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Duke University Press

New German Critique


Istvn Bib and the Jewish Question in Hungary: Notes on the Margin of a Classical Essay
Author(s): Ferenc Feher
Source: New German Critique, No. 21, Special Issue 3: Germans and Jews (Autumn, 1980), pp. 346
Published by: Duke University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/487995
Accessed: 18-10-2015 03:44 UTC
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IstvdnBibd and theJewishQuestion


in Hungary:
Noteson theMarginof a ClassicalEssay
by Ferenc Feher

IstvdnBibdwasoneofthemostimportant
leftist
theorists
non-Marxist,
toforty
ofEasternEuropeinthelastthirty
years.The needforthiskindof
ofhisideasis,ofitself,
indicative
towhich
oftheextent
highly
presentation
and suppressedby governments
and official
originalideas are falsified
apparatusesof Eastern Europe. Bib6 (1911-1979) was born into a
andwasbrought
Viennaand
Protestant
up inHungary,
Hungarianfamily
and othersocialsciencesand fromyouth
Switzerland.
He studiedhistory
on belongedto the Transylvanian
branchof Hungariansocial theory,
whichis characterised
anda firm
toCartesian
rationalism
but
byan affinity
realisticHungarianpatriotism
totheoftenshort-sighted
which,incontrast
and foolhardy
learnedhowto
chauvinism
ofthe Hungarian
motherland,
livebetweenworldpowerswithout
or servileself-abandonblindillusions
ment.His earlydevelopedsenseoftheso-calledsocialquestionwhich,in
withtheproblem
was in themainidentical
ofthepeasantry
and
Hungary,
agrarianreform.This is whyhe belongedor was veryclose to the
movementof populistwritersof the thirties,
withoutsharingthat
which(in spiteof,or together
irrationalism
with,
romantic-anticapitalist
theirsocialradicalism)
led someofthemto an alliancewithFascismand
infectednearlyall of themwithanti-Semitism.
and thoughalwaysen garde
Bibd's centralvalue was democracy,
he felta certain
oftheproletariat,
againstthetheoryofthe dictatorship
withcommunists
ofthe PopularFrontmold.Duringthewarhe
sympathy
in what Hungarianresistancetherewas; Bibd himself
was
participated
laterto criticizeit as consisting
of salon conversations
spicedwithantiGermanwitticisms.
His firstcreativeperiodwas between1945and 1948,
a fairly
whenhe published
a seriesofimportant
studiescontaining
coherent
His conceptofdemocracy
fromboth
differed
theoryofa newdemocracy.
behindwhichcommunist
partydictapeople'sdemocracy,a camouflage
intheclassicliberal
pluralism
torshipreignedsupreme,andparliamentary
In Bibd,boththetheoretically
tradition.
generalizedSwissexperienceof
his youth(directdemocracy)and a sociallyradicalimpetuswerestillat
withthe
work.Of course,thistheory
himintofrequent
collisions
brought
3

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Feher

innumber,
communists
who,despitetheirrelative
insignificance
Hungarian
after
were a repository
of mostimportant
powersimmediately 1945.To
policewasintheirhand,andtheyalways'had
beginwith,thestatesecurity
a legitimate
Sovietmilitary,
whichremained
the ears' of theomnipotent
force
until
1948.
It
a
miracle
sorts
that
Bibd
is
of
nevertheless
occupying
as
continuedto enjoy the approvalof the Hungariancommunists,
and
unscathed
while
evidencedbyhisremaining
nevertheunimprisoned
less a proscribedpersonin politicaland ideologicalcirclesduringthe
was at leastpartly
terribleyearsbetween1948and 1953.Thistreatment
who
met
Bibd
attributableto his personality.
would have
Anyone
his
intheideas
unselfish
and
total
recognized
personalintegrity
absorption
whichradiatedfromhis schoolteacher-like
It
is
being.
possiblethatthe
communist
considered
ruthless,
Machiavellians,
leaders,mostly
pragmatic
hima harmlessdreamerratherthana rival.Theymadea mistake.The
timewassoontocomewhenBibdshowedthathecouldactas a statesman,
ofan occupying
perhapsbetterthanthosewhohadtorelyon thebayonets
when
who
fled
the
storm
then
and
immediately
conjuredup finally
army
brokeout. In 1956,underImreNagy'ssecond pluralisticgovernment,
a representative
Bibd becamea minister
ofstatewithout
ofthe
portfolio,
leftist
Peasants'Partywhichexistedmoreinstatements
thaninreality.
He
also workedout a Program,a draftfornegotiations
betweentheSoviet
and a new Hungarybornin anti-Stalinist
revolution.
The
world-power
draftwasa masterpiece
ofpolitical
Had theSovietleadershadany
realism.
intention
otherthancrushing
theHungarian
rebelsbyarmedforce,they
wouldhavefoundita highly
reasonable
document.
Buttheydidnot,so Bibd
a
out
Memorandum
to the UnitedNations'
(who heroicallysmuggled
session
and
was
sentenced
to lifeimprisonment.
arrested
)
Hungarian
Bibd
six
in
for
the
he
fifteen
Fortunately spentonly years prison;
remaining
wherehewroteimportant
ofhisstudy,
studies
livedas a recluseinthesecrecy
on theinternational
Thesewerecirculated
at homeas manuorganizations.
were
out
and
friends
and
scripts,
smuggled by
supporters appearedinprint
abroad.I had theopportunity
to meethima fewtimesinhislastyears:his
hisshabbyclothesandthevisiblepoverty
personaldignity,
unpretentious
withthepretentious
a reassuring
contrast
bornewithindifference
provided
Kadarist
the
of
corrupted
by
intelligentsia.
display prosperity
I. The PoliticalAspect

The essay "The JewishQuestionin Hungary"was writtenand


are concerned,
itwas
publications
publishedin 1948.As faras "official"

Bibd's "swan song." There was good reasonindeedto writea studyof this
problem. 500,000 HungarianJewshad been deportedand gassed, mostly
in Auschwitz in 1944, makingHungary'sthe thirdgreatestquota of the
Holocaust afterthe Polish and Russian contingents.In addition,although
the deportationwas a German action led personallyby Eichmann,the
"transportationexpert," there was a marked officialHungarian co-

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

forit. Partsof theHungarianrulingclasses,especiallyits


responsibility
forcesof coercion,had been deeplyinfiltrated
and corrupted
by the
other
and
Nazi
secret
tried
to
remain
services;
theyfrantically
Gestapo
allies evenafterMarch1944,whenHitleroccupiedHungary.
voluntary
Theirmostsignificant
contribution
to the alliance lay in domesticantiSemitism,since the Hungarianarmyhardlyfoughtany longeron the
Easternfrontand was generally
heldin contempt
bytheGermancasteof
confined
ruralJewry
inhastily
officers.
Thusthegendarmerie
improvised
listsofpersonsto
conditions,
prepared
ghettos,reducedthemtoinhumane
drovethemwithbayonets
intothewagonswhose
be deportedand actually
likethepurposeofthe"trip"couldbe no mystery
to anyone
destinations,
aftersuchpreliminaries.
But Bibd also documentsamplythatthe Hungarianarmyand the
gendarmeriepersecutedJewseven priorto the Germanoccupation,
totheinstructions
oftheirsuperior
officers.
The
sometimes
actingcontrary
latterarmedforcehad fordecadesbeena political
weaponinthehandsof
tokeeptheextremely
theHungarianruling
classes,andservedmostly
poor
incheckrather
thanas a law-enforcement
and rebellious
agency.
peasantry
They handedovertensof thousandsof Jewsfromthenorthern
partof
withscarcely
anydoubtsthattheywereto
Hungaryto Germanauthorities
to theJews'"uncertain
be gassedin Polishcamps.Referring
citizenship
andmassacres
andcarried
outpogroms
status,"theofficer
corpsorganized
killedthe
(as in the cityof Novi Sad, nowin Yugoslavia)or sadistically
of
"soldiers"(actuallyslavelaborers)ofthose"laborbattalions"
consisting
whichwereattachedto the2ndHungarian
leftists
Jewsand non-Jewish
at theso-called"Don-curvel."In
on theStalingrad
front,
armyfighting
war
thatHungary's
homogenous
fact,itis rarelyifeveremphasized
largest
Armywipedoutin
casualtywasnotthe200,000menofthe2ndHungarian
of theGermanalliesbutthehalf-million
the post-Stalingrad
catastrophe
themselves.
byHungarians
HungarianJews-a casualtypartlyinflicted
in the Jewishquestionwas unHungariannationalresponsibility
doubtedlyenormous.True enough,Hungarywas nottheSoviet-Union,
werepubliclytriedand hangedas
and some of the mainperpetrators
murderersof Jews,not just as "war criminals"in general.In the
pluralismin the firstpost-waryears,the
atmosphereof parliamentary
fate"wasgivenwidepresscoverage.Buton theonehand,
specific"Jewish
therewas no theoretical
analysisofwhathappenedbyanyrepresentative
of Hungarianculturallife,leftistor
Jewishor non-Jewish
personality
and on the otherhand,therewas a growingand increasingly
rightist,
on everyquestion
palpable"tacitconsensus"amongpeoplewhodisagreed
other than the Jewishproblem.Accordingto thisconsensus,it was
turnthehistory-book
torehash"thisstory";onewouldrather
"unhealthy"
ofnationallife,eitherbecauseitwasa
thisgloomychapter
pagecontaining
(theleftist
tinypartof thegeneralstoryof Fascismas super-capitalism
argument),or because it produced"bad press"forourselves(so the
nationalists
argued).

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Feher

There was good reason,then,forBibd, theCartesiandemocrat,


to
which
to
the
the
extinction
majorityof
analyze
catastrophe
brought
and
as
a
and
test
for
all
Jews
moral
stood
political
Hungarians
Hungarian
ofBibd'sinvestigation.
But
-one whichtheyfailed.Thisis theconclusion
what explainsthe choiceof the pointof time,1948?If we take into
considerationthat this was the periodof the gathering
storm,of a
takeoverso clearlyapproaching
thatevenpeoplewithincomcommunist
andtalentthanBibo sawitcoming,
we may
parablylesspoliticalforesight
that
was
"The
Jewish
of
rather
a
Question
Hungary"
parable
guess
rightly
withmultifarious
"moral"lessons.(Parableand its allegoricaldidactics
alonewereleftfora publicanalystofsocialillsat thattimeofmummified
notoratiorecta.)Whatwerethe"lessonsto be drawn"
parliamentarism,
fromthisparable?Firstly,
thatallsocialproblems
canresultincatastrophe
if a nationcannotworkout a democraticmodel of resolvingthem:
somewhattoo general,butan unmistakable
andhighly
at
topicalwarning
that time. Secondly,thatparliamentary
formsare not in themselves
sufficient
forthispurpose;a moredirectdemocracy,
radicalmovements,
a
strata
of
and
socially culturally
generaltendency equalizing
underprivileged
are neededas well.A thirdlesson:a typeof"communication
model"hasto
in
will
this
which
all
be politically
return
to
all
interests,
below)
developed(we
a
or
distorted
however
role,
hystericalideologically
opinions
occupy legitimate
is thatwhichtendstooppressallotherintertheymaybe; thesoleexception
estsandopinions,a restriction
whichappliedaboveall toNaziorpro-Nazi
forces.
political
sublime
One mayobjectthatwhilethese"lessons"are undoubtedly
inthecase of
ofuniversal
consideration,
and worthy
theyaretoo abstract
theparticular
subjectmatterofBibd'sstudy.Yet I believethatthechoice
of theJewishquestionin Hungaryas thesubjectwas farfromrandom.
had a norm:itis always
radicaldemocrat,
thinking
Bibd, as a profoundly
there
thatwilldecidewhether
tothe"persecuted
therelation
parexcellence"
whether
etc.ina nationor society,
are democratic
standards,
expectations,
ruled.Thisis
or despotically
it "deserves"to be democratically
governed
value,"
a
but
rather
"borderline
of
not
a
"definition
democracy"
obviously
inthissense
sense.It isprecisely
andone whichcanbe usedinan operative
that in Bibd's assessmentthe Scandinaviancountriesand Holland as
antias a traditionally
whereas
Hungary,
democracies
passthetestbrilliantly
classesare
notonlyas faras itsruling
initsentirety,
democratic
country,-failed
concerned,
theyofcourseborethebruntofresponsibility.'
although
surla question
in thissensethatSartre,inhisReflexions
juive(1944)to
1. It is precisely
ofthe
character
thedemocratic
whichI return
deepdoubtsregarding
expresses
repeatedly,
notso
he takesintoconsideration
liberaldemocracy.
Frenchpluralist
Veryunderstandably,
whiledeeplyshocked
which,
ofVichybutthat'general
muchthemainrepresentatives
opinion'
toldtheJewsnottobe 'selfish'
byplacing'their
bythefatethatbefelltheJews,nevertheless
whichcould
national
French
interests,'
before
their
interests'
'general
survival)
physical
(i.e.:
if Jewswere swiftly
camps.Sartre's
shippedto extermination
only be leftunimpaired
thatthe
has verystrikingly
'Hungarian'couleurslocales,whichdemonsrates
description

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

A moralizing
thata nation
tingemaybe detectedin Bibd'sassertion
Not
"deserves"or "does notdeserve"democratic
government. bychance.
Withoutarrogating
to himselfthe role of a "nationalpreceptor"who
soonerthan
better,who foreseeseverything
allegedlyknowseverything
therestof thepopulation(whichis so unbearablein certaindissenters
of
to
the
Bibd
moralists
of
a
belated
who
today),
belonged
Enlightenment
deliberately
ignoredoropposedthemajority
pollbecauseitwashysterical,
infectedwithdemagogy,suicidal,sometimes
The reason
even criminal.
forthisis nothaughtiness
butfirm
conviction.
Theremustbe someone,he
a saint,ora sagebutat leastspeaksthelanguage
felt,whois nota prophet,
of bons senswhich,alas, is thebestdistributed
of theworld
commodity
in
Descartes'
in
detail
in the
As
we
shall
more
see
only
opinion.
of
Jewish
intention
the
Bibd's
analysis
original
methodological
question,
in
was to dissentand characterize
an ethos(a collectiveethicalentity,
not
moral
in
its
relation
to
others,
Sittlichkeit)
Hegel's terminology:
decisions,whichare boundup withtheindividual.
Thefirst
Two factors,
withBibd'sintention.
should
interfered
however,
since it will be analyzedlater.In a
be mentionedhere only briefly,
inwhichpractically
all ethosesstriveto acquire
universalistic
world-epoch
even ifin greatdisarray
all universally
and
validvaluesforthemselves,
innerconfusion,
itis impossible
to put(national)ethosesintohierarchical
sequence withouta secretracism.(And vice versa: one of the main
functions
ofracistdoctrines
is precisely
tomakesucha hierarchy
possible).
In concrete,historicaltermswe maylegitimately
speak of the "moral
degradation"of a nation,(e.g., of the Germannation's"moralstate"
without
duringNazi rule), but we cannotspeak "characterologically"
And
if
or
"counter-racism."
the
into
racism
measure
is
an
ethos
lapsing
ofthatsameone,we
otherthantheprevious-orsubsequent-behavior
are tacitly
at leastwithin
whatI call"universalistic
worldorder,"
assuming,
notpracticed
thatthevaluesinvokedaretheoretically
acceptedandsimply
the
in the criticizedethos.Then thereis the secondfactorinfluencing
of ethosesas wholes
moraljudgment
attitudeof themoralist:subjective
and
houroftheircollective
degradation
alwaystakesplaceinthehistorical
In suchmoments,
self-abasement.
howeverwellwe realizetheoretically
whichhas apparently
thatthemoraldemandswe pose to thecommunity
own
lostitscommonand moralsenseare derivedfromthecommunity's
acceptedvalues,theOughtseemsto be
pastor at leastfromitspreviously
fleshandbloodhistory
(evenifbloodis
abstractly
loomingoverconcrete,
victims).Let me quote a classicexampleof
providedby thishistory's
unselfishand morally
Bibd's "moralizing"analysis.As an extremely
he makes his own
memberof Hungarianofficialdom,
hypersensitive
professionalstratumco-responsibleforthe Jewishvictimswho could not
for instance,to their
obtain false papers fromthese officials(testifying,

parliamentary
problemis not simplyidenticalwiththe existenceof certaindemocratic
institutions.

