Friday, May 09, 2008

The ghosts of history

The Jewish writer AB Yehoshua tries to explain the roots of antisemitism in Azure magazine. He rejects all the explanations based on proximate historical causes and comes to the conclusion that anti-semitism is something eternal: it has existed from the most ancient of times. He concludes that neither the Inquisition, nor Islam, nor Hitler nor anyone else can claim the dubious credit of inventing it. It is a reaction to the Jew himself.

Yehoshua makes the argument that there is something about the Jewish archetype that evokes an unreasoning fear among those who, looking for something to dread, always find in this archetype the easiest thing to hate of all.

George Steiner characterized Jews as the permanent 'other'. In that role, according to Yehoshua "the purpose of the Jews is to be wanderers, eternal guardians of alienation and foreignness". As such they constitute a channel for self-destructive hatred; and act as a lightning rod for anyone casting around for someone to blame. They are the ghosts of history, and like all ghosts, evoke fear.

Perhaps the most prominent and astounding proof of the existence of this absurd dread is to be found in the words of Hitler himself, spoken on the eve of his suicide in his Berlin bunker as it was bombarded by the approaching Soviet army in 1945. “I had underestimated the power of Jewish domination over Churchill’s England,” he said to his companions.11 And at the conclusion of his political testament, he wrote: “Centuries will pass away, but out of the ruins of our towns and monuments the hatred against those finally responsible whom we have to thank for everything, international Jewry and its helpers, will grow.”

The greatest criminal in history, knowing precisely how vulnerable and weak the Jews were and how easy it was to murder six million of them with no danger of any real resistance, could still express fear of their power, even after the catastrophe he had wrought on that same wretched people; he could attribute his terrible defeat not to the Russians or the Allies but to none other than international Jewry, which was proven powerless to save its people from a massacre unequaled in human history.

Yehoshua stops just short propounding the idea that Jews are condemned to be born boogeymen, who through some mysterious property, unintentionally and inescapably evoke hatred toward them; a hatred which, more often than not, consumes the hater more than the hated so that even Hitler's destruction -- the anti-semite's destruction -- which in Hitler's case was caused by his own murderous madness somehow becomes also the Jew's fault.

It's a metaphysical idea bordering on absurdity which is saved from total disrepute only by the fact that it might just be true. The contemporary spectacle of Muslim world, blessed with a vast population and wealth, which instead of dedicating itself to science, cultural and economic advancement, is seemingly compelled by mysterious tides to devote itself to the destruction of the Jew; is proof of a kind of inexplicable madness which ironically and unnecessarily may bring catastrophe on Islam itself.

Despite Yehoshua's declared intention to explain anti-Semitism, we are still left, after reading the Azure article, with an empty handful of sand: a mystery. We are no further ahead than Indiana Jones, who at the conclusion of Raiders of the Lost Ark, witnesses the destruction of a company of Nazis by the Power of the Ark of the Covenant. The scene is a metaphor for anti-semitism; and it is up to the viewer to conclude whether the destruction of the Nazis was visited by the Guardians of the Ark or the hatred within the Nazis themselves. Maybe the best course is to leave articles like that of Yeshosua alone; to close our eyes like Indy and live out our lives in the light of day. The Ark of the Covenent holds no peril for those whose hearts are full of laughter.





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122 Comments:

Blogger jj mollo said...

Judaism is seen as a secret society, closed to outsiders. So others are free to imagine what goes on in Jewish society. Jews do represent a coherent society, with social power, distinguished from the mainstream. Others recognize that there are secret ties among Jews, and there are. They meet in synagogue, socialize and share information, just as other meet in church or Rotary or in work situations. These societies, however, are not as completely closed to outsiders, and they are freely accessible to the mainstream society.

That feeling we get when confronting secrets, suspecting that others have some advantage over us, is the fount of paranoia. A comparable story was played out early in American history with regard to the Freemasons, who were at one point feared and despised by large numbers of Americans even though many of the Founders belonged to Masonic organisations.

5/09/2008 07:35:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

I am not a fan of closing one's eyes. Apart from Raiders.

What is interesting to do is compare the historical record of ancient peoples to Jews pre-Diaspora with that of more modern peoples.

The Egyptians and Babylonians did not treat the Jews any differently than any other conquered people, and expressed neither unique hatred nor kindness to them. Cyrus freed them of course, but the Persians were generally gentle to their subject peoples as long as they remained subject which the Jews did.

It is only until we get to Roman times, and the three great rebellions against Rome: the British, the German, and the Jewish rebellion, that we see afterwards a more recognizable anti-Semitism.

The Romans were very cruel to the Jews in crushing the rebellion, but the Romans were a very cruel people. They would have exiled the British as well had they had the manpower and geography favorable to do so. [Interestingly, the German rebellion only succeeded due to favorable conditions, namely Augustus being sick and old, a more active Emperor would have simply raised more legions, cut down the great forests, and enslaved the lot.]

It is in the Diaspora that we see the genesis of anti-Semitism, and it is completely and thoroughly understandable. The Romans found far too many people wanting to convert at this time (before Christianity really got going in the mid second century). It got exemption from military service in some cases, far less sacrifices than pagan gods, and far more spiritual comfort.

Judaism (and later Christianity, which was persecuted for the same reasons) was a direct and immediate threat to the Pagan authority of Rome, offering a God who's moral authority was greater than any Caesar's, and who's lessons were written down, unchanging. Judaism promoted individualism, moral duty, and separateness from the State, in the same way that Christians were martyred in horrific ways out of religious duty.

WRT Islam, Mohammed had problems with Jews from the very beginning, with a good number of Jews in the Arabian peninsula offering a very competitive alternative to Islam. Monotheism, individualism, relief from tribalism (as it offered a relief from Roman duty and brutality of the State) and a religion based fundamentally on love not duty or submission to a master (Rome and Mohammed respectively).

Wondering why deeply tribal people, or debased "neo-Roman" paganistic fantasy regimes are anti-Semitic is like wondering why the Water is Wet. Of course they are. Judaism offers a stunning and stinging intellectual, moral, spiritual, and emotional rebuke to the debased and corrupt nature of such societies.

It is no accident that the deeply individualistic, moral, and spiritually oriented England and America of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries offered the most acceptance and integration of Jews. To the point where George Washington and Synagoges would exchange respectful letters, and a son of a converted Jew (Disraeli) could become Prime Minister.

5/09/2008 07:38:00 PM  
Blogger stackja1945 said...

I read somewhere that Jews were excluded from many activities so they went into banking. Bankers are not the most beloved of people. This may explain another ghost of history.

5/09/2008 07:44:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

Calling yourselves "God's chosen people" is 100% certain to cause some negative reaction by those who aren't among the "chosen." If false, it is a pretty arrogant thing to say. If true, it's still a pretty arrogant thing to say.

5/09/2008 08:04:00 PM  
Blogger BeefStu said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/09/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

rkv: Calling yourselves "God's chosen people" is 100% certain to cause some negative reaction by those who aren't among the "chosen."

The irony is that many of the people who resent not being "chosen" by God don't even acknowledge the existence, let alone the sovereignty, of that same God.

5/09/2008 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

I agree with whiskey_199 - anti-Semitism is a reaction to a group of people who have consistently pointed to a Divine Law - a moral law from God which is higher than that of Pharaoh, Caesar or Mohammed. The Ten Commandments still irritate a great many people.

It is this same higher law acknowledged in our Declaration of Independence which is at the root of much anti-Americanism - a linkage to moral law which links Judeo-Christian America to the Jews and to Jewish Israel.

5/09/2008 08:23:00 PM  
Blogger JPod said...

Wow. Great post Wretchard, but I think the most striking thing is the comments so far. By my reading, and I'm open to correction, 3 of the first 4 are either anti-Jew or ignorant.

jj mollo - Secret society? Are you nuts? Get some Jewish friends, Bud. I'm not sure how many Bar/Bat-Mitvahs or Jewish weddings I've been to but there is no possible way you can conceive of this as a secret society. It's a religion. All religions congregate at certain times and I could ask any one of my Jewish friend to take me to their Synogague and they would oblige.

stackja1945 - Yes, by all means, pogroms and the Holocaust are rationale ways to deal with the evil moneylenders.

rkv - Judaism is a religion - of course they think themselves God's chosen people. By definition. What RELIGION doesn't?

5/09/2008 08:50:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Those who have persecuted Jews because of disagreements about God have been worshiping a strange god indeed.

5/09/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

anyway, looking at history, seeing what the chosen people have always had to (and always will have to) cope with, why on earth would anyone envy those who are chosen?

The essay at Azure kind of bothered me -- it was too sacrificial, too understanding of the dark force.

5/09/2008 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Once you understand that no one can obey fully the ten commandments and that further, that no one has ever obeyed fully the ten commandments including every jew that every lived with the sole exception of Jesus--then, well, things make much more sense.

Had Hitler accepted Jesus as his Lord and savior before he died--he would have gone to heaven.

But he did not. He was a pagan.

5/09/2008 09:25:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Thanks Storm-Rider. I think History is a good guide. In the early part of the Diaspora, Jews in the Roman Empire were just one of many religions that floated around in the mish-mash of Rome's conquests. They didn't excite any comment one way or another from contemporary sources.

Mithras, Ahura-Mazda, various Greek Gnostic sects, Phoenician/Carthaginian gods, Celtic ones, Thor/Odin and the Norse gods, Egyptian ones, all had their adherents and hawkers touting the efficacy of worshiping their gods or secret knowledge or what have you. Jews neither sought out converts nor turned them away, but were merely floating amongst all the other refugees of empire.

What happened was, Roman and other Pagan gods offered so little, and life was so cruel, that people sought out Jews (and later Christians, who DID seek out converts actively) to convert. People seek meaning and love in their lives. A system or society that does not give that will find people flocking to something else. Which is a threat of course.

Tribal people find the acid of Jewish AND Christian monotheism and individualism (one stands alone before God) very destructive. It's instructive to see the persecution of Christians in many lands, particularly Muslim ones, and see the same sort of thing said and done as to Jews in other places and times. Various apologists for anti-Colonialism specifically point out that Christian missionary activities destroyed traditional aspects of tribal culture. For example, ritual sacrifice, polygamy, cannibalism, and more were all stamped out by Christian missionaries, often at great personal risk and sacrifice, and replaced with literacy and study of a text that offers a moral and spiritual guide outside tradition and clan and tribe.

That sort of critique is a huge threat.

People don't react to that which they perceive as harmless. Jewish morality given directly from God acted as rebuke to the Third Reich, just as it did to the Reconquista and arid understanding of Catholicism (rigid, joyless, unbending) that Ferdinand and Isabella personified, a very different Catholicism by the way from Italy or France, neither under Muslim siege it must be admitted for 700 years.

It's interesting to note that the Iron Chancellor Otto Von Bismarck and his KulturKampf against Catholics and Catholic institutions, influence, the Pope, and Austria presaged in some ways the Nazi persecution of the Jews. This sense of a moral and spiritual weakness in Germany, and rebuke to it, was nothing new. Of course, Bismarck was not Hitler, and his measures were in some measure rolled back.

