Author Topic: A History Of Judaism And Present-Day Orthodox Judaism  (Read 10244 times)

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A History Of Judaism And Present-Day Orthodox Judaism
« on: November 25, 2014, 02:17:58 PM »

… At Bibi Netanyahu’s dinner table in Jerusalem, I listened with crawling dismay to Bibi talking about the future of his country. “In the next war, if we do it right we’ll have a chance to get all the Arabs out”, he said. “We can clear the west Bank, sort out Jerusalem.” He joked about the Golani Brigade, the Israeli infantry force in which so many men were North African or Yemenite Jews. “They’re okay as long as they’re led by white officers.” He grinned. He and his kin despised what they perceived as the decadence of the West and of Europe, such feeble friends to Israel in her hours of need. I saw revealed at tables of that sort in those days a scorn for weakness, an exaggerated respect for strength and toughness, which made me deeply uneasy because it possessed a historical resonance of the most baneful kind.
Extract from Max Hastings book, Going To The Wars


– AS DESCRIBED IN ISRAEL SHAHAK’S Jewish History, JewishReligion


The Book
The Author
The Author’s Exposé
Shahak: The Key To Understanding Israeli Politics And Zionism
Shahak: The Nature Of The Jewish State, And The Dangers It Poses
A Note On The Arrangement Of This Article

Judaism To The End Of The Talmudic Period
The Talmud And Its Structure
The Legal System Of The Talmud

Jewish History To The End Of The Talmudic Period
Ancient Jewish History
The Period Of The Dual Centres Of Palestine And Mesopotamia

Classical Judaism
Judaism Is Not A Monotheistic Religion
Classical Judaism And Jewish Mysticism – The Cabbala
Interpretation Of The Bible
Classical Judaism And The Dispensations
Social Aspects Of Dispensations
The Laws Against Non-Jews

Jewish Deceptions About Judaism In The Classical Period
Attacks On, And Censorship Of, Judaism, And The Jewish Response
Historic deceptions about Judaism in detail

Jewish History In The Period Of Classical Judaism
Major Features Of Jewish Society In The Period Of Classical Judaism
Jewry’s Ignorance Of Jewry’s Contemporary State
Anti Jewish Persecutions

Orthodox Judaism In Modern Times
Jewish Deceptions About Judaism In Modern Times

Modern deceptions about Judaism in detail
Jewish History In Modern Times
The Condition Of Jewry At The Beginning Of Modern Times
The Breakdown Of The Totalitarian Jewish Community
The effect of liberation from outside
Anti Jewish Persecutions
Modern Antisemitism
The Zionist Response To Anti-Semitism
Major Features Of Israeli Society
Israeli Expansionism
The terrible effect of Jewish religious fanaticism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Failure To Speak Out Against Zionism And Jewish Rascism

Pervasive Influence Of Orthodox Judaism And Zionism
Effect Of Orthodox Judaism And Zionism On Israeli Policies
The Baleful Influence Of Some Diaspora Jews, Especially Some Jewish-Americans

Confronting the Past
The Test Facing Both Israeli And Diaspora Jews
Our Own Comments - The Good Guys And The Bad Guys


The Book
Israel Shahak’s Jewish History, Jewish Religion was first published in 1994 and reprinted with a new foreword in 1997. It is therefore several years old now, but the picture he presents is unchanged. In fact, evidence from the Israeli army’s recent assault on Gaza supports his views. Today, it is even more important that his voice is heard.

The blurb on the back cover of the reprint (its author is not identified) gives a brief summary: “While Muslim fundamentalism is vilified in the West, Jewish fundamentalism goes largely unremarked. In this highly acclaimed and controversial work, Israel Shahak embarks on a provocative study of the extent to which the [supposedly] secular state of Israel has been shaped by religious orthodoxies of an invidious … nature. Drawing on his study of the Talmud and rabbinical laws, Shahak argues that the roots of Jewish chauvinism and religious fanaticism must be understood, before it is too late.”

The Author
In the forewords to the first and second printings, by Gore Vidal and the late Edward Said respectively, details are given of the author:
  • “Emeritus professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem” …  “Born in Warsaw in 1933 and spent his childhood in the concentration camp at Belsen. In 1945, he came to Israel; served in Israeli military.”
  • “ … began to see for himself what Zionism and the practices of the state of Israel entailed in suffering and deprivation not only for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza, but for the substantial non-Jewish (that is, Palestinian minority) people who did not leave in the expulsions of [the] 1948 [war], remained and then became Israeli citizens [some of whom then suffered subsequent expulsions].”
  • “This then led him to a systematic inquiry into the nature of the Israeli state, its history, ideological and political discourses which, he quickly discovered, were unknown to most non-Israelis, especially Diaspora Jews for whom Israel was a marvelous, democratic, and miraculous state deserving unconditional support and defense.”
  • Edward Said: “He … stated the unadorned truth, without consideration for whether that truth, if stated plainly, might not be ‘good’ for Israelis or the Jews.” Said notes also that Shahak is “profoundly … anti-racist in his writings and public statements; there was one standard, and one standard only, for infractions against human rights …” and that, as a result, “… he became an extremely unpopular man in Israel.” He states that “Shahak’s mode of telling the truth has always been rigorous and uncompromising … no attempt made to put it ‘nicely’, no effort expended on making the truth palatable … ”
  • Said again: “Shahak … is an absolute and unwavering secularist … What is also surprising is that Shahak is not, properly speaking, a man of the left. In a whole variety of ways he is very critical of Marxism, and traces his principles to European free-thinkers, liberals, and courageous public intellectuals like Voltaire and Orwell. What makes Shahak even more formidable as a supporter of Palestinian rights is that he does not succumb to the sentimental idea that because the Palestinians have suffered under Israel they must be excused their follies. Far from it: Shahak has always been quite critical of the PLO’s sloppiness, its ignorance of Israel, its inability to resolutely oppose Israel, its shabby compromises and cult of personality, its general lack of seriousness …” Said notes too that Shahak was extremely critical of the Israeli peace camp for its compromises and self-serving constraints. Said: “ … he was never a politician: he simply did not believe in all the posturing and circumlocutions that people with political ambitions were always willing to indulge. He fought for equality, truth, real peace and dialogue with the Palestinians; the official Israeli doves fought for arrangements that would make possible the kind of peace that brought Oslo, and which Shahak was one of the first to denounce.”
  • And again: “ … But it is as a scholar of Judaism that he towers over so many others, since it is Judaism that has occupied his energies as a scholar and political activist from the beginning …”
  • Gore Vidal: “He was – and still is – a humanist who detests imperialism, whether in the name of the God of Abraham or of George Bush … he opposes with great wit and learning the totalitarian strain in Judaism.” … “Needless to say, Israel’s authorities deplore Shahak.”
  • Finally, Said again: “Shahak is a very brave man who should be honored for his services to humanity. But in today’s world the example of indefatigable work, unrelenting moral energy, and intellectual brilliance that he has set are an embarrassment to the status quo …”

The Author’s Exposé
Edward Said, in his foreword, sums up the account in Shahak’s book:
  • “A great deal of what he writes has had the function of exposing propaganda and lies for what they are. Israel is unique in the world for the excuses made on its behalf; journalists either do not see or write what they know to be true for fear of blacklisting or retaliation; political, cultural, and intellectual figures, especially in Europe and the United States, go out of their way to praise Israel and shower it with the greatest largesse of any nation on earth, even though many of them are aware of the injustices of the country. They say nothing about those. The result is an ideological smokescreen that more than any single individual Shahak has laboured to dissipate. A Holocaust victim and survivor himself, he knows the meaning of anti-Semitism. Yet unlike most others he does not allow the horrors of the Holocaust to manipulate the truth of what in the name of the Jewish people Israel has done to the Palestinians. For him, suffering is not the exclusive possession of one group of victims; it should instead be, but rarely is, the basis for humanizing the victims, making it incumbent on them not to cause suffering of the kind that they suffered. Shahak has admonished his compatriots  not to forget that an appalling history of anti-Semitism endured does not entitle them to do what they wish, just because they have suffered. No wonder then he has been so unpopular, since by saying such things, Shahak has morally undermined Israel’s laws and political practises towards the Palestinians.”
  • “… [Shahak’s book] is therefore a powerful contribution [to the study of Judaism] …It is no less than a succinct history of ‘classical’ as well as more recent Judaism, as those apply to an understanding of modern Israel.” Shahak shows that:
    • “… the obscure, narrowly chauvinist prescriptions against various undesirable Others are to be found in Judaism … ”
    • “… but he then goes on to show the continuity between those and the way Israel treats Palestinians, Christians and other non-Jews.”
    • “[so that] a devastating portrait of prejudice, hypocrisy and religious intolerance emerges”
    • “[and] what is important about it is that Shahak’s description:
      • gives the lie not only to the fictions about Israel’s democracy that abound in the Western media
      • but it also implicitly indicts Arab leaders and intellectuals for their scandalously ignorant view of that state, especially when they pontificate to their people that Israel has really changed and now wants peace with Palestinians and other Arabs.”
Shahak: The Key To Understanding Israeli Politics And Zionism
  • states that he realised from his studies of “[the religious] Talmudic laws governing the relations between Jews and non-Jews, that neither Zionism … nor Israeli politics since the inception of the state of Israel, nor particularly the policies of the Jewish supporters of Israel in the diaspora [what we would now call the major component of the pro-Israel Lobby], could be understood unless the deeper influences of those laws, and the worldview which they both create and express, is taken into account.”  [our italics]
  • adds that “the actual policies Israel pursued after the Six Day War, and in particular the apartheid character of the Israeli regime in the Occupied territories and the attitude of the majority of Jews to the issue of the rights of the Palestinians, even in the abstract, have merely strengthened this conviction.”
  • notes that “any form of racism, discrimination and xenophobia becomes more potent and politically influential if it is taken for granted by the society which indulges in it. This is especially so if its discussion is prohibited, either formally or by tacit agreement. When racism, discrimination and xenophobia is prevalent among Jews, and directed against non-Jews, being fuelled by religious motivations, it is like its opposite case, that of antisemitism …”
  • adds that, “Today, however, while the second [antisemitism] is much discussed, the very existence of the first [Zionism/Jewish racism] is generally ignored, more outside Israel than within it.”

Shahak: The Nature Of The Jewish State, And The Dangers It Poses
Shahak believes that:
  • We cannot understand the concept of Israel as a Jewish state “without a discussion of prevalent Jewish attitudes to non-Jews”.
  • There is a widespread misconception that Israel is a true democracy – it is not, he asserts, even without considering its regime in the Occupied Territories. This fallacy, he says, arises from “the refusal to confront the significance of the term ‘a Jewish state’ … ”
  • “Israel as a Jewish state constitutes a danger not only to itself and its inhabitants, but to all Jews and to all other peoples and states in the Middle East and beyond.” He similarly believes that other Middle Eastern states or entities which define themselves as ‘Arab’ or ‘Muslim’ in a similar, exclusive, way, likewise constitute a danger. He notes that, while the danger from such ‘Muslim’ states is widely discussed, the danger inherent in the Jewish character of the state of Israel is not.

A Note On The Arrangement Of This Article
It has been thought useful, in summarising Shahak’s book, to arrange events chronologically. Shahak splits Jewish history into three periods. Judaism is described for the first two periods, that from ancient times to the end of the Talmudic period, and the period referred to by Shahak as ‘classical Judaism’. However, since Shahak’s account is ultimately concerned only with Orthodox Judaism, and its political effects, he describes Orthodox Judaism only in the third period – modern times. Within each period, two narratives, as described by Shahak, are set out:
  • first, religious developments within Judaism itself (though, as stated above, the modern period is concerned with Orthodox Judaism only – Shahak’s sole concern)
  • then, secondly, Jewish social/political history is dealt with.

Naturally, these two narratives – the religious history of Judaism and Orthodax Judaism, and Jewish social/political history, interact with and profoundly affect each other. Indeed, this is the whole point of Shahak’s account.


Judaism To The End Of The Talmudic Period
The Talmud And Its Structure
Shahak notes that “ … the source of authority for all the practices of classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism, the determining base of its legal structure, is the Talmud, or, to be precise, the so-called Babylonian Talmud; while the rest of the talmudic literature (including the so-called Jerusalem or Palestinian Talmud) acts as a supplementary authority.”

He explains that although, in the Talmudic period ending around AD500, there were Jews living throughout the Roman Empire and in many areas of the Sassanid Empire, it is quite evident from the Talmudic text composed in that period that no scholars from countries other than Mesopotamia and Palestine took part in the composition of the Talmud, and that its text therefore:

  • reflects a confined geographical area – it does not reflect social conditions outside these two locales
  • reflects a complete Jewish society of that time, with Jewish agriculture as its basis.

“We cannot enter here into a detailed description of the Talmud and Talmudic literature”, Shahak says, “but confine ourselves to a few principal points needed for our argument.” “Basically, the Talmud consists of two parts”, he continues:
  • “First, the Mishnah – a terse legal code consisting of six volumes, each subdivided into several tractates, written in Hebrew, redacted in Palestine around AD200 out of the much more extensive (and largely oral) legal material composed during the preceding two centuries.”
  • “The second and by far predominant part is the Gemarah – a voluminous record of discussions on and around the Mishnah. There are two, roughly parallel, sets of Gemarah, one composed in Mesopotamia (‘Babylon’) between AD200 and 500, the other in Palestine between about AD200 and some unknown date long before 500.”
  • “The Babylonian Talmud (that is, the Mishnah plus the Mesopotamian Gemarah) is much more extensive and better arranged than the Palestinian, and it alone is regarded as definitive and authoritative. The Jerusalem (Palestinian) Talmud is accorded a decidedly lower status as a legal authority, along with a number of [other] compilations, known collectively as the ‘talmudic literature’, containing material which the editors of the two Talmuds had left out.”
  • “Contrary to the Mishnah, the rest of the Talmud and talmudic literature is written in a mixture of Hebrew and Aramaic, the latter language predominating in the Babylonian Talmud. Also, it is not limited to legal matters. Without any apparent order or reason, the legal discussion can suddenly be interrupted by what is referred to as ‘Narrative’ (Aggadah) – a medley of tales and anecdotes about rabbis or ordinary folk, biblical figures, angels, demons, witchcraft and miracles. These narrative passages, although of great popular influence in Judaism through the ages, were always considered (even by the Talmud itself) as having secondary value. Of greatest importance for classical Judaism are the legal parts of the text, particularly the discussion of cases which are regarded as problematic.”
  • “The Talmud itself defines the various categories of Jews, in ascending order, as follows:
    • The lowest are the totally ignorant
    • Then come those who only know the Bible
    • Then those who are familiar with the Mishnah or Aggadah
    • And the superior class are those who have studied, and are able to discuss the legal part of the Gemarah. It is only the latter who are fit to lead their fellow Jews in all things.”

The Legal System Of The Talmud
Shahak notes that “The legal system of the Talmud can be described as totally comprehensive, rigidly authoritarian, and yet capable of infinite development, without however any change in its dogmatic base. Every aspect of Jewish life, both individual and social, is covered, usually in considerable detail, with sanctions and punishments provided for every conceivable sin or infringement of the rules. The basic rules for every problem are stated dogmatically and cannot be questioned. What can be done and is discussed at very great length is the elaboration and practical definition of these rules.” He then gives a few examples:
  • “ ‘Not doing any work’ on the Sabbath:
    • The concept work is defined as comprising exactly 39 types of work, neither more nor less. The criterion for inclusion in this list has nothing to do with the arduousness of a given task; it is simply a matter of dogmatic definition.
    • One forbidden type of ‘work’ is writing. The question then arises: How many characters must one write in order to commit the sin of writing on the sabbath? (Answer: Two). Is the sin the same irrespective of which hand is used? (Answer: No). However, in order to guard against falling into sin, the primary prohibition on writing is hedged with a secondary ban on touching any writing implement on the Sabbath.”
  • “Another prototypical work forbidden on the Sabbath is the grinding of grain:
    • From this it is deduced, by analogy, that any kind of grinding of anything whatsoever is forbidden. And this in turn is hedged by a ban on the practice of medicine on the sabbath (except in cases of danger to Jewish life), in order to guard against falling into the sin of grinding a medicament.
    • It is in vain to point out that in modern times such a danger does not exist (nor, for that matter, did it exist in many cases even in talmudic times); for, as a hedge around the hedge, the Talmud explicitly forbids liquid medicines and restorative drinks on the Sabbath.
    • What has been fixed remains for ever fixed, however absurd. Tertullian, one of the early Church Fathers, had written, ‘I believe it because it is absurd.’ This can serve as a motto for the majority of talmudic rules, with the word ‘believe’ replaced by ‘practise’.”
  • “The following example illustrates even better the level of absurdity reached by this system. One of the [types] of work forbidden on the Sabbath is harvesting:
    • This is stretched, by analogy, to a ban on breaking a branch off a tree. Hence, riding a horse (or any other animal) is forbidden, as a hedge against the temptation to break a branch off a tree for flogging the beast.
    • It is useless to argue that you have a ready-made whip, or that you intend to ride where there are no trees. What is forbidden remains forbidden for ever.
    • It can, however, be stretched and made stricter: in modern times, riding a bicycle on the Sabbath has been forbidden, because it is analogous to riding a horse.”
  • “My final example illustrates how the same methods are used in purely theoretical cases, having no conceivable application in reality. During the existence of the Temple, the High Priest was only allowed to marry a virgin:
    • Although during virtually the whole of the Talmudic period there was no longer a Temple or a High Priest, the Talmud devotes one of its more involved (and bizarre) discussions to the precise definition of the term ‘virgin’ fit to marry a High Priest.
    • What about a woman whose hymen had been broken by accident? Does it make any difference whether the accident occurred before or after the age of three? By the impact of metal or of wood? Was she climbing a tree? And if so, was she climbing up or down? Did it happen naturally or unnaturally?
    • All this and much else besides is discussed in lengthy detail. And every scholar in classical Judaism had to master hundreds of such problems. Great scholars were measured by their ability to develop these problems still further, for as shown by the examples there is always scope for further development – if only in one direction – and such development did actually continue after the final redaction of the Talmud.”

Jewish History To The End Of The Talmudic Period
This consists of the period to about 500AD, comprising the period of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which was followed by the period of the dual centres of Palestine and Mesopotamia.

Ancient Jewish History
Shahak takes ancient Jewish history as comprising “the [period] of the ancient kingdoms of Israel and Judah, until the destruction the first Temple (587 BC) and the Babylonian exile.” He notes that “much of the Old Testament is concerned with this period, although most major books of the Old Testament, including the Pentateuch as we know it, were actually composed after that date ... Socially, these ancient Jewish kingdoms were quite similar to the neighbouring kingdoms of Palestine and Syria; and - as a careful reading of the Prophets reveals - the similarity extended to the religious cults practised by the great majority of the people. The ideas that were to become typical of later Judaism - including in particular ethnic segregationism and monotheistic exclusivism - were at this stage confined to small circles of priests and prophets, whose social influence depended on royal support.”

The Period Of The Dual Centres Of Palestine And Mesopotamia
The following period, as taken by Shahak, is that of “the dual centres, Palestine and Mesopotamia, from the first 'Return from Babylon' (537 BC) until about AD 500.” Shahak continues:
  • “It is characterised by the existence of these two autonomous Jewish societies, both based primarily on agriculture, on which the 'Jewish religion', as previously elaborated in priestly and scribal circles, was imposed by the force and authority of the Persian empire.” Shahak elaborates:
    • “The Old Testament Book of Ezra contains an account of the activities of Ezra the priest, 'a ready scribe in the law of Moses', who was empowered by King Artaxerxes I of Persia to 'set magistrates and judges' over the Jews of Palestine, so that 'whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgement be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.”
    • “And in the Book of Nehemiah - cupbearer to King Artaxerxes who was appointed Persian governor of Judea, with even greater powers - we see to what extent foreign (nowa¬days one would say 'imperialist') coercion was instrumental in imposing the Jewish religion, with lasting results.”
  • “In both centres, Jewish autonomy persisted during most of this period and deviations from religious orthodoxy were re¬pressed. Exceptions to this rule occurred when the religious aristocracy itself got 'infected' with Hellenistic ideas (from 300 to 166 BC and again under Herod the Great and his succes¬sors, from 50 BC to AD 70), or when it was split in reaction to new developments (for example, the division between the two great parties, the Pharisees and the Sadduceans, which emerged in about 140 BC). However, the moment any one party triumphed, it used the coercive machinery of the Jewish autonomy (or, for a short period, independence) to impose its own religious views on all the Jews in both centres.”
  • “During most of this time, especially after the collapse of the Persian empire and until about AD 200, the Jews outside the two centres were free from Jewish religious coercion. Among the papyri preserved in Elephantine (in Upper Egypt) there is a letter dating from 419 BC containing the text of an edict by King Darius II of Persia which instructs the Jews of Egypt as to the details of the observance of Passover. But the Hellenistic kingdoms, the Roman Republic and early Roman Empire did not bother with such things. The freedom that Hellenistic Jews enjoyed outside Palestine allowed the creation of a Jewish literature written in Greek, which was subsequently rejected in toto by Judaism and whose remains were preserved by Christianity. The very rise of Christianity was possible because of this relative freedom of the Jewish communities outside the two centres. The experience of the Apostle Paul is significant: in Corinth, when the local Jewish community accused Paul of heresy, the Roman governor Gallio dismissed the case at once, refusing to be a 'judge of such matters'; but in Judea the governor Festus felt obliged to take legal cognizance of a purely religious internal Jewish dispute.”
  • “This tolerance came to an end in about AD 200, when the Jewish religion, as meanwhile elaborated and evolved in Pales¬tine, was imposed by the Roman authorities upon all the Jews of the Empire … From about AD 200 until the early 5th century, the legal position of Jewry in the Roman Empire was as follows”, says Shahak:
    • “A hereditary Jewish Patriarch (residing in Tiberias in Palestine) was recognised both as a high dignitary in the official hierarchy of the Empire and as supreme chief of all the Jews in the Empire.”
    • “As a Roman official, the Patriarch was vir illustris, of the same high official class which included the consuls, the top military commanders of the Empire and the chief ministers around the throne (the Sacred Consistory), and was out-ranked only by the imperial family. In fact, the Illustrious Patriarch (as he is invariably styled in imperial decrees) out-ranked the pro¬vincial governor of Palestine. Emperor Theodosius I, the Great, a pious and orthodox Christian, executed his governor of Pales¬tine for insulting the Patriarch.”
    • “At the same time, all the rabbis - who had to be designated by the Patriarch - were freed from the most oppressive Roman taxes and received many official privileges, such as exemption from serving on town councils (which was also one of the first privileges later granted to the Christian clergy).”
    • “In addition, the Patriarch was empowered to tax the Jews and to discipline them by imposing fines, flogging and other punishments. He used this power in order to suppress Jewish heresies and (as we know from the Talmud) to persecute Jewish preachers who accused him of taxing the Jewish poor for his personal benefit.”
    • “We know from Jewish sources that the tax-exempt rabbis used excommunication and other means within their power to enhance the religious hegemony of the Patriarch.”
    • “We also hear, mostly indirectly, of the hate and scorn that many of the Jewish peasants and urban poor in Palestine had for the rabbis, as well as of the contempt of the rabbis for the Jewish poor (usually expressed as contempt for the 'ignorant'). Nevertheless, this typical colonial arrangement continued, as it was backed by the might of the Roman Empire.”


Classical Judaism
Judaism Is Not A Monotheistic Religion
Shahak states that, before considering the theological-legal structure of classical Judaism, “it is necessary to dispel at least some of the many misconceptions disseminated in almost all foreign-language (that is, non-Hebrew) accounts of Judaism, especially by those who propagate such currently fashionable phrases as ‘the Judeo-Christian tradition’ or ‘the common values of the monotheistic religions’ … [Among] the most important of these popular delusions [is] that the Jewish religion is, and always was, monotheistic … as many biblical scholars know, and as a careful reading of the Old Testament easily reveals, this … view is quite wrong. In many, if not most, books of the Old Testament the existence and power of ‘other gods’ are clearly acknowledged, but Yahweh (Jehovah), who is the most powerful god, is also very jealous of his rivals and forbids his people to worship them. It is only very late in the Bible, in some of the later prophets, that the existence of all gods other than Yahweh is denied.”

Classical Judaism And Jewish Mysticism – The Cabbala
Shahak says that it is quite clear, though much less widely realised, that classical Judaism, “during its last few hundred years, was for the most part far from pure monotheism.” He continues:
  • “The decay of monotheism came about through the spread of Jewish mysticism (the cabbala) which developed in the 12th and 13th centuries, and by the late 16th century had won an almost complete victory in virtually all the centres of Judaism. The Jewish Enlightenment [see below, Orthodox Judaism In Modern Times] , which arose out of the crisis of classical Judaism, had to fight against this mysticism and its influence more than against anything else, but [as we will see later, the influence of the cabbala continues to be important].”  Shahak notes that “The cabbala is of course an esoteric doctrine, and its detailed study was confined to scholars. In Europe, especially after about 1750, extreme measures were taken to keep it secret and forbid its study except by mature scholars and under strict supervision. The uneducated Jewish masses of eastern Europe had no real knowledge of cabbalistic doctrine; but the cabbala percolated to them in the form of superstition and magic practices.”
  • “Knowledge and understanding of [cabbalistic] ideas is … important for two reasons. First, without it one cannot understand the true beliefs of Judaism at the end of its classical period. Secondly, as we will see later, these ideas play an important contemporary political role inasmuch as they form part of the explicit system of beliefs of many religious politicians, including most leaders of Gush Emunim, and have an indirect influence on many zionist leaders of all parties, including the Zionist left. [our italics]
  • Shahak then proceeds to summarise the system of the cabbala as below:
    • “The universe is ruled not by one god but by several deities, of various characters and influences, emanated by a dim, distant, First Cause.”
    • “From the First Cause, first a male god called ‘Wisdom’or ‘Father’ and then a female goddess called ‘Knowledge’ or ‘Mother’ were emanated or born.”
    • “From the marriage of these two, a pair of younger gods were born: Son, also called by many other names such as ‘Small Face’ or ‘The Holy Blessed One’; and Daughter, also called ‘Lady’ … ‘Shekhinah’, ‘Queen’ and so on.”
    • “These two younger gods should be united, but their union is prevented by the machinations of Satan, who in this system is a very important and independent personage.”
    • “The Creation was undertaken by the First Cause in order to allow them to unite, but because of the Fall they became more disunited than ever, and indeed Satan has managed to come very close to the divine Daughter and even to rape her (either seemingly or in fact – opinions differ on this).”
    • “The creation of the Jewish people was undertaken in order to mend the break caused by Adam and Eve, and under Mount Sinai this was for a moment achieved: the male god Son, incarnated in Moses, was united with the goddess Shekhinah.”
    • “Unfortunately, the sin of the Golden Calf again caused disunity in the godhead; but the repentance of the Jewish people has mended matters to some extent.”
    • “Similarly, each incident of biblical Jewish history is believed to be associated with the union or disunion of the divine pair. The Jewish conquest of Palestine from the Canaanites and the building of the first and second temple are particularly propitious for their union, while the destruction of the Temples and exile of the Jews from the Holy Land are merely external signs not only of the divine disunion but also of a real ‘whoring after strange gods’: Daughter falls closely into the power of Satan, while Son takes various female satanic personages to his bed, instead of his proper wife.”
  • “The duty of pious Jews is to restore through their prayers and religious acts the perfect divine unity, in the form of sexual union, between the male and female deities. Thus before most ritual acts, which every devout Jew has to perform many times each day, the following cabbalistic formula is recited: ‘For the sake of the [sexual] congress of the holy Blessed One and his Shekhinah … ‘ The Jewish morning prayers are also arranged so as to promote this sexual union, if only temporarily. Successive parts of the prayer mystically correspond to successive stages of the union: at one point the goddess approaches with her handmaidens, at another the god puts his arm around her neck and fondles her breast, and finally the sexual act is supposed to take place.”
  • “Other prayers or religious acts, as interpreted by the cabbalists, are designed to deceive various angels (imagined as minor deities with a measure of independence) or to propitiate Satan.” Shahak goes on:
    • “At a certain point in the morning prayer, some verses in Aramaic (rather than the more usual Hebrew) are pronounced. This is supposed to be a means for tricking the angels who operate the gates through which prayers enter heaven and who have the power to block the prayers of the pious. The angels only understand Hebrew and are baffled by the Aramaic verses; being somewhat dull-witted (presumably they are far less clever than the cabbalists) they open the gates, and at this moment all the prayers, including those in Hebrew, get through.”
    • “Or take another example: both before and after a meal, a pious Jew ritually washes his hands, uttering a special blessing. On one of these two occasions, he is worshipping God, by promoting the divine union of Son and Daughter; but on the other he is worshipping Satan, who likes Jewish prayers and ritual acts so much that when he is offered a few of them it keeps him busy for a while and he forgets to pester the divine Daughter.”
    • “… the cabbalists believe that some of the sacrifices burnt in the Temple were intended for Satan. For example, the seventy bullocks sacrificed during the seven days of the feast of the Tabernacles, were supposedly offered to Satan in his capacity as ruler of all the Gentiles, in order to keep him too busy to interfere on the eighth day, when sacrifice is made to God.”
    • “Many other examples of this kind can be given.”
  • Shahak notes that “Several points should be made concerning this [cabbalistic] system, and its importance for the proper understanding of Judaism, both in its classical period and in [,as we will see later, ] its present political involvement in zionist practice [our italics] He continues:
    • “First, whatever can be said about this cabbalistic system, it cannot be regarded as monotheistic … “
    • “Secondly, the real nature of classical Judaism is illustrated by the ease with which this system was adopted. Faith and beliefs (except nationalistic beliefs) play an extremely small part in classical Judaism. What is of prime importance is the ritual act, rather than the significance which that act is supposed to have or the belief attached to it. Therefore in times when a minority of religious Jews refused to accept the cabbala (as is the case today), one could see some few Jews performing a given religious ritual believing it to be an act of worship of God, while others do exactly the same thing with the intention of propitiating Satan – but so long as the act is the same they would pray together and remain members of the same congregation, however much they might dislike each other. But if instead of the intention attached to [say] the ritual washing of hands anyone would dare to introduce an innovation in the manner of washing, a real schism would certainly ensue.”

