I stayed away from Israel just as I stayed away from Nazi Germany — Hugh Trevor-Roper

Hugh Trevor-Roper

Hugh Trevor-Roper

Oxford Press has just published a new volume of 100 letters by Hugh Trevor-Roper (1914-2003), a historian and public intellectual (who slipped on the banana peel of the bogus Hitler Diaries). This is an excerpt of a letter from Trevor-Roper to Max Perutz, December 23, 1989. Perutz was a British-Austrian scientist who escaped the Nazis.

It seems to me that Israel is driven, by ‘reason of state’, to behave in the Middle East, politically, as Prussia behaved in Europe.  I was last in Israel soon after the war of 1967–when Sinai, the Gaza strip and the West Bank were secured.  I was taken to all the conquered areas and was deeply shocked by the aggressive chauvinism of the Israeli officials whom I met: they boasted, uninhibitedly, about their brutal methods of keeping the Arab population in awe.  I recalled my experiences in Nazi Germany in 1935, after which I did not revisit Germany until 1945; and I have not wanted to revisit Israel since.  I was also very struck by the defiant militarism of the national day celebrations in Jerusalem; a country the size of Wales advertising its armed strength in tanks, armoured cars, war-planes sufficient for a great power:  a great militarist power.

Note, the actual letter says 1968 for 1967, and editors Richard Davenport-Hines and Adam Sisman corrected it in a footnote. (And, thanks to an anonymous friend. We depend on anonymous friends.)

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

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  1. Woody Tanaka says:

    A true moral giant, able to see evil clearly for what it is.

  2. Obsidian says:

    Phil. Your new hero seems to have been a ‘Class A’ prick.

    “Sisman portrays Trevor-Roper as more Whig than Tory; an anticommunist but no cold warrior, he deplored McCarthyite witch hunts and maintained friendly relations with Marxist historians. He dragged his feet on admitting women to Peterhouse College and harbored several petty bigotries, including against Scots and Catholics. Needlessly spiking his writing with anti-Catholic jabs, he antagonized the Church and its defenders like the novelist Evelyn Waugh, who sniped with Trevor-Roper in the Letters pages of newspapers for decades. ”

    “If Trevor-Roper remains known in the United States for anything beyond The Last Days of Hitler, it is for his merciless hatchet jobs on other historians. “I have decided to liquidate [Lawrence] Stone,” he wrote of a former pupil who scooped him on the Elizabethan aristocracy, before writing an article that nearly destroyed that man’s career. Unsportingly, Trevor-Roper himself had thin skin and was quick to call upon the libel courts. His faculty at Cambridge loathed him so much that they would not break bread with him.”

    link to washingtonmonthly.com

    • Philip Weiss says:

      Thanks Obsidian, for added background. So he was a person of some evident prejudice, is your point. Does that undermine his historical observations of a place he hated, Nazi Germany, and the place that reminded him of Nazi Germany?

      • Obsidian says:

        A man who is intolerant of Scots probably doesn’t care much for Jews either.

        • amigo says:

          “including against Scots and Catholics.”obsidious

          Scot is an ethnicity.Catholic is a religion.Don,t you know the difference.

          Boy are you zios so screwed up.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “A man who is intolerant of Scots probably doesn’t care much for Jews either.”

          LMAO. That’s got to be the most pathetic victimization mongering in history. Yes, there is no way that someone could be intolerant of one people and not also hate the Jews, because the Jews have the market cornered on people hating them… Pathetic.

        • Not at all.

          Trevor-Roper was an extremely active anti-appeasement campaigner. In conjunction with E.W.B. Gill, one of the great unsung heroes of British Second World War intelligence, he was responsible for the initial breaking of the hand codes of the Abwehr. This was the basis on which the machine codes were subsequently broken by ‘Dilly’ Knox at Bletchley — a success which was instrumental in making possible the defeat of Nazi Germany.

