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French Lessons

The saga that captured headlines around the world last week came to an end when Mohamed Merah—who had murdered four people, including three children, at the Ozer Hatorah Jewish school in Toulouse, France—was shot dead by French police.  Before his death, Merah told police negotiators that he was a member of al-Qaeda.  He was on a French government watch list and an American no-fly list, and he allegedly spent time in NATO custody in Afghanistan.

Relevant Links
Red Flag  Gerald Warner, While the left steadfastly clings to the doctrine that high immigration can never lead to social problems, it has lost its stranglehold over public debate.
Vive la Jihad!  Michel Gurfinkiel, PJMedia. Increasingly frequent anti-Semitic violence, a growing wave of anti-Zionism, and the legal threat to ritual slaughter have left the French Jewish community vulnerable on several fronts.
French Muslims Training with the Taliban  Gerald Warner, Associated Press. Pakistani intelligence officials are trying to determine whether the Toulouse shooter was among the dozens of French Muslims who have trained with the Taliban.

Nevertheless, the fact that the murderer turned out to be a violent Islamist came as a surprise to most of the media. 

Just after the Jewish school was attacked, the police confirmed that the same killer had murdered three French soldiers the previous week, two of them of North African origin and the third black.  The press adopted the working assumption that the killer must be a right-wing white supremacist.  That hypothesis informed an "exclusive" story on the website of the weekly magazine Le Point, which revealed that French police were looking for three men who had served in the same regiment as two of the murdered soldiers but were dismissed from the French army in 2008 for having neo-Nazi sympathies. 

One might have wondered why these men should have waited for four years after their dismissal to go on their killing spree, but Le Point did not wonder.  The police were "persuaded," the magazine said, "that the culprit is a soldier, whether or not currently on active duty," because of "his modus operandi, the way that he gets around, and the way he handles his gun—namely his ability to aim and fire from 10 meters away."  And Le Point offered its own somewhat counterintuitive argument to support this hypothesis: "The fact that his weapon jammed could also corroborate the fact that he was a former soldier."

Other media outlets were eager to pick up the story.  The left-wing daily Libération ran this headline: "The Killer on the Scooter: Former Soldier, Lunatic, Neo-Nazi?"  Across the Channel, the BBC's Hugh Schofield offered an even more expansive analysis.  Under the subhead "Deranged Far-Rightwinger," Schofield summarized the prevailing theory: "The killer has a clear affinity with guns.  Could he be a neo-Nazi type—maybe an ex-soldier or a member of the criminal underworld—with a hatred of all minorities, Jews and Muslims?"  Schofield did note a problem with his theory: There was no evidence that the murdered soldiers were targeted because they were black or Muslim.  But, Schofield assured readers, the absence of any evidence of such a motive was not fatal to the hypothesis: "This does not rule out that he is a far-Right fanatic, of course.  He may also have a grudge against the armed forces."

True, not all the media were so convinced.  The French right-wing daily Le Figaro produced a report headlined, "Killings: Islamist and far-Right leads."  Le Figaro also compiled a list of attacks on Jews in France over the previous 30 years, which testifies to a wider Islamist threat to Jews. The list includes several attacks on Jewish schools in areas with large Muslim populations since the millennium. Arson attacks damaged a Jewish school in Marseille in 2009 and two schools in the Paris suburb of Gagny in 2003 and 2006.  A week before the Toulouse shootings, a gang of Arab and North African youths assaulted two Jewish high school students as they left a sports field on the edge of Paris.  In 2002, a group armed with iron bars and wearing Palestinian scarves to mask their faces attacked 14 adolescent Jewish soccer players on the playing field.  In Toulouse in 2009, a car was driven into the gates of a synagogue and set alight with a Molotov cocktail; the police treated the incident as a response to the war in Gaza. Absent from Le Figaro's list was the most notorious anti-Semitic attack of the previous decade: the murder of the young Jewish man Ilan Halimi in 2006.  Halimi had accompanied a North African girl back to her apartment after what he thought was a date.  There, a group of Muslim-African immigrants known as the "Barbarians" tortured him for several days before leaving him to die, naked and bleeding profusely, near a railway line.

In this sequence of chillingly frequent attacks, the neo-Nazi theme is conspicuously absent.

The radical Islamist threat in France is not limited to the Jewish community.  In November, 2011, the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo were destroyed in a firebombing after it announced that the Prophet Mohammed would be editor-in-chief of its forthcoming issue.  Ten people were injured when the Indonesian Embassy in Paris was bombed in 2004, most likely by a branch of al-Qaeda.  Another bomb exploded outside the embassy last week.  Indonesian officials insisted that this time, their embassy was not the target, but there is suspicion that the same group was responsible for both attacks.   

None of this history was enough to exculpate the French Right in the eyes of the left-wing press.  Before the murderer was identified, both Marine Le Pen, leader of the National Front, and President Nicolas Sarkozy were blamed for encouraging attacks on minorities with anti-immigrant rhetoric.  Indeed, even the identification of Merah as the culprit has not changed the theme: Now the Right is blamed for inflaming tensions and creating resentment among minorities. 

The fact remains, however, that French Jews do not lie awake at night worrying about whether they will be gunned down by President Sarkozy. Parisian Jews do not cover their yarmulkes with caps on their way to synagogue because they are afraid of being beaten to a pulp by white Frenchmen, after Marine Le Pen has given a speech appealing to the "français de souche," or true native French.  This is not Vichy France; the threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away.

Simon Gordon is a Tikvah Fellow at Jewish Ideas Daily.

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Allan Nadler on March 28, 2012 at 7:55 am (Reply)
Good, strong piece, but it would have been even stronger had it noted the reaction of Europe's leading "enlightened" Muslim "philosopher" (in reality, an apologist for the Salafists in academic-robe/sheep's clothing) Tariq Ramadan--who, in a piece first published in French on his webpage and then in a half dozen languages on countless sites, insists that Mohammed Merah's crimes had nothing to do with Islam, or Islamist ideology; that he did "not distinguish" among Jews, Christians and Muslims; that the blame for the killings should be placed on French secularism, not Islamism; that "poor" Mohammed was alienated by French social policies like "millions" of others. In other words, the real killer is Sarkozy. The piece is disgusting, especially in its lack of compassion for the victims; but it is also important, as Ramadan is hugely influential and adored by the academic left throughout the world. Here is a link to his piece, as it appeared on ABC's Religion webpage:
F. Lawrence Caplan on March 28, 2012 at 10:43 am (Reply)
Presumably the "Allan Nadler" commenting is not the
distinguished academic, who would know better than to rehearse Pamela Geller-Daniel Pipes rhetoric.
Ian Thal on March 28, 2012 at 11:00 am (Reply)
To be fair, it would have been malfeasance for the police not to consider both Islamist radicals and neo-Nazis as suspects during the initial stages of the investigation. The murders were too terrible to not leave any stone unturned when pursuing the killer.
Stan Nadel on March 28, 2012 at 3:19 pm (Reply)
When someone shoots a back soldier and a couple of North African Mualim soldiers, it is only reasonable to suspect that the shooter is some sort of right wing racist. Check out the neo-Nazi websites and you'll see why. We just had a case of neo-Nazis in Germany killing a number of immigrants over several years while the police there failed to figure out what was happening. So, of course the French press thought something similar was underway in France. It is dirty politics to suggest sinister motives here.
YANKEE on March 28, 2012 at 3:39 pm (Reply)
Excellent article. It seems the Keystone Kops of France initially had Ian Thal investigating the case. Even in New York, where we should know better, Mayor Bloomberg actually suggested thta a Tea-Partier may have been responsible for the Times Square bombing plot. To the surprise of no one, the would-be terrorist belonged to the Religion of Peace.
Ellen on March 28, 2012 at 4:17 pm (Reply)
Sorry, when the main targets of the shootings are Jewish children and a rabbi, the most likely perpetrators in contemporary Europe would be Muslims. That has been the historical pattern for 30 years. The attempt by European media to blame this crime on right-wingers and neo-Nazis is part and parcel of the demented mentality of political correctness that now prevails among those pleased to call themselves the liberal elite of Europe. This mentality requires journalists never to mention, except under extreme duress, that most anti-Semitic acts in Europe today are carried out by Muslims with the rhetorical enabling and encouragement of the continent's "liberal" intelligentsia, who always find a way to rationalize Jew-hatred. Now that Europe is producing less and less economic output, that may be their last growth industry. Sad and sick.
Professor & "distinguished academic" Allan Nadler on March 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm (Reply)
Indeed it is I. And I am proud to be associated with "the distinguished academic" Daniel Pipes !
Allan Nadler on March 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm (Reply)
For more of my thoughts on Tariq Ramadan's long history of covering up Islamic anti-Semitism, see here:
YANKEE on March 28, 2012 at 5:45 pm (Reply)
Ian Thal, sorry for aiming my anger at you--an unfortunate problem of surfing the web while at work. It was meant for F. Lawrence Caplan's response to this good article.
Ian Thal on March 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm (Reply)
Perhaps it would be better not to type in the heat of anger. I was somewhat surprised by your response, Yankee.
Ben Tzur on March 29, 2012 at 4:09 am (Reply)
The article is spot-on. As for Tariq Ramadan, he is unmasked even on the left, surely, by this too-blatant apologia for anti-Semitic Islamist terrorism. He even claimed that Merah was a "soft-hearted" but mixed-up kid! Hypocrisy in neon lights. But on second thought, the liberal and far left has already passed into ideologically intoxicated nescience and is unable to distinguish truth from falsehood, murder from peace, or victim from perpetrator; so, we can expect that Ramadan will continue to be lionized by The Guardian, the New York Times, Le Monde and Le Monde Diplomatique, the Fairfax press in Australia, etc. The phenomenon has already been dissected by Bernard Harrison in The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion (2006) (concerning the British left-liberal "elite") and by Robin Shepherd, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel (2009). Harrison gives an excellent analysis of the way left-liberal "elite" opinion has created a "climate of opinion" that is blind even to rabid and explicit anti-Semitism. He, and Shepherd even more, stress that this is a deeply symptomatic issue, signaling a crisis in Western civilizational self-confidence that bodes very ill for the European future.
steven on March 29, 2012 at 10:07 am (Reply)
Pipes is a documented Islamophobe. He is not an academic but a think-tank propagandist. Pipes on matters Islamic is like Pat Buchanan on matters Judaic. Professor Nadler, please stick to your expertise in Jewish studies.
Allan Nadler on March 29, 2012 at 11:39 am (Reply)
A "documented Islamophobe" ? How can one be documented as something which has no meaning, which is in itself a sloppy calumny used against all Zionists ? Ridiculous ! Pipes is a scholar with strong opinions, and a fine scholar at that.
SW on March 29, 2012 at 1:19 pm (Reply)
What has been proven is that a Muslim killed Jewish children. Some have used the expression Islamo-fascism as an antidote to the accusation of Islamo-phobia, and I ascribe to this notion. But more important is that the term Neo-Nazi refers to a socialist movement in Germany. As the decades pass, as does the awareness that National Socialism was politically Left, the argument for "right extremism" withers slowly. Given the austerity from government debt beginning to wash over more and more European nations and American cities and states, the idea that the "right" has anything to do with socialism is a laugh, pure and simple. Those who advocate strong support for individualism as opposed to strong support for collectivism are not easily equated with neo-Nazis or Islamo-fascism. But those who have long supported powerful government have much to do with aggression against individuals. Islam seems in the throes of its reformation time, wherein it can either adjust to a modern, plural world with "live and let live" or pick repeated fights with such a world in favor of its "do as I say or else" political ideology. What is true is that National Socialism has been the model for a number of Muslim political movements; this is easily documented. Crying Islamophobia while Jewish children are being murdered is most assuredly not "Jewish" and does not belong in a discussion among Jews.
D.S. Goitein on March 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm (Reply)
If "Islamophobe" has no meaning, then neither does "Francophobe" or "Judaeophobe." A "calumny used against all Zionists?" Baloney! Is Shimon Peres a Zionist? He has never been accused of being an Islamophobe. "Scholar" Pipes warmly reviewed (in Commentary magazine) Joan Peters' silly From Time Immemorial, as stupid, deceitful, and amateurish a book as ever written on anti-Semitism. So much for his intellectual credentials.
Ian Thal on March 29, 2012 at 5:18 pm (Reply)
Is it possible to respond to an article about how the Toulouse murders were spun for partisan purposes without spinning it for partisan purposes? Despite the word "sozialistische" in the name of the NSDAP, the party had demonstrably little interest in advancing anything recognizable as a socialist agenda--in fact, they were violently opposed to both the Social Democrats and the Communists. The main concerns of the NSDAP were racial, cultural, and national purity and asserting what they regarded as traditional values and institutions (church, family, industry, the military). When the Nazis described themselves "sozialistische," it had more to do with populism and community (in the national or racial sense) then with any economic theory.
Ben Tzur on March 29, 2012 at 5:55 pm (Reply)
Now "D.S.Goitein," slandering another highly respected scholar, who extends defamation beyond Pipes to Peters and, no doubt, all scholars, Jewish and non-Jewish, who dare to support Zionism and show that Palestinian claims are largely based on myth. "D.S. Goitein" is really channeling Norman Finkelstein, a truly discredited "scholar," whose attempts at refuting Peters were demolished by Erich Isaac and Rael Jean Isaac in "Whose Palestine?" Commentary Magazine, July 1986 and in the "Letters" column of the October 1986 issue. The Isaacs prove that Peters was correct in all her main points and based herself on solid scholarly authorities; but, they granted, she was occasionally sloppy in her citations, massive and admirable though her work was, even ignoring sometimes important evidence for her own case. However, no one had covered such a wide field of research on this matter before her book; and it remains very impressive. It is "Goitein" who is "stupid, deceitful and amateurish:" Pipes took the same view as the Isaacs in refuting the allegations against Peters by Yehoshua Porath in the New York Review of Books (March 27, 1986). Pipes correctly wrote concerning Peters' book that none of its critics have refuted its key points, proving (from historical sources of the 19th and earlier centuries, British censuses in the 20s and especially the 30s, other British Mandate archival documents, Israeli anthropological studies, and geographical surveys of Israeli Arab villages in the 70s) that a considerable percentage of "Palestinians," from time immemorial," emigrated into Ottoman and British Mandate Palestine. She cites the British census of 1931, reporting that over 20 different native tongues (e.g., Kurdish, Malaysian, Turkish, Berber, etc.) were spoken by "Palestinians" in the Jerusalem district alone. Philip Hauser, the leading demographer of that generation, estimated the number of immigrants between 1887 and 1947 to be around 168,000 (see his Appendix VI to Peters' book), so that their descendants comprised a very high percentage of "Palestinians." The critics, angry at Peters' devastating case, could only fasten on side details and sometimes sloppy citations (among the more-than-a-thousand, to authoritative sources). Her work has been independently confirmed by other researchers, such as Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession (1982), Samuel Gottheil, "The Smoking Gun" Middle East Quarterly (2003), and Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed and other works. Avneri, in particular, shows that throughout the 19th century, both Ottoman Turks and Egyptians, when they ruled the area, forcibly settled it with whole villages and tribes to repopulate the ever-declining Muslim population. Peters also documented that, but Avneri confirms it at length and in detail. The scholarship of Peters' book has been confirmed in all basic details.
Ben Tzur on March 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm (Reply)
The NSDAP, the National Socialist Workers Party of Germany, was very socialist in its policies, nationalising the unions (as did the Communists), regularising wages, etc. Almost all of the political parties that arose after 1879 on an anti-Semitic basis were socialist in political ideology, whether "Christian socialist," "National socialist," or simply socialist-communist. All of these are state collectivist ideologies that have no room for differences, prominently including and even singling out Jewish difference as embodying the real challenge to their collectivism. On the history of the left and anti-Semitism, and the Nazi portion of this history, see Nick Cohen, "How the Left turned against the Jews," On the way in which liberal leftists, too, have gravitated to or are oblivious to the anti-Semitism taking refuge and being promulgated under their protecting umbrella, see Bernard Harrison, The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism: Jews, Israel, and Liberal Opinion (2005).
Gideon on March 29, 2012 at 9:35 pm (Reply)
"Ozer hatorah"? It's Otzar Hatorah.
SW on March 30, 2012 at 2:45 am (Reply)
Thal wrote that the NSDAP had "demonstrably little interest in advancing anything recognizable as a socialist agenda--in fact, they were violently opposed to both the Social Democrats and the Communists." In fact, the various socialist forms of "economic theory" have always collided with one another over issues of power. National Socialists fought with German Communists but, at first, made a pact with Soviet Communists. Hitler's words were, "Als nationale Sozialisten sehen wir in unserer Flagge unser Programm" (Chapter 7, Mein Kampf). It is in the interest of other socialists to place National Socialism among some other pole of politics, because in this manner they may hide their own intentions. However, socialism is not an economic theory, though it pretends to be. This is why, when tried over the last century and more, it has failed economically. Today socialists rage against advocates of freedom and "live and let live" because they stand in the way, as always, of socialists wishing to climb the summits of political power. After National Socialism, Soviet Socialism, Sino-Socialism, and the Khmer Rouge, where is an example of socialism succeeding where other forms have brought human and economic devastation? The article speaks of the initial reports about Toulouse as partisan because they were. I am in Germany. The press here ain Europe hoped that "Rechtsextremismus" was the cause, while it turns out Islamo-fascism was--again. I was in France during the discovery of Ilam Halimi's torture and murder, and the greatest "partisan" press came from the Left's perspective, as they had hoped to blame other than the proven perpetrators. This is a political tactic, and it may also be found in the text from which the above quote came. Auf Deustch, au français, in English, more sources answer "partisan" attempts to sully basic definitions and grammar. Socialism's great problem is its multiple failures, each explained away as not "correct" socialism -- by socialists.
Norman on March 30, 2012 at 10:14 am (Reply)
Regarding "The scholarship of Peters' book has been confirmed in all basic details," what a joke. Even Pipes himself has backtracked from his originally positive review of Peters, which has proven to be a serious embarrassment to him. No reputable Middle Eastern scholar has anything but disdain for Peters' heavy-handed propaganda. Those think-tank hacks who write what they are paid to write and who defend it, do so only because, like Ben Tzur, they have a ZOA/revisionist axe to grind. P.S. I studied with Prof. Goitein, as fine a gentleman and true a scholar as ever lived. If he were around today, he would have nothing but contempt for the Geller-Pipes-Ben Tzur agenda. In that respect, "D.S. Goitein's" comment was on target, if a bit blunter than Prof. Goitein himself would have expressed it.
Ellen on March 30, 2012 at 11:19 am (Reply)
Peters' book is substantiated both by the documented literature from the Ottoman period and by anecdotal observers who commented on how depopulated Palestine was in the 19th century before the advent of the Zionist movement. All you have to do is look at the contemporary Middle East and Arab population movements to understand why. For 200 years the Arab economies of the Middle East have been utterly parasitic on the industriousness of small, unrepresentative minorities like Jews and Arab Christians, or oil wealth initiated by outsider investment. Wherever you have either of these phenomena, you have migration of nonproductive Arab labor into these areas. The Gulf States had almost no indigenous population 100 years ago (a few hundred thousand people); now they have millions, as the result of mass immigration. Syria is now poised to lose several million people to emigration because of war and economic collapse. This is the norm for the Arabs. The Zionist building up of the economic foundation for Israel and subsequent economic development was a magnet for Arab migration from all over the region. Thank goodness the Arabs have boycotted Israel for the past 65 years and prevented free economic exchange across borders. Otherwise, Israel would have been flooded with even more Arabs than those it actually received. Iraq's current rise as the new oil power of the Levant predicts large-scale emigration of Palestinians, Jordanians, and Syrians into Iraq and away from the border areas with Israel. This can only be a good thing for Israel.
SW on March 30, 2012 at 2:28 pm (Reply)
However one transliterates Hebrew or Yiddish into non-Hebrew letters, there is always more than one method. Many methods are based on the language used to "host" Hebrew and Yiddish, such that Germans transliterate in a different way than the French. As to the seeming correction Gideon offered, he, too, is incorrect--from the perspective of the school's own site in Toulouse.
T. Bill on March 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm (Reply)
According to Ellen (Ben-Tzur's twin, perhaps?), "Peters' book is substantiated . . . ." Perhaps the same way that Pat Buchanan's statement about Israel's "Amen Corner" in Congress is substantiated? As for Peters' title, From Time Immemorial: According to the Bible, when God promised territory and progeny to Abraham, his only child at the time was Ishmael; Isaac had not even been born yet. So, whose "promised" land really is it? Thus, the generous reading of the Bible is that it is to be divided between the descendants of both, Arabs and Jews. One more thing: Is there anything more "socialist" than the Torah's Jubilee year?
Rafael Tabor on March 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm (Reply)
Why hasn't Allan Nadler weighed in with his assessment of the Peters book?
SW on March 31, 2012 at 3:14 pm (Reply)
"Is there anything more 'socialist' than the Torah's Jubilee year?" The term socialist is defined by collective ownership or, at least, collective control. In a jubilee year, the government is not given title to property held by individuals. Rather, individual debts are forgiven by other individuals. The yovel is supported by quotes suggesting suggest that land is owned in perpetuity not by people or governments but by God. What is "socialist" about governments' subservience to God? Nothing--especially in this contemporary moment, in which some Christian socialists declared their messiah the original socialist while Jewish socialists try to digest the murder and mayhem visited on them by non-Jewish socialists around the world, as testified by millions of 20th-century dead. Meanwhile, the public debt crisis in European nations and many U.S. cities and some states comes down to a populace being expected to be "debt slaves." Yovel might dictate that the next generation, which has not run up such debt, would, logically, abrogate it. Most of this debt has been run up trying to support the socialist model of the modern Western state. So, more "socialist" than Jubilee? Yes, the ongoing collapse of Greece is more socialist than the yovel, as were the political movements that led to the Holocaust and Holodomor socialist events, to name but two of many.
Ben Tzur on April 1, 2012 at 3:41 am (Reply)
There can be no justification for extending the heritage of the Land of Israel to the Ishmaelites. The Mosaic books emphasize, as a central theme, the right of B'nei Yisrael to the Land of Israel. "B'nei Yisrael" means "Children of Israel," that is, the children of Jacob (who earns the name "Israel" as a result of a divine encounter). The "Land of Israel" is stated to be solely their inheritance in many places in the Mosaic books and in the later historical and prophetic writings. The borders of the Twelve Tribes of Israel are described in some detail as taking up the whole land (e.g., Num. 32 and 34). The descendants of Ishmael, on the other hand, were given Arabia according to the Torah's account. The names of Ishmael's twelve sons designate twelve different regions that were chiefly of Arabia but extended, says Gen. 25:18, from western Arabia all the way to Assyria and Persia. The God-given right of the Jewish people to the land of Israel is stated as such in the Qur'an itself (Qur'an V: 21; IX: 94; XVIII: 104).
Ben Tzur on April 1, 2012 at 4:01 am (Reply)
An important recent book on the visionary political and social concepts embedded in the Torah commandments, including the Jubilee and sabbatical years, is Joshua Berman, Created Equal: How the Bible Broke With Ancient Political Thought (Oxford UP, 2008). Rather than being a template for socialism per se, Berman shows that these institutions laid the foundations for a unique kind of society (then and now), which was remarkably liberal, democratic, and egalitarian. Socialism emphasizes some implications of that ancient polity but only in a narrow fashion. When these institutions were rediscovered in the Reformation period, the result was the elaboration, for the first time in the West, of the fundamental ideas behind modern liberal democracy as reflected in such founding political thinkers as Hugo Grotius, John Selden, John Milton, John Locke, and even the founding fathers of the American Constitution (on which, see the ground-breaking book by Eric Nelson, The Hebrew Republic (Harvard UP, 2010)).
Curt Levey on April 5, 2012 at 9:41 am (Reply)
To spin is to sin. The Tanach is not a Ayn Rand tract. In the Torah, the focus is on not the individual but the group, the community (nation, tribe, clan, family). According to the dictionary, socialism is “a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.” In the Bible and halacha, the needs of the community outweigh those of the individual (which is why a mouner gets up from shiva to go to shul on the Sabbath). The Jubilee year, with its divinely decreed reversion of property to the original family of stakeholders, is, therefore, mutatis mutandis, a "socialist" institution. So what if Ishmael’s descendants--at the time of Genesis---dwelt/settled in Shur/Arabia etc.? In the time of Esther, Jews (=Judeans) dwelt in Persia. And according to the Mormons, one Israelite tribe settled in America. What counts is God’s promise, not the contingent historical realities of any given period. From a Judeao-Christian perspective, what the Qur'an has to say on this matter is theologically irrelvant.
SW on April 5, 2012 at 12:54 pm (Reply)
Consider the logic of the cited definition of socialism: If "ownership and control" lies in "the community as a whole," there would be no individual "stakeholders" and no return of assets to original owners. Property and its ownership as concepts are easily found in the Tanach, and the Jubilee year specifically supports that notion by speaking of original and subsequent owners. According to Mishna in Avot (5:10), a person who says, "'what is mine is yours and what is yours is mine' is an am ha’aretz, an ignorant person." Without private property and legal title to it, one cannot "give" charity, as one example, because the community, not the individual, is the philanthropist. This is clearly not the case. Socialism is not found in the Tanach, while charitable, social principles are.
Curt Levey on April 6, 2012 at 9:45 am (Reply)
"Community as a whole" is the Jewish people. The concept of the Jubilee year "give back" is socialist, anachronistic neoliberal apologetics notwithstanding. In the Bible, if property and ownership were purely personal, "private" matters, up to individual (which, in the Bible, means "male") discretion, then why were the daughters of Zelophchad allowed to inherit only if they married within the clan, with the clan retaining title to the land? Checkmate.
SW on April 6, 2012 at 12:33 pm (Reply)
Checkmate? It's an interesting game when a player deems himself the adjudicator as well.
Falk on April 7, 2012 at 8:46 am (Reply)
Proof of the "checkmate" is SW's inability to refute Mr. Levey's April 6 argument.
Ben Tzur on April 8, 2012 at 3:00 am (Reply)
I like Curt Levey's comment, "To spin is to sin." After spinning my contribution as "Ayn Rand"-oriented, then as "neo-liberal" (quite a different thing, but still incorrect, since all I did was to describe objectively the insights in Joshua Berman's recent book), he immediately moves on to spin the Torah itself, pretty hard and directly against its grain. The claim that the Torah is socialist is especially odd, seeing that every militantly socialist thinker has considered the Torah the fount of evil, even the source of "capitalism" as such (Marx: i.e., what others call "liberal parliamentary democracy") and the foundation of bourgeois society (i.e., mainstream Western civilization: Marx, Hitler, Lenin); what is more, militantly socialist societies have implemented this position by abolishing Torah study and Jewish religious practice, if not Jews themselves. If the Torah is so socialist, how come socialists themselves don't honour it as the showpiece of their ideology? They don't. Checkmate. Actually, the Torah, while egalitarian in orientation (see Berman's book, Created Equal), does not urge collectivisation of the forces of production and rejects the imposition of an "elite" political or economic class or state ownership of land, instead posing against this the sort of individual and familial property rights, political division of powers, and institutional checks and balances that lessen the powers of not just the king but the state itself or any "superior" social clique. The Jubilee year "give back" is not socialist because the land does not "return" to state or impersonal collectivist ownership, nor can it be redistributed by the state for any reason; instead, the land returns to the individuals and families that were aboriginally given rights to their portion by God, the true owner. God being the owner, there is no need for a state apparatus to administer any redistribution in the Jubilee year, just the general commandments of God, acknowledged by all, and the rule of law by non-state-appointed local judges if any problems arise.
W. Manison on April 8, 2012 at 1:02 pm (Reply)
It is even more interesting when the questioner of that fact can offer no evidence to rebut the player's argument supporting the claim of "checkmate."
Allan Nadler on April 8, 2012 at 10:56 pm (Reply)
This piece has generated a heated debate about the extent to which the Torah can in any way be considered "socialist;" but, aside from the example of the Jubilee Year, there is scant evidence of knowledge of the sources to back up the strongly held opinions that have been expressed. Allow me to recommend a classic study by my late teacher, Isadore Twersky, "Some Aspects of the Jewish Attitude Toward the Welfare State," in Tradition 5 (1963). "Go and learn!"
SW on April 9, 2012 at 3:31 am (Reply)
The editors shortened my reply, in which I suggested all Google "Ishtirakiya" to learn what socialism becomes. Levey reasserts his meme that the yovel, hence Judaism, is socialism, then claims victory in a debate. He did not explain that ownership is returned to the original owners during that year, not to the state--after having defined socialism as state ownership of property. As to community, Islam asserts "community as a whole" in the umma, and socialism pervades Arab politics. To proclaim "checkmate" after a few short sentences is perhaps a socialist's idea of debate. This thread was first and foremost about Jews under murderous attack by some Muslims, and this theme can be broadened by examining other attacks around the world, from Asia to Europe. Judaism is under attack by the socialists called Muslims, a "commnunity" espousing "Ishtirakiya."
SW on April 9, 2012 at 10:56 am (Reply)
A thank you to Rabbi Nadler for the reference to Twerksy's article. The difficulty in espousing questions of welfare is that the socialist state has rarely been about welfare, while the welfare state has been, by defintion. This is a crucial distinction, for our taxes, as well as freely given donations, are meant to do good for the community at large. But in twentieth-century socialisms, "good," defined by political leadership, has led to slaughter. This is the case in Arab socialist nations as well, with the news from Syria but one example. Rabbi Twersky's articles are available online through
Ben Tzur on April 10, 2012 at 8:51 am (Reply)
With all due respect to Professor Nadler, I hope and expect that his assertion that "there is scant evidence of knowledge of the sources to back up the strongly held opinions that have been expressed" do not apply to my posts. Not only am I well familiar with the Torah text and commentaries, but my remarks here chiefly echo and support the learned discussion by Joshua Berman, already cited. Berman acknowledges appreciatively the influence of Norman Gottwald, Politics in Ancient Israel and other works (Gottwald, as is well-known, gave a leftist, even socialist-tending, reading of biblical society). Berman's specifications of the differences between the Torah account and socialism are therefore of particular importance. However, I am far from only relying on Berman amongst contemporary scholars dealing with these matters. There is, for example, a good discussion of the Jubilee institution in the Torah context and in Talmudic discussions, and its similarities and marked differences from "socialist" approaches, in David Novak, "Economics and Justice: A Jewish Example," in his Jewish Social Ethics (1992).
Curt Levey on April 10, 2012 at 10:04 am (Reply)
SW and Ben-Tzur misquote me to create a straw man. As originally noted, " According to the dictionary, socialism is 'a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.'" Again, "community as a whole," not "government/the state." Community as a whole is what the Jewish people are all about.

