This defining work on Jews, Jewish ethnicity, behavior, impact, and the causes of anti-Semitism, remains one of the most ground-breaking and incisive such studies ever produced in the English language.
The book—dedicated to Hilaire Belloc’s Jewish friends—laid the blame for anti-Semitism squarely on Jewish behavior, that is, Gentile reaction to what he called the “inevitability of friction” caused by the presence of Jews in non-Jewish society.
Belloc believed that if friction between Jews and Gentiles was not resolved, it would lead to a catastrophe.
Starting with the thesis that “Jews are an alien body within the society they inhabit—hence irritation and friction,” and are a clearly identifiable and definable race, Belloc argued that the only solution was a “recognition on both sides of a separate Jewish nationality.”
He said that “denial of the problem” was a “fiction” which had broken down because of the obviousness of the “great increase of [Jewish] power” in Western nations.
He explains his thesis through a historical survey of Jewish behavior, including a review of what he called “the Jewish revolution in Russia” (the 1917 Bolshevist uprising which created the Soviet Union), and Jewish activities in Central Europe and the United States—where he highlights the work of Henry Ford as having “great effect.” He also provides a detailed description of Jewish influence in England.
Belloc’s conclusion is that Zionism, or the creation of a Jewish homeland, offered the only hope for a realistic solution to the problem of the “endless tragic cycle of anti-Semitism”—but not in Palestine, where he predicted it would cause conflict with the Arab world.
“Now these causes of friction permanently present tend to produce what I have called the tragic cycle: welcome of a Jewish colony, then ill-ease, followed by acute ill-ease, followed by persecution, exile and even massacre. This followed, naturally, by a reaction and the taking up of the process all over again.”
Chapter I: The Thesis of This Book
Chapter II: The Denial of the Problem
Chapter III: The Present Phase of the Problem
Chapter IV: The General Causes of Friction
Chapter V: The Special Causes of Friction
Chapter VI: The Cause of Friction upon Our Side
Chapter VII: The Anti-Semite
Chapter VIII: Bolshevism
Chapter IX: The Position in the World as a Whole
Chapter X: The Present Relation Between the English State and the Jews
Chapter XI: Zionism
Chapter XII: Our Duty
Chapter XIII: Their Duty
Chapter XIV: Various Theories
Chapter XV: Habit or Law?
About the author: Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1870–1953) was a French-born, England-raised writer, historian, political activist, and Member of Parliament. Best known for his hilarious Cautionary Tales for Children, Belloc also wrote widely on history and current affairs. A friend of G. K Chesterton, George Bernard Shaw, and H. G. Wells, Belloc’s writings were so extensive that he became known as one of the “Big Four” of Edwardian letters. A one-time member of the Fabian Society, Belloc quickly abandoned the far left and became equally hostile to both unbridled capitalism and socialism. He worked as editor of the political weekly Eye Witness which had a circulation of over 100,000, and, during the First World War, edited Land and Water, a journal devoted to the progress of the war.