          The collation and interpretation of the information about German intelligence which Knox’s work made possible was done by the unit in MI6 which Trevor-Roper ran. This was the reason why Dick White of MI5 commissioned him to undertake the investigation into the circumstances of Hitler’s death, of which his study ‘The Last Days of Hitler’ was the product.

          Like very many liberal intellectuals of his generation, Trevor-Roper lived in a milieu which was enormously enriched both by Anglo-Jewish intellectuals and Jewish refugees from the disasters of twentieth-century European history. A few names: Sir Isaiah Berlin, Sir Alfred Ayer, Sir Karl Popper, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sir Lewis Namier, Munia Postan, Arthur Koestler, Sir Rudolph Peierls, Otto Frisch, Ewan Montagu.

          Do a few Google checks on some of those figures — also perhaps two Jews I knew very well, Sergeant — later Professor — Peter Ganz, and Sergeant — later Professor — Peter Stern — and you may perhaps begin to glimpse how ludicrous the imputation of anti-Semitism in relation to figures like Trevor-Roper is.

          It is Zionists who hold up ethno-nationalist scum like Sharon and Netanyahu as the true, authentic, representatives of Jewish tradition who are the true anti-Semites.

          • Citizen says:

            It’s pretty amazing how Obsidian ignores the obvious, that the subject was heavily reminded of early Nazi Germany regime when he visited early Israeli regime. He tries to divert by tossing garbage on subject’s name, as Phil Weiss observes. Can’t wait to see Obsidian’s response to Phil’s comment on his comment. Waiting….

        • pabelmont says:

          Let’s suppose, arguendo, that T-R didn’t care much for Jews (even though he visited Israel in the company of ” Israeli officials whom I met”). Does that vitiate his observations? His reasons for not visiting Israel are mine, too. I don’t want to rub up against blatant evil. (I know, I know, Washington DC is awash in evil also, but at least they hide it.)

        • K Renner says:

          This comment doesn’t make any sense. The only reason you’re surmising this is because it’s convenient to accuse him of “not caring for/hating the Jews” because he said something you don’t like about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians post-1967 war and the glorified display of militarism.

          There’s absolutely nothing to base your claim of “anti Semitism” on, which seems to be the case when you use the term as some useless attack on character attempt and nothing else.

        • Ecru says:

          “A man who is intolerant of Scots probably doesn’t care much for Jews either.”

          Wow! What next? A man who is intolerant of lactose probably doesn’t care much for Jews? A man who is intolerant of Neo-Cumbia probably doesn’t care much for Jews? A man who is intolerant of Modern Art probably doesn’t care much for Jews? What a joke you are.

        • Talkback says:

          ROFL

          Yeah, he wrote a book called “The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History”, so imagine how much he likes Jews.

    • seafoid says:

      Does that mean nobody should ever watch Woody Allen films, Obsidian ?

      • Obsidian says:

        @seafoid

        Here is the essential difference between you and me.
        I used to be big Woody Allen fan until he seduced his adopted daughter.
        Since that perverse revelation, I’ve never watched another Wood Allen movie, not even on television, that’s how much I loath him.

        You and Phil loathe Israel, but a State isn’t a human being. International politics is a little more nuanced than the black and white world you live in.

        • puppies says:

          “I used to be big Woody Allen fan until he seduced his adopted daughter. “Since that perverse revelation, I’ve never watched another Wood Allen movie”

          Sure, and you stopped using electrical power the day you heard about Edison’s mistresses. You have been boycotting Israel since the conviction of its president for rape.

          This is the guy calling someone a Class A prick.

          • Obsidian says:

            @puppies

            I view adulterers as normal and men who seduce their adopted children as deviant. Rape is criminalized, even in Israel.

            Sooooo, I don’t follow you.

          • ANTIVICTORIA says:

            I view rapists and pedophiles as both criminal and deviant.
            I’m not quite sure what fine point or distinction you are making between the two.
            Rape=Adultery=Normal?

            But the overarching point is, selective outrage.

        • “he seduced his adopted daughter”
          Oi! Soon Yi wasn’t his adopted daughter. She was Mia’s and musician André Previn’s adopted daughter. Her full name is Soon-Yi Previn. That’s another misconception about the couple Allen/Soo-Yi.