And note: Prof. Nadler did not see fit to weigh in, as requested by a prior post, on the matter of the Joan Peters book!
Allan Nadler on April 10, 2012 at 6:19 pm (Reply)
I have not read Joan Peters' book, so I cannot comment on it. But I have read Berman's book and found it terribly problematic. In fact, it's a mess: Berman argues for the moral and social superiority of Ancient Israelite Law over that of ancient near-Eastern societies, e.g., Hammurabi et al., yet at the same time accepts the basic findings of modern Biblical scholarship, which dates the redaction of the Torah to the period of Ezra, i.e., more than a half-millennium after the composition of those ancient non-Israelite legal systems. So, his methodology is messy. As to his arguments, he highlights the morally elevated laws of the Torah but completely ignores the many morally depraved (from the perspective of modern "liberal" values, that is) commandments, from genocide against the seven Canaanite nations and Amalek to the laws of Biblical slavery through to the treatment of the suspected adulteress. In general, Berman's book is far more a highly selective apologetic argument for the moral superiority of the Torah to the codes of other nations, than it is a reliable scholarly study. Now, I read it when it came out some years ago, so these are my random recollections. I do distinctly recall being unimpressed with the book and rather repelled by its central thesis: namely, an extended, Jewish-chauvinist "ashrenu, mah yafah yerushateynu" boast, veiled as scholarship.
Ben Tzur on April 10, 2012 at 7:47 pm (Reply)
The Torah does not vest ownership of the land in "the community as a whole." It invests it in God. The community is only a tenant and, as such, does not even possess the land for itself. The land is tenanted by particular families and individuals, as allocated on a tribal basis; but not even a tribe can redistribute the land of an individual or family. Community as a whole is not what the Jewish people are all about. God and Torah is what the Jewish people are all about. That created the Jewish people as such and gave them identity and purpose down through the thousands of years, enabling them to survive as a specific people with a specific heritage that has eliminated all other ancient cultures. Without it, they tend to assimilate and dissolve away into the surrounding cultures. This process began with the first settlement of Eretz Yisrael in the period of Judges and continues in the various modern diasporas. We see it as a particular reality in the United States today, taking intermarriage rates and secularization into account, as is also evidenced by the Torah-denigratory secularizing remarks on this page.
SW on April 11, 2012 at 2:17 am (Reply)
"Community as a whole," as Levey defines it alongside the dictionary definition cited for socialism, is "a system of social organization." If this "system" is ot "government/the state," then what "organization" holds title to land? The story of the yovel refers to original owners; and one cannot have original owners and new owners without title passing between individuals, not a "community as a whole." Contract law would then become nonsense. "Community as whole" is a very loose phrase, which can also be used to describe the umma, international brotherhood, mankind in general, or a small and exclusive tribe. It is through such easy words that much confusion arises and such specific concepts as property title become muddled. To assert that property title to an individual piece of land lies with "the community as a whole," as if this defines Judaism as socialism, is fallacious. By using "community as a whole," one can declare many things, as twentieth-century socialism's experiments have murderously proved, not to mention the current debt crisis of some European "communities as a whole." The murder of the children at Ozar Hatorah is no doubt justified to some as an act for their "community as a whole" against some other "community as a whole." The phrase thereby becomes meaningless except as utopian political jargon.
Curt Levey on April 11, 2012 at 10:45 am (Reply)
The Torah was given--and the land, conditionally--to the Jewish people as such, not to an individual, such as Moses for his family or any other individual. For example, just as Easter is about the salvation of the individual (through Jesus' death), Passover is about the redemption of the group, the Israelites as a whole, not specific individuals. That is the "Jewish" argument in behalf of community interests and against libertarianism and its compatriot solipsistic ideologies.
SW on April 11, 2012 at 2:36 pm (Reply)
"Israelites as a whole" does not answer the questions of ownership and title. To substitute "Israelites as a whole" for the previously used phrase "community as a whole" only restates an assertion without clarification. The original post said, "Is there anything more 'socialist' than the Torah's Jubilee year?" If people believe this, they are misinformed as to the nature of socialism, the the yovel, and the political mentality that encouraged and continues to justify the murders of Jewish children in Toulouse. European socialists have been notorious in the murder of Jews; and members of the umma, through its socialist parties, continue this. What is unclear here? Party politics for the sake of party politics?
Ben Tzur on April 11, 2012 at 10:26 pm (Reply)
Allan Nadler reproaches Berman for arguing for the moral and social superiority of "Ancient Israelite Law" over that of other ancient Near Eastsocieties (including the Hammurabi Code of the 18th century BCE)--as if that in itself is an academic sin, the sin of acknowledging and praising Biblical Judaism as a exceptional and valued religious and moral tradition, while also allegedly accepting the view that the Torah was redacted by Ezra in the fifth century BCE, as if these two positions (reference to documents of the 18th century BCE, and redaction by Erza) were incompatible. They are not at all incompatible even on their face and in common logic. There seems to be no reference to Ezra in the book. "Redaction" means the editing of texts written prior to the redactor; so, the provenance of texts from far in the past is not ruled out by their being "redacted" later on. Berman does makes much of Torah covenant "parallels with Late Bronze Age (fifteenth to thirteenth centuries B.C.E.) suzerainty treaties" (p. 9), indicating that the Torah narratives do go back to and reflect the periods from which they claim to draw, validating for us their basic antiquity. This, too, was shown by W.F. Albright a generation ago in very solidly documented studies. Late redaction does not rule out early provenance. There is nothing problematic in Berman's approach, either in logic or in scholarly fact. But, in any case, Berman states in his introduction that he will not address redactional matters in his book (he refers to the "source-critical method of biblical analysis" as being "still dominant in many scholarly circles"--but not all, he implies, correctly, and one senses that he himself does not altogether endorse it), but instead will treat the Pentateuch as a meaningful whole without regard to how it achieved its present form (p. 8). The hermeneutical "canon" or "tradition" criticism that guides Berman's book is entirely legitimate in the view of all modern Biblical scholars, whether or not they apply it themselves. If readers wish to learn more about this area, a good starting point might be the article "Biblical Studies and Jewish Studies" by Alan Cooper in The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Studies, edited Martin Goodman (OUP, 2002), pp. 14-35. Regardless of Berman's book, it is incorrect to say that "the basic findings of modern Biblical scholarship" are that the Torah was redacted in the time of Ezra. That is not so. Many do say something like that, but others do not. The redaction history of the Torah remains a matter of speculation, and there are many different quite defensible positions on it. Jacob Milgrom, mentioned in an earlier post, does not accept the late dating of the redaction of the Torah books he analyses so brilliantly. Umberto Cassuto's elegant, learned, and modern-academic refutation of the Wellhausen "Documentary Hypothesis" published in 1941 (The Documentary Hypothesis and the Composition of the Pentateuch) has still not been answered or rebutted in any modern biblical scholarship I have read. It is acceptably secular in orientation, tightly argued, solidly grounded in philological and Hebrew scholarship, logical and, it would appear, unanswerable. There has been no attempt actually to refute his specific arguments; these remain ignored, apparently because he is too learned, too basically challenging and out of the mainstream, and what is worse, too Jewishly so. Finally, there is the problem of Nadler's evident to Berman's strongly positive Jewish affirmations. One is simply not to say that ancient Israel was exceptional, indeed, unique, in the ancient Near East, no matter how elaborately documented that may be, nor that we moderns can learn something from it in terms of morality, political theory, and the like. This position damns and deplores a whole academic industry that has blossomed in the last decade: the discovery and study of the fundamental role played by Torah and Talmudic learning among leading non-Jewish scholars in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in creating modern liberal democracy--"political Hebraism," as it has been called. One must not be proud of being Jewish.
Ben Tzur on April 11, 2012 at 10:36 pm (Reply)
Nadler seems to argue that one cannot show the moral superiority of the Torah to any of the other societies of its time because some of its teachings do not accord with "the many morally depraved (from the perspective of modern 'liberal' values, that is) commandments." Once one looks into the allegedly depraved commandments, one finds them not so unambiguously clear nor stark as they seem. E.g., precisely if he is right about the Ezra-period redaction of the documents, the commandments concerning the Seven Nations of Canaan were long since obsolete by then, may not have existed back then anyway, and must be seen solely as a sixth-century BCE attempt to explain the Exile rather than a teaching of the past.
Mel Farber on April 12, 2012 at 11:28 am (Reply)
Socialists do not kill Jewish children, murderers do. Do the history-challenged posters need to be reminded that Israel was founded by "socialists" as a socialist state? Can you say "kibbutz ?"
Maran d'atra on April 12, 2012 at 1:27 pm (Reply)
Yasher Koach to Prof. Nadler for his summing-up of the Berman volume, heavily promoted by the Shalem Center. As the apoplectic response demonstrates, Prof. Nadler's comments struck a real nerve. His assessment of the Berman volume also encapsulates the guiding ethos and hashkafah of the Shalem Center and Jewish Ideas Daily: triumphalist neo-fundamentalism in Scripture, neoconservatism in politics.

