“Enemies of Civilization”? Misquoting Churchill

by Richard Langworth on 22 August 2011

In a 1920 arti­cle,  “Zion­ism ver­sus Bol­she­vism,” Churchill noted that many lead­ing Bol­she­viks were Jews. Colum­nist Roger Cohen is now read­ing this to mean that Churchill con­sid­ered Jews ene­mies of civilization.

Quot­ing Churchill out of con­text has become a hobby among those deter­mined to find among his 15 mil­lion words exactly what they hope to find, instead of what he wrote or said. Roger Cohen is too respected a writer to be among them.

In “Jews in a Whis­per” (New York Times Sun­day Review, 21 August 2011), Mr. Cohen argues  that “Jews, with their his­tory, can­not become the sys­tem­atic oppres­sors of another peo­ple.” Fair enough, but in recount­ing the his­tor­i­cal antipa­thy to Jews, why do we need to twist Churchill’s words to make the point?….

Win­ston Churchill, no less, argued in 1920 that Jews were part of a “world­wide con­spir­acy for the over­throw of civ­i­liza­tion and the recon­sti­tu­tion of soci­ety on the basis of arrested development.”

This quo­ta­tion (which inci­den­tally is inac­cu­rate) is based on Churchill’s arti­cle, “Zion­ism ver­sus Bol­she­vism,” in the 25 Jan­u­ary 1920 Illus­trated Sun­day Her­ald—which has been used by sev­eral pre­vi­ous writ­ers as evi­dence that Churchill was an anti-semite.

Churchill’s arti­cle was an attack on Bol­she­vism (“a sin­is­ter con­fed­er­acy”), not Zion­ism, which Churchill sup­ported. Churchill mentioned—accurately—that many Bol­she­viks were Jews—and also gave a rea­son: They were, Churchill explained, peo­ple “reared up among the unhappy pop­u­la­tions of coun­tries where Jews are per­se­cuted on account of their race….Trotsky (Rus­sia), Bela Kun (Hun­gary), Rosa Lux­em­burg (Ger­many ), and Emma Gold­man (United States), this world-wide con­spir­acy for the over­throw of civ­i­liza­tion and for the recon­sti­tu­tion of soci­ety on the basis of arrested devel­op­ment, of envi­ous malev­o­lence and impos­si­ble equal­ity, has been steady growing….with the excep­tion of Lenin, the major­ity of lead­ing fig­ures are Jews.”

To quote these lines out of con­text from the rest of the arti­cle is to mis­rep­re­sent Churchill, who added that fig­ures like Trot­sky com­prised only a small por­tion of Jews, who he calls “the most for­mi­da­ble and the most remark­able race which has ever appeared in the world.”

Pre­fig­ur­ing his later indict­ment of Nazi Ger­many, Churchill wrote: “Noth­ing is more wrong than to deny an indi­vid­ual, on account of race or ori­gin, his right to be judged on his per­sonal mer­its and con­duct.” Nearly half a cen­tury later, Mar­tin Luther King, Jr. would dream of the day when peo­ple were judged not by the color of their skin but by the con­tent of their character.

Jews in every coun­try, Churchill continued,

iden­tify them­selves with that coun­try, enter into its national life…a Jew liv­ing in Eng­land would say, “I am an Eng­lish­man prac­tis­ing the Jew­ish faith.” This is a wor­thy con­cep­tion, and use­ful in the high­est degree…and in our own Army Jew­ish sol­diers have played a most dis­tin­guished part, some ris­ing to the com­mand of armies, oth­ers win­ning the Vic­to­ria Cross for valour.

Par­tial quo­ta­tions taken out of con­text dis­tort what Churchill was say­ing. No one but the most ardent Churchillo­phobe can use his “Zion­ism ver­sus Bolehsvism” to accuse Churchill of anti-semiticsm. Writ­ers need to go to the source, and get it right.


Mr. Cohen also adds a point given him by a Lon­don professor:

A cen­tury ago, dur­ing the Sid­ney Street siege of 1911, it was the Jews of London’s East End who, cast as Bol­she­viks, were said to be “alien extremists.’’

