Classic Essays

Is Anti-Semitism a Racket?

AK-Chestertonby A.K. Chesterton (pictured)

ANTI-SEMITISM is an effect and not a cause, and has to be recognized as such before one can even begin to talk about finding a solution to the problem. If the constant A invariably produces the constant B, no matter in what age or clime, then it seems to me that common-sense demands an investigation of A , whereas every Jewish apologist I have ever read fixes upon B and attacks it as an isolate. That method aggravates rather than diminishes the disease, but even so we should in fairness examine it to find out what validity, if any, it possesses.

In other words, we have to ask ourselves the question: Is anti-semitism a racket? Does the holder of anti-Semitic views derive any profit from them? If a man were running an exclusively anti-semitic journal, or earning a living as an official of some exclusively anti-semitic society, then I can conceive it possible that he might have a vested interest in the perpetuation of anti-semitism. But I do not know of any such journal or society. You may point out that a vested interest can be established outside the sphere of monetary gain, and that if anti-semitism were to be abolished (through the elimination of its causes) some men might find themselves robbed of their entire intellectual or politico-emotional stock-in-trade. Perhaps so, for there are cranks in every walk of life.

Outside the ranks of Jewry, however, the anti-semitic crank is not taken seriously; rather is he treated as the harmless lunatic which in fact he is. For the rest, I ask you to accept my assurance that anti-semitism in Britain is a royal road leading—not to prosperity and fame—but more often to obloquy and ruin. The Jews see to that.

I am able to illustrate the Jewish technique in this matter from my own experience. When, after three years voluntary active service in this war (making a total of seven years’ voluntary active service in all) I returned to civil life, a deputation of Jews called upon my employer with the amiable suggestion that he should dismiss me from his service. I was not sufficiently interested in these people to enquire their names, but I did happen to learn that they had never taken any step, voluntary or otherwise, to place their own persons in the enemy’s line of fire! But that is by the way.

I have said that the anti-semitic crank—the man with the one-track-mind—is nowhere taken seriously outside the ranks of Jewry, and this leads me to suggest that while non-Jews have nothing to gain from anti-semitism, it is just possible that the Jews themselves have much to gain from it. This suggestion may sound fantastic, but is it?

Many editors of Jewish newspapers, for instance, seem to be men of sound judgment. How does it come about, therefore, that even the obscurest of anti-semitic tubthumpers in the obscurest of back streets is sure of publicity in these periodicals? Why do the editors range over the Press of the world in search of trifling anti-semitic paragraphs to reprint? What conceivable purpose is served by thus making Jewish newspapers virtual antisemitic broad-sheets? I do not suggest that these things are done deliberately to build circulation, although it is possible that more Jews do buy copies because of the excitement occasioned by reading of anti-semitic outbursts. But would I be wrong if I were to suggest that a measure of anti-semitism, where there is the assurance that it will be properly controlled, does help to promote Jewish solidarity and therefore constitutes a strong counter to Jewish indifference and schism?

In support of this idea—which is no more than an idea—I would like to ask your opinion about the following extract from a sermon published by the Jewish Chronicle:

“The greatest threat to the existence of the Jew, to the pursuance of his glorious destiny as the guardian of God’s law and the remembrancer of His principle for the advancement of man, lies not in the cruellest persecution, but in genuine tolerance and security.”

If my suspicions are unworthy you will tell me so. If not unworthy, it is possible that they may indicate one means, not, it is true, of eliminating anti-semitism, but of preventing it being deliberately fostered by short-sighted Jewish policies. The main problem, however, is to tackle anti-semitism at the source, which can only be done, with submission, by enquiring into semitism. That is what most Jews refuse to do. They angrily proclaim their grievances against the anti-semites but ignore the underlying grievances which are responsible for the rise of antisemitism. I intend in subsequent chapters to specify some of these underlying grievances, in the hope that between us we may be able to adumbrate some solution. My own contention, in answer to the heading of the present chapter, is that anti-semitism in Britain is far too uncomfortable in its consequences to encourage any Gentiles to turn it into a racket, whereas I think it just possible that in some respects it may be a racket of the Jews themselves.

from The Tragedy of Anti-Semitism (1948) via Solar General

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Rob Black
Rob Black
16 July, 2013 4:40 pm

For more on A.K. Chesterton, please see the website of Candour & The A.K. Chesterton Trust at