Blame Jews For Everything For Dummies

A difficult history

For centuries Jews have lived as a minority in the lands of others. Their relationship with the majority has often been problematic. What to do with the Jews? It was a question asked by thinkers and leaders alike. Martin Luther and Karl Marx felt the urge to express their opinion on this matter, sometimes called ‘The Jewish Question’. Adolf Hitler sought a definitive solution of the issue, which was exterminating them. Jewish people are still blamed for many things. A few examples:

  • People who oppose interest and usury often blame the Jews as they have been money lenders for centuries and many are still working in finance.
  • Jews have taken a piece of Arab land that is now called Israel. They expelled most of the Arab inhabitants. That’s why a lot of Arabs don’t like Jews.
  • It is sometimes said that the Jews determine what you hear on the radio and see on television because they control the media.
  • Perhaps you have read that Jews cause wars and revolutions, often with a little help from the secretive Freemasons and the elusive Illuminati.
  • Jews have been accused of harvesting organs without consent and being involved in the illegal organ trade.
  • Some people believe that Jews can’t be trusted because they are more loyal to Israel than the country they live in.
  • The political corruption in the United States is caused by a poor political system, but the Jews seem to profit from it, so follow the money.
  • Same goes for poor quality Hollywood movies. The Jews did it.
  • And Jews can be blamed for a lot of other things too, of course not the ‘good Jews’, only the ‘evil Jews’, but it is hard to tell the difference, so don’t trust them.

This is a difficult history to tell. Closer inspection reveals that things aren’t always what they seem. There allegedly has been a long Christian tradition of intolerance towards Jewish people. Only Christians were even more intolerant towards all other religions, including other versions of Christianity. Only Jews were tolerated, first because the Pope said so, and later because they proved to be useful for trade, tax collecting and money lending, which were activities Christians found to be morally reprehensible and didn’t like to do themselves. In fact, Christians have been exceptionally tolerant towards the Jews.

Muslims were even more tolerant. Apart from Jews they also tolerated Christians. Despite that, Christianity and Islam were amongst the most intolerant religions that ever existed. That proved to be crucial for their success. Apparently the owner of this universe didn’t provide us with ample proof of existence, so convincing people by argument wasn’t an option. The Jews didn’t get that. They preferred to hold on to their exclusive relationship with the all-powerful creator of this universe, and didn’t try to forcefully convert others.

The plight of Jewish people was not much unlike that of other minorities that didn’t adapt and integrate into society. Being beaten up from time to time is the least you can expect from peasants if you are not like them. And it was often worse than that.

Map of Canaan from around 750 BC
Map of Canaan from around 750 BC

Jewish history

Between 1200 BC and 900 BC a few small nation states emerged in an area that is now covered by Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Among them were Israel and Judah. These small states appeared because Egyptian power in the area was waning. It took a few centuries before new strong powers emerged and these small states were overrun. Israel fell into the hands of the Assyrians in 720 BC. Judah was destroyed in 587 BC by the Babylonians who had taken over the Assyrian Empire.1

These small kingdoms came with a national deity to provide them with protection. Their kings may have adopted a deity to promote a sense of a nation in order to assert their authority. Yahweh was the national deity of Judah and probably also of Israel. Originally, the worship of Yahweh may not have differed much from the worship of other national deities like for instance Chemosh the god of Moab.1

After Israel and Judah had ceased to exist, their inhabitants faced an identity crisis. Their uprisings were defeated. A lot of Jews were taken into exile in Babylonia. Jewish priests then began to write down the Torah (Old Testament) to define a sense of nation around their national deity Yahweh without the need for a king or a territory. In this way the Jews became a people without the need for a land.1 Their promised land Israel or Zion remained a central pillar in their religion nonetheless.

Around 450 BC many Jews who lived in exile were allowed to return. From 164 BC there was an independent Jewish state for 100 years until the Romans conquered it. At the time of Jesus tensions were growing between the Jews and their Roman overlords. These tensions led to several uprisings between 66 AD and 136 AD. During these revolts the Jewish temple was destroyed. Over time the majority of the inhabitants of the area became Christians and later Muslims. Jews remained in scattered communities around the Mediterranean.

In ancient societies knowledge and education were reserved for the elite. The Jews introduced mass education for the people. The Torah became the pillar of their national education system. Divine knowledge, rules, and regulations were open to the public. The value of education became strongly embedded in Jewish culture.1

Nations came and went but the Jews still exist, so becoming people without the need for a land turned out to be a successful long-term survival strategy. The Jewish people are around for more than 2,500 years, while being without a homeland for nearly 2,000 years. Their religion became the basis for Christianity and Islam. As a consequence Christianity and Islam both see Judaism as a legitimate religion. Christians and Muslims allowed Jews to live in their lands, albeit as secondary citizens.2

Living together wasn’t easy. For instance, Christians blamed the Jews for killing Jesus. The Jewish high priests had accused Jesus of blasphemy as he claimed to be the Son of God. According to the Gospel the Jewish high priests and a Jewish mob demanded the crucifixion of Jesus. Also according to the Gospel, the blood of Jesus may be on the hands of the Jews forever:

When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood,’ he said. ‘It is your responsibility!’ All the people answered, ‘His blood is on us and on our children!’3

It is written in the Gospel that Jesus’ crucifixion happened according to the plan of God as Jesus’ sacrifice takes away the sin from the world. That makes God responsible for what happened to Jesus.

German picture of 1493 depicting human sacrifice by Jews
German picture of 1493 depicting human sacrifice by Jews

In the Middle Ages rumours spread from time to time that Jews abducted little Christian boys for their secret rituals. This is commonly known as the blood libel. So if a boy disappeared, it was often time to kill some Jews. There was no basis for these beliefs but little did people know about the Jewish religion and its practices.2 Medieval people could freak out quite easily because they lacked proper education. And so witches were burnt on the stake whenever the harvests were poor.

Many people disliked Jews or even hated them. Jews were often involved in trade and finance. These activities were often seen as reprehensible as trade and finance often coincide with questionable ethics. Some languages still reflect this. The English language has the term Jewish stock take, referring to a shopkeeper destroying his or her own shop in a self-lit fire in order to claim insurance. The Dutch language has the word ‘jodenbod’, which means Jew’s bid, to indicate a bid below the market price which people in a desperate position may be forced to accept.

After the French Revolution of 1789, Jews in Western Europe received citizenship, but in Eastern Europe, and most notably in Russia, they faced persecution and pogroms, which are violent riots that included robbery, destruction of property and sometimes killings. Around 1870 the first Jewish settlers entered Palestine. In 1896 Theodor Herzl published The Jewish State in which he claimed that the solution to The Jewish Question was a Jewish state. This marked the beginning of modern Zionism.

In 1873 the Vienna stock market crashed. The event was followed by the long recession of the late nineteenth century that lasted until 1896. It was the first global economic crisis. Economic growth was lower than previously. Anti-Semitism was on the rise in German speaking areas and France as Jewish bankers and industrialists were blamed for the situation. It was also the time when Silvio Gesell was a businessman. He experienced the poor economic conditions first-hand. It made him investigate the underlying causes.

In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, the only Jewish member of the French general staff, was convicted of spying for Germany. It turned out that he was innocent. He was rehabilitated a decade later after vigorous protests. During World War I many Jews fought for their nation states, but after the war a myth emerged in Germany, suggesting that the war was lost because of leftists, republicans and a Jewish conspiracy, which is rather ironic as the Jews had been inclined to support Germany in its fight against Russia.

In an effort to gain Jewish support for Britain during World War I, the British offered Palestine to the Jews. The Arabs already living in Palestine had no say in this, which soon led to tensions and violence. After a revolt of the Arabs between 1936 and 1939 the British restricted Jewish immigration. In 1946 Zionists started a guerrilla war against the British while large numbers of Jews were entering Palestine. Many of them were Holocaust survivors.

The Holocaust is a major trauma in the collective memory of the Jewish people. Nearly six million Jews were killed during World War II, most of them systematically exterminated in concentration camps and mass executions. The Holocaust vindicated the Zionists who believed that the Jewish people can only be safe if they have a country of their own.

In 1947 the United Nations planned to divide Palestine between the Jews and the Arabs. The Arabs didn’t agree and tried to expel the Jews. The war that followed was lost by the Arabs. Many Arab Palestinians were expelled from their homes and Israel was founded. The Arabs tried to reconquer Palestine but failed due to superior Israeli intelligence and military tactics, support from European countries and the United States for Israel, and a bit of miracle.

Over time the Arab nations lost interest in attacking Israel and Israel started colonising Palestinian land. The Palestinians resisted. There have been numerous terror attacks on the Israeli military and civilians. This made Israel seal off the border with Palestine. In recent years rocket attacks from the Gaza strip were sometimes answered with Israeli incursions that killed thousands of Palestinians. Major obstacles to peace currently are the unwillingness of militant groups like Hamas to make a final peace settlement in which Israel is recognised as well as the desire of Israel to colonise Palestinian land.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theories range from crazy rumours to well-documented allegations. Despite being such a small people the Jews have had an enormous impact on world history. This fuels speculation. Before going into the conspiracy theories, it might be a good idea to come up with a few general explanations for the remarkable successes of the Jews:

  • The Jews invented mass education twenty-five centuries ago (it took twenty-four centuries before Western Europe followed suit) because they came to believe that they all had to read their scriptures to discuss them in an intelligent manner.
  • In the past Jews were often pushed into occupations like trade and finance, which are activities that can make you rich without a lot of toil.
  • For centuries the Jewish people lived under marginal and uncertain conditions which required resourcefulness that may have become part of Jewish culture.
  • There might be a script running all that happens in this universe, and the Jews may be God’s chosen people after all, even though that was not always a blessing for individual Jews themselves.

The conspiracy theories have done tremendous harm as they helped to make the Holocaust possible. It may nevertheless be better to view them more objectively as theories that could be reviewed against the evidence. That may require taking some emotional distance as the truth is not always pleasant.

There is a joke that goes like this. Why doesn’t Israel become a state of the United States? Well, if Israel does, the country will have only two Senators. Somehow Israel has the unconditional support of the United States. Senators and members of Congress who don’t agree face the powerful Israel Lobby, which often means that the lobby will fund the campaign of his or her opponent, so that he or she may not be re-elected. Jewish interest groups have a lot of power in the United States and there is a book that claims that there is a secret Jewish plan to gain world domination.

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery made up by the Russian secret service around the year 1900. It subsequently became a guidebook for blaming Jews for everything. The Protocols claim that the Jews form a secret cult that is conspiring to gain world dominance. Adolf Hitler believed it and so did many others like the auto maker Henry Ford. Somehow the work became a bit prophetic. That’s the irony of history, or perhaps the plan of God.

The main themes of the Protocols and related conspiracy theories are Jewish control of world finance, Jewish organisation of radical movements and Jewish manipulations of diplomacy to cause wars in which white Christians are killed. There are racist, political and religious aspects to these claims. It is sometimes argued that anti-Semites use so-called whistle words, which means that they secretly mean ‘evil Jews’ even when they don’t say that. That may be true but it can also be a way to dismiss legitimate concerns.

