Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

The New Jew

October 14, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

by William B. Ziff Author of “Jewry Must About Face!”

Unfortunately the latter articles of my series, “Jewry Must About Face,” were badly garbled by a make-up man’s dropping out some much-needed paragraphs here and there in order to make them fit the page. The net result was a confused basket of conclusions that would do credit to the very leadership I criticize.

In brief I endeavored to show that the Jews are facing a carefully conceived war of extermination which is being waged against them. I endeavored to point out that this assault is international in scope and not confined to any one given territory. In some countries it is for the present confined to social and economic repressions. In others it takes the more severe form of cancellation of actual civil and political rights. Its ultimate end is the complete liquidation of the Jew from civilization.

I attempted to show that for almost a 1,000 years Jewish thought has been almost entirely oblivious to any viewpoint of corporate health. It has been ineffectual and childish. It was based on mysticism and the abstractions of justice. In the main it had to do with ingratiating petitions for merciful treatment. It was full of apologies for the Jewish instincts of culture and the Jewish viewpoint. It lacked backbone and did not know the meaning of courageous self-reliance. It was not only flabby and pusillanimous but disordered and unconnected as well. Jewry was a stuffed shirt of imposing appearance but without self-sufficiency or retaliatory power of any kind.


Through all these years we have become a people without dignity, without purpose and without hardihood. Any cheap scoundrel could set up an attack on us and expect to receive in return only the placating whines of our leaders. An assault on Jewry became an easy way to prestige, attention and power. So simple was this procedure that the entire modus operandi of anti-Semitic attack became a standard formula. It became a science in itself.

Jewish opinion divided itself in several groups. One sought the visionary, fanatic dream world of the ghetto. It gave every move of life a mystic significance and took coercion for granted as one of the normal conditions of existence. In essence this group simply withdrew body and soul from civilization.

Another sought to escape from the entire Jewish equation by slavishly imitating its Gentile compatriots everywhere. This imitation extended to the most minute particulars, and left its adherents finally like a bunch of dried herrings without the soul or substance of either group. Germany was full of this ostrich-type of Jew, who stuck his head in the sand of servile imitation and thought thereby that he had achieved safety.

Still another group, lost and bewildered in the maze of world difficulties, emotionally distorted and troubled, sought to abandon the entire world condition in favor of a better one. Probably of all groups this latter regarded Judaism with the greatest distrust. By the mere process of reaction the entire Jewish tradition became anathema to it.


Its formula was to change the natures of its persecutors, which it felt could be done by the invention of ideologies. Its members talked learnedly of economic and governmental theories as if these things were a thing apart from the natures of men themselves. They anesthetized themselves into believing that all suffering would be over if the present world condition committed suicide and the Jewish group with it. Their credo was formulated on the cabalistic notion that all their troubles would disappear if only this or that politico-economic condition were altered on the statute books.

At the first touch of failure of any of these regenerative schemes the cry arose to crucify the Jew. The lives of Jewish men, the honor of Jewish women, the souls of Jewish children always paid the penalty when mankind again demonstrated its inability to adhere to an ideal.

The first of these idyllic Jewish missionaries were the Apostles and the early Christians themselves. Theirs was the first of the world horizons which have since plagued the Jewish consciousness. In the name of these early world emancipators Jews were subsequently boiled in oil and deprived of all rights except those which even dogs needed to drag out an existence.


Down to this day the crusading reformers who would deliver the millenium to an unwilling world have existed to curse our unfortunate people. They passionately espoused the cause of political democracy, and when democracy disintegrated it was on the unhappy heads of the Jews that the fury of reaction was concentrated. They sought the panaceas of Socialism and Communism, the bitter lessons of Socialist Germany and Communist Hungary meaning nothing to them.

Everywhere one turns he comes to the dismal realization that present-day Jewry is a corpse. Whatever living soul it once had is no more. It has neither vitality, unity or leadership. As aside from those wretches who are simply Jews by virtue of Gentile compulsion, there is Orthodox Jewry whose soul is transfixed by atropied ceremonialism, by petrified traditions whose meaning they no longer understand. There are those even more futile individuals, the Reform Jews, who have made themselves a caricature of Protestant prototypes.

Nowhere is the old fierce, proud soul of Judah recognizable. Nowhere is there spiritual health and peace. Nowhere harmony, discipline, unyielding pride, poise and emotional normality.

Jewry has everywhere degenerated into an ugly neurosis, with only the bald fact of anti-Semitism holding it together. Aside from Zionism, the only thread of light in our otherwise decadent structure, our entire outlook is negative. There is not a redeeming, positive, constructive note anywhere.


We are a sick people. It is we who desperately need regeneration and we should stop looking to the rest of the world in disspirited complaint and look to our own house first.

We must as a mass seek the virtues of vigor, pride, assurance, gallantry and, above all, discipline. We must not forget that strong resentment and bitter aversion to destructive forces are part of any well-ordered entity. We must give ourselves not only unity but a spiritual rebirth as well. We must add to this a superstructure which will allow us to take advantage of competent leadership in seeking a way out of our difficulties.

We must curb the undisciplined individual who is guided entirely by personal impulse and individual self-seeking. We must remember that the seeking of the golden calf can never be a complete end in itself.

It is said that when two Jews get into a room you have three opinions. This discordant, noisy condition is poor mass realism. It will not allow for constructive leadership and will only end in disaster. Our youth must be given another objectivity beside the spiritless, muddled, helter-skelter horizon of individual impulse. They must become orderly, dynamic and healthy if we are to survive.


The peculiar ineptitude of all Jewish leadership today is nowhere better shown than in the many letters I received from men who read the previous articles in this series. There were letters from the B’nai B’rith, the Zionists of various factions, Gentile-Jewish cooperation societies, organizations and groups of all kinds.

These all claimed urbanely that they were in complete accord with my assertions. Moreover, that they were actually doing what I was talking about. Here were all these groups, all unconnected and all claiming that they were Jewry in essence. Is there anything more needed to show the peculiar demoralized condition of our group mentality!

Again I wish to ask all these gentlemen how anyone can claim to speak for Jewry without the adherence of the Jewish masses themselves! How can anyone take effective action unless he represents the whole-hearted devotion of these Jewish masses to whom he is dedicated by their undying conviction, rather than by his own presumptive self appointment?

I stated that we must have an authoritative Jewish structure which in itself carried the mace of authority if we are to combat the dangers from both without and within that threaten us.

That means that no one organization, and certainly no self-appointed individual can speak for Jewry. We will have to get away from psychopaths, fumblers, visionaries and spineless poltroons. It means that all organizations of Jewish life must submit to one unified plan and purpose. We cannot allow our future to be disturbed by the undisciplined actions of discordant groups to whom theory and self-will are the only ends in life.

Above all these disgusting decadent Jews, above all personal advancement, above parties, above contentions of all kinds, we must place the physical preservation of the Jewish people. Our future structure must be designed primarily for this purpose, and all factions, if they are intelligent, healthy men, will sacrifice rigidly toward this end. All Jewry must realize that it can have but one goal, security, dignity and peace. Only a unified pattern of action can possibly realize this goal.

We must deliberately set out to reintegrate Jewish life on a new physical and revived spiritual basis, shearing away from it all the unctuous weakness of the assimilationists, the indecision of the apologists, as well as the disgusting mummery of the ghetto.

Zionists will say: “But what has that to do with me?” The answer is very simple. We will either be a free, prideful, vigorous and dynamic people, or even in Zion we will succeed only in building another ghetto.

(To Be Continued Tomorrow)

Recommended from JTA