European blood libels continue, but now there's a solution

Recognizing that we are in Judaism 3.0 would address existential threats to Judaism, but it would also provide Jewish clarity that would advance humanity, just as