Palm Beach: White Retreat, Jewish Takeover
ONE UPON A TIME there was a place called Palm Beach. It filled a very important function in American life by making it possible for the newly rich to obtain instant social position. Consider Josh Cosden, a onetime streetcar conductor from Baltimore who made his fortune in Oklahoma oil and moved to Palm Beach in the early 1920s. Within a few years he was entertaining British royalty and was acclaimed nationally as a “social leader.” If he had stayed in Baltimore, it would have taken the traditional three generations to achieve such prominence and acceptance.
The same was true for the Stotesburys, Richard Croker, Chris Dunphy, and, at a later date, the Colemans, Kennedys, and so on. In addition to the upwardly mobile, Palm Beach always had a sprinkling of “old” (at least post-Civil War) names: Vanderbiltts, Whitneys, Phippses, Cushings, and Munns. The two groups met and mingled in lighthearted American inanity, partying, spending, gambling, fornicating, divorcing — what the rest of the country would have been doing given the same bankrolls and opportunities. (And what the rest of the country has been doing recently, bankrolls or no bankrolls.)
It was vicious, but it was a sort of innocent viciousness. It had its critics, naturally enough. The late Groton headmaster, the Reverend Endicott Peabody, used to caution his flock each spring holiday: “I hope you boys will all have a very good time on your vacation. But do not go to Palm Beach — that den of iniquity!” And for years such Palm Beach “leaders” as Ogden Phipps and Charles Munn warned that the place was going to the dogs. Most socialites didn’t care anyhow, because they laughed at Palm Beach and never went there.
The place name and its raffish connotations were familiar to the general American public, but did not become famous until the arrival of the Kennedys on the national scene, and the subsequent elevation of their home to a national shrine of sorts. That hallowing was accompanied by a series of events which changed the character of Palm Beach permanently. But it probably could not have been otherwise — Palm Beach has always been a national barometer, in its way, and had to adapt to the times.
It has always had its share of Jews, of course. In the early days they were small in number and long on adaptive affability, mostly German-Jewish financiers like Otto Kahn. After the war a less attractive element edged in, but, after all, their prey was less attractive, too, so it rather balanced out.
However, most clubs and certain hotels, like The Breakers, were closed to them. This changed dramatically in the mid-60s when the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith filed a charge against The Breakers with the Justice Department, alleging discrimination against Jews.
The case rested on unusual proof: The League had instigated the sending of twelve letters to the Breakers asking for reservations. Six of these letters were signed with what the League was not ashamed to claim were”Jewish-sounding” names, and the other six carried what the League claimed with equal certitude were “non-Jewish-sounding” names. (Interesting fuel for the question of whether Jewishness is racial or religious. Here it is all in a name! And the number twelve has obvious significance, too, but there is questionable profit in laboring these points.) The poor old Breakers fell right into the trap, and confirmed reservations to the “non-Jewish-sounding names” and denied them to the others.
The case was pertinent for several reasons. It was the first to be filed under the new “civil rights” law which barred discrimination in public accommodations for religious reasons. The selection of The Breakers as the first test was an indication of the importance the Jews attached to it and to Palm Beach. Always compulsive to exclusion, they evidently felt this was a key bastion to topple. The case never came to trial, naturally, but ended in abject capitulation by The Breakers, which promised that it would follow a “non-discriminatory” policy in the future, a promise which has been kept to the letter in regard to Jews. To such a degree, in fact, that they now comprise some ninety per cent of occupancy. Whether this discriminates against non-Jews is certainly debatable.
The assault on The Breakers was supported by a tremendous influx of Jews buying homes and condominiums. Palm Beach went down like Vietnam when the gates finally burst. I do not myself subscribe to conspiracy theories where the Jews are concerned, but they do follow instinctive migratory and behavioral patterns which are as total as if consciously agreed to. When the target is to be Palm Beach, it is Palm Beach with a vengeance. The antennae of aggressive parasitism give off the “discovery / attack” signal, and all others pick it up.
