Jewish Ethnocentrism

The Extreme Hyper-Ethnocentrism of Jews on Display in Israeli attitudes toward the Gaza War

If you know anything about traditional Jewish ethics (i.e., Jewish ethics before a great deal of intellectual work was performed aimed at providing a rationale for Judaism as a modern religion in the West—apparent in the Wikipedia article on Jewish ethics), you know that pre-Enlightenment Jewish ethics was entirely based on whether actions applied to the ingroup or the outgroup. Non-Jews had no moral worth and could be exploited or even murdered as long as doing so did not threaten the interests of the wider Jewish community. I have written a great deal on Jewish ingroup morality, beginning with the Chapter 6 in A People That Shall Dwell Alone:

Business and social ethics as codified in the Bible and the Talmud took strong cognizance of group membership in a manner that minimized oppression within the Jewish community, but not between Jews and gentiles. Perhaps the classic case of differential business practices toward Jews and gentiles, enshrined in Deuteronomy 23, is that interest on loans could be charged to gentiles, but not to Jews. Although various subterfuges were sometimes found to get around this requirement, loans to Jews in medieval Spain were typically made without interest (Neuman 1969, I:194), while those to Christians and Moslems were made at rates ranging from 20 to 40 percent (Lea 1906-07, I:97). Hartung (1992) also notes that Jewish religious ideology deriving from the Pentateuch and the Talmud took strong cognizance of group membership in assessing the morality of actions ranging from killing to adultery. For example, rape was severely punished only if there were negative consequences to an Israelite male. While rape of an engaged Israelite virgin was punishable by death, there was no punishment at all for the rape of a non-Jewish woman. In Chapter 4, it was also noted that penalties for sexual crimes against proselytes were less than against other Jews.

Hartung notes that according to the Talmud (b. Sanhedrin 79a) an Israelite is not guilty if he kills an Israelite when intending to kill a heathen. However, if the reverse should occur, the perpetrator is liable to the death penalty. The Talmud also contains a variety of rules enjoining honesty in dealing with other Jews, but condoning misappropriation of gentile goods, taking advantage of a gentile’s errors in business transactions, and not returning lost articles to gentiles (Katz 1961a, 38).[ii]

Katz (1961a) notes that these practices were modified in the medieval and post‑medieval periods among the Ashkenazim in order to prevent hillul hashem (disgracing the Jewish religion). In the words of a Frankfort synod of 1603, “Those who deceive Gentiles profane the name of the Lord among the Gentiles” (quoted in Finkelstein 1924, 280). Taking advantage of gentiles was permissible in cases where hillul hashem did not occur, as indicated by rabbinic responsa that adjudicated between two Jews who were contesting the right to such proceeds. Clearly this is a group-based sense of ethics in which only damage to one’s own group is viewed as preventing individuals from profiting at the expense of an outgroup. “[E]thical norms applied only to one’s own kind” (Katz 1961a, 42).

Evolutionary psychologist/anthropologist John Hartung, referenced above, has continued his work on Jewish ethics on his website strugglesforexistence.com; note particularly “Thou Shalt Not Kill … Whom?.” The Jewish double ethical standard has been a major theme of anti-Semitism throughout the ages, discussed in Chapter 2 of Separation and Its Discontents; these intellectuals are good examples:

Beginning with the debates between Jews and Christians during the Middle Ages (see Chapter 7) and reviving in the early 19th century, the Talmud and other Jewish religious writings have been condemned as advocating a double standard of morality, in addition to being anti-Christian, nationalistic, and ethnocentric, a view for which there is considerable support (see Hartung 1995; Shahak 1994; PTSDA, Ch. 6). For example, the [Cornell University] historian Goldwin Smith (1894, 268) provides a number of Talmudic passages illustrating the “tribal morality” and “tribal pride and contempt of common humanity” (p. 270) he believed to be characteristic of Jewish religious writing. Smith provides the following passage suggesting that subterfuges may be used against gentiles in lawsuits unless such behavior would cause harm to the reputation of the entire Jewish ingroup (i.e., the “sanctification of the Name”):

When a suit arises between an Israelite and a heathen, if you can justify the former according to the laws of Israel, justify him and say: ‘This is our law’; so also if you can justify him by the laws of the heathens justify him and say [to the other party:] ‘This is your law’; but if this can not be done, we use subterfuges to circumvent him. This is the view of R. Ishmael, but R. Akiba said that we should not attempt to circumvent him on account of the sanctification of the Name. Now according to R. Akiba the whole reason [appears to be,] because of the sanctification of the Name, but were there no infringement of the sanctification of the Name, we could circumvent him! (Baba Kamma fol. 113a)

Smith comments that “critics of Judaism are accused of bigotry of race, as well as bigotry of religion. The accusation comes strangely from those who style themselves the Chosen People, make race a religion, and treat all races except their own as Gentiles and unclean” (p. 270).

[Economist, historian, sociologist] Werner Sombart (1913, 244–245) summarized the ingroup/outgroup character of Jewish law by noting that “duties toward [the stranger] were never as binding as towards your ‘neighbor,’ your fellow-Jew. Only ignorance or a desire to distort facts will assert the contrary. . . . [T]here was no change in the fundamental idea that you owed less consideration to the stranger than to one of your own people. . . . With Jews [a Jew] will scrupulously see to it that he has just weights and a just measure; but as for his dealings with non-Jews, his conscience will be at ease even though he may obtain an unfair advantage.” To support his point, Sombart provides the following quote from Heinrich Graetz, a prominent 19th-century Jewish historian:

To twist a phrase out of its meaning, to use all the tricks of the clever advocate, to play upon words, and to condemn what they did not know . . . such were the characteristics of the Polish Jew. . . . Honesty and right-thinking he lost as completely as simplicity and truthfulness. He made himself master of all the gymnastics of the Schools and applied them to obtain advantage over any one less cunning than himself. He took a delight in cheating and overreaching, which gave him a sort of joy of victory. But his own people he could not treat in this way: they were as knowing as he. It was the non-Jew who, to his loss, felt the consequences of the Talmudically trained mind of the Polish Jew. (In Sombart 1913, 246)

… Pioneering German sociologist Max Weber (1922, 250) also verified this perception, noting that “As a pariah people, [Jews] retained the double standard of morals which is characteristic of primordial economic practice in all communities: What is prohibited in relation to one’s brothers is permitted in relation to strangers.”

A common theme of late-18th- and 19th-century German anti-Semitic writings emphasized the need for moral rehabilitation of the Jews—their corruption, deceitfulness, and their tendency to exploit others (Rose 1990). Such views also occurred in the writings of Ludwig Börne and Heinrich Heine (both of Jewish background) and among gentile intellectuals such as Christian Wilhelm von Dohm (1751–1820) and Karl Ferdinand Glutzkow (1811–1878), who argued that Jewish immorality was partly the result of gentile oppression. Theodor Herzl viewed anti-Semitism as “an understandable reaction to Jewish defects” brought about ultimately by gentile persecution: Jews had been educated to be “leeches” who possessed “frightful financial power”; they were “a money-worshipping people incapable of understanding that a man can act out of other motives than money” (in Kornberg 1993, 161, 162). Their power drive and resentment at their persecutors could only find expression by outsmarting Gentiles in commercial dealings” (Kornberg 1993, 126). Theodor Gomperz, a contemporary of Herzl and professor of philology at the University of Vienna, stated “Greed for gain became . . . a national defect [among Jews], just as, it seems, vanity (the natural consequence of an atomistic existence shunted away from a concern with national and public interests)” (in Kornberg 1993, 161).

 So we should not be surprised to find that a great many Jews view Palestinians as having no moral worth. They are seen as literally not human, as noted by the prominent Lubavitcher Rebbe Schneerson:

We do not have a case of profound change in which a person is merely on a superior level. Rather we have a case of…a totally different species…. The body of a Jewish person is of a totally different quality from the body of [members] of all nations of the world…. The difference of the inner quality [of the body]…is so great that the bodies would be considered as completely different species. This is the reason why the Talmud states that there is an halachic difference in attitude about the bodies of non-Jews [as opposed to the bodies of Jews]: “their bodies are in vain”…. An even greater difference exists in regard to the soul. Two contrary types of soul exist, a non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while the Jewish soul stems from holiness.  (see here)

Different species have no moral obligations to each other—predator and prey, parasite and host, humans domesticating cattle and eating meat and dairy products.

This ethic differs radically from Western universalism as epitomized by Kant’s moral imperative: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.”  Moral universalism is fundamental to Western individualism: Groups per se have no moral status—the exact opposite of Judaism.

Jews may often present themselves as the height of morality, but appearances can be deceiving. From my review of Yuri Slezkine’s The Jewish Century:

In 1923, several Jewish intellectuals published a collection of essays admitting the “bitter sin” of Jewish complicity in the crimes of the Revolution. In the words of a contributor, I. L. Bikerman, “it goes without saying that not all Jews are Bolsheviks and not all Bolsheviks are Jews, but what is equally obvious is that disproportionate and immeasurably fervent Jewish participation in the torment of half-dead Russia by the Bolsheviks” (p. 183). Many of the commentators on Jewish Bolsheviks noted the “transformation” of Jews: In the words of another Jewish commentator, G. A. Landau, “cruelty, sadism, and violence had seemed
alien to a nation so far removed from physical activity.” And another Jewish commentator, Ia. A Bromberg, noted that: the formerly oppressed lover of liberty had turned into a tyrant of “unheard-of-despotic arbitrariness”…. The convinced and unconditional opponent of the death penalty not just for political crimes but for the most heinous offenses, who could not, as it were, watch a chicken being killed, has been transformed outwardly into a leather-clad person with a revolver and, in fact, lost all human likeness (pp. 183–184). This psychological “transformation” of Russian Jews was probably not all that surprising to the Russians themselves, given Gorky’s finding that Russians prior to the Revolution saw Jews as possessed of “cruel egoism” and that they were concerned about becoming slaves of the Jews.

At least until the Gaza war, Jews have successfully depicted themselves as moral paragons and as champions of the downtrodden in the contemporary West. The organized Jewish community pioneered the civil rights movement and have been staunch champions of liberal immigration and refugee policies, always with the rhetoric of moral superiority (masking obviously self-interested motivations of recruiting non-Whites who could be relied on to ally with Jews in their effort to lessen the power of the erstwhile White majority by making them subjects of a multicultural, anti-White political hegemony; here, p. 26ff).

This weighs heavily on my mind. This Jewish pose of moral superiority is a dangerous delusion, and we must be realistic what the future holds as Whites continue to lose political power in all Western countries. When the gloves come off, there is no limit to what Jews in power may do if their present power throughout the West continues to increase.  The ubiquitous multicultural propaganda of ethnic groups living in harmony throughout the West will quickly be transformed into a war of revenge for putative historical grievances that Jews harbor against the West, from the destruction of the Second Temple by the Romans to the events of World War II. This same revenge was fatal to many millions of Russians and Ukrainians. It’s the fate of the Palestinians that we are seeing unfold before our eyes. Two recent articles brought this home vividly.

Megan Stack in The New York Times:

Israel has hardened, and the signs of it are in plain view. Dehumanizing language and promises of annihilation from military and political leaders. Polls that found wide support for the policies that have wreaked devastation and starvation in Gaza. Selfies of Israeli soldiers preening proudly in bomb-crushed Palestinian neighborhoods. A crackdown on even mild forms of dissent among Israelis.

The Israeli left — the factions that criticize the occupation of Palestinian lands and favor negotiations and peace instead — is now a withered stump of a once-vigorous movement. In recent years, the attitudes of many Israelis toward the “Palestinian problem” have ranged largely from detached fatigue to the hard-line belief that driving Palestinians off their land and into submission is God’s work. …

But Israel’s slaughter in Gaza, the creeping famine, the wholesale destruction of neighborhoods — this, polling suggests, is the war the Israeli public wanted. A January survey found that 94 percent of Jewish Israelis said the force being used against Gaza was appropriate or even insufficient. In February, a poll found that most Jewish Israelis opposed food and medicine getting into Gaza. It was not Mr. Netanyahu alone but also his war cabinet members (including Benny Gantz, often invoked as the moderate alternative to Mr. Netanyahu) who unanimously rejected a Hamas deal to free Israeli hostages and, instead, began an assault on the city of Rafah, overflowing with displaced civilians.

“It’s so much easier to put everything on Netanyahu, because then you feel so good about yourself and Netanyahu is the darkness,” said Gideon Levy, an Israeli journalist who has documented Israel’s military occupation for decades. “But the darkness is everywhere.” …

Like most political evolutions, the toughening of Israel is partly explained by generational change — Israeli children whose earliest memories are woven through with suicide bombings have now matured into adulthood. The rightward creep could be long-lasting because of demographics, with modern Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews (who disproportionately vote with the right) consistently having more babies than their secular compatriots.

Most crucially, many Israelis emerged from the second intifada with a jaundiced view of negotiations and, more broadly, Palestinians, who were derided as unable to make peace. This logic conveniently erased Israel’s own role in sabotaging the peace process through land seizures and settlement expansion. But something broader had taken hold — a quality that Israelis described to me as a numb, disassociated denial around the entire topic of Palestinians.

“The issues of settlements or relations with Palestinians were off the table for years,” Tamar Hermann told me. “The status quo was OK for Israelis.”

Ms. Hermann, a senior research fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute, is one of the country’s most respected experts on Israeli public opinion. In recent years, she said, Palestinians hardly caught the attention of Israeli Jews. She and her colleagues periodically made lists of issues and asked respondents to rank them in order of importance. It didn’t matter how many choices the pollsters presented, she said — resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came in last in almost all measurements. …

or nearly two decades — starting with the quieting of the second intifada and ending calamitously on Oct. 7 — Israel was remarkably successful at insulating itself from the violence of the occupation. Rockets fired from Gaza periodically rained down on Israeli cities, but since 2011, Israel’s Iron Dome defense system has intercepted most of them. The mathematics of death heavily favored Israel: From 2008 until Oct. 7, more than 6,000 Palestinians were killed in what the United Nations calls “the context of occupation and conflict”; during that time, more than 300 Israelis were killed.

Human rights organizations — including Israeli groups — wrote elaborate reports explaining why Israel is an apartheid state. That was embarrassing for Israel, but nothing really came of it. The economy flourished. Once-hostile Arab states showed themselves willing to sign accords with Israel after just a little performative pestering about the Palestinians.

Those years gave Israelis a taste of what may be the Jewish state’s most elusive dream — a world in which there simply did not exist a Palestinian problem.

Daniel Levy, a former Israeli negotiator who is now president of the U.S./Middle East Project think tank, describes “the level of hubris and arrogance that built up over the years.” Those who warned of the immorality or strategic folly of occupying Palestinian territories “were dismissed,” he said, “like, ‘Just get over it.’”

If U.S. officials understand the state of Israeli politics, it doesn’t show. Biden administration officials keep talking about a Palestinian state. But the land earmarked for a state has been steadily covered in illegal Israeli settlements, and Israel itself has seldom stood so unabashedly opposed to Palestinian sovereignty.

There’s a reason Mr. Netanyahu keeps reminding everyone that he’s spent his career undermining Palestinian statehood: It’s a selling point. Mr. Gantz, who is more popular than Mr. Netanyahu and is often mentioned as a likely successor, is a centrist by Israeli standards — but he, too, has pushed back against international calls for a Palestinian state.

Daniel Levy describes the current divide among major Israeli politicians this way: Some believe in “managing the apartheid in a way that gives Palestinians more freedom — that’s [Yair] Lapid and maybe Gantz on some days,” while hard-liners like Mr. Smotrich and Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir “are really about getting rid of the Palestinians. Eradication. Displacement.”

The carnage and cruelty suffered by Israelis on Oct. 7 should have driven home the futility of sealing themselves off from Palestinians while subjecting them to daily humiliations and violence. As long as Palestinians are trapped under violent military occupation, deprived of basic rights and told that they must accept their lot as inherently lower beings, Israelis will live under the threat of uprisings, reprisals and terrorism. There is no wall thick enough to suppress forever a people who have nothing to lose.

*   *   *

Ilana Mercer is a Jewish woman from South Africa who has posted on various conservative sites. Here she states the unmentionable about Israel—and by implication, a very wide swath of Jews living in the West: that sociopathy toward non-Jews is entirely mainstream among Jews. No one should be surprised by this. My only quibble is that real sociopaths have no guilt and even take pleasure in harming others without regard to their religion or ethnicity. But these same Jews who are reveling in slaughtering Palestinians are Jewish patriots and love their own people. But they have an extreme form of ingroup morality—a morality that is intimately linked to what I call Jewish “hyper-ethnocentrism” (e.g., here).

Ilana Mercer at Lew Rockwell.com: Sad To Say, but, by the Numbers, Israeli Society Is Systemically Sociopathic.

In teasing out right from wrong, discriminate we must between acts that are criminal only because The State has criminalized them (mala prohibita), as opposed to acts which are universally evil (malum in se). Israel’s sacking of Gaza is malum in se, universally evilGaza is clearly an easy case in ethics. It’s not as though the genocide underway in Gaza could ever be finessed or gussied up.

Yet in Israel, no atrocity perpetrated by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) in Gaza is too conspicuous to ignore. One of the foremost authorities on Gaza, Dr. Norman Finkelstein, calls Israel a Lunatic State. “It is certainly not a Jewish State,” he avers. “A murderous nation, a demonic nation,” roars Scott Ritter—legendary, larger-than-life American military expert, to whose predictive, reliable reports from theaters of war I’ve been referring since 2002. That the Jewish State is genocidal is not in dispute. But, what of Israeli society? Is it sick, too? What of the Israeli anti-government protesters now flooding the streets of metropolitan Israel? How do they feel about the incessant, industrial-scale campaign of slaughter and starvation in Gaza, north, center and south?

They don’t.

In desperate search for a universal humanity—a transcendent moral sensibility—among the mass of Israelis protesting the State; I scoured many transcripts over seven months. I sat through volumes of video footage, searching as I was for mention, by Israeli protesters, of the war of extermination being waged in their name, on their Gazan neighbors. I found none. Much to my astonishment, I failed to come across a single Israeli protester who cried for anyone but himselfhis kin and countrymen, and their hostages. Israelis appear oblivious to the unutterable, irreversible, irremediable ruin adjacent.

Again: I found no transcendent humanity among Israeli protesters; no allusion to the universal moral order to which international humanitarian law, the natural law and the Sixth Commandment give expression. I found only endless iterations among Jewish-Israelis of their sectarian interests.

For their part, protesters merely want regime change. They saddle Netanyahu solely with the responsibility for hostages entombed in Gaza, although, Benny Gantz (National Unity Party), ostensible rival to Bibi Netanyahu (Likud), and other War Cabinet members, are philosophically as one (Ganz had boasted, in 2014, that he would “send parts of Gaza back to the Stone Age”). With respect to the holocaustal war waged on Gaza, and spreading to the West Bank, there is no chasm between these and other squalid Jewish supremacists who make up “Israel’s wartime leadership.”

If you doubt my findings with respect to the Israeli protesters, note the May 11 droning address of protester Na’ama Weinberg, who demanded a change of government. Weinberg condemned the invasion of Rafah and a lack of a political strategy as perils to both hostage- and national survival. She lamented the “unspeakable torture” faced by the hostages. When Weinberg mentioned “evacuees neglected,” I lit up. Nine-hundred thousand Palestinians have been displaced from Rafah in the last two weeks. Forty percent of Gaza’s population. My hope was fleeting. It soon transpired that Weinberg meant citizens of Israeli border communities evacuated. That was the extent of Weinberg’s sympathies for the “slaughter house of civilians” down the road. Hers was nothing but a lower-order sectarian sensibility.

The grim spareness of Israeli protester sentiment has been widely noticed.

Writing for Foreign Policy, an American mainstream magazine, Mairav Zonszein, scholar with the International Crisis Group, observes the following:

‘The thousands of Israelis who are once again turning out to march in the streets are not protesting the war. Except for a tiny handful of Israelis, Jews, and Palestinians, they are not calling for a cease-fire or an end to the war—or for peace. They are not protesting Israel’s killing of unprecedented numbers of Palestinians in Gaza or its restrictions on humanitarian aid that have led to mass starvation. (Some right-wing Israelis even go further by actively blocking aid from entering the strip.) They are certainly not invoking the need to end military occupation, now in its 57th year. They are primarily protesting Netanyahu’s refusal to step down and what they see as his reluctance to seal a hostage deal.’

Public incitement continues apace. Genocidal statements saturate Israeli society. The “lovely” Itamar Ben Gvir has provided an update to his repertoire, the kind chronicled so well by the South Africans (this one included). On May 14, to the roar of the crowd, Israel’s national security minister urged anew that Palestinians be voluntarily encouraged to emigrate (as if anything that has befallen the Palestinians of Gaza, since October 7, has been “voluntary”). He was speaking at a settler rally on the northern border of Gaza, in which thousands of yahoos watched the “fireworks” on display over Gaza, and cheered for looting the land of the dead and dying there.

“It’s the media’s fault,” you’ll protest. “Israelis, like Americans, are merely brainwashed by their media.”

Inarguably, Israeli media—from Arutz 7, to Channel 12 (“[Gazans need] to die ‘hard and agonizing deaths’), to Israel Today, to Now 14 (“We will slaughter you and your supporters”), and the lowbrow, sub-intelligent vulgarians of i24—are a self-obsessed, energetic Idiocracy.

These media feature excitable sorts, volubly imparting their atavistic, primitive tribalism in ugly, anglicized, Pidgin Hebrew. And, each one of these specimen always has a “teoria”: a theory.

Naveh Dromi is a lot more appealing in visage and voice than i24’s anchor Benita Levin, a harsh and vinegary South African Kugel. Dromi is columnist for a Ha’aretz, the most highbrow of Israel’s (center-left) dailies. Ha’aretz once had intellectual ballast. In her impoverished Hebrew, Dromi has tweeted about her particular “teoria”: “a second Nakba” is a coming. Elsewhere she has rasped a-mile-a-minute about “the Palestinians as a redundant group.” Nothing crimsons her lovely cheeks.

Such statements of Jewish supremacy pervade Jewish-Israeli media. But, no; it’s not the Israeli media’s fault. The closing of the Israeli mind is entirely voluntary.

According to a paper from Oxford Scholarship Online, the “media landscape in Israel” evinces “healthy competition” and declining concentration. “[C]alculated on a per-capita basis,” “the number of media voices in Israel,” overall, “is near the top of the countries investigated.”

Israel has a robust, and privately owned media. These media cater to the Israeli public, which has a filial stake in lionizing the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), in which each and every son and daughter serve. For this reason, avers Ha’aretz’s Gideon Levi, in his many YouTube television interviews, the military is the country’s golden calf.

Mainstream public opinion, Levi insists, molds the media, not the obverse.

Levi attests that right-wing and left-wing media are as one when it comes to the subject of the IDF and the Palestinian People. And in this, Israeli media reflect mainstream public opinion. It is the public that wishes to see nothing of the suffering in Gaza, and takes care never to disparage or doubt the IDF. For their part, military journalists are no more than embeds, in bed with the military.

At least until now, Israelis have been largely indifferent to their army’s orgiastic, indiscriminate bloodletting in Gaza. Most were merely demanding a return of their hostages, and the continuance of the assault on Gazans, punctured by periodic cease fires.

So, is Jewish-Israeli society sick, too?

When “88 percent of Jewish-Israeli interviewees” give “a positive assessment of the performance of the IDF in Gaza until now” (Tamar Hermann, “War in Gaza Survey 9,” Israel Democracy Institute, January 24, 2024), and “[a]n absolute majority (88%) also justifies the scope of casualties on the Palestinian side”; (Gershon H. Gordon, The Peace Index, January 2024, Faculty of Social Sciences, Tel Aviv University)—it is fair to conclude that the diabolical IDF is, for the most, the voice of the Jewish-Israeli commonwealth.

Consider: By January’s end, the Gaza Strip had, by and large, already been rendered uninhabitable, a moonscape. Nevertheless, 51 percent of Jewish-Israelis said they believed the IDF was using an appropriate amount (51%) or not enough force (43%) in Gaza. (Source: Jerusalem Post staff, “Jewish Israelis believe IDF is using appropriate force in Gaza,” January 26, 2024.)

Note: Polled opinion was not split between Israelis for genocide and Israelis against it. Rather, the division in Israeli society appeared to be between Jewish-Israelis for current levels of genocide versus those for greater industry in what were already industrial-levels and methods of murder.

Attitudes in Israel have only hardened since: By mid-February, 58 percent of this Jewish cohort was grumbling that not enough force had been deployed to date; and 68 percent did “not support the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza.” (Jerusalem Post Staff, “Majority of Jewish Israelis opposed to demilitarized Palestinian state,” February 21, 2024.) [One wonders if the Biden admin’s humanitarian pier — the one that drifted into the sea shortly after it was installed — was sabotaged.]

Scrap the “hardened” verb. Attitudes in Jewish Israel have not merely hardened, but bear the hallmark of societal sociopathy.

When asked, in particular, “to what extent should Israel take into consideration the suffering of the Palestinian population when planning the continuation of the fighting there,” Jewish-Israelis sampled have remained consistent through the months of the onslaught on Gaza, from late in October of 2023 to late in March of 2024. The Israel Democracy Institute, a polling organization, found that,

‘[D]espite the progress of the war in Gaza and the harsh criticism of Israel from the international community regarding the harm inflicted on the Palestinian population, there remains a very large majority of the Jewish public who think that Israel should not take into account the suffering of Palestinian civilians in planning the continuation of the fighting. By contrast, a similar majority of the Arab public in Israel take the opposite view, and think this suffering should be given due consideration.’ (Tamar Hermann, Yaron Kaplan, Dr. Lior Yohanani, “War in Gaza Survey 13,” Israel Democracy Institute, March 26, 2024.)

Large majorities of the Israeli Center (71 percent) and on the Right (90 percent) say that “Israel should only take into account the suffering of the Palestinian population to a small extent or should not do so at all.”

Let us, nevertheless, end this canvas with the “good” news: On the “bleeding heart” Israeli Left; “only” (I’m being cynical) 47 percent of a sample “think that Israel should not take into consideration the suffering of Palestinian civilians in Gaza or should do so only to a small extent, while 50 percent think it should consider their plight to a fairly large or very large extent.” (Ibid.)

In other words, the general run of the Jewish-Israeli Left tends to think that the plight of Gazans should be considered, but not necessarily ended.

On the facts, and, as I have had to, sadly, show here, both the Israeli state and civil society are driven by Jewish supremacy, the kind that sees little to no value in Palestinian lives and aspirations. …

*   *   *

Again,  any student of Jewish history, Jewish ethics, and Jewish hyper-ethnocentrism should not be surprised by this. The existential problem for us is that we have to avoid the fate of the Russians, the Ukrainians, and the Palestinians. Jews in power will do what they can to oppose the interests of non-Jews of whatever society they reside in, whether by promoting nation-destroying immigration and refugee policy or — when they have absolute power — torture, imprisonment, and genocide.

The contrast between the hyper-ethnocentric Israeli media described by Mercer and the anti-White, utopian, multicultural media in the West, much of it owned and staffed by Jews, couldn’t be greater. Whereas the Israeli media reflect the ethnocentrism of the Israeli public, the media in the West do their best to shape public attitudes, including constant and ever-increasing anti-White messaging — morally phrased messaging that is effective with very large percentages of White people, especially women, likely for evolutionary reasons peculiar to Western  individualist cultures (here, Ch. 8). The state of the Western media is Exhibit A of Jews as a hostile elite in the West.

It should be obvious at this point that Western cultures are the opposite of Middle Eastern cultures where ethnocentrism and collectivism reign. Westerners have far less of the ingroup-outgroup thinking so typical of Jewish culture throughout history.

Individualism has served us poorly indeed and has been a disaster for Western peoples. Nothing short of a strong ingroup consciousness in which Jews are seen as a powerful and very dangerous outgroup will save us now.

The Sentencia-Estatuto of 1449

The Sentencia-Estatuto of 1449: Translated from Spanish to English and with an Introduction by Wilhem Ivorsson

Translator’s Notes:

The reader should keep in mind that this text is 575 years old. Many of the political titles and legal concepts referenced do not have modern equivalents, and the document was written in period-specific legal language, style and custom. The text is not very accessible even for a modern Spanish-speaking audience let alone an English-speaking one. Such being the case, I took a few liberties to increase the readability. This involved slightly rewording certain conjunctive phrasings and adding periods to delineate some tracts that otherwise would not sensibly translate to English; adding qualifying particles between brackets; and periodically omitting a redundant word. I also maintained English grammar rules regarding cases; I always capitalize “Catholic” and “Lord King” whereas the original does not. Aside from these changes, I have strived to retain the original semantic value, tone and structure. For the source text, I primarily used the reproduced copy found in Eloy Benito Ruano’s Toledo En El Siglo XV published by the University of Madrid in 1961. I also consulted the reproduced copy in Antonio Martín Gamero’s Historia de la Ciudad de Toledo published in 1862. Below is a longform translation, but I have also provided a simplified translation that omits less important elements and takes more liberties to achieve greater accessibility. You can read it here. You can also view the original Spanish text here.

Preface 

The Sentencia-Estatuto has been highlighted as one of the foundational documents of Spain’s Limpieza de Sangre policies. It was written in June of 1449 during Toledo’s rebellion against the crown. In January the Castilian constable Alvaro de Luna demanded the city provide a loan of one million maravedis to Juan II’s court. The loan was advertised as a means to confront the kingdom’s mounting military threats from Aragon to the Northeast and the Moors to the South. To procure the money for the loan, the city treasurer, Alonso Cota, a converso of Jewish heritage,1 imposed a tax on the commoners at the rate of dos doblas. Many believed that Alvaro de Luna and Alonso Cota “had devised the loan for their own personal gain; Cota was to reap his profit as tax farmer, and Alvaro was to get his bribe from Cota.”2 When Alonso’s men forcefully took the dos doblas from a lowly leather worker,3 the city erupted in protest. Enraged citizens ransacked Alonso Cota’s multiple homes. Afterwards they attacked and pillaged the Magdalena quarter4 where all the wealthy conversos and Jews were known to reside.

A nobleman, Pedro Sarmiento, took charge of the agitated masses and assumed effective control over Toledo. A few conversos took up arms against the rebels and were killed. Others were banished from the city and their homes and property confiscated. Over the next several months Juan II’s and De Luna’s forces undertook a siege campaign against the city. As the Sentencia-Estatuto stated, the royal court waged “a cruel war of blood and fire, of crop destruction and pillaging” against the citizens of Toledo. Periodically, Sarmiento engaged in negotiations with the king for the safe return of the city. One of the stipulations was that Alvaro de Luna be removed from Juan II’s court. As Spanish historian Eloy Benito Ruano explains, it was believed that De Luna had sold a number of public offices to the conversos and that he had “taken over the will of the King” and protected many “heretics and Judaizers.”5 Regarding converso overrepresentation in Juan II’s court, the late Jewish scholar Benzion Netanyahu (Benjamin Netanyahu’s father) said that:

…there can be no doubt that the influence of the conversos in the royal secretaryship was one of the factors determining the appointments of the cities’ chief authorities…the crowning achievement of the conversos in government was attained through their membership in Castile’s royal Council…Toward the end of [Juan II’s reign] they probably comprised no less than a third of its members, reaching at that time the zenith of their influence in determining the actions and policies of the state.6

The Sentencia-Estatuto explicitly stated, referring to the public notaries, that it was “well known to all, that the majority of said notary positions, said conversos tyrannically held and possessed, as much by the purchase with money as by favors and other clever and deceptive means.” The document emphasized that conversos should “especially” be barred from these offices and their “exemptions” which probably involved immunities from certain taxes and related financial obligations.

The Sentencia-Estatuto also rendered conversos ineligible to act as witnesses in court against old Christians. Many modern commentators view this as a historical novelty, but long before the Sentencia-Estatuto, Christians were not allowed to testify against Jews in Rabbinic courts,7 and Talmudic Mesirah laws often forbade Jews from denouncing fellow Jews to non-Jewish authorities. In addition, the Talmud sometimes forbids Jews from testifying against other Jews in secular courts.8 Even today, there is evidence that Jews still culturally adhere to these laws. For example in 2006, Israeli-American real estate investor Solomon Dwek was convicted of felony fraud after trying to steal $50 million from PNC Bank in a check-kiting scheme. Subsequently, he became an FBI informant and his father, Rabbi Dwek, famously denounced him from the pulpit at his synagogue, citing the Talmudic law of moser.9 His father even reportedly said that he would be sitting shiva, a week-long morning ritual, because he considered his son dead.10

While the Sentencia-Estatuto is not explicit on the matter, its statements easily lend themselves to a supposition that conversos would testify in secular courts against old Christians on behalf of fellow conversos in an ethnocentric fashion. With this in mind, the Sentencia-Estatuto outright accused the conversos of systematically taking over Toledo’s government, running it into the ground, and purposefully dispossessing many old Christian nobles:

…through cunning and deceit, [the conversos have] taken and carried off and stolen large and innumerable amounts of maravedis and silver from our king the lord and from his rents, rights, and taxes, and they have destroyed and ruined many noblewomen, knights and hidalgos. Consequently they have oppressed, destroyed, robbed and ravaged all the most ancient houses and estates of the old Christians of this city and its land and jurisdiction and all the realms of Castile, as is well known and as such we regard it. Furthermore, during the time that they have held public office in this city, and its management and administration, the greater part of said city’s centers have been depopulated and destroyed; said city’s own land and centers [have been] lost and alienated. Beyond all this, all the maravedis of said city’s income and property have been consumed in their own interests and properties, in such a manner that all of the country’s wealth and reputation have been consumed and destroyed.

All this said, the Sentencia-Estatuto is sometimes viewed as a post-hoc justification for the Toledans to rob and pillage the city’s wealthy conversos. Benzion Netanyahu claimed that Sarmiento lacked the support of the upper class nobles, and so he seized on the commoners’ animosity toward conversos in order to undermine Alvaro de Luna. He argues that Sarmiento was “a second-rate nobleman, with mediocre estates and moderate income”11 who felt entitled to greater monetary compensation for his past services to the king. In Netanyahu’s view, the rebellion was not an organic event, and Sarmiento premeditated and orchestrated the entire affair because of “hurt feelings” and a fear of “an impending disaster,”12 after he became convinced that De Luna had begun to see him as a political enemy.

I don’t think Netanyahu’s accounting of Sarmiento’s motives holds up under scrutiny. The converso overrepresentation in Juan II’s court and Alvaro de Luna’s support base by his own admission was a very real thing. The nobles were likely just as aware of it as the commoners, if not more so. In the years leading up to the rebellion, Alvaro de Luna and Juan II had been alienating their rivals, perceived or otherwise, by imprisoning them and seizing their assets. It was not the case that aside from Sarmiento and the commoners, all was well and good in Castile.13 It seems rather unlikely that Castilian nobility hadn’t begun to notice any patterns in terms of who was and wasn’t among De Luna’s and Juan II’s support base. Moreover, similar displays of ethnic strife between conversos and old Christians occurred in Ciudad Real a mere 15 days following the outbreak of the Toledan rebellion. “The [converso] tax collector Juan González (later burned by the Inquisition) and three hundred other men of said ancestry armed themselves and took to the streets, threatening to burn down the city before anyone decided to attack them.” This too was all apparently in a “dispute over the possession of the public notaries which it was said were bought by Judaizers and New Christians.”14 Even if Sarmiento orchestrated the rebellion in Toledo, as Netanyahu argues, he didn’t invent the larger ethnic conflict that was brewing in the region, nor did he invent converso overrepresentation in the notaries, which seems to have been ubiquitous throughout the region.

Many modern academics and commentators might argue here that such overrepresentation in the notaries could be attributed to an intelligence advantage rather than an ethnocentric in-group strategy. The evidence at hand, however, doesn’t support such a conclusion. Richard Lynn’s notable book, The Chosen People: A Study of Jewish Intelligence and Achievement, states that the bulk of Sephardic Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 moved to the Balkans, (p. 335) where the Sephardic IQ is currently 98. (p.298) In Lynn’s The Intelligence of Nations, the Spanish national IQ was rated at roughly 94. (p. 145) While statistically significant, a four point difference isn’t very compelling to support the former hypothesis. Moreover, another paper by Lynn, North-South Differences in Spain in IQ,15 reports that the average IQ in Northern Spain is 101 while the average in the South is 96. The average IQ for Catalonia and Valencia in Lynn’s paper was 102.

There is another paper, Numeracy of Religious Minorities in Spain and Portugal in the Inquisition Era, (Juif et al 2019)16 that attempts to compare the numeracy rates of “Jewish-accused” conversos with those of the broader Catholic masses during the Inquisition. The goal was to find evidence of “Jew’s human capital relative to the non-Jewish majority’s.” The study never discusses IQ directly, but it seeks to correlate rates of numeracy with education level which in turn can be correlated with IQ. The study’s finding was that Jewish-accused individuals had higher numeracy rates compared to the broader population, but the study also states that “Catholic priests and other groups of the religious elite who were occasional targets of the Inquisition had a similarly high level of numeracy.” This would suggest that, regardless of ethnicity, there was a high rate of numeracy within the higher socioeconomic rungs of Spanish society. The Inquisition does not appear to have targeted individuals of lower socioeconomic status.

If we consider that, by virtually all accounts, the sephardic Jews were not peasants, but rather a monied class of relative high socio-economic status,17 it may well be that the average converso indeed had a higher IQ than the average old Christian peasant. Even so, there is no evidence that the conversos were significantly more intelligent than the old Christian nobility such that one would expect the conversos to dominate the notaries. People have produced various estimations for the population of each major ethnic bloc in medieval Spain. None of them are particularly convincing, but with that caveat in mind, the total population in 1492 is generally said to have been around three million. The Jews, it is said, were around 300,000. Supposedly, there were half a million Muslims. If those figures are accurate, it would be informative to ascertain how many of the 2.2 million old Christians were of the noble classes. It may be that the old Christian noble classes numerically comprised a similarly small figure relative to the larger population of commoners. In effect, there may have been two relatively small but high socioeconomic rungs of Spanish society roughly of equal intelligence and size in the ‘resource competition theory’ that Kevin MacDonald has forwarded in his book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone. In such a setting, the conversos would be at an advantage only if they had adopted a group strategy against the old Christian nobles who in contrast had remained relatively individualistic until the implementation of Limpieza de Sangre policies.

It also appears to be the case that in none of the contemporary documents that sought to condemn Sarmiento’s rebellion does anyone counter the basic idea that conversos were indeed overrepresented in the manner Sarmiento and others described. Critics simply accused the rebels of having acted without proper cause and justification.