S. Wise on April 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm (Reply)
Where is the mention of the fact that the early Zionist leadership (Ben Gurion, Meir) were European socialists? And that the Jewish activists in the American labor unions had a socialist bent? And that Israel was founded on socialist principles? And that much of the opposition in 1948 to Zionism and Israel by American gentiles, especially the WASPS in the State Department, was partly out of historical Christian anti-Semitism and mostly out of anti-socialism? In 1950s America, most Jews and Gentiles who were anti-socialist were also, de facto, anti-Zionist and anti-Israel. Lest we forget.
SW on April 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm (Reply)
Israel was founded by Jews, some of whom espoused limited forms of socialism. But if "kibbutzim" are the measure, just how many have survived after more than a couple of generations of kids raised there? Moreover, socialists have indeed killed aplenty. To argue that they have not is to ignore documented history. To argue that a "welfare state" must be socialist is odd, given that welfare as tzedakah was practiced for centuries. As for early European socialists, some were killed by other European socialists. To argue that socialists don't kill is much like arguing that Muslims don't kill or war doesn't kill, only "murderers." Oy. The largest question for apologists for socialism today is, "To which current socialist state do you point as an example to us all?" Early 2oth century American Jews were enthralled with the Soviet Socialists, but we know the end to that story. Facts, not rhetoric, speak clearly. These Jewish children of Toulouse were targeted for being Jews, and that has nothing to do with the seemingly passionate urge to prove socialism is somehow "Jewish." Read Marx on "the Jewish Question," please. The early European Jews, especially here in Germany, failed to heed that message. It is amazing that a thread about murderered children has become a forum to espouse socialism.
Ben Tzur on April 12, 2012 at 9:47 pm (Reply)
My comments have been edited by the moderator, inadvertently omitting some words and making some sentences almost unintelligible, and some key points were left out. E.g., in my last post, I suggested that it is illogical to complain of the Torah's moral superiority to other ancient Near Eastern cultures on the grounds that some of its teachings seem to clash with some versions of modern secular moral values. That is a non-sequitur and an irrelevancy. As for Berman's book, contrary to the idea conveyed by both Nadler and "Maran d'atra," it is not a work of phoney scholarship published by a propaganda press. Shalem Press is thoroughly responsible and of very high scholarly standards. Its authors are leading academics, highly respected in their various fields. But in fact the book was published by Oxford University Press and, unsurprisingly, maintains that press's usual very high academic standards, was written in the course of learned academic conferences and discussions at the leading edge of current Jewish Studies research, and fully reflects all of that in its pages and footnotes. The highly emotive denigratory comments made on this webpage seem merely to reflect visceral dislike of pride in Judaism and its heritage and are unworthy of their writers. There is certainly nothing wrong with the daily morning prayer that recites "ashrenu, mah yafah yerushateynu," and I am frankly surprised that Nadler thinks there is. The abusive terminology in his reference to it suggests a wholesale repudiation of Biblical and Rabbinic Judaism as such, very strange for a rabbi or even a secular Jewish Studies scholar, and also for the author of The Faith of the Mithnagdim, which I have in my library but am only now reading -- I am greatly enjoying it so far, and it appears to be an excellent contribution to our understanding of the subject.
Fred Davis on April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am (Reply)
The posting of April 12 3:56 pm strains credibility. The claim that "Israel was founded by Jews, some of whom espoused limited forms of socialism" is patently false. It was most, not some, who were socialist--especially in members of the leadership cadre, such as Ben-Gurion, Meir, and Peres. To argue otherwise shows profound ignorance of the documented facts of history. Second, no one on this thread, except as a straw man, has claimed that a "welfare state" must be socialist. The argument is that Judaism is community-centered rather than individual-selfishness-based. The Jubilee year and the incident involving the daughters of Zelophchad demonstrate this. Libertarianism and untrammled free-market economics are ipso facto anti-Jewish. As to the demise of the social/economic egalitarian ethos of the kibbutz, what has replaced it is worse by any social or economic standard. The gap in Israel between the rich and everybody else is wider today than it ever has been and even wider than in the United States, thanks largely to Netanyahu's "privatizatsia" policy. In particular, the poverty level in Israel among children is a disgrace to Judaism. Even the word "privatizatsia" is a foreign word imported into Hebrew. The concept was so foreign to traditional Judaic sensibilities that no indigenous word could be found to express its meaning. It is amazing that a thread about murderered children has become a forum in which to espouse belief systems of unfettered narcissism, which undermine and defame the basic thrust of Torah society and the history of the Jewish people.
Jehuda ben Israel on April 13, 2012 at 1:36 pm (Reply)
I thought I had seen it all when it came to whitewashing and revisionism on the far right, but the statement that "Israel was founded by Jews, some of whom espoused limited forms of socialism" takes the cake (pesadika, of course). "Some?" S. Wise's comment was spot-on. Emes--truth--is a prime Jewish value, and that quote spits on it. Maran d'atra's observation also was perceptive. The hashkafah he pinpoints can be summed up in one
word, a favorite meme of the right wing in America: exceptionalism. Talk about assimilation! Why are Jewish conservatives aping and taking their marching orders from the Christian/"Religious" right?
OKC on April 14, 2012 at 8:46 am (Reply)
From Rabbi Marc Israel's Dvar Torah on "an important difference between Israelis and Americans: While we share many values, Americans place emphasis on the individual and in Israel the emphasis is on the community. America promotes individual rights, rugged individualism and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. Israel developed the kibbutz movement, teaches soldiers to never leave a brother behind and glorifies the expression, 'It is good to die for your country.' While each culture understands the negative aspects of these values when taken to an extreme, they are deeply ingrained in the American and Israeli psyche. Israel's emphasis on community is an expression of the Jewish nature of the state. Jewish practice continually reinforces the importance of the community--gathering together to celebrate holidays, requiring a minyan for most life-cycle events, teaching the importance of 'not separating oneself from the community' through acts of tzedakah. The need to be a part of the community and to contribute to its welfare is practically built into our DNA. The section of Torah that we read on the last day of Passover provides additional evidence of the centrality of community. . . . Consider the historical aspects of the celebrations: Passover, we celebrate becoming a people; Shavuot, we celebrate receiving God's covenant as a people; and Sukkot, we commemorate our communal journey to the land. These 'pilgrimage festivals' gathered us together because community is central to the meaning of each holiday.

Ben Zoma on April 14, 2012 at 10:00 am (Reply)
"Israel was founded by Jews, some of whom espoused limited forms of socialism."
"some" ? Absolutely! Of course! By the same token, the Israelites' exodus from Egypt was a revolt by lazy, overpaid union workers against enlightened, benevolent, corporate management. As the High Court of Isis ruled in a landmark decision, "Pharoahs are people, too."

Plus, in the words of Orly Taitz, "Prince Moses of Egypt claims to have been born a Hebrew. Where's his birth certificate? "
Ben Tzur on April 15, 2012 at 5:29 am (Reply)
The usual strategy of assimilationists, especially those from the left like so many contributors to this webpage, is to deny any distinctive excellence in Judaism or in Jews as a people. They are extremely (even personally) offended by any suggestion of this, and we can see this in the highly emotive animus in many posts on this page. The anti-Judaic thesis is not special to Jewish secularists or leftists; actually, they in their assimilatory fervour merely mirror their chosen comrades. The animus, after all, goes right back to the "totalitarian" thrust of the Eighteenth century Enlightenment version of democracy (cf. Jacob Talmon's books), in which, during the French Revolution, the General Assembly in France debated whether or not to admit Jews as citizens -- many fought against it but the Assembly finally accepted the formulation of Baron de Tonnere, I think it was, that equal rights would be extended to Jews as individuals, but to the Jews as a people, nothing at all. Difference as such was bad. Everyone should be the same. This is the logic of "totalitarian democracy," as Talmon said, and we can see the horrific implications of this logic repeated many times in later European history.

Since the Enlightenment especially leftist Jews have everywhere tried to deny their difference as a culture and as a people, all the better to merge with their fellow secularist/socialist ideologues or their local national community and to escape antisemitism. They blame the group difference of Jews and Judaism for all their own assimilationist problems, not their implicitly or explicitly racist environing societies or ideologies. The present-day collusion of the left with Islamist jihadi propaganda against Israel, blaming Jews and Israel for the attacks against it by the jihadis whether Palestinian or other, is a major contemporary form of the same ideological/sociological dynamic. This article provides many illustrations of the basic pathology ... and it is a pathology.

The exceptionalism of Judaism in the Biblical period and in the past two millenia right up to the present is a constant theme both in Jewish and non-Jewish literatures. It is obvious to all. Jews who affirm their heritage did not need to wait to the present time to declare the special role of Sinai and later Judaism in world history. The Torah itself declares this. If the American form of democracy, showing its own exceptionalism, for the first time in history has constructed a non-Jewish but non-totalitarian democratic polity that has particular sympathy with Jewish difference and exceptionalism, more power to America. Jews can be grateful for that. Only leftist anti-Judaic Jews would not be.