      Shahak adds a note : “[Hand washing] is prescribed in minute detail. For example, the ritual hand washing must not be done under a tap; each hand must be washed singly, in water from a mug (of prescribed minimal size) held in the other hand. If one’s hands are really dirty, it is quite impossible to clean them in this way, but such pragmatic considerations are obviously irrelevant. Classical Judaism prescribes a great number of such detailed rituals, to which the cabbala attaches a deep significance. There are, for example, many precise rules concerning behaviour in a lavatory. A Jew relieving nature in an open space must not do so in a North-South direction, because North is associated with Satan.”
  • “The same can be said about all sacred formulas of Judaism. Provided the wording is left intact, the meaning is at best a secondary matter.” Shahak gives an example:
    • “For example, perhaps the most sacred Jewish formula, ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is one’, recited several times each day by every pious Jew, can at the present time mean two contrary things:
      • It can mean that the Lord is indeed ‘one’.
      • But it can also mean that a certain stage in the union of the male and female deities has been reached or is being promoted by the proper recitation of this formula.”

“Finally, all of this”, says Shahak, “is of considerable importance in Israel (and in other Jewish centres) even at present.” He goes on:
  • “The enormous significance attached to mere formulas (such as the ‘Law of Jerusalem’)”
  • “the ideas and motivations of Gush Emunim”
  • “the urgency behind the hate for non-Jews presently living in Palestine”
  • “the fatalistic attitude towards all peace attempts by Arab states,”
                                                                                                                                - “all these”, says Shahak, “and many other traits of zionist politics, which puzzle so many well-meaning people who have a false notion of classical Judaism, become more intelligible against this religious and mystical background. I must warn, however, against falling into the other extreme and trying to explain all zionist politics in terms of this background. Obviously, the latter’s influences vary in extent. Ben-Gurion was adept at manipulating them in a controlled way for specific ends. Under Begin the past exerted a much greater influence upon the present. But what one should never do is ignore the past and its influences, because only by knowing it can one transcend its blind power.” [our italics]

“It will be seen from [the above]”, says Shahak, “that what most supposedly well-informed people think they know about Judaism may be very misleading, unless they can read Hebrew. All the details mentioned above can be found in the original texts or, in some cases, in modern books written in Hebrew for a rather specialised readership. In English one would look for them in vain, even where the omission of such socially important facts distorts the whole picture.”

Interpretation Of The Bible
Shahak states that “There is yet another misconception about Judaism which is particularly common among Christians, or people heavily influenced by Christian tradition and culture. This is the misleading idea that Judaism is a ‘biblical religion’; that the Old Testament has in Judaism the same central place and … authority which the Bible has for Protestant or even Catholic Christianity … We have seen [under classical Judaism] that in matters of belief there is great latitude. Exactly the opposite holds with respect to the legal interpretation of sacred texts. Here the interpretation is rigidly fixed – but by the Talmud rather than by the Bible itself. Many, perhaps most, biblical verses prescribing religious acts and obligations are ‘understood’ by classical Judaism and by present-day Orthodoxy in a sense which is quite distinct from, or even contrary to, their literal meaning as understood by Christian or other readers of the Old Testament, who only see the plain text. The same division exists at present in Israel between those educated in Jewish religious schools and those educated in ‘secular’ Hebrew schools, where on the whole the plain meaning of the Old Testament is taught.”

“This important point”, Shahak goes on, “can only be understood through examples [specific examples of interpretations of the Bible].” Shahak then gives some examples of interpretations – these are included in the attached Appendix A, “Examples Of Judaistic Interpretations Of The Bible”

Shahak notes that “It is quite clear even from the examples [given in Appendix A] that when Orthodox Jews today (or all Jews before about 1780) read the Bible, they are reading a very different book, with a totally different meaning, from the Bible as read by non-Jews or non-Orthodox Jews. This distinction applies even in Israel, although both parties read the text in Hebrew. Experience, particularly since 1967, has repeatedly corroborated this. Many Jews in Israel (and elsewhere), who are not Orthodox and have little detailed knowledge of the Jewish religion, have tried to shame Orthodox Israelis (or right-wingers who are strongly influenced by religion) out of their inhuman attitude towards the Palestinians, by quoting at them verses from the Bible in their plain humane sense. It was always found, however, that such arguments do not have the slightest effect on those who follow classical Judaism; they simply do not understand what is being said to them; because to them the biblical text means something quite different than to everyone else.”

“If such a communication gap exists in Israel, where people read Hebrew and can readily obtain correct information if they wish, one can imagine”, says Shahak, “how deep is the misconception abroad, say among people educated in the Christian tradition. In fact, the more such a person reads the Bible, the less he or she knows about Orthodox Judaism. [Orthodox Jews regard] the Old Testament as a text of immutable sacred formulas, whose recitation is an act of great merit, but whose meaning is wholly determined elsewhere. And, as Humpty Dumpty told Alice, behind the problem of who can determine the meaning of words, there stands the real question: ‘Which is to be master?’ ”

Classical Judaism And The Dispensations
It was noted above that the Talmudic text does not reflect social conditions outside the dual centres of Mesopotamia and Palestine, and reflects a complete Jewish society of that time, with Jewish agriculture as its basis. Shahak notes that this contrasts sharply with the period of classical Judaism - we find, he says, “that the two features mentioned above have been reversed” Jewish societies are spread over a much wider geographical area of the world. Shahak says that they have undergone a deep change – wherever they are, they are not peasant societies.

Shahak notes that “the Talmud was adapted to the conditions – geographically much wider and socially much narrower, and at any rate radically different – of classical Judaism. We shall concentrate on what is in my opinion the most important method of adaptation, namely the dispensations.”

He goes on “As noted above, the Talmudic system is most dogmatic and does not allow any relaxation of its rules even when they are reduced to absurdity by a change in circumstances. And in the case of the Talmud – contrary to that of the Bible – the literal sense of the text is binding, and one is not allowed to interpret it away.”

Shahak states that “in the period of classical Judaism various Talmudic laws became untenable for the Jewish ruling classes – the rabbis and the rich. In the interest of these ruling classes, a method of systematic deception was devised for keeping the letter of the law, while violating its spirit and intention. It was this hypocritical system of ‘dispensations’ (heterim) which, in my view, was the most important cause of the debasement of Judaism in its classical epoch.” [Shahak considers the second most important cause of the debasement of Judaism to be Jewish mysticism, as described above]. Shahak then gives some examples of dispensations, to illustrate how the system works – these are included in the attached Appendix B, “Classical Judaism And Present-Day Orthodox Judaism: The Dispensations”

Social Aspects Of Dispensations
“Two social features of [dispensations] and many similar practices deserve special mention”, says Shahak.

He goes on: “ … a dominant feature of … dispensations, and of classical Judaism inasmuch as it is based on them, is deception – deception primarily of God, if this word can be used for an imaginary being so easily deceived by the rabbis, who consider themselves cleverer than him. No greater contrast can be conceived than that between the God of the Bible … and of the God of classical Judaism The latter is more like the early Roman Jupiter, who was likewise bamboozled by his worshippers, or the gods described in Frazer’s Golden Bough.” He continues:

  • “From the ethical point of view, classical Judaism represents a process of degeneration, which is still going on; and this degeneration into a tribal collection of empty rituals and magic superstitions has very important social and political consequences.”
  • “For it must be remembered that it is precisely the superstitions of classical Judaism which have the greatest hold on the Jewish masses, rather than those parts of the Bible or even the Talmud which are of real religious and ethical value ... “
  • What is popularly regarded as the most ‘holy’ and solemn occasion of the Jewish liturgical year, attended even by very many Jews who are otherwise far from religion? It is the Kol Nidrey prayer on the eve of Yom Kippur – a chanting of a particularly absurd and deceptive dispensation, by which all private vows made to God in the following year are declared in advance to be null and void.”
  • “Or, in the area of personal religion, the Qadish prayer, said on days of mourning by sons for their parents in order to elevate their departed souls to paradise – a recitation of an Aramaic text, incomprehensible to the great majority.”
  • “Quite obviously, the popular regard given to these, the most superstitious parts of the Jewish religion, is not given to its better parts.”
  • “Together with the deception of God goes the deception of other Jews, mainly in the interests of the Jewish ruling class. It is characteristic that no dispensations were allowed in the specific interest of the Jewish poor. For example, Jews who were starving but not actually on the point of death were never allowed by their rabbis (who did not often go hungry themselves) to eat any sort of forbidden food, though kosher food is usually more expensive.”

“The second dominant feature of the dispensations”, saya Shahak, “is that they are in large part obviously motivated by the spirit of profit. And it is this combination of hypocrisy and the profit motive which increasingly dominated classical Judaism.” He continues:
  • “In Israel, where the process goes on, this is dimly perceived by popular opinion, despite all the official brainwashing promoted by the education system and the media.”
  • “The religious establishment – the rabbis and the religious parties - and, by association, to some extent the Orthodox community as a whole, are quite unpopular in Israel. One of the most important reasons for this is precisely their reputation for duplicity and venality. Of course, popular opinion (which may often be prejudiced) is not the same thing as social analysis; but in this particular case it is actually true that the Jewish religious establishment does have a strong tendency to chicanery and graft, due to the corrupting influence of the Orthodox Jewish religion.”
  • “Because in general social life religion is only one of the social influences, its effect on the mass of believers is not nearly so great as on the rabbis and leaders of the religious parties. Those religious Jews in Israel who are honest, as the majority of them undoubtedly are, are so not because of the influence of their religion and rabbis, but in spite of it”.
  • “On the other hand, in those few areas of public life in Israel which are wholly dominated by religious circles, the level of chicanery, venality and corruption is notorious, far surpassing the ‘average’ level tolerated by general, non-religious Israeli society.”

The Laws Against Non-Jews
Classical Judaism (and, as we will see later, Orthodox Judaism) displays hostile attitudes to non-Jews and practices deceptions against them.

The laws against non-Jews, which refer to the above codes of Talmudic law, are extensive, and are included in the attached Appendix C, “Classical Judaism And Present-Day Orthodox Judaism: The Laws Against Non-Jews”.

Statements Directed Against Christianity
Shahak states that “the Talmud and the talmudic literature – quite apart from the general anti-Gentile streak that runs through them [which is discussed in detail above], contains very offensive statements and precepts directed specifically against Christianity.” Shahak gives some examples:
  • “… a series of scurrilous sexual allegations against Jesus”
  • “the Talmud states that his [Jesus’] punishment in hell is to be immersed in boiling excrement” (a statement, Shahak observes, “not exactly calculated to endear the Talmud to devout Christians.”)
  • “Or one can quote the precept according to which Jews are instructed to burn, publicly if possible, any copy of the New Testament that comes into their hands. (this is not only still in force but actually practised today; thus on 23 March 1980 hundreds of copies of the New testament were publicly and ceremonially burnt in Jerusalem under the auspices of Yad Le’akhim, a Jewish religious organisation subsidised by the Israeli Ministry of Religions).”

Jewish Deceptions About Judaism In The Classical Period
Attacks On, And Censorship Of, Judaism, And The Jewish Response
There were, Shahak notes, “ … Christian attacks against those passages in the Talmud and the Talmudic literature which are specifically anti-Christian or more generally anti-Gentile … this challenge developed relatively late in the history of Christian-Jewish relations – only from the 13th century on. (Before that time, the Christian authorities attacked Judaism using either Biblical or general arguments, but seemed to be quite ignorant as to the contents of the Talmud). The Christian campaign against the Talmud was apparently brought on by the conversion to Christianity of Jews who were well versed in the Talmud and who were in many cases attracted by the development of Christian philosophy, with its strong … universal character.”

“A powerful attack”, says Shahak, “well based in many points, against talmudic Judaism developed in Europe from the 13th century. We are not referring here to ignorant calumnies, such as the blood libel, propagated by benighted monks in small provincial cities, but to serious disputations held before the best European universities of the time and on the whole conducted as fairly as was possible under mediaeval circumstances.”

“What”, Shahak asks, “was the Jewish – or rather the rabbinical – response? The simplest one was the ancient weapon of bribery and string-pulling. In most European countries, during most of the time, anything could be fixed by a bribe. Nowhere was this maxim more true than in the Rome of the Renaissance popes.” Shahak notes that “the Editio Princeps of the complete Code of Talmudic Law, Maimonides Mishneh Torah – replete not only with the most offensive precepts against all Gentiles but also with explicit attacks on Christianity and on Jesus (after whose name the author adds piously; ‘May the name of the wicked perish’) – was published unexpurgated in Rome in the year 1480 under Sixtus IV, politically a very active pope who had a constant and urgent need for money.”

“During that period”, Shahak says, “as well as before it, there were always countries in which for a time a wave of anti-Talmud persecution set in. But a more consistent and widespread onslaught came with the Reformation and Counter Reformation, which induced a higher standard of intellectual honesty as well as a better knowledge of Hebrew among Christian scholars. From the 16th century, all the Talmudic literature, including the Talmud itself, was subjected to Christian censorship in various countries. In Russia, this went on until 1917. Some censors, such as in Holland, were more lax, while others were more severe; and the offensive passages were expunged or modified.”

“All modern studies on Judaism”, continues Shahak, “particularly by Jews, have evolved from that conflict, and to this day they bear the unmistakable marks of their origin: deception, apologetics or hostile polemics, indifference or even hostility to the pursuit of truth. Almost all the so-called Jewish studies in Judaism, from that time to this very day, are polemics against an external enemy rather than an internal debate.”

He goes on: “It is important to note that this was initially the character of [religious] historiography in all known societies … [it] was true of the early Catholic and Protestant historians, who polemicised against each other. Similarly, the earliest European national histories are imbued with the crudest nationalism and scorn for all other, neighbouring nations. But sooner or later there comes a time when an attempt is made to understand one’s national or religious adversary and at the same time to criticise certain deep and important aspects of the history [or religious history] of one’s own [nation or religious] group; and both these developments go together. Only when historiography becomes … ‘a debate without end’ rather than a continuation of war by historiographic means, only then does a humane historiography, which strives for both accuracy and fairness, become possible; and it then turns into one of the most powerful instruments of humanism and self-education.”

Shahak notes that “It is for this reason that modern totalitarian regimes rewrite history or punish historians. When a whole society tries to return to totalitarianism, a totalitarian history is written, not because of compulsion from above but under pressure from below, which is much more effective. This is what happened in Jewish history, and this constitutes the first obstacle we have to surmount.”

Historic deceptions about Judaism in detail
“What”, says Shahak, “were the detailed mechanisms (other than bribery) employed by Jewish communities … to ward off the attack on the Talmud and other religious literature? Several methods can be distinguished, all of them having important political consequences reflected in current Israeli policies.” [our italics] Shahak then records the historic deceptions about Judaism in detail – these are included (together with modern-day deceptions) in the attached Appendix D, “Jewish Deceptions About Judaism”

Jewish History In The Period Of Classical Judaism
Between the period of the dual centres, and the period of classical Judaism, Shahak says, “there is a gap of several centuries in which our present knowledge of Jews and Jewish society is very slight, and the scant information we do have is all derived from external (non-Jewish) sources. In the countries of Latin Chris-tendom we have absolutely no Jewish literary records until the middle of the 10th century; internal Jewish information, mostly from religious literature, becomes more abundant only in the 11th and particularly the 12th century. Before that, we are wholly dependent first on Roman and then on Christian evidence. In the Islamic countries the information gap is not quite so big; still, very little is known about Jewish society before AD 800 and about the changes it must have under¬gone during the three preceding centuries.”

“Let us”, says Shahak, “therefore ignore those 'dark ages', and for the sake of convenience [in studying the period of classical Judaism], begin with the two centuries 1000-1200, for which abundant information is available from both internal and external sources on all the important Jewish centres, east and west. Classical Judaism, which is clearly discernible in this period, has undergone very few changes since then, and (in the guise of Orthodox Judaism) is still a powerful force today.” Shahak defines the period of classical Judaism as ending around 1780.

Major Features Of Jewish Society In The Period Of Classical Judaism
Shahak characterises the period of classical Judaism in terms of the social differences distinguishing it from earlier phases of Judaism, and distinguishes the following major features. He notes:
  • Classical Jewish society has no peasants, and in this it differs profoundly from earlier Jewish societies in the two centres, Palestine and Mesopotamia.” He goes on:
    • “It is difficult for us, in modern times, to understand what this means. We have to make an effort to imagine what serfdom was like; the enormous difference in lit¬eracy, let alone education, between village and town throughout this period; the incomparably greater freedom enjoyed by all the small minority who were not peasants — in order to realise that during the whole of the classical period the Jews, in spite of all the persecutions to which they were subjected, formed an integral part of the privileged classes.”
    • “Jewish historiography, especially in English, is misleading on this point inasmuch as it tends to focus on Jewish poverty and anti-Jewish discrimination. Both were real enough at times; but the poorest Jewish craftsman, pedlar, land¬lord's steward or petty cleric was immeasurably better off than a serf.”
    • “This was particularly true in those European countries where serfdom persisted into the 19th century, whether in a partial or extreme form: Prussia, Austria (including Hungary), Poland and the Polish lands taken by Russia. And it is not without signifi¬cance that, prior to the beginning of the great Jewish migration of modern times (around 1880), a large majority of all Jews were living in those areas and that their most important social function there was to mediate the oppression of the peasants on behalf of the nobility and the Crown.”
    • “Everywhere, classical Judaism developed hatred and con¬tempt for agriculture as an occupation and for peasants as a class, even more than for other Gentiles - a hatred of which I know no parallel in other societies. This is immediately appar¬ent to anyone who is familiar with the Yiddish or Hebrew literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.”
    • “Most east-European Jewish socialists (that is, members of exclusively or predominantly Jewish parties and factions) are guilty of never pointing out this fact; indeed, many were them¬selves tainted with a ferocious anti-peasant attitude inherited from classical Judaism. Of course, zionist 'socialists' were the worst in this respect, but others, such as the Bund, were not much better. A typical example is their opposition to the formation of peasant co-operatives promoted by the Catholic clergy, on the ground that this was 'an act of antisemitism'. This attitude is by no means dead even now; it could be seen very clearly in the racist views held by many Jewish 'dissidents' in the USSR regarding the Russian people, and also in the lack of discussion of this background by so many Jewish socialists, such as Isaac Deutscher. The whole racist propaganda on the theme of the supposed superiority of Jewish morality and intellect (in which many Jewish socialists were prominent) is bound up with a lack of sensitivity for the suffering of that major part of humanity who were especially oppressed during the last thousand years - the peasants.”
  • Classical Jewish society was particularly dependent on kings or on nobles with royal powers.” Shahak goes on:
    • “ … we [have discussed above] various Jewish laws directed against Gentiles, and in particular laws which command Jews to revile Gentiles and refrain from praising them or their customs. These laws allow one and only one exception: a Gentile king, or a locally powerful magnate (in Hebrew paritz, in Yiddish pooretz). A king is praised and prayed for, and he is obeyed not only in most civil matters but also in some religious ones. As [noted above] Jewish doctors, who are in general forbidden to save the lives of ordinary Gentiles on the Sabbath, are commanded to do their utmost in healing magnates and rulers; this partly explains why kings and noblemen, popes and bishops often employed Jewish physicians. But not only physicians. Jewish tax and customs collec¬tors, or (in eastern Europe) bailiffs of manors could be depended upon to do their utmost for the king or baron, in a way that a Christian could not always be.”
    • “The legal status of a Jewish community in the period of classical Judaism was normally based on a 'privilege' - a charter granted by a king or prince (or, in Poland after the 16th century, by a powerful nobleman) to the Jewish commu¬nity and conferring on it the rights of autonomy - that is, investing the rabbis with the power to dictate to the other Jews. An important part of such privileges, going as far back as the late Roman Empire, is the creation of a Jewish clerical estate which, exactly like the Christian clergy in medieval times, is exempt from paying taxes to the sovereign and is allowed to impose taxes on the people under its control - the Jews - for its own benefit. It is interesting to note that this deal between the late Roman Empire and the rabbis antedates by at least one hundred years the very similar privileges granted by Constantine the Great and his succes¬sors to the Christian clergy.”
    • “From about AD 200 until the early 5th century, the legal position of Jewry in the Roman Empire [has already been described above]”. Shahak notes that similar arrangements existed, within each country, during the whole period of classical Judaism. To reiterate, the main characteristics are:
      • the head of the rabbinate recognised as a high dignitary of the state, and as supreme chief of all the Jews in the state
      • a privileged rabbinate freed from (amongst other things) the most oppressive state taxes
      • the head of the rabbinate being empowered to tax the Jews, to discipline them harshly,  and using this power to suppress Jewish heresies and persecute Jewish opposition generally
      • the use by the tax-exempt rabbinate of excommunication and other means within their power to enhance religious hegemony
      • the hate and scorn that many of the Jewish poor had for the rabbis, as well as of the contempt of the rabbis for the Jewish poor (usually expressed as contempt for the 'ignorant').
    • “The social effects [of this legal position] on … Jewish communities differed, however, according to the size of each community”. Shahak goes on:
      • “Where there were few Jews, there was normally little social differentiation within the community, which tended to be composed of rich and middle-class Jews, most of whom had considerable rabbinical-talmudic education.”
      • “But in countries where the number of Jews increased and a big class of Jewish poor appeared, the same [social] cleavage as the one described above manifested itself”, says Shahak. He goes on:
        • “ … the rabbinical class, in alliance with the Jewish rich, oppressing the Jewish poor in its own interest as well as in the interest of the state — that is, of the Crown and the nobility. This was, in particular, the situation in pre-1795 Poland … want to point out that because of the formation of a large Jewish community in that country, a deep cleavage between the Jewish upper class (the rabbis and the rich) and the Jewish masses developed there from the 18th century and continued throughout the 19th century.”
        • “so long as the Jewish community had power over its members, the incipi¬ent revolts of the poor, who had to bear the main brunt of taxation, were suppressed by the combined force of the naked coercion of Jewish 'self-rule' and religious sanction.”
    • “Because of all this, throughout the classical period (as well as in modern times) the rabbis were the most loyal, not to say zealous, supporters of the powers that be; and the more reactionary the regime, the more rabbinical support it had.”
  • “The [closed] society of classical Judaism is in total opposition to the surrounding non-Jewish society, except the king (or the nobles, when they take over the state). … The religious laws against non-Jews [referred to above] cause and reinforce this isolation …”

Shahak states that “The consequences of [the above] social features, taken to¬gether, go a long way towards explaining the history of classical Jewish communities both in Christian and in Muslim countries”. He goes on:
  • “The position of the Jews is particularly favourable under strong regimes which have retained a feudal character, and in which national consciousness, even at a rudimentary level, has not yet begun to develop.”
  • “It is even more favourable in coun¬tries such as pre-1795 Poland or in the Iberian kingdoms before the latter half of the 15th century, where the formation of a nationally based powerful feudal monarchy was temporarily or permanently arrested.”
  • “In fact, classical Judaism flourishes best under strong regimes which are dissociated from most classes in society, and in such regimes the Jews fulfil one of the functions of a middle class - but in a permanently depend¬ent form.” “For this reason”, Shahak says:
    • “they are opposed not only by the peasantry (whose opposition is then unimportant, except for the occasional and rare popular revolt) but more importantly by the non-Jewish middle class (which was on the rise in Europe), and by the plebeian part of the clergy”
    • “they are protected by the upper clergy and the nobility.”
  • “But in those countries where, feudal anarchy having been curbed, the nobility enters into partnership with the king (and with at least part of the bour¬geoisie) to rule the state, which assumes a national or proto¬national form, the position of the Jews deteriorates.”

Shahak then illustrates how the social features referred to above apply, by briefly reviewing the history of various Muslim and Christian coun¬tries as examples. For those interested, his book may be referred to.

Jewry’s Ignorance Of Jewry’s Contemporary State
Shahak also notes that, because of the closed nature of Jewish communities everywhere, Jewish history was not written, and, as a result, Jews were unaware [at that time] of the contemporary state of Jewish society. He says:
  • “Historically, it can be shown that a closed society is not interested in a description of itself, no doubt because any description is in part a form of critical analysis and so may encourage critical ‘forbidden thoughts’. The more a society becomes open, the more it is interested in reflecting, at first descriptively and then critically, upon itself, its present working as well as its past.”
  • “Classical Judaism had little interest in describing or explaining itself to the members of its own community, whether educated (in Talmudic studies) or not. It is significant that the writing of Jewish history, even in the driest annalistic style, ceased completely from [the] … end of [the] first century … until the Renaissance, when it was revived for a short time in [certain countries with particular conditions]. Characteristically, the rabbis feared Jewish even more than general history, and the first modern book on history published in Hebrew (in the 16th century) was entitled History of the Kings of France and of the Ottoman Kings. It was followed by some histories dealing only with the persecutions that Jews had been subjected to. The first book on Jewish history proper (dealing with ancient times) was promptly banned and suppressed by the highest rabbinical authorities, and did not reappear before the 19th century. The rabbinical authorities of [eastern] Europe furthermore decreed that all non-talmudic studies are to be forbidden, even when nothing specific could be found in them which merits anathema, because they encroach on the time that should be employed in studying the Talmud or in making money – which should be used to subsidise Talmudic scholars. Only one loophole was left, namely the time that even a pious Jew must perforce spend in the privy. In that unclean place sacred studies are forbidden, and it was therefore permitted to read history there, provided it was written in Hebrew and was completely secular, which in effect meant that it must be exclusively devoted to non-Jewish subjects … As a consequence, two hundred years ago the vast majority of Jews were totally in the dark, not only about the existence of America but also about Jewish history and Jewry’s contemporary state …”

Anti Jewish Persecutions
“During the whole period of classical Judaism”, Shahak notes, “Jews were often subjected to persecutions … [these were] popular movements, coming from below.” Shahak then examines particular anti-Jewish persecutions in the period of classical Judaism, and comes to the following conclusions:
  • “…in all the worst anti-Jewish persecutions … the ruling elite – the emperor and the pope, the kings, the higher aristocracy and the upper clergy, as well as the rich bourgeoisie in the autonomous cities – were always on the side of the Jews.
  • “The [Jews’] enemies belonged to the more oppressed and exploited classes and those close to them in daily life and interests, such as the friars of the mendicant orders.”
  • “ … in most (but I think not in all) cases members of the elite defended the Jews neither out of considerations of humanity nor because of sympathy to the Jews … , but for the type of reason used generally by rulers in justification of their interests – the fact that the Jews were useful and profitable (to them), defence of ‘law and order’, hatred of the lower classes and fear that anti-Jewish riots might develop into general popular rebellion. Still, the fact remains that they did defend the Jews.”
  • “ … all the massacres of the Jews during the classical period were part of a peasant rebellion or other popular movements at times when the government was for some reason especially weak. This is true even in the partly exceptional case of Tsarist Russia. The Tsarist government, acting surreptitiously through its secret police, did promote pogroms; but it did so only when it was particularly weak (after the assassination of Alexander II in 1881, and in the period immediately before and after the 1905 revolution) and even then took care to contain the break¬down of 'law and order'. During the time of its greatest strength - for example, under Nicholas I or in the latter part of the reign of Alexander III, when the opposition had been smashed - pogroms were not tolerated by the Tsarist regime, although legal discrimination against Jews was intensified.”