Of course, Germany itself had been fought over by Catholics and Protestants, to the point of a third of German speakers being killed in the Thirty Years War just three hundred years previously. But even the mighty Prussians after Empire feared the Pope. And mostly they feared his moral rebuke.

5/09/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Whiskey - didn't know you cared so much.

JPod - being god's chosen people isn't all it's cracked up to be. What do you think we've been chosen for? Ever hear of tikkun olam? תיקון עולם

The separateness of Jews over the millenia has both engendered hatred and assured that the Jews would survive. The different languages, the different clothes, the different foods, and of course the different religion and refusal to accept the majority religions have set the Jews apart.

These things made us targets for hatred and lies. They also assured that the Jews would survive 2000 years to regain our ancestral home, 60 years ago.

5/09/2008 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger some said...

They are hated because they discovered God. Back then it didn't seem like much -- there were other gods -- but these days the honor of having been first with the God who reigns over the world (in culture and temporal power, even if you don't believe in the transcendent bits) inspires the worst sort of envy.

Hitler wanted to erase them and return to the pre-Judeo-Christian state. But before him Mohammed hated with a worse envy: he plagarized, distorted, and tried to rewrite their book as his own. It didn't work.

Yes, Arab hate for Israel is a distraction. But it taps into a strain that's as old as Islam itself.

5/09/2008 09:50:00 PM  
Blogger timem1 said...

"Dark forces" in most any other context would be questioned at best. Ridiculed more than likely. Why in this context are we so quick to accept them ?

Is the act of criticism in this case also by default an act of anti-semitism?

5/09/2008 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

These things made us targets for hatred and lies. They also assured that the Jews would survive 2000 years to regain our ancestral home, 60 years ago.

There is some sense in which antisemitism itself is the avenging spirit which defends the Jews. Hatred corrodes. And to the degree that one acquires an unreasoning and all-consuming hatred of a people the ultimate victim is usually oneself. To surrender to this hatred is to unleash the Guardians of the Ark against yourself. The Nazis melted themselves with the fires of their malice. And so, in due time, will the radical Islamists.

Christianity in essence, as taught by Jesus, holds that the Way is love. And although there may be times when you have to drive moneychangers from the temple, or exercise your martial arts against people robbing Samaritans, there is a check: remember at the back of your mind to go only as far as you need to. Always return to the Way. And on that road bring no hatred. And the avenging spirits will pass you by.

5/09/2008 10:28:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...


"Why The Jews? The Reason For Antisemitism" by Dennis Prager, Simon & Schuster (June 1983), ISBN-13: 978-0671452704
:

Why have Jews been the object of the most enduring and universal hatred in history? Why is the jewish state the most despised country in the world? Dennis Prager and Joseph Teleushkin, authors of the widely acclaimed The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism, take on these momentous questions. Why The Jews? discards conventional explainations of antisemitism to argue that its root causes are, paradoxically, the very convictions that have ensured Jewish survival: the Jewish conceptions of God, Law, and Peoplehood. Drawing on extensive historical research, the authors reveal how these distinctive Jewish values have precipitated universal antisemitism by making the Jews, and now the Jewish state into outsiders—challengers—to other people's Gods, laws, or national allegiances.

5/09/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger ADE said...

In his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals, Thomas Sowell asks the question 'Are Jews Generic?'.

In any given country, a particular minority may be hated for for any of a number of reasons peculiar to that country or group..

Many of the historic outbreaks of inter-ethnic mob violence on a massive scale have been against the Jews in Europe, the Chinese minorities in various Southeast Asian countries, against the Armenians in the Ottoman Empire, the Ibos in Nigeria...


My speculation is that the (concept) of The Jew, just like God and The Devil, are necessary parts of human society, and if they didn't exist, we'd have to invent them.

Support for this theory would come from identifying the Jewish 'Jew'. Does anybody know whow, in Jewish society, is classified as 'The Jew'?

ADE

5/09/2008 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger d'Brit said...

Whisky_199,

I respectfully disagree.

Judaism was not a threat to Rome, direct or otherwise.

Not culturally, nor philosophically, and its religion from the standpoint of conversion posed no threat either.

Conversion to Judaism was very, very rare.

Judaism was not then nor has it ever been a religion of 'love'.

Judaism's primary focus is upon the LAW and following as nearly as possible the Commandments and Jewish laws. It attempts to earn future reunion with the diety through 'right' behavior.

Anti-semitism was alive and well in the 18th & 19th centuries...

Washington and Disraeli were exceptional men by any standard and very far ahead of their times.

5/09/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

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Between 1996 and 1998, Aaron Cohen would learn Hebrew and Arabic; become an expert in urban counterterror warfare, the martial art of Krav Maga, and undercover operations; and participate in dozens of life-or-death missions. He would infiltrate a Hamas wedding to seize a wanted terrorist and pose as an American journalist to set a trap for one of the financiers behind the Dizengoff Massacre, taking him down in a brutal, hand-to-hand struggle. A propulsive, gripping read, Cohen's story is a rare, fly-on-the-wall view into the shadowy world of "black ops" that redefines invincible strength, true danger, and inviolable security.
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5/09/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger d'Brit said...

"Judaism is a religion - of course they think themselves God's chosen people. By definition. What RELIGION doesn't?" jpod

Hindu's, Buddhists and Bahai's, to name just a few.

In fact of the major religions, only ones derived from the Judeo/Christian Bible make that claim.

To my knowledge, the only exception to that generality is the Bahai's, a most unusual religion.

5/09/2008 10:52:00 PM  
Blogger d'Brit said...

fatman,

Prager and Teleushkin overcomplicate and 'romanticize' the issue.

People who hate the Jews are not threatened by 'philosophical' differences.

utopia parkway pointing out the differences of appearance and cultural behaviors...

terasita with "Calling yourselves "God's chosen people" is 100% certain to cause some negative reaction by those who aren't among the "chosen."

and stackja1945 with "Bankers are not the most beloved of people." pretty much encapsulate the matter.

5/09/2008 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Prophetically, its what the Bible says will come down and its coming down. Revelation chapter twelve talks of the persecution of the Jews and the church by Satan and his dark posse. Ezekial chapters 38-39 catalog the nations lining up for a final shot at Israel at which point the God of Abraham will bring fire and save the Chosen people.Muslims are motivated by envy yes, but also demonic fury at "the apple of God's eye". They that live by the sword will die by it.

5/09/2008 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Much of the Old Testament is a war poem:

And when the Lord your God brings you into the land which he swore to your fathers, To Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to you, with great and goodly cities, which you did not build, and houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and cisterns hewn out, which you did not hew, and vineyards and olive trees, which you did not plant, and when you eat and are full, then take heed lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Deuteronomy 6:10-12

When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to take possession of it, and clears away many nations before you, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than yourselves, and when the Lord your God gives them over to you, and you defeat them; then you must utterly destroy them; you shall make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. Deuteronlmy 7:1-6

which is another example of the desert dwellers taking a liking to the easy life of the city, and plunder, an old theme.

The Israelites wanted an empire too, like everyone else, but couldn't pull it off, being sandwiched between as they were, and finally, when one faction invited the Romans in, that was that, until now.

The Judaism of today doesn't have much in common with those days.

Long live Israel.

The idea of a Hitler in Heaven after a death bed conversion is one good reason for understanding Jesus in a gnostic mode.

5/09/2008 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Teresita said...

d'brit: terasita with "Calling yourselves "God's chosen people" is 100% certain to cause some negative reaction by those who aren't among the "chosen."

Go back and see if I really said that, then if you are a man of honor, you will apologize for bearing false witness against me.

5/09/2008 11:25:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Usury was supposedly prohibited in medieval Europe, thus the Jews filled a necessary function which others could not do.

5/09/2008 11:45:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

When I was a child, I idealized the Canaanites. I thought of them as peaceful, innocent, and civilized people engaged in agriculture and commerce, only to be cut down by a race of self-righteous barbarians who claimed that their deity promised somebody else’s land to them. I perceived the Jews of the Book of Judges to be a band of vicious hardened thugs who reveled in killing poor defenseless Canaanites who did nothing to deserve their own slaughter. I also assumed that Jewish claims of child sacrifice and other atrocities were invented to justify the indiscriminate slaughter of Canaanites.

When I grew up and learned more about ancient history and archeological evidence, I discovered that the Canaanites were no improvement at all over the Hebrews. In many respects, they were worse. I discovered that child sacrifice was rampant among both Canaanites and Hebrews, and learned that Canaanites also slaughtered innocent people.

The point of this anecdote is that non-Jews may interpret Jewish history differently than Jews do. Many heroes of the Jewish people described in the law, the writings, the prophets, and Christian Apocrypha often look like monsters.

I think it’s a mistake to find the root of anti-Jewish hatred in the Book of Esther (a.k.a. Ishtar). I think the principal root of anti-Jewish hatred comes from the personality of Jezebel. This foreign queen attempted to hijack the power of the government to crush the native religion of Judaism. Her intrigues and calumnies against Jewish patriots led the Jewish priesthood to become paranoid. If you were subjected to the viciousness of Jezebel, you would become paranoid too.

The trauma of Jezebel’s reign led to a deep suspicion of foreigners and fostered a feeling of moral superiority among Jews. Her reign also spawned generations of prophets who sought to purify the Jewish faith from the corruptions of women like her. Her corruption of Israel led to a feeling among prophets that Israel had broken its covenant with G-d.

This sense of being judged by a stern and angry deity was ironically the salvation of the Jewish faith. Before the fall of the House of Omri, the triumph of one army over another or one empire over another was equated with the triumph of one deity over another deity. It was a classic instance of “my g-d is bigger than your g-d”. And given the phallic nature of male pagan deities of the era, you can figure out the rest. Isaiah’s saga and Josiah’s reforms of Late First Temple Judaism changed the very nature of worship.

Jewish prophets were some of the greatest spin doctors of antiquity. When they were told of the superiority of Marduk or Baal, they replied, “Oh no, your idol didn’t defeat our G-d. Your so-called deity doesn’t exist. We, the Jewish people, are the chosen people of G-d, but we were bad boys and girls because we listened to people like you. Your army defeated our army because G-d is punishing us for our sins. He is punishing us for not living up to His strict moral code. We are better than you because we pray to the only deity in the universe while you pray to stone idols.”

To an idol-worshipping pagan, hearing that would be infuriating, wouldn’t it?

Historically speaking, Jews are among the most literate people on the face of the Earth. This means that major injuries against Jews get written down and remembered. Nazis also massacred Romanies (the real Aryans) during World War II, but we hear more about the murder of Jews partly because Jews are literate and Gypsies are historically illiterate. Is there a memorial center in Washington D.C. to commemorate the Ottoman Empire’s systematic pogroms against Armenians and Woodrow Wilson’s craven cowardice?

