New York has always been a Jewish city. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

October 23, 2023   5 mins

I grew up in a tiny Jewish enclave on Chicago’s South Side. When I first saw New York, in the Sixties, I was awed as by no subsequent marvel of nature: stretching north from Columbus Circle, up the West Side, was a Jewish metropolis.

New York, in my lifetime, had always been a Jewish city: the rhythms, the accent, the humour always felt to me like home. Because they were home. The populace, of whatever ethnicity, was formed or noodged by Yiddishkeit, much as the Chicago of my youth was by the culture of the Irish and the Poles.

The New York Times and The New Yorker were run by Jews; they were both our Rialto and our Bible. New York Theatre, in my lifetime, had always been Jewish. The playwrights were Miller, Odets, Elmer Rice, Ben Hecht, Sidney Kingsley; and, later, Arthur Laurents, Lillian Hellman, Neil Simon, Woody Allen, Norman Mailer, Wallace Shawn, and myself.

We New York Jews have always voted for the Democrats, as their policies appealed to the immigrants and the first generation (my parents). A Fair Shake, a safety net, and unionism were manna to the newly arrived — in spite of (in both their and my lifetime) quotas and antisemitic discrimination. The immigrant Jews did well here, and voted for Franklin Roosevelt. And we are voting for him still.

His Advisor on Jewish Affairs (jude-suss, or “house-Jew”) was Rabbi Stephen Wise, the “dean” of the American Rabbinate. He referred to FDR as “Boss”, and brought home to his community Roosevelt’s assurance of aid to the dying Jews of Europe. Yet Roosevelt’s aid stopped with his assurances, and tens of thousands of Jews died because of his restrictive immigration policies, and millions in Europe because of his refusal to interdict the Holocaust.

Still, today, Jews vote Democratic: electing Presidents who refused to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister (Obama and Biden) in times of “peace”, who gave and give aid to the terrorist state of Iran in exchange for some semi-specified “deal”. American “Aid” to Iran pays for the equipment and ordnance, which is, at this moment, eradicating Jews.

Why do Jews vote Democratic? Partly from tradition — conservatives have heard a Liberal Jew, when asked to defend or explain various absurd or inconsistent Democratic positions, shrug and joke: “I’m a Congenital Democrat.” I understand, for I was one, too.

But there is no more cosy mystery in the antisemitism of the Democratic Party; Representatives are affiliated with the Democratic Socialists and pro-Palestinians, calling for the end of the state of Israel — that is, for the death of the Jews. And Democrat Representatives repeat and refuse to retract the libel that Israel bombed a hospital, in spite of absolute proof to the contrary, and will not call out the unutterable atrocities of Hamas. The writing is on the wall. In blood.

Moses was instructed to have the Jews smear blood on their doorposts to identify themselves, and, so, avert the wrath of the Angel of Death. Mythologically, the blood can be said to be their own: the message, that if they chose to stay in Egypt, their blood would not mark the doorpost, but would wash the floor.

A cartoon by David Mamet.

Many German Jews served the Kaiser during the First World War, and explained to the Nazi thugs that they were Good Germans. And they were killed. And many defended themselves, in the Thirties, by admitting, among themselves, that the Eastern Jews were uncouth; just as today some Western liberal Jews “agree” with the Squad that the terrorists, though they have “gone too far”, “may have a point”: that Israel’s desire to exist is not consonant with an enlightened humanism. This is, in effect, a plea for exemption, not only from terror, but from conscience, for the liberal Jew means the Israelis “are making it hard on the rest of us”. Which is true; for if Israel’s innocent anguish is acknowledged, he will have to admit he has been living a terrible lie.

Many good German Jews in the Thirties ignored their brothers and sisters to the East, and later died with them. My generation, born right after the Holocaust, wondered: “Good God, didn’t you see what was happening around you? Are you literally willing to die rather than admit you were mistaken?” The answer, today, to many liberal American Jews, is “Yes”.

In response, the world’s Leftist media calls for the chastisement of Israel and support for Palestine, while those who consider themselves mere “liberals” moderate their cowardice by calling for a “ceasefire” — which is to say, a pause while Hamas re-arms. This is where the libel of the hospital bombing is instructive. It is, quite literally, another example of the West’s oldest, most reliable, and most permissible sick entertainment: the call for Jewish extinction. The invitation, here, is no different from that of the carnival barker: thrills, chills, and excitement galore.

It began with the fall of the Jewish state in 77 CE. Afterwards, we find the Christian libel that the Jews killed Christ, the medieval information that we slay Christian children to bake their blood into matzoh, that we were the cause of the Second World War; and, currently, that we exist to murder Moslems.

It’s all one horrific attack, and its earliest recorded instance is John 8:44 (of the Jews): “You are of your father, the Devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the Beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth because the truth is not in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Christianity came into being with the destruction of the Jewish State — the adherents were Jews whose Temple and culture had been destroyed. Every new religion, in its foundation myths, slanders its parent faith. In maturity it may revise, “reinterpret”, or ignore the earlier statements. Pope Paul VI’s Bull, Nostra Aetate, repudiated antisemitism.

But the Jewish libel persisted as, since 77 CE, there was no Jewish State. The Jews had no protection whatever: from Cossacks, peasants, pogroms, the Crusades, Hitler, Stalin, and so on. And, so, we were convenient victims as we were powerless, in effect the battered wife of the West. We were at the mercy of anyone who wanted anything we had: our possessions, our children and women, our lives, our hair to make mattresses, our bones to make fertiliser, and our trauma to make Holocaust porn and “News at 11”.

Unprotected, we appealed to Power for decent consideration as Human Beings; and Power in America, the Democratic Party, was always happy to take our money and our votes, and ask us to wait in the Outer Office. As it does today.

The position of the Jews changed in 1948 with the foundation of the Jewish State. But the habits of 2,000 years, now of Liberal Jews (in the diaspora and in Israel) have not changed. These appeal, in the name of humanity, to powers which may believe in humanity, but, unfortunately, do not consider Jews human.

And so, the carnival barker titillates us with the thrills available for a pittance: one dime, one tenth part of the dollar. But the sick thrill of antisemitism also has a price: the surrender of reason, and, with it, of conscience.

© 2023, D. Mamet

A painting that hangs in David Mamet’s house

David Mamet is an American playwright, film director, screenwriter and author. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Glengarry Glen Ross.