'McCarthyism', Antisemitism, and the Pittsburgh Synagogue Carnage
Friday (11/2/18), I received and read the full text of a remarkably illuminating speech. Just 6-days after the paroxysm of murderous, Nazi-inspired, Jew-hating carnage at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue, reading this document — an April, 1955 tribute to Rabbi Benjamin Schultz by Senator Joseph McCarthy — has been a source of spiritually uplifting, historical clarification. Immediate context from an unusually candid New York Times essay (“Is It Safe to Be Jewish in New York?”) published Wednesday 10/31/18 complemented the truths — and persistent falsehoods — revealed almost 65-years ago by McCarthy’s pellucid words.
Contrary to what she noted “are surely the prevailing assumptions,” reporter Ginia Bellafante, citing New York Police Department data, wrote “antisemitic incidents have constituted fully half of all hate crimes in New York this year.” Elaborating on this disproportionate targeting of Jews, she continued:
To put that figure in context, there have been four times as many crimes motivated by bias against Jews — 142 in all — as there have against blacks. Hate crimes against Jews have outnumbered hate crimes targeted at transgender people by a factor of 20. Within the course of a few days this month, a swastika showed up on an Upper West Side corner and two ultra-Orthodox men were attacked on the street in Hasidic neighborhoods in Brooklyn in separate incidents. In one of them, according to the police and prosecutors, a Muslim livery driver jumped out of a car and started beating up his victim, seemingly at random, yelling “Allah.”
Moreover, while atttempting to explain why such Jew-hatred “bypasses consideration as a serious problem in New York,” Ms. Bellafante avers, “it is to some extent because it refuses to conform to an easy narrative with a single ideological enemy.” This revelation is surely counter to one salient “easy narrative”, which she concedes.
During the past 22 months, not one person caught or identified as the aggressor in an anti-Semitic hate crime has been associated with a far right-wing group, Mark Molinari, commanding officer of the police department’s Hate Crimes Task Force, told me.
John Sexton offered this astute commentary on the stubborn denial of the implications of Bellafante’s essay by the Leftist claque of NY Times readers (who were clearly oblivious to the Nazi-sympathizing synagogue butcher’s sheer contempt for “globalist” President Trump, “blackmailed pawn of the Jews”):
Despite the relatively clear message of the piece, the most recommended comment by NY Times readers is one blaming the President. Here it is in full: “Donald Trump has amplified hate and given it his stamp of approval. He’s a disgrace.”
Underscoring this cognitive dissonance, Friday 11/2/18 a black, gay, Brandeis University graduate, and Democratic activist was arrested for scrawling “Hitler,” “Jews better be ready” and “Die Jew rats, we are here!,” “composed” with black marker in the hallways and stairwells of the first, third and fourth floors of a Brooklyn synagogue, on Thursday (11/1/18) evening. The suspect, James Polite, whose image was captured on surveillance video, is also accused of setting fires around several other Jewish places of worship.
The career trajectory of Rabbi Schultz, and his intersection with Senator McCarthy, demonstrate how “easy narratives”—especially defamatory ones—do nothing but advance the scourge of Jew-hatred, which has ubiquitous sources across political and religious spectra.
Rabbi Benjamin Schultz’s (d. Saturday, April 22, 1978) nearly five decades of service was punctuated by his stalwart opposition to both Nazi and Communist liberty-crushing totalitarianism, and Jew-hatred. He helped found, and became the executive director of the American Jewish League Against Communism, in 1948, describing the organization during his July 13, 1949 testimony before The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), as follows:
The American Jewish League Against Communism represents the majority viewpoint of American Jews on this subject of communism. On our board of directors are such representative men as Brig. Gen. Julius Klein, a past national commander of the Jewish War Veterans; your own colleague, the Hon. Abraham J. Multer; Isaac Don Levine; Eugene Lyons; Alfred Kohlberg; Morrie Ryskind, of Hollywood; Rabbi David S. Savitz; and Rabbi Ascher M. Yager, leading orthodox rabbis of New York.