The existence of a long historical record for one’s people can create the impression that there has been a long accumulation of crimes against one’s people. Yet, looking for injustice from the historical record is much like looking for evidence of a crime near a lamppost in a dark night. The Chmelnitsky revolution was a massacre against not only Jews but also Polish nobles. Yet, it is a common occurrence of historiography to assume that only the suffering one’s own people matters. It is emotionally much easier to assume that your family is massacred because you are special and because people hate Jews, rather than knowing how your second cousin was the pompous lackey of an oppressive Polish warlord, and your second cousin’s reputation as an oppressive Polish tax collector rubbed off onto your entire family.

Most nations like to feel they are the center of the universe. Most religions like to feel they are the center of the universe. Jews are no exception. Jewish historiography tends to be Judeocentric, because that is human nature. Still, it is worthless to ask why anti-Jewish hatred exists unless one also asks why hatred exists. One could just as easily ask why anti-Tutsi hatred exists in Rwanda or anti-white hatred exists in the mind of Hugo Chavez.

Jewish treatment of foreigners under David, Solomon, Ezra, and the Maccabees was downright atrocious; those acts alone would lead to a bad reputation for Jews in antiquity. Just as there are Jews, wronged by a Gentile, who cling to their anti-Gentile hatred and assume that non-Jews must all hate Jews; there are Gentiles, wronged by a Jew, who cling to their hatred of either Jews in general or Judaism as a religion. In many quarters, there is a propensity to conflate resentment against a minor injury into resentment against an entire tribe. Tribalism exists, both among Jews and neighbors of Jews.

Jews have sometimes been known to drag outsiders into their own internal quarrels. Christianity started out as a Jewish sect. It was not uncommon for anti-Jewish pogroms to be incited by Jewish apostates to Christianity during the Middle Ages. The quarrels among Spanish Jews got so bad that Christian rulers were called in to adjudicate theological disputes they neither understood or cared about. And then there were the Shabbateans. Although most Jews became followers of Shabbatai Zevi during a messianic craze in the 1660’s, Shabbatai Zevi became a supreme disappointment. Far from being a redeemer who would heal the universe, he converted to Islam under pain of death. He still had followers, though. The Shabbatean Jews thought that true Judaism meant outwardly converting to another religion and inwardly staying Jews.

Religiously observant Jews shudder in horror when they think of Shabbateans; three centuries ago, it was customary for Jews to cross Shabbateans off their genealogical charts. Yet, for Christians in eastern Europe, the reaction was a different kind of horror. For Christian purists who were suspicious of “Judaizers” (a suspicion long held since the publication of Paul’s letters), the prospect of Jewish converts bringing cabala into Christianity was not met with gratitude. To such people, Shabbatean Jews would have been terrifying. These Shabbateans were people who thought that the redemption of the universe would come through subverting other peoples’ faiths through false conversion. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Shabbatean Jews gave Jew haters fodder for conspiracy theories. It was easy for conspiracy theorists to claim that all Jews were like Shabbateans seeking to subvert the natural order of the universe to universal redemption and Jewish dominion.

Yes, the State of Israel now exists. However, the trauma of Shabbatai Zevi still does not fail to shock. It is the cause of sneering among Muslims to this day. It is easier for Jews to act as if Shabbatai Zevi never happened. It can be easier for modern day witch hunters to “sniff out” ever Jew hater in sight, comfortable in the myth that most of humanity hates Jews. What they don’t understand is that most people don’t hate Jews; they just don’t care. It is wiser to consider how the shadow of Shabbatai Zevi continues to haunt us all. His legacy endures. It endures not only in a legacy of a paranoid fear of Jewish subversion that led to Nazi horror, but it serves as a reminder of why Tikkun Olam is an extraordinarily dangerous idea when applied to politics. The idea of a grand redeemer that heals the world and creates a new era may be highly appealing, yet it is also a recipe for disappointment if the would-be messiah turns out to be a fraud.

As it is, the main horror for much of modern Judaism isn’t the Nazi next door, but the girl next door. It isn’t the Cossack at the gate, but the cheeseburger on the plate. There is historically a fine line between staying a Jew and living in harmony with one’s neighbors. If I remember correctly, Baruch Spinoza pointed out that Judaism declined more from intermarriage than from pogroms.

I think Isaac Azimov was right; Jews are no worse or better than anyone else. Still, when I think of Jewish culture, I think of good music, great clothing stores, tasty pastrami sandwiches, English translations of the Zohar, and some of my favorite professors.

5/10/2008 12:00:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"Hindu's, Buddhists and Bahai's, to name just a few.

In fact of the major religions, only ones derived from the Judeo/Christian Bible make that claim."


Your argument is nonsense. Anyone following a particular path has made him/her self-chosen to that particular path. The destination and journey being particular to that particular path. Jews cannot go where Buddhists go, by the fact that they are Jews. So in effect, Buddhists are just as chosen by their particular way of worship as are Jews by theirs. The same basic argument applies to any other creed you care to mention, including Hinduism and Baha'i.

What the Jews did is make an implicit argument, explicit.

5/10/2008 12:01:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

For those who seek a restoration,
For those who seek to heal,
You have always had the power.
Permission is not needed.
You don’t need anyone
To tell you that you can.

5/10/2008 12:07:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Spengler over at Asia times discusses this a lot. A good summation of his take is at Christian, Muslim, Jew
Franz Rosenzweig and the Abrahamic Religions
in First Things.

5/10/2008 03:55:00 AM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

The well-conceived and well-written post by Alexis appears to be a good explanation for anti-Semitism if the Hebrew/Christian God does not really exist. This is an explanation based on sociology and the animal nature of our Homo-sapien species - and it is internally logical and consistent; but it seems to ignore the moral aspect of the Jewish, and later the Christian, people.

If the Biblical God really exists, then there is also a moral and supernatural explanation for anti-Semitism and for anti-Christian sentiment. This Divine moral law of Jews, and now Christians, makes for hard feelings among many people.

Our founding fathers said that there is a Divine moral law - that our human rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness come from God. Is it just a coincidence that America has subsequently butted up against a series of life and liberty-hating totalitarian enemies ever since that declaration in 1776?

Why is it that our enemies seem to always be murdering tyrants or terrorists? Could it be that the totalitarian enemies of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness really are evil and not just morally equivalent competitors for turf? Could it be that Dennis Prager's explanation for anti-Semitism is not overly simplistic, and doesn't this adherence to the higher moral law also explain anti-Americanism?

History, and therefore the future, is in the eye and the heart of the beholder.

5/10/2008 05:29:00 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

The earliest trace of anti-Semitism:

Exodus 1, 8-10: "Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people: 'Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us; 10 come, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there befalleth us any war, they also join themselves unto our enemies, and fight against us, and get them up out of the land.'"

5/10/2008 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Storm-rider: Our founding fathers said that there is a Divine moral law - that our human rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness come from God.

Well it wasn't our founding fathers plural, it was Thomas Jefferson, who took a sort of do-it-yourself approach to religion. He tried to write a version of the bible that deleted the miracles but retained the pithy sayings. Presumably he would also have deleted the verse that declares the divine right of kings to rule.

Romans 13:1-2: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation."

5/10/2008 06:41:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

There's a lot of monkeyshines scattered through the Bible, and in the 10 commands too.

5/10/2008 06:56:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Exodus 1, 8-10

Excellent good sense, which we ought to follow ourselves, applying it to those crashing our borders, and those of a foreign ideology like the muzzies, whom we let in at our peril. (I don't mean the todays Jews)

5/10/2008 07:04:00 AM  
Blogger rogerallen said...

Antisemitism is much older than the Exodus. The Jews themselves understood better than anyone that it was the very nature of the Jew and the non-Jew that drove one brother to blind fury against the other, and enshrined this sad state of affairs in the story of Esau and Jacob. Any one of us who would side with Esau against Jacob would side with the antisemite against the Jew.

5/10/2008 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Esau got kinda screwed over by Jacob the Grabber, didn't he? Or is it the Bible's way of putting the younger on top, evening things out?

5/10/2008 07:45:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

Roger,
Think also of Ishmael and Isaac, Abraham's first and second sons respectively.
The Jewish version (descendants of Isaac btw) is that the Arabs (descendants of Ishmael btw) are bastard children and not worthy. "through Isaac your descendants shall be named" (Gen. 21:12). Of course Ishmael's descendants deny that claim as well they might, since even the Bible tells they are born of Abraham's first child - see Islam.

teresita, You aren't owed an apology. And your statement about
"irony" is pretty ironic on it's face. Think about it.

d'brit, Yep.

5/10/2008 08:00:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

And if memory serves, Esau behaved well towards Jacob--

Joseph became rich, distinguished, powerful--as the Bible expresses it, "lord over all the land of Egypt." Joseph was the real king, the strength, the brain of the monarchy, though Pharaoh held the title. Joseph is one of the truly great men of the Old Testament. And he was the noblest and the manliest, save Esau. Why shall we not say a good word for the princely Bedouin? The only crime that can be brought against him is that he was unfortunate. Why must every body praise Joseph's great-hearted generosity to his cruel brethren, without stint of fervent language, and fling only a reluctant bone of praise to Esau for his still sublimer generosity to the brother who had wronged him? Jacob took advantage of Esau's consuming hunger to rob him of his birthright and the great honor and consideration that belonged to the position; by treachery and falsehood he robbed him of his father's blessing; he made of him a stranger in his home, and a wanderer. Yet after twenty years had passed away and Jacob met Esau and fell at his feet quaking with fear and begging piteously to be spared the punishment he knew he deserved, what did that magnificent savage do? He fell upon his neck and embraced him! When Jacob--who was incapable of comprehending nobility of character--still doubting, still fearing, insisted upon "finding grace with my lord" by the bribe of a present of cattle, what did the gorgeous son of the desert say?

"Nay, I have enough, my brother; keep that thou hast unto thyself!"

Esau found Jacob rich, beloved by wives and children, and traveling in state, with servants, herds of cattle and trains of camels--but he himself was still the uncourted outcast this brother had made him. After thirteen years of romantic mystery, the brethren who had wronged Joseph, came, strangers in a strange land, hungry and humble, to buy "a little food"; and being summoned to a palace, charged with crime, they beheld in its owner their wronged brother; they were trembling beggars--he, the lord of a mighty empire! What Joseph that ever lived would have thrown away such a chance to "show off?" Who stands first--outcast Esau forgiving Jacob in prosperity, or Joseph on a king's throne forgiving the ragged tremblers whose happy rascality placed him there?

Mark Twain

5/10/2008 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

No Teresita, it really was a plurality of our founding fathers who had a hand in writing the Declaration of Independence - not just Thomas Jefferson, although he was the prime author as we all know. John Adams and Benjamin Franklin had direct influences. It was Benjamin Franklin who edited out Thomas Jefferson's initial line: "We hold these truths to be sacred..." and changed it to: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men."