For instance, Mearsheimer and Walt investigated the power of the Israel Lobby. They claimed that if you criticise Israel in the United States you will be branded an anti-Semite, which means that you are a racist Jew-hater. Major newspapers subsequently published editorials calling their research anti-Semitic. Their book might be criticised for ignoring the pro-Israel viewpoint but that was not the aim of their research. AIPAC is the most prominent organisation in the Israel Lobby. Mearsheimer and Walt concluded:

AIPAC’s success is due to its ability to reward legislators and congressional candidates who support its agenda, and to punish those who challenge it. AIPAC makes sure that its friends get strong financial support from the myriad pro-Israel PACs. Those seen as hostile to Israel, on the other hand, can be sure that AIPAC will direct campaign contributions to their political opponents. The bottom line is that AIPAC, which is a de facto agent for a foreign government, has a stranglehold on the U.S. Congress. Open debate about U.S. policy towards Israel does not occur there.4

Several powerful lobbies operate in the United States, some of them represent ethnic and foreign national interests, but few attract so much attention as the Israel Lobby. So why is the Israel Lobby so powerful, visible and aggressive? There are some possible answers:

  • Unlike other foreign interests, the Israel Lobby has tremendous popular and financial support. Anti-Semitism led to the Holocaust, so the Israel Lobby can more easily claim the moral high ground than many other lobbies.
  • Jews don’t feel secure because of the Holocaust and because Israel is founded on land that has been taken from the Arabs. Criticism on Israel and Zionism provokes the fear that the legitimacy of the Jewish state is at stake.
  • Israel is ignoring international law by colonising Palestinian land. The unconditional support of the United States helps Israel to do that. Keeping this support may require suppressing dissent.

The Israel lobby is the most powerful in the United States but it has significant influence in some other countries as well. Powerful lobbies undermine democracies, most notably when they suppress dissent, which is something most lobbies don’t do.

Usury

The Jew as usurer is a well-known theme. The Roman Catholic Church forbade Christians to charge interest to fellow Christians. During the Middle Ages Jews were excluded from a wide range of professions and were pushed into activities that were considered reprehensible. One of them was money lending. The Torah allowed Jews to charge interest to Christians. Interest is one of the least understood economic mechanisms in modern times. It can destroy people, nations and even entire civilisations. The ancient Israelites knew this and believed that interest works like the slow poison of a serpent:

Usury does not all at once destroy a man or nation with, as it were, a bloody gulp. Rather, it slowly, sometimes nearly imperceptibly, subverts the victim’s constitution until he cannot prevent the fatal consequences even though he knows what is coming.5

In the Middle Ages interest rates were high, sometimes as much as 20% to 30% annually, so the insidious nature of interest was more visible than it is nowadays. And Jews were often blamed because they were the money lenders. Persecuting Jews was profitable for their debtors. For instance, in 1290 king Edward I expelled the Jews from England, confiscated their assets, and defaulted on the loans he had received from them.

With the advent of modern banking things changed. In the 16th century short-term interest rates dropped to around 10% per year because financial markets became more developed and efficient. Because interest rates went down, and because of the Protestant reformation, religious objections against charging interest waned. As Christians were allowed to charge interest on fellow Christians the Jewish role in money lending was reduced but it remained significant. Interest became an essential part of the capitalist economy and Western culture became ignorant about problematic nature of interest charges.

Jews still play a prominent role in the financial sector in the United States. Several Jews have served as chairmen of the Fed, including Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen. The apparent parasitic nature of the financial sector and the bailouts feed the conspiracy theory of Jewish usury. Real wages in the United States have hardly risen for decades but the US financial sector comprised only 10% of total non-farm business profits in 1947 but grew to 50% by 2010. Among those who profited were many Jews. While many ordinary people in the United States are struggling to make ends meet, the top 1% is doing very well. Many of them are Jews too.

Anti-Zionism

Some anti-Zionists claim that Zionism equals Nazism. The idea that Jews are God’s chosen people is somewhat similar to the Nazi claim of Germans being superior people. The Nazi ideology held that Germany had the right to reclaim its lost territories. Zionists intend to reclaim the lost territories of the Jews. Zionism stresses that Jews should return to Israel while Nazism stresses that ethnicity is based on descent and homeland.

These are all common themes in nationalism, even the superiority thinking, so the parallels are not very telling. And there is at least one difference Zionism and Nazism. Even though Israel committed war crimes like most parties in armed conflicts, Zionists did not exterminate the Palestinians or any other people so far. The situation in Israel and Palestine can be compared with apartheid in South Africa.

Some Zionists claim that anti-Zionism equals anti-Semitism. If the anti-Semitism is about denying Jews the right to their own state in Israel then this is justified. But if it is about opposing the colonisation of Palestinian land in violation of international law then it is not. It isn’t always clear what is meant.

Arab anti-Zionism is sometimes called Islamic anti-Semitism. Before Jews migrated into Palestine there was no Islamic anti-Semitism. After Israel was founded, Jews were expelled from several Arab countries. Many Arabs and Muslims believe that the Jews have the right to a state, but not on land they consider their own. This is what many Arabs still believe. As a consequence, Israel’s security remains dependent on repression of the Palestinians.

Islamic anti-Semitism emerged when Arab anti-Zionists took over existing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. There are tensions between Arabs and Jews. Jews  living in Europe are harassed. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is often mentioned as the reason, and bringing the conflict to Europe is seen as a goal. Meanwhile, colonists on the West Bank are harassing Palestinians and destroying their property too.

If denying the Jews a homeland is reprehensible then the same is true for denying the Palestinians their own state and colonising their land. If international law still has any meaning then a peace settlement would be based on the 1967 borders. Preferably relocations would be minimised, meaning both people can live peacefully in each other’s country. That is only possible in a climate of mutual respect and friendship. This seems a remote possibility at present.

Influence on the media and opinion

In 2012 six major corporations own 90% of the mainstream media in the United States. Most of these corporations have Jewish CEOs and owners. Journalists are often Jewish too. Philip Weiss noted from his 30 years of experience in journalism that Jews made up the majority of the important positions in the publications he worked for. Weiss contends that this may have implications for the way the news is covered, most notably if it pertains to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.6

On the other hand J.J. Goldberg wrote in The Forward that, although Jews do hold many prominent positions in the US media, they do not make a high priority of Jewish concerns and that Jewish Americans generally perceive the media as anti-Israel.7 That suggests that with fewer Jewish journalists not much will change about the reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And what about the Jews dominating Hollywood? Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times mocked the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which is another part of the Israel Lobby, to misinform the American public:

I have never been so upset by a poll in my life. Only 22% of Americans now believe “the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews,” down from nearly 50% in 1965. The Anti-Defamation League, which released the poll results last month, sees in these numbers a victory against stereotyping. Actually, it just shows how dumb America has gotten. Jews totally run Hollywood.8

The Internet is more difficult to manage. Anti-Semitic as well as anti-Zionist messages can be found on many message boards. Efforts are made to counter that with pro-Israel messages on social media using students on Israeli university campuses.9 It is part of a general and continuous public relations effort named ‘hasbara’ that some call propaganda.