        • seafoid says:

          @Obsidian

          Here is the essential difference between you and me

          link to youtube.com

        • Kathleen says:

          “I used to be big Woody Allen fan until he seduced his adopted daughter.
          Since that perverse revelation, I’ve never watched another Wood Allen movie, not even on television, that’s how much I loath him.”

          I agree with you about something.

          • “I agree with you about something.”
            You’d be wrong Kathleen because, as I wrote in a response to him, she wasn’t his adopted daughter.
            “Soon Yi wasn’t his adopted daughter. She was Mia’s and musician André Previn’s. Her full name is Soon-Yi Previn. That’s another misconception about the couple Allen/Soo-Yi.”

        • Ecru says:

          @ Obsidian

          Since that perverse revelation, I’ve never watched another Wood Allen movie

          So basically you’re boycotting Woody Allen, divesting from his produce because of his (shall we say) questionable sexual history? Interesting.

          And what of Israel, the nation that harbours wanted (alleged) paedophiles, protects them from justice (e.g. Avrohom Mondrowitz) and has its storm troopers abuse Palestinian children as a matter of course?

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      LMAO. An israeli calling someone else a “Class A” prick. Oh, the irony.

      But it is interesting that in just a few minutes you have a quote and a cite to an obscure two-year old book review. I guess the zio Ministry of Hasbara and Public Enlightenment has dossiers on anyone who committed thoughtcrime against the zionist entity, so that you can slander and libel them at a second’s notice.

      • Obsidian says:

        No Woody.
        The irony is that a obviously flawed human being becomes a ‘moral giant’ only after he criticizes Israel.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “The irony is that a obviously flawed human being becomes a ‘moral giant’ only after he criticizes Israel.”

          No, he’s a moral giant because he refused to buy into the nonsense that israel and the israelis are anything but the barbarians which their acts disclosed them to be. The affront is that you, a booster of a pathological ideology and a diseased state, can muster the gall to criticize him. You would do well to keep quiet and reflect on the vile nature of that which you support.

    • Edward Q says:

      This is a lot of innuendo and the article may be a hatchet job against Trevor-Roper. Allegations like this need specifics.

    • Yes, Obsidian, shoot the messenger, why don’t you? Do you think it alters his report? Whatever his faults, his first book is considered an authoritative, brilliant piece of research and reporting. Maybe it was those skills he brought to bear in his observations on Israel. Of course you have selected the worst passages about him, and omit the wider overview, which is far less damning than you would clearly prefer it to be. Whatever, it doesn’t alter the perceptions which Israel has itself created, through its actions, and do not rely solely on the observations of one individual.

    • ToivoS says:

      Another if you don’t like the message then distract attention and attack the messenger.

    • As soon as some author/intellectual of whatever notoriety has been shown to be, one way or another critical of Israel the first thing Zionists do is to dig shit about him/her in a desperate attempt to find materiel with a potential for slander and character assassination. Always. This is how you discredit every critic of Israel. It’s a pattern.

    • Kathleen says:

      “Needlessly spiking his writing with anti-Catholic jabs” I grew up Catholic and the church deserved to be jabbed and jabbed.

      His points about the “brutal methods” and “defiant militarism” are relevant.

      • Citizen says:

        @ Kathleen
        I also grew up Catholic, and I was an altar boy back when you had to learn Latin to be one. And I agree the Church deserves to be jabbed and jabbed, just like Israel deserves the same, and too, the US regime. But, amongst them, only Israel is engaged in land grabbing, dispossession, and daily attacks and endless administrative detention and torture on civilians simply because they are not Jews.

