When I read this RG letter from retired UO Bio professor Frank Stahl I didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to say. UO Poli Sci professor Gerry Berk did, and he does us all a service by explaining how it fits into the history of anti-Semitic thought. In the RG here:
We find Frank Stahl’s letter chilling (“Anti-Semitism or false-flag setups?” March 12). Stahl seems to suggest that Zionists, people who believe in Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, are behind the bomb threats toward Jewish day schools and institutions, and the defacing of Jewish cemeteries, as a way to garner pro-Israeli sentiment here in the U.S.
As Jews, we experience these ideas as deeply threatening. The letter conflates reasoned debate over Israeli settlement policy with paranoid assumptions of powerful and immoral Jews secretly manipulating public opinion for their own nefarious ends, stereotypes that have always undergirded the anti-Semitic imagination.
Given the rise of anti-Semitic acts in Eugene and Portland, Stahl’s letter serves two purposes. First, like disturbing remarks emerging from the White House, it emboldens those who wish to perpetrate hate crimes. Second, it exacerbates the fear and insecurity that is now a fact of life for the local Jewish community.
We recognize The Register-Guard’s commitment to free speech in deciding to print professor Stahl’s letter. In addition, we call upon the editorial board to publicly condemn anti-Semitism and to express its commitment to combatting threats against the Jewish community of Eugene.
Toward that end, we also ask The Register-Guard to publicly condemn Stahl’s letter for perpetuating centuries-old stereotypes of Jews.
In a time when so many minority groups face violence and insecurity, it’s critical that The Register-Guard express publicly its commitment to balance free speech with its responsibility to guard the safety of all of Eugene’s citizens.
GERRY BERK AND 11 SIGNERS FROM THE JEWISH COMMUNITY RELATIONS COUNCIL OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF LANE COUNTY
Response received 3/16/2017, from Frank Stahl:
You wrote: “When I read this RG letter from retired UO Bio professor Frank Stahl I didn’t understand what the hell he was trying to say. UO Poli Sci professor Gerry Berk did, and he does us all a service by explaining how it fits into the history of anti-Semitic thought. In the RG here:”. When you did so, you were clearly aiming to fill your role of service to the community. If you really want to do it right , you will now publish the following:
Why I made that infamous suggestion:
By Franklin W Stahl
Preface: If I were to have written the infamous letter with what I know today and with the advice of my editor, this is how it would have read.
As readers know, this winter there was a wave of anti-Semitic incidents across North America. I want to know why that happened. Some have blamed it on “Trumpism”, and that makes some sense to me. However, Trump’s lack of PC is not accompanied by overt anti-Semitic expressions. This contrasts with his explicit characterizations of Muslims as terrorists and Latins as rapists and murderers. Furthermore, when I take note of Trump’s Jewish family connections, I wonder whether “Trumpism” is the best hypothesis. In these circumstances, the obvious thing (to a scientist) is to do some research.
The oft-mentioned, and sometimes-denied, historic connections between Zionism and anti-Semitism seemed worth looking into. This is some of what I found:
A central problem for the Zionist movement when trying to establish a Jewish state was the convincing of European Jews that they should pull up their roots and transplant themselves to Palestine. It is very human (unfortunately) that when the carrot fails, a stick may be applied. In that regard, Joseph Massad of Columbia University, a highly-praised scholar, wrote:
“Herzl [Austro-Hungarian journalist and ‘Father of Israel’] would conclude in his Diaries that ‘the anti-Semites will become our most dependable friends, the anti-Semitic countries our allies’. These were not slips or errors but indeed a long-term strategy that Zionism and Israel continue to deploy to this very day.”.
A second reference is always desirable. This one is from a book by Israel Shahak, an Israeli holocaust survivor, professor of organic Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and highly regarded student of Judaic history:
“In fact, close relations have always existed between zionists and antisemites: exactly like some of the European conservatives, the zionists thought they could ignore the ‘demonic’ character of antisemitism and use the antisemites for their own purposes. Many examples of such alliances are well known. Herzl allied himself with the notorious Count von Plehve, the antisemitic minister of Tsar Nicholas II;27 Jabotinsky made a pact with Petlyura, the reactionary Ukrainian leader whose forces massacred some 100,000 Jews in 1918–21; Ben-Gurion’s allies among the French extreme right during the Algerian war included some notorious antisemites who were, however, careful to explain that they were only against the Jews in France, not in Israel.” (Shahak, Israel. Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years)
But, the need to attract Jews to Palestine did not end with the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. “In light of the new post-war period that saw the end of state-sponsored antisemitism, the Zionists set out to attack Jews in a number of countries and to conjure up the specter of anti-Semitism in countries that opposed Zionism. In Iraq, the Israeli Mossad planted bombs in synagogues, libraries and cafes in the early 1950s, which killed and injured Iraqi Jews and spread panic amongst them that Iraqi Muslims and Christians were targeting them.” (Joseph Massad)
If the newly formed State were to achieve its Founders’ goal of conforming to the Kingdom of David and Solomon, many more Jews would be needed. This under-population problem was exacerbated by the greater birth rate of the Arab than of the Jewish population of Palestine. That fact not only stands in the way of today’s Israeli imperialist ambitions, but may soon threaten the very existence of the present Jewish state.
There is expectation in Israel that these antisemitic incidents will increase immigration:
. However, whether false flags have, in fact, been involved, I cannot personally assert. But we all know that governments will use false-flag operations to achieve their desired goals. That unpleasant fact of life was impressed on me by personal experience (no, Bill, not the sinking of the USS Maine):
In 2002-3, it was obvious (to some) that the threatened invasion of Iraq by America was being sold on a lie of Iraqi possession of world-threatening weapons of mass destruction. Of course, the idea that an American government would lie to Americans to justify an inevitable loss of American lives was inconceivable to many Americans. (But lie they did, at the DoD-estimated cost of 4,424 total deaths and 31,952 wounded as of June 29, 2016.)
Our efforts to alert the UO and Eugene to that impending disaster provoked some nasty responses. In making the suggestion that the recent wave of apparent antisemitism might also be a lie, I am well aware that I will upset many in the University, the town, and, possibly, among my own friends. I am also aware that I might be made uncomfortable, but that’s my problem. As a scientist, the search for truth can sometimes be uncomfortable to all concerned.
When the perpetrators of the recent anti-Semitic threats/acts are apprehended, as I hope they will be, we may gain a clearer picture. If, in fact, Israel is shown to have employed false-flag tactics to boost immigration from America or reduce emigration from Israel, we can all hope that the resulting anxiety will soon be allayed and be grateful that loss of life has apparently been nil.
I hope very strongly that these anti-Semitic events do not indicate a rise in American anti-Semitism. Such a rise would lead to an appalling disruption in the lives of Jewish citizens and an unimaginable loss to the entire country. In this regard I am heartened by recent reports, based on information from the NYPD and federal investigators, that most, at least, of the telephoned threats were delivered by one person and this person was residing outside the United States
Apparently, the acts of antisemitism are less nationwide than first characterized and most may not be home-grown. This winter’s “wave” of American antisemitism may not even be a ripple.
Let’s pray for peace.