews particularly offensive and indeed makes impossible the conclusion of such agreements. By saying that they "lower the standards" of the business community, she is referring precisely to the general lack of trust that the activity of some Jews engenders. Since not being able to trust the people with whom one works and deals must be singularly unpleasant, the cause of the situation quite reasonably must attract opprobrium. To me it seems obvious that not all Jews can be like this but I can also see that one of the things that keeps people behaving ethically towards others they have to do with is the need for the goodwill of those others. Indeed, there is no doubt that monetary advantage will frequently be sacrificed to the maintenance of goodwill. If a Jew sees himself as being apart from the "Goyim" he deals with and as being "chosen" and demonstrably better than they are, if he also looks for his social rewards and support to others than his "Goy" business associates, then this need for goodwill may indeed be lacking as a constraint on unethical behaviour. For a large monetary advantage he may be willing to sacrifice goodwill. This is made even more likely by the possibility that Jews seek security in money. In many ways this is an adaptive and realistic thing for a persecuted people to do and it may have served well in the past -- particularly where, for religious reasons, goodwill was simply unavailable. It does explain the contemptuous epithet "money-hungry" so frequently applied to Jews in Australia. Ultimately, however, the only security is the goodwill of one's fellows. Money did not help Hitler's millions of victims. Any outlook that has us think of others as not our fellows is personally dangerous.

This is not of course to deny that superiority and inferiority or similarity and difference do exist. In fact it is to assert that Australian Jews do appear to be economically more successful than others and I personally think that they are the intellectual elite of the human race. Nor am I necessarily saying that economically successful people everywhere should hide their success or deny it. What I am saying is that we are at risk unless we see our success and our values as merely our own. If I, raised as a Presbyterian, am successful and honest, it does not mean that all Presbyterians are successful and honest --any more than it means that Catholics must necessarily be unsuccessful and dishonest. The advantage of treating each man on his individual merits, then, is that it means that resentments can only ever have small targets. My success will be resented by those who do not share it but I as an individual am not worth getting heated about. If however I am known for my identity as a Jew the target may become not me but Jewry -- and that is (and often has been) a target big enough to get heated about.

In an age of nationalism and a rediscovery of ethnic roots, my plea that people see both themselves and others as individuals rather than as group-members may seem passe and redolent of the sort of liberal idealism that died with the '60s. I may indeed be advocating the impossible and the long rejected. Did not the Jews of Germany travel a long way along the assimilation road? Where did it get them? Nonetheless, if my analysis is correct the safest long-term alternative for Jews to the abandonment of group-identity that I urge may be emigration to Israel -- and the perils the Israelis face are only too well-known.

Some readers by now must be troubled that I seem to be accepting as true what antisemites say. Is that not naive? Is a thing true just because people believe it? Was not the absurd blood-libel believed about Jews for many centuries against all evidence to the contrary (Ben-Sasson, 1974)? In reply I basically must say that what I report is testimony of personal experience rather than hearsay and rumour. The difference seems important. It is certainly important in law. And dismissing my informants as "antisemites" simply prejudges the question of their veracity. When there are so many like them such prejudging and dismissal is quite simply incautious.


I am sure that what I have said above will not be universally persuasive. Most people, many Jews no doubt particularly, have well-entrenched views about the matter already. But there are a few objections that I have not so far dealt with that may be worth addressing.

The first I have in fact already dealt with implicitly but maybe I should be more explicit: Many Jews will refer to their own knowledge of other Jews and note how many philanthropic and generally admirable Jews there are. That is seen as a decisive objection to the stereotype I have discussed. It is not, of course. Even scientists rarely form their views on ALL the evidence (See here if you doubt it) and the man in the street is not even interested in ALL the evidence. He forms his impressions based primarily on his own limited experience and that is the reality we have to deal with and which I have tried to deal with.

A second objection is that Jews who live in predominantly Christian communities see enough variety in the inhabitants of those communities to be very wary of any generalizations about Christians -- so surely it is perverse that members of predominantly Christian communites make adverse judgments of Jews in general.