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Feher

sayfromWorldWarI, exempting
being"Aryan,"to theirvariousmerits,
themfromdeportation,
Bibddistinguishes
thephrasein
etc.).Realistically,
whichtheotherwise
and
state
observed
Hungarian
repressive reactionary
at least its own laws and rules fromthe later one underGerman
existedanylongerandthestatepowerwasin
occupation,whenno legality
thehandsofmurderers.
In thefirst
nodoubtshuthiseyes
periodtheofficial
to manysufferings,
butat leasthe actedaccording
to a professional
moral
code. In the latter,however,moral condemnation
is relevant:"The
held on to theiraversionto all sortsof fraudand
majorityof officials
did
not
facethefactthatthiswouldhavemeantonlythe
They
forgery.
of
a
murderous
stateofthugs.Rathertheyfeltthattheywould
deception
remainmorally
thatina givencasefraudand
themselves
purer,convincing
no
sense
and
was
no
use.
made
of
Veryfewofthemwentso faras
forgery
to regardthestatepoweras a bunchofgangsters,
itsdecreesas so many
of
and
disobedience
willful
it,
rag,
pieces
against
deception,forging
documents,etc. as a moralduty."2But,one mayask, is thisa realistic
notfollowits
Ought?Is a postulatefeasiblewhichdemandsthata stratum
in
moral
act
a
code
but
way diametrically
opposedto it,
professional
are
when
there
no
criteria
to makeclear
fixed,
externally
given
especially
at
the turning
which
a
state
has
the
last
power
yielded
vestigesof
point
Do notmoralists
manoeuvre
moralauthority?
themselves
intoa position
of
the positionof preciselythose Jewishprophetsof the Old
sterility,
Testament
whosecursesandwarnings
lefttheircontemporaries
unaffected?
The answercan onlybe "yes"and"no." On theonehand,whenever
a
state sinksinto the moraldegradation
of beingruledby a bunchof
in Centralgangsters-an eventhappeningwithfrightening
frequency
EasternEurope whencetheseconsiderations
stem,it will alwaysfind
officials
to putitsblood-thirsty
lawsin "legal"form,judgesto "try"and
andhangmen
sentenceitsvictims,
toexecutethem.In thissense,thewords
of the (non-Kantian)rigorare wastedin a moraldesert.On the other
is neededinordertosustaintheethicalnormlestthere
hand,themoralist
be nopoliticalresurrection.
the
Without
theofficial
whoforges
documents,
soldierwho"desertsthebanner"andevendonsan enemyuniform
tofight
his own country,
or theconspirator
against"lawfulorder,"thereis only
one agentleftandpossibly
theworstsincedrivenbyrevenge:
thesurviving
victim.Germanyand its democracy,
as it maybe, is the
problematic
greatestexampleof thispracticaluse of "abstract"and "unrealistic"
moralizing.When Bibd, the moralist,condemnshis own "Hungarian
2. Bibd Istvdn,"A zsidokerdesMagyarorszagon"(in whatfollowsI am goingto referto
the title only in English: "The JewishQuestion in Hungary") in I. Bibd, A harnadikakt,
London p. 239. Italics mine. To spare furthercomments,let me recall Kant's famousand
paradoxical thesisthat "the deposit cannot be embezzled" and his standpointin the debate
withBenjamin Constant,accordingto whichone should not lie even ifa murdereris asking
for the whereaboutsof one's neighbors.It will be clear thatBibd in his moralismis rather
not on a
"anti-Kantian" than Kantian; his categoricalimperativeis based on a substantive,
formal principle.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

infavorofothersbutan indigenous
ethos,"thisdoes notmeana hierarchy
follow
whichare acceptedin theory
of
to
but
injunction Ought
principles
are notobservedin a continuous
historical
practice.3
There is a crucialconstituent
of Bibd's modelof radicaldemocracy
whichhe, being unphilosophical
by nature,wouldhave simplycalled
of
or
audiatur
etalterapars,butwhichinthewake
the
objectivity
principle
of Habermas,one is inclinedto term,as a system,domination-free
communication.
Bibd is guided
Althougha man of theEnlightenment,
neitherby excessiveanthropological
nor
but
optimism by pessimism,
ratherby resignation.
It is precisely
thisresignation
thatleadshimto the
conviction
thatifone intendsto achievethegoalsof radicaldemocracy,
thereis no otheroptionleftbutobjectiveanddomination-free
communicationbetweenall standpoints.
Foras frailas humanbeingsaremorally
and
worth
is
an
chance
is
which
still
stands
some
and
it
psychologically,
option
featureof Bibo's study,one
trying.Hence the peculiarbut important
whichwill inevitablydisturbthe biased Jewishreaderbut whichis,
His addresseesare notonly
an integral
nevertheless,
partofhisintention.
Jewsand philo-Semitic
democrats
or socialists
butto someextentalso the
Of
whohas to be convinced
ofhis/her
anti-Semite,
"opticaldistortion."4
to
that
not
communication
realize
course,Bibdis skeptical
enough
justany
will resultin healingthe woundsor resolving
millenialconflicts.
As a
the
he is readyto formulate
determinedman of the Enlightenment,
which
under
which
conditions
under
to
the
alone)
(and
guidelines
Whatfollowsis an
communication
betweenthepartieswillbe successful.
all
of
"model
of
communication"
lucid
the
containing
example
extremely
into
on
who
the
based
"Let
us
variations.
question
groups
splitup
possible
Whatcan a
can say whatto whomin thestruggle
againstanti-Semitism.
One shouldfirstavoid
non-Jewsay about this to anothernon-Jew?
withgestures
whichreinforce
theonesidedone's next-of-kin
approaching
and
the
distorted
abstractions
ness of non-Jewish
stemming
experience
fromit. Ratherone shouldseek to remindoneselfand all othersof the
whichis Jewish
ofeverything
anditsfundamental
concretehumancontent
The
non-Jew
shouldraisethe
human
conditions.
all
other
with
identity
between
theduality
3. The bestexampleofthisduality
is theoneBibdmentions
himself:
oftheHungarian
as equal,as persons
undera codeoflaw,and
citizens
theoffical
recognition
of hugemassesof them(firstof all, peasants)as subjectsof a feudalstate
the treatment
without
I do notdenythattherearesometimes
deceptive
passagesinBibdwhich
anyrights.
separatemoralvirtues(and vices)to certain
particular
appear as if he were attributing
to
in partfromthefailure
nationalethoses.Thisstemsin partfromslipshodformulations,
to whichwe shall
and universalistic
betweennon-universalistic
world-epochs,
distinguish
returnlater.
of theantiI thinkthathisdefinition
4. WhileI totallyagreewithBibd'simpartiality,
notwithBibd.
andhereI agreewithSartre,
fromthatofSartre'ssubstantially
Semitediffers
thatanyonewhois not
Thisinsufficient
definition
prejudice
(whichtacitly
acceptstheJewish
to whichI am goingto
confusions
causescertaintheoretical
is anti-Semitic)
philo-Semitic
to "convince,""re-educate"(not to
return.But I agree withBibd's deeperintention:
the"manofprejudice."
terrorize)

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10

Feher

of offences
causedbyJews
behindtheoverestimation
questionwhether,
thehumanequalityofJews He
cannotbe founda refusalto recognize
... the
F. F.) shouldcommunicate
and indefatigably
(the non-Jew
repeatall
he should
factsregardingthe horrendous
amountof Jewishsuffering;
speak of all thehumaninsultswhich,in theformof theusualnegative
of Jews,add to theirphysical
moraljudgmentsand moraldenigration
and humanlosses...
torments
Whatcoulda non-Jew
sayto a Jew?He can speakaboutthefactsof
non-Jewish
without
anysortof generalization,
experience
interpretation
and moralconclusion:simplyaboutthewaysthattheJewappearsin the
worldof non-Jews;
aboutwhatis experienced
world,
by thenon-Jewish
whatis regardedas characteristic
ofJews;whatis recognized
andenvied,
inJews
whatis consideredto be unusual,offensive
andincomprehensible
world...
this
The
non-Jew
should
state
his
felt
by
responsibility for
in return,
Jewishsufferings
withoutaskinganything
especiallynot that
andforgive
whattheyhavesuffered
Jewsshouldforget
he
... Theutmost
can ask themto do is notto isolatetheircausefromthatofothers,butto
theirsufferings
withthoseofallwhosuffer,
theirhumiliations
with
identify
theirseekingforjusticewiththe
thoseof all who are beinghumiliated,
endeavorsofall otherswhoseekjustice.Whatcana Jewsaytoa non-Jew?
He could speak of therealityof Jewishexperience
and itsdirecthuman
content... he shouldspeakofthehorrible
factsofJewish
inthe
suffering
distantand nearpast... he shouldnot,however,tryto convincenonJewsofthevalidity
ofhisideasaboutthecausesofanti-Semitism
inwhich
non-Jewsfigurein all too unpleasantand Jewsin an all too pleasant
said by a Jewto
light.... Finally,can therebe anything
productive
anotherJewwithregardto thestruggle
... My
anti-Semitism?
against
hunchis thatno Jewishmoralpreachercan startwithanything
butthat
whichis the beginning
and theend of all meaningful
influence:
giveup
confined
to
own
and
notmistake
do
your
being
subjective
experiences
your
ownmentalproductsforreality... But thesefundamental
thesescan be
made concreteforJewsonlybyotherJews."s
In describing
Bibd as a defender
ofJewish
as a
equalityinhiscapacity
we mustalso counterSartrewhenhe writes:"Nevertheless,
the
democrat,
thedemocrat.
Jewshaveone friend,
Buthe is a miserable
To be
defender.
thatall humanbeingshaveequalrights
... Buthisvery
sure,he proclaims
declarationsshowtheweaknessof his position.He has chosen... the
him
spiritofanalysis.He hasno eyesfortheconcrete
syntheses
presented
He knowsneitherJew,norArab,norNegro,norbourgeois,
by history.
norworker,
entities
intoindividual
onlyman... He resolvesallcollective
elements... forhim,individual
is nothing
butthesumtotalofuniversal
traits.It followsfromthisthathisdefenceoftheJewssavestheJewas man
and annihilates
himas a Jew."6In spiteofhisCartesian
whichis
education,
5. I. Bibd,"The Jewish
QuestioninHungary,"
op. cit.,pp. 298-300.
surla question
6. Jean-PaulSartre,Reflexions
juive,(Paris,1954),pp. 66-68.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicaEssay

/I

theveryhotbedoftheanalytical
Bibdis a different
spirit,
typeofdemocrat
and a genuineandworthy
contrast
to
defender
ofJews.Firstly
marked
(in
thetacitpresumption
oftheanti-Semite)
he is nota
ofhisowndefinition
he is nota sentimental
ofJewswhoremains
on
"philo-Semite,"
protector
the whole unaffectedby generalhumansuffering
while exclusively
involvedinhis"petvictim."
is thereasonthatthephiloThisone-sidedness
world
a
cannot
Semite
However,
provide universal-synthetic explanation.
Bibd can and he understands
"Jewishdestiny"in termsof thisuniversal
defender
ofJews,Bibdisnot
Secondly,unlikeLenin,another
explanation.
but rathersuggestsa varietyof
obsessed withthe idea of assimilation
solutions.Finally,he is "vaguelysocialist"and theadjectiveis notmeant
of
pejoratively.At least in his youth,his ideal was the transcendence
he
what
calls
not
but
rather
through
anydictatorship,
capitalism, through
and"revolution
"consensualrevolution"
basedon agreement,"-akindof
fromtyingthisideal to any
socialist1688.At thesame timehe refrains
socialist
doctrine.
particular
The following
ofthestagesinBibd'saccountof
is a briefpresentation
The firstphaseis
the "Jewishquestion"in Hungaryin the20thcentury.
initiatedby the collapse of the HungarianSoviet Republicand the
of Admiral
of the aggressively
conservative
establishment
dictatorship
with
In
a
a
decorated
system.
pseudo-parliamentary
Horthy; dictatorship
which
of
anti-Semitism
the
"status"
Horthy's
regime
during
characterizing
againstcommunists,
beganitsdeplorabletenurewitha brutalwhiteterror
socialists,and non-leftist
Jews,Bibd termstheJewishquestiona social
for
On
the
one
hand,
Jewry
Horthy"punished"theHungarian
problem.
the
war
and
the
behaviour
itsallegedlyunpatriotic
during
during
especially
ofJewsin
revolutions-inotherwords,fortheunusually
highpercentage
the leading strataof both revolutions:the October 1918 bourgeoisrevolution
and thecommunist
one ofMarch1919.He didthis
democratic
then
thecontinuous,
first
them,
practically, later(through
by excluding
of the "Nuremburg
even if partial,introduction
laws") formallyand
"legally"frompubliclife.On theotherhand,his regimedid nottouch
ofJewish
capital.This
uponthewealthand,as a result,thesocialinfluence
in thatit is
but a questionableuse of terminology
is a truedescription
"Jewish
exwith
most
dubious
Bibd's
connected
category,
intrinsically
For
the
later.
to
which
I
am
criticize)
(and
going analyze
perience,"
can alwaysbe just as
momentI would only add that anti-Semitism
means
this:anti-Semitism
distinction
"social."
The
as
simply
"projective"
where
of sociallife,evenin countries
can sometimesbe in theforefront
no moreJews.(Polandin 1968-9 is an exampleof
thereare practically
as an active and wide-spreadfeelingis
this). In such cases anti-Semitism
obviouslya projectionof hatred,anxiety,innerconfusionand turbulence
in the society in question, and stems from differentsources. These
"malfunctions"can notbe articulatedin a manneradequate to theirgenuine
nature but are projected on to the Jew as a universaland traditional
symbolof the "origin" of social ills.

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12

Feher

forwhichthereis
There is, however,anothertypeof anti-Semitism
the"validity"
ofitsfantasy
whichis
somefactualmaterialto corroborate
Thisis thetypeofanti-Semitism
that
centeredon hatredandpersecution.
ofJewsin
forinstance,
to theunusually
refers,
constantly
highpercentage
or theunusually
the secretpolice of certaincommunist
countries,
high
of a
percentageof Jewsamongthe wealthybankersand industrialists
certaincapitalistcountry.
I wouldargueagainstBibd thatwhereasantiSemitismcannotbe exclusively
social,in thatit mustentail,bythevery
natureof thisattitude,"projective"elementsas well,it can be purely
It is myconviction
that
anysocialframeofreference.
projectivewithout
and
thiswas thecase in Hungarybetween1919and 1941.A wide-spread
social opinionmade the Jewsin generalresponsible
for
ever-growing
palpable Hungariansocial ills whichhad, in fact,been caused by
Hungariancapitaism.(This is the social aspect).For example,"Jewish
forthe loss of a greatpartof
capital" was accused of responsibility
a
projective
procedure.
Hungary'soriginalterritory,totally
in 1941,whenHungary
The secondphasestarted
joinedNazi-Germany
in itswaragainsttheSoviet-Union
itsWestern
allies).It
(andsymbolically
whentheNaziorganizations
of
endsin 1944-45underGermanoccupation
the "final solution,"widelyassistedby varioustypesand groupsof
annihilation
(inPolishandAustrian
camps,
HungarianFascists,murdered
on the EasternFront,in pogromsand massacresin so-called"front
such as Yugoslav citiesand villagesin the
operationalterritories,"
Budapest ghetto) nearly600,000 HungarianJews. For an accurate
of thesituationand withinit, thedenouement
of Jewish
understanding
collectiveCalvaryit is necessary
to considerthefollowing
factors.
First,
andonly
ratherthanpro-German
Hungary'srulingstatawereAnglophile
whentheyhad to acceptas necessity
(in thesecondpartof the 1930s)
Germany'sprevalenceand superiormilitary
powerin thearea,did they
and France.But eventhen,
turntowardsHitlerinsteadof Great-Britain
had
not
cut
the
which
tied themto the English
umbilical
cord
they
in
and
the
moment
that
conservatives,
theyrealizedthatthe German
was
no
a
and thedestruction
of
(afterStalingrad
victory
longer certainty
theHungarian2ndarmyat theDon), theystarted
clandestine
negotiations
withChurchill.In regardto Jews,thismeantan increasing
concession
to
Hitler'sracistpolicy:thecontinuous
butneverwhole-hearted
introduction
of Nuremburg
laws, on the one hand,and a (not morallymotivated)
hesitation
ofa "finalsolution"on theother.It is this
tocrossthethreshold
hesitationthatsaved the BudapestJewry,
decimatedas it was in the
a
intact
as
main
were
ghetto,yet
body.They
keptas "exchangeobjects"
and "tokens of good will" forthe negotiationswithChurchill.Secondly,
the Hungarian landed-gentry,
the backbone of Horthy'sdictatorship-of
the army,administration
and police forces-had been intermarried
with
Jewish money for at least three generations.Radical Nazism, with its
widely extended Nuremburglegislation,would have placed this very
stratuminto the trapsof "Aryan laws." Hence it had good reason to fear

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

13

in number,
loud
Nazismproper.Finally,HungarianNazism,insignificant
was muchtoo plebeianand muchtoo radical
and vulgarin itsdemagogy,
withinNazism)forthe
(in the sense thatRoehm'sSA meantradicalism
their
own
theirown
classes.
Theypreferred
procedures,
Hungarianruling
Nazism
at arm's
This
is
domestic
of
matters.
whytheykept
way handling
them
let
them
loose
Jews
from
"their
own"
only
(or
upon
length
of "labour
occasionally,let us say, upon the-partlyleftist-prisoners
ofthe"Arrow-Cross"
battallions"whomtheHungarianSS, themilitants
on
the
Frontin 1942).When
Eastern
movement
couldmurder
unpunished
scumoftheearthto take
the historical
hourstruckfortheArrow-Cross
over the country(afterOctober15this thedateof Horthy'sfailedcoup
againsttheGermans)theydidwhattheycouldon behalfofa Hungarian
"finalsolution"althoughtheworkhad alreadybeendonein partbythe
tocomplete
it.
hadtimeandfacilities
Germansandinaddition
theyno longer
Bibd lives up to his own norms:forhim,the second phase, the
HolocaustoftheHungarianJewry,
is theabsolutecriterion
forthemoral
not
territorial
of
is
the greatest
This,
losses,
decay Hungariansociety.
it
in
that
for
was
this
as
whole
nation
a
became
Hungary
catastrophe,
for
Fascist
crimes.
He
of
collective
responsibility
speaks
co-responsible
ofthosewhowould
moralist,
(and as a strict
rejectsoutofhand,theefforts
the"Hungarian
butnotof
reputation"),
suggestsilenceinorderto protect
collectiveguilt. As a theologicalcategoryapplied to social bodies,
collectiveguiltcan onlycause unjustactsand outbursts
of unacceptable
rather
than
mete
Collective
out
just punishment.
responsibility
revenge
of varying
levelsand extentof
meansthe exactand rationalassessment
andgenerous
Withinthis,Bibd,a noble-hearted
man,does
responsibility.
ofNazi crimes;
notevenstopto discussthefateoftheactualperpetrators
to
forhim,theveryidea of Verjiihrung
is an affront
(statuteoflimitations)
not
to
and
he
was
also
But
ready accept
humanity. veryrealistically justly,
of a Hungarian
this murderousminorityas in any characteristic
ethos. He correctlyargues that there was, indeed, Hungarianrebut not of the Germantype,(whichwas not "collective
sponsibility,
crimes,boththeincomparably
guilt"either).In thecase ofGerman-Nazi
wider and ongoingcharacterof the criminalacts and the amountof
involvementby considerablesocial stratain themmakes the direct
fortheworstconsequences
a muchmoreimmediate
anda far
responsibility
in
widernational(and individual)
At
the
same
and
time,
problem.
perfect
Bibd definesthe
justiceof his rationality,
harmonywiththedistributive
fortheHorthyist
exactportionof responsibility
rulingclasses.Theywere
no murderers
in theNazi sense(eveniftheywereindulgent
Nazi
towards
crimesin theHungarianarmy,gendarmerie,
etc.forwhichtheybearfull
But theymade concessions
to Nazi racism.Admittedly,
responsibility).
it
tactical
Nazi
vehemence
andradicalism
did
for
since
reasons,
mostly
they
mouldofanti-Semitism.
oftheirmoreconservative
surpassedtherhythm
whichcouldhaveonlybeenjustified
Nevertheless,
theymadeconcessions
in retrospect
iftheyhadresulted
inrescuing
thebulkofthepersecuted,
and

