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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Ghetto Jew and Israel

Zionism was never limited to physically living in Israel. Jews have always lived in Israel. Nor is it limited to Jewish self-government. The ghetto was also a form of Jewish self-government in which Jews oppressed other Jews in order to avoid upsetting the powers outside the ghetto.

An Israeli ghetto whose court Jew leaders are always pleading for mercy from the world while beating their own people to appease the masters outside the borders of the ghetto is worthless.

It is worse than worthless. It is a perversion of what Israel was meant to be.

Zionism was the physical resettlement of the land and the spiritual transformation of the people. Neither is fully realizable without the other. A resettlement in which Jews retain the habits of their old condition only creates another ghetto and no meaningful internal transformation from dependence to independence is possible without a physical relocation to an independent nation.

But the Ghetto Jew has proven much more difficult to uproot from the psyche than all the stones and thorns of the land of Israel. The Ghetto Jew has been freed from the ghetto, but it still exists inside his head.

The abused wife eventually loses her identity and comes to see herself from her husband's perspective. In Stockholm Syndrome, the captive takes on the captor's point of view. 

The Ghetto Jew has internalized anti-Semitism. He has become his own oppressor. What little identity he has is tied up in fighting anti-Semitism in a futile and misdirected effort. The real anti-Semite isn't living in an ADL newsletter. He has taken up residence inside his own head.

When the Ghetto Jew looks at his own people, he sees a twisted tribe of grotesques. This is reflected in his literature, his plays, his jokes and his television shows. Goebbels couldn't possibly assemble a more disgusting collection of Jewish caricatures than Philip Roth, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Woody Allen and your average Jewish television executive or comedian.

This is not the Jewish view. It is the view of the thing living inside his head. The thing can't be fought by mailing a check to the ADL. It can't be driven out in a Holocaust museum. A far worse thing than the anti-Semitism of the non-Jew is the anti-Semitism of the Jew. It is easier for the anti-Semite to come to love than the Jews than it is for the Ghetto Jew to come to a healthy love of being Jewish.

What the Ghetto Jew thinks of as his identity is really a vacuum filled with historical experiences of oppression. The reaction to these experiences are his identity. He doesn't have a Jewish identity. What he carries with him inside his head is Hitler's view of Jews and Stalin's view of Jews and Obama's view of Jews. Some of these views terrify him. Others he struggles to appease.

The Ghetto Jew views Jews through a funhouse mirror that magnifies each flaw and offense. He is constantly seeing Jews as he imagines others see them and the sight makes him anxious. He battles the anti-Semite living in his head by rushing to apologize for things he never did and mounting overarching defenses against attacks that most others would shrug off.

Pride to him is this cycle of justification and apology. He rushes from one to the other. He hysterically defends against all sorts of accusations and then, when confronted with a Jew who has committed some crime, he wails, "What will they think" and hysterically denounces them and apologizes to the entire world.

This, "What will they think" defines him.

He has no thoughts of his own on the matter. He does not even wonder what other Jews think.

He is other-directed. He cares little what Jews think of Jews. What interests him is what everyone else thinks of Jews. He will enthusiastically fight for the causes of others, rather than for his own, to avoid any accusations of selfishness. He will generously build hospitals and engage in feats of philanthropy. In doing so he thinks that he is helping Jews, because to him the Jews can only be helped by changing how others see them. His Jews don't have a separate existence or identity.

For all his sophistication, erudition and education, he is an empty house with no one living inside.

To the Ghetto Jew, Jewish history is an extended trial, not by G-d, by the collective public opinion, which has cast Jews as the worst of the worst, a charge that can only be met by being the best of the best. Since no man and no nation can ever achieve this, it is a doomed project. In the eyes of the Ghetto Jew, the Jews can only be found innocent through their helplessness, and if given power, through a pure dedicated altruism bordering on sainthood. Israel complicates this will to martyrdom.

