Jews have always been the favoured scapegoat of influential leaders and élites.
The charge of deicide (the murder of God) against the Jews would influence the actions of a string of Christian leaders such as Augustine who opined that ‘the degradation of the Jews all over the world [serves] as a contrast to the beauty of the form of the Church’. Martin Luther, the 15th-century Protestant reformer, hoped that Jews would be expelled from his beloved German ‘fatherland’: ‘Moved by prayer and respectful piety, we must act with merciful severity... In the first place, their synagogues should be burned down and what does not burn must be covered in mud. This must be done for the honour of God and Christianity...’ Luther’s birthday would be commemorated by Hitler on Kristalnacht, the first mass pogrom in Nazi Germany. His work was cited by Nazis at the Nuremburg trials in defence of genocide.
The leader of the Nation of Islam movement in the US, Louis Farrakhan, often resorts to blaming Jews for the suffering of African-Americans, claiming that Jews ‘control black intellectuals, politicians, preachers, artists, they control black life... and stifle black thought’. He readily embraces and posits wild conspiracy theories, going as far as to claim that Monica Lewinsky was introduced by ‘the Jews’ to distract President Clinton’s attention away from Israel’s dealings in the West Bank. To him Judaism is a ‘gutter religion’ and Hitler ‘a great man’. Former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Mahathir Mohamad, indulged in many similar anti-Jewish diatribes. In 2003, he seethed: ‘1.3 billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews. There must be a way.’
Former leader of the Saskatchewan Indian Federation and the Assembly of First Nations, David Ahenakew, not long ago referred to Jews as a ‘disease’ that needed to be eliminated: ‘The Jews damned near owned all of Germany prior to the War. That’s how Hitler came in. He was going to make damn sure that the Jews didn’t take over Germany or Europe... that’s why he fried six million of those guys, you know. Jews would have owned the goddamned world.’
French philosopher Voltaire foamed: ‘You will only find in the Jews an ignorant and barbarous people, who for a long time have joined the most sordid avarice to the most detestable superstition and to the most invincible hatred of all peoples which tolerate and enrich them.’ Dutch humanist Erasmus’ renowned tolerance did not apply to ‘the Jew’: ‘He is the most terrible nemesis, he is an envoy from Satan, a devilish vermin, a disguised champion of the faith. Why do real Christians associate with this mangy Jew?’
Some of the world’s most influential political icons were rabid Jew-haters. Karl Marx, born Jewish but converted to Lutheranism early on, portrayed them as the archetypal capitalists: ‘What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly God? Money.’ Despite Marx’s clear repudiation of his Jewish origins, he would often be attacked as a ‘Jew’ both by fellow socialists as well as by capitalists. Mikhail Bakunin, often called the ‘father of anarchism’, saw Jews as representing the quintessential capitalist, as an ‘exploiting sect, one people of leeches, one single devouring parasite...’
Arch-American capitalist Henry Ford saw the ‘International Jew’ as the main source of socialist subversion spreading the ‘dreaded trade unionism’. He also blamed Jews for the First World War, the bootlegging of liquor during Prohibition, the decline of American baseball, the decay of Anglo-Saxon mores and even the poor quality of American candy. Hitler praised him for ‘his anti-Jewish policy which is the Bavarian fascist platform’ and had many of his articles translated into German to be circulated to millions. Many ideas propagated in Ford’s The International Jew appear in Mein Kampf. His writings are used as references by antisemites to this day. They certainly influenced famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and his America First movement who, before US entry into World War Two, claimed that it was the Jews alone that wanted the nation to fight the Nazis. Similar accusations of Jewish conspiracies to drive the world to war would be repeated during each episode of major conflict, evidenced recently by accusations of ‘Jewish Neocons’ driving the US occupation of Iraq.
Oswald Mosley was Ford’s kindred spirit in Britain. Conservative turned Independent then Labour Party politician, he eventually founded the British Union of Fascists, also known as the ‘Blackshirts’, in the 1930s. The Blackshirts, praised by The Daily Mail for their ‘sound, commonsense, Conservative doctrine’, would routinely march in the streets of London chanting: ‘The Yids, the Yids, we’ve got to get rid of the Yids!’ (variants of which are still sung by English football hooligans against Tottenham Hotspur fans, traditionally associated as a ‘Jewish’ team). Mosley was particularly fired up by the influx of Jewish immigrants from Nazi-controlled countries and the Blackshirts held pitched street battles in London with Jewish defence organizations such as the 43 Group. His wife Diana, one of the aristocratic Mitford Sisters, some of whom were infamous for their deep Nazi sympathies and strong personal links with Hitler, was described by British intelligence (MI6) at the time as being ‘more Nazi than the Nazis’. She opposed Jewish immigration to Britain right until her death in August 2003: ‘Maybe they could have gone somewhere like Uganda – very empty and lovely climate.’