Fantasies in Peyrefitte's Onomastics Game That Could Lead to Anti-Semitism in Book 'The Jews'
There is an old anecdote, dating
')ack to the Nazi era, about two
Jews on a Berlin motorbus. One
was reading the Yiddish Der Zeit.
The other was deeply involved • in
eading Streicher's Der Stuermer,
•he vilest anti-Semitic newspaper
The Yiddish newspaper reader
turned to his fellow traveler and
asked how come he was reading
such trash utilizing gutter litera-
ture, and he was given this reply:
"In Der Zeit all I could read
would be about the Munich Pact,
about the Nuremberg Laws, about
pogroms, the threat of annihila-
tion of the Jews. In Der Stuermer
I am told Jews have all the money,
all liberals are Jews, Jews control
the press, Jews rule the democratic
countries. See how much enjoy-
ment I get being told that our peo-
ple dominate the world?"
This story comes to mind upon
reading "The Jews" by Roger Pey-
refitte which has been published
by Bobbs-Merrill Co. (3 W. 75th,
N.Y. 19) and is made available to
us in an English translation from
the French by Prof. Bruce Lowery
of the Ecole de Traduction of the
The first question that emerges
is whether Peyrefitte's "The
Jews" is an anti-Semitic book.
When it first appeared in France
as "Les Juifs" the author was
sued for libel by the Rothschilds.
There are many parodies of the
Rothschilds who are constantly
referred to in this long text. One
of the heroes in the story is the
young lover Saul de Goldschild,
a relative of the Rothschilds.
who enchants his amour Os-
monde who readies to become a
Jewess in spite of her mother's
extreme anti-Semitism. The book
itself is subtitled "A Fictional
Ned aid tomb§ ea
ONE CALL ;
Venture into the Follies of Anti-
Semitisrn." The position of the
Jew is upheld by the Christian
scholar George Sarre. Chief
among the characters are rabbis
and extreme orthodox adherents.
That's the mixture based on
which one must decide whether
it is an anti-Semitic work.
Since Peyrefitte has managed to
cram into his work every conceiv-
able Jewish form of terminology,
all imaginable occurrences in Jew-
ish life and in history, nearly every
known personality and especially
all upon whom he could pin a Jew-
ish heritage, one can with ease
call his fictional treatment a kashe
—a literary hash.
There is no doubt about the clev-
erness of Peyrefitte's approach.
The unknowing could easily be led
into believing that he knows it all,
that he is a master of dietary laws,
of the regulations of cleanliness
and purity of Jewish womanhood,
of biblical and talmudic lore and
the entire history of Israel, Juda-
But when his defense is accom-
pained by offense—as so many of
the anecdotes and forms of narra-
tion denote—there emerges the in-
vitation to anti-Semitism. Peyrefitte
may have meant well. Perhaps he
himself is not an anti-Semite. But
when, in the long peroration by one
Ruben, who relates his life's trag-
edies and experiences to Sarre,
there are injected humorous
stories that berate the Jew—narra-
tives not so funny but which can
certainly fortify anti-Semitic think-
ing—one begins to wonder whether
the Peyrefitte approach in intro-
ducing the friend of the Jews,
Sarre, wasn't really a means of
Peyrefitte deals in "The Jews"
with a new science, with onomas-
tics, with a study of names, and
in the course of his development
or his theme Peyrefitte proceeds
to prove that all great—and the
not-too-great in the world were
or are Jews.
It is Georges Sarre speaking:
"Anti-Semitism will collapse not
because of the Vatican Council's
billing and cooing, not because of
the blah-blah of the Amitie Judeo-
Chretienne, still less because of the
queStionable reconciliation between
the Arab states and Israel, but
beneath the battering-ram of a
science that no one had thought of,
namely onomastics. This, the study
of names, is the invincible weapon
which will destroy the seeds of war
against Jews, not to mention guer-
illa warfare. Since Jews tried to
hide under Christian names and
since Christians didn't wish - it
known that they themselves had
Jewish names, everyone had a
reason for secrecy . . ."
That's how it goes on and on and
on . . . and every person of emin-
ence is linked with Jews. One
would imagine, in a sense, that he
was reading the nefarious lies of
the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
Sarre told the above to Os-
monde's mother, Francoise, and
she, in turn, posed the question:
"And so Montesquieu's old expres-
sion, 'how can anybody be Per-
sian?' will become 'How can any-
body not he Jewish?" to which
Sarre replied: "That explains why
there have been so few 'Jews for
such a long time. In Roman times,
they were everywhere. They have
undergone metamorphosis, by
means of conversions and mixed
marriages. But what fun it is to
go back to the source and then
verify the results of those meta-
That's the trick of the anti-
Semite: to portray the Jew as a
harborer of secrecy, as the ghost
. . . Instead of seeing the Jew as
a normal being we see him in
Peyrefitte's as the ghost, lurking
everywhere, scheming, gaining
control even if by conversion
and by abandoning his faith and
through mixed marriages.