There are many replies to that. The obvious one is that many Jews DO seem to make adverse judgments of Christians -- as seen in the way a big majority of Jews vote for the Democratic party in the USA -- even though at least since Nixon the best friends of Israel have been Republicans. Why do they do that? Apparently because of the strong religious polariztion of the two parties. The Republicans are these days the Christian party. 2000 years of persecution of Jews by Christans of all sorts has a lot to do with that, of course, but what we see here seems to be a rare example of stereotyping in the popular sense -- i.e. a judgment that is NOT changed in response to changing reality. That should surely give some pause for reflection. If there is anything rigid and pathological in this whole area, the best candidate for it would seem to be the way so many contemporary American Jews reject their contemporary best friends: Evangelical Christians.

Be that as it may, however, the main point is that the way Jews see things in a gentile country need have nothing in common with how gentiles see Jews in a gentile country. Living in a place where Jews are a majority and their diversity can be readily seen should lead to more cautious views about Jews compared to living in a place where Jews are only occasionally encountered. But it is the latter circumstance that is discussed in this article.

And although the adverse stereotypes of Jews that I have discussed are generally unimportant to the people holding them, we have seen in Hitler's Germany how such views can cause the actions of really serious antisemites to be treated with indifference. And given the rising hostility to Israel in particular and Jews in general now emanating from the Left, a resurgence of serious antisemitism is not only a possibility but a fact. Where it will lead only a great optimist would dare to specify.


Perhaps, however, I have so far been too pessimistic. Perhaps there is a safe choice for Jews other than Israel or assimilation. I have for some time been a keen student (Ray, 1982 & 1986) of an ethnic group that does seem to manage to have it both ways: The Parsees of India. Sometimes called "the Jews of India", the Parsees have set an example which does, I believe, give hope.

The Parsees are descendants of Zoroastrian true-believers who fled the Persian empire at the time of its conquest by Muslims. They took refuge in what is now the Indian State of Gujurat and have Gujurati as their native language to this day. Perhaps because of their typically Iranian energy, they have prospered mightily in India. They founded India's steel, nuclear, computer and airline industries and one of their sons (Rajiv Gandhi) even became Prime Minister of India for some time while another (Sam Manekshaw) headed the Indian Army. In spite of India's generally abject poverty the Parsee living standard is more or less at a Western level. Their over-representation among the upper strata of Indian society makes any eminence that Western Jews have achieved seem puny by comparison. If "jealousy" is the reason behind the persecution of Jews, the Parsees should be the most persecuted minority on earth. Yet amid the seething hot-bed of religious, racial, caste and communal hatreds that is India, the Parsees have remained unscathed. They are, in fact, somewhat popular. How do they do it?

The answer is rather simple. The Parsees have always been grateful to the host community that gave them safe refuge from the Muslims. Instead of holding their hosts in contempt, they actually tend to appreciate their hosts (no doubt at least in part because of India's considerable and unusual success in resisting Islam). They certainly make great efforts not to offend their hosts (e.g. they tend to avoid eating beef and pork not because Zoroastrianism forbids it but because one offends Hindus and the other Muslims). This has beneficial results at many levels, not the least of which is the interpersonal level. The level that is most visible, however, is the ultimate level when Parsees are deciding what to do with the fortunes that many of them accumulate. Such fortunes are almost always used for charitable ends. Parsee charitable foundations are in fact legendary. Such foundations usually have as their first duty the succour of any needy Parsees but as the Parsee community is very small (a total of around 90,000 souls and falling) Indians generally are also major beneficiaries. The Parsees, in other words, not only say "thank you" but say it very nicely and very convincingly. There is nothing in Zoroastrianism that tells them that they are superior. They are quite endogamous but this is normal and understood in India. In fact, their endogamy seems Indian rather than Zoroastrian. Zoroastrianism teaches that the help of all men is needed in the fight against evil. A fuller ethnography of the Parsees than the few notes given above is to be found in Kulke (1978)

So it seems to me that Jews might just possibly be able to learn from the Parsees. Few diaspora Jews are now religious so religious justifications for a superior attitude towards others are usually not available. It is true that Jewish and Israeli achievements are great in many fields but that is the work of a few individuals only rather than the work of all Jews. So assuming any superiority from that at the all-important level of individual interactions with others is simply arrogating the achievements of others to oneself. There are lots of foolish Jews too, as there are in any group.

