Hastings Law Journal


Steven Lubet


For centuries, anti-semitic belief has centered around the myth that Jews surreptitiously control government and finance. This ancient misconception has not completely faded and often surfaces in contemporary society. Most recently, Khalid Abdul Mohammad, a former spokesperson for the Nation of Islam, angered Jews and many others with his strident rhetoric that warned of secret Jewish control over the United States government. However, the influence of the ancient myth of Jewish control may often be expressed more subtly.

In his Essay, Professor Lubet argues that the subtle influences of ingrained anti-semitic belief were revealed in the Sixth Circuit's decision in Demjanjuk v. Petrovsky. In Demjanjuk, the court vacated the extradition of John Demjanjuk, the man accused and acquitted by the Israeli Supreme court of being "Ivan the Terrible," chief executioner at the Treblinka death camp during the Holocaust. Specifically, Professor Lubet argues that the court's invocation of Jewish influence over the Office of Special Investigations as part of its basis for vacating Demjanjuk's extradition both reflects and reinforces the ancient myth of secretive Jewish control. He concludes by noting that while the judges in the Demjanjuk case may not have intended an ethnic slur, the result was no better, and probably worse.

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