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When Victims Rule, A Critique of Jewish Pre-eminence in America




2.
THE CAUSES OF HOSTILITY TOWARDS
JEWS: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

                
"Reason and documentation ... attest to the fact that anti-Jewish

hostility has not been (and is not) constant and ubiquitous. If it
had been, the conclusion is obvious: Jews could not have survived individually or collectively, religiously or ethnically."
                                                                   
Alan Edelstein

 

"Medieval Jewry, much as it suffered from disabilities and contempt, still was a privileged minority in every country in which  it was tolerated at all."  
 
                                                                  Salo Baron, p. 259, 1972

 

"If Judaism is fundamentally altruistic in an evolutionarily meaningful sense, it would be expected that Jews [through history] would characteristically engage in self-sacrificing behavior on behalf of gentiles -- a thesis for which there is absolutely no evidence."                                                 Kevin MacDonald, p. 64


"Indeed, the more religiously conservative a Jew is today, the less likely he or she is to identify with universalistic ideologies or with the non-Jewish 'poor and downtrodden.'"
                                                   Stanley Rothman
and S. Robert Lichter, 1982,

                                                      p. 112  
  

"My God," she gasped with grief. "Who died?" "Don't worry for nothing," Max assured her. "It's nobody.They're burying a man called Blenholt today. He's not a Jew."

                                                            Daniel Fuchs, fiction, "Homage to Blenholt

                                                            [in BERSHTEL, p.113]

 

     In order to understand the present and prospects for the future, something must be understood about the past. Jews claim their origins to a seminal patriarch, Abraham, in the land of Ur (today part of Iraq) 4,000 years ago. Abraham was not a farmer or village member of a settled community. He was likely one of the "wandering" tribes of his time, a citizenship less, "outsider" social class known as the "Apiru," or "Habiru" (Hebrews) who were scattered across a wide area of the Middle East, from Syria to Egypt. [ANDERSON, p. 33] According to traditional Jewish religious belief, God is reputed to have singled out 75-year old Abraham among all people on earth and struck an arrangement with him, providing his progeny the consummate family inheritance:  "If Abraham will follow the commandments of God, then He, in His turn, will make the descendants of Abraham His Chosen People and place them under His protection ... God at this time stipulates only one commandment, and makes only one promise." [DIMONT, p. 29] The initial agreement, by modern standards, seems extraordinarily peculiar. God's commandment was that all males by the eighth day of birth must have the foreskin of their penises cut off, a painfully literal branding of Jewish distinction around the male procreative organ:

 

                "God ... said to Abraham ... You shall circumcise the flesh of

                the foreskin and that shall be the Covenant between Me

                and you."    GENESIS:  17:9-13

 

     With this physical marking, notes Barnet Litvinoff, “no male child born of Jewish parentage is ever allowed to forget he is a Jew ... it reminds him of the doctrine of the chosen people.” [LITVINOFF, p. 5] "As a sign of this sacred bond, of being special seed, Chosen," note Herbert Russcol and Margarlit Banai, "The Lord of the Universe commands Abraham" to circumcize "every man child among you." And as the Torah states it: "I will establish my covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant." [RUSSCOL/BANAI, 1970, p. 173] Is this alleged commandment by God to the Abrahamic "seed" in Jewish tradition not racial?

 

      "Circumcision," says Lawrence Hoffman, "has thus remained the sine qua non of Jewish identity throughout time. Jews came to believe that it warded off danger, and even saved Jews from damnation, that the sign of circumcision was tantamount to carrying God's ineffable name carved in the flesh, that it was a means of attaining mystical unity with the creator, and that it brought about visionary experience." [HOFFMAN, p. 11] It also symbolized, on the male genitals, special attention to the genetic continuance of the progeny of Abraham, that -- if they obeyed the laws and demands of God -- they would someday be as "numerous as the stars."

 

     “By the very sexual act itself,” says Philip Sigal, in explaining traditional thinking, “the circumcized mystically transmits the covenant to the foetus.” [SIGAL, p. 20]  Until the 20th century, it was normal that during the mezizah phase of the circumcision ritual, the mohel (the expert who performed the circumcision) took the infant's "circumcized member into his mouth and with two or three draughts sucks the blood out of the wounded part. He then takes a mouthful of wine from a goblet and spurts it, in two or three intervals, on the wound." [ROMBERG, p. 45] Today, notes Rabbi Immanuel Jacobovits, "the original method of sucking by mouth tends to be increasingly confined to the most orthodox circles only." [JACOBOVITS, p. 196]

 

      In exchange for circumcision and following God's orders, the Jews were promised the land of Canaan (the land mass of today's Israel, more or less), a place that was already inhabited. [DIMONT, p. 29]  This land for circumcision exchange is the root of Jewish tradition, from which centuries of rules, regulations, dictates, interpretations and other additions have followed. God's spiritual link to Jews is understood to have originated, of all things, around a piece of real estate commonly understood to be part of the "Covenant,” which, says Alfred Jospe, “is the agreement between God and Israel by which Israel accepts the Torah [Old Testament] .... The concept of covenant signifies the consciousness of what the truth is.” [JOSPE, p. 15] “The covenant,” adds Will Herberg, “is an objective supernatural fact; it is God’s act of creating and maintaining Israel for his purposes in history.” [EISENSTEIN, p. 274] "The covenant made for all time means that all future generations are included in the covenant," notes Monford Harris,

     "Being born into this covenental people make one a member of the covenant.
     Berith is election. This is very difficult for moderns to understand, let alone
     accept. It is our modern orientation that sees every human being as an
     'accidental collocation of atoms,' the birth of every person as purely
     adventitious. From the classical Jewish perspective, being born to a Jewish
     mother is a divine act of election." [HARRIS, M., 1965, p. 90-91]

 

     "For Israel," notes Edward Greenstein, "God's immanence found expression in the perception of God as a superperson." [GREENSTEIN, E., 1984, p. 89] The idea that God was some kind of tradesman, and that he was a distinctly dialectical Other to humanity, as a Lord, King, Patriarch, Commander, and even Warlord of a worldly provenance has -- with the religious commentaries and meta-commentaries that evolved from His commands in Judaism  -- provided fuel for modern scholarly debate about Jewish (and linked strands of Christian) creations in the world of secular affairs, most particularly in their materialist, rationalist, and patriarchal flavors. The result, in today's Orthodox Judaism, says Evelyn Kaye, is a "community [that] has developed an insular, single-minded approach which is completely intolerant of any views that differ from its own." [KAYE, p. 23]

 

      Whatever else they believed, Jews have traditionally understood themselves to be -- by hereditary line -- special, intrinsically better than other people: they were divinely esteemed. The Old Testament stated it plainly:

 

       "For you are people consecrated to the Lord your God: of all the

        peoples on earth the Lord your God chose you to be His

        treasured people."     [DEUTERONOMY 7:6]

 

       The notion that Jews -- originally defined racially as the Israelite progeny of Abraham (and a special lineage through his son Isaac, then Jacob, and so on) -- are the "Chosen People" of God is the bedrock of Jewish self-conception and it resonates deeply in some form to Jewish self-identity to this day. What exactly such a mantle of greatness confers has, for most, changed drastically over (particularly recent) centuries, and is still a delicate source for self-reflection and debate, ranging from traditional racist theories against non-Jews (still entertained by many Orthodox Jews, and most of Zionism) to more modern, liberalizing, and even secular notions that Jews are destined to lead humankind to some kind of redemptive glory.

 

     The extraordinary self-perpetuating ethnocentric premises of traditional Judaism have been remarked upon by many modern scholars. Likewise, they have often addressed the drastically different ethical and spiritual views of Judaism and Oriental religious faiths (such as Hinduism and Buddism). Such a gap is poignantly illustrated in this story by the great popular folklorist, Joseph Campbell:

   

                "A young Hindu gentleman came to see me, and a very pious

                 man he proved to be: a worshipper of Vishnu, employed as a

                 clerk or secretary of one of the Indian delegations at the UN.

                 He had been reading the works of Heinrich Zimmer on Indian

                 art, philosophy and religion, works that I had edited many years

                 before, and which he wanted to discuss. But there was

                 something else he wanted to talk about too.

                         "You know, " he said after we had begun to feel at home

                 with each other, "when I visit a foreign country I like to acquaint

                 myself with its religion; so I have bought myself a Bible and for

                 some months now have been reading it from the beginning; but

                 you know" ... and here he paused, to regard me uncertainly, then

                 said, "I can't find any religion in it!"

                       ... Now I had of course been brought up on the Bible and I

                 had also studied Hinduism, so I thought I might be of some

                 help. " Well," I said, "I can see how that might be, if you had

                 not been given to know that a reading of the imagined history of

                 the Jewish race is here regarded as a religious exercise. There

                 would then, I can see, be very little for you of religion in the

                 greater part of the Bible."

                         I thought that later I should perhaps have referred him to

                 the Psalms; but when I then turned to a fresh reading of these

                 with Hinduism in mind, I was glad that I had not done so; for

                 almost invariably the leading theme is either the virtue of the

                 singer, protected by his God, who will "smite his enemies on

                 the cheek" and "break the teeth of the wicked;" or, on the other

                 hand, of complaint that God has not yet given due aid to his

                 righteous servant: all of which is just about diametrically opposed

                 to what an instructed Hindu would have been taught to regard as

                 religious sentiment. 

                         In the Orient the ultimate divine mystery is sought beyond

                 all human categories of thought and feeling, beyond names and

                 forms, and absolutely beyond any such concept as of a merciful

                 or wrathful personality, chooser of one people over another,

                 comforter of folk who pray, and destroyer of those who do not.

                 Such anthropomorphic attributions of human sentiment is -- from

                 the point of view of Indian thought --  a style of religion for

                 children." [CAMPBELL, Myths, pp. 93-94]

       

     "If you will obey my voice," God tells Jews in their seminal religious text, the Torah, "and keep my Covenant, you shall become my own possession among all people, for all the earth is mine." [EXODUS 19:5] This anthropomorphized model of the Israelite God is someone profoundly concerned with ownership, allegiance, and control -- key values in the self-promotive tenets of classical Judaism and their practical application in history. After all, the seminal Jewish religious text -- the Torah (in Christian tradition the first five books of the Old Testament) -- was created as a kind of Jewish family album, an ancient listing of Israelite genealogies and pedigrees that codifies sacred recipes for group solidarity, self-aggrandizement (land conquest, et al), and self-preservation for those with direct ancestral linkage to Abraham.

 

     "The biblical faith [of the Old Testament]," writes scholar Bernhard Anderson, "to the bewilderment of many philosophers, is fundamentally historical in character. It is concerned with events and historical relationships, not abstract values and ideas existing in a timeless realm." [ANDERSON, p. 12] "The halakah [Jewish religious law] does not aspire to a heavenly transcendence," notes influential modern rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, "nor does it aspire to soar upon the wings of some abstract, mysterious spirituality. It fixes its gaze on the concrete, empirical reality and does not let its attention be diverted from it." [SOLOVEITCHIK, p. 92] "There is no Valhalla [afterlife Paradise] in Judaism," notes Chaim Bermant,

     "and no Garden of the Houris, and while there was paradise and hell, both were to
     be experienced mainly on earth ... Neither heaven with all its joys, nor hell with all
     its torments (which, as described in the Talmud, are akin to those of Tantalus)
     have a central place in the Jewish faith, Judaism is of this world and in so far
     as it believes in the Kingdom of Heaven at all it is as somethng which will become
     manifest on earth." [BERMANT, C., 1977, p. 16]

 

       Beyond Israelite genealogies, the Torah (the Old Testament)  includes an ancient compilation of rules and regulations, elaborated upon in metacommentaries by later Judaic religious texts, especially the Talmud, which codifies correct behavior for all the minutia of daily living.  In Jewish tradition, “the whole keynote of being,” says sociologist Talcott Parsons, “starting with the creation, was action, the accomplishment of things.” [PARSONS, p. 103] (And one of the "keys to Jewish success," says Jewish business author Steven Silbiger, is to "be psychologically drivent o prove something.") [SILBIGER, S., 2000, p. 9]

 

     “Judaism is not a revealed religion,” wrote the great German-Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, “but revealed legislation. Its first precept is not ‘thou shalt believe’ or not believe, but thou shalt do or abstain from doing.” [GOLDSTEIN, D., p. 43, in Jerusalem]  "A constant motif of post-Enlightenment ethics," says rabbi Jonathan Sacks, "is the rejection of religious authority as an external command to which one submits. For this reason [philosopher] Hegel is sharply critical of the Jewish structure of law. 'Of spirit,' he writes of Judaism, 'nothing remained save pride in slavish obedience.' Much of Nietzsche’s work is a deepening set of variations on this theme. Judaism, he says, introduced 'a God who demands.' The autonomous self, central to modern ethics, is radically incompatible with the structures of Jewish spirituality, built as they are on the concept of mitzvah, command." [SACKS, J., p. 100-101]

 

       The all-encompassing and dictatorial manner of Jewish Orthodoxy in the Talmudic (and other) interpretations of the Old Testament is reflected in this observation by Gerson Cohen:

 

          "The Torah encompasses and seeks to regulate every moment of

          life ... Nothing human is beyond the scope of judgment and its

          program of prescription. It is for this reason that Torah is often

          called a way of life, for its purpose is to teach the Jew how to act,

          think, and even feel." [COHEN, in KLEINE, p. 92]

 

     The obsessive nature of even modern Jewish Orthodoxy within a tight web of restrictive daily dictates, and the surrender to what Israeli scholar Israel Shahak calls its innate "totalitarianism," [SHAHAK, p. 15] is reflected in this comment by Egon Mayer:

 

     "What are the first words that one should utter upon awakening? There

     is a rule. How many steps may one take from one's bed before washing

     at least the tips of one's fingers. There is a rule." [MAYER, Suburb]

     
 Michael Govrin notes that

    "A Jew is born into an already articulated biography. In the traditional
     context of Halacha -- the Jewish Law (which until two hundred years
     ago was the only way a Jews could define him or herself) -- a Jew's
     life is codified to a unique extent. From rising in the morning to the moment
     of falling asleep at night, from birth to death and burial, the myriad
     of gestures, thoughts, and intentions is pre-articulated, forming a specific
     mold into which the life is poured. The private life in a given historical
     moment is a personal variation on that generic mold; always seemingly
     only a re-enactment -- not an 'invention' -- of a preexisting role in an ongoing
     plot that started with the first Jews, and is still unfolding." [GOVRIN, M.,
     2001]

 

      Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen note that the "halakaha [Jewish religious law] commands that before eating bread a Jew must recite a blessing, and before this blessing the hands must be washed and a blessing recited over the hand washing. Even the manner in which the hands are washed is prescribed: the kind of utensil used, the order in which the hands are washed, the number of times each hand is washed." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 125]

 

    "It is a commonplace," adds Eunice Lipton, "that an abiding and secularized aspect of Jewish tradition is its valuing of sensual satisfaction. Jewish law acknowledges appetite; one is even is told how often one should make love ... One might say that Jewish validation of the senses results from the emphasis on human life in the present as opposed to any interest in any afterlife." [LIPTON, p. 289]  Evelyn Kaye, who grew up in an Orthodox community, notes that "Orthodox Judaism plans to regulate every minute, every action and every thought of life ... [KAYE, p. 126] ... The code of Jewish law dictates a range of regulations for sexual intercourse, including when and where it may be experienced, as well as what to think about during the act." [KAYE, p. 125]  "It is forbidden," says the Code of Jewish Law, "to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other mentioned in the Torah ... It is equivalent to killing a person ... A man should be extremely careful to avoid an erection. Therefore, he should not sleep on his back with his face upward, or on his belly with his face downward, but sleep on his side, in order to avoid it." [GANZFRIED, p.17] "There are even rules," says Kaye, "about what you may think about while you sit on the toilet." [KAYE, p. 17] 

 

    Israel Shahak underscores Orthodox Judaism's complex honing of regulations to the point of hairsplitting for even purely theoretical concerns that appear to be extraordinarily esoteric in a modern context:

 

     "During the existence of the Temple, the High Priest was only allowed

      to marry a virgin. Although during virtually the whole of the talmudic

      period there was no longer a Temple or High Priest, the Talmud devoted

      one of its more involved (and bizarre) discussions to the precise

      definition of the term 'virgin' fit to marry a High priest. What about a

      woman whose hymen had been broken by accident? Does it make any

      difference whether the accident occurred before or after the age of three?

      By the impact of metal or wood? Was she climbing a tree? And if so,

      was she climbing up or down?" [SHAHAK, p. 41]
     
     
One of the most profoundly important dimensions of traditional Judaism (one that has had enormous repercussions for Jewish relations throughout history with their non-Jewish neighbors) is its injunction to fellow members that Jews must -- conceptually, and through most of history, physically -- live “apart,” “separate,” distinct from other human beings. Jewish self-conception, from its early days, was antithetical and antagonistic to other peoples. "Separation of Israel from the nations [non-Jews]," says Moshe Greenberg, "in order to be consecrated by God took the extreme form of condemning to death any who worshipped or tempted others to worship alien gods." [GREENBERG, p. 28]

 

     In later years, throughout the Jewish diaspora, this developed into the Jewish self-conception as a "nation apart" -- physically as well as conceptually distanced from all other peoples. "In their determined efforts to prevent assimilation and loss of identity as a small minority in the midst of a hostile majority," notes the Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, "the rabbis deliberately set up barriers for the explicit purpose of preventing social interaction with gentiles [non-Jews], and decrees were enacted to erect barriers against this danger. The partaking of meals with gentiles was forbidden ... food cooked by gentiles was banned." [WERBLOWSKY, p. 269]  "The underside to this sense of chosenness [per the Chosen People idea]," says Rabbi Isar Schorsch, "is an inclination to dichotomize the world between 'them' and 'us. Categories of people are set apart by the fact that God has assigned them far fewer mitzvot [commandemnts] to keep. Three of those 100 blessings [Orthodox Jews must recite each day] praise God for 'not having made me a gentile,' 'for not having made me a woman,' and 'for not having made me a slave.'" [SCHORSCH, I., 4-30-99] Even in a 1988 survey, "more than a third of Reform rabbis -- traditionally the most 'integrated' and 'outreaching' of the major Jewish denominations -- endosed the proposition that 'ideally, one ought not to have any contact with non-Jews.'" [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 181]

 

     Such a "nation apart" admonition is part of classical Jewish religious (and related to secular Zionist) belief to the present day. Jewish author Alfred Jospe notes that

 

         “when a male Jew is called to the Torah, he recites the traditional 

          blessing, asher bahar banu mi’kol ha’amim, praising God ‘who

          has chosen us from among all other nations.’ When Jews recite their

          daily morning prayer they say the benediction, she’lo assani goy,

          thanking God ‘that he has not made [us] gentiles.’ When they

          pronounce the benediction over the Sabbath [Saturday] wine, they

          declare that God has chosen and sanctified Jews from all other

          peoples in the same way which he has distinguished between Sabbath

          and weekday. When Jews make Havdalah on Saturday night, they

          recite the traditional ha-mavdil, glorifying God for setting Jews apart

          from all other peoples just as He set apart the sacred from the profane

          and light from darkness.” [JOSPE, p. 10-11]

     "Unlike many religions," notes Steven Silbiger,

     "Judaism is more than simply a belief system that anyone can adopt. To
      become Jewish means enlisting in a tribe. The relationship or covenant
      is between God and the Jewish people, rather than between God and
      individual Jews. Judaism is a religion with a strong ancestral component."
       [SILBIGER, S., 2000, p. 11]

 

       In the ancient Greek and Roman worlds people were polytheists, and relatively tolerant of each other’s theology. Judaism, however, was expressed throughout their diaspora as an elitist, confrontational faith, engendering ill will everywhere. "It was not sensible," says Jasper Griffin, "nor was it good manners [in the ancient world] to allege that other peoples' gods did not exist. Only a madman makes fun of other peoples' religious practices, says the historian Herodutus in the fifth century BCE ... The response of the Jews [to other religions] was felt to be shocking and uncouth, as well as dangerous for everybody." Jewish rejection of the religions and communities in which they lived "placed an inseparable barrier between them and full acceptance into the classical world; as later on, even more acutely, it did with Christians." [GRIFFIN, p. 58]

 

 *****************

 

          The seminal source of Jewish history and sacred law is recorded in the Torah  (the Old Testament of the Bible in Christian tradition, consisting of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). Biblical scholars tend to believe that the Old Testament (which sometimes cites conflicting facts in various places) was essentially four different written narratives eventually combined together, each section originally written between 800 to 1600 years after the events described allegedly occurred. Within these texts we read that Abraham and the early Israelites settled tentatively in the land of the Canaanites, but that famine eventually drove them towards Egypt. The ancient Hebrews were reportedly enslaved in Egypt, (a period of momentous impact even in current Jewish collective memory), but were ultimately led back to Canaan  -- the Promised Land -- by Moses in a 40-year trek across the desert in the thirteenth century BCE. Moses became instrumental in mediating God's demands to the Hebrew people and instituting laws of behavior and belief for them, known today as the Mosaic code.

    

      Eventually the Israelites forcibly reestablished themselves in the land of Canaan and over the following centuries divided into sub-clans, fighting and warring among themselves, and against others. The most drastic intra-Jewish schism was the establishment of two conflicting monarchies -- Israel, in the northern areas, and Judah, in the south. When ancient Israel joined a coalition of non-Jewish states in threatening the southern Jewish kingdom, Judah joined the powerful Assyrian kingdom which destroyed Israel in about 723 BCE. Judah was destroyed, in turn, in 586 BCE, by Babylonian invasion, concluding  the first Jewish expulsion from their proclaimed homeland.  Jews were allowed to return in 538 BCE under the sovereignty of the Persian monarch, Cyrus; the Romans wmastersere of the Palestine area by about 100 BCE. The Jews were ultimately expelled en masse again, this time by the Romans, when Israelites repeatedly revolted against Roman rule. By the third century CE most Jews were scattered all across the Roman Empire, from India to Spain. In Jewish lore, this is the solidification of the Jewish "galut" (a term meaning exile, with derogatory connotations) in non-Jewish lands, i.e., the Diaspora (dispersion).

 

     It is necessary to again underscore, against the grain of modern popular (and largely secular) Jewish opinion, that the Old Testament is a compilation of stories, genealogies, and Godly dictates that were intended by its Jewish authors to be purely intra-Jewish in scope. The ten commandments of Moses -- "Love your neighbor, "Thou shalt not kill," and all the rest of it -- did not represent in origin for Jews a universalistic creed.  "Love your neighbor” meant love your fellow Israelite. "Thou shalt not kill" meant don't kill those of your own people.  "[Jewish] tradition," says Charles Liebman, "argued that the essence of Torah is the obligation to love one's neighbor as oneself, with the term 'neighbor' implying only 'Jew.'" [LIEBMAN, Rel Tre, p. 313] John Hartung notes that careful inspection of the Torah/Old Testament "Love Thy Neighbor" commandment make this clear, for example, in Leviticus 19:18:

 

     "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children

     of thy people but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." [Jewish

     Publication Society translation: other translations include the

     same qualifier; HARTUNG, 1995]

    As Louis Jacobs observes:

    "Among both Jews and Christians the injunction is read simply as 'love

     thy neighbour as thyself ' ... [but] in the original context the [Love Thy
     Neighbor] verse means: even when someone has behaved badly

     towards you, try to overcome your desires for revenge but rather
     behave lovingly towards him because, after all, he, too, is a human
     being and a member of the covenant people as you are and
     therefore entitled to be treated as you yourself wish to be treated ...
     The golden rule to love the neighbour applies only to the neighbour

     who is a Jew." [JACOBS, L., 1995, p. 323, 324]

     As Menachem Gerlitz explains the "neighbor" passage:

     'And you shall love your neighbor like your own self' -- this is an important
     rule of the Torah. Every Jew must love his fellow Jew with all his heart. The
     Baal Shem Tov [founder of the ultra-Othodox Hassidim] used to explain
     this as follows: Our Torah teaches us to 'love Hashem your G-d with all
     your heart.' How can we prove to ourselves that we are really fulfilling
     this commandment? Only through the commandment of loving our fellow
     Jew like our own selves. Only by truly loving each and every Jew, every
     son of the Chosen People which Hashem selected from all other nations
     to love, just like a person loves the son of a dear friend." [GERLITZ, M.,
     1983, p. 195]

     Judeocentrism, not human universalism, is the core of traditional Jewish understanding of the Old Testament. The influential medieval Jewish theologian, Maimonides, advised that “It is incumbent on everyone to love each individual Israelite as himself as it is said, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’” [MANKIN, p. 37]  Although there were some Jewish apologetics with this notion as early as Philo, it was Christian and Enlightenment influences that universalized the Ten Commandments, and liberalizing Jews, mainly since the eighteenth century, began to follow suit, bending and broadening the tenets of Judaism (carefully selecting from contradictory religious references) to encompass a humanistic concern for non-Jews in step with modern universalist-oriented values.