The Sid­ney Street siege was attended and con­ducted in part by Churchill, who was then Home Sec­re­tary.  I don’t think it was ever empha­sized at the time that the Sid­ney Street extrem­ists were Jews. They were referred to as “anar­chists” and “Lat­vians,” though only one had a pos­si­ble Lat­vian name. They were from Rus­sia, of course. Whether or not they were Jews was not promi­nently mentioned.


A com­plete tran­script of “Zion­ism ver­sus Bol­she­vism” is avail­able by email.

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard M. Langworth December 2, 2012 at 12:03

Dear oh dear. Where does one begin unraveling this farrago of misconception? 1) Re-read what I wrote. Churchill did not call all Jews Bolsheviks, or all Bolsheviks Jews, or all Jews the enemies of civilization. Bolshevism, he wrote, was the enemy of civilization. 2) Of the three chief Bolshevik leaders, Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky, only one was a Jew. 3) Undoubtedly Hitler hoped the British would “understand his position,” and they tried their best to do so, until it was almost too late. 4) Hitler signed a non-aggression pact with Russia before he invaded Poland; the Soviets took their share as a result. 5) Stalin continued to believe in his German friends right up to the day they invaded his country. 6) Churchill never said “Germany is growing too strong, we must crush them!” Get it right. What he said was: “When we are asked whether we will grasp the proffered hand of German friendship, I think we should answer ‘Yes,’ but at the same time one want to know what happens after that.” (House of Commons, 21Dec37). And: “…the great German people, educated, scientific, philosophical, romantic, the people of the Christmas tree, the people of Goethe and Schiller, or Bach and Beethoven, Heine, Leibnitz, Kant…have not only not resented this horrible blood-bath, but have endorsed it and acclaimed its author with the honors not only of a sovereign but almost of a God.” (Strand Magazine, Nov35). 7) In the interests of a shaky alliance, FDR and Churchill did hide what they knew about Katyn from the media, “Zionist” and otherwise. 8) If the “Jewish confederacy” is to blame for the present economic chaos, they must have an oddly self-immolating program, since they stand to be among the greatest sufferers. I don’t believe that, and I am not one of “them,” though stuff like this almost makes me wish I was.

owainglyndwr1416 December 2, 2012 at 06:34

It is worth pointing out that Hitler declared War against the Bolsheviks.. He feared the Bolshevisation of Europe which was spearheaded by International Jewry (Roughly what Churchill was referring to in 1920) Hitler hopes were that the British at least would understand his position but in 1938 Churchill said “Germany is growing too strong, we must crush them!” Sadly Chamberlain was deceived and Churchill was a pro Zionist which might go some way in explaining why Britain allied herself with Russia for it was common knowledge that the only non Jew in the Kremlin was Stalin and the World Zionist Congress had many powerful members who also happened to be close to the Rothschild Banking houses. Britain needed Money to fight a War and the Rothschild’s would’ve said NO if they did not ally themselves with Russia, England would’ve been cut off. The War literally Bankrupted the UK and what happened ? The War started so we are told because Germany invaded Poland yet shortly after Russia also invaded Poland but that was OK . Chamberlain didn’t say to Russia “Hold on now, Pull back or we will declare War on you!” No Not a word and when the Jewish led NKVD started rounding up the Polish officers and intellectuals and murdered them in Katyn Forest the Zionist controlled media blamed that atrocity on the Germans and that charge stood for decades until the actual records were released after the fall of Communism.
Look around you today and what do you see ? War and more War , Banks collapsing, Austerity and many more ills besides and it is the same Jewish confederacy which Churchill warned us about creating this chaos. If you don’t believe that then you are either uneducated or one of them..

Richard M. Langworth August 29, 2011 at 09:30

Mr. Cohen did not put quotemarks around the “Winston Churchill, no less” line, so it is not clear whether the statement is his or Professor Malik’s. In either case it is untrue.

MQ August 29, 2011 at 00:06

i thought in that article by mr. cohen, he did point out that the reference to the siege and churchill’s stand on jews were a parallel given by the professor of law at king’s college.

Todd August 23, 2011 at 09:02

Thank you for clearing that up. I was shocked after reading that New York Times article. I Googled the quote and came up with your page.
I guess the New York Times doesn’t hire very good fact checkers.

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