As far as Sarmiento’s motives go, they appear to have gone well beyond personal interests and ambitions. It is far more likely that he was sincerely motivated by a moral and religious conviction—perhaps even an emergent ethnic awareness—to protect his fellow old Christians from what he saw as their abuse and exploitation on the part of a hostile outgroup. If Sarmiento was only interested in political expediency, it was not a wise move for him to take up a stance that burned all possible bridges with the converso power base in such an exceedingly dangerous setting. Once the Toledan rebellion began, Juan II officially revoked and seized Sarmiento’s titles and properties, and sought to bring him and all his supporters to justice. Even Pope Nicholas V condemned the rebellion. He excommunicated Sarmiento along with over 500 others for their actions, and declared the entire city in “entredicho” which essentially barred all its inhabitants from participating in various ecclesiastical affairs.18 He then published the document Humani generis inimicus, (Enemies of the human race) in which, as Benito-Ruano put it, “he affirmed the unity of the Christian flock, regardless of the ancestry of its members in the faith, as well as their equal rights to obtain ecclesiastical and civil jobs or benefices.”19

As remarkable as this opposition to anti-converso sentiments was, plenty of other local nobles supported Sarmiento and the rebels’ cause. Curiously, prince Enrique had not been on good terms with his father, and there is reason to think that he clandestinely supported the rebellion’s anti-converso aims. During the rebellion, the prince was welcomed into the city by the rebels, and he had agreed to all of their demands. None of the rebels would be tried for their crimes, none of the property stolen would be returned to the conversos, and none of the conversos banished from the city would be allowed to return. It does appear that after a series of political intrigues, Enrique may have had a falling out with Sarmiento, but the details that the Crónica de Juan II provides seem strange.

The chronicle tells us20 that in November of 1450, with the rebellion still ongoing, the prince learned and disapproved of certain excesses Sarmiento had been engaged in.21 He left his stronghold in Segovia and made his way to Toledo to remove Sarmiento, whom we are also told was plotting to hand over the city to the king.22 This doesn’t make much sense. The prince had been amenable to Sarmiento’s aims while the king had not. The chronicle also states that the prince didn’t take any action against Sarmiento when he first entered the city. In fact, it expressly states that the prince participated in a series of games for “eight to ten days” before finally getting around to summoning Sarmiento. He then asks Sarmiento to hand over his positions to Don Pedro Giron, the Maestre de Calatrava.23

Supposedly, a few days after this, the bishop of Cuenca spoke to Sarmiento on behalf of the prince. He told Sarmiento that the prince wanted him to leave the city.24 The bishop then gave a scathing critique and condemnation of Sarmiento’s behavior. The chronicle condemned Sarmiento for having rebelled against his king, but Enrique, the king’s own son, was no less guilty of this. The same chronicle discusses how the prince impeded several plots on the part of disillusioned rebels to hand the city back over to his father. Moreover, Enrique did not arrest Sarmiento. Instead he granted Sarmiento safe passage to his power center in Segovia. He even allowed Sarmiento to leave the city with all his possessions and wealth, including what the same chronicle accuses Sarmiento of having plundered from the conversos.

The chronicle has several characters pleading with the prince to stop Sarmiento from leaving Toledo with “mas de treinta cuentos.” This presumably means “more than 30 million maravedis.” While maravedis don’t indicate actual coins here, the amount of money here seems absurd and fantastical. Beyond it being 30 times the original loan that instigated the rebellion, the amount would likely have been so physically large and heavy that Sarmiento could not possibly have carried it out of the city. Even Benzion Netanyahu stated that “this does not seem possible.”25 Assuming Sarmiento had 15 million doblas weighing around four grams each, the treasure would probably have weighed over 130,000 lbs. Technically though, the chronicle tells us that Sarmiento left “without the gold and the silver he had stolen” and instead much of what he carried out of Toledo were tapestries, rugs, fancy underwear, bed spreads, silk fabrics, and fine gems. It doesn’t seem any more likely that Sarmiento carried off the equivalent value of 30 million maravedis in these items.

The text does assert that Sarmiento’s caravan had “close to two hundred” beasts of burden, but even if this is true, that wouldn’t have sufficed. Assuming that each animal weighed around 1000 lbs and could carry 20% of its own weight, the maximum carrying capacity of Sarmiento’s caravan would’ve been about 40,000 lbs. And there is still the consideration that once outside the city, such an amount of wealth would’ve required a small army to defend, which Sarmiento, a minor noble, clearly did not possess. Indeed, after Sarmiento’s caravan leaves Toledo, the chronicle has his servants steal his belongings and abandon him over the course of several days. He is robbed by bandits on the road and the very cities he approaches seeking refuge. Even the king at one point confiscates part of what Sarmiento supposedly stole, when the latter is forced to abandon it at a former residence, and yet curiously the king doesn’t give the property back to its rightful owners.26 The account appears purposefully tailored to vilify Sarmiento in a caricatured fashion. Benzion Netanyahu notes that the dialogue between Sarmiento and the bishop of Cuenca is not present in the Crónica del Halconero; it’s only found in the Crónica de Juan II. He calls the account in the latter chronicle, a “tendentious story, which might have been produced by some admirer of Barrientos (in all likelihood, a converso author)…”27

It’s entirely possible that Sarmiento had aggravated the prince by imprisoning certain noblemen whom the prince felt were honorable, but elements of the chronicle are clearly histrionic in nature. It seems more likely that the prince asked Sarmiento to leave the city after Pope Nicholas’s bull against the rebels had been locally issued. The prince may have been concerned with optics and felt that Sarmiento’s departure would ease tensions.28 Either way, the rebellion continued without Sarmiento’s direct participation for over another year, and when it was over, it had effectively accomplished all that he and his followers had set out to achieve.

On March 21st of 1451, Juan II saw fit to pardon all the Toledan rebels. No one was to be punished for their actions, and even more amazing, none of the property taken from the conversos was to be returned.29 It can be deduced from a letter dated to August 13th, 1451 that Juan II also upheld the rebellion’s measure to remove conversos from public office in Toledo.30 On November 20th of the same year at Juan II’s request, the Pope removed the excommunication status from the city.31 Even Sarmiento was eventually pardoned in 1452, and all his former titles and estates were restored. Although Juan II never allowed him to return to court, Sarmiento became a member of Enrique’s court once he succeeded his father to the throne. Sarmiento died naturally in 1463, probably due to parkinson’s disease, having successfully passed on his mayorazgo to his son.32 Alvaro de Luna on the other hand, following another set of attempts at power grabs, was arrested in 1453 by Enrique who had the former constable convicted for usurping royal functions and subsequently beheaded.33

By 1478 the Inquisition was established in Castille via a papal bull with the goal of combating the Judaizing practices of the conversos. By 1483, it was established in Aragon. The former reluctance on the part of the papacy to engage in prejudicial actions against persons of Jewish ancestry had evaporated. In 1492 at the culmination of the Reconquista, Spain enacted the Edict of Expulsion (Decreto de la Alhambra or Edicto de Granada) which expelled all practicing Jews who refused to convert to Catholicism. Those who rejected conversion were given six months to sell their assets, conclude their affairs, and move abroad.34 Although thousands of Jews left, it’s generally believed that the bulk of them opted to convert, and following the historical pattern since the times of the Visigoths, these conversions were in all likelihood mostly insincere. Many of the new converts continued to practice Judaism in secret and maintain old ethnic ties and allegiances and intermarry among themselves. It was in this setting that Limpieza de Sangre became official state policy in Spain.

Benzion Netanyahu asserted that the Spaniards had adopted “the principle of race to discriminate against all conversos” and asked why the Spaniards being so “constitutionally dedicated to the defense of Christian cult and doctrine [would] adopt a policy so alien…so opposed to its laws, teachings and traditions?”35 Perhaps we can find an ironic answer to this question in chapter four of Kevin MacDonald’s Separation and Its Discontents:

The Inquisition was fundamentally a response to failed attempts to force genetic and group assimilation. The real crime in the eyes of the Iberians was that the Jews who had converted after 1391 were racialists in disguise, and this was the case even if they sincerely believed in Christianity while nevertheless continuing to marry endogamously and to engage in political and economic cooperation within the group. Those who had voluntarily assimilated prior to 1391 were not targets of the Inquisition, since such individuals were implicitly viewed as being free from the crime of racialism. It was not the extent of Jewish ancestry that was a crime, but the intentional involvement in a group evolutionary strategy. In this sense, the Inquisition was profoundly non-racist. Rather, it was concerned with punishing racialism.36

Some of MacDonald’s assertions may appear odd, since the Inquisition later developed an entire racial caste system in the Americas. But the historical evidence strongly indicates that the emergent Spanish attitudes toward conversos were formed in response to ethnocentric converso collectivism against old Christians. It should be considered here that the tendency of Christianity in Spain had been to dissolve older ethnic distinctions. The Visigoths had forbidden intermarriage between themselves and local Hispano Romans until the mid 7th century when Recceswinth dissolved the old law in order to promote cultural unity.37 To be clear, these observations are not intended to imply that the Jews of Spain bore responsibility for the Spaniards’ subsequent implementation of their racial caste system in the Americas. As MacDonald also states in his work, “evolutionary theory must also suppose that these tendencies are in no way exclusive to Judaism…”38 My intent here is to discourage academics and others from viewing the emergence of Limpieza de Sangre policies as the progenitor of modern racism.

Beginning of the Translated Text:

In the very noble and very loyal city of Toledo, five days into the month of June, in the year of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ, one thousand four hundred and forty nine; on this day, standing present in the house and hall of said city of Toledo, the very honorable and noble gentleman Pedro Sarmiento, repostero mayor39 of our Lord the King and his council, and alcalde de las alzadas40 in said city of Toledo and its realm, boundary, and jurisdiction by way of said Lord King, and [standing present] the judges, sheriffs, knights and squires, commoners and people of said city of Toledo, assembled according to habit and custom, especially to hear, discuss, negotiate and provide in the administration and good governance of said city and in other things pertaining and convenient to the service of our Lord God, of said Lord the King and of the public welfare of said city and its residents and inhabitants, and in the presence of myself, Pasqual Gómez, public scribe in Toledo and scribe of the councils of said city, and [in the presence] of the witnesses listed below, Esteban García de Toledo personally appeared in said council in name, and as the representative that he is, of said judges, sheriffs, knights, squires, commoners and people of said city, whose power of attorney passed before me, the aforementioned scribe. [Esteban García de Toledo] spoke with the gentlemen named above, who well know how on many days and in different councils they had discussed and understood about the universal wellbeing of said city, and of the privileges, exemptions and freedoms given and granted to it by the kings of very glorious memory, progenitors of our Lord the King, and by their highness [said privileges, exemptions and freedoms were] confirmed and sworn.41 Among these [privileges, exemptions and freedoms, Esteban García de Toledo] says there was a privilege given and granted to said city by the Catholic of glorious memory, Don Alfonso, king of Castile and Leon, whereby, among other graces, freedoms, and immunities given and granted by him to said city, following the spirit and letter of the law and the holy decrees, [Don Alfonso] ordered and decreed that no converso with Jewish lineage could hold or keep any office or benefice in said city of Toledo, nor in its land, boundary and jurisdiction, for being suspect in the faith of our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ, and for other causes and reasons contained within said privilege.

The aforementioned lords had deliberated a few times on the public notaries of said city, which were and are offices that consist in the service of said Lord King and a great part of the benefit of all public things of said city. They had seen and heard, and it was well known to all, that the majority of said notary positions, said conversos tyrannically held and possessed, as much by the purchase with money as by favors and other clever and deceptive means. This was done in contempt of the royal crown of our Lord the King, of said privileges, exonerations, freedoms and immunities of said city, and of the old Christians proper.42 About all this and other things pertaining to the service of God, of said Lord King, and of the public welfare of said city, [the aforementioned lords] had agreed to make a pronouncement and declaration beyond their mercy to date. Consequently, in name of said city, its commoners and people, and in the best manner [Esteban García de Toledo] was able, and was compelled by law to do so, he requested and did request, he demanded and did demand, that [the aforementioned lords] declare and pronounce on all that they understand to be in service of God our Lord and of said Lord King and of the common interest and advantage of said city.

And promptly the aforementioned Pedro Sarmiento and the aforementioned judges, sheriffs, knights and squires, commoners and people of said city, stated that they had already seen and deliberated about what the aforementioned Esteban García stated, and [that] they had ordered him to see his lawyers, intending to be compliant in the service of God, of said Lord King, and of the public welfare of said city. Consequently, above and beyond everything else declared and pronounced by them in the trial that said city brings against its enemy residents for the offenses and crimes committed and perpetrated by them against the service of God, and of said Lord King, and of the public good of said city, the aforementioned lords agreed to make a certain declaration, and they promptly gave another judgment, and they made me, the aforementioned scribe, read it, the tenor of which, with what happened later, is what follows:

«We, the aforementioned Pedro Sarmiento, repostero mayor of our Lord the King and of his council, and his asistente43 and alcalde mayor de las alzadas of the very noble and very loyal city of Toledo, and the judges, sheriffs, knights, squires, citizens and people of said city of Toledo, named above, pronounce and declare that, inasmuch as it is well known by law both canonical and civil, that conversos of Jewish lineage, for being suspect in the faith of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the faith which they frequently profane by judaizing, may not hold such offices or benefices public or private through which they might inflict shame, damages or abuses on old Christians proper, nor may they qualify as witnesses against them. For this reason, privilege was given to said city and its residents by Don Alfonso of glorious memory, that these conversos not hold nor be able to hold said offices or benefices under pain of severe and grave punishments, and because against a very large part of this city’s conversos, descendants from the lineage of its Jews, it is proven, and it seemed and evidently seems, that they are persons highly suspect in the holy Catholic faith, holding and believing profound errors against the articles of the holy Catholic faith, guarding the rites and rituals of the old law, and saying and affirming that our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ is a man belonging to their lineage whom the Christians adore as God. And furthermore, [because] they affirm and say that there is a God and a Goddess44 in heaven. And furthermore, [because] on Holy Thursday, while the holiest oil and chrism are consecrated in the Holy Church of Toledo, and the Body of our Redeemer is placed on the Altar, said conversos slaughter lambs and eat them and make other kinds of burnt offerings and sacrifices judaizing. [This is] according to what is contained at length in the inquiry conducted for this reason by the vicars of said Holy Church of Toledo. By virtue [of its findings], the royal justice, following the letter of the law, proceeded heartedly against some of them, and from there, as the holy decrees have deduced, it turns out that most of said conversos do not think well of the holy Catholic faith. Said inquiry we have included here and ordered it to be placed in the archives of Toledo. Additionally, because beyond what has been said above is well known in this city, and as such we have declared it as fact and well known that said conversos live and act without fear of God. And furthermore they have shown and show themselves to be enemies of said city and its old Christian residents, and that notoriously at their petition, insistence and solicitation, a royal tax was placed on said city by the constable Don Alvaro de Luna45 and his henchmen and allies, our enemies, waging a cruel war of blood and fire, of crop destruction and pillaging, as if we were Moors, enemies of the Christian faith.

Such damages, evils, and wars, the Jews, enemies of our holy Catholic faith, have always caused, manifested, and even implemented since the passion of our Savior Jesus Christ. Even the Jews who lived in this city long ago, according to our ancient chronicles, when it was surrounded by the Moors, our enemies, led by their captain Tariq, after the death of the king Don Rodrigo,46 made a deal and sold said city and its Christians and gave entrance to said Moors. In this deal and contract it was decided that three hundred and six old Christians of the city were to be beheaded, and more than one hundred and six were taken from the cathedral and from the church of Santa Leocadia and carried off as captives and prisoners among whom were men and women, children and adults. Consequently, they have, and they do so every day said conversos, descendants of the Jews, through cunning and deceit, taken and carried off and stolen large and innumerable amounts of maravedis47 and silver from our king the lord and from his rents, rights, and taxes, and they have destroyed and ruined many noblewomen, knights and hidalgos.48 Consequently they have oppressed, destroyed, robbed and ravaged all the most ancient houses and estates of the old Christians of this city and its land and jurisdiction and all the realms of Castile, as is well known and as such we regard it.

Furthermore, during the time that they have held public office in this city, and its management and administration, the greater part of said city’s centers49 have been depopulated and destroyed; said city’s own land and centers [have been] lost and alienated.50 Beyond all this, all the maravedis of said city’s income and property have been consumed in their own interests and properties, in such a manner that all of the country’s wealth and reputation have been consumed and destroyed. They are made lords to destroy the holy Catholic faith and the old Christians who believe in it. In confirmation of this, it is well known to this city and its residents that here a short time ago said conversos rose up, assembled, and armed themselves, and as is public knowledge and well known, they set out with the intention and purpose to destroy all the old Christians and myself, the aforementioned Pedro Sarmiento, first and foremost among them, and to throw us out of said city, and to take it over and deliver it to our enemies. What has been said [here] is public and well known, and as such we hold and regard it, and thereby, pronouncing on this as a notorious case and fact, we find:

«That we must declare and pronounce, establish and order, and we do declare, pronounce, establish and order, that all said conversos, descendants of the perverse lineage of the Jews, to any extent, as much by virtue of canon and civil law that rules against them on the things declared above, as by virtue of the aforementioned privilege given to this city by the aforementioned Lord King of very glorious memory, Don Alfonso of Castile and Leon, progenitor of the King our Lord, and by the other Lord Kings his progenitors, and by their highness, [the aforementioned privilege was] sworn and confirmed, [and] as much by reason of the heresies and other offenses, insults, seditions and crimes committed and perpetrated by them to date, that they are to be regarded, just the law regards them, unable and unworthy to hold any office or benefice, public or private, in said city of Toledo, and in its land, boundary and jurisdiction, with which they can hold lordship over old Christians of the holy Catholic faith of our Lord Jesus Christ or cause them damages and offenses. Additionally they are to be regarded as unable and unworthy to give testimony and faith as public scribes or as witnesses, especially in this city. By this judgment and declaration of ours, following the spirit and letter of the aforementioned privilege, liberties, and immunities of said city, we deprive them, and order them to be deprived, of any offices and benefices that they hold, and have held, in any manner in this city. And inasmuch as it is well known to us, and for such we pronounce it, those who follow are to be especially held and regarded as conversos of Jewish lineage:

López Fernández Cota.—Gonzalo Rodríguez de San Pedro, his nephew.—Juan Núñez, bachelor.—Pero Núñez y Diego Núñez, his brothers.—Juan Núñez, promoter.—Juan López del Arroyo.—Juan González de Illescas.—Pero Ortíz.—Diego Rodríguez el Albo.—Diego Martínez de Herrera.—Juan Fernández Cota.—Diego González Jarada, alcalde.—Pero González, his son, and every one of them.»

«Therefore we declare them to be removed from, and we remove them from, any notaries and other offices that they have and have held in this city and its boundary and jurisdiction, and we dictate to the aforementioned conversos, who live and dwell in it and its land, boundary and jurisdiction, that henceforth they may not testify in or benefit from said offices, especially the aforementioned public notaries and their exemptions, neither publicly nor secretly, neither directly nor indirectly, under pain of death and confiscation of all their goods by the walls of said city and its republic. Furthermore, we find that we must order, and we do order, the public scribes of the number51 of said city, Christians old and proper, to whom it belongs the election of said public notaries, that being vacant said notaries that the aforementioned conversos, descendants of Jewish lineage and breed,52 held and hold among themselves, to choose [new] public scribes of said number in accordance with the privilege and judgment granted to them by the Lord King Don Alfonso, named above, and by customary use, and guarding within said elections the form and the oath that must be made. We order that this judgment and its effect be publicly proclaimed in the usual public squares and markets of this city. And by this judgment and declaration, pronouncing and declaring as in well-known fact, we pronounce, declare, and order it in and by these writings.»

And thus given the aforementioned judgment, and read, in the manner that it is, by myself, the aforementioned scribe, Pasqual Gómez, and by the aforementioned Esteban García, attorney of said city, [who read it] in its name, and by Fernando López de Sahagún, public scribe of Toledo, [who read it] in name of himself and of the other public scribes of said city, [the aforementioned lords] stated: that they requested and did request that I, the aforementioned scribe, give it to them as public testimony as many times as they required for safeguard and conservation for the aforementioned parties and themselves. And I, the aforementioned scribe, by order of said gentlemen named above, gave to the aforementioned public scribes this public instrument, according to and in the manner that passed before me in said city of Toledo, on the day, month, year and place named above.

Furthermore, the aforementioned lords of Toledo stated that they wanted, and they ordered, that this judgment and lawsuit of theirs should have the force of a judgment or declaration, statute, or ordinance, or the best form that would be and is valid, and that it was to be, and that it is, issued in favor of the proper old Christians against the aforementioned conversos, and that it was to be understood, and is understood, that it was to be extended and is extended against the conversos past and present and future; but not in the proceedings and rulings,53 that to date they made into deeds or were presented by witnesses. Those should be valid as much as they legally will have to be and be able to be.

Witnesses who were present to this: Periáñez de Oseguera, knight commander of Toledo, of the Calatrava order, and Sancho de Fuelles, and Per Alvares de la Plata, and Fernán López de Sahagún, public scribes in said city. For this, they were especially summoned and requested.

And I, the aforementioned Pasqual Gómez, public scribe of Toledo, of the number and of the councils of said city, was present with the aforementioned witnesses to what has been declared. And by order of the aforementioned Pedro Sarmiento and said city, and by request and claim of the aforementioned Esteban García, the city’s attorney, I wrote this public instrument, and consequently I made here this seal of mine that is such in testimony of truth.—Pascual Gómez, public scribe.

End of the Translated Text


Endnotes

  1. Emilio Cotarelo y Mori. “Algunas noticias nuevas acerca de Rodrigo de Cota”. Boletín de la Real Academia Española, XIII. 1926.

 

  1. Benzion Netanyahu. The Origins of the Inquisition. Random House. 1995. (p.310) Netanyahu cites the Historia Eclesiástica de la Imperial Ciudad de Toledo y Su Tierra by Jerónimo Román de la Higuera, which I do not have access to. His citation on page 1225 says the following:

Higuera, op. cit., lib. 28, cap. y, f. 222v, says that the común suspected Cota to have been the originator of the idea of the loan and that he influenced Alvaro to accept it. See Crónica, año 1449, cap. 2, pp. 661b-662a; Halconero, cap. 372, pp. 511-512

I also do not currently have access to the Crónica del Halconero, but the Crónica del Señor Rey Don Juan II cited states the following:

é porque oviéron sospecha, que un mercader muy rico é honrado vecino de la cibdad de Toledo, que se llamaba Alonso Cota, habia seydo movedor deste enprestido…

  1. Crónica del Señor Rey Don Juan II. Año 43, Capítulo I.:

Y el primero movedor del escándalo fué un odrero vecino desta cibdad de Toledo , é á su voz é apellido se juntó todo el común : é hallóse escrito en una piedra en letras góticas de gran tiempo, que decia así : Soplara el odrero , y alborotarseha Toledo.

Juan de Mata Carriazo. Refundición del Halconero. Espara-Calpe, S.A. Madrid, 1946. (p.CXCII):

…e como abaxaron a coger dos doblas a gente comun, que no las podian dar, por esta causa se ovo de levantar el comun. E fué causa un odrero, que le pusieron dos doblas; por esto decian: sopló el odrero, e levantóse Toledo.

  1. Juan de Mariana. Obras del padre Juan de Mariana. M. Rivadeneyra. Madrid. 1854. (p.130):

Cargaron sobre las casas de Alonso Cota y pegáronles fuego, con que por pasar muy adelante se quemó el barrio de la Madalena , morada en gran parte de los mercaderes ricos de la ciudad.

  1. Eloy Benito Ruano. Toledo en el siglo XV. Madrid. 1961. (p. 42) Ruano cites La Crónica del Halconero pages 520-526.
  2. Benzion Netanyahu. (p.962)
  3. There are several instances of Jewish law where this is stipulated, but some examples are: Bava Kemma 3:1 and 15a; The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume Five, in the article EVIDENCE (p.277) states that “The witness must be an Israelite. The Talmud seems to take this for granted.”
  4. Bava Kamma 113b and 114a state that a single Jew may not testify against another Jew in a secular court, but that two or more Jews meet the requirements of Jewish law. There is debate within Jewish scholarship about the exact nature of this law, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that on more than one occasion, crypto Jews and conversos gave false testimony for the benefit of their coethnics.
  5. Kate Sheehy. “Stoolie is ‘Dead’ to His Daddy”. www.nypost.com. Published July 28, 2009, 6:59 a.m. ET
  6. Ami Eden. “Disowning Dwek?”. www.jta.org. Published July 28, 2009 7:10 PM. This Orthodox Jewish blog claimed that Rabbi Dwek never actually invoked the Talmudic laws of moser nor did he begin sitting shiva, however, the blog reported the following:

Rabbi Dweck delivered a very emotional sermon in which he strongly denounced the phenomenon of a Jew informing on other Jews, said that he is also a victim in this saga together with Klal Yisroel, and asked for prayers from the entire Jewish community for his terrible suffering.

  1. Benzion Netanyahu. (p.301)
  2. Ibid. He makes his case in Chapter III on pages 301-313. The quotes are on page 303.
  3. Eloy Benito Ruano gives a good outline in Chapter Two of his book.
  4. Ibid. (p.49-50)
  5. Richard Lynn. North-South Differences in Spain in IQ, Educational Attainment, per capita Income, Literacy, Life Expectancy and Employment. Mankind Quarterly, Vol 52, No. 3. March 2012. (p. 265-291)
  6. Juif et al. Numeracy of Religious Minorities in Spain and Portugal in the Inquisition Era. Revista de Historia Economica – Journal of Iberian and Latin American Economic History 38(1):1-38. November, 2019.
  7. Salo Baron. Ghetto and Emancipation; shall we revise the traditional view?. The Menorah Journal. New York. 1928. (p.1-4)
  8. Ibid. Ruano discusses this on page 70 and cites the declaration from the pope, a copy of which he has included on page 201. See “1449. Septiembre, 24. Fabriano”
  9. Ibid. (p.53)
  10. Crónica del Señor Rey Don Juan II. Año 44, Capítulo I.
  11. …por quanto era informado quel dicho Pero Sarmiento no contento de los males que había hecho, todavía perseveraba en hacer otros mayores…
  12. …é aun que trataba con el Rey para entregarle la cibdad…
  13. …é pasáron allí en Toledo en correr toros é jugar cañas ocho, ó diez dias, en fin de los quales el Príncipe enbió á decir á Pero Sarmiento, que le rogaba que le entregase el alcázar, y dexase el Alcaydía mayor de la cibdad…
  14. …é díxole como la voluntad del príncipe era que le desenbargase la cibdad de Toledo…
  15. Benzion Netanyahu. (p.1108)
  16. Crónica del Señor Rey Don Juan II. Año 44, Capítulo I. The original text reads:

E desque el Rey, que estaba en Valladolid, supo como aquella hacienda que Pero Sarmiento habia robado en Toledo estaba gran parte della en Gumiel de mercado, embió allá á un Escribano de Cámara que se llamaba Fernán Alonso de Toledo, para que todo lo tomase por ante Escribano, é lo truxese al Rey, lo qual así se hizo.

  1. Benzion Netanyahu. (p.1107-1108)
  2. Ibid.
  3. Eloy Benito Ruano. (p.216) “1451. Marzo, 21. Torrijos”
  4. Ibid. (p.76) See also “1451. Agosto, 13. Santo Domingo de la Calzada” on page 222.
  5. Ibid. (p.76) See also “1451, Noviembre, 20. Roma” on page 223.
  6. Laura Canabal Rodríguez. “Pero Sarmiento.” www.rae.es.
  7. Vicente Ángel Álvarez Palenzuela. “Álvaro de Luna”. www.rae.es.
  8. Andrés Bernáldez. Historia de los reyes católicos. (p. 332)
  1. Benzion Netanyahu. (p.xvi)
  2. Kevin MacDonald. Separation and Its Discontents. (p. 124-125)
  3. See Book III, Title I, Section II of the Visigothic Codex. The law negates the former Gothic forbiddance of exogamous marriages. Here is Samuel Parsons Scott’s translation:

It shall be as Lawful for a Roman Woman to Marry a Goth, as for a Gothic Woman to Marry a Roman. The zealous care of the prince is recognized, when, for the sake of future utility, the benefit of the people is provided for; and it should be a source of no little congratulation, if the ancient law, which sought improperly to prevent the marriage of persons equal in dignity and lineage, should be abrogated. For this reason, we hereby sanction a better law; and, declaring the ancient one to be void, we decree that if any Goth wishes to marry a Roman woman, or any Roman a Gothic woman, permission being first requested, they shall be permitted to marry. And any freeman shall have the right to marry any free woman; permission of the Council and of her family having been previously obtained.

  1. Kevin MacDonald. A People That Shall Dwell Alone. (p.16)
  2. The Diccionario del Castellano del Siglo XV (hereafter DCS XV) defines repostero as a “royal official tasked with the care of the palace’s domestic items.” Some have translated the word as “butler,” but Pedro Sarmiento was not Juan II’s “butler.” It may just be an honorific title of sorts.
  3. Today acalde usually translates as “mayor,” but the acalde mayor de las alzadas was more akin to a “chief judge of appeals.” Pedro Sarmiento was not the “mayor” of Toledo. The DCS XV states some of the following:

Tomado del árabe andalusí alqádi, ‘juez’, derivado del verbo qádà, ‘juzgar’. Nebrija (Lex1, 1492): Praetor primus. el alcalde dela alçada. Praetro. oris. por alcalde o corregidor. Propraetor. oris. alcalde extraordinario. Rudis rudis. por la vara del alcalde. Uindicta. ae. por la vara del alcalde.

  1. In case it is unclear, the text is stating that the “highness” of the old kings is what confirmed the “privileges, exemptions and freedoms.”
  2. The original phrasing here was “los christianos viejos lindos.” Today, the word lindo is usually translated as ‘beautiful’ but at the time, the word was more akin to its Latin root legitimum. From the DCS XV:

Del latín LEGITIMUM, ‘legítimo, conforme a la ley’, derivado de LEX, ‘ley’.

Nebrija (Lex1, 1492): *Legitimus .a .um. por cosa de lei.

Nebrija (Voc1, ca. 1495 y Voc2, 1513): Linda cosa. nitidus .a .um. elegans .tis.

  1. This literally translates as “assistant” but the exact nature of the position is unclear. The king had many asistentes, and Sarmiento was his asistente in Toledo.
  2. Kenneth Baxter claims in his partial translation (see his footnotes) that this is “a concept connected to the cabalist movement within medieval Iberian Judaism. The idea of a female counterpart to God—known as Shekhina—may have been influenced by Latin Christian devotion of Mary which intensified in the twelfth century.”
  3. This is a reference to the initial tax imposed on the city that led to the outbreak of the rebellion.
  4. 46. This is a reference to the Visigothic king Roderic who died in battle against the Moorish invaders led by Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711.
  5. Originally this was a type of physical coin, but by the 15th century a maravedis was an abstract counting unit. The DCS XV defines a maravedis as having a value of two blancas in Castile. Six of the latter would’ve been worth one silver real.
  6. This is another Spanish and Portuguese term for nobility. It is a condensed form of hijo de algo or ‘son of something’. Hijo derives from the Latin filium meaning ‘son’ and algo derives from the Arabic aliquod meaning ‘a part of something larger.’ The word essentially describes ‘landed gentry.’ The DCS XV defines hidalgo as a “person belonging to a privileged social class, who does not live from his work but rather from his properties over which he has limited power.”
  7. The original Spanish is “los lugares de la dicha cibdad.” Lugar is usually translated as ‘place’ but the DCS XV defines “lugar” as a “núcleo urbano, particularmente cuando no es de gran extensión.” Given the context, I think the author is discussing urban commercial centers and properties.
  8. The original Spanish word is “enajenados.” The concept conveyed is that the ownership of the properties had been transferred to others. The DCS XV defines the word as “pasar <una persona> la propiedad de [algo] o un derecho sobre ella a [alguien].”
  9. Even today in many Spanish-speaking countries, public notaries are numbered, but perhaps an explanation is warranted to avoid confusion. The Pan-Hispanic Dictionary of Legal Spanish explains this as follows:

[A] council officer who could only exercise his office in the town or district to which he was assigned. They are called ‘of the number’ because generally in each locality or district there was a certain number of them, which could not be exceeded.

  1. The word used here was “ralea” which the DCS XV defines as “naturaleza o clase a que pertenece una persona o una cosa.”
  2. The phrase here was “las causas e cosas.” I think given the legal context, “cosa” is short for “cosa juzgada” which the DCS XV defines as “efecto de la sentencia firme que hace indiscutible la resolución judicial.”

 

Traditional Jewish Separatism and De-humanization of Gentiles: A Review of Stephen Bloom’s Postville

[W]hat the Postville Hasidim ultimately offered me was a glimpse at the dark side of my own faith, a look at Jewish extremists whose behavior not only made the Postville locals wince, but made me wince.
Stephen Bloom

Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America
Stephen G. Bloom
Mariner Books, 2001 (originally published by Harcourt in 2000)

7367 words

*        *        *

Did Stephen Bloom write a book that savaged the Jews?

More than twenty years ago, a journalism professor from the University of Iowa, Stephen Bloom, published a highly readable and fascinating book on an incredible culture clash that played out in the Northeastern Iowa town of Postville; a description of the difficulty that the transplantation of a Hasidic Jewish community into a withering, rural Iowa farm town in the 1980s and 1990s posed from both the Jewish and native Iowan perspective alike. The author’s Jewishness, fairly or unfairly, allowed him access to the Hasidic community that no gentile would have been afforded; the author’s secularism and “local” status allowed him access to the native Iowan community as well. What follows then is a sketch of two antagonistic communities from the inside out.

Bloom is a talented writer — he weaves scenes and characters that are compelling. In many ways, Postville reads like a novel in the sense that the characters he introduces and develops become fixtures in the mind of the reader — we know them and are interested in them. While I am not sure that Postville teaches us something we did not already know — it is an intriguing look at the Hasidic movement and the death of rural America, all at the same time. And while Bloom showed an implied hostility against a strongly manifested faith — and that bias is palpable throughout the book — his irreligiosity was not so overwhelming to distract from the overall evenhandedness of the book.

If anything, the years that have passed have made the book more relevant than even when it was published. It is the intersection, and future, of religion in America and America itself — as it was, as it is, and as it is becoming. Not only is the story of Postville one of rural and urban, immigrant and native, and Christian and Jewish, but it is also the account of Jewish versus Jewish — the Jewishness of intense insularity versus the Jewishness of liberal cosmopolitanism, the Jewishness of tribalism versus the Jewishness of universalism. Bloom’s book about the culture clash between Hasidic Jews and rural Iowans is riveting on many levels but one that figures most prominently is the theme of Jewish inward-looking supremacism, and how this theme correlates with Jewish religiosity. Simply stated, the more religious a Jew is, the more he believes that he must turn within the Jewish community and shun the gentile (lest he, the religious Jew, is contaminated by the filth and impurity of the gentile). Not only does he not love the gentile in any conceivable way, but the religious Jew is categorically indifferent to the gentile’s existence as if the gentile does not matter in any essential way—that the gentile has no moral worth. There is then a powerful and undeniable correlation between Jewish religious intensity and observance and insularity from, and indifference to, the “other.” Of course, as I have known from experience, not every religious Jew is hostile and indifferent to gentiles per se. But the gravity exerted within religious Judaism is one that pulls towards itself — fundamentally, religious Judaism is not interested in the world outside of its narrow parameters. By contrast, the more religious a Christian becomes, the more he loves (or should love) all men as his neighbor — Christianity as a creed cannot produce anything approaching Jewish supremacism and insularity because Christianity is uniquely universal. For the Christian, Jew and gentile are essentially equal in dignity before God — for the religious Jew, such a concept would be totally unacceptable. And, as an “ultra” orthodox outpost, Postville recounts appalling episodes of indifference and hostility towards the gentiles by the Postville Jews.

All of it plays out — this brutal culture clash — through the filter and musings of a Jewish author who embodies and personifies the insecurity of the “emancipated” Jew who is home in no place. Because secular Jews have become synonymous, to one extent or another, with modern liberalism and at least the appeal of universal values, the idea of Jewish supremacism that undergirds the Hasidic Jewish religiosity is something that is, to say the very least, an uncomfortable reality. But unlike the secular Jew’s visceral reaction and discomfort with displays of religious fervor by Christians, secular Jews have a more muted and compromised response to intensely religious Judaism. There is something much more forgiving in the secular Jew’s consideration of their religious cousins — a lack of harshness — that distinguishes intra-Jewish relationships. By contrast, apostate or secular Christians are almost universally nasty and unforgiving towards their religious cousins. And, to some extent, that distinction makes sense; Judaism is primarily an ethnicity that has credal aspects while Christianity is primarily a creed with ethnic aspects — as such, disputes about beliefs are often forgiven by “family” members but not by people who are defined by faith and adherence. Bloom, as a secular American liberal and Jew, turns out to be an exception to the rule — a Jew who nonetheless takes his “Americanism” and “liberalism” seriously enough to turn his caustic pen on religious Jews. And he learned this hostility in real time while writing Postville. His book then is more than the account of a kulturkampf that played out in rural Iowa; it was a conscious discovery of the ugliness of Jewish chauvinism in its most religious form.

*        *        *

Working professionally as I do with many Jews who keep Kosher means that I have dined in many Kosher restaurants. Kosher food can be good, and some of the restaurants are excellent. They are also expensive: Kosher food is significantly costlier than non-Kosher food. Kosher food is more than merely Jewishly blessed food — it is a particular method of slaughter, storage, and preparation — and blessing. Kosher meat cannot be sourced from a gentile butcher because the animal must be slaughtered and drained of blood in a precise manner. Obviously then, religious Jews require ready access to meat that is slaughtered and prepared in accordance with religious law. As religious Jews have flourished in the United States — gaining numbers from fecundity and converts from mainstream Judaism, while Reform and Conservative Judaism have floundered — the need to Kosher food has only increased. Thus an underlying theme to Postville is the sizable business opportunity to feed the growing need for Kosher meat throughout the United States and abroad. Postville is eponymously centered in Postville, Iowa — where a group of investors from the Orthodox Lubavitch Jewish community in Crown Heights, New York purchased an abandoned slaughterhouse and turned it into a large Kosher butchery in 1987. In a sense then, Postville is first a story of the seizure of an economic opportunity that is, as such, uniquely an American story. The investors were led by a Russian-born Lubavitcher named Aaron Rubashkin, and Rubashkin led a migration of families to Postville to manage the Kosher slaughterhouse.

Initially, the Postville residents and civic leaders welcomed the investment in their community and the economic impact it would bring. Postville was reeling in the mid-1980s. The United States experienced a major agricultural crisis during the 1980s. Record production during this time led to a plunge in the price of commodities. Exports fell, due in part to the 1980 United States grain embargo against the Soviet Union. Farm debt for land and equipment purchases soared during the 1970s and early 1980s, doubling between 1978 and 1984. Other negative economic factors included high interest rates, high oil prices and a strong dollar. By the mid-1980s, the crisis had reached its peak. Land prices fell dramatically, leading to record foreclosures. Some forty years later, it is hard to imagine a collapse in value of quality farmland, especially in a place as fertile as Iowa, but in the mid-1980s, rural America was decimated in a way that not merely destroyed countless family farms but scarred the American rural way of life forever.