Christians have much to answer for if we take an Irish view of history (i.e. that history never dies) but we have all seen in Northern Ireland where an Irish view of things leads. Additionally, if we take a more contemporary view of things, has not the succour given by Christians to the State of Israel been worthy of gratitude? Do not Christians even go against their own interests (e.g. at the time of the Arab oil embargo) to give that succour? I admit that I am drawing a long bow but if most Jews who live among Christians can come to see something in Christians worthy of gratitude then all their troubles will be over. People like gratitude as much as they dislike condescension. Popularity is obtainable but it must be worked for. If people must view themselves as group-members rather than as individuals then the Parsees have shown the safe way to do so.

What I have said immediately above is in effect advice to Jews but I fully recognize that advice is the world's most oversupplied commodity and is often worthy of no respect. I do however feel obliged to point out where in my view the available evidence leads. What others do with my observations will probably be minutely little but I have done all I can to help.


Unfortunately, however, there is every possibility that the Parsee example I describe above will go unheeded. The defensiveness that the propositions of the present paper engender has already made itself evident. At a time when many published papers seem to go forever unread, the present paper has the distinction that it has twice been attacked in print even before it was published! In the first such instance the Trotskyite Billig (1981) obtained a copy of the unpublished first draft of the paper and was so incensed by it that he plumbed new depths in social scientific debate by implying that I am or was a Nazi. I did of course reply to this outrageous accusation. In Ray (1985) I not only denied it but showed where Billig had got his "information". He was using the published fact (Ray, 1972 & 1973) that I had done participant observation research among neo-Nazis to imply that I myself must be one of them. He seems, however, not to have confronted the fact that he himself has also done apparently rather involved research among neo-Nazis!

My exposition of the extraordinary shallow nature of his reasoning, however, has simply caused Billig (1985) to mount a new and yet more vitriolic personal attack on me and on this paper. That attack surely needs some reply. First, one of Billig's dotty criticisms is that it is in some way suspicious that my research program gave rise to only three publications. I should apologize! Many research programs give rise to no publications whatsoever. It is true that Billig needed a book to record his own observations of British Neo-Nazis while I wrote only journal articles but surely one must accept that journal articles are a perfectly normal and adequate way of reporting research results. Billig may find that I have not given all the detail he would like but that is more characteristic of journal articles than of my specific work.

Billig's next objection to my work is even more pompous. He claims that because I began my research while I was a student, it cannot really have been disinterested research and that I must therefore have had some ulterior motive for it. This is ridiculous for several reasons but let me give at least one: My secondary schooling was interrupted so that I was aged 20 by the time I became an undergraduate. I have however, always been a voracious reader so that before I ever set foot in a University I had already consumed great quantities of pop social science in paperback form (Vance Packard, Margaret Mead, Galbraith, Eysenck etc.). I was therefore even at that time perfectly well aware that sociologists saw participant observation as a powerful and exciting way of finding out about deviant sub-groups in society. When the opportunity arose, therefore, I saw no reason why I should not do some of that kind of research. As Billig rightly observes, however, my work was somewhat unsystematic and lacking in the precautions that a seasoned researcher might have taken. I am not at all ashamed to say that the explanation for this is simply that one cannot learn everything out of paperbacks!

Billig (1985) does however end up conceding that my degree of involvement with Nazis is really "of scant interest". His attachment to ad hominem arguments, however, remains. He goes on to shift his attack to the related accusation that I am antisemitic.

His first point in this new attack is to question my claim that there is a great gulf between Nazism and conservatism (I had noted previously that it was the Conservative Churchill, not the Communist Stalin who refused an alliance with Hitler). Billig does this by quoting my own statement that Nazis sometimes join and are active in conservative political parties. He conveniently overlooks the fact that the Nazis are immediately expelled once the conservatives get wind of what they really are.

Billig, however, also goes on to quote another of my statements to the effect that both Nazis and conservatives are ethnocentric. By this he creates the impression that I think conservatives are racists. This is, however, sleight of hand. While it is true that many social scientists use "ethnocentrism" and "racism" as more or less interchangeable terms, I do not. And Billig knew that: One of the very papers Billig attacks bore the title "Are racists ethnocentric?" (Ray, 1974 Ch. 46). I was using "ethnocentrism" at that time to mean little more than patriotism. There is, of course, now plenty of evidence that both conservatism and patriotism are essentially unrelated to racism among general population samples (e.g. Ray & Furnham, 1984).