Thomas Jefferson said that the Declaration of Independence was "an expression of the American mind." He didn't say that it was the expression of his mind to the exclusion of the other founders or of revolutionary Americans in general.

No matter how unorthodox Thomas Jefferson was in regards to religion, he most certainly along with the other founders believed that God was the source of our human rights - that there is a Divine higher law. It is opposition to the Biblical moral law which lies at the heart of anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism.

"God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?"

"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever."

I agree with you that there are parts of the Bible which were not compatible with the reasoning of our founders - nor with my own reasoning. I believe most common-sense Christians and Jews are able to reason out the Divine moral law while understanding other parts as metaphors, or permanently mysterious, or applicable only to an age gone by.

5/10/2008 08:05:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Bob,

It's the old story of Brick vs Gooper, mendacity vs truth, being hickjacked vs highjacked. :)

5/10/2008 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

RKV, you are too stupid to understand that Teresita quoted you to provide context for what she wrote, and d'brit is too stupid to figure out he mis-attributed her. And both of you will just let it hang out there in the court of Belmont Club opinion without a correction because you have no honor, as she guessed.

5/10/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger bobal said...

Hi-jincks:)

5/10/2008 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Katya,

You're not in a bazaar.

5/10/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Storm-rider said, It was Benjamin Franklin who edited out Thomas Jefferson's initial line: "We hold these truths to be sacred..." and changed it to: "We hold these truths to be self-evident..."

So much the worse for the theory of a Christian source for the founding document. Instead of being held up as sacred revealed truths, the rights are held up as purely intellectual axioms accepted by the founding fathers as the basis for rights.

Thomas Jefferson said that the Declaration of Independence was "an expression of the American mind."

Now only if it was an expression of American faith, like the religious Right currently claims (and retrojects onto the document).

No matter how unorthodox Thomas Jefferson was in regards to religion, he most certainly along with the other founders believed that God was the source of our human rights

In that event, the word "God" becomes meaningless, because the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam grants no rights in the scriptures. There is only bald assertions by a group of men coming out of the Enlightment period that a vague fuzzy deist "God" established the rights, and this is held as a matter of unquestioned "self-evident" truth, but there is nothing written in the scriptures to support it.

I believe most common-sense Christians and Jews are able to reason out the Divine moral law while understanding other parts as metaphors, or permanently mysterious, or applicable only to an age gone by.

The essence of Divine moral law is that it changes not. God is always upset when people commit murder, or steal, or lie, or betray their spouse, or take his name in vain and say "God Damn America." Another aspect of Divine moral law is that it is written down, so that it does not become subject to the current intellectual fads as different groups of peopkle come along and reason it out.

5/10/2008 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Dakota435 said...

Having worked in sales many years ago , which is probably the most effective way to observe "practical applied psychology" there is, I came to see things like antisemitism in very basic terms. People who are less successful are often resentful of people who are more successful and this comes into stark relief in a commission based sales organization.

With the Jews you have a culturally cohesive and distinct group which tended to outshine its hosts, especially financially but also intellectually, wherever it was allowed to flourish. And there's no better way to make yourself hated than to outshine your hosts financially.

5/10/2008 08:34:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

Well katchoo, since I'm taking flak from the likes of you, I guess I must be over the target. Next time try to actually make an argument with logic and facts, and you can skip the weak invective. It really doesn't do your case any good and I certainly don't take it personally, considering the source.

bobal - re: Samuel Clemens. Excellent post.

5/10/2008 08:57:00 AM  
Blogger Insight said...

I agree with whiskey and with many other posts other than the one who called the Jewish religion a closed club. I enjoy the intellectual level of most posts on this blog since it the argumentation is much like the way it used to be in top flight academic departments before the deconstructionists and the new left racists took over.
The Jewish religion was drastically changed in the Rabbinical Period after the destruction of the second temple. Jews were self governing under their religious laws in most of Europe and the East until the evolution of the religious law atrophied in Eastern Europe.
It is fun to read the high level argumentation of religious Jews dealing what we call "secular issues". They try to determine Truth based on religious commentaries.There is no supreme authority but there is evolution of agreement. That is not true with the Islamic Sharia.
Where I grew up in government housing in a northern industrial city the black ministers and newspaper editors hated Jews more than any other group. It was easy to hate Jews since they were a dispised minority. By the way the real bankers in Europe were the Italians merchants and later the Swiss.

5/10/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Teresita said...

Dakota435: And there's no better way to make yourself hated than to outshine your hosts financially.

Bob al-Harb mentioned earlier that this was due to the Christian doctine banning the practice of lending money at interest. The Church defined usury as anything over zero percent. The Torah only forbids usury among the Hebrews themselves, not foreigners. It turns out that lending money with a net positive rate of return results in the accumilation of great wealth.

5/10/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Ardsgaine said...

Dakota wrote: With the Jews you have a culturally cohesive and distinct group which tended to outshine its hosts, especially financially but also intellectually, wherever it was allowed to flourish. And there's no better way to make yourself hated than to outshine your hosts financially.

I think that is the crux of it. Add to it that Christianity preaches self-sacrifice as its moral ideal, and you have a ready made justification for persecuting any group that enjoys material success.

Insight wrote: By the way the real bankers in Europe were the Italians merchants and later the Swiss.

IRRC, it wasn't until the Renaissance when usury laws were relaxed that the Italian banks arose.

5/10/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

RKV to
bobal - re: Samuel Clemens. Excellent post.

No it wasn't.

OTOH, I guess it is a good to know who likes loves dissembling spin and who doesn't.

Jacob did not rob Esau of his birthright. He easily bought it as Esau held it in such little esteem.

Esau always felt he was the mightier of the two. It was part of his arrogance. And that arrogance continues today, as it is not uncommon for the anti-theistic today who no only want no part of that heritage themselves, they also wish to strip the West of that part of its heritage.


There was considerably more wrong with this tangled piece of crap attributed to Twain. Really sad. I fear that any attempt to try and further correct it here would be like casting pearls before swine.

5/10/2008 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

It seems to me that a group even more universally reviled, and less able to do anything about it, are the black people of the world, the negroids. When Saudi's describe their "servants" as being a "nigger", or you see Indians or Chinese using that same term, then it seems to me that the whole rest of the world automatically looks down on this one race ... and I'm not quite sure why.

If I were going to quick guess at the difference between universal hatred and disparagement of Jews and black people, I would guess that Jews are hated because of jealousy of their success, while people with negroid skin and features are hated because of their sheer pathetic and helplessness.

Jews shoot back. Blacks don't. (Except in the United States where EVERY one shoots back.)

5/10/2008 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"The essay at Azure kind of bothered me -- it was too sacrificial, too understanding of the dark force."


That's the psychological key.

Are Jews any more hated than Muslims? I think not. But Jews do suffer exponentially higher incidents of attack on their body, even though their number is exponentially smaller than that of Muslims. The only explanation for this is the passive response Jews offer compared to Muslims.

Jews, for a variety of reasons, have been reluctant to adopt the eyes of the wolf. And until they do they will always be sheep amongst wolves.

5/10/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger NJArtist said...

I agree;yet, I would add that it is first a reaction to God Himself.

5/10/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

Katchoo,

No, you have it backwards: Our founding American human rights are Divine - a gift from God - as directly stated by our founders.

The rational part is in the securing of those rights - that occurs through the consent of the governed which was further defined as a representative republic with three branches.

So, in the Declaration of Independence there is both an expression of American Judeo-Christian faith and an expression of the rational American mind - a merger of faith and reason - that is its beauty and its genius.

"In that event, the word "God" becomes meaningless, because the God of Christianity and Judaism and Islam grants no rights in the scriptures."

The right to life is expressed in the scriptures: First the value of human life: "And God created man in His own image," and then the prohibition against violating the right to life: "Thou shall not murder."

Our rights to liberty and pursuit of happiness have less documentation in scripture, but there are some which do support the idea: "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Both faith and reason - that's the ticket.

5/10/2008 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger RKV said...

Bobal's quote from Twain is found in Innocents Abroad, Pascal. It is not apocryphal and you don't know what the hell you are talking about. Project Gutenberg has the book for free, though I doubt you could be bothered to fact check yourself before spouting off.

Using the facts of the Bible story let's take a look at what happened to Jacob and Esau.

It's a story where a mother gave her favorite child an advantage he didn't earn. In our modern day we would say that such a contract (for something of over modest value) would be unenforceable if verbal. Sounds like Isaac thought something similar too, since he kept asking for Esau. Jacob and Rebecca conspired to defraud Esau for his inheritance and got away with it. Jacob was lucky Esau didn't kill him when he met him latter. He sent Esau herds of animals to buy him off, right? Remember it was Jacob's descendants who wrote up the story, so expect them to justify Jacob's actions. That is only human nature.

5/10/2008 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"People who are less successful are often resentful of people who are more successful"

That sums it up. Antisemitism is not about Jews, it is about antisemites. They are born losers without the gumption or honesty to own up to their own shortcomings and failures so they blame everything on the Jooooos.

5/10/2008 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger RobertL said...

Nothing hates success more than failure.....

5/10/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Katchoo said...

Storm-rider said, Katchoo, No, you have it backwards: Our founding American human rights are Divine - a gift from God - as directly stated by our founders.

You are attributing to our founders, then, the arts of priestcraft. This is not an isolated impulse, Righties today have elevated the symbol of the flag, and even a symbol of the symbol of the flag, a flag pin, to sacred relics.

The rational part is in the securing of those rights - that occurs through the consent of the governed which was further defined as a representative republic with three branches.

Did they get the idea of three branches from the dogma of the Holy Trinity?

So, in the Declaration of Independence there is both an expression of American Judeo-Christian faith and an expression of the rational American mind...

There is no such thing as Judeo-Christian faith. The Jews serve Yahweh alone with all their heart and mind, while Christians believe no one comes to Yahwah except through his only Son. These two concepts cannot be comingled in a monstrosity such as a "Judeo-Christian faith". You are either one or the other. And some of the founders were closer to the Jewish view of God as one, Jefferson was Unitarian.

The right to life is expressed in the scriptures: First the value of human life: "And God created man in His own image," and then the prohibition against violating the right to life: "Thou shall not murder."

A prohibition from actively taking life does not translate to a right to life. For instance, if there really was a right to life, then the US government would be required to subsidize the expensive medications which extend the life of gay men who become HIV positive.

Our rights to liberty and pursuit of happiness have less documentation in scripture, but there are some which do support the idea: "Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

The liberty spoken of by Paul refers to the freedom from the letter of the Mosaic Law enjoyed by Christians who have been born again into the second covenant. It has nothing to do with freedom from the ordinances of man.

Both faith and reason - that's the ticket.

Paul tells Christians to "take every thought captive" for Christ, and warns Timothy to avoid the snares of "science falsely so-called." This speaks of reason being put into a subordinate position relative to faith.

5/10/2008 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

RKV, I was referring to the sale of Esau's birthrite, not his blessing which is what you NOW switched to. They were not the same.

And as far as my commenting about the quote being attributed to Twain, I quite frankly was hoping it wasn't his.

To call it a robbery was spin.

I would expect nothing less of postmodernists to readily seek and accept such spin. Especially since most all are strident non-believers seeking ways to undermine the faiths.

5/10/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

So Twain was a post-modernist? I think not. You keep going in circles Pascal.

5/10/2008 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

How a comment by Twain on a humorous and very human story undermines faith kind of escapes me. But then I'm not a post-modernist, and am not certain what that is. If anything, I'd probably be in the category of seeker of promordial truth. It seems to me the Bible must be read with a little humor and imagination.

5/10/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger jono39 said...

Judaism is a German and Christian word that does not exist in Hebrew, the national language of Israel and the ancient language of Am Yisroel, the _People of Israel whose Tanakh is the foundation of the Christian Bible. Since the destruction of the Second Temple and well before it, there have been many forms of Jewishness, of religious practice. What has largely held Jews together have been the periodic bouts of Jew hatred that deteriorate into extortion, repression and finally murder. Without this hatred, it is impossible to know what Jews would have created with their variety of beliefs, in addition to Christianity whose first adherents were obviously Jews. Jesus fits snugly into Jewish messianic tradition.
While it is obvious that Jew hatred is a problem for Jews, it is difficult to see what we can do about it. While many Jews are atheists, including this writer, and Jews have held a variety of beliefs over the past three millenia, it does not appear that these beliefs are the source of the hatred. Since the creation of Christianity, religious ideology has been the core of antisemitism. The antisemitism of Christianity only began when the Church was taken over by the Greeks who lived in their own Diaspora as part of the Roman Empire. Greek antisemitism preceded the coming of Christianity by several centuries and does not have its origins in Christ killing. The Jewish historian and Quisling, Josephus wrote a book about Greek antisemitism, Against Apion, which he published in Rome where he lived under Imperial protection. Apion was a Greek philosopher who had lived in Alexandria, a Greek city with a huge Jewish population for whom the Tanakh was translated into Greek, as they did not read Hebrew, which was no longer spoken, having been replaced by Aramaic, a regional lingua franca.

When the thugs who succeeded Alexander the Great established a series of Hellenic kingdoms on the ruins of the Persian Empire, the Jewish kingdoms refused to fall into line with their wishes. Periodically in revolt, the Jews eventually invited Roman protection and cooperated with the Romans. Eventually the Romans became too much for the Jews who essentially committed national suicide by resisting Roman demands.
This is hardly an explanation of antisemtism. At this point, many writers would say that antisemites would have to invent the Jews if they did not exist. Meaning I suppose there is some need for the "other", a need to focus hostility on something. I do not know this is so but I do know the Jews are not going to disappear. Our variety and persistence amazes me the more I study the question. I know Jews are not particularly one thing or another with this exception: To be a Jew, a man (and now a woman as well, thankfully) must be able to read scripture. Unlike the Koran which is memorized by millions who cannot read Arabic, a Jew must be able to read the Torah. If you can read one language, you can learn any language. This was a great advantage to Jews for the last two thousand years, enabling them to live and trade everywhere. Now that the world seems to be moving again toward illiteracy, this "natural" advantage of the Jews -- the people of the book -- will again assert itself.
I do not offer this comment as an explanation but as a stimulus for those who are interested in the question. A good place to start is an excellent book by Melvin Konner, Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews. Konner, a great neurobiologist.
One final comment. For those who do not know, the word Israel, which became the name of Jacob, means wrestling with God. The inclination to continue this does not show any sign of disappearing. In my view, Jews are still traumatized by the Shoah, shocked as much by our own passivity as the willingness of most neighbors to cooperate if not collaborate in their robbery, rape and extermination. But that trauma will be internalized. When it is, Jews will make another remarkable contribution to the world.
In the decades ahead, it is apparent to this writer that religious struggle will intensify. Those who thought these "medieval" questions were settled long ago will have to think again. Islam and Hinduism are radicalizing. Christianity will be affected too. The liklihood of nuclear and biological warfare is not scare-mongering. It is a real threat. Messianism will revive, theology will be revisited in ways not seen in the west for centuries. I do not intend to describe these potential horrors in pedestrian terms but somewhere in Europe one of my grandmothers is possibly a lampshade, cousins too numerous were reduced to soap to wash the crotches of German soldiers, and the paltry gold in their teeth was invested in V rockets. When these memories are woven into your psyche the coming horrors are not less horrors but they are more readily discernable.

5/10/2008 03:19:00 PM  
Blogger Dennis said...

A formulation I attribute to Dennis Prager: Jews are a chosen people not because they are the most beloved but for a task, a responsibility to carry. This, as in an eldest-child-tradition.

This implies the following, for me at least:

What responsibility do they have to execute and maintain? They have to re-member the set of memes that together form a conceptual architecture constructed of interlocking stories. What dwells in this structure? The concept of freedom, a condition of human existence that is a central feature of the Judaic tradition.

A direct consequence of freedom is that we own the things we make, the services we perform. These get traded in the marketplace, a natural consequence. It is no coincidence that Jewish culture relates to the marketplace with a familiar alacrity. It is no surprise that in the Jewish world, there exists a deep appreciation of life and its fruits.

Those who are invested in a collective identity have to counter freedom because utopia has its price, and they have yet to learn how to modulate the compromise of freedom that social(ist) life requires.

Therefore anti-semitism is a reflex response from those who nurse a collectivist impulse, whatever the stripe. Tribalism is the oldest form of social organization of humankind and therefore given this train of argument, it cannot be surprising that anti-semitism finds it root into the depth of history.

Thanks to the Belmont Club for this post and the interesting commentary in this post. I am very curious to read what you all think of this point of view.

5/10/2008 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

jono39,

"Judaism is a German and Christian word that does not exist in Hebrew"

The Hebrew word for Judaism is Yahadut. It is a conglomeration of the Hebrew words:

yehudi = jewish
dat = religion


"For those who do not know, the word Israel, which became the name of Jacob, means wrestling with God."

Nope. The Hebrew word Israel is, again, a conglomeration of the Hebrew words:

isra = to seed, or will seed
el = god, or high


You're obviously not a Hebrew speaker. But I am. :)

5/10/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Few realize that Hebrew was a dead language, deader even than Latin, which has always lived on in the academy. Israel, the new one of course, rescued it, rescued an entire dead language, and in a mere few decades brought it back to everday useage, restored it to modern life.

5/10/2008 04:07:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

jono39, it's not only Jews who're ''still traumatized by the Shoah''. It may be the entire western world. How many are like me, who as a kid cracked open a WWII picture book and saw the photos, and was never again without the knowledge of what any smiling neighbor might be led to do, or just simply do. I know, the holocaust was but one event in the history of inhumanity -- but it's the one that gets attention. It's the best-seller, which ought to keep us aware that the ancient old battle between good & evil is always everywhere within us and without us, and notably coming to crisis again, almost incredibly biblically, of all the places in the world, back in the same place humanity first noted and wrote it.

5/10/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Dakota 435: I think you came closer than anyone else.

Hatred of Jews seems to be the most persistent form of envy ever invented.

Another way of putting that is that Jews seem to be the most frequent target of envious people.

At any rate, envy, the desire to drag the more successful down to the level of the less successful,
has underwritten all the murderous totalitarians of history.

Envy is also why every successful republic has had to become an empire, in self defense. Americas path to survival is to
become the first imperial republic in history. Well, we have made a start.

5/10/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Somehow, the Beast has to finish the Jews. Once he's got that done, that hard nut that he's been trying and trying but can never quite crack, the rest of us will be duck soup. Once Israel is gone, it won't take 20 years for the rest of us to become willing slaves of whatever you want to call the Thing. Israel the shield may very soon have to become the Israel the sword. Hope the rest of us can figure what to do.

5/10/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

This reading the Bible can be a tricky business. Here's another take on Esau/Jacob, through the eyes of a critic of William Blake--

"When the Israelites got from the wilderness into the Garden of God(the Promised Land) which had been promised them, the revolutionary vigor of their revolt against Egypt had collapsed, and all they got was another Egypt from which imagination and desire were excluded as dangerous intruders. This is set forth in the story of the rivalry of Esau and Jacob, in which the red and hairy Esau, the rightful heir, was sent wandering into the desert. The Kingdom of Edom remained outside Jacob's priestly theocracy execrated and accursed, and when Isaiah sees the Messiah coming from Edom he is prophesying the destruction of tyranny by the exiled giant of desire. Esau, therefore, is another Biblical Orc. So perhaps is Absalom, the son who rebelled against his father David, David being one of the "Churches" or subordinate phases of the Jehovah cycle."

and

"The incident in Jacob's life which chiefly interests Blake, however, is his descent with his progeny into Egypt. This means that Man has forsaken his emanation Jerusalem, his bride-land(occasionally also called Rachel in the Bible), and has fallen under the domination of tyranny and mystery, the Whore whose name is Egypt as well as Babylon. Jacob has twelve sons, one of whom, Joseph, falls into a deep pit, a pit with much the same significance as the cave in Plato, the physical universe which is the embryo or underworld of the mind. Joseph then finds himself in Egypt and in prison, both symbols of the Fall, the theme of the Great Whore turning up again in Potiphar's wife, and becomes an interpreter of dreams.

The Fall is completed when Jacob and his eleven other sons follow Joseph into Egypt, and the Hebrews sink under all the tyrannies of the Selfhood, the 'furnace of iron' as Egypt is later called."

from 'Fearful Symmetry'
Northrop Frye

5/10/2008 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

I think some anti-Jewish hatred from antiquity and even into the Middle Ages was a result of an existing cultural template of hatred against Tyrians, Sidonians, and Carthaginians. As difficult as this may be to stomach, blood libel may be based upon historical facts about the religious practices of ancient Phoenicians. Tyrian slaving expeditions took Jewish children. (Joel 3:6) According to Plutarch (De superstitione), rich Carthaginians would buy poor Carthaginian children so these children would be used as vicarious sacrifices. (Tyre, Sidon, and Carthage were part of the same cultural ecumene.)

Here is a quote from Diodorus Siculus (Library of History, Book 20):

Therefore the Carthaginians, believing that the misfortune had come to them from the gods, betook themselves to every manner of supplication of the divine powers… They also alleged that Kronos had turned against them inasmuch as in former times they had been accustomed to sacrifice to this god the noblest of their sons, but more recently, secretly buying and nurturing children, they had sent these to the sacrifice; and when an investigation was made, some of those who had been sacrificed were discovered to be suppositious. When they had given thought to these things and saw their enemy encamped before their walls, they were filled with superstitious dread, for they believed that they had neglected the honors of the gods that had been established by their fathers. In their zeal to make amends for their omission, they selected two hundred of the noblest children and sacrificed them publicly; and others who were under suspicion sacrificed themselves voluntarily, in the number not less than three hundred.