    • ziusudra says:

      *Obsidian
      I’m american of the Italo/Greco type lapsed catholic living in Germany having known US Jews in N.Y. mainly Flatbush & Manhattan. Also Munich, Milan, Paris.
      I would have ne’er known what they confessed to, had they not told me. I was ne’er mistreated by any of them.
      These that i know/knew live openly with the populace, whether they practised Judaism or not didn’t interest anyone.
      I know Turks, Arabs & Albanians here in Germany with whom i get along with.
      The only difference, i can sense is that the Turks being the largest minority, seem to exclude us Christians, but it is not done with animosity.
      Like Jews, they stick to themselves mostly.
      ziusudra
      PS With all that i take in on MW, Press TV, ALJ is Jews that demonize other Jews open to critizism of Zionist Governments.
      PSS Isn’t it possible in your estimation that the author senses the same of that what was done to him is being done to the Falesteeni by the Israeli Governments?

    • Shingo says:

      He dragged his feet on admitting women to Peterhouse College and harbored several petty bigotries, including against Scots and Catholics.

      That would include pretty much everyone in the British establishment in the 50s. I suspect that even Lord Balfour would have fallen into that category.

  3. OlegR says:

    / I was also very struck by the defiant militarism of the national day celebrations in Jerusalem; a country the size of Wales advertising its armed strength in tanks, armoured cars, war-planes sufficient for a great power: a great militarist power./

    I say Philip oldboy.
    How dare those Jews in their pitiful little country boast military might
    when our once great empire lies in ruins.

    • I think it is less to do with military might, and more to do with the delusional arrogance that comes with having the biggest and most fearsome toys on the block, and then parading them around as if that justifies the actions of the biggest bullies and squatters on that block. Might doesn’t make right, whatever juvenile comic books you read tell you so.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      ‘How dare those Jews in their pitiful little country boast military might…”

      LMAO. Dumb ingrate, you don’t boast military might, the US taxpayers do. They’re the ones who are responsible, not you pathetic welfare cases.

    • lysias says:

      And how dare Trevor-Roper have criticized the militaristic atmosphere in Nazi Germany when his own empire was guilty of such abuses.

      I guess that must be how you think.

  4. American says:

    Israel can try to outlaw the word Nazi, I-Firstdom can rail against comparisons of Israel to Nazi Germany but the indisputable truth is zionism and nazism share a similar “mentality”.

    • Citizen says:

      @ American, yes, historically, Nazism and Zionism come from the same petri dish. In terms of time table of mythical inspiration and evocation, Zionism is the knock-off.

  5. seafoid says:

    Trevor Roper was most probably unable to face the unrelenting waves of chutzpah mixed with horseshit that would have greeted him upon his arrival in Israel

    link to youtube.com

  6. hophmi says:

    Lots of smart people say and do lots of dumb things, and Roper was no exception.

  7. If I traveled, I would stay away from Saudi Arabia because of the way they treat women (among other reasons)!

  8. @Philip Weiss:

    From your link about Max Perutz;

    His parents were Jewish by ancestry, but had baptized Perutz in the Catholic religion…Perutz was exiled from Austria because of his Jewish ancestry when Nazi Germany annexed that country prior to World War II.”

    …and Hugh Trevor-Roper was surprised that we have tanks and airplanes.

    • Woody Tanaka says:

      “…and Hugh Trevor-Roper was surprised that we have tanks and airplanes.”

      No, zio, Trevor-Roper wasn’t “surprised that [you] have tanks and airplanes,” he was disgusted that you acted (and still act) like nazi barbarians. Big difference.

      • hophmi says:

        “he was disgusted that you acted (and still act) like nazi barbarians.”

        Uh-huh. Like I said, smart people say really dumb things sometimes.

      • Obsidian says:

        Actually Woody.

        Trevor-Roper worked as a correspondent in Israel in the early 1950′s but failed to note young Israel’s Nazi barbarism.

        • Woody Tanaka says:

          “Trevor-Roper worked as a correspondent in Israel in the early 1950′s but failed to note young Israel’s Nazi barbarism.”

          Given that the gutter filth in the Stern Gang had already, by that point, threatened Trevor-Roper with death over his book, one must be a fool to suppose that he was not aware that the pigs who were running the zionist entity weren’t (and aren’t to this day) a group of nazi barbarians.

  9. MHughes976 says:

    Trevor Roper was no doubt a prickly individual but the reviews of his letters indicate that he had a kindly side as well.
    That he was pretty well informed and sharp no one can deny – and his Whiggish interpretations of history are still interesting. As I recall, he was well known for comparing the persecution of Jews to the utterly irrational persecution of witches.
    He put himself in a false position, I think, by writing on the Last Days of Hitler – as an assignment from the Secret Service – when his knowledge of German was not really good enough for an academic, rather than a propagandist, study. I well remember the controversy storming around him when he ferociously rebutted the idea from AJP Taylor that appeasement of Germany was a long-standing British tradition rather than the product of the specific failure of the Chamberlain government to grasp that Hitler was not just another Euro politician but an ideological devil.

    • seafoid says:

      The bots always reduce critics to one dimensional cartoon figures.

      Eg
      Einstein used to pick his nose.
      Finkelstein wears a dressing gown to breakfast
      Goldstone doesn’t know the full bar mitzvah liturgy

      and so on

      • ziusudra says:

        Greetings seafoid,
        ….Finkelstein wears a dressing gown to breakfast…
        & with all his style, he would pull it off with elegance.
        ziusudra

  10. Mikhail Gershenzon, a great Russian-Jewish philosopher in the late tsarist period, wrote a brilliant essay against Zionism in which he argued that Jewish nationalism would be similar to the Prussian-German variety and that the Jewish state would be in a perpetual state of war with its neighbors.

  11. Philip Weiss says:

    A couple of scholarly friends have offered me insight re Trevor-Roper that speaks to some of the criticism in the thread, above. Both anonymous. Here goes:
    1. H T-R was not prejudiced against Scots, he was married to one for god’s sake. He questioned the way Scots perceived and taught their history, not without humor, and with the spirit and intent that we would question the way American history is taught. He was deeply read in Scottish history and literature, and no criticism he made was idle. Same is true of his criticism of Catholicism–he made no criticism that I, as a Catholic, don’t share. Also, the politics of postwar Catholics in England is a book in itself, and the lack of Catholic acknowledgment of the terrible Catholic persecutions in Europe that determined England for Protestantism. The Inquisition was not just about Jews. Also, he was as critical of his Anglican background as he ever was of Catholicism. And he was as critical of radical atheism as of religious faith. In short, he saw virtues and failings in each position, and in himself. A was a man, take him for all in all.
    2. This is an interesting comment [by Trevor-Roper]. An evasion you can expect to see, e.g. in the New Republic or Weekly Standard, will be “of course Trevor-Roper was anti-Semitic.” Safe thing to say, because half the non-Jews in English academic life have been anti-Semitic until quite recently (say, 1990). But Trevor-Roper has unusually clean hands: not only his anti-Hitler stand from early on, which gave him access to the documents that led to the writing of The Last Days of Hitler, but also his lifelong and exceedingly close friendship with Bernard Berenson, who was his non-academic mentor and made I Tatti practically his second home. H T-R was also an admirer of, and admired by, Sir Lewis Namier–one of the most distinguished of emigre Jewish scholars and himself friendly to Israel.

    • The idea that a close friendship with a Jew is proof of not harboring antisemitic thoughts or feelings is silly. It merely means that his antisemitism was not deep seated enough to eliminate the possibility of such a relationship. Once upon a time, the phrase “some of my best friends are Jewish” was mocked for its apparent shallowness, but not here.

      This response from Arthur Herzberg to a review Trevor-Roper wrote of his book clarifies a little (the review is behind a pay wall, but the response is not). Trevor- Roper justified Voltaire’s antisemitism (about which I assume there is no dispute) as resulting from the fact that the Jews were not willing to disappear as a unique group (singularity) rather than any flaw in Voltaire’s personality. Herzberg believes that acceptance of the Jewish urge towards survival as a unique group is part of modern western tolerance, a tolerance that was not part of Voltaire’s (and Trevor-Roper’s) ideology or personality.
      link to nybooks.com

      • Shingo says:

        The idea that a close friendship with a Jew is proof of not harboring antisemitic thoughts or feelings is silly.

