Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Lesson from Ben Hecht

Prof. Paul Eidelberg

A propos of the report of the United Nations Human Rights Council regarding Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in Gaza, and in view of the endorsement of this infamous report by the UN General Assembly, whose anti-Semitic or Israel-bashing tendencies are notorious, it behooves Jews to heed these words of Ben Hecht’s Guide for the Bedevilled (1944):

“The Jewish apologists are avidly and pathetically content on stating the case for the Jew by contradicting his enemies….They feel only that anything an anti-Semite says must be contradicted and disproved—and they rush forward with statements that Jews [are humanitarians].

“These denials, contradictions and affirmations are a preposterous waste of time. Jewish diplomacy has been wasting its time in this fashion for almost twenty centuries, offering alibis and mitigating circumstances—for what? Is there anything of which a Jew can be guilty that could match the unsavory and contemptible antics of his accusers? Apologies to whom? To that judge with blood-caked hands who sits leering from the bench? To that enfeebled and chaotic brain that calls itself an anti-Semite? Or to that smug and highty-tighty bystander, World Opinion—a gentleman who hasn’t been able to find his buttocks with both hands since he was given an alphabet to play with?

“You would think that the Jews would wake up to this one fact about themselves—that their defensive position is the chief delight and arsenal of the anti-Semite. But never comes such awakening. There have been some who have opened their eyes. Heinrich Heine woke up one day and filled the world with a burst of bitter laughter. This ‘greatest of their poets’ announced that, whatever the Jew was, the spectacle of the monstrosities who call themselves Germans setting themselves up as his judges and superiors was one which must see the Devil and all his friends laughing.

“But Heine is only a Jew—not a Jewish spokesman. The Jewish spokesmen are a little too stunned with calamity to make epigrams. Their very egoism bids them look to themselves for answers, rather than to their enemies. And they answer, scientifically, vaingloriously, despairingly. That they are arguing with lunacy, that they are titillating sadists, but they manage only to inflame their accusers by revealing their wounds—never daunts their propaganda.

“And in this struggle to disprove the anti-Semite by presenting themselves as a noble, worthy, and even wondrous people, the Jews fall into a trap that leaves their enemies cackling. For even these have enough cunning to punch holes in such contentions. The mere fact that the Jews are to be found on this earth is enough to deny their cries that they are noble or remotely wondrous. No people known to history is that—not even the Americans.

“There are two very unwise things to do in this world. One is to proclaim the fact that you are in distress—and expect your plight to bring Samaritans rushing to your side. An occasional Samaritan will arrive—but accompanied always by three hooligan sadists intent on the sport of increasing your misery. The other is the business of advertising your virtues. The ‘Jewish propaganda machine’ is more or less devoted to both schemes, and the results continue, century in and out, to be the same. In a world that admits only victors, the Jews have persisted as advertising themselves as victims only. This the Jews are not. I am not writing of those murdered but those alive. No man alive is a victim. It is not only stupid but dangerous to pronounce himself one….

“Such, to a large degree, is the effect of the Virtue-Apologist propaganda of the Jews. The bystander—not necessarily an anti-Semite—on hearing the overpraise attached to the name Jew, ignores it a little irritably, and bethinks himself at once of Jews he knows he wouldn’t be found dead with.

“My own attitude toward the Jews is that they need no defense—and that defending them is the major disservice I can do to them. They are and always have been the children of the world—and they look to me as good as the rest of their playmates. And, now and then, a little better.

“If there is anything special in the Jewish make-up, it lies in the ancient and still undissipated egoism of the Jew. Here is the quirk of which the anti-Semites make always a great noise. I wish only that the accusations were true—that Jews are dangerous, that they are a world menace (to the Germans), that they cannot be assimilated by Nordic peoples. (Is this really a charge or a complaint?) I wish too that there were complete truth in the accusation that the Jews are an implacable barrier to the philosophy of rampant nationalism.

“There is only one truth in all these charges. No Jew, were he given a Swastika to wear on his sleeve, could exist in the Hell made by the Germans. Not even a bad Jew. There is enough of Elijah left in him to make of him the eternal Underground against tyranny.

“It behooves the Jews to embrace this truth in the charges of his enemies with gratitude and a grin”

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