‘My people has been eliminated for lack of knowledge; for you have spurned knowledge, and I will spurn you from serving Me; and as you have forgotten the Torah of your God, I, too, will forget your children.” Hosea, 4:6
The biblical prophets provided us many years ago with the keys to Jewish survival. The Zionist leader, Ahad Ha’am, famously proclaimed in 1910, “The secret to Jewish survival, is learning, learning, learning.”1
Today this has manifested itself not simply in the form of gradual assimilation into the non-Jewish society. It takes on what appears to be a unique form, where Jews proclaim non-Jewish agendas in the name of Judaism.
Our first example concerns Jews who have embraced Christianity, but insist that the reason for their apostasy is because of their Jewish identity. We are familiar with the Messianic movements slogans, that a Jew who embraces Jesus is a “completed Jew,” that ones Jewishness increased when they found Jesus.
There are a number of reasons why Jews end up leaving Judaism, at the dawn of the modern era the more common motivation was opportunism, gaining access to certain professions that were forbidden to Jews and the desire to escape persecution by leaving the shtetl’s. They hoped that conversion to Christianity would lead to acceptance in new emancipated Europe.
In the Medieval period, Jews had even fewer opportunities to enter the non-Jewish world and remain Jews. The only option was conversion to Christianity. Among those converts were some of the worst anti-Semites.
Today, there is little pressure or incentive for Jews to convert to other religions, not least for economic or security concerns. In most countries Jews are granted equal rights and opportunities and have thrived. But unlike in previous generations, Jews who converted to Christianity did not do so out of conviction. Of the Jews who converted to Christianity in Spain during the Inquisition, many continued to be devout Jews, practicing Judaism in secret. Christians became agitated by the fact that Jews who they forced to convert, were not sincere.
However, today we find an unusual phenomenon, the greatest threat to Jewish continuity is ignorance. Ignorance is the number one factor that is causing so many Jews to leave the Jewish community and Judaism. From this ignorant population, grows a new group. Jews who are not contempt with a simplistic Judaism that is lacking content, they search for deeper meaning and purpose to their Jewish heritage than the little that they have been exposed to. This is then misplaced. Many who join these cults and sects report of negative experiences in their Jewish upbringings, or lack of satisfactory answers to their questions. The ignorance is not entirely their fault, it is also in part, a failure on our part and should serve as a wake up call to highlight where we as a people need to improve.
This is not limited to Jews embracing other religious belief systems in the name of Judaism. It also manifests itself in the sphere of history and politics. Jews who embrace Christianity through the Messianic movement have abandoned Jewish values and the core of Jewish belief in favour of idolatry, but they tie themselves to Judaism through the Evangelical steadfast support for the state of Israel and Zionism. Many will parade Israeli flags inside their “synagogues.”
At the same time there is another group of Jews who have veered in the opposite direction. These are groups like Jews for Justice in Palestine or Jewish Voice for Peace, to name a few. These Jews, like their Messianic counterparts preach a non-Jewish message in the name of Judaism. They have close connections to the Students for Justice in Palestine and other anti-Israel student groups who support Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel.
Like much of the world, particularly in Europe, they have bought the Palestinian propaganda and the retelling of the history of Israel and Zionism which is a distortion of the facts and the historical record.
Jewish support for Christianity, BDS or other movements that are hostile to the Jewish people or seek to eradicate Judaism is part of a broader problem of ignorance and misinformation.
Over the past two years, we have seen that the ultimate goal behind the Palestinian wars and terrorism against Israel, through rocket fire and the recent almost daily stabbings against Jews, is not a military victory but a diplomatic one. To serve as a means to demonize Israel, by misinforming the world through dishonest reporting in the media. Where stories of Palestinian’s who stab Jews are reported as – “2 Palestinians Killed After Stabbing Attack.”
Or in 2014, when Palestinian terrorists massacred Jews at prayer in a synagogue in Har Nof – CNN reported “Deadly Attack on Jerusalem Mosque” and “Police shot, Killed Two Palestinians.”
Lies have become mainstream. Melanie Philips went to great lengths to illustrate the extent of this problem in her book The World Turned Upside Down. In summary she writes:
“In what we tell ourselves is an age of reason, we are behaving increasingly irrationally. A loss of religious belief has led the West to replace reason and truth with ideology and prejudice. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. There is widespread belief in ludicrous conspiracy theories, such as the 9/11 terrorist attack being an American plot.
The basic cause of all this unreason is the erosion of the building blocks of western civilisation. We tell ourselves that religion and reason are incompatible, but in fact the opposite is the case. It was Christianity and the Hebrew Bible that gave us our concepts of reason, progress and an orderly world—the foundations of science and modernity.