On and on Peyrefitte goes to
prove "the beauty of the onomas-
tics!" He portrays vile anti'-Semite's
stemming from Jews,
others posing and hiding their ori- guidance as to actual facts. Unless Jews possess everything! But the
gin. In the interest of onomastics one is well informed he can really mass of such lies does not hold
Peyrefitte has Sarre prove that the be misled by what Peyrefitte wrote. up for the rational, and a book like
vile anti-S'emite Charles Maurras A reviewer could utilize reams of Peyrefitte's in the hands of the
"was Ben Na'arras and that the paper in quoting the names of irrational becomes a very danger-
anti-Semite Leon Daudet was Davi- people . who are onomastically ous weapon that can create en-
det or Daoudet (at Narbonne in the linked with Jews. And the advice emies for Jews everywhere. —P.S.
Middle Ages, there was a rabbi given to Osmonde who is about to
named Abraham ben Daud) .. ." become a Jewess by Baroness
This is a mild example of Peyre- Goldschild is so fantastic that rab-
fitte's claims and of his ascription binic authorities would have to be
of Jewish backgrounds to all and called to correct the amazing mis-
sundry. De Gaulle's name, for ex- representations and the medieval
ample, is presented as "a transla- ideas she expressed.
tion of the Flemish name of van de
If one were to read Peyrefitte's
Walle or de Waal, a name that for amusement — knowledgeably —
often belonged to Jews." When there could be a lot of fun, like
Sarre is challenged about the al- the Jew reacting Streicher's to get
leged Jewish ancestry of Dior he satisfaction in the knowledge that
admits Christian Dior is a good
Christian "but it figures in the his-
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS
tory of the Jews, because Hallevy 18—Friday, June 28, 1968
ben Dior was a famous philosopher
in Toledo in the 12th Century."
ESCAPE THE HEAT!
And so on the line, every name
Enjoy the cool breezes
of importance is' linked with Jewry
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under the guise of onomastics!
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Sarre again: "Looking for unknown
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SWAN LAKE 12, N.Y.
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Peyrefitte discusses Catholic-
Jewish relations, the attitudes of
the Church and the libels. A priest
is among those who express their
views and it can not be said that'
what he uttered could not arouse
prejudice., The ritual murder libel
is discussed and among the inci-
dents referred to is the case of
Simon of Trent, the 3-year-old
child that was chosen for sainthood
We've got a beautiful championship golf course,
when it was charged that Jews
7,157 yards, 18 holes, 3 tees at each hole. Yet in the
murdered him for ritual purposes.
morning it all goes to waste.
It is true that Peyrefitte's book
It's our night life.
was published before the exonera-
Great shows every night. First in one night club, then
tion of the Jews in a pastoral let-
in the other. Act after act. And when you think it's
ter on Oct. 28, 1965—five centuries
going to end, our MC announces another.
after the outrageous charge re-
Several times, the Golf Pro has asked the MC to tell
sulted in the execution of innocent
the golfers they have to get up in the morning. But you
Jews—yet the Trent case is pre-
know MC's. He never does.
sented as an argument by the
So one of these days, our Pro will really get mad and
priest. Peyrefitte could have
club our MC. Make sure you're there to see it.
amended his text for the transla-
tion to correct the reference to
Simon of Trent whose sainthood of
martyrdom was withdrawn in the
pastoral letter of Archbishop Ales-
ON THE PREMISES: 18 hole golf course, indoor ice skating. all-weather
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But even this is minor compared
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with the evil results that could be
New York • Phone: (914) 794-6000
effected by Peyrefitte's book if
Write Direct or See Your Travel Agent
read by the uninformed without
Open All Year
Some day soon,
Kutsher's Golf Pro
is going -to club our MC.
Kutsher's Country Club
send your kids to ramp
and go with them.
Camp is a wonderful memory for
ex-campers and an exciting time for
kids who are really on their way.
Now both of you can enjoy your -
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kids will get the real thing—a
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and you'll get a great imitation of
the good old days.
We have an 18-hole championship
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swimming pools (special Teen Centers
for the older kids) and a lot more.
For the younger children we have
professional counselors, separate
athletic facilities, game rooms, dining
rooms and so on—just for them. We
also have a night patrol, and baby
sitters on request. So even if you
don't see much of your kids, we will.
Now you know what really happens
to ex-campers.They go to Grossinger's.
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