Chief of the European Service, J.T.A.
British Jews are fighting back at Mosley, millionaire ex-Laborite, Black Shirt leader and self-appointed savior of the British Empire. For months Mosley had the arena all to himself, shadow-boxing with the imaginary concept of an international Jewish conspiracy to rule and ruin Britain. For six months, his Black Shirt publications have been viciously blaming the Jews for every world disaster, for everything, in fact, except the London weather; his organizers have been “revealing” the Jewish menace to an unimpressed public, and Mosley himself, has been loud and bitter in his attacks, from the platform.
Until recently, British Jews had Ignored his fulminations, realizing that anti-Semitism was the desperate straw at which Mosley was clutching following the failure of his lunge for power six months ago. Until recently, as a matter of fact, Mosley’s own statements were dexterously worded, to be interpreted as anti-Semitic by his anti-Semitic followers, and as attacks only on the “city Jews” by others; he sought to create the illusion that he was opposed only to the “bad” Jews and had nothing against the patriotic Jews who put Britain first.
Apparently realizing that the pretext was useless and faced with the apathy of the masses, Mosley turned to win the support of the rabble, threw restraint to the winds and went after the Jewish menace for all he was worth.
The result has been a series of verbal spankings such as have been administered to no one person in British public life in many yearsâ€”with the possible exception of Prime Minister MacDonald.
Sir Herbert Samuel, famed Liberal statesman and one of Britain’s outstanding Jews, was the first. In a few phrases he completely demolished the whole elaborate structure of tomfoolery which Mosley had solemnly informed his Black Shirts was the economic program which would make Britain the Utopia for all honest Britons.
“His denunciations are impressive, but his practical proposals are childish,” Sir Herbert commented.
Nathan Laski, leader of the Manchester Jewish community, father of Neville Laski, president of the Board of Deputies, and of Prof. Harold Laski, the brilliant political economist, called Mosley on his anti-Jewish attacks. He accused the Black Shirt agitator of deliberate side-stepping through the mazes of the libel laws in his assaults and of sheltering himself behind generalities.
Pointing out that Mosley cannot be made legally to answer for his attacks on the Jews, the Jewish leader defied Mosley to mention names and then to prove his allegations in a British court.
“Let him have the courage to mention names by which we can test his accusations in the law courts,” Mr. Laski challenged. “He has come here to Lancashire and made statements which I throw down at his feet and say they are false.”
Mosley’s record as Conservative, Laborite and Hitlerite, was subjected to examination. “Can he show us one single constructive work that he has done for the benefit of his fellow-citizens ?” Mr. Laski asked.
At this writing, this had not been done.
The Mosleyites came in for attack from another quarter when Richard Findlay, a die-hard Tory who had left the Conservative party to join the Fascists because the party was not sufficiently conservative, made public his letter of resignation from the Black Shirts.
“When I joined your movement,” Findlay wrote Sir Oswald, “I mistakenly believed the declarations which I repeatedly read in the press that it was in no sense anti-Semitic, but in my brief connection with your movement I have found evidences of a strong hatred of the Jewsâ€”by no means confined to the rank and fileâ€”which I cannot support, since I regard it as entirely alien to the British traditions.
“I had also this mistaken conception in my mind when I joined your movementâ€”I had thought that it was essentially a Right-Wing movement and the one designed to combat Socialism.
“I have found, however, that there is almost as much pandering to Socialist’ appetites in the Fascist party as there is among the leaders of the Conservative party today.”
Mosley’s Fascism has made little inroads in British life. It has failed to attract any person of noteâ€” with the temporary exception of Lord Rothermere who found Mosley’s anti-Semitism a stench a little too strong for his nostrils and therefore dumped him overboard.
It is a menace, however. England has a serious unemployment problem. Its government relief program is in a state of near-collapse. There is a strong discontent among the masses.
Mosley is a powerful personality and a wonderful beer-hall speaker of the Hitler type. He is perhaps one of the orators the country boasts. His Black Shirt bands are the nucleus of an organization. It is possible that given discontent in the right proportions, Mosley might be able to muster a considerable following. It is possible but not very probable. But the menace is there.