        True, but the fact the compared the persecution of Jews to the persecution of witches in the Dark Ages is.

      • puppies says:

        And now slandering again. No, equal-opportunity critique of closed cliques and coteries across the board is not “Antisemitism”. To let go of nationalism, of declaring oneself just a human with no preferential tribal allegiances is in fact what’s called humanism. This sneaky attack on Voltaire, let alone T-R, ignoring both the times and the fact that at least the former had been the only defender of many an underdog (including many heretics –if some certifiably “Jewish” is an irrelevant fact) only shows how narrow tribal brains can be.

      • Talkback says:

        The idea that a close friendship with a Jew is proof of not harboring antisemitic thoughts or feelings is silly. It merely means that his antisemitism was not deep seated enough to eliminate the possibility of such a relationship.

        ROFL. Paranoid reasoning:

        Every degree of positive relationsships with Jews is just a degree of antisemitism.

        • MHughes976 says:

          I would think that complete openness to the full range of relationships regardless of whether the other person is or is not Jewish is in fact a trustworthy sign of the absence of any relevant prejudice, ie of anti-Semitism or anti-Gentilism.

          • Mhughes- Gore vidal was an antisemite. (Gore vidal indulged in antisemitic rhetoric.) (Some may dispute, but it’s a safe assertion, no?) Gore vidal had a Jewish lover. Do you disagree that there is no contradiction.

          • Shingo says:

            Mhughes- Gore vidal was an antisemite.

            No he was an anti imperialist and as such he was a critic of Israeli colonialism. Of course, one would not expect you to know the difference.

          • shingo- Nonsense. Adam Kirsch highlights Vidal’s “much noted distaste for Jews and Judaism” and it is clear that it has nothing to do with imperialism. But that doesn’t suit shingo’s brand of propaganda:

            link to bostonphoenix.com

            Vidal’s much-noted distaste for Jews and Judaism comes through most clearly in three essays written from 1970 to 1981. It is rooted in a standard Nietzschean genealogy of morals — Judaism was a slave-religion that, through Christianity, transmitted its ignoble principles to the whole West — and flavored with an aristocratic contempt for Jews as arrivistes. Admittedly, when criticizing the outrageously stupid comments on homosexuality made by Jewish neoconservatives such as Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Joseph Epstein, Vidal is in the right. But he puts himself in the wrong when he refers to Jewish writers as “Rabbi” and calls attention to “the rabbinical mind” of one; when he mentions “[Alfred] Kazin and his kind,” says that Hilton Kramer’s criticism of Garry Wills and himself must be “because we are not Jewish,” and calls Podhoretz “a publicist for Israel”; when he describes New York Jewish intellectuals as a “new class,” and then says that “no matter how crowded and noisy a room, one can always detect the new-class person’s nasal whine”; and when he repeatedly insinuates that it is “unwise” for Jews to criticize homosexuals because they “will be in the same gas chambers as the blacks and the faggots.” Every individual remark can be extenuated — at times it even seems that Vidal writes out of a disappointed love of Jews, whom he expects to be liberal on all issues — but the cluster of hostile, sneering, scornful references leaves a very unpleasant taste. There seems no reason, other than anti-Semitic compulsion, for three of the 14 essays in a book ostensibly about sex to be, in reality, attacks on Judaism and on individual Jews.

          • Shingo says:

            Nonsense. Adam Kirsch highlights Vidal’s “much noted distaste for Jews and Judaism” and it is clear that it has nothing to do with imperialism. But that doesn’t suit shingo’s brand of propaganda:

            Nonesense. For one he atatcks both Christianity and Judaism for their chauvinism and criticizes individuals, some of whom happen to be Jewish.

            Kirsch’s main observation is that Vidal was disappointed in some Jewish elites who were not as liberal as himself.

