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An analysis of anti-Semitism


A few thoughts on the Holocaust
Frederic Raphael Writer
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Well, I have a lot of feelings about the Holocaust and I have written more about the Jews and all of that than frankly I ever wished to do when I set out. I actually meant to be if not an English novelist, certainly an English-writing novelist. That is to say, whether I was English or American, I wished my books to be published in England and America; if they were translated, so much the better. I didn't wish to advance a cause or stand for a particular tranche of humanity. I think my attitude to the Holocaust is one of indignation about how it has been treated, in many respects, than about the thing itself, which doesn't' mean that the thing itself doesn't rank as something much more terrible than you could conceivably begin to imagine, no matter how anybody regarded it later. Nevertheless, I can't change that. I can't affect what the Germans did and the Ukrainians by the way and various other chums, a large number of whom were welcomed into England when Jews were not welcomed into England after 1945. A Waffen-SS regiment mostly, consisting of Baltic recruits to the SS, were admitted quietly by the back door into the north of England in order to get them down to the mines. Whereas Jews, who were dirty and smelly people, were not admitted into England in any large numbers at all, despite the pretence that they were.

I have a reaction to the whole Holocaust thing which is naïve because it's postulated on the notion that there are people in the world capable of behaving well. There are people in the world capable of behaving better than other people, God knows, but on the whole, behaving very, very well is very, very rare. So my sense of outrage at the conduct of the British and the Americans and the French, for instance, in the lead up to the war of 1939-45 is a luxury. I dare not look at the actual horror. I look off at something different. But what I look at different is something which is still worth talking about because those are the kinds of things that can be dealt with by civilised people, i.e. you can actually be conscious of what you're doing and why you're doing it while pretending that that isn't the reason. The British didn't want the Jews to be able to escape from Europe. That is the truth of it, because they didn't want the balance of power upset in Palestine. The balance of power being, we'll look after the Arabs and then we can take their oil. I didn't know until very recently that the British and the Americans, oh, and the French – the British and the French in 1918, the time of the Sykes-Picot pact which was the objective correlative of this sentiment – referred to the Middle East in a very brief phrase: they called it the 'loot'. But by the 20s and 30s, the British had retreated or advanced to their favourite position, that of moralists. They were the people, apparently, uniquely designed by heaven to determine who should and should not live in Palestine.

Now, I don't deny, I don't need to deny and I won't deny that the Jews were mostly, though not absolutely, entirely arriviste as far as Palestine was concerned and that Palestine was indeed inhabited mostly by Arabs. But I would like to know which part of the world has not been invaded by... received large numbers of unwelcome immigrants, etc... invaded by other people. The fact is, it happens all the bloody time. Peoples move all the time. Only the Jews perpetually on the motion – in motion – are mysteriously supposed, by some ordinance which is of course largely religio-metaphysical, never to come to a stop. They must keep walking, keep moving. Don't let the sun go down on you in this town, as they used to say in the old Westerns, and the Jews supposedly, for some reason, are condemned to be perpetually mendicant. Well, I don't buy into that. And, of course, what you don't buy into if you don't buy into that is actually the entire Christian myth because the Christian myth insists that the Jews are responsible for their own misfortunes because of the way they treated Jesus and they're only responsible for their misfortunes because God wishes it so because that was His Son. I just... I can't even discuss any of this.

Born in America in 1931, Frederic Raphael is a writer who moved to England as a boy. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was a Major Scholar in Classics at St John's College, Cambridge. His articles and book reviews appear in a number of newspapers and magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and The Sunday Times. He has published more than twenty novels, the best-known being the semi-autobiographical The Glittering Prizes (1976). In 1965 Raphael won an Oscar for the screenplay for the movie Darling, and two years later received an Oscar nomination for his screenplay for Two for the Road. In 1999, he published Eyes Wide Open, a memoir of his collaboration with the director Stanley Kubrick on the screenplay of Eyes Wide Shut, Kubrick's final movie. Raphael lives in France and England and became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1964.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Holocaust, Germans, Ukrainians, Palestine, Jews

Duration: 4 minutes, 47 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2014

Date story went live: 10 September 2014