The real problem the article highlights is the tendency on the European liberal left to exonerate and ignore Islamic antisemitism and jihadi violence, and to endorse the anti-Zionism that resonates with their own ethnic and ideological biases, even to the point of blaming the right and then, when it becomes evident that the right was not involved, even Jews themselves (note the media highlighting of alleged sins of Israel to justify the murders in Toulouse) for Islamic terrorist atrocities against Jews in France. In my first post to this page, I pointed to the book by Bernard Harrison, The Resurgence of Anti-semitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion (2006). It is about that that the debate on this page should focus. Another excellent study of the same thing is Robin Shepherd, A State Beyond the Pale: Europe's Problem with Israel (2009).
SW on April 16, 2012 at 3:32 am (Reply)
It was stated that what replaced the kibbutz "is worse by any social or economic standard." After a couple of generations, those younger Israelis free to do so have wandered away from this utopian experiment. The left's crying aloud about the "far right" and the "profound ignorance" of those holding other views than theirs explains well why socialism leads has historically led into fascist coercion, while freedom simply continues to mean "live and let live." Judaism's mitzvot, translated in various ways, have never meant "do as I say or else." The kibbutz movement withered by reason of freedom to choose--and free Israelis have been choosing something else, even if a socialist espousing the ethos of that movement deems this choice to be “worse." How dare generations of Israelis disobey, freely express their "unfettered narcissism," and thereby "undermine and defame" socialism's ethos?
Jehuda ben Israel on April 16, 2012 at 10:36 am (Reply)
The proof of the inaccuracy of the question--"How dare generations of Israelis disobey . . . " was the wide-spread protests, reported in the media, on the streets of Israel a few weeks back, which centered on the current economic situation of inequality in Israel. And why was not a single pasuk cited, a la the Jubilee year and the daughters of Zelphchad examples? An epithet--such as "European leftist"---is not an argument.
James Tuttle on April 16, 2012 at 1:00 pm (Reply)
Bernard Harrison's "The Resurgence of Anti-semitism: Jews, Israel and Liberal Opinion (2006)" is the 2lst century right-wing equivalent of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Both are species of the genus "dogmatic political ideology based on unchallengeable precepts" derived from fantasy and/or fiction.
SW on April 16, 2012 at 1:40 pm (Reply)
A challenge to debate the Jubilee year? To get things started, please provide a textual example of how the yovel returned property to the "community as a whole," as one comment stated. The texts suggest ownership/title by family or tribe/clan and/or a priesthood, certainly God, but never the government under any of the kings of Israel and Judah. Might we begin with ויקרא? Moreover, the rabbinic sources suggest that the largest issue is the freeing of indentured men, liberty being the key, not property held by a government.
the RIF on April 16, 2012 at 1:57 pm (Reply)
I proudly stand in Yiddishkeit defense of liberty and freedom against those Christophile Jews who, aping the bigotry of the Christian "religious” right, would, in America and Europe, deny religious freedom and equal protection under law to Muslims. For any Jew who is knowledgeable about Jewish history (and, alas, as this blog thread demonstrates, we are few and far between these days!), in any worthwhile comparison between Christianity and Islam, the latter wins hands down. First and foremost, Islam’s monotheism is pure, while that of Christianity is highly compromised because of its graven images, worship of Jesus and threefold godhead. Accordingly, Jews are forbidden, halachically, from even entering a Christian sanctuary, while no such prohibition obtains regarding a mosque. Although there have been times when Jews have suffered politically under Muslim rule, there was nothing comparable to the Nazi Holocaust and Kishinev massacres, which took place on Christian soil--where, also, the words “pogrom” and “ghetto” originated. Not to mention the exile of Iberian Jewry forced by the Inquisition, to whose refugees the (Islamic) Ottoman Empire provided refuge. Unfortunately, the tragic political circumstances of the last 60-some years in the Middle East have fostered neglect of this unimpeachable historical and theological truth. Also, when you point your finger at someone else, there are three fingers and a thumb pointing right back at you. Question: Who was the world’s first suicide bomber/homicide bomber/ martyr-murderer (whichever term you prefer)? Answer: According to the Bible, it was Shimshon ha-shofet, Samson the Judge, who killed 3000 people (Judg. 16:27.30), both men and women, more individuals than died at the Twin Towers on 9/11. So, as regards the loathsome “Muslim” practice of suicide bombings, it appears that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
Ben Tzur on April 17, 2012 at 3:32 am (Reply)
It is strange to insist on gradations of badness when it comes to the comparison of Christian and Muslim treatment of Jews, with the comparison favoring Islam and somehow delegitimating Jews welcoming Christian Zionism, but to allow for no acknowledgment of gradations of badness when it comes to Judaism and Islam, giving just one instance of a suicidal attack by the Jew Samson some 3,200 years ago (although it had no halakhic status in later Jewish law and was not taken as a model) and equating it, indeed treating it as providing the origin and legal paradigm for, Muslims engaging in a myriad of suicide terrorist atrocities today against Jews and others. The comment skips over the fatal objection that entirely unlike rabbinic Judaism, in which there has never been halakhic approval of terrorism of any sort, let alone suicide terrorism, Muslim legists have found plenty of justification in their own tradition, within Muhammad's own deeds and sayings, for fatwas supporting terrorism; even the 56-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation has therefore not been able to arrive at a definition of "terrorism," lest it be forced to condemn it. Nor do Muslims use Samson's attack as a model for suicide bombers or claim to be imitating or "flattering" Jews by committing their anti-Semitic and other atrocities. Without showing regard for current Jewish vulnerability and isolation in Europe, or even decently facing and mourning the reality of the Toulouse attacks, this position nastily prefers to blame the victims, a particular trait on the left and among Muslims when it comes to Jews and Israel, as Simon Gordon's "French Lessons" article documents. Therefore, one cannot take seriously the objections to Jews welcoming Christian Zionism. There are varieties of Christianity and of Christian attitudes to Jews; the friendly support of Christian communities and leaders, political and otherwise, around the world has been essential to Israel's survival. Lord Balfour himself, Prime Minister Lloyd George, and Presidents Harry Truman, Lyndon Johnson, and George W. Bush were strongly supportive as Christians and to a significant degree because of their Christian convictions of Zionism. Such important persons and groups favouring Jewish survival cannot be eradicated. On the not-so-roseate scriptural and traditional attitudes to and historical treatment of Jews under Muslim rule, see Andrew G. Bostom, ed., The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn HIstory (2008). This definitive anthology includes hundreds of pages of Muslim scriptural and later authoritative pronouncements on Jews, through the medieval period to the present, and yet more hundreds of pages of scholarly essays by leading specialists on various aspects of the Muslim treatment of Jews, including detailed historical studies and first-person chronicles, totaling nearly 800 double-columned pages in all. No one after reading this can be surprised at the contemporary pervasive anti-Semitism, reaching practically genocidal depths in some quarters, in the Muslim world, which the jihadi terrorist in Toulouse exemplified. Of course, the Nazis helped to intensify these tendencies, as has been documented by many studies dealing with the Palestinian leadership (e.g., Arafat's uncle and mentor, the Grand Mufti el-Hussaini), the Muslim Brotherhood, the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, and even secularists living in that environment, such as the Ba'athists of Syria and Iraq. See the works by Matthias Kuentzel, Klaus-Michael Mallmann, Martin Cuppers, Jeffrey Herf, and others. The encouragement by Jewish community leaders of Muslim immigration into Europe, Australia, and elsewhere, is against the interests of the Jewish community and threatens its well-being. This, actually, is another one of the "French Lessons" the Toulouse atrocities teach, a teaching that would be far less forceful if there were not, unfortunately, so many other evidences of the same violent anti-Jewish disposition amongst Muslims in Europe and elsewhere.
Ben Tzur on April 17, 2012 at 3:36 am (Reply)
"James Tuttle" he should actually read the book by Harrison.
Jehuda ben Israel on April 17, 2012 at 10:53 am (Reply)
The Bible is not a Ron Paul tract. "Dror" does not mean "liberty" but "release." Passover is not about "freedom" a la Ron Paul but freedom to serve--in this instance, in obedience to God. The prayer we say in reading the Torah says that God gave us (lanu, the community of Israel) the Torah, not specified individuals. As to the claim that the "texts suggest ownership/title by family or tribe/clan and/or a priesthood, certainly God," the land of Canaan was given by God to the people of Israel, making Him the ultimate Owner. It is not individuals who receive the land back in the 50th year but the group (clan/family). In those days, the group was what we would designate by the modern term "government" at the local level, in contrast to that of the kingship, at the higher level.
SW on April 18, 2012 at 2:28 am (Reply)
As to the yovel, one learns, "In those days, the group was what we would designate by the modern term 'government' at the local level, in contrast to that of the kingship, at the higher level." This is an assertion without basis. We are taught that injustice committed by government is worthy of rejection and of seeking justice against government itself. There is no Torah foundation for this argument, nor foundation in the rabbinic literature. As to God, indeed if the yovel suggests that God, not government, is the ultimate Owner, then every yovel is a time at which "government" lands should return to the priestly class or to God. See how the socialist's argument works: Government is here to be our Moses and our Aaron, mostly when the political left is in power. When they are not, of course, the inverse holds. Arguing directly away from biblical texts and into a "modern term" is not a textual critique but the avoidance of one. If one argues for the biblical שמיטה, then my "share" of a nation's debt might be said to be zero, for I have abrogated it by the yovel. Another point: Since "government at the higher level" side-steps kingship, why does it not also side-step national leadership for a "higher level?" The assertion that the yovel is socialist is absurd, for a manumission of indebted individuals should also include liberty from socialist nations' debts. Rather, the socialists argue, as one sees here in Europe, that we are now to be tax slaves without recourse to liberty. Such a socialist economic plan is in fact the inverse of the yovel, in which "liberty is proclaimed." The pronoun לנו does not extrapolate to "the government" in "modern terms." Please cite a verse in which government is equated with the people.
Dick Cravatts on April 18, 2012 at 11:04 am (Reply)
Andrew G. Bostom, ed., The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism: From Sacred Texts to Solemn History (2008), has been thoroughly repudiated by reputable scholars. Reading Bostom on Islamic anti-Semitism is like reading Pat Buchanan on African-Americans and the Civil Rights Movement or on Israel's "Amen Corner" (his term) in the halls of Congress.
restore our future on April 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm (Reply)
Re "There is no Torah foundation . . . nor foundation in the rabbinic literature," its bottom line argument seems to be hat the Torah is an individual-uber-alles libertarian document, which is ridiculous and even blasphemous. To claim that "לנו does not extrapolate to 'the government' 'in modern terms" is patently absurd. It is called democracy; and at its best, with its emphasis on the meritocracy of learning, that is what rabbinic Judaism is all about.
B. Korn on April 18, 2012 at 2:13 pm (Reply)
RIF's detractor rehearses the evangelical Christian meme about "the contemporary pervasive anti-Semitism, reaching practically genocidal depths in some quarters, in the Muslim world." Where have we seen this before, the racist bully and victimizer claiming to be victim? Conservative columnist Jeff Jacoby provides the answer (substitute "Muslim" for "Jew" and "Evangelical" for "Nazi" and "America" for "Germany"): At every step, their crimes against the Jews were described as self-defense. “The Jews of the whole world are trying to destroy Germany,” screamed government posters as the Nazis unleashed a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses. “German people, defend yourselves!” In every issue of Der Stürmer, the banner proclaimed : “The Jews are Our Misfortune.”
Down through the millennia, this has been the model for the most virulent, violent anti-Semitism. Jews were depicted, facts and logic to the contrary notwithstanding, as victimizers. Then they were victimized with astonishing ferocity and inhumanity."
C.B. Glick on April 18, 2012 at 4:18 pm (Reply)
Rabbi Daniel Gordis, famed chronicler of the intifada and now vice president of the Sheldon Adelson-funded Shalem Center, writes that "America Jews are trapped in a cycle of Americanization and losing their Jewish instincts. In today’s individualistic America, the drama of the rebirth of the Jewish people creates no goose bumps and evokes no sense of duty or obligation." “A gaping chasm threatens the American-Israeli relationship, and we’re basically doing nothing,” Gordis concludes. “Try to list the serious Jewish educational enterprises addressing this challenge, asking how American Jewish education can counter America’s unfettered individualism, or what Israel could do to help." “Can you name even one? Neither can I.”
Ben Tzur on April 18, 2012 at 6:47 pm (Reply)
There is a severe reality-deficit among some posters here. The attempts to turn the Torah into a socialist document are examples, but this issue has already been covered by others. However, it is a major error to claim that Bostom's book has been repudiated by serious scholars. The scholars who contributed essays to it constitute, by themselves, a kind of "who's who" of academic authorities on Islam and Jewish history in Islam; it is impossible to repudiate their contributions. The hundreds of pages of anthologized materials cover the whole of Muslim history and speak for themselves; they are not given in tiny extracts but in bulk, providing full context. Another poster would have us think that the existence of anti-Semitism throughout the Muslim world is merely an "evangelical Christian meme" and that to point out this anti-Semitism is to turn victims (apparently Muslims, who are somehow the victims of Jews?) into victimizers. Actually, the 2011 Pew Global Attitudes Project, scientifically polling around the world, found that anti-Semitic attitudes were held by as many as 98 percent of the people in Muslim Middle Eastern countries (Indonesia improves this to just 95 percent), and that amongst the least anti-Semitic Muslims were those of France, where anti-Semitic attitudes were held by around 40 percent. These figures are no "evangelical Christian meme." That is why it is directly self-harming for Jewish community leaders to promote massive absorption of Muslim immigrants into Western countries.
SW on April 18, 2012 at 8:54 pm (Reply)
To extrapolate that the first person plural pronoun in the Torah means us as a people is not a problem. To assert that the plural pronoun might justify democracy in modern terms ignores the fact that democracy comprising universal suffrage is a rather new historical development. To conclude that the first person plural pronoun is proof that the "yovel" proves Judaism is socialist is absurd, and further discussion about Torah and rabbinic texts has been absent. The idea that the Torah has been claimed to be an "individual-uber-alles libertarian document" is patently false but seems the best that this comment stream has generated in the continuing quest to prove Judaism equals socialism. This has become far less than scholarly and far more political than necessary. The argument was not that the Torah teaches unfettered individualism but that the yovel does not prove the Torah teaches socialism and that the murderer of the Toulouse children is a better example of socialism. This, alongside the connection of socialism to National Socialism, Soviet Socialism, and Pan-Arab Socialism has managed to stir a less-than-scholarly discussion.
Bob Standlen on April 19, 2012 at 10:28 am (Reply)
Rabbis Gordis and Israel are correct: The problem facing the Jewish community today is not "socialism" but rampant, unfettered, narcissistic, libertarian individualism--which is anti-Jewish, since Judaism is about the redemption of the Jewish community (and all its members in toto), not the well-being of the "rugged" individual while others suffer.
Curt Levey on April 19, 2012 at 3:10 pm (Reply)
Is it not interesting that SW and Ben-Tzur share the same writing style--and, of course, viewpoint? And that they do not use their real names? Bat Ye'or, one of Bostom's authors, a scholar? Propagandist, sure; but by no means a scholar. As for Bostom's "hundreds of pages of anthologized materials" that "cover the whole of Muslim history and speak for themselves," which "are not given in tiny extracts but in bulk, providing full context," substitute "Jewish" for "Muslim" in this quote, and the exact same thing can be said for numerous Christian "'scholarly' treatments of Jewish history, including some very embarrassing - and unfortunately, accurate- bulk passages from the Talmud. And the Bible itself teaches genocide against Gentiles (i.e., the Amalekites), does it not?
Ben Tzur on April 19, 2012 at 10:38 pm (Reply)
I am not SW, but more power to him/her. The ad hominem attacks degrade the whole discussion. My own view of the issue of socialism in the Torah was sufficiently indicated in my first posts, and the points made there have not been subsequently refuted, despite all the sound and fury. There has been altogether too much of the latter, in fact, including ad hominem attacks that presume to replace and dismiss real scholarship out of hand. For example, the slur against Bat Ye'or has no foundation other than unreasoning bias; she is a highly respected scholar whose work is widely cited around the world as being based on wide knowledge and strong documentation. In the same vein, it is a guilt-by-association tactic to dismiss not just Bat Ye'or but also the massive presentation of irrefutable primary source material and research articles by over 20 leading academic authorities in Bostom's book (Shlomo Dov Goitein, Georges Vajda, Jacob Mann, H.Z. Hirschberg, Jane Gerber, David Littman, Norman A. Stillman -- you get the idea), all of which proves the deep roots of Islamic antisemitism that lie behind atrocities against Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora. Another reason given for rejecting Bostom's book is that some Christian scholarly treatments of Jewish history have sometimes in the past ignored the context of sources or have been badly misinformed and inaccurate in their citation of Talmudic texts. See Gil Student's "The Real Truth about the Talmud" at The objection is in any case irrelevant, unreasonable, and even silly. Whatever the errors of some Christian scholarly treatments of Jewish matters, one cannot generalize this to all Christian scholarly treatments of Jewish matters, much less extend the generalization to any properly documented studies of Islam. Certainly other Christian scholars have been more reliable, more deeply learned and fair-minded about Talmudic Judaism (e.g., George Foote Moore's Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim [1927], or E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism [1977], both of which show real knowledge of Rabbinic Judaism and the Talmud). One further comment regarding the moderator's practice of changing the term "antisemitism" to "anti-Semitism" even when it is one word in the title of a cited book. "Anti-Semitism" implies that the animus is against the Jews as "Semites." It gives credence to a racist error on the part of antisemites. Actually, Jews include most of the races of humanity. Hitler himself befriended the Arabs, including among others the Palestinian leader Haj Amin el-Husaini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, promising him rule over a Jew-free Palestine after the war. Antisemitism is an ideology, like fascism or communism. It is nominally about race but included amongst "Semites" all those converted to Judaism down through the ages, including even Aryan converts: They, too, died in the concentration camps. My style is often mangled when published here.
Ben Tzur on April 19, 2012 at 11:14 pm (Reply)
The works on "political Hebraism" mentioned in previous posts, show that actually the very idea of universal suffrage, as of many other essentials of early modern democratic theory, emerged from the Torah and Talmud, as rediscovered in the 16th to the 18th centuries in Europe by leading Christian thinkers. It is not accidental that the Jews were the only pre-modern culture to have aimed for universal literacy amongst men, and by the early medieval period, also women. On Jewish political practices, see Daniel J. Elazar and Stuart A. Cohen, The Jewish Polity: Jewish Political Organization from Biblical Times to the Present (1985). Also see Salo Baron's 3-volume The Jewish Community (1942). Traditional Jewish society was not everywhere the same, nor organized purely as a liberal democracy, but there were strong democratic principles in Torah and Talmudic thought that made Jewish communities generally far more democratic than most other pre-modern societies, and these principles ended up shaping our own democracies. For example, in regard to John Locke, so well known in connection with ideas of universal suffrage and other aspects of democratic theory, see Fania Oz-Salzberger, "The Political Thought of John Locke and the Significance of Political Hebraism: Then and Now," in Political Hebraism: Judaic Sources in Early Modern Political Thought, eds. Gordon Schochet, Fania Oz-Salzberger and Meirav Jones (2008), pp. 231-258. Another excellent in-depth study is that of Jason P. Rosenblatt, Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi, John Selden (2006). Selden was the leading political and legal thinker of 17th century England; his guidance shaped the ideas behind and the structure of the British Parliamentary system as laid down in that century. His books do not just mention Talmudic and later Jewish rabbinic discussions of his topics, they focus on them at great length and he draws his chief lessons from them.
SW on April 20, 2012 at 2:45 am (Reply)
This article speaks about the murder of French-Jewish children at the hands of a Muslim immigrant. Comments like Chevey's bring us to that point of moral equivalency in which the mention of Amalekites somehow shows that we Jews are also to be seen as murderous, and Standlen's remarks that socialism--read, in my view from Germany, National Socialism, Soviet Socialism and Pan-Arab Socialism or "ishtirakiya"--is not the problem facing the Jewish community today, but rather "unfettered, narcissistic, libertarian individualism" somehow suggests there cannot be another position between socialism and libertarianism. These debate positions are nonsense. Simon Gordon's opinion is to be applauded: "The threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away." That American socialists on this thread mount a spririted defense of socialism, each time ignoring the children killed at Ozar Hatorah in favor of their political stance, suggests which carries the greater importance to them. But I was challenged to discuss one commenter's assertion that the yovel was socialist, and now we review another's assertion that "the Bible itself teaches genocide." What a slippery discussion, in which supposedly-Jewish socialism is passionately defended while Jewish sources are attacked as teaching "genocide." The argument has become illogical when one socialist argues that socialism is Torah-based and another argues the Torah "teaches genocide." This is where this thread has led, in which Jewish Ideas are now to lead us from a focus on children murdered by a Muslim radical into a full-fledged yet illogical criticism of Jewish opinion, which criticises socialism and our Torah and Talmud teach "genocide" which that comment then equates with "Gentiles." I write, from a growing Jewish community in Germany, "The threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away."
Brad Shaw on April 20, 2012 at 9:43 am (Reply)
The best-known Christian Zionist is Pastor John Hagee, who believes--so he wrote in his book--that the Holocaust was deserved, that it was divine punishment visited on European Jewry for their not emigrating to Israel. That's right: According to Hagee, the Nazis served as God's agents. That is how much he thinks of the value of Jewish life. After all, for Hagee and his fellow Bible-thumpers, a Muslim-Jewish war is a dream situation, pitting infidel against Christ-denier/Christ-killer, all to the thundering glory of Jesus. (The dead will be posthumously baptized by the Mormons.) With "friends" like these . . . .
Eitan bar-Chaim on April 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm (Reply)
1.The genuine “severe reality-deficit” is among those posters who insinuate that Rabbis Gordis and Israel teach falsehood in their portrayal of the relationship in Judaism between individual and community, when they insist upon the pride of place of the latter.
2. The word "democracy" as a political science technical term may be relatively modern, but it accurately describes the rabbinic ideal in regard to lamdus. Similarly, the word “genocide” was not coined until the 20th century, but that is what the Torah decrees for Amalek.
3. As to the supposedly learned contributors to the work edited by Bostom, who is described as an M.D., recall that the diabolical and satanic Josef Mengele earned both an M.D. and a Ph.D. (anthropology).
4. Maniacal mimicry is appalling (or should that be ap-Paul-ing?). It would be the height of self-delusion to fall prey to the redneck cross-worshippers’ efforts to enlist Jewry as a proxy in their ongoing Christian crusade against Islam.
Ben Tzur on April 21, 2012 at 9:10 am (Reply)
Some posters, eager to defame Judaism and the Torah, get quite exercised about the poor Amalekites and the commandment to wipe them out. Even the posters' "moral indignation" comes solely from the Torah value system, since genocidal war was not only commonplace in antiquity, as now, but was not condemned; rather, it was admired and boasted of by Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Assyrians, and others. The "military virtues" were glorified and war was praised in their cults and literature--but not in Biblical Israel, where both were abominated. Only in that religion was war condemned as such and considered a sign of humanity's fallen condition, and peace valued as a primary spiritual goal to be achieved by all humanity in the messianic age. Of course, every nation had to defend itself and, therefore, develop its military prowess. Israel, too had to fight to survive; but this necessity was not praised. As the later tradition interpreted the Torah account of the building of King Solomon's Temple, King David was not allowed to build it despite (or rather because of) the mighty empire he created. Only the peaceable Solomon was given this merit, for the Sinai revelation is centered on peace and reconciliation. That the divine image was in every person meant that every life was precious, and Israel was to mourn for even the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea during the Exodus. So, the very values to which the defamers appeal in order to defame the Torah come from the Torah, though they are distorted into a criticism of it.
As for the Amalekites, they first appear in the Torah during the first days of the Exodus from Egypt and from the start show their desire to wipe out the Jews, preying by preference on the defenseless stragglers, the old and infirm, women and children--not to rob them of their possessions, since they had next to none, but simply to kill them. This was their defining and characteristic obsession, something that differentiated this tribe from all of Israel's other enemies. The genocidal obsession continued to motivate them through generations of ceaseless attacks on Judea and Israel until the Amalekites themselves were finally wiped out as a people and disappeared as individuals into other cultures. Since then, it is taught, we can know an "Amalekite" only by his or her obsession with murdering Jews--not just hating them but seeking their mass murder, as do the Nazis, Hamas, and other Palestinian terrorists. What defines the Amalekites is precisely their murderous aggression. Thus, the commandment to fight them to the end represents the responsibility of Jews to defend themselves against aggression by their would-be murderers--to fight back. It is the Biblical version of "Never Again!" There is nothing immoral in it--entirely unlike, say, the genocides of which Julius Caesar boasted in his Gallic Wars or about which the Egyptians and Assyrians bragged of in their memorial stones. The whole field of international law relating to war, the legitimacy of self-defense, and the illegitimacy of aggressive war, which is still the guide in legal thinking, was shaped and developed by Hugo Grotius, the 17th- century Dutch thinker. Grotius studied the Talmud and derived the principles he advocated from its discussions of these topics, as well as other Rabbinic sources, such as medieval commentaries (e.g., by Maimonides) and midrash relating to Biblical texts. For example, see Manfred Lachs, "Hugo Grotius' Use of Jewish Sources in On the Laws of War and Peace," Renaissance Quarterly 30 (1977): 181-200. Also see the article by Arthur Eyffinger in the previously mentioned Political Hebraism: Judaic Sources in Early Modern Political Thought, ed. Schochet, Oz-Salzberger and Jones (2008).
These are fundamental connections between the Torah and mainstream Western liberal democratic values. The Torah is not an extremist text and is certainly not socialist. Neither is it an Ayn Rand anthology. Torah Judaism combines elements of both left and right in a unique centrist God-grounded synthesis, regarding which, see Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Radical Then, Radical Now (200) [sic]. On social implications, see especially his book To Heal a Fractured World (2005) and, above all, his Future Tense (2009). Extremists on the left, such as some of those commenting here, wish to turn this into a straw man that is the polar opposite straw man to their own position--for example, into "libertarianism," "Ron Paul," "Ayn Rand," or "Patrick Buchanan," in effect deligetimating the center mainstream and, indeed, denying its very existence. It is a false antithesis.
iron wall on April 21, 2012 at 10:24 am (Reply)
1. The "deep roots of Islamic anti-Semitism that lie behind atrocities against Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora" are countered, historically, by the even deeper roots of Christian anti-Semitism, which planted the seeds of the Holocaust.
2. My father studied with Professor Goitein. His first-hand assessment is that, although Professor Goitein had his criticisms of Islam, he would have been chagrined and embarrassed to have his work included in Bostom's vicious effort at debauching scholarship in the interests of partisan political polemic on the scale of the Nazi "scholarship" on Jews and Judaism. As to the citation of Islamophobe Bat Ye'or as a reputable scholar,better yet, wasn't Nazi-loving Martin Heidegger a world-class philosopher?
Ben Tzur on April 21, 2012 at 7:43 pm (Reply)
The slurs against Bostom's book, non-sequitur slanders against Bat Ye'or (such as the statement that Nazi-loving Martin Heidegger was a world-class philosopher), and insertion of red herrings about Christian antisemitism only show the feebleness of the counterarguments offered by critics and their desperate attempts to crush any factual demonstration of Islamic antisemitism whatsoever, even though it is precisely this antisemitism that threatens Jewish survival in both Israel and Europe and even though it is this antisemitism that so blatantly underlies the Toulouse atrocities. As mentioned in a previous post, the 2011 Pew Global Attitudes Project (see shows that whatever some commentators here want to think, Muslim antisemitism is a reality and a very big problem, even bigger because of the endorsement of jihad from Muslim sources. The desire on the left to deny this antisemitism and even endorse it through double-standard and false slanders against Israel and Judaism itself, with left-liberals thus aligning themselves (again, as they did with the Communist systems) with the most authoritarian and brutal enemies of the West, is precisely what Harrison's book The Resurgence of Anti-Semitism, cited several times, analyses in depth.
Ben Tzur on April 21, 2012 at 8:35 pm (Reply)
Critics reproached Bostom's magisterial survey and anthology for including articles by Bat Ye'or. (Her excellent study and extensive collection of primary sources, The Dhimmi: Jews and Christians under Islam [1985], covers all major aspects of the subject very well.) Now, they reproach it for including S.D. Goitein, because, it is said, he tended to de-emphasize Muslim antisemitism. But doesn't this make Bostom's book a responsible collection of authorities, giving space to all leading authorities and all well-documented sides? It is precisely such an inclusive approach that makes the collection a broad and truly authoritative survey of the subject. It seems, however, that the critics are really reproaching the survey for its very existence, especially for its daring to draw on a wide range of evidence in a responsible, judicious and, therefore, irrefutable fashion. Instead of imagining what Goitein would say on the subject, commentators should read what his essay says in Bostom's anthology actually says, as well as the other contributions and source materials so massively provided. Of course, they should be warned that they will be severely discomfited by what they find.
Gary Erlbaum. on April 22, 2012 at 2:00 pm (Reply)
A Jew who trumpets the bigoted and xenophobic agenda--including Islamophobia--of right-wing--including neo-Nazi-- elements in Germany is a classic textbook case of Jewish self-hatred. What was said by Nazis about Jews is now being said by right-wingers about Muslims. For a Jew to be complicit in this outrage is simply beyond comprehension.
Creig Snyder on April 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm (Reply)
The prolix posting of 9:10 A.M. on April 21 is a beautiful example of what Professor Nadler previously characterized as an "extended, Jewish-chauvinist 'ashrenu, mah yafah yerushateynu' boast, veiled as scholarship'" with regard to the Berman volume/thesis. Or might Ben-Tzur be an alias of Joshua Berman or of one of his students? Full disclosure, please.
Ben Tzur on April 22, 2012 at 11:51 pm (Reply)
I am not Joshua Berman, nor have I been privileged to sit in his classes, unfortunately. Neither am I "Ellen" nor "SW." How odd to suppose that only one Jew on this page of the Jewish Ideas Daily is likely to be knowledgeable about and proud of hir or her own religion and heritage, which has given so many great blessings to humanity, both in the past and in the modern period. And what an insult to assume that this supposed one Jew must be so underhanded and deceptive as to write under a variety of names. Those who make such allegations should be ashamed of themselves and reveal the poverty of their rebuttals. They obviously wish to dismiss my comments without actually engaging with them, no doubt because they are too well documented and referenced to be refutable (so it is put down to mere prolixity); instead, we are given irrelevancies and red herrings such as that I support Christian antisemitism (of all things) or the views of Ayn Rand, Ron Paul or Patrick Buchanan. The ad hominem scorn poured on the solid and respected scholars I cite is on the same level and shows that the substance of their research, too, cannot be faced.