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14

Feher

even thenonlypartially.
Since,however,
justtheoppositewas thecase,
forthe"administrative
Bibd arguedthattheyalso sharedtheresponsibility
oflegality
ofthe
measures"whichweregivena semblance
bythesignature
notablesin theHorthy-regime.
methodto define
Bibd uses a veryillustrative
descriptive-sociological
theexactamountofresponsibility
on thepartofthe"generalpublic,"the
"population."He raisesthequestion:whatcoulda Jewexpectifhe orshe
was excapingfromtheNazis,say,in Denmarkand in Hungary."If for
whichdid notfight,
a persecuted
Jew
example,in Denmark,a country
wereconfronted
withhavingtoescapethrough
thefirst
opengateandthen
househe happenedto pass,thereis a strong
askingforasylumin thefirst
it
likelihoodthathe wouldget in one wayor another.Even ifhe had not
foundhelpin theformoftotalself-sacrifice,
at leasthe couldfindpeople
whowouldidentify
withhiscaseandwhowouldtrytotakecareofhim.To
a certainextent,he couldalso expectindifference,
ofhisappeal
rejection
or cautiousavoidanceof anyresponsibility.
But he wouldconsideras an
the chancethathe mightbe denouncedto his
exceptionalcatastrophe
in Hungarya Jewcouldcounton indifference,
persecutors.
By contrast,
and
of
avoidance
as averageprobability
rejection
anyresponsibility
(ifhe
had the courageat all to knockon doors of unknownpersons);on
denunciation
as a relatively
stillrealchance;andon
smaller,nevertheless
as
an
of
"stroke
support
unexpected,
unhoped-for
luck."'7One needadd
to
a
these
statements
non-Jewish
by patriotic,
nothing
Briefly,
Hungarian.
but withoutconcessions,
Bibd also analyzestherelatively
smaller,rather
ofofficialdom
and thechurches:
"negative"co-responsibility
theysimply
but
social
role
bearers
their
of legalityand religious
obeyedorders,
(as
morality)would have demandedfarmorefromthem.And in a very
democraticmanner,Bibd is also criticalof the victim:
of theherd-like,
of
which
obedience
did
not
and withfew
HungarianJewry,
passive
fight
did
not
even
Instead
the
ordersof
escape.
theyobeyed
exceptions
a
of
their
lack
of
and
democratic
murderers,symptom
education,
autonomy
and of a kindof overassimilation
intoHungariantraditions-that
social
orderwhichonlyknewsubjects,not citizens.The storyof Hungarian
Jewrystartedwitha morbid,"sociallypathological"
typeof assimilation
and ended (forthe bulkof HungarianJews)withannihilation,
at least
because
of
habits
this
assimilation.
partly,
acquiredthrough
The wordassimilation
pointsalreadyto thethirdstage,whichin 1948,
whenBibdwrotehisstudy,
waslargely
an openmatter
tobe decidedinthe
future.The crucialquestionwas the following:
what are the Jewish
perspectives?
analyzedmethod,in uno
Accordingto Bibd's repeatedly
actu,thiswas a questionforHungariandemocracy,
namely,thatof the
andcommanding
ofdemocratic
normsinHungarian
vitality
validity
society
or theirtotalabsencefromit.Onceagainthen,theparableaboutthefuture
QuestioninHungary,"
7. I. Bibd, "The Jewish
op. cit.,p. 237.

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NotesontheMargin
ofa Classical
Essay

15

wasnotaccidentally
on thefateof
and thechancesfordemocracy
written
the "persecutedpar excellence,"the Jew.8At thispoint,Bibd, the
historian
and sociologist,
theskepticalrealistof politicaltheorygivesan
answer far superiorto Sartre'sradicaland rigorous,but exclusively
textis lucidandleavesno doubtaboutthe
moralizing
option.The Sartrean
a
solution
to
Jew:
"Jewish
consistsof choosing
open
authenticity
only
The
oneselfas a Jew,in otherwords,of realizingtheJewishcondition.
man:he is awareofhimself
Jewabandonsthemythofuniversal
authentic
historical
anddamned;he ceases
inhistory
as a creature,
and willshimself
toescapefrom,andbe ashamedof,hisownnextofkin.He hasunderstood
forthenaivemonism
a socialpluralism
thatsocietyiswrong;he substitutes
is
that
he
knows
he
of the inauthentic
untouchable,
excluded,
Jew;
All
a sudden,he
himself
such.
of
and
he
as
re-claims
shameful,
proscribed
is
world
he
sees
that
the
renounceshisrationalist
by
fragmented
optimism:
in that he
irrationaldivisions,and by acceptingthis fragmentation,
someofitsvaluesand dividends;
Jew,he appropriates
proclaimshimself
and hisequals:theyaretheotherJews;he "bets"
he chooseshisbrothers
(parie) on humangreatnessby acceptinga lifewhichis by definition
Sartre'stragic
unliveable-forhe takeshispridefromhishumiliation."'
ofhismorphology,
fitone situation
the
colours,thegrandeur
specifically:
It wasthenthat,forthefirst
historical
houroftheWarsawghettouprising.
time,the millenialunderdogstruckback, thustestifying
againstbeing
authentic
ofJewsintheprocessofbecoming
subhuman;thata community
thisscandalofmoralworldorder(and
theirexistence,
chosethemselves,
and thusalso chosehumangreatness
by thesame act: theirobliteration)
wordsforwhichaloneitisworthliving
Alltheseold-fashioned
anddignity.
I do notat all
situation.
are inthiscase adjectivesofa borderline
(Whereby
in
more
the
of
moral
relevance
Sartre's
situations).
"daily"
precept
deny
we have
Here
But whatwouldbe thesociologically
options?
generalizable
remark
seemsto be
realist.His first
to listenratherto Bibd,theskeptical
ofJewish
as compared
emancipation
entirely
negative:thereis no primacy
withthe generalprocessof humanemancipation
(by which,we already
cannotbe
know,he meansa "certaintype"of socialism).Anti-Semitism
can be
eliminatedfroma "Jewish"position.But thenegativestatement
it
or
formulated
if
but
as
even
is
formulated
not,
well,
rarely
by
positively
Jewish
Bibd: a "new world"is neededin orderthatJewishhumiliation,
and
togetherwithall othertypesand classesof humiliation
suffering,
that
this
Bibd
stresses
should
emphatically
very
disappear.
suffering,
ofthecommunist
doesnotmeantheacceptance
viewpoint
methodological
question.Jewswere
recipewhichtellsus to remainsilentabouttheJewish
one groupof victimsamongmany,and do notdeserveanydistinguished
lineofdemocrats
8. Was Bibdawareofthefactthathehadjoineda longandrespectable
to
thatLessinghadbeenthefirst
whoappliedthesameparabletotheirownage andsociety,
work.
do withhisNathantheWise?Thereis no answerto thisin hiswritten
9. Sartre,op. cit.,pp. 169-70.

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16

Feher

ofsufferings.
ForBibd,theJewremains
thevictim
place in thenarrative
hisCalvarythestoryaboutthelimits
ofhumannature,and
par excellence;
whatis beyond.But moreimportant
thantheabovevalidbutmuchtoo
formulation
is
what
to
Bibdhas sayaboutthe"Jewish
general
waysout"
of a situationcreatedby theHolocaust.Emphasisis laid on theplural.
Bibd does notbelongto thetypeoffriends
ofJewsforwhomthereis one,
and only one, salutarysolution.His non-doctrinaire
socialismrests
a
elaboration
of
the
on
the
of
(without philosophical
problem)
recognition
a plurality
ofhumanneeds,andhe consistently
his
to
applies principle the
Jewishproblem.I wishto emphasize
howunusualthepluralism
ofneedsis
in thisparticular
case. Generally
within
a
liberal
even
liberal(or
speaking,
state
of
like
assimilation
or
etc.
affairs,
conservative)
problems
emigration,
are easilyresolvedand-until theycollidewithother(stateor group)
interests-haveno dramaticdimensions.
But in the particular
case of
because
became
either
the
universal
Jews,precisely
they
scapegoat,the
of
hatred
or
the
scandal
of
civilization-its
shame
primetarget projective
tended
to
calculative
reason
and
personified-passions
extinguish
everyone believedthemselves
in possessionof one absoluteremedy:a "final
solution"or an "ultimate
liberation."
To giveSartre'sparaphrase,
in this
both
enemies
and
false
of
friends
Jews
strive
for
the
actual
regard
open
extinction
of theJew,in one wayor theother,butalwaysthrough
the
of
one
exclusive
application
recipe.
Bibd's pluralismstartswiththe analysisof assimilation,
and underin
the
I
itisfairto
think
so:
Without
field,
standably
anyspecialknowledge
that
until
the
the
of
Jews
chose
Holocaust, empirical
say
up
majority
(orat
leastexperimented
assimilation.
However
and
afterwards, precisely
with)
because of what happened,assimilation,
once seemingly
so smootha
became
a
for
even
the
assimilated.
At
this
process,
problem
point,Bibd's
unmatched
to
comes
the
in
fore:
wide
the
realism"
literature
"sociological
on theproblemthereis practically
no one to comparewithhimwhenit
comes to the analysisof its practicaloptions.His hypercritical
mind
avoids
the
and
bifurcation
of
alternatives
usual,
sterile,
immediately
totally
-the eternalpitfallofthisdebate-intoassimilation
or notassimilation.
He knowsperfectly
well thatan infinite
amountof argument
can be
mobilizedequallyforand against,withtheresultthattheproblem
cannot
be solvedon an abstract
level.Instead,he raisestwootherhighly
relevant
and assimilation
to what?Here he
questions:whatkindof assimilation
betweenorganicand rationalassimilation.
The firstis an
distinguishes
unattainableideal and a dangerousone. It stemsfroman irrationalist
and almostinevitably
resultsinxenophobia.SinceBibd is an
mythology

enemyof racism(he is unable to look forthereasonforitamongthegenes)


and yet seeks to fathomthe causes of such an aggressivemythology,
he
introducesa distinctionwhichI findunsatisfactory
froma scientificand
philosophical standpoint,but productiveas faras its sociologicalyield is
concerned. The distinctionis between connateor ethnicmanifestations,
whichare (or have become) instinctive
and communalpatterns
of behaviour

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

17

games,prestige
(waysof "social procedures,"language,rulesregarding
andhonour,humancontacts,
modelsofbehaviour,
communal
goals,ideal,
in
the
Assimilation
cannot
fact
be
on
firstset of
based
discipline,etc.).
or the
characteristics
and if it is, if the goal of thoseto be assimilated
of
an
is
the
such
of
the
attainment
community
assimilating
requirement
of
irrational
the
can
a
new
then
result
be
only
flare-up
"organicmerger,"
alien." Bibd is unambiguous
hatredagainstthe "irreparably
concerning
"The lineofdemarcation
between
whathe meansbyrationalassimilation:
traitsis, of course,fluid.This
thesetwo groupsof communalcharacter
ofall,thesecondgroupof
thatitis,first
muchis certain,
however,
namely,
thatprovidesthe bulkof qualitiesto whichone can and
characteristics
does notmeanto "eject" all
shouldassimilate.To becomeassimilated
"oror recognizable
characteristic
features;to becomeundiscriminable,
collateral
late
and
is
at
best
a
is
not
but
this
the
All
essence,
ganic."
shouldnotprevent
Assimilation
assimilation.
accompanying
phenomenon
someone fromretaininghis characteristic
cuisine,
nose, characteristic
alien
set
characteristic
of
characteristic
life,
expressions-in
phrases,
style
of life,which
otherwords,all thosephysicaland ethnicmanifestations
meansparticihave no or verylittlesociologicalrelevance.Assimilation
getting
pating in the life process of a real and active community;
of
its
and
behaviour,
with,
patterns
accepting
practicing
acquainted
conventions,
requirements."'Here I shallnoteonlythemostimportant
theoreticalconclusionto be derivedfromthisviewpoint.In a rough
theconceptions
ofnationcan be dividedintotwo,diametrically
typology,
and theorganic.(For thelast,itwouldbe
opposedtypes:thecontractual
isbased,at
Thefirst
tousethewordpatriaor Vaterland.)
moreappropriate
all theintricate
on thefreedecisionofcitizens-despite
leastin principle,
does notexcludeby
theoriesand evenifcontract
ofcontract
implications
its verycharactercollectiveegoism,jingoismand the like. At least it
certainfundamental
rightswithregardto
guaranteesconstitutionally
It is a highly
and emigration.
nationalaffiliation,
immigration
including
relationin whichemotionalelerational,althoughnot "business-like"
ofdanger,even
dedication,
ments,unselfish
takingrisks,and inmoments
one's lifeare also notabsent.In thesecond,thecounterfactual
sacrificing
to
way (sometimesheightened
prevailsin an emotionallyintensified
is
this
relation
reasons
and tyrannical
hysteria).Thisis whyforirrational
the
lies
herein
is
of
The
oftenproblematic.
requirement patria (and
counterfactual
element)thatthestatesubjectshouldacceptitshistorically
whichis
attitude
"deeper"thantheself-chosen
givenstatusas something
Eastern-Central
"individualistic,"
"alien" (in
Europe: mostly"Jewish,"
"suspicious," "inorganic,"etc.). It was not by chance thatI used the term
"state subject" instead of citizen. Even afterthe countriesin question
achieved some kind of a constitution,they remained for a varietyof
QuestioninHungary,"
10. I. Bibd,"The Jewish
op. cit.,p. 303.

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18

Feher

and half-feudal
historical
reasons,"organic,"and in thissense,intolerant
towardsthoselivingwithintheirborderlines."I
WhenBibdarguesagainst
he also arguesagainst"patria"and fora free
organicJewishassmilation,
isespecially
"contractual"
valuable,since
typeofnation.Thiscommitment
it does notcome fromsome "suspicious,""inorganic,"
"alien" element
butfroman enthusiastic
(and
Hungarian
patriotforwhomtheHungarian
Protestant-Transsylvanian)
past is preciousand who is absorbedby its
reliquiaand lingo.
On thisbasis,itcanalsobe madecleartowhatJewsshouldassimilate
if
theychoose to do so. Firstof all, to the languageand the "elementary
normsof habit"of thenewcommunity.
to itsbasic"network
Further,
of
In Bibd, theimpartial
thisis meantas a critique
of
democrat,
solidarity."
whatispopularly
called"Jewish
clannishness."
Thelatteris,bytheway,so
farfrombeingan exclusively
Jewishcharacteristic
thatitsmostextreme
and dangerousexampleswereprovidedbyGermanminorites
in Czechoslovakia,Poland and HungaryduringtheHitlerregime.Theyopposed
theirjustifiedand oftenviolatedminority
to thelegalandpolitical
rights
existenceofthe"mother"state.Finallyandveryimportantly,
Bibdstresses
inhistypical"moralizing"
oftheassimilant
waynotonlytheresponsibility
but(unlikethemajority
ofworksdealingwiththeproblem)theresponsiof
the
as well.Therethebasiccategory
is
bility
assimilating
community
the
has to givematerialand spiritual
reciprocity: receivingcommunity
forthoseassimilating
to it.
"accomodation,"and above all, protection
Once again,Bibd becomesa severemoraland politicalcriticof hisown
He arguesthatitwastobe predicted
fromthebeginning,
that
community.
that
Jewish
is to say,fromthelate 19thcentury
assimilation
in
onwards,
in
add
in
would
not
succeed,
Hungary(one may
Eastern-Europe general)
so "unbalanced"or lackingin democratic
normswas the innerlifeof
to it produced
Hungariancommunity.
Hungarianlifeand assimilation
hundreds
ofthousands
of"halfassimilants"
would
(Sartre
say:inauthentic
were
who
left
the
Jews). They
people
(originallyreligious)Jewish
without
or
to appropriate
anotherand
community
appropriating aspiring
sometimes
in
a
subsisting,
economically
veryprosperously, culturalno
was abandonedto themercy
man'sland.And whentheHungarian
Jewry
of theNazis-for which,as we knowfromBibd'sanalysis,
all strataofthe
were
even
if
Hungariancommunity equallyresponsible
theydidnotshare
in it equally-this community
the
on
betrayed principleof reciprocity
whichalone non-organic-rational
assimilation
rest.
may
Bibd drawsthe obviousand oftrepeatedconclusionthatZionism
11. For a "roughtypology"theUnitedStatesand Switzerlandserveas thebestexamplesof
the first,and Eastern-Europeancountriesand Germanyforthesecondtype.But itwouldbe a
mistaketo simplify
mattersintoa divisionbetweendemocratic(or liberal)and backward-halffeudal countries.For reasons,amplyanalyzedbyTocqueville,overcentralized
Francewithall
its democracyhad patria-ratherthan nation-character
and movementswhichconstantlyreemerged on the Frenchpoliticalscene.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