 

     Mosaic law or not, the only time-- till the modern state of Israel  -- that Jews have had the opportunity to practice Moses' commandments and the rest of their beliefs (towards themselves or anybody) from a position of complete empowerment was, even by their own ancient religious standards, a disaster. The pinnacle of ancient Jewish history was a series of monarchial regimes that represented a turbulent time of failures in living up to Covenantal laws, incessant quarreling, fratricide, genocide, wars of conquest with non-Jewish neighbors, repeated intra-Jewish civil wars, and other struggles for power and control, rife with continuous bloodletting, as violent as any in human history. Most of this is codified as part of the Jewish religious faith/history in the Torah.

 

  The well-known historian, Will Durrant, describes the Israelites' seizure (afterthe Mosaic moral code was accepted) of the Holy Land from the Canaanites who lived there, like this:

                 

             "The conquest of Canaan was but one more instance of a

              hungry nomad horde falling upon a settled community. The

              conquerors killed as many as they could find, and married the

              rest. Slaughter was unconfined, and (to follow the text) was

              divinely ordained and enjoyed. Gideon, in capturing two cities,

              slew 120,000 men; only in the annals of the Assyrians do we

              meet again with such hearty killing. [DURRANT, p. 302]

 

      Even in the Book of Exodus, when Moses (deliverer of the admonition "Thou Shalt Not Kill" and all the rest of it) discovered his own people weakening,  "out of control” with idolatrous dancing, naked, before a "Golden Calf," he directed the Levites, the priest caste, to slay three thousand of them. [EXODUS 33:27-28]

 

      Considerable portions of the Bible revolve around violent struggles amongst Israelites for power. Both King David and Solomon -- among the most beloved of the Israelite ancients in the myths of modern Jewry -- had half-brothers with rival claims to the Israelite monarchy murdered. Solomon, for example, arranged for Adonijah to be slain as well as another threat to the throne, Joab, who was even murdered in the Holy Tabernacle. (Both David and Solomon even had forced labor gangs of their own Israelite people). Likewise, Ambimelich, the son of Gideon, (who like most powerful Israelite rulers had a harem of wives and concubines) murdered 70 of his brothers to guarantee the throne for himself. Jeru too, in a fit of ruthlessness, killed the King of Israel, Joram, and then murdered Ahaziah, of the Israelite kingdom of Judah, as well as his two brothers. Then he had all 70 sons of King Ahab decapitated, clearing the way for his own leadership.

 

     In King David's family, notes Joel Rosenberg,

 

     "David's adultery with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah is balanced

     by the sexual violation of David's daughter Tamar by David's son

     Amnon, the murder of Amnon by his half-brother Absalom, the

     appropriation of David's concubines and kingdom by Absalom,

     and the slaying of Absalom by David's own servant Joab."

     [ROSENBERG, J., 1984, p. 47]

 

     There is too the story of Gibeah (Judges 19:21). An Israelite, enraged by the rape-murder of his concubine by Jews of another tribe, hacked the corpse into pieces and sent a section to each of the twelve Israelite tribes to make an embittered point about solidarity. A confederation of tribes joined together to exact revenge on the perpetrators of the crime. The ensuing Israelite battle against each other took over 60,000 lives (Judges 20:21). The victorious confederation then marched on Jabesh-gilead, a group who had declined to join the coalition against the destroyed Benjaminites. 12,000 soldiers were sent to "smite the inhabitants of Jabed-gilead with the edge of the sword, with the women and children." (Judges 21) Only female virgins were spared.

 

       Going further along in Jewish religious history, there is the murder of Simon by his son-in-law, Hyrcanus, in another bid for the monarchy, and his son, Aristobulus I, who killed his mother and brother, and imprisoned the rest of his family. After him came his brother, Alexander Jannaeus, to the throne, a "despotic, violent ruler" who reigned during the civil war between warring pro-Greek Israelites (Sadducees) and anti-Greek Israelites (Pharisees). Jannaeus' bloody revenge upon the Pharisees was "as bloody as any in history." [DIMONT, p.89, 90] There was Antipater, "one of history's most unsavory characters," whose family had been "forcibly converted to Judaism" [GOLDBERG, M., 1976, p. 32] and his son, Herod, who murdered a few sons, one of his wives, and range of others including 45 Israelite religious leaders. [DIMONT, p. 95-96] The Torah tells us that the Israelite prophet Elijah slew 450 prophets of the rival deity Baal (I Kings 18) and military commander Jeru killed "all the prophets of Baal, all his worshippers and priests." (I Kings 10:18-27) [LANG, B., 1989, p. 120]

 

     Under the ruler Mannasseh there was the reintroduction of pagan cults, child sacrifices and "systematic murders" in the southern Israelite kingdom of Judah; this kingdom itself had a rivalry with the northern Israelite kingdom, Israel, and -- as noted -- it eventually aligned with Assyrian invaders against its Israelite brethren, ultimately to ancient Israel's complete destruction.

 

     The chaos, internecine warring and corruption, the straying from the “Covenant,” the worship of idols and the fraying of the moral codes of Israelite solidarity resulted in a central Jewish belief that took form in later centuries, that Jews had been scattered in a Diaspora (dispersion) throughout the earth in galut (exile) from the land God gave them, Israel. But 2,000 years of exile experience, notes Alfred Jospe, “could not shatter the image Jews had of themselves. Destruction and exile were a national disaster but not completely unforeseen. They were part of the divine plan ... The Jew was persecuted not because God had abandoned or rejected him; [The Jew] suffered because he was not equal to his moral task. In the words of the prayer book, ‘because of our sins, we were exiled from our land’ ... Suffering was defined as punishment and punishment in turn was a call to duty. Exile was God’s call to return to the faithfulness inherent in Israel’s role as the ‘chosen people.’ The acceptance of punishment opened the gate to redemption and return to the land.” [JOSPE, p. 17] Such a view of human suffering by Judaism, argues Richard Rubenstein, was "a colossal, megalomaniacal and grandiose misreading of a pathetic and defeated community's historical predicament. To this day Jews can be found who delude themselves with the notion that somehow Jewish suffering and powerlessness have redemptive significance for mankind." [KREFETZ, p. 182]

 

      The key to the Israelite future of divine favoritism, and its special covenantal “mission,” was eventually linked to a Messiah who would triumphantly come to lead His people into a glorious future. Originally the Messiah was understood to be merely a nationalist savior, a great and literal king of the Israelite people; later He was reconfigured as an expression of the one God of the Universe who would lord -- physically and spiritually -- over the earth, not in an after-life, but in the here-and-now. [JOSPE, p. 22-23]  "Judaism," notes Stephen Whitfield, "in all its forms and manifestations, has always maintained a concept of redemption as an event which takes place on the stage of history and within the community. It is an occurrence which takes place in the visible world, unlike Christianity, which conceives of redemption as an event in the spiritual and unseen realm, an event which is reflected in the soul." [WHITFIELD, American, p. 33]

 

                                           ****************

 

         Over the centuries the Messiah was not quick in coming, and not all answers to questions about changing times were clearly indicated in the seminal Torah, so a written tradition of commentary, argument, and interpretation by respected Jewish religious leaders evolved and became codified in a second religious text called the Talmud. Many argue that it is not the Torah but actually the Talmud -- this later legalese and folklore about the seminal Torah -- that is the crucial source for day-to-day Orthodox Jewish decision making about religious and secular issues. "The Talmud," observes Jacob Neusner, "is the single most influential document in the history of Judaism." [BORAZ, p. 5] "Historically speaking," says Adin Steinsaltz, "the Talmud is the central pillar of Jewish culture." [STEINSALTZ, 1976, p. 266] "The Talmud," adds Robert Goldenberg, "provided the means of determining how God wants all Jews to live, in all places, at all times. Even if the details of the law had to be altered to suit newly arisen conditions, the proper way to perform such adaptation could itself be learned from the Talmud and its commentaries." [GOLDENBERG, R., 1984, p. 166]

 

     This many volumed tome, consisting of Judaism's "legal literature," is really two distinct books merged together, the Mishna (the "oral law," originally written in Hebrew -- a language considerably different than modern Hebrew) and the Gemara (largely commentaries about the Mishna), written mostly in Aramaic three hundred years apart.  The Talmud is so difficult to read and so unwieldly that only lifelong experts even think to tackle the original texts. Hence, the Talmud that explains and interprets the Torah has needed plenty of other vast textual explanations to deal with itself; such influential metacommentaries through history include those of Maimonides (including his Mishneh Torah), Joseph Caro (particularly his Shukan Arukh, which has never appeared unabridged in English), [GOLDENBERG, R, 1984, p. 174] and others. Many of such works, too, are so large that they are further distilled into more reasonably digestible abridgements. Rashi's 39 volumes of explanation, for example, are much larger than the talmudic texts it addresses. (Rashi's comments are usually printed as part of the text in Talmudic editions printed since the early Middle Ages). [GOLDENBERG, R., p. 139] It was not until 1920 that the Talmud was translated into another language (German) for the first time. In 1935 it first appeared in English.

 

      Edwin Boraz notes that "the study of the Talmud may be so formidable, challenging, and complex ... [that] one may ask, for what purpose? ... [BORAZ, p. 1] ... [Aside from the 'mishnaic' Hebrew and Aramaic of the original texts] the classic commentaries to the Talmud are written in 'medieval rabbinic Hebrew,' which is a blend of both Hebrew and Arabic. The language barrier alone is arduous." [BORAZ, p. 13]  The Talmud also lacks "an inner order ... [it] shift[s] from one subject to another in ways that are not readily apparent. Often, the pronominal references are unclear ... In short, a talmudic passage seems scattered and diffused, rather than a well-reasoned dialectic inquiry." [BORAZ, p. 13-14] 

 

     To complicate matters even further, there are even two versions of the Talmud, of Babylonian and Palestinian origin. The latter (called the Yerushalmi), however, is rarely used, even in religious circles. Jacob Neusner notes that "it fills hundreds of pages with barely intelligible writing. [It is] famous for its incomprehensibility ... The Yerushalmi has suffered an odious but deserved reputation for the difficulty in making sense of its discourse." [NEUSNER, 1993, p. x]

 

     A fundamental current of Talmudic discourse, however, is noted by Herman Wouk: "Talmudic political judgment often shows the bitterness of a people trodden by wave after wave of oppressors." [WOUK, p. 201] And what of its legal and moral direction which shifted in emphases so much over the centuries as was politically expedient?  This from Wouk again, a devout Jew: "Since the Talmud reports the sayings of hundreds of savants over many centuries, it abounds in contradictory maxims, in conflicting metaphysical guesses, in baffling switches from cynicism to poetry, from misanthropy to charity, from dislike of women to praise for them .... In a word, one can say almost anything about this recording of the talk of wise men through seven centuries, and then find a passage to support it." [WOUK, p. 201] 

 

      "For any maxim of the haggada," says Leon Poliakov, "one can be found that states precisely the contrary."  The haggada are "non-legal teachings, speculations, stories, legends, and prayers" in the Talmud.  (The halakah is its "legal" contents.) "The ancient rabbinic sage used two kinds of speech," says Rabbi Samuel Karff, "halacha and agada [i.e., haggada]. Halacha is the language of Jewish law. It asks and answers the question: 'What must a Jew do to fulfill the covenant?' Agada was the language of the Jewish faith. It tells the story of God's relation to man through his relation to the people of Israel ... Agada remains not only the language of worship, but the language of preaching." [KARFF, S., 1979, p. 8, 11-12]

 

      "The Jewish tradition is so rich in the diversity of its sacred texts," adds Alan Dershowitz, "that one can find an antidote to virtually any unacceptable statement." [DERSHOWITZ, p. 132] The "antidotes" to every troubling statement in the Talmud suggest a chameleon-like capacity, a religious faith that has the ability to change colors in different milieu, and readily adapt to pressures around it. This capacity is based upon "pilpul" (pepper), a "dialectical technique of reconciling apparently contradictory concepts in the Talmud's texts, often by straining original meanings through the needle's eye ... [It later] degenerated into little more than sophistry." [SACHAR, p. 65]  "Talmudic dialectics," notes the Jewish Encyclopedia, "became developed and endowed the Jews who stood beneath the spell of the Talmud with peculiar characteristics, especially imbuing them with a love of hair-splitting which afterwards deteriorated into sophistic subtlety." [GOLDSTEIN, D, p. 133, v. 5, p. 726] The Talmud, notes Robert Goldenberg, has a reputation for "overcomplicated, 'hairsplitting' dialectic." [GOLDENBERG, R., 1984, p. 139]  "One of the thirteen rules for interpreting the Torah," says influential modern rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, "is the contradiction between two verses and their harmonization by a third verse." [SOLOVEITCHIK, p. 143]  In interpreting the seminal Torah, notes Mark Zborowski and Elizabeth Hertog, "each word in the Torah has, according to esoteric tradition, four kinds of meanings: the direct, the interpretive, the allusive, the secret." [ZBOROWSKI/HERTOG, p. 119]

     Canadian Jewish theatre mogul Garth Drabinsky once noted this tradition's influence upon his own personality:

     "Jewish scholars have their own version of the Socratic method: they disssect,
     analyse, interpret, and argue over everything. Today, partly as a result of this
     training, I refuse to take anything at face value, which makes me hard to please.
     No wonder I've been called one of Canada's toughest bosses. What people
     don't realize is that I have a problem pleasing myself. It wasn't until I went to
     Jerusalem for the first time -- and that wasn't until I was thirty-seven -- that I
     really understood my own background. Jerusalem was a buzz-saw of argument.
     You can't survive in Israel unless you're willing to argue -- about everything.
     I felt absolutely at home." [DRABINSKY, G., 1995, p. 26]

 

      Leon Poliakov uses the following story to explain the nature of Talmudic reasoning:

 

          "A goy [non-Jew] insisted that a Talmudist explain to him what the

          Talmud was. The sage finally consented and asked the goy the

          following question:

          -  'Two men climb down a chimney. When they come to the bottom,

             one has his face covered with soot, the other is spotless. Which of

             the two will wash himself?

          -  'The one who is dirty,' answered the goy.

          -  'No, for the one who's dirty sees the others' clean face and believes

              he is clean too. The one who's clean sees a dirty face and believes

              his is dirty too.'

           -  'I understand!' the goy exclaimed. 'I'm beginning to understand

              what the Talmud is.'

           -  'No, you have understood nothing at all, the rabbi interrupted, for

              how could two men have come down the same chimney, one dirty

              and the other clean?' [POLIAKOV, p. 253]

 

    Although Talmudic reasoning considers a variety of argument, Israeli lawyer Uri Huppert explains the fundamental underlining of its "intolerant" discourse:

 

     "It is beyond any doubt that the halachic-Talmudic reasoning is

     reached by considering a variety of opinions, hence the sophisticated

     rabbinical 'responsa' -- questions and answers -- are regarded as the

     very essence of halachic Judaism. But by the same token, this Judaism

     cruelly rejects, prohibits, and excommunicates any step or expression

     that collides with the legalistic-dogmatic concept of Orthodox Judaism,

     which is xenophobic and intolerant by definition, as expressed by the

     [modern] Orthodox rabbinical establishment." [HUPPERT, U., 1988,

     p. 197]

 

      The Talmud is full of anecdotes, advice, folk wisdom, and material that, by modern standards, affects the non-Jew with feelings of incredulity (but sometimes insult and indignation as we will see later). It is not hard to imagine why so many Jews flocked from the rabbinically controlled ghettos in the European Enlightenment era. Many modern, secularized Jews have looked with dismay upon the wisdom of their ancient sages. We learn in the Talmud, for example,  that:

 

       "One who eats an ant is flogged five times forty stripes save one."

         [HARRIS, p. 71]

 

       "Demons ... have wings like angels ... [and] they know the future."

          [HARRIS, p. 76]

 

       "A dog in a strange place does not bark for seven years." [HARRIS, p.

         84]

 

       "For night-blindedness, let a man take a hair-rope and bind one end of it

        to his own leg and the other to a dog's, then let the children clatter a

        potsherd after him, and call out, "Old man! dog! fool! cock! ... " 

        [HARRIS, p. 191]

 

       "The bald-headed, and dwarfed, and the blear-eyed are ineligible for the

        priesthood." [HARRIS, p. 88]

 

       "Only kings ... eat roast meat with mustard." [HARRIS, p. 88]

 

       "The Rabbis have taught that a man should not drink water on

       Wednesdays and Saturdays after night fall ... An evil spirit ... on

       these evenings prowls around..." [HARRIS, p. 92]

 

       "These things cause hemorrhoids: -- eating cane leaves, the foliage and

        tendrils of a vine, the palate of cattle, the backbones of fish, half-cooked

        salt fish, wine, lees, etc." [HARRIS, p. 106]

 

       "These things are detrimental to study [including] walking between two

       camels...; to pass under a bridge beneath which no water has flowed

       forty days; to drink water that runs through a cemetery..." [HARRIS, p.

       116]

 

      "It is not right for a man to sleep in the daytime any longer than a horse

       sleeps. And how long is the sleep of a horse? Sixty respirations."

       [HARRIS, p. 157]

 

       "The daughters of Israel burn incense for [purposes of] sorcery."

       [HARRIS, p. 188]

 

        Jewish apologists like Alan Dershowitz exclaim immediate indignation at anyone who dares to excerpt such material, despite the fact that they very much represent -- in page after page -- the "folk" flavor of the ancient Talmud. Cloaking himself as protective defender of both Judaism andChristianity, and going back one generation from the interpretive Talmud to the Torah itself, he argues that

 

         "A classic technique of both anti-Semitism and anti-Christianity has

         been to cull from Old and New Testament biblical prescriptions that

         when taken out of context seem bizarrely out of place in contemporary

         life."  [DERSHOWITZ, p. 332]

 

      What, one wonders, do Dershowitz-like commentators have in mind for the correct "context" for understanding Talmudic admonitions, from which anti-Semites have always found a treasure trove of disturbing material? They are just as bizarre when left in their original context, probably more so since hundreds, if not thousands, of the same sorts of archaic perspectives reinform each other, and those who are doing the "culling" are usually the religiously pious. Such "bizarre cullings" as above are not Talmudic aberrations but are part of a common tone of an interwoven multi-rabbinical catalogue, from the very particular perspective of "being Jewish" hundreds of years ago.  Such expressions of "folk wisdom" are not just that, they are explication of a distinct religion, and are argued about over and over, debated to this very day in Orthodox circles not towards discard, but towards (in their essential meanings, however they are conjured) use.

    When confronted with the details of Talmudic guidance and logic, some liberal-minded Jews can't actually stomach what they find. Jane Rachel Litman notes that, when faced with the teachings of the ancient rabbis, some Jews respond with abject denial: i.e., arguing, on modern terms, that the old rabbinical sages couldn't have possibly meant what they wrote:

    "The background sound in the small library is muted but intense. Pairs of scholars
     lean over their talmudic texts whispering energetically, trying to puzzle out the
     meaning of the particular sugya, passage. The teacher directs them back toward     
     the group and asks for questions. One student raises a hand: 'I don't understand
     verse 5:4 of the tractate Niddah. What does the phrase 'it is like a finger in
     eye' mean? The teacher responds, 'This refers to the hymen of a girl younger
     than three years old. The Sages believed that in the case of toddler rape, the     
     hymen would fully grow back by the time the girl reached adulthood and married.
     Therfore, though violated, she would still technically be counted as a virgin
     and could marry a priest. It's an analogy: poling your finger in the eye is
     uncomortable, but causes no lasting harm.
        There is a collective gasp of breath among students. Their dismay is palpable.
     They do not like this particular talmudic text or the men behind it. But its
     authors, the talmudic rabbis, hardly wrote it with this particular group of
     students in mind -- mostly thirty- and forty-year old women in suburban
     Philadelphia taking a four-week class titled 'Women in Jewish Law' at their     
     Reform synagogue.
         The questioner perists. 'I don't understand. Are you saying this refers to the
     rape of a three year-old girl?'
       "Or younger,' the teacher responds dryly.
        'I don't see how it says anything about rape and hymens. You must be
     mistaken. I don't believe the rabbis are talking about rape at all. I think this
     statement has nothing to do with the rest of the passage.'
        The teacher (I'll admit now that it was me, a second-year rabbinic student)
     responds, 'Well, that's the common understanding. What do you think it means?'
     The woman is clearly agitated, 'I don't know, but I do know that it couldn't
    be about child rape.' This is week three of the class. The woman does not
    return for week four. Denial." [LITMAN, R., SEPT 2000]

    Litman, the rabbinic student, then confesses that "I find [Elizabeth Kubler] Ross's model helpful when addressing sacred Jewish texts that are violent or xenophobic, that speak of child abuse, human slavery, or homophobia with gross insensitivity. Like so many of my colleagues and students, I often drift confusedly through denial, anger, grief, rationalization (a form of bargaining); sometimes reaching acceptance, sometimes not." [LITMAN, R., SEPT 2000]

     Another Jewish religion teacher, Deena Copeland Klepper, notes that "there are many passages in the Bible that make us squirm." She cites Pslam 137 from the Torah, where Israelites are enjoined to dash innocent Babylonian babies against the rocks. "I have read Pslam 137 with adults in Jewish history classes many times," Klepper says, "it is the best way I know to communicate the anguish of the Israelites in exile from their homeland. And yet reading the text also elicits a horrified reaction in my students. Against the familiarity of the first part of the psalm, that final vengeful outburst against innocent children shocks; it violates my students' modern sensibilities." [KLEPPER, D., APRIL 2001]

 

     Despite such moral problems with ancient texts, says Edward Boaz, "To be sure, the Talmud was written in a historical context vastly different from the world we live in. Its solutions may not be entirely appropriate to ours. But to its credit, the Talmud is not an abstract religious work. It grows out of the needs of people in all walks of life. The authors have created for us a valuable paradigm that may be utilized for meeting the challenges that confront our children." [BORAZ, p. 3]

 

      For all such Talmudic injunctions, the enduring capacity for the Talmud (and other Jewish religious metacommentaries) to be entirely malleable as an authoritative work to fit the occasion at hand is noted by Jacob Katz; of seven Talmudic commentators expressing an opinion about a seminal religious dictate concerning apostasy, "three succeeded in twisting the meaning of the sentence into the opposite of its obvious intention." [KATZ, Ex, p. 81]

 

     To hold the Jewish community tightly together against other peoples, rabbinical arguments can even be consciously used to subvert the original meanings of the seminal Torah itself. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks notes that

 

     "One of the most famous passages in the entire rabbinical literature

     [is] the argument between Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and [other

     rabbinical] sages [of his era] on the ritual cleanliness of a broken

     and reconstituted oven. Rabbi Eliezer declared it clean; the sages

     ruled against him. He 'brought all the proofs in the world' for his

     view but none was accepted. After invoking several miracles, he

     finally appealed to Heaven itself, 'whereupon a Heavenly voice was

     heard saying: Why do you dispute with Rabbi Eliezer, seeing that

     in all matters the halakhah agrees with him?' This proof too was

     rejected, on the grounds that 'It [the Torah] is not in heaven.'"

     [SACKS, J., p. 164]

 

     Here, even though Rabbi Eliezer was, according to Jewish law, clearly correct in his opinion about the broken oven, "the assertion of [communal rabbinical] authority [over God] is necessary 'so that disputes should not multiply in Israel.'"] [SACKS, J., p. 165]

     Lothar Kahn notes prominent secular Jewish author Arthur Koestler's views about such Talmudic reasoning:

     "The survival of a brand of scholasticism in today's Talmudic schools was
      an intellectual shock [to Koestler]. The acrobatics in logic in which it indulged
      appeared to aim at the same intellectual and moral evasions as the practices
      relating to Sabbath and Pesach. Interpretations of Mosaic Law, specifically
      devised to evade the original law, struck him as a form of mental corruption."
      [KAHN, L., 1961, p. 151]

 

       The Talmud has always functioned as a flexible apparatus to shift and adapt the Jewish faith over the centuries to current needs and political expediencies. There is enough conflicting argument in the Talmud to prove or disprove virtually anything, resolve from the shelf any theological -- or practical -- emergency, depending on which way contemporary winds blow. In the Talmud, for example, (Sanhedrin 59a) one old sage, Johanan, opins that "A Gentile who takes up the Torah [Old Testament] is deserving of death." This, to say the least, can be rather disconcerting to find, especially for all the millions of non-Jews who have dared to read the Old Testament, but the admonition to kill is there in seminal Jewish religious literature. Of course, on the same page another rabbi, Meir, takes an opposite stance and claims it is meritorious for anyone to absorb the Bible.  (UNIV JEW EN, v. 3, p. 4] Both opinions are there, both are legitimate, both religiously sanctioning what a devout Jew essentially chooses to believe, based upon his or her evaluation -- generally within current convention of a maze of interpretations and emphases -- of conflicting rabbinical arguments.