Although there is no direct evidence that Jewish, Greek, Roman, and Celtic children were abducted by slavers only to be sacrificed by Phoenicians in their temples, such practices almost certainly did happen. Foreign child slaves were imported and child slaves were sacrificed. 2 + 2 = 4. Given that Phoenician cities (especially Carthage) were renowned for their commerce, industry, and their vast wealth, and given that Carthaginian armies were mostly made up of foreign mercenaries, the basic template of anti-Carthaginian hatred was well established by the Mercenary Revolt between the First and Second Punic Wars.

Greeks and Romans hated Kronos/Saturn; theirs was a religion ruled by Zeus/Jupiter. Any Greco-Roman equation of the Jewish deity **** (G-d) with Kronos would necessarily have led to strong hostility, given long centuries of hostility against Carthage. And the great City of Tyre exasperated Alexander the Great more than any other city of the Orient.

When the catastrophes of the Jewish War and the Bar-Kochba Revolt occurred, the Greco-Roman ecumene was well armed with long-standing stereotypes against Semitic enemies; Jews had the misfortune of being ethnically related to their neighbors.

It is ironic how ancient hatred (shared by Greeks, Romans, and Jews) against Phoenician Baal worshippers should become a cultural template for anti-Jewish hatred that is presently peddled by the descendants of those very same Phoenician Baal worshippers.

5/10/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

There's a lot of good commentary here. The idea of envy is important, I think, more than contesting religious dogmas.

An interesting comparison is between the history of the Knights Templar and the Jews. Both were financially important, resented and envied for their successes. Both were somewhat opaque to outsiders, and in both cases people imagined terrible things in order to fill in the knowledge vacuum.

When the Templars were attacked, however, they went so far underground that they ceased to exist, whereas the Jews, more numerous perhaps, always strove to be public.

5/10/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I think "dennis" nailed it when he mentions Prager's take on the problem. Judaism and Jews present thorny problems for those cultures, religions, and nations that have a collectivist instinct. Furthermore, I believe he is right, and have always thought this to be the case, that the Jews being "the Chosen People" represents not so much God's favor as much as God's command and a mission to serve humanity. I think those who have totalitarian/collectivist instincts do not want to see the Jews survive because Yahweh and the Father of Jesus present the ultimate challenge to their physicalist reductionism. Notice that those who are ethnically Jews, but no longer are Jews in practice - they are now socialists or Communists - turn just as viciously against their own people.

Those who hate the Jews hate God. It's not more complicated than that.

5/10/2008 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger El Baboso said...

I dunno, Wretchard. I sat one day and figured out all of the persecutions that my ancestors experienced. Freisians declared heretics and murdered. 90% of all Mexica killed through disease and overwork. German Catholic university professor run out of Germany during the Kulturkampf. Scots murdered and persecuted by English, etc., etc., etc.

Now imagine that all of those ancestors belonged to one long-lived ethnic group. That's quite a history of persection.

5/10/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger RKV said...

"Judaism and Jews present thorny problems for those cultures, religions, and nations that have a collectivist instinct."

There were plenty of Russian Jews who supported the Communist revolution (e.g. Trotsky), and the kibbutz was and is certainly a collectivist institution. David Ben Gurion was a socialist. And today, Israel's current economy has a large government sector according to the CIA World Factbook. IOW bullshit. Of course, I think the current US economy is borderline socialist.

5/10/2008 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"The concept of freedom, a condition of human existence that is a central feature of the Judaic tradition. A direct consequence of freedom is that we own the things we make, the services we perform."

As an American and a Christian, I see a linkage between anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism. Our founding fathers were Judeo-Christians, i.e.: Christians with an appreciation for their moral and religious roots in Judaism - Christians with an appreciation for the moral code and higher law of the Old Testament.

Through both faith and reason they discerned correctly that our life, liberty and creative pursuit of happiness (Creativity it’s self) are gifts from God - not gifts from the man-made state. Thomas Jefferson stated this explicitly, and not just in the Declaration of Independence: "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?" Then through reason and common sense they devised a just government to secure our God-given rights.

What our founders accomplished has given us a formula for self-esteem, self-reliance and success, and thus for the envy and hatred of others.

We (Jews and Americans) are hated for our moral stand - for individual rights rather than collectivism, for life over death, for reason over irrationality, for liberty over tyranny, for creativity over laziness and envy, and for goodness over evil. These moral standards and values lead to worldly success, so the hatred of the envious can be seen as dual - hatred of the Jewish and the Judeo-Christian moral code and the successful lives which then come as a result.

5/10/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Just so that you guys understand. The two greatest gifts that Jesus gives to believers is 1.) Jesus enables me entry into the presence of God. Before Jesus only the high priest of Israel and then only once a year was allowed into the presence of God. Now all believers can enter in Jesus into the presence of God. 2.) the Second great gift that Jesus gives to all who believe in Jesus is that they are grafted into the line of Abraham.

5/10/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

Just so that you guys understand. The two greatest gifts that Jesus gives to believers is 1.) Jesus enables me entry into the presence of God. Before Jesus only the high priest of Israel and then only once a year was allowed into the presence of God. Now all believers can enter in Jesus into the presence of God. 2.) the Second great gift that Jesus gives to all who believe in Jesus is that they are grafted into the line of Abraham.

5/10/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Charles: Just so that you guys understand. The two greatest gifts that Jesus gives to believers is 1.) Jesus enables me entry into the presence of God. Before Jesus only the high priest of Israel and then only once a year was allowed into the presence of God. Now all believers can enter in Jesus into the presence of God. 2.) the Second great gift that Jesus gives to all who believe in Jesus is that they are grafted into the line of Abraham.

When you say only the High Priest could enter into the presence of God, does that mean you believe God is not omnipresent, existing in all times and places?

You also forgot to mention the importance of obedience to God. Rev.22:14 Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

(Full disclosure, I am a Seventh-Day Adventist)

5/10/2008 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Lucky Pierre said...

Buddy Larsen: Few realize that Hebrew was a dead language, deader even than Latin, which has always lived on in the academy. Israel, the new one of course, rescued it, rescued an entire dead language, and in a mere few decades brought it back to everday useage, restored it to modern life.

There were some Jews who thought that itself was blasphemous. Since Hebrew was the language of the Torah, it was thought that using Hebrew to speak about everyday mundane things would be a divine affront.

5/10/2008 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

Jesus taught an unmediated access to God, and his followers turned around and made him the mediator.

"Why do you call me good?"

"What I can do, you can do."

"The Kingdom is spread upon the earth and people don't see it."

etc.

The proclaimer became the proclaimed.

Before Jesus only the high priest of Israel and then only once a year was allowed into the presence of God.

Tell that to the prophets.

5/10/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

The idea that memory itself, the continuity of consciousness, which was the outcome of the literacy of the Jews, is the foundation of the awareness of persecution and henceforth given the name "antisemitism" is an interesting one.

Because in that case memory is the very curse of the Jews while simultaneously the foundation of their identity. Antisemitism, or at least the memory of an history of persecution is the flip side of the coin of ethnic identity. Could one exist without the other? Is it possible to be Jewish without being oppressed by an endless history of woe? Does one define the other?

Let's perform a thought experiment and imagine a culture without memory. Fortunately or unfortunately such a culture exists. Nothing is remembered in the Philippines. There's probably a whole generation that can't remember what Bataan Day is or what it stands for. Marcos and his evils are very nearly forgotten. But on the other hand resentments don't survive in a culture without memory. The American counterinsurgency campaign in the Philippines and the Japanese occupation are both forgotten. Everyone lives in a happy present without a care for the future or a recollection of the past. In other words, bahala na.

The question is whether memorilessness actually confers benefits. Is there some sense in which the Filipino has the advantage on the Jew? Ask yourself: what is the evolutionary advantage of death? If cumulative memory provided a learning advantage then nature would have evolved ten thousand year old life forms. My guess is that memory imposes costs as well provides benefits. And there may come a point in a man's life when it becomes too dangerous for that consciousness to survive for longer. So that for whatever reason, biology administers the elixir of forgetfulness and the child begins anew, in a world forever remade.

But while individuals die, the Jews by the preservation of memory have beaten the odds. They partake in a kind of immortality. And this, I suspect, is why many cultures fear the Jews, as they fear all things that live beyond the span of men. But wait: what about the Chinese? They too have spanned the ages. That's for another post. They are another story.

5/11/2008 12:28:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/11/2008 05:00:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"My guess is that memory imposes costs as well provides benefits.
And there may come a point in a man's life when it becomes too dangerous for that consciousness to survive for longer.

(or there may be short term benefits and longer term costs)

So that for whatever reason, biology administers the elixir of forgetfulness and the child begins anew, in a world forever remade."
---
Examples abound of culture and spirit outdistancing the limitations of "nature."
(from which they sprang)
---
China does indeed present another conundrum.

5/11/2008 05:07:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

In evolutionary terms, my guess is you need to have someone around who can remember where to find water during a hundred year drought. Then the tribe can march there and get into a war over water. So you need a lot of young guys stupid and naive enough -- or, rather, uneducated and unsophisticated enough -- to fight the war. And some tribe member will say, "Why are we trading blood for water?" Even though the answer is obvious, since we all need water to live. But what if they lied? What if the war was really about milk and honey? Milk and honey! Well, that's good, too. I like to put the honey on biscuits and the milk in my coffee. Where was I?

5/11/2008 05:15:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Idiot!
It's all about OIL!
(and Global Climate Change)

5/11/2008 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Examples abound of culture and spirit outdistancing the limitations of "nature." "
...and outlasting them, as well.

5/11/2008 05:23:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Alexis,

As W points out, that historical memory does not exist. The anti Semite is just a predator eying an easy prey, the same as he always has. That's really all there is to it, a grab for an easy loot.

5/11/2008 09:03:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Mat's right -- history is full of property grabs described in the lit as mysterious pogroms. A separate group, easily defined so the general population won't worry about it happening to them, all those well-kept properties that 'those people' own because they unfairly stress accomplishment and work hard, mmm boy, says the indebted King.

5/11/2008 09:30:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5/11/2008 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

It is funny that envy took so long to come to the fore.

W: In your clip from the climax of Raiders, there is that moment when the covetous NAZIs felt they had grasped the power of the Jew's God. And we are worried too.

However, they are disappointed in that all they had was dust falling through their fingers. THAT is the "happiness" that envy has in store for all who covet.

For in the scheme of things, surely the tenth commandment is a prescription for personal happiness: "don't wish for the happiness you see in others." Don't buy what the "social justice" peddlers are selling -- for your own good.

5/11/2008 02:11:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Buddy was the first here to point out envy's role in this equation. Although the "choosing" was mutual -- Abe and Isaac had agreed -- it is not very clear as to what it all meant. History tells the tale: not so very easy.

And so what would then happen was natural.

Many who followed those two would say "who was my grandfather to speak for me and "in place of sacrifice," specify what my life is dedicated to?" Many don't want the "blessing" but then envy the position "the blessed" get to sit at the head of the table. That is a flaw in human nature that must be fought for one to attain happiness.