The onslaught was two-pronged. In addition to the affluent siege mounted in Palm Beach proper, hives were opened across Lake Worth in West Palm Beach for retired Jews of modest means. Chief among them was Century Village, a condominium complex where some 15,000 elderly Jewish proletariat were packed in tight. South of Palm Beach near the bridge to the town of Lake Worth, thousands of additional condominium cubicles were thrown up for middle-class Jews. Those marketing the “concept of Palm Beach living” in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and other cities could offer ghettos-to-be for every purse.
By the early 1970s Palm Beach had changed completely. Worth Avenue, for instance, was once a sort of imitation Fifth Avenue or Rue de la Paix, with recognizable Majority types going to shops and restaurants which they regarded as their own, places in which they met those whom they knew. Now it is Coney Island, awash with the poor Jews from Century Village and points south, a lesson in noise and aggression so definitive that even the Jews who actually do live in Palm Beach deplore it. (Not a few of the old-time Jews have even moved out because of it.)
At the west end of Worth Avenue sits the relatively venerable Everglades Club, with the mob pressing up to the very door like sans-culottes in the French Revolution. I arrived there one afternoon with a friend to play tennis, and the ferocious faces — all looking like rather close relatives of Menachem Begin — actually pressed against the car windows as we stopped in traffic at the entrance.
“They can’t get over the fact that we still exist,” my friend said. “I guess their leaders tell them there aren’t any of us left.”
“Well, we are an endangered species, aren’t we?” his wife asked ambiguously. “I think it’s rather scientific of them to want that last look.”
I smiled with what I assumed to be benign indifference at the face centered in the window next to me. It grinned back and grunted incoherencies in an unknown tongue. We finally got moving and passed on, leaving behind yet another chilling omen of things to come.
The Century Village Jews are so undomesticated that some restaurants and shops have had to discourage if not bar them from the premises. They will steal anything not nailed down from any White merchant, and do not regard such pilferage as even questionable, to say nothing of felonious. The issue is a delicate one in the local press, which doesn’t know quite how to report Jewish indignation over being very occasionally booked for shoplifting.
In addition, by voting as a bloc they have changed the political complexion of Palm Beach County, a dominance which does not sit all that well with the outlying rednecks.
On the international level, The Breakers has become a kind of Israeli Embassy, the third after those in New York and Washington. Every visiting Israeli dignitary makes the obligatory Breakers stop, to be feted by the local “community.” Vast affairs of Jewish moment are decided at The Breakers, and it is here that the latest edicts are given for enforcement to White overseers like Cyrus Vance and Elliot Richardson in symposia, round tables, discussion groups, etc., of surpassing transparency.
The great moment, of course, is the arrival of an individual or party of sufficient official importance to warrant the flying of the Israeli flag from The Breakers. When aloft, it can be seen from nearly everywhere in central Palm Beach, and the feelings of the Century Village ghetto-ite when he sees this hard evidence of his fellows’ triumph can be imagined.
Jews like Stanley Harte and the Cummingses have bought whole blocks of commercial property near Royal Poinciana Way, and there is Jewish talk of Palm Beach becoming a formal financial center. That might be farfetched, but it is conceivable that it could be the eventual American headquarters of the Jewish Empire. The bulk of the money and precinct work would still be in New York and Washington and Los Angeles, of course, but Palm Beach could serve as the coordinating center, the Jewish equivalent of the Mafia hideaway for the really key meetings. Here, away from the pressures of urban life (but with all the amenities), the strategic as opposed to the tactical questions could be thrashed out and solved at leisure.
(If all this overt organizing seems to contradict my previous reservation about Jewish conspiracy, let me explain that all this empire-building is being conducted — and will continue to be conducted — by the Jews on a level of pious self-righteousness devoid of the usual trappings of conspiracy. They do not get together in a room, for example, and say, “Let’s take over the world,” or deal in other theoretical generalities. They do get together in a room, but it is to say, for example, “The Arabs obviously can’t manage their own affairs, especially their oil, and the whole world would be so much better off if we took care of it for them,” and so on. It is not hypocrisy; they actually believe they are disinterested and open-minded. Of course, there are state and intelligence conspiracies — stealing uranium and Eichmanns — but those are confined to admittedly clandestine operations.)
