Sen. Joseph McCarthy’s “Passover Message”: Jews As “Champions Of Liberty”

Donald Trump has joined Ronald Reagan as America’s two most anti-Communist Presidents after Herbert Hoover. Mr. Trump is also emerging, arguably, as the most pro-Israel, philosemitic President in U.S. history given his abandonment of the disastrous Iranian nuke “deal”, re-location of the U.S. embassy to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem, and formal recognition of Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

Trump’s muscular anti-Communism, conjoined to philosemitism—and his constant vilification by calumny—mirrors what befell another iconic American politician and patriot, Sen. Joseph R. McCarthy, in the early to mid-1950s. Despite their shared incessant assault by vicious falsehoods, both Trump (here; here), and McCarthy (here) before him, had thoughtful, real-time defenders within conservative ranks.

Two of McCarthy’s most insightful and courageous defenders, were Ralph de Toledano, a brilliant journalist/writer/poet of Sephardic Jewish descent, and the Yiddish fluent Ashkenazi Rabbi, Benjamin Schultz. De Toledano’s complete evisceration of 15 groundless anti-McCarthy smears [alluded to by Westbrook Pegler “Grace And Iphigene Argue Over McCarthy,”The Indianapolis Star, May 18, 1954, p. 14, and available in full here) by then N.Y. Times editorial page editor, John Oakes (Ochs), remains stunning to behold, if sadly neglected.

Rabbi Schultz was an equally staunch and articulate McCarthy defender. Their mutual admiration was best exemplified by an event held just after the conclusion of Pesach in April, 1955. The 7-year preface to that occasion—a dinner held in honor of Rabbi Schultz’s efforts—merits elaboration

Benjamin Schultz’s (d. Saturday, April 22, 1978) nearly five decades of service was punctuated by his stalwart opposition to both Nazi and Communist liberty-crushing totalitarianism, and Jew-hatred. He helped found, and became the executive director of the American Jewish League Against Communism (AJLAC), in 1948, describing the organization during his July 13, 1949 testimony before The House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), as follows:

The American Jewish League Against Communism represents the majority viewpoint of American Jews on this subject of communism. On our board of directors are such representative men as Brig. Gen. Julius Klein, a past national commander of the Jewish War Veterans; your own colleague, the Hon. Abraham J. Multer; Isaac Don Levine; Eugene Lyons; Alfred Kohlberg; Morrie Ryskind, of Hollywood; Rabbi David S. Savitz; and Rabbi Ascher M. Yager, leading orthodox rabbis of New York.

Rabbi Schultz also made himself uniquely knowledgeable about Communist Jew-hatred, translating Gregor Aronson’s “Soviet Russia and The Jews,” published as a 51-page pamphlet by the American Jewish League Against Communism, in 1949.  Rabbi Schultz’s July 13, 1949 HUAC testimony elucidated totalitarian evil of Communism, “equivalent to Fascism and Nazism,” and antithetical to American freedom, derived from the Judeo-Christian ideal of individual liberty:

As a rabbi, a believer in God, a servant of mankind, I cry out against this black force of communism which is ushering a new dark age into much of our world, and which seems to be expanding. It brings nothing but chains and stultification of the soil to the individual. The individual is sacred. He is not a clod. He is formed in the image of God. Communism would make him a clod. Moses commanded: “Proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof.” This is found on the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. The real Jew cannot help being a good American. As a Jew, I consider Communism equivalent to Fascism and Nazism as a great historic evil.

Sen. McCarthy made plain his concern about the impact of Soviet Communist Jew-hatred during the Voice of America Hearings before his Senate Committee on Investigations in Jan.-March, 1953. McCarthy, on Feb. 23, 1953, in Executive Session, further revealed how his visceral anti-totalitarianism was deeply rooted in an understanding of totalitarian Jew-hatred:

I have always believed that totalitarians must be Antisemitic. They cannot countenance a group such as the Jewish people. It thwarts their efforts

Not long afterward, ignoring the unhinged, vicious calumnies of the Anti-Anti-Communists (which persist to this day, despite reams of countervailing evidence), and their abettors in the chattering classes, Schultz forged an open alliance with Senator McCarthy. Rabbi Schultz took great umbrage at the calumny which tried to conflate McCarthy’s anti-Communism, with antisemitism. Schultz’s 1954 essay [“Is Everybody Anti-Semitic?” The American Mercury, July 1954, pp. 137-142] elaborated his argument. He noted how,

A popular monthly asked a racial “defense” agency executive whether the Senator is antisemitic. The very question showed the inroads of propaganda, for McCarthy is anti-Communist. The answer came and was printed: “Our files reflect no evidence of antisemitic activity on the part of Senator McCarthy.”

But then came the mealy mouthed, non-sequitur “addendum” which condemned McCarthy anyway, perhaps under external pressure:

Maybe there was an office uproar, and maybe there wasn’t. Maybe it was a coincidence. But the defense group, at once, circulated a statement that while he is not an antisemite in the crude or professional sense, “Senator McCarthy’s methods have injured many of the democratic institutions” and “the extension of civil rights and liberties” upon which “the security of our minority groups is largely dependent.”

