Anti-Semite and Jew by Jean-Paul Sartre


Description: With a new preface by Michael Walzer. Jean-Paul Sartre’s book is a brilliant portrait of both anti-Semite and Jew, written by a non-Jew and from a non-Jewish point of view. Nothing of the anti-Semite either in his subtle form as a snob, or in his crude form as a gangster, escapes Sartre’s sharp eye, and the whole problem of the Jew’s relationship to the Gentile is examined in a concrete and living way, rather than in terms of sociological abstractions.

Opening: If a man attributes all or part of his own misfortunes and
those of his country to the presence of Jewish elements
in the community, if he proposes to remedy this state of
affairs by depriving the Jews of certain of their rights, by
keeping them out of certain economic and social activities,
by expelling them from the country, by exterminating all of
them, we say that he has anti‐Semitic opinions.
This word opinion makes us stop and think. It is the word
a hostess uses to bring to an end a discussion that
threatens to become acrimonious. It suggests that all
points of view are equal; it reassures us, for it gives an
inoffensive appearance to ideas by reducing them to the
level of tastes. All tastes are natural; all opinions are
permitted. Tastes, colours, and opinions are not open to
discussion. In the name of democratic institutions, in the
name of freedom of opinion, the anti‐Semite asserts the
right to preach the anti‐Jewish crusade everywhere.

Lots to think about here, and much to discuss.

The czars, we are told, treated the Polish
Jews well whereas they willingly ordered pogroms against
those in Russia. These sharply different courses of action
had the same cause. The Russian government considered
the Jews in both Russia and Poland to be inassimilable;
according to the needs of their policy, they had them
massacred at Moscow and Kiev because they were a
danger to the Russian empire, but favoured them at
Warsaw as a means of stirring up discord among the

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