The refurbishing of the abandoned slaughterhouse and the addition of several hundred people to the local economy indeed provided Postville a modest economic bump, but problems between the Hasidic Jews and Iowans began immediately afterwards and persisted for decades. And more than that, the meat-processing plant brought in hundreds of illegal immigrants as workers — thus operating to apply a double pressure of change to what had been a longstanding homogeneous community. The Iowans were expecting new neighbors who would acclimate to the Iowa way of hospitality and cooperation — who would add more than economic value to their community — but instead were matched with religious Jews who viewed those goyim as virtually sub-human and treated them accordingly with vacillations of indifference or hostility.

Bloom was a professor of journalism at the nearby University of Iowa when he came across a reference in the local news of a nearby Hasidic outpost — and accompanying tension — in Postville in the mid-1990s. Bloom was admittedly dealing with a culture clash of his own after relocating from San Francisco after a career as a journalist. While Bloom’s initial interest was the desire to connect with his Jewishness amid Iowa’s overwhelming Christian homogeneity, the deteriorating situation between the Jews and the locals was a news story in its own right — in addition to the sheer peculiarity of Hasidic Jews living in rural Iowa. By the time he arrived in the mid-1990s, tensions were at a breaking point. The Iowans had made their stand against the Jews by deciding to hold a referendum to allow the town of Postville to annex the land on which the kosher meat-processing plant stood. If Postville annexed the land, the Iowans would then be able to raise taxes and better control the Lubavitchers. The annexation issue was thus a vote essentially to shame the Jews in Postville by the native Iowans of the town.

Bloom, like any investigative reporter, interviewed countless locals and tried, initially in vain, to do the same with the Postville Hasidic Jews. On some level, at least by implication, Bloom wanted to believe that the locals were anti-Semitic and, indeed, he found some comments by them to be exactly that. Indeed, there is an arrogance in how Bloom related to the native Postville people — as if he reduced to mere country bumpkins all the gentileswho simply did not know how to relate to outsiders. Thus, Bloom begins his account by frankly describing his suppressed, but deep-seated, dislike of the Iowans. At the same time, he also wanted to connect with the Hasidic Jews for their side of the story, but also because he was, at least in a sense, lost himself. As a coastal and secular Jew, he felt more than out-of-place in Iowa — he resented their version of middle America, and, to the extent that he was attracted to it, he resented that too. But he interviewed a variety of Iowa locals that he grew to like — he identified with them in terms of their values. At the very least, he understood them.

Northeastern Iowa is — or was — German-Lutheran country. And the imprints of neatness, cleanliness and mannerliness were seemingly everywhere in these communities. As Bloom described it in the mid-1990s, it sounded like America in the 1920s or earlier. White, religious, neighborly, civic, and orderly. It was the kind of place with Memorial Day and July 4th parades with the 4H Club, Future Farmers of America, and Chamber of Commerce — where chain stores, and Walmart in particular, were resisted, and people did not lock their doors. It is exactly the type of place that would later become ground zero for two independent phenomena — the opioid crisis and MAGA. But in the mid-1990s, this was still a place where World War II and Korean War veterans congregated in coffee shops in John Deere hats and overalls, where the high school football game was an event that the whole town eagerly waited on, where homes and yards were manicured, where people prided themselves on their sense of belonging and where “city-slicker” was a term that meant something. Understated, honest, lawful and thrifty, the local Iowans were simply not prepared (but, then again, who is) for a group to descend upon them who were shrewd, discourteous, and disorderly.

One way to look at the differences, at the most basic level, is that Jews (and this is not merely the ultra-orthodox) look at rules as pliable, and, in any event, not always applicable to any individual Jew. In this same way that Jews look at bargaining (“to hondle” in Yiddish) as a sign of intelligence, they also take a flexible view with respect to following rules for the sake of rules. German ethnics could not be more different — not only are they rules-oriented, but they are also rules-worshipping. Simple things like observing traffic and zoning laws become flashpoints that are hard for outsiders to understand. In many ways, Bloom was won over by the Iowans in their culture war with the Jews — slowly and surely — because their complaints that the Jews should just follow the rules everyone has to follow resonated with him. He may have been a secular, coastal Jew, but he did not accept a job in Iowa for no reason — he wanted to escape from wherever he was even if he did not realize it or know why. In a sense, he wanted “Ozzie and Harriet” even if it came without pastrami or a good bagel. That he chose to live in Iowa says something more about him than he himself was able to articulate. He was more receptive to the locals’ complaints that the Jews were rude and unneighborly than he wanted to admit.

But that was later — he was still, midstream in the book, searching for something in his own religion. After considerable difficulty, he finally managed to interview Aaron Rubashkin’s son, Sholom, who managed the operation in Postville to discuss the relations with the locals. The Lubavitchers are unique among Jews in that they are religious and proselytizers, at least towards wayward Jews. In many ways, they are like first-century Christians who missioned, at least initially, to other Jews. They are aggressive in their ministry and believe heartily that they can convince any such Jew to join them. Rubashkin began immediately to work on Bloom accordingly — to save his Jewish soul. Part of that outreach involves matching the wayward Jew with a model Lubavitcher family for a Shabbat weekend. Bloom was receptive to this for several reasons — first, he wanted to see the Lubavitchers from the inside out, and second, he was genuinely curious about whether they had something to say to fix, as it were, his longing for something more meaningful in his Jewish life.

Bloom’s weekend with the Lubavitcher was gracious enough. He, along with his young son, took part in every aspect of the worship and dining. He observed a Jewish life that was so far removed from his own that he felt a great divide between himself and the patriarch of that family, Lazar. The model Lubavitcher made any number of comments that chafed at him excessively — from the casual dismissal of every other type of Jewishness as something obviously inferior, to the gross characterizations of gentiles, from the outright racism to the nasty prejudice. He was embarrassed by the willingness to treat the goyim with such disrespect — to view them as worthless. In what would be a theme that runs throughout the book, the Lubavitchers thought about the locals as people to be avoided, to navigate among them, or take advantage of them — but, in any event, never people with whom they would fraternize. If there was friction, and there was, it was universally and categorically chalked up to anti-Semitism.

There was a palpable groupthink among the Jews that refused to see the perspective of the locals, let alone empathize with them. The Jews were strictly transactional with the locals — we live here, you live here, leave us alone. But it was more than mere avoidance for the sake of toleration — it was an almost glee in deceiving the goyim that irked Bloom. The locals were essentially non-entities to the Jews — lacking any inherent value as human beings. To the Jews, however, their theology towards the gentiles made perfect sense — the Jew alone possessed a special relationship with God that required an insularity to protect it. The outside world — the non-observant world — was marked by one overriding theme: contamination and filth. The idea of fraternizing with the locals — of making nice with them — was then, at least to the ultra-orthodox mind, something incomprehensible. By analogy, it would be like asking them to put themselves in the “near-occasion” of sin. The Lubavitchers could never understand why Bloom cared what the locals thought — one way or the other — when he, Bloom, stood at the precipice of entering the fullness of Jewish life which he was gifted with entering by virtue of his birth as a Jew.

Bloom’s foray into religious Jewish life is something, however, that began to grate on him — a lot. Whether he was ever open-minded about it or not, he could not shake off his internal compass of liberalism in assessing the Lubavitcher way of life. In what was an interesting twist in the book, Bloom’s sympathy for the religious Jews did not merely stop as he came face-to-face with Jewish indifference and rudeness to the locals — but when he came to see the exclusionary nature of the religion from the inside out. In a sense, he became like an apostate (even though he was never a believer in that sense) in terms of his disgust with the Lubavitchers. They saw themselves as the best of Jews — he saw them as bigots and pious frauds. During his investigation, Bloom in fact confirmed that the Jews were very offensive to Postville’s civic leaders and the local populace. They often swindled contractors, retailers, and handymen by spreading out their payments over many months — when they did not simply toss the bill, that is. They drove too fast on the roads or simply ignored the parking rules. They drove jalopies with missing mufflers, and they parked them on their front laws. He recounts that one Jewish woman tried to bribe a policeman, and one Rabbi stole some handmade leather sheaths from a retailer, insisting that he had already paid for them. And they made the yards surrounding their homes into shambles — something which may seem insignificant on the surface, but which is nevertheless a sign of disrespect for the Germanic Iowans who took an inordinate pride in well-kept yards and homes as signs of civilization and breeding.

Another issue involved Postville’s municipal swimming pool. The Iowans were alarmed, legitimately at it turned out, that the Hasidic Jews would demand “Jews only” hours. Iowans would thus be displaced from a facility which they had built. As it turned out, the Lubavitchers eventually got their gentile-free time. There were also a great many zoning and building use violations. The Jews simply ignored the zoning rules as if they did not apply to them and built whatever they wanted wherever they wanted. About this, Bloom writes:

If the city of Postville tried to enforce any ordinance the Jews disagreed with, the immediate cry was anti-Semitism. If a local complained about the noise from the shul, if anyone disagreed about annexation, he or she was quickly branded an anti-Semite. Ultimately, I discovered, carrying on a conversation with any of the Postville Hasidim was virtually impossible. If you didn’t agree, you were at fault, part of the problem. You were paving the way for the ultimate destruction of the Jews, the world’s Chosen People. There was no room for compromise, no room for negotiation, no room for anything but total and complete submission.

Bloom’s attitudes grew more hostile to the Lubavitchers — so much so that he inserted himself into the story as someone actively rooted for the annexation vote to win and stick it to the Jews. Beyond the insolence and the refusal to treat the local goyim with even a modicum of respect, Bloom was vexed by the Jewish supremacism that he found among them during their attempts to proselytize him. The Lubavitchers also sensed that Bloom was a lost cause — an irredeemable Jew who did not — and would not — “get” it. Slowly but surely, Bloom became simply one of the non-Jews to the Lubavitchers.

Bloom was probably pushed to his limit when he researched a crime that involved a few dubious Lubavitchers that had happened years earlier. What he found disgusted him on several levels. He describes the September 27, 1991, crime spree of Lubavitchers Pinchas Lew and Phillip Stillman. The pair got drunk, removed the license plate from their car, and robbed two townspeople at gunpoint. They shot one woman — she recovered but the bullet was permanently lodged in her spine, causing her continual pain for the rest of her life. Bloom found out  that in Brooklyn Stillman had been part of the Orthodox underworld, and he left for Iowa after one of his gang’s members was murdered, execution-style. Stillman was a fascinating case — an adopted Colombian street kid and consistent problem and ne’er-do-well who was all but abandoned by the Lubavitcher community when he was arrested. By contrast, the arrest and imprisonment of a “real” Jew with a proud Chabad lineage, Pinchas Lew, caused a tumult in Postville’s Jewish community. The Lubavitchers saw Lew’s imprisonment an unjust kidnapping, and they mustered assistance from their community back in Crown Heights, raising vast sums for Lew’s bail and defense. Bloom describes illegal activities undertaken by the community on Lew’s behalf, like the spoliation and destruction of evidence that clearly implicated Lew in the crime spree. In the end, Lew received little punishment for his crime because Stillman was essentially bribed by the community to take the fall for the whole incident. Stillman and Lew vanished from the memory of the Iowa Lubavitchers — to merely mention them, as Bloom found out, was tantamount to anti-Semitism and insulting the Lubavitchers. Bloom was astounded by the collective indifference of the Lubavitchers to the crimes; they never checked up on the victims, expressed remorse, or even so much as offered them some kosher beef. Instead, the Jews militantly supported their criminals (at least Lew), and, as always, ignored those whom they had harmed. Aaron Rubashkin would only declaim to Bloom, “no matter what we do, the goyim always find fault with us.” Indeed, it is precisely when Bloom began researching and putting the story of the Stillman-Lew case together that the Lubavitchers cut him off altogether.

But in the end, what really pushed Bloom over the edge was how the Lubavitchers, in his view, sought to take advantage of a locally respected Jewish doctor’s death as a publicity stunt. “Doc” Wolf had served northeastern Iowa for fifty years and was a thoroughly assimilated Jew and widower. In his last dying days, Doc Wolf had asked the Lubavitchers to provide him some homemade Jewish food. He got the food — and then some. The Lubavitchers sent dozens of men to minister to him and sought to make him one of their own. They turned his hospice room into a turnstile of Rabbis praying with — and over — Doc Wolf. Not able to push them out — and perhaps lacking the mental acuity to do so — Doc Wolf tolerated their presence for his last few days. Bloom argues that the motivation to minister to Doc Wolf was the Lubavitchers’ view that if they could claim the well-regarded local doctor as their own, it would help in the upcoming annexation vote that was basically seen as a referendum of the locals on the Jews. I think Bloom discounts the sincerity of the Lubavitchers, however, because they probably believed that they were doing right by a wayward Jew in his last hours. Only after he died did Doc Wolf’s secular children forcibly remove the Lubavitchers from Doc Wolf’s room and still-warm body.

The annexation measure eventually passed but it did not make that much of a difference between the Jews and the locals. As a post-script (written a few years later in 2001), Bloom describes the tensions as persisting. The problems associated with the plant had continued, and the changes to the community from the influx of illegal immigrants (Russian, Ukrainian, Mexican, and then Somali) changed the once-sleepy White town of Postville forever. What happened afterwards is even more interesting — in 2008, the federal government ordered a massive immigration raid on the plant and hundreds of people were arrested, including Aaron Rubashkin’s son. Eventually, Sholom Rubashkin was sentenced to prison only to have President Trump pardon him in 2017.  Today, the plant is still Kosher although run by a different Jewish group — and Postville continues to have a large Hasidic community.

*        *        *

Postville is compelling read — I finished it over two days because I could not put it down.

Several themes stand out that warrant further consideration — the first among them is the personal turmoil of the author. Postville, when it came out, generated a lot of interest — reviews in The New York Times and other publications showed that the book touched a nerve about diversity and inclusion in the United States. What I found interesting about some of those reviews as I read them is that the author’s personal story was deemed by some to an intrusion in the overall story of Postville. Some reviewers felt that the book dwelt on Bloom’s inner conflict too much. I find myself in vigorous disagreement with that view. Bloom’s inner conflict — his biographical relationship to the Postville drama — was as much the story as was the conflict between the Hasidic Jews and native Iowans. In many ways, Bloom was the most interesting character in Postville — a sort of tortured and conflicted soul who related the broader conflict through the prism of his turmoil. In a sense, he was the most honest of brokers in telling this tale because the conclusion he reached was not the one he necessarily wanted to reach. In that, Bloom was acutely conscious of his own seemingly traitorous conduct in airing, as it were, the “dirty laundry” of the Jews in publishing Postville. And in the Jewish community, the role of traitor is especially odious, and I give Bloom credit for being willing to withstand that role even if it will stay with him for the rest of his life among most Jews.

But Bloom’s story is more than the turmoil — it is the source of that turmoil, which, at least in a sense, transcends Judaism. Bloom was navigating the threadbare meaning within the secular life and searching for some cure to it. All secular people face, whether they know it or not, the implications of their “faith” — that is, they face the realization that they have embraced a “faith” that posits that life has no essential meaning, that truth has no stable source, that morality is little more than opinion and convention, and that all we are is what we see. For an honest and sensitive secularist, there is a heartbreak within that worldview. No one wants to admit that their life — or the lives of their loved ones — is meaningless, but the materialist ethos of our secular age necessarily implies it. Parenthetically, while some may argue that secularism and irreligion are not overlapping circles, I have yet to meet a committed secularist who was not, at the same time, an irreligious materialist. To some secularists, we should just grow up and face it — life has no meaning, so let us enjoy it and not be overwrought by its the portents of its dismal reality. To others, meaning punctuates too much to be ignored and there exists a palpable tension between that feeling and the implications of meaninglessness. Bloom strikes me as the latter — he wanted meaning, he wanted purpose, he wanted to believe but he found in the Hasidic Jews meaning and purpose that were deeply offensive. In a sense, years of secularism have taken hold of his life and heart — he was essentially egalitarian. Thus, even if meaning and purpose were lacking, he could never find it in a religion that was essentially exclusionary.

His attempt, however, to give Hasidic Judaism a “chance” — at least I thought — was very telling. While I object to the ugliness at the heart of Talmudic Judaism, I feel much in common with it as a Traditional Catholic. My belief, and theirs, in the stark and abiding reality of God is a commonality. My belief, and theirs, in the bankruptcy of the secular world is another. My belief, and theirs, that we must follow the whole of God’s commandments no matter the cost is yet another. My belief, and theirs, that we should not count the cost of children but see each one as a supreme blessing from God is another. Finally, the belief in a rigorous morality, a hierarchal and teaching religion, and a life steeped in prayer for the glory and worship of God are more still. Serious Talmudic Jews, such as the Postville Jews, would dismiss me a non-entity and polytheist, and, in turn, I dismiss them as the blind and stubborn descendants of those who denied the messianic and divine reality of Jesus Christ. All the same, I have, at least on a practical level, more in common with them than I do with Stephen Bloom. And, in that sense, I am for more forgiving towards them than Bloom is — he did not merely reject them, he ratted on them and conveyed to the world the things that Jews say comfortably and discretely to only one another. In a sense then, he really did write a book that savaged them — perhaps not unfairly, but certainly uncharitably.

*        *        *

Another theme that fascinated me about Postville was its depiction of the death of a type of America — a homogeneous America that was marked by the yeoman farmer and local businessman. Small town and rural America before the opioid crisis, before the brain drain, before the sexual revolution, and before Walmart and the shopping mall. There was an element of Postville, Iowa as the last outpost of De Tocqueville’s America — a place where the farm-to-market road was not merely an historical signpost or road name. That America is all but gone — it is a place of changing demographics, addiction, disability, and Trump country. MAGA is a cheap substitute for the time when Americans were genuinely free and independent — and the rearguard action that is MAGA is a political and cultural death rattle for places like Postville. Indeed, the Whites of Postville are aging and contracepting — the high school undoubtedly is filled with Somalis, Mexicans, and other non-Whites. Not that I lament the American dream extending to others; I do not.; But the loss of Postville and the countless other rural places like it is a definitive sign of the demise of at least one version of America. If this is progress, it does not feel like it. I liked the world with Postville, as it was; and I think they should exist somewhere.

If Postville is a death, it is also a birth — a new America is being born there and elsewhere. Setting aside whether it is a better America, it is a different America to say the very least. Homogeneity and heterogeneity are dirty words unless we apply them panegyrically to the cult of diversity. We have no choice, praise diversity or else. So that Postville is now home to many languages, many cultures, many “others” is axiomatically good. And what Postville once was — an enclave of White Christian America — is axiomatically worse.

I happen to live in one of the most diverse places in America. I do not resent it — or the “other” — but I do not celebrate it either. The reality is that people tend to stick with other people most like them in terms of race, religion and, to a lesser extent, socio-economic station. In my town, we are “diverse” inasmuch as we have virtually the entire world’s population represented in microcosm in a small city but, at the same time, there is little overlap in the meaningful social interactions between these groups. It remains to be seen whether a land of many cultures can persist where one culture was once the norm. Certainly, at a minimum, the death of White America as epitomized by Postville’s collapse and the birth of the new multi-racial and multi-cultural America portends new and dramatic ways of living — less trust, less communication, less interaction, and less confidence. And all of that takes place in what is becoming a racial spoils system in which the various groups compete with each other for competitive advantage.

No, I am not bullish on the future of the multi-cultural paradise that liberalism is constructing on the ashes of the old America. Indeed, I am convinced that it portends an impossible situation that will not end well.

But homogeneity, in its racial or religious form, is far from dead. There is something to be said for the Hasidic Jews — and all fervent believers of virtually any type — in this new America. While the multi-racial and multi-cultural America is far more liberal and hostile to religion, and while secularism touches more and more Americans, a distinct and pugnacious religious minority (or minorities) is being born. Hasidic Jews are different from all of the Jews that came before them in the United States — they are militantly Jewish and refuse to make any compromises in the ways that past Jews undoubtedly did. Traditional Catholics are similarly militant. Other offshoots, for the lack of a better word, are taking root all over the country. While the morass of people is slowly and imperceptibly saying “no” to organized religion, a small minority within each tradition is reacting combatively, and they are persevering and growing.

Because of secularism’s hedonism and sterility, the growth of these micro-groups will soon begin to mushroom for two reasons. First, they have children (lots of them). When the average American family is well below the replacement rate of fertility of 2.1 children (because, after all, children exact a sacrifice which is inconsistent with a narcissistic culture), Hasidic Jews, the Amish, Traditional Catholics, and some White nationalists are having seven, eight or more children. And they are also happily rejecting feminism, homosexuality, modern culture, and divorce. The demographic exponential effect of large families birthing many children who, in turn, have large families will be felt much sooner than people realize. Second, an assertive, confident, and happy minority will attract more and more from the doldrums that is the secular hell of hedonism, meaninglessness, and nihilism. The Hasidic Jews will continue to make inroads among secular Jews; Traditional Catholics will do the same among the mass of lapsed and semi-religious Catholics; and racially conscious Whites will attract adherents as they see the burgeoning anti-White hate all around them. The new America will be confusing and hostile, but it will not be able to match the militancy of these groups who know who they are and resist contemporary liberal culture in every conceivable way. In a strange sense, I am comforted by the Hasidic rise in Postville and places like it — not because, of course, I want to live near them or condone their attitudes and behavior, but because they are a brand of Judaism that is growing wildly and rejecting secularism forcefully. In that, Hasidism represents just a type of rejection that transcends Judaism — one in which I myself am participating.

Postville and the takeover of the town by militantly religious Jews is interesting — but the themes it explores could have been written about the community of Traditional Catholics who similarly took over a Kansas town only a few years earlier. Indeed, in a feature article of the January/February 2020 Atlantic magazine Emma Green explored how an outside and militant Catholic group overwhelmed a small Midwestern farming town. The overlapping themes are there — exclusion, self-righteousness and assertiveness, fecundity in the extreme and the accusation of a cult-like atmosphere. As times goes by, I suspect that we will see more intentional communities like Saint Marys, Kansas and Postville, Iowa as militantly religious seek to live their lives in common with like-minded co-religionists.

*        *        *

Another theme that is uniquely Jewish is that of food. Of course, the premise of the Hasidic relocation was based upon the preparation and slaughter of Kosher food for religious Jews, but food is seemingly lurking on every page. Bloom himself reduces his attachment to Judaism to the food of his youth — to the traditional foods of the Jews. The Shabbat dinner, which is the central meal of the Jews each week, stands prominently in the description of the lives of the Hasidic Jews. I must not be the first person to make the connection that the Jewish ritual of Shabbat dinner — its meaning and importance — must provide some antecedents for the Catholic ritual of the eucharistic meal and sacrifice. In a shadowy sense, the Shabbat dinner, and the Catholic Mass share important connections.

Bloom finally cuts himself off from the Lubavitchers, psychologically anyway, during the long discourse that takes place over Shabbat dinner. For the native Iowans, their food — and ironically enough, the pig — are central to their lives as well. Everything that moves the story seems to involve food, or dinners, or coffee shops. The Doc Wolf incident itself was motivated by the old and dying Jew’s desire for some traditional and authentic Jewish food. While I like to eat, like any human being, I cannot relate to the significance of food for Jews. It is not a judgment on my part, but rather an observation. Food is frequently on the mind of the author.

*        *        *

The Hasidic contempt for the gentile is palpable throughout Postville. And in this, the ultra-orthodox stand in a long tradition drawing similar conclusions. According the one source, which appears to be consistent with the Hasidic view outlined in Postville, gentile and Jewish souls are very different — ontologically different. For example, “the people of Israel, the Zohar states, possess a living, holy, and elevated soul (“nefesh ayah kadisha ila’ah”), as opposed to the other nations, who are described as akin to animals and crawling creatures, which lack this “Divine” soul and possess only an “animal” soul.” See The Soul of a Jew and the Soul of a Non-Jew by Rabbi Hanan Balk, Ḥakirah, the Flatbush Journal of Jewish Law and Thought. For a variety of reasons, I have seen any number of Jewish sources that have indicated that the souls of Jews and gentiles are different, and, as such, Jews and gentiles are creatures of a different kind. The Jew is, accordingly, a spiritualized creature whose very essence is touched by God; the gentile by contrast is not and, as such, is likened to having an existence that is more animal-like.

These sources state a principle that is, on its face, not biologically grounded per se — who is a Jew is, more or less, assumed. One thing that has always interested me is whether the concept of a Jewish soul is the same as the definition of Jewishness. Would, for example, a man born of a Jewish father and a gentile mother have half a Jewish soul? Would the fact that Jewishness is typically deemed passed matrilineally mean that such a “half-breed” would have the “animal” soul of the gentile or something else? Does only a Jewish woman have the power to pass a Jewish soul down to her child — leaving Jewish men bereft of that power? To be fair, there are sources, and even the article cited above, that make clear that there is no consensus on this point, but the fact that this is something deeply embedded with Hasidic Judaism and the Jewish psyche is deeply disturbing. If it is axiomatic to condemn the Nazis for their dehumanization of Jews as “sub-humans,” what can we say of Jews and their brand of Judaism that say that non-Jews are essentially animals? Is that as objectionable? And, if not, why?

For those who pay any attention, the idea of a Jewish superiority complex should not be surprising. “Chosen-ness” evidently carries with it the implication of “un-chosen-ness,” which means necessarily that gentiles were not chosen. Interestingly enough to me, I have always puzzled over why Jews seem to think that their “chosen-ness” carries with it a superiority — as if God chose them because they were special or different. If the Christian charge is that Jews misunderstand seemingly everything about God, it certainly seems to this Christian that they misunderstand that God did not elevate them because they were different or more special; they became different and more special because God elevated them. But that elevation was never meant to be invitation to glory in themselves as if they were better than other men; it was a responsibility to bring the light of God’s glory to the nations, which, of course, they did in Jesus Christ. What seems lacking — profoundly — among Jews is humility. Their insufferable pride, which was on display in Postville, is there for anyone with eyes to see. And it is profoundly unholy.

*        *        *

Another theme that stood out to me was the obtuseness of Jewishness versus the liberalism of Jewishness. It goes without saying that the Hasidic Jews are not the majority of Jews in the United States or the world — if current demographic trends continue, they might be — but we are probably some time off from that now. Bloom became central to this conflict of Jewish liberalism and Jewish insularity — and, to his credit, he “walked the walk” when it came to what side he chose. I think Bloom is relatively unusual, even as a secular, liberal Jew, because he became the Frank Serpico of the Jews — a complete turncoat. Anyone who reads Postville — religious, non-religious, anti-religious — cannot help but be disgusted with the Hasidic Jews and everything about them. And Bloom is so unusual because my sense is that most liberal Jews like him would never do what he has done because there is a deep hypocrisy that runs through liberal Judaism that condemns every form of tribalism (in the most vicious way) except their own. Bloom took the Hasidic tribalism to task and that makes him someone very different. For example, most liberal Jews see no contradiction in supporting the transparently discriminatory practices of the ethnocentric state of Israel — the tiny and sovereign enclave of Jews increasingly dominated by Orthodox and ethnonationalist Jews much like the Hasidim — while excoriating any political aspirations for other groups to attain a similar place of homogeneous existence and perpetuation.

In the end, Bloom paints a horrible picture of Hasidic life and values. And, for the non-Jew anyway, reading and internalizing the reality of the Postville Jews cannot help but force people to question what they think they know about the Jews generally. True enough, Bloom critiqued his “own,” but the Hasidic Jews are not a different species of Jews — they are just a more extreme version of already existing attitudes among Jews (with the clear implication that even non-Hasidic Jews maintain some of these attitudes, even if more muted and closeted — as indicated by the broad support enjoyed by Orthodox, ethnonationalist Israel within the Jewish diaspora in the West).

It remains to be seen whether Jewish liberalism has a future — clearly, Hasidic Judaism does. My experience of Judaism has taught me that it exerts a gravity unto itself over those born into it — even among liberal Jews. But liberal Jews and Hasidic Jews are literally worlds apart in spirit and practice. Whether liberal Judaism can survive the varied impacts of assimilation, intermarriage, and socio-political distances from Talmudic Judaism is an open question. So is how long the cognitive dissonance between the putative liberal values of most secular Jews and the tribalist predicates for continued support for Israel and Jewish separation can last.

Who Is My Neighbor? A Review of Erich Bischoff’s The Book of the Shulchan Aruch

The Book of the Shulchan Aruch
Erich Bischoff
Translated and Edited by Thomas Dalton, Ph.D.
Clemens & Blair, 2023*  *           *           *

It is a general rabbinic axiom that the non-Jew is not the “brother” of the Jew.
The Book of the Shulchan Aruch by Erich Bischoff

In the May 2023 issue of The Atlantic, a magazine to which I still find myself subscribing, Dara Horn asks in a feature length article, Is Holocaust Education Making Anti-Semitism Worse? Dr. Horn is a Jewess from Short Hills, New Jersey. To get a sense of what interests her, consider the following: she has a doctorate from Harvard University in comparative literature in Hebrew and Yiddish and a master’s degree in Hebrew literature from Cambridge University. Her first non-fiction book, People Love Dead Jews, was released in 2021. Without belaboring the article, which chronicles all that is wrong with Holocaust education in the United States, she claims that it is failing living Jews. In Dr. Horn’s opinion, Holocaust education focuses wrongly on dead Jews as universal victims to educate on the dangers of generic extremism. She takes issue with that on a couple of points; namely, it instrumentalizes exclusive Jewish harm and suffering and genericizes it. It also fails to explain why Jews were targets. She also complains that it fails to humanize Jews by ignoring their vibrant particularism today. Stated perhaps more simply, she critiques the Holocaust remembrance industry, and you can’t make this stuff up, because it is not Jewish-centric enough. Needless to say, nothing in the article was particularly interesting although the last paragraph lays out what she wants for every student in America as it relates to Holocaust education. It is worth quoting in full:

Back at home, I thought again about the Holocaust holograms and the Auschwitz VR [virtual reality] and realized what I wanted. I want a VR experience of the Strashun library in Vilna, the now-destroyed Research Center full of Yiddish writers and historians documenting centuries of Jewish life. I wanted VR of a night at the Yiddish theater in Warsaw — and VR of a Yiddish theater in New York. I want holograms of the modern writers and scholars who revived the Hebrew language from the dead — and I definitely want an AI component so I can ask them how they did it. I want a VR of the writing of a Torah scroll in 2023, and then the people chanting it aloud through the year, until the year is out, and it’s read all over again — because the book never changes but its readers do. I want to VR about Jewish literacy: the letters, the languages, the paradoxical stories, the methods of education, the encouragement of questions. I want a VR tour of Jerusalem, and another of Tel Aviv. I want holograms of Hebrew poets and Ladino singers and Israeli artists and American Jewish chefs. I want a VR for the conclusion of Daf Yomi, the massive worldwide celebration for those who study a page a day of the Talmud and finally finish it after seven and a half years. I want a VR of Sabbath dinners. I want a VR of bar mitzvah kids in synagogues being showered with candy, and a VR of weddings with flying circles of dancers, and VR of mourning rituals for Jews who died natural deaths — the washing and guarding of the dead, the requisite comforting of the living. I want a hologram of the late Rabbi Jonathan Sachs telling people about what he called the “dignity of difference.” I want to mandate this for every student in this fractured and silo America even if it makes them much, much more uncomfortable than seeing piles of dead Jews …

Setting aside the question of why my children — or anyone else’s — should be mandated to endure compulsory conditioning to see how wonderful Jews are in all that they do. I mean seriously, would Dr. Horn wish for her children — and all Jewish children — to be compelled to attend a series of holograms and VR experiences of the wonders, enchantments, cultural milestones, and living traditions and customs of ethnic European Christians? Somehow, I don’t think Dr. Horn would be as enthusiastic. Indeed, I am fairly certain that American Jews would be the first to complain — and complain vociferously — if American school children were mandated to learn about European folk customs and traditions. Irony has, it always seems, been lost on even the most educated Jews.

But more to the point, why only this encomium for Jewish life? To be fair, she should have added the Jewish involvement in the legalization and continuing availability of contraception, abortion, pornography, and sodomy. She could have added the Jewish proclivity for usury or the overwhelming Jewish management of the cultural rot that is contemporary American entertainment. She also could have noted the leadership and underwriting that Jews have provided for seemingly every revolutionary ideology — feminism, socialism, environmentalism, and every other misanthropic “-ism” that we have had to contend with in the West. She could have noted the pivotal role that Jews have played in destroying the common stock and homogeneity of ancestral European-peopled countries by advocating for unrestrained third-world immigration — all while maintaining the most closed ethnocentric country on the planet in Israel.

And as for Israel, she could have observed the ethnic cleansing and abuse of Arabs in their ancestral homeland — all to satiate harms that were allegedly meted out by Europeans. Historically, she could have cited the prominent Jewish hand in various slave trading and oppressive tax harvesting, among other things. And if all Germans are forced to bear the burden of National Socialism in perpetuity, why aren’t the Jews subjected to the same burden as it relates to the untold number of victims of international communism, which was, after all, a Jewish project? But no, Dr. Horn wants to indoctrinate America’s youth, as if they aren’t indoctrinated enough already, with a living panegyric to the magnitude and wonder of the Jews. If this were not so disturbing, it would make an excellent parody. But the reality is that years of Jewish victimhood propaganda and nonsense like tikkun olam have been so successful that I suspect Dr. Horn actually believes what she writes. She actually believes that Jews are universal victims and have always been there to help the downtrodden and disadvantaged. Her frustration with Holocaust education is that it does not do enough to make us love Jews as the civilizational lights that she actually believes that they are.

That said, none of this would be germane to my purpose here except for one particular comment that Dr. Horn wrote at the end of her article that left me gob smacked. She wrote, in a rhetorical flourish to justify her suggested mandate of Jewish praise and acclaim, that, “[t]here is no empathy without curiosity, no respect without knowledge, no other way to learn what Jews first taught the world: love your neighbor.” Talk about chutzpah — the Jews first taught the world to “love your neighbor”? Really? Is she that deluded?

“Who is my neighbor” is the most important initial question that can be asked other than the question of God — it determines the scope of “us” versus the “other”; it defines who we identify as the people that we treat with respect, dignity, honesty, and solicitude. Indeed, “who is my neighbor” has to be answered before we can even talk about what actions constitutes “loving our neighbor.” Definitionally, “who is our neighbor” takes precedence over “loving” our neighbor because it establishes who is entitled to the duties we owe towards our neighbor.

Of course, as I have written elsewhere, I have known many individual Jews who have treated as me as a “neighbor,” inasmuch as they have been solicitous and gracious towards me. I recognize that fact and it testifies that the Jewish trait of ingrained hostility towards the gentile (or goy) is not something congenital with Jews but rather systemic within Judaism, culturally or religiously. Jews as human beings can, it certainly seems to me, transcend their Jewishness in this regard but it comes at the cost of eschewing that very ugly side of their religion. In other words, individual Jews can be — and often are — decent human beings, but it is always despite their Jewishness and never because of it. I am the last person on the planet who wants to see any harm come to Jews because they are Jews but the reality here is that Dr. Horn’s cure for anti-Semitism, that is, compelling captive goyish students to endure a hagiographic depiction of Jewish life — as if everything with the Jews is strawberries and cream and unicorns and rainbows — is demonstrative of someone who has not ever thought deeply why it is that Jews have been disliked wherever and whenever they have been.

And she is no outlier there: she is endemic of a stunning lack of curiosity among Jews everywhere. It is because the Jewish religion, whether strictly observed or invisibly absorbed in the ether, teaches a disdain and disrespect for non-Jews against which non-Jews predictably react — and the striking lack of interest by Jews to ask — even once — what it is about them that causes such a universal response is almost as universal as the response of which the Jews complain.

It may be now fashionable for modern liberalism to cannibalize the Christian ethic of the universal dignity of human beings (sans every other religious obligation of Christianity), but however liberalism replicates it, the Jew is no position to take credit for it. Indeed, the galling thing about Dr. Horn’s flight of fancy is that the Jews, from time immemorial, are virtually without peer in treating non-Jews (i.e., the “other”) as not their neighbor or brother in an ironclad categorical way. Stated more succinctly, every non-Jew is definitionally the “other” and the Jews have never considered the non-Jew to be consequently a neighbor in any way. This Jewish reality, more than any other, is the reason why the Jews have been disliked everywhere that they have lived — that is, they have objectified and disdained all the non-Jews with whom they shared geographic and social space in what is an immutable law of inter-Jewish society. We non-Jews occupy a space that is somewhere between a man and animal — the quintessence of sub-human if we define “human” as meaning a man made in the image and likeness of God. For a Jew to lecture anyone — and this is rich — on the universality of loving one’s “neighbor” as if they taught anyone how to do it is both preposterous and obscene.

And I just read something that demonstrates that integral fact of Jewish life.

*           *           *           *

From the period that covered the formation of the Second German Reich in 1871 to effectively the beginning of the Third German Reich in 1933, German criminal law proscribed “hate” laws based on religion. While we tend to think of “hate” laws as something current, and perhaps they are, we neglect to understand that they date, at least in Europe, from the nineteenth century. Section 166 of the Reich Criminal Code prohibited, among other things, blaspheming God or insulting a recognized religious community deemed to exist within the Reich. The Jews were such a recognized religious community. As least for a period of fifty years then under German federal law, “public insult” of the Jews carried with it the possibility of prosecution for a hate crime. During this period, there were multiple trials in which members of the public were tried for “public insulting” of Judaism. Obviously, and without knowing the details of any particular case, the courts who assessed such claims must have had to delineate between legitimate scholarship and public expression and expression designed to be gratuitously insulting based upon naked stereotypes and bare prejudice.

Without knowing the intricacies of German law and procedure, I assume that the defendants in such cases always possessed the ability to interpose the defense of “truth” as a mitigant; that is, like defamation (which mirrors these types of hate crimes in a corporate sense), the truth of the controverted expression is always an absolute defense. Thus, in the cottage industry that grew up around such Section 166 litigation, an expert witness industry also grew up. Erich Bischoff, the author of The Book of the Shulchan Aruch reviewed here, was one of those experts. Bischoff was born in 1867 and was academically trained in Hebrew and Jewish history. Through the course of his lifetime, he published several works on various aspects of Judaism and became recognized as an expert. What is important to note is that Bischoff was not a polemicist or Jew-baiter like, for example, Julius Streicher but an academic researcher and paid expert. To use The Book of the Shulchan Aruch as an example of his literary temperament, it is worthwhile to note that it is by no means a screed — it is a relatively dispassionate look at what the Shulchan Aruch is, and what it teaches, at least in certain parts. Now, the purpose of publishing it was, at least in part, to shine a bright and public light on the Shulchan Aruch for the purposes of educating the broader public of its contents, which, given its contents, was wholly unappreciated by German Jewry. But it reads nothing like a salacious expose on the more decontextualized and revolting aspects of the Talmud. No, Bischoff is balanced even if he has an agenda to expose the underlying Jewish ethos for what it is. “What it is” is the operative term — here, Bischoff implicitly relies upon the truth of the documents — contextualized and in an academic manner — to demonstrate an ethos in Judaism within that is both ugly and anti-social. This is a matter in which the document speaks for itself, and I mean that literally. For this, he must have been lumped in with gutter anti-Semites, but the charge, so it seems to me, is patently unfair. In any event, it is not Bischoff’s gloss that so offends Jewish sensibilities, it is that he accurately presented foundational Jewish texts for a broader public consumption.