Yes, mah yafah yerusateynu. It is a truly beautiful and lofty tradition and heritage, and I am deeply grateful for knowing it and being able to be a part of it. One of the lovely things about it, in fact, is that while it is so distinctive and beautiful that one cannot help but be glad to be part of it, its teaching are far more universal than the daughter religions that have sprung from it, and are not chauvinistic. The Jewish people were created by God at Sinai, but as fulfilment of a promise to Abraham that through them would flow blessings to the whole of humanity, and so it has happened. Even to be a "kingdom of priests" dedicated to the one God of all humanity means that their laity is actually all other peoples, for whom Israel's service atones. Furthermore, only in Judaism, of the so-called "prophetic religions," is it taught that, due to the Noahite covenant and God's great mercy, salvation can be attained in all cultures and religions, not just in Judaism, and there can be righteous people of the extremely high standard of Job even in pagan polytheistic cultures. In fact, the Talmudic discussion in tractate Sanhedrin indicates that the vast majority of humanity will attain to the World-to-Come, eternal bliss. Pride in Judaism and the Jewish heritage is not chauvinistic. Or if it is thought to be, what a double standard, when it is granted that other peoples have a right to be proud of their traditions--only Jews have no such right. The whole argument is itself a form of bigotry. As for the actual phrase "Ashrenu, mah yafah yerusahteynu" (How fortunate we are, and how beautiful is our heritage), if one looks at its place in the prayer book, directly following the recitation of the Akedah, the almost-sacrifice of Isaac, one finds it is part of remarks that are the very opposite of chauvinistic or arrogant.
SW on April 23, 2012 at 2:54 am (Reply)
I confess saddened confusion at this point, as a thread about a Muslim murdering Jewish children in Toulouse has turned into assertions that (1) Judaism sadly fosters "genocide," (2) Judaism is rightly understood as "socialist," (3) a "community as a whole" paints Judaism either way, but not Islam or Pan-Arab Socialism, (4) today's problem is the few Christian anti-Jewish movements, though there have been no major attacks (while ignoring or minimizing the many demonstrable Muslim anti-Jewish rhetoric and attacks), and (5) Israel should have remained socialist after its founding--exclusively by socialists (and somehow, by various inferences, the current Israeli government, though democratically elected, is not representative of Israel and is ready to launch nuclear war on the world). The original article ended by saying of France, "This is not Vichy France; the threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away." That the debate's twists and turns have gone so far from the subject of Simon Gordon's article suggests that these other subjects--generally, to support socialism while ignoring National Socialism and Pan-Arab Socialism--are of greater interest and passion to many herein than the death of Jewish children in Toulouse at the hands of a Muslim acting in the name of Islam.
Matt Pincus on April 23, 2012 at 3:27 pm (Reply)
As to the "death of Jewish children in Toulouse at the hands of a Muslim acting in the name of Islam," how about the death of 29 Muslims at prayer in a mosque at the hands of Orthodox Jew Baruch Goldstein--an M.D., no less, an individual who took a Hippocratic oath to do no harm!- in the name of Torah-true Judaism? Goldstein was "inspired," no doubt, mah yafah yerusateynu, by his hearing the megillah reading at Purim--Esther, ch. 9.
Scotty B. Feigelstein on April 23, 2012 at 4:07 pm (Reply)
The poster claims that his "comments... are too well documented and referenced to be refutable" and that the "ad hominem scorn poured on the solid and respected scholars . . . shows that the substance of their research, too, cannot be faced." This is as arrogant as it is wrong-headed. Apodictic assertions are not arguments and, to boot, are a 24-carat violation of tznius. For shame. Also, from the JID posting archives: "Neither Bostom nor Bat Ye'or nor Ali nor Sullan nor Warraq has any academic position in a field having to do with religious studies. Bostom and Sullan are doctors. Bat Ye'or and Warraq are journalists. Ali is a former politician who now holds a position at a right-wing think tank. None of the actual experts in this field, like Bernard Lewis, agrees. . . . Traditional Islam is no more inherently antisemitic than is Christianity and less so than traditional Christianity of either the Catholic or Lutheran variety. What has happened in recent years is due to the vast pool of money under the control of the family Saud and their Wahhabist partners. To try to transform those simple historical facts into some sort of historical confrontation between Judaism and Islam is simply silly.
Ben Tzur on April 23, 2012 at 7:50 pm (Reply)
I learn from recent posts that I am a neo-Nazi and a Jewish-chauvinist supporter of Christian antisemitism because I draw attention to the actual strong antisemitism so widespread amongst Muslims globally (see the Pew survey already mentioned), and to its roots in Islamic scriptures and history, which the horrible events discussed in the article by Simon Gordon after all illustrate. It also turns out that by mentioning these things I allegedly endorse Baruch Goldstein's atrocity against Muslims (he was finally driven mad by the recent stabbing murder of a friend by Muslims in Hebron, after years of other such violence against the Hebron Jewish community, which, as their doctor he had to deal with on a daily basis), which we apparently must consider typical and symbolic of Orthodox Judaism (even if this is the only such suicide terrorist attack by an Orthodox Jew, and his actions were strongly condemned by the Chief Rabbis of Israel and just about all other Orthodox authorities). My views on this, while allegedly "incomprehensible," are after all presented by the same commentator as easily comprehensible as "a classic case of Jewish self-hatred." None of these suppositions and non-sequiturs is true, of course; in fact, they refute themselves by their internal contradictions and patent nonsensicality. But they are great compliments, since they show the utter inability of their authors to refute the realities I have documented. All of the authorities cited, including Harrison on left-liberal anti-Semitism, Berman on the Biblical roots of liberal democracy, and of course Bostom's anthology of Muslim sources supplemented by articles by most of the world's leading academic authorities on Muslim anti-Semitism, have been dismissed in a similar ad hominem and vacuous fashion, indicating the adamant refusal, on principle, to deal with the subject rationally. By the way, thank you for mentioning Bernard Lewis. His book Semites and Anti-Semites (1986) would be salutary reading for commentators on this page; the book deals chiefly with the massive evidence, which he reviews at length, for Muslim anti-Semitism in the modern period. With regard to earlier history, on p. 121, he summarizes his views as follows: "(H)ow did Muslims perceive Jews, and how did they treat them? Jews have lived under Islamic rule for fourteen centuries, and in many lands, and it is therefore difficult to generalize about their experience. This much, however, may be said with reasonable certainty--that they were never free from discrimination, but only rarely subject to persecution; that their situation was never as bad as in Christendom at its worst, nor ever as good as in Christendom at its best." However, the evidence of the actual history of severe discrimination, pogroms and their frequency, and the like, rather convincingly put a caveat to the "rarely subject to persecution" phrase. It depends on what one means by "rarely." In The Jews and Islam (1984), Lewis also tends to give an "on the one hand . . . on the other hand" discussion of the Quranic treatment of Jews, but entirely omits mentioning that the negative hand, so to speak, i.e., a strongly hostile view of Jews and their religion, is emphasized repeatedly in the later Surahs of the Qur'an (because of Muhammad's increasingly evident failure to convert the Jews of Medina or even persuade them of his standing as their master and an authentic prophet of God); and it is a standard rule in Islamic Qur'anic exegesis that the statements of the later Surahs permanently overrule seemingly contrary statements in the earlier Surahs. This applies directly to the issue of Jews and, indeed, the later view of Jews by Muslim authorities. So it is not a minor point. In his chapter 2, however, Lewis grants that there was "a dark as well as a bright side to life as a dhimmi under the rule of Islam. "Humiliation and wretchedness were stamped upon them and they were visited with wrath from God,' says the Qur'an (II, 61) speaking of the Jews. From time to time Muslim rulers, and more often Muslim populations, felt it necessary to restore this condition if the Jews seemed to be escaping from it." In his Islam in History (1973), he devotes a whole chapter to the "romantic" view of Islam promoted by European Jewish scholars in the nineteenth century, and rejects it: "The reality was of course more complex, less idyllic, less one-sided. There had been times of persecution under the Muslims and times of prosperity under Christian rule in Spain--and many Christian states, as well as Turkey, had given shelter to the Spanish Jewish refugees. . . . The golden age of equal rights was a myth, and belief in it was a result, more than a cause, of Jewish sympathy for Islam. The myth was invented by Jews in 19th-century Europe as a reproach to Christians--and taken up by Muslims in our own time as a reproach to Jews" (p. 134 ff.). He goes on to remark that following the decline of Muslim unity and creativity from the 10th century onward, especially after the Crusades, there was a definite hardening of attitudes to both Christians and Jews, with especially the treatment of Jews growing worse and worse over the later centuries. This is almost unanimously shown, he says (p. 135), by accounts of European travelers in recent centuries, who write of the Jews being the most humiliated group in Muslim society, in a tortured, despised and belabored state, ill-treated on every hand. It is precisely this history and experienced reality that is described, with all due nuance, in the Bostom book through extracts from the chief religious authorities in Islam over that period, and articles by most of the leading academic authorities on the treatment of the Jews under Islam. As already mentioned, the scholars whose essays and assessments are published in Bostom's book provide a kind of who's who of experts in the field. It is therefore simply not true that "none of the actual experts in this field, like Bernard Lewis, agrees." Even Lewis agrees; his reservations are welcome nuancing, but, upon due consideration, certain question marks can be addressed to some of those reservations from his own writings. As for the current situation, Lewis's Semites and Anti-Semites shows not only the impact of the Wahhabis, which has indeed been sinister, but also of the newly militant and extremist Shi'as. In fact, it extends beyond both, as he also shows, to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and other Salafist movements. Not coincidentally, these are all "purist" groups calling for a return to the Muslim sources.
Ben Tzur on April 23, 2012 at 10:34 pm (Reply)
Actually, on a second reading, it is true that "traditional Islam is no more inherently antisemitic than is Christianity and less so than traditional Christianity of either the Catholic or Lutheran variety." This, however, does not amount to much of a recommendation. Whereas many, if not most, Christians and most Christian churches now frankly repudiate that antisemitism, including sometimes that found even in the New Testament and the founding theologians of the various denominations, so that there are real possibilities of much better Jewish-Christian relations (which Jews should encourage, not discourage), this is not true of most Muslims or Muslim authorities nowadays. For example, the news this week reports that the newly elected Egyptian Parliament, now overwhelmingly dominated by Islamist forces like the Muslim Brotherhood and the even more extreme Salafist al-Nour Party, has passed a resolution demanding the resignation of its own Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa because he dared to visit Jerusalem and the al-Aqsa Mosque, although he had firmly refused to meet with Jewish leaders of "the Zionist entity." See This is no "evangelical Christian meme."