Schultz continued derisively, with a plaintive admonition:

There you have it. Translated from its mock-sociologese, this simply means that Red-hunting is antisemitism. It is an insult to the Jewish people. It links the Jews, officially, with the Communists at worst, and the [Americans for Democratic Action] ADA’ers and eggheads at best. No one has a moral right to do that to us, to defame the plain Jew on Main Street and in full view of American opinion to boost bigotry in the name of fighting it.

Rabbi Schultz concluded with a warning about the corrosive effect of defamatory allegations of antisemitism leveled against political conservatives which persists into our era, advancing the treasonous anti-Judeo-Christian, totalitarian socialist/communist agenda:

In America, last bastion of free opportunity, we must not let infiltration and organized deception weaken our inner defenses. The false charge of antisemitism is clouding the reputation of one fine conservative after another. This is hardly accidental. The true bigots, profiting from this implied respectability, would unhesitatingly join their Communist allies in destroying Jew and non-Jew alike. Today they live on each other and both feed on tension. Now more than ever, Americans must judge their neighbors as humans and individuals, without distinction of race or creed. Let all understand that no Communist is either a real Christian or a real Jew. And let us not heed the alien sirens playing on our sensitivities for purposes of politics and eventually of treason.

Validating Schultz’s own 1954 observations on McCarthy’s complete lack of antisemitism , a 1955 American Jewish Committee report was equally unequivocal, stating,

McCarthy has thus far never said or done anything which is antisemitic. In fact, he has scrupulously avoided that pitfall.

Earlier [“McCarthy U. N. Probe Questions 2,” New York Herald Tribune, Sep 15, 1953, p. 1], Rabbi Schultz championed the struggle McCarthy waged against Communist totalitarianism, and decried the indifference—or worse—of his antagonists:

McCarthy has become the touchstone by which we test an American. Those against McCarthy, or indifferent, are serving the ends of the Kremlin—unwittingly at best, and deliberately and treacherously at worst…

Senator McCarthy’s admiration for Rabbi Schultz was reciprocal, and he was the keynote speaker at an April, 1955 dinner in Schultz’s honor [“700 Honor Rabbi Schultz For Fight on Communism—McCarthy Leads Tribute” New York Herald Tribune, Apr 21, 1955, p.12]. McCarthy’s remarkably philosemitic speech, riveted upon the ideological yawning gap between Jews as “champions of liberty,” whom Communists were “determined to destroy”—hence “the eternal hostility between Judaism and Communism”. McCarthy noted that Rabbi Schultz, and the AJLAC, “managed to expose the malicious myth that persons of the Jewish faith and Communists have something in common.” He added, “This wicked falsehood has been ruthlessly exploited by the Communists for their own ends.” McCarthy provided a lucid description of the two-pronged method by which Communists sewed discord, at the expense of Jews: fiendishly ignoring the religious affiliation of prominent, non-Jewish Communist conspirators, while falsely proclaiming at the same time that anti-Communism and antisemitism were intimately related.

Why don’t the Communists comment on [Soviet spy] Alger Hiss’s or [convicted espionage tool, at minimum]  William Remington’s religion? The reason is obvious: there is no profit here, no conspicuous prejudice to exploit, no promise of creating division or suspicion. The second Communist method of exploiting the race issue is more subtle. Rabbi Schultz shrewdly diagnosed it in an article for the AMERICAN MERCURY [“Is Everybody Antisemitic?” The American Mercury, July 1954, pp. 137-142] last summer. The Communists energetically peddle the line that anti-Communism and antisemitism go hand in hand—specifically that hard anti-Communists are ipso facto antisemitic. This slur is, of course, pure invention; but it commonly results, as Ben Schultz suggests, in one of two things—both of which give aid and comfort to the Communists. Some non-Jewish Americans are angered by the accusation, and in reaction to it, turn their resentment against Jewish people. Others are intimidated by it, and with an eye to their political fortunes, decline to take an active role in the anti-Communist fight. Either way—whether race dissension is created, or people are frightened off from joining the anti-Communist fight—either way, the Communists win.

McCarthy concluded his tribute with a searing testament: how Jewish dedication to individual freedom was antithetical to, and a bulwark against, Communism’s liberty-crushing doctrine:

…Jewish people are congenital enemies of Communism. Those of the Jewish faith are, historically, champions of liberty. They are, traditionally, jealous guardians of the individual’s freedom—political, economic, social. These things Communism is determined to destroy. And remember too that persons of the Jewish faith have, by forces of circumstances, a vested interest in tolerance. It is not an interest in tolerance of moral evil such as Communism embodies. But within the framework of belief in the dignity of the individual they insist on tolerance of diverse religious and political beliefs. This is a position that Communists cannot abide. Jewish people know this—they are keenly aware that in a Communist society it is only the Communist and Communist dogma that is tolerated. Far and away the most valuable contribution of Ben Schultz and his organization is that they dramatically symbolize the eternal hostility between Judaism and Communism.

Sixty-four years later, this Passover, as Jews celebrate our liberation from Egyptian bondage, and freedom itself, they should read McCarthy’s 1955 Passover season paean to Jews as defenders of freedom, and liberate themselves from the shackles of their own uninformed prejudices about this philosemitic champion of liberty.

Andrew G. Bostom is the author of The Legacy of Jihad (Prometheus, 2005) and The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism " (Prometheus, November, 2008) You can contact Dr. Bostom at @andrewbostom.org

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