            You’re dimply demonstrating hyper sensitivity and paranoia. Predictably, you just cherry picked a few phrases, then your eyes rolled back into your head and you hit the anti Semite switch.

          • puppies says:

            Friedman – Do you really think that peddling your second-hand poisonous lies in a forum where a substantial proportion of people are thoroughly familiar with all the works and life of Vidal is valuable as a propaganda activity? This here is not the National Enquirer. I have half a mind to write to your Propaganda Ministry to tell them that you are wasting their precious resources.

      • ANTIVICTORIA says:

        You’re accusing Trevor-Roper of a shallow anti-semitism -
        and in the next breath praising Herzberg for his chauvinist views that Jews are unique in their “survival urges”.

        This seems to be a distraction from the anti-colonialist (and chauvinism) criticisms of Trevor-Roper.

        Which stand on their own as a valid critique.

    • Philip Weiss,

      ‘half the non-Jews in English academic life have been anti-Semitic until quite recently (say, 1990).’

      This seems to me a surprising assessment. I grew up in Oxford in the ‘Fifties and ‘Sixties – my father was a colleague of Trevor-Roper – and studied in Cambridge in 1968-71. Certainly you found scattered groups of anti-Semites – the clique around Maurice Cowling in Peterhouse College, Cambridge, for example. Doubtless a good deal of the old ‘genteel’ British anti-Semitism survived under the surface elsewhere. But I cannot recall any Oxford or Cambridge academic with whom I had dealings making an anti-Semitic remark.

      Part of the question at issue may however be to do with what ‘anti-Semitism’ means. To refer to as ‘the Jews’ as being ‘not willing to disappear as a unique group’ as Yonah Fredman does in discussing Arthur Herzberg’s criticism of Trevor-Roper is illuminating but also in part misleading.

      The immense outpouring of creativity generated by the emancipation of European Jews from the ghetto was, in very substantial measure, the work of Jews who had no concern, or a very weak concern, with maintaining their identity as a ‘unique group’: among German Jews in particular, the assimilationist tendency was very strong. One of things which English liberals like Trevor-Roper found most appalling about German National Socialism was, quite precisely, that it suggested that Jews, by their very nature, did not have the option of becoming Germans, Englishmen, Italians, or whatever.

      In this sense, should not the denunciation of ‘tribalism’ by a very distinguished Jewish refugee from Vienna, Sir Karl Popper, be regarded as anti-Semitic? Quite consistently, Popper was a deeply committed anti-Zionist. But if his form of anti-Zionism is to be regarded as anti-Semitic, then that term simply cannot be expected to retain the intense perjorative connotation it possesses. To suggest that ‘anti-Semites’ in this sense were akin to Nazis would be simply stupid, if not indeed thoroughly offensive.

      As to Trevor-Roper, his own position was manifested equally in his impassioned opposition to the ‘appeasement’ of Hitler as a young man, and his bitter fight against the Cowling clique at Peterhouse towards the end of his career. From a review by Neal Acherson of the 2010 biography of Trevor-Roper by Adam Sisman:

      “In 1979, Trevor-Roper was astonished and pleased to be offered the mastership of Peterhouse, Cambridge. He did not realise that the invitation was a labyrinthine ploy, devised by Maurice Cowling, to give the college a head so reactionary that he would be the willing prisoner of its extreme-right ruling clique. But like many princes of darkness, Cowling was so devious that he tripped over his own bootlaces: Lord Dacre, far from being a romantic Tory ultra, turned out to be an anti-clerical Whig with a preference for free speech over superstition. He did not find it normal that fellows should wear mourning on the anniversary of General Franco’s death, attend parties in SS uniform or insult black and Jewish guests at high table. For the next seven years, Trevor-Roper battled to suppress the insurgency of the Cowling clique (‘a strong mind trapped in its own glutinous frustrations’), and to bring the college back to a condition in which students might actually want to go there.”

      (link to lrb.co.uk )

      The review quotes an amused comment on this situation by a very distinguished honorary fellow of the College, Sir Michael (‘Munia’) Postan, formerly the professor of economic history at the university, in which capacity he had played a seminal role in the development of his subject in Britain.