Israel said that victimhood is not the Jewish ideal. That there can be redemption without the innocence of helplessness. That we cannot truly help anyone until we help ourselves.

Most of all it claimed that Jews were not mere defendants in a trial lasting for thousands of years, that their mission in this world was not to constantly defend themselves against accusations by dedicating themselves to helping others, but that they were a nation and a people with their own history.

Jewish identity did not have to be a mirror of persecution. It was something unique and authentic.

Zionism was an attempt at a clean sweep. It sought to empty out the clutter of thousands of years of exile and replace it with simple sand and earth, with the clean lines of low buildings and water towers. It wanted a fresh start in an old land where the Jews had last been a free people.

It told the Jew that his models were kings and prophets, that he was the inheritor of David and Samson, of the warriors who fought to the last against Babylon and Rome. And an old people found their strength and fought wars against terrible odds. And this time they won.

They were no longer victims. There was no one living in their heads. They were free.

And it almost succeeded.

But the Ghetto Jew has brought things full circle again. He is endlessly obsessed with how the rest of the world sees Israel. He has reduced the reborn Jewish State to another ghetto, forever in peril and unable to escape from it, dependent on the goodwill of its masters outside the ghetto.

The survival of this large ghetto depends not on fighting those trying to kill Jews, but averting any misbehavior by Jews who might make the other residents of the ghetto look bad. To the Ghetto Jew, the greatest threat to Israel is not in Iran or in Gaza, it's that somewhere in Israel one lone Jew will do something or say something that will make make all the Jews look bad and lose the world's sympathy.

"What will they think," the leaders of the ghetto wail. 

And so the Ghetto Police are dispatched, not to fight the terrorists (this is a task they are increasingly forbidden from tackling lest they too lose the sympathy of the world), but to hunt down any Jews who might make Israel look bad.

None of this has anything to do with Israel or Zionism. It is the old twisted ritual of the Ghetto Jew who sees his own people through the eyes of those who hate them.

The Ghetto Jew is the Jew who has not found a Jewish identity. He has let his enemies define him. His efforts go to fight a losing battle because he has allowed the enemy inside his head. He has failed to build a positive Jewish identity. In its place he has a mass of congealed suffering, neurotic anxieties and fears for the future living inside his head.

Over time the Ghetto Jew gives birth to an even more twisted creature, the Jewish Anti-Semite.

The Ghetto Jew has turned his insecurities and lack of independent identity into an external perspective. He sees from the imagined perspective of the "Other" while still suffering as a Jew. He is both the anti-Semite who sneers and the Jew who is sneered at. He suffers a thousand deaths with these neurotic preoccupations over the great undying question of, "What will they think?"

The Jewish Anti-Semite, sometimes wrongly called a self-hating Jew, has completely externalized the Jew. He has become the anti-Semite and driven out the Jew. Now he attacks the external Jew with the relentless compulsiveness of a maniac. Actual Anti-Semites shake their heads at his deranged antics.

The Ghetto Jew wrestles with his projection of an anti-Semite and that projection's projection of the Jew. The Jewish Anti-Semite cuts to the chase by becoming the anti-Semite and attacking the Jew.

The Jewish Anti-Semite adopts the worst possible assumptions of the anti-Semite. The Ghetto Jew is caught between the Jew and the anti-Semite. The Jewish Anti-Semitic adopts the latter's perspective wholly. In the redemptive fires of rage, he attempts to destroy his Jewishness by attributing the worst possible behaviors and ideas to Jews. Sometimes he lives a perfectly happy malicious life of BDS and angry letters to the editor. In the more extreme cases, he destroys himself in some spectacular fashion.

This demented state is one path of liberation for the Ghetto Jew. The Ghetto Jew can either liberate himself of the anti-Semite or the Jew.

To liberate himself of the anti-Semite, all the Jew needs to do is become a Jew again. Instead of renting space in his head to Hitler and Obama and a thousand petty critics and tyrants, he needs to find a better class of tenant. He needs to stop seeing himself from the perspective of others, he must stop being other-directed and become self-directed. He must become a Jew.