Bat Ye'or is acknowledged as a leading authority on the situation of "dhimmis" in the Muslim world by most contemporary scholars who deal with the subject. She has been praised in reviews in academic journals and cited by not only Bernard Lewis but many others, including authorities in the history of antisemitism itself, like Robert S. Wistrich. (See the lengthy discussion of Islamic antisemitism in Wistrich's Hitler's Apocalypse: Jews and the Nazi Legacy [1985] and A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad [2010].) That she is merely a "journalist" is simply untrue. One does not need a Ph.D. to write serious and respectable academic studies, nor, like Bostom, to edit knowledgeably and responsibly major academically acceptable anthologies. Bat Ye'or has published more than ten books on this general topic, all well-researched; in fact, she is largely responsible for making the subject of "dhimmitude" a legitimate field of scholarly study; it had been ignored before, since it upset Middle Eastern, Semitic, and Islamic Studies academics in the West, who naturally aimed for and depended on positive relations with their subject populations and cultures and who even had financial support from them. Critical studies of Islam and touchy topics such as the truth of Israel-Palestinian/Arab/Muslim relations have naturally been anathema to them.
SW on April 24, 2012 at 5:35 am (Reply)
Mr. Pincus reminds us that a rather isolated attack by a Jew is apparently the moral equivalent of continued attacks by Muslims around the world. Were one to be tallying a scorecard, one might find many more attacks clustered on the modern Muslim side of that tally sheet. But the point of many posts here is to attempt to topple Gordon's summation with moral equivalency, while in parallel defining Torah and socialist and genocidal, depending on the individual commenting. As to the statement about historical anti-Semitism in Christianity, this is a historical fact. What that look-back into history does as regards recent history's attacks by Muslims around the world, with the historical facts of a ten-year war between Iran and Baathist Iraq, the recent statement by the Saudi grand mufti that churches be destroyed and ten-year olds married off (to name only a few recent news items) adds little to Simon Gordon's conclusion. The twentieth century produced the worst attack on Jews in millenia--at the hands of National Socialism and its ties, in part, to Muslims in and around the Saudi Peninsula and North Africa. After the defeat of National Socialism, Jews around the world contributed to the campaign "Save Soviet Jewry," which brought Jews out of Soviet Socialism's grasp. Between the military defeat of the National Socialists and the economic collapse of the Soviet Socialists, Pan-Arab socialism as a formal political movement arose in the Arab world. As was stated, "What has happened in recent years is due to the vast pool of money under the control of the family Saud and their Wahhabist partners." How this explains Shia statements out of Iran towards the eradication of Israel is not part of this rationale. None of these modern historical facts is diluted by seeking succor in earlier centuries' history. As Gordon says, "the threat today comes not from Nazis but Muslim radicals. Pretending otherwise will not make it go away." Moral equivalency and charging Judaism with genocide, as read in these comments, are not going to make the threat go away, either. An article now submerging into JID's fine archive of articles has generated much comment by apparently new readers who did not find it on the current list of articles but perhaps rather by being referred by other like-minded apologists for socialism and/or Islam, but few of these new comments remind us of murdered children in Toulouse. That is sad.
gentile friend on April 24, 2012 at 9:28 am (Reply)
The long-winded, repetitive postings of April 23 expose the fragility of the positions taken therein, as in "If I knew what I wanted to say, I'd write a shorter letter." A wacko in France who has watched too much of the Saudi version of Fox News goes postal and kills some kids. A micro-second later, Jews can't wait to exploit it for fund-raising by yelling "Hitler" and otherwise extorting Gentiles. Enough. And you wonder why the Jewish people are so often hated.
Fred Cross on April 24, 2012 at 10:21 am (Reply)
For 1400 years Christians and Muslims had some difficulties but, by and large, certainly under the Ottomans, got along just fine in Palestine. Not until the creation of Israel did we see the migration of Christians out of the Holy Land. In 1948 some 80,000 Palestinian Christians were ethnically cleansed. If you ask Christian Palestinians in the diaspora, many of them here in America, why so many left, the vast majority of them would point to the creation of Israel. Seems Jews can't get over that point. The hasbarist merchants want to create their own fictional narrative to comply with their agenda, but the jig is up. The recent "60 Minutes" program has caught them with their hand in the cookie jar.
SW on April 24, 2012 at 11:09 am (Reply)
Dear "gentile friend," were you a friend, you would not have written as you did. But understand that Chevey (above) indentified you if gentile as your moniker states as a target of "our" genocide, when he penned, "And the Bible itself teaches genocide against Gentiles (i.e., the Amalekites), does it not?" I think a friend would not have written of us, "Jews can't wait to exploit it for fund-raising by yelling "Hitler" and otherwise extorting Gentiles." As to Mr. Cross' essay, his view of course explains also the attacks of recent years by Muslims against others in the Philipines, India, Thailand, Russia, China, England, not to mention the bloody civil war in Syria, the ten-year long Iran-Iraq war, the destruction of historic Buddhas, and a list which can continue long enough for Mr. gentile friend to also name me as "long winded." But back to murdered Jewish childrein in Toulouse.... And we wonder why we are so often hated?
Ben Ye'or (James Tuttle) on April 24, 2012 at 2:24 pm (Reply)
Pride in achievement is one thing; obdurate, chauvinistic claims to triumphalist superiority are another. As the Germans experienced, it is a short step from seeing one's own nation as one of "Dichter (poets) and Denker (thinkers)" to that of being the Master Race (see "chosen people"). How can the poster on this thread who is so boastful about the superiority of Judaism be loath to express that pride under his real/full name? Bat Ye'or's real name is Gisele Littman. What is Ben-Tzur's?