In October 2007 about 300 academics issued a statement calling for academic freedom from political pressure, in particular from groups portraying themselves as defenders of Israel. In 2009, after sociology professor William Robinson sent an email to students comparing the Israeli occupation of Gaza with the Nazi-controlled Warsaw Ghetto during World War II, the ADL started a campaign to discipline him for violating the faculty code of conduct. Other activist groups have copied these methods. This is called cancel culture.

Linguistics professor Noam Chomsky said during an interview that the ADL had compiled a 150-page dossier on him, apparently to find information it could use against him. Chomsky told that an ADL insider sent him the file. It included conversations, correspondence and other materials.10 Chomsky said that it read like an FBI file. He further noted that:

It’s hard to nail this down in a court of law, but it’s clear they essentially have spies in classrooms who take notes and send them to the ADL and other organisations. The groups then compile dossiers they can use to condemn, attack or remove faculty members. They’re like J. Edgar Hoover’s files. It’s kind of gutter stuff.10

In recent years, the influence of the Jewish lobby on public opion in the United States waned, because of the rise of both left-wing wokism and right-wing nationalism. Wokism favours the marginalised and oppressed, and supports the Palestinian cause while right-wing nationalism is open to anti-Jewish conspiracy theories. Woke people use some of the tactics the Jewish lobbies used before, for instance, cancelling those with opposing views.

Causing wars and revolutions

The French revolutionaries decided that Catholics, Protestants and Jews all became full members of society. In 1797 and 1798 a French Jesuit and a Scottish physicist published two remarkably similar books. Both claimed that secret societies were undermining the social order and had started the French Revolution. Both pointed at the Freemasons and the Illuminati as the main culprits. Jews were also seen as conspirators. Much of contemporary conspiracy thinking still centres around Illuminati, Freemasons and Jews.

Another allegation is that Jews were behind the Russian Communist Revolution of 1917. The idea was introduced by the anti-communist forces during the Russian Civil War that followed the revolution in an effort to make use of existing anti-Semitic sentiments. The allegation was taken over the Nazis in Germany. There was a high number of Jewish Communist party leaders during the revolution. The anti-Semitism in the Russian Empire may have induced them to join radical political movements.

That doesn’t explain why many Jews joined radical movements in other countries. Milton Friedman tried to shed some light on this issue. He found that a significant part of the revolutionary anti-capitalist literature has been written by Jews and that Communist parties in many countries were run and manned to a disproportionate extent by Jews.11

Friedman didn’t believe that Jews are seeking world domination. He gave two reasons as to why Jews have been attracted to radical movements. First, the left provided the Jews with equal citizenship while the Christian right did not. Second, the stereotype that Jews are profiteers and usurers may have persuaded them to show themselves and the anti-Semites that they are not selfish and heartless, but public-spirited and idealistic.11

After 1968 the left gradually abandoned its traditional base of workers in favour of disadvantaged groups like ethnic minorities, women, and LGTB people. This shift is sometimes attributed to the Frankfurt School. The Cultural Marxism conspiracy theory claims that Marxists of the Frankfurt School try to undermine Western civilisation with civil rights movements, feminism, Islam, LGTB propaganda, and pop-music, causing a breakdown of traditional Christian values. Many prominent Marxist thinkers were Jewish so Cultural Marxism is seen as an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory.

The recent wars in the Middle East are the work, at least to a significant extent, of the neoconservatives. Their ideology is a practical implementation of The Clash of Civilisations of Samuel Huntington. Huntington stated that Western nations will lose predominance if they fail to recognise the irreconcilable nature of cultural tensions. Huntington believed that Islam is a fundamental problem for the West.12

Leo Strauss was the founder of American neoconservatism. He proposed a restoration of the vital ideas underpinning Western civilisation such as classical Greek philosophy and the Judeo-Christian heritage and he promoted faith in the moral purpose of the West. Huntington was more cynical about the moral purpose of the West as he wrote:

The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion […] but rather by its superiority in applying organised violence. Westerners often forget this fact; non-Westerners never do.12

Both Huntington and Strauss were Jews while the neoconservatives are a predominantly Jewish movement. Neoconservatives advocate the promotion of democracy and the American national interest in international affairs, often by military force.

The Jewish connection, combined with the neoconservatives being preoccupied with the Middle East and Islam, gave rise to the suspicion that the wars they promoted were for the benefit of Israel. In the run up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Jewish neoconservatives were accused of dual loyalty. The controversy continues because of the neoconservative stance towards Iran, Israel’s main adversary. The response of the Israel Lobby was to accuse people who raised these issues of anti-Semitism.