Rabbi Schultz also made himself intimately and uniquely knowledgeable about Communist Jew-hatred, translating Gregor Aronson’s “Soviet Russia and The Jews,” published as a 51-page pamphlet by the American Jewish League Against Communism, in 1949. Rabbi Schultz’s July 13, 1949 HUAC testimony riveted upon the visceral totalitarian evil of Communism, “equivalent to Fascism and Nazism,” and antithetical to American freedom, which was rooted in the Judeo-Christian ideal of individual liberty:
As a rabbi, a believer in God, a servant of mankind, I cry out against this black force of communism which is ushering a new dark age into much of our world, and which seems to be expanding. It brings nothing but chains and stultification of the soil to the individual. The individual is sacred. He is not a clod. He is formed in the image of God. Communism would make him a clod. Moses commanded: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." This is found on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The real Jew cannot help being a good American. As a Jew, I consider Communism equivalent to Fascism and Nazism as a great historic evil.
Ignoring the unhinged, vicious calumnies of the Anti-Anti-Communists (which persist to this day, despite reams of countervailing evidence), and their abettors in the chattering classes, Schultz forged an open alliance with Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. Schultz’s American Jewish League Against Communism helped sponsor dinners and rallies in support of McCarthy and his chief counsel Roy Cohn [see: “McCarthy U. N. Probe Questions 2,” New York Herald Tribune, Sep 15, 1953, p. 1; “McCarthy Says He'll Keep Using Cohn as Adviser,” New York Herald Tribune, Jul 29, 1954, p. 3; “Pro-McCarthy March on Capital New York Herald Tribune, Oct 5, 1954, p. 16]. Rabbi Schultz was unequivocal in championing the struggle both men waged against Communist totalitarianism:
McCarthy has become the touchstone by which we test an American. Those against McCarthy, or indifferent, are serving the ends of the Kremlin—unwittingly at best, and deliberately and treacherously at worst…Cohn is the symbol of the people’s revolt against politicians soft on treason, professors soft in the head, and writers talking softly about [Alger] Hiss and [Robert] Oppenheimer, but loudly against McCarthy and Cohn
Senator McCarthy’s admiration for Rabbi Schultz was reciprocal, and he was the keynote speaker at an April, 1955 dinner in Schultz’s honor [“700 Honor Rabbi Schultz For Fight on Communism—McCarthy Leads Tribute” New York Herald Tribune, Apr 21, 1955, p.12]. The text of McCarthy’s speech is reproduced in full, below. But these extracts capture its quintessential philosemitic themes, which have been of such comfort to me in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue horror.
…Jewish people are congenital enemies of Communism. Those of the Jewish faith are, historically, champions of liberty. They are, traditionally, jealous guardians of the individual’s freedom—political, economic, social. These things Communism is determined to destroy. And remember too that persons of the Jewish faith have, by forces of circumstances, a vested interest in tolerance. It is not an interest in tolerance of moral evil such as Communism embodies. But within the framework of belief in the dignity of the individual they insist on tolerance of diverse religious and political beliefs. This is a position that Communists cannot abide. Jewish people know this—they are keenly aware that in a Communist society it is only the Communist and Communist dogma that is tolerated. Far and away the most valuable contribution of Ben Schultz and his organization is that they dramatically symbolize the eternal hostility between Judaism and Communism.
[Document: Testimonial Dinner for Rabbi Benjamin Schultz, 20 April 1955]
SPEECH BY SENATOR JOE McCARTHY
TESTIMONIAL DINNER FOR BENJAMIN SCHULTZ
NEW YORK, N.Y.
APRIL 20, 1955
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Our meeting tonight is long overdue. The gallant warrior we are honoring has been covering himself with glory for so many years, it’s a wonder we have never stopped, until now, to say thanks. That’s the trouble, Ben, with being a solid, unwavering bastion of strength—like the rock of Gibraltar, people tend to take you for granted. I regret this is not the tenth or twentieth time we have gathered to honor you; but I thank God we have always been able to take you for granted! Someone recently observed that no man is indispensable. As regards some matters, I emphatically agree. But in other fields, I would be more cautious. How, for example, would the anti-Communist fight have fared over the past decade without Rabbi Schultz? And how should we bear the loss if ever he were to leave his post? Some men in some jobs, let’s face it are indispensable.