Judaism and Zionism, in their proper applications, are better tenants than the neurotic anti-Semite whispering in the ear of the Ghetto Jew at night. They concern him with the task of building the spirit and the land, rather than quivering at every taunt and threat.

The Ghetto Jew can either become a Jew or a Jewish anti-Semite. Israel can either be a Jewish State or it can be a ghetto. It cannot and will not be both for long.

The Jew is proud of what he is. He is not defined by those who hate him or by pleasing others. He does not waste his time apologizing and justifying his existence to them and the voices in his head. He does not take on collective responsibility for the crimes or virtues of his people.


The Ghetto Jew instinctively sets up a ghetto. His defining organizations are communal institutions whose top leadership plead on behalf of the community to the rulers of the land. These are not democratic institutions. They dispose of some for the supposed good of the many. This was the way of the Jews of Poland who died at Cossack hands rather than risk the wrath of both Poles and Ukrainians by defending themselves, of the Kahal which rounded up children for the Czars or the Judenraats which collaborated with the Nazis in the hope that some might be spared.

This was not what Israel was meant to be. The guard towers of this land were never meant to face inward. When they do, it is not a free land, but another ghetto.

A free Israel requires free Jews. It is easier to conquer a city, as the Sages said, than to control the self. It is easier to transform land, than to transform the mind. It is easier to free land than to free Jews.

The process of liberation was not complete in 1948 or 1967. It may never be complete. But without it, there is no hope. As the land is renewed, so the people must be renewed. Renewal need not be a struggle. It is not all a matter of lifting rocks. It is more a matter of placing fresh earth over old earth. Of placing a living Jewish identity over the empty ghetto with the Ghetto Jew just outside its gates.

The Ghetto Jew does not have to be an abused woman forever waiting for her husband to come through the door. He does not have to be a saint or a victim. He does not have to live life from the perspective of the 'other'. He does not have to constantly worry, "What will they think?"

He must become again what he once was, before the lost wars, before slavery, before suffering went so deep into his bones that it became his identity until he could not envision being a Jew without being a victim.

The Ghetto Jew lacks his own identity. His identity is a scarecrow, a thing of scattered bits and pieces, fears and neurosis, a twisted version of a human being as seen from a twisted perspective. His redemption will come when he inhabits his own body as much as he inhabits the land, when he ceases to care what they will think and starts to think for himself, when he stops worrying how others see the Jews and fully comes into his own inheritance as a Jew.

31 comments:

112 said...

If Kahane was able to say what everyone was thinking, then you're the first since with that and the ability to also explain it.

If you ever start a Jewish group, ill donate.

What do you think of masada2000 posting lists of Jewish anti-semites, and getting taken down over it?

overcaffeinated said...

Remember, Jews, no one cares about you. You are alone and isolated on a small strip of land, surrounded by people who want to kill you. Appease them all you want, but they're never going to be your friends. In fact, appeasement makes you look weak and increases their hatred of you. Chum in the water, nothing more. Is this cold cynicism? No, your enemies are the cold cynics; I am merely calling your attention to that fact.

Ron Barak said...

Erratum:

It is easier for the anti-Semite to come to love [than] the Jews than it is

lpa said...

Perhaps conservatives should dump the term RINO in favor of Ghetto Republican.

fsy said...

Not that this doesn't correctly describe the deep neurosis of many self-hating Jews, but we can't forget that according to genuine Jewish doctrine, we are in exile by a decree from God and only true repentance (which we are very far from achieving) will end that state.

gizmo54 said...

I think George Soros was a Ghetto Jew, wasn't he?
Pardon...George Soros was, and still is a Ghetto Jew.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Another home run by the incomparable Daniel Greenfield. Very apt with the high holidays coming up. Enough is enough. No more apologies.