The loss of religious belief has meant the West has replaced reason and truth with ideology and prejudice, which it enforces in the manner of a secular inquisition. The result has been a kind of mass derangement, as truth and lies, right and wrong, victim and aggressor are all turned upside down. In medieval-style witch-hunts, scientists who are skeptical of global warming are hounded from their posts; Israel is ferociously demonized; and the United States is vilified over the war on terror—all on the basis of falsehoods and propaganda that are believed as truth.
Thus the West is losing both its rationality and its freedoms. It is succumbing to a “soft totalitarianism”, which not only is creating an ugly mood of intolerance but is undermining its ability to defend itself against Islamic aggression. While the Islamists are intent on returning the free world to the seventh century, the West no longer seems willing or able to defend the modernity and rationalism that it brought into being.”
American scholar and political commentator Jonah Goldberg discusses how freedom of speech has been replaced by a Tyranny of Cliches. In his book Liberal Fascism Goldberg notes that:
“Certain quarters of the left assert that “Zionism equals racism” and that Israelis are equivalent to Nazis. As invidious and problematic as those comparisons are, why aren’t we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza – that is, “The Race” – to the radical Hispanic group MEChA, whose motto – “Por La Raza todo. Fuerro de La Raza Nada” – means “Everything for the race, nothing outside the race”? Why is it that when a white man spouts such sentiments it’s “objectively” fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it’s merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?
The most important priority for the left is not to offer any answer at all to such questions. They would much prefer to maintain Orwell’s definition of fascism as anything not desirable, thus excluding their own fascistic proclivities from inquiring eyes. When they are forced to answer, however, the response is usually more instinctive, visceral, or dismissively mocking than rational or principled. Their logic seems to be that multiculturalism, the Peace Corps, and such are good things – things that liberals approve of – and good things can’t be fascist by simple virtue of the fact that liberals approve of them. Indeed this seems to be the irreducible argument of countless writers who glibly use the word “fascist” to describe “bad guys” based on no other criteria than that liberals think they are bad.
Fidel Castro, one could argue is a textbook fascist. But because the left approves of his resistance to U.S. “imperialism” – and because he uses abracadabra words of Marxism- it’s not just wrong but objectively stupid to call him a fascist. Meanwhile, calling Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush, Rudy Giuliani, and other conservatives fascists is simply what right-thinking, sophisticated people do.
The major flaw in all of this is that fascism, properly understood is not a phenomenon of the right at all. Instead, it is, and always has been a phenomenon of the left. This fact – an inconvenient truth if there ever was one – is obscured in our time by the equally mistaken belief that fascism and communism are opposites. In reality, they are closely related, historical competitors for the same constituents, seeking to dominate and control the same social space.”2
There are today different types of apostates, both born of ignorance. Ignorance of Jewish religious tradition or of Jewish history and the nature of anti-Semitism.
Professor of Philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Elhanan Yakira discusses the phenomenon of Post and Anti-Zionist beliefs amonst Israeli academics, in his book Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust: Three Essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel.
Yakira singles out a few Post-Zionist historians in Israel, including professor of Philosophy at Tel Aviv University, Adi Ophir. He forges a link to a group of Revisionist historians in France, who are considered to be Holocaust deniers, associated with the ultra-left wing bookstore in Paris, La Vieille Taupe. Founded by the political activist, Pierre Guillaume and scholars such as Robert Faurisson, Serge Thion, and Paul Rassiner. Much of the thinking behind this school of thought is left-wing and pacifist, who have no inklings towards Nazism.
Yakira discusses the link between the Revisionist historians in Europe and various Post Zionist historians in Israel and abroad, such as Noam Chomsky, who wrote what would become used as the Introduction to one of Robert Faurisson’s works defending everyone’s right to free speech amidst the illegality of Holocaust denial in many European countries.
The far Left views the world in terms of ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s,’ winners and losers, it has in turn viewed the Palestinians as one of the oppressed peoples in the world and just another front of the war between the deserving, poor Third World being exploited, attempting to overcome Neo-liberalism and Imperialism. All that is worth confronting is an international class struggle. Yakira highlights this in his essay, Holocaust denial and the Left:
“This tendency also makes it possible to remain indifferent to injustice that is apparently not accounted for by class conflict or any other all-encompassing explanatory principle, such as the struggle against colonialism. The proletariat has only one enemy, and that is the class to which Dreyfus belongs, the exploiting class. There is only one just struggle, the struggle against exploitation. Internal rivalries within this class do not interest the working masses, and their revolutionary energies should not be squandered or marginal, unimportant questions about injustices that may or may not have been committed against a member of the exploiting class. Both in Rassinier and his faithful followers on the radical French left one can find this syndrome: one must not allow the crime that was committed at Auschwitz, as it were, to blind us to the main thing, which is the suffering of the those who are truly exploited – the workers, people of the Third World, the Palestinians. What happened at Auschwitz was, in the last analysis, just another instance, among many, of the true source of all crimes: colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, and Zionism. Since the ceaseless concern with Auschwitz distracts us from all these things, we have to get rid of it. Thus, one cannot avoid the conclusion that nothing unique happened at Auschwitz. Its uniqueness can be negated by the claim that there was no systematic, planned extermination, real or symbolic, is what the Israelis are doing to the Palestinians.”3
It is this school of thought that has caused what is often perceived to be a double standard on Israel or a disregard for the injustices caused by Palestinian terrorists targeting Israeli civilians and the subsequent attempt to constantly justify such atrocities. The very fact that there are Jews both inside and outside of Israel who endorse this worldview has allowed anti-Semites to claim immunity from anti-Semitism by demonizing Zionism, Israel and her supporters and associating them with all their other perceived evils, i.e. colonialism, imperialism, apartheid and capitalism.
