Jewish Ethnocentrism

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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,

[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

Review: Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History by Todd M. Endelman

Leaving the Jewish Fold: Conversion and Radical Assimilation in Modern Jewish History
Todd M. Endelman
Princeton University Press, 2015

“A Jewish question would still exist, even if every Jew were to turn his back on his religion and join one of our major churches.”
Karl Eugen Duehring, 1881

At the heart of the Jewish Question lies an extraordinary level of ethnocentrism. The tremendous capacity of Jews for mutual co-operation and the reinforcement of group identity is one of the behavioral markers that set them apart from most other human populations. This is the case even in comparisons with other populations that, like the Jews, have historically performed roles as ‘middle man minorities.’ Jewish ethnocentrism has thus deservedly been the major focus of attention when scholars or activists have decided to investigate Jewish group behavior. In general these investigations have rested on the obvious expressions of ethnocentrism — clannishness in business, Jewish endogamy, group political strategies, and the manifestation of Jewish group allegiance even in secular cultural contexts (‘Jews without Judaism’).

By contrast, the story of those Jews who ostensibly left both Judaism and their community, apparently cutting all ties with their ethnic group, has been little explored or discussed in explorations of Jewish ethnocentrism. This story is, however, an important one, and it becomes even more important in a contemporary context in which Jewish intermarriage, particularly in the United States, is reaching unprecedented levels.

Key to understanding Jewish ethnocentrism should be an assessment of its strength, not just in terms of its obvious successes and manifestations, but in terms of its failures — when did it fail, how often did it fail, and why? I chose to read Todd Endelman’s Leaving the Jewish Fold as part of my own deeper investigation into this issue — to probe the weaknesses of Judaism as a group evolutionary strategy for a future book project on that theme. However, rather than being surprised, I found that it largely confirmed my pre-existing theoretical framework. Endelman merely confirms that Jewish conversions to religions other than Judaism have historically been extremely rare and, despite the title of the book, the author provides very little evidence to suggest that the ‘assimilation’ undertaken by those Jews who ‘left the fold’ was radical, or even genuine. To use Endelman’s terminology, ‘drift and defection’ has always been a small, though passionately resisted phenomenon on the periphery of Jewish populations, serving paradoxically at times, like anti-Semitism, to reinforce group cohesion at the core. But in the overwhelmingly majority of cases an extremely high level of ethnocentrism is a constant feature of Jewish history.

The book is neither entertaining nor intellectually stimulating. Leaving the Jewish Fold is the third book by Endelman that I’ve read, following his Radical Assimilation in English Jewish History, 1656–1945 (1990) and The Jews of Britain, 1656 to 2000 (2002). His histories tend towards the type of overview perspective that can be useful when trying to get to grips with major events and personalities, but which lack insight or real interest even on a potentially oppositional level — his stances and arguments are often so weak (or non-existent) that they are difficult to detect. This makes his work slightly more factually correct than, for example, the work of the late ethnic activist Robert Wistrich, but ultimately less ‘fun’ to engage with or argue against. The fact that Endelman continues to be published by elite academic publishing houses like Princeton University Press should be regarded as a symptom of ongoing Jewish influence in Western academia [discussed further here] rather than being suggestive of the quality of his work. Like earlier examples of his work, Leaving the Jewish Fold is for the most part a collection of anecdotes and statistics, derived almost exclusively from published secondary sources, and often involving very little or no original research. The structure and narrative cohesion in this instance, where the material concerns Jews who ostensibly abandoned Jewish life, is haphazard and often confusing. As just one example, during his weak first chapter on the medieval period Endelman inexplicably plucks anecdotes from the eighteenth century. Read more

Eric Turkheimer: Jewish Ethnic Interests Masquerading as Ethical Concerns

Recently behavior geneticist Eric Turkheimer participated in a commentary on Charles Murray and the issue of race differences in intelligence. Since I am not a behavior geneticist, I won’t argue the point that there is no present methodology to test for group differences in traits like IQ, although the recent method of estimating group IQ on the basis of the frequencies of the all the known genes associated with IQ seems promising. I focus here on Turkheimer’s claims on the ethics of studying race differences.

In previous comments on the science of race differences, Turkheimer noted:

Why Race Science is Objectionable

If I may address my fellow Jews for a moment, consider this. How would you feel about a line of research into the question of whether Jews have a genetic tendency to be more concerned with money than other groups? Nothing anti-semitic, mind you, just a rational investigation of the scientific evidence. It wouldn’t be difficult to measure interest in money and materialism, and it wouldn’t surprise me if as an empirical matter Jews scored a little higher on the resulting test than other groups. As a behavioral geneticist I can assure you without reservation that the trait would be heritable, and, if anyone bothered to take the time to find out, specific genes would have small associations with it. Of course, this research program has already been carried out, at least to the extent the relevant technology was available in 1939. While we are at it we could open a whole scientific institute for the scientific study of racial stereotypes, and finally pull together the evidence on sneaky Japanese, drunken Irish, unintelligent Poles, overemotional women and lazy Italians.

This is a naked appeal to the ethnic interests of his ethnic group — exactly the problem with the “scientists” reviewed in The Culture of Critique. Race realists associated with the Alt Right, on the other hand, have tended to go with the data. They accept the findings that the IQs of Ashkenazi Jews and East Asians are higher than White means. The main issue, after all is White identity and White interests in being able to construct their own societies as other groups around the world have done and continue to do — whatever their talents or deficiencies compared to other groups.

Turkheimer continues:

Hopefully I am beginning to offend you. Why? Why don’t we accept racial stereotypes as reasonable hypotheses, okay to consider until they have been scientifically proven false? They are offensive precisely because they violate our intuition about the balance between innateness and self-determination of the moral and cultural qualities of human beings. No reasonable person would be offended by the observation that African people have curlier hair than the Chinese, notwithstanding the possibility of some future environment in which it is no longer true. But we can recognize a contention that Chinese people are genetically predisposed to be better table tennis players than Africans as silly, and the contention that they are smarter than Africans as ugly, because it is a matter of ethical principle that individual and cultural accomplishment is not tied to the genes in the same way as the appearance of our hair.

The reason we must not delve in to race science thus depends on “intuition.” Unfortunately, we all have different intuitions. Perhaps he is talking about the intuitions of liberal university professors. Or activist Jews. Read more