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Is there such a Thing as a “Jewish Conspiracy”?

by Bill McGaughey

Political correctness embraces a vocal, compulsory anti-racism, defined as opposition to the racism of white people. Another type is the campaign against anti-Semitism. It is an expression of late-blooming Jewish religious culture, focusing upon the negative experience of the Holocaust.

I once saw a documentary film titled “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion” and attended a panel discussion which followed its showing at the University of Minnesota on January 8, 2006. The documentary was made by Marc Levin, a Jew who nevertheless approached the subject of anti-Semitism in a relatively balanced way. The “Protocols” are a notorious document produced more than a century ago in Czarist Russia purporting to show a Jewish conspiracy to control the world.

I came to the showing with a Jewish friend who possesses a copy of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. For him, I think, this book is half humor and half political pornography, both stimulating in their own way. I share much of his attitude but not to the extent of a total debunking of so-called “anti-Semitic” thought. While the allegation of a secretive international organization of the kind described in the “Protocols” may be fictitious, something like a “Jewish conspiracy” is, I think, very much alive. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on how you define the words “Jewish” and “conspiracy”.

Marc Levin’s film began with the accusation that Jews working in the World Trade Center had advance warning of the attacks on September 11th, which would imply that pro-Jewish groups planned and carried out the attacks. A related charge was that a group of Israelis were seen laughing and videotaping the scene from a rooftop across the Hudson River while the twin towers were in flames. The film fails to make clear who originated the rumor that Jews evacuated the World Trade Center en masse prior to the attacks. It does identify a group of Israelis with video equipment who taped the smoking towers; but that does not prove that these people were connected with the attack. The end of the documentary focuses on Jews who were killed in the September 11th attacks.

Marc Levin interviews a number of anti-Semitic individuals ranging from the publisher of a Palestinian newspaper to a distributor of white-supremacist literature to young blacks on street corners in New York who believed in the “Protocols”. I give these anti-Semites high marks for being open with Levin; and Levin high marks for not editing the tapes to make the interviewees look ridiculous. From the ending, it’s clear where Levin’s sympathies lie. Even so, the film was relatively fair.

Then came the panel discussion featuring two persons, both Jewish. One was a young French man on the University faculty. The other was a woman who represented the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas. After brief remarks by each panel member, the event was structured as a question-and-answer session. I was hoping that the discussion would be conducted in the spirit of free inquiry, as Levin’s film was, and the question of anti-Semitism would be considered to have at least two sides. Instead, it was a one-sided discussion of the dangers of anti-Semitism in its various new forms. No one said anything remotely challenging the orthodox view with the exception of the French panel member who admitted to some discomfort at European laws which made speech by Holocaust-deniers a crime.

In that environment, I stood up to express my own opinion. I noted that the film had tried to investigate alleged Jewish influence in Hollywood. Levin had contacted Norman Lear and some other prominent Jews for comment about Jewish influence in the film industry; but they all were unavailable for an interview. My question was: What is your response to allegations of Jewish influence in the media and in Hollywood? Do you acknowledge that there is a “Jewish conspiracy” in this industry or do you think that there are no Jewish conspiracies anywhere?

The Frenchman responded by saying that he was Jewish and he had never witnessed any type of conspiratorial activities himself. The Community Council representative said that, while many Jews worked in the media and in Hollywood, that fact did not reflect a conspiracy but was instead a manifestation of career opportunities available to all in our country based upon merit. No, she did not believe in “Jewish conspiracies”. I wanted to ask a follow-up question but was not recognized for that purpose.

I do, however, think there is such a thing as a “Jewish conspiracy” - maybe not the kind described in the Protocols but a conspiracy nonetheless. Back to Bill Clinton’s mode of argument. What is a “conspiracy”? What is a “Jewish conspiracy”?

A conspiracy is two or more people conferring and acting in private to achieve some end. Its elements are: (1) There must be more than one person deciding to do something. The conversation should be directed toward purposeful action. (2) Those engaged in the conversation do not make their activities known. In other words, an action takes place without the public being aware who the instigators are or what is their plan.

What is a Jewish conspiracy? I do not think it is simply a conspiracy in which one or more Jews are involved. Rather, it is a conspiracy involving Jews which advances a “Jewish agenda”. By that definition, Jack Ruby may have been Jewish and he may have been part of a conspiracy, but he was not necessarily part of a Jewish conspiracy.

What is a “Jewish agenda”? Are Jews a monolithic group whose individual members all think the same? Of course not. Even so, there are instances of Jews acting in concert to promote or oppose certain things. If these actions are the result of undisclosed conversations, they might reasonably be called a conspiracy.

Let me give an example. During the panel discussion, the representative of the Jewish Community Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas said that her organization, along with sympathetic groups on campus, had managed to kill a proposal that the University of Minnesota should get rid of its investments in Israel. To the extent that the operation was carried out in secret and involved several different individuals or groups, it could reasonably be called a “conspiracy” - a “Jewish conspiracy” at that.

My question involved conspiracies in Hollywood and in the media. What I know is that I have seldom, if ever, seen Jews presented in a harshly derogative way on television or in Hollywood films. Shakespeare was able to create a Shylock, demanding his “pound of flesh” from delinquent debtors; but such a character is scarce in today’s cultural environment. I have seen WASP businessmen or white sheriffs from small towns in segregation-era southern states presented as villains. I have seen various anti-Semites depicted in villainous roles. The fact that positive and negative roles are distributed so unevenly in films leads me to think that some kind of coordination is at work in the entertainment industry.

The 1930s film, “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”, presented a likable, homespun character, played by Jimmy Stewart, participating in the democratic process. He was a thoroughly positive character from a mainstream American point of view. There is a scene in the film in which Mr. Smith addresses a rally of his supporters. In the back of the crowd a man wearing with a yarmulke - a Jew - stands next to a black man as they both applaud the homespun hero. Was that an accident? Would Hollywood producers, then or now, have allowed a brown-shirted man wearing a swastika arm-band to be placed in the back of the crowd applauding “Mr. Smith”. I am reasonably sure that such a character will never receive sympathetic treatment in Hollywood.

Today we know that corporations pay big money to place brand-name products in Hollywood films. Was not the placement of the stereotypical Jew and the black in the film about Mr. Smith an early example of religious or racial “branding”, saying to Americans, both black and white, that Jews were their friend? Here is where “Jewish influence in Hollywood” becomes an issue. At the least, the fact that the U.S. film industry is disproportionately staffed with Jews might suggest a buddy system that gives preference in hiring and promotion along religious lines. It rises to the level of a conspiracy when decisions are made to promote political or social agendas through the stereotypical characters appearing in the films.

Well, one might say, what of it? This is only entertainment. Don’t try to read serious agendas into light-hearted films. I contend, however, that the line dividing entertainment and political discourse is increasingly blurred. Weaned on television, today’s generation of young people have limited critical skills. Television commercials create the notion that certain products are good. Through repetition of an image, the branding process takes place. Commercial products and political candidates are sold this way. So is the idea, gained from watching television dramas and sitcoms, that certain types of people are good while others are bad. Entertainment is, in a real sense, serious business; and whoever controls the entertainment industry possesses real political power.

In the television age, political controversy and discussion have shifted from economic issues to the grievances of particular groups of people. Blacks have grievances resulting from slavery and segregation. Jews have grievances resulting from Nazi persecution. Women have grievances from having historically been relegated to an “inferior” place in society. Here is where Hollywood, repetitiously playing on stereotypes, is able to influence political opinion. The problem is that, unlike food products which put the ingredients on the label, the consumers of entertainment have little idea of how its product was made. Did some writers or producers of a television mini-series consciously decide to present certain types of characters in a certain moral light? If so, who were the people who created these images? What, if any, was their social or political agenda? One will never know.

If it seems far-fetched to suppose that creative individuals would try to slip a political message into a motion picture or television drama, consider this historical precedent: The Communist party once sought to influence the content of Hollywood films. Ronald Reagan, then president of the Screen Actors Guild, was converted from being a political liberal to a political conservative in the process of opposing these people. We know that he considered them to be quite ruthless. The history of this period is told in a book, Red Star over Hollywood, by Ronald and Allis Radosh.

Ironically, some of the first Hollywood communists, Maurice Rapf and Budd Schulberg, were sons of the Jewish moguls who ran Hollywood. Far from being a working-class movement, there was a certain cultural chic to being a communist. There were Stalinists and Trotskyites and others adhering to one or another party line. Organized in cells, they were engaged in a conspiracy to advance their political agenda through films. Public knowledge of this phenomenon focuses more upon the crackdown: the blacklisted screenwriters, the House Un-American Activities Committee, Joe McCarthy and his communist witch hunt. But a precedent may have been created in these secretive political organizations for what we today know as “political correctness” in the media.

As it turned out Communism wouldn’t fly. As a political agenda, it ran afoul of the capitalistic power structure that controlled American society. As soon as the political heat rose in the late 1940s, the Hollywood moguls caved in, purging the industry of communists. In that period, however, the Communist Party had reached out to disaffected black Americans, most notably Paul Robeson, to try to expand its influence. Communists were active in the defense of the “Scottsboro Boys” and in the “Negro Liberation Movement”.

This had a better chance of success. Partly to blunt communist influence both at home and abroad, the U.S. power structure embraced the black Civil Rights movement so long as it was non-communist. A whole generation of Americans who attended college in the 1950s and 1960s came of age politically supporting civil rights. It is these people who today hold key positions in journalism, education, politics and the law, exerting strong cultural influence.

I would say that the Communists generally failed to persuade Americans through Hollywood films to support their type of politics. People will not pay to watch films that have a heavy political message; they want instead to be entertained. The makers of films have better luck in shaping political attitudes by the moral flavoring they give to certain types of characters. (See the discussion above.) The news industry, both print and electronic, is better suited to propagate a political message. So-called “political correctness” is rampant here.

Journalists themselves tell of lobbies (a.k.a. cadres) in the newsroom - blacks, feminist women, Hispanics, gays and lesbians, Jews, and others - who actively put a particular spin on the news. Political preferences can be expressed in a variety of ways: by the choice of stories to cover, by the amount of space given to the story, by the positioning on page one or an interior page, by follow-up coverage or the lack thereof, by the choice of words in the headlines or in the story itself. Much of this decisionmaking takes place under the cover of editorial anonymity. Unlike motion pictures, for which audiences pay to see certain productions, the consumers of “news” have little choice of what messages they will receive. Either the message is free (as in the case of television news) or it is included in a paid subscription for newspapers supposed to be conveying “general news”.

Let us return to the idea of a “Jewish conspiracy”. Certainly it would not, if it exists, take the form of an all-powerful secretive organization like the hypothetical elders behind the “Protocols of Zion”. Some say that the Rothschild family, which is Jewish, controls international banking and therefore the world economy. That unproven hypothesis will not be discussed here. What will be discussed is the evident coordination of pressure in American society, and to a lesser extent in Europe, to maintain or advance a Jewish agenda. And what is that agenda? While Jews individually have various purposes, there are certain issues that seem to enjoy undivided support within the Jewish community.

First and foremost would be the experience of Adolf Hitler, the Nazi Party, and the Holocaust. This negative experience solidifies the Jewish community, both from the standpoint of avoiding another such experience and of celebrating the Jews’ own survival and resurrection as a people.

Related to this is the concept of anti-Semitism, which means an attitude opposed to the Jewish people or their interests. An anti-Semite could be, of course, someone like Hitler who actively persecuted Jews. It could also be someone who criticized Jews such as by alleging hidden Jewish influence or a Jewish agenda at variance with the national interest; or someone who denied the Holocaust, in total or in important aspects; or even someone who discussed Jewish people in a negative way. Most Jews would, of course, be opposed to anti-Semitism and to anti-Semites.

There is a third core belief which commands weaker allegiance: support for the state of Israel. Most American Jews support Israel with patriotic fervor, demanding that the U.S. government ally itself closely with that nation and provide material support. However, a significant minority of Jews, mainly on the political left, criticize the Israeli government for its treatment of Palestinians and its military aggression against neighboring Muslim countries. While right-wing Jews generally equate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, there are enough critics of Israeli policy that such criticism has become politically acceptable.

The question now becomes whether Jews or others advance this “Jewish agenda” in ways that might be called a “conspiracy”. I would argue that the existence of “cadre” within the communication media, education, politics, entertainment, and other politically influential fields who actively support this agenda behind the cloak of institutional anonymity are effectively a conspiracy even if there is no coordinating agent. That is because the agenda, for which support appears to be quite monolithic, is hidden. The promoters and defenders of this agenda do not identify themselves as representatives of the Jewish community but only as hired persons, who happen to be Jewish, doing their job.

On the other hand, there are also organizations which do put forth a public face as Jewish organizations. These would include such groups as the America-Israel Public Affairs Council, the Anti-Defamation League, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of various states or localities. One could not accuse these organizations of being a conspiracy because they do their work quite openly as advocacy groups.

So how does this work in the realm of practical politics? Consider an example. In the early stages of the Iraq war, a Democratic Congressman from Virginia named Jim Moran told an anti-war group that, in his opinion, the United States would not have invaded Iraq had not the Jewish community supported the invasion. Six Jewish members of Congress demanded his resignation for making that statement. Moran was, in fact, removed as a regional leader for the Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives. The news media gave this event little coverage. I saw a brief report in U.S. News & World Report, a news magazine edited by a right-wing Jew, included with other information that suggested Rep. Moran was a bit of a bumbler. This was relatively mild criticism; the anti-Semitism theme was played down.

On the other hand, persons such as Louis Farrakhan or David Duke, who have been more outspoken about Jewish influence upon the U.S. decision to go to war in Iraq, or the President of Iran, who said that European Jews had used the Holocaust to justify occupying Palestine at the expense of the Arabs and held a conference for Holocaust deniers, have been consistently demonized in the press. And the American public generally accepts that, because those persons have bad opinions, they are bad persons. They are “anti-Semites” which means someone like Hitler.

Marketing experts say it takes seven advertising messages to create an impulse to buy commercial products. In a similar way, the branding process with respect to the Jewish identity has thus borne fruit. Countless films and television dramas about Nazis and Nazi-sympathizing anti-Semites, combined with educational courses about the history of the Holocaust, the Holocaust Museum, Holocaust Remembrance days, and public writings and speeches on the subject have created an indelible association between anti-Semites and the evil Nazis. In the public mind there is created a strong impression that to be called an “anti-Semite” is to be judged to be among the worst people on earth. Behind a possibly polite exterior, such a person would jump at the chance to exterminate Jews in a concentration camp. In other words, you need to watch these people closely - nip them in the bud.

This dark Manichaean imperative not to criticize Jews as a group or challenge the “sacred” beliefs of Jewish secular religion poses an intimidating influence which interferes with the exercise of free thought and free speech. But is this the result of a “conspiracy”? I think a case can be made that it is not.

The “conspiracy” aspect falls down, perhaps, on the element of secrecy. Much of the pressure to conform to a religious or political party line is quite in the open. We know instinctively that it’s dangerous to raise certain subjects the wrong way. People can lose their jobs by saying certain things. Individuals can be publicly humiliated. And people know this without having to be told. A community taboo exists from long-standing custom.

There is, as we said, both a hidden and open component of the Jewish community which with great determination enforces a particular line of thought. The fact is, however, that Jews are too small a part of the U.S. population to accomplish this on their own. Two other factors should be mentioned.

First would be the majority of non-Jews who are Christian. End-times fundamentalists support Israel and the Jewish people because of prophecies in the Book of Revelation and the statement in Genesis in which God says that whoever befriends the Jews will be blessed. Christians of all denominations respect the Jewish people because Jesus was a Jew and Christianity came out of the Judaic religious tradition. The Christian church so provides the demographic muscle to support the political agenda of present-day Jews.

Second would be the historical circumstances preceding the current era. The world’s people, including Americans, were truly shocked by the experience of the Holocaust, by the anger and hate emanating from Nazi Germany, and the bloody world war launched by Hitler. They had empathy for Jews who suffered so greatly under that regime. Remembering the boat loads of wartime Jews whom no nation would take, people also sympathized with the idea of a homeland for Jewish people. Every group of people deserves a place to call home, and, for better or worse, the state of Israel is that place for Jews.

Now, however, the picture is complicated by the need of Palestinian people to have their homeland, safe from Israeli exploitation and aggression. The American people need to extricate themselves from a disastrous entanglement in Middle Eastern politics so we can live in peace with all nations. Therefore, the old formulations produced after World War II won’t work anymore. We need courage to face the new situation without prejudice. The question of a Jewish conspiracy to enforce the political status quo is a legitimate part of that needed discussion.

Thank you, Marc Levin, for considering the subject in your documentary. It would be well for us to be open and direct in our views.

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