19

Whilesucha
Jewishassimilation.
thriveson the ruinsof misconceived
conclusionmaynothavebeen unique,theconditions
underwhichitwas
to a uniquecourage.Bibd
formulated
and spelledout,however,testified
in
evenagainsttheCommunists
defendstherightto Zionistorganization,
1948 (!), theyearwhenStalin'smyrmidons
ShlomoMikhoels,
murdered
executed24 leading
the head of the SovietJewishculturalcommunity,
Crimean
Jewishculturalactivists
intheso-called"Jewish
and intellectuals
in
cultural
trial"and destroyed
thewholeofJewish
autonomy
conspiracy
it
could
theSoviet-Union.
Bibdmayhavebeenunawareofthesefacts,but
forthistoo sensitive
nothaveescapedhisattention-hewaspolitically
Union
towardsthe
thathostilewindshad startedto blowfromtheSoviet
Jewry.
Eastern-European
of Zionism,thesecondmassive"Jewish
WhileBibd is notuncritical
entitled
eitheron
he
out"
of
the
way
post-Holocaust, doesnotfeelhimself
For
the
criticize
the
idea
itself.
moralor scholarly
to
him, bruntof
grounds
Zionists
of
realization.
must
fall
on
its
manner
oughtto
reprobation
would
discredit
that
an
overzealous
he
understand, writes,
recruiting
it is
that
merits
of
the
of
one
the
doctrine,namely,
greatest
precisely
Should it be driven
nationalism.
conceivedas a freeand contractual
intoan "organic"principle,
(whichis
beyondits limitsand transformed
of
even
the
that
the
majority
surviving
given
obviouslycounterfactual,
thrust.
Jewsdid notchooseIsrael)itwouldlose all itsemancipatory
Bibd does notruleout fortheJewsa third,collective
wayoutofthe
not
the
of
misery
post-Holocaust: Zionistemipsychological-intellectual
but ratherethnic
contractual
nor
rational
and
assimilation,
gration
does
he considerthis
Not
within
a
system. only
confederative
separation
in harmony
withtheJews'fundamental
ethnicseparationto be perfectly
whichdegradedthis
withtheSoviet-Union,
humanrights
(insharpcontrast
also capableofan
but
he
was
into
a
for
symbolic
ghetto Jews),
tendency
and
of
its
and
distanced
analysis
preconditions traps.Basically,
impartial
ofthem
neither
forsuchan ethnicseparation,
Bibd sees twopreconditions
and
and
both
verylikely:lingualseparation massive
absolutelyobligatory
into
The
first
needs
no further
Thesecond,in
relapse religion.
commentary.
itraisesforthe"enlightenment
additionto thedifficulty
process"so dear
fromgeneralIf
refrains
another
factor.
Bibd
to Bibd, is complicated
by
that
he
does
note
about
religiousneology,ratherthan
religions,
izing
witha problem.While no
them
Jews,
presented
havingemancipated
still
life
moral
a
formula
religion
regulating in itsentirety,
longer binding
thelegitimacy
ThuswhileBibd is notdenying
dividesJewfromnon-Jew.
of
he does warnagainsta number
and therelevanceofethnicseparation,
in
of
the
"consensual"
it
view
intensified
or
difficulties
by
provoked
socialism"he had chosen.
to thetypeofvague"democratic
transition
if
another
Bibd
mentions
this
to
overview,
significant
Finally, complete
ungeneralizableway out, namelythe lifestyleof what he calls the
characterized
"dissimilant."This type is overwhelmingly
by negative
features.(Actually,thisis theone closestto Sartre'sauthentic
Jew).It is

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20

Feher

not rooted in any nationalcommunity;it is not assimilated,althoughit is


also not Zionist or ethnic separatist. In the majorityof cases, the
sociological equivalentof this"dissimilant"is a cosmopolitanintellectual
with an awareness of all the traps stemmingfrombeing Jewish.It is
indicativeof Bibd's impartialtheoretical"magnanimity"thateven if he
and even if, as a sociologistand political
regardsthis type as transitory,
theorist,he has a predilectionforgeneralizableoptions,he stillincludes
this overwhelmingly
intellectualphenomenonin thistypology.
As I continuethe Jewishstoryin Hungaryand turnto its fourthand
fifthstate, I do so with less skill and breadth of information-and
Nevertheless,thestorymustbe recounted
inevitablywithless impartiality.
the
The
to
fourth
up
present.
stagebeginswiththeCommunisttakeoverin
in
1948
and
ends
with
the 1956 revolution.In thisperiod,on the
Hungary
communistside, thatever prominentfeatureof HungarianCommunism,
namelythe hypertrophic
presenceof Jewishelements,was even increased.
This occurredat themostsensitiveand conspicuouspointsof social life,in
the Politbureauand in the AVH, the dreaded secretpolice, both leading
positions of the ideological appartus.While not wishingto advocate any
kind of numerus clausus, I would still call this situationa malignant
hypertrophy.As early as the 1919 revolution,the number of Jewish
communist and social democratic people's commissariesand deputy
commissarieswas so overwhelming,
(nearlyexclusive)thatthewhiteterror
could easilyequate communism(or socialismin general)withJewry.In the
great purgesof the 1930sStalinusuallypreferredas survivorsnon-Jewsto
Jews,but in theHungariancase, even his omnipotenceprovedto be futile:
all contendingfactions,the whole reservoirof HungarianCommunism
consistedmainlyof Jews. It is thusthatRakosi came to power, a classic
case of half-assimilation
and "clannishness,"whom Berija (in the usual
Heydrich-likelingo prevailingin the secretpolice and upper stratumof
"realized socialism,") called the "firstand lastJewishkindofHungary"at
the time. Stalin's allegedlyunlimitedpowerover all Communistpartiesin
every area once again proved to be a myth.When it came to Jewish
predominance,the otherwisecowardlyand pathologicallyservileRakosi
was inflexiblyobstinate. Bibd may not have known,but Rakosi had to
know whathappened to Jewishactivistsin theSoviet-Union.Nonetheless,
it remained strictpartypolicy thatas long as he had absolute power (up
untilJune 1953) no data about the increasingly
anti-Semitic
overtonesof
Soviet political life was to reach the ears of the senstiveHungarian
"general public." It is most tellingthatwhile Rakosi was pushingother
communistleaders (Beirut,Gottwald)intohavingtheirown show-trials,not wantingto remainalone (in the companyof his Bulgariancolleagues)
-when it came to the Slansky-trialwith its unmistakablyanti-Semitic
character,the trialitselfwas dealt withat lengthwhilethe aspect of antiSemitismwas toned down to a minimum.It was onlythe "Jewishdoctors'
plot" in early 1953 whichforcedRakosi to realize thathe could notgo any
furtherwith his Jewish-centeredpolicy withoutseriouslyendangering

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Notes on theMarginof a Classical Essay

21

himself.He hastilyconcocteda Hungarian"Jewishplot" (partlyamong


secretpoliceofficers
whohad outlivedtheirusefulness),
butwhenStalin
the
"Jewish
Rdkosi's
rulecameto its
died,
plot"collapsed.
unchallenged
end as well.
Therewas an unformulated
bias behind
ideology,evena moralizing
thisunmistakable
selectionof Jewishcadres.This is whyI called this
The Hungarian
Communist
leaderswere
practicemalignant
hypertrophy.
thenegativecounterpoint
to Bibd: theytoo had a moralizing
viewofthe
this
was
a
of
character.
The
ethos,"
totallynegative
"Hungarian
only
are
an
This
so
Fascist"
"Hungarians," theyopined,
"organically
people.
andactually
starts
withBela Kun'sunparalleled
opinionhas a longhistory
abdicationspeech of August 1, 1919, the day the HungarianSoviet
Republic collapsed,in whichhe declaredthe Hungarianproletariat
of itsrevolution
and revolutionary
leaders.Manyfactors,
"undeserving"
whichcannotbe analyzedhere,made HungarianCommunism
notonly
isolated in its own countrybut insensitive,
indeedratherhysterically
towardanyjustor unjustmanifestation
ofHungarian
nationalaggressive
ism.When,infact,Hungary
turned
outtobe Hitler'slastally,theyfeltan
unconcealedglee and in a veryunpleasant
waymadeno secretof their
at being"historically
satisfaction
As a secondelementof the
justified."
itfollowed
once
samehypertrophy,
fromthisthattheyadopteda position,
in
which
the
mention
names
was
without
of
"secret
consensus,"
again
the
Jew
the
criticized
was
Bibd.
and
For
them,
specifically justly
by
"reliableman."Therewas a clandestine
opinionin"highercircles"thata
Jew can be anything-greedy,
a bit cosmopolitan,
(an
money-hungry,
ornansmentioned
inbriefas a lip-service
but
toSovietpropaganda
epiteton
basicallytoned down in the Rdkosi-press)-buta Jew cannotturn
nationalist.
Thiswasso, theyargued,becauseapartfromotherreasonshe
wouldnotbe acceptedbyothernationalists.
This cynicalwisdomhad a predictableconclusion:in spiteof the
the
in theopposition
markedpresenceof Jewishintellectuals
preparing
was the
between1953-55,the1956revolution
groundfortherevolution
firstmomentafter1945(apartfromthreepogroms
between1945-47) in
whichanti-Semitism
publiclyappearedon the streets.This happened
or
eventhosedemanding
a democratic
simplybecausemanyHungarians,
tendedto describeRdkosi'srule as a
vaguelysocialisttransformation,
whichcontained
"Jewishregime."The questionas towhatextenta system
an overwhelming
Jewish
presencein itspolice,pressandleadingpolitical
rule"hadalreadybeenraisedinthehour
bodies,couldbe termed"Jewish
ofpreparation
Bibd.Butthecasehastobe reopened
bythehypersensitive
nowin retrospect.
distributed
It would be perhapstoo cheap to pointto thecarefully
oftheshow-trials
(twowereJewsfrom
presenceofJewsamongthevictims
thefiveexecutedas a resultof theRajk-trial
alone).Bibd has a rational
can be called
criterion
forwhatsensibly
(measurableand generalizable)
forthewhole(or
andprofitable
"Jewishrule."Is sucha ruleadvantageous

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22

Feher

at least the overwhelming


majority)of Jewsas an ethnicgroupas opposed
to others?This is thequestion,theanswerto whichdecideswhethera ruleis
Jewishor non-Jewishin character.If we raise thisquestion,thefollowing
factsimmediatelycome to mind.First,Jewishmartyrdom,
the Holocaust
in generaland itsHungarianversionin particular,became anathemaat the
momentthatthe Communistpartyseized politicalpower. Secondly,and
more importantly,the Hungarian government,this allegedly "Jewish
dictatorship,"showed an astoundingambivalenceregardingthe past. On
the other hand, theydid sign the peace treaty,therebyacknowledging
for deeds of formerpro-Nazigovernments.
formallytheirresponsibility
This was a demand of the victoriousallies whichtheyhad to meet. They
also produced half-wayopen, half-waycovertpropagandaabout "Hunin the war; forcertainHungarian
garian responsibility"forparticipating
atrocitiessuch as those, forinstance,committedforthe mostpartin the
Ukraine by Hungarian soldiersagainstUkrainianpeasants. But the acts
committedby Hungariansand GermansagainstHungarianJewsbecame
non-eventsnot only in the press. The Hungariangovernment,
reekingof
Jewishclannishness,disclaimedanyand all responsibility
forthesurviving
Jews.There were certainvague legal acts (such as a decree in 1946 issued
by the then Parliamentabout compensationto be paid to Jews), but
constituted
nothingin facthappened.Thisinspiteofthefactthatthesurvivors
a communityfor the most part withoutfinancialsupport,since without
bread-earners(the percentageof youngmenamongthoseexterminated
by
the Nazis was exceptionallyhigh),Jewishfamiliesunderthe "firstand last
Jewishking of Hungary" did not receive financialsupportof any kind.
Moreover, officialand very serious obstacles were put in the way of
accepting West-GermanWiedergutmachung
(financialcompensation)for
fathers,husbands,sons and otherrelativesmurderedin Nazi camps.
In actual fact,even the intentionto apply forsuchcompensationwas
regardedas an act hostileto the state. So in thisallegedlyJewishrule,the
from200,000in 1945 to
survivingJewishcommunity(steadilydiminishing
the present60,000or about) whosemembers,accordingto a popularmyth,
have money even under their skin, were, if not employed by the
communistpartytop hierarchy,
double pariahsofa society,and at anyrate
poor. 2 It is highly characteristicof the outcome of Bibd's radicaldemocratic expectations, that in the dark night of the early 1950s
everythingpromisingturnedto its deplorableoppositeand thattherewas
not a single oppositional intellectual,Jew or non-Jew,who would have
mentioned, during the "Hungarian Spring" of 1953-56, this burning
shame of national life.
Kiddrism,as a fifth
phase oftheJewishquestioninHungaryin the20th
century,broughtnew elementsinto thiscomplexproblem.The Kiddrist
12. The factthatJewish
instruction
wasdestroyed
andthatZionistorganization
religious
was no longertolerated,'
shouldnotbe mentioned
here.In thisregard,
Jewsonlysharedthe
nicetiesof a generalsituation.

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Notes on theMarginof a Classical Essay

23

in thisregardcan be summedup in one sentence:itis a


"consolidation"
of
Leninist
a carefully
measuredpolitical
melange
"philo-Semitism,"
of
numerus
a
continuation
the
total
ofanypublic
clausus,plus
suppression
discussionor analysisoftheproblem.In otherwords,itis a dogmatically
whichfunctions
without
assimilationist
dogmatic
system
escapadesintothe
and
without
a
whose
superfluous
oppressing community
presenceafter
1956inHungariansocietybecamerather
more"projective"
than"social."
On theotherhand,withall itsgoodwilland precisely
withit,it
together
showsall theinnercontradictions
andfinalimpotence
ofa merely
"philoSemitic"regimewhichis basedon conservative
andmanipulation.
coercion
oftheKdddrist
thewholeintricacy
But inorderto understand
position,
thatitwasprecisely
thetimeofKdddr's
one has to takeintoconsideration
adventto powerin 1956-57 thatthefinalshapewasgivento Sovietantiandquiteuniquely
WilliamKorey,inhisexcellent
documented
Semitism.
andeven
book TheSovietCage,givesthestoryoftheofficially
supported
shows
But
one
of
his
remarks
Soviet
anti-Semitism.
officially
organized
ofhisownstory.
thathe is perhapsnotfullyawareofall theimplications
The remarkreadsas follows:"The twinaspectsof SovietpolicyofJews
On theonehand,there
tooneanother.
standinfundamental
contradiction
ofJewsthrough
the
assimilation
is theattempt
to bringabouttheforcible
andtheobliteration
ofreferences
ofspecific
Jewish
institutions
elimination
On theotherhand,there
Jewish
toJewish
tradition,
martyrdom.
especially
ofdiscrimination,
ofpatterns
basedprecisely
is theenforcement
uponthe
in
and
And
the
identification
questionnaires.
patterns
passports
nationality
are accompaniedby a propagandacampaignwhich
of discrimination
those
localsourcesofanti-Semitism,
and strengthens
stimulates
including
But
what
to and,indeed,extendthepatterns.
sourceswhichgiveeffect
"'3
anddiscrimination)
hereas an antinomy
assimilation
is formulated
(forcible
forall conservative
anti-Semitic
is actuallythe"dialectical"formula
policy
andfinalsolutions
butwhichwantstokeepawake
whichexcludespogroms
locusof this
hatredforprojectivepurposes.The historical
anti-Semitic
sketch
of
the
understood
with
a
brief
can
be
phasesof
correctly
only
policy
sources(suchas
Sovietanti-Semitism.
Judgedby themostauthoritative
Korey's book or Schwartz'smorenaive but veryvaluableand amply
documentedessay publishedduringStalin'slifetime,in New York:
v Sovietskom
Antisemitism
Soiuze,)therecan be hardlyanydoubtabout
as
aftermath
thefactthatJewsfelttheLeninistperiodand itsimmediate
theiremancipation
froma Zaristrulewhichopenlyincitedto pogroms.
lifeandinpolitical
ofthecountry's
inall segments
Theywererepresented
thefact
In the1930s,despite
andintellectual
strata
wereevenoverrepresented.
that Stalin'spersonalanti-Semitism
visiblein the
becameincreasingly
internecine
basically
changed.
nothing
againstJewish
opponents,
partystrife
alikefeltthreatened.
thatJewandnon-Jew
The bloodbathwasso universal
13. WilliamKorey,TheSovietCage (NewYork,1973),p. 174.

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24

Feher

anddeeplytragic
The negative
turn,ina doublyparadoxical
way,came
warand it was initiated
in the anti-Hitler
frombelow, notfromthetop.
evidenceto support
threefacts.First,itis beyond
Thereis overwhelming
Nazi
which
was
at
first
doubtthatthe
acceptedbywidestrata
occupation,
for
the
first
time
after
ofa century's
at leastwithuncertain
a quarter
hopes,
Cheka
and
vent
to
traditional
Russian
GPU-methods,
gave
oppressionby
anti-Semitism.
The
usual
identification
of
the
Soviet
(Ukrainian,etc.)
with
was
in
At
intwo
territories.
least
Jewry widespread occupied
regime
and
the
the
Lithuania
of
Ukraine,significant
groups
republics,
population
in themassextermination
of Jewsand thesituation
is best
participated
of the Hungarianattitudeto
describedin termsof Bibd's morphology
thatthepartisan
Jews.Secondly,it seemsto be documented
irrefutably
was eitherindifferent
thefateofJews(buteveninthis
movement
towards
Jewsin theUkrainian,
case theydid nottolerate,or hardly,
etc.partisan
or
were
even
towards
Jews
wholivedin
hostile,
directly
menacing
groups)
in
the
endless
Russian
and
so-called"family
forests
and
Ukrainian
camps"
who had formedtheirown partisangroups.In addition,thereis no
substantialevidenceof the Sovietgovernment
havingput anykindof
on
its
own
to
include
or
evenprotectescaping
specialpressure
partisans
Jewssincetheyweredependenton them,at leastas faras armament
it has been provenbeyondtheslightest
supplywas concerned.Thirdly,
thewartheSovietpresssystematically
doubtthatthroughout
all
suppressed
evidenceof theHolocaust.The storyofthisunprecedented
was
genocide
engeneral.Buttherewasa deeperimplication
still
mergedintoa suffering
behindthissilence:theSovietgovernment
made
a
actually
compromise
with popular anti-Semitism
and startedto "assimilate"some of its
elementsintoitsown,official,
politics.
The nextphasecamebetween1948-1953,following
a shortpost-war
armisticebetweenJewsand authorities
which
Jewishculture
during
seemed to flourish.Its pointof departorewas the above mentioned
ofthebestJewish
militant
intellectuals
(all pro-Soviet
physicalelimination
in
and emotionally
the
so-called
"Crimea-trial"
anditreached
communist)
itspeak in the"doctors'plot,"wherethereis evidenceofbothincipient
ofJewsprepared
"popular"pogromsanda massdeportation
(or planned)
Stalin.
Stalin's
of
"socialills,"thisis surely
by
Considering
ways settling
morethana merefairytale.
As in so manyspheres,here,too, Krushchev
putan end to Stalinist
the
on
one
and
introduced
elements
of a conservative
hand,
practices
consolidation
of thesystemon theother.However,thereis a fargreater
inKrushchev
andhissuccessors
inregardtotheJewish
continuity
problem

thanin manyotherfields.The new system,combiningforcibleassimilation


and discriminationwithoutplans (or fantasyimages) formass extermination,is constitutedin a numberofways.The firstis theseparationofSoviet
Jewry(some 2,000,000people) fromthebulk of thepopulationbyofficial
designation,the mostimportantof whichis the designation"evrei" (Jew)
in the Soviet citizen'sidentitycard, "internalpassport,"a label based on

