Benjamin Ginsberg's The Fatal Embrace: Jews and the State, which deals with the rise and fall of Jews in different societies, is an intellectual bombshell. A liberal American Jew who teaches political science at Johns Hopkins, Ginsberg makes observations about Jewish influence in government and society that would be deemed anti-Semitic if expressed by a Gentile. Ginsberg, however, does not criticize that Jewish power for being harmful to Gentiles; his only concern is the harm it can cause for Jews by provoking Gentiles to anti-Semitic actions.
Outlining Jewish power since the Middle Ages, Ginsberg notes that Jews helped kings expand and centralize their realms; in medieval Spain, for example, Jews were closely tied to the monarchies, largely, but not solely, in the financial sphere. But they also took the lead in working for the revolutionary destruction of societies hostile to Jews; thus, Jews played key roles in European revolutions, liberal and Communist alike.
In the liberal revolutions and in the development of liberal states, Jews propagandized the public and financed liberal groups. In France, Jews helped establish the Third Republic in the 1870s; their influence loomed especially large in the republic's anti-clerical campaigns. Jewish financial and media power also provided the underpinning for the Weimar Republic, whose depiction as the Judenrepublik by anti-Semites was not far from the mark. In late 19th-century Britain, the Jewish-dominated press championed imperialism, which benefited Jewish finance. And during the early stages of the Soviet regime, Jews were numerous in leadership positions, especially in the secret police and the propaganda agencies, which they dominated. In contrast to Judeophiles who claim that Jews observe a higher humanitarian ethos, Ginsberg acknowledges that Jewish Communists played a ruthless role in liquidating their opposition.
Ginsberg warns that as a result of their great power, Jews become a highly visible target for the enemies of the regime and often suffer group destruction with the regime's demise. Thus in the late 15th century, Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain, where they had occupied key positions under previous monarchs. In Germany, Hitler eliminated the Jews along with the Weimar Republic; what enabled Nazism to succeed was a coalescence of lower- and upper-class opposition to Jewish power. Where such a fusion of divergent classes does not take place, as in the French Third Republic, Jewish power survives despite a high degree of anti-Semitism.
The Jewish fall from power does not always require the demise of a friendly regime. Sometimes a previously hospitable regime will eliminate Jews when they are no longer necessary for the maintenance of power, as was the case in the Soviet Union when Stalin dispensed with Jews. Ginsberg's fundamental theory is that the Jewish close relationship with the state is a "fatal embrace": the achievement of great power, and the concomitant high visibility, invite group destruction as situations change.
Ginsberg devotes the greatest part of his book to the history of Jewish power in America. German Jews gained significant power in the United States after the Civil War, largely in the realm of finance. Jews financed the U.S. regime's Civil War debt, the debts of the reconstructed Southern states, and the nascent industries. In essence, according to Ginsberg, Jews were a part of the new business and industrial class of the Gilded Age and became "identified with the worst excesses of the nineteenth-century industrial order." (p. 75) Jewish prominence induced an anti-Jewish opposition from Southern and Western agrarians (Populists), and from old-stock New England patricians. Reacting to that criticism, the Gentile business class jettisoned its ties with the Jews and aligned itself with the patricians. The 1890s saw the emergence of exclusive clubs that barred Jews and of anti-Jewish quotas in the Ivy League colleges. Ginsberg writes that, having been thrust out of the business elite, Jews sought to alter the American economic system. They identified with the Progressive reform movement and - on the part of the newly immigrating Eastern European Jews - with radical socialism.
The Jewish role in the Progressive movement crested in the Wilson administration, with Louis Brandeis playing a major role in the creation of the Federal Reserve System and the Federal Trade Commission. However, the Jewish rise was transitory, cut short by the anti-radical Red Scare in the aftermath of World War I, which destroyed radical and reform movements as well as (in Ginsberg's view) an emerging welfare state.
It was with Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal that Jews gained long-term power in the United States, power that continues into the present. Jews served as Roosevelt's idea men and staffed his New Deal agencies. They played a fundamental part in fashioning the centralized American welfare state - and Ginsberg asserts that they created it to serve their own interests. In contrast to American Protestants' success in the private sector, Ginsberg writes that Jews "relied upon the state and the public economy to achieve positions of influence and status in American society." (p. 103) That account contrasts, we should note, with Thomas Sowell's portrayal of Jewish success via the free market.