Kudo's to the rest of you (Dakota, Some, Bill, Dave, JJ, Storm) for also recognizing envy's role.

5/11/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger Pascal Fervor said...

Long before Jew hatred could come on the scene, there had to be Jews. That arguably began with the giving of the Law at Sinai.

The last of the Ten Commandments is "Thou shalt not covet anything that is thy neighbor's."

It follows from the faith that God is each man's closest neighbor.

One who envies all that is His is surely on the road to hating Him, which is an outright violation of the First Commandment.

Fred: 5/10/2008 07:39:00 PM
Those who hate the Jews hate God. It's not more complicated than that.

Even before the hatred of Jews was the hatred of God. "God will have war from Amalek generation to generation" [Exodus 17:16] was a precognition of what was inevitable. Israelites would forever have to deal with Amalekites both from without and from within.

As I pointed out here two weeks ago, Amalek was a grandson of Esau. Esau may have reconciled with Israel, mostly because he saw in Israel great promise and he remained materialistic (Isaac was "blind" to his eldest weaknesses and rebellions much due material loves provided only by Esau -- a warning for us all).

Clearly in Amalek we see where Esau's strengths turned to arrogance may lead. Hatred for God the hallmark of one with Amalek's attitude. Thus, we see Rebbecca was right. Esau was clearly the wrong one to carry the covenant forward: Matthew 7.16, Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits."

Still, through all time, many in the families of Abe and Ike and Jake, did much to opt out from the faith. The same with families of devout Christians. We do what we can to influence our children, and we pray the worst who may issue from our fold is Esau and not Amalek.

I have pointed out elsewhere that Amalek is said to be "first among nations."[Numbers 24:20]

Note that it does not say first of ALL nations. It implies that Amalek, the hater of God, in endemic in the leadership -- the first -- of all nations. Ultimately we see it in the tyrants and in the Left's isms "I will do to my people what needs to be done just as God does."

Hatred of God, and hence of believing Christians and Jews, is implicit among all statists. They will not be permitted to become demigods in a world that believes in God.

The Statist envies God powers and the love of His followers. Oh yes, Big Brother wants you to love him. But your love for Big Brother is dust in his mouth. So, in Big Brother's bitterness due his lack of achieving happiness, his future is "a boot stomping on a human face -- forever." [Orwell]

5/11/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger unaha-closp said...

Citing as "astounding proof" of widely held cultural belief an obscure quote by Adolf Hitler - this is a joke.

5/11/2008 08:09:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Nazism, and Marxism have one major trait in common to varying degrees – Judeocentrism. To many people, Israel is “The Holy Land”. Not a holy land – “The Holy Land”, as if there were no other land that is sacred.

Jews and Nazis can always agree that Jews are the center of the universe.

There is an implicit friction between Judeocentrists and those whose religious worldview does not orbit Jerusalem. This friction exists within Judaism itself, between those who see G-d as primarily universal and those who see G-d as primarily concerned with Jews. There is also a major difference between Judeocentric hatred of Jews and any hatred of Jews that is merely an expression of hatred of a neighbor.

According to the geography of a Judeocentric universe, a Jew cannot come from the East or from the West, nor from the North nor from the South, but always from the Center, for the Judeocentric universe will always put the Jew at the gravitational center of the cosmos. So, Westerners will see Jews as Orientals and Easterners will see Jews as Occidentals. The Jewish faith gave Jews advantages in trade between Muslim and Christian regions during the Middle Ages, so the face of the Jew became not merely the face of the other, but also imprinted itself as the face of international trade.

Japan’s reaction to the ranting and raving of Judeocentric anti-Semites from Europe was the Fugu Plan. If one were to take the claims of anti-Jewish polemicists at face value, the Fugu Plan would be an excellent idea. Some people, when presented with fantastic stories told by Judeocentric Jew haters, would seek to discover the skills and customs that would make Jews so seemingly powerful. If Jews were so godlike, perhaps it would be wise to steal their fire.

5/11/2008 10:20:00 PM  
Blogger bobal said...

I am not the Sultan, and I am not objecting; but if that concentration of the cunningest brains in the world are going to be made into a free country (bar Scotland), I think it would be politic to stop it. It will not be well to let that race find out its strength. If the horses knew theirs, we should not ride anymore.

Twain concluded by observing:

The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then . . . passed away. The Greek and the Roman followed. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts. … All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?

Jewish Virtual Library--Mark Twain and the Jews

5/11/2008 10:46:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

Spengler has written about this subject too.

He too, sees it as driven by a form of jealousy.

Something else about the Jews, however, gnaws at the soul of Europeans as well as Muslims. The heart of the problem is the world's perception that the Jews truly are an eternal people, not subject to the curse of mortality that hangs over the heads of the peoples of the world. Writing of Europe's population crisis on April 8 (Why Europe chooses extinction)I cited the theologian Franz Rosenzweig: "All religion, Rosenzweig argued, responds to man's anxiety in the face of death [against which philosophy is like a child stuffing his fingers in his ears and shouting, 'I can't hear you!']. The pagans of old faced death with the confidence that their race would continue. But tribes and nations anticipate their own extinction just as individuals anticipate their own death, he added: 'The love of the nations for their own nationhood is sweet and pregnant with the presentiment of death'. Each nation, he wrote, knows that some day other peoples will occupy their lands, and their language and culture will be interred in dusty books."

Under globalization, the world faces a great extinction of the peoples, the worst since the collapse of the Roman Empire, I have argued on numerous occasions. Every week two languages of the 6,000 spoken on the planet become extinct forever. Most of these are tribal tongues from New Guinea, with only a few hundred speakers. At present birth rates, several European languages will be at risk some time in the next century.

Apart from China and India, of how many cultures can we say that they are not at risk? Despite its high rate of population growth, the Muslim world feels fragile. Few Muslim countries have adapted well to globalization, and the Muslim world feels besieged by the encroaching culture of the West. Jewish theology states that God elected the Jews as his people, and that the covenant between God and the descendants of Abraham never would perish as long as the Jews remained true to it. Most modern Jews are profoundly uncomfortable with this notion ("God of Mercy, choose a different people!" goes the joke).

Yet the Jews have existed for well over 3,000 years, and Hebrew is the only language West of the Indus that is spoken today more or less as it was spoken 3,000 years ago. How improbable is it that a nation of former slaves, a race of shepherds rather than city builders who had to hire outside contractors to build a temple to their God, is the sole survivor of the civilizations of the time?

Every people wishes to be eternal, to be, as it were, God's chosen. Adolf Hitler's notion of the Master Race, some commentators aver, is an adaptation of the Jewish notion of election. Hitler's determination to destroy the Jews stemmed from his belief that Germany could not really be the Chosen People as long as the Jews remained in existence. The more vulnerable become the fading peoples of Western Europe, the hotter burns their wrath against the Eternal People. Americans, of course, are not a people but a concept. America is where individuals go to abandon their culture, language, customs and history, to be recast in the melting-pot and emerge as Americans.

5/12/2008 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Remember that Mark Twain's fear of an all-powerful Jewish nation antedates modern Israel and the sixty-year hot-war of extinction being waged--by race, by religion, by oil, by geography, by the international left, by the legions of the global idiocracy--against her.

Twain in his wildest dreams could never have even begun to imagine this incredible Goliath, swollen and dripping with oil and pomo nihilism.

All-powerful, eternal, invulnerable? Tell it to little David (or Kiryat Shmona).

5/12/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

Storm-Rider said...

I agree with whiskey_199 - anti-Semitism is a reaction to a group of people who have consistently pointed to a Divine Law - a moral law from God which is higher than that of Pharaoh, Caesar or Mohammed. The Ten Commandments still irritate a great many people.

It is this same higher law acknowledged in our Declaration of Independence which is at the root of much anti-Americanism - a linkage to moral law which links Judeo-Christian America to the Jews and to Jewish Israel.


The Ten Commandments don't irritate "a great many" people. It's who's applying them, and how. Remember that The Jews have a closed society. One must apply to be a member and pass an examination by the Orthodox. The born-again Jew and the Gentile are not members. To this day, born-again Jews are excluded from Jewish society. Of course, the Orthodox maintain that they are entitled to ignore non-Jews. Is this a reason for hatred? Of course not. But it's certain to engender a gnawing irritation. The born again Jews, the reform Jews, and the socialists rebelled, most going their separate ways as separate cultures. For the most part, they can coexist peacefully with traditional Jews and, indeed, the born again Jews (Christians) always make room for the Jews within Christian societies. But other groups are offended by Jewish indifference, and hatred boils over. I have Jewish business partners and acquaintances and, as a Christian, I do my best to get over their idiosyncracies. They sure can be annoying, though. No wonder Jesus had a lot to say on this topic!

5/12/2008 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"I have Jewish business partners and acquaintances and, as a Christian, I do my best to get over their idiosyncracies. They sure can be annoying, though."

The probability that you have "Jewish business partners" is equal to the probability of C-fudd going to shul this week. Like all antisemites, you're a compulsive liar, as well as a misfuck and born loser.

5/12/2008 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger dperry said...

Bobal:

"The idea of a Hitler in Heaven after a death bed conversion is one good reason for understanding Jesus in a gnostic mode."

Then again, maybe it's a good reason for valuing works as well as faith.

Katchoo:

"and warns Timothy to avoid the snares of "science falsely so-called.""

Back in the days when the King James Version was written, the word "science" simply meant knowledge, and most modern versions translate accordingly. This is therefore not a critique of science as we know it today. Nor is it a critique of reason; it's a warning against taking everything intellectuals say as being the truth.

RKV:
"There were plenty of Russian Jews who supported the Communist revolution (e.g. Trotsky), and the kibbutz was and is certainly a collectivist institution. David Ben Gurion was a socialist."

Except that most of these Jews (ethnically) were no longer Jews (spiritually) Coincidence? Perhaps not.

Bobal:

"It seems to me the Bible must be read with a little humor and imagination."

And also a in-depth guide:

www.heavenlydoctrines.org

(which hopefully will be back up by the time you read this.)

5/12/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

Blogger Gary Rosen said...
[Joseph] "... They sure can be annoying, though."

[Rosen]"Like all antisemites, you're a compulsive liar, as well as a misfuck and born loser.


There, you see what I mean?! You've given us a living word picture, and I thank you for it. In all my days, could never have fabricated a better example.

5/12/2008 10:29:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Anybody can be a Texan. Except, to be a real Texan, you need to be born here. And you need to sound like one, which you won't unless your mother was one. And you need to have an emotional bond with and allegiance to the saga and the soil of the Lone Star State. And if your eyes don't brighten, if you don't get a little spine tingle, if you don't take a quick breath and stand a little straighter when you hear the word "Alamo", then you may qualify on the other counts but you can't come into the inner circle. And yes a lot of people can't stand us. Ask George Bush, who'll soon be livin' up the road about a haf are's drive from hyar.

5/12/2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger BrianFH said...