“The general rule can be observed in all the major massacres of Jews in Christian Europe”, says Shahak. He goes on: “During the first crusade, it was not the proper armies of the knights, commanded by famous dukes and counts, which molested the Jews, but the spontaneous popular hosts composed almost exclusively of peasants and paupers in the wake of Peter the Hermit. In each city the bishop or the emperor's representative opposed them and tried, often in vain, to protect the Jews. The anti-Jewish riots in England which accompanied the third crusade were part of a popular movement directed also against royal officials, and some rioters were punished by Richard I. The massacres of Jews during the outbreaks of the Black Death occurred against the strict orders of the pope, the emperor, the bishops and the German princes. In the free towns, for example in Strasbourg, they were usually preceded by a local revolution in which the oligarchic town council, which protected the Jews, was overthrown and replaced by a more popular one. The great 1391 massacres of Jews in Spain took place under a feeble regency government and at a time when the papacy, weakened by the Great Schism be¬tween competing popes, was unable to control the mendicant friars.”

Shahak again: “Perhaps the most outstanding example is the great massacre of Jews during the Chmielnicki revolt in the Ukraine (1648), which started as a mutiny of Cossack officers but soon turned into a widespread popular movement of the oppressed serfs: 'The unprivileged, the subjects, the Ukrainians, the Orthodox [persecuted by the Polish Catholic church] were rising against their Catholic Polish masters, particularly against their masters' bailiffs, clergy and Jews.’ This typical peasant uprising against extreme oppression, an uprising accompanied not only by mas¬sacres committed by the rebels but also by even more horrible atrocities and 'counter-terror' of the Polish magnates' private armies, has remained emblazoned in the consciousness of east-European Jews to this very day - not, however, as a peasant uprising, a revolt of the oppressed, of the real wretched of the earth, nor even as a vengeance visited upon all the servants of the Polish nobility, but as an act of gratuitous antisemitism directed against Jews as such. In fact, the voting of the Ukrainian delegation at the UN and, more generally, Soviet policies on the Middle East, are often 'explained' in the Israeli press as 'a heritage of Chmielnicki' or of his 'descendants'.


Orthodox Judaism In Modern Times
It is crucial to understand that Shahak is interested, in modern times [since around 1780], only in Orthodox Judaism (because of its political/social/military effects) – he is not interested in any other strand of Judaism in modern times. It was noted above that classical Judaism, during its last few hundred years, was for the most part far from pure monotheism. Shahak states: “The same can be said about the real doctrines dominant in present-day Orthodox Judaism, which is a direct continuation of classical Judaism.” He notes that “The Jewish Enlightenment [with which he is not concerned], which arose out of the crisis of classical Judaism, had to fight against this mysticism and its influence more than against anything else, but in latter-day Jewish Orthodoxy, especially among the rabbis, the influence of the cabbala has remained predominant. For example, the Gush Emunim movement is inspired to a great extent by cabbalistic ideas.”

Jewish Deceptions About Judaism In Modern Times
Modern deceptions about Judaism in detail
Shahak states that “Modern scholars of Judaism have not only continued the deception [about Judaism], but have actually improved upon the old rabbinical methods, both in impudence and in mendacity.” He goes on: “I omit here the various histories of antisemitism as unworthy of serious consideration, and shall give just three particular examples and one general example of the modern ‘scholarly’ deceptions.” Shahak then records these examples of modern-day deceptions about Judaism in detail – these (together with historic deceptions) are included in the attached Appendix D, “Jewish Deceptions About Judaism”

Jewish History In Modern Times
Shahak says that Jewish history in modern times is “characterised by the breakdown of the totalitarian Jewish community and its power, and by attempts to reimpose it, of which zionism is the most important. This phase begins in Holland in the 17th century, in France and Austria (excluding Hungary) in the late 18th century, in most other European countries in the middle of the 19th century, and in some Islamic countries in the 20th century. (The Jews of Yemen were still living in the medieval 'classical' phase in 1948).”

The Condition Of Jewry At The Beginning Of Modern Times
Shahak defines the condition of Jewry at the beginning of modern times (that is, at the end of the period of classical Judaism, [roughly] around 1780), and thus the meaning of the word ‘Jew’ at that time, as follows:
  • “ …the universally accepted meaning of the word ‘Jew’ [that is, to non-Jews] basically coincided with what the Jews themselves understood as constituting their own identity.”
  • “This identity was primarily religious, but the precepts of religion governed the details of daily behaviour in all aspects of life, both social and private, among the Jews themselves as well as in their relation to non-Jews.”
  • “ … the same laws of behaviour towards non-Jews were equally valid from Yemen to New York … all Jewish communities at that time were separate from the non-Jewish societies in the midst of which they were living.”
  • “Since the time of the late Roman Empire, Jewish communities had considerable legal powers over their members. [They therefore had powers beyond those arising] through voluntary mobilisation of social pressure, [such as], (for example, refusal to have any dealing whatsoever with an excommunicated Jew, or even to bury his body). [The legal powers amounted to] a power of naked coercion: to flog, to imprison, to expel – all this could inflicted quite legally on an individual Jew by the rabbinical courts for all kinds of offences. In many countries – Spain and Poland are notable examples – even capital punishment could be and was inflicted, sometimes using particularly cruel methods such as flogging to death. All this was not only permitted but positively encouraged by the state authorities in both Christian and Muslim countries, who, besides their general interest in preserving law and order had in some cases a more direct financial interest as well. (For example, in Spanish archives dating from the 13th and 14th centuries there are records of many detailed orders issued by those most devout Catholic kings of Castile and Aragon, instructing their no less devout officials to co-operate with the rabbis in enforcing observance of the Sabbath by the Jews. Why? Because whenever a Jew was fined by a rabbinical court for violating the Sabbath, the rabbis had to hand nine tenths of the fine over to the king – a very profitable and effective arrangement.)” Shahak then gives an example of the use of rabbinical power:
    • “One can quote from the responsa written shortly before 1832 by the famous Rabbi Moshe Sofer of Pressburg (now Bratislava), in what was then the autonomous Hungarian Kingdom in the Austrian empire, and addressed to Vienna in Austria proper, where the Jews had already been granted some considerable individual rights. He laments the fact that since the Jewish congregation in Vienna lost its power to punish offenders, the Jews there have become lax in matters of religious observance, and adds: ‘Here in Pressburg, when I am told that a Jewish shopkeeper dared to open his shop during the Lesser Holidays, I immediately sent a policeman to imprison him.’ ”
  • “[The legal powers of the rabbinate] was the most important social fact of Jewish existence before the advent of the modern state: observance of the religious laws of Judaism, as well as their inculcation through education, were enforced on Jews by physical coercion, from which one could only escape by conversion to the religion of the majority, amounting in the circumstances to a total social break and for that reason very impracticable except during a religious crisis.”

The Breakdown Of The Totalitarian Jewish Community
Shahak states that “All this was changed by two parallel processes - beginning in Holland and England, continuing in revolutionary France and in countries which followed the example of the French Revolution, and then in the modern monarchies of the 19th century. The Jews gained a significant level of individual rights (in some cases full legal equality), and the legal power of the Jewish community over its members was destroyed … both developments were simultaneous.” He goes on:
  • “ … once the modern state had come into existence, the Jewish community lost its powers to punish or intimidate the individual Jew. The bonds of one of the most closed of ‘closed societies’, one of the most totalitarian societies in the whole history of mankind were snapped.”
  • “This act of liberation came mostly from outside; although there were some Jews who helped it from within, these were at first very few. This form of [external] liberation had very grave consequences for the future. Here Shahak first gives an analogous situation in Germany: “… in the case of Germany (according to the masterly analysis of A.J.P. Taylor) it was easy to ally the cause of reaction with patriotism, because in actual fact individual rights and equality before the law were brought into Germany by the armies of the French Revolution and of Napoleon, and one could brand liberty as ‘un-German’ ”. He goes on: “… it turned out to be very easy among the Jews, particularly in Israel, to mount a very effective attack against all the notions and ideals of humanism and the rule of law (not to say democracy) as something ‘un-Jewish or ‘anti-Jewish’ – as indeed they are, in a historical sense.” Shahak further notes that such notions (of humanism and the rule of law) may nevertheless be used ‘in the Jewish interest’ but have no validity against the “Jewish interest”, for example, when Arabs invoke those same principles.
  • “This [external liberation and the ruinous reaction to it]  has led – just as in Germany and other nations of Mitteleuropa – to a deceitful, sentimental and ultra-romantic Jewish historiography, from which all inconvenient facts have been expunged.” [our italics] Shahak expands on this:
    • “So one will not find in Hannah Arendt’s voluminous writings, whether on totalitarianism or on Jews, or on both, the smallest hint as to what Jewish society in Germany was really like in the 18th century: burning of books, persecution of writers, disputes about the magic powers of amulets, bans on the most elementary ‘non-Jewish’ education such as the teaching of correct German or indeed German written in the Latin alphabet.”
    • “Nor can one find in the numerous English-language ‘Jewish histories’ the elementary facts about the attitude of Jewish mysticism (so fashionable at present in certain quarters) to non-Jews: that they are considered to be, literally, limbs of Satan, and that the few non-satanic individuals among them (that is, those who convert to Judaism) are in reality ‘Jewish souls’ who got lost when Satan violated the Holy Lady … The great authorities, such as Gershom Scholem, have lent their authority to a system of deceptions in all the ‘sensitive’ areas, the more popular ones being the most dishonest and misleading.”
  • “ … the social consequences of this process of liberalisation was that, for the first time since about AD 200, a Jew could be free to do what he liked, within the bounds of his country’s civil law, without having to pay for this freedom by [making the extreme social break of] converting to another religion. The freedom to learn and read books in modern languages, the freedom to read and write books in Hebrew not approved by the rabbis (as any Hebrew or Yiddish book previously had to be), the freedom to eat non-kosher food, the freedom to ignore the numerous absurd taboos regulating sexual life, even the freedom to think – for ‘forbidden thoughts’ are among the most serious sins.”
  • “All these freedoms were granted to the Jews of Europe (and subsequently of other countries) by modern or even absolutist rulers, although the latter were at the same time anti-Semitic and oppressive.” Shahak comments further on these absolutist European regimes:
    • “Nicholas I of Russia was a notorious anti-Semite and issued many laws against the Jews of his state. But he also strengthened the forces of ‘law and order’ in Russia … with the consequence that it became difficult to murder Jews on the order of their rabbis, whereas in pre-1795 Poland it had been quite easy. ‘Official’ Jewish history condemns him on both counts. For example, in the late 1830’s a ‘Holy Rabbi’ … in a small Jewish town in the Ukraine ordered the murder of a heretic by throwing him into the boiling water of the town baths …” Shahak records that “… contemporary Jewish sources note with astonishment and horror that bribery was ‘no longer effective’ and that not only the actual perpetrators but also the Holy Man were severely punished.”
    • “The Metternich regime of pre-1848 Austria was notoriously reactionary and quite unfriendly to Jews, but it did not allow people, even liberal Jewish rabbis, to be poisoned. During 1848, when the regime’s power was temporarily weakened, the first thing the leaders of the Jewish community in the Galician city of Lemberg (now Lvov) did with their newly regained freedom was to poison the liberal rabbi of the city, whom the tiny non-Orthodox Jewish group in the city had imported from Germany. One of his greatest heresies, by the way, was the advocacy and actual performance of the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, which had recently been invented.”

The effect of liberation from outside
The effect of liberation from outside is noted by Shahak:
  • “In the last 150 years, the term ‘Jew’ has … acquired a dual meaning, to the great confusion of some well-meaning people, particularly in the English-speaking countries, who imagine that the Jews they meet socially are ‘representative’ of Jews ‘in general’.”
  • “In the countries of eastern Europe as well as in the Arab world, the Jews were liberated from the tyranny of their own religion and of their own communities by outside forces, too late and in circumstances too unfavourable for genuine internalised social change. In most cases, and particularly in Israel, the old concept of society, the same ideology – especially as directed towards non-Jews – and the same utterly false conception of history have been preserved. This applies even to some of those Jews who joined ‘progressive’ or leftist movements. An examination of radical, socialist and communist parties can provide many examples of disguised Jewish chauvinists and racists, who joined these parties merely for reasons of ‘Jewish interest’ and are, in Israel, in favour of ‘anti-Gentile’ discrimination. One need only check how many Jewish ‘socialists’ have managed to write about the kibbutz without taking the trouble to mention that it is a racist institution from which non-Jewish citizens of Israel are rigorously excluded, to see that the phenomenon we are alluding to is by no means uncommon.”
  • “Avoiding labels based on ignorance or hypocrisy, we thus see that the word ‘Jewry’ and its cognates describe two different and even contrasting social groups, and because of current Israeli politics the continuum between the two is disappearing fast.” Shahak notes that on the one hand there are those Jews for whom genuine internalised social change did not take place, referred to in the paragraph above, for whom the old, traditional, totalitarian concepts hold. He continues: “On the other hand, there are Jews by descent who have internalised the complex of ideas which Karl Popper has called ‘the open society’.” He also notes that “There are also some, particularly in the USA, who have not internalised these ideas, but try to make a show of acceptance.”
  • “It is important to understand that all the supposedly ‘Jewish characteristics’ – by which I mean the traits which vulgar so-called intellectuals in the West attribute to ‘the Jews’ – are modern characteristics, quite unknown during most of Jewish history, and appeared only when the totalitarian Jewish community began to lose its power.” He continues:
    • “Take, for example, the famous Jewish sense of humour. Not only is humour very rare in Hebrew literature before the 19th century (and is only found during few periods, and in countries where the Jewish upper class was relatively free from the rabbinical yoke …) but humour and jokes are strictly forbidden by the Jewish religion – except, significantly, jokes against other religions. Satire against rabbis and leaders of the community was never internalised by Judaism, not even to a small extent, as it was in Latin Christianity. There were no Jewish comedies (just as there were no comedies in Sparta), and for a similar reason.”
    • “Or take the love of learning. Except for a purely religious learning, which was itself in a debased and degenerate state, the Jews of Europe (and to a somewhat lesser extent also of the Arab countries) were dominated, before about 1780, by a supreme contempt and hate for all learning (excluding the Talmud and Jewish mysticism). Large parts of the Old Testament, all non-liturgical Hebrew poetry, most books on Jewish philosophy were not read and their very names were often anathematised. Study of all languages was strictly forbidden, as was the study of mathematics and science. Geography, history - even Jewish history - were completely unknown.”
    • “The critical sense, which is supposedly so characteristic of Jews, was totally absent, and nothing was so forbidden, feared and therefore persecuted as the most modest innovation or the most innocent criticism.”
    • “[The world of classical Judaism] was a world sunk in the most abject superstition, fanaticism and ignorance, a world in which the preface to the first work on geography in Hebrew (published in 1803 in Russia) could complain that very many great rabbis were denying the existence of the American continent, and saying that it is ‘impossible’. Between that world and what is often taken in the West to ‘characterise’ Jews there is nothing in common except the … name.”
  • “However”, Shahak goes on, “a great many present-day Jews are nostalgic for that world, their lost paradise, the comfortable closed society from which they were not so much liberated as expelled. A large part of the zionist movement always wanted to restore it - and this part has gained the upper hand. Many of the motives behind Israeli politics, which so bewilder the poor confused western ‘friends of Israel’, are perfectly explicable once they are seen as reaction, reaction in the political sense which this word has had for the last two hundred years: a forced … return to the closed society of the Jewish past.”
Anti Jewish Persecutions
“During the whole period of classical Judaism [as noted above]”, Shahak states, “Jews were often subjected to persecutions - and this fact now serves as the main 'argument' of the apologists of the Jewish religion with its anti-Gentile laws and especially of zionism. Of course, the Nazi extermination of five to six million European Jews is supposed to be the crowning argument in that line. We must therefore consider this phenomenon and its contemporary aspect. This is particularly important in view of the fact that the descendants of the Jews of pre-1795 Poland (often called 'east-European Jews' - as opposed to Jews from the German cultural domain of the early 19th century, including the present Austria, Bohemia and Moravia) now wield predomi¬nant political power in Israel as well as in the Jewish communities in the USA and other English-speaking countries; and, because of their particular past history, this mode of thinking is especially entrenched among them, much more than among other Jews.” [our italics]

He continues: “We must, first, draw a sharp distinction between the persecutions of Jews during the classical period on the one hand, and the Nazi extermination on the other. The former were popular movements, coming from below; whereas the latter was inspired, organised and carried out from above: indeed, by state officials. Such acts as the Nazi state-organ¬ised extermination are relatively rare in human history, al¬though other cases do exist (the extermination of the Tasmanians and several other colonial peoples, for example). Moreo¬ver, the Nazis intended to wipe out other peoples besides the Jews: Gypsies were exterminated like Jews, and the extermi¬nation of Slavs was well under way, with the systematic massacre of millions of civilians and prisoners of war. How¬ever, it is the recurrent persecution of Jews in so many countries during the classical period which is the model (and the excuse) for the zionist politicians in their persecution of the Palestinians, as well as the argument used by apologists of Judaism in general; and it is this phenomenon which we consider now.”

Modern Antisemitism
“The character of anti-Jewish persecutions”, Shahak states, “underwent a radical change in modern times. With the advent of the modern state, the abolition of serfdom and the achievement of minimal indi¬vidual rights, the special socio-economic function of the Jews necessarily disappears. Along with it disappear also the powers of the Jewish community over its members; individual Jews in grow¬ing numbers win the freedom to enter the general society of their countries. Naturally, this transition aroused a violent reaction both on the part of Jews (especially their rabbis) and of those elements in European society who opposed the open society and for whom the whole process of liberation of the individual was anathema.”

He goes on: “Modern antisemitism appears first in France and Germany, then in Russia, after about 1870. Contrary to the prevalent opinion among Jewish socialists, I do not believe that its begin¬nings or its subsequent development until the present day can be ascribed to 'capitalism'. On the contrary, in my opinion the successful capitalists in all countries were on the whole remark¬ably free from antisemitism, and the countries in which capital¬ism was established first and in its most extensive form - such as England and Belgium - were also those where antisemitism was far less widespread than elsewhere.”

“Early modern antisemitism (1880-1900)”, Shahak asserts, “was a reaction of bewildered men, who deeply hated modern society in all its aspects, both good and bad, and who were ardent believers in the conspiracy theory of history. The Jews were cast in the role of scapegoat for the breakup of the old society (which anti-semitic nostalgia imagined as even more closed and ordered than it had ever been in reality) and for all that was disturbing in modern times. But right at the start the antisemites were faced with what was, for them, a difficult problem: how to define this scapegoat, particularly in popular terms? What is to be the supposed common denominator of the Jewish musician, banker, craftsman and beggar - especially after the common religious features had largely dissolved, at least externally? The 'theory' of the Jewish race was the modern antisemitic answer to this problem.”

“In contrast”, he goes on, “the old Christian, and even more so Muslim opposition to classical Judaism was remarkably free from rac¬ism. No doubt this was to some extent a consequence of the universal character of Christianity and Islam, as well as of their original connection with Judaism (St Thomas More repeatedly rebuked a woman who objected when he told her that the Virgin Mary was Jewish). But in my opinion a far more impor¬tant reason was the social role of the Jews as an integral part of the upper classes. In many countries Jews were treated as potential nobles and, upon conversion, were able immediately to intermarry with the highest nobility. The nobility of 15th cen¬tury Castile and Aragon or the aristocracy of 18th century Poland - to take the two cases where intermarriage with con¬verted Jews was widespread - would hardly be likely to marry Spanish peasants or Polish serfs, no matter how much praise the Gospel has for the poor.”

Shahak continues: “It is the modern myth of the Jewish 'race' - of outwardly hidden but supposedly dominant characteristics of 'the Jews', independent of history, of social role, of anything - which is the formal and most important distinguishing mark of modern antisemitism. This was in fact perceived by some Church lead¬ers when modern antisemitism first appeared as a movement of some strength. Some French Catholic leaders, for example, opposed the new racist doctrine expounded by E. Drumont, the first popular modern French antisemite and author of the noto¬rious book La France Juive (1886), which achieved wide circula¬tion. Early modern German antisemites encountered similar opposition.”

Shahak says that “It must be pointed out that some important groups of European conservatives were quite prepared to play along with modern antisemitism and use it for their own ends, and the antisemites were equally ready to use the conservatives when the occasion offered itself, although at bottom there was little similarity between the two parties. 'The victims who were most harshly treated [by the pen of the above-mentioned Drumont] were not the Rothschilds but the great nobles who courted them. Drumont did not spare the Royal Family ... or the bishops, or for that matter the Pope. Nevertheless, many of the French great nobles, bishops and conservatives generally were quite happy to use Drumont and antisemitism during the crisis of the Dreyfus affair in an attempt to bring down the republican regime.”

“This type of opportunistic alliance”, notes Shahak, “reappeared many times in various European countries until the defeat of Nazism. The conservatives' hatred of radicalism and especially of all forms of socialism blinded many of them to the nature of their political bedfellows. In many cases they were literally prepared to ally themselves with the devil, forgetting the old saying that one needs a very long spoon to sup with him.”

Shahak contends that “The effectiveness of modern antisemitism, and of its alliance with conservatism, depended on several factors.” He lays these out:
  • “First, the older tradition of Christian religious opposition to Jews, which existed in many (though by no means all) Euro¬pean countries, could, if supported or at least unopposed by the clergy, be harnessed to the antisemitic bandwagon. The actual response of the clergy in each country was largely determined by specific local historical and social circumstances. In the Catholic Church, the tendency for an opportunistic alliance with antisemitism was strong in France but not in Italy; in Poland and Slovakia but not in Bohemia. The Greek Orthodox Church had notorious antisemitic tendencies in Ro¬mania but took the opposite line in Bulgaria. Among the Protestant Churches, the German was deeply divided on this issue, others (such as the Latvian and Estonian) tended to be antisemitic, but many (for example the Dutch, Swiss and Scan¬dinavian) were among the earliest to condemn antisemitism.”
  • “Secondly, antisemitism was largely a generic expression of xenophobia, a desire for a 'pure' homogeneous society. But in many European countries around 1900 (and in fact until quite recently) the Jew was virtually the only 'stranger'. This was particularly true of Germany. In principle, the German racists of the early 20th century hated and despised Blacks just as much as Jews; but there were no Blacks in Germany then. Hate is of course much more easily focused on the present than on the absent, especially under the conditions of the time, when mass travel and tourism did not exist and most Europeans never left their own country in peacetime.”
  • “Thirdly, the successes of the tentative alliance between con¬servatism and antisemitism were inversely proportional to the power and capabilities of its opponents. And the consistent and effective opponents of antisemitism in Europe are the political forces of liberalism and socialism -historically the same forces that continue in various ways the tradition symbolised by the War of Dutch Independence (1568-1648), the English Revolu¬tion and the Great French Revolution. On the European conti¬nent the main shibboleth is the attitude towards the Great French Revolution - roughly speaking, those who are for it are against antisemitism; those who accept it with regret would be at least prone to an alliance with the antisemites; those who hate it and would like to undo its achievements are the milieu from which antisemitism develops.”

“Nevertheless”, states Shahak, “a sharp distinction must be made between conservatives and even reactionaries on the one hand and actual racists and antisemites on the other. Modern racism (of which antisemitism is part) although caused by specific social conditions, becomes, when it gains strength, a force that in my opinion can only be described as demonic. After coming to power, and for its duration, I believe it defies analysis by any presently understood social theory or set of merely social obser¬vations - and in particular by any known theory invoking interests, be they class or state interests, or other than purely psychological 'interests' of any entity that can be defined in the present state of human knowledge … I do not mean that such forces are unknowable in principle; on the contrary, one must hope that with the growth of human knowledge they will come to be understood. But at present they are neither under¬stood nor capable of being rationally predicted - and this applies to all racism in all societies. As a matter of fact, no political figure or group of any political colour in any country had predicted even vaguely the horrors of Nazism. Only artists and poets such as Heine were able to glimpse some of what the future had in store. We do not know how they did it; and besides, many of their other hunches were wrong.”

The Zionist Response To Anti-Semitism
Shahak says that “Historically, zionism is both a reaction to antisemitism and a conservative alliance with it - although the zionists, like other European conservatives, did not fully realise with whom they were allying themselves.”

He goes on: “Until the rise of modern anti-Semitism, the mood of European Jewry was optimistic, indeed excessively so. This was manifested not only in the very large number of Jews, particu¬larly in western countries, who simply opted out of classical Judaism, apparently without any great regret, in the first or second generation after this became possible, but also in the formation of a strong cultural movement, the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), which began in Germany and Austria around 1780, was then carried into eastern Europe and by 1850-70 was making itself felt as a considerable social force. I cannot enter here into a discussion of the movement's cultural achieve¬ments, such as the revival of Hebrew literature and the crea-tion of a wonderful literature in Yiddish. However, it is impor¬tant to note that despite many internal differences, the move¬ment as a whole was characterised by two common beliefs: a belief in the need for a fundamental critique of Jewish society and particularly of the social role of the Jewish religion in its classical form, and the almost messianic hope for the victory of the 'forces of good' in European societies. The latter forces were naturally defined by the sole criterion of their support for Jewish emancipation.”

“The growth of antisemitism as a popular movement”, Shahak continues, “and the many alliances of the conservative forces with it, dealt a severe blow to the Jewish Enlightenment. The blow was especially devastating because in actual fact the rise of antisemitism occurred just after the Jews were emancipated in some Euro¬pean countries, and even before they were freed in others. The Jews of the Austrian empire received fully equal rights only in 1867. In Germany, some independent states emancipated their Jews quite early, but others did not; notably, Prussia was grudging and tardy in this matter, and final emancipation of the Jews in the German empire as a whole was only granted by Bismarck in 1871. In the Ottoman empire the Jews were subject to official discrimination until 1909, and in Russia (as well as Romania) until 1917. Thus modern antisemitism began within a decade of the emancipation of the Jews in central Europe and long before the emancipation of the biggest Jewish community at that time, that of the Tsarist empire.”

“It is therefore easy”, says Shahak, “for the zionists to ignore half of the relevant facts, revert to the segregationist stance of classical Judaism, and claim that since all Gentiles always hate and persecute all Jews, the only solution would be to remove all the Jews bodily and concentrate them in Palestine or Uganda or wherever. Some early Jewish critics of zionism were quick to point out that if one assumes a permanent and ahistorical incompatibility between Jews and Gentiles - an assumption shared by both zionists and antisemites! - then to concentrate the Jews in one place would simply bring upon them the hatred of the Gentiles in that part of the world (as indeed was to happen, though for very different reasons). But as far as I know this logical argument did not make any impression, just as all the logical and factual arguments against the myth of the 'Jewish race' made not the slightest difference to the antisemites.”

Shahak states that “In fact, close relations have always existed between zionists and antisemites: exactly like some of the European conserva¬tives, the zionists thought they could ignore the 'demonic' character of antisemitism and use the antisemites for their own purposes. Many examples of such alliances are well known. Herzl allied himself with the notorious Count von Plehve, the antisemitic minister of Tsar Nicholas II; Jabotinsky made a pact with Petlyura, the reactionary Ukrainian leader whose forces massacred some 100,000 Jews in 1918- 21; Ben-Gurion's allies among the French extreme right during the Algerian war included some notorious antisemites who were, however, careful to explain that they were only against the Jews in France, not in Israel.”

