London (Jan. 2)
(By Our London Correspondent)
A disavowal of pro-Judaism as well as of anti-Semitism has been made by George Bernard Shaw in a “postscriptum to the Bernstein-Shaw polemic.”
“It has always been difficult for an English writer,” says Mr. Shaw in the course of his remarks, “to escape being misunderstood on the Continent when he expressed an opinion about the Jews. Really there is no anti-Semitism in England, and he is not, therefore, compelled to approach this subject with the greatest circumspection. There certainly does exist in England a vulgar prejudice against the Jews exactly as there exists such vulgar prejudice against Scotsmen, Irishmen, French and all foreigners.
“Jokes are told about the greed of the Jews in the same way as jokes are told about the niggardliness of the Scotch. The Jew is caricatured with a Hittite nose exactly as the Irishman is caricatured with the jaw of a Spanish muleteer. But there isn’t any more anti-Semitism in England than there is anti-Irish or anti-Scotch feeling.
“England is saturated from its very infancy with the Old Testament, also it is Zionist. It accepted with avidity Disraeli as Premier–at a time when Prime Ministers were great men–as it had accepted Rothschild as a banker.
“Attempts have been made to introduce anti-Semitism in London as an attitude of men of letters. It had been taken up by Catholic writers. Living in a Protestant country they thought themselves obliged to be more Catholic than the Pope himself. Their standard bearer, G. K. Chesterton, is a writer of the first literary order and of an incontestible honesty. But having been converted recently to Catholicism his zeal is embarrassing. Mr. Chesterton went to Jerusalem with the purpose of attacking Zionism and on his return he wrote a book which could have been written by the prophet Nehemiah himself. He reveals to us that he was unconsciously much more of a Zionist than any of the Jews who have spoken with me on the subject.
“The mass persecution which makes the Continental Jew so susceptible finds no reason for existence in England. Among our public men the person who approaches nearest to anti-Semitism is Mr. Hilaire Belloc. At his side I might be classed as a pro-Jew, if such a classification existed in England, but at the side of Mr. Urbain Gohier, Mr. Belloc is a modern Maccabean. Henri Bernstein thinks me an anti-Semite. He thinks that because I said that Frenchmen were barbarians in comparison with the Jews I was guilty of so gross an irony as if I had said that black was white. In England anybody could have told him that I was in dead earnest and that I am for the Jews just as Mr. Belloc is against the Jews. I have probably more personal friends among Jews than Mr. Bernstein will ever have. I am continually being approached by Jewish societies asking me to lecture to them and by Jewish papers to write in their columns because I am known as one who sympathizes with them.
“Yet I want to disavow pro-Judaism with as much energy as I disavow anti-Semitism. As an Irishman I know too well the morbid, intense consciousness of race produced by persecution and oppression, to encourage any Jew to abandon himself to his dreams. When Irishmen were imprisoned I dared to tell my fellow-citizens that they were not a chosen race, that their sufferings did not make them better men than the others and that they might make them worse than the others were it not that the others were already as miserable as they. I shall repeat the same thing to a Jew at the first opportunity I get.
“As for myself, I regard the teaching of the Bible with its representation of the subjugation, the expropriation and even the extermination of the Gentiles as God’s policy, as something altogether pernicious. This teaching is responsible in a great measure for the Imperialism, the impudent exploitation and the rapine of the Gentiles which menaces our civilization. I find that the Jew makes himself ridiculous whenever he throws himself into the camp of this Imperialism and brandishes the national banner of the country where he finds himself pretending like certain French Jews to be more French than Frenchmen in the same way as certain English Jews pretend to be more English than Englishmen. But these opinions are not anti-Semitic opinions. All intelligent Jews hold the same opinion, and it is precisely because of these opinions of mine that I am, I hope, no less popular among the Jews than among the Gentiles.”