Labour Monthly, September 1942

Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Question

Source: Labour Monthly, September 1942, p. 288, book review by Ivor Montagu;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Anti-Semitism and the Jewish Question by I. Rennap. With an Introduction by W. Gallacher M. P. Lawrence and Wishart 2s 6d

There have been many good books on one or other single aspect of the Jewish question. It is the feat of our comrade, Rennap – one possible only to a Marxist scholar – that he has here presented it in all its aspects. He lifts it away from the class of things “peculiar,” “mysterious and special,” which can only be described but not explained, and relates it to the broad stream of humanity’s past and future and the general problems of the working-class movement.

When we add that he has written, lucidly and clearly, on the history of the Jewish problem, the experience of Socialism in its solution, the position of Zionism and the Palestine community, with a brief sketch of the strength of organised anti-Semitism in Britain and the U.S.A. to-day – and has done all this in 116 pages, a compass that should not be too long for anyone, however busy and active, to master – then we can realise the great skill of his achievement and the great value of it to all of us to-day.

An understanding of anti-Semitism and the role of the Jew is an absolutely indispensable weapon against Fascism and its insidious fifth column tactics. As Rennap writes: –

“For the non-Jew the menace of anti-Semitism as a diversionist tool in the present situation cannot be over-emphasised. He must help to stamp out every manifestation of anti-Semitism as part and parcel of his struggle for democracy and against Hitler and his agents in this country. He must look upon anti-Semitism as the Trojan horse which has proved so successful in the past and which the reactionary pro-Fascists will have no hesitation in resorting to when the first opportunity arises.”

It is no accident that, among the names of those who have been most prominent in anti-Semitic agitation in this country, in U.S.A. and in other countries, stand all those who have been foremost in old friendship with Hitler, foremost in treachery, foremost in anti-Soviet hatred and misrepresentation, and many whose names at once recur as foremost opponents to the Second Front.

As Rennap writes also: –

“The immediate task of the Jewish people to-day is simple and clear. They must subordinate everything to the military defeat of Hitler, and, in other non-Jewish organisations, they must unite as Jews. Jewry, if it wishes to win the respect of its non-Jewish brothers, must be in the forefront of the anti-Hitler struggle. For this is the path of progress and if there is one great outstanding lesson we as Jewish people must learn, a lesson that all our long history teaches, it is that where there is progress and expansion, where education and culture advances, anti-Semitism dare not show its evil face. Where reaction flourishes, education and culture are destroyed, while anti-Semitism becomes the principal weapon of those whose one desire is to hold back progress.”

Jews and non-Jews alike need not only to know this, but to know why and to be able to explain to others. The reasoned basis is here in this book. Each question is approached historically, so that we can watch its development, study its causes precedents and relation – the only way to get at the real facts of the present-day position.

There is also an inspiring and forceful introduction by W. Gallacher, M.P., to whose long and active interest in their problems many Jews, both Communist and non-Communist alike, can testify from personal experience.