The Causes of Hostility Towards Jews: A Historical Overview, Pt. 2
"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. [...]
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] [...]
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] [...]
"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] [...]
"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] [...]
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] [...]
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]
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] [...]
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 ...
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] [...]
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]
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. [...] 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] [...]
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 who 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] was 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] [...]
"[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] [...]
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. [...]
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. [...]
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 implies that to investigate assertions of Jewish racism in its sacred works can only be the interest of a Nazi.
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