The world is deeply indebted to Jewish brilliance. Discrimination and persecution are just the system's way of keeping the pressure on so they don't get lazy and unmotivated to excel.

5/12/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"The world is deeply indebted to Jewish brilliance. Discrimination and persecution are just the system's way of keeping the pressure on so they don't get lazy and unmotivated to excel."


I'm sure Vespasian and his son Titus would agree. Especially when short on blood money to fund the brilliance of the Colosseum and other imperial glories.

5/13/2008 01:49:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"There, you see what I mean?"

Have I annoyed you? Good, I love to annoy antisemites.

5/13/2008 09:38:00 PM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

[Gary Rosen]"Have I annoyed you? Good, I love to annoy antisemites."

Hardly. But at least you understand that you're annoying, and that's a good start. Do you ever wish that you could see yourself as others see you?

5/13/2008 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

jj, my Texas post above was writ for you. I was wondering if Texans, or any other 'closed group', also annoy you.

Honest question -- because otherwise you've been stereotyping with one of the oldest stereotypes around--"annoying".

Not long ago, many top American hotels were 'restricted' on that basis, that other guests would be annoyed by Jewish guests. Search the term -- it'll open your eyes.

As far as how others see Gary -- he's been consistently hilarious across several sites, for years now, calling 'em as he sees 'em.

5/14/2008 09:33:00 AM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

[Buddy Larsen]"jj, my Texas post above was writ for you. I was wondering if Texans, or any other 'closed group', also annoy you."

No, of course not! I have no doubt that if I needed help by the side of the road, that Dubya, or any other Texan, would stop and lend me a hand. The Orthodox, on the other hand, are not obliged to help anyone except the Orthodox. This is annoying when one needs help.

It's perfectly fine for me to find a group of people 'annoying' and to find ways of dealing with it. Orthodox Jews can be incredibly annoying in their own way, and they openly acknowledge their annoying behaviour. They even talk about it on their own websites. Even though I am civilized in how I behave with them, I don't have to be shut-up about the topic. Even Jesus himself had his fill and went on and on about how annoying they were. Instead, the Jews claimed that they not annoying, they're simply being righteous by ignoring non-believers.

This is the question we have to deal with: what are the limits in discussing annoying behavior? If someone asks for an explanation of the roots of antisemitism, can we offer explanations, or do we have to pretend that it's a complete mystery? What do we do if a group of people has had officially approved , openly admitted, annoying behavior since the beginning of time? Since it's a free country, my question is: am I free to talk about it, or do I have to keep quiet?

5/14/2008 01:48:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Well, extremists of anything are generally annoying -- but you moved the goalposts. If you were black, and i said that i had plenty of black associates, but that you folks eat too much watermelon and fried chicken, you'd be insulted at the same time as agreeing with me i had a right to my opinion, at the same time as wondering what business it is of mine what you eat.

5/14/2008 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

Buddy:

Here's the original goal posts from the original post: [AB Yehoshua] concludes that neither the Inquisition, nor Islam, nor Hitler nor anyone else can claim the dubious credit of inventing [antisemitism]. It is a reaction to the Jew himself." AB doesn't even try to explain his last line, just leaving it as some kind of riddle.

I don't think I was moving any goal posts by suggesting that maybe antisemitism didn't come from nothing, but because Jews can be annoying. I've had both black and Jewish colleagues shout at me in public (not in a nice way) for eating pork in a restaurant. This is annoying. It's annoying like Jermiah Wright's sermons are annoying, however a lot more personal. But I'm a civilized guy and can deal with it. And yet my colleagues thought that I was the annoying one for eating pork in their presence.

In another time and place, that kind of annoying behavior would boil over into a grudge or revenge. Thence to a kernel of racism or antisemitism. To this day, some groups maintain their right to continue to be annoying instead of improving their behavior. In answer to the original post, perhaps this is how antisemitism started, way back in the beginning of time.

That's all. You know what I'm sayin'? It's just a guess.

5/14/2008 06:45:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"Do you ever wish that you could see yourself as others see you?"

I can see that I am liked and respected by my wide circle of friends and coworkers, few of whom are Jewish and none of whom are infected with the antisemitic personality disorder. This is because unlike jj joseph they are competent, achieving, decent people and thus do not need this pathetically neurotic crutch to deal with life. So I don't call them "misfucks" and they think I'm a swell guy.

5/15/2008 02:15:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

"I have no doubt that if I needed help by the side of the road, that Dubya, or any other Texan, would stop and lend me a hand. The Orthodox, on the other hand, are not obliged to help anyone except the Orthodox. This is annoying when one needs help."

Considering what you devils put these souls through, I'm surprised they're not obliged to run you over. I certainly would.

5/15/2008 03:39:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

re mat's post, the other night i was reading this thread and channel surfing tv. History Channel was touring synagogues of the world. i came in on the Dulaney Street Synagogue in Budapest. "Second largest synagogue in the world" said the narrator, IIRC.

Narrator told story of 18th century Hungarian king who invited into Hungary the Jews being evicted from Spain.

In time, says the narrator, these new Hungarians raised this great building, in bricks of three different colors: the three colors of the Hungarian flag. This was, said the narrator, in gratitude to their new country. They even named it "Dulaney Street" because it is on Dulaney Street, in Budapest.

It evolved into a great thriving center of eastern European life and culture, said the narrator.

Then came Nazis. They took the place, and used it as the collection center for the ghetto they established by terror. They announced the terror by murdering 1,500 Jews inside their own Dulaney Street synagogue. These people are now buried in the synagogue's courtyard, as far as possible under headstones with their own names.

Narrator continued: after the war was over, the people came back, but for them the great synagogue was changed, had become "a place of disillusionment and death".

So in that courtyard they built a life-sized weeping willow tree in stainless steel, with 600,000 leaves. Each leaf has a name on it -- the name of a Hungarian put to death by the Nazis for the crime of being.

Then, many of the Dulaney Street people moved again, to America, where they joined others raising the Temple Emanuel in New York City.

And that was the end of that segment in the TV show. I keep thinking about those bricks of three different colors. How inexpressibly sad.

5/15/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

Good grief - you guys are such a bunch of frightened sissies, you can't even debate a simple question! And the question was posed by a Jewish author, too! Your idea of a good effort is to fantasize about running your opponent down and calling him names. I'm really disappointed.

To demonstrate the low quality of debate on this thread, I'll ask a closing question: If a Jew said the same thing I said, would you still come up with all this fake outrage? Consider this quote from an Orthodox Jewish website:

"Orthodoxy views non-Jews as inferiors. In an ideal world, according to Orthodoxy, Jews would have no contact with non-Jews at all. Non-Jews would be completely shunned.

. . . non-Jews, experiencing this shunning, might react with hatred and, as long as they are the majority and greatly outnumber us, this hatred could lead to violence and Jewish deaths."
Ref: http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/01/orthodox-judais.html

Oh well, if nothing else, maybe you guys are good at math.

5/15/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

I believe that the true scales of justice, the one way off in the great beyond where all the souls must pass, will not have a thumb one on side. There'll be no great punishment for small crimes, nor small punishments for great crimes. I also believe that this belief is a dream, a dream in the here and now, that if we treat as only a dream becomes a nightmare on earth.

5/15/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Alexis said...

/ NEWS FLASH /

I’m annoying. Why? Those who do not covet are always annoying to those who are consumed with covetousness. Any market-dominant minority (Jews, Lebanese Shi’ites, Chinese, Koreans) generally admires learning; a rich man will feel guilty that he couldn’t become a rabbi, an ayatollah, or a mandarin. In such societies, the rider guides the horse; the rabbi is the rider and the merchant is the horse. Meanwhile, market-subordinate majorities usually covet the success of the outsider, failing to comprehend that the magical secret of the outsider is his very lack of covetousness.

Here I am and I am not a Jew. And I’m still able to be intensely annoying to a certain kind of person who also gets annoyed by Jews. Once one comprehends that the Tenth Commandment unlocks immense power, one becomes a source of discomfort to both the envious and those who seek to be envied. The power of the Tenth Commandment must not be underestimated.

Tit for tat works. When one is shunned, shun back. When one is sneered at, sneer back. When one is condescended to, condescend back. He who covets the affections of a bigot will always be disappointed. And Jews, like other groups, have their fair share of bigots.

I sometimes wonder if Burger King ads in the 1970’s and 1980’s were implicitly anti-Semitic. The villain of the story was The Duke of Doubt, who constantly doubted the magic of The Burger King. For whatever reason, the Duke of Doubt was my hero; I perceived The Burger King to be a pompous jerk whose charisma I could never understand. Yet, I can see how followers of The Burger King could get immensely annoyed at The Duke of Doubt. Intense loyalty to The Burger King combined with repressed doubts about his magic could conceivably lead to rage, the kind of rage that could lead some of The Burger King’s followers to attempt to kill The Duke of Doubt.

5/15/2008 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

it ain't just you, Alexis -- and i'm glad to know it ain't just me either. Burger King has been thru many different ad campaigns, but they have all, invariably, struck me as strange -- some sort of psychologically weird subliminal message. i just figured i wuz nutz.
:-\

5/15/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Tit for tat works said Alexis. That's "an eye for an eye" -- the command to limit vengeance: for an eye, no more than an eye, not the other eye, nor the eyes of a family, a village, a whole people. An otherness for an otherness -- and nothing more.

5/15/2008 12:41:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"I've had both black and Jewish colleagues shout at me in public (not in a nice way) for eating pork in a restaurant."

Let me get this straight. You're out to lunch with your "colleagues", one of them an Orthodox Jew (picturing a big hat, sidelocks and beard) and the other a dude from the Nation of Islam? Ooookay. Never mind the fact that I've never even heard of an Orthodox Jew (let alone a secular Jew like myself) caring whether a Gentile kept kosher. Or that a "black" objecting to pork would have to be from the small minority of Muslims. And even they probably don't care that much, else the tasty BBQ joints that proliferate in black neighborhoods would be getting firebombed, or at least picketed.

"jj joseph", you really haven't accomplished much here except to prove what a liar and fool you are.

5/15/2008 09:41:00 PM  
Blogger JJ Joseph said...

You see what I mean? Gary's been blathering, blustering, and hurling the f-word around like a loser - but still hasn't faced up to the issue. Over and over, you guys debate like teenage dropouts. What do you do with your spare time - watch TV in your mom's basement? So far, not one of you has been brave enough to try to directly address AB's original question.

5/15/2008 10:30:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Buddy, (off topic)
I lived in Houston for four years and I noticed that the heavy South Texas accent has largely vanished. I realized that we are one of the first generations raised largely on TV, and that heavy regional accents may be a thing of the past.

I did, however meet one South Texas lady out walking her dog and, when I asked the dog's name was told "My dawg's name is Bayer"

"Bayer? Like the aspirin?"

"No! Bay-er!!"

"That's an odd name" I said, "Does he bay at the moon?"

"No! Bayer!! You know, Lahk Grizzley-Bayer!!""

5/16/2008 09:25:00 PM  

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