*           *           *           *

I confess that I had never heard of the Shulchan Aruch before reading this book. That said, the importance of this work cannot be overstated. This from The Jerusalem Post:

[2015] marks the 450th anniversary of the publication of one of the most important Jewish works of the modern era, a scholarly code so influential that it continues to serve as one of the pillars of our people’s faith, norms and values. Nonetheless, despite its vast impact on Jewish life and law, the Shulchan Aruch (Hebrew for “the set table”) remains largely unknown to most contemporary Jews. Indeed, an entire generation of secular Israelis is being raised without ever glancing at its text, let alone grasping its significance, and this is something that desperately needs to change. The Shulchan Aruch was written by Rabbi Yosef Karo, whose family was exiled from Spain while he was just a child in 1492, during the expulsion of the country’s Jews. He eventually settled in Safed in northern [Palestine], and was one of the preeminent scholars of his generation. Divided into four sections, the Shulchan Aruch covers everything from the laws of prayer to marriage to financial damages. It was first printed in 1565 in Venice by the publishing house of Giovani di Gara, a non-Jewish Hebraist, and was essentially a distillation of Jewish law based on a previous work by Rabbi Karo known as the Beit Yosef …. [T]he Shulchan Aruch symbolizes the Jewish people’s ability to find unity within diversity, and to respect differing customs and approaches so long as they are rooted in authentic tradition and scholarship. Indeed, the simple act of coalescing Sephardi and Ashkenazi practice into one work bound us together forever, thus ensuring that we would remain one people, all of whom share the same canonical legal foundation. … Sadly, however, outside of Orthodox circles, this monumental work and all that it represents are foreign to most Jews, many of whom go through life without ever being exposed to its erudition and wisdom.

Essentially, the Shulchan Aruch is the closest thing that exists to a comprehensive Code of Jewish law that draws from the available sources of Jewish law, scripture, tradition, and custom — and one that became the condensed and comprehensive guide to what Judaism requires, forbids, and permits. It captures the ethos of Jewish life — the soul of it and Jews everywhere. The Jerusalem Post is right — it is not simply that contemporary Jews don’t know about the Shulchan Aruch, not enough gentiles know about it either.

Written almost one-hundred years ago in 1929, Erich Bischoff, a non-Jewish expert in Judaism, described it this way in his work, The Book of the Shulchan Aruch:

The Shulchan Aruch is not a new, independent code of laws; rather, it forms in fact a certain keystone and the determination of the authorized, practical religious law that touches all areas of Jewish life, in a short form. It presupposes the Talmud, along with its attachments, as a pocket Atlas assumes the entirety of the corresponding cartographic survey sheets. The Talmud, on the other hand, presupposes the Old Testament together with the associated religious and legal tradition, just as a map series requires the physical and political configuration of the Earth’s surface. In doing so, the maps, ordinance survey maps, and pocket atlases often distort nature just as much as the Talmud and the Shulchan Aruch distort the Old Testament — especially a pocket Atlas from 1564!

His purpose in writing this book was stated expressly — to educate the public and especially the cottage industry of Section 166 criminal trials of where the Shulchan Aruch fit within the constellation of “public insult” crimes. So, hypothetically, if someone in Germany during this time published that Judaism sanctioned that Jews may cheat their fellow German non-Jewish citizen, Bischoff, through his expertise, would have been able to testify regarding the truth of the claim. This did not endear him to the Jews of the period.

Bischoff provides a primer on Jewish law — its sources and wellsprings. Here, Bischoff discusses the Old Testament, the oral tradition which soon became encapsulated by the Talmud, the codices before the Shulchan Aruch, and the status of the Shulchan Aruch as the preeminent expression of the Jewish law. Bischoff’s overview is worth dwelling on because it concisely encapsulates the sources — Rabbinic Judaism teaches that Moses received the written law (the Torah) and oral law (the Talmud), which was passed down. Some key definitions worth knowing: (i) Midrash: halachic (i.e., religious-legal) interpretations; (ii) Mishnah: the basis of the Talmud; an authoritative collection of the validated halachoth written during the second century AD; (iii) the Gemara is the Talmud in the narrower sense and containing the disputations of the Palestinian and Babylonian rabbis about the Mishnah and the religious legal halachic materials handed down in the Palestinian schools; (iv) the Palestinian Talmud equals the Mishnah and the Palestinian Gemara; (v) the Babylonian Talmud equals the Mishnah and the Babylonian Gemara; this is what people today describe as the Talmud; (vi) the Decisors (or Goanen) were heads of the Babylonian schools who sought to determine the Talmudic religious legal norms — halacha — from case to case in legal opinions; and (vii) the Responses of the Decisors were published and form an important religious legal source for the later halachic codices.

Rabbi Karo, the author of Shulchan Aruch sought to reduce all of this material into a usable codex that would encapsulate the whole of the Jewish law in a practical and concise way. Because Karo was a Sephardic Jew from Spain (who later lived in Palestine), his work was later supplemented by an Ashkenazi, Rabbi Isserles, who offered the take of Ashkenazim custom and practice in response, which was eventually cobbled together for posterity. It is unlike the Talmud in that it is not a running debate, opinion, or conjecture — instead, it is something akin to the best statement available as to what the settled, or at least, the best views of what Judaism required, prohibited, and permitted. In that sense, it is more like a series of bullet points with limited explanation or debate. This is important because the Talmud contains statements that are gratuitously offensive to the “other” but often they are the recorded opinions of one Rabbi. Moreover, as I understand it, the recorded debates in the Talmud are often mediated between two contrived extremes so if someone is looking for an extreme statement in the Talmud, it can be found.

But the Shulchan Aruch is different. Rabbi Karo wanted to distill the most authoritative and acknowledged view of Jewish law into digestible bytes. His work is not an invitation to debate or ponder, rather it is an instructional manual on how to live as a Jew. It’s an assemblage of the best and most persuasive consensus of what being a Jew requires, permits, or prohibits. If the Shulchan Aruch says it, one can be fairly certain that it is a strong reflection of Jewish law — and it is probably the closest thing in Judaism to the Catholic Code of Canon Law.

Orthodox Jewry considers the Shulchan Aruch as the authoritative statement of Jewish law. Bischoff concedes, however, that liberal Judaism, even in his day, appears to have let go of the Shulchan Aruch as a source of law — or at least its spirit, but Bischoff maintains that liberal Judaism has no equivalent codex to base whatever its opinions are. To that end, Bischoff maintains that the long shadow of the Shulchan Aruch still casts light on even the most liberal Judaism because everything from lighting shabbat candles to circumcising babies is determined by reference to the Shulchan Aruch. In other words, liberal Judaism would dissolve into nothingness without its invisible reliance on the glue of the Jewish law, of which the Shulchan Aruch is its most preeminent statement.

*           *           *           *

But why is this old Jewish law relevant today?

Why is it relevant to non-Jews? In other words, who cares? The purpose of a non-Jew taking interest in something like the Shulchan Aruch is two-fold: For the person interested in religion generally, this type of work sheds light on the inner workings and soul of Rabbinic Judaism. If understanding cults in the non-pejorative sense fascinates a certain mind, the Shulchan Aruch is clearly something within that ambit. Moreover, as Rabbinic Judaism is an offspring of Temple Judaism, there is an interesting aspect to understanding where the former veered from the latter (especially for a Catholic who believes that the Church is the legitimate inheritor of Temple). I confess that it is curiosity — for good or bad — about the idiosyncrasies of all cults that interests me.

But the more compelling reason to study this type of work is to gain insight on what conduct Rabbinic Judaism encourages, prohibits, and permits as it pertains to non-Jews. Stated more succinctly, intra-religious obligations of lighting shabbat candles or what shoe goes on what foot first hold no social importance beyond the curiosity of the non-Jew, but how Jewish law instructs the Jew to relate to his non-Jewish fellow citizen is far more important. The Jewish experience, lived in the reality of history, has always involved living among non-Jews. To be a Jew, ironically enough, is to never escape close quarters with the non-Jew to a degree that is unmatched by any other nation. Even in Israel, which is a fabricated and intentional sovereign state exclusively created for Jews, the Jews there are forced to live with millions of non-Jewish people. Jews therefore have given much thought on how to live among non-Jews, and this latter point goes to the heart of the question of Jews’ love for their neighbors. To distill this to its essence, I do not care, one way or another, about how Rabbinic Jews practice their religion, but I do care if their religion sanctions immoral or anti-social conduct towards non-Jews such that it impacts the overall tenor of a given society.

And this point is magnified because the question of sanctioning immorality of anti-social conduct is proportionate to the influence and power that the Jews have in a given society — if they have anti-social and immoral ideas and they have power, those ideas will be more readily projected into that society with corresponding ill effects on the morality of the society — e.g., if Jews with cultural power encourage degenerate behavior in the society. Perhaps most important, the idea of Rabbinic Jewish panegyric, as a “light unto the nations” — that is, as a model of conduct — rings more than hollow if this anti-social animus contained within the heart of Rabbinic Judaism is laid bare. To put it bluntly, understanding this type of codex helps us understand whether the assumption, from the perspective of the non-Jew, that the Jews are our friends is warranted or whether it is a dangerous fallacy.

*           *           *           *

The Shulchan Aruch, as editorialized in brief by Bischoff, quotes a number of seemingly innocuous and internal laws governing Jewish religious observance. Literally, how a Jew should rise in the morning, how a Jew should shake the urine off of his penis, or how a Jew should wet his hands before a meal. Bischoff notes the permission of the Kapparot, which is the customary atonement ritual sacrifice practiced by Orthodox Jews on the eve of Yom Kippur.  The chicken is sacrificed for the sins of the Jew making the sacrifice. For a short book, it doesn’t make sense why any pages were devoted to these mundane topics other than, perhaps, to demonstrate the mind-numbing ritualism of Judaism in its own words. One interesting sidebar in the Shulchan Aruch is the express remit to consume human blood, which is assumed to be something religious Judaism forbids. In commentary, Bischoff writes:

The consumption of blood is allowed in the Shulchan Aruch! Karo seems to think nothing of it, and his commentator Isserles does not apply a “Hagah” [objection] to this striking rule! Only the author of commentary, Magen Abraham, who died in 1682, says that blood as a diet is only permitted for dangerously ill for whom his doctor has prescribed the consumption of blood.

The editor of the book, Thomas Dalton, notes the significance of this point in a footnote; namely, the question of the so-called “Blood Libel” and the ritual slaughter of Christian children for, among other things, their desiccated blood, as discussed in detail by Ariel Toaff’s Passovers of Blood, squares with this permitted consumption of human blood.

The Shulchan Aruch is replete with examples of the impurity of non-Jews for Jews themselves and the aspersions of idolatry towards Christianity. Accordingly, the rules against assisting non-Jews — or harming them, even gratuitously — are typical. One way to think about it is that the Shulchan Aruch is not primarily interested in inter-Jewish relations with non-Jews but to the extent that non-Jews become its subject, the passages are always negative and offensive. A general principle that runs throughout is that non-Jews should not be assisted by Jews in any meaningful way unless there is something to be gained by the Jews from the assistance. There is a permission as well for devious behavior to avoid giving offense to non-Jews if a greater harm from the offense may follow. There are passages that condone perjury if done to help a Jew against a non-Jew. There are passages that commend harming or even killing non-Jews if the Jews have the upper hand. There are passages that commend usury for non-Jews, not simply to enrich the Jews, but to actively harm the non-Jews.

According to Jewish law, Jews are obliged to obey the civil law insofar as it consistent with Jewish law; if the two conflict, Jewish law is primary. There are passages that forbid litigating before non-Jewish judges and from assisting a non-Jew in litigation (even if the non-Jew is in the right) against a Jew or limiting assistance to the non-Jew if it is, in fact, illusory assistance. There is language that permits the keeping of lost property of non-Jews and not correcting the mistakes of non-Jews in commercial dealings. The law goes so far as to say that returning lost property to a non-Jew for the sake of honesty is contemptable under Jewish law but to return in order to build up the reputation of the Jews for honesty is acceptable. Fleecing non-Jews is then a permitted practice and there are even rules for how Jews should divide up the profits from such fleecing, which amounts to, I suppose, honor among thieves.  Interestingly enough, Jews are forbidden from outright stealing from non-Jews but not when it comes to the mistakes or forgetfulness of non-Jews. In other words, non-Jews ought to be quite careful with dealing with Jews because the Jew is virtually duty-bound to not correct an error in the Jews’ favor. Similarly, the Jews may not defraud a Jewish tax collector, but they are permitted to defraud a non-Jewish tax collector. A Jewish informer is liable to death for his threat to turn over a Jew or the Jew’s money to the non-Jews if the threat has not been realized (i.e., he has not yet informed but only threatened to inform). If he has informed, the non-Jew may not be killed because by doing so, the Jews would be brought into disrepute.

As it relates to inter-Jewish relations, the Shulchan Aruch contains the view throughout, which is not perhaps surprising to those who have studied the issue, that non-Jews, as a collective, are inferior people with inferior rights. Whatever gloss is applied, non-Jews are not — and should never be considered — a “neighbor” of the Jews in the sense of filial affection, honesty, or decency. The ethics of Judaism as it relates to the concept of “neighbor” is interesting inasmuch as it is remarkably exacting for the Jews vis-à-vis other Jews; because non-Jews fall outside of the concept of “neighbor” within Jewish law, however, it is virtually open season on them with the full weight of Jewish law sanctioning what anyone would consider anti-social or immoral behavior. This is the reality of Judaism for those of us who are not Jews.

With the Shulchan Aruch and its commentaries, there is an acknowledgement that the rules for mistreatment of non-Jews comes at a potential cost. To treat non-Jews poorly then is to run the risk that God’s name or the reputation of the Jewish people is profaned. There is the much more dire risk that such behavior may cause violence or economic harm to the Jews as well if non-Jews become agitated against the Jews for such behavior. Again, the ethics of the Jews care little about the act itself as committed against a non-Jew but only the potential and probable consequences or blowback for the Jews. Thus, there is an implied caveat to these anti-social behaviors directed at non-Jews: Jews should not engage in them “for the sake of the peace” or if they bring about the profanation of God’s name or harm the Jewish people. In other words, such acts are to be avoided if they will bring harm to the greater Jewish community or cause the opinion of the Jews or God to fall into disrepute because of their odium. In still other words, none of these acts are intrinsically condemned as they discretely relate to non-Jews; they are only conditionally forbidden if they produce more collective harm to the Jews than the individual good of fleecing the non-Jew.

And this analysis was not theoretical, the continuous expulsion of the Jews from country after country is an example where the Jews in a given area improperly calculated the risk of harming the non-Jews versus the risk to the Jews from the inevitable blowback from the non-Jews harming (or expelling) the Jews as a result. Again, the threadbare ethic really is “what is good for the Jews” with an emphasis on the collective nature of the Jews.

*           *           *           *

The Shulchan Aruch, as it relates to non-Jews, is a monumental indictment of Judaism. True enough, the Shulchan Aruch does not appear to be salacious or gratuitous, as, for example, selected passages of the Talmud can be, but its straightforward presentation is thus even worse. There is not any sense of it as an opinion run amok as if it were imbibed with the heat of emotion; rather, it is a cold legal treatise that permits, in the most matter of fact manner, anti-social and immoral behavior towards the non-Jew. Moreover, it is not the scandal, per se, of the behavior that is commended or prohibited that is the most offensive; no, it is the obvious spirit that runs throughout the Shulchan Aruch — which is a mere compendium of Jewish law itself — that non-Jews are virtually sub-humans. It is one thing for me to call someone sub-human in the passion of an argument (i.e., the Talmud), it is worse to measure dispassionately and make the same point (i.e., the Shulchan Aruch).

As a Catholic, Jewish ethics and law described in the Shuchan Aruch are very foreign to me. We do not have a set of dual ethics — one for Catholics and one for non-Catholics. According to our universalist ethics, we have no remit to treat any of God’s children as having less moral worth than us. Christ came to save all — Jew and Greek, free and slave. So not only is everybody the Catholic’s neighbor, but the missionary zeal of the Christian church was also animated by that neighborliness to an extreme sense. We traversed the globe to bring baptism and faith — in the face of mortal dangers — because what we brought was good and we believed everyone, no matter where or when, deserved that good on account of their dignity as human beings made in the image and likeness of God.

Candidly, long before I became a Christian in my heart, the ethic of the universal dignity of man in Christianity corresponded to what I knew, deep in my soul, was right. In other words, I believed Christianity was right long before I ever became a Christian. Judaism, by contrast, is nauseating on this point. As a religion and cult, it creates a spiritual caste system in which non-Jews are objectified and disdained — a cult that causes both Jewish supremacism and is the corresponding root of non-Jewish animosity towards the Jews.

To be clear, Jews are not disgusting and lest anyone read my language as dehumanizing Jews themselves, let me say this again as pointedly as possible: Jews can be as righteous as anyone else if they relinquish Rabbinic Judaism with all of its anti-social and immoral aspects. The problem is not the Jews per se — it isn’t racial. The problem is that Rabbinic Judaism is a socially destructive religion that feeds the worst ethnocentric and prejudiced impulses of man. Indeed, it spiritualizes those impulses — and that has been the case since its inception after the destruction of the Temple and its rejection of the Messiah.

So, what is the point of this? Why should we dwell on a medieval-era Jewish law book and its harsh statements towards non-Jews? What is the utility other than feeding the fire of enmity towards the Jews?

I think most non-Jews — with the exception of the pure sycophantic philo-Semite — sense that something is not altogether right within Judaism. Even if we set aside the worst stereotypes of Jews, like their gross materialism, there is something dark about the inner soul of Judaism as it relates to the “other.” It seems unreasonable to think that even if Jews have been emancipated from the shtetel (which, in any event, is only recently), and even if further that many Jews have seemingly washed their hands of religious Judaism, that the virus of virulent negativity towards non-Jews has magically abated with the abandonment of religious Judaism. It is obvious that it has not. If that invisible force of Jewish law still binds even at an unconscious level — and I think it clearly does, then we can see why Jews act the way that they do. And we can see that accepting anything that they do or say at face value — as if there is an implied sense of good faith that animates them — is more than foolish. It is naïve and dangerous.

Simply stated, the Jews are not our friends because the Jews have categorically removed us from the status of potential neighbors. Still another reason to consider this type of material is that secular Judaism is on the wane — so whatever we think of liberal Judaism and its staying power, latter-day events are demonstrating that it has no staying power. It is rapidly being replaced by a resurgent Orthodox Judaism and its cousin, an illiberal form of fascistic ethnonationalism apparent in militant Zionism, because these types of Jews have higher fertility than liberal Judaism, both in Israel and in the Jewish diaspora in the West. Either way, both forms, Orthodoxy and Zionism, take their cues for relating to the “other” from the ancient Jewish laws of inter-Jewish relations. Jewish liberalism may have aped something universal, but it is on the precipice of disappearance, and it clearly never took hold of the collective Jewish soul.

It is endemic of the human condition to “project,” which, in the psychological definition, means that we superimpose upon others the values and perspectives that we ourselves hold. But non-Jews, and especially well-meaning Christians, do themselves a significant disservice by projecting our values and perspectives upon the Jews. They aren’t, in the main, like us because they have been taught something very different for a very long time. It is true that there are many Jews who are similar to us in values and perspective but, if so, this similarity is driven by their effective abandonment of the ethos and soul of Judaism. If Jews are decent to us non-Jews, it is despite their religion and never because of it. In that sense, there is something not believable about Jews as liberals — i.e., they are not authentic as liberals because if liberalism is, at least in part, a heresy and distortion of the Christian idea of the universal dignity of man, Jews are not authentic liberals, or they would have long ago disowned Judaism completely.

