Thursday, 21 November 2013

THE ANTI-SEMITIC MOVEMENT IN VIENNA.

To THE EDITOR of the Herald

Sir,—The Anti-Semite in Vienna is in the full flush of victory. His long-contested triumph us, at last consummated. He has not only a majority of the Vienna City Council, but even against the most powerful of oppositions he has at last had appointed one of his own as Burgomaster. The city and its resources are at his mercy; he expels from their places whatever Jews are still left in municipal employ; he uses the power of subventions, the lever of politics, to curtail Jewish influence. In his assemblies, picnics, banquets, he disports his hatred in extravagancies of utter unrestraint. He has Lueger medals, Lueger books, Lueger articles of every sort to lift the conquering doctor into popular glory. It is the very height of Anti-Semitic fever and just in this virulence of the disease, calm men think they see a promise of its speedy passing. The Anti-Semite has had the dubious fortune of enlisting on his side a great deal of the stupid coarse and brutal element, the ragtag and bobtail of beer-garden and labourers' meeting. He has given the blusterer (Krakehler) a new oath to curse, another dog to kick, and the harvest of shameless brutality and rude, unprovoked insult has been beyond calculation. One instance of the imbecility of the movement is afforded by an Anti-Semitic paper which refused to allow its critic to report concerts at which Rubenstein's and Mendelssohnian compositions were performed. In the case of the latter composition, the piece boycotted was "St Paul." 

The hands of the clock of time have been sent back six centuries by the intelligent voters of Vienna. As in the thirteenth century the cry was "Here Guelph, here Ghibelline!" so now "Here Semite, here Anti-Semite" resounds in the capital of the Dual Monarchy. Like Banquo's ghost is this Anti-Semitism, it will not down. But that it should be revived in this age is indeed strange. For this is a time of democracy, of universal tolerance, when an immense movement is manifesting itself every where towards equality, fraternity, and justice. We are to destroy frontiers, to dream of the community of nations, to convene congress of religion so that priests of every creed may embrace each other, to regard ourselves as brothers through sorrow, to save ourselves all from the misery of life by erecting a sole altar to human pity. Yet there are a handful of fools or of able men, who cry to us every morning, "Let us kill the Jews; let us eat the Jews let us massacre, exterminate, and go back to the stake and the dragonnade " This is the moment they choose! Nothing could be more stupid,if it were not abominable.

The Anti-Semites, by their negation of the principles of human brotherhood and the doctrine of peace and goodwill, have already reached perilously near what Karl Emil Franzos calls "Halb-Asien"—the barrier which divides the civilisation of to-day from the barbarism of more remote ages. And what reason is alleged as the efficient cause of this reversal in Vienna of the liberal spirit of our times? The tremendous power forsooth, of the 4 per cent.

Jews, whose influence is so great that they could not even dream of an appointment as Bezirkshauptmann, the lowest step in the hierarchical ladder of the administration. The ascendancy of material interests, the greed for money, the frantic race for wealth—all of which most deplorable characteristics some people recognise as the social results of our modern industrial and democratic society— are all attributed in Vienna to the Semite, i.e. Juif, voila l'ennemi. It is the old story—the tyrannical lamb is driving the poor persecuted wolf into despair. Surely the son of Jacob, looking about him and noting the vast complexity of social phenomena ascribed to him as the efficient cause, may well say with Æsop's fly, "What a dust do I raise!" "The persistency," says no less a one than Bismarck, "with which the Jews are denounced as the most dangerous enemies of the Empire, while the real forces of social disintegration are unnoticed, sounds like the story of the travellers who, while they were killing mosquitoes, were surrounded by ravening wild beasts." 

It is not to be supposed that in the heart and mind of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire there is not a considerable element of strong common sense which penetrates into the motives and discerns the startling and dangerous character of the Anti Semitic conspiracy. No more straightforward or complete epitome, of the various phases of this intricate question has been presented to the reading public than was furnished by the Herald's Vienna correspondent in the issue of Saturday last; and in saying this I am but voicing the unanimous opinion of the Jewish community in New South Wales. Such helpful advocacy of an innocently persecuted people elevates the modern press above the charge that they are but industrial enterprises dealing in printed paper. 

The real cause for the tremendous growth of the movement in Austria is the desire of the clerical party and its allies, the feudal aristocracy, to maintain their prominent position. To effect this purpose they entered into alliance against their hereditary opponents the Liberals with Anti-Semites and socialists, and this combination has obtained the upper hand in the municipal council and has brought the repeal of Jewish emancipation almost within the bounds of practical polities. Anti-Semitism is thus the counterpart of Anti-Clericalism. It is, to use Professor Virchow's expressive phrase, another "Kulturkampf." Sprouting from this germ the tree of Anti-Semitism has spread and flourished until its baneful shadow has darkened Western Europe, the German-Ultramontane war cry, "Make front against the new Jerusalem " being echoed widely by Protestant Germany, in Catholic France and Austria, and in orthodox Russia, until Catholic or Sectarian Slav, Latin, Teuton, Czech, and Magyar would seem to have united in this singular movement. This is the present position of affairs under the domination of the clericals. But the socialists (whose movement was originally directed against their present allies), who were revolutionaries before they were Judeophobes, have entered upon this alliance in the hope of strengthening themselves for the coming ultra-democratic war on society. In the view then, of every clear headed student of contemporary events, Anti-Semitism must ultimately become a specialised form of that new Jacquerie which finds its final expression in the bomb and dagger of the anarchist. The capture of the municipal council may thus be only a prelude to the run of Vienna. It is refreshing to turn from reactionary Austria, where justice is measured out by race and class feelings, to the liberty-blessed Empire in which we live. Vienna chooses Lueger, and the City of London elects Mr. George Faudel-Phillips to the highest civic dignity. Foremost among the nations of Europe in many things, England is also foremost in upholding liberty of conscience. Such an episode as this that has disgraced Vienna would be an impossibility among the British people. When Mr Justice Cohen, of this city, was raised to the Supreme Court Bench, he experienced no disadvantage in consequence of being a Jew. The right of religious liberty in England and her dependencies has nowhere shown to such advantage as in her dealings with the Jews. A wholesome lessons, this, to many nations of the world.   

There is one thing which the agitation styling itself Anti-Semitic should not forget. Hatred and contempt are sad and comfortless sentiments for him who entertains them, painful and exasperating for him who has to encounter them. 'Tis bad when, to speak Biblically, "deep calleth unto deep " Let religious sects, one after another lay down their weapons and devote themselves to the work of peace and universal brotherhood. Let us believe in the final realisation of love, and make a beginning at least in loving each other to-day as much as the human misery of the present time will permit. And if elsewhere men return to the barbarism of the forest, let our motto be and retrain, in the words of Sophocles Antigone—" Not to join in hatred, but to join in love I am here. "
 I am, &c.,
J.H. LANDAU

The Sydney Morning Herald 17 April 1897, 

No comments: