Just when I thought I was done writing about antisemitism, at least for a month, Bonnie Kaye pulls me back in.
Bonnie, dear friend and tireless fighter for Israel and Jews everywhere, alerts me to this news item, which shows that Jews seeking employment face a Gentleman’s Agreement.
Gentleman’s Agreement, from the book by Laura Z. Hobson, is code among employers. Done through nods and understandings, Jewish applicants face hiring quotas and restrictions.
Think of it as knowing winks and secret handshakes among human resource managers.
Nothing overt, unless you are Jewish and can tell you’ve been typified….as are 25 percent of Jewish job-seekers who won’t get hired in America today. So says today’s news item.
Hobson made a strong case for how it was around the 1940s, and her book aroused a sensation.
Some believed, and some doubted that antisemitism to such degrees existed in America….and so soon after the Holocaust, which should have been a lesson as to what bigotry can do.
The movie came out in 1947, and it caused an uproar. It starred Gregory Peck as a reporter pretending to be Jewish in order to find out if it’s true; that Jews face prejudice.
He finds out all right. Friendships go cold. Family members turn off. Hotel clerks can’t find him a room, and he can’t get a job.
Was it really that bad? I’m thinking Hyman Rickover, admiral, and Father of the Nuclear Navy. He faced prejudice throughout his years of service, and yet he succeeded.
So Jews did find work and Jews did succeed…our success rate higher, far higher than among any other minority group…so that finally Jews, despite small in number, failed to qualify as a minority, and were thus denied minority benefits, even for those who lived at or below the poverty line. There were, and there are, plenty of those, too, among our people.
The Jewish answer…think medicine (Salk), think science (Einstein), entertainment (Hollywood, Broadway), think any other field, and find Jews who create something out of nothing.
They create worlds of their own.
That is the upside.
The downside is that prejudice against Jews is a fact, to the point where Jews cannot feel entirely comfortable.
Back to Hollywood. Even though Jews created Hollywood, out of nothing but tumbleweed, and thus ran Hollywood, they never felt completely at home.
During the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s…the blacklist era of HUAC and McCarthyism…the tycoons tried to keep “The Hollywood 10” employed.
They can tell you are Jewish by your name and “superior attitude.”
These were mainly screenwriters and directors who were, or were thought to be, communists, at a time when communism was anathema.
Finally, the moguls caved, for fear of being taken as un-American, which they weren’t, and for fear of being tainted as Jewish monopolizers.
Never mind that they had built the business from scratch and had made America the entertainment capital of the world.
As columnist Hedda Hopper told Samuel Goldwyn, “Your real name is Goldfish, isn’t that so?”
She was prepared to “expose” the other studio heads as well, to her 30 million readers, and to Congress. All were patriotic Americans. But Jewish.
Funny how nothing much changes.
Today, these hiring managers, at least 25 percent of them, track Jewish applicants with the same tricks.
They can tell you are Jewish by your name and “superior attitude.” An old story. In Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, Robert Cohn is frequently described as feeling superior. His “Jewish superiority” is all over the novel. Which is strange, but a sign of the times. Because whenever Cohn appears on the scene, he is viewed as a tag-along, inferior.
Peter Viertel, Jewish and himself a fine writer who ran with Hemingway, a great writer, and that group, laughed when asked if his pal was antisemitic.
“in those days,” he said, “weren’t they all.”
I remember my first interview, as a 15-year-old, and the man said, “You think you are the chosen people, don’t you?”
They still use that today as a form of blacklisting.
Let’s be fair. At around the same time, back in Montreal, which led to this memoir, I was turned down by a Jewish manager because my father, who worked 18 hours a day in the leather trade, was a Torah scholar, an “accusation” I could not deny, but it cost me a job, because, according to that man, Torah scholars tend to be preoccupied by Torah and Talmud.
That sounds like a plan, our plan, right Jeffrey? Let’s forget that we have gotten too old and too sick. Stick to the plan, with G-d’s help.
Torah and Talmud round the clock. Next Year in Jerusalem.
New York-based bestselling American novelist Jack Engelhard writes regularly for Arutz Sheva.
He wrote the worldwide book-to-movie bestseller “Indecent Proposal,” the authoritative newsroom epic, “The Bathsheba Deadline,” followed by his coming-of-age classics, “The Girls of Cincinnati,” and, the Holocaust-to-Montreal memoir, “Escape from Mount Moriah.” For that and his 1960s epic “The Days of the Bitter End,” contemporaries have hailed him “The last Hemingway, a writer