Page 29 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 6 (1947-1948)

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19
BLOCH ---- THE YEAR ’S BOOKSHELF
ace. Mrs. Hobson’s approach is extraordinary. She writes with
a background and experience as direct as tha t of Arthur Miller
in his
Focus
and with equal zest. By using the device of having a
little man of a Christian Front mentality who is mistaken for a
Jew learn at first hand what it feels like to be treated as a Jew
by his Christian neighbors. Miller succeeded in stimulating in non-
Jewish readers a measure of awareness of the experience of a Jew
in a hostile community. Her protagonist is a non-Jewish magazine
writer who pretends to be Jewish in order to get at the real facts
required for an expose of antisemitism. Thus he finds out for
himself what a Jew suffers in snubs, insults and other dynamite-
laden forms of discrimination in polite business and social circles,
where there is a “gentlemen’s agreement” about Jews. I t is a
compelling story about — and for — the kind of Americans who
would never dream of joining the Christian Front or desecrating
a Jewish cemetery or a synagogue but who unwittingly support
and encourage those who do, and who have heretofore been left
virtually untouched in novels.
Gentlemen s agreement
is powerful
in many of its climactic passages, dismayingly true in its relentless
recital of various manifestations of antisemitism. I t is bound to
have a profound effect on many a reader.
Antisemitism plays its role in
Shadow over the land
by Charles
Dwoskin (New York, Beechhurst, 1946), the story of which
centers about a small segment of the population in Connecticut,
where the virus of antisemitism has been injected by Patriots
United, a bunch of racketeers with headquarters in Detroit. They
operate all over the land to fish in troubled waters of their own
troubling, and to fatten on the dollars of the gullible and the fools
brought up on cops and robbers stuff, soap operas, Superman, the
daily intellectual fare of the funnies and the blood and thunder
movies.
Discussion of the causes and cures of antisemitism are not new
in literature. They are as old as antisemitism itself. New is the
approach to solutions of the problems they present; for these
always change usually with the change in general economic and
social conditions. The new approach toward a better understand-
ing of the behavior of the bigot and the antisemite is the one
which is now being made by professional psychoanalysts and
psychiatrists. Whether or not their efforts will eventually lead to
the full elimination of antisemitism is rather doubtful. Indeed,
it is ridiculous to assume tha t persons or groups harboring anti-
Semitic thoughts and feelings are not as normal as others and are
therefore in need of attention by those members of the medical
profession who practice psycho-analysis and psychiatry. W ha t’s
required is sound thinking and accurate knowledge of social facts