The Rationality of Anti-Antisemitism; The Currency Issue Made Simple

The most interesting thing I have read in years about anti-Semitism is in the Wall Street Journal today. (10/12/10, James Kirchick: “Europe the Intolerant.”) A poll in Europe indicates that 50% of Spaniards have a somewhat unfavorable, or a very unfavorable impression of Jews. The percentage in Germany is 25, in France it’s 20, in the UK, it’s 10. There are large number so Jews in France and in the UK.

What makes Spanish anti-Antisemitism interesting is that there are no Jews to speak off in Spain. All Spanish Jews were expelled from the country in 1492. The bulk of those who did not die in the expulsion went to the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire were they were welcomed by the Sultan. Others scattered around Muslim North Africa and Italy. Until WWII, many Turkish and Balkans Jews spoke 15thcentury Spanish. I knew a Spanish-speaking Turkish Jew at Stanford in the sixties myself. His last name was Cardona.

Between 1939 and the 1970s, the Fascist regime of Francisco Franco promoted a brand of Catholicism that was unfriendly to Jews, as “Christ killers.”For most of the intervening period the Inquisition promised to make life miserable enough for Jews that they did not come back.

So, here you go: The ultimate judgment on the rationality of anti-Antisemitism: The less the chance that you ever met a Jew, the more likely you dislike Jews. At least, that’s true in Europe.

And left-wing anti-Semites, in their growing numbers, are in the company they deserve: with Fascists of all breeds and varieties.

PS No, I am not Jewish, never have been, probably never will be: I fear the moel’s cold blade!

You may have heard echoes of the brewing “currency issue” in the media. It’s complicated and boring but fairly important. Here is all or most of what you need to know for the time being:

If a country’s currency, such as the US dollar, or a set of countries’ currency, such as the Euro, loses some of its value relative to others, the exports from the relevant country or countries will surge. At the same time, imports into that county or countries will decrease. This will happen fairly quickly.

Evey developed country, and the central bank that manages the Euro, have the capability to cause their currencies to lose or gain value. (Don’t worry about how it’s done; take my word for it.) If a country lowers the value of its currency, there will be a fairly rapid rise in employment (more exports, fewer imports). It will make the government of the relevant country look good for a while. President Obama needs to look good, right now, I don’t need to tell you. Even a little bit of lipstick would help at this point.

Two problems with this little trick: First, other countries can and will usually do the same. Such devaluations make the world economy unstable. They make it difficult for economic actors, such as businesses, to engage in the rational calculations on which the efficient functioning of the market depends. Moreover, devaluations cancel each other out quickly and prices re-adjust, erasing initial gains in employment.

Second, if the currency I use, the US dollar, in this case, loses some of its value, I am poorer, of course. I can then buy less of everything.

You may have overheard that the Obama administration, as the Bush administration was before it, is engaged in an epic struggle to convince Communist China to re-evaluate is currency. This means what you think: They want the Chinese currency to cost more in dollars.

Think that one through: According to the administration, the Chinese are guilty of selling stuff to me too cheaply. The bastards!

About Jacques Delacroix

I am a sociologist, a short-story writer, and a blogger (Facts Matter and Notes On Liberty) in Santa Cruz, California.
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14 Responses to The Rationality of Anti-Antisemitism; The Currency Issue Made Simple

  1. there are 78000 jews in spain in 11 cities with 11 jewish communities. the biggest store in spain ,the macys of spain,the harrods of spain is el corte ingles and its jewish run and owned.
    antisemitism in spain is a problem but not based on jews here or israel there. its in the dna of the country. the history is too close still and spain is still a secular-catholic country. in public schools religion is taught altho spain is secular. And it is the catholic religion altho there are arabs jews and aethiests everywhere.Jews live ok here but antiisrael antijew feelings exist. it hurts tourism nationally by 28 million euros a yr. lost as jewish grupos recommend a stay away policy Olive growers here cant export to jews in israel or the usa if antisemitism exists and they lose millions..
    On the other hand.my city murcia will have a new paramount park soon second only to mickey in paris and viacom the paramount owner( jewish owned) insists on a jewish friendly city.so i guess murcia is friendly while spain as a whole needs to improve a bit.

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      All interesting, Raquel but you have to give your sources. 78,000 Jews does not contradict what I said, ‘”NO Jews to speak off.” for a population of 45 million or so. I don’t subscribe much to your explanation of Spanish anti-Semitism. If it were right, Italy would be more anti-Semitic than Spain. It’s not. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hi Jacques:

    The question regarding the causes of antisemitism is one that I’ve been curious about for many years, and have not yet gotten a satisfactory answer. Being an inquisitive Jew, I’ve done quite a bit of reading on the subject over the years.

    The best source on the subject I’ve found is a book entitled “Why the Jews?” by Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin. While the book looks at the question from many different issues and points of view, it still left me unsatisfied as to the rational behind antisemitism–why is it so deep-rooted in so many societes??

    Perhaps you can throw some light on the issue…

    Stephen Schindler
    Carmel Valley, CA

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      HI Stephen. Too interesting a question of a brief comment. Here is a shortcut: Until the Enlightenment in Europe, the only “others” allowed to exist were the Jews. Everyone else was a member of the Christian community. Bad Christians were silenced and often burnt at the stake. When terrifying things happened for which there were not explanation, you could account for them through the wrath of God or through the conspiracies of the others . The others might well conspired since their customs were different and unpenetrable, like not eating pork – the most common meat – and not lifting a finger on Saturday. The wrath of God accounting was probably the most used, At other times, or when that explanation was exhausted, one might just as well blame the others, the Jews. If you look at the numbers who subscribe to conspiracy explanation where you live, you will see how easy it is to go that way. Incidentally, there is a meeting in Santa Cruz Saturday evening of people who will recount their contacts with Sasquatch.
      In Muslim countries, the Jews shared the status of others with Christians. Accordingly, anti-Semitism was blunted there until very.
      recently.
      In both Christianity and Islam, much anti-Semitism is simply a bad mental habit, I think, like burping in public. I often suspect Jews of not looking at it cooly enough. (Easy for me to say, of course.)
      I fight anti-Semitism most effectively by pointing out that it’s not only immoral, it’s stupid. (” Please, don’t call me anti-Semitic; I am an intelligent man of culture.”)
      I think Spanish anti-Semitism is a combination of historical rationalization and of contemporary facile anti-Zionism.

      • Hi Jacques:

        Thanks for another great show today (Sunday the 17th). The “liberal” ex-1080 radio talk show host who called in was a real “joke” for want of a better term…

        Also, thanks for your response to my question on your anti-semitism commentary.

        However, while informative, your response to my question was not 100% satisfactory to me.

        I’ve met many non-Jews who have what appears to be an almost inborn anti-semitic attitude towards Jews. In graduate school, I shared an office (and graduate adviser) with a student from the mid-west, who shared with me the fact that I was the very first Jew he had ever met. On further discussion, he was very surprised that I appeared reasonably normal, and (in his words) “did not have horns”. I attributed that statement perhaps to his upbring as a Baptist–maybe??… He claimed that there was no anti-semitic discussions nor feeling in his household when he was brought up–nor anything he had heard in church–however, he could not answer the question as to why he felt as he did–If true, clearly whats left was things he had heard in everyday life as a child or perhaps as an young adult–if he really was being honest with me, what else could there be?

        My current hypothesis (based on 70+ years experience on this planet) is that anti-semitism is now (and was in the past) an intrinsic true part of all non-Jewish cultures, not necesarily that overt, but there nevertheless–almost away of life and expression for non-Jews. As an example of this is the fact that on many occasions people with whom I’ve had discussions have said to me “don’t try to Jew me down”, or similar phrases when discussing monitary issues–placing Jews as those always in control of the financial/monetary situation in all nations. This idea was very well bebunked in a book entitled “Brotherhood of Darkness”, which, while it concentrated on a so-called world-wide non-Jewish consiperacy theory (pure nonsence from my point of view), had an excellent section on the real non-influence of the Jews in the financial banking situation from early to present times–the exception being the early Christian period, when only Jews were able to participate in things like money-lending, etc., due to church decree.

        Further, the idea of the Jews as the so-called “Chosen People” has been totally misinterpreted throughout the ages by the Church and all others. Perhaps this contributed to the current innate anti-semitic feelings that seem to prevail in all societies and cultured

        What the so-called “Chosen People” refers to is that in the Old Testiment, G-D stated that the Jews were chosen to spread the word that there was only one G-D and nothing else–that’s it, nothing more. Any other interpretation is nonsense..

        That’s it for me for today…

        Thanks again for your work..

        Steve

      • jacquesdelacroix says:

        Thanks, Stephen. I warned you that I could not discuss the topic of anti-Semitism at length on this blog. One of the main reasons is that Jews, like everyone else, tend to cling to whatever they heard as children. I tried to provide a trail that it might be useful for you to follow for a little while.

        Some of what you say does not make sense to me. Do you think Eskimos of 1750 were innately anti-Semitic? How about the Pygmees of the Ituri Forest? As for your college roommate, I do not believe that he said to you seriously that he was surprised that you had no horns. No eighteen year old who would be that stupid would be in college. We are talking retarded here. How about the possibilities that he said it in jest and that you thought it was serious because you were so pre-disposed to understand?

        The fact that Jews have had and have murderous enemies does not protect them from paranoia. How would it?

  3. Jacques:

    What I was trying to say in my most recent comment to you, and perhaps did not express it too well, was that in most civilized (non-isolated) past and present societies, those societies who had some form of contact with Jews, one is subjected to forms of anti-semitism as part of the maturation or growing up process–and it continues into adulthood. Not necessarily that overt, but there nevertheless whether it be from contact with parents, friends, books, theater, or TV. Have you ever seen any plays by Shakesphere–e.g. “The Merchant of Venice”??

    Interestingly enough, forms of anti-semitism actually exist among different Jewish groups in Israel. This became clear to me during a recent extended trip I took there, where anti-semitic comments were made to me about differences between Askenazi and Sephardic Jews. Also, I dated a (Sephardic) Israeli girl a few years back who had been brought up on a Kibbutz in Israel for 9 years as an orphan in the 1950’s. She stated many instances of anti-semitism she experienced during that period from other Jews due to her being Sephardic… So, what do make of this??

    As far as my office-mate in graduate school in the late 1960’s, he was an intelligent individual (he’s now a professor of Physics at Wash. U. in St. Louis), and he was not joking around with me regarding his feelings–we discussed this many times in later years as colleagues in some professional work we did together.

    This subject has always been of interest to me, and will probably continue to be so until my last days around.

    Steve
    Carmel Valley, CA

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Your adult office-mate really believed before he met you that there were human beings who had horns? He is now a professor somewhere? Academia is even worse than I thought!

      You may have missed my piece last week about Spanish anti-Semitism, the highest recorded in Europe in recent times. There are almost no Jews in Spain. Contact with Jews is not necessary, as “growing pains” or as anything else.

      I know you have thought for a long time about this issue and developed an explanation. I am sorry that I don’t find it compelling. The fact that you refer to the “anti-Semitism” of Jews against other Jews does not help. You should say” prejudice” it seems to me, using the generic term. “Anti-Semitism” is a specific form of prejudice historically directed at a specific group by others not members of that group. If you refer to anything else, you should use another term. If you don’t, you will confuse even well-read listeners (like me). It’s like calling the flag the “blue white and blue” because red is a color and blue is also a color.

      The subject of the origins of anti-Semitism has been dealt with extensively by my intellectual betters. I don’t think I have much to contribute today. It’s not as interesting to me as the emergence of anti-Semitism in groups that would not have begun to countenance it only a generation ago (most leftists). Men of reason have to fight it tirelessly as it surges. The origins are not useful in this struggle.

      If you want to write a blog piece on the origins, I will be glad to host it on this blog.

      Filip: I hope you are reading this. What do you think?

  4. Lawrence Marcus says:

    Dear Stephan:
    I understand what you are saying. I am afraid our friend Jacque will never quite get it, because, he isn’t Jewish. That doesn’t mean he’s not a great guy, or that he isn’t very intelligent nor that he doesn’t care: because he is all of those things. I think it has something to do with sensitivity. I recommend you both read “The Jewish Century” by Yeri Slezkine, a Berkeley professor. And a side note; Jacque please don’t use the word “cling” in this matter, this word will forever be associated with our very stupid president when he said “they cling to guns and religion” when referring to a segment of America who obviously didn’t vote for him. Hey Filip are you reading any of this?

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Larry, I will forgo the word “to cling” for one year in your honor.

      Your argument is that I can’t understand wolves because I am not a sheep. Likewise. I can’t understand bus drivers because I don’t ride on buses. And, of course, I don’t understand men because I am not a woman. And only sand crabs can fully grasp sea-gulls.

      One implication is that only direct experience or second-hand tales of direct experience, or under-informed interpretations of tales of direct experience constitute valid knowledge. The other implication is that victimhood ( I mean the real thing) confers special objective knowledge. Of course it does not. How could it?

      Please, don’t call me “sensitive.” I have done nothing to deserve this!

  5. Lawrence Marcus says:

    On anti semitism: as practiced by non jews and by Jews, as it relates to the Jewish State of Isreal, I found this article of interest.

    The Global Assault on Israel’s Jewishness
    Leo Rennert
    In 1944, shortly after the liberation of Paris, the French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre began writing a searing analysis of anti-Semites and anti-Semitism. He completed his essay in 1946.

    Given the context of the times — the wrenching and accumulating evidence of the Holocaust, the destruction of one third of world Jewry by Hitler’s Final Solution — one might have assumed that Sartre would focus entirely on how centuries of persecution of Jews in Europe culminated in this ultimate horror.

    But Sartre did not. Instead, he came up with two very distinct types of anti-Semitism and anti-Semites, warning the world, and especially Jews, of their equally destructive agendas.

    The traditional or classical anti-Semite, nurtured by Christian teachings and morphing into the Hitlerian type, creates and preserves the Jew so as to justify his aim to destroy him, he wrote.

    But alongside this particular type of anti-Semitism, Sartre gave equal weight to the Enlightened Democrat (today’s leftist liberal), who aims to protect and save the Jew by stripping him of his Jewishness and coaxing him into the ranks of universal brotherhood.

    Sartre’s depiction of the second type of anti-Semite is alive and well today — in Israel and elsewhere — among self-described “peace” activists who are staging an all-out assault on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence that there can be no Middle East peace without recognition of Israel as a “Jewish” state. And, with Israel pondering legislation to require applicants for citizenship to pledge allegiance to Israel as a “Jewish” nation, they vehemently denounce such moves as downright “fascist.”

    Yet, these shrill attacks are mounted by self-proclaimed supporters of Israel. But as liberal secularists, they want an Israel formally stripped of its Jewishness. In fact, that’s their prescription for the survival of the state. Let Israel just morph into another liberal democracy and jettison its Yiddishkeit and the world will embrace it.

    Not too long ago, nobody blinked when the Balfour Declaration posited creation of a “Jewish homeland” in Palestine. Or, in 1947, when the United Nations voted for a two-state partition plan that would encompass a “Jewish state” and an “Arab state.”

    But today, it’s become downright heresy in fashionable liberal circles to suggest that Israel should thrive and survive as a “Jewish” nation.

    Sartre, who diagnosed this phenomenon amidst the ashes of the Holocaust must be smiling in his grave.
    Posted at 01:46 PM | Email | Permalink |

    • jacquesdelacroix says:

      Where in the world are you going with this? I remember Sartre’ essay well. It was a good analytical step at the time; there have been many more since. Sartre was a blowhard, a dishonest man and not much of a philosopher. (I have read everything he published.)

      Israel has to insist on its Jewishness because of the demographic threat Arabs pose to its national existence. There are peaceful Palestinian leaders who recommend strongly that as many Palestinian Arabs obtain Israeli citizenship as possible. They ask for outright annexation of much of the West Bank with that political perspective in mind. There is hardly any more explanation needed.

      The reluctance to agree with you and Stephen S you probably sense is based on these three ideas:

      1 I don’t think anyone can understand the socio-historical roots of anti-Semitism who is not well informed about the Chinese in Southeast Asia, the Armenians in Russia, and the Arabs in Latin America, least of all Jews.

      2 I keep repeating myself on this : Persecution does not make one smart, lucid or knowledgeable, deadly persecution even less.
      There exists a handful of admirable exceptions, the Italian writer Primo Levi for one.

      3 The religious explanation of anti-Semitism is bunk, theologically speaking, however widespread it is. It expresses breathtaking ignorance of the basic doctrine of the main Christian current for centuries. (And, in case anyone is wondering, I am not even a residual Catholic. I, for one do not practice tribal defensiveness.)

  6. Pingback: The Rationality of Anti-Antisemitism; The Currency Issue Made Simple « Notes On Liberty

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