The American historian, Walter Laqueur in his book; The changing face of Anti-Semitism, from ancient times to the present day, writes:
“Over the last few decades, there has been an ideological reorientation of what used to be the left. With the progressive disillusionment with Communism and the later breakdown of the Soviet empire, the sympathies of the left were transferred to the third world, the under-developed countries of Asia and Africa. If earlier on the (unofficial) slogan had been “no enemies on the left,” the new guiding line became “no enemies in the third world.” But Israel was not a third world country. The left, with only a few exceptions had never been in favour of a Jewish homeland, which they considered a step in the wrong direction. And as the problems generated by the creation of the Jewish state multiplied, the erstwhile antagonism reappeared with additional vigour.”4
What has become known as the ‘New anti-Semitism’, which charges anti-Semites of hiding behind anti-Zionism, these “critics” divide Jews into good Jews and bad Jews. The bad Jews are those who associate with Israel, which is the vast majority of today’s Jews, and good Jews are those who denounce Israel.
This divide and rule strategy is not new. Before Israel was established the Bolshevik Jews were viewed not that differently to how the Zionists are regarded today. The former British Prime minister, Winston Churchill, wrote an article titled Zionism and Bolshevism: A struggle for the soul of the Jewish people. To Churchill, the good Jews were the Liberal, Diaspora Jews in western countries and the Zionists, and the Communists and Bolsheviks were the bad Jews, he wrote that:
“It would almost seem as if the gospel of Christ and the gospel of the Antichrist were destined to originate among the same people; and that this mystic and mysterious race had been chosen for the supreme manifestations, both divine and the diabolical…
Duty of Loyal Jews
It is particularly important in these circumstances that the National Jews in every country who are loyal to the land of their adoption should come forward on every occasion, as many of them in England have already done, and take a prominent part in every measure for combating the Bolshevik conspiracy. In this way they will be able to vindicate the honour of the Jewish name and make it clear to the world that the Bolshevik movement is not a Jewish movement, but is repudiated vehemently by the great mass of the Jewish race.”5
It appears that the good Jew is whoever is on the fringe of the Jewish people, Zionism at this time had not enlisted the amount of support of the Jewish people that it has today, and the left wing, radical Bolshevik Jews were considered to be the evil heretical offshoot of the Jewish people. Today we see the opposite, Zionism is no longer a small fringe movement, it is one of the main movements influencing Jewish beliefs and concerns today, and it is Zionism which has become the movement that Jews are being asked to distance themselves from, to prove that Zionism is not a Jewish movement.
In the past, Zionists internalised the anti-Semites excuses for anti-Semitism, took them seriously and believed that anti-Semitism would then disappear. They believed that it was caused by the fact that the Jew was landless, and held positions in the middle classes, acting as the hated middle man, reaping the capital from the laborers, acceptance of such ideas was found amongst the prominent Zionist thinkers, including Nahman Syrkin and Ber Borechov. Borechov explains in Our Platform that:
“Anti-Semitism flourishes because of the national competition between the Jewish and non-Jewish petty bourgeoisie and between the Jewish and non-Jewish proletarized and unemployed masses.”6
Today Jews are told the complete opposite; that the cause is the Jewish state and peoplehood. There are still those who fail to see anti-Semitism as irrational and who genuinely believe that it will disappear provided that we take the excuses for it seriously.
Once again, as Churchill in the 1920’s called on Liberal Jews in the Diaspora and Zionist Jews to condemn and distance themselves from the Bolsheviks, today the smaller number of Communist Jews and the small pockets of anti-Zionist religious Jews are branded as the ‘good Jews’ and the Jews are being asked to distance themselves from Zionism and Israel.
Neturei Karta with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after Holocaust Denial Conference.
Pro-Palestinian protesters from CODEPINK and the Washington, D.C. Metro Jewish Voice for Peace. (Photo: ADL Blog)
In the West, what is referred to as the “New anti-Semitism” masquerading behind “anti-Zionism” attempts to colonize Jews by dividing them. During the mandate period, the British divided the labor Zionists under the leadership of Ben Gurion from the right wing under the leadership of Menachem Begin, where Jews betrayed other Jews, including the handing over of Irgun members to the British to be executed, until they eventually saw eye to eye and united to drive the British out of Palestine. Today, Jews are being divided into Zionists and non-Zionists.
Calamities befall the Jewish people when there is lack of unity. The Talmud (Yoma 9b) ascribes the reason for the destruction of the Temple to Baseless hatred amongst Jews. For this reason Rav Kook, the first Chief Rabbi of the state of Israel said that the rebuilding of the Temple and redemption would only come about through Baseless love.
Between the Greeks and the Romans they both succeeded in eventually breaking the Jewish people, causing internal divisions, leading them astray and to adopt the ways of the nations, and ultimately to the destruction of the Temple and the Roman exile.
Rav Dessler explains:
“When arrogance spread through Klal Israel, to the point that their ‘measure had been filled,’ the Temple was destroyed and handed over to the kingdom of Edom, also known as Rome, the offspring of Amalek, whose main character traits are arrogance and heresy.
“The Romans came with brute force. They didn’t present any spiritual ideal – not even an impure one – against the spirit of holiness of the Torah. That is because they did not have any original culture of their own; they simply presented the option of physical pleasure as opposed to spirituality. They glorified the victory of physical over spiritual as if it were in their power to harness the whole world for their own desires and goals, for the benefit of the masses of their constituency. Their arrogance grew commensurate with their successes, resulting in ever-increasing heresy and audacity towards Hashem [God].”7
The world that Philips and Goldberg describe, the Sages and Rabbis forewarned of and give vivid descriptions throughout Rabbinic writings. The Talmud in tractate Sota 49b describes the time preceding the Messianic era:
“Insolence will increase and honour dwindle; the vine will yield its fruit [abundantly] but wine will be dear, the government will turn to heresy and there will be none [to offer] them reproof; the meeting place [of scholars] will be used for immorality; galilee will be destroyed, Gablan desolated, and the dwellers on the frontier will go about [begging] from place to place without anyone to take pity on them; the wisdom of the learned will degenerate, fearers of sin will be despised, and the truth will be lacking… The face of the generation will be like the face of a dog.”
“As our exile becomes lengthy and as troubles befall us, many will leave the religion… Some will have no doubts and their reasoning will not be confused, as it says, “Many will be selected, cleansed, and refined, and the wicked will act wickedly. None of the wicked will understand, but the wise will understand” (Daniel 12:10). [This implies] that even those who have sense and understanding and who underwent sufferings and weathered them, remaining steadfast in their belief in Hashem and Moshe, His servant, will still undergo severe tribulations, worse than the first ones they faced, to the point that they will develop doubts and err, until only the slightest bit will be clear to them. As it says, “And some of those who have sense will stumble, to refine them and to select and cleanse until the time of the ultimate end, for the appointed time is yet to come” (Daniel 11:35). 8
The Messianic and the Jews against Zionism supporting the BDS movement are attempts by the enemies of Israel to reshape the Jews in their image. To create a new incarnation of a “good Jew.” The Messianic movement is an assault on the Jewish soul through its attempt to highjack the Jewish religion. The anti-Israel Jews, allied with the far left and radical anti-Zionists attack the Jews physical wellbeing.
In the wake of the Holocaust, the Jewish people stood in unity, proclaiming “Never Again,” and understood that to mean taking responsibility for one another and a strong Israel. That essential unity is at great risk from within. Today, Israel is increasingly demonized and isolated, European anti-Semitism has returned and is slowly becoming mainstream and Christian missionaries are more successful than ever. The goal is a unified proud people and the road to achieving it is through revealing the truth and fighting ignorance.
- Ahad HaAm, letter to J. L. Magnes, Sept, 10, 1910
- Goldberg, J (2009) Liberal Fascism, Crown Forum: United States
- Yakira, E (2010) Post-Zionism, Post-Holocaust: Three Essays on Denial, Forgetting, and the Delegitimation of Israel, Cambridge University Press: New York pp.21
- Laqueur, W (2006) The changing face of Anti-Semitism, from ancient times to the present day, Oxford University Press: New York
- Churchill, W (08.02.1920) Zionism and Bolshevism. A struggle for the soul of the Jewish people, Illustrated Sunday Herald.
- Borechov, B (1906) Our Platform, taken from the Zionist idea by Hertzberg, A (1997) The Jewish Publication Society: Philadelphia pp.361
- Rav Dessler, Michtav Me’Eliyahu, Part 3, pp.216
- Maimonides, Epistle to Yemen