 

      Despite the extremely malleable capacities intrinsic to the Talmud, one of its historical standards to our own day -- in the Orthodox context (which is what all Jews were till the Enlightenment) -- is religiously sanctioned racism, rooted in the Chosen People ethos and the notion that Jews were superior to all others and destined to remain "apart" from them. "The Talmudic mind," says Norman Cantor, "is hostile to ethnic equality and to universalism. It is very anxious to enforce an ideal of communal purity. All possible contacts with Gentiles are to be avoided." [CANTOR, p. 206]  “It is the Talmudic mentality and customs,” wrote David Goldstein, a Jewish apostate, in 1940, “that are largely responsible for the enmity of non-Jews towards Jews. This enmity also exists among Jews themselves, for revolt is the keynote of modern Jews, revolt against Rabbinism, Orthodox Judaism, which is Talmudism.” [GOLDSTEIN, p. 130] "Learning the classic Jewish texts in the yeshivot (religious schools) of both western and eastern Europe," notes Edwin Boraz, "involved generations of traditions. The Talmud became part of the genetic code of our people." [BORAZ, p. 3] 

     And what is included in this "genetic code?" "Sadly," says Rabbi Isar Schorsch,

     "a low estimate of non-Jews pervades much of Talmudic liteature. The Mishna
     admonishes Jews not to leave their animals unattended at the inn of a gentile,
     because gentiles are suspected of engaging in beastiality. Gentiles are described
     also as liable to rape and murder, so that a lonely Jew should avoid their
     company ... [T]reatment of the 'other' remains a problem for Judaism. In
     a divided world, we are entilted to take whatever measures will advance
     our narrow interests. And it is such a world, in which holiness and hatred
     are intertwined, that [jailed American fraudster] Rabbi Frankel inhabits."
     [SCHORSCH, I., 4-30-99]

 

     Flagrant religious directives, in classical Judaism, for racist positions (and worse) against all non-Jews, however, are difficult for the non-Jew to research for many reasons. Relatively few Jews, for instance, are inclined to address such a subject in detail (for fear of fueling "anti-Semitism") in English publications. (Non-Jews who address the Talmud critically are routinely dismissed as anti-Semitic). It is usually addressed more safely, "privately," in Hebrew. An example of this may be gleaned from an English summary in Religious and Theological Abstracts of a 1994 article in Hebrew by Elliot Horowitz. His subject is Purim -- the annual Jewish festival that celebrates the destruction of the Jews' arch-enemy, Haman -- usually by hanging him in effigy. Horowitz's article

 

         “deals with the character of Purim over the centuries as a day

          combining ritual reversal, joys and hostility -- especially towards

          Christians and its symbols, as well as with 19th and 20th century

          historiographical attempts to come to grips with the troubling

          evidence concerning the activities of the Jews as part of the holiday’s

          carnivalesque character. The problematic character of much

          historiography concerning Purim can be seen in the case of H. Graetz

          who wrote that it had been the custom to burn Haman upon a gallows

          which had the form of a cross. It was difficult for Jewish historians to

          speak their minds honestly about what Purim had been like in the past,

          for fear it would reflect upon European Jewry in the present. [The

          article] stresses the tenacity of anti-Christian Purim practices,

          especially among European Jewry, in medieval and modern times.”

          [REL&THEO, 1995, 38, p. 851]

 

      Meanwhile, for popular, public Gentile consumption in English, Hayyim Schuass's book about Jewish festivals is typical in its reframing of historical fact into merely the fantasies of Christian anti-Semitic fanatics, i.e., the  reconstruction of Jewish culpability into Jewish innocense, an attitude systematically manifest throughout Jewish polemic. Schauss writes that:

 

      "As far back as the fifth century the charge was made against Jews that

       they burned a cross and a figure of Jesus on Purim. This slander often

       led to attacks upon Jews by their Christian neighbors. In time, under

       pressure of the Christians, the custom [of burning an effigy of Haman]

       disappeared in Christian lands." [SCHAUSS, p. 268]

 

     The Israeli social critic, Israel Shahak, addresses another example of this systematic deceit and dissimulation about Jewish history by noting the 1968 English-language volume, The Joys of Yiddish, by Leon Rosten. Shahak notes that the book

 

     "is a kind of glossary of Yiddish [the Jewish traditional language of

      central and eastern Europe] [with].... an etymology stating ... the

      language from which the word came into Yiddish and its meaning in

      that language ... The entry shaygets - whose main meaning is 'a Gentile

      boy or young man' -- is an exception: there the etymology cryptically

      states, 'Hebrew origin,' without giving the form or meaning of the original

      Hebrew word. However, under the entry shiksa -- the feminine form of

      shaygets -- the author does give the original Hebrew word, shegetz (or, in

      his transliteration, shegues) and defines its Hebrew meaning as 'blemish.'

      This is a bold-faced lie as every speaker of Hebrew knows. The

      Megiddo Modern Hebrew-English Dictionary, published in Israel,

      correctly defines shegetz as follows: 'unclean animal': loathsome

      creature, abomination ... wretch, unruly youngster; Gentile youngster."

      [SHAHAK, p. 26]

 

     Edwin Freeland notes that:

 

       "The etymological history of the word shiksa itself is instructive ... The

       Hebrew word shakaytz means to abominate, to utterly detest. In the

       Bible there are constant admonitions not to eat or take the shikutz

       (masculine noun form), literally, the abominated thing, into one's

       house." [FREEDLAND, E., 1982, p. 508]

 

     For popular consumption in English, however, the word shiksa is usually carefully censored.  In A Dictionary of Yiddish Slang and Idioms, for example, "shikseh" is simply defined as "Non-Jewish girl (also used to imply an impious or wild Jewish girl)." [KOGOS, p. 70]

 

     But most Jews know better. Yossi Klein Halevi, who grew up in an American Orthodox community, notes that the word "shiksa" means "a gentile woman, that nasty Yiddish word implying 'slut.'" [HALEVI, MEMOIRS, p. 224] When Israeli Ze'ev Chafets married a non-Jewish woman in 1997, he had to face more firmly the institutionalized Jewish racism (and moral double standards) against his new wife:

 

     "Jews who would rather cut off their tongue than say 'nigger ' or 'spic'

      and consider 'kike' and 'Hymie' fighting words talk about 'goyim' and

      'shiksas' with blithe indifference. They assume that we can't be guilty of

      prejudice because we are all victims ... But terms like 'shiksa' ... no

      longer sound like charming Yiddishisms to me; they seem like slurs."

      [BROWNFELD, p. 85]

 

     A minority of non-Orthodox Jews who haven't studied their own traditional literature, or Yiddish and Hebrew, in detail, may not even be aware of the range of such objectionable (by modern moral standards) material in seminal Jewish religious texts.  Nor do informed Jews invite an examination of the full context of Jewish-Gentile relations through history.  In the last few decades whenever such material is brought to public attention, however rarely, its exposure is attacked by Jewish organizations as "anti-Semitic canards," distorted and misrepresented excerpts from their original contexts. Throughout history it has usually taken apostate Jews to reveal them to the non-Jewish community.

 

      "Among the first generation or two of Dominican friars [in the Middle Ages]," says Norman Cantor, "... were a remarkable number of Jewish converts. The reason that the friars ... could engage in a lengthy debate with the rabbis in their public disputations in France and Spain was that these debating friars were almost invariably former rabbis or rabbinical students, or sons of rabbis." [CANTOR, p. 179]  "Most often," notes Leon Poliakov, "by making the conversion of the Jews and the denunciation of Jews their chief vocation [Jewish apostates] constituted a true scourge for the Jewish communities.... [POLIAKOV, p. 167] ... The role of the renegade Jew ... has always been of prime importance during the persecutions of the Jews." [POLIAKOV, p. 69]

 

     In the year 1236, for example, Nicholas Donin, a Jewish convert to Christianity, "approached Pope Gregory IX with a list of charges against rabbinic Judaism." [COHEN, J., 1982, p. 60] According to Donin, notes Jeremy Cohen, "the rabbis [of the Talmud] allegedly instructed the Jews to kill Christians and ruled that the Jew may blamelessly cheat and deceive Christians in any way possible ... The Talmud, claimed Donin, licensed murder, theft, and religious intolerance, and it included strictures against trusting Gentiles, honoring them, or even returning a lost piece of property to them. The worst outrage for Donin was the prayers in the Jews' daily liturgy uttered against Christians and apostates." [COHEN, J., 1982, p. 68, 71] A compilation was also made, "probably in large part by converts from Judaism," [COHEN, J., 1982, p. 65] which resulted in "a collection of objectionable excerpts from the Talmud and Jewish liturgy according to topic, over one hundred folios listing the passages in the order of their appearance in the Talmud." [COHEN, J., 1982, p. 65] The result of a Papal investigation of the Talmud resulted in its public burning.

 

     Another such disputation in Barcelona, Spain, occurred in 1262 between Rabbi Moses ben Nahman and Friar Pablo Christiani. Christiani was born Jewish and "he had studied Jewish literature under the direction of Rabbi Eliezer ben Emmanuel of Tarascon and Jacob ben Elijah Lattes of Venice." [COHEN, J., 1982, p. 108] Elsewhere, "Juan Perez de Montalvian, a Marrano [secret Jew]," notes M. H. Goldberg, "was a priest and notary of the Inquisition. The Society of Jesus founded by Saint Ignatius had numerous monks of Jewish descent. When Saint Ignatius chose a successor to lead the order, he appointed Diego Lainez, who had been born a Jew." [GOLDBERG, M. H., 1976, p. 109-110]

 

     In the 15th century, notes Bernard Lazare,

 

       "Peter Schwartz and Hans Boyd, both converted Jews, instigated the

       inhabitants to sack the [Jewish] Ghetto; in Spain, Paul de Santa-Maria

       [formerly Solomon Levi] instigated Henry III of Castille to take

       measures against the Jews ... [Santa-Maria] is generally found the

       instigator in all the persecutions which befell the Jews of his time, and

       he hunted the synagogue with a ferocious hatred ... The Talmud

       was the great antagonist of the converts, and one that had to withstand

       most of their wrath. They constantly denounced it before the inquisitors,

       the king, the emperor, and the Pope ... The theologians followed the

       example of the converts, most frequently they had about the Talmud no

       other notions beyond those given them by the converts." [LAZARE, p.

       88]

 

     "In the sixteenth century," adds M. Hirsch Goldberg, "a butcher named Pfefferkorn tried to have the German emperor destroy all rabbinic writings and Hebrew books except the Bible." [GOLDBERG, M., 1976, p. 214] Pfefferkorn too was a Jewish convert to Christianity, as was, in the eighteenth century, Jacob Frank (1726-1791). "Frank and his closest followers adopted Catholicism," notes Jewish apologist Milton Aron,

 

      "and, in vengeful activities against their opponents within Jewry, heaped

      various false accusations against the Jews and their teachings, leading

      to the burning of the Talmud." [ARON, M., 1969, p. 30]

 

     Then there is the case of "Michael the Neophyte, an eighteenth century Jewish convert to Christianity, who not only swore that Judaism commanded the ritual killing of Gentile children, but provided gory details of his own participation in those murders." [PIPES, D., 1997, p. 32]

 

     In Germany, notes Nachum Gidal, "one of the most influential opponents of political equality for the Jews was the baptised Jew Freidrich Julius Stahl (1802-1861) who was the founder of Prussian conservatism, leader of the Conservative Party, House of Lords, and member of the Upper House of Prussian Parliament." [GIDAL, p. 17]  In Russia, in 1869, "the infamous Book of the Kahal, ... written by the Jewish apostate Jacob Brafman, made its appearance and seemed to document the already well-known accusation that the Jews constituted a 'state within a state' whose main aim was to subjugate and exploit the non-Jewish population." [ARONSON, p. 42] (Louis Rapoport even argues that Jewish oppression of Jews was even pre-eminent in the Russian communist revolution: "The Jewish Bolsheviks were the most fanatical advocates of suppressing Jewish parties.") [RAPOPORT, L., 1990, p. 29] Even recently, in Croatia,

      "in July 1997, Mladen Schwartz, an individual of Jewish origin and an ultra-nationalist
     agitator, promoted his book 'Protocols, Jews and Adolf Hitler' in Zagreb's main
     square. In the book Schwartz poses such questions as 'Why should the Croatian
     state be in the service of Judeo-lobbyists?'" [INSTITUTE OF JEWISH POLICY
     RESEARCH, 2001]

 

     Over the centuries, inflammatory Talmudic passages were "exposed" to the Christian public more and more by non-Jewish authors; in 1700, for example, the German, Johann Eisenmenger, wrote Judaism Uncovered and August Rohling, a professor of Semitic languages in Prague, penned Talmud Jew in 1871.  These two works were among the most sensational charges against Jewish tradition and belief; modern Jewish scholarship (and even more so, Jewish popular opinion) generally portrays such texts as fabrication or misinterpretation -- in either case, “anti-Semitic.” "The Talmud," says George Mosse, "was said to be full of exhortations to cheat, lustfulness, usury, and hatred of Christians ... The Talmud had come to symbolize the secret of the 'perverted' religion of the Jews." Rohling decided that it was a "program for domination of the world by the chosen people." [MOSSE, p. 139]

 

      In Eisenmenger's case, his "anti-Jewish sallies," writes Jacob Katz, "were on the whole not his own inventions. He collected anti-Jewish ornaments from the Christian tradition, systematized them, and attempted to prove their truth by reading them into the Talmudic literature with which he was well acquainted." [KATZ, Jew Dig, p. 6] Nazis and others have, of course, recognized such materials' value in enflaming anti-Jewish hostility and appropriated them for presentation for their own purposes.

 

     Eisenmenger’s anti-Jewish work, the argumentative basis for many books critical of Jews that were written later, is particularly noteworthy and bears greater scrutiny. As a dedicated Christian, Eisenmenger's writings were framed as a polemic that impugned Jewish belief and tradition. His opus, Judaism Uncovered (Endecktes Judenthum), was a two-volume set of over 2100 pages, quoting from 200 mostly Jewish sources and was the result of twenty years of research. The author was a respected scholar and well read in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Arabic. "In short," says Jacob Katz (a well-known Jewish scholar who Israeli critic Israel Shahak singles out as being particularly apologetic when it comes to Jewish religious texts), [SHAHAK, p. 114] "Eisenmenger was acquainted with all the literature a Jewish scholar of standing would have known ... [He] surpassed his [non-Jewish] predecessors in his mastery of the sources and his ability to interpret them tendentiously. Contrary to accusations that have been made against him, he does not falsify his sources." [KATZ, From, p. 14]

 

       Katz refers here to the likes of Bernard Lewis, another Jewish scholar, whose reaction to Eisenmenger's work is much more typical:

 

     "Eisenmenger was a professor of Oriental languages ... By careful

     selection, occasional invention, and sweeping misinterpretation, due

     sometimes to ignorance and sometimes to malice, he presents the

     Talmud as a corpus of anti-Christian and indeed anti-human doctrine...

     Eisenmenger's book, though disproved again and again by both

     Christian and Jewish scholars, became a classic of anti-Semitic

     literature, and has remained a source book for anti-Semitic accusations

     to the present day." [LEWIS, B., 1986, p. 105]

 

      Influential Jews of the Royal Court in Eisenmenger's locale and era (Samson Wertheimer and Samuel Oppenheimer, among them) managed to have the book banned by the Hapsburg Emperor; Eisenmenger appealed, and "litigation continued for decades." The author never lived to see the censorship of his book about Jews lifted. [KATZ, p. 14] "The powerful supplier of the Austrian armies, Samuel Oppenheimer," notes Leon Poliakov, "actually succeeded, for a consideration, in having the work banned. Its 2,000 copies were confiscated as soon as they were printed, and the author died, apparently of grief." [POLIAKOV, p. 243]

 

     Conceding that Eisenmenger's voluminously footnoted citations from Jewish law and religious literature do indeed exist as he says, Jacob Katz argues (as do many Jewish apologists) that just because these citations are undeniably part of Judaism's religious tradition doesn't mean the rules and laws were actually practiced (or, at least, practiced any longer). Katz asserts that such odious directives from Jewish sages must be understood in terms of the climate of their creation. "Eisenmenger," says Katz, "consciously ignored whatever later [Jewish] generations read into earlier sources ... [he was] seeking only the original meaning intended by the writers." [KATZ, p. 17]

 

     Katz proclaims what he calls the "historical approach" (i.e., trying to understand "the original meanings intended by the writers") to be fallacious. The correct way to view Jewish seminal thinking, he argues, is by the "exegetical-homiletical method" (i.e., what Jews were supposed to believe and what they practiced were eventually two different things -- they adjusted to changes around them). This, for Katz, negates the "original meanings."

 

     One of Eisenmenger's principal attacks was upon codified Jewish opinion for treatment of non-Jews and their religions. Eisenmenger cited textual evidence that Jewish religious tradition forbids robbery, deceit, and even murder only within their own community, non-Jews were categorically exempt from moral protection. If Jews were raised with such beliefs, argued Eisenmenger, it is not hard to believe that they would be inclined to defame Christianity at every chance, as well as rob, swindle, and even murder those not of their own community.

 

     "The nature of the Jewish tradition," writes Katz of such Eisenmenger charges, "its earliest strata reflecting the conditions of the ancient world, enabled Eisenmenger to prove such theses. The legal and ethical systems of the ancient world were dualistic ... In the period of the Mishnah and Talmud, the question of whether the property of non-Jews was protected by law was still under dispute. Certain individuals who were considered subversive -- idol worshippers and the like -- remained outside the absolute protection of the [Jewish] law even in matters of life and death." [KATZ, From, p. 18]

 

     Katz goes on to argue that those rabbinical opinions that asserted, for instance, "that one should actively work towards ["sectarians' and "infidels'"] deaths became merely "theoretical material." [KATZ, p. 18] Or as another apologetic Jewish scholar, Louis Jacobs, puts the Eisenmenger issue:

       "There is no doubt that the Talmudic Rabbis, living among pagans,
        had a poor opinion of the Gentile world around them even while
        admiring some of its features. At times some of the Rabbis gave
        vent to the harshest feelings, as in the notorious statement 'Kill
        the best of the goyyim.' Johann Andreas Eisenmenger (1654-1704)
        in his Endecktes Judenthum (Judaism Unmasked) collected such
        adverse passages in order to prove to his satisfaction that the Jews
        hate all Gentiles. It became an important aspect of Jewish
        apologetic to demonstrate that Eisenmenger had either
        misunderstood many of the passages he quotes or had taken
        them out of context." [JACOBS, L., 1995, p. 184-185]

      Ultimately, Eisenmenger aligned evidence from Jewish religious law to exhibit an alleged foundation which suggests that, when the Messiah comes, non-Jews would be destroyed. But not only that. Based on the citational evidence he could piece together, Eisenmenger thought "it stood to reason that [Jews] would carry out the commandment of destruction even in the present on those whom it was within their reach to injure and harm." [KATZ, p. 19]  In fact, this theme of vengeful Jewish destruction of non-Jews was addressed in a volume by professor Abraham Grossman in Hebrew, in 1994, specifically investigating Ashkenazi (European Jewish) religious society. A summary of his conclusions in Religious and Theological Abstracts states that

 

      “[The] Ashkenazi believed in the conversion of the Gentiles as part of

       the redemptive era, following the stage of vengeance ... The idea that

       a link exists between vengeance to be carried out against the enemies

       of Israel and the redemption, and that vengeance is a forerunner to

       redemption, can be found in the Bible, the Talmud, and in

       apocalyptic literature, and should not be viewed as uniquely

       Ashkenazi.” [REL&THEO, 38:1, 859]

 

     As renowned sociologist Max Weber once noted:

 

      "In the mind of the pious Jew the moralism of the law was inevitably

      combined with the aforementioned hope for revenge, which suffused

      practically all the exile and post-exilic sacred scriptures. Moreover,

      through two and a half millennium this hope appeared in virtually every

      divine service of the Jewish people, characterized by a firm grip upon 

      two indestructible claims -- religiously sanctified segregation from the

      other peoples of the world, and divine promises relating to this world

      ... When one compares Judaism with other salvation religions, one

      finds that in Judaism the doctrine of religious resentment has an

      idiosyncratic quality and plays a unique role not found among

      the disprivileged classes of any other religion." [NEWMAN, A.,

      1998, p. 163])

 

     Yet, concludes professor Katz, "To anyone who is knowledgeable of Jewish literature, Eisenmenger's interpretations [of central Jewish religious texts] read like a parody of both the legal and homiletic literature ... It is otherwise, of course, for the reader who is unfamiliar with the literature: he may fall for Eisenmenger's conclusions, not knowing that they are no more than the very assumptions that preceded the writer's examination of the material [i.e., anti-Jewish Christian prejudice]." [KATZ, J, From, p. 20]

 

     Unfortunately, this "parody" reading of seminal Jewish religious literature, and its “theoretical theses,” as we will soon see, has many Jewish adherents even today, as it always has, and -- with renewed interest in it in the Jewish world today -- is causing moral consternation for the more universalistic, enlightened members of the Jewish politic.

 

     "Eisenmenger neither forged his sources nor pulled his accusations out of thin air," says Katz, "There was a nucleus of truth in all of his claims: the Jews lived in a world of legendary or mythical concepts, of ethical duality -- following different standards of morality in their internal and external relationships -- and they dreamed with imaginative speculation of their future in the time of the Messiah." [KATZ, p. 21] That admitted, Katz turns to debunk Eisenmenger's volumes of evidence by claiming that the German scholar found only what he wished to find. In other words, the most relevant facts of Eisenmenger's argument, to Katz, are not to be found in the evidence of Jewish religious law and literature, but, rather, in Eisenmenger's underlying paradigm of anti-Semitism.

 

     Is Katz's view true? Is all this anti-Gentile animosity irrefutably found in Jewish religious literature “obsolete,” and did Eisenmenger just piece various facts together to form a false whole?  Or, rather, is it just that pious believers in talmudic Judaism have really never had the political empowerment -- until the creation of modern Israel -- to surface the most disturbing elements of the faith?

 

      Let's turn to Moshe Greenberg for the beginning of an answer to all this, a scholar described by the periodical Conservative Judaism as "one of the leading scholars of Hebrew scripture in the world," formerly the Chair of the Department of Bible Studies at Hebrew University in Israel. As a young man, Greenberg's first introduction to the racist foundation of Jewish religious literature was in Sefer Hatanya, the central works of Habad hasidim [one of today's ultra-Orthodox groups, also spelled "Chabad"]. Greenberg noted in 1996 that

 

        "What emerged for me, from the study of the first chapters of the book

        and their antecedents was the discovery that the main stream of Jewish

        thought is permeated by the genetic spiritual superiority of Jews over

        Gentiles, disconcertingly reminiscent of racist notions of our time.

        Living in Israel for the past twenty years in a Jewish majority that is no

        more sensitive to the feelings of minorities within it than Gentile

        majorities are.... [with] Jews in their midst, I have come to realize the

        vitality of Jewish racist notions, and I am more than ever convinced that

        the hold Judaism will have on this and future generations will be gravely

        impaired unless these notions are neutralized by an internal reordering of

        traditional values." [GREENBERG, p. 33]

 

      Such traditional values may be found in the memoirs of Yossi Klein Halevi (an American Jew who eventually moved to Israel) and what he was taught as a youth at Brooklyn's Talmudic Academy:

 

     "Jews and goyim [non-Jews] were locked in eternal struggle. For now the

     goyim prevailed. But when the Messiah came, we would triumph. Twenty

     goyim would cling to each thread of our prayer shawls, pleading to serve

     us as protection against divine judgment."  [HALEVI, p. 68]

 

     One Talmudic Academy teacher taught that "Jews were the center of the world ... Anything extraneous to Jews was of no real interest to us, or, by implication, God himself." [HALEVI, p. 68]

 

     Today's Orthodox Lubavitcher movement (famous for its yearly Chabad telethon to raise money for its projects) also reflects the principles of Jewish racial uniqueness, for example, in its Sefer Hama'Amarim, by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn:

 

     "The Jewish people were granted the unique ability to draw down all

     Divine effluences through their performance of Torah and mitzvos

     [the fulfillment of religious commandments] ... [Jews] become vessels for

     G-dliness ... The reason why only Jews possess this unique quality

     is because of their power of mesirus nefsh, total self-sacrifice...

     [SCHNNERSOHN, Y., 1986, p. 2] ... The Talmud comments that

     Jews possess three innate character traits: they are bashful, merciful

     and benevolent. These traits are not only meritorious in and of

     themselves, but also reveal the greatness of the Jewish people. Every

     Jew inherently possesses these beautiful traits. [SCHNEERSOHN, Y.,

     1986, p. 11] ... G-d's conduct with the Jewish people transcends the

     bounds of nature. When a Jew submits all his natural matters to G-d's

     service, the Almighty then helps him in a supranatural manner." 

 

      Some in today’s Jewish community recognize a growing problem with what Jacob Katz disregarded as the “original meanings” of Jewish religious tenets, particularly when reinvigorated by Jewish Orthodoxy and fused to modern Zionism, wherein “theoretical” status is revived as practical actions in the real world. In a 1994 issue of Tradition magazine, published by the Rabbinical Council of America, four questions were posed to a panel of scholars, including this one:

 

      “Has Religious Zionism been guilty of cultivating a negative stance

       towards Gentiles? How can Israel’s chosenness (behirat Yisrael) be

       so formulated as to avoid its being misinterpreted as either another

       form of secular nationalism, or an endorsement of negative attitudes

       towards Gentiles? [FELDMAN, p. 5]

 

     The simple fact that such questions need to be asked, in-house, in a Jewish rabbinical magazine, is revealing. Of the various responses, Gerald Blidstein, Professor of Jewish Law at Ben Gurion University in Israel, had the most disturbing one:

 

       “Unfortunately -- from my point of view and, it would seem, from

        the perspective from which this symposium is mounted -- the number

        of followers of Meir Kahane [the profoundly racist and, some say, even  

        fascist, American-Israeli leader] within the Orthodox movement is not

        tiny, nor has his militant doctrine found a positive response among

        small sections of our community. On the contrary: central aspects

        of his worldview, or at least his basic attitudes, are shared by large

        segments of observant Jewry in both Israel and America ... Kahane

        is merely an unmasked version of what Zionism always was -- racist,

        brutal, rapacious ... The modern Orthodox community ... exploits...

        democratic, humanistic modes of behavior ... for its own benefit.

        Exploiting values cynically, benefiting from them but not committing

        oneself to them or internalizing them, ought to be unacceptable.”

        [BLIDSTEIN, p. 11, 14]

     ("A confidential [1970] survey by the American Jewish Congress, the most liberal of the leading Jewish organizations, revealed that more than a third of its members said they approved the tactics of the JDL" [the Jewish Defense League -- the party Meir Kahane founded.]) [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 174]

 

     The 1995 assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzak Rabin by a zealous Orthodox student, Yigal Amir (whose yeshiva had military training as part of its curriculum), was an event of tragically profound importance to Jews; it brought into ominous focus a very real and very lethal expression of traditional talmudism, underscoring a widening gap between areligious Jews and growing numbers who have revived religious fundamentalism based upon ancient talmudic intolerance, and who now celebrate -- thanks to the creation of the modern state of Israel -- the power to express the angry dreams of their ancestors. Amir publicly professed his act of murder to be a religious deed (Rabin's willingness to surrender occupied land in peace talks with Arabs was understood to be traitorous to Jewish messianism). Even in America, four months before Rabin was assassinated, a Brooklyn rabbi, Abraham Hecht, publicly called for the death of any Israeli public official who ceded land to Arabs in peace agreements with them.  [JEWISH WEEK, 3-27-98, p. 20]

 

      A year before Rabin's murder, the prime minister spoke to a Jewish audience about (American-born) Israeli doctor Baruch Goldstein, the man who had recently burst into a Hebron mosque with an automatic weapon and slaughtered nearly 30 Muslims at prayer until he himself was beaten to death:

 

     "The level of support for a murderous lunatic and the identification

     with [Goldstein] among some sectors of the public have been greater

     than I'd estimated at first. I see in this the danger of an Israeli racism,

     or to be more procise, a Jewish racism." [DERFNER, L, 4-1-94,. 2]

 

     As the Jewish Bulletin noted in 1994, "since the Hebron murders, Israeli teachers have devoted lessons to explaining why Goldstein's deed was an abomination. But at one highly rated Jerusalem school, the Hebrew Gymnasium, about half the students of an 11th grade class gathered off campus after one of the anti-Goldstein lessons, and chanted 'Death to the Arabs,' and 'Goldstein tzaddik,' or righteous man ... Probably the most disturbing finding came from one of the largest high school in Beersheva. A teacher there polled the class and found that 60 percent of the students supported the massacre." [DERFNER, L., 4-1-94, p. 2]

 

     Based upon literal interpretations of some parts of the Talmud, even Jewish religious opponents understood how religious texts could be interpreted to sanction Rabin's murder. As a troubled Israeli rabbi, David Hartmann, observed:

 

      "The rabbis under radically different conditions prevailing during the

       third century AD ... encouraged ... hate and destruction. [Rabin's

       assassin] was no aberration.  He was wholly within the normative

       tradition that has survived frozen through the ages to our own time ...

       There are sufficient other resources in the tradition -- humane and

       pacifist ones -- to counteract the dogmatism. The tragedy is that a

       group of fanatical and political rabbis has become dominant over all

       other voices in Israel." [ELON, p. 42]

 

      Gershom Scholem, a professor at Hebrew University and an author on Jewish mysticism, was outraged when a dozen kabbalists (Jewish mystics) camped outside Prime Minister Rabin's house a few weeks before his murder publicly calling upon "angels of destruction," and prayed for Rabin to die. This occurred, notes Scholem, "in the heart of Jerusalem, in fairly normal times. No one in the religious world cried out to protest. Nobody said it's all nonsense. In other words, they believe (these invocations to black magic) actually work." [ELON, p. 46]

 

     In 1988 another Israeli rabbi, David Ben-Haim, this one a member of the "radical right" messianic religious movement in Israel, dipped into Talmudic texts and other seminal Judaic literature to evidence profoundly disturbing material. "In a thirty page study that examined all Halakhic authorities on the subject," says professor Ehud Sprinzak of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, "Ben-Haim proves that according to the vast majority, the Torah, when speaking about Adam (a human being), never includes Gentiles in this category. He points out that ten recognized Halakhic authorities repeatedly proposed that Gentiles are more beast than human and that they should be treated accordingly; only two authorities recognize non-Jews as full human beings created in the image of God." [SPRINZAK, p. 273]

 

     "What comes of all this," wrote Rabbi Ben-Haim, "is that according to the prophets, and also according to our sages, the Gentiles are seen as beasts ... It is possible that one may see these injunctions as racism; another may call it hatred of Gentiles, whoever he is; but as far as the Jew who adheres to the statement of the Torah of Israel is concerned, this is reality and a way of life which were set for the people of Israel by G-d." [SPRINZAK, p. 274]

 

      "Hardly anyone speaks of Jewish fundamentalism," worries Israel Shahak, "which is growing in Israel and the United States even more." [SHAHAK, Ideology, p. 80]

 

     Evelyn Kaye, a woman raised in an Orthodox Jewish community in New York, wrote in 1987 an indicting volume about her life within it and the religiously enforced racism of the ancient sages that still holds firm in Jewish communities to our present day. The foundation of "being Jewish" against the rest of humanity is manifest in the fundamentally hostile attitudes towards non-Jews. Kaye writes that

 

               "The mark of a truly devout Hasidic or Orthodox Jew, as well as

            many other Jews, is an unquestioned hatred of non-Jews. This is the

            foundation of ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic philosophy. It is as

            tenacious, unreasoned, and impossible as anti-Semitism, racism, and

            sexism. And as intractable...

               There is a complete litany of all the terrible things about non-Jews

            which apply to every single one and which are believed implicitly by

            the Orthodox.

                These include:

                  -- all Goyim drink alcohol and are always drunk;

                  -- all Goyim are on drugs;

                  -- all goyim hate Jews even when they seem friendly;

                  -- all Goyim are anti-semites, no matter what they say and do;

                  -- all goyim have a terrible family life and mistreat their wives

                           and children'

                  -- all Goyim eat pork all the time;

                  -- Goyim are never as clever, as kind, as wise or as honest as

                      Jews;

                  -- you can never ever trust Goyim.

               There's much more. But the essence of anti-Goyimism is passed to

            Jewish children with their mother's milk, and then nurtured, fed and

            watered carefully into a full-blown phobia throughout their lives.

                In order to avoid being contaminated by these terrible creatures,

            the Ultra-Orthodox go out of their way to avoid them ... Children ...

            manage to grow up without seeing one of these dangerous people

            close up. Their attitudes are then perfectly formed. They know

            whom to hate." [KAYE, p. 113]

 

      In the 1980s, Samuel Heilman watched an ultra-Orthodox teacher lecture his young students, and noted that

 

     "Already at this age, these children knew that goyim represented the

     absolute other of Yidn [Jews] -- the counterworld. The relation

     between the two was clear: 'No ideas or institutions that held in the

     one were valid in the other.'" [HEILMAN, S., 1992, p. 192]

 

     Yossi Klein Halevi (whose grandfather was a millionaire in Europe) also grew up in a New York Hasidic neighborhood, in Borough Park. In 1995 he wrote that:

 

      "Aside from watching them on TV, goyim were alien to me as they were

      to the Hasidic children. Naturally, I had no non-Jewish friends. An Italian

      family lived on our block. If I saw one of the Italians at a distance, I'd

      cross the street to avoid the awkwardness of saying hello ... I did master

      [my father's] crucial lesson: to see myself as a stranger in a hostile world,

      a member of a people only formally to humanity -- in effect, a separate

      species." [HALEVI, p. 15]

 

     "Sadly," noted Orthodox rabbi Mayer Schiller in 1996, "it is ... the granting of humanity to the Gentile either as an individual or as a people ... that is so often lacking in Orthodox circles. Suffering from a kind of moral blindness, we find it difficult to see the non-Jew as anything more than a bit player in our own drama." [MACDONALD, p. 5]

 

      The origin for such beliefs are largely to be found in traditional Jewish religious literature, then secularly reinforced by a litany of Jewish complaints about alleged Gentile persecution throughout history. The ambivalent nature of some of today's translated Jewish religious texts themselves (per their traditional intent) often reflects the fact that various offending words and passages attracted censorship throughout past centuries by offended Christian authorities (who were initially appraised of the remarks by Jewish apostates) and Jewish publishers (who feared dangerous consequences from Christian hostility). As Adin Steinsaltz notes, "When the Christian church adopted a more severe attitude toward enemies within its own ranks, it also began to examine Jewish literature and, to a large extent, the Talmud. Much of the responsibility for this attitude rests with various Jewish converts to Christianity ... Several European rulers and Church dignitaries were convinced that the Talmud contained anti-Christian material and, on the basis of informers' charges, they ordered that all anti-Christian statements and libel against Christ be erased from the books." [STEINSALTZ, 1976, p. 81-82]

 

     Jewish publishers eventually became self-censors; offending passages were excised or spaces were left blank on pages for Jewish readers to fill in by oral tradition and memory. The word "Gentile," or the pejorative "goy," (both meaning any non-Jew), for example, was often replaced with the word "other," "Egyptian," "Kushite," "stranger," or other dissimulatives for non-Jewish consumption. In one case, for example, a Jewish scribe's definition of "goyim" as "followers of Jesus Christ" became "those who do not believe in the law of Moses." [POPPER, p. 28]  As Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz notes, "most present day editions [of the Talmud] still contain a considerable number of changes and omissions introduced by censorship. Indeed, almost every passage dealing with non-Jews must be suspected of having undergone some change." [STEINSALTZ, p. 50] "Much Talmudic discussion of early Christianity," notes Robert Goldenberg, "was censored out in the course of the Middle Ages and must now be recovered from scattered manuscripts." [GOLDENBERG, R., 1984, p. 170] Jewish religious leaders, scholars and general readers usually knew and understood the subterfuge through history, however, many knowing well the original meanings.

 

     The Encyclopedia Judaica notes that

 

         "In rabbinical literature the distinction between gentile (goy, akkum)

         and Christian (Nazeri) has frequently been obscured by textual

         alterations necessitated by the vigilance of censors. Thus 'Egyptian,'

         'Amalekite,' 'Zadokite (Sadducee),' and 'Kuti'  (Samaritan) often

          stands in place of the original Nazeri, as well as goy, akkum, etc.

         Probably when Resh Lakish stated that a gentile (akkum, etc. in

         existing texts) who observed the Sabbath [Saturday rites] is punishable

         by death (Sanhedrin, 58b), he had in mind Christians ... Numerous anti-

         Christian polemic passages only make real sense after Nazeri has been

         restored in place of the spurious Kuti or Zedokite." [ENCY JUD, v. 7,

         p. 411]

 

      "Whole paragraphs have been deleted," says Morris Goldstein, "words have been expunged or substituted, spellings have been changed, thoughts mutilated, and manuscripts seized and burned." [GOLDSTEIN, p. 3]

 

     M. Herbert Danzger writes that "Jewish modernists" (seeking to reframe and redirect morally objectionable passages against non-Jews in Jewish religious literature), argue "that these laws referred not to Gentiles generally but to 'star worshippers,' a precise legal category meaning those who deny the existence of deity, who practice no law and no justice, whose ways are cruel and murderous." [DANZGER, p. 295] Even if the 'star worshippers' interpretation had credence, who exactly in history ever believed in 'no deity, no law, no justice,' and wallowed in cruelty and murder? Certainly any society anywhere conceives of itself as framed within concepts of some kind of deity, law, and justice, and attributes their lack to its enemies, as does the rabbinical literature. According to the Encyclopedia Judaica, after the fall of the second Temple in 70 CE, the

 

      "world was regarded as divided, by rabbinical opinion ... into the Jewish

       people and the 'nations of the world,' and insofar as individuals were

       concerned, into the 'Jew' and the 'idolater,' with the Hebrew equivalent

       of 'idolater' usually abbreviated to 'akkum,' literally a 'worshipper of

       the stars and planets." [EN JUD, p. 410]

 

     Michael Asheri, a Jewish American immigrant to Israel, notes modern Jewish apologetics and dissimulation about the subject of idolaters:

 

     "Once we get out of the area of friendship and business [with non-Jews],

     ... it is obvious that to the Jewish way of thinking, many of today's

     Gentiles are still worshippers of idols. The use of devotionals

     in Christian churches is ingeniously explained away by orthodox Jewish 

     thinkers, but Jews are still stringently prohibited from entering churches

     in which such images are displayed. (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah

     142:14) Certainly the practices of present day Hindus and Buddhists

     must be considered idol worship or the term has no meaning at all.

     In addition, the prohibition of yayin nesech, wine made by Gentiles,

     is based entirely on avoidance of avoda zara [worship of strange Gods].

     If some of the Gentiles are not idol worshippers, why does this

     prohibition continue to be obligatory for all observant Jews?" [ASHERI,

     M., 1983, p. 332-333]

 

     Asheri next addresses the reason for Jewish secrecy about this delicate subject: the fear of anti-Jewish hostility as a response to the Jewish anti-Gentile tradition. There is, says Asheri,

 

     "an important reason for not making apparent our attitude in this

      respect and that is darchet shalom, keeping the peace, between

      the Jews and the peoples of the world, among whom they live."

      [ASHERI, M., 1983, p. 333]

 

     There are other things about Jewish identity that are best not discussed too publicly. One of the principles of traditional Jewish law, notes the Israeli social critic Israel Shahak, is that a Gentile's life must not be saved. He cites a line in the Talmud (Tractate Avodah Zarah, 26b): "Gentiles are neither to be lifted (out of a well) nor hauled down (into it)," i.e., if a non-Jew falls into a well a Jew is religiously forbidden from saving his/or her life. The highly respected Jewish theologian Maimonides takes this example to comment that "it is forbidden to save [non-Jews] if they are at the point of death; if, for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued." [SHAHAK, p. 80] (In this context of Jewish religious tradition, Shahak sardonically notes the extremely uncompromising position many outraged Jews can find themselves in when they so vociferously complain that so many countries "stood by and did nothing" to help Jews during the Jewish Holocaust.)

 

      As far as Maimonides is concerned, we will refer to him heavily here. His opinions are highly relevant in our own day. Maimonides is neither obscure to modern Orthodox Judaism, nor obsolete. He is an integral part of modern Orthodox discourse; according to the New Encyclopedia Brittanica (1993), Maimonides is recognized "as a pillar of Orthodox faith -- his creed became part of the Orthodox liturgy [and he is known] as the greatest of Jewish philosophers." [NEW ENCY BRIT, 7, p. 708]

 

     Israeli professor Michael Harsegor explains another angle to Jewish self-absorption, in the tale of the "Good Samaritan" from the Christian New Testament tradition (Luke 10:33-34.) Two Jews, a Cohen and a Levite, pass a non-Jewish man who had been physically attacked and left behind for dead by robbers. Per traditional Jewish religious conviction, the passing Jews do not stop to aid the injured man. Eventually a Samaritan passes and stops to help the fellow in distress. As Harsegor notes, in explaining this parable of pan-human Christian teachings,

 

     "It is wrong to cling to the Torah, like the Cohen and Levite, and do

     nothing more. You have to be humane, like the Samaritan, who

     is not a religious Jew." [COUSSIN, 1999]

 

     Conversely, rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, an immigrant from the United States to Israel, has commented that

 

     "If you saw two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah

      says you save the Jewish life first. If every simple cell in a Jewish

      body entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA

      is part of God. Therefore, something is special about Jewish

      DNA ... If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent

      non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably

      permit that. Jewish life has infinite value." [BROWNFELD, A.,

      MARCH 2000, p. 105-106]

 

      It is critically important today, of course, for Jewish apologists to find more humane perspectives on the subject of non-Jews in traditional literature.  "Moses Rivkes, a seventeenth century [Jewish] Lithuanian authority, "notes Jacob Katz, "drew the conclusion that, regarding the obligation to save life, no discrimination should be made between Jews and Christians; the same degree was attached to saving either." Rivkes, of course, represents only one man's view and reflects the views he sought to counter. His opinion, note Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "only demonstrates the depth of historic Jewish hostility toward the non-Jew and the legitimization that this hostility received within the religious tradition." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 38]

 

       Other disturbing views from Jewish religious literature and tradition include:

 

      "When we withhold mercy from others [it] is equal to that for doing

       (merciful deeds) to members of our own people." [SHAHAK, p. 96]

 

      "If the ox of a Jew gores the ox of Gentile, the Jew is not required to pay

      damages, but if the ox of a Gentile ... gores the ox of a Jew, the Gentile

      is required to pay full damages."  [MISHNAH, BABA KAMA 4:3]

 

     If after taking a purification bath, a Jewish woman sees a dog, pig, donkey, horse, leper, or a non-Jew ("heathen") before she "meets a friend," she has to take the bath over again. [GANZFRIED, p. 42]  "One should not be alone with a heathen belonging to one of the seven peoples [the Biblical tribes of Canaan from which non-Jews are traditionally understood to have descended], because they are apt to commit homicide." [GANZFIELD, p. 52]  Likewise, "cattle should not be kept in the barns of heathen-owned inns, out of suspicion that they may practice sodomy with them." [LIPMAN, E., 1974, p. 235]

 

     "The Talmud is in disagreement over whether Jews may rob Gentiles," says Jewish scholar Gordon Lafar, "but even the liberal authority Rabbi Menachem HaMeiri agrees that a Jew who finds something that was inadvertently lost by a Gentile is not obliged to return it." [LAFAR, p. 189-190] In this regard, for example, in 1980 Brooklyn rabbi Dovid Katz wrote a book about the 613 mitzvot (i.e., commandments; singular: mitvah) that a good Othodox Jew is expected to fulfill. (Katz notes them as "divine decrees"). [KATZ, D., 1980, untitled preface page] Among those is Mitzvah 69: "It is a positive commandment to return a lost object to a Jew, as the posuk says (Vayikra 22), 'You should return to your brother.'" Of interesting note here are some of the detailed explanations of this: Katz highlights the Jewish religious "law" as stated by an old -- and obviously still influential -- Talmudic expert, Rambam [i.e., Maimonides]:

        "3. One is allowed to keep a lost object of a gentile and he who returns it commits
      a sin because he is supporting the wicked people of the world. But if he returns
      it to sanctify G-d's name, by their saying that the Jews are honest people,
      it is allowed an praiseworthy to return it. Where there will be a profaning of
      G-d's name one is forbidden to keep the lost object and must return it ...
         4. In a city that has Jews and gentiles living together and half are Jews and
      half are gentiles, if one found a lost object he should take the lost object
      and announce it. If a Jew comes and gives a sign, that the object is his,
      he is obligated to return it to him.
         5. If the majority of the city are gentiles, and one finds it in a place where most
     people there are Jews, he must make an announcement. But if it is in a
     place that is mostly gentile, the lost article belongs to the finder and even
     if a Jews gives a sign we do not give it to him. We say he gave up since
     there are mostly gentiles and they would take it for themselves. Still
     the right way is to return it even then to the Jew who gave the sign."
     [KATZ, D., 1980, p. 211-212]

       

     In traditional law, Jewish physicians may break the Sabbath (i.e., the rest day) and work in order to help seriously sick Jewish patients. But there are conflicting opinions in religious texts about helping non-Jews, and the allowance to aid ill Gentiles on the Sabbath is not as clear. Apologetic rabbi Immanuel Jacobovitz notes that

 

      "the special sanction to disregard religious laws in the face of

      danger to life originally operated only in regard to Jewish lives,

      an attitude still upheld, in theory at least, by the Shulkan 'Arukh ...

      Evidently the problem [of what to do about helping non-Jews]

      was not very acute until the 17th century, when many responsa

      [opinions] began to be devoted to it. In principle the more rigorous

      view of the Talmud and the codes was generally maintained, but in

      practice it was admitted that Jewish doctors and midwives -- even

      the most religious among them -- often violated the Sabbath in their

      attendance of non-Jews, however legally indefensible their action might

      be." [JACOBOVITS, p. 63]

 

     An Israeli commentator, Uri Hupperet, is more blunt about the traditional reasons why Orthodox Jewish doctors might help Gentiles on the Sabbath:

 

     "Saving a Gentile's life is also subject to pragmatic reasoning. A

     Gentile who is in immediate danger of losing his or her life can

     be saved even on the Sabbath; not based on the philosophy of

     'loving thy neighbor,' but motivated by netivey shalom (preserving

     peace with neighboring Gentiles), or by darkey eivah (avoiding

     atrocities of Gentiles against Jews). It is not the human dimension

     that motivates the command to save a life in this respect, but a

     dimension beneficial to the ethnocentric community that will

     remove ammunition from antagonists of Orthodox Judaism."

     [HUPPERT, U., 1988, p. 95]

     Peter Novick notes the "psychological and rhetorical" tensions, as he calls them, which traditional Jewish law provided for Jewish American soldiers in World War II:

     "Jewish American GIs were expected -- always in principle and sometimes in
     practice -- to crawl out under enemy fire to bring in wounded Irish Americans
     or Italian Americans, as the later were expected to do for them. Members of the
     older [Jewish] immigrant generation surely tested much higher for feelings of
     of international Jewish peoplehood. At the same time, and not unconnected with
     this, they were closer to a tradition that made it in principle impermissible to
     violate the laws of Sabbath observance to save the life of a gentile, let alone
     risk one's own life." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 34]

 

     In the Middle Ages it became customary to spit (usually three times) at a Christian cross (one European king had the word “God” in Hebrew etched on the cross to alleviate the insult). Pious Jews are also traditionally enjoined to curse when passing a non-Jewish cemetery or building inhabited by Gentiles. [SHAHAK, p. 93]   To this day, in some traditionally religious communities good Jew ritually curses if he passes a crowd of non-Jews, but utters a blessing when a group is Jewish. [SHAHAK, p. 93]  “According to the Talmud,” confirms Reuven Kitelman, “a blessing is to be offered upon seeing a multitude of Jews.” [KITELMAN, p. 147]

 

     In 1996 Yossi Klein Halevi wrote that during his youth in an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, "some Borough Park children said it was a mitzvah, a religious commandment, to spit when you passed a church. An alternative opinion held that it was forbidden to even walk within spitting distance of a church." [HALEVI, p. 17] "An Orthodox Jew learns from his earliest youth, as part of his sacred studies,” says Israel Shahak, “that Gentiles are compared to dogs, that it is a sin to praise them." [SHAHAK, p. 96] Institutionally, says Shahak, "The Book of Education, written in the 14th century, is currently a popular book for Israeli schoolchildren, its publication subsidized by the government. Its texts includes material such as 'The Jewish people are the best of the human species ... and worthy to have slaves to serve them. We are commanded to possess them for our service.'" [SHAHAK, p. 95]

 

     In our own time the occasional exhuming of such anti-Gentile passages from seminal Orthodox Jewish literature for public discourse has garnered storms of Jewish wrath and protest; apologists vehemently argue that such texts are obsolete, misunderstood, ambiguous, or representative of a minority rabbinical opinion among others who took opposing views.

 

     Those Jews who are familiar with such passages (particularly -- but not only -- the Orthodox) realize that such texts are guaranteed fuel for anti-Jewish hostility; hence, apologetic Jewish scholars inevitably step forward at the first inkling of these texts gaining any kind of non-Jewish audience, seeking -- at all costs -- damage control. The fact is that such material was, and is, often very much, part of Jewish Orthodoxy and is seminal to traditional Jewish thought about "others." Such material is not what the apologetic Jewish community wants known and circulated about them beyond Jewish circles.  Nor does it fit modern secular Jewry’s universalistic myths about themselves, that liberal universalism originated in the Jewish religion.  "Jews would be pretty embarrassed if some of our own triumphalist literature were better known," Leah Orlowick, a Conservative rabbi told a Jewish interviewer inquiring about Christianity, "I can show you texts where Jews declare themselves inherently on a higher spiritual level than all non-Jews. And if you're willing to wade through all the apologetics, the hemming and hawing, I can bring you to Jews who still believe in natural superiority, so let's not be hypocrites." [HALBERSTAM, p. 221] One of the best ways of dissimulation by Jewish apologists is to turn the tables of complaint by indignantly arguing that the public examination of such racist Jewish doctrines is, in fact, unreasonable expressions of the investigators' anti-Semitism.

 

      Morris Adler's post-Holocaust (1958) comments, sponsored by the B'nai B'rith Hillel Foundation, are typical:

 

     "A distinguished group of Christian scholars have studied the

      Talmud and refuted the vile allegations about it. They have treated

      it as an important phase of historic Judaism and interpreted its

      true character. The most patent absurdities are no longer repeated

      except perhaps by some ranting bigot whose very extremism

      discredits him in the eyes of reasonable people." [ADLER, M., 1958,

      1963, 1974, p. 12]

 

     One of the ways Jewish dissimulation works is also like this:

 

      "The Talmud is full of remarks against idolatry and idolaters; but the

      prevailing opinion of the rabbis is that by idolaters are meant only those

      in Palestine." [UNIVERSAL JEWISH ENCYCLOPEDIA, v. 3, p. 4]

 

     "Idolaters" is traditionally known by Orthodox Jews to be one of the words that can signify, generically, non-Jews anywhere. "The term idolatry," says E. E. Urbach, "was coined by our sages and included everything connected with a god other than the God of Israel ... in practice the laws dealing with idolatry cover all relations between Jews and non-Jews." [HALBERSTAM, p. 157]

 

      "The assumption that all Gentiles are by definition idolaters," says David Novak, "led to a number of important halakhic norms. And although the concept of Noahide, that is, the non-idolatrous Gentile changed this assumption, many of the norms based upon it remained, albeit in modified form in most cases." [NOVAK, Image, p. 115]

 

     "As far as Christians being idolaters," says Ronald Modras,  "the state of Jewish law on the matter was confused. Medieval Jews generally regarded Christianity as an idolatrous religion. But laws prohibiting interaction with idolaters were not applied to Christians with any uniformity ... [Jews] often regarded themselves as a civilized people living among barbarians." [MODRAS, p. 193]

 

      Jacob Minkin notes that “Maimonides classed the Christian in the category of idol worshippers.” [MINKIN, p. 318]  And “an Israelite who worships an idol,” says Maimonides, “is regarded as an idolator in all respects ... the penalty for which is death by stoning.” [MINKIN, p. 318] Maimonides also had this to say about "idolators": "It is forbidden to show them mercy, as it was said, 'nor show no mercy unto them (Deut. 7:2) ... You [also] learn that it is forbidden to heal idolators even for a fee. But if one is afraid of them or apprehends that refusal might cause ill will, medical treatment may be given for a fee but not gratuitiously." [HARKABI, p. 157] "Maimonides exempts the Muslims from the category of idolators," says former Israeli army official Yehoshafat Harkabi, "but the Christians, by contrast, were explicitly included ... [HARKABI, p. 157] ... The classification of Christians as idolators has apparently become widespread and accepted in religious literature [today]. This is not merely a theoretical matter, since practical conclusions flow from it." [HARKABI, p. 159]

 

     With the increasing rise of a "back to the roots" Jewish nationalist Orthodoxy in Israel (and in considerable degree in the United States), and irretrievably tainted by the influence of modern western pan-human moralities, some Jews are stirring with serious moral qualms about bygone eras' interpretation of seminal Jewish religious literature returning to credibility. An Israeli rabbi, Tzvi Marx, for example, has lamented the dangers of traditionalist understanding of some talmudic, and even Torah, texts. These includes the likening of Arabs to dogs and the notion that Jews are human beings but "idolaters" are not. [from the Talmud, BT Yebamot 61a, also BT Baba Metzia 114b, MARX, p. 44] Elsewhere, Rabbi Marx bemoans talmudic rabbi Shimon bar Yohai's "infamous teaching" and "dehumanizing depiction" of non-Jews, stemming from the Torah line that states: "And you [only you Jews] my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are men." [EZEK. 34:21]

 

     "The difference between a Jewish soul and souls of non-Jews," said influential rabbi Yitzhak Hacohen Kook (spiritual leader of today's Gush Emunim messianic movement) in the early 20th century, "-- all of them in all different levels -- is greater and deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle." [BROWNFELD, A., MARCH 2000, p. 105-106]

 

      How popularly widespread are such brutal dehumanizations of non-Jews in traditional -- even secular -- Jewish culture? In a 1961 study of Jewish-Americans (not focusing solely on the Orthodox), Judith Kramer and Seymour Leventman noted that

 

        "Even in the Yiddish language [the common language of immigrant Jews

         from central and eastern Europe, where more Jews lived, til Hitler, than

         any other place in the world] ... popular usage distinguished between

         Jews and non-Jews by employing different verbs to describe the

         behavior. Reserved for gentiles are words otherwise used in reference

         to animals: e.g., Jews eat (essen), but goyim eat like pigs (fressen);

         Jews die (starben), but goyim die like dogs (pagern); Jews take a drink

         (trinken), but goyim drink like sots (soifen)." [KRAMER, p. 107]

 

     (For the people and their language that is ever innocent, Jewish author Leo Wiener reflected a common Jewish perception in 1899: "There is probably no other language in existence on which so much opprobrium has been heaped as on Yiddish. Such a bias can be explained only as a manifestation of a general prejudice against everything Jewish." [ HERZ, J., 1954, p. 82] In 1999, as part of widespread Jewish public relations efforts to veil the essences of traditional Jewish identity, unsuspecting non-Jews in Poland were invited to sit in on a brief "course" for them at the 9th Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. It was entitled, however incongruously, Jezyk jidisz dla kazdego ("Yiddish for Everyone"). A Polish monthly tourist magazine noted that the festival "plays a not insignificant role in breaking down bad stereotypes in Polish-Jewish relations." [MIESAC w KRAKOWIE, p. 3] )

     
  "Every Jew is familiar with the works of Hillel," says Chaim Bermant,

     "and the precept of 'love they neighbor as thyself' is at the heart of Judaism, yet
      every student brought up on the Babylonian Talmud -- and it must be remembered
      that for many centuries, especially in Poland, the Jews studied little else -- is
      inculcated with a disdain for the gentile which has entered into Jewish lore and into
      the very expressions of the Yiddish language." [BERMAN, C., 1977, p. 35]

 

      This human/non-human kind of Yiddish linguistic distinction between Jews and non-Jews has been transposed to Hebrew and Jewish culture in modern day Israel. "The immediate referent of the Israelis is a Jew," says Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen, "Indeed the very term Jew is used colloquially as a synonym for person." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 166] This kind of degradation of the Gentile world is also reflected in the Hebrew words for Jewish immigrants who come to live in Israel from around the world, and, conversely, those who leave the Jewish state. Those who come to Israel are olim, which means to ascend. Those who leave Israel for non-Jewish lands are yordim, "from the root meaning to 'descend,' but also to 'decline' and to 'deteriorate.'" [AVRUCH, K., 1981, p. 56]

 

      In a discussion concerning Jewish perspectives on slavery (about which there is "no negative attitude" in Biblical or rabbinical literature) Judah Rosenthal, Professor of Biblical Exegesis at the College of Jewish Studies in Chicago, also notes Rabbi Yohai's weighty opinion on the biblical sheep reference and that, indeed, the old rabbi believed the "concept of man refers only to Israel." A more tolerant opinion, in Rosenthal's view, was that of another Talmudic contributor, Rabbi Akiba, who wrote that "Beloved is the man that he was created in the image of God." However, adds Rosenthal, Rabbi Akiba also believed that a citation from Leviticus 25:46 ("You should keep them [non-Jews] in slavery forever") was an "obligation."  [ROSENTHAL, p. 70-71] This echoes Maimonide's belief that keeping a Gentile slave "forever" was a "normative commandment."    [ROSENTHAL, p. 71]

 

      Maimonides also said this:

 

       “A Gentile slave has to be enslaved forever ... one of the main reasons

       being that since the Jewish nation is the elite of the human race ...

       they deserve to have slaves serve them.”  [ROSENTHAL, p. 71]

 

     and:

 

      “A man may give his bondswoman [female slave] to his [male] slave

      or to his neighbor's slave ... since they are regarded as cattle.”

      [ROSENTHAL, p. 71]

 

     ("The Torah hardly abolishes slavery," notes Edward Greenstein, "The Bible assumed slavery as a given and gave it a role. A slave was an indentured servant who could repay his debts through labor.") [GREENSTEIN, E., 1984, p. 96]

 

       Along the same lines, Isaac Abravenel (1437-1508), a prominent Jewish scholar of the Middle Ages, "considered Israel to be superior to other nations and therefore, he [Israel] is entitled to be their masters." [ROSENTHAL, p. 73]  There are also Jews who believe such things, quite literally, today. In a 1980 speech by Israeli rabbi Moshe Halevi Segal, he proclaimed that

 

        "All nations should surrender to us, to the King of Israel, to the Messiah

         of G-d of Jacob, and should be taught exclusively by us. They must

         desert their false beliefs and cultures, and the social system dangerous

         to us, to leave this treacherous democracy ... Democracy ... confuses

         the truth and justice." [SPRINZAK, p. 273]

 

     The Orthodox "Chabad" movement is a very popular, and activist, movement in America and Israel today, seeking to pull wayward secular Jews back to the religious fold. For decades this organization was headed by Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, who died in the 1990s. "The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person," said Schneerson,

 

      "stems from the common expression: 'Let us differentiate.' Thus, we do

       not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a

       superior level. Rather, we have a case of 'let us differentiate' between

       totally different species. This is what needs to be said about the body:

       the body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the

       body of [members] of all nations of the world ... A non-Jew's entire

       reality is only vanity. It is written, 'And the strangers shall guard and

       feed your flocks' (Isaiah 61:5). The entire creation [of a non-Jew] exists

       only for the sake of the Jews." [BROWNFELD, A., MARCH 2000,

       p. 105-106]

 

     Some talmudic -- and other -- citations also dictate that only non-Jewish corpses are "unclean." This, says Rabbi Tsvi Marx, has an "attitudinal impact [that] is far reaching ... and ethically devastating when taken literally." The idea, for instance, that only Jews can have ritually "unclean" corpses can be, and is, interpreted by many Orthodox Jews to mean that non-Jews are not technically of the same essential material as Jews, and, thus less -- or not at all -- human. "In the Talmudic tradition Jews are often depicted as reflecting "the image of God," says Moshe Greenberg, "but not the non-Jews. R [abbi] Yohanon, for instance, says Jews 'were purged of their pollution; the Gentiles ... were not. R [abbi] Shmuel Edel is among those who collaborated this view." [GREENBERG, p. 31-32]

 

     Rabbi Marx adds that in the English Soncino Talmud translation concerning tractate Yebamot (p. 405, footnote 2), readers are informed that Rabbi Simeon b. Yohait says that "only an Israelite ... can be said to have been like Adam, created in the image of God. Idol worshippers [i.e., non-Jews] hav[e]  marred the Divine image and forfeit all claim to this appellation." [MARX, p. 44] Marx brings up the influential Maimonides again too, in another context. According to Maimonides' interpretation of earlier rabbinical arguments, Marx worries that in Jewish religious law the “murder of a gentile seems not to be a punishable offense." [MARX, p. 45]

 

     Again, Maimonides is no rabbinical slouch, and is not obscure. His opinion on all matters is respected by Orthodox Jews to this day. "Ignoring the weighty legal opinion of Maimonides," says Eugene Korn, "is always a risky strategy." [KORN, p. 271] Of the Jewish sages, Maimonides was also "the most consistent advocate of  .... suzerainty over Gentiles." [NOVAK, The Image, p. 114] In fact, Maimonides also wrote the following, referring to the biblical figure Noah, who was not Jewish:

   

      "Moses [commanded] on the authority of God to compel all human

      beings to accept the commandments that were commanded to Noah,

      and he who does not accept [them] is killed." [KORN, p. 266]

 

     "The context of [this]," says Eugene Korn, "is [Maimonide's] description of an ideal polity under Jewish sovereignty." [KORN, p. 266] Such a world view in traditional Jewish thinking is usually swept under the rug in modern popular discourse. A case in point is the complete lack of historical context in which popular Jewish commentary condemns those non-Jews who readily accepted (and still accept) the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the best known anti-Jewish text in modern history. (Originating in Eastern Europe, the Protocols claimed to be an actual document from a secret Jewish cabal). "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," notes Richard Levy,

 

     "one of the most important forgeries of modern times, presents a

     Jewish plot to take over the world and to reduce non-Jews to slavery ...

     The Protocols found a huge audience, especially following the

     turbulent times following World War I ... Why has the Protocols

     of Elders of Zion, a shameless fraud, seized the imagination and

     informed the political judgment of [anti-Semitic] men and women

     throughout the twentieth century?" [SEGEL, p. 3]

 

     Like virtually all Jews who pose such a question, they do not actively seek an answer from within their own community -- i.e., they are really not interested in an honest answer. Why would anyone fall for the idea of a Jewish plot to dominate the world aimed at holding all others in subjugation? Maimonides, above, in classical religious thinking, points to the beginning of an answer. Orthodox conviction that God will favor Jews at the "end of days" to, in some form, rule the world is yet another marker. The Torah/Old Testament states expected Jewish domination clearly in a number of places -- for example:

 

     "The Gentile shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness

     of thy rising ... the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee ...

     Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be

     shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the

     Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. For the nation and kingdom

     that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly

     wasted." [ISAIAH 60, 1-12]

 

     "Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance,

     and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt

     break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a

     potter's vessel." [PSALMS 2: 8-9]

 

     "Thus saith the Lord, 'The labor of Egypt, and merchandise of

     Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto

     thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee, in chains they

     shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make

     supplication unto thee, saying, 'Surely God is in thee; and there is none

     else, there is no [other] God.'" [ISAIAH 46: 14]

 

     [See John Hartung's article about the roots of the Israelites' war-based ethnocentrism and how it has been popularly transformed in much of Christian tradition (and some reforming strands of Judaism) into a benevolent "light of nations" scenario; HARTUNG, 1995]

 

     As Old Testament scholar John Allegro has noted:

 

     "The history of the Jews as revealed in the Torah was thus in a sense

     coextensive with the story of mankind, and in Adam's supremacy of

     the beasts of the field [GEN. 1:26] could be seen figured from the

     Creation the eventual dominion of the Jew of the whole world ...

     [ALLEGRO, J., 1971, p. 61] ... Yahweh [the Israelite God] is not

     just a tribal deity, but the God of the Universe. His Chosen People

     are not just another ethnos: they are the Sons of God, destined to rule

     the world." [ALLEGRO, p. 162]

 

     "One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala [a strain of Jewish mysticism]," note Israel Shahak and Norton Mezvinsky, "is the absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body over the non-Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of the Jews; the existence of non-Jews was subsidiary." [BROWNFELD, A., MARCH 2000, p. 105-106] A(n ultra-Orthodox) Chabad-sponsored Internet website, geared for non-Jews, frames this world view discretely:

     "What is the key to salvation? Those who return to the Law (the Seven
     Commandments for the Children of Noah, according to the eternal covenant
     made with Noah in Genesis 9) and who assist the Jewish people (Isaiah 60.
     61, 66) will be saved and will participate in the miracles and revelations,
     including worshipping in the Third Temple, under the kingship of the Messiah.
     As described in many places, including Jeremiah 16:19-21 and Zechariah 8:20-23,
     all the old gentile religions of the world will disappear, and their followers
     will turn to Jews for spiritual leadership." [NOAH'S COVENANT WEBSITE,
     2001]

 

    As prominent anti-Jewish critic Henry Ford once said about his own publishing of an edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion:

 

     "You will find we at no time guaranteed their authenticity. We have

     merely stated what they contain and have paralleled this with what

     actually took place and are leaving it to the mind of the public to

     judge." [WARREN, D., 1996, p. 150-151]

     In 1920, the London Times reviewed the Protocols, not with condemnation, but with the uneasy sense that much of what the Protocols proclaimed, forgery or not, was coming to pass on the world scene:

     "What are these 'Protocols?' ... Are they a forgery? If so, whence comes the
     uncanny note of prophecy, prophecy in parts fulfilled, in parts far gone in
     the way of fulfilment? Have we been struggling these tragic years to blow up
     and extirpate the secret organisation of German world dominion ony to find beneath
     it another, more dangerous because more secret? Have we been straining every
     fibre of our national body, escaped of a 'Pax Germanica' only to fall into a
     'Pax Judaica?' The 'Elders of Zion' as represented in their 'Protocols' are by
     no means kinder taskmasters than William II and his henchmen would have
     been." [BERMANT, C., 1977, p. 33]

 

     We may seek further clues to Gentile receptivity to the fictitious Protocols due to Jewish identity itself and the inevitable expressions, in day-to-day life with the goyim through history, of Jewish supremacy and domination.

 

     "Throughout their history," says Israeli Jay Gonen, "the Jews ... entertained feelings of superiority over Gentiles ... It therefore became a prevalent notion among Jews that they are supposed to use their heads while the Gentiles do the dirty work." [GONEN, p. 137] "A Jewish servant or labourer is almost unknown in Egypt," noted one "Mr. Samuel" in his late 19th century Jewish Life in the East, "our people here as elsewhere being infected with that dislike for manual labor and that preference for earning our living with our heads which is at once the strength of our upper and the destruction of our lower classes." [SMITH, G., 1881/1959, p. 18]

 

      Israeli-born David Grossman notes the expression of this elitist Jewish attitude in modern Israel. Much of his 1988 volume, The Yellow Wind, explores Jewish exploitation of its Arab underclass for menial labor. The following is an interchange Grossman had with a small Arab child in a West Bank refugee camp. It is, as Grossman consistently notes, far from an isolated example of how young Palestinian experiences and world views about Jews are being shaped by their overseers.

 

     "[Grossman]: Do you know who the Jews are?

      [Boy:] The army.

      Are there other Jews?

      No.

      What does your father do?

      Sick.

      And your mother?

      She works in Jerusalem for the Jews. Cleans their houses."

      [GROSSMAN, D., 1988, p. 24]

 

      In the same book, Grossman expands upon this theme of socialized Jewish racism and exploitation of a menial underclass, illustrated by an incident with one of his neighbors in Jerusalem:

 

     "An Arab woman cleans the stairwell at the [Jewish] housing project

     in which I live. Her name is Amuna, and she lives in Ramallah [an

     Arab town]. I talk to her from time to time. A three-year-old

     [Jewish] boy, the son of one of our neighbors, used to seeing her

     bent over a pail of water, heard us talking and was surprised -- I

     saw it on his face. He asked her name and I told him. Afterwards,

     he asked what we had talked about in Arabic, and I explained. He

     thought a minute and said: 'Amuna is a little bit a person and a little

     bit a dog, right?' I asked him why he said that. He explained: 'She

     is a little bit dog, because she always walks on all fours. And she

     is also a little bit of a person, because she knows how to talk."

     End of story." [GROSSMAN, D., 1988, p. 214-215]

 

     In 1911 the prominent Zionist A. D. Gordon (an early pioneer to Palestine/Israel) surveyed his Jewish people and culture -- Orthodox or not -- with concern, writing:

 

     "We [Jews] have developed an attitude of looking down on manual labor.

      We must not deceive ourselves in this regard, nor shut our eyes to our

      grave deficiencies, not merely as individuals but as a people. The well-

      known Talmudic saying, that when the Jews do God's will their labor is

      done for them by others is characteristic of our attitudes. This saying is

      significant. It demonstrates how far this attitude has become an

      instinctive feeling within us, a second nature." [GORDON, p. 679]

 

      The "Labor Zionism" political movement sought to readjust urban Jews to farm labor in the early years of Zionism in Palestine/Israel. But Rosemary Reuther even notes the same old Jewish propensity to function as overseers has come to the fore in modern Israel:

 

       "The sabra [native-born Jewish Israeli], redeemed from Diaspora

       weakness, with a gun in one hand and a plow in the other, has

       become a military-political-industrial ruling elite. Many Jews no

       longer work the land with their own hands or do any kind of

       manual labor. For many, such labor is now seen as 'Arab work.'"

       [ELLIS, M., 1990, p. 150]

 

      Israeli Nimrod Tevlin recalled his youth in Russia:

 

     "After [the first year of college], we [members of a Zionist organization]

     decided to quit and spend full time preparing to emigrate to

     Palestine. Hardly any of us, however, had backgrounds as workers --

     heavy physical work like farming was considered work for the

     goyim." [GORKIN, M., 1971, p. 56]

     The 1989 Russian census clearly evidences this traditional Jewish proclivity to avoid manual labor. And why have so few Jews ever worked in Russian factories? Jewish scholar Michael Paul Sacks, in a common Jewish apologetic theme to be elaborated upon in depth in this book later, has the stock answer: anti-Semitism among the working class. "There was little to attract Jews to work in the factory," says Sacks, "Surveys have shown greater levels of anti-Semitism among blue-collar workers and those with lower levels of education ... There can be no doubt that in comparison with professional or semi-professional employment, Jews in blue-collar jobs were an especially small minority." [SACKS, M., 1998. [p. 265]

 

     Chone Shmeruk notes the practical implications of such feeling in pre-war World War II Warsaw: "As far as my district goes [where I lived in Warsaw] ... it was exclusively Jewish. The only non-Jews there were the janitors, who usually had small apartments near the entrance." [SHMERUK, p. 326] [See also later discussions of American Jewry's propensity towards employing maids, especially African-Americans, for menial labor [in the POPULAR CULTURE chapter], as well as the traditional non-Jewish Saturday servant known as the shabbes goy].

     What are we to make of the disturbing implications of these words, in 2001, from Michael Finkel, in a New York Times article? :

     "Moshe lives in Israel, which happens to be one of the more active nations in the
     international organ-trafficking market. The market, which is completely illegal, is
     so complex and well organized that a single transaction often crosses three
     continents ... Israel also does not contriute much to the supply side of the
     equation. Organ donation is extremely low; an estimated 3 percent of Israelis
     have signed donor cards ... Paying for an organ has become so routine in Israel
     that there have been instances in which a patient has elected not to accept the
     offer of a kidney donation from a well-matched relative. 'Why risk harm to
     a family member?' one patient told me." [FINKEL, M., 5-27-01]

 

       Early Zionist Arthur Ruppin notes an incident in which he found a Gentile cutting wood for a Jew in Eastern Europe. Ruppin suggested that there were Jews would might be able to use the work, but the employer noted that "a Jew does not undertake such work, even when he's starving; it is not suitable for a Jew." [MACDONALD, p. 23]

     During the California Gold Rush in the mid-19th century, many Jews hurried to the mining areas, but not to labor for gold. Their demeanor was noted by Hinton Rowan Helper, "whose tract, The Impending Crisis of the South, would soon crystallize opinions concerning slavery ... [Helper] ws as vociferous in his claims of Jewish laziness in the gold rush as he was in condemnation of the southern slaveholder. With regards to the Jews he wrote: 'Mining, the cultivation of the soil, in a word, any occupation that requires exposure to weather, is too fatiguing and intolerable for them. The law requiring man to get bread by the sweat of his brow is an injunction with which they refuse to comply.'" [LEVINSON, R., 1978, p. 13]

    Another contemporary of the Gold Rush, J. D. Bothwick observed that

     "In traveling through the mines from one end to the other, I never saw a Jew lift
     a pick or shovel to do a single stroke of work, or, in fact, occupy himself in any
     other way than in selling slops. while men of other classes and of every nation
     showed such versatility in betaking themselves to whatever business or occupation
     appeared at the time to be most advisable without reference to their antecedents,
     and, in a country where no man, to whatever class of society he belonged, was
     in the least degree ashamed to roll up his sleeves and dig in the mines for gold,
     or to engage in any other kind of manual labour, it was a remarkable fact that the
     Jews were the only people whom this was not observable." [LEVINSON, R.,
     1978, p. 13]

     In his autobiography, well-known Yiddish author Sholem Aleichem watched a ferryman in Eastern Europe absorbed in the difficult physical task of pulling a boat across a river. "Only a Goy could do work like that, not a Jew," he wrote, "The Bible says of Esau [non-Jews], 'And thou shalt serve they brother.' It is good that I am a descendant of Jacob [Jacob: Jews] and not of Esau." [LINDEMANN, Esau's, p. 5] Albert Lindemann also notes the case of "the eminent Jewish-American intellectual Sidney Hook [who] remembered how, as a boy, he had asked his religion teacher about the injustice of what Jacob did to Esau. The teacher responded, 'What kind of question is that? Esau was an animal.'" [LINDEMANN, p. 5]

 

     This Jacob-Esau division is another deep source of enduring Jewish racism and elitism per their supposed genius in outwitting others. The story of Jacob and Esau is from the biblical Genesis. They were the two sons (twins) of Isaac (son of the seminal Jewish patriarch Abraham) and Rebecca. Jacob, however, is understood in Jewish lore as an early patriarch of the Jewish ancestral lineage, Esau is not. Esau is an ancestor of Gentiles. And as the Torah (Genesis 25.21-23) states it, God told the pregnant Rebecca that "two nations are in thy womb, two nationalities will emerge from inside of thee. And one people will be stronger than the other -- the elder will serve the younger." The "younger" of course was Jacob, ancestor of the Jews. "If you fail Jacob," notes traditional Yiddish folklore, "you aid Esau." [KUMOVE, S., 1985, p. 81]

 

     Albert Lindemann notes the later development of this brother tale:

 

     "In the biblical account, Jacob conspires with his mother, Rebecca,

     to trick Esau out of receiving the blessing of their aged and blind

     father, Isaac. Esau, the first-born, had already foolishly given over

     his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a bowl of lentils. But Esau

     remained Isaac's favorite ... Esau was outraged when he discovered

     that he and his father had been duped, that Jacob had posed as his

     older brother [to his blind father] and had gained Isaac's blessing ...

     Anti-Semites of various shapes have drawn upon the Jacob-Esau tale

     as proof of the incorrigible cunning and moral corruption of the Jews

     throughout history ... Even in the 1990s, the notion of a somehow

     unbridgeable gap between Esau and Jacob, Gentile and Jew, remains

     central to traditional Jewish perspectives ('Esau always hates Jacob,'

     'The Messiah will not come until the tears of Esau have been

     exhausted.')" [LINDEMANN, Esau's, p. 4-5]

 

          "[Jacob's] deception," says Shlomo Riskin, "was orchestrated by his mother, perhaps even ordained by God, but his feeling of guilt never leaves him." [RISKIN, S., 1994, p. 5B]  Esau, notes Nathan Ausubel, "surnamed 'the wicked' in Jewish folklore, is portrayed as a fierce warrior and hunter, preoccupied with fighting and the chase. Jacob, on the other hand, is depicted as a gentle scholar, always found in the House of Study in pursuit of divine instruction." [AUSUBEL, p. 28]  Jacob, however, in the original story, was the treacherous brother. One Jewish observer, Hugh Blumenfeld, has noted with consternation that the brother who was morally righteous, Esau, is so much condemned in Jewish lore. "It floors me," Blumenfeld told a Jewish newspaper, "because he is the one who forgives his brother, who tries to do right by the end of the story." [KATZ-STONE, 1999, p. 47]

 

      Rabbi Yisroel Yaaikov Klapholz notes the traditional Talmudic views of the Esau (Gentiles) - Jacob (Jews) dialectic:

 

     "Rebekah became pregnant with twins ... Esau said to Jacob: 'If

     you do not let me come out first, I will kill my mother as I leave her

     stomach.' Jacob said: 'That evildoer is a murderer even before his

     birth' ... One [son] will adorn himself with Torah, the other will boast

     of his sins. Both will be hated by other nations and both will rule

     the world. But in the end, the descendants of your righteous son

     shall reign supreme. After Esau's rule, no other nation shall reign

     but Israel. G-d [God] also revealed to Rebekah that He loves Jacob

     and despises Esau ... Rebekah called one son Jacob, the other Esau.

     Esau was born ruddy all over, like a hairy mantle, his redness

     indicating that he was of a murderous nature ... Esau ... refused to

     be circumcized for the rest of his life. Jacob, on the other hand, was

     born circumcized." [KLAPHOLZ, p. 14-16]

 

     One of Rabbi Klapholz's chapters in a book he authored is called "Jacob's Innocence and Esau's Cunning." "People saw the deeds of the two youths," says Klapholz, "and said: 'Esau is a thorn-bush and Jacob a fragrant flower.' The cunning Esau was always plotting to do evil." [KLAPHOLZ, p. 17]

 

     Samuel Heilman, an anthropologist and an Orthodox Jew, notes, from the usual Jewish martyrological view, the Jacob-Esau subject in the Hasidic community:

 

     "'Jacob and Esau are two opposites,' as Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam

     (1848-1906) of Bobov, Poland, put it in commonly heard terms

     that saw Jews and Gentiles symbolized by the two Biblical brothers,

     'and it is unthinkable that there should be any connection between

     them in any way.' If much of the two thousand years of the diaspora

     had led to Jewish persecution and degradation, these Jews responded

     by categorizing everyone who was not a Jew as some inferior being."

     [HEILMAN, S., 1992, p. 19]

 

     Throughout Jewish tradition, the origin of hatred of Jewish arch-enemies is the most primitive sort: animosities are rooted in clan-based feuds. The despised are actually blood-related with common, not so terribly distant, ancestors. As noted, the Israelite patriarch Abraham had two sons: Isaac and Ishmael. Isaac is considered by modern day Jews to represent the Jewish lineage; Ishmael, even according to Islamic tradition, fathered the Arab line. In the Jewish family tree, Isaac's sons were Jacob and Esau: Esau is a kind of symbolic patriarch of all Gentiles. Only the children of Jacob are considered to continue the Jewish line. Esau fathered Eliphaz, who in turn fathered Amalek, the most-hated enemy in Jewish tradition. [More, at length, about Amalek later. For purposes here, suffice it to note -- as startling as it may sound -- that the Old Testament commands Jews to "blot out the memory" of him by exterminating all his descendants. To read about Amalek now, click here] Amalek is, hence, actually not that terribly remote from the Jewish bloodline: he was the great-great grandson of Abraham.

 

     Joshua Cohen notes traditional Jewish perspective of the Amalek story:

 

      "The Talmudic sages tell us that the Jewish fathers -- Abraham, Isaac

      and Jacob -- rejected [Amalek's mother's] offer to convert and that her

      rejection resulted in Amalek's hatred of Israel ... In a way then, this

      [Talmudic] midrash tells the origin of the prejudice that western tradition

      would later call anti-Semitism ... The Amalekites ... were the first enemies

      of the Jews after their emergence from Egypt as a full-fledged nation ...

      Not only do Jews and Amalekites share a common ancestry; Jewish

      humanity and Amalekite bigotry were encoded in the same seed."

      [COHEN, J., p. 296-297]

 

     The Israelites/Jews continued on their separatist course thus conceptually armed, victims of senseless bigotry, as they saw it, through history.

 

     Before we move on, however, we must yet mention again the influential sage Maimonides, whose pronouncements still find widespread credibility in Jewish culture (particularly amidst the Orthodox in our own day). According to Maimonides, notes Eugene Korn:

 

     "Only with the commission of grievous sins do a small minority of Jews

     lose their share in the world to come. The reverse proposition appears

     to be true for Gentiles: Immortality for non-Jews would be the exception,

     open to a small minority. Thus we arrive at arbitrary inequality, the

     essence of injustice." [KORN, p. 270]

 

    Some modern, and influential, rabbis like Rav Velvel Soloveitchik interpret such Maimonides opinions to their most ominous degree. "Not only is the rational and autonomous moral [non-Jewish] person denied wisdom and a share in the world to come," says Eugene Korn, " ... it robs all non-believers and their cultures of any intellectual, religious, or even human value." [KORN, p. 281] "By modern standards," observes Lenni Brenner, "Judaism is jarring in its ethnic and religious chauvinism, and extreme and contradictory in its social ethics, real and ideal." [BRENNER, p. 41]

 

      Israel Shahak, both an Israeli citizen and Holocaust survivor, underscores that racism, stemming from the Jewish Chosen People concept, is intrinsic to the Orthodox Jewish faith. "The rabbis," he writes, "and, even worse, the apologetic 'scholars of Judaism’ know this very well and for this reason they do not try to argue against such views inside the Jewish community; and of course they never mention them outside it. Inside, they vilify any Jew who raises such matters within earshot of Gentiles, and they issue deceitful denials in which the art of equivocation reaches its summit. For example, they state, using general terms, the importance which Judaism attaches to mercy; but what they forget to point out is that according to the Halakhah [Jewish religious law] 'mercy' means mercy towards Jews." [SHAHAK, p. 96]

 

     Note, for example, the apologetics of professor Robert Pois, who, like many, turns the usual dissimulatives about a "selective interpretation" of the Talmud into the implication that only Nazis and their kindred would, in overview, entertain negative opinion about this important Jewish religious work:

 

     "The selective mining of Talmudic sources ... has been a traditional

     approach of anti-Semites for some time. Yes, there are nasty anti-heathen

     (read anti-Christian) comments in the Talmud. But ... the 63 sections of

     this compendium of Jewish oral law and folklore ... was not informed by

     a systematic theology. Rather, it was, literally, commentary. In a word,

     it was a panoply of opinions of one or the other religious and social

     issues ... Obviously, if one wants to depict the Talmud as being

     consistently anti-Goy, great selectivity is necessary. Such was revealed

     in that tradition which informed the writings of Houston Stewart

     Chamberlain and Alfred Rosenberg." [ROIS, R., 1998]

 

      Chamberlain and Rosenberg, of course, were prominent Nazi ideologues.  Pois here infers that to investigate assertions of Jewish racism in its sacred works can only be the interest of a Nazi.

   

     The origin of the chauvinist Jewish worldview, which will surface many times in this volume, is, again, the traditional Jewish notion of themselves as the "Chosen People" of God. This idea, wrote J. O. Hertzler, is “literally and vividly maintained ... in a very decided Judeocentric view of history and the world.” [HERTZLER, p. 70] It is often referred to as "chosenness," or "election," as if there had been a divine vote cast somewhere to confirm their self-perceived specialness.  “The Jews may stand astride time and eternity,” wrote Arthur A. Cohen,  "... This is unavoidably an aristocratic mission.” [EISENSTEIN, I. p. 275] "Alas," says Ze'ev Levy, "the concept of chosenness entails ethnocentrism, for the better (in the past) or the worse (today). Chosenness does not go with otherness, that is, with unconditional respect of others." [LEVY, p. 104]  This is an understatement. "The concept of an eternal selection," says Moshe Greenberg, "eventually merges with a doctrine of spiritual-racial superiority, rooted, it seems, in the biblical term 'holy seed'  ... [According to the Old Testament/Torah, Ezra 9:2] holiness inheres in the seed and is hereditary." [GREENBERG, p. 31]

 

       "The word 'chosen' [per 'Chosen People']," notes Arnold Eisen, "is used sparingly in the Bible, to convey the passion of choosing. Its antonym is not 'considered impartially' or 'ignored,' but 'despised.'" [EISEN, p. RHETORIC, p. 66] "The Jewish religion," wrote Arthur Koestler, "unlike any other, is racially discriminating, nationally segregative, and socially tension-creating." [LINDEMANN, p. 20]

 

     The continuing debate about this within the Jewish community by liberal and secular thinkers is generally framed euphemistically in the contrasting terms of "particularism and universalism."  While most Jews tend to be apologetic for this term, particularism actually refers to the purely self-concern,  self-aggrandizement, racism, and ethnocentrism of traditional Jewish thinking (to the systemic detriment of non-Jews) throughout the centuries. This was consistently manifest by a Jewish segregated lifestyle, tight knit community, different Jewish moral standards for behavior towards Jews and non-Jews, racial and hereditary obsessions, and condescending views of all non-Jews around them. Universalism, on the other hand, refers to a shift in Jewish moral thinking (like everyone else) beginning with the Enlightenment, exemplified in a liberalizing Germany with the universalizing ideas of philosophers like Immanuel Kant. Universalism embodies the notion that Jewish particularism (or any other) is morally incorrect and obsolete and that spiritual and secular laws should be the same for everyone, all-inclusive. (As Israel Shahak notes, the Jews of Europe did not fight for freedom and liberation from their own stagnant ghetto ideology of particularism; emancipation was a giftof universalistic benevolence from the surrounding non-Jewish community which opened the doors for Jews to leave their distinctive ideological ghetto.)  [SHAHAK, p. 17]

     Monford Harris calls tradition Jewish conception of its collective self in our modern, post-Emancipation universalistic age "the scandal of particularity." "The current definitions of Jewishness derive from emancipation-era expeiences," he noted in 1965,

     "Until that time Jews knew very well what Jewishness was. Emancipation-era
     Jewishness was involved with understanding itself through universally valid
     categories, and in the process authentic Jewish understanding of Jewishness
     is rejected. The Jewish understanding of Jewishness had become too particular
     and parochial for modern premises." [HARRIS, M., 1965, p. 85]

 

       Eventually recognizing that complete acceptance of a universalistic ethic towards their fellow human beings could only mean serious endangerment of the "particularist" Jewish identity, liberalizing elements of world Jewry over past decades have moved to proclaim two antithetical ideas as essential parts of Jewish identity: both an allegiance to "Chosen People" Judeo-centrism and pan-human universalism. This is managed by the enduring Judeo-centric notion that distinctly Jewish hands must cling to the steering wheel of humanity itself as some form of a Jewish leadership "mission": in the pseudo-religious sphere, this is generally expressed as some version of "We Jews are fated to lead all of humanity to its destiny." In this new Chosen People construct, Jews can thereby still take satisfaction in their presumed exceptionality, but it is now (supposedly) morally adjusted to do some good for others in their wake.

 

     "In the very emphasis upon the particular," says Rabbi Hayim Halevy Donin, "this singular family [Jews] reflected the noblest form of universalism." [DONIN, p. 8]  "We Jews are a narrow, nationalist, self-centered people, " observes Samuel Dresner, "There is no point in denying it ... [Yet] in all of Judaism ... particularism and universalism go hand in hand ... Particularism and universalism, both are essentials of Judaism." [DRESNER, p. 50-51] "Jewish pride, Jewish chauvinism, Jewish particularism," says Roger Kamenetz, "-- the idea that we are a special chosen people -- seems to contradict the very universalistic prophetic messages Judaism also teaches." [KAMENETZ, R., 1994, p. 150]

 

       Knowing the foundation of Judeo-centric religious history, such Jewish proclamation is peculiar:

 

      “We [Jews] are under no obligation to forcefully convert non-Jews,”

      says Reuven Bulka, “On the contrary, we must carefully avoid any

      coercive conversion practices. However, it is another matter when the

      issue is enlightening the world with Judaic values.” [BULKA, p. 18]

 

      “Why did God choose Israel?” asks Alfred Jospe, “Because all other nations refused to accept Torah. Originally, God had offered it to all nations of the world. But the children of Esau [non-Jews] rejected it because they could not reconcile themselves to the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ The Moabites declined the offer because they felt they could not accept the commandment ‘Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ The Ishamaelites [traditional ancestors of today's Arabs] refused it because they could not square their habits with the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’” [JOSPE, p. 14]

 

       This is of course yet another manifestation of classical Jewish ethnocentrism, often arrogance, and even today sometimes racism, false-fronted by an illusionary claim of Jewish service to humanity, a service conceived to be more special than any other. Jewish scholar Norman Cantor states the true essence of traditional Jewish identity succinctly:

 

     "The covenant idea is the polar opposite of democracy, multiculturalism,

      and ethnic equality." [CANTOR, p. 21]

 

     "Jewish values," adds Charles Liebman,

 

     "... are folk-oriented rather than universalist, ethnocentric rather than

     cosmopolitan, and at least one major strand in Jewish tradition expresses

     indifference, fear, and even hostility to the non-Jew." [LIEBMAN, C., p.

     10]

 

     "In Borough Park's language," says Yossi Klein Halevi, referring to the Orthodox community where he was raised, "'universalist'  was a synonym for traitor ... Other people might take their humanity for granted; but Jews, at least in Borough Park, felt certain only of their Jewishness." [HALEVI, p. 75]  "Maintaining the bonds one Jew must feel with another Jew," notes Susan Schneider, "is part of Judaism, along with the idea that being Jewish may require maintaining the purity and/or unity of the Jewish people." [SCHNEIDER, p. 323]

 

     In an American context, Arnold Eisen notes the modern Jewish liberals' resultant quandary in reframing the Jewish worldview for Gentile consumption:

 

     "The notion of the Jewish [special] mission to [other peoples] was

      problematic, because it presumed that one people had the truth, and

      all others could but wait patiently to receive it. Such hierarchical ideas

      did not seem to fit in a society which espoused egalitarianism; if all

      men were created equal, why did other people need the Jews in order

      to attain true knowledge of God? The search for ways of reconciling

      pluralism and election became a pressing task of Jewish apologetic."

      [EISEN, p. 21]

 

     One of the ways convoluted apologetic seeks to distance itself from racism and inevitable Gentile hostility is to rhapsodize about special Jewish destiny, as does Reuven Bulka, who in this case also obfuscates it:

 

        "The notion of chosenness is ... misleading and fraught with danger,

         as if to imply some inherent genetic or biological virtue that

         is merely an accident of fate. Being chosen is the end result of

         chosingness, much the same way that the bride's choice to agree

         to the request of a groom to marry her is predicated on the

         presumption that she has already been chosen, an assumption

         inherent in the groom's question-request entreaty." [BULKA, p. 17]

     But as Jewish author Monford Harris notes about such notions of Jewry as a "choosing" people:

     "The idea of the Jews as 'chosen people' has been eclipsed. Yet it is so central
     to classical Jewish thought it could not be wholly surrendered. It was, consequently,
     reinterpreted ... [One] way of reinterpreting the idea of the chosen people
     is to say that the Jews are the 'choosing people.' Since the day of the Nazi idea
     of the master race it has been said that the idea of the 'chosen' people is
     ethically untenable, and that it is better to understand the Jews as the choosing
     people; i.e., the Jews were the only people in antiquity to recognize the true God.
     Precisely that which it tries to avoid is what this notion falls prey to. To say the
     Jews are the choosing people is to assert a position of such arrogance as to
     violate the canons of good manners, let alone ethical coniderations. To assert
     that only our ancestors were wise enough, good enough, to make the right
     choice and that all other nations lacked either the wisdom or the sincerity to
     do so is on a par with Nazi racism." [HARRIS, M., 1965, p. 89]

     

     In the apologetic realm, it is interesting to note the noble moral currency afforded modern Judaism in popular American culture by the presentation of the pan-human, universalisticexcerpt from Jewish religious sources that supposedly says: "Whoever saves a single life, saves the world entire." (This is the stated theme, for example, during a candle-lighting scene to begin the fabulously popular Stephen Spielberg movie about Jews under Nazi occupation, Schindler's List). Even taking this "life-saving" statement at face value, however, it is subject to interpretive manipulation. Some Jewish observers have noted that "this Talmudic saying, taken literally, is the ideological basis for an amoral survivalism," i.e., saving "a" life is merely self-survival. [CHEYETTE, p. 233]

 

      Yet this supposedly noble refrain is clouded even further.  In the talmudic Mishna, Sanhedrin 4:5, the original really says this: "Whoever destroys a single Jewish life, Scripture accounts it to him as though he had destroyed a whole world." It is quite particularist in its scope, i.e., it only cares about Jews, self-survival or not. Nonetheless, this literal fact does not hinder many Jewish non-Orthodox apologists from universalizing this chauvinist quote anyway. "Most Jews whose study of the Mishna," says Jacob Petuchowski, "is confined to the standard edition continue to invest this statement with a particularist limitation, while the few scholars who deal with textual criticism are aware of the greater universalistic breath of the original statement." [PETUCHOWKI, p. 8] When dropping the adverb "Jewish" from the seminal source, insists the likes of Petuchowski, one arrives at the "correct reading."

     "The Talmudic epigraph of Stephen Spielberg's Schindler's List," adds Jewish scholar Peter Novick, "'Whoever saves one life saves the world entire,' surely reflected the universalist values of liberal Judaism as it had evolved in recent centuries. The observant knew that the traditional version, the one taught in all Orthodox yeshivot [religious schools], speaks of 'whoever saves the life of Israel.'" [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 182-183] Apologetic rabbi Isar Schorsch does a little verbal gymastics to rearrange the timeline sequence of
this "regretful" Jewish racism:

     "[Jewish] xenophobia contaminates one of the finest expressions of
     universalism in the Mishna. Prior to testifying in a capital case, witnesses
     are warned of the consequences of their words. 'Anyone who saves a single
     person is credited with having saved the entire human race.' (Mishna Sanhedrin
     4:4) Regretfully, in some manuscripts and printed texts the word 'person'
     is replaced by the word 'Jew.'" [SCORSCH, I., 4-30-99]

 

     This kind of modern revisionism has set the stage for a bitter -- and intensifying -- struggle in international Jewry for the heart, and meaning, of Judaism between Orthodox followers of traditional belief and liberalizing revisionists, who largely suppress the historical facts of their own religious history. In recent years a number of Orthodox groups have even declared that their ideological rivals -- those Jews who at least pay lip service to universalistic ideals  -- are not even Jewish. "In debates within the Jewish community," says Gordon Lafar, "both universalists and chauvinists claim to be speaking in the name of traditional Jewish values." [LAFAR, p. 180]

 

      "In my youth," noted Meir Tamari in 1987, "Judaism was synonymous with socialism. There were religious Orthodox trade unions and religious Orthodox socialist parties. In Reform Judaism, this was a major issue. And we literally distorted Jewish sources -- and I was guilty of that, misguiding many young people in explaining to them that the Torah and socialism were synonymous." [JEWISH WEEK, 5-15-87, p. 28]  "After fifty some years of conscious exploration," wrote professor Paul Laute, a 1960s-era Civil Rights activist, "it has finally occurred to me that my identification of Jewishness with progressive social action is as much a historical construction as the messianic intolerance of [the racist Jewish messianic movement] Gush Emunim." [LAUTER, p. 45]

 

     Amnon Rubenstein, an Israeli scholar, in noting the folly of claiming Judaism as a "universal" religion, cites the following crucial Torah (Old Testament) passages about God's favoritism towards the Jews:

 

      "If ye will hearken unto My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then

      ye shall be Mine own treasure from among all peoples."

 

      "Ye shall be holy unto Me, for I the Lord am holy and have severed

      you from other people that ye shall me mine."

 

      "These well known passages," he observes, "explain why it is impossible from the traditional viewpoint, to separate the idea of chosenness, of a 'treasure nation,' from the concept of the covenant and the observance of Jewish religious law and how false it is to relate these religious paradigms to secular values. It is futile to transplant the biblical injunctions into a secular context and support this by referring to the prophets' 'universal' visions of social justice and peace among nations." [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 34-35]

 

     Rubenstein attributes the values of "human equality" to "Christian monotheism" and the French revolution. [RUBENSTEIN, A., p. 36]

 

     Another Israeli, Bernard Avishai, notes that left-wing Israelis "cringe when they hear the same people ["Jewish American intellectuals"] talk about 'Jewish ethical vocation' or, worse, lecture Israelis about how Judaism mandates a peculiarly open-spirited morality, a sense of history." [AVISHAI, B., p. 350] As Stuart Svonkin notes:

      "The work of Jewish historians clearly demonstrates that there are few discernible       connections between the premodern Jewish tradition and modern ideals of social
      justice. The liberal universal precepts that [the likes of former Anti-Defamation
      League head Benjamin] Epstein enumerated bear little relation to historical Judaism;
      their provenance is much more recent ... These renovated, if mythic, 'Jewish precepts'
      -- clearly dehistoricized and largely secularized -- closely corresponded with the basic       tenets of postwar American liberalism. The ADL's intergroup relations program was
      thus predicated on the assertion -- historically inaccurate but rhetorically powerful
      -- that the same 'concepts of dmocracy' informed both Judaism and the 'American creed'      of liberty and equality." [SVONKIN, S., 1997, p. 20]

 

      In Israel, a society for Jews and controlled by Jews, there is no need for universalizing apologetics over the essence of traditional Judaism. Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen note that

 

      "Many leftist secularists see Judaism as so inimical to liberal values that

       they have severed their own ties with it. Whereas their predecessors

       held that one could be a humanist socialist and be Jewishly committed

       at the same time, intellectuals in this new circle are in effect walking away

       from the battle over the political meaning of Judaism. They view Judaism

       as so thoroughly conservative, nationalistic and particularistic that it

       cannot be reformed. In this view the only hope for the Israeli liberal is

       the disestablishment of Judaism." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 118]

 

      In 1996 American-born Israeli Ze'ev Chafets noted how troubled he was at what he discovered to be powerful expressions of traditional Judaism in the Jewish state:

 

       "Rabbi Meir Kahane began preaching that Arabs are dogs and the

       penalty for a Muslim man marrying a Jewish woman should be

       death," Rabbi Yitzhak Peretz "said a schoolbus full of kids was

       hit by a train because God was angry that the movie theatre in their

       town was open on Friday nights," the Lubavitcher Rebbe [rabbi]

       "allowed his followers to declare him the Messiah," Rabbi Yitzhak

       Kadouri, "the world's greatest kabbalist ... put a hex on a Jerusalem

       office building that blocked his view," Rabbi Dov Lior "declared it

       kosher to kill gentile women and children in wartime," Rabbi Nahum

       Rabinovich "advocated scattering land mines to prevent Israeli soldiers

       from carrying out orders in the West Bank," "20,000 yeshivah boys

       gathered to stone and threaten Israeli archeologists," Rabbi Moshe

       Maya "arose in the Knesset and said that the halakhic penalty for

       homosexuality is death," Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, "universally considered

       one of the great Torah sages of the age, was quoted as ruling that

       the faithful should refuse transfusions from gentiles and nonobservant

       Jews because they have dangerously treif  blood which might cause all

       manner of un-Jewish behavior," Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu believes

       that "Jewish blood is inherently pure and therefore incapable of defiling

       Jewish recipients." [CHAFETS, Z., 1996, p. 18]

 

     "Real Torah Judaism," concludes Chafets, with sarcasm for the Orthodox, "is a scientifically based doctrine of racial purity. Jews have one, superior, kind of blood, the rest of humanity has another ... [My rabbi in Michigan] was probably ashamed to tell the truth." [CHAFETS, Z., 1996, p. 18]

 

     The origin of this divide between "particularist" and "universalist" Jews is to be found in the 19th century, in the wake of the Enlightenment and the emergence of European Jews from their isolationist ghettos. "Rationalism, modernism, and emancipation," notes R. J. Zwi Wroblowsky, "made the notion of a chosen people increasingly problematical." [WERBLOWSKY, p. 158] Religious reformers in Germany sought to "redefine Judaism to fit Protestant categories." This new Reform Judaism, says Charles Silberman, "expurgated ... aspects of Judaism ... to make worship in the synagogue resemble Protestant services as much as possible." [SILBERMAN, p. 38] "In general, [Reform Judaism] gave Jewish religion a distinctly gentile tinge." [PATAI, R., 1971, p. 304] "Orthodox Jews naturally expressed their horror at the progressive Christianization of the synagogue," says Walter Laqueur, "for this, not to mince words, is what it amounted to." [LAQUEUR, p. 17] In 1884, Orthodox Jews even sued a Reform temple in Charleston, South Carolina, for introducing an organ into the synagogue, "a desecration of the Jewish ritual." [GOLDEN, H., 1973, p. 6] Theology shifted in "Reform Judaism" too. In 1869, for example, a Philadelphia conference of Reform-minded rabbis formally de-emphasized the more literal aspects of the old chosen people concept, refocusing on "the unity of all rational creatures." [LIPSET/RAAB, p. 59]

     Even a strand of Orthodox Judaism in America -- commonly termed "Modern Judaism" -- in earlier years did play down some of its segregationist and anti-universalistic tenets. But, as Jack Wertheimer noted in 1993,

     "Few Orthodox spokesmen any longer articulate the undergirding assumptions
     of Modern Orthodoxy, namely, that a synthesis of traditional Judaism and modern

     Western culture is not only feasible but desirable. The thought of the leading
      ideologue of modern Orthodoxy in the nineteenth century, Rabbi Samson
      Hirsch, is now reinterpreted by his disciples as having urged Torah im
      Derekh Eretz
, a synthesis of traditional Judaism and Western culture, as
      merely a temporary solution to the pressing needs of the day; now, it is
      argued, such a goal is no longer desirable ...[WERTHEIMER, J., 1993, p. 127]   
      Virtually all contemporary gedolim (recognized rabbinical authorities
      within the Orthodox world) identify with right-wing Orthodoxy, and their
      views are rarely challenged." [WERTHEIMER, J., 1993, p. 128]

     Jewish thinkers, particularly in the Reform world, says Richard L. Rubenstein, sought "to assert the priority of those elements of the Torah which seemed to remain relevant and defensible in their own times. [T]hey tended to distinguish between the spirit of the Torah and its frequently embarrassing letter by emphasizing the abiding relevance of the moral elements of the Torah." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 236]  "The idea," says Michael Meyer, "that pure religious faith is essentially moral rapidly became the theoretical basis and practical operative principle of the Reform movement." [RUBENSTEIN, p. 337]

 

     With the Reform movement came Jewish efforts to distance enlightened, modern Jewry from their rabbinically archaic and cloistered pasts. Also came the appropriation of the universalistic themes of Christian-based culture to make them "Jewish."  "Attempts have been made to link the Jewish propensity to identify with political activism and social justice to Judaism," note David Desser and Lester Friedman, "with specific exhortations in the Old Testament. Such attempts try to isolate precepts and commandments favoring social egalitarianism and universalism. This thesis ... has at best a tenuous explanatory capacity. In fact, Christianity would more likely have greater ties to secular liberalism ... Jewish cries for social justice did not arise until the 19th century, and there were precious few major political thinkers until this period." [DESSER, p.] "Some commentators," worry particularist Jewish scholars Seymour Lipset and Earl Raab, "want to believe that an intrinsic aspect of Jewish life consists of such universally benevolent 'Jewish social values' as equality, social justice, and world peace' ... By taking on a public orientation similar to Christian denominations, Judaism runs the danger of appearing more Americanized and less particularistic." [LIPSET/RAAB, p. 54]

 

     One of the most influential propagators of the notion of a universalistic Judaism (the basis for the popular western strain of Judaism called Reform) was Abraham Geiger. Geiger, an early nineteenth century theologian, claimed that "Judaism has proved itself a force outliving its peculiar nationality, and therefore may lay claim to special consideration." This "special consideration" is ultimately understood to be Jewish exceptionality in pan-human affairs, especially in -- but not limited to -- matters of morality and spirituality. But as modern scholar Joseph Blau observes about Geiger's above proclamation, "let us reflect for a moment on the paradoxical quality of this assertion. Geiger was saying that because Judaism had eliminated its own claim to a special character, it was entitled to a special character. Because particularism had been excised from Jewish religion, Judaism had a right to special status. He seems to be on the verge of replacing particularist Jewish nationalism by particularist Jewish religion." [BLAU, p. 49] In other words, Geiger, Reformed Judaism, and many of today's Jews (especially in America where Reform is so popular) have been shamed by the democratic, egalitarian, and universalistic impact of the Enlightenment and pan-human ideals of Christianity to exchange Jewish chauvinism for ... Jewish chauvinism!  Modern Jewry simply lifts Christian universalistic tenets and incongruously tacks them onto Jewish particularism, the particularism that early Christians (rebelling Jews) left in the first place. "It is curious to sit in a Reform or so-called Conservative American [Jewish] congregation," says Norman Cantor, "and listen to the rabbi sermonize about the equality between Jew and Christian, black and white. This is actually the universalizing message not of the talmudic rabbi, but of Rabbi Saul  [St. Paul of New Testament fame] who was beaten up and driven from the diaspora synagogues when he preached this leveling message." [CANTOR, p. 106]

 

    George L. Mosse notes the way particularist Judaism was contorted to be somehow universalized in turn-of-the-century Germany:

 

     "In 1910, Rabbi Cossman Werner of Munich castigated Jews

     who had been baptized into Christianity for committing a crime

     not merely against Judaism but above all against humanity itself.

     Such Jews opposed equal rights and hindered others in fighting

     for justice, for 'to be a Jew means to be human,' a statement

     which was greeted with thunderous applause. The argument

     against baptism was based not on Judaism as a revealed religion

     but on the religion of humanity." [MOSSE, G., 1985, p. 19]

 

     This curious universalistic message, heralded today in some form by so many modern Jews, is rendered transparently hollow and fundamentally incongruous in a Jewish context.  As Eric Kahler phrases it, in Orwellian double-think: "The substance of [Judaism's] particularism is universality." [KAHLER, E., 1967, p. 11] "True universalism, according to [one Jewish] school of thought," wrote Lothar Kahn, "can't occur without each human family contributing its individuality to the whole race of men. The Jew can best become a Frenchman or German -- a citizen of the world -- by perfecting the Jewishness in him." [KAHN, L., 1961, p. 30] Or take Will Herberg's typical Jewish view of it all:

 

     "Jewish particularism, because it transcends every national and cultural

      boundary, becomes, strangely enough a vehicle and witness to

     universalism. [HERBERG, p. 276]

 

      In other words, at root here, Herberg simply asserts that because Jews extend their allegiance to each other wherever they are in the world, this is "universalism." E.L. Goldstein notes the Jewish reluctance to relinquish the racial foundation of Jewish identity, even in the invention of a "universalistic" Reform Judaism in the 19th century:

 

     "It was not uncommon for a rabbi to make bold pronouncements about

     his desire for a universalistic society and then, in moments of frustration

     or doubt, revert to a racial understanding of the Jews ... While willing

     to stretch the definition of Judaism to its limits, it was clear that most

     Reformers were not willing to break the historical continuity of the

     Jewish 'race.' Even Solomon Schindler ... one of the most radical of

     Reform rabbis, felt compelled to acknowledge the racial aspect of

     Jewish identity. Despite the high universal task of Judaism, wrote

     Schindler, 'it remains a fact that we spring from a different branch of

     humanity, that different blood flows in our veins, that our temperament,

     our tastes, our humor is different from yours; that, in a word, we differ

     in our views and in our modes of thinking in many cases as much as

     we differ in our features.'" [MACDONALD, 1998, p. 157]

 

      "The tension between the universal and particular in Jewish life," observes Charles Liebman and Steven Cohen about much Jewish commentary today, "is a favorite theme of Jewish commentators, both scholarly and popular ... They in effect lead their audiences in cheering the uniqueness of American Jewry, portraying it as the one American religious or ethnic group that combines a passionate concern for itself with an almost equally passionate concern for others." [LIEBMAN/COHEN, p. 28] Louis Jacobs, in an apologetic, note s the endemic Jewish universalist/particularist identity incompatability:

      "The question of universalism in Judaism is, and is bound to be, an extremely
       complicated one. The God Jews worship is the Creator of the whole world
       and of all peoples yet Jews believe that they are the Chosen People, however
       the latter concept is understood. The balance between universalism and
       particularism has always been difficult for Jews to achieve ... It is all
       really a matter of where the emphasis is to be placed and there have been
       varying emphases in this matter throughout the history of Judaism. Some
       Jews have spoken as if God's chief, if not total, interest, so to speak, is
       with 'His' people. Others, especially in modern times, have gone to the
       opposite extreme, preferring to stress universalism to the extent of
       watering down the doctrine of particularism to render it a vague notion
       of loyalty to a tradition in which the universalism had first emerged.
       Few Jews will fail to admit that there are tensions between the two
       doctrines." [JACOBS, L., 1995, p. 576-577]

 

     Popular Jewish author Cynthia Ozick can, on one hand, claim that "Jewish universalism emphasizes that the God of Israel is also the God of mankind-in-general" and yet conclude the same article with an appeal to fellow Jews to be more self-absorbed as Jews: "If we blow into the narrow end of the shofar [a ram horn, used as an instrument to herald traditional religious practice] we will be heard far. But if we choose to be Mankind rather than Jewish and blow into the wider part, we will not be heard at all; for us America will have been in vain." [OZICK, C., p. 34]

 

    This implicit contradiction in a "universalist"-"particularist" Judaism is not lost to some young Jews who see through such illusory thinking. In a book about Jewish identity, one Jewish interviewee notes that "Judaism is very insular, it doesn't happily bring people in, so if you're supposed to be setting an example yet you keep everyone out, that's contradictory." [KLEIN, E. p. 191]

 

     And this thinly disguised attitude of enduring Jewish superiority always leaves the ideological door ajar for Jews to easily turn back to Jewish Orthodoxy and its seminal "particularism" of religious antiquity, or simply convert it in secular terms to modern Zionism. By the end of the twentieth century, with the modern state of Israel, we are seeing this happening.  Most of those who call themselves Jews have a significant degree of loyalty to Israel. And Jewish Orthodoxy is in fact growing in America and often entwining with its secular Chosen People offshoot, Zionism. The idea of being divinely endowed is a powerful attraction. One study notes that about a quarter of all Orthodox Jews in America today were new (i.e., "returned") to Orthodoxy. The current growth in Orthodox adherents is the first since the eighteenth century Enlightenment. "The Haredim [ultra-orthodox]," says Robert Wistrich, "are the fastest growing segment in contemporary Jewry." [WISTRICH, TERMS, p. 5]  "Institutionally and demographically," noted Jonathan Sacks in 1993, "the strongest and most rapidly growing group in the contemporary Jewish world is Orthodox Jewry." [SACKS, J., p. 138]

 

     How profoundly this paradoxical "particularism" (i.e., chauvinism)  is ingrained in the Jewish consciousness is evidenced even in leftist political organizations that are supposed to be founded upon notions of universality, egalitarianism, and pan-human solidarity. In the years leading up to the Russian communist revolution in the early twentieth century, the undying obsession by most Russian Jews for themselves -- distinct from many Russian leftists  around them -- often manifest itself in ethnocentric political expressions. Many Jews of Russia and Poland congregated towards their own socialist movement called the Bund. Much to the aggravation of communist party leader V. I.  Lenin and his universalistic Bolshevik movement, the Bund's version of leftism insisted upon -- even within the context of the existing nation state of Russia -- special Jewish national rights beyond those civil. [AGUS, p. 164]

 

     "It was not enough for the Bund," says Heinz-Dietrich Lowe, "to shift ... from Russian to Yiddish in its agitational programme, it had to develop a fully fledged national programme which demanded cultural autonomy for the Jews of the Russian empire." [LOWE, p. 171] When non-Jews began rioting in Russia against Jewish exclusionism and commercial exploitation in the late 1800s, "the Bund ... used these pogroms as an opportunity to intensify its economic activities and further its political aims." [LOWE, p. 171] "[The Bund's] leaders," says Joseph Marcus, "consistently conducted a class-conscious policy, ostensibly in the interests of the whole working class, but actually confined to its Jewish members." [MARCUS, p. 211]

 

    While the Bund had a large following in Eastern Europe, notes Shmuel Ettinger,

 

      "at the same time, the Zionist Federation, which was also being formed

      by Russian Jews, stimulated the [Jewish] nationalist trends ... Among

      Jewish political subgroups the Socialist Zionist Party demanded that

      a Jewish society, socialist in principle, be established in a special

      territory to be set aside for the Jews; the Jewish Socialist Party, the

      'Seymists,' demanded a superior leadership institution, 'Sejm,' for

      every one of the nations which belonged to the Federation of Russia;

      the 'Peoples' Party' (Folkspartey), led by historian Simon Dubnov,

      demanded a large measure of autonomy for the Jews within the

      framework of the Russian state ... Many Jews also played a part

      in organizing the general Russian political parties." [ETTINGER, 1984,

      p. 9]

 

     Across time and culture, even in the context of the supposed multiculturalist and egalitarian American New Left movement of the 1960's, Jews collectively tended to perceive themselves with special distinction. As  Arthur Liebman noted:

 

      "[Gentile intellectuals] really are not totally accepted into even the

      secularist humanist liberal company of their quondam Jewish friends.

      Jews continue to insist in indirect and often inexplicable ways on their

      own uniqueness. Jewish universalism in relations between Jews and

      non-Jews has an empty ring ... Still, we have the anomaly of Jewish

      secularists and atheists writing their own prayer books. We find

      Jewish political reformers ... ostensibly pressing for universalist

      political goals -- while organizing their own political clubs which are

      so Jewish in style and manner that non-Jews often feel unwelcome."

      [LIEBMAN, in MACDONALD, p. 158]

 

      Jews have a long history of leftist political advocacy, agitation against any status quo of Christian empowerment, and profoundly disproportionate percentages of leadership roles in groups that ostensibly espouse pan-human, universalist themes.  With massive Jewish escape from the working class in America, Nathan Glazer and Patrick Moynihan noted in 1963 that "the unions are increasingly less Jewish [but] Jewish labor leaders continue to dominate, even though they deal for the most part with non-Jewish workers." [GLAZER/MOYNIHAN, p. 144-145] "In America and Europe," says Barry Rubin, "the left was so heavily Jewish as to be virtually a communal activity in itself, especially in the 1930's ... Marxist intellectuals in those years were heavily Jewish in composition and profoundly Jewish in their thinking ... [Its pre-eminent leaders] were all born into highly assimilated, wealthy families..." [RUBIN, B., p. 147]  Reflecting on the collapse of the leftist movement in America, Harold Cruse, an African-American intellectual and former communist, complained that

 

      "The Jews could not [Americanize Marxism] with the nationalist- 

      aggressiveness emerging out of East Side ghettoes to demonstrate

      through Marxism their intellectual superiority over the Anglo-Saxon

      goyim. The Jews failed to make Marxism applicable to anything in

      America but their own national-group ambition or individual self-

      election." [LIEBMAN, A., p. 529]

 

     In 1982 a Jewish author noted a similar quote by a Gentile communist activist from Wisconsin:

 

     "It became increasingly apparent to most participants [at a communist

      youth conference] that virtually all the speakers were Jewish New

      Yorkers. Speakers with thick New York accents would identify

      themselves as 'the delegate from the Lower East Side' or 'the comrade

      from Brownsville.' Finally the national leadership called a recess to

      discuss what was becoming an embarassment. How could a

      supposedly national student organization be so totally dominated by

      New York Jews? ... The convention was held in Wisconsin." [in

      MACDONALD, 1998, p. 72]

     "The problem arose," says Arthur Liebman,
     
     "to the means to accomplish the objective of Americanizing what was an essentially
      Jewish and European socialist movement ... [LIEBMAN, A., 1986, p. 340] ...
      The disproportionate presence of Jews and the foreign born generally in
      the socialist movement coupled with the relative absence of non-Jews and
      native Americans troubled many of its leaders, Jews and non-Jews alike.
      The Communist party, for example, in the 1920s was made up almost
      entirely of Jews and foreign born, most of whom were in foreign language
      federations. The Jews alone in the 1930s and 1940s accounted for approximately
      40 to 50 percent of the membership of the Communist party." [LIEBMAN, A.,|
      1986, p. 339]

       Nathaniel Weyl notes that:

 

     "Although Communist leaders were normally taciturn about the extent

     to which Party membership was Jewish, Jack Stachel complained in

     The Communist for April 1929 that in Los Angeles 'practically 90 per

     cent of the membership is Jewish.' In 1945, John Williamson, another

     national leader of the American Communist Party, observed that, while

     a seventh of Party membership was concentrated in Brooklyn, it

     was not the working-class districts, but in Brownsville, Williamsburg,

     Coney Island and Bensonhurst, which he characterized 'as primarily

     Jewish American communities.' In 1951, the same complaint about

     Brooklyn was reiterated. A 1938 breakdown of Communist educational

     directors on a district level reported that 17 out of 34 were Jewish and

     only nine 'American' ... Based on scrutiny of surnames, Glazer concluded

     that all of the 'Rank and File' (Communist) teachers placed on trial by

     the Teachers Union in 1932 were Jewish." [WEYL, N., 1968, p. 118-119]

    "The popular association of Jews with Communism," notes Peter Novick, "dated from the Bolshevik Revolution. Most of the 'alien agitators' deported from the United States during the Red Scare after World War I had been Jews." [NOVICK, P., 1999, p. 92] Major American twentieth century court trials included those of Charles Schenck, general secretary of the Socialist Party, who was arrested for sedition in 1919: "The case marked the first time the Supreme Court ruled on the extent to which the U.S. government may limit speech." [KNAPPMAN, E., 1995, p. 61, 60] Likewise, in 1927 the Supreme Court "upheld the conviction of Socialist Benjamin Gitlow under a New York state law for advocating criminal anarchy." [KNAPPMAN, E., 1995, p. 63]
     

    Peter Pulzer once noted that, in the German socialist ranks of the early 20th century, "Their [Jews'] disproportionately bourgeois origins and their tendency to derive their views from first principles rather than empirical experience, led them into a dominating position [in] the party's debates." [WEISBERGER, A., 1997, p. 93] Arthur Liebman notes the background to the Morris Hillquit's election to the American Socialist party chairmanship in 1932:

          "Hilquit, in turn, brought the unmentionable to the center stage in an emotional
      speech, declaring, 'I apologize for having been born abroad, for being a Jew, and
      living in New York City.'
           Hilquit's oblique reference to anti-Semitism assured him of victory. As Thomas
      [Hilquit's opponent for the chairmanship] later commented, 'Once the anti-
      Semitic issue was raised, even though unjustly, I was inclined to think it
      best that Hillquit won.' The Socialist party did not want to risk being labeled
      anti-Semitic." [LIEBMAN, A., 1986, p. 341]

 

     Some estimates suggest that 60% of the leadership for the 60s-era radical SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) were Jews (well-known radicals included Kathy Boudin, Bettina Aptheker, among many others). [PRAGER, p. 61]  From 1960 to 1970, five of the nine changing presidents of the organization were Jewish males (Al Haber, Todd Gitlin, and the last three for the decade: Mike Spiegel, Mike Klonsky, and Mark Rudd). [SALE, K., 1973, p. 663] "Perhaps fully 50 percent of the revolutionary Students for a Democratic Society," says Milton Plesur, "and as many as 50 to 75 percent of those in campus radical activities in the late 1960s were Jewish." [PLESUR, M., 1982, p. 137] As Stanley Rothman and S. Robert Lichter note:

          "The early SDS was heavily Jewish in both its leadership and its activist cadres.
     Key SDS leaders included Richard Flacks, who played an important role
     in its formation and growth, as well as Al Haber, Robb Ross, Steve Max,
     Mike Spiegel, Mike Klonsky, Todd Gitlin, Mark Rudd, and others. Indeed,
     for the first few years, SDS was largely funded by the League for
     Industrial Democracy, a heavily Jewish socialist (but anti-communist)
     organization.
          SDS's early successes were at elite universities containing substantial
     numbers of Jewish students and sympathetic Jewish faculty, including
     the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Brandeis, Oberlin, and the
     University of California. At Berkeley SDS leaders were not unaware
     of their roots. As Robb Ross put it, describing the situation at the
     Unversity of Wisconsin in the early 1960s, '... my impression is
     that the left at Madison is not just a new left, but a revival of the old ...
     with all the problems that entails. I am struck by the lack of
     Wisconsin-born people [in the Madison-area left] and the massive
     preponderance of New York Jews. The situation at the University
     of Minnesota is similar' ... [Researcher] Berns and his associates
     found that 83 percent of a small radical activist sample studied at
     the University of California in the early 1970s were of Jewish
     background." [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 61]

     Susan Stern was among those to turn to the violent Weatherman underground organization. Ted Gold, another Weatherman member, died when a bomb he was making exploded in his hands. [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 61] In an iconic 1970 incident, three of the four students shot and killed by National Guardsmen at a famous Kent State University demonstration were Jewish. [BYARD, K., 5-5-00]

     A study by Joseph Adelson at the University of Michigan, one of the American hotbeds of 1960s-era activism, suggested that 90% of those defined as politically "radical students" at that school were Jews. [PRAGER, p. 61, 66] And, "when, for instance, the Queens College SDS held a sit-in at an induction center several years ago," wrote Gabriel Ende, "they chose to sing Christmas carols to dramatize their activity, although the chairman and almost all of the members were Jewish." [ENDE, G., 1971, p. 61]

    Ronald Radosh notes that

     "In elite institutions like the University of Chicago, a large 63 percent of student
     radicals were Jewish; Tom Hayden may have been the most famous name in
     the University of Michigan SDS, but '90 percent of the student left [in that school]
     came from jewish backgrounds;' and nationally, 60 percent of SDS members
     were Jewish. As my once-friend Paul Breines wrote about my own alma
     mater
the University of Wisconsin, 'the real yeast in the whole scene had been
     the New York Jewish students in Wisconsin' ... As late as 1946, one-third
     of America's Jews held a favorable view of the Soviet Union." [RADOSH, R.,
     6-5-01]

     Decades earlier, note Rothman and Lichter:

    "The American Student Union, the most prominent radical student group
     during the 1930s, was heavily concentrated in New York colleges and
     universities with large Jewish enrollments. And on other campuses,
     such as the University of Illinois, substantial portions of its limited
     membership were students of Jewish background from New York
     City." [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 101]

      In communist organizations that supposedly idealized a classless society for all people, it inevitably grated with enduring Jewish self-perception: Jews often tended to configure as a special caste of controllers of -- not a religious, but now -- a secular messianism. As Jeff Schatz notes about pre-World War II Poland: "Despite the fact that [communist] party authorities consciously strove to promote classically proletarian and ethnically Polish members to the cadres of leaders and functionaries, Jewish communists formed 54 percent of the field leadership of the KPP [Polish Communist Party] in 1935. Moreover, Jews constituted a total of 75 percent of the party's technica, the apparatus for production and distribution of propaganda material. Finally, communists of Jewish origin occupied most of the seats of the Central Committee of the of the KPPP [Communists Workers Party of Poland] and the KPP." [SCHATZ, p. 97] Jews were at this time 10% of the Polish population.

 

     In Russia, notes Shmuel Ettinger,

 

     "when the Russian Social Democratic Party split into two factions --

     Bolsheviks and Mensheviks -- both factions had many Jews in

     their leaderships (such as Boris Axelrod, Yuly Martov, Lev Trotsky,

     Grigory Zinoviev, and Lev Kamenov) and among their most active

     party members. Many Jews also played a part in the foundations and

     leadership of the party ... For example, Mikhail Gots was one of the

     party's main thereoticians and Grigory Gershuni was the leader of

     its fighting organization, which carried out terrorist acts against the

     Tsarist regime." [ETTINGER, p. 9]

 

      Earlier in Russia, notes Leon Schapiro, "a particularly important part was played by [Jewish revolutionary Aaron] Zundelovich, who in 1872 had formed a revolutionary circle mainly among students at the state-sponsored rabbinical school, at Vilna." [SCHAPIRO, L., 1961, p. 153]

 

     Also, notes Albert Lindemann, "it seems beyond serious debate that in the first twenty years of the Bolshevik Party the top ten to twenty leaders included close to a majority of Jews. Of the seven 'major figures' listed in The Makers of the Russian Revolution, four are of Jewish origin." [LINDEMANN, p. 429-430]  Among the most important Jewish communists were the aforementioned Trotsky (originally Lev Davidovich Bronstein) and Grigori Yevseyevich Zinoviev ("Lenin's closest associate in the war years"). Lev Borisovich Kamenev (Rosenfeld) headed the party newspaper, Pravda. Adolf Yoffe was head of the Revolutionary Military Committee of the Petrograd Bolshevik Party in 1917-18. Moisei Solomonovich, head of the secret police in Petrograd, was known by some as the epitome of "Jewish terror against the Russian people." [LINDEMANN, p. 431] 

 

    In Hungary, notes Jewish scholar Howard Sachar, "for 135 days [in 1919], Hungary was ruled by a Communist dictatorship. Its party boss, Bela Kun, was a Jew. So were 31 of the 49 commissars in Kun's regime." [SACHAR, H., 1985, p. 339]

During that time, note Jewish scholars Stanley Rothman and S. Robert Lichter, Jews also represented

     "most managers of the forty-eight People's Commissars in his
     revolutionary government. Most managers of the new state farms were
     Jewish, as were the bureau chiefs of the Central Administration and the
     leading olice officers. Overall, of 202 high officials in the Kun government,
     161 were Jewish. Jews remained active in the Communist party during
     the Horthy regime of 1920-44, dominating its leadership. Again,
     most were from established, midle-class (or, at worst, lower-middle-
     class) backgrounds. Hardly any were proletarians or peasants. Most
     of the Hungarian Jewish community was massacred during World
     War II ... Nonetheless, the leading cadres of the Communist party in
     the postwar period were Jews, who completely dominated the regime until
     1952-53 ... The wags of Budapest explained the presence of a lone
     gentile in the party leadership on the grounds that a 'goy' was
     needed to turn on the lights on Saturday." [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982,
     p. 89]


      "In Lithuania," add Rothman and Lichter,

      "about 54 percent of the [Communist] party cadres were Jewish. Salonika
      Jewry played a major role in the foundation of Greek Communist party and
      remained prominent until the early 1940s. Similar patterns prevailed in Rumania and       Czechoslovakia. Jews played quite prominent roles in the top and second echelon       leadership of the communist regimes in all of these countries in the immediate
      postwar period. Theywere often associated with Stalinist policies and were
      strongly represented in the secret police. In Poland, for example, three of the
      five members of the original Politburo were Jewish. A fourth, Wladyslaw Gomulka,
      was married to a woman of Jewish background. In both Rumania and Czechoslovakia,
      at least two of the four key figures in the Communist party were of Jewish background."       [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 90]

    In Canada, in the 1940s, the Jewish head of the Communist Party in Montreal, Harry Binder, estimated that 70% of the Communist Party membership in his city were Jewish. In Toronto, from a Jewish population of 50,000, about 30% of the formal members of the local Communist community were believed to be Jews, not including those who had looser ties to the organization. [PARIS, E., 1980, p. 145]

 

     David Biale notes Jewish pre-eminence among the communists of South Africa:

 

     "The fact that they were outsiders to the main elements of white South

     African society -- British and Afrikaner -- undoubtedly made them more

     likely to rebel against the existing order. It was the explosive combination

     of Communist ideology as a kind of substitute for religion and the Jews'

     marginal status that probably turned these Jews into such a prevalent

     presence on the South African left." [BIALE, D., MARCH/APRIL 2000,

     p. 63-64]

     "Jews of Polish background played an important role in the founding of the Cuban communist party," note Rothman and Lichter, "and there are scattered indications of their significance in left-wing parties and groups in other Latin American countries. Jews were also prominent in the formation of Communist parties in various North African countries." [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 90-91]

 

     Even in 1930's pre-Nazi Germany, the Communist Party's top two leaders -- Rosa Luxemberg and Paul Levi -- were Jewish. (Hannah Arendt notes that Luxemberg was a member of a "Polish-Jewish 'peer group,'" which was a "carefully hidden attachment to the Polish party which sprang from it.") [ARENDT, 1968, p. 40] Earlier, in the wake of World War I, another Jewish radical, Kurt Eisner, proclaimed a socialist republic in Bavaria. Upon his assassination, Eisner's government was replaced by another socialist one -- that of president Ernst Toller (also Jewish). Erich Muehsam and Gustav Landauer were other Jews in high positions in the government. [PAYNE, p. 124-125] Next came a Communist coup to oust the socialist regime. As John Cornwell describes it, "After a week or two of outlandish misrule, on April 12 [1919] a reign of terror ensued under the red revolutionary trio of Max Levien, Eugen Levine, and Tonja Axelrod [also all Jewish] to hasten the dictatorship of the proletariat. The new regime kidnapped 'middle-class' hostages, throwing them into Stadeheim Prison. They shut down schools, imposed censorship, and requisitioned peoples' homes and possessions." [CORNWELL, p. 74] In Austria, in 1920, repeating the theme, "the socialist government was led by Friedrich Adler, Otto Bauer, Karl Seitz, Julius Deutsch and Hugo Breitner." [GROLLMAN, E., 1965, p. 117] "The Austrian Social Democrat party was founded by Victor Adler, a deracinated Jew from a well-known Prague Jewish family, and the party paper was edited by Friedrich Austerlitz, a Moravian Jew. Other prominent Jews in the party leadership included Wilhelm Ellenbogen, Otto Bauer, Robert Dannenberg, and Max Adler." [ROTHMAN/LICHTER, 1982, p. 88]

 

     'The list of leading socialists [in Germany] of Jewish origin is long and illustrious," adds Adam Weisberger, "-- Eduard Bernstein, Rosa Luxemberg, Gustav Landauer, Kurt Eisner, Paul Singer, Hugo Haase -- to mention some of the most prominent among them." [WEISBERG, A., 1997, p. 2]

 

     As George Mosse notes:

 

     "Jews were highly visible in many of the postwar [World War I]

      revolutions, not only in Bolshevik Russia but also in Budapest,

      Munich, and Berlin. During the postwar crisis, belief in Jewish

      conspiracies and subversive activity was not just a curious notion

      held by professed haters of Jews; in 1918, even Winston Churchill

      associated Jews with the Bolshevik conspiracy." [MOSSE, G., 1985,

      p. 68-69]

[Other chapters will deal with the important role of Jews in the communist movement more extensively. If interested now, here are three links to excerpts about Jewish pre-eminence in Russian and other Eastern European communism, Jews in the Polish communist system, and Jewish communist spies in America]

 

     For those who even know about such a past, Jewish historiography these days tends to assert that communist and socialist Jews, in Russia and everywhere else, did not have any interest in a Jewish identity. This position asserts that such Jewish communist involvement was an investment in a secular universalism that leaves behind the traditional Jewish collectivist identity. In explaining away why so many Jews were secret police terrorists under the communist regime in Eastern Europe [see above links], Jewish author Michael Checinski writes that

 

    "They were, for better or worse, considered less susceptible to the

    lures of 'Polish nationalism,' to which even impeccable Polish Communists  

    were not thought immune. It should be remembered that these Jews

    were of a particular type: there were few veteran Communists among

    them, as their victims would be former KPP members and other

    left-wingers, and Moscow was taking no chances with sentimental

    ties of comradeship cramping their style as guardians of political

    'purity.' Many of them had not only sadistic inclinations but also

    various grudges against their future victims, both Polish and Jewish.

    Indeed, it is significant that there were no traces of 'Jewish

    solidarity' among the staff of the Tenth Department. On the

    contrary, they represented a distorted conception of 'internationalism,'

    which could be described as 'Jewish anti-Semitism.'" [CHECINSKI,

    M., 1982, p. 71-72]

 

    This is a common Jewish apologetic tact today, to explain away the Jewish  identities of so many communist terrorists by proclaiming that they had no connective identity with others in their work circles. Even here, Jewish consensus proclaims, even as Jews murdered others, Jews remain victims of anti-Semitism. [Much more about this in future chapters]

 

     But as Kevin MacDonald suggests, "surface declarations of a lack of Jewish identity may be highly misleading ... There is good evidence for widespread self-deception about Jewish identity among Jewish radicals ... [Bolshevism] was a government that aggressively attempted to destroy all vestiges of Christianity as a socially unifying force within the Soviet Union while at the same time it established a secular Jewish subculture." [MACDONALD, 1998, p. 60]

     Arthur Liebman notes this phenomenon in "the flood of Yiddish-speaking Jews" to America in the early years of the twentieth century:

     "These new Jews were too large a constituency to be kept separate from the
      Socialist party for the length of time ncessary to accept the arguments of the
      sophisticated Marxist cosmopolitan Jews. If these masses of Jews who valued
      their Jewish identity and language would come to socialism through a speical
      Jewish organization, then the Socialists decided they would have it. The Jewish
      Socialist Federation was officially recognized by the Socialist party in 1912."
      [LIEBMAN, A., 1986, p. 339]

 

     As Jewish author John Sack notes about the many officials of Jewish origin in Poland after World War II who headed the repressive communist secret police system:

 

      "I'd interviewed twenty-three Jews who'd been in the Office [of State

      Security], and one, just one, had considered himself a communist in

      1945. He and the others had gone to Jewish schools, studied the

      Torah, had been bar-mitzvahed, sometimes wore payes ... By whose

      definition weren't they Jews? Not by the Talmud's, certainly not by

      the government of Israel's or the government of Nazi Germany's."

      [PIOTROWSKI, p. 63]

 

     Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz puts her Jewish identity in a socialist context this way:

 

       "Out of nowhere pops a question, 'If you don't care about being

     Jewish, how come all your friends are Jews?'

        Vivian ... thinks about being Jewish on the toilet and in her

     sleep, as well as every other moment of the day or night.

        'I live in New York,' I snap, and we both burst out laughing.

     Mentally I flip through my friends for a non-Jew. Nothing.

        She shakes her head. 'You're such a Jew. How come you

     don't know this about yourself?'

        ... My parents never thought about it either, it was who they

     were. In Vilna they were Jews and socialists, and when they came

     here they were still Jews and socialists. They lived among other

     Jews. Everyone spoke Jewish. What was there to think? It was

     like air, they breathed it. There was Jewish everything. My parents

     would argue who you could trust less, communists or Democrats,

     anarchists they never worried about. All Jewish. Orthodox,

     secular. Owners, bosses, workers. Doctors, teachers, salesclerks,

     writers, dancers, peddlers, you name it. All Jewish. Movies. Gossip

     columns. Like I said, you breathed it." [KAYE-KANTROWITZ,

     1990, p. 188]

 

      Jewish author Anne Roiphe, today an ardent supporter of Israel, addresses the same theme:

 

      "I can say I was a Marxist before I was old enough to know history,

      and afterward a liberal, a Leftist, a woman of the people with the people,

      but finally I must own to the hypocrisy. I see certain unwelcome

      contradictions." [ROLPHE, 1981, p. 113]

 

     Rolphe's first hypocrisy was that she was born to wealth: "I am the product of the [economic] wits of my grandfather." [ROLPHE, 1981, p. 113] And despite an identity as a Marxist, Leftist, liberal, or whatever else she thought she was, Rolphe inevitably was drawn back to "this odd mystical connection to the Jewish peoplehood, " [ROLPHE, 1981, p. 182] writing an entire volume about it (subtitled A Jewish Journey in Christian America). "I thought," she wrote, "that ... I had asserted my ego as separate from the forced march of Jewish history ... I had thought I had cut out the roots of the tree that was causing too much shade in my garden ... [but] the tree without roots had surprised me with its staying power." [ROIPHE, 1981, p. 180]

 

       Jewish communist Sam Carr was released from a Canadian prison in 1951 for spying for Russia. "Ironically," notes Erna Paris, "given the fact that he 'wasn't much of a Jew,' he did become the leader of the Unified Jewish People's Order after 1960." [PARIS, E., p. 176] In Argentina, Jewish publisher Jacobo Timerman was imprisoned by the ruling military junta in 1977. It was pointed out to him by his right-wing interrogators that he was a member of a "registered affiliate organization of the Communist Party" in his youth. Timerman denied that he joined it because of any interest in communism, but, rather, for how it could serve his other ideological interests: "I belonged to it as an anti-Fascist, a Jew, and a Zionist." [TIMERMAN, J., 1981, p. 116]

 

     "A number of Jewish socialists, particularly in the later stages of the [German] Wilhelhmine period," notes Adam Weisberger, "exhibited the phenomenon of returning to Judaism ... although admittedly often in secular or accentuated form. Joseph Bloch, for example, originally an ardent assimilationist and German nationalist, became perhaps the chief proponent of Zionism in the German socialist movement." [WEISBERGER, A., 1997, p. 98]

 

      In 1961, Jewish author Daniel Aaron criticized the shallow attachment many in radical movements really had to their left-wing postures: "Some writers joined or broke from the [Communist] Movement because of their wives, or for careerist reasons, or because they read their own inner disturbances into the realities of social dislocation. To put it another way, the subject matter of politics ... was often the vehicle for non-political emotions and compulsions." [WALD, p. 14]

 

    Sigmund Freud (although not a Marxist, his areligious work is often joined to Marxist theory) insisted that his psychological speculations applied to all people and tried to dismiss any evidence of his own special Jewish particularism. But he was always conflicted about it. As he once wrote about his connection to Jewish identity, "When I felt an inclination to [Jewish] national enthusiasm I strove to suppress it as being harmful and wrong, alarmed by the warning examples of the people among whom we Jews live. But plenty of other things remained to make the attraction of Jewry and Jews irresistible -- many obscure emotional forces, which were the more powerful the less they could be expressed in words, as well as a clear consciousness of inner identity, the safe privacy of a common mental connection." [ROIPHE, 1981, p. 180] (The clique that runs, and enforces, the psychoanalytic world, as we shall see later, remains overwhelmingly Jewish).

 

      Jewish messianic elitism in leftist "universalist" circles endures to this day. In 1992, Michael Lerner, prominent editor of the left-wing Jewish journal Tikkun, suggested remedies for curing anti-Semitism in leftist organizations. The cure? "Put[ting] self-affirming Jews in positions of leadership in your organizations" [LERNER, Socialism, p. 115] and indoctrination sessions to sensitize non-Jews to Jewish needs (Lerner's term is: "internal education programs.") 

 

     Erna Paris notes the history of Jewish communism in Canada:

 

    "Although the Jewish left claimed to be dedicated to perfect equality,

    it also gave full-blown expression to the strong velvet-gloved, ancient,

    patriarchal traditions of Judaism. If the ancestral prophets like Amos

    were the Fathers of Israel, so the men of UJPO [United Jewish

    People's Order: a 'Jewish' branch of communism] and the school of

    the Jewish labour movement were the 'Fathers' of the women and

    children in the movement. Without question, they were the new

    Hebrew prophets of a better world." [PARIS, E., p. 152]

 

     As Adam Weisberger notes this Jewish identity root in the profound historical influence of Jews in revolutionary communist and socialist movements that aimed to destroy the existing social order:

 

     "A messianic idea, derived from traditional Judaism, persisted through

     the process of secularization and entered into the groundwork of

     socialism ... Jewish socialists, even when they were estranged from

     Judaism and possessed little or no formal Jewish education, remained

     an essential part of the mission of those Jews who believed they had

     broken with tradition." [WEISBERGER, A., 1997, p. 112]

     "After being nurtured by a culture that saw itself superior by virtue of its special relationship with God," note Jewish authors Stanley Rothman and S. Robert Lichter,

     "many Jews must have experienced their contact with modern Europe
     [with the birth of the Enlightenment] as traumatic. It was difficult to
     think Jewish life superior to the achievements of European civilization
     once the protective mantle of the shtetl was no longer present. What
     better way to reestablish claims to superiority than by adopting the
     most 'advanced' social position of the larger society and viewing
     this adoption as a reflection of Jewish heritage? Thus many radical
     Jewish intellectuals were able to continue to assert Jewish
     superiority, even as they denied their Jewishness." [ROTHMAN/
     LICHTER, 1982, p. 121]

 

     Arnold Eisen, in a discussion of Leslie Fiedler (who started out as a socialist) and other well-known Jewish American "intellectuals," notes the transformative essence of Jewish identity from traditional Judaism to modern political movements: "Here the entire language of chosenness -- suffering, witness, mission, reciprocity, exclusivity, covenant, and even repudiation of Christianity and idol worship! -- has been appropriated and hollowed out in order to endow the Jewish intellectual with the role of prophet to his own community and the world." [EISEN, p. 136]  Salo Baron goes back further in time, but underscores the same Jewish identity foundation, which can, however incongruously, simultaneously straddle both "universalistic" communist movements and "particularist" Zionism:

 

     "Under one guise or another, even the antireligious movements in

      19th century Judaism were unable to cast off their messianic yearnings

      for an ultimate redemption of their people, or of mankind at large. The

      growing secularization of modern Jewry made the transition from

      religious messianism to political Zionism appear as but another link

      in that long chain of evolution." [BARON, 1964, p. 172]

 

    David Horowitz recalls what it was like growing up in a New York City household with his communist parents, an environment still founded upon the Jewish religious myths of redemption:

 

     "In the radical romance of our political lives, the world was said

     to have begun in innocence, but to have fallen afterwards under

     an evil spell, afflicting the lives of all with great suffering and

     injustice. According to our myth, a happy ending beckoned,

     however. Through the efforts of progressives like us, the spell  

     would one day be lifted, and mankind would be freed from its

     trials." [HOROWITZ, D., 1999, p. 284]

 

     Even the founder of Hadassah (the women's Zionist organization), Henrietta Szold, once wrote that "the world has not progressed beyond the need of Jewish instruction, but the Jew can be witness and a missionary only if he is permitted to interpret the lessons of Judaism as his peculiar nature and his peculiar discipline enable him to interpret them." [GAL, A., 1986, p. 371] How Zionism, the modern secular expression of traditional Jewish ethnocentrism, is supposed to "instruct the world that has not progressed beyond the need of Jewish instruction" is never explained. [Note Zionism's implicit racism and oppressive policies against non-Jews in the later chapter about Israel].

 

     With the erosion of the New Left in America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Israel's 1967 victory in its war with surrounding Arab states, distinctly Judeo-centric political configurations arose out of the Jewish universalistic left-wing community that, as Mordecai Chertoff notes, "affirm[ed] Zionism  ... and Judaism ... as socialists and radicals." [CHERTOFF, p. 192] Such organizations included the Jewish Student Movement, the Jewish Action Committee, Kadimah, the Jewish Student Union, the Maccabees, American Students for Israel, the World Union of Jewish Students, Na'aseh, Jews for Urban Justice, the New Jewish Committee, the Jewish Liberation Project, the Youth Commitee for Peace and Democracy in the Middle East, and the Committee for Social Justice in the Middle East. Such organizations produced between 20 and 40 periodicals with a combined circulation of over 300,000. [GLAZER, NEW p. 192-193]

 

     "The extreme radical groups of the New Left came out officially in favor of the Arabs," notes James Yaffe, "but it generally conceded that there was much opposition from Jews in those groups. 'Jewish kids in the Movement,' one of them told me, 'have a double standard on Israel. A non-Jewish leftist is much more likely to condemn Israel than a Jewish leftist." [YAFFE, J., 1968, p. 193]

 

      "There are still those [Jews] who are impressed," wrote Nathan Glazer in 1971, "by what seems to be the New Left concern for all of mankind, but more and more ... are discovering ... that there is a limit to the number of trumpets one can respond. [Jews] are responding, in greater numbers to their own." [GLAZER, p. 196] "How many times," complained anti-Vietnam War activist Gabriel Ende in the same year, "have committed Jews joined with others in Vietnam and student power rallies, only to have their erstwhile companions stab them in the back with boorish anti-Israel remarks on the morrow?" [ENDE, G., 1971, p. 59]

 

      Traditional Jewish tendency to cluster and control is likewise evidenced in the opposite political field -- American conservatism. Pat Buchanan -- the outspoken conservative newspaper columnist and former candidate for the President of the United States  (widely despised in Jewish circles as an "anti-Semite") -- has attacked the 'neo-conservative' movement of Irving Kristol and others (many Jewish), who Buchanon likens to "fleas who conclude they are steering the dog, their relationship to the [conservative] movement has always been parasitical." [SHAPIRO, Pat, p. 226]

 

      In more recent history, reflecting another popular angle of Jewish chauvinism under the guise of universalism (in a theme to be discussed at length later), Eli Weisel, the well-known semi-official spokesman for Jewish suffering in the Holocaust, wrote a formal report to the President of the United States about what the proposed $168 million United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC would be. While up to six million Jews were killed in the Nazi extermination programs (and over three times that number of non-Jews may have been killed, [MILLER, p. 253] depending upon how one defines "Holocaust," Weisel, true to Jewish particularist/univeralist form, noted that the museum would focus mainly on Jewish victims:

 

       "The Holocaust was the systematic bureaucratic extermination of six

        million Jews by the Nazis and their collaborators as a central act of state

        during the Second World War; as night descended, millions of other

        peoples were swept into this net of death ... The event is essentially

        Jewish, yet its interpretation is universal. The universality of the

        Holocaust lies in its [Jewish] uniqueness." [MILLER, p. 255]

 

     A poignant  -- and current -- example of this worldview is the aforementioned Michael Lerner, a man who has been provided precious moments in the national spotlight by an influential admirer, Hillary Clinton. Incredibly, Lerner frames American universalistic ideals themselves as oppressors of American Jewry. "Jews have been forced," complains Lerner," to choose between a loyalty to their own people and a loyalty to universal ideals." [LERNER, p. 5] What moral person of any faith or ethnicity is not "forced to choose" -- by his or her own conscience -- between what Lerner cannot openly state: selfish, exclusionist self-interest club interests versus sacrifice for the common good? That Lerner imagines only Jews have faced such a dilemma in the American -- or any -- context is but evidence of the blind depth of Judeo-centrism. Lerner is enraptured, overwhelmed, by his own sense of Jewishness. True to form, "it is [a] hidden vulnerability," insists Lerner, "that constitutes the uniqueness of Jewish oppression." [LERNER, p. 65]

 

     Leftist, rightist, Orthodox, atheist, or anything else, the origins of Jewish incessant, undying obsession with their "uniqueness," "exceptionality," "difference," "messianism," et al is to be found in the Judaic religious record. As Adam Garfinkle sees it:

 

       "The mission of Israel, as the Prophets defined it, is to spread

       monotheism and the moral code that flows from it around the world,

       but not to make everyone part of a great Israelite tribe. .... The Jews

       do not merge with the nations or convert them. They are, said Balaam,

       in Numbers 23:9, a people destined to live alone. Although Jewish ideas

       are universalistic, [?] traditional Jews see themselves in exclusionist

       terms, a self-perception that has caused endless confusion and

       resentment among non-Jews. Jewish apologists like to emphasize the

       special burdens of this role and point to the costs it has extracted on the

       Jewish people in history -- no doubt all true. But that does not change

       the basic fact, as even a casual reading of central Jewish texts show,

       that Jews have believed themselves special, closer to the Divine than

       other people." [GARFINKLE, p. 10]


Return to Contents Next: Chapter 3. Jews and Christianity