Page 77 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 3

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solid highway, suddenly realizes tha t he wandered inadvertently into a narrow
and blind alley.
I t is easily understandable how deeply disturbed Ben Hecht was when he realized
how natural it seemed to professed liberals to reconcile their progressive ideas
with a blatant prejudice against the Jews.
Mr. Hecht finds such a territory, of all places, on the campus of Yale University.
Prof. Raymond Kennedy, in a supposedly objective and scientific book on the
Jewish problem, subtly but unmistakably defends the anti-Semitic attacks on
the Jews. He, like Hilaire Belloc, complains against the alleged inability of the
Jews to assimilate themselves fully into American life. Exposing, with shattering
irony, the hidden prejudices of the learned professor, Ben Hecht maintains that
the issue is not the right of the Jews to be good Americans but the right of some
Americans to be good Jews.
Mr. Hecht’s wholesale condemnation of the German people will undoubtedly
bring a flood of protests. His proposed punishment of Germany goes even further
than that of Lord Vansittart, whose analysis of the German nature Ben Hecht
seems to follow. Mr. Hecht’s burning desire to see the horrid crimes of the Nazis
fully avenged, with all the Germans paying the price, is probably impracticable
but it is nevertheless refreshing, in the face of the apparent indifference displayed
by the democratic peoples.
Mr. Hecht’s autobiographical sketch and his wranglings with his sensitive soul
augur well for the future.
— M a r k K r u g in
Congress JVeekly
The Devil
and
the Jew
. B y J o s h u a T r a c h t e n b e r g .
New Haven,
Y a l e P r e s s .
267 pages.
The conception of the Jew as a nonhuman creature, with actual horns and in-
timate contact with a material Devil, was more than a fantastic fiction to the
medieval mind. Rabbi Trachtenberg confirms this distorted conception of the Jew
by an imposing, authenticated battery of historical parallels drawn from the ob-
scurities of the Middle Ages. He has, for this purpose, ransacked the medievalists
and the chroniclers themselves of the medieval European scene. The result is a
monograph of fascinating but not infrequently grimly tragic matter, making a
startling pattern of Jewish life against a background of anti-Semitic bigotry, hos-
tility, and oppression. Most of all, the author has implicitly demonstrated that
the present global Jewish situation is not a unique phenomenon but a recurrent
historical actuality, with its chief motivation deriving always from the same geo-
graphical and spiritual sources.
To the medieval Jew, the hapless scapegoat of medieval Christendom, were at-
tributed all kinds of catastrophes: plagues and storms, political upheavals, domestic
disturbances, sorcery, poisonings, ritual murders, disappearances of children.
Certain notions seemed rooted axioms: the Jew was a traitor, without civic con-
science; the Jew was a magician, plotting sinister abominations against Church
and State; the Jew was a crusading heretic intent on de-Christianizing Europe;
the Jew, Satan Incarnate, was the supreme Anti-Christ.
The author has illustrated all such perversities by chapter and verse quota-
tion from legends, French and German municipal records, legal codes, Church
pronouncements, sermons, and general historical matter. The most amazing
feature in this medieval conspectus is the continuous support, in perpetuation
of the monstrosities, given by Christian theology. Political changes, religious
reformations, had no ameliorative effect on Jewish conditions. The hostility to-
ward the Jew, and the demonstrably groundless accusations that overwhelmed
him, remained rooted in the culture of the West.
An effective point is the insistence that present-day anti-Jewish propaganda
techniques are, whether deliberately or not, borrowed from medieval blood accu-
sations, threats of Jewish world domination, and similar fantasies — with, of
course, specialized ad hoc refinements to suit the current trends.
The illustrations, many of them contemporary, add no little interest and reality
to this sound, unique study.
— H a r r y
E.
W e d e c k
in
The National Jewish Monthly
— 63 —