Can Anto-Semitism be Eradicated?

The seed of prejudice exists in every human being, and given favorable conditions it will feed and flourish. In each one of us there is enough discontent of one sort or another to transform the personality for the worse if allowed to rise to the surface of our minds, the mind being a throne not easily usurped. Civilization has given to mankind the wherewithal to cover up, to tame, and to overcome the less healthy tendencies of his thoughts, but unfortunately there are times when man allows the guards to be lowered and lets the baser instincts throttle or pervert his normal, tolerant and reasonable attitude to existence. The throttling and the perversion have been only too well illustrated over the years of the past century, in particular by the growing and enduring canker of anti-Semitism, together with other forms of racial discrimination, one of the major blots on the human record. Like similar forms of racial prejudice, anti-Semitism is a mental and psychological disorder which can respond to treatment for a time but which will persist as a menace until skilled surgery removes it from the body of the nation, destroys it permanently in the mind of the individual. To date, it is true that the short-term cure is often happily successful; but unfortunately recent events in Europe and other parts of the world have shown that we are about as far as ever from evolving the surgery which would remove the menace for good.

As a Jew I do not believe that in present conditions we will succeed in eradicating the malady, however hard we try, for as long as the Jew remains in any degree loyal to his heritage, his community, his emotions, and history has proved that the loyalty of the Jew survives even the bitterest of tests that can be devised. People speak of and often hope for assimilation as a solution, but it is not one which enhances the integrity of a people. Somehow the Jew in an age when the meaning of human liberty is no longer denied him by the ghetto wall, remains bound to his faith and culture by a complex of rational and psychological ties which assimilation, whether voluntary or not, may obscure but very seldom sever. What, it may be asked, is freedom worth if the price of freedom for a man is the surrender of an approach to life justly considered rich, beautiful and profound and practicable today as it was yesterday when previous generations died for it and suffered for it to preserve it for a time when freedom of belief would enhance it? For 2000 years Judaism has grown largely in captivity a prey to the anti-Semitic reproach, but today the civilized world accepts in principle that racial prejudice is a canker to be buried wherever true liberty thrives. Judaism has lived with the shadow of anti-Semitism and will outlive it yet if the forces of understanding and goodwill can curb and eventually eradicate a state of mind the consequences of which are Nazism and major threats to world peace,

My dear and much-missed friend Melvyn Millman, who was a very gifted poet and valued member of the Voices poetry group, wrote the following poem which so concisely and memorably depicts the anti-Semite and anti-Semitism in all its hateful shapes and forms. Melvyn Millman passed away in 2010 but his powerful poetic voice will live on with us forever.

(A Balm for Bigots with a Blameworthy Conscience)
by Melvyn Millman

If you haven’t got a hankie,
Blame the Jews,
If your spouse makes hanky-panky,
Blame the Jews
If your trusted friends deceive you
If your relatives all grieve you
You can always chuck it if you
Blame the Jews.

When your favorite stock goes tumbling
Blame the Jews,
When your government is bungling
Blame the Jews
Like a lap dog, like a football, like a jester, like a clown,
They’re a cooperative minority you can always kick around,
So don’t just sit there grumbling at the news,
Blame the Jews, Blame the Jews, Blame the Jews.

Though you’re thrown out by your honey
Blame the Jews,
Though you’ve drunk up all your money
Blame the Jews
Though you cheat those who befriend you,
Though the saints above condemn you,
You’re a prince of virtue when
You blame the Jews.

If you hear voices in your head,
Blame the Jews,
Saying: Bin Laden’s in your bed,
Blame the Jews.
If you don’t know who’s behind
The terror in your mind
The answer’s not hard to find
Blame the Jews.

‘Stead of beating up your children,
Blame the Jews
‘Stead of feeling guilty, you ken
Blame the Jews,
More convenient than the tranquilizers you keep on your shelves
‘Cause if you forget to blame them, they will always blame themselves.
So not matter what the odds are, you can’t lose
Blame the Jews, Blame the Jews, Blame the Jews.

(But always be careful to refer to them as “Israelis/Zionists”.)

About the Author
London-born David Herman came on aliyah in 1966 after graduating from Cambridge University. In the 1960s, he founded the Good Times Publishing Company specializing in publishing newspapers in simplified English, French and Arabic for the Israeli school system. David currenty works as a translator, and is also very active in the field of songwriting and performing under the musical name, David Ben Reuven.