Billig then moves on to an attack on me that is based on misleading quotations from the first draft of the present paper. He also quotes the titles of two papers from my book (Ray, 1974) that must sound (and were meant to sound) pretty alarming to most social scientists. I do not, however, here propose to make any attempt to answer these criticisms by Billig in detail. The only real corrective to selective quotations is for people to read the original in full and I believe that my papers must stand or fall on that basis. It is insidious that Billig has largely based his attack on my one paper that has not been publically available but I here remedy that deficit.

I do however wish to answer the underlying criticism that really motivates Billig's cheap shots at my paper ("billig" means "cheap" in German). It is true that the paper does contain criticisms of some Jews. Billig appears to believe that no such criticisms should ever be made. I reject that utterly. No-one is beyond criticism and criticism can be kindly meant as well as maliciously meant. I feel sure that most people reading this paper could not doubt that the criticisms I make are indeed of the constructive rather than the destructive kind. I even attempt the folly of giving helpful advice!

I agree that in view of the tragic events of recent history it could be seen as "insensitive" to speak critically of Jews, but I also believe that such a view is itself clearly racist. I treat Jews like any other ethnic group. I think it not only demeans them to treat them with kid gloves but it runs the risk of creating a fictitious view of reality. The dangers of this can be seen from the Palestinian uprising in Israel. A sort of fictitious image of saintliness has been created around Jews so that when they behave in normal, non-saintly ways there is shock and horror. An unrealistically high standard is set for Israel that is not set for anyone else. That hardly serves Israel well. It is the fruit of not heeding an ancient warning: "He who flatters a man spreads a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5 R.S.V.).

So it seems to me that someone whom you really accept is also someone whom you feel free to speak to frankly. By that criterion, I am one of the few social scientists who do really accept Jews. I wish Jews well and feel that honest criticism is the duty of a friend. As Solomon the wise put it so long ago: "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27: 6. R.S.V.). The fact that such a duty can be risky I always accepted and Billig's attack on me is evidence enough of that risk. It was in fact because of that risk that I made only desultory attempts over the years to get versions of the present paper into print in the academic journals. There are some ways in which even a tenured academic (as I was) can run the risk of losing ones job and I had to be cognizant of that risk. So the present paper was "back-burnered" for many years. Now that I am retired from academic employment, however, I am in a position to speak without fear or favour. I can only hope that not all readers of this paper will be as hostile as Billig. I can only hope Solomon was right again when he said: "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue" (Proverbs 28: 23 R.S.V.).


So at the end of the day, what are my personal thoughts and feelings about Jews in general? A number of responses to that:

1). I DON'T think questions of the above sort are wrong, vain, or simplistic. There is nothing wrong with generalizations as long as we realize that it is is very rare for a generalization to cover all cases. And NO generalization covers all Jews. And basing your judgment of any individual solely on some group that he belongs to falls somewhere between absurd and evil.

2). I think it is absurd to be simply either antisemitic or prosemitic. Like everybody else, Jews have both strengths and weaknesses. And in this article I have not shrunk from talking about what I see as weaknesses. Mature discourse requires cool consideration of both strengths and weaknesses. Given such consideration, however, it is a matter of personal judgment whether, ON BALANCE, one thinks well or ill of Jews. I personally am philosemitic on balance (I am a great supporter of the State of Israel and even put my money where my mouth is by donating to Israeli causes) but I can certainly see that some characteristics often found among Jews might lead others with different values to a more negative conclusion.

3). I think Jews are one of the earth's most politically stupid people. Their talent for siding with their enemies is extraordinary.

4). In other respects, I think Jews are the intellectual cream of the human race and, as such, should be valued as rare treasures. Hitler's depredations were a grievous assault on the human gene pool as a whole. Anything that saves Jews from the haters has my unqualified support.

So does the above make me antisemitic or does it make me a Jew-lover? I have been vigorously accused of both -- but I don't really care. I just try to describe reality as accurately as I can -- in all its messy complexity. Perhaps that is my personal area of weakness and folly. It certainly exposes me to much scorn. I am perhaps fortunate,however, that the scorn concerned troubles me not a bit.


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1 comment:

jack said...

I found your article to be one of the most balanced I have ever come across.
Although there is no doubt that antisemitism is blind and dangerous, I also can't understand the blind "philo semitism" of many in the right wing, conservative Christian movement.
Having lived and prayed as an ultra-orthodox Jew for many years, I saw first hand the anti-Gentilism that is part and parcel of Judaism.