SabaShimon said...

Daniel, although you have written many deeply meaningful and relevant pieces here, this in my view is your most important to date. One need only read the headlines in our Israeli newspapers to see your words in action.
I don't know what terrible moment will precipitate it, but at some point to survive, we must again become a proud JEWISH nation, or surely our third rendition of sovereignty will turn into dusty fodder for future history books, and I doubt we will get another chance.

Anonymous said...

We need to reconsider the idea of the Ghetto Jews. Yes there were and are such creatures but the Christians with free nations and greater resources cower before Islam in the same way and the Ghetto Jew marches proudly in their distorted ranks. In many cases the Ghetto Jew has adopted the worst of Europe and intends to die defending it. He is not a conflicted Jew. He is a partisan and he creates in the younger generation the open hater he was himself afraid to be. We have found the Ghetto Jew was not created by history but by the evil within humans. They must be understood as that and held to account.

Anonymous said...

In his old age Israel's greatest monarch King David recalled a song of his youth. Psalm 18 is found nearly verbatim in 2nd Samuel chapter 22.

Verse 23 of Psalm 18, David says of himself: "I was also upright before the LORD and I kept myself from mine iniquity."

No person on earth today is without iniquity. We all fall short of perfection. We each must face our iniquity and turn from it or suffer the doom of its consequences. King David spent a lifetime facing his iniquity and keeping himself from falling into a sad life of remorse, regret and guilt-ridden self-pity.

When I read those words of old King David a few days ago, I focused on how David says he kept himself from his iniquity. And in that instant the LORD caused me to remember one particularly fatal act of King David's youthful iniquity; how David had with lustful design plotted the murder of Bathsheba's husband Uriah; thinking that if Bathsheba's husband were dead, then the great King David himself could not possibly be accused of committing adultery.

In his lust for carnal knowledge of Bathsheba, King David conceived a lie and was deceived by that lie into believing that G-d our Father did not see.

The lie that David conceived and the murder and the adultery King David committed resulted in David's kingdom being taken from his descendants. Israel was divided and scattered. 2nd Samuel Chapter 12 fairly well describes the history of the kingdom of Israel & the kingdom of Judah down to this very day: the 10 northern tribes are even now scattered across the world; unknown even to themselves and considered by most to be the stuff of myth; and, as Nathan the prophet swore to King David, the sword has never departed from Judah. Since the day David's iniquity was discovered the tribe of Judah has suffered; trouble, war, death, and more trouble. No one on this side of heaven can know what might have happened had King David not conceived of a lie and of that lie begotten murder and adultery.

CON'TUD>>>>

Anonymous said...

CON'TUD >>>>

No doubt in his old age King David was sorely tempted to feel sorry for himself and for the people of his kingdom. G-d spared David the anguish of seeing the destruction of Israel. But in moments of reflection David knew with absolute certainty what his iniquity had caused. We today are witness to the sentence G-d passed on David's acts of murder & adultery.

And yet in spite of his miserable iniquity and all of the trouble that David's iniquity has caused; in spite of David's youthful and lustful self-indulgence--even to the point of cold-blooded murder and naked adultery--King David is also remembered by G-d Himself as "a man after my own heart."

The 18th Psalm of David, especially verse 23 has given me great comfort since the LORD G-d my Father allowed me to remember the monstrous acts of King David and to see my own such acts for exactly what they are: worthy only of death. G-d by His Holy Spirit has shown me the error of my ways.

When Nathan the prophet revealed to David that his acts of murder & adultery had been found out, David knew that a death-sentence was required. For His own sake and for our instruction G-d set aside the sentence of immediate death that David, by Law should have suffered.

God allowed David to live for many long years afterward. During those years King David must have spent some part of each day in painful reflection upon the certainty of what would befall his great, peaceful & united kingdom.

After David's son King Solomon died, the Tribes of Israel rebelled and broke away from the Throne of Israel. G-d Himself enforced His sentence on David's iniquity…an iniquity from which King David turned again & again for the rest of his life.