Shahak continues: “Perhaps the most shocking example of this type is the delight with which some zionist leaders in Germany welcomed Hitler's rise to power, because they shared his belief in the primacy of 'race' and his hostility to the assimilation of Jews among 'Aryans'. They congratulated Hitler on his triumph over the common enemy - the forces of liberalism. Dr Joachim Prinz, a zionist rabbi who subsequently emigrated to the USA, where he rose to be vice-chairman of the World Jewish Con¬gress and a leading light in the World Zionist Organization (as well as a great friend of Golda Meir), published in 1934 a special book, Wir Juden (We, Jews), to celebrate Hitler's so-called German Revolution and the defeat of liberalism.” Shahak continues:
  • He quotes from Wir Juden: ‘The meaning of the German Revolution for the German nation will eventually be clear to those who have created it and formed its image. Its meaning for us must be set forth here: the fortunes of liberalism are lost. The only form of political life which has helped Jewish assimilation is sunk.’
  • “The victory of Nazism rules out assimilation and mixed marriages as an option for Jews. 'We are not unhappy about this,' said Dr Prinz. In the fact that Jews are being forced to identify themselves as Jews, he sees 'the fulfilment of our desires'.” Shahak quotes again from Wir Juden:
    • ‘We want assimilation to be replaced by a new law: the declaration of belonging to the Jewish nation and Jewish race. A state build upon the principle of the purity of nation and race can only [be] honoured and respected by a Jew who declares his belonging to his own kind. Having so declared himself, he will never be capable of faulty loyalty towards a state. The state cannot want other Jews but such as declare themselves as belonging to their nation. It will not want Jewish flatterers and crawlers. It must demand of us faith and loyalty to our own interest. For only he who honours his own breed and his own blood can have an attitude of honour towards the national will of other nations.’
  • “The whole book”, says Shahak, “is full of similar crude flatteries of Nazi ideology, glee at the defeat of liberalism and particularly of the ideas of the French Revolution and great expectations that, in the congenial atmosphere of the myth of the Aryan race, zionism and the myth of the Jewish race will also thrive.”

“Of course”, says Shahak, “Dr Prinz, like many other early sympathisers and allies of Nazism, did not realise where that movement (and modern antisemitism generally) was leading. Equally, many people at present do not realise where zionism - the movement in which Dr Prinz was an honoured figure - is tending: to a combination of all the old hates of classical Judaism towards Gentiles and to the indiscriminate and ahis-torical use of all the persecutions of Jews throughout history in order to justify the zionist persecution of the Palestinians.”

“For”, continues Shahak, “insane as it sounds, it is nevertheless plain upon close examination of the real motives of the zionists, that one of the most deep-seated ideological sources of the zionist establish¬ment's persistent hostility towards the Palestinians is the fact that they are identified in the minds of many east-European Jews with the rebellious east-European peasants who partici¬pated in the Chmielnicki uprising and in similar revolts - and the latter are in turn identified ahistorically with modern an¬tisemitism and Nazism.”

Major Features Of Israeli Society
Shahak sets out the defining features of Israeli society:
  • “The principle of Israel as ‘a Jewish state’.” He continues:
    • “Without a discussion of the prevalent Jewish attitudes to non-Jews [as examined above], even the concept of Israel as ‘a Jewish state’, as Israel formally defines itself, cannot be understood.”
    • “The widespread misconception that Israel, even without considering its regime in the Occupied Territories, is a true democracy arises from the refusal [particularly by the West] to confront the significance of the term ‘a Jewish state’ …” [our italics]
    • “The principle of Israel as ‘a Jewish state’ was supremely important to Israeli politicians from the inception of the state …” [We might add that indeed it was supremely important to the Zionist project from its inception in the late 19th century – see the article entitled “A History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, which we have already distributed. For those who do not have copies, the article is available on South Tyneside STWC’s website, – at the site, just click on ‘Forum’, then select ‘South Tyneside Stop the War’, then select the article.] Shahak goes on: “ … [this principle] was inculcated into the Jewish population by all conceivable ways.”
    • “When, in the early 1980’s, a tiny minority of Israeli Jews emerged [who] opposed this concept, a Constitutional Law (that is, a law overriding provisions of other laws, which cannot be revoked except by a special procedure) was passed in 1985 by an enormous majority of the Knesset. By this law no party whose programme openly opposes the principle of ‘a Jewish state’, or proposes to change it by democratic means, is allowed to participate in the elections to the Knesset.
    • “I myself”, Shahak goes on, “strongly oppose this constitutional principle. The legal consequence for me is that I cannot belong, in the state of which I am a citizen, to a party having principles with which I would agree, and which is allowed to participate in Knesset elections. Even this example shows that the State of Israel is not a democracy due to the application of a Jewish ideology directed against all non-Jews and those Jews who oppose this ideology.”
    • “ … this dominant ideology … influences Israeli foreign policies … will continue to grow, as long as … the Jewish character of Israel [increases] … [and Israeli] power … particularly … nuclear power [increases, and] … Israeli influence in the USA political establishment [does not decline] …”
    • “Hence”, says Shahak, “accurate information about Judaism, and especially about the treatment of non-Jews [especially Palestinians] by Israel, is now … politically vital … “
    • “By this official definition [of the term ‘Jewish’], Israel ‘belongs’ to [all] persons who are defined … as ‘Jewish’, irrespective of where they live, and to them alone. [Jewish-Americans, British Jews., and so on] [our italics] … On the other hand, Israel doesn’t officially ‘belong’ to its non-Jewish citizens, whose status is considered even officially as inferior.”
    • “This means in practice”, says Shahak, “that if members of a Peruvian tribe are converted to Judaism, and thus regarded as Jewish, they are entitled at once to become Israeli citizens and benefit from the approximately 70 per cent of the West Bank land (and the 92 per cent of the area of Israel … [excluding the Occupied territories] ), officially designated [as] only for the benefit of Jews. All non-Jews (not only all Palestinians [living as Israeli citizens] ) are prohibited from benefiting from those lands. (The prohibition applies even to Israeli Arabs who served in the Israeli army and reached a high rank.) The case involving Peruvian converts to Judaism actually occurred a few years ago. The newly-created Jews were settled in the West Bank, near Nablus [in the Occupied Territories], on land from which non-Jews are officially excluded.”
    • “All Israeli governments are taking enormous political risks, including the risk of war, so that such settlements, composed exclusively of persons who are defined as ‘Jewish’ (and not ‘Israeli’ as most of the media mendaciously claims) would be subject to only ‘Jewish’ authority.”
    • “I suspect”, Shahak says, “that the Jews of the USA or of Britain would regard it as antisemitic if Christians would propose that the USA or the United Kingdom should become a ‘Christian state’ belonging only to citizens officially defined as ‘Christians’ ”
    • “According to Israeli law a person is considered ‘Jewish’ if either their mother, grandmother, great-grandmother [or] great-great-grandmother were Jewesses by religion; or if the person was converted to Judaism in a way satisfactory to the Israeli authorities, and [in either case] on condition that the person has not converted from Judaism to another religion [in which case Israel ceases to regard them as ‘Jewish’.]” Shahak notes that the “first [condition] represents the Talmudic definition of ‘who is a Jew’, a definition followed by Jewish Orthodoxy.” He further notes that “The Talmud and post-Talmudic rabbinical law also recognise the conversion of a non-Jew to Judaism … provided that the conversion is performed by authorised rabbis in a proper manner.”
  • “The state of Israel officially discriminates in favour of Jews and against non-Jews in many domains of life …” [This topic too is extensively covered in the article entitled “A History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” referred to above.] Shahak goes on: “I regard”, he says, “three as being most important: residency rights, the right to work, and the right to equality before the law.” He continues:
    • “Discrimination in residency is based on the fact that about 92 per cent of Israel’s land is the property of the state and is administered by the Israel Land Authority according to regulations issued by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), an affiliate of the World Zionist Organization. In its regulations the JNF denies the right to reside, to open a business, and often also to work, to anyone who is not Jewish, only because he is not Jewish. At the same time, Jews are not prohibited from taking residence or opening businesses anywhere in Israel. If applied in another state against the Jews, such discriminatory practice would instantly and justifiably be labelled antisemitism and would no doubt spark massive public protests. When applied by Israel as a part of its ‘Jewish ideology’, they are usually studiously ignored or excused when rarely mentioned. [our italics]
    • “The denial of the right to work means that non-Jews are prohibited officially from working on land administered by the Israel Land Authority according to the JNF regulations. No doubt these regulations are not always … enforced but they do exist. From time to time Israel attempts enforcement campaigns by state authorities, as, for example, when the Agriculture Ministry acts against the pestilence of letting fruit orchards belonging to Jews and situated on National Land [that is, land belonging to the State of Israel] be harvested by Arab labourers, even if the labourers in question are citizens of Israel. Israel also strictly prohibits Jews settled on ‘National Land’ to sub-rent even a part of their land to Arabs, even for a short time; and those who do so are punished, usually by heavy fines. There is no [similar] prohibition on non-Jews renting their land to Jews.”
    • “Non-Jewish citizens of Israel do not have the right to equality before the law. This discrimination is expressed in many Israeli laws in which, presumably to avoid embarrassment, the terms ‘Jewish’ and ‘non-Jewish’ are usually not explicitly stated …” Shahak continues:
      • “ … [Exceptionally, the terms ‘Jewish’ and ‘non-Jewish’ are used] in the crucial Law of Return. According to that law only persons officially recognised as ‘Jewish’ have an automatic right of entry to Israel and of settling in it. They automatically receive an ‘immigration certificate’ which provides them on arrival with ‘citizenship by virtue of having returned to the Jewish homeland’, and with the right to many financial benefits ... ”
      • “Other Israeli laws substitute the more obtuse expressions ‘anyone who can immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return’ and anyone who is not entitled to immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return’. Depending on the [particular] law in question, benefits are then granted to the first category and systematically denied to the second.”
      • “The routine means for enforcing discrimination in everyday life is the ID card, which everyone is obliged to carry at all times. ID cards list the official ‘nationality’ of a person, which can be ‘Jewish’, ‘Arab’, ‘Druze’, and the like, with the significant exception of ‘Israeli’. Attempts to force the Interior Minister to allow Israelis wishing to be officially described as ‘Israeli’, or even as ‘Israeli-Jew’ in their ID cards have failed. Those who have attempted to do so have received a letter from the Ministry of the Interior stating that ‘it was decided not to recognise an Israeli nationality’. The letter does not specify who made this decision or when.”
      • “There are so many laws and regulations in Israel which discriminate in favour of the persons defined as those ‘who can immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return’ that the subject demands separate treatment.” [See the article entitled “A History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” referred to above.] Shahak then looks at one example “ … seemingly trivial in comparison with residence restrictions, but nevertheless important since it reveals the real intentions of the Israeli legislator. Israeli citizens who left the country for a time but who are defined as those who ‘can immigrate in accordance with the Law of Return’ are eligible on their return to generous customs benefits, to receive subsidy for their children’s high school education, and to receive either a grant or a loan on easy terms for the purchase of an apartment, as well as other benefits.” “The obvious intention”, says Shahak, “of such discriminatory measures is to decrease the number non-Jewish citizens of Israel,in order to make Israel a more ‘Jewish’ state.”
  • “The ideology of ‘redeemed’ land.” [Again, we might add that the notion of ‘redeeemed’ land was supremely important to the Zionist project from its inception in the late 19th century - this topic too is extensively covered in the article entitled “A History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” referred to above.] Shahak goes on:
    • “Israel also propagates among its Jewish citizens an exclusivist ideology of the Redemption of Land.” [This was also true from the very start of the Zionist project, before the bloody and murderous creation of Israel - see the article entitled “A History Of Modern Palestine: A History Of Israel And The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” referred to above.]
    • “Its official aim of minimizing the number of non-Jews can be well perceived in this ideology, which is inculcated [in] Jewish schoolchildren in Israel. They are taught that it is applicable to the entire extent of either the State of Israel or, after 1967, to what is referred to as the Land of Israel.”
    • “According to this ideology, the land which has been ‘redeemed’ is the land which has passed from non-Jewish to Jewish ownership. The ownership can be either private, or belong to either the JNF or the Jewish state. The land which belongs to non-Jews is, on the contrary, considered to be ‘unredeemed’.”
    • “ … the Utopia of the ‘Jewish ideology’ adopted by the Land of Israel is a land which is wholly ‘redeemed’ and none of it is owned or worked by non-Jews.” [our italics]
    • “The leaders of the Zionist labour movement expressed this utterly repellent idea [that ‘redeemed’ land be worked only by Jews] with the greatest clarity. Walter Laquer, a devoted Zionist, tells in his History of Zionism how one of these spiritual fathers, A.D. Gordon, who died in 1919, ‘ … wanted every tree and every bush in the Jewish homeland to be planted by nobody else except Jewish pioneers.’ This means that they wanted everyone else to just go away and leave the land to be ‘redeemed’ by Jews.” [It also meant in addition that the dispossession of non-Jews was accompanied by their expulsion, frequent loss of livelihood, and, ultimately, the function of some as landless workers to be exploited by the Israeli state – [see also the article referred to above.] Shahak adds that “Gordon’s successors added more violence than he intended but the principle of ‘redemption’ and its consequences have remained.”
    • “In the same way, the kibbutz, widely hailed as an attempt to create a Utopia, was and is an exclusivist Utopia; even if it is composed of atheists, it does not accept Arab members on principle and demands that potential members fron other nationalities be first converted to Judaism.” “No wonder”, continues Shahak, “the kibbutz boys can be regarded as the most militaristic segment of the Israeli Jewish society.”
    • “It is this exclusivist ideology, rather than all the ‘security needs’ alleged by Israeli propaganda, which determines the take-overs of land in Israel in the 1950s and again in the mid-1960s and in the Occupied Territories after 1967. This ideology also dictated official Israeli plans for ‘the Judaization of Galilee’. This curious term means encouraging Jews to settle in Galilee by giving them financial benefits.” “I wonder what would be the reaction”, says Shahak, “of US Jews if a plan for ‘the Christianization of New York’ [with its very large Jewish population] … would be proposed in their country.”
    • “ … the JNF, vigorously backed by Israeli state agencies (especially by the secret police) is spending great sums of public money in order to ‘redeem’ any land which non-Jews are willing to sell … ”
Israeli Expansionism
Shahak says that “the main danger which Israel, as ‘a Jewish state’, poses to its own people, to other Jews [the Jewish diaspora], and to its neighbours, is its ideologically motivated pursuit of territorial expansion and the inevitable series of wars  resulting from this aim.”

“The more Israel becomes Jewish”, he notes, “or, as one says in Hebrew, the more it ‘returns to Judaism’ (a process which has been under way in Israel since at least 1967), the more its actual politics are guided by Jewish ideological considerations and less by rational ones. [our italics]

He continues: “The ideological defences of Israeli policies are usually based on Jewish religious beliefs or, in the case of secular Jews, on the ‘historical rights’ of the Jews, which derive from those beliefs and retain the dogmatic character of religious faith.” Shahak gives a telling example:
  • He relates how, in 1956, Ben-Gurion gave all the political and military reasons for Israel initiating the Suez War, and then, “(in spite of [his] being an atheist, proud of his disregard of the commandments of the Jewish religion), pronounced in the Knesset on the third day of that war, that the real reason for it is ‘the restoration of the kingdom of David and Solomon’ to its Biblical borders. At this point in the speech, almost every Knesset member spontaneously rose and sang the Israeli national anthem.” Shahak says that, to his knowledge, “no zionist politician has ever repudiated Ben-Gurion’s idea that Israeli policies must be based (within the limits of pragmatic considerations) on the restoration of the Biblical borders as the borders of the Jewish state.”
Shahak states that “close analysis of Israeli grand strategies and actual principles of foreign policy, as they are expressed in Hebrew, makes it clear that it is ‘Jewish ideology’, more than any other factor [such as Israeli imperial planning of a secular nature, as discussed below], which determines actual Israeli policies.”

Jewish ideology, says Shahak, “enjoins that land which was either ruled by any Jewish ruler in ancient times, or was promised by God to the Jews, either in the Bible or – what is actually more important politically – according to a rabbinic interpretation of the Bible and the Talmud, should belong to Israel since it is a Jewish state.”
  • “ … A number of discrepant versions of Biblical borders of the Land of Israel, which rabbinical authorities interpret as ideally belonging to the Jewish state, are in circulation.”
  • “The most far-reaching among them include the following areas within these borders:
    • In the south, all of Sinai and a part of northern Egypt up to the environs of Cairo
    • In the east, all of Jordan and a large chunk of Saudi Arabia, all of Kuwait and a part of Iraq south of the Euphrates
    • In the north, all of Lebanon and all of Syria together with a huge part of Turkey (up to Lake Van)
    • In the west, Cyprus.”
  • “An enormous body of research and learned discussion based on these [various sets of] borders, embodied in atlases, books, articles and more popular forms of propaganda is being published in Israel, often with state subsidies, or other forms of support.”
  • “Certainly the late Kahane and his followers, as well as influential bodies such as Gush Emunim, not only desire the conquest of those territories by Israel, but regard it as a divinely commanded act, sure to be successful since it will be aided by God. In fact, important Jewish religious figures regard the Israeli refusal to undertake such a holy war, or even worse, the return of Sinai to Egypt, as a national sin which was justly punished by God. One of the more influential Gush Emunim rabbis, Dov Lior, the rabbi of [the] Jewish settlements of Kiryat Arba and of Hebron, stated repeatedly that the Israeli failure to conquer Lebanon in 1982-5 was a well-merited divine punishment for its sin of ‘giving a part of [the] Land of Israel’, namely Sinai, to Egypt.”
  • Shahak says that, although he chose as above “an admittedly extreme example of the Biblical borders of the Land of Israel which ‘belong’ to the ‘Jewish state’, those borders are quite popular in national-religious circles. There are less extreme versions of Biblical borders (sometimes also called ‘historical borders’).”
  • Shahak says that it must be “emphasised that within Israel and [in] the [outside] community of its diaspora Jewish supporters”:
    • “The validity of the concept of either biblical borders or historical borders as delineating the borders of land which belongs to Jews by right is not denied on grounds of principle (except by the tiny minority which oppose the concept of a Jewish state)”
    • “Otherwise, objections to the realisation of such borders by a war are purely pragmatic. One can claim that Israel is currently too weak to conquer all the land which ‘belongs’ to the Jews, or that the loss of Jewish lives (but not of Arab lives) entailed in a war of conquest of such magnitude is more important than the conquest of the land. But in normative Judaism one cannot claim that ‘the Land of Israel’, in whatever borders, does not ‘belong’ to all the Jews.”
    • Shahak notes that “in May 1993, Ariel Sharon formally proposed in the Likud Convention that Israel should adopt the ‘Biblical borders’ concept as its official policy. There were rather few objections to this proposal, either in the Likud [party] or outside it, and all were based on pragmatic grounds. No one even asked Sharon where exactly are [these] Biblical borders which he was urging that Israel should attain.”
    • Shahak comments that “it is not only the belief itself, however dogmatic, but the refusal that it should ever be doubted, by thwarting open discussion, which creates a totalitarian cast of mind. Israeli-Jewish society and diaspora Jews who are leading ‘Jewish lives’ and organised in purely Jewish organisations, can be said therefore to have a strong streak of totalitarianism in their character.” 

“However”, says Shahak, “an Israeli grand strategy, not based on the tenets of ‘Jewish ideology’, but based on purely strategic or imperial considerations had also developed since the inception of the Israeli state”:
  • He reports that “an authoritative and lucid description of the principles governing such strategy was given by General (Reserves) Shlomo Gazit, a former Military Intelligence commander.”According to Gazit:
    • ‘Israel’s main task has not changed at all [since the demise of the USSR] and it remains of crucial importance. The geographical location of Israel at the centre of the Arab-Muslim Middle East predestines Israel to be a devoted guardian of stability in all the countries surrounding it. Its [role] is to protect the existing regimes, to prevent or halt the processes of radicalisation, and to block the expansion of fundamentalist religious zealotry.
    • For this purpose Israel will prevent changes occurring beyond Israel’s borders [which it] will regard as intolerable, to the point of feeling compelled to use all its military power for the sake of their prevention or eradication.’
  • “In other words”, says Shahak, “Israel aims at imposing a hegemony on other Middle Eastern states. Needless to say, according to Gazit, Israel has a benevolent concern for the stability of Arab regimes. In Gazit’s view, by protecting Middle Eastern regimes, Israel performs a vital service for ‘the industrially advanced states, all of which are keenly concerned with guaranteeing … stability in the Middle East …’ ”

Shahak tells us that he opposes “root and branch the Israeli non-ideological policies as they are so lucidly and correctly explained by Gazit” However, he recognises that “the dangers of the policies … motivated by ‘Jewish ideology’ are much worse than [the dangers of] merely imperial policies, however criminal” [our italics]. He continues “This [Jewish] ideology is, in turn, based on the attitudes of historic Judaism to non-Jews, one of the main themes of this book. Those attitudes necessarily influence many Jews, consciously or unconsciously.” He goes on:
  • “The influence of ‘Jewish ideology’ on many Jews will be stronger the more it is hidden from public discussion.”
  • “Such discussion will, it is hoped, lead people [to] take the same attitude towards Jewish chauvinism and the contempt displayed by so many Jews towards non-Jews [which is described above] as that commonly taken towards anti-Semitism and all other forms of xenophobia, chauvinism and racism.”
  • “It is justly assumed that only the full exposition, not only of anti-Semitism, but also its historical roots, can be the basis of struggle against it. Likewise I am assuming that only the full exposition of Jewish chauvinism and Jewish fanaticism can be the basis of struggle against those phenomena.”
  • “This is especially true today when, contrary to the situation prevailing fifty or sixty years ago, the political influence of Jewish chauvinism and religious fanaticism is much greater than that of anti-Semitism.” Shahak adds that he strongly believes “that anti-Semitism and Jewish chauvinism can only be fought simultaneously”.

Furthermore, Shahak says that, because foreign observers usually know nothing about Judaism except crude apologetics, they thus take no heed of Judaism as it really is, and no heed of ‘Jewish ideology’ – so that Israeli policies are incomprehensible to them.

Shahak says it is politically important, especially for foreign observers, that, since an important component of Israeli policy is based on ‘Jewish ideology’, this ‘Jewish ideology’ is understood. He goes on to say that this ‘Jewish ideology’ is in turn based on the attitudes of historic Judaism to non-Jews, and that those historic attitudes necessarily influence many Jews today, consciously or unconsciously. The task, therefore, he says, is to discuss historic Judaism.

Shahak goes on to note that “true believers in that Utopia called the ‘Jewish state’, which will strive to achieve the ‘Biblical borders’, are more dangerous than the grand strategists of Gazit’s type because their policies are being sanctified by the use of religion or, worse, by the use of secularised religious principles which retain absolute validity. While Gazit at least sees a need to argue … [the case for] the Israeli diktat [his ridiculous argument that it benefits the Arab regimes], Ben-Gurion did not pretend that the re-establishment of the kingdom of David and Solomon will benefit anybody except the Jewish state.”

“There can be no better definition of ‘classical Judaism’ ”, says Shahak, “and of the ways in which the rabbis manipulated it, than this Platonic definition …”:
  • “The principal thing is that no one, man or woman, should ever be without an officer set over him, and that none should get the mental habit of taking any step, whether in earnest or in jest, on his individual responsibility. In peace as in war he must live always with his eyes on his superior officer … In a word, we must train the mind not even to consider acting as an individual or know how to do it. (Laws, 942 ab)”
  • “If the word ‘rabbi’ is substituted for ‘an officer’ ”, says Shahak, “we will have a perfect image of classical Judaism [which] is still deeply influencing Israeli-Jewish society and determining to a large extent Israeli policies.”

Shahak further notes that “it was the above quoted passage which was chosen by Karl Popper in The Open Society and Its Enemies as describing the essence of  ‘a closed society’. Historical Judaism and its two successors, Jewish Orthodoxy and Zionism, are both sworn enemies of the concept of the open society as applied to Israel. A Jewish state, whether based on its present Jewish ideology or, if it becomes even more Jewish in character than it is now, on the principles of Jewish Orthodoxy, cannot ever contain an open society. There are two choices which face Israeli-Jewish society”:
  • “It can become a fully closed and warlike ghetto, a Jewish Sparta, supported by the labour of Arab helots, kept in existence by its influence on the US political establishment and by threats to use its nuclear power, or it can try to become an open society.”
  • “The second choice is dependent on a honest examination of its Jewish past, on the admission that Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism exist, and on a honest examination of the attitudes of Judaism towards the non-Jews.

The terrible effect of Jewish religious fanaticism on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Shahak states that “It is against the glorification of inhumanity, proclaimed not only by the rabbis but by those who are supposed to be the greatest and certainly the most influential scholars of Judaism, that we have to struggle …” He continues: “ … we can derive [a] general conclusion about the most effective and horrific means of compulsion to do evil, to cheat and to deceive and, while keeping one’s hands quite clean of violence, to corrupt whole peoples and drive them to oppression and murder … for there can no longer be any doubt that the most horrifying acts of oppression in the West Bank are motivated by Jewish religious fanaticism.” [our italics]

The Failure To Speak Out Against Zionism And Jewish Rascism
“Most people seem to assume”, states Shahak, “that the worst totalitarianism employs physical coercion, and would refer to the imagery of Orwell’s 1984 for a model illustrating such a regime. But it seems to me that this common view is greatly mistaken, and that the intuition of Isaac Asimov, in whose science fiction the worst suppression is always internalised, is the more true to the dangers of human nature … the rabbis – and even more so the scholars attacked here, and with them the whole mob of equally silent middlebrows such as writers, journalists, public figures, who lie and deceive more than them – are not facing the danger of death or the concentration camp, but only social pressure; they lie out of patriotism because they believe that it is their duty to lie for what they conceive to be the Jewish interest. They are patriotic liars, and it is the same patriotism which reduces them to silence when confronted with the discrimination [against] and oppression of the Palestinians.” [our italics]

“ … we are also faced with another group loyalty”, he goes on, “but one which comes from outside the group, and which is sometimes even more mischievous. Very many non-Jews (including Christian clergy and religious laymen, as well as some marxists from all marxist groups) hold the curious opinion that one way to ‘atone’ for the persecution of Jews is not to speak out against evil perpetrated by Jews, but to participate in ‘white lies’ about them. The crude accusation of  ‘antisemitism’ (or, in the case of Jews, ‘self-hate’) against anybody who protests at the discrimination [against] Palestinians or who points out any fact about the Jewish religion or the Jewish past which conflicts with the ‘approved version’ comes with greater hostility and force from non-Jewish ‘friends of the Jews’  than from Jews. It is the existence and great influence of this group in all western countries, and particularly in the USA … which has allowed the rabbis and scholars of Judaism to propagate their lies not only without opposition but with considerable help. [our italics.]

Shahak goes on:
  • “ … Although this phenomenon of blind and stalinistic support for any evil, so long as it is ‘Jewish’, is particularly strong from 1945, when the truth about the extermination of European Jewry became known, it is a mistake to suppose that that it began only then.”
  • “On the contrary, it dates very far back, particularly in social-democratic circles” He continues:
    • “One of Marx’s early friends, Moses Hess, widely known and respected as one of the first socialists in Germany, subsequently revealed himself as an extreme Jewish racist, whose views about the ‘pure Jewish race’ published in 1858 were not unlike comparable bilge about the ‘pure Aryan race’. But the German socialists, who struggled against German racism, remained silent about their Jewish racism.”
    • “In 1944, during the actual struggle against Hitler, the British Labour Party approved a plan for the expulsion of Palestinians from Palestine, which was similar to Hitler’s early plans (up to about 1941) for the Jews. This plan was approved under the pressure of Jewish members of the party’s leadership, many of whom have displayed a stronger ‘kith and kin’ attitude to every Israeli policy than the Conservative ‘kith and kin’ supporters of Ian Smith ever did. But stalinistic taboos on the left are stronger in Britain than on the right, and there is virtually no discussion even when the Labour Party supports Begin’s government.”
  • “In the USA a similar situation prevails, and again the American liberals are the worst.”
  • … we must face reality: in our struggle against the racism and fanaticism of the Jewish religion, our greatest enemies will be not only the Jewish racists (and users of racism) but also those non-Jews [as referred to above] who in other areas are known – falsely in my opinion – as ‘progressives’.” [our italics]


Pervasive Influence Of Orthodox Judaism And Zionism
Shahak states that “The persistent attitudes of classical Judaism toward non-Jews strongly influence its followers, Orthodox Jews and those who can be regarded as its continuators, zionists. Through the latter it also influences the policies of the State of Israel. Since 1967, as Israel becomes more and more 'Jewish', so its policies are influ¬enced more by Jewish ideological considerations than by those of a coldly conceived imperial interest. This ideological influence is not usually perceived by foreign experts, who tend to ignore or downplay the influence of the Jewish religion on Israeli policies. This explains why many of their predictions are incorrect.”

