With “Why Bernie Sanders hates Israel” Dr. Laitman returns to that most important subject, Jewish survivability in the Diaspora today: are we facing another possible Holocaust? Unfortunately his approach to the issue is theological rather than material and his prescription, to be “better” Jews is unlikely an adequate defense to the physical threat we face. Once again he addresses our physical survival as a function of rising to a standard above “the nations” by overcoming in ourselves and providing them our “light unto the nations.” That which we are obligated to overcome is what he insists is the universal and innate human failing, our egotism. This failing, Dr. Laitman insists is the reason we have been persecuted and murdered over the centuries:
“when we cannot form brotherhood, we cannot be “a light unto nations” and we therefore intensify the nations’ hatred toward us. This is the reason why the worst catastrophes happen to Jews in countries where we are the most assimilated and least united, as it happened in Spain and later in Germany.”
By this reasoning Jewry’s centuries-long role as the West’s victim-of-choice makes us, those victimized, responsible for our victimization up to, and including, the Shoah! As regards our persecutors, their inhumanity is overlooked, even justified directed at the Jewish people for not living up to our roles as God’s Chosen, superior to “the nations”! But simple logic and all ADL polling describes antisemitism inspired by the perception of Jews considered superior. But an unbiased reading of Dr. Laitman’s writings describes a humane person, a Jew dedicated to our people. His failure is not as humanist but rather his lack of misunderstanding the genesis of the Holocaust as historical and material.
I touched on the structural foundation of anti-Judaism/antisemitism in my previous response to his “Fascism is looming over the United States” post from two weeks ago will here expand on it with a brief discussion of how religious anti-Judaism morphed into secular antisemitism generating a degree of hatred justifying the annihilation of all Jews, everywhere (the intention of partially failed Final Solution to the Jewish Problem.
Anti-Jewish/antisemitic stereotypes have persisted over centuries, ever current as western tradition sourced in the scripture of the West’s dominant religion. Pervasive mistrust of Jews, as one obvious example, can be easily traced to the “John” gospel (8:44): “You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” Current secular offshoots from 8:44 and “Jews as usurers” in particular, derive from Church-assigned roles for Jews in the Middle Ages. Faced with a rapidly expanding and diversifying economy where Christians were forbidden by the Church to engage in lending at interest, Jews were drafted to serve as Europe’s bankers. Increasingly landowners made use of their Jewish serfs to collect rents from other indentured tenant serfs. This served the double purpose of collecting the taxes, and providing the “tenants” a substitute to the lord upon whom to vent their rage. And over time the association of Jews and money took hold.
Several examples of modern adaptations of stereotypes based on the “John” gospel appear in the most recent ADL, Report: 2013 Survey of American Attitudes Toward Jews in America:
“Jews are “more willing to use shady practices,” “have too much power in the business world”, “have too much control on Wall Street”, “have too much influence over the American news media…”
The second scriptural source for anti-Judaism/antisemitism I discussed in my critique of Dr. Laitman’s previous article was the “Matthew” gospel (27:25). But I also reminded that all four canonical gospels expressed the same basic condemnation of “the Jews” for the murder of Jesus.
This same 2013 ADL survey found that, “A surprisingly large number of Americans continue to believe that “Jews were responsible for the death of Christ.” Twenty-six percent (26%) of Americans agreed with that statement…”
That ADL finds it “surprising” (certainly the organization is aware of gospel sources regarding Jews as “Christ killers”?) speaks volumes for the its generally apologetic approach to antisemitism among Americans, a phenomenon I discuss in some detail in my manuscript, Antisemitism and its final solution, soon to appear in book form. I remind that many Jews in Germany likewise insisted their country “exceptional,” could not accept that their country, up to 1938 and Kristallnacht, was not the “exception” they, for nearly a century, had insisted.
It is certainly difficult to leave a place that served as home, perhaps for generations; a place familiar and comfortable to emigrate to another land, strange language and customs: to uproot and reestablish is emotionally jarring, financially painful. And this was true of Jews in Germany facing intensifying antisemitism before the Holocaust. Our experience informs that Jews have faced difficulties in the past and survived. What likelihood that this time we truly are facing another Shoah? Such threat is an abstraction; reality is family, home, job, neighbors: normalcy. In Germany before Krystallnacht then community leader the philosopher Martin Buber was among those who supported remaining, not to prove Hitler right in saying Jews in Germany were not real Germans. He argued that Jews had been through periods of antisemitism many times in the past and had always survived. This too, he insisted, would pass. As humans we learn from the past: for Jews in Europe the Holocaust was future.
Which brings us to Today. With the Holocaust a still recent memory clearly to avaoid the past as future is to retreat into Denial. In my upcoming book I provide examples of Christian scholars who recognize the dangers posed by their religion’s Jewish Problem, warn of continuing periods of persecution. Recently our own vice president, Joe Biden pointed directly at Jewish denial and another possible Holocaust when he an audience of publicly prominent Jewish leaders: “You understand in your bones,” he said, “that no matter how hospitable, no matter how consequential, no matter how engaged, no matter how deeply involved you are in the United States … there’s only one guarantee… Israel.”
In his excellent 1990 study, The Jewish Question the historian Alex Bein describes life in the Diaspora as recurrently dangerous but that,
“almost all periods of great violence, at least since the Middle Ages, have caught the Jews by surprise and found them unprepared… the persecutions began with particular severity and intensity especially when the Jews position was so secure and their relationship to their environment well ordered that there was no thought of attacks and major violence—at least not in their country, their house.”
I consider Dr. Laitman a reflective observer in accurately describing the dangers we face of an attempt at another, and possibly successful, final solution to the West’s millennial Jewish Problem. He and I are aware of the threat inherent in today’s political turmoil in both Europe and the United States (Laitman’s article singles out Trump representative of that social malaise). And I agree that the danger across the western Diaspora is real and significant. (Western antisemitism is today a world-wide phenomenon due to the internet (see The Devil That Never Dies by Daniel Jonah Goldhagen), but western antisemitism is a special case in representing a two-thousand history of persecution with a religion-base and an ability to express anti-Jewish violence, on a mass-scale as Bein describes, “with particular severity and intensity especially when the Jews position was so secure.” In his unfortunate non-historical analysis Dr. Laitman blames the Jewish people, victims of those centuries of persecution he acknowledges for their own persecution. And this less than seventy years following the previously unimaginable and unspeakable slaughter of millions in Europe while non-continental West, including the United States closed their borders, complicit in silence as the Holocaust was allowed to take its inevitable course.
The realistic assurance of survival for Diaspora Jewry must be founded upon on the evidence surrounding us, not on faith as insisted upon by Dr. Laitman. Zionism declares, is founded upon an analysis of surroundings based on historical precedent. For a thousand years and more Jews were serfs in the West, property to wealthy land owners. The “emancipation” was the promise of freeing the serf, even those the West’s traditional victims of persecution. Leon Pinsker saw the promise of “emancipation” as the long-awaited deliverance from bondage for the Jewish people. He wrote what today is a nearly forgotten pamphlet in 1882, Auto-emancipation in which he, a physician, he diagnosed antisemitism a “disease.” His description is as valid and timely today as when written more than a century ago:
“Judeophobia,” he concluded, “is a psychic aberration. As a psychic aberration it is hereditary, and as a disease transmitted for two thousand years it is incurable.”
I closed my critique of Dr. Laitman’s previous post with the suggestion that if the there is reason to raise the warning, then there is reason to recall Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s warning to Polish Jewry in 1937:
“Eliminate the Diaspora or the Diaspora will eliminate you!”