David knew that he'd brought anguish & trouble down on all the Tribes of Israel. David also had faith strong enough to never doubt that G-d would make it all right in the end. His unshakable faith in the justice & mercy of G-d makes King David a man after G-d's own heart.

The tumult of the earth must center on Jerusalem because it is ordained of G-d. The mindset of the Ghetto Jew so eloquently described here by Mr. Greenfield is not the cause of this tumult but rather a symptom of the larger issue at hand—reunification of the Kingdom of Judah with the northern Kingdom of Israel. May the faith and fervent prayers of all G-d's people hasten the day. Godspeed Israel!

Y. Ben-David said...

Yet another piece bringing forth the TRUTH!
It is important to keep in mind that, although as Daniel stated, that Zionism was supposed to free the Jew and to teach him how to defend his people. the political Establishment in Israel was founded in the 1920's by Socialist Labor Zionists who always had an ambivalent attitude towards Jewish sovereignity and strength. For a while,they succeeded in turning out former fighters like Moshe Dayan and Ariel Sharon, who while they were young did act as "tough, free Jews" but all the contradictions and corruption inherent in Socialism ate away at character of these men and their movement, having them turn against the values they had once fought for. Even though the Labor Party has lost most of the elections held since 1977, their values still permeate the Israeli body politic and the now-ruling Israeli Right in the form of the Likud has been afraid to introduce the true Jewish values Daniel described . A good example is current President Ruby Rivlin who came out of the political Right and who was elected to the Presidency by the political Right and yet who can't bend over backwards far enough to bad mouth Israel society and to grovel to Obama. That is why the biggest capitulations and surrenders have been carried out by the Likud...the destruction of the Sinai and later the Gaza/Gush Katif settlements, that latter of which has proven to be a disaster.
It should be noted, however, that slowly but steadily, a significant group of people who come out of the Religious Zionist movement who have rejected the old Socialist verities of Labor Zionism and who are unapologetic about their truly Jewish values and moving into important positions (e.g. Naftali Bennett and Tzippi Hotobeli). It will take time for the old, decayed Labor Zionist Establishment to be phased out, but things are moving in the right direction. There is no need for pessimism.

Anne Lawrence said...

Brilliant, insightful essay, again illuminating. Thank you very much again.

112 said...

Since Masada2000's list of traitors to the Jewish people went down, there's another site dedicated to exposing them and all the wannabe nazis http://www.canarymission.org/

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous above who is either not Jewish or a Jew ignorant of Torah. This anon calls King David (beloved of G-D) a murderer and an adulterer. For his relationship with BatSheva, David was forgiven by G-D and the offspring (the one born later after this affair) was the offspring of both David and Batsheva. The kingdom of David was not split because of David's sins which were all forgiven by the Almighty Himself. A descendant of Joseph, Yeravan Ben N'vat, was the cause of the splitup of the kingdom and because of King Solomon's unwise decision which did not find favor in the 'eyes' (so to speak) of Hashem, of bringing in foreign women and allowing their worship of idolatries was the cause. The northern tribes for their constant sinning (each king of Israel) were lost to the Jewish people, whereas in Judah, one was righteous and another wicked throughout. The Jews were exiled for their sins as was prophecied and their eventual return and redemption are all promised to the children of Israel (the Jewish people) by the Creator.. This is the true Judaism!

of Hashem

Anonymous said...

To the commenter who demonizes the illustrious King David, the beloved of the Almighty, and the son of Jesse (who had no sins) - where did you get your false and inflammatory information? The world was created for King David who is the ancestor of Moshiach (whose soul was created before the world was even created). David is one of the seven shepherds of Israel, whose descendant will one day rule the world, as G-D's servant (emissary). The kings of the northern kingdom that separated themselves from their bretheren were totally wicked; thus eventually lost to the Jewish people! mendel

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Just to be clear here, I'm not looking for this to spin off into theological debates. Can we please stick to the topic.