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

25

and checked and re-checkedby veryfar-reaching,


"Nuremberg-like"
In principle,
sucha "label"intheidentity
ofone'sancestors.
investigation
but simplythe indicationof the
card does not mean discrimination,
affiliation
of
the
given Soviet citizen.But in the
nationalitygroup
to pointoutthetargetof(popular
it
Jews
serves
Soviet
of
case
particular
The explanation
is
and eventualpersecution.
and official)discrimination
I
am
of
which
of
reasons
for
number
a
(some
acquaintedwith,
simple:
the idea of a separateJewish
others not) the "Birobidshan-plan,"
As a result,
SovietJews
SovietJewry.
autonomousregion,failedto attract
a
de
not
de
constitute
group;theyonly"enjoy"
facto nationality
only jure
fromall other(Russian,
offorcible
offical
all thedisadvantages
separation
into.
would
nationalities
Ukrainian,etc.)
they
merge
nullusandnumerus
clausus
ofnumerus
Secondly,an elaboratesystem
is builton thisforcibleseparation.Numerusnullus prevailsin political
corpsandthe
amongthehigherranksofarmyandnavyofficer
leadership,
the
and
services.'14
Numerus
claususis
KGB,
ForeignMinistry diplomatic
even
andtertiary
educational
institutions,
appliedtoall leadinguniversities
selfof
Jewish
tacit
a
here
a
consideration,
acceptance
contrary
though
believe
as
chauvinistic
Soviet
authorities
intervenes:
Jews)
(just
stereotype
"in
thatJewsare-somehow "by nature"-morecleverthannon-Jews
and sincetheybadlyneed good
abstractmatters,"suchas mathematics,
in manyfields,especiallyin thoseconnectedwithmilitary
intellectuals
overruled.
claususis constantly
the
Thirdly,
systemof numerus
speech,
eversince,that
butintensified
underKrushchev,
thereis a practicestarted
etc.satirical
theSovietmassmediaregularly
drawings
publisharticles,
thesame(or very
undertherubric"Zionist"-whichpublicizeprecisely
forwhichJulius
as hadtheNaziStuermer,
stereotypes
similar)anti-Semitic
was
of
the
defendant
the
Streicher, only"ideological"
Nuremburg-trials,
and
in
manner
a
hostile
derisive
than
More
executed.
beingsimply
justly
Jew
the
"anti-Zionist"
the
to
anti-Jewish
hatred,
puts
propaganda
inciting
All thistakes
international
intothecontextof an "infernal
conspiracy."
place verymuchin thespiritof theominous"Protocolsof theEldersof
Zion" inventedand forgedbytheBlackHundred,underZarismand its
andputto
ofpogroms.Of course,all thiswaswidelyexploited
atmosphere
andGoebbels.Its
ofNazism,Rosenberg
use bythemainideologists
sinister
evenif
of
the
in
official
ideologyimplies danger pogroms,
reappearance
the Soviet state retainsforitselfthe rightto violenceagainstits own
hasmaintained
ofwhatIlyaEhrenburg
indicative
citizens.But it is highly
assimilaof
inauthentic
monument
this
I
mean
Ehrenburg,
confidentially.
Laschik
the
of
with
identified
man
who
the
feelings
tion,
secretly
Roitschwanz,the Lembergtailor,the "eternalJew,"and who wrote
denied
racistpamphlets
againstthebochein thewarbutsimply
outright
of
from
theanalysis
14. In all this,onecanrelyonKorey'sbookwhichdrawsitsdatapartly
suchas Roy
of dissidents,
partlyfromthe statements
publications,
(available)statistical
ofJewish
defender
Leninist
Medvedev,thiscourageous
rights.

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26

Feher

Jewish
anda
martyrdom,
publiclythattherewas specialJewish
solidarity
of Israelin the 1967war,Ehrenburg
Jewishquestion.Afterthevictory
confidential
made thefollowing
remarkto AlexanderWerth:"Well,it's
well
didn't
as
to be exterminated
allow
themselves
they
just
bytheArabs,
as theywerein theHitlerdays.Althoughtherewereplentyofexcellent
Jewishsoldiersin the Red Army,and manyof themwereeven made
Heroes of theSovietUnion,thereis stillthisunpleasant
feelingthatit's
inHitler'sfootsteps,
"natural"forJewsto be massacred.If,following
the
all theJewsin Israel,theinfection
Arabs had startedmassacring
would
havespread:we wouldhavehad herea waveofanti-Semitism."'5
It must
be addedthatthe"natural"wayoutfora visibly
disliked
minority,
namely,
the emigration
to "theirownland" (withwhich,at leastas a temporary
feelssympathy)
isnotonly
solution,an everincreasing
partofSovietJewry
in
but
is
itself
evidence
of
the
"Fascist
of
Zionism"forbidden,
ideology
the mainchargeagainstthis"alien community"
in theorganicbodyof
of Sovietanti-Semitism
Soviet Life. The main function
can easilybe
all
from
this
within
the
whole
of
the
deciphered
period.This
post-Stalin
function
in
loomed
Krushchev's
already
large
"anti-corruption
campaign,"
foreconomiccrimes;
duringwhichthe deathpenaltywas reintroduced
crimeswhichmoney-centered
capitalismonlypunisheswithshorteror
In
this
thepercentage
ofJewsexecuted
longerimprisonments.
campaign,
forsuchcrimeswas,according
to Korey,50% in theRussian,80% inthe
UkrainianRepublic. This obvious "judicial" bias displaysthe usual
character
andfunction
ofconservative
In case
anti-Semitism.
"projective"
ofunresolvable
socialtensions,
onemustalwayshavea universal
scapegoat
ready.Separateitfromthemainbodyofsociety;declareitalienfromthe
ifonlybyvirtueofitsbeingseparated;
itrepeatedly
and
reform,
reprimand
for
an
"alien
but
do
not
it
let
assimilate
or
either
be
publicly being
body"
released fromthe bonds of citizenship.
On the otherhand,do not
it. Quite apartfromthebad pressyouget forsuchthings
exterminate
with
whomare yougoingto replacethem?And ifsomeone
nowadays,
believesthistobe satirical
ofa merely
latenttendency,
letme
exaggeration
that
the
victims
not
are
in
the
interested
of
say
"incognito" their
translate
the
of
"text"
intoa perhaps
Theysimply
persecutors.
persecution
but
I
understandable
can
also
to
one
simplistic
language.
point
particular
andcorroborated
incident,
quotedfrequently
bymanysources.Duringthe
Moscow "negotiations"
betweentheSovietleadership
and thecaptured
was
said
to
have
in
Dubcek-group,Kosygin
exploded the best Black
Hundredmannerwhenhe saw FrantisekKriegelarriving.
He yelled:
"Whatis thisJewfromGaliciadoinghere?"
Only againstthisbackgroundcan Kidhrismand itspolicyon theJewish
question be assessed objectively.In thisregard,KidIr, a man forwhomit
is a matterof genuineinnerbathos thathe feelshimselfa "Leninist,"can
enjoy the satisfactionthat he is more "Krushchevite"than Krushchev
15. In: Korey, op. cit., p. 215, (italicsmine-F.F.)

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Noteson theMarginof a ClassicalEssay

27

himself.For the Sovietgeneralsecretary's


otherwise
claimed
genuinely
Leninismwas phony.Whenitcameto theJewish
a man
Lenin,
question,
devotedto forcedassimilation,
a philo-Semite.
wasnevertheless
Krushchev
was an anti-Semite.
is immediately
visiblewithin
Kiddr'sphilo-Semitism
theHungarianscene,whereovertmanifestations
ofbothSovietand antiSoviet anti-Semitism
are coercivelysuppressed.'6And Kdddrist
philoSemitism
is notsimply
cautioussilenceduring
flood
periodswhenthedirty
of old-timeand anti-Jewish
from
is
Soviet,
copiously
propaganda flowing
CzechandPolishmassmedia.Koreymentions
a seriesofpublicactsofthe
theampleHungarian
Hungarianleadership:
presscoverageofEichmann's
in theSoviet-Union
or a merepretext
trial,whichwas eithera non-event
oftheHungarian
forattacksagainstAdenauer;theverycarefulwording
1967
itunmistakably
which
the
Israeli-Arab
made
war,
standpoint
following
clear thatthe Hungariangovernment's
pro-Arabic
foreign
policywould
in thedisguiseofantinotmeantolerancetowardsmilitant
anti-Semitism
Zionism(and infactdidnot).Henceitwasnotaccidental
andindeedwasa
in disfavor
at thattimeincreasingly
warningto theHungarianleadership,
withBreshnev,
tothe"intrigues
whenon February
3, 1972Pravdareferred
in Hungary.17
of Zionism"supposedly
increasing
On theotherhand,theKdddrist
case studydemonstrates
thatwithout
willnot
thebestintentions
of "higherauthorities"
democratic
safeguards
to the
eliminatethe Jewishquestion.More profoundly
still,it testifies
the Jewishquestion(even its "projective"
of eliminating
impossibility
bothLeninist
version)through
pureandsimple.Following
philo-Semitism
convictions
andpoliticalshrewdness
(Leninclearlyurgedthatthesituation
a situationwhichin turnbecame,
not be turnedintoa social conflict,
because of the small numberof the Jews,onlyprojective)Kdddrdid
he could. He wentto thelimitsof hispossibilities,
something
everything
that cannot be said for the overcautiousHungarianleadership.The
agentsof theHungariansecretpolicenot onlynoted,they
omnipresent
meant
whata certainlecturerof "Marxism-Leninism"
also understood
are Zionists(the personin
whenshe allegedlysaid thatall revisionists
warned,"a doubtful
supportforJews,to saythe
questionwas "seriously
nullusinHungarian
life,whichinitself
political
least).Thereis no numerus
ofanti-Semitic
hatred.However,thereis a
is alwaysan absoluteindicator
16. Not long ago, at a conferenceof Hungarian emigr6s,I heard the allegationagainst
Kdddrthathe selectedthevictimsof thepost-1956trialsaccordingto theirJewishor non-Jewish
thelatter.I can notrejectthischargeoutofhand,as somepeopledidat thisconorigin,protecting
ofretributions
ference,forthesimplereasonthatno one is acquaintedwiththestatistics
exceptthe
of
However,I doubtthevalidity
Hungarianleadership,henceno one knowstherealproportions.
the accusation.
17. Korey, op. cit.,p. 153. Probablyitwas also a belated answerto an incidentinwhichthe
Hungarian leadershipbehaved ambiguouslyaccordingto Moscow standards.In December,
1970, afterthe death sentencesin the Leningradhijackingtrial,G. Lukacs and membersof
his Budapest School, nearlyall Jews,protestedto theHungarianPoliticalBureau againstthe
had to be acquaintedwith
death penaltyin a collectiveletter,a factwhichtheSovietauthorities
and which the Hungarian leadershipansweredto in an evasive and non-committal
way.

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28

Feher

cautiousnumerus
claususat thetop,whichis therein orderto avoidthe
bad "popularpress"of theRakosileadership.
Even thiscan be givena
Kirdrismno longerfeelsitselfso tragically
benevolentinterpretation.
isolatedfromthe"nation,"as hadbeenRakosi'sregime.It doesnothave
ofHungary
as a "Fascistnation,"at leastitis notmotivated
stereotypes
by
in
its
action.
suchfantasy
images
But thereis one revealing
factwhichcannotbe explainedawaybythe
notionof "complying
withSovietwishes":theJewish
questionremained,
evenhistorically,
anathemaforHungarian
cultural
life.Withtheexception
ofa fewbooks,thelast20 yearshaveseenhardly
aboutthe
anypublication
ofHungarian
fateandhistory
No
of
the
Jewish
Jewry. sociology
Hungarian
is
tolerated.
There
be
a
to
rabbinical
instruction
whose
is,
sure,
community
freedom
ofactivity
andlevelis unparalleled
in"realsocialism,"
butthisfits
the generalpatternof Kdddristtolerancetowardsreligions.
No public
utteranceof the factthattheJewishproblemhas existedsince1945is
admittedin theHungarianpress.Even ifHungarian
Jewscould,witha
of
German
fortheir(ortheir
historical
a
recompensation
delay,accept part
no
act
has
ever
been
Kdddr's
relatives')suffering, legislative
passedduring
of
a
to
make
for
the
ofthe
nearlyquarter century
leadership
negligence
up
"Jewishking,"Rakosi:namely,to declarepubiclythatHungarian
Jewry
was Hungary's
andgreatest
warcasualty
andas
primevictim
homogenous
to their
such, the nationowes at least some symboliccompensation
relatives
and
surviving
offsprings.
is a philo-Semitic
because
WhythesilenceifKdddrism
regime?
Simply
of Sovietpressure?I do notthinkso. Some of thereasonsare obvious.
as all EasternEuropeandictatorships,
ismosthesitant
toadmit
Kdddrism,
theexistenceof anyinnersocialtension.It is evenlessreadyto tolerate
debateaboutthesorepointsofsociallife,letalone
publicand democratic
tendencies.(Of course,becauseof the silence
give in to autonomistic
therearesuchintheverysmall
imposeduponthem,nooneknowswhether
But thereis anotherreasonformyfirm
HungarianJewishcommunity).
conviction.
Kdddrism
findsitselfat a pointtheSovietleaderHistorically,
it
tendencies,
shipwasat duringthewar.In spiteofthelackofanti-Semitic
has to yieldto thepressureof a newanti-Semitism
frombelow,whichis
militant
butwhichis notnecessarily
makethe
anti-Kdddrist.To
increasingly
sociologicalformulacomplete,letme emphasizethatI do notmeanthe
whichexistsin pubs and
simple,self-producing
popularanti-Semitism
footballstadiums,nordo I referto antediluvian
vestigesof theHorthy
times.Thereis nowin Hungary
a newanti-Semitism
ofthemiddleclasses
whichis multifaceted
and as anti-Semitism
(among themintellectuals)
On theonehand,itisvehemently
antialwaysis aimedat different
targets.

Marxist and anti-socialist,and in the usual manner of anti-Semitic


radicalism,produces hybridmonstersof imaginationby couplingincompatibles: oppositional intellectualsare linked with the regimethey are
opposed to on thegroundsthattheyare bothnominallyMarxist,or at least
socialist and, by implication,Jewish.On the otherhand, as I mentioned,

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

29

newwaveofanti-Semitism
thisincreasing
is notnecessarily
anti-Kdddrist.
the
it
dissidents
number
ofwhomare,
considers
(an unusually
Partly
high
to
to
be
"alien
elements"
traditions,
Jewish)
according long-term
Hungarian
ofthem.In January,
and is totallymistrustful
dissidents
1977,Hungarian
a
collective
action
of
Charter
with
whose
or77,
solidarity
organized
and
in
alike
the
for
most
Jews.
A
were, fact,
ganizers
signatories
part
knownforhis criticalopinions,was
celebratedHungarianintellectual,
inPariswhyhe didnotjointhem.
askedin a confidential
circleoffriends
He answered:"I do notjoinsuchJewish
actions."Kdddrism
is regarded
in
nationalist
and
class
as
anti-Semitic
middle
people providing
partbymany
inEasternEurope.Forthem,servility
ofcomfort
a maximum
isHungarian
is alien, in otherwords,Jewish.Let me again
and "trouble-making"
or an anti-communist
attitude,
emphasizethatthisis nota pro-communist
coexistwithgovernment
but one whichcan easilyand cynically
policies
and philo-Semitic
coexists
(and withwhicha communist
government
"turbulence"
which,inits"reckless
happily).It standsopposedto Jewish
from
to
turnsoppositional.
ambition,"
generation generation
political
These are the new nightmarish
of
Hunproductions manya nationalist
in
which
the
Bela
Kuns
bolshevism
and
of
antigarian intellectual,
are mergedintoone (notan unusualcocktailin thehistory
of
bolshevism
Here
the
of
with
their
second-rate
references
anti-Semitism).
language
pubs
cri.
to "kikes"once againbecomesde dernier
It does nottakeanyspecialacumenor analytic
to see thatwe
training
ofprojective
herewitha classic-and multi-faceted--case
are confronted
In partit is the hostility
feltbecauseof theirownsocial
anti-Semitism.
whichis naturally
impotence,
projectedon to thosewhotooktherisk.As
ofthissort,itis conceivedinbad faithandneedsthe
withall projections
Whatcomesthrough
traditional
scapegoatforpurposesofrationalization.
ofa distorted
thefilters
attitude
is equallyan actofbad faith:an intended
of
dissentwhichdoes nothavethegutsforit.A classicself-manifestation
The "nationalproblem"(i.e., independence)
is an
thisis the following.
unresolvedproblem;it cannoteven be resolvedundergivenEasternletus supportthegovernment
Nevertheless,
(which
Europeanconditions.
is at least halfwaypatrioticand defendssomeof thenationalinterests)
involvedin
ratherthanjoiningthese"uprooted"oneswhoare constantly
so, sincetheyare
Czech, Polishand otheralienaffairs.
Understandably
inotherwords,Jews.Thisis a classicprojective
attitude
alienthemselves,
ofimpotence
fromone'sfeeling
theneedforhatredarising
whichsatisfies
of beinga "critical"element.It also
and givesthe falseself-assurance
whichis ill at ease aboutthis
guaranteesthe peace witha government
ofintellectual
(ofwhichthey,readingconfidential
policereports
tendency
morethanI), butwhichis notfoolish
knowincomparably
conversations,
withthe"critical"
andproducea newtension
enoughto admititsexistence
whichis one ofitspillars.
intelligentsia,
Is itsdetailed
One mayaskifthiswholecomplexis ofanyimportance?
about
complexfantasizing
analysisnottheresultof a Jewishpersecution

