Thursday, April 02, 2015

Talmud Anti-Semitism Today

I've been working sedulously on an article, so I haven't had time to say a lot about this, but I want to take a moment to note what nasty pieces of work are Max Blumenthal and his sidekick Rania Khalek. Their "beat" now is reviving the notion that Jews are a special kind of racist, and that Jewish racism is derivative of Judaism itself.

There's an essay here. The bedrock of all anti-Semitism -- since the very origin in the ancient world of this "longest hatred" -- has been the idea that Jews are a misanthropic cult whose creed teaches them to regard non-Jews with abiding hatred. That, so the conspiracy theory goes, is why "international" Jewry enslaves and exploits the world -- because, in essence, they are the world's worst racists.

This theme has been rehearsed a good many times throughout history. Its modern source is the Talmud anti-Semitism of the 17th Century Christian Hebraist, Johann Eisenmenger. An Orientalist, Eisenmenger purported to expose the misanthropic teachings of the Talmud by cherry-picking scraps and publishing them as Entdecktes Judenthum, or Judaism Unmasked. These excerpts, shorn of context and cranked through a grinder of jaundiced interpretation, struck Gentiles as scary. Next was August Rohling, a German theologian and professional anti-Semite who rehashed Eisenmenger's work in Der Talmudjude, or The Talmud Jew, and retailed himself as an expert witness. In an adumbration of the Holocaust-denier David Irving's disgrace by the scholar Deborah Lipstadt, Rohling was eventually embarrassed on the stand, himself exposed as a fraud who -- unlike his muse, Eisenmenger -- was almost entirely ignorant of Judaism.

After the Nazis brought this grimy business to its apex, the efforts of "learned" anti-Semites to expose the dark side of Judaism paused; but strangely and sadly a Holocaust survivor, Israel Shahak, defibrillated the project in the Sixties... in Israel of all places. Shahak claimed to have witnessed an orthodox Jew refuse to allow anyone to use his phone -- it was the Sabbath -- to call paramedics to help a dying man. This triggered a lot of publicity and soul-searching among Israeli Jews and even elicited commentary by high-profile rabbis. The tale was debunked later, but the damage was done. Shahak became celebrated as a rationalist critic of Judaism; even the great Christopher Hitchens, eager always to insult religion, touted him. In the 90s Shahak made a lasting contribution to Talmud anti-Semitism -- his Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight Of Three Thousand Years. As with Eisenmenger's volume and along with The Protocols, Jewish History has become part of the modern anti-Semite's canon.

Max and Rania are the latest to run with this. I speculate that ultimately they've been inspired by Mondoweiss, which for some time has been dancing around the theme of misanthropic Judaism and its praxis in Israel and the occupied territories. They are also joined by cranks like Gilad Atzmon. Blumenthal's poorly titled Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel is his contribution to the canon. He's marginal and clearly sick, but as with Hitchens and Shahak, more worthy figures sometimes pick up and broadcast the ideas of such people. James Fallows, for example, has promoted Blumenthal's book.

Max and Rania spent today on Twitter resuscitating the old Soviet libel that Zionists collaborated with the Nazis. Zionists, so the conspiracy theory goes, are a special kind of racist, so extreme that they were kindred spirits of the Nazis who sought to destroy them and all Jews. This is the moral and intellectual hygiene of anti-Zionism. This is the latest reverberation of the longest hatred.