Blood Libel 2.0

In 2009 the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet ran an article about Israeli organ harvesting with the sensationalist headline ‘Our sons are plundered of their organs’. The allegations bore some similarity to the blood libel. Dead Palestinian children had been returned to their families by the Israeli army with organs missing.13 In the 1990s skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from deceased Israelis, Palestinians and foreigners had been taken without permission.14

Organ trafficking is widespread. China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Brazil, the Philippines, Moldavia, and Romania are among the world’s leading providers of trafficked organs. In China organs have been harvested from political prisoners. Trafficked organs are either sold domestically or exported to be transplanted into patients from the US, Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and especially Israel.15 Israel faces a shortage of organ donors because Jewish religious law requires the body to be intact in burial.16

Organ trade isn’t murder. It can save lives. For poor people the choice may come down to selling a child or selling an organ. Not allowing organ sales may make their situation even more miserable. Stealing organs from the dead is reprehensible because the deceased nor the family have given permission. These practises may have existed in Israel on a wider scale even though they probably have ended by now. It is at least telling that a stolen heart may have been used in Israel’s first successful heart transplant.17

Allegiance

The allegiance of Jews has been a theme in anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. As is the case with every minority, there is always the question of allegiance. Most minorities don’t have a lot of influence so their allegiance isn’t a big issue, but Jewish people have a lot of influence in the United States. In his book By Way of Deception Victor Ostrovsky, a former operative for the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, claimed that the Mossad recruits helpers among the Jews outside Israel for its operations.18

One of the most well-known helpers was Jonathan Pollard. He sold a large number of classified US documents to Israel. He also sold documents to South Africa and attempted to sell documents to Pakistan. Many highly sensitive documents stolen by Pollard have been handed over to the Soviet Union, putting the lives of US intelligence assets at risk. A few other cases of Israeli espionage in the United States have attracted publicity, such as the arrest of former AIPAC officials Steve Rosen and Keith Weissman.

The intriguing coincidences surrounding the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 keep conspiracy theorists busy. Allegations have been made that Al Qaeda received financial support from Saudi officials and that investigations into this matter were blocked via high-level interference from Washington because Saudi Arabia was an ally of the United States. Also Israel often features in 9/11 conspiracy theories.

A New York housewife spotted five Israelis filming the attacks on the World Trade Center from a rooftop. She noted that they were already there just after the first strike had hit the Twin Towers. The Israelis were dancing and appeared to be full of joy as the World Trade Center burned and crumbled. They were arrested with $4700 in cash, foreign passports and a pair of box cutters of the type used by the hijackers. Two of them were Mossad agents. The FBI believed they were spying on Islamic extremist networks.19

The FBI interrogated them for weeks and concluded that there was no evidence of them having foreknowledge of the attacks. But the Israelis were uncooperative so it wasn’t possible to extract a lot of information out of them. Later some of these men discussed the events on an Israeli talk show. One of them said: “We come from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event.”19 In August 2001,  the Mossad gave the CIA a list of 19 terrorists living in the US which they suspected were planning an attack.

Influence on the United States government

A Christian desire for returning the Jews to the Holy Land has promoted the Zionist cause. Some Christians believe that the gathering of the Jews in Israel is a prerequisite for the Second Coming of Jesus. And so there is a strong support for Israel amongst Evangelical Christians and Republicans. Jewish Americans often back Democratic candidates so Democrats pay good attention to their Jewish voters. In this way support for Israel in both political parties is ensured.

The United States political system is corrupt. To get an office, politicians need money for their campaigns. In this way corporations and wealthy individuals buy influence. Wealthy Jews generously donate to political campaigns. In 2006, 60% of the Democratic Party’s fundraising and 25% of that for the Republican Party’s fundraising came from Jewish-funded Political Action Committees.

Several Jewish Americans found their way into influential positions in the United States government. Some were also citizens of Israel. In 1994 the Israeli paper Ma´ariv wrote that the Clinton Administration allowed more Jews in sensitive positions than any government before. The article noted that this was not a design, but that their achievements had brought them there. The Jewish component of the Democratic government was significant but there were also Jews heading for top positions in the Republican Party, for example Paul Wolfowitz.20

Wolfowitz was one of the neoconservatives, a political movement whose ideology played a significant role in American policies after 11 September 2001. In 2000 he was one of the supporters of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) which promoted the removal of Saddam Hussein. After 11 September 2001, the PNAC pushed for an attack on Iraq. The security of Israel played a role in the considerations of the neoconservatives but there is little evidence that the Iraq war was principally fought for Israel.

Mearsheimer and Walt wrote that pro-Israel figures have established a commanding presence at the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for Security Policy, the Foreign Policy Research Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hudson Institute, the Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis, and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, and that these think tanks are all decidedly pro-Israel.4

In most cases the US supports the position of Israel but there are a few instances in which the US government did not. The Eisenhower administration forced Israel to withdraw from the Sinai after the Suez Crisis. The administration of Bush senior delayed support to Israel because of the settlements in the Palestinian territories. The Israeli government and the Obama administration differed on the settlements and how to deal with Iran. In those cases the Israel Lobby organised resistance in Congress and the Senate.

Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion cover
Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion cover

The irony of history or God’s peculiar sense of humour

Perhaps the Protocols of the Elders of Zion are worth reading after all, just to see how the most bizarre conspiracy theories can appear convincing if you look at the evidence. If the protocols had been for real then the situation in the United States today may not have been very different. There is no grand conspiracy of Jews aiming for world domination. But what difference does it make? This is the irony of history and perhaps God’s peculiar sense of humour. And so Manny Friedman came to write in the Times Of Israel:

We have, for example, AIPAC, which was essentially constructed just to drive agenda in Washington DC. And it succeeds admirably. And we brag about it. Again, it’s just what we do. But the funny part is when any anti-Semite or anti-Israel person starts to spout stuff like, “The Jews control the media!” and “The Jews control Washington!” Suddenly we’re up in arms. We create huge campaigns to take these people down. We do what we can to put them out of work.21

So perhaps the Israel Lobby has taken some advice from the protocols:

And let’s not forget AIPAC, every anti-Semite’s favourite punching bag. We’re talking an organisation that’s practically the equivalent of the Elders of Zion. I’ll never forget when I was involved in Israeli advocacy in college and being at one of the many AIPAC conventions. A man literally stood in front of us and told us that their whole goal was to only work with top-50 school graduate students because they would eventually be the people making changes in the government.21

Then Friedman draws the following remarkable conclusion:

The truth is, the anti-Semites got it right. We Jews have something planted in each one of us that makes us completely different from every group in the world. We’re talking about a group of people that just got put in death camps, endured pogroms, their whole families decimated. And then they came to America, the one place that ever really let them have as much power as they wanted, and suddenly they’re taking over. Please don’t tell me that any other group in the world has ever done that. Only the Jews. And we’ve done it before. That’s why the Jews were enslaved in Egypt. We were too successful. Go look at the Torah — it’s right there. And we did it in Germany too.21

This is the personal opinion of a Jewish writer but he doesn’t appear to be a fool. And he made his comments in good spirit with regard to his fellow Jews. Friedman could write it but if you seek political office in the United States it is better that you don’t mention this. Jews excel in many fields, ranging from academics to finance, but if the upper class of a society coincides more and more with a small ethnic minority, this can cause ethnic tensions. The situation needs attention otherwise anti-Semitism may continue to attract followers. History has shown that this can end badly.