Speaking of Bat Ye'or, here is what a true--i.e., non-neocon ideologue--scholar has to say about the foundation of her tendentious work: Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago, notes that "by obscuring the existence of pre-Christian and other old, non-Christian communities in Europe as well as the reason for their disappearance in other areas of Europe, Bat Ye’or constructs an invidious comparison between the allegedly humane Europe of Christian and Enlightenment values and the ever present persecution within Islam. Whenever the possibility is raised of actually comparing circumstances of non-Christians in Europe to non-Muslims under Islamic governance in a careful, thoughtful manner, Bat Ye’or forecloses such comparison." Conclusion: The dhimmis of today are the Jews who foolishly take their marching orders from the Christian right and kneel at the cross of hate-mongering.
Ben Tzur on April 24, 2012 at 8:07 pm (Reply)
Bat Ye'or's book on the dhimmi deals not with the treatment of Jews and Christians in Christian lands but with their treatment in Muslim lands, so the comments cited by "Ben Ye'or (James Tuttle)" are irrelevant. As for the reception of Bat Ye'or's work by academic experts, see the earlier respectful citations of her work by numerous leading authorities. However, even if Bat Ye'or were all that critics claim (and she is not), this would not negate the value of any of the other contributions to Bostom's book by many of the world's leading authorities on the historical Islamic treatment of minorities, especially Jews. So the whole topic is a red herring. The other comments by this poster, with their Nazi-attributions, are abusive and do not belong here.

Regarding the comments by "Fred Cross," it is not true that Christians were pushed out of the newly established State of Israel. Rather the opposite. Israel is the only Middle Eastern state in which the percentage of Christians in the population has actually grown since 1948. It has fallen drastically in all other Middle Eastern countries. Figures on the percentages in the Encyclopaedia Britannica editions of the 1950s, compared with the figures in recent editions, show declines of up to 90% in the countries around Israel. When Israel was created, 80% of Bethlehem was Christian. It then fell under Muslim rule. By 1967, when Israel took over the territory, the percentage of Christians had shrunk to less than a third (6,400 out of 16,000), which declined slowly thereafter until Arafat took over in 1994. Now, under the Palestinian Authority, around 90% is Muslim (figures range from 5% Christians to 12%). Seven times more Lebanese live outside of Lebanon as live in it; almost all of these emigrants are Christians. There are practically no Christians left in Iraq or Iran. Copts are emigrating in large numbers right now from Egypt because of the pogroms and oppression against them. The same story is true across North Africa. The pattern is clear and has nothing to do with Israel, the only country in which Christians live well and are accepted into the general population.
Taylor Dahan on April 25, 2012 at 10:12 am (Reply)
Kudos to Mr. Tuttle. Might the fearsome, threatening terms in which Islam is presented by certain posters on this thread actually be a projection onto the "other" of their own (repressed) hegemonic Judaic agenda and aspirations?
SW on April 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm (Reply)
A summary of the reasoned and courteous language of this thread by those who would make Judaism morally equivalent to Islam and Pan-Arab socialism: 1) "documented Islamophobe," 2) "think-tank propagandist," 3) "anachronistic neoliberal apologetics ," 4) "solipsistic ideologies," 5) "profound ignorance ," 6) "unfettered narcissism," 7) " Jewish conservatives aping and taking their marching orders from the Christian/"religious" right." 8) "Christophile Jews," 9) "individual-uber-alles libertarian," 10) "rampant, unfettered, narcissistic, libertarian individualism," 11) " redneck cross-worshippers," 12) "arrogant as it is wrong-headed," 13) "marching orders from the Christian right," and 14) "hegemonic Judaic agenda." These views together read as a sad whole: "Islam’s monotheism is pure" while there is an "ongoing Christian crusade against Islam." and "the Bible itself teaches genocide against Gentiles," while "Jews can't wait to exploit it for fund-raising by yelling 'Hitler' and otherwise extorting Gentiles." Thus, an article about murdered Jewish children turns into a rage against Jews who disagree with socialism--from National Socialism to Baathist Socialism--as Islam is defended by comments above, as if there are not enough Muslims to defend themselves in this world. A billion versus a few million, but this thread's majority concludes Islam needs defense against Jews.
Jehuda ben Israel on April 25, 2012 at 1:56 pm (Reply)
Once again, B-T (who still is ashamed to use his full name---why?) distorts his opponent's position. Sells' point is that "whenever the possibility is raised of actually comparing circumstances of non-Christians in Europe to non-Muslims under Islamic governance in a careful, thoughtful manner, Bat Ye’or forecloses such comparison" is crucial, setting up an objective standard for comparison/i.e., comparing. Conquerors conquer, blood is shed: which are more humane? Bat Ye'or's findings mean nothing without such a benchmark. Let us compare "revolutions:" It would be like talking about the number of Tories killed by the patriots in the American Revolution as an "atrocity"--which was clearly not the case, when compared to the internecine bloodletting that took place in the French Revolution. The "numerous leading authorities" who support B-Y's deeply flawed work do so because they share her bias. Fred Cross cites first-hand testimony from those who left in 1948 and why they did so, while B-T's agitprop rehearses stats which vary depending upon who does the counting, and according to what criteria.
BenTzur on April 25, 2012 at 6:37 pm (Reply)
Regarding the projection onto Jews and Israel of "their own (repressed) hegemonic . . . agenda and aspirations," Hitler did the same, blaming Jews for exactly the goals he himself had and the methods he used to achieve them, and thought that this justified his own explicitly expressed genocidal antisemitic policies. This discussion has run its course; none of the recent posters contributes anything worthy of publication. They do not belong in Jewish Ideas Daily.

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