He continues: “In fact, more Israeli government crises are caused by religious reasons, often trivial, than by any other cause. The space devoted by the Hebrew press to discussion of the constantly occurring quarrels between the various religious groups, or between the religious and the secular, is greater than that given any other subject, except in times of war or of security-related tension. At the time of writing, early August 1993, some topics of major interest to readers of the Hebrew press are: whether soldiers killed in action who are sons of non-Jewish mothers will be buried in a segregated area in Israeli military cemeteries; whether Jewish religious burial associations, who have a monopoly over the burial of all Jews except kibbutz members, will be allowed to continue their custom of circumcising the corpses of non-circumcised Jews before burying them (and without asking the family's permission); whether the import of non-kosher meat to Israel, banned unofficially since the establishment of the state, will be allowed or banned by law. There are many more issues of this kind which are of a much greater interest to the Israeli-Jewish public than, let us say, the [then] negotiations with the Palestinians and Syria.”

Effect Of Orthodox Judaism And Zionism On Israeli Policies
“The attempts made by a few Israeli politicians to ignore the factors of 'Jewish ideology' in favour of purely imperial interests have led to disastrous results”, says Shahak. He goes on:
  • “In early 1974, after its partial defeat in the Yom Kippur War, Israel had a vital interest in stopping the renewed influence of the PLO, which had not yet been recognised by the Arab states as the [sole] legitimate representative of the Palestinians. The Israeli gov¬ernment conceived of a plan to support Jordanian influence in the West Bank, which was quite considerable at the time. When King Hussein was asked for his support, he demanded a visible quid pro quo. It was arranged that his chief West Bank supporter, Sheikh Jabri of Hebron, who [at that time] ruled the southern part of the West Bank with an iron fist and with approval of then Defence minister Moshe Dayan, would give a party for the region's notables in the courtyard of his palatial residence in Hebron. The party, in honour of the king's birthday, would feature the public display of Jordanian flags and would begin a pro-Jordanian campaign. But the religious settlers in the nearby Kiryat-Arba, who were only a handful at the time, heard about the plan and threatened Prime Minister Golda Meir and Dayan with vigorous protests since, as they put it, displaying a flag of a 'non-Jewish state' within the Land of Israel contradicts the sacred principle which states that this land 'belongs' only to Jews. Since this principle is accepted by all zionists, the government had to bow to their demands and order Sheikh Jabri not to display any Jordanian flags. Thereupon Jabri, who was deeply humili¬ated, cancelled the party and, at the Fez meeting of the Arab League which occurred soon after, King Hussein voted to recognise the PLO as the sole representative of the Pales¬tinians.”
  • “For the bulk of [the] Israeli-Jewish public the [then] current nego¬tiations about 'autonomy' [following the Oslo Accords] are likewise influenced more by such Jewish ideological considerations than by any others.” [and, in retrospect, we can see what happened to that peace process]

“The conclusion from this consideration of Israeli policies, supported by an analysis of classical Judaism, must be”, says Shahak:
  • “that analyses of Israeli policy-making which do not emphasise the importance of its unique character as a 'Jewish state' must be mistaken.”
  • “In particular, the facile comparison of Israel to other cases of Western imperialism or to settler states, is incorrect”, he says:
    • “During apartheid, the land of South Africa was officially di¬vided into 87 per cent which 'belonged' to the whites and 13 per cent which was said officially to 'belong' to the Blacks. In addition, officially sovereign states, embodied with all the sym¬bols of sovereignty, the so- called Bantustans, were established.”
    • “But 'Jewish ideology' demands that no part of the Land of Israel can be recognised as 'belonging' to non-Jews and that no signs of sovereignty, such as Jordanian flags, can be officially allowed to be displayed. The principle of Redemption of the Land demands that ideally all the land, and not merely, say, 87 per cent, will in time be redeemed', that is, become owned by Jews. 'Jewish ideology prohibits that very convenient principle of imperialism, already known to Romans and followed by so many secular empires, and best formulated by Lord Cromer: `We do not govern Egypt, we govern the governors of Egypt.' “
    • “Jewish ideology forbids such recognition; it also forbids a seem¬ingly respectful attitude to any 'non-Jewish governors' within the Land of Israel. The entire apparatus of client kings, sultans, maharajas and chiefs or, in more modern times, of dependent dictators, so convenient in other cases of imperial hegemony, cannot be used by Israel within the area considered part of the Land of Israel. Hence the fears, commonly expressed by Pales¬tinians, of being offered a 'Bantustan' are totally groundless.”
    • “Only if numerous Jewish lives are lost in war, as happened both in 1973 and in the 1983-5 war aftermath in Lebanon, is an Israeli retreat conceivable since it can be justified by the principle that the sanctity of Jewish life is more important than other considerations.”
    • “What is not possible, as long as Israel remains a 'Jewish state', is the Israeli grant of a fake, but nevertheless symbolically real sovereignty, or even of real au¬tonomy, to non-Jews within the Land of Israel for merely political reasons. Israel, like some other countries, is an exclu-sivist state, but Israeli exclusivism is peculiar to itself.”
    • [our own comment – Shahak says in effect that the Palestinian position is worse than if they were suffering under Apartheid]

The Baleful Influence Of Some Diaspora Jews, Especially Some Jewish-Americans
“In addition to Israeli policies”, states Shahak, “it may be surmised that the `Jewish ideology' influences also a significant part, maybe a majority, of the diaspora Jews. While the actual implementation of Jewish ideology depends on Israel being strong, this in turn depends to a considerable extent on the support which diaspora Jews, particularly US Jews, give to Israel. The image of the diaspora Jews and their attitudes to non-Jews, is quite different from the attitudes of classical Judaism, as described above. This discrepancy is most obvious in English-speaking countries, where the greatest falsifications of Judaism regularly occur. The situation is worst in the USA and Canada, the two states whose support for Israeli policies, including policies which most glaringly contradict the basic human rights of non-Jews, is strongest.”

Shahak says that “US support for Israel, when considered not in abstract but in concrete detail, cannot be adequately explained only as a result of American imperial interests.” …” [We might add that this same conclusion was arrived at some years later by the American professors Mearsheimer and Walt – see the article entitled “Bully Boys II: Thoughts On Mearsheimer And Walt’s Book On The Israel Lobby”, which we have already distributed. For those who do not have copies, the article is available on South Tyneside STWC’s website, referred to above.] Shahak continues: “The strong influence wielded by the organised Jewish community in the USA in support of all Israeli policies must also be taken into account in order to explain the Middle East policies of American administrations. This phenomenon is even more noticeable in the case of Canada, whose Middle Eastern interests cannot be considered as important, but whose loyal dedication to Israel is even greater than that of the USA.”  “In both coun¬tries (and also in France, Britain and many other states)”, he goes on:
  • “Jewish organisations support Israel with about the same loy¬alty which communist parties accorded to the USSR for so long.”
  • “Also, many Jews who appear to be active in defending human rights and who adopt non-conformist views on other issues do, in cases affecting Israel, display a remarkable de¬gree of totalitarianism and are in the forefront of the defence of all Israeli policies.”
  • “It is well known in Israel that the chauvinism and fanaticism in supporting Israel displayed by organised diaspora Jews is much greater (especially since 1967) than the chauvinism shown by an average Israeli Jew. This fanaticism is especially marked in Canada and the USA but because of the incomparably greater political importance of the USA”, says Shahak, “I will concentrate on the latter.”
  • “It should, however, be noted that we also find Jews whose views of Israeli policies are not different from those held by the rest of the society (with due regard to the factors of geography, income, social position and so on).”

“Why”, asks Shahak, “should some American Jews display chauvinism, some¬times extreme, and others not?” He explains:
  • “We should begin by observing the social and therefore also the political importance of the Jewish organisations which are of an exclusive nature: they admit no non-Jews on principle. (This exclusivism is in amusing contrast with their hunt to condemn the most obscure non-Jewish club which refuses to admit Jews.)”
  • “Those who can be called 'organised Jews', and who spend most of their time outside work hours mostly in the company of other Jews, can be presumed to uphold Jewish exclusivism and to preserve the attitudes of classical Judaism to non-Jews:
    • Under present circumstances they cannot openly express these attitudes toward non-Jews in the USA where non-Jews constitute more than 97 per cent of the population.
    • They compensate for this by ex¬pressing their real attitudes in their support of the 'Jewish state' and the treatment it metes to the non-Jews of the Middle East.”
“How else”, says Shahak, “can we explain the enthusiasm displayed by so many American rabbis in support of, let us say, Martin Luther King, compared with their lack of support for the rights of Palestinians, even for their individual human rights? How else can we explain the glaring contradiction between the attitudes of classical Juda¬ism toward non-Jews, which include the rule that their lives should not be saved except for the sake of Jewish interest, with the support of the US rabbis and organised Jews for the rights of the Blacks? After all, Martin Luther King and the majority of American Blacks are non-Jews. Even if only the conservative and Orthodox Jews, who together constitute the majority of organised American Jews, are considered to hold such opinions about the non-Jews, the other part of organised US Jewry, the Reform, had never opposed them, and, in my view, show themselves to be quite influenced by them.”

“Actually the explanation of this apparent contradiction is easy”, avers Shahak: “It should be recalled that Judaism, especially in its classical form, is totalitarian in nature. The behaviour of supporters of other totalitarian ideologies of our times was not different from that of the organised American Jews”, he says:
  • “Stalin and his supporters never tired of condemning the discrimina¬tion against the American or the South African Blacks, espe¬cially in the midst of the worst crimes committed within the USSR.”
  • “The South African apartheid regime was tireless in its denunciations of the violations of human rights committed either by communist or by other African regimes, and so were its supporters in other countries.”
  • “Many similar examples can be given.”


Confronting the Past
Shahak says that “All Jews who really want to extricate themselves from the tyranny of the totalitarian Jewish past must face the question of their attitude towards the popular anti-Jewish manifestations of the past, particularly those connected with the rebellions of enserfed peasants. On the other side, all the apologists of the Jewish religion and of Jewish segregationism and chauvinism also take their stand - both ultimately and in current debates - on the same question. The undoubted fact that the peasant revolutionaries committed shocking atrocities against Jews (as well as against their other oppressors) is used as an 'argument' by those apologists, in exactly the same way that the Palestin¬ian terror is used to justify the denial of justice to the Palestinians.”

“Our own answer”, continues Shahak, “must be a universal one, applicable in principle to all comparable cases. And, for a Jew who truly seeks liberation from Jewish particularism and racism and from the dead hand of the Jewish religion, such an answer is not very difficult.”

“After all”, says Shahak, “revolts of oppressed peasants against their mas¬ters and their masters' bailiffs are common in human history. A generation after the Chmielnicki uprising of the Ukrainian peasants, the Russian peasants rose under the leadership of Stenka Razin, and again, one hundred years later, in the Pugachev rebellion. In Germany there was the Peasant War of 1525, in France the Jacquerie of 1357-8 and many other popular revolts, not to mention the many slave uprisings in all parts of the world. All of them - and I have intentionally chosen to mention examples in which Jews were not targets - were attended by horrifying massacres, just as the Great French Revolution was accompanied by appalling acts of ter¬ror. What is the position of true progressives - and, by now, of most ordinary decent educated people, be they Russian, German or French - on these rebellions? Do decent English historians, even when noting the massacres of Englishmen by rebellious Irish peasants rising against their enslavement, con¬demn the latter as 'anti-English racists'? What is the attitude of progressive French historians towards the great slave revo¬lution in Santo Domingo, where many French women and children were butchered? To ask the question is to answer it. But to ask a similar question of many 'progressive' or even `socialist' Jewish circles is to receive a very different answer; here an enslaved peasant is transformed into a racist monster, if Jews profited from his state of slavery and exploitation.”

Shahak goes on: “The maxim that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it applies to those Jews who refuse to come to terms with the Jewish past: they have become its slaves and are repeating it in zionist and Israeli policies. The State of Israel now fulfils towards the oppressed peasants of many countries - not only in the Middle East but also far beyond it - a role not unlike that of the Jews in pre-1795 Poland: that of a bailiff to the imperial oppressor. It is charac¬teristic and instructive that Israel's major role in arming the forces of the Somoza regime in Nicaragua, and those of Guatemala, El Salvador, Chile and the rest has not given rise to any wide public debate in Israel or among organised Jewish communities in the diaspora. Even the narrower question of expedi¬ency - whether the selling of weapons to a dictatorial butcher of freedom fighters and peasants is in the long term interest of Jews - is seldom asked. Even more significant is the large part taken in this business by religious Jews, and the total silence of their rabbis (who are very vocal in inciting hatred against Arabs). It seems that Israel and zionism are a throw-back to the role of classical Judaism — writ large, on a global scale, and under more dangerous circumstances.”

“The only possible answer to all this”, Shahak continues, “first of all by Jews, must be that given by all true advocates of freedom and humanity in all countries, all peoples and all great philosophies - limited though they sometimes are, as the human condition itself is limited. We must confront the Jewish past and those aspects of the present which are based simultaneously on lying about that past and worshipping it. The prerequisites for this are, first, total honesty about the facts and, secondly, the belief (leading to action, whenever possible) in universalist human principles of ethics and politics.”

Shahak quotes the ancient Chinese sage Mencius (4th century BC), much admired by Voltaire:
  • ‘This is why I say that all men have a sense of commiseration: here is a man who suddenly notices a child about to fall into a well. Invariably he will feel a sense of alarm and compas¬sion. And this is not for the purpose of gaining the favour of the child's parents or of seeking the approbation of his neigh-bours and friends, or for fear of blame should he fail to rescue it. Thus we see that no man is without a sense of compassion or a sense of shame or a sense of courtesy or a sense of right and wrong. The sense of compassion is the beginning of humanity, the sense of shame is the beginning of righteousness, and sense of courtesy is the beginning of deco¬rum, the sense of right and wrong is the beginning of wisdom. Every man has within himself these four beginnings, just as he has four limbs. Since everyone has these four beginnings within him, the man who considers himself incapable of exer¬cising them is destroying himself.’

“We have seen above”, says Shahak, “how far removed from this are the precepts with which the Jewish religion in its classical and talmudic form is poisoning minds and hearts.”

“The road to a genuine revolution in Judaism”, he goes on, “to making it humane, allowing Jews to understand their own past, thereby re-educating themselves out of its tyranny - lies through an unrelenting critique of the Jewish religion. Without fear or favour, we must speak out against what belongs to our own past as Voltaire did against his.”

The Test Facing Both Israeli And Diaspora Jews
Shahak upholds that “The support of democracy or of human rights is therefore meaningless or even harmful and deceitful when it does not begin with self-critique and with support of human rights [even] when they are violated by one's own group. Any support of human rights in general by a Jew which does not include the support of human rights of non-Jews whose rights are being violated by the 'Jewish state' is as deceitful as the support of human rights by a Stalinist. The apparent enthusiasm displayed by American rabbis or by the Jewish organisations in the USA during the 1950s and the 1960s in support of the Blacks in the South, was motivated only by considerations of Jewish self-interest, just as was the commu¬nist support for the same Blacks. Its purpose in both cases was to try to capture the Black community politically, in the Jewish case to an unthinking support of Israeli policies in the Middle East.”

“Therefore, the real test facing both Israeli and diaspora Jews”, says Shahak:
  • “is the test of their self-criticism which must include [a] critique of the Jewish past.”
  • “The most important part of such a critique must be [a] detailed and honest confrontation of the Jewish attitude to non-Jews.”
  • “This is what many Jews justly demand from non-Jews: to confront their own past and so become aware of the discrimination and persecutions inflicted on the Jews.”
  • “In the last 40 years the number of non-Jews killed by Jews is by far greater than the number of the Jews killed by non-Jews.”
  • “The extent of the persecution and dis¬crimination against non-Jews inflicted by the 'Jewish state' with the support of organised diaspora Jews is also enor¬mously greater than the suffering inflicted on Jews by regimes hostile to them.”
  • “Although the struggle against antisemitism (and of all other forms of racism) should never cease, the struggle against Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism, which must include a critique of classical Judaism, is now of equal or greater importance.”
Our Own Comments - The Good Guys And The Bad Guys
Let us, for a brief moment, take a leaf out of George W. Bush’s simplistic black-and-white world, and take a brief look at the good guys and the bad guys. Childish of course, but it’s fun! Have you got your very own good guys or bad guys? See if you can spot them in the list! If not, write and tell us, with your reasons!

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
Netanyahu, Lieberman and co., their racist Israeli state, and the racist Jewish religious fanatic settlers.
Marvel at their utter indifference to Palestinian human rights, the rule of law, and world opinion! Watch the Israeli flea flip the American elephant, and take him for a ride!
Consider for further review: Bibi Netanyahu, Avigdor Lieberman, Ehud Barak, Gush Emunin, Shlomo Aviner, Brig Gen Avichai Ronsky, Elad, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
The Jewish-American pro-Israel Lobby, and their neocon and other Gentile friends:
Behold as they buy off and suborn America’s Vichy Congress! So much for American democracy!
Consider for further review: American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Anti-Defamation League, the neocons, the Christian Zionists, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
America’s Vichy Congress, and the senators and congressmen who make it so:
See (or rather, don’t see) them take Jewish-American campaign contributions! Stare in amazement as they are hectored and lectured by Bibi, AIPAC and the like! Go with them on their free trips to Israel! See them pervert the policy of the USA in the Middle East in a way which damages America’s real interests! Watch the world laugh in astonishment!
Consider for further review: America’s Vichy Congress, Joe Lieberman, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
The American Administration:
Goggle as Netanyahu treats Barack like a schmuck! Observe Obama as he fails to stop continuing Israeli illegal settlement (never mind the Israeli withdrawal necessary for a viable Palestinian state)! Watch him as he fails even to end the siege of Gaza and alleviate a little the suffering of the Palestinians there! Stare as he helplessly surveys Israel’s slow and cruel strangulation of the Palestinian people, so far advanced today! Perceive how he fails to use the vast leverage available to America by threatening withdrawal of its massive diplomatic, economic, and military support for Israel! Despair as he continues to support a (currently moribund) peace process which is designed (like the Clinton one before it) to produce a pitiable, non-viable non-state for the Palestinians! Conjecture how he might have acquired rose-coloured spectacle of such dimensions as might lead him to believe that such a non-state could bring peace, since the Palestinians would not accept it! Marvel at his not understanding that his entire American peace effort, as currently constituted, is a waste of time! But, above all, comprehend that he hasn’t got the bottle to take on the pro-Israel lobby and all those purchased senators and paid-for congressmen in a hard-nosed and uncompromising way, and force a just peace on Israel!
Consider for further review: Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, George Mitchell, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
The mainstream American media, and the writers and journalists who serve it:
Regard their half-truths and distortions as they seek to exonerate Israel’s crimes!  See them praise the wondrous state of Israel and it’s democracy! Notice how their executives cave in to pressure from CAMERA, Jewish letter campaigns and the like! Consider their lack of stomach! Watch how they prevent the truth about Israel from reaching the American public! They don’t directly have blood on their hands like George W., but, by hiding the truth from the American people, haven’t they got some blood on their hands?
Consider for further review: ABC, CBS, CNN and their front-men, the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, Wall Street Journal, and the likes of Safire, Kagan, Krauthammer, Kristol, Boot and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
American cultural, intellectual and religious apologists, many of them Gentiles, many of them supposed ‘liberals’, who curiously believe that one way to ‘atone’ for the Nazi persecutions is not to speak out against Israeli crimes and to participate in ‘white lies’ about them, and to support ‘Jewish’ positions in general.
Watch them as they shout ‘Anti-Semite!’, and attempt to vilify any critic of Israel, or those whose account of Jewish history or Jewish religion conflicts with the cosy lies of Israel’s foundational myths, or the deceptions about Judaism propagated by rabbis and Jewish ‘scholars’!  (Or if the critic is a Jew, he’s a ‘self-hater’!) The real ‘friends of the Jews’? – no, the real friends of the Zionists, and the enemies of free speech.! Consider for further review: the Zionist historians and their apologists, the film-makers who propagate the Exodus and Fiddler On The Roof version of history, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
The British  pro-Israel Lobby:
They’re much more opaque than their American counterparts! They do similar things, though, helping to finance MPs, taking them on free trips to Israel and so on!
Consider for further review: the Friends Of Israel (Labour and Conservative) and their wonderful opacity, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Lord Levy, Jon Mendelsohn and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
Britain’s Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary:
Watch them, as, grovelling to the Yankees as usual (following in Blair’s footsteps), they take a very tender line with Israel, and a tough one with the Palestinians!
Consider for further review: Gordon and David, the dream ticket for the Israelis.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
Parts of the British  media, and many of the writers and journalists who serve it:
In general, they’re not as mendacious and truth-distorting as their American buddies, but that’s not saying much! Speculate, as they spare Israel, their apparent utter indifference to the fate of the Palestinians! There are fewer of them in the ‘liberal’ British media, but they’re not unknown.
Consider for further review: BBC Trust, BBC (especially BBC2 television and Radio 4), Director-General of the BBC, certain heavyweight BBC personalities in the area of current affairs, the right-wing press in general, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
British cultural, intellectual and religious apologists, many of them Gentile, many of them supposed ‘liberals’, who, just like their American counterparts, curiously believe that one way to ‘atone’ for the Nazi persecutions is not to speak out against Israeli crimes and to participate in ‘white lies’ about them, and to support ‘Jewish’ positions in general.
Consider for further review:   bishops, rabbis, and cultural/entertainment apologists who soft-pedal on Israel, or defend the indefensible (or merely don’t mention the subject), who attack critics of Israel, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really bad guys:
The pro-Israel Lobbies in Canada, Germany, France and other countries , those parts of their media which are part of that lobby, and their cultural, intellectual and religious apologists (many of them Gentiles):
Consider for further review: the politically correct and morally cowardly Germans who don’t speak out about Israel’s present-day crimes because of a terrible past which they can do nothing about, and many, many more.

Really, really, really, really, really, really, really good guys:
A round of applause for: the American professors Mearsheimer and Walt, Noam Chomsky,  Joe Klein, Israel Shahak, Amira Hass, John Pilger, Michael Neumann, Ilan Pappe, Robert Fisk, Seamus Milne, Peter Oborne, Yesh Din, the Israeli soldiers involved in the ‘Breaking The Silence’ project, and not too many more.

This is an important book by Israel Shahak, and should be read by all those concerned with Middle East policy, and anyone uneasy about democracy in America, Canada, the UK, Germany, France and elsewhere. Will Barack get to read it? Will it get past Rahm Emanuel?



Further evidence which has emerged since Israel’s recent assault on Gaza provides further corroboration of Israel Shahak’s line of reasoning.

The Goldstone Report
According to a UN-commissioned report published in September 2009, Israel targeted "the people of Gaza as a whole" in its 23-day assault which began at the end of December 2008. The military operation, which left some 1,400 Palestinians dead (including 770 civilians, according to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem) against only 13 Israelis, triggered a wave of criticism against Israel across the world. Disproportionate, you think? The journalist Robert Fisk recently quoted Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli army northern commander in the Gaza war: "We will wield disproportionate power against every village from which shots are fired on Israel, and cause immense damage and destruction... This isn't a suggestion. This is a plan that has already been authorised."

Israel had refused to cooperate with the inquiry, contending that the UN Human Rights Council, which commissioned the inquiry, was biased against Israel. It therefore prevented the inquiry team entering Israel or the occupied West Bank. However, they were able, over this summer, to hold public hearings in Gaza, talking to Palestinians, and in Geneva, talking to Israelis. They interviewed 188 people and read 300 reports.

The UN fact-finding mission was headed by the Jewish South African former Supreme Court Judge Richard Goldstone. He said Israel should face prosecution by the International Criminal Court, unless it carried out fully independent investigations of what the report said were repeated violations of international law, "possible war crimes and crimes against humanity" during the Gaza operation.

The UN mission rejected Israel's argument that the war was a response to Palestinian rocket attacks and therefore an act of self-defence. It said it "considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: the people of Gaza as a whole". It found the war was "a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself and to force upon it an ever-increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability".

The report also said that "In this respect the operations were in furtherance of an overall policy aimed at punishing the Gaza population for its resilience and for its apparent support for Hamas, and possibly with the intent of forcing a change in such support." It added that some Israeli military personnel should carry "individual criminal responsibility" for grave breaches of the laws of war, meaning soldiers could face prosecution.

Furthermore, the report also stated that the long Israeli economic blockade of Gaza (which began some two years prior to the Gaza assault, and which continues to this day) amounted to "collective punishment intentionally inflicted by the government of Israel on the people of the Gaza Strip".

Israeli actions depriving Gazans of means of subsistence, employment, housing and water, and denying their freedom of movement "could lead a competent court to find that the crime of persecution, a crime against humanity, had been committed", it said.

“The report says that "the destruction of food supply installations, water sanitation systems, concrete factories and residential houses was the result of a systematic policy by the Israeli armed forces". The purpose was "to make the daily process of living and dignified living more difficult for the civilian population".

The report also says that vandalism of houses by some soldiers and "the graffiti on the walls, the obscenities and often racist slogans constituted an overall image of humiliation and dehumanisation of the Palestinian population". Hospitals and ambulances were "targeted by Israeli attacks."

The statements of Israeli political and military leaders in before and during the Gaza assault indicated the use of "disproportionate force", aimed, the UN report said, not only at the enemy but also at the "supporting infrastructure". Further: "In practice this appears to have meant the civilian population."

Goldstone also called on Israel to halt immediately its closures of the crossings into Gaza and said the Israeli military needed to review its rules of engagement to avoid future Palestinian civilian deaths.

The report also harshly criticised the Palestinian side, on attacks that have caused terror in southern Israel, and on the extrajudicial killings, detention and ill-treatment of Palestinian detainees by both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. However, Israeli conduct during the operation takes up much the greater part of the 570-page report, and its harshest language is reserved for the Israelis.

In October 2009, the report was referred to the UN General Assembly by the Human Rights Council despite intense lobbying by Israel and the US. The 25-6 vote at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva brings one step closer – at least in theory – the possibility that Israel could face International Criminal Court proceedings if it does not launch, within 6 months, its own independent investigation into its conduct of the war. The USA (in its usual resolute pursuit of freedom around the world) opposed the resolution. Britain and France (gutless as usual), which had been expected to register formal abstentions, instead called in vain for a delay in the decision and did not participate in the vote at all - both countries had been under intense pressure from Israel and the US to oppose the resolution. So much for America’s worldwide pursuit of democracy. The US, UK, and France advised Israel to hold its own inquiry.

Douglas Griffiths , a senior US diplomat in Geneva, said America had opposed the decision because of its "one-sidedness" and because it could unsettle a Middle East peace process. What Middle East peace process? There is no Middle East peace process, because Obama hasn’t the bottle to take on America’s powerful pro-Israel lobby.

The vote followed a U-turn by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, who faced severe criticism from the Palestinian people themselves after succumbing to US and Israeli pressure, when the Human Rights Council first debated the report two weeks prior, to agree to defer the whole issue until next year

The decision refers the report of the council's fact-finding mission headed by Goldstone to the UN General Assembly for further consideration.

Israel refused to accept the decision, calling it "unjust" and "one-sided, and said today it would launch a diplomatic offensive to prevent any risk of prosecutions. No independent inquiry into the military's conduct during the war last January would be held, it said. Israel has not got a history of co-operating with international inquiries into the actions of its army.

While the US (defending democracy again) has indicated it will veto any Security Council resolution calling for proceedings by the International Criminal Court – neither Israel nor the US, is a signatory – a UN General Assembly decision in favour of such proceedings cannot be ruled out.

Rabbinical Influence In The Israeli Army
Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Israel. We quote verbatim from his article on the Electronic Intifada website, dated 4 February 2009 (

“Extremist rabbis and their followers”, says Cook, “bent on waging holy war against the Palestinians, are taking over the Israeli army by stealth, according to critics. In a process one military historian has termed the rapid ‘theologization’ of the Israeli army, there are now entire units of religious combat soldiers, many of them based in West Bank settlements. They answer to hardline rabbis who call for the establishment of a Greater Israel that includes the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

Cook continues: “Their influence in shaping the army's goals and methods is starting to be felt, say observers, as more and more graduates from officer courses are also drawn from Israel's religious extremist population. ‘We have reached the point where a critical mass of religious soldiers is trying to negotiate with the army about how and for what purpose military force is employed on the battlefield’, said Yigal Levy, a political sociologist at the Open University who has written several books on the Israeli army.