An important clue with regard to the secret of the success of the Jews can be found in his conclusion. They always lived at the margin and had to be resourceful to survive. These skills may have become part of Jewish culture so that Jews could come out on top once they could operate without restrictions. It is not a good idea to subject Jews to restrictions that don’t apply to others, but it may be a good idea to improve the political system in the United States so that it is less prone to corruption, and to end usury and profiteering in the financial sector at the expense of the public. It may also be a good idea that Jewish citizens fully integrate into the societies they live in, but this applies to every ethnic or religious minority.

There should security for the Jewish people living in Israel and a final peace settlement with the Arabs and the Palestinians. Concerns about the security of Jews living in Israel are the main reason for the Israel Lobby to suppress criticism on Israel and support for the Palestinian cause.

Now let’s get back to the joke. What if Israel becomes a state of the United States? It might solve a lot of issues. The allegiance of Jewish Americans would be to the United States. Israel can make peace with the Palestinians and give up land without fearing for its survival as the United States will defend it. Most Americans are willing to support Israel unconditionally so why not? And Israel will have only two senators from then on. It will probably never come to that but it may be an idea to entertain, perhaps for a limited period of time until peaceful conditions in the Middle East have prevailed and borders do not matter anymore. That may be a lot sooner than most people expect.

Featured image: Blame Jews For Everything For Dummies. Found on Reuvera.hubpages.com. [copyright info]

1. The Bible’s Prehistory, Purpose and Political Future. Jacob L. Wright (2014). Coursera.org. [transcript]
2. Practising Tolerance in a Religious Society: The Church and the Jews in Italy. Bernard Dov Cooperman (2014). Coursera.org. [transcript]
3. Matthew 27:24-25
4. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (2006). London Review of Books.
5. Usury, Destroyer of Nations. S.C. Mooney (1988). Theopolis.
6. Do Jews Dominate in American Media? And So What If We Do? Philip Weiss (2008). Mondoweiss.net. [link]
7. Jewish power: inside the American Jewish establishment. Goldberg J.J. (1997). Basic Books. pp. 280–281.
8. Who runs Hollywood? C’mon. Joel Stein (2008). Los Angeles Times. [link]
9. Israel to pay students to defend it online. USA Today (2013). [link]
10. Israel lobby descends on UC-Santa Barbara. Committee To Defend Academic Freedom at UCSB. [link]
11. Capitalism and the Jews. Miltion Friedman (1988). Foundation For Economic Education. [link]
12. The Clash of Civilizations. Samuel P. Huntington (1996). Simon & Schuster.
13. “Our sons are plundered of their organs”. Donald Boström (2009). Aftonbladet. [link]
14. Israel harvested organs without permission, officials say. Kevin Flower and Guy Azriel (2009). CNN. [link]
15. Organ trafficking: a fast-expanding black market. Janes Defence & Security Intelligence (2008).
16. A mitzvah called organ donation. Efrat Shapira-Rosenberg (2007). Ynetnews. [link]
17. 40 Years After Israel’s First Transplant, Donor’s Family Says His Heart Was Stolen. Dana Weiler-Polak (2008). Haaretz. [link]
18. By Way of Deception: The Making and Unmaking of a Mossad Officer. Victor Ostrovsky (1990). St. Martin’s Press.
19. Five Israelis were seen filming as jet liners ploughed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001. The Scotland Herald (2003). [link]
20. The Jews Who Run Clinton’s Court. Avinoam Bar-Yosef (1994). Maariv.
21. Jews DO control the media. Manny Friedman (2012). Times of Israel. [link]

New World Order

The direction of history

We are heading towards closer integration of the world, sometimes called New World Order. Humanity is converging in three ways, intellectually, economically and politically. The spread of religions and ideologies made it possible to unify different peoples under the same set of ideas. Trade and money enabled cooperation between strangers all over the globe. And the increased collaboration between nation-states is paving the way for a single world government.1

A global elite of business people, politicians, bureaucrats, engineers, journalists, scientists, opinion makers, writers and artists now runs the world. No matter where they live, whether it is New York, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Dubai or Cape Town, these people increasingly have the same interests, the same viewpoints about the world, the same culture, and increasingly live similar lifestyles. The individuals in these elites often have more in common with each other than with their fellow countrymen.1

Globalisation

Globalisation has completely transformed the world. People everywhere around the globe are now interconnected. They cooperate and compete on a global scale. Globalisation started more than 500 years ago when Portuguese explorers set sail for Africa to find new trade routes to the Indies. In 1492 Columbus discovered America while trying to do the same. In the centuries that followed, the world gradually became more integrated because of European colonisation and trade. After the Industrial Revolution, the pace of globalisation greatly accellerated.

And so, Marx and Engels wrote in the Communist Manifesto of 1848: “Because the bourgeoisie needs a constantly expanding market, it settles and establishes connections all over the globe. Production and consumption have taken on a cosmopolitan character in every country. This is true both for materials and for intellectual production, as national sovereignty and isolationism becomes less and less possible to sustain. The bourgeoisie draws even the most barbaric nations into civilisation and compels all nations to adopt its mode of production. It creates a world after its own image.”