Naomi Litivn said...

Eloquently stated Daniel. In love with your words. My dear mother (z"l), Auschwitz survivor frequently told me, "The worst Jew haters are Jews."

Just a common 'tater said...

Unfortunately, this same phenomenon appears to be infecting western civilization in general. Western Europe and the US cannot seem to embrace our ideological, philosophical, and theological adversaries fast enough. It is one thing to realize we did wrong, apologize, and attempt to address the problems in both word and deeds. It is something entirely different to assist those that seek to destroy us.

I certainly am not a scholar on the subject, but I have read what occurred in the European Jewish communities in WWII. On the surface, it makes some kind of sense that some would cooperate with the Nazis merely as a matter of survival and hope that cooperating would buy a person some time. But those days are gone.

The syndrome that we in the West are seeing, and that the Jewish community is seeing seems to defy logic and even the drive for survival. The facts and history are there for all to see. Assisting the adversaries and empowering them when they are weak and can be defeated makes no sense.

Does this fall into the category of progressivism and liberalism are a form of a delusional illness? These anti-Semite Semites, and anti-US Americans all seem to suffer from the same delusions that compel them to assist in their own demise. Unfortunately, they are dragging the rest of us down the sewer line as well.

Thank you for clarifying and explaining the issues.

Anonymous said...

I'm nit picking and here are a few nits I've picked.

1. I was kind of looking for more specifics, e.g. "beating their own people" - are you talking about The Temple Mount?

2. An alternate prism to the psychoanalysis of the ghetto Jew may be that some Jews (for whatever reasons) consider their politics more important than their ethnicity.

3. Identity is always about difference between self and other, so it may not be realistic to wish for an identity based only on inhabiting the self.

4. How do you dissect out pride in Jewish accomplishment from the Jewish soul?

5. For me this was more of an inspirational sermon than the previous brilliantly argued article on global warming, but I'm sure others will disagree.

All of it fine work by a great Jewish mind.

mindRider said...

Daniel, even this great post on the background of our ghetto/Israel behaviour and values of us Jews shall inevitably spin off into a theological debate as Tora and it's 10 words are and should be the standard of all our thought on how we interact with us and the other. 40 years of wandering and the death of the slave generation where needed to wash slavery out of our system so only G'd knows how long it shall take to wash the Ghetto-Jew out of us.

fsy said...


Just to be clear here, I'm not looking for this to spin off into theological debates. Can we please stick to the topic.


Agreed about the debate over King David (which flows from the question of Jewish tradition vs. a simple reading of the Bible). Unfortunately, the article directly confronts religious philosophy. Are Jews a "nation like all others" or something unique, God's chosen people with a mission of universal scope? If the first, our problem may be solved with more self-confidence and 'pride' (or maybe with assimilation, for that matter.) If it is the second, the Ghetto mentality is only the outward manifestation of something much deeper.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

This column is another ground-breaker. When you speak about the Ghetto Jew, you are mainly talking about secular Jews who have rejected their identity. Isn't it also true, though, that many of the very religious communities have a ghetto mentality? I live in one for the first time in my life and their is a pervasive harshness that I have not seen in the Modern Orthodox or Chabad outreach communities. I'm a baal teshuva and I grew up among secular Jews and have been involved in various orthodox communities since coming back to Judaism. Thanks again for this amazing column. There are no other writers that have the guts to write something like this.

- Halevi

Anonymous said...

Daniel:

Very illuminating article. Do you think the Ghetto mentality is a result of the tragedy of WWII, or do its roots go back even further?

RAM said...