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30

Feher

in itselfand in its present


Undoubtedly,
dangersfromall directions?
and a
it
not
of
But is is a symptom
is
dimensions,
primary
importance.
latentdanger.It is a symptom
of the innerweaknessof oppositionin
offearsintheformofhatredagainstthe"alien,"
Hungary:theprojection
who is also theweaker,is a well-known
and amplyexplainedanalytical
can
as itdid,
well
which
formula.It is a latent
as
becomeactualized,
danger
thesestrataand this
forinstance,in Polandin 1968-69,whenprecisely
of anti-Semitism
attitudeweremobilizedin a hysterical
flare-up
against
Istvdn
intellectuals.
rebellious
non-Jewish,
Bibd,one of themostclearsightedHungarianpoliticalmindsthatever existed,was aware of the
andofthislatentdanger.Whenhe wasaskedby
meaningofthissymptom
friendshowhe couldimaginethefirststepsof hispossiblecome-back
to
said
to
he
was
have
answered:
"Reprintmy
Hungarianideologicallife,
'JewishQuestioninHungary.'Unfortunately,
ithasnotlostitsrelevance."
II. TheMethodological
Aspect
The highestcompliment
thatcan be paidto IstvdnBibd(anda correct
of
intellectual
is to say thathe has onlyone
his
achievement)
locating
Sartre's
sur
la
question
Reflexions
competitor:
juivre.'8The basic difinSartre.In his
ferencebetweenthemis this:history
is totally
non-existent
immortal
one
the
of
this
of
truly
essay,
greatgestures
greatlife,whose
absence we have to feel so painfully
now, he givesthe philosophical
fromthe aspectof a
of the modernstateof Jewishaffairs
morphology
leftist-radical
For Bibd, the wholecomplexcan onlybe
existentialism.
understoodin termsof historical
sociology.As a result,theirscenarios
In
have verydifferent
whois the
protagonists. Sartre,itis theanti-Semite
focal point. The Jew is only his product,his derivative(in his/her
Jewishbeing).WithBibd, it is theconfrontation
inauthentic
ofJewand
non-Jew
thatcreatesthewholecomplex,
andina non-individualistic
sense,
a collisionof collectiveentitiesor ethoses.Both standpoints
are in
withtheirrespective
authors'historical
ForSartre,a
harmony
background.
Frenchthinkerforwhomthe greatrevolution
the
separated millennial
period fromthe present(whichis called by Bibd by its popularname
MiddleAges), thewholepre-1789problematic
can be "textbookish"
and
irrelevant.
Only whathappenedfromthe Dreyfusaffairto Petainand
Laval is relevant.(Here,ofcourse,onemusttrytounderstand
theterms
of
a methodology,not accept its explanation).For Bibd, an Easterna Hungarian,
where"MiddleAges," semi-feudalEuropean,specifically
unresolved
national(andnational
ism,fragmented
emancipation,
minority)
andsham-constitutionalism
those
problems,
imperfect
pluralism
grewfrom
18. Here I am notgoingtodiscuss,evenbriefly,
theJewish
mystical
conceptions.
Theyare
eitherspecific
ofonetree,mysticism
branches
ingeneral,
or,iftheyassumea special"Jewish
substance,"counterracists.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

31

famous"MiddleAges" intothepresent-thiswasan impossible


approach.
It is thus thatBibd, who (in spite of his carefulacademictraining)
camecloserto or rather
better
remaineda "philosophical
somnambulist,"
than
one
the
certain
fertile
solutions
his
for,
competitor,
prepared ground
not
ofthegreatestphilosophical
mindsofthiscentury.
does
(Whichagain
mean,as willbe seenbelow,thatatcrucialpointsI amnotgoingtocriticize
on Sartre.)
Bibd, relying
The main termsof Bibd's standpointare the following.19Firstly,
ofJewinthemodemage.
accordingto him,thereis no generaldefinition
The definition
is dependent
on theapproachto theproblem:fora racist,it
fora Zionista national
is a racial,fora Hassidicmysticist
a religious,
in
he
Bibd's
is
this
byMarx)
suggestion (and
regard is influenced
problem.
It is
interms
ofconflicts.
havetobe understood
thathistory
anditsproducts
conflict
and
strata
social
(or classes)
separatescompetitive
,thatproduces
whatis
ethoses,not the otherway round.This is whyhe understands
ofJewandnon-Jew
Jewishbyanalyzing
theconflict
as collective
entities.
oftheJewish
oftheusualexplanation
This is whyhe makesan inventory
from
the
historicist
materialist,
factof the
operating
problem(historical
and
between
Jewish
Gentile,
psychoantraditionally
developedhostility
and one-sided.
but rejectsall of themas insufficient
alytic-projective)
and distinguishes
methodof investigation
Bibd establishesa three-scale
betweentwoperiodsoftheproblem."I considerthecorrect
(of
hierarchy
a graspofthesocial
thestepsofsearchforexplanation-F.F.) tobe, first,
the
as a socialcommunity,
and positionalchangesof Jewry
development
withsurroundwithothercommunities,
ofitsbeingintertwined
conditions
of
andcommunal
patterns
ingsociety,andthemutualimpactofindividual
therefrom.
behaviourstemming
Finallyall thisshouldbe placedin the
There is no need to be petty
universalprocessof social evolution."20
the
as
somewhat
minutia
mistycontentof "social
(such
regarding
evolution"),nor do I want to be an orthodoxadvocateof historical
and collectivistic
materialism.
This methodological
programis historicist
it
for
me
fulfill
fundamental
function:
to
one
clearly
distinguishes
enough
betweentwo epochs(the MiddleAge and themodem,overwhelmingly
the
ofwhichis non-universalistic,
thefirst
describedbyBibd as capitalist),
betweenthesetwo
In myopinion,the difference
second universalistic.
has a crucial
categoriesintroducedby me intoBibd's trainof thought
I
call
the
Jewish
of
the
on
the
period(a
problem.
understanding
bearing
in whichvalues, patternsof behaviour,
"world-epoch")universalistic
moral prescriptions,
systemsof needs and habitstendto spreadin all
an
co-existthrough
countriesand geographical
regions,in whichcultures
thisessayhadbeen
19. I amnotgoingtoanalyzeSartre'sconception
Partly,
systematically.
reader.
in memory
written
of IstvdnBibd,whoseworksare notavailablefortheWestern
and theJewwill
of theanti-Semite
construction
Partly,Sartreand his phenomenological
reappearin thispaperduringtheanalysisofmootpoints.
20. IstvdnBibd,op. cit.,262.

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32

Feher

interrelation
ofmutual"exploitation"
inthattheytransplant
in
(sometimes
a confusedmilange)the others'good intotheirownsoil and in which
thatis "valuable"in theothermustsomehowbe
everything
practically
fittedinto"our own,"evenifitcontradicts
manyof "our" lifepremises.
Non-universalistic
is itsopposite.Rigidlyseparatedcultures
liveside by
side betweenwhichthereis no commerce,not even tacitlytolerated
forreasonsofprinciple,
a relation
ofmutualandtotal
osmosis,butrather,
exclusion.2'
Thisis all themoreimportant
sinceBibdpointsoutthatwhatever
may
be
called
medieval
and Moslem)anti-Semitism
and
(Christian
accurately
whatcan be betterdescribedas the"problematic
of
three
intertwining"
cultures(Christian
andMoslemwithJewish)
fullofconflict
oftenviolently
out
from
actedout,is to be understood
the
social
fundamental
bystarting
a
factthatit was ritualcommunity
national
or
tribal
state) that
(not
the
social
of
the
key
provided
organization
pattern
period. "Ritual
a
hadinthewholeofmedieval
crucial
communities
and
Europe
importance,
theMiddle-Eaststilllivesinsuch,from
MoroccotoIndia.Thedetermining
has beenpreviously
feltall overtheworld,
impactof thesecommunities
inmanyplacesthananykind
andintheMiddle-Eastis stillmoreimportant
of nationaland raciallineofdemarcation.
It encompassed
andorganized
more
and
manifestations
of
human
emotional
and
incomparably
aspects
volitionallife and communalsolidarity
thandid the state,whichhas
In thisrespect,
fora verylongtimea merepowerstructure.
represented
rite means,not Europeanreligiousconfession
or denomination
in the
but
rather
a
which
determines,
community
beyond
presentmeaning,
and the wholeof humanof confession
religiousaspects,convictions
individual
andcollective-wayoflife:itssocialmorals,everyday
habits,or
characteriswhat,to use a fashionable
term,we wouldcall humanethnic
tics."22While this extraordinarily
deep insightinto medievalsocial
a
clue
for
basic
theunderstanding
ofJewish
social
organizations
provides
a
other
it
also
destiny(and
great many
problems),
"conjuresup"
of socialdevelopment
whichI cannoteventryto
unexpectedmysteries
fathom
here.Butinordertograspthespecificity
ofmedieval
Jewish
life,it
is necessaryto introducethe abovementioned
of "non-univercategory
salistic."The Jewishsocial situationfromthe diaspora(beyondwhich,
Bibd is right,onlyJewishmysticists
to the
pushthequestionanyfurther)
can be fullyunderstoodin termsof a nonperiod of emancipation,
universalistic
ritualcommunity
whereemphasisis laidon bothnounand
Christian
and Moslemcultures,
all three,livedin nonadjective.Jewish,
in whichthe interrelationship
universalistic
ritualcommunities
between
state (the relativelyseparatedpoliticalsphere) and ritualcommunity,
and

canbe bestexplained
21. To mymind,thereis no doubtthatthisdistinction
byhistorical
of thisdoctrine.It is capitalist
whateverthe limitation
aimedat
materialism,
production
thatcreatestheall-pervasive
cultural
universalization
oftheperiod.
universalization
22. I. Bibd,op. cit.,p. 263.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

33

as a result,the interrelationship
betweentheseco-existing
cultures
was
mostdifferent.
As I shallbe givinga somewhat
moredetailedanalysisof
theJewish
shouldsuffice
a fewremarks
theothertwo.
situation,
regarding
momentscould Christianand Moslem
Firstly,onlyforbriefhistorical
cultures
unitepoliticalstateandthewholeofritualcommunity
(forreasons
whichare onlypartlyclearto me andwhichcannotbe enumerated
here).
Thisseparationhad different
forthetworitualcommunities.
implications
WithinIslam, to sketchthe situationin grandabstraction,
political
indifference
despotismhad mostlybeen combinedwitha contemptuous
Thisiswhat
habitsoftheconquered.
towardstheinnermoralandreligious
character
of
Bibd called the "less ideological,"the "less complicated"
thathe locatesthesourceof
It is inthisindifference
Moslemestablishment.
relativeintolerance
accordedtheJewsbytheMoslemsformanycenturies.
In (Western)Christianity
the separationbetweenstate and church
whole
the
ofritualcommunity)
meant,on theone
(spiritually
representing
freedom
intothesystem,
of
and
individual
hand,theintroductionplurality
character.
The
forwhichit paid withitsintensified
religious-ideological
to show the neglectand
lattermade it impossiblefor Christianity
sensethis
indifference
towards
JewsthattheMoslemshad.In thebroadest
Jews
that
for
centuries
for
the
situation
the
basis
paradoxical
provided
moreat the handsof the "religionof love" thanfrommartial
suffered
didnotmeanthatthesecultures
Islam.Secondly,notbeinguniversalistic
it onlymeantthattheywerenot
werenot "spreading"and conquering;
ever
As opposedtomanyAsiancultures
(whichneverorhardly
reciprocal.
both
Moslems
and
borderline)
trespassedon theirgeographical-racial
This meant,however,in the case of
Christiansaspiredto exclusivity.
Moslems only politicalrule, in the case of the latterthe exclusive
ofthe
normsand habits(up to theextermination
ofChristian
domination
I
from
all
It
will
become
clear
the
this, think,
alien,
again
"pagan"one).
fromviolence
had to suffer
whyJewryunderChristianrule inevitably
as one would say withmodernization)
("outburstsof anti-Semitism,"
reform
without
recurrence
wouldhaveperhaps,
whosesystematic
religious
to
total
led
either
for
zeal
of
the
exclusivity,
religious
blunting edge
of
all
Jews
from
the
total
or
the
assimilation
expulsion
equally
religious
the
Jewish
to
of
an
Before
Western
of
turning analysis
Christianity.
sphere
onefactor
ofemancipation,
ethosbetweenthediasporaandthebeginnings
to
with
understood
should
be
crucialforJewish
regard Christianity.
destiny
ofChristianity,
ritualcommunity
For thislatter,ideologically
overheated,
in otherwords,whichonly
butnotuniversalistic,
whichwas exclusivistic
it in a true"give-andwantedto eliminatetheheathen,notto assimilate
aliendidnotsimply
take" process,thereligiously
provoketheshockone
the unusual. It was eternalscandal and
normallyfeels when confronting
constantprovocation.
I shall now offera sketchytypologyof the "medieval" Jewishritual
community,withall the necessarydeficienciesof such a broad overview.
Firstly, it was a strictlymonotheisticuniverse, somethingwhich was

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34

Feher

forerunner
bothbyMoslemsandChristians.
acceptedas their(imperfect)
But thiswasa dangerous
The
Jew
couldnotsimply
be regarded
proximity.
as an "erringpagan" withhis manydeities,who couldbe reformed
by
The Jew was pervertedand perverting
authoritarian
instruction.
(essinceoncehavingreachedtheclosestpossible
peciallyfortheChristian),
Truth
had
Christ
to
whois Truth),theyturned
vicinity
againstitand
(they
crucified
theRedeemer.Notcondescending
as
thecasewith
was
contempt,
the pagan, but ratherhatredwas the Jews'lot forthisperversion
and
obstinatewickedness
intheeyesofChristianity.
TheChurch,
trueenough,
did not simplyreducemattersto the notionthat"the Jewscrucified
nevercouldovercomeitshatredat
Christ,"buttheChristian
community
theverysightofa peoplewhichhad JesusChristas itsownandcouldnot
him.In addition,
butcrucify
theonlyJewish
God wasan incorporeal
being
who had neverturnedintobloodand flesh(as had theChristian
God).
Thus we findthetraditionally
Jewishinclination
forabstract
widespread
speculation(whichwas, however-one need onlyread Isaac Bashevis
confined
to thereligious,
whoneverharboured
elements
Singer-strictly
ofan enlightenment
oftheirown)butalsotheconflict
withthemuchmore
popularand sensuous,eventhoughequallyspeculative
Christianity.
ritualcommunity
wasbasedon a religion
whichwasa
Secondly,Jewish
religionof legality(in the Kantiansense of the world),a religionof
not of conscienceand inwardness.
One of the
customary
prescriptions,
of theJesus-tragedy
returns
possibleinterpretations
(which,forinstance,
inBach'sJohannes-Passion)
is thatJesus,as a powerful
of
subject morality
who declaredhimselfto be the incarnation
of the "new law" and who
introducedunheard-ofcategoriessuch as charisma,the "strength
of
fortheJewish
which
belief,"etc. was an unbearableprovocation
religon,
observedrules devoid of subjectiveovertonesof conscience.This is,
sourceofconflicts,
ofhostility
between
however,in itselfan uneliminable
theJewish
andChristian
ritualcommunities.
Eventhough
thelatterturned
Jesus Christ'ssubjectivemoral rosterinto the foundation
of a new
collectiveethos,italwayspreserved
theindividual's
relationto
subjective
thecollectivemorality
(hereinliesone ofitsgreatemancipatory
missions).
As a result,itcouldreactwithnothing
buthatredandsuspicion
toJewish
without
"submission
whereasthewholeattitude
wasforJews
dedication,"
be Christianized)
irrational,
(even forJewswhodecidedto letthemselves
inhumanand absurd.On theotherhand,Jewish
ethosacquiredveryearly
the collectivewisdomnot to transform
theirreligiouslegalityinto a
fornearlytwothousand
politicalone. Theygaveup all politicalaspirations
years.The "law" theyhad (and in thenameofwhichtheydemandedthe

crucifixionof "Rex Iudeorum") was and remaineda religiouslaw without


politicalimplications,and itsinner-worldly
consequencesdid nottranscend
in principle the walls of the ghetto. To a great extent this wisdom
contributed to Jewish survival. It created the millennial stereotype of the "cowardly" Jew who cannot lift a finger in his/her
own defence (and as such provoked a great many aggressive acts),

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

35

but did not make its obliterationa necessityfor the contending


ethoses.
turnedouttobe indomesticable
as faras itsreligion
But,thirdly,
Jewry
was concerned.Here it is immaterial
how manyJewsconvertedto
underduress,fortheonlyobjectivewaytoassessthisistotake
Christianity
the oppositeroute: to understand
the miraculousfactthatthe ritual
it
in
small
as
remained
stillsurvived.
Ofcourse,there
number,
community,
were good reasonsforthismiracle.Jewishreligionwas notonlyjustas
in itseschatological
in its"epistemexclusivistic
beliefs,justas dogmatic
the
it
in
as
had
a
vivid
and
addition
Christian,
flamboyant
ology"
Messianisticspirit (Michel L6wy analyzed it in a fine study in
NGC 20) whereasthe "Messianisticspirit"(giventhe Adventof the
Messiah as an eventin thepast) was sparklingas a futureperspective
onlyin

Christiansects. At this point,the previously


mentioned"wisdomof
survival"prevailedonceagainin theJewish
theJewish
ritualcommunity:
was
a
Of
there
external
not
one.
were
solid
course,
religion
converting
reasonsforthemnotto be. Once again,itis sufficient
to readSinger'sThe
Slave to see whata mortaldangera Jewish
wasexposedto ifit
community
toleratedconverts
Butthisargument
(letaloneifitincitedtoconversion).
is not absolute,for manysects foughtand convertedup untiltheir
The spiritof theJewishritualcommunity
completephysicalextinction.
the
individual
of
yearswasa
psyche Jewsfornearlytwothousand
shaping
walls
mixture
of
utter
submissiveness
outside
the
or
actual)
(spirital
strange
of theirghettoand passivebutdaringstubbornness
to thepointofdeath
whenit cameto theultimate
ofthereligious
community.
principles
as
a
ritual
was an "unsettled"
one. They
community
Jewry
Fourthly,
showedno specificaffinity
to anyarea,ethnicgroup,nation,etc.The Jew
was thealienpar excellence.
Thiswas a collectivetraitofJewry
as ritual
and
whichso deeplydetermined
Jewishintellect
traditional
community
inclinations
thatitremained
a traitwithan unusually
highamountofJews
so evenafterthe
faraftertheassimilation
processstarted.Thisremained
ritualcommunity
andno longershaped(at leastnot
as suchdisintegreated
butalways
Goebbels'infernal
Jew'spsychology.
theindividual
necessarily)
actuallyexisting
sharpintellectgrapsedat leastone aspectof something
whenhe coinedthesloganofhatredabout"Jewish-Bolshevik
plutocracy."
out
ofalienness-evendecadesaftergetting
Jews,feelingthefascination
of the ritualrootlessness-found
the two channelsthrough
whichone
in greatnumber:
affiliated
could "findroots"withoutbeingnationally
moneyand socialism.
factors
Finally,as a combinedupshotofthevariousalreadymentioned
social existence
(inclinationto abstractthinking,coercivelycircumscribed
which excluded Jewsfrommanyprofessions,self-determination
through
religion) there came about a limitedrationalismand pragmatismas a
characteristicfeatureof Jewishethos. Here I would brieflymentiontwo
aspects of this element. There is a limitedrationalisminherentin Jewish
ritualcommunity,althoughthe latterstrivesto keep criticalreasonwithin

