Shalom Ash on Antisemitism

I hold that both the classic answers to antisemitism, political Zionism and Bolshevism, are false, Mr. Shalom Ash, the famous Yiddish author who has arrived on a visit to London, said in speaking on antisemitism last night at a meeting held in his honour in Whitechapel under the auspices of the Ben Uri Society, with Mr. Pilichowsky, the famous Jewish artist, in the chair.

The doctrine of this Zionism, Mr. Ash said, is that hatred against the Jew must exist for all time and therefore only a land of our own can be a remedy. I am against this answer on the ground of human instinct and feeling. True Zionism should be the natural and spontaneous expression of the will of the Jewish people. This postulates for it a concrete, positive and constructive aim. It should not be a mere antithesis to Jew hatred.

As for Bolshevism, which holds that hatred is a reflex of material conditions, and that only in a Socialist state will such race-hatred die, all I can say is that the Jews living for the past twelve years under the Bolshevik regime are in the same position as the Jews under the kings of the Middle Ages. It was the kings then who held off the mob against the Jews for their own selfish and material interest.

Antisemitism is rooted in the Christian people. It is a legacy from the Middle Ages. When a Jew swindled a Christian in medieval times, the Christian did not say that Chaim or Moshe had swindled him. He said that the Jew had swindled him. Thus the legacy persists, that it is not the individual Jew who is to blame, but the whole of the Jewish people. It is this inability on the part of Christian people to distinguish between the Jewish individual and the whole mass of Jews, Mr. Ash said, that is the cause of race-hatred. We must clearly realise this, he urged, and it is our duty to put our own house in order, realising that the fault of one Jew will be borne by all Jews.

There is also a Jewish antisemitisn, Mr. Ash wont on. In Poland, for instance, the mechanisation of the weaving industry has caused intense poverty among the small Jewish hand-weavers. Yet power-weaving is in the hands of the Jewish industrialists. He does not employ Jewish hands. Generally he is tied to the bankers, and if he went to his bank and said: If you don’t give me a loan, there will be my 7,000 Christian employees thrown out of work, the Government and the banks will take notice of his threat, but it would have no effect if he said, seven thous-and Jews will be thrown out of work. Such Jewish antisemites should be cast out from among us, Mr. Ash said. If we can not do it physically, we can at loast expel them spiritually, by refusing to have anything to do with them.

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