World War II ravaged Europe and shifted the balance of power towards the United States. The United States began promoting free trade and democracy and made alliances against the Soviet Union and China to contain communism. To that aim, the United States and its allies fought several wars and supported dictators as fighting communism received priority over spreading democracy. The United States promoted European cooperation, and the United Nations (UN) were also an American initiative. Some of the most well-known subdivisions of the UN are the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Bank.

There was a plan behind this. The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an internationally oriented think tank of prominent figures in business, science and politics in the United States. The organisation has been an instigator of these developments. The CFR was established in 1921, at a time when the US was isolationist and European colonial powers dominated the world. In the 1930s, the CFR received funds from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Before World War II ended, the CFR, in cooperation with the US government, began making plans for a new world order after the war.

The planners thought that prosperity was the key to political and economic stability and that protectionism had worsened the Great Depression that caused World War II. They believed that open markets would promote democracy and that the United States would benefit from prosperity in other countries. After the war, European countries received loans to rebuild their infrastructure and to buy American products. By helping other countries, the United States gained economic and political influence. Because of the communist threat, the United States also built a military presence around the world.

The end of World War II marked the beginning of the US-dominated global financial order. The planners believed that stable exchange rates would promote trade, so they implemented a system of fixed exchange rates during the monetary conference at Bretton Woods. The gold-backed US dollar became the international reserve currency. This system remained in place until 1971. From then on, market forces determined exchange rates, but the US dollar remained the world’s primary reserve currency.

Take-off

To a large extent, the post-war world envisioned in Washington became a reality. It was a remarkable feat of geopolitical planning. And it was a significant step in the globalisation process, but globalisation really took off in recent decades. The outcome of this process was not the result of a deliberate design by planners but of several economic, political and technological developments converging. These were:

  • the rise of neoliberalism around 1980;
  • the fall of communism around 1990;
  • personal computers and digital data storage;
  • optical fibre and the Internet making it possible to connect people around the globe;
  • global standards for data exchange making it possible for every computer to exchange data with every other computer;
  • new software enabling cooperation between people and businesses around the globe.

The collapse of communism gave further impetus to globalisation. In 1989 the Berlin Wall fell. A few years later, the Soviet Union dissolved, and the European Union became enlarged. From then on, it seemed that there was no alternative to capitalism.2 Countries like China, India and Russia realised that they had to compete in the global markets and transformed their economies. Every country did this in its own way. For instance, India specialised itself in services and information technology. China became the global industrial powerhouse.

Computers and data storage made it possible to store documents and other data like pictures and recordings digitally. In the 1980s, the personal computer entered the homes of many people. Businesses also used computers, but the impact of information technology remained limited. Exchanging data between computers was still an arduous process because computers often were not yet interconnected, and software suppliers used different data formats.2

That all changed with the Internet. Netscape turned out to be a crucial catalyst. It allowed people on personal computers to look at web pages anywhere around the world. Netscape turned out to be a killer application that made the Internet very popular very quickly. Investors suddenly realised that Internet would change the world and make that large profits for them. It resulted in a massive overinvestment in everything related to the Internet during the Internet bubble of 2000. One of those overinvestments was in optical fibre. As a consequence, the price of data transport dropped dramatically.2

Standards for data exchange emerged. Software suppliers were forced to support them and began to focus on facilitating the interaction, competition and cooperation of people around the globe, effectively enabling the world to turn into a global village where people everywhere can participate. It transformed the way people cooperate. The traditional way of organising is top-down via command and control. The new way of organising is via teams of people sharing responsibility for a task or a product, making more complex cooperation possible. China and India were able to develop and become integrated into the global economy. As businesses began to use more cheap overseas labour, workers in developed nations faced increasing job insecurity and lagging wages.

The rise of China and India

In 1977 Chinese leaders realised that communist China needed to embrace capitalism. For two decades, progress was slow. That changed in the 1990s, but doing business in China remained problematic until China became a member of the World Trade Organisation in 2001. From then on, China conformed to international law and trade practices. And it became attractive to do business with China. Corporations moved their production to China, and China became the industrial powerhouse of the world.

Half the world’s population lives in Asia. In China or India alone live nearly two times as many people as in the European Union and the United States combined. The same applies to Africa. If people everywhere around the globe obtain an equal portion of wealth, then the relative importance of the European Union and the United States will decline. If current trends continue, China will become the most powerful nation soon. The Chinese economy may be the biggest in the world already.

Chinese leaders are preparing for a New World Order under Chinese leadership. China invests heavily in foreign countries. China’s policies include economic colonisation of developing countries like the Western countries did previously. For instance, China grants loans to developing countries to build their infrastructure. If they fail to pay back these loans, China may take possession of assets like mines, harbours and corporations as payment. If India is going to follow suit, it may become China’s contender. At the same time, the importance of nations is declining, and they may even disappear in the future.

Global cooperation

Businesses integrate closely with their global supply chains. Doing business has become a global affair more than ever. Issues like trade, climate change, human rights, disease control, organised crime and financial markets require international agreement and cooperation of governments. In the old world order, states were sovereign, which means that at least in theory, there was no higher authority than the state. Their power was restricted only by the treaties they signed.

States are increasingly under pressure to conform to global standards as actions of one nation affect other nations. The global elite influences the decisions on these issues, but they cannot ignore ordinary citizens. The elite believes it acts for the benefit of humankind and that we need more international cooperation or even a global government. That is reflected, for instance, in the words of the British politician Denis Healey. He attended Bilderberg Conferences, in which members of the elite gathered in secrecy. He told The Guardian:

To say we were striving for a one-world government is exaggerated, but not wholly unfair. Those of us in Bilderberg felt we couldn’t go on forever fighting one another for nothing and killing people and rendering millions homeless. So we felt that a single community throughout the world would be a good thing.3

The elite is, first and foremost, a social network. Elite members have friends, and they have friends who have friends too. Meetings like Bilderberg are just the tip of the iceberg. Still, these meetings can influence political agendas. For instance, the European Union has been a discussion topic at Bilderberg, and it may well be that these meetings helped the elite agree on more European cooperation and integration. After two world wars, that seemed a good plan. And it would not have succeeded if most Europeans did not have the same opinion.

