Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters
Menu JTA Search

Digest of Public Opinion on Jewish Matters

Download PDF for this date

[The purpose of the Digest is informative, Prelerence is given to papers not generally accessible to our readers. Quotation does not indicate approval.–Editor.]

Anti-Semitic allegations, reiterating in an indirect form the charges made by Henry Ford and by the European anti-Semites, are contained in an article appearing in the March issue of Harper’s Magazine. The writer, Joseph Bard, discusses “Why Europe Dislikes the Jew.” Making reference to the “charges like bad manners, unscrupulousness, ingratitude, smugness, self-satisfaction, exhibition of wealth, and the like,” with which he says the Jews are afflicted but which are “of minor importance and characteristic not of Jews only,” Mr. Bard proceeds:

“The charge that the Jews lack physical courage is more serious than it appears to be. To this charge it is no answer to prepare a registry list of the Jews who fell in the World War, nor is the argument settled by reference to the moral courage of Jews, who from the days of the Roman conquest to our own times have provided martyrs ready to die for religion or starve in the interest of scientific progress. What the European feels in the Jew is an attitude toward suffering and death fundamentally different from his own, which is the product of Valhalla epics, romanticism, chivalry, and the gentleman tradition and code.”

And further: “Another frequent justification of anti-Semitism lies in the spurious national spirit of the Jew, in his international connections, in the suspicion of an international conspiracy of Jewry to rule over Europeans. None of the copious proofs that Jews can be and are good patriots will do away with the European’s intuitive conviction that the Jew bows the knee to the national ideal merely from opportunism or from a sense of justice, and not from inner conviction.”

Mr. Bard then declares that Gentiles “must be business men and still gentlemen; act rationally in their own interests and still be Christians; trade on an international market and still be good patriots. No wonder these European Gentiles rebel against a mentality which is rational today and which was rational yesterday, untouched by romanticism, limiting its sentimentality to the family.

“The European protests against the advantage which the Jew has in that he can do business with a good conscience, with an almost religious enthusiasm. The Old Testament, full of the spirit of haggling,” we are informed, “is certainly more in accordance with the business spirit than the New Testament, which records in several versions how the Saviour drove out the representatives of business in Jerusalem from the Temple. For a man brought up in the perusal of how Abraham haggled with God about the saving of Sodom and Gomorrah, and with what a pleased mien the Deity regarded the shrewd proposition of the patriarch, business transactions have a much happier taste in the mouth than for the man who, brought up properly on the New Testament and the tradition of feudalism, unconsciously waits for the whip of a punishing angel when he makes money on the Exchange.”

Despite this assertion, we are told that another serious reason for anti-Semitism is the Jews’ responsibility “in making Christianity and forcing it on the world.”

The claim that the difference between the Jews and Christians in the matter of business is due to the different influences of the Old and New Testaments is followed by the observation that “not only is the Old Testament the most widespread book in the Western world, influencing children’s minds in formation from one end of Europe to the other, but it is the anchor of Christianity, the New Testament being only what amendments are to a constitution. In his relation to a people which framed the constitution and accept it fully but refuse to accept the amendment, the European must feel irritated and embarassed, the more so because by his creed he is being forced to feel gratitude and admiration for the chosen people, while by his conviction he feels less and less grateful and would most willingly get rid of both Testaments, the Jews and Christianity together.”

“Harper’s Magazine” is taken to task for publishing Bard’s article by the “Jewish Daily News” of Feb. 25, where we read:

“In anti-Semitism, just as in other things, there are inventions, if not in substance, then in form. Such an invention has now been made by ‘Harper’s Magazine’ which published ‘Why Europe Dislikes the Jew’. This is an anti-Semitic article repeating all the outworn anti-Semitic charges from ancient times unto our own day, but it is all stated ostensibly in the name of Europe. In giving the reasons why Europe dislikes the Jew, ‘Harper’s Magazine’ understands, of course, that the American reader will reason it out for himself thus: the conditions prevailing in Europe exist in this country too and hence we should dislike the Jews here as they do in Europe.

Going over the various charges made by the Harpers article the “Jewish Daily News” says: “Finally we are informed that Jewish businessmen learn their methods from the Old Testament. The Old Testament is ‘full of the spirit of haggling.’ Hence the Gentile have no luck in business. ‘Harper’s Magazine’ evidently forgot all about Rockefeller, Ford, Schwab, Stinnes, the British in India, London ‘City the British trusts, the Exchange, the heads of the British banks and all the other good Christians of the New Testament who are unlucky in business.

“It is such vulgar, idiotic charges, based on idiotic arguments that can be found in any of the insolent anti-Semitic pamphlets, that are revived and renewed in an international magazine. ‘Harper’s Magazine’ does not even have the courage which others have shown of frankly admitting its anti-Semitism, but hides under the false caption of the article: ‘Why Europe Dislikes the Jew.'”

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund