from Jews Must Live by Samuel Roth
But what sort of speech is this for a Jew, you are probably asking yourself, by this time?
I can see the question half-glimmering in your eyes. My answer must be steel set in
granite. The dew of compassion has entirely dried up in my bowels. I am myself a Jew, I
know it. But I am a Jew who has been brought to the point where he so loathes his
people that he thinks in terms of their destruction. No, it has not escaped me that the
destruction of Israel would mean my own end, too. I would not want to survive in a
world without Jews. Yet, by God, I don't know how I shall ever again contentedly live
with them: I pray for my own effacement as fervently as I pray for theirs. This is a work
of terror, and I am trying to make a terribly good job of it. I have taken out the old
Jewish carcass to expose it in the sun. I shall rub it till every sore on it shines like a
planet of light.
I know how well the Jews have earned the hatred which is in my heart towards them. I
do not doubt that they have earned in equally good measure the hatred which the nations
entertained towards them since records of such international courtesies have been made.
Anti-Semitism is a natural effect of a social cause. I cannot understand why such a deep
mystery is made of this simple cause.
The causes of anti-semitism lie in the very deepest recesses of human nature. They are
like pebbles at the bottom of a very deep stream. But the waters of the stream are clear
and I have no difficulty making them out.
The first cause of Jew-hatred goes back to the nature of Jewish leadership, a black veil on
the conscience of the race. The second goes back to the nature of the people itself, and it
is an evil no less foul. The first appears to be an evil without remedy. But the second
does not seem to me impossible to deal with.
Beginning with the Lord God of Israel himself, it was the successive leaders of Israel
who one by one foregathered and guided the tragic career of the Jews - tragic to the Jews
and no less tragic to the neighbouring nations who have suffered them. But we must
have been a pretty horrible people to start with. Our major vice of old, as of today, is
parasitism. We are a people of vultures living on the labor and the good nature of the rest
of the world.
But, despite our faults, we would never done so much damage to the world if it had not
been for our genius for evil leadership. Granted our parasitism. But Parasitism is a virtue
as well as an evil. Certain germ-parasites are essential to the steady flow of blood
through the arteries of an organic body. Certain social parasites, by the same
dispensation, are important to the functioning of the blood of the body politic. The
shame of Israel comes not of our being the bankers and the old clothes-men of the world.
It comes, rather, of the stupendous hypocrisy and cruelty imposed on us by our fatal
leadership, and by us on the rest of the world.
The whole career of Jewry divides itself for me into three distinctive and significant
parts. The first was the period of the patriarchs when the Jews were numerically so
inferior to the nations about them that they practically never went went out to war against
them, but depended, for looting them, on the success of such little games as palming off
wives as sisters and buying birthrights. The second period was the long national rest in
Goshen, and the subsequent flight from Egypt, during which the Jews discovered, to their
own amazement, that they had grown into a population of more than two million people.
They were now so superior numerically to the little tribes and kingdoms of Arabia, who
stood in the way of their march on Canaan, that it was practically no effort to slaughter
them. And so they did. This second period lasted about two centuries, to the anguish of
a bleeding peninsula. The inevitable followed, and that brings us into the third major
division of Jewish history. The wrath of the larger nations to the north and the west of
Judea was aroused against the usurpers. One by one they swooped down on the Jews.
The tide of conquest turned; it was now the Jews who were slaughtered and taken into
captivity almost at will. At one time nearly three quarters of the whole Jewish nation was
seized and carried into a captivity from which it was never returned. It took a little
time for this "stiff-necked people," as the prophets called them, to realize that once
more it was they who were numerically inferior to their enemies. The realization
sank in slowly but surely. Wisdom pointed out a reversal of national policy. The
time when they could destroy their neighbor-nations by violence being definitely at
an end, did they give up the national ghost? Ah, no. For the first of all Jewish
creeds is that Jews must live. It does not matter how, by what, or to what end? Jews
must live. And so a return was made to the ancient policy of conquest by the more
peaceful and delicate methods of cheating, lying and pimping.
See the Jews swinging forth triumphantly out of the haphazard crossing through the
Red Sea. Behind them their old neighbors the Egyptians are drowning in the waves
loosed by the all-just Lord God of Israel. There is a theory that the parting of the
waters of the Sea, and the closing up of the waters, the first to let the Jews go
through, and the second to drown their Egyptian pursuers, were part of a great
engineering feat worked out by Moses and his advisors. I don't think it makes any
difference by what agency this business was accomplished; the nature of it alone is
important to bear in mind. And the triumph of the escaped servants, laden with the
loot stolen from their masters. Moses and his sister Miriam are singing to Israel.
They are singing a new song. It is a song of triumph such as the Hebrews have
never sung or listened to before. The people join lustily in the renascence of an old
passion — the passion to destroy by violence, hitherto unknown to their cringing
natures. Every Jewish crisis seems to have had its particular bitch-Jewess. Miriam
was the bitch-Jewess of that crisis.
We can safely set our faces away from the beauty and good voice of Miriam. But
the figure of Moses, singing to them in a high voice, and at the same time speaking
soothingly to them in a deadly under-tone, is not one to overlook:
"/ will sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and His rider hath He thrown into the Sea.
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He is become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will glorify Him;
My father's God and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a man of war.
The Lord is His name. "
The Lord is highly exalted. But not because he is the Lord of the Universe. Not
because he is the creator of heaven and earth. The Lord has been promoted. He has
become a doer of much grander deeds. "The horse and his rider hath He thrown
into the Sea. " The Lord is the hero of Israel's great hour of triumph.
You have heard the voice of Moses singing aloud. Much more terrible is the roll of
his voice as he whispers in a soothing undertone: "You are a holy people. A people
superior to and set apart from the rest of the peoples of the earth. For the rest of the
people worship idols and images. What are idols and images? Things made out of
wood, stone and brass. If the idol is of wood, stone will break him. If he is of stone,
brass will crumble him into shapelessness. And if the idol be made of brass a metal
stronger than brass will be found to shatter him. But what can be found between
Heaven and earth to destroy your God? There he is, your Lord God, high in the sky,
where no human being can reach him even with the aid of the eye. There is deep
wisdom in having a God whom your neighbor cannot possibly reach either to jostle
him or to implore his favors. That is your wisdom, my people, that is your strength.
It elevates you to a place so much higher than your ignorant neighbors that you
really need give them no consideration whatsoever."
With that music in their ears the Jews proceed to annihilate their neighbors. They
go about it like a nation of trained butchers. Nowhere in the history of the world,
not even in the story of Timur who "built his ghastly tower of eighty thousand
human skulls," is found such sweet relish in sheer butchery. But wait. Something
happens to relieve the awful tension of this ghastly song. Moses has gone up unto
the mountain of the Lord to arrange a set of laws, for even thieves need a code to
No ordinary Jew is this man Moses. But a mighty big man. A man big enough to go
up the whole height of Sinai and get together with the big mogul of the mountain.
For forty days they wrestle with the task and during those forty days Moses neither
eats, drinks nor sleeps, by way of emulating the big boss who doesn't have to. On
the fortieth day the Lord looks up from the tablets of fire, and down the mountains,
and turns his dreadful face to Moses in a savage humour. "Look down, Moses." —
"Yes, Lord." — "What do you see?" — "The tops of rocks and trees, singed by your
last passage down the slope." — Don't you see your precious people, Moses?" — "No,
Lord. You forget that my eyes are only human." — "Well, if you could see with my
eyes, you'd behold those insects of yours dancing around a calf — a golden calf." —
"Ah, the boys are playing again!" — "They made a personal covenant with me,
Moses." — "Sure they did. I'm your witness. But what's one or more covenants
among good fellows!" — "Moses." — "Yes, my Lord." — "Of what use is it, I ask you,
to write laws for such people?" — "Are you asking me? I told you the answer to that
one the first time you tried to scare me from behind a burning gooseberry bush." —
"I remember. You were right, too, and I knew it. But I was trying to keep a
covenant of my own. This time I am going to destroy them, the whole damn lot of
them." — "You should have done that in the first place. It would have saved plenty
of humiliation all around." — "Well it's not too late to do it now." — "It may not be
too late. But this isn't really the right time for it, Lord." — "You're trying to dissuade
me Moses. You've become fond of the wretched beggars, and you're trying to
dissuade me from destroying them. I tell you I'm going to destroy them, and no one
is going to stop me." — "I didn't say you couldn't destroy them, my Lord. I said you
shouldn't. And I said that for your sake, not for theirs. Remember when you
proposed to me the first time to take them out of Egypt? And how set I was against
it? I told you the whole story then, Lord. They're a lousy, thieving quarrelsome
people, every bit as like their ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as vermin grown
to the stature of men can be. I don't know how you happened to get on such
intimate terms with the like of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But I didn't ask you then.
I'm not asking you now. We all make our mistakes. But why bother with their foul
offspring, I asked? Well, there was that damned covenant. And you would fulfill it,
and you've done everything you could to do so. As usual, I let you have your own
way about it. You rooted them out of their precious dungheaps in Goshen, even
though you had to do it at the expense of all those swell Egyptians, making the
green waters of the Nile run red like the nose of Pharaoh after the queen has
violently tweaked it for him. Has there been one moment since that terrible day you
put me at the head of them in which you weren't sorry for having started the whole
affair? Believe me, I loathe them the more every day I see them. Nothing would
please me better than to see them utterly destroyed, completely wiped out. Old as I
am, I'd lovingly go back to swineherding whenever you can arrange to let me off.
But I must think of you, Lord, your reputation. So thinking, I advise you not to do
it. Destroy them by all means. But not now. Let them get into Canaan first. You
will in that way fulfill your covenant with their vermin-ridden forefathers and save
your reputation amongst the nations. Yes, it comes to that. The Egyptians, for
instance, think ill enough of you for associating with Jews. If you crush out their
loathesome blood here against the desert rocks and sands, what do you think they'll
say? They'll say that you fooled the Jews out of Egypt just for the pleasure of
squeezing the life out of them in the loneliness of the desert." — The Lord listens,
and he softens. Moses is right. It would hurt his reputation abroad if he took it out
of the Jews in this out of the way hole. For the time being, he will let them alone.
And so he places the golden tablets with his own hands in the arms of Moses and
watches ironically the big man's meditative descent down the slope. Moses,
lovingly embracing the results of those labors of forty days and forty nights,
reaches the foot of the mountain. And now it is his turn to see with naked eyes what
the Mogul beheld looking down from his mountain. And seeing the jubilant Jews
making gay circles around the golden calf, and singing obscene songs as they
danced, the hunger in his belly gnawed savagely into his heart, and anger like a hot
brand flamed up in the starved bowels of the man Moses. Up went the great arms
clutching the tablets and with such force did he fling them against the rocks at the
bottom of Sinai that no one has been able to find a whole fragment of them since
that time. Forgotten was the sweet wisdom with which he had dissuaded the Lord
from destroying the Jews. In the anger engendered in him by the sight of what had
so angered the Lord, he gave the most horrible order for slaughter ever given. Let
every man now proceed to kill the man next to him, he cried out, and a hundred and
eighty-six thousand Jews had been slain when the anger of Moses had sufficiently
subsided for him to countermand the terrible command. 1 ^
Moses was a big and terrible man. A man whose soul had great spaces in it. Spaces
wide enough to contain the leering face of Elohim, forty years of patience in
Midbur, and the contemplation of a horde of savages who had no stomach for the
uncertainties of the pace he set them. Moses was a man good to look upon, and he
must have been beautiful to behold even when, standing at the foot of Sinai, he
perceived the Israelites make a thigh-dance around the abomination of gold. But, in
his way, Aaron was a man of a deeper and sweeter understanding than that great
brother of his who could not find in his vast heart a little patience for the Jewish
weakness for idols — even for one little golden calf. Aaron understood. And because
he felt that the worship of idols was a good thing for the soul of Israel, even the
worship of a golden calf, he countenanced the business of creating it in the absence
"See," said the Jews to Aaron, "all the people about us worship idols. There is no
way of becoming friendly with the people about us except to get together with them
in idol worship. Are we always to do nothing but murder and move on?"
It must have been from words such as these that Aaron understood why the Jews
wanted to go back to idol worship. Half of the Old Testament — Genesis, Exodus,
Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (the world's most beautiful farewell oration),
Joshua, Judges and Samuel — is a ballad of Israel resting from the labors of
following some evil leader to immerse itself in the delights of idolatry.
Read the story for yourself. Moses dies, so the Jews return to idolatry. Joshua,
strengthened by the co-operation of Judah, gains dominance over the people, once
more the song of the Lord resounds, and more little tribes and nations are
hammered into the dust. Joshua dies, and instantly the Jews return to idolatry.
Gideon brings them back to God and slaughter, and so the race continues to run
with the judges and prophets of Israel leading them to slaughter, and the people
making every possible effort to return to idolatry and a peaceful way of living.
The rabbis have, of course, their explanation of this phenomenon. The idea of an
immaterial God was too fine to be grasped by an unlettered desert people all by
itself. With the help of a leader intoning into their ears they might grasp the idea
and hold it. They could be trusted to hold on to the idea only as long as the leader
kept his watchful eye on them. Their song master gone, it was only natural that the
Jews should slide back into the low state from which they had been uplifted.
But the explanation I am inclined to believe, is the one that must have been in the
mind of Aaron when he consented to the making of the golden calf. The Jews,
however much they may have enjoyed the violence prophecy required of them, had
the gregarious instincts of all other human peoples. They wanted a little
companionship, a little conviviality. By imposing on them the idea that they were,
by their affinity with the Lord God, too good to associate with the rest of the tribes
in Arabia, the Judges and Prophets threw Israel into a fearful loneliness. It might be
a very fine thing, thought the Jews, to be a holy people, if you don't happen to be
the only holy people. What fun can there possibly be in being God's chosen people,
if there is no one you can talk to about it?
All things considered, it is remarkable how the leaders of the Jews continually
managed to force them out of the idolatry they so ardently longed for, and which,
during the brief spells in which they were permitted to enjoy it unmolested, must
have made them feel human again. A savage, ruthless and invulnerable people were
those prophets and judges in Israel. Up to our own time the making of an idol is an
abomination in Israel. Intermarrying with the gentiles is successfully forbidden by
the rabbis, who in our time take the places of the judges and prophets of old, when
marrying Jews and Jewesses must be so painful.
With that invisible wall (more formidable than the great Wall of China which can be seen
by the naked eye) erected about them, the Jews marched north, east and west. At one
time or another they have been in trouble in almost every branch of what is now the
civilized world. England, among the first European countries to be adopted by Jews as
their homeland, expelled them bodily and precipitously in the year 1290. Edward I made
a great sacrifice when he did that, because the Jews loaned him money at much easier
interest than was demanded by the Italian bankers from Lombardy. But that was the way
of the Jews. They asked almost nothing for their money from the king of England - so
that when the rest of the people complained to him of their heartlessness he would have
reason to keep his ears closed to their crying. But there is just so much of the protesting
of even the most slavish populace that a king can ignore with safety. Edward I knew that,
and when he realized that the patience of England was at an end, he signed the famous
edict. So grateful to him for that edict was the population of Britain that even the
peasants (whom the Jews had never trusted with money) contributed to a popular
subscription of money presented to their king which made it unnecessary for him to ever
borrow money again. Edward I booting some fourteen thousand Jews across the English
channel, set a fashion that was quickly followed by Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and
The tide of immigration now turned eastward - into Poland, Russia and the other Slavonic
nations. But as sure as it had followed them everywhere else, Jew-hatred developed in
Poland and in Russia. We have witnessed during the later part of the nineteenth century
and during the early years of the twentieth a revival in the east of the virulent anti-
Semitism of the west. The hellish tortures of the Inquisition were rivaled by the pogrom
and the boycott. France, which dismissed the Jews in the thirteenth century and re-
admitted them in the fifteenth, burst into the epic of the Dreyfus case just when Russia
was multiplying pogroms. Germany, which had never taken decisive action against the
Jews, has broken into such anti-Semitic activity that she may destroy herself in the agony
In the ensuing chapters of this book I shall take up one by one both the alleged and the
real causes of anti-Semitism. Here I merely wish to reaffirm the fact that anti-Semitism
is so instinctive that it may quite simply be called one of the primal instincts of mankind,
one of the important instincts by which the race helps to preserve itself against total
destruction. I cannot emphasize the matter too strongly. Anti-Semitism is not, as Jews
have tried to make the world believe, an active prejudice. It is a deeply hidden instinct
with which every man is born. He remains unconscious of it, as of all other instincts of
self preservation, until something happens to awaken it. Just as when something flies in
the direction of your eyes, the eyelids close instantly and of their own accord. So swiftly
and surely is the instinct of anti-Semitism awakened in man.
If it were true, as the Jews claim, that the gentiles lay violent hands on them purely out of
prejudice against their religion, out of envy of their superior commercial genius, how
would the Jews ever get into a civilized country to begin with? Have not Jews been
admitted from time immemorial, freely, kindly, almost happily by every nation at whose
gate they have knocked for admittance? The story of the Jews, as they have themselves
written it out , has always gone out ahead of them, to spread through the foreign people
and evoke in their minds curiosity and pity. Have the Jews ever had to petition a country
for admission - the first time?
Read for yourself the story of the progress of Jewry through Europe and America.
Wherever they come they are welcomed, permitted to settle down, and join in the general
business of the community. But one by one the industries of the country close to them
because of unfair practices - until, it being impossible to longer hold n check the wrath of
a betrayed people, there is violence and, invariably, an ignominious ejection of the whole
race from the land. There is not a single instance when the Jews have not fully deserved
the bitter fruit of the fury of their persecutors. Except possibly what is happening in
Germany today. But I shall take up this matter in its proper place.
In those European countries where the Jews have not been reduced to the status of a
second rate citizenry (like the Negroes in the south) the feeling against the Jews is
increasing swiftly and heading matters decisively in that direction. In Romania and in
Austria there is constant street-violence against Jews. In England and in France the
influence of the Jews in politics, business and the professions has created an atmosphere
so stifling to the natives that a whole press has sprung up in those countries whose sole
business is advocating another, but this time permanent expulsion of the Jews. Speaking
of the press, I do not think there is a single newspaper in Europe which is friendly to the
Even in America, the most patient of the western nations, things are coming to a head. It
is no secret that the immigration restriction laws passed a generation ago were leveled
chiefly against the Jews. Industry after industry has taken steps to exclude Jews as
employees. The civil population is chafing under the abuses of Jewish doctors and
Jewish lawyers. There is blood in the eye of Uncle Sam as he looks across the ringside at
the pudgy, smiling Uncle Moses.
"Just a fencing bout," says Uncle Moses reassuringly.
"Fencing bout hell," growls Uncle Sam. "This is a fight to a finish."
In just such a position a Pharaoh in Egypt once reasoned: "Behold the people of the
children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; come let us deal wisely with them
lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that when there befalleth us any war, they also
join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land."
It has become the reasoning of every king and congress of every country invaded by the
Jewish People. It has never changed because the nature of the Jews has undergone no
reasonable change. We are still the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We come to the
nations pretending to escape prosecution, we the most deadly prosecutors in all the
wretched annals of man.
Apion, in his vicious and lying arguments against the Jews, tried to spread the infamy
that the Jews were leprous and instead of running away from Egypt, were really kicked
out of it. Apion was probably as great a liar as any Alexandrian rabbi of his day. There
is no reason to believe that the Jews were any less healthy than the other wanderers in the
wildernesses of Asia and Africa who had the hygienic sagacity to fine-comb their hair at
least once every other week. But I remember, in this connection, Franz Oppenheimer's
brilliant theory concerning the formation of states. In the beginning, he argues, there are
two types of communities from which the state is evolved: the peaceful, un-chartered
tillers of the soil who may be compared collectively to the passive female organ: and the
bands of wandering marauders whose only means of living is to fall on one or more of
these peaceful settlements, enslave them and commercialize their talents and labors. This
second type of community he compared to the male. When those two meet, and one
penetrates the other, the theory goes on, conception takes place, and there is a blessed
event - the birth of a new state. The Jewish nation certainly constitutes a community
such as Franz Oppenheimer designates as the male organ. The organ is constantly at
work and may be depended on for services in and out of time. But there is a grave
difficulty. The organ is diseased. The disease is a sort of moral gonorrhea known as
Judaism, and seems to be, alas, incurable. The results of such mating, as any good doctor
will tell you, are invariably treacherous and unhealthy. If you are in doubt take a look at
any Jew-ridden country in Europe. If you need to be further convinced, take a look at
what's happening in America.
[151 You will take notice here that I quote the Bible only when I find that I cannot
improve on it.