Finally, to build on this idea of Jews-as-not-our-friend, Judaism teaches, in its laws, that deceiving the non-Jew is a legitimate form of behavior. In other words, along with the implied animosity, Jews cannot be trusted in whatever they say because everything could be — and often is — not what it appears to be. If we remember that the law of Judaism, at least as it relates to us, is that we are inferior people with inferior rights, their protests otherwise ring patently false.

To sum this up, trust, which is the building block of society, is predicated upon mutual good will and honesty, neither of which can we expect from Jews, and thus trust with them is a non-starter. None of this changes the reality that we, at least those of us who live in the United States, must live and work with them. But we should never have any false ideas that they can be our friends, at least as a collective, or they mean us well in the sense that we too are a collective people. When it comes to the Jews and us, there is no “we.” They view their relationship with us as zero-sum; we should view it similarly. And once you see that, you cannot “unsee” it. I wish no harm towards the Jews. I feel a distinct sense of pity for anyone born into that type of degenerate form of ethics. I sincerely wish all of them would eschew their rotten Jewish ethics and help us build up the kingdom of God.

*           *           *           *

Post-script: To return to the thoughts beginning this review, there is an irony in Dr. Horn’s point that the Jews first taught the world how to “love one’s neighbor.” In one sense, based upon Jewish law, she is of course completely and laughably wrong — Jewish law, as it relates to the “other”, is filled with an almost unbroken string of offensive behavior towards non-Jews that is the very opposite of “love” but something that vacillates between hate and indifference.

That said, she is right that the Jews did teach the world how to love their neighbor in the sense that: (i) Jews, in fact, do have a commendable and intense intra-Jewish standard of conduct for loving their neighbor (i.e., their fellow Jew), which was introduced to the world over by those Jews who accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah (i.e., the Christians). Christianity was — and remains — the vehicle by which the rules of appropriate and universal neighborliness were first brought to the world.  So, the irony here, of course, is that Christianity delivered to the world the exacting standard of Jewish neighborliness with the caveat that every man should be every man’s neighbor.

For a Jewess still holding onto her Jewishness to make a similar claim is outrageous.

Saint John the Baptist, Pray for us.

 

Jewish “Anti-Semitism”

Some of the worst atrocities committed against Jews were by other Jews. In particular the Jewish power elite have inflicted heinous violence and death on the Jewish masses, though other infighting and control dramas amounting to pogroms and terrorism are part of Jewish history as well. By no means exhaustive, we will review just some of the “anti-semitism” Jews have committed against their own kind.

The Levite Priests

When the ancient Hebrew patriarch Moses descended from Mt. Sinai, having received the Ten Commandments from the Hebrew tribal god Yahweh, he found his people straying from their faith and worshipping a golden calf under the leadership of Aaron. Such idolatry was not permitted by Yahweh, and Moses was commanded to enact vengeance on the idolators.

Those who were faithful among the Hebrews gathered with Moses and received their instructions. They took up swords and spears and went among the wayward people, slaughtering men, women and children. They even murdered some of their own immediate family members and close clan kin.  3,000 blasphemous Hebrews were slaughtered. These were the Levis, Moses’ own clan, especially zealous vengeful slaughterers.

Afterward, Yahweh through Moses rewarded the Levis for their faith and devotion in carrying out Yahweh’s vengeance, and bestowed on them a spiritual leadership over all the Hebrews. These became the Levite Priests. Their cruelty, deceit, blood-lust and terrorism over the Hebrews and others they encountered went on to become legend. Whether this story is itself legend or contains historical fact, it is undeniably a case of Jewish “anti-semitism”. 

Radicals vs. Moderates. Kevin MacDonald writes: 

Zionism is an example of an important principle in Jewish history: At all the turning points, it is the more ethnocentric elements—one might term them the radicals—who have determined the direction of the Jewish community and eventually won the day.3 As recounted in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the Jews who returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity energetically rid the community of those who had intermarried with the racially impure remnant left behind. Later, during the period of Greek dominance, there was a struggle between the pro-Greek assimilationists and the more committed Jews, who came to be known as Maccabeans.

At that time there appeared in Israel a group of renegade Jews, who incited the people. “Let us enter into a covenant with the Gentiles round about,” they said, “because disaster upon disaster has overtaken us since we segregated ourselves from them.”

The people thought this a good argument, and some of them in their enthusiasm went to the king and received authority to introduce non-Jewish laws and customs. They built a sports stadium in the gentile style in Jerusalem. They removed their marks of circumcision and repudiated the holy covenant. They intermarried with Gentiles, and abandoned themselves to evil ways.4 The victory of the Maccabeans reestablished Jewish law and put an end to assimilation.

 The Pharisees and Jesus

It’s hard to know whether this example is mythology or history, though devout Christians would insist it happened literally as described. Either way, Jewish “anti-Semitism” is deeply codified in the Christian religion.

If Jesus truly existed as an historical person, he was most likely a Jew, or more properly a Hebrew or Israelite, descended from King David. Jesus began his ministry at age 30, and it included deposing the ‘money changers’ from the temple, and challenging the authority of the Sanhderin council, a body of Hebrew or Israelite leaders that today we would call Jews. The ‘money changers‘ were certainly what we would call Jews as well.

The Sanhedrin council arranged for Jesus to be apprehended by the Romans. When the Romans gave the crowd—mostly Jews—the option to crucify Barabas or Jesus, Sanhedrin agents in the crowd incited it to condemn Jesus, and so he was crucified and apparently killed by the Romans. This is one of the more flagrant cases of Jewish “anti-semitism”, since certain Jews—the powerful Sanhedrin—oversaw the brutal torture and execution of another Jew, Jesus the Nazarene. Whether this is mythological, historical or some combination is irrelevant to our theme: Jew-on-Jew hate.

Jacob Frank

This son of a Rabbi was one of the most depraved madmen of all time. He declared himself the reincarnation of the Jewish Messiah, and many other Jews were willing to recognize this and follow him. Frank interpreted a verse from the Talmud to mean that if all Jews were to become sinners, the prophecy of the Jewish paradise on Earth would ensue.  Talmud Sanhedrin 98a states “The Son of David (Jewish Messiah) will come only in a generation that is entirely innocent… or in a generation that is entirely guilty…”So Jacob Frank set about enacting evil in the most grotesque ways, engaging in incest, sodomy, polygamy, orgiastic rituals, providing his own wife (or both of them) to his followers for sexual sport, and other depravities in order to create the entirely guilty generation.

 

We have two different accounts of the story from there. One says his perversion and depravity became known to other local Jews, and they excommunicated him and his followers, banishing them from the Polish town. One reason they did this was because the Frankists were burning Talmuds and accusing the other Jews of blood libel, conducting occult rituals by torturing children to death and drinking the blood and anointing their bodies with it.  Another account says that after their excommunication, the Frankists sought refuge with the Catholic Church. In exchange, the Church required the Frankists to denounce their fellow Jews by burning their Talmuds and accusing them of blood libel. Either way, this was a case of vicious Jewish in-fighting. Jewish “anti-semitism” was inflicted in both directions. 

The SS Patria

On November 25, 1940, the SS Patria, a passenger ship operated by the British was prepared to leave Haifa harbor in Palestine enroute to Mauritius. Too many Jewish “refugees” from the beginning of World War II in Europe were coming to Palestine illegally, and the British were trying to prevent Arab unrest due to excessive Jewish illegal immigration into Palestine. The Rothschild bankers and other Jewish Zionist zealots at the time were eager to place more Jewish residents in Palestine in preparation for declaring their new state of Israel. Zionists had even arranged a deportation plan with the National Socialist government of Germany called the Haavara or Transfer Agreement, where Germany could rid itself of troublesome Jews in an orderly fashion, and Zionists could increase their stocking of Palestine with Jews.

However, the British refused to allow the up to 1800 Jewish “refugees” on the Patria to stay in Palestine. but before it could depart for Mauritius, a bomb exploded at the water line, blowing a six-meter hole in the hull and sinking the Patria in the shallow port. About 270 passengers were killed, mostly Jews though including around 50 British crew members.

At first authorities and media blamed Arabs for the bombing, then later declared that the passengers themselves detonated the bomb, so committed were they as Jews to remain in Palestine that they would risk their own lives rather than let the British deport them. Much later, in 1957, the man who actually placed the bomb, Munya Mardor, wrote a confession of his crime, claiming that there was no intention to sink the ship, only to disable it. But obviously, the project entailed severe risks to other Jews that he, as a member of the Zionist terrorist organization Haganah, was willing to take. It also emerged that another Jewish terror group, the Irgun, had tried to place a bomb a few days prior, but failed. Irgun became today’s Likud party in Israel. Mardor eventually became the director general of the Israel Weapons Research and Development Authority. Jewish terrorists and mass murderers are promoted for their service.

Mardor’s Haganah officer in charge was Yitzak Sadeh, who was in turn under the command of the Jewish Agency’s Political Department head Moshe Sharett. Sharett went on to become Israel’s second Prime Minister after David Ben Gurion, who was the official head of the Jewish Agency at the time, but was away in the US on other terrorist business.[1]

This act left hundreds of Jews dead at the hands of other Jews. The death of innocent British crew members doesn’t factor into the analysis. The placement of European Jews into Palestine was a fundamentalist goal of Zionist Jews, and the deaths of hundreds of other Jews was an acceptable sacrifice to ensure it.

Rabinnical “Anti-Semitism”

A great deal can be written on the brutality and cruelty Jewish Rabbis have inflicted on their own Jewish populations, mainly in order to control them, including strict isolation from other liberating influences. Here we will take only a few examples from the iconic insider analysis by Israel Shahak, Jewish History, Jewish Religion, the Weight of 3000 Years:

In the period 1500-1795, one of the most superstition-ridden in the history of Judaism, Polish Jewry was the most superstitious and fanatic of all Jewish communities. The considerable power of the Jewish autonomy was used increasingly to stifle all original or innovative thought, (and) to promote the most shameless exploitation of the Jewish poor by the Jewish rich in alliance with the rabbis…[2]

The Jewish religion Judaism established from the beginning a totalitarian mind control over its adherents/victims resulting in subjection to Rabinnical authority:

According to (Rabbi) Hadas, a crucial feature of the Platonic political system, adopted by Judaism as early as the Maccabean period (142–63 BC), was ‘that every phase of human conduct be subject to religious sanctions which are in fact to be manipulated by the ruler’. Judaism adopted what ‘Plato himself summarized [as] the objectives of his program’, in the following well-known passage:”
‘The principle thing is that no one, man or woman, should ever be without an officer set over him, and that none should get the mental habit of taking any step, whether in earnest or in jest, on his individual responsibility. In peace as in war he must live always with his eyes on his superior officer. … In a word, we must train the mind not to even consider acting as an invidual or know how to do it. (Laws, 942 ab)’
If the word ‘rabbi’ is substituted for ‘an officer’ we will have a perfect image of classical Judaism. The latter is still deeply influencing Israeli-Jewish society and determining to a large extent the Israeli policies.[3]

Rabbis had been in the habit of killing Jews who departed from strict Talmudic doctrine. One wayward Jew was boiled alive in the public baths.

In the late 1830s a ‘Holy Rabbi’ (Tzadik ) in a small Jewish town in the Ukraine ordered the murder of a (Jewish) heretic by throwing him into the boiling water of the town baths.

Other Jews were poisoned to death by their Rabbis. Kevin MacDonald notes:

During 1848, when the (Austrian) regime’s power was temporarily weakened, the first thing the leaders of the Jewish community in the Galician city of Lemberg (now Lvov) did with their newly regained freedom was to poison the liberal rabbi of the city, whom the tiny non-Orthodox Jewish group in the city had imported from Germany.[4]

These groups were highly authoritarian—another fundamental feature of Jewish social organization.32 Rabbis and other elite members of the community had extraordinary power over other Jews in traditional societies—literally the power of life and death. Jews who informed the authorities about the illegal activities of other Jews were liquidated on orders of secret rabbinical courts, with no opportunity to defend themselves. Jews accused of heretical religious views were beaten or murdered. Their books were burned or buried in cemeteries. When a heretic died, his body was beaten by a special burial committee, placed in a cart filled with dung, and deposited outside the Jewish cemetery. In places where the authorities were lax, there were often pitched battles between different Jewish sects, often over trivial religious points such as what kind of shoes a person should wear. In 1838 the governor of southwestern Russia issued a directive that the police keep tabs on synagogues because “Very often something happens that leaves dead Jews in its wake.”33 Synagogues had jails near the entrance, and prisoners were physically abused by the congregation as they filed in for services.

Conclusion

Kevin MacDonald describes the basic dynamic of division within the Jewish community:

  • Zionism began among the more ethnocentric, committed segments of the Jewish community (1880s).
  • Then it spread and became mainstream within the Jewish community despite its riskiness (1940s). Supporting Zionism comes to define what being Jewish is.
  • Then the most extreme among the Zionists continued to push the envelop (e.g., the settlement movement on the West Bank; constant pressure on border areas in Israel).
  • Jewish radicalism tends to result in conflicts with non-Jews (e.g., the settlement movement); violence (e.g., Intifadas) and other expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment increase.
  • Jews in general feel threatened and close ranks against what they see as yet another violent, incomprehensible manifestation of the eternally violent hatred of Jews. This reaction is the result of psychological mechanisms of ethnocentrism: Moral particularism, self-deception, and social identity.
  • In the U.S., this effect is accentuated because committed, more intensely ethnocentric Jews dominate Jewish activist groups.
  • Jews who fail to go along with what is now a mainstream position are pushed out of the community, labeled “self-hating Jews” or worse, and relegated to impotence.

We have reviewed only some of the many acts of Jewish “anti-Semitism” in history. Certain Jews, mostly the ruling elite, have inflicted heinous death and torment on other Jews—a testament to their fanaticism, authoritarianism, and powerful sense of collectivism. The Jewish community has often been divided, with the more deeply committed, ethnocentric, and fanatical Jews forcing others to conform to their way of seeing things or separating themselves from the rest. And at all the major turning points in history, the radicals have won the day in conflict with their less ethnocentric brethren, quite likely leading to genetic selection for ethnocentrism within the Jewish community.

In general, in the last few centuries at least, the more ethnocentric White people in Western countries have not been victorious. The West is far more prone to individualism than any other culture area, but there is certainly variation among us for ethnocentrism, although we have not been under centuries of selection for ethnocentrism, as have the Jews. Quite the opposite. But the bottom line is that the Zionists were successful, and we have to think about what that means for us. Israel would not have become a state without a great many deeply ethnocentric Jews willing to engage in any means necessary to bring about their dream: a state that would be a vehicle for their ethnic interests. It would not have come about without the most radical among them—people like Vladimir Jabotinsky, Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, Ariel Sharon, and groups like Haganah and Irgun. And although there have been American Jews, especially in the early decades of the twentieth century, who vigorously rejected Zionism, the vast majority of the organized American Jewish community is now intensely Zionist and doing all they can to support Israel, even as it’s become obvious that Israel is an apartheid state energetically engaged in ethnic cleansing–while at the same time working to accuse the White majority of racism if they resist their dispossession.

The impending dispossession of Europeans will only be avoided if people with the same level of dedication and ethnocentrism as found over the centuries among Jews can be found among the political and activist class of Europeans. Just as the radical Jews have been willing to push their less radical brethren out of the Jewish community, we must be willing to do the same.

_____

[1]     Ryan Dawson, “This day in History Jewish terrorists sank ship full of Jewish refugees”, November 26 2017, Anti NeoCon Report,   https://www.ancreport.com/day-history-jewish-terrorist-sank-ship-full-jewish-refugees/

[2]     Ibid, p. 54

[3]     Ibid, p. 14

[4]     Ibid, p. 18

Leonard Bernstein and the Jewish Cultural Ascendancy – PART 2

Go to Part 1. 

Bernstein’s Mahler obsession

I have previously examined the tendency of Jewish intellectuals to use their privileged status as the self-appointed gatekeepers of Western culture to advance their group interests through the way they conceptualize the artistic and intellectual achievements of Jews and Europeans. Jews have long used their cultural dominance to construct “Jewish geniuses” to enhance ethnic pride and group cohesion (think Einstein). In this endeavor, Jewish music critics and intellectuals have transformed the image of the Jewish composer Gustav Mahler from that of a relatively minor figure in the history of classical music at mid-twentieth century, into the cultural icon of today. The tendency among Jewish intellectuals has been to overstate and ethnically-particularize Jewish achievement, thereby making it a locus for ethnic pride. Meanwhile, European achievement is downplayed, or where undeniable, universalized and thus neutralized as a potential basis for White pride and group cohesion.

Leonard Bernstein played a leading role in the development of the Mahler cult and the movement of the composer’s music to the center of the classical repertory. The proliferation of performances of Mahler’s music in the United States between 1920 and 1960 can be ascribed to the combined efforts of Bernstein and a coterie of Jewish advocates like Bruno Walter, Arnold Schoenberg, Theodor Adorno, Aaron Copland, and Serge Koussevitzky. Lionizing Mahler as the saintly Jewish victim of European injustice, the Jewish composer Arnold Schoenberg “canonized Mahler as ‘this martyr, this saint’ and in a Prague lecture in March 1912 announced: ‘Rarely has anyone been so badly treated by the world; nobody, perhaps, worse.’”[1] Frankfurt School music theorist Theodor Adorno later took up this theme, affirming that:

Mahler’s tonal chords, plain and unadorned, are the explosive expressions of the pain felt by the individual subject imprisoned in an alienated society. … They are also allegories of the lower depths of the insulted and the socially injured. … Ever since the last of the Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen Mahler was able to convert his neurosis, or rather the genuine fears of the downtrodden Jew into a vigor of expression whose seriousness surpassed all aesthetic mimesis and all the fictions of the stile rappresentativo.”[2]

Bernstein likewise conceptualized Mahler as a cruelly persecuted and alienated Jew torn apart by dualisms: “composer/conductor, Christian/Jew, sophisticate/naïf, provincial/cosmopolitan — all of which contributed to the musical schizo-dynamics of his texture, and his ambivalent tonal attitudes.”[3] Bernstein advocated for Mahler with missionary zeal, introducing the symphonies to audiences from New York to Vienna. He considered Mahler “the twentieth century’s musical prophet, whose extremes spoke for the times, and thought his symphonies constituted ‘as sacred a bunch of notes as Brahms’s symphonies.’”[4] While all Mahler’s works were available singly on recordings, it was Bernstein who first recorded the complete set of symphonies. Read more

Edward Dutton on The Culture of Critique: The importance of Jewish ethnocentrism

Edward Dutton, who is affiliated with Richard Lynn’s Ulster Institute for Social Research, has written an article supporting the main contention of my book, The Culture of Critique in an academic journal, Evolutionary Psychological Science: “MacDonald’s model is the more plausible hypothesis due to evidence that people tend to act in their ethnic group interest and that group selectedness among Jews is particularly strong, meaning that they are particularly likely to do so.” This is a most welcome development, and I agree with Dutton’s comments. Here I note some elaborations and a possible anomaly.

Dutton defends the multi-level selection model. The argument that group selection applies to Judaism is contained in the first book, A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (APTSDA). The argument there really has two parts—a cultural group selection model described in Chapter 1, and the idea that Jews are high on ethnocentrism, discussed in Chapter 8. Both aspects are important in thinking about how group selection applies to traditional Jewish groups. Read more