He goes on: “The new atmosphere was evident in the ‘excessive force’ used in the recent Gaza operation, Dr Levy said. More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed, a majority of them civilians, and thousands were injured as whole neighborhoods of Gaza were leveled. ‘When soldiers, including secular ones, are imbued with theological ideas, it makes them less sensitive to human rights or the suffering of the other side.’ ”

“The greater role of extremist religious groups in the army came to light [in January 2009]”, Cook states, “when it emerged that the army rabbinate had handed out a booklet to soldiers preparing for the recent 22-day Gaza offensive. Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group, said the material contained messages ‘bordering on racist incitement against the Palestinian people’ and might have encouraged soldiers to ignore international law. The booklet quotes extensively from Shlomo Aviner, a far-right rabbi who heads a religious seminary in the Muslim quarter of East Jerusalem. He compares the Palestinians to the Philistines, the Biblical enemy of the Jews. He advises: ‘When you show mercy to a cruel enemy, you are being cruel to pure and honest soldiers ... This is a war on murderers.’ He also cites a Biblical ban on ‘surrendering a single millimeter’ of Greater Israel.”

“The booklet”, says Cook, “was approved by the army's chief rabbi, Brig Gen Avichai Ronsky, who is reportedly determined to improve the army's ‘combat values’ after its failure to crush Hizballah in Lebanon in 2006. Gen Ronsky was appointed three years ago in a move designed, according to the Israeli media, to placate hardline religious elements within the army and the settler community. Gen Ronsky, himself a settler in the West Bank community of Itimar, near Nablus, is close to far-right groups. According to reports, he pays regular visits to jailed members of Jewish terror groups; he has offered his home to a settler who is under house arrest for wounding Palestinians; and he has introduced senior officers to a small group of extremist settlers who live among more than 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron. He has also radically overhauled the [army] rabbinate, which was originally founded to offer religious services and ensure religious soldiers were able to observe the sabbath and eat kosher meals in army canteens.”

Cook says that “Over the past year the rabbinate has effectively taken over the role of the army's education corps through its Jewish Awareness Department, which co-ordinates its activities with Elad, a settler organization that is active in East Jerusalem.”

“In October”, he goes on, “the Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed senior officer who accused the rabbinate of carrying out the religious and political ‘brainwashing’ of troops. Levy said the army rabbinate's power was growing as the ranks of religious soldiers swelled.”

Cook continues: “Breaking the Silence [referred to further below], a project run by soldiers seeking to expose the army's behavior against Palestinians, said the booklet handed out to troops in Gaza had originated among Hebron's settlers. ‘The document has been around since at least 2003,’ said Mikhael Manekin, 29, one of the group's directors and himself religiously observant. ‘But what is new is that the army has been effectively subcontracted to promote the views of the extremist settlers to its soldiers.’ ”

He goes on: “The power of the religious right in the army, reflected wider social trends inside Israel, Levy said. He pointed out that the rural cooperatives known as kibbutzim that were once home to Israel's secular middle classes and produced the bulk of its officer corps had been on the wane since the early 1980s. ‘The vacuum left by their gradual retreat from the army was filled by religious youngsters and by the children of the settlements. They now dominate in many branches of the army.’ According to figures cited in the Israeli media, more than one-third of all Israel's combat soldiers are religious, as are more than 40 percent of those graduating from officer courses.”

“The army has encouraged this trend”, says Cook, “by creating some two dozen hesder yeshivas, seminaries in which youths can combine Biblical studies with army service in separate religious units. Many of the yeshivas are based in the West Bank, where students are educated by the settlements' extremist rabbis. Ehud Barak, the defense minister, has rapidly expanded the program, approving four yeshivas, three based in settlements, last summer. Another 10 are reportedly awaiting his approval.”

Cook states that “Manekin, however, warned against blaming the violence inflicted on Gaza's civilians solely on the influence of religious extremists. ‘The army is still run by the secular elites in Israel and they have always been reckless with regard to the safety of civilians when they wage war. Jewish nationalism that justifies Palestinian deaths is just as dangerous as religious extremism.’ ”

Breaking The Silence – The testimonies of Israeli soldiers
As noted above, ‘Breaking the Silence’ is a project run by soldiers seeking to expose the army's behaviour against Palestinians. Selected testimonies of Israeli soldiers, 54 in all, are recorded in the ‘Breaking The Silence’ website. According to the information on the website, “ … many Israelis are still not aware of what really happened [in Gaza] … The testimonies … were gathered … from soldiers who served in all sectors of the operation. The majority of the soldiers who spoke with us … turned to us in deep distress at the moral deterioration of the IDF [Israeli army] … these narratives are enough to bring into question the credibility of the official IDF versions.” These testimonies describe use of the ‘Neighbor Procedure’ … white phosphorus ammunition … massive destruction of buildings … permissive rules of engagement … We also hear … about the general atmosphere … harsh statements made by junior and senior officers … the military rabbinate … introduced controversial religious and political interpretation under the auspices of the IDF and with its blessing … the IDF spokesperson has gone to great lengths to prove that if there were any moral problems … they were merely on the level of the ‘delinquent soldier,’ rather than a widespread, systemic issue. The [testimonies] prove that we are not dealing with the failures of individual soldiers, and attest instead to failures in the application of values primarily on a systemic level. The IDF’s depiction of such phenomena as ‘rotten apple’ soldiers is a tactic used to place the responsibility solely on individual soldiers on the ground and to evade taking responsibility for the system’s serious value and command failures. The testimonies of the soldiers in this collection expose that the massive and unprecedented blow to the infrastructure and civilians of the Gaza strip were a direct result of IDF policy, and especially of the rules of engagement, and a cultivation of the notion among soldiers that the reality of war requires them to shoot and not to ask questions.”

More on this later.

John Tinmouth
South Tyneside Stop The War Coalition
Monday, 23 November 2009

Since this article was completed, we noticed that there were notable omissions from our list of  really, really, really, really, really, really, really good guys: Jonathan Cook, Max Hastings, George Galloway MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP, and Mark Steel. There are probably others.




Shahak: “We have seen [under classical Judaism] that in matters of belief there is great latitude. Exactly the opposite holds with respect to the legal interpretation of sacred texts. Here the interpretation is rigidly fixed – but by the Talmud rather than by the Bible itself. Many, perhaps most, biblical verses prescribing religious acts and obligations are ‘understood’ by classical Judaism, and by present-day Orthodoxy, in a sense which is quite different from, or even contrary to, their literal meaning as understood by Christian or other readers of the Old Testament, who only see the plain text.”

“This important point”, says Shahak, “can only be understood through examples. It will be noted that the changes in meaning do not all go in the same direction from the point of view of ethics … [apologists] of Judaism claim that the interpretation of the Bible … fixed in the Talmud, is always more liberal than the literal sense. But some of the examples below show that this is far from being the case.” He continues:
  • “Let us start with the Decalogue itself. The Eighth Commandment, ‘Thou shalt not steal’ (Exodus, 20:15), is taken to be a prohibition against ‘stealing’ (that is, kidnapping) a Jewish person. The reason is that according to the Talmud all acts forbidden by the Decalogue are capital offences. Stealing property is not a capital offence (while kidnapping of Gentiles by Jews is allowed by Talmudic law) – hence the interpretation. A virtually identical sentence – ‘Ye shall not steal’ (Leviticus, 19:11) – is however allowed to have its literal meaning.”
  • “The famous verse ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth’ etc. (Exodus, 21:24) is taken to mean ‘eye-money for eye’, that is payment of a fine rather than physical retribution.”
  • “Here is a notorious case of turning the literal meaning into its exact opposite. The biblical text plainly warns against following the bandwagon in an unjust cause: ‘ Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgement’ (Exodus, 23:2). The last words of this sentence – ‘Decline after many to wrest judgement’ – are torn out of their context and interpreted as an injunction to follow the majority!”
  • “The verse ‘Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk’ (Exodus, 23:19) is interpreted as a ban on mixing any kind of meat with any milk or milk product. Since the same verse is repeated in two other places in the Pentateuch, the mere repetition is taken to be a treble ban, forbidding a Jew (i) to eat such a mixture (ii) to cook it for any purpose and (iii) to enjoy or benefit from it in any way.”
  • “In numerous cases general terms such as ‘thy fellow’, ‘stranger’ or even ‘man’ are taken to have an exclusivist chauvinistic meaning.” Shahak goes on:
    • “The famous verse ‘thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself’ (Leviticus, 19:18) is understood by classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism as an injunction to love one’s fellow Jew, not any fellow human.”
    • “Similarly, the verse ‘neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow’ (ibid., 16) is supposed to mean that one must not stand idly by when the life (‘blood’) of a fellow Jew is in danger; but, as will be seen [below], a Jew is in general forbidden to save the life of a Gentile, because ‘he is not thy fellow’.”
    • “The generous injunction to leave the gleanings of one’s field and vineyard ‘for the poor and the stranger’ (ibid., 9-10) is interpreted as referring exclusively to the Jewish poor and to converts to Judaism.”
    • “The taboo laws relating to corpses begin with the verse ‘This is the law, when a man dieth in a tent: all that come into the tent … shall be unclean seven days (Numbers, 19:14). But the word ‘man’ (adam) is taken to mean ‘Jew’, so that only a Jewish corpse is taboo (that is, both ‘unclean’ and sacred. Based on this interpretation, pious Jews have a tremendous magic reverence towards Jewish corpses and Jewish cemeteries, but have no respect towards non-Jewish corpses and cemeteries. Thus hundreds of Muslim cemeteries have been utterly destroyed in Israel (in one case in order to make room for the Tel-Aviv Hilton) but there was a great outcry because the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives was damaged under Jordanian rule. Examples of this type are too numerous to quote. Some of the inhuman consequences of this type of interpretation will be discussed [below].”
  • “Finally, consider one of the most beautiful prophetic passages, Isaiah’s magnificent condemnation of hypocrisy and empty ritual, and exhortation to common decency. One verse (Isaiah, 1:15) in this passage is: ‘And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.’ Since Jewish priests ‘spread their hands’ when blessing the people during service, this verse is supposed to mean that a priest who commits accidental homicide is disqualified from ‘spreading his hands’ in blessing (even if repentant) because they are ‘full of blood’.”



Shahak gives some examples of dispensations, to illustrate how the system works. These are set out below in his own words – quotation marks at the start and end of each of the sections below indicate this.

Taking of interest.
“The Talmud strictly forbids a Jew, on pain of severe punishment, to take interest on a loan made to another Jew.

According to a majority of talmudic authorities, it is a religious duty to take as much interest as possible on a loan made to a Gentile.

Very detailed rules forbid even the most far-fetched forms in which a Jewish lender might benefit from a Jewish debtor. All Jewish accomplices to such an illicit transaction, including the scribe and the witnesses, are branded by the Talmud as infamous persons, disqualified from testifying in court, because by participating in such an act a Jew as good as declares that 'he has no part in the god of Israel'.

It is evident that this law is well suited to the needs of Jewish peasants or artisans, or of small Jewish communities who use their money for lending to non-Jews. But the situation was very different in east Europe (mainly in Poland) by the 16th century. There was a relatively big Jewish community, which constituted the majority in many towns. The peasants, subjected to strict serfdom not far removed from slavery, were hardly in a position to borrow at all, while lending to the nobility was the business of a few very rich Jews. Many Jews were doing business with each other. In these circumstances, the following arrangement (called heter 'isqa - 'business dispensation') was devised for an interest-bearing loan between Jews, which does not violate the letter of the law, because formally it is not a loan at all:
  • The lender 'invests' his money in the business of the borrower, stipulating two conditions.
    • First, that the borrower will pay the lender at an agreed future date a stated sum of money (in reality, the interest [on] the loan) as the lender's 'share in the profits'.
    • Secondly, that the borrower will be presumed to have made sufficient profit to give the lender his share, unless a claim to the contrary is corroborated by the testimony of the town's rabbi or rabbinical judge, etc. - who, by arrangement, refuse to testify in such cases.
  • In practice all that is required is to take a text of this dispensation, written in Aramaic and entirely incomprehensible to the great majority, and put it on a wall of the room where the transaction is made (a copy of this text is displayed in all branches of Israeli banks) or even to keep it in a chest - and the interest-bearing loan between Jews becomes perfectly legal and blameless.”

The sabbatical year.
“According to talmudic law (based on Leviticus, 25) Jewish-owned land in Palestine must be left fallow every seventh ('sabbatical') year, when all agricultural work (in¬cluding harvesting) on such land is forbidden. There is ample evidence that this law was rigorously observed for about one thousand years, from the 5th century BC till the disappearance of Jewish agriculture in Palestine. Later, when there was no occasion to apply the law in practice, it was kept theoretically intact. However, in the 1880s, with the establishment of the first Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine, it became a matter of practical concern. Rabbis sympathetic to the settlers helpfully devised a dispensation, which was later perfected by their succes¬sors in the religious zionist parties and has become an established Israeli practice.

This is how it works:
  • Shortly before a sabbatical year, the Israeli Minister of Internal Affairs gives the Chief Rabbi a document making him the legal owner of all Israeli land, both private and public.
  • Armed with this paper, the Chief Rabbi goes to a non-Jew and sells him all the land of Israel (and, since 1967, the Occupied Territories) for a nominal sum.
  • A separate document stipulates that the 'buyer' will 'resell' the land back after the year is over.
  • And this transaction is re¬peated every seven years, usually with the same 'buyer'.

Non-zionist rabbis do not recognise the validity of this dispensation, claiming correctly that, since religious law for¬bids Jews to sell land in Palestine to Gentiles, the whole transaction is based on a sin and hence null and void. The zionist rabbis reply, however, that what is forbidden is a real sale, not a fictitious one!”

Milking on the Sabbath.
“This has been forbidden in post-talmudic times … The ban could easily be kept in the diaspora, since Jews who had cows of their own were usually rich enough to have non-Jewish servants, who could be ordered (using one of the subterfuges described below) to do the milking. The early Jewish colonists in Palestine employed Arabs for this and other purposes, but with the forcible imposition of the zionist policy of exclusive Jewish labour there was need for a dispensation. (This was particularly important before the introduction of mechanised milking in the late 1950s.) Here too there was a difference between zionist and non-zionist rabbis.

According to the former, the forbidden milking becomes permitted provided the milk is not white but dyed blue. This blue Saturday milk is then used exclusively for making cheese, and the dye is washed off into the whey.

Non-zionist rabbis have devised a much subtler scheme (which I personally wit¬nessed operating in a religious kibbutz in 1952). They discov¬ered an old provision which allows the udders of a cow to be emptied on the sabbath, purely for relieving the suffering caused to the animal by bloated udders, and on the strict condition that the milk runs to waste on the ground. Now, this is what is actually done:
  • on Saturday morning, a pious kibbut¬znik goes to the cowshed and places pails under the cows. (There is no ban on such work in the whole of the talmudic literature.)
  • He then goes to the synagogue to pray.
  • Then comes his colleague, whose 'honest intention' is to relieve the animals' pain and let their milk run to the floor. But if, by chance, a pail happens to be standing there, is he under any obligation to remove it? Of course not. He simply 'ignores' the pails, fulfills his mission of mercy and goes to the synagogue.
  • Finally a third pious colleague goes into the cowshed and discovers, to his great surprise, the pails full of milk. So he puts them in cold storage and follows his comrades to the synagogue. Now all is well, and there is no need to waste money on blue dye.”

Mixed crops.
“Similar dispensations were issued by zionist rabbis in respect of the ban (based on Leviticus, 19:19) against sowing two different species of crop in the same field.

Modern agronomy has however shown that in some cases (especially in growing fodder) mixed sowing is the most profitable.

The rabbis invented a dispensation according to which one man sows the field length¬wise with one kind of seed, and later that day his comrade, who 'does not know' about the former, sows another kind of seed crosswise.

However, this method was felt to be too wasteful of labour, and a better one was devised:
  • one man makes a heap of one kind of seed in a public place and carefully covers it with a sack or piece of board.
  • The second kind of seed is then put on top of the cover.
  • Later, another man comes and exclaims, in front of witnesses, 'I need this sack (or board)' and removes it, so that the seeds mix 'naturally'.
  • Finally, a third man comes along and is told, 'Take this and sow the field,' which he proceeds to do.”

Leavened substances.
“Leavened substances must not be eaten or even kept in the possession of a Jew during the seven (or, outside Palestine, eight) days of Passover.

The concept 'leavened substances' was continually broadened and the aversion to so much as seeing them during the festival approached hysteria. They include all kinds of flour and even unground grain.

In the original talmudic society this was bearable, because bread (leavened or not) was usually baked once a week; a peasant family would use the last of the previous year's grain to bake unleavened bread for the festival, which ushers in the new harvest season.

However, in the conditions of post-Talmudic European Jewry the observance was very hard on a middle-class Jewish family and even more so on a corn merchant. A dispensation was therefore devised, by which:
  • all those substances are sold in a fictitious sale to a Gentile before the festival and bought back automatically after it.
  • The one thing that must be done is to lock up the taboo substances for the duration of the festival.
  • In Israel this fictitious sale has been made more efficient. Religious Jews 'sell' their leavened sub-stances to their local rabbis, who in turn 'sell' them to the Chief Rabbis; the latter sell them to a Gentile, and by a special dispensation this sale is presumed to include also the leavened substances of non-practising Jews.”

“Perhaps the most developed dispensations con¬cern the 'Goy (Gentile) of Sabbath'.

As mentioned above, the range of tasks banned on the sabbath has widened continually; but the range of tasks that must be carried out or supervised to satisfy needs or to increase comfort also keeps widening. This is particularly true in modern times, but the effect of technological change began to be felt long ago.

The ban against grinding on the sabbath was a relatively light matter for a Jewish peasant or artisan, say in second-century Palestine, who used a hand mill for doniestic purposes. It was quite a different matter for a tenant of a water mill or windmill - one of the most common Jewish occupations in eastern Europe.

But even such a simple human 'problem' as the wish to have a hot cup of tea on a Saturday afternoon becomes much greater with the tempting samovar, used regularly on weekdays, standing in the room.

These are just two examples out of a very large number of so-called 'problems of Sabbath observance'. And one can state with certainty that for a community composed exclusively of Orthodox Jews they were quite insoluble, at least during the last eight or ten centuries, without the 'help' of non-Jews. This is even more true today in the 'Jewish state', because many public services, such as water, gas and electricity, fall in this category. Classical Judaism could not exist even for a whole week without using some non-Jews.

But without special dispensations there is a great obstacle in employing non-Jews to do these Saturday jobs; for talmudic regulations forbid Jews to ask a Gentile to do on the Sabbath any work which they themselves are banned from doing. I shall describe two of the many types of dispensation used for such purposes:
  • First, there is the method of 'hinting', which depends on the casuistic logic according to which a sinful demand becomes blameless if it is phrased slyly.
  • As rule, the hint must be ‘obscure', but in cases of extreme need a 'clear' hint is allowed.
  • For example, in a recent booklet on religious observance for the use of Israeli soldiers, the latter are taught how to talk to Arab workers employed by the army as Sabbath-Goyim:
    • In urgent cases, such as when it is very cold and a fire must be lit, or when light is needed for a religious service, a pious Jewish soldier may use a 'clear' hint and tell the Arab: 'It is cold (or dark) here'.
    • But normally an 'obscure' hint must suffice, for example: 'It would be more pleasant if it were warmer here. This method of 'hinting' is particularly repulsive and degrading inasmuch as it is normally used on non-Jews who, due to their poverty or subordinate social position, are wholly in the power of their Jewish employer. A Gentile serv¬ant (or employee of the Israeli army) who does not train himself to interpret 'obscure hints' as orders will be pitilessly dismissed.
  • The second method is used in cases where what the Gentile is required to do on Saturday is not an occasional task or personal service, which can be 'hinted' at as the need arises, but a routine or regular job without constant Jewish supervision. According to this method — called 'implicit inclusion' (havla'ab) of the Sabbath among weekdays:
    • the Gentile is hired 'for the whole week (or year)', without the Sabbath being so much as mentioned in the contract.
    • But in reality work is only performed on the Sabbath.
    • This method was used in the past in hiring a Gentile to put out the candles in the synagogue after the Sabbath-eve prayer (rather than wastefully allowing them to burn out). Modern Israeli examples are: regulating the water supply or watching over water reservoirs on Saturdays.
  • A similar idea is used also in the case of Jews, but for a different end:
    • Jews are forbidden to receive any payment for work done on the Sabbath, even if the work itself is permitted.
    • The chief example here concerns the sacred professions: the rabbi or talmudic scholar who preaches or teaches on the Sabbath, the cantor who sings only on Saturdays and other holy days (on which similar bans apply), the sexton and similar officials.
    • In talmudic times, and in some countries even several centuries after, such jobs were unpaid. But later, when these became salaried professions, the dispensation of 'implicit inclusion' was used, and they were hired on a 'monthly' or 'yearly' basis.
    • In the case of rabbis and talmudic scholars the problem is particularly complicated, because the Talmud forbids them to receive any payment for preaching, teaching or studying tal¬mudic matters even on weekdays. For them an additional dispensation stipulates that their salary is not really a salary at all but 'compensation for idleness' (dmey batalah). As a combined result of these two fictions, what is in reality payment for work done mainly, or even solely, on the Sabbath is trans¬mogrified into payment for being idle on weekdays.”



Shahak states that “As explained [above], the Halakhah, that is the legal system of classical Judaism - as practised by virtually all Jews from the 9th century to the end of the 18th and as maintained to this very day in the form of Orthodox Judaism - is based primarily on the Babylonian Talmud. However, because of the unwieldy complex¬ity of the legal disputations recorded in the Talmud, more man¬ageable codifications of talmudic law became necessary and were indeed compiled by successive generations of rabbinical scholars. Some of these have acquired great authority and are in general use. For this reason we shall refer for the most part to such compilations (and their most reputable commentaries) rather than directly to the Talmud. It is however correct to assume that the compilation referred to reproduces faithfully the meaning of the talmudic text and the additions made by later scholars on the basis of that meaning.”

He continues: “The earliest code of talmudic law which is still of major importance is the Mishneh Torah written by Moses Maimonides in the late 12th century. The most authoritative code, widely used to date as a handbook, is the Shulhan 'Arukh composed by R. Yosef Karo in the late 16th century as a popular condensation of his own much more voluminous Beyt Yosef which was intended for the advanced scholar. The Shulhan ‘Arukh is much com¬mented upon; in addition to classical commentaries dating from the 17th century, there is an important 20th century one, Mishnah Berurah. Finally, the Talmudic Encyclopedia - a modern compilation published in Israel from the 1950s and edited by the country's greatest Orthodox rabbinical scholars - is a good com¬pendium of the whole talmudic literature.”

The laws against non-Jews, and their consequences, are set out below in Shahak’s own words – quotation marks at the start and end of each of the paragraphs below indicate this.

Murder and Genocide
“According to the Jewish religion, the murder of a Jew is a capital offence and one of the three most heinous sins (the other two being idolatry and adultery). Jewish religious courts and secular authorities are commanded to punish, even beyond the limits of the ordinary administration of justice, anyone guilty of murdering a Jew. A Jew who indirectly causes the death of another Jew is, however, only guilty of what talmudic law calls a sin against the ‘laws of heaven’, to be punished by God rather than by man.”

“When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty only of a sin against the laws of Heaven, not punishable by a court. To cause indirectly the death of a Gentile is no sin at all.”

“Thus, one of the two most important commentators on the Shulhan ‘Arukh explains that when it comes to a Gentile, 'one must not lift one's hand to harm him, but one may harm him indirectly, for instance by removing a ladder after he had fallen into a crevice ... there is no prohibition here, because it was not done directly. He points out, however, that an act leading indirectly to a Gentile's death is forbidden if it may cause the spread of hostility towards Jews.”

“A Gentile murderer who happens to be under Jewish juris¬diction must be executed whether the victim was Jewish or not. However, if the victim was Gentile and the murderer converts to Judaism, he is not punished.”

“All this has a direct and practical relevance to the realities of the State of Israel. Although the state's criminal laws make no distinction between Jew and Gentile, such distinction is certainly made by Orthodox rabbis, who in guiding their flock follow the Halakhah. Of special importance is the advice they give to religious soldiers.”

“Since even the minimal interdiction against murdering a Gentile outright applies only to 'Gentiles with whom we [the Jews] are not at war', various rabbinical commentators in the past drew the logical conclusion that in wartime all Gentiles belonging to a hostile population may, or even should be killed. Since 1973 this doctrine is being publicly propagated for the guidance of religious Israeli soldiers. The first such official exhortation was included in a booklet published by the Central Region Command of the Israeli Army, whose area includes the West Bank. In this booklet the Command's Chief Chaplain writes:
  • When our forces come across civilians during a war or in hot pursuit or in a raid, so long as there is no certainty that those civilians are incapable of harming our forces, then according to the Halakhah they may and even should be killed ... Under no circumstances should an Arab be trusted, even if he makes an impression of being civilised ... In war, when our forces storm the enemy, they are allowed and even enjoined by the Halakhah to kill even good civilians, that is, civilians who are ostensibly good.”

“The same doctrine is expounded in the following exchange of letters between a young Israeli soldier and his rabbi, published in the yearbook of one of the country's most prestigious religious colleges, Midrashiyyat No'am, where many leaders and activists of the National Religious Party and Gush Emunim have been educated.”

  • Letter from the soldier Moshe to Rabbi Shim'on Weiser
    With God's help, to His Honour, my dear Rabbi,

    First I would like to ask how you and your family are. I hope all is well. I am, thank God, feeling well. A long time I have not written. Please forgive me. Sometimes I recall the verse “when shall I come and appear before God?” I hope, without being certain, that I shall come during one of the leaves. I must do so.

    In one of the discussions in our group, there was a debate about the "purity of weapons" and we discussed whether it is permitted to kill unarmed men - or women and children. Or perhaps we should take revenge on the Arabs? And then everyone answered according to his own understanding. I could not arrive at a clear decision, whether Arabs should be treated like the Amalekites, meaning that one is permitted to murder [sic] them until their remembrance is blotted out from under heaven, or perhaps one should do as in a just war, in which one kills only the soldiers.

    A second problem I have is whether I am permitted to put myself in danger by allowing a woman to stay alive? For there have been cases when women threw hand grenades. Or am I permitted to give water to an Arab who put his hand up? For there may be reason to fear that he only means to deceive me and will kill me, and such things have happened.

    I conclude with a warm greeting to the rabbi and all his family. -

  • Reply of R. Shim'on Weiser to Moshe
    With the help of Heaven. Dear Moshe, Greetings.

    I am starting this letter this evening although I know I cannot finish it this evening, both because I am busy and because I would like to make it a long letter, to answer your questions in full, for which purpose I shall have to copy out some of the sayings of our sages, of blessed memory, and interpret them.

    The non-Jewish nations have a custom according to which war has its own rules, like those of a game, like the rules of football or basketball. But according to the sayings of our sages, of blessed memory, ... war for us is not a game but a vital necessity, and only by this standard must we decide how to wage it. On the one hand ... we seem to learn that if a Jew murders a Gentile, he is regarded as a murderer and, except for the fact that no court has the right to punish him, the gravity of the deed is like that of any other murder. But we find in the very same authorities in another place ... that Rabbi Shim'on used to say: "The best of Gentiles - kill him; the best of snakes - dash out its brains."

    It might perhaps be argued that the expression "kill" in the saying of R. Shim'on is only figurative and should not be taken literally but as meaning "oppress" or some similar attitude, and in this way we also avoid a contradiction with the authorities quoted earlier. Or one might argue that this saying, though meant literally, is [merely] his own personal opinion, disputed by other sages [quoted earlier]. But we find the true explanation in the Tosafot. There ... we learn the following comment on the talmudic pronouncement that Gentiles who fall into a well should not be helped out, but neither should they be pushed into the well to be killed, which means that they should neither be saved from death nor killed directly. And the Tosafot write as follows: "And if it is queried [because] in another place it was said The best of Gentiles - kill him, then the answer is that this [saying] is meant for wartime." ...