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36

Feher

theboundariesof religioustradition.
Once again,Singer'schronicles
are
of
not
to
documents
this
us
overestimate
"natural"
tension,
great
warning
Jewishaffinity
to Enlightenment.
If we thinkof theunceasing
conflicts
betweenthegreatest
Jewish
intellects
andtheritualcommunity
(say,from
Maimonidesto Spinoza), we get the same picture.Further,Jewish
rationalism
findsitswayeasilyintothefinancial
"calculative-pragmatic"
world.Thisis in briefthebasisofSombart's
storyabouttheJews'rolein
we
now
from
abstract
his famousdistinction
capitalism(if
triggering
between"organic"and "inorganic"capital,whichwas to playsucha
sombrerole later).As is evident,all thisis buta reformulation
froma
of
different
what
has
been
said
above.
angle
It is fromtheseconstituent
partsthatthereemergesa circumscribed,
distinctand isolatedJewishexistencein a historicalcosmos,whose
and a reciprocal
differentia
specificais thatit does not entailtolerance
even
as
a
norm.
As
a
the
cosmos
the
result,
learning
process,
surrounding
Jewsfeelsnotonlyalienness,whichin a universelackingtoleranceand
in itself.This worldalso has the
as a normis irritation
reciprocity
a
of
ritual
which
is firstly,
even
self-conscious,
perception
community,
its
own
of
its
distinctness.
(in
proud
disguisedway)
Secondly,this
is
close
to
Christian
now
ethos
leave
the
Moslemout
(I
community
enough
ofconsideration
to
contain
of
its
some
butin
basic
deliberately)
categories,
a transformed,
or accordingto Christian
lingo,distorted
way.For this
butrequires"harshmeasures"to
reason,it does notneed "instruction,"
and ideologically
keep its perversionin check. Finally,thisirritating
self-conscious
ritualenclavehas no political-military
meansto defend
itself,whichmakesit an easypreyand provokesaggression.
All thishas to be said in orderto criticize
theweakestpointofBibd's
to
the
conflict
between
Jewsandnon-Jews
has
him,
conception.
According
constitutive
elements:medievalanti-Jewish
three, equally important,
of modemdevelopment
religiousbias, the "disturbances"
(whichis a
fortheantinomies
ofcapitalism
and,forthelast60 years,the
euphemism
conflictswithinthe new societycallingitselfsocialism)and the (noncollectedaboutJews.Nowitis thethird
which
Jewish)experience
category
I partlywant to transform
in its meaning,partlyclarifyas faras its
conceptualstatusis concernedand partlyreject.23In myopinion,the
relecategoryof "Jewishexperience"has a certainlimitedexplanatory
vancefortheclarification
ofthenatureandrootsofmedieval
anti-Jewish
distinct
fromwhatBibd callsreligious
antifeeling,butis notsomething
Jewishbias.The latterisbased-withina universe
inwhich,
letmerepeat,
toleranceand reciprocity
are not even norms-on the perception
and
statementof the others'aliennessand this aliennessis in itselfthe
23. Let memakeitveryclearthatitis notJewish
biasthatmotivates
meinthiscriticism.
I
do notdenyat all thatifwe takehumangroups,one ofthemexclusively
theother
Jewish,
non-Jewish
in theirpractical-moral
intercourse
we shallfindas manynegative,
repulsive,
etc. features
on theJewish
sideas on anyothernon-Jewish
inhumane,
one.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

37

substanceofanti-Jewish
biasand of "Jewish
These
religious
experience."
are not two distinctfactorsbut one. The Christianethos,whichis
but not universalistic
and whichoperatesin termsof a
exclusivistic
dogmaticepistemology
knowingonly "truebelievers,""heretics"and
that
theJewis alien.This veryact is thenegative
"pagans," perceives
in a worldin whichritualcommunities
Jews
in
do
about
experience
itself
not tend to appropriateall valuesof the others,but on the contrary,
deliberatelyexclude certainvalues of the otherritualcommunities.24
and
Aliennessis in itselfthebasisofhierarchy
and (negative)judgement
in
and
so
the
a
ritual
which
is
submissive
case
of
doubly
community
obedient politically,but provocatively
obstinateas far as its "false"
for
Thiswillbe madetheuniversal
scapegoat
religiousideasareconcerned.
and
its
In
where
of
ills."
this
unified
alienness
role,
"worldly
perception
two
one
of
term
"causation"
are
the
act,
negative-biased
judgement
aspects
ethosesfromwhichnormsor
can be accepted.In all pre-enlightenment
are absent,thestatement
of
toleranceand learning
fromalienexperience
him
or
theother'saliennessis causeforan instantaneous
towards
hostility
Thisis trueifwe conceiveof"cause" as
heron varying
levelsofintensity.
behaviorto whatis
an explanatory
thatfeedsbacktheindividual
principle
in the present
in
ethos.
Even
as
the
and
wrong,
given
regarded right,
ofa typeverysimilarto medievalantiworld,we are witnessto outbursts
Chinesecommunities,
Semiticpogromssuchas thoseagainstexpatriate
these Jews of Asia, by pre-Enlightenment
(Indonesian,Malaysian,
intensive
Vietnamese,etc.) ethoseswhichare caused by exceptionally
of
the
alien.
hatred
feelings
against
theuniversalistic-capitalistic
Whenwe cometo thesecondworld-epoch,
one, Bibd's explanationabout the Jewishexperienceas a causative
principleloses all its relevanceand takeson dangerous,namelyracist,
The reasonforthisissimple:thenewperiodischaracterized
connotations.25
ofritualcommunities,
also bythe
and thedisintegration
by emancipation
universalacceptanceoftoleranceanda reciprocal
learning
processatleast
factthatthisnormis
as a norm.(We need notdwellon thewell-known
no
in whichritualcommunities
violateddaily.)But in thisnewuniverse,
extent,
proceedsto an unprecedented
longerexistand individualization
can notbe perceivedor statedin social
commonvalueand need systems
of
entities,norcan any"commonmoralsubstance"be found.The feeling
foroutbursts
ofviolenceagainstthe
beingalienis no longerjustification
alien,notevenintheeyeofone'sown(national,ethnic,etc.)community.
and
maritalvirtues,
or polygamous
24. As faras sexualideals,monogamous
marriage,
(to mention
onlysomeof theconcrete
equality(at leastbeforeGod), etc. are concerned
rolethesevalues
valuesoftheethosesinquestion),therecanbe nodoubtaboutthedifferent
ina similar
ethoses.Someofthemareacceptedinall,andinterpreted
way,
playindifferent
othersare onlypartofone or theother,someare exaltedas basesforhierarchies.
falls
25. Needlessto say,all thishappensin spiteoftheauthor'sintentions.
Bibdsimply
victimhereto an exaggerated
impartiality.

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38

Feher

communities
and "normal"
At leastthisis thecase inpost-Enlightenment
it
-i.e. non-Fascist-periods
as
I
have
was
whereas,
argued,
justification
to
indeedin thepreviousworld-epochs.
Perhapsit is nottoo far-fetched
incountries
inwhichnation
assumethatracistideologiesserve(especially
is morean organicthana contractual
forthismissing
body)as substitutes
of
ethoses
based
on
ritual
and also,
community
homogeneity disappeared
lines
the
as
of
division
between
allegedly
superior
by implication, (false)
and allegedlyinferior
collectiveentities.Onlyifone accepts(whichBibd
mostcertainly
does not intendto do) thesefalseand mystical
(racial)
are distinct
and standin a moralhierarchy
in each
which
"substances"
ethnic-national
groupas comparedto theother(s),can one speakof the
"Jewishexperience"as a causeofanti-Semitism.
one accepts
If,however,
the universalistic
characterof the modemworldepoch, in whichno
distinctive
value cosmoscan be ascribedto any nationalbodywhose
constituents
wouldnotat leastbe claimedbyall others,can "experience"
ofanytypeserveas a causeofa generalized
negative
stereotype,
regardless
if the pointof departureis an individual
or a collectiveexperience.If
medieval"Gentiles"statedcorrectly
thatJewswere "alien" in every
of
their
confession
and
ritual
basedon thisconfession,
aspect
community
thiswasnotonlyfactually
truebutitalsoimplieda relative
for
justification
the hostility
the
in
structure
of
them,
against
given
rationality anyprenon-universalistic
In thatsense,itwascause.
world-order.
Enlightenment,
If the youngGoebbels statedthatGundolfunjustlyrejectedhimas a
doctorandus
becausehe had excellent
intellectual
capacities(whichwasa
factualtruth,as manyJewshad themisfortune
to "experience"
on their
Jewsare unjustand a malignant
tumorin thesocial
skin),and therefore
ifanti-Semitic
thatJewshave
bodyto be eliminated;
groupsstatecorrectly
a predilection
forintellectual
work,thattheyareregularly
over-represented
inintellectual
arelazyandshouldbe senttocamps"to
fields,andtherefore
teachthemmores,"thepremiseis nota causebuta pretext
fordestructive
andprojection.
thatinouruniversalistic
generalization
(It is notaccidental
epochpeopleare as touchyas theyareaboutanykindofgeneralizations).
As a resultthislatterattitudeis notaccompanied
ourusual
byaversion,
reactionto whatwe feelto be simplyalien,butbyhatred.
It is my firmconvictionthat Sartreis absolutelyrightwhen he
characterizes
the anti-Semite
in the following
way: "This commitment
(that of the anti-Semite
againstthe Jew-F. F.) is not provokedby
experience . . . The (Jewish)experienceis veryfar fromgeneratingthe

notionof the Jew;on the contrary,


it is the notionthatexplainsthe

experience .

. So it is the idea made of Jewswhichseems to determine

and it is nothistorical
data fromwhichtheidea wasborn.. ."26
history,

And this morphology is not a sentimentalgesture of philo-Semitic


26. Sartre,op. cit., pp. 14-18.

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

39

it is nota wreathplacedon thestatueofthepersecuted.


magnanimosity,
is of muchtoo harda coreto resortto shallowand
the
Sartre, thinker,
WhileBibdwassuperior
the
emotional
to himindrawing
gestures.
simple
broad historicaloutlinesof the problem,he missed,in his traditional
thewholecomplexity
ofmodernlifewhichSartregraspsinone
rationality,
firmgesturewithhiscentralprotagonist,
As I mentioned,
theanti-Semite.
hereBibdcommits
theJewish
theanti-Semite
he
identifies
mistake; tacitly
with all those who are not philo-Semites
and who have no positive
ofJews(eventhough
thisis fairly
inconsistent
forhe
personally,
stereotype
was nothimself
in
the
of
the
sentimental
sense
word).But
philo-Semitic
the"manofaversion"is theaverageheroofnon-universalistic
ethosesand
The
has verylittleto do (ifanything
at all) withthemodernanti-Semite.
radicalwholivesinthechosenpassionofhatredagainst
latteris therightist
the Jew and forwhomthis"vision"is centraland the focalpointof
illumination
he shedson hisuniverse.
I would like to emphasizethreecomponentsof Sartre'sdetailed
"The anti-Semite
has chosen
characterization.
The firstis thefollowing:
is notonlya manof
hatred,forhatredis a religion."27Buttheanti-Semite
hatred,he is also a manoffear:"Thisis a manwhois afraid,ofcourse,not
of hisfreedom
of hisconsciousness,
of Jewsbutof himself,
.. ."28 And
"Of
enemies
of the
all
the
most
and
course,
importantly:
finally perhaps
Jewdo notdemandhisdeathpublicly.
However,themeasuressuggested
andcommunication
debasement
bythemandwhichaimat hishumiliation,
of thatassassination
are thederivatives
contemplating:
theyare inwardly
has hisownimageof
theseare symbolicmurders.Onlytheanti-Semite
It is nothisfault,atanyrate,ifit
he is a criminal
forgoodmotives.
himself:
is hismissionto reduceEvilbyEvil ... He knowsthathe is evil,butsince
to be the
himself
he does evil forthesake of goodness... he considers
holyevil."29
one is entitledto
In analyzingthis remarkablephenomenology,
disregardthe sociologicalaspects.Theyare secondaryto Sartre'smain
or exaggerated
mistaken
andoften"too French"to
sometimes
intentions,
tothoseofBibdatleastinone
be generalizable
(although
theyaresuperior
does notoccuronlywhen
respect:theyclearlyshowthatanti-Semitism
butthattheproblemis morecomplex.)The chief
democracyis missing,
oftheusuallevelof
is thetranscendence
meritofSartre'sphenomenology
insocialisttheory.
anti-Semitism
Up untilhisessay,thegeneral
discussing
wasdetermined
thewording
ofthearguments)
level(ifnotnecessarily
by
of the fool. This
is
the
socialism
Bebel's dictumthat anti-Semitism
ills. First,it reducesthe whole
suffersfromthe following
formulation
ofintellectual
which,in
oftheproblemto thepoverty
content,
complexity
27. Sartre,op. cit.,p. 22.
28. Sartre,op. cit.,p. 64.
29. Sartre,op. cit.,p. 59/60.

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40

Feher

thewakeof theundeniablefactthatintellectuals
oftherankofHamsun,
etc.
militant
is
no
C6line,
anti-Semitism, longertenable.Second,
joined
"low intellectuality"
does not accountforthe heat of the hatred;the
dedicationto the evil cause; the Hegeliantwistof servingthe "good"
and artistic
throughevil means; the operaticinvention
designof mass
Nor does it,thirdly,
annihilation.
the
wide
of
diversity
sociological
explain
those havingjoined anti-Semitism
as a militant
from
of
the
way life,
Sartre'sformula
genuinely
poorin spiritto theintellectually
sophisticated.
Whenhedescribes
accountsforall thesefactors.
anti-Semitism
as a belief(a
non-institutionalized
a
of
the
Grand
(a religion
religion), religion
Inquisitor
ofthe"fearoffreedom"),
a religion
whichisinextricably
boundupwithevil,
In Marx'sconcephe actuallyinverts
Marx'sthesisofreligious
alienation.
"man"
finds
human
"best
inan
tion,
speciesbeing,his/her part"inreligion
alienatedform.But,irrespective
ofalienation,
theintention
is aimedat the
findin thereligion
of hatred,or fearof
good. Whatdoes theanti-Semite
freedom?A newdemonology,
themythof theinfernal
in an increasingly
atheistic
in
As
other
the
ofreligion,
here
epoch.
many
aspects, awakening
in
since
mundane
has
too,hasnotbrought
itself,
emancipation
emancipation
not come true. Istvin Bibd is rightwhenhe emphasizesthateven if
Christian
foranti-Semitism
itis an
prejudiceis responsible
(moreprecisely:
theessenceofChristianity
cannotbe exhausted
partofthisreligion),
integral
character
ofthisremark
bythisprejudice.Thejustified
(andnon-apologetic)
is nevermoreclearthanwhenone considers
aboutthe
Sartre'sargument
to theend.By thisI mean
anti-Semite's
"negativereligion"-demonology
themoveto theextreme,
to themoment
whenHitler,ina paganescapade,
cutstheumbilical
cordwhichup untilthenstillsomehowtiedanti-Jewish
of theGod-Son,to thereligion
of love.It is in this
feelingto thereligion
momentof pagan freedomthatthe "finalsolution"is conceivedand
executed.
victimoftheChristian
ethos,
Whatmade theJew,therepresentative
once again the victimpar excellencein an epochwhichis increasingly
atheist?We gain sociologicalinsightintothisin readingBibd and we
Sartre's
obtain an ultimatephilosophicalexplanationby interpreting
these two
theoryabout the "negativereligion"of the anti-Semite:
do not
of one of thegreatest
humantragedies
presentations
outstanding
are
the
reasons
the
For
other.
each
contradict
Bibd, sociological
following.
withanynational
to "alienness,"to non-affiliation
First,Jewishaffinity
partof Jewry)despite
community
persists(at least in a considerable
when
its
first
wavesfail.Hencethe
and
assimilation
tendencies, especially
thatofthe"borntraitor"
of"homeless,""rootless,"sometimes
stereotype
(in the Soviet edition: the cosmopolitan). Second, its urban character
itsforcibleexclusionfrom
imposed on Jewryby the Christiancommunity;
the Christianvillage turnsintoan advantagein thatitbecomes involvedin
in intellectualprofessions.Hence the
hautefinanceand is over-represented
or
the
the
of
"scheming"Jew who "has moneyeven
"lazy"
stereotype
under his skin." Finally,Bibd, the genuinedemocrat,reproachestheJew

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

41

hislottoo
withthepersecuted)
forsuffering
(becauseof a deep solidarity
of
stems
the
From
this
submissiveness
dangerous
stereotype
obediently.
For Sartre,we knowit already,
the easy preywhichtemptsaggression.
who createsthe
thereis no "Jewishexperience":it is the anti-Semite
of
in
his
and
whose
Jew
"religion hatred"creates
image
(inauthentic)
Jewishexperiences.As a result,sociologicalevidenceis for Sartre
are concerned,
hisanswer
tendencies
irrelevant.
But as faras historical
differfromthatof Bibd. The believerin the
does not fundamentally
of "religiousatheism"simply
militant
"religionof hatred,"the rightist
forhisownnegative
of
takesovertheuniversal
scapegoat positivereligion
bothSartre
these
will
be
no
end
to
There
practices,
religion,
demonology.
and Bibd state(the latterat leastin one periodof his life)exceptin a
of hatred(no matter
"classlesssociety,"whichmakesregularoutbursts
humanbywhetherof "social" or "projective"character)a negligible
product.
What is the actualbackground
(broaderthantheHungarianscene)
which
were
these
thoughts putdownon paper?Firstandforemost
against
oftheJewish
is thefeelingthatthemoderatehopesgreatanalysts
question
such as Bibd or Sartreraisedmorethan30 yearsago have altogether
even
waned.As a radicalJewishobserverofJewishaffairs
(and without
with
that
in
one
can
this
field,)
say
resignation,
claiming
specialknowledge
in
in
which
there
once
historical
times
is
we
are
again
unfortunately,
living
elements?
a "Jewishquestion."Whatare itsconstitutive
First,thereis once againa regionin whichanti-Semitism
(in itspreAuschwitzform)has in barelydisguisedformbecomeofficialpolicy,
and its EasternEuropeansatellites.The
namely,in the Soviet-Union
"Soviet" anti-Semitism
formsof thisvaryfromcountryto country.30
"internal
discrimination
from
through
passports"
open
ranged
practically
to a
withmorecovertformsof discrimination)
(a systemcomplemented
and
bothJewish
self-articulation
whichrepresses
kindof"philo-Semitism"
whileconstantly
anti-Semitism
overtanti-Semitism,
againstits
reproducing
own will. In some of thesecountries(Poland,Lithuania,the Ukraine)
benefits
fromovertandcovertofficial
traditional
"popular"anti-Semitism
it and takingincreasingly
a
with
"tacit
coalition"
making
support,
aggressiveform.FromKorey'sbook we knowthatthe petitionof 26
intellectuals
Lithuanian
Jewish
policiesin1968wasnot
againstanti-Semitic
signedbecause of a fearof pogrom.That thisfearis farfrombeing
ofatleastone
hasalsobeendocumented
unfounded
byKorey:theexistence
pogrom is known to have occurred in Plunge, Lithuania in

whichdisappeared
30. Therewas, of course,a "Jewish
question"in theArabcountries
and whichwas, to myknowledge,
of thesecountries
withthe "de-Judification"
complete.
inIraninwhicha
ofanti-Semitic
measures
evidenceof theflare-up
Thereis also gathering
anyhow.
oppressesall sortsofminorities
government
rightist-radical