      His history illustrates the complexity of some of the issues involved. A Jewish refugee, originally from Bessarabia, Postan left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution, and had I think been involved in Zionist activities. Certainly, in his own life he displayed no noticeable concern with maintaining Jews as an ‘unique group’, as he married his professor, the very English and quite wonderful Eileen Power, and after she died, the daughter of the Earl of Albemarle.

      The issues involved are still very much with us, as is made very clear in the interviews which Ari Shavit conducted with the late Amos Elon and Avraham Burg. As far as I am concerned, I find Jews like Elon or Burg whose heart is with the ‘assimilationist’ enthusiasm so common among the ‘yekkes’ more congenial than I do Shavit who regard such assimilation as a calamity.

      However, if British or American Jews want to avoid assimilation into the wider society, that is fine by me. What is utterly unacceptable, and will end very likely end badly, is if ‘tribalist’ Jews of this kind attempt to influence the policies of their host nations in directions which are favourable to Israel, and not of the other inhabitants of those nations.

      • mcohen says:

        David hab……

        you write well which is refreshing after reading the useful others but i must question the “influence policies” comment as if pro israel are the only lobby groups.
        those you never read or hear about are the most powerful,those exposed are the most attacked.thats how it works.

  12. RoHa says:

    “The Inquisition was not just about Jews.”

    Most of it wasn’t about Jews at all. Heretics of one sort or another were the main target. The Spanish Inquisition, unexpectedly, was just as concerned with tracking down crypto-Muslims as with tracking down crypto-Jews.
    Spain had plenty of people who had decided that the better part of valour was to convert, at least ostensibly, to Catholic Christianity, and the Church suspected them of secretly practicing their previous religion.

  13. Kathleen says:

    OT sorry Phil.. From that picture above could so see Phillip Seymour Hoffman playing this fella. Chris Matthews Let Me Finish segment focused on Phillip’s death “the best of the best” In reference to his acting

    link to msnbc.com

    • marc b. says:

      he was one of the best, Kathleen. I heard snatches of interviews with him on the radio yesterday as I was in and out of my car. curiously, or not, I don’t recall a single reference to his role in ‘before the devil knows you’re dead’, and his character’s heroin abuse in that film. (unfortunately the last movie I saw him in was the latest installation of ‘the hunger games’. not a great performance.)

    • Citizen says:

      No question Hoffman was a truly great actor. His Capote alone puts him up there, but he did so many others too. He made the more top celebrity male actors seem wooden and pretenders, usually cashing in on their looks.

      • Kathleen says:

        Totally agree. “best of the best” Such a loss to the public but more sadly to his children, partner and rest of family. Addiction is a sad sad affair.

  14. Citizen says:

    Hey, let’s let the 1968 Mr Trevor-Roper speak for himself regarding charges made against him here in 2014: link to nybooks.com

    • MHughes976 says:

      Thank you, Citizen, that was a very useful link. ‘Cosmopolitan’, the label TR pins on himself, had in recent times been Stalin’s transparent and well-understood code word for Jewish people.

      • lysias says:

        Wasn’t the Stalinist phrase “rootless cosmopolitan [безродный космополит]“?

      • ToivoS says:

        The first time I heard “cosmopolitan” as a code word for Jews was from a French aristocrat that had been convicted for collaborating with the Nazis during WWII. I was raised in a very left wing environment and the only term I heard in reference to Jews was, well Jews. It wasn’t until I was adult that I knew what Yid, Kike or Hebe meant let alone the usage of cosmopolitan in that context.

        Stalin had deep antisemitic feelings and probably picked up that term Russian culture.

  15. mcohen says:

    Citizen says

    “the catholic church deserves to be jabbed”

    what jabbing have you done to the catholic church,i mean like personally.have you attended any protest meetings regarding priests who strayed.how about on the internet forums,i notice you post anti israel all the time,what about your own relegion,do you ever attack it as much as you attack judaism