Our healthy alternative to the Stockholm syndrome (identification with and at least mental surrender to the oppressor holding us hostage in the world) is not secular-nationalistic chest-thumping. Rather, it lies in understanding ourselves as the loyal subjects of the Almighty and as His chosen ambassadors to the world at large. As followers of the True King, we know that the corrupt, stupid, murderous earthly kings, our oppressors, will get theirs sooner or later. Meanwhile, we defend ourselves as needed, but without losing sight of our special mission and goal. We're ultimately on the right side, the winning side, and need not concede anything to false ideologies around and about us.

Anonymous said...

100%, but how to understand halachos regarding kings? we need gedolim to locate the right path. yet rav ovadia apologized to the "settlers" in emanuel...the day before elections, thus not only posseling his message, but his authority as a torah leader (if it wasn't already due to his loshon). but we need powerful, deep direction here...it's the missing key to the unlocking of this mentality.

Mithras said...

Absolutely – we must overcome this "Ghetto Jew" mentality, this sniveling obsession with the regard of others and apology and justification.

As a great writer once wrote:

"For today the petty people have become lord and master: they all preach submission and acquiescence and prudence and diligence and consideration and the long et cetera of petty virtues. What is womanish, what stems from slavishness and especially from the mob hotchpotch: that now wants to become master of mankind’s entire destiny – oh disgust! disgust! disgust! That questions and questions and never tires: ‘How may man preserve himself best, longest, most agreeably?’

With that – they are the masters of the present. Overcome for me these masters of the present, O my brothers – these petty people: they are the Superman’s greatest danger! Overcome, you Higher Men, the petty virtues, the petty prudences, the sand-grain discretion, the ant-swarm inanity, miserable ease, the ‘happiness of the greatest number’! And rather despair than submit. And truly, I love you because you do not know how to live today, you Higher Men! For thus do you – live best!"

Nietzsche, Friedrich (1974-02-28). Thus Spoke Zarathustra (p. 298).

Anne Lawrence said...

Brilliant! :)

Hans Moleman said...

A common thread of modern leftist anti-Israel antisemitism is the claim that Israel has only itself to blame for Jew-hatred. If only they had been “nicer” to the Arab armies and terrorists committed to their annihilation! A preposterous but familiar excuse for leftist racism.

But in another sense, antisemitism does indeed have roots in Jewish history. For Israel, in addition to discovering monotheism and the concept of a meaningful history, also invented self-criticism. The first references to Jews as a stiff-necked, materialistic, ungrateful people may be found in the words of the prophets of ancient Israel, quoted in the Jewish (and Christian) bible.

In a PBS series on Jewish history, host Simon Schama (a respected historian) cited as proof of St. Paul’s anti-semitism his claim that the Jews had often slain their own prophets. Schama seemed unaware that Paul was quoting Jesus, and Jesus was quoting the Prophets Nehemiah and Elijah, criticizing Hebrew ingratitude:


“They were disobedient and rebelled against Thee, and cast thy laws behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.” (Nehemiah 9:26)

“They children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword.” (1 Kings 19:10, quoting Elijah)

The prophets lambasted their own people in order to turn them to repentance. When Christian antisemites began seeking excuses to hate this strange “other” people, they found plenty of ammunition in their shared holy books.

In a similar vein, Protestants criticized the Catholic Church in order to purify and save it. The Enlightenment took the Protestant critique and used it to overthrow all of Christianity.

And it may be noted that some Jewish critics of the state of Israel, both on the left and right, find themselves perilously close to this danger point. Their well-intended (in some cases) criticisms of Israeli government policy are immediately embraced by those who openly seek the annihilation of the Jewish state. They are touted as especially valid because they come from the Jews themselves!

Conclusion: Honest self-criticism (or acceptance of the criticism of others) is a risky business. It will invariably empower one’s enemies, so it must be approached in the most serious spirit and with only the highest purpose, as was the case with the Prophets. And one must always consider the likelihood of intentional misuse of one’s words.

inq said...

Question, Daniel do you think a Jew who converted to Islam can do teshuvah?

Daniel Greenfield said...

it's possible to do tesuvah for worshiping idols, so yes

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