    According to the commentators of the Tosafot, a distinction must be made between wartime and peace, so that although during peace time it is forbidden to kill Gentiles, in a case that occurs in wartime it is a mitzvah [imperative, religious duty] to kill them. ... “

    And this is the difference between a Jew and a Gentile: although the rule "Whoever comes to kill you, kill him first" applies to a Jew, as was said in Tractate Sanhedrin [of the Talmud], page 72a, still it only applies to him if there is [actual] ground to fear that he is coming to kill you. But a Gentile during wartime is usually to be presumed so, except when it is quite clear that he has no evil intent. This is the rule of "purity of weapons" according to the Halakhah - and not the alien conception which is now accepted in the Israeli army and which has been the cause of many [Jewish] casualties. I enclose a newspaper cutting with the speech made last week in the Knesset by Rabbi Kalman Kahana, which shows in a very lifelike - and also painful - way how this "purity of weapons" has caused deaths.

    I conclude here, hoping that you will not find the length of this letter irksome. This subject was being discussed even without your letter, but your letter caused me to write up the whole matter.

    Be in peace, you and all Jews, and [I hope to] see you soon, as you say.
    Yours - Shim'on.”

  • Reply of Moshe to R. Shim'on Weiser
    To His Honour, my dear Rabbi,

    First I hope that you and your family are in health and are all right.

    I have received your long letter and am grateful for your per¬sonal watch over me, for I assume that you write to many, and most of your time is taken up with your studies in your own programme.

    Therefore my thanks to you are doubly deep.

    As for the letter itself, I have understood it as follows:

    In wartime I am not merely permitted, but enjoined to kill every Arab man and woman whom I chance upon, if there is reason to fear that they help in the war against us, directly or indirectly. And as far as I am concerned I have to kill them even if that might result in an involvement with the military law. I think that this matter of the purity of weapons should be transmitted to educational institutions, at least the religious ones, so that they should have a position about this subject and so that they will not wander in the broad fields of "logic", especially on this subject; and the rule has to be explained as it should be followed in practice. For, I am sorry to say, I have seen different types of "logic" here even among the religious comrades. I do hope that you shall be active in this, so that our boys will know the line of their ancestors clearly and unambiguously.

    I conclude here, hoping that when the [training] course ends, in about a month, I shall be able to come to the yeshivah [talmudic college].
    Greetings - Moshe.”

“Of course, this doctrine of the Halakhah on murder clashes, in principle, not only with Israel's criminal law but also - as hinted in the letters just quoted - with official military standing regula¬tions. However, there can be little doubt that in practice this doctrine does exert an influence on the administration of justice, especially by military authorities. The fact is that in all cases where Jews have, in a military or paramilitary context, murdered Arab non-combatants - including cases of mass murder such as that in Kafr Qasim in 1956 - the murderers, if not let off altogether, received extremely light sentences or won far-reaching remissions, reducing their punishment to next to nothing.”

Saving of Life
“This subject - the supreme value of human life and the obligation of every human being to do the outmost to save the life of a fellow human - is of obvious importance in itself. It is also of particular interest in a Jewish context, in view of the fact that since the second world war Jewish opinion has - in some cases justly, in others unjustly - condemned 'the whole world' or at least all Europe for standing by when Jews were being massacred. Let us therefore examine what the Halakhah has to say on this subject.”

“According to the Halakhah, the duty to save the life of a fellow Jew is paramount. It supersedes all other religious obligations and interdictions, excepting only the prohibitions against the three most heinous sins of adultery (including in¬cest), murder and idolatry.”

“As for Gentiles, the basic talmudic principle is that their lives must not be saved, although it is also forbidden to murder them outright. The Talmud itself expresses this in the maxim 'Gentiles are neither to be lifted [out of a well] nor hauled down [into it]'. Maimonides explains:
  • As for Gentiles with whom we are not at war ... their death must not be caused, but it is forbidden to save them if they are at the point of death; if, for example, one of them is seen falling into the sea, he should not be rescued, for it is written: 'neither shalt thou stand against the blood of thy fellow - but [a Gentile] is not thy fellow.”

“In particular, a Jewish doctor must not treat a Gentile patient. Maimonides - himself an illustrious physician - is quite explicit on this; in another passage he repeats the distinction between 'thy fellow' and a Gentile, and concludes: 'and from this learn ye, that it is forbidden to heal a Gentile even for payment ... ' ”

“However, the refusal of a Jew - particularly a Jewish doctor - to save the life of a Gentile may, if it becomes known, antagonise powerful Gentiles and so put Jews in danger. Where such danger exists, the obligation to avert it supersedes the ban on helping the Gentile. Thus Maimonides continues: ' ... but if you fear him or his hostility, cure him for payment, though you are forbidden to do so without payment.' In fact, Maimonides himself was Saladin's personal physician. His insistence on demanding payment - presumably in order to make sure that the act is not one of human charity but an unavoidable duty - is however not absolute. For in another passage he allows Gentile whose hostility is feared to be treated 'even gratis, if it is unavoidable'. ”

“The whole doctrine - the ban on saving a Gentile's life or healing him, and the suspension of this ban in cases where there is fear of hostility - is repeated (virtually verbatim) by other major authorities, including the 14th century Arba'ah Turim and Karo's Beyt Yosef and Shulhan ‘Arukh. Beyt Yosef adds, quoting Maimonides: 'And it is permissible to try out a drug on a heathen, if this serves a purpose'; and this is repeated also by the famous R. Moses Isserles.”

“The consensus of halakhic authorities is that the term 'Gen¬tiles' in the above doctrine refers to all non-Jews. A lone voice of dissent is that of R. Moses Rivkes, author of a minor commentary on the Shulhan 'Arukh, who writes:
  • Our sages only said this about heathens, who in their day worshipped idols and did not believe in the Jewish Exodus from Egypt or in the creation of the world ex nihilo. But the Gentiles in whose [protective] shade we, the people of Israel, are exiled and among whom we are scattered do believe in the creation of the world ex nihilo and in the Exodus and in several principles of our own religion and they pray to the Creator of heaven and earth ... Not only is there no interdic¬tion against helping them, but we are even obliged to pray for their safety.”

“This passage, dating from the second half of the 17th century, is a favourite quote of apologetic scholars. Actually, it does not go nearly as far as the apologetics pretend, for it advocates removing the ban on saving a Gentile's life, rather than making it mandatory as in the case of a Jew; and even this liberality extends only to Christians and Muslims but not the majority of human beings. Rather, what it does show is that there was a way in which the harsh doctrine of the Halakhah could have been progressively liberalised. But as a matter of fact the majority of later halakhic authorities, far from extending Rivkes' leniency to other human groups, have rejected it altogether.”

Desecrating the Sabbath to Save Life
“Desecrating the sabbath — that is, doing work that would other¬wise be banned on Saturday - becomes a duty when the need to save a Jew's life demands it.”

“The problem of saving a Gentile's life on the sabbath is not raised in the Talmud as a main issue, since it is in any case forbidden even on a weekday; it does however enter as a complicating factor in two connections.”

“First, there is a problem where a group of people are in danger, and it is possible (but not certain) that there is at least one Jew among them; should the sabbath be desecrated in order to save them? There is an extensive discussion of such cases. Following earlier authorities, including Maimonides and the Talmud itself, the Shulhan 'Arukh decides these matters according to the weight of probabilities. For example, suppose nine Gentiles and one Jew live in the same building. One Saturday the building collapses; one of the ten - it is not known which one - is away, but the other nine are trapped under the rubble. Should the rubble be cleared, thus desecrat¬ing the sabbath, seeing that the Jew may not be under it (he may have been the one that got away)? The Shulhan ‘Arukh says that it should, presumably because the odds that the Jew is under the rubble are high (nine to one). But now suppose that nine have got away and only one - again, it is not known which one - is trapped. Then there is no duty to clear the rubble, presumably because this time there are long odds (nine to one) against the Jew being the person trapped. Similarly: 'If a boat containing some Jews is seen to be in peril upon the sea, it is a duty incumbent upon all to desecrate the sabbath in order to save it.' However, the great R. 'Aqiva Eiger (died 1837) comments that this applies only 'when it is known that there are Jews on board. But ... if nothing at all is known about the identity of those on board, [the sabbath] must not be desecrated, for one acts according to [the weight of prob¬abilities, and] the majority of people in the world are Gen¬tiles.' Thus, since there are very long odds against any of the passengers being Jewish, they must be allowed to drown.”

“Secondly, the provision that a Gentile may be saved or cared for in order to avert the danger of hostility is curtailed on the sabbath. A Jew called upon to help a Gentile on a weekday may have to comply because to admit that he is not allowed, in principle, to save the life of a non-Jew would be to invite hostility. But on Saturday the Jew can use sabbath observance as a plausible excuse. A paradigmatic case discussed at length in the Talmud is that of a Jewish midwife invited to help a Gentile woman in childbirth. The upshot is that the midwife is allowed to help on a weekday 'for fear of hostility', but on the sabbath she must not do so, because she can excuse herself by saying: 'We are allowed to desecrate the sabbath only for our own, who observe the sabbath, but for your people, who do not keep the sabbath, we are not allowed to desecrate it.' Is this explanation a genuine one or merely an excuse? Maimonides clearly thinks that it is just an excuse, which can be used even if the task that the midwife is invited to do does not actually involve any desecration of the sabbath. Presumably, the excuse will work just as well even in this case, because Gentiles are generally in the dark as to precisely which kinds of work are banned for Jews on the sabbath. At any rate, he decrees: 'A Gentile woman must not be helped in childbirth on the sabbath, even for payment; nor must one fear hostility, even when [such help involves] no desecration of the sabbath.' The Shulhan 'Arukh decrees likewise.”

“Nevertheless, this sort of excuse could not always be relied upon to do the trick and avert Gentile hostility. Therefore certain important rabbinical authorities had to relax the rules to some extent and allowed Jewish doctors to treat Gentiles on the sabbath even if this involved doing certain types of work normally banned on that day. This partial relaxation applied particularly to rich and powerful Gentile patients, who could not be fobbed off so easily and whose hostility could be dangerous.”

“Thus, R. Yo'el Sirkis, author of Bayit Hadash and one of the greatest rabbis of his time (Poland, 17th century), decided that 'mayors, petty nobles and aristocrats' should be treated on the sabbath, because of the fear of their hostility which in¬volves 'some danger'. But in other cases, especially when the Gentile can be fobbed off with an evasive excuse, a Jewish doctor would commit 'an unbearable sin' by treating him on the sabbath. Later in the same century, a similar verdict was given in the French city of Metz, whose two parts were connected by a pontoon bridge. Jews are not normally allowed to cross such a bridge on the sabbath, but the rabbi of Metz decided that a Jewish doctor may nevertheless do so 'if he is called to the great governor': since the doctor is known to cross the bridge for the sake of his Jewish patients, the gover¬nor's hostility could be aroused if the doctor refused to do so for his sake. Under the authoritarian rule of Louis XIV, it was evidently important to have the goodwill of his intendant; the feelings of lesser Gentiles were of little importance.”

Hokhmat Shlomoh, a 19th century commentary on the Shulhan 'Arukh, mentions a similarly strict interpretation of the concept 'hostility' in connection with the Karaites, a small heretical Jewish sect. According to this view, their lives must not be saved if that would involve desecration of the sabbath, 'for "hostility" applies only to the heathen, who are many against us, and we are delivered into their hands ... But the Karaites are few and we are not delivered into their hands, [so] the fear of hostility does not apply to them at all.' In fact, the absolute ban on desecrating the sabbath in order to save the life of a Karaite is still in force today, as we shall see.”

“The whole subject is extensively discussed in the responsa of R. Moshe Sofer - better known as 'Hatam Sofer' - the famous rabbi of Pressburg (Bratislava) who died in 1832. His conclusions are of more than historical interest, since in 1966 one of his responsa was publicly endorsed by the then Chief Rabbi of Israel as 'a basic institution of the Halakhah'. The particular question asked of Hatam Sofer concerned the situa-tion in Turkey, where it was decreed during one of the wars that in each township or village there should be midwives on call, ready to hire themselves out to any woman in labour. Some of these midwives were Jewish; should they hire them¬selves out to help Gentile women on weekdays and on the sabbath?”

“In his responsum, Hatam Sofer first concludes, after care¬ful investigation, that the Gentiles concerned - that is, Otto¬man Christians and Muslims - are not only idolators 'who definitely worship other gods and thus should "neither be lifted [out of a well] nor hauled down",' but are likened by him to the Amalekites, so that the talmudic ruling 'it is forbidden to multiply the seed of Amalek' applies to them. In principle, therefore, they should not be helped even on week¬days. However, in practice it is 'permitted' to heal Gentiles and help them in labour, if they have doctors and midwives of their own, who could be called instead of the Jewish ones. For if Jewish doctors and midwives refused to attend to Gentiles, the only result would be loss of income to the former - which is of course undesirable. This applies equally on weekdays and on the sabbath, provided no desecration of the sabbath is involved. However, in the latter case the sabbath can serve as an excuse to 'mislead the heathen woman and say that it would involve desecration of the sabbath'. “

“In connection with cases that do actually involve desecra¬tion of the sabbath, Hatam Sofer - like other authorities - makes a distinction between two categories of work banned on the sabbath. First, there is work banned by the Torah, the biblical text (as interpreted by the Talmud); such work may only be performed in very exceptional cases, if failing to do so would cause an extreme danger of hostility towards Jews. Then there are types of work which are only banned by the sages who extended the original law of the Torah; the attitude towards breaking such bans is generally more lenient.”

“Another responsum of Hatam Sofer deals with the question whether it is permissible for a Jewish doctor to travel by carriage on the sabbath in order to heal a Gentile. After pointing out that under certain conditions travelling by horse-drawn carriage on the sabbath only violates a ban imposed 'by the sages' rather than by the Torah, he goes on to recall Maimonides' pronouncement that Gentile women in labour must not be helped on the sabbath, even if no desecration of the sabbath is involved, and states that the same principle applies to all medical practice, not just midwifery. But he then voices the fear that if this were put into practice, 'it would arouse undesirable hostility,' for 'the Gentiles would not accept the excuse of sabbath observance,' and 'would say that the blood of an idolator has little worth in our eyes'. Also, perhaps more importantly, Gentile doctors might take revenge on their Jewish patients. Better excuses must be found. He advises a Jewish doctor who is called to treat a Gentile patient out of town on the sabbath to excuse himself by saying that he is required to stay in town in order to look after his other patients, 'for he can use this in order to say, "I cannot move because of the danger to this or that patient, who needs a doctor first, and I may not desert my charge" ... With such an excuse there is no fear of danger, for it is a reasonable pretext, commonly given by doctors who are late in arriving because another patient needed them first.' Only 'if it is impossible to give any excuse' is the doctor permitted to travel by carriage on the sabbath in order to treat a Gentile.”

“In the whole discussion, the main issue is the excuses that should be made, not the actual healing or the welfare of the patient. And throughout it is taken for granted that it is all right to deceive Gentiles rather than treat them, so long as 'hostility' can be averted.”

“Of course, in modern times most Jewish doctors are not religious and do not even know of these rules. Moreover, it appears that even many who are religious prefer - to their credit - to abide by the Hippocratic oath rather than by the precepts of their fanatic rabbis. However, the rabbis' guidance cannot fail to have some influence on some doctors; and there are certainly many who, while not actually following that guid-ance, choose not to protest against it publicly.”

“All this is far from being a dead issue. The most up-to-date halakhic position on these matters is contained in a recent concise and authoritative book published in English under the title Jewish Medical Law. This book, which bears the imprint of the prestigious Israeli foundation Mossad Harav Kook, is based on the responsa of R. Eli'ezer Yehuda Waldenberg, Chief Justice of the Rabbinical District Court of Jerusalem. A few passages of this work deserve special mention.”

“First, 'it is forbidden to desecrate the sabbath ... for a Karaite.' This is stated bluntly, absolutely and without any further qualification. Presumably the hostility of this small sect makes no difference, so they should be allowed to die rather than be treated on the sabbath.”

“As for Gentiles: 'According to the ruling stated in the Talmud and Codes of Jewish Law, it is forbidden to desecrate the Sabbath - whether violating Biblical or rabbinic law - in order to save the life of a dangerously ill gentile patient. It is also forbidden to deliver the baby of a gentile woman on the Sabbath.' ”

“But this is qualified by a dispensation: 'However, today it is permitted to desecrate the Sabbath on behalf of a Gentile by performing actions prohibited by rabbinic law, for by so doing one prevents ill feelings from arising between Jew and Gentile.' ”

“This does not go very far, because medical treatment very often involves acts banned on the sabbath by the Torah itself, which are not covered by this dispensation. There are, we are told, 'some' halakhic authorities who extend the dispensation to such acts as well - but this is just another way of saying that most halakhic authorities, and the ones that really count, take the opposite view. However, all is not lost. Jewish Medical Law has a truly breathtaking solution to this difficulty.”

“The solution hangs upon a nice point of talmudic law. A ban imposed by the Torah on performing a given act on the sabbath is presumed to apply only when the primary intention in performing it is the actual outcome of the act. (For example, grinding wheat is presumed to be banned by the Torah only if the purpose is actually to obtain flour.) On the other hand, if the performance of the same act is merely incidental to some other purpose (melakhah seh'eynah tzrikhah legufah) then the act changes its status - it is still forbidden, to be sure, but only by the sages rather than by the Torah itself. Therefore:
  • In order to avoid any transgression of the law, there is a legally acceptable method of rendering treatment on behalf of a gentile patient even when dealing with violation of Biblical Law. It is suggested that at the time that the physician is providing the necessary care, his intentions should not primarily be to cure the patient, but to protect himself and the Jewish people from accusations of religious discrimination and severe retaliation that may endanger him in particular and the Jewish people in general. With this intention, any act on the physician's part becomes 'an act whose actual outcome is not its primary purpose' ... which is forbidden on Sabbath only by rabbinic law.”

“This hypocritical substitute for the Hippocratic oath is also pro¬posed by a recent authoritative Hebrew book.”

“Although the facts were mentioned at least twice in the Israeli press, the Israeli Medical Association has remained silent.”

“Having treated in some detail the supremely important subject of the attitude of the Halakhah to a Gentile's very life, we shall deal much more briefly with other halakhic rules which discriminate against Gentiles. Since the number of such rules is very large, we shall mention only the more important ones.”

Sexual Offences
“Sexual intercourse between a married Jewish woman and any man other than her husband is a capital offence for both parties, and one of the three most heinous sins. The status of Gentile women is very different. The Halakhah presumes all Gentiles to be utterly promiscuous and the verse 'whose flesh is as the flesh of asses, and whose issue [of semen] is like the issue of horses’ is applied to them. Whether a Gentile woman is married or not makes no difference, since as far as Jews are concerned the very concept of matrimony does not apply to Gentiles ('There is no matrimony for a heathen'). Therefore, the concept of adultery also does not apply to intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman; rather, the Talmud equates such intercourse to the sin of bestiality. (For the same reason, Gentiles are generally presumed not to have certain paternity.)”

“According to the Talmudic Encyclopedia: 'He who has carnal knowledge of the wife of a Gentile is not liable to the death penalty, for it is written: "thy fellow's wife" rather than the alien's wife; and even the precept that a man "shall cleave unto his wife" which is addressed to the Gentiles does not apply to a Jew, just there is no matrimony for a heathen; and although a married Gentile woman is forbidden to the Gentiles, in any case a Jew is exempted.' ”

“This does not imply that sexual intercourse between a Jewish man and a Gentile woman is permitted - quite the contrary. But the main punishment is inflicted on the Gentile woman; she must be executed, even if she was raped by the Jew: 'If a Jew has coitus with a Gentile woman, whether she be a child of three or an adult, whether married or unmar¬ried, and even if he is a minor aged only nine years and one day - because he had wilful coitus with her, she must be killed, as is the case with a beast, because through her a Jew got into trouble.' The Jew, however, must be flogged, and if he is a Kohen (member of the priestly tribe) he must receive double the number of lashes, because he has commit¬ted a double offence: a Kohen must not have intercourse with a prostitute, and all Gentile women are presumed to be prostitutes.”

“According to the Halakhah, Jews must not (if they can help it) allow a Gentile to be appointed to any position of authority, however small, over Jews. (The two stock examples are 'com¬mander over ten soldiers in the Jewish army' and 'superintendent of an irrigation ditch'.) Significantly, this particular rule applies also to converts to Judaism and to their descendants (through the female line) for ten generations or 'so long as the descent is known'. ”

“Gentiles are presumed to be congenital liars, and are disqualified from testifying in a rabbinical court. In this respect their position is, in theory, the same as that of Jewish women, slaves and minors; but in practice it is actually worse. A Jewish woman is nowadays admitted as a witness to certain matters of fact, when the rabbinical court 'believes' her; a Gentile - never.”

“A problem therefore arises when a rabbinical court needs to establish a fact for which there are only Gentile witnesses. An important example of this is in cases concerning widows: by Jewish religious law, a woman can be declared a widow - and hence free to re-marry - only if the death of her husband is proven with certainty by means of a witness who saw him die or identified his corpse. However, the rabbinical court will accept the hearsay evidence of a Jew who testifies to having heard the fact in question mentioned by a Gentile eyewitness, provided the court is satisfied that the latter was speaking casually ('goy mesiah lefi tummo') rather than in reply to a direct question; for a Gentile's direct answer to a Jew's direct question is presumed to be a lie. If necessary, a Jew (prefer¬ably a rabbi) will actually undertake to chat up the Gentile eyewitness and, without asking a direct question, extract from him a casual statement of the fact at issue.”

Money and Property
“The Talmud bluntly forbids giving a gift to a Gentile. However, classical rabbinical authorities bent this rule because it is customary among businessmen to give gifts to business con¬tacts. It was therefore laid down that a Jew may give a gift to a Gentile acquaintance, since this is regarded not as a true gift but as a sort of investment, for which some return is expected. Gifts to 'unfamiliar Gentiles' remain forbidden. A broadly similar rule applies to almsgiving. Giving alms to a Jewish beggar is an important religious duty. Alms to Gentile beggars are merely permitted for the sake of peace. However there are numerous rabbinical warnings against allowing the Gentile poor to become ‘accustomed' to receiving alms from Jews, so that it should be possible to withhold such alms without arousing undue hostility.”

Taking of interest.
“Anti-Gentile discrimination in this matter has become largely theoretical, in view of the dispensation [explained above] which in effect allows interest to be exacted even from a Jewish borrower. However, it is still the case that granting an interest-free loan to a Jew is recommended as an act of charity, but from a Gentile borrower it is mandatory to exact interest. In fact, many - though not all - rabbinical authorities, including Maimonides, consider it mandatory to exact as much usury as possible on a loan to a Gentile.”

Lost property.
“If a Jew finds property whose probable owner is Jewish, the finder is strictly enjoined to make a positive effort to return his find by advertising it publicly. In contrast, the Talmud and all the early rabbinical authorities not only allow a Jewish finder to appropriate an article lost by a Gentile, but actually forbid him or her to return it. In more recent times, when laws were passed in most countries making it mandatory to return lost articles, the rabbinical authorities instructed Jews to do what these laws say, as an act of civil obedience to the state - but not as a religious duty, that is without making a positive effort to discover the owner if it is not probable that he is Jewish.”

Deception in business.
“It is a grave sin to practice any kind of deception whatsoever against a Jew. Against a Gentile it is only forbidden to practice direct deception. Indirect deception is al¬lowed, unless it is likely to cause hostility towards Jews or insult to the Jewish religion. The paradigmatic example is mistaken calculation of the price during purchase. If a Jew makes a mistake unfavourable to himself, it is one's religious duty to correct him. If a Gentile is spotted making such a mistake, one need not let him know about it, but say 'I rely on your calcula¬tion', so as to forestall his hostility in case he subsequently discovers his own mistake. ”

“It is forbidden to defraud a Jew by selling or buying at an unreasonable price. However, 'Fraud does not apply to Gen¬tiles, for it is written: "Do not defraud each man his brother"; but a Gentile who defrauds a Jew should be compelled to make good the fraud, but should not be punished more severely than a Jew [in a similar case].' ”

Theft and robbery.
“Stealing (without violence) is absolutely forbidden - as the Shulhan 'Arukh so nicely puts it: 'even from a Gentile'. Robbery (with violence) is strictly forbidden if the victim is Jewish. However, robbery of a Gentile by a Jew is not forbidden outright but only under certain circumstances such as 'when the Gentiles are not under our rule', but is permitted 'when they are under our rule'. Rabbinical authorities differ among themselves as to the precise details of the circum¬stances under which a Jew may rob a Gentile, but the whole debate is concerned only with the relative power of Jews and Gentiles rather than with universal considerations of justice and humanity. This may explain why so very few rabbis have pro¬tested against the robbery of Palestinian property in Israel: it was backed by overwhelming Jewish power.”

Gentiles in the Land of Israel
“In addition to the general anti-Gentile laws, the Halakhah has special laws against Gentiles who live in the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisra'el) or, in some cases, merely pass through it. These laws are designed to promote Jewish supremacy in that country.”

“The exact geographical definition of the term 'Land of Israel' is much disputed in the Talmud and the talmudic literature, and the debate has continued in modern times between the various shades of zionist opinion. According to the maximalist view, the Land of Israel includes (in addition to Palestine itself) not only the whole of Sinai, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, but also consider¬able parts of Turkey. The more prevalent 'minimalist' interpre¬tation puts the northern border 'only' about half way through Syria and Lebanon, at the latitude of Homs. This view was supported by Ben-Gurion. However, even those who thus exclude parts of Syria-Lebanon agree that certain special discriminatory laws (though less oppressive than in the Land of Israel proper) apply to the Gentiles of those parts, because that territory was included in David's kingdom. In all talmudic interpretations the Land of Israel includes Cyprus.”

“I shall now list a few of the special laws concerning Gen¬tiles in the Land of Israel. Their connection with actual zionist practice will be quite apparent.”

“The Halakhah forbids Jews to sell immovable property - fields and houses - in the Land of Israel to Gentiles. In Syria, the sale of houses (but not of fields) is permitted.”

“Leasing a house in the Land of Israel to a Gentile is permit¬ted under two conditions. First, that the house shall not be used for habitation but for other purposes, such as storage. Second, that three or more adjoining houses shall not be so leased.”

“These and several other rules are explained as follows: ... 'so that you shall not allow them to camp on the ground, for if they do not possess land, their sojourn there will be tempo¬rary.' Even temporary Gentile presence may only be tolerated 'when the Jews are in exile, or when the Gentiles are more powerful than the Jews,' but
  • When the Jews are more powerful than the Gentiles we are forbidden to let an idolator among us; even a temporary resident or itinerant trader shall not be allowed to pass through our land unless he accepts the seven Noahide pre¬cepts, for it is written: 'they shall not dwell in thy land,' that is, not even temporarily. If he accepts the seven Noahide precepts, he becomes a resident alien (ger toshav) but it is forbidden to grant the status of resident alien except at times when the Jubilee is held [that is, when the Temple stands and sacrifices are offered]. However, during times when Jubilees are not held it is forbidden to accept anyone who is not a full convert to Judaism (ger tzedeq).”

“It is therefore clear that - exactly as the leaders and sympathisers of Gush Emunim say - the whole question to how the Palestinians ought to be treated is, according to the Halakhah, simply a question of Jewish power: if Jews have sufficient power, then it is their religious duty to expel the Palestinians.”

“All these laws are often quoted by Israeli rabbis and their zealous followers. For example, the law forbidding the lease of three adjoining houses to Gentiles was solemnly quoted by a rabbinical conference held in 1979 to discuss the Camp David treaties. The conference also declared that according to the Halakhah even the 'autonomy' that Begin was ready to offer to the Palestinians is too liberal. Such pronouncements - which do in fact state correctly the position of the Halakhah - are rarely contested by the zionist 'left'.”

“In addition to laws such as those mentioned so far, which are directed at all Gentiles in the Land of Israel, an even greater evil influence arises from special laws against the an¬cient Canaanites and other nations who lived in Palestine be¬fore its conquest by Joshua, as well as against the Amalekites. All those nations must be utterly exterminated, and the Talmud and talmudic literature reiterate the genocidal biblical exhorta¬tions with even greater vehemence. Influential rabbis, who have a considerable following among Israeli army officers, identify the Palestinians (or even all Arabs) with those ancient nations, so that commands like 'thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth' acquire a topical meaning. In fact, it is not uncom¬mon for reserve soldiers called up to do a tour of duty in the Gaza Strip to be given an 'educational lecture' in which they are told that the Palestinians of Gaza are 'like the Amalekites'.”

“Biblical verses exhorting to genocide of the Midianites were solemnly quoted by an important Israeli rabbi in justification of the Qibbiya massacre, and this pronouncement has gained wide circulation in the Israeli army. There are many similar examples of bloodthirsty rabbinical pronouncements against the Palestinians, based on these laws.”

“Under this heading I would like to discuss examples of halakhic laws whose most important effect is not so much to prescribe specific anti-Gentile discrimination as to inculcate an attitude of scorn and hatred towards Gentiles. Accordingly, in this section I shall not confine myself to quoting from the most authoritative halakhic sources (as I have done so far) but include also less fundamental works, which are however widely used in religious instruction.”

“Let us begin with the text of some common prayers. In one of the first sections of the daily morning payer, every devout Jew blesses God for not making him a Gentile. The conclud¬ing section of the daily prayer (which is also used in the most solemn part of the service on New Year's day and on Yom Kippur) opens with the statement: 'We must praise the Lord of all ... for not making us like the nations of [all] lands ... for they bow down to vanity and nothingness and pray to a god that does not help.' The last clause was censored out of the prayer books, but in eastern Europe it was supplied orally, and has now been restored into many Israeli-printed prayer books. In the most important section of the weekday prayer - the 'eighteen blessings' - there is a special curse, originally directed against Christians, Jewish converts to Christianity and other Jewish heretics: 'And may the apostates have no hope, and all the Christians perish instantly'. This formula dates from the end of the 1st century, when Christianity was still a small persecuted sect. Some time before the 14th century it was softened into: 'And may the apostates have no hope, and all the heretics perish instantly', and after additional pressure into: 'And may the informers have no hope, and all the heretics perish instantly'. After the establishment of Israel, the process was reversed, and many newly printed prayer books reverted to the second formula, which was also prescribed by many teach¬ers in religious Israeli schools. After 1967, several congregations close to Gush Emunim have restored the first version (so far only verbally, not in print) and now pray daily that the Chris¬tians 'may perish instantly'. This process of reversion happened in the period when the Catholic Church (under Pope John XXIII) removed from its Good Friday service a prayer which asked the Lord to have mercy on Jews, heretics etc. This prayer was thought by most Jewish leaders to be offensive and even antisemitic.”

“Apart from the fixed daily prayers, a devout Jew must utter special short blessings on various occasions, both good and bad (for example, while putting on a new piece of clothing, eating a seasonal fruit for the first time that year, seeing powerful lightning, hearing bad news, etc.) Some of these occasional prayers serve to inculcate hatred and scorn for all Gentiles. We have mentioned [above] the rule according to which a pious Jew must utter curse when passing near a Gentile cem¬etery, whereas he must bless God when passing near a Jewish cemetery. A similar rule applies to the living; thus, when seeing a large Jewish population a devout Jew must praise God, while upon seeing a large Gentile population he must utter a curse. Nor are buildings exempt: the Talmud lays down that a Jew who passes near an inhabited non-Jewish dwelling must ask God to destroy it, whereas if the building is in ruins he must thank the Lord of Vengeance. (Naturally, the rules are reversed for Jewish houses.) This rule was easy to keep for Jewish peasants who lived in their own villages or for small urban communities living in all-Jewish townships or quarters. Under the conditions of classical Judaism, however, it became imprac¬ticable and was therefore confined to churches and places of worship of other religions (except Islam). In this connection, the rule was further embroidered by custom: it became custom¬ary to spit (usually three times) upon seeing a church or a crucifix, as an embellishment to the obligatory formula of re¬gret. Sometimes insulting biblical verses were also added.”

“There is also a series of rules forbidding any expression of praise for Gentiles or for their deeds, except where such praise implies an even greater praise of Jews and things Jewish. This rule is still observed by Orthodox Jews. For example, the writer Agnon, when interviewed on the Israeli radio upon his return from Stockholm, where he received the Nobel Prize for litera¬ture, praised the Swedish Academy, but hastened to add: 'I am not forgetting that it is forbidden to praise Gentiles, but here there is a special reason for my praise' - that is, that they awarded the prize to a Jew.”

“Similarly, it is forbidden to join any manifestation of popular Gentile rejoicing, except where failing to join in might cause 'hostility towards Jews, in which case a 'minimal' show of joy is allowed.”

“In addition to the rules mentioned so far, there are many others whose effect is to inhibit human friendship between Jew and Gentile. I shall mention two examples: the rule on 'libation wine' and that on preparing food for a Gentile on Jewish holy days.”

“A religious Jew must not drink any wine in whose prepa¬ration a Gentile had any part whatsoever. Wine in an open bottle, even if prepared wholly by Jews, becomes banned if a Gentile so much as touches the bottle or passes a hand over it. The reason given by the rabbis is that all Gentiles are not only idolators but must be presumed to be malicious to boot, so that they are likely to dedicate (by a whisper, gesture or thought) as 'libation' to their idol any wine which a Jew is about to drink. This law applies in full force to all Christians, and in a slightly attenuated form also to Muslims. (An open bottle of wine touched by a Christian must be poured away, but if touched by a Muslim it can be sold or given away, although it may not be drunk by a Jew.) The law applies equally to Gentile atheists (how can one be sure that they are not merely pretending to be atheists?) but not to Jewish atheists.”

“The laws against doing work on the Sabbath apply to a lesser extent on other holy days. In particular, on a holy day which does not happen to fall on a Saturday it is permitted to do any work required for preparing food to be eaten during the holy days or days. Legally, this is defined as preparing a 'soul's food' (okhel nefesh); but 'soul' is interpreted to mean 'Jew', and 'Gentiles and dogs' are explicitly excluded. There is, however, a dispensation in favour of powerful Gentiles, whose hostility can be dangerous: it is permitted to cook food on a holy day for a visitor belonging to this category, provided he is not actively encouraged to come and eat.”

An important effect of all these laws - quite apart from their application in practice - is in the attitude created by their constant study which, as part of the study of the Halakhah, is regarded by classical Judaism as a supreme religious duty. Thus an Orthodox Jew learns from his earliest youth, as part of his sacred studies, that Gentiles are compared to dogs, that it is a sin to praise them, and so on and so forth. As a matter of fact, in this respect textbooks for beginners have a worse effect than the Talmud and the great talmudic codes. One reason for this is that such elementary texts give more detailed explana¬tions, phrased so as to influence young and uneducated minds. Out of a large number of such texts, I have chosen the one which is currently most popular in Israel and has been re¬printed in many cheap editions, heavily subsidised by the Israeli government. It is The Book of Education, written by an anony¬mous rabbi in early 14th century Spain. It explains the 613 religious obligations (mitzvot) of Judaism in the order in which they are supposed to be found in the Pentateuch according to the talmudic interpretation [discussed above]. It owes its lasting influence and popularity to the clear and easy Hebrew style in which it is written.”

“A central didactic aim of this book is to emphasise the 'correct' meaning of the Bible with respect to such terms as 'fellow', 'friend' or 'man' (which we have referred to [above]). Thus 219, devoted to the religious obligation arising from the verse 'thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself’, is entitled: 'A religious obligation to love Jews', and explains:
  • To love every Jew strongly means that we should care for a Jew and his money just as one cares for oneself and one's own money, for it is written: 'thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself' and our sages of blessed memory said: 'what is hateful to you do not do to your friend' ... and many other religious obliga¬tions follow from this, because one who loves one's friend as oneself will not steal his money, or commit adultery with his wife, or defraud him of his money, or deceive him verbally, or steal his land, or harm him in any way. Also many other religious obligations depend on this, as is known to any reasonable man.”

“In 322, dealing with the duty to keep a Gentile slave enslaved for ever (whereas a Jewish slave must be set free after seven years), the following explanation is given:
  • And at the root of this religious obligation [is the fact that] the Jewish people are the best of the human species, created to know their Creator and worship Him, and worthy of having slaves to serve them. And if they will not have slaves of other peoples, they would have to enslave their brothers, who would thus be unable to serve the Lord, blessed be He. Therefore we are commanded to possess those for our service, after they are prepared for this and after idolatory is removed from their speech so that there should not be danger in our houses, and this is the intention of the verse 'but over your brethren the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour', so that you will not have to enslave your brothers, who are all ready to worship God.”

“In 545, dealing with the religious obligation to exact interest on money lent to Gentiles, the law is stated as follows: 'That we are commanded to demand interest from Gentiles when we lend money to them, and we must not lend to them without interest,' The explanation is:
  • And at the root of this religious obligation is that we should not do any act of mercy except to the people who know God and worship Him; and when we refrain from doing merciful deed to the rest of mankind and do so only to the former, we are being tested that the main part of love and mercy to them is because they follow the religion of God, blessed be He. Behold, with this intention our reward [from God] when we withhold mercy from the others is equal to that for doing [merciful deeds] to members of our own people.”

“Similar distinctions are made in numerous other passages. In explaining the ban against delaying a worker's wage (238) the author is careful to point out that the sin is less serious if the worker is Gentile. The prohibition against cursing (239) is entitled 'Not to curse any Jew, whether man or woman'. Similarly, the prohibitions against giving misleading advice, hating other people, shaming them or taking revenge on them (240, 245, 246, 247) apply only to fellow-Jews.”

“The ban against following Gentile customs (262) means that Jews must not only 'remove themselves' from Gentiles, but also 'speak ill of all their behaviour, even of their dress'.”

“It must be emphasised that the explanations quoted above do represent correctly the teaching of the Halakhah. The rabbis and, even worse, the apologetic 'scholars of Judaism' know this very well and for this reason they do not try to argue against such views inside the Jewish community; and of course they never mention them outside it. Instead, they vilify any Jew who raises these matters within earshot of Gentiles, and they issue deceitful denials in which the art of equivocation reaches its summit. For example, they state, using general terms, the importance which Judaism attaches to mercy; but what they forget to point out is that according to the Halakhah 'mercy' means mercy towards Jews.”

“Anyone who lives in Israel knows how deep and widespread these attitudes of hatred and cruelty … towards all Gentiles are among the majority of Israeli Jews. Normally these attitudes are disguised from the outside world, but since the establishment of the State of Israel, the 1967 war and the rise of Begin, a significant minority of Jews, both in Israel and abroad, have gradually become more open about such matters. In recent years the inhuman precepts according to which servitude is the 'natural' lot of Gentiles have been publicly quoted in Israel, even on TV, by Jewish farmers exploiting Arab labour, particularly child la¬bour. Gush Emunim leaders have quoted religious precepts which enjoin Jews to oppress Gentiles, as a justification of the at¬tempted assassination of Palestinian mayors and as divine author¬ity for their own plan to expel all the Arabs from Palestine.”

“While many zionists reject these positions politically, their standard counter-arguments are based on considerations of ex¬pediency and Jewish self-interest, rather than on universally valid principles of humanism and ethics. For example, they argue that the exploitation and oppression of Palestinians by Israelis tends to corrupt Israeli society, or that the expulsion of the Palestinians is impracticable under present political condi¬tions, or that Israeli acts of terror against the Palestinians tend to isolate Israel internationally. In principle, however, virtually all zionists - and in particular 'left' zionists - share the deep anti-Gentile attitudes which Orthodox Judaism keenly promotes.”

Attitudes to Christianity and Islam
“In the foregoing, several examples of the rabbinical attitudes to these two religions were given in passing. But it will be useful to summarise these attitudes here.”

“Judaism is imbued with a very deep hatred towards Chris¬tianity, combined with ignorance about it. This attitude was clearly aggravated by the Christian persecutions of Jews, but is largely independent of them. In fact, it dates from the time when Christianity was still weak and persecuted (not least by Jews), and it was shared by Jews who had never been persecuted by Christians or who were even helped by them. Thus, Maimonides was subjected to Muslim persecu¬tions by the regime of the Almohads and escaped from them first to the crusaders' Kingdom of Jerusalem, but this did not change his views in the least. This deeply negative attitude is based on two main elements.”

“First, on hatred and malicious slanders against Jesus. The traditional view of Judaism on Jesus must of course be sharply distinguished from the nonsensical controversy between antisemites and Jewish apologists concerning the 'responsibility' for his execution. Most modern scholars of that period admit that due to the lack of original and contemporary accounts, the late composition of the Gospels and the contradictions between them, accurate historical knowledge of the circum¬stances of Jesus' execution is not available. In any case, the notion of collective and inherited guilt is both wicked and absurd. However, what is at issue here is not the actual facts about Jesus, but the inaccurate and even slanderous reports in the Talmud and post-talmudic literature - which is what Jews believed until the 19th century and many, especially in Israel, still believe. For these reports certainly played an important role in forming the Jewish attitude to Christianity.
  • According to the Talmud, Jesus was executed by a proper rabbinical court for idolatry, inciting other Jews to idolatry, and contempt of rabbinical authority. All classical Jewish sources which mention his execution are quite happy to take responsibility for it; in the talmudic account the Romans are not even mentioned.
  • The more popular accounts - which were nevertheless taken quite seriously - such as the notorious Toldot Yeshu are even worse, for in addition to the above crimes they accuse him of witchcraft. The very name 'Jesus' was for Jews a symbol of all that is abominable, and this popular tradition still persists. The Gospels are equally detested, and they are not allowed to be quoted (let alone taught) even in modern Israeli Jewish schools.”

“Secondly, for theological reasons, mostly rooted in igno¬rance, Christianity as a religion is classed by rabbinical teaching as idolatry. This is based on a crude interpretation of the Christian doctrines on the Trinity and Incarnation. All the Christian emblems and pictorial representations are regarded as `idols' - even by those Jews who literally worship scrolls, stones or personal belongings of 'Holy Men'.”

“The attitude of Judaism towards Islam is, in contrast, relatively mild. Although the stock epithet given to Muhammad is 'madman' ('meshugga'), this was not nearly as offensive as it may sound now, and in any case it pales before the abusive terms applied to Jesus. Similarly, the Qur'an - unlike the New Testament - is not condemned to burning. It is not honoured in the same way as Islamic law honours the Jewish sacred scrolls, but is treated as an ordinary book. Most rabbinical authorities agree that Islam is not idolatry (although some leaders of Gush Emunim now choose to ignore this). Therefore the Halakhah decrees that Muslims should not be treated by Jews any worse than 'ordinary' Gentiles. But also no better. Again, Maimonides can serve as an illustration. He explicitly states that Islam is not idolatry, and in his philo¬sophical works he quotes, with great respect, many Islamic philosophical authorities. He was, as I have mentioned before, personal physician to Saladin and his family, and by Saladin's order he was appointed Chief over all Egypt's Jews. Yet, the rules he lays down against saving a Gentile's life (except in order to avert danger to Jews) apply equally to Muslims.”



Historic deceptions about Judaism in detail
“What”, says Shahak “were the detailed mechanisms (other than bribery) employed by Jewish communities … to ward off the attack on the Talmud and other religious literature? Several methods can be distinguished, all of them having important political consequences reflected in current Israeli policies [our italics].” He goes on:
  • “The first mechanism I shall discuss is that of surreptitious defiance, combined with outward compliance. As explained above, Talmudic passages directed against Christianity or against non-Jews had to go or to be modified – the pressure was too strong. This is what was done: a few of the most offensive passages were bodily removed from all editions printed in Europe after the mid-16th century. In all other passages, the expressions ‘Gentile’, ‘non-Jew’, ‘stranger’ (goy, eino yehudi, nokhri) – which appear in all early manuscripts and printings as well as all editions published in Islamic countries – were replaced by terms such as ‘idolator’, ‘heathen’ or even ‘Canaanite’ or ‘Samaritan’, terms which could be explained away but which a Jewish reader could recognise as euphemisms for the old expressions.”
  • “As the attack mounted, so the defence became more elaborate, sometimes with lasting tragic results. During certain periods the Tsarist Russian censorship became stricter and, seeing the above mentioned euphemisms for what they were, forbade them too. Thereupon the rabbinical authorities substituted the terms ‘Arab’ or ‘Muslim’ (in Hebrew, Yishma’eli – which means both) or occasionally ‘Egyptian’, correctly calculating that the Tsarist authorities would not object to this kind of abuse. At the same time, lists of Talmudic Omissions were circulated in manuscript form, which explained all the new terms and pointed out all the omissions. At times, a general disclaimer was printed before the title page of each volume of Talmudic literature, solemnly declaring, sometimes on oath, that all hostile expressions in that volume are intended only against the idolators of antiquity, or even against the long-vanished Canaanites, rather than against ‘the peoples in whose land we live’. After the British conquest of India, some rabbis hit on the subterfuge of claiming that any particularly outrageous derogatory expression used by them [was] only intended against the Indians. Occasionally the aborigines of Australia were also added as whipping-boys.”
  • “Needless to say, all this was a calculated lie from beginning to end; and following the establishment of the State of Israel, once the rabbis felt secure, all the offensive passages and expressions were restored without hesitation in all new editions. (Because of the enormous cost which a new edition involves, a considerable part of the Talmudic literature, including the Talmud itself, is still being reprinted from the old editions. For this reason, the above mentioned Talmudic Omissions have now been published in Israel in a cheap printed edition, under the title Hesronot Shas.) So now one can read quite freely – and Jewish children are actually taught – passages such as that which commands every Jew, whenever passing near a cemetery, to utter a blessing if the cemetery is Jewish, but to curse the mothers of the dead if it is non-Jewish. In the old editions the curse was omitted, or one of the euphemisms was substituted for ‘Gentiles’. But in the new Israeli edition of Rabbi Adin Steinsalz (complete with Hebrew explanations and glosses to the Aramaic parts of the text, so that schoolchildren should be in no doubt as to what they are supposed to say) the unambiguous words ‘Gentiles’ and ‘strangers’ have been restored.”
  • “Under external pressure, the rabbis deceptively eliminated or modified certain passages – but not the actual practices which are prescribed in them. It is a fact which must be remembered not least by Jews themselves, that for centuries our totalitarian society has employed barbaric and inhumane customs to poison the minds of its members, and it is still doing so. (These inhumane customs cannot be explained away as mere reaction to antisemitism or persecution of Jews; they are gratuitous barbarities directed against each and every human being. A pious Jew arriving for the first time in Australia, say, must – as an act of worship of ‘God’ – curse the mothers of the dead buried there.) Without facing this real social fact, we all become parties to the deception and accomplices to the process of poisoning the present and future generations, with all the consequences of this process.”

Modern deceptions about Judaism in detail
“Modern scholars of Judaism”, Shahak continues, “have not only continued the deception, but have actually improved upon the old rabbinical methods, both in impudence and in mendacity. I omit here the various histories of antisemitism as unworthy of serious consideration, and shall give just three particular examples and one general example of the more modern ‘scholarly’ deceptions.” He goes on:
  • “In 1962, a part of the Maimonidean Code referred to above, the so-called Book of Knowledge, which contains the most basic rules of Jewish faith and practice, was published in Jerusalem in a bilingual edition, with the English translation facing the Hebrew text. The latter has been restored to its original purity, and the command to exterminate Jewish infidels appears in it in full: ‘It is a duty to exterminate them with one’s own hands.’ In the English translation this is somewhat softened to: ‘It is a duty to take active measures to destroy them.’ But then the Hebrew text goes on to specify the prime examples of ‘infidels’ who must be exterminated: ‘Such as Jesus of Nazareth and his pupils, and Tzadoq and Baitos and their pupils, may the name of the wicked rot’. Not one word of this appears in the English text on the facing page (78a). And, even more significant, in spite of the wide circulation of this book among scholars in the English-speaking countries, not one of them has, as far as I know, protested against this glaring deception.”
  • “The second example comes from the USA, again from an English translation of a book by Maimonides. Apart from his work on the codification of the Talmud, he was also a philosopher and his Guide to the Perplexed is justly considered to be the greatest work of Jewish religious philosophy and is widely read and used even today. Unfortunately, in addition to his attitude towards non-Jews generally, and Christians in particular, Maimonides was also an anti-Black racist. Towards the end of the Guide, in a crucial chapter (book III, chapter 51) he discusses how various sections of Humanity can attain the supreme religious value, the true worship of God.” “Among those who are incapable of even approaching this are”, he says:
    • “Some of the Turks [i.e. the Mongol race] and the nomads in the North, and the Blacks and the nomads in the South, and those who resemble them in our climates. And their nature is like the nature of mute animals, and according to my opinion they are not on the level of human beings, and their level among existing things is below that of a man and above that of a monkey, because they have the image and the resemblance of a man more than a monkey does.” Shahak goes on:
      • “Now, what does one do with such a passage in a most important and necessary work of Judaism? Face the truth and its consequences? God forbid! Admit (as so many Christian scholars, for example, have done in similar circumstances) that a very important Jewish authority held also rabid anti-Black views, and by this admission make an attempt at self-education in real humanity? Perish the thought. I can almost imagine Jewish scholars in the USA consulting among themselves, ‘What is to be done? – for the book had to be translated, due to the decline in the knowledge of Hebrew among American Jews.”
      • “Whether by consultation or by individual inspiration, a happy ‘solution’ was found: in the popular American translation of the Guide by one Friedlander, first published as far back as 1925 and since then reprinted in many editions, including several in paperback, the Hebrew word Kushim, which means Blacks, was simply [mis-] transliterated and appears as ‘Kushites’, a word which means nothing to those who have no knowledge of Hebrew, or to whom an obliging rabbi will not give an oral explanation.”
      • “During all these years, not a word has been said to point out the initial deception or the social facts underlying its continuation – and this throughout the excitement of Martin Luther King’s campaigns, which were supported by so many rabbis, not to mention other Jewish figures, some of whom must have been aware of the anti-Black racist attitude which forms part of their Jewish heritage.”
      • “Surely one is driven to the hypothesis that quite a few of Martin Luther King’s rabbinical supporters were either anti-Black racists who supported him for tactical reasons of ‘Jewish interest’ (wishing to win Black support for American Jewry and for Israel’s policies) or were accomplished hypocrites to the point of schizophrenia, capable of passing very rapidly from a hidden enjoyment of rabid racism to a proclaimed attachment to an anti-racist struggle – and back – and back again.”
  • “The third example comes from a work which has far less serious scholarly intent – but is all the more popular for that: The Joys of Yiddish by Leo Rosten. This light-hearted work – first published in the USA in 1968, and reprinted in many editions, including several times as a Penguin paperback – is a kind of glossary of Yiddish words often used by Jews or even non-Jews in English-speaking countries. For each entry, in addition to a detailed definition and more or less amusing anecdotes illustrating its use, there is also an etymology stating (quite accurately on the whole) the language from which the word came into Yiddish and its meaning in that language. The entry Shaygets – whose main meaning is ‘a Gentile boy or young man’ – is an exception: there the etymology cryptically states ‘Hebrew origin’, without giving the form or meaning of the original Hebrew word. However, under the entry Shiksa – the feminine form of Shaygets – the author does give the original Hebrew word, sheqetz (or, in his transliteration, sheques) and defines its Hebrew meaning as ‘blemish’. This is a bare-faced lie, as every speaker of Hebrew knows. The Megiddo Modern Hebrew-English Dictionary, published in Israel, correctly defines sheqetz as follows: ‘unclean animal; loathsome creature, abomination (colloquial – pronounced shaygets) wretch, unruly youngster; Gentile youngster’.”
  • “My final, more general, example is, if possible, even more shocking than the others. It concerns the attitude of the Hassidic movement towards non-Jews.” Shahak continues:
    • “Hassidism – a continuation of (and debasement!) of Jewish mysticism – is still a living movement, with hundreds of thousands of active adherents who are fanatically devoted to their ‘holy rabbis’, some of whom have acquired a very considerable political influence in Israel, among the leaders of most parties and even more so in the higher echelons of the army.”
    • “What , then, are the views of this movement concerning non-Jews? As an example, let us take the famous Hatanya, fundamental book of the Habbad movement, one of the most important branches of Hassidism. According to this book, all non-Jews are totally satanic creatures ‘in whom there is absolutely nothing good’. Even a non-Jewish embryo is qualitatively different from a Jewish one. The very existence of a non-Jew is ‘inessential’, whereas all of creation was created solely for the sake of the Jews.”
    • “This book is circulated in countless editions, and its ideas are further propagated in the numerous ‘discourses’ of the present hereditary Feuhrer of Habbad, the so-called Lubavitcher rabbi, M.M. Schneurssohn, who leads this powerful world-wide organisation from his New York headquarters.”
    • “In Israel these ideas are widely disseminated among the public at large, in the schools and in the army. (According to the testimony of Shulamit Aloni, Member of the Knesset, this Habbad propaganda was particularly stepped up before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in March 1978, in order to induce military doctors and nurses to withhold medical help from ‘Gentile wounded’. This Nazi-like advice did not refer specifically to Arabs or Palestinians, but simply to ‘Gentiles’, goyim.)”
    • “A former Israeli President, Shazar, was an ardent adherent of Habbad, and many top Israeli and American politicians – headed by [one-time] Prime Minister Begin – publicly courted and supported it. This, in spite of the considerable unpopularity of the Lubavitcher rabbi – in Israel he is widely criticised because he refuses to come to the Holy Land even for a visit and keeps himself in New York for obscure messianic reasons, while in New York his anti-Black attitude is notorious.”
    • “The fact that, despite these pragmatic difficulties, Habbad can be publicly supported by so many top political figures owes much to the thoroughly disingenuous and misleading treatment by almost all scholars who have written about the Hassidic movement and its Habbad branch. This applies particularly to all who have written or are writing about it in English. They suppress the glaring evidence of the old Hassidic texts as well as all the latter-day political implications that follow from them, which stare in the face of even a casual reader of the Israeli Hebrew press, in whose pages the Lubavitcher rabbi and other Hassidic leaders constantly publish the most rabid bloodthirsty statements and exhortations against all Arabs.”
    • “A chief deceiver in this case, and a good example of the power of the deception, was Martin Buber. His numerous works eulogising the whole Hassidic movement (including Habbad) never so much as hint at the real doctrines of Hassidism concerning non-Jews. The crime of deception is all the greater in view of the fact that Buber’s eulogies of Hassidism were first published in Germany during the period of the rise of German nationalism and the accession of Nazism to power. But while ostensibly opposing Nazism, Buber glorified a movement holding and actually teaching doctrines about non-Jews not unlike the Nazi doctrines about Jews.”
    • “One could of course argue that the Hassidic Jews of seventy or fifty years ago were the victims, and a ‘white lie’ favouring a victim is excusable. But the consequences of deception are incalculable. Buber’s works were translated into Hebrew, were made a powerful element of the Hebrew education in Israel, have greatly increased the power of the bloodthirsty Hassidic leaders, and have thus been an important factor in the rise of Israeli chauvinism and hate of all non-Jews.”
    • “If we think about the many human beings who died of their wounds because Israeli army nurses, incited by Hassidic propaganda, refused to tend them, then a heavy onus for their blood lies on the head of Martin Buber.”
    • “I must mention here that in his adulation of Hassidism Buber far surpassed other Jewish scholars, particularly those writing in Hebrew (or, formerly, in Yiddish) or even in European languages but purely for a Jewish audience. In questions of internal Jewish interest, there had once been a great deal of justified criticism of the Hassidic movement. Their mysogynism (much more extreme than that common to all Jewish Orthodoxy), their indulgence in alcohol, their fanatical cult of their hereditary ‘holy rabbis’ who extorted money from them, the numerous superstitions peculiar to them – these and many other negative traits were critically commented upon. But Buber’s sentimental and deceitful romanticism has won the day, especially in the USA and Israel, because it was in tune with the totalitarian admiration of anything ‘genuinely Jewish’ and because certain ‘left’ Jewish circles in which Buber had a particularly great influence have adopted this position.”
  • “Nor was Buber alone in his attitude, although in my opinion he was by far the worst in the evil he propagated and the influence he has left behind him. There was the very influential sociologist and biblical scholar, Yehezkiel Kaufman, an advocate of genocide on the model of the Book of Joshua, the idealist philosopher Hugo Shmuel Bergman, who, as far back as 1914-15 advocated the expulsion of all Palestinians to Iraq, and many others. All were outwardly ‘dovish’, but employed formulas which could be manipulated in the most extreme anti-Arab sense, all had tendencies to that religious mysticism which encourages the propagation of deceptions, and all seemed to be gentle persons who, even when advocating expulsion, racism, and genocide, seemed incapable of hurting a fly – and just for this reason the effect of their deceptions was the greater.”

« Last Edit: November 27, 2014, 12:27:42 PM by John Tinmouth »