A History of the Jews
by Paul Johnson
Harper and Row Publishers 1989
Reviewed by Jan Peczkis
This book covers many subjects, and I focus on a few of them. They are not necessarily in chronological order.
CARDINAL AUGUST HLOND WAS RIGHT: JEWS AS FREETHINKERS AND VANGUARDS OF BOLSHEVISM
Johnson comments, “In the Russian Pale, however, and in Austrian Galicia, it [Yiddish] was often the language of secularization. In the second half of the nineteenth century, almost every sizeable Jewish community in eastern Europe had a circle of atheists and radicals, whose language of dissent was Yiddish and who read Yiddish books and periodicals which catered to their views.” (p. 339).
Zydokomuna deniers commonly tell us that most Jews were not Communists, and most Communists were not Jews. While this is technically true, it fails to factor the high intelligence and caliber of Jewish Communists, especially when they attain high positions. Consider Leon Trotsky. Although he was subordinate to the non-Jew Lenin, this does not change his irreplaceable role in the Russian Revolution and aftermath. Johnson writes, “Trotsky compensated for his indifference as a Jew by his volcanic energy and ruthlessness as a revolutionary. It is most unlikely that the Bolshevik Revolution could have succeeded or endured without him. It was Trotsky who taught Lenin the significance of workers’ soviets and how to exploit them. It was Trotsky who personally organized and led the armed uprising which actually overthrew the provisional government and placed the Bolsheviks in power. It was Trotsky who created, and until 1925 controlled, the Red Army, and who ensured the physical survival of the new Communist regime during the Civil War which came close to destroying it. More than anyone else, Trotsky symbolized the violence and demonic power of Bolshevism and its determination to inflame the world.” (p. 451. Emphasis added).
JEWS TODAY MAKE COMMON CAUSE WITH THE NAZIS WHEN THEY BLAME POLES
Consider the Jews’ Holocaust. Johnson comments, “Goebbels wrote in his diary, 13 December 1942: ‘I believe both the British and Americans are happy that we are exterminating the Jewish riff-raff.’” (p. 503).
This has parallels. Nowadays, we have many Jews making the scurrilous charge that Poles were glad that Hitler exterminated the Jews. We have the scene, in SCHINDLER’S LIST, seen by an audience of 120 million Americans, of a Polish girl giving a sarcastic farewell (Goodbye Jews!), while other Poles are throwing globs of mud at the doomed Jews. Clearly, Jews making such vile accusations against Poles are repeating base Nazi propaganda.
JUDENSAU AND THE POLES-ARE-PIGS MESSAGE IN MAUS
Johnson writes, “…images used for Jews in the graphic arts. In Germany, towards the end of the medieval period, a new one began to emerge: the sow…it became the commonest of all motifs for the Jew, and one of the most potent and enduring of abusive stereotypes. It assumed a variety of repellant forms. Jews were portrayed venerating the sow, sucking its teats, embracing its hindquarters, devouring its excrement…Indeed, it is clear that the gross indecency of the image was the prime reason for its popularity over 600 years. With the invention of printing, it proliferated rapidly, and became ubiquitous in Germany…The Jew’s unnatural and inhuman relations with the Judensau drove it ever more firmly into the German popular mind.” (p. 232).
Consider this sobering and ironic fact. The Jews, who for centuries were humiliated by being associated with pigs, in German antisemitism, now have no problem in doing the same to Poles in the classroom-used MAUS. Shame on you, Art Spiegelman.
NO PEOPLES HAD A MONOPOLY ON INTOLERANCE
Johnson thus discusses the 12th-century report of Benjamin of Tudela, who described his travels: “The remaining 500 were Karaites, who followed the Pentateuch alone, rejected the Oral Law and everything that flowed from it. They had organized themselves as a distinct body since the eighth century and throughout the diaspora they were regarded by rabbinic Jews with such hostility that, says Benjamin, a high fence divided the two sections of the Jewish quarter.” (p. 169).
SLAVERY UP TO THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
American Jews, like other Americans, were divided. Johnson adds that, “In the South, American Jews were Southerners. They owned slaves.” (p. 368).
LEAVE HISTORY TO THE HISTORIANS? HARDLY
Johnson quips, “Unfortunately, historians are rarely as objective as they wish to appear.” (p. 6).