Neo-liberalism or neo-feudalism?

Many people in China and India have seen their living standards improve. Globalisation may have been the best development aid ever. Nevertheless, the real winners are wealthy oligarchs all around the world. A 2019 report from Oxfam points out that the world’s 26 wealthiest people own as much as the poorest 50%.4 Without global government or binding international treaties, states end up competing to please large corporations and billionaires. In feudal societies, ordinary people were mere serfs of the elites. Many people today find themselves in a similar situation, at least to some extent.

In the 1970s, the situation in Western Europe and the United States was different. Most people were middle class. Since then, a growing divide between the rich and the poor emerged. It coincided with the rise of neoliberalism in the 1970s. At the time, the ruling class was in trouble, the economy was stagnating, unions had a lot of power, and the cost of welfare became a burden. Business think thanks began to press for deregulation. Since then, governments left more to markets, curtailed labour, and reduced welfare benefits. Wealth and income inequality started to increase. Many jobs moved to low wage countries.

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy theorists claim that the elite has a secret plan to create a New World Order in which ordinary humans will be mere serfs. Rather than seeing globalisation and the emerging oligarchy as a result of social, political and economic developments, the theory claims that the elites deliberately planned it. Indeed, the United States government, with the help of think tanks like the CFR, designed the post-war world order. It was a historical accident that these plans materialised the way they did. World War II more or less handed over world domination to the United States, and skilful planners have used this to pursue their objectives.

Distrust of government is one of the pillars of a culture centred around individual liberty and non-interference that many people in the United States cherish. The business and political elites have used the United States to create a global empire. And large segments of the population do not agree. They see imperial institutions like the Federal Reserve and the United Nations as tools of the elites. As Healey’s comments on the Bilderberg meetings point out, the elites believed in international cooperation. The idea that the world is interconnected and that your actions affect people elsewhere is at odds with the belief  in individual liberty and non-interference.

The mainstream media practise self-censorship by omitting or under-reporting relevant news stories. Against this background, there is a market for independent writers and to come up with new disclosures to keep readers entertained. Truth is not always of the essence, which feeds extreme beliefs. Social media have amplified this process as people can now hook up with others sharing their views while shielding themselves from others that do not agree.

The situation in the United States has parallels with countries just before a revolution. An oligarchy controls the state. The social order is contested from the left and the right, while people at the political centre realise that the political system fails. In Europe, there are similar developments. The situation has not yet advanced to the same point, perhaps because Europeans have more trust in government. In Europe, corruption in the political system is less endemic and political systems allow for multiple political parties so that diverging views can more easily get a voice in parliament.

Deep state

Politicians come and go, but many officials remain within the governmental institutions for a long time. Often they are specialised technocrats that have the best knowledge of the field. Most of them think they work interest of the public, but they can obstruct elected officials. An unresponsive bureaucracy is an issue with a long history. Chinese emperors already faced it 2,000 years ago.5 One can also say that elected officials can obstruct the work of their bureaucracy.

Interest groups have captured the United States government to profiteer at the expense of the taxpayers.  This also happens in Europe, but not to the same extent. Lobbyists and think tanks represent the interests of businesses that live off government contracts or benefit from favourable legislation, for instance, the Military-Industrial Complex. These people work covertly via social networks to influence politicians and other officials. That is not a new phenomenon either.5

Politicians in the United States fund their campaigns with donations from corporations, interest groups and wealthy individuals. And so, they represent their donors rather than their electorate. As a possible consequence, the likelihood of a law passing does not depend at all on voter preferences.6 It fuels distrust in government, and it makes the debate focus on the size and powers of government rather than its quality. Checks and balances have been put in place to limit executive power, but they undermine the effectiveness of government and allow elites to influence the decision-making process.

In the decades after World War II, the secret services of the United States have toppled democratically elected governments and supported dictators all over the world while claiming to promote human rights, freedom and democracy. Geopolitics is a cynical game and a struggle for survival that can conflict with stated morals and principles. The fight against communism has determined US politics during the second half of the twentieth century. And it is impossible to know what would have happened if the United States hadn’t taken up a global leadership role to contain and bring down communism.

Improving the political economy

Social order is the result of the interplay of social groups in a society. In a capitalist economy, wealth and income inequality tend to increase. If governments do not correct this, the economy may suffer, and social tensions may rise. During the neoliberal era, businesses have taken over several government functions. Schemes to profiteer from government proliferated accordingly. Rather than correcting wealth and income inequality, government policies came to enhance them. As the wealthy succeeded in reducing their taxes, governments went into debt. That is another recurring pattern in history.

The recipe is well-known. It is standing up against the oligarchy and creating a clearer distinction between the private and the public realm. People must understand that collective action is the only way to realise certain goals in society. It is possible to have good quality government. Countries like Denmark and Switzerland have it. Neo-liberalism sees government as a problem and society as non-existent. This view is not favourable to collective action and it helps the elite to remain in power and to exploit us with impunity.

As long as societies remain politically divided, this is unlikely to be resolved. A resolution requires setting aside political differences and rally behind common causes about systemic improvements in government and society. That could attract a broad coalition in the political centre. The size of a government matters less than its quality. A government should do the things it does right. The Danish government takes up a broad set of tasks, while the Swiss government is more limited in scope, but in both countries the quality of government is good and people trust their government.

1. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. Yuval Noah Harari (2014). Harvil Secker.
2. The World Is Flat 3.0. Thomas Friedman (2007). Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
3. Who pulls the strings? (part 3). The Guardian (2001).
4. World’s 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%, says Oxfam. The Guardian (2019).
5. Testing Theories of American Politics:Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page (2014).
6. The Origins of Political Order: From prehuman times to the French Revolution. Francis Fukuyama (2011). Profile Books.