Like everything in contemporary life, this new Palm Beach is not without its comic side. Take, for instance, Peter Pulitzer, a descendant of the famous newspaper publisher and a man who has done very well himself in Florida business ventures. The Pulitzers have been marrying White for several generations, and Peter has never been formally considered Jewish except by purists. And by himself, one must assume. He married Lillian McKim, who metamorphosed into that Lilly who invented the dress of the same name and opened a chain of boutiques. (They are now divorced. Lilly went minority, marrying a Cuban refugee; Peter stayed true to family tradition and to the Whites on his remarriage.)
At any rate, here we have Peter Pulitzer in 1979, the results of years of intensive non-Jewish breeding, strolling along South County Road to Doherty’s, a restaurant he owns and has made fashionable just because it belongs to Peter Pulitzer. As he ambles along, all suntan and dark glasses pushed back and young wife on arm and correct fatuity in expression and conversation, he is buffeted about by the swirling crowd of… God forbid, Jews. These are exceedingly undomesticated specimens, what his sainted ancestor would have called the dregs of the ghetto, what that ancestor ran away from so openly, what all the Pulitzers have been breeding away from all these years. And just when it seemed that the game was won, that he had come to the top of the Palm Beach game, what happens? Instead of being able to stand atop the White dungheap and crow sheer joy, he finds that he is not alone, the sole king of the hill. He is surrounded by awful Jews whom he and his family can’t stand, to put it mildly.
Watching him closely, I am sure he is aware of what has happened. The eyes are a little glazed, the face a little strained, and, final giveaway, he complains with sudden bitterness about “the crowds.”
A core of beleaguered Palm Beach Whites still maintains the fiction that they are living the good life there on their own terms, and it is amusing to watch the lengths to which they go to preserve the illusion. They move through this new Jewish City of Gold with vestigial stubbornness, not noticing — or pretending not to notice. This is not so odd considering their essential selfishness. After all, this is not Des Moines, Iowa, where some semblance of the country’s virtues can still be found. This is Palm Beach, where the only representative from Des Moines will be the richest man in that town, one already well versed in such vice as he can get into. To him and his Palm Beach fellows, the Jewish hegemony can’t exist, because if it did all their amassing of money would be worthless and their spending of it without significance. Since those conditions would negate not only themselves but the country and all it stands for, it can’t happen. And if it seems to be happening, it must be denied. Oh, there can be as much anti-Jewish invective as you please, but there can’t be a recognition of the extent of the takeover.
(It can be argued, obviously, that the Jews are following a Palm Beach tradition and only using the place to better themselves socially. But the analogy doesn’t wash. However pathetic and greedy the Whites, they still acted — and act, however watered down — as individuals, each with his own dream, however tawdry; the Jews come as a swarm, acting from a collective compulsion seemingly devoid of choice.)
On the obverse side of the comic coin, consider the Jewish dilemma: Once the White citadels are taken, they are full of… Jews. And Jews do not find each other that palatable once the siege is over. (When Groucho Marx said he wouldn’t want to join a club which would have him as a member, it is most doubtful that he meant the remark to sound as anti-Jewish as it does, but it remains an interesting slip.) They glumly go about the business of occupation, but their hearts aren’t in it. They look forward to the next conquest, but where will it be? What will happen when they have everything? Or at least all the desirable real estate? Then what? What if, their sullenness implies, we have to stay here forever, with all these other Jews? Everything, even total victory, has its drawbacks. The dual dissatisfactions — the Whites because they have to pretend, the Jews because victory turns to ashes — casts a pall over Palm Beach.
It is a most unhappy, most nervous and most hysterical place. Because of that, it is of American and even international pertinence. Nowhere else have the Jews taken over a White enclave of power to such a degree. (The takeovers in places like New York are still diffused. There are not Jews absolutely everywhere one looks, for example. There may be other unsavories, but that’s another story. On the other side, Miami Beach and a few other spots are full of them, but those were their places from the start; they weren’t takeovers.) Nowhere else is the takeover so graphic, so delineated, so undeniable, so physical. Nowhere else does one feel so completely surrounded; nowhere else does one feel so completely the thrust, the blind, ant-like juxtaposition of determination and inability to evolve. If a picture is worth a thousand words, Palm Beach, with its thousands of pictures, is priceless.
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Source: Instauration magazine, March 1979