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42

Feher

notonly
1958.31Pressreleaseson "Zionists"inPolandin1968-69testified
to a Stuermer-like
toneofthe"socialist"media,butalsototheexistence
of
an unpleasantly
detailedknowledge
of certainpeople'sJewishpastwho
survivedtheHolocaustandwhowantedto eraseitfromtheirmemory
but
who could not skip out unnoticedfromthe graspof this"omniscient
anda further
mind."An additional
degradation
gravesignofdeterioration
of innerdemocraticnormslies in the factthatwe can finda "mirror
anti-Semitism.
and oppositional
betweenofficial
Despitethe
symmetry"
as
Russian
intellectuals
such
Sakharov,Medvedev,Nekrasov,
great
tradition
and
who
have
Yevtushenko, Sinyavksy,
keptalivetheTolstoyan
of stigmatizing
anti-Semitism
as Russianmalady"above"and"below,"in
attitude
andstatements
(withall dueregardtohisunforgetSolshenytsin's
thereare signsofa hopeless
tablecontribution
to Russianemancipation)
the
similar
to
Soviet
he
hates
most.
Noris thisall.The new
leaders
bigotry
10-15
linkbetween"antithe
with
its
so-called
of
last
years,
development
and"worldZionism,"-thisrelapse
Soviet"Zionist(i.e. Jewish)agitation
into the lingoand mistybut emotionally
arousinghintsof the Black
Hundredandthe"Protocols
oftheEldersofZion"aboutJewish
aspiration
forworlddomination,
a nationalism
whichtransforms
(Zionism),uncriticallyacceptedin thecase ofArabstates,into"racism"-cannotbutpave
the road to eventswhichperhapseven thosewho preparethe socioconditions
forthemdo notintend.
psychological
has withered
Second, it is clearthatone greathope of worldJewry
in
the
last
the
that
with
the
establishment
of
decade,
away
namely, hope
Israelas theJewish
wouldabateandJews,regardless
state,anti-Semitism
ofwhether
wouldbe treated
notas
theylivedinIsraelandwereitscitizens,
of
race
a
and
of
hatred
but
as
or
(actual possible)
specimens
targets
membersof a nationalcommunity.
To myknowledge,
one aspectof
in thisregardwhileemotionally
Entebbe,so illuminating
playedup, has
if
been
Even
we
look
the
rarely(ifever)
analyzed.
beyond dismalsightof
"Germanrevolutionaries"
Jews
from
non-Jews
(in ordernotto
isolating
in
evoke the sightof earliernational-socialist
"Germanrevolutionaries"
at
the
Entebbe
we
cannot
the
that
fact
SS-uniform)
airport,
disregard
they
werelookingforJews(specimens
ofa race),notforIsraelis(citizens
ofa
thiswouldnothavemadethe
state).Needlesstosay,hadtheydonethelatter,
actionanymorehumaneoracceptable.
isthatEnMypoint,here,however,
tebbewasa spectacular
success
for
Israel
as
a
state
and
a
practical
justas symbolicandspectacular
denialofitshopesthatIsrael'sveryexistence
wouldchannel racisthatredbackintothenormalframework
ofnationalist
conflicts.
31. Korey, op. cit., 174. And ifone arguesthatthiswas not an officially
organizedaction
(which is a certainty),perhaps not even encouraged by the authoritiesand maybe even
punished by them, the factstillremainsthatthe Soviet press,while alwaysmakingsuch a
about
strongcase about "anti-Soviet"crime,forinstance,at the timeof the Plunge-pogrom
crimes of embezzlers,almost all withJewishnames, kept perfectsilence about the fateof
pogromists.

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NotesontheMargin
ofa Classical
Essay

43

One mightwellaskwhether
thisis indeedthequestionfortheagenda,
As Saidhasasked:shouldwenotsee Zionismwith
ratherthanitscontrary.
and socialists,
theeyesof itsvictims32-isthisnotthedutyofdemocrats
andbinding
I thinkitisbothappropriate
tostatethe
Jewish
ornon-Jewish?
conviction.
The
Palestinian
case
must
be solved
as
following mypersonal
ofan autonomous
stateoftheirown.No jingoism,
withintheframework
or civilian
no oppressionis acceptableon the partof Israelimilitary
forthe
and sympathy
A statebornout of moralindignation
authorities.
ofpogroms
and gas
remnants
eternalunderdog,createdbythesurviving
thebases of itsownexistence(morethan
chambers,simplyundermines
otherstates)if it becomesoppressiveand retaliatesagainstthe Fascist
womenand
commandoes
towardchildren
actionsof terrorist
bybombing
foritsown
Israel
this
both
makes
All
inrefugee
children
responsible
camps.3the
American
of
the
deeds
for
some
of
and
policy co-responsible
oppressive
itexfor
life."
in
its
to
it
has
which
on
Certainly
"struggle
perforce rely
strategy
worldof
the
a
with
it
considerable
of
the
State
Israel
remaining
part
(and
poses
add
saidthis,letmeimmediately
Yethaving
tonewandgravedangers.
Jewry)
Palestinian
the
without
is
no
there
While
a pessimistic
solving
peace
prediction.
therewill
withitssolution,
question,theremustbe seriousdoubtswhether,
whether
formulated
be peace and reconciliation
powers
differently,
(Or,
intension,notinpeace,wouldeveralloweventualpeace). It is
interested
whichis projechardnotto detecta newupsurgeofgeneralanti-Semitism
but
as faras itsgoalsareconcerned,
andmultidimensional
tiveincharacter
is
fervour
whichis unifiedin one sense-its pro-Palestinian
emancipatory
various
for
a
policyobjectives.
mostly pretext pushing
SocialText1 (Winter
ofitsVictims,"
32. EdwardW. Said, "ZionismfromtheStandpoint
1979),7-58.
andmoralimhasmoralprinciples
onecanstatethatwhilepolitics
33. As a generalprinciple,
ofIsraelas a stateisspecialevenmore
Butthestatus
isnotbasedonmorality.
plications,
politics
natfrom
deducted"
hadbeen"'philosophically
so thanwasthestatusoftheUnitedStateswhich
of Enlightenment.
ural law and the principles
was, by the
(This lattercircumstance
frameof
on laterAmerican
influence
policyandcreateda constant
way,notat all without
Israel was bornof a
even for radical-socialist,
referencefor democratic,
aspirations).
fortheHolocauston thepartof a "public
collectivefeelingof retrospective
responsibility
fateuntilit
aboutJewish
unconcerned
optimistic)
(orirresponsibly
opinion"whichremained
is nottheir
was too late. Jewscan arguethata belatedandworld-wide
pangofconscience
alien imposedon themand thattheywantto behave
moralsituation,it is something
ofnational
bodies.Yet theycannotchangethefact
i.e. withthenormalegotism
"normally,"
is
rusede guerre,
thatmanya pragmatic
"hit-teams")
(suchas theuseof"counter-terrorist"
whichisnotthecase
Israellosingitsbasisofexistence,
themwithout
notpermitted
something
itis veryinteresting
In thisregard,
methods.
that,
forotherluckiernationsemploying
dirty
ofthisaction,no one
whereastherewas someformal
againstthe"illegal"character
protest
whichcorroborates
mythesis
negatively
kidnapping,
againstEichmann's
seriously
protested
of the Stateof Israel.One wouldthinkthatit is especially
about the moralfoundation
forIsrael to have close relationswitha Fasciststatesuch as South-Africa.
prohibitive
whowould
oftheaverageIsraelicitizen
thisis a specialburdenon theshoulders
Undeniably,
behave as an averagememberof any averageinterest
group,not as a moralprinciple
Istv~nBibd:such
ofthisstudy,
oftheprotagonist
Butone hastosayinthespirit
personified.
caseofIsrael.
inthespecial
evenpolitically
unacceptable
andforthatreason,
actsarebeyond
morality

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44

Feher

BeforeI proceedto analyzethisunholyalliance,letme pointoutthe


undeniablefeaturesof falsezeal on the partof the, highlydifferent,
cause.(Particularly
sinceI wouldliketoavoid
advocatesofthePalestinian
world
Needlessto say,
Jewry).
theoryagainst
any "counter-conspiracy"
of a layman,notofan expert.First,whatever
the
theseare theremarks
and
serious(stupidand selfish)mistakesof variousIsraeligovernments
is thefact(whichplaysa crucialrole in the
pressuregroups,forgotten
Palestinian
whole
of
the
problem)thatIsraelacceptedandthe
emergence
Arab countries
the
thesituation
regarding
rejected originalUN-decision
in Palestine.It has also beenforgotten
thattheWarofIndependence
in
1948was a resultofthisnegative
andthatat leasta partof
Arabattitude,
as a protestagainsttheIsraeli
thePalestinianpopulationleftvoluntarily
were
to
This
forced
circumstance
does not,of
leave).
victory.(Others
of
in
the
for
those
course,change misery
years refugee
living thirty
camps
between"firstclass"and
and no one has therightto makea hierarchy
Butat theveryleastitmodifies
thefalseformula
"secondclass"sufferings.
versusaggressive
of innocentvictims
"Zionistimperialists."
Moreimporof
the
"Zionist
have
imperialists" been as
tantly,however,hardlyany
and
towardsthe
manipulating
pernicious,brutallyexploiting cynically
Palestiniansas mostof theirArab "brothers."
from
the
factthat
Apart
received
their
not
most
from
Israelis
and
they
bloodletting Jordanians,
in
from
the
from
the
treatment
theygot
Syrians Lebanon,they
rough
apart
are also constantly
keptat arm'slengthand on thefrontline as living
forZionistbrutality.
No Arabcountry
hasmade
objectsofdemonstration
real
effort
to
solve
the
within
its
own
Palestinian
reach,forthe
any
problem
that
would
forfeit
their
reason
most
means
ofgeneral
they
simple
powerful
blackmail.Secondly,it is undeniablethat while Palestinianssuffer
It is a factso well-known
foritsphysicalexistence.
injustice,Israelfights
thatit needsno corroboration
thatin 1967theaimoftheArabinvaders
was to pushIsraelintothesea, in otherwords,a newHolocaust.(Whats
morethestatements
havebeenrepeatedupUntilthepresent).
In 1973they
had morecommonsensethanto advertise
theiraimspriorto victory,
but
thefactthatthePLO andotherArab"hard-liners"
neveracceptedIsrael's
rightto existence
speaksforitself.AndI do notthinkthatanyonehasthe
moralrightto suggestthatthe victimof the Holocaustshouldremain
willturnoutto be lessseriousthantheyseemtobe."
passivesince"things
to
seemed
lessseriousin 1938thantheylaterturned
be
outtobe.
Things
Suchadvice,oftengiventoIsrael,isparticularly
on
the
hypocritical
partof
a worldwhich,at theendofthewar,madegentlehintsto thevictim
who
be
perishedby the millionsin Nazi campsthathe passivelylet himself
destroyed without sufficientresistance. Third, practicallyall analysts
termingIsraeli nationalism(Zionism) a racistideology,showa suspiciously
naive and uncriticalattitudetowardsthe projectiveand highlyinsincere
characterof Arab nationalism.It would be cheap (althoughan undeniable
fact) to referto the directlyNazi stereotypes(providedby Nazi experts

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Noteson theMarginofa ClassicalEssay

45

thisArab
employedby Nasser'sEgypt)of Jewsas a wayof combating
The problemismorecomplex.Nevertheless,
itcomestomind
nationalism.
Arabforces-sometimes
eachothers'most
thatthehighly
heterogeneous
bitterenemiesand livingin the constantconvulsionof palace coups,
of cliquesof officers,
feudalautoconspiraciesand counter-conspiracies
ofvariousmoulds,butnever
craciesandmodemhalf-totalitarian
tyrannies
in democracies-needtheirenemiesandhaveno needwhatsoever
fortheir
On theone hand,the
thePalestinian.
own mainally and tokenvictim,
latentinthePalestinian
impulsetowardpeasantrevolution
unmanageable
ofall kinds.Arab
is a dangerforauthoritarian
governments
organizations
in irreconcilable
internecine
strife,need the Palestinian
governments,
"cause" as a leverand a meansof blackmail-theydo not need the
Palestinians.But theydo need Israel,preciselyin the sense thatthe
Forwhatwould
militant
anti-Semite
needstheJewinSartre'smorphology.
unitethem,at leastsymbolically,
ifthisso salutary
enemydisappeared?
toArab
Thisis,bytheway,theonlybutnotsatisfactory
counter-argument
forthiswas
guarantee,
plansfora newHolocaust.Thisis an unsatisfactory
at the timeof the
preciselythe dilemmaof the militantanti-Semite
in 1938,a dilemmawhichwasmostradically
solved
Kristallnacht-pogrom
onemustpointtoa curious
inthehopefornewprospective
Finally,
targets.
hatredof
toneandunconcealed
overheated
aspect,namelythefrequently
the anti-Israeldiscourse.Often,as in thecase of manyGerman"left"
it is crystalclear that theirvehemenceagainst"Zionist
extremists,
anti-Semitism
is simplyold-fashioned
a rebours.
imperialism"
andschoolgirl
How couldthesefacts,knownto everyIsraelischoolboy
inmoresophisticated
dicourses
evenappearing
too)escape
(butsometimes
thosewho are
the attentionof so manyanalysts?If we now disregard
simplybought(byAraborbySovietmoneyorbyboth)andwhosenumber
how3,000,000
smalland ifwe ask ourselvesseriously
is not necessarily
can
withtheir-diminishing-"know-how"
superiority)
people (together
be presentedas "mortaldanger"to 100,000,000havinginexhaustible
financialresourcesand sophisticated
thenwe eitherhave to
weaponry,
a
whichis figment
ofunderstandworldconspiracy,
assumean anti-Jewish
forexplanations.
Jewish
minds,orwe havetolookelsewhere
ablyfeverish
accidental
In myopinion,therealreasonscanbe foundina historically
anti-Semitism
both
meetingandalliancebetweentwopowerfactors, using
reasons.The causes
in itsprojectiveform,butbothdoingso fordifferent
here.
have been analyzedbriefly
and characterof Sovietanti-Semitism
Soviet
intrusion
that
motivated
anti-Semitism
not
Soviet
it
was
Obviously,
and strategically
in the Middle-East.On the contrary,
economically
inthe
Sovietintrusion
useda meanswhichmadeitsmovements
motivated
and whichattracted
area easy and unresisted
possiblealliesof different
moulds-a meanswhichlongsincehas beena handytoolforchannelling
intothe harmlesspipelinesof social demagogyat
social contradictions
as I haveanalyzedit,wasa relatively
Arabic
Militant
home.
anti-Semitism,

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46

Feher

late development
as comparedto the JewishsituationunderChristian
to understand
its
domination,whichmakes it even more important
which
tolerated
Jewish
from
an
attitude
character.
The
change
particular
presencewithcontemptbut generallywithoutpogromsand excessive
seemsto
bathosand commitment
violence,intoone in whichanti-Jewish
be the major cementingforce betweenhighlydivergent,
seemingly
forcescannotbe accountedforeitherbytheJewishritual
incompatible,
intoa politicalone or bythePalestinian
question.
turning
community's
as a religious
center).Nor
(Not evenifone addstheproblemofJerusalem
attitude
canbe motivation
is itan easytaskto explainhowthisanti-Jewish
Soviet
and
a
between
to
strike
manyMoslem
aspirations
bridge
enough
whichwereoriginally
and ideologically
(suchas Ghadaffi's)
dictatorships
anti-communist.
vehemently
thesearenotidentical
world(obviously
I thinkthattheIslamic-Arabic
concepts)is now livingthroughits greatcrisisdue to the factthatit
possesses (in the formof oil wealth)the adequatemeansto become
social structures
industrialized
at the same time that its traditional
politicalformsof rule,someof them
(subjectedto the mostdivergent
someof themdeliberately
itsarchaiccharacter)
preserving
modernizing,
ofWestern
resistthesimpletransfer
(or communist)
waysoflife.In terms
of this essay, the Moslem Arabic worlddoes not want to become
whatobservers
haveotherwise
It is thistendency,
universalistic.
calledthe
whichfindsits mostclear and extremist
upsurgeof fundamentalism,
inKhomeini's
radicalism.
NowIsrael,inthewakeof
manifestation
rightist
theJewish
drastic
community's
changeintoa Western-rationalistic
political
on theirownskinand more
entityis in partthe tipof a dart,sensitive
a targetfortheprojection
ofhatredforall non-universalistic
importantly,
to
fundamentalists
Islamic
orderintactinitsarchaicor
intending preserve
somewhatmodernizedform.34It was not theaim of thisessayto give
topeoplesofa regionas towhattodo ornottodo,
"practicalsuggestions"
make
remarks
on
themargin
to
ofa classicalessay.Itsauthornever
only
that
the
attitude
to
our
civilization's
is the
forgot
parexcellence
persecuted
ofourdemocratic
ornon-validity
not
to
testofthevalidity
norms,
speakof
radicalconvictions.

at all regarding
Islam's(as a
34. Needlessto say,I do notwantto makeanystatement
religiousdoctrine)capacityto elaborateor at leastto toleratewaysof lifewhichtendto a
world-order.
universalistic

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