What is it that can make a man indispensable in this struggle? Is it the possession of keen insights—an understanding of the fallacies of Communist doctrine, an appreciation of the moral evil it contains? Or is it practical shrewdness in the day-to-day battles? Is it an ability to joust with dialecticians at the intellectual level? Or is it stubbornness and grit at the street level? Is it unflagging courage? Is it single-mindedness of purpose—an unswerving determination to defeat the enemy absolutely? Each of these qualities is a scarce commodity; the possession of any one of them makes a man valuable to the anti-Communist cause. But when you find them all in one individual, you have found a rare man indeed; and you can afford to talk about indispensability. The good Lord put in all the ingredients when he made Ben Schultz.
Ben Schultz’ contributions to the anti-Communist cause are innumerable, and many of them have been cited here tonight. We have heard, and we might well hear a great deal more, of his distinguished accomplishments—as an arresting orator, as a skillful writer, as an organizer. But it is in this latter capacity—as the founder and guiding star of the American Jewish League Against Communism—that Ben Schultz has performed what is perhaps his most distinguished service. Ben Schultz, ably seconded by Roy Cohn, Benjamin Gitlow, Frank Chodorov, Judge Irving Kaufman, Eugene Lyons, George Sokolsky, Walter Winchell, Alfred Kohlberg, Ben Mandell, and countless other leaders who share his religious beliefs, has, through his organization, managed to expose the malicious myth that persons of the Jewish faith and Communists have something in common. This wicked falsehood has been ruthlessly exploited by the Communists for their own ends.
The Communists sow this particular seed of discord by two methods. First, they emphasize the religion of traitors or security risks in those instances where it so happens they are of the Jewish faith. This type of propaganda, as the Communists well know, catalyzes latent prejudices and creates race hatred. Why don’t the Communists comment on [Soviet spy] Alger Hiss’s or [convicted espionage tool, at minimum] William Remington’s religion? The reason is obvious: there is no profit here, no conspicuous prejudice to exploit, no promise of creating division or suspicion.The second Communist method of exploiting the race issue is more subtle. Rabbi Schultz shrewdly diagnosed it in an article for the AMERICAN MERCURY [“Is Everybody Antisemitic?” The American Mercury, July 1954, pp. 137-142] last summer. The Communists energetically peddle the line that anti-Communism and antisemitism go hand in hand—specifically that hard anti-Communists are ipso facto antisemitic. This slur is, of course, pure invention; but it commonly results, as Ben Schultz suggests, in one of two things—both of which give aid and comfort to the Communists. Some non-Jewish Americans are angered by the accusation, and in reaction to it, trun their resentment against Jewish people. Others are intimidated by it, and with an eye to their political fortunes, decline to take an active role in the anti-Communist fight. Either way—whether race dissension is created, or people are frightened off from joining the anti-Communist fight—either way, the Communists win.
Let’s make no mistake about this: the Communists are waging a diabolically clever campaign. But its effectiveness has, to a great extent, been blunted by the work of Rabbi Schultz and the American Jewish League Against Communism. The very existence of this hard-hitting anti-Communist group gives the lie to a vitally important item of Communist propaganda. And I say to you that I frankly doubt there is a single organization in this country that the Communists are more anxious to destroy. There are two reasons why I am confident the Communists will not be successful in this. First, Ben Schultz and his indomitable crew of heroes will not be beaten down by anybody. Second, and perhaps of greater importance is the fact that Jewish people are congenital enemies of Communism. Those of the Jewish faith are, historically, champions of liberty. They are, traditionally, jealous guardians of the individual’s freedom—political, economic, social. These things Communism is determined to destroy. And remember too that persons of the Jewish faith have, by forces of circumstances, a vested interest in tolerance. It is not an interest in tolerance of moral evil such as Communism embodies. But within the framework of belief in the dignity of the individual they insist on tolerance of diverse religious and political beliefs. This is a position that Communists cannot abide. Jewish people know this—they are keenly aware that in a Communist society it is only the Communist and Communist dogma that is tolerated. Far and away the most valuable contribution of Ben Schultz and his organization is that they dramatically symbolize the eternal hostility between Judaism and Communism.
It’s a personal honor to me, Ben, to be able to join in paying tribute to you. But I don’t speak just for myself. I think I speak for all of your debtors—all of the American people. You have served your country well. Thank you, Good luck and God-speed.