Jews also played a significant role in getting the United States into World War II to destroy their Nazi nemesis, and they worked actively to undermine popular non-interventionist resistance to war. The Anti-Defamation League "employed investigative agents who secretly penetrated isolationist and anti-Jewish organizations and collected potentially damaging or incriminating information" which it turned over to the FBI and other federal agencies. (p. 110) Ginsberg does not develop this point, but given the fact that the overwhelming majority of "isolationists" were not enemy agents and were simply exercising their constitutional right to oppose a policy, it is apparent that activist American Jews have been quite willing to crush the civil liberties of others in order to advance their own goals.
Jews also played a critical part in turning the media toward a pro-war stance. (That was quite an achievement, since the American mood in the 1930s was strongly antiwar and "isolationist.") In Hollywood, Jewish film makers concentrated on producing anti-Nazi propaganda films to prepare the masses for a crusade against evil.
In the immediate postwar period, right-wing attacks on Communist subversion put Jews on the defensive, since Jews had been numerous in the American Communist Party. By joining forces with the also-imperiled WASP elite, Jews were able to destroy the threat by exercising their media power. They did not just succeed in downplaying the idea of Communist subversion; they were even able to change the issue from Communist subversion to the right-wing threat to American civil liberties. That was a striking ideological turnaround from the Jews' total disregard of the civil liberties of pre-World War II "isolationists." The Jewish success against the right-wing danger meant that by the late 1950s, "conservative anti-Communists who sought to maintain a modicum of respectability ... carefully avoided the least hint of anti-Semitism." (p. 125) Ginsberg cites William F. Buckley Jr. as an example.
In the 1960s, the Jews played key roles in the civil rights revolution and the concomitant Great Society programs. For Jews, Ginsberg points out, support for black civil rights was not only a "moral commitment" but an "important political tactic" to weaken the white South and the ethnic machine politicians in the North, and, as a consequence, increase their own relative power within the Democratic coalition. Moreover, the advancement of the concept of "equality of opportunity" bolstered Jewish power throughout society. (pp. 125-26) Jews opposed the Vietnam War because it inhibited the expansion of those liberal Great Society programs in which their power resided.
By the end of the Great Society reforms, Jews, in Ginsberg's view, had become the major force in American politics and government: "From the 1970s onward, Jews led or were influential in most of the political reform, feminist, consumer rights, gay rights, environmentalist and other public interest groups and related foundations, study groups and think tanks that came to dominate the Democratic party during the 1970s and continue to be the leading forces within that party today." (p. 137) And Jews wield considerable power in the institutions of the American welfare state, holding prominent positions in the "public or quasi-public economy of government agencies, helping professions, private foundations, think tanks, and universities." (p. 140) Since Jewish power and wealth is either directly or indirectly tied to the national government, rather than to state and local governments or to the strictly private sector, Jews have a vested interest in its maintenance and expansion. In short, Ginsberg contends, Jews support the liberal welfare state for reasons of material self-interest: "Jewish liberalism is more an institutional than an attitudinal phenomenon. It is associated more with Jews' political linkages and involvements than with their underlying attitudes." (p. 143)
Ginsberg attributes the rise of black anti-Semitism over the past couple decades to the desire of upwardly mobile blacks to share in the positions of power held by Jews in the welfare-state apparatus. Jews may oppose some black activities, but they cannot become too critical of blacks because the idea of helping disadvantaged blacks provides the "legitimation of the American welfare state." Indeed, Ginsberg maintains, "Many Jews and Jewish organizations believe that the fundamental interests of Jews are so closely tied, politically and institutionally, to those of blacks, that it is sometimes necessary to support black demands even when, conceived narrowly or in the short term, these seem to be disadvantageous to Jews." (p. 165) It is that vested interest in the liberal welfare state that prevented most Jews from turning to Republicanism in the 1980s despite the Republicans' support for pro-Jewish positions on racial quotas and the defense of Israel.
Although the overwhelming majority of Jews did not turn to Reagan Republicanism in the 1980s, "Jews played important roles in implementing the administration's economic and foreign policy objectives," Ginsberg writes. "The association of Jews with Reaganism, especially in the realm of foreign policy, helped to heighten the anti-Semitism of forces on the political Left but produced a measure of philo-Semitism on the right, most notably among Protestant fundamentalists." (p. 188) Neoconservative Reaganauts identified Israel as America's "strategic asset" in the Cold War, and Israel actually helped the United States fight communism in Latin America and elsewhere. In the economic realm, Jewish parvenu financiers such as Michael Milken were the major beneficiaries of the Reagan rollback of regulations.
Ginsberg claims that the Republicans, unable to attract a significant number of Jews to their side, abandoned their support of the neocon elite with the end of the Cold War. Israel simply was no longer needed as an ally. President Bush and Secretary of State James Baker tried to coerce Israel into following American Middle East policy, and in so doing alienated their neoconservative support. Ginsberg, who completed Fatal Embrace at the beginning of the Clinton administration, emphasizes the large number of Jews who were entering that regime, reinforcing his theme of American Jewry's continued identification with liberal Democrats.
The author attempts to gauge whether Jewish power - which aroused strong opposition in the past - is threatened today. Despite the explicit anti-Semitism of blacks, Ginsberg doubts that they pose a threat to Jews because of their dependence on the welfare state that Jews supervise: blacks and Jews are "locked into a long-term relationship which neither can easily abandon." (p. 183) Black anti-Semitic rhetoric, however, has loosened the taboo against anti-Semitism in American society, according to Ginsberg, so that white right-wing forces - Joe Sobran, Patrick Buchanan, David Duke, paleoconservatives - can attack Jews and their agenda. Ginsberg believes that those right-wingers, if they should use the correct populist appeal to unite upper- and lower-class whites in what he characterizes as the “Nazi manner”, could pose a formidable threat to American Jewry": An alliance of radical populists and respectable conservatives would almost inevitably make vigorous use of anti-Semitic themes to attack the liberal Democratic regime, and the Jews would find themselves locked in the fatal embrace of yet another state." (p. 243)
Ginsberg is far more explicit on the reality of Jewish power than any other pro-Jewish author of which this reader is aware. However, he leaves some important matters unresolved.
First, it must be asked: What enables Jews to dominate societies? Ginsberg says they have certain talents - scholarly, business, managerial - not possessed by the bulk of the population. However, he does not claim (like Nathaniel Weyl) that Jews are innately more intelligent than other people. It is odd that societies supposedly based on equality (such as America's current welfare state) would come to reflect greater Jewish dominance. With all the purported equal educational opportunities and aid to the disadvantaged, one would think that social and economic differences among groups would lessen over time. Of course, it could be argued that the real purpose of the liberal welfare state is not to help the disadvantaged but to keep them dependent in order to maintain the rationale for the welfare institutions that Jews dominate. Ginsberg does not even hint at this explanation.
Also problematic is the author's understanding of anti-Semitism. Ginsberg characterizes as anti-Semitic those Gentiles who are critical of Jewish power and its uses. Therefore, anti-Semitism does not necessarily entail racial hatred, threats of racial expulsion or racial extermination, or even lies. A statement can be perfectly truthful and still qualify as anti-Semitic! Despite this apparent meaning, Ginsberg still gives anti-Semitism a negative connotation. Presumably, it is wrong for Gentiles to oppose the Jewish agenda. A reader of Ginsberg's book should understand from the outset that the work is directed to Jews and Judeophiles, and that the author's concern is the long-term effect of Jewish power on Jews. He does not dwell on the negative impacts that Jewish power has had on Gentiles, even though he cites examples in which Gentiles have been harmed - such as in the Soviet Union.
Finally, Ginsberg underplays the importance of neoconservatism. Bush and Baker did anger neocons, but neoconservatism still dominates the Republican Party and the American conservative establishment. Neoconservatism simply does not threaten the welfare-state apparatus that provides Jews a base of power. As paleoconservatives point out, neoconservatism simply acts to coopt the conservative thrust of the electorate, rendering it harmless to those whose interests are served by the welfare state.
Besides being innocuous to the domestic welfare state, a neocon Republican regime might better serve Jewish foreign policy interests than a liberal Democratic one. It could pursue a Zionist-oriented globalistic foreign policy without the inhibitions of the Democratic Left. And having neocons in strategic positions in the Republican Party means that the Jews have placed their eggs in more than one basket: no matter who controls the government, Democrat or Republican, Jewish power remains intact. Outside of the Jewish orbit there remain only Patrick Buchanan and the paleoconservatives, whom Ginsberg sees as imminent threats to Jewish power and its agenda.
Despite some questionable interpretations, The Fatal Embrace is of immense value for its candid discussion of Jewish power, especially since it is authored by a Jew who identifies closely with Jewish interests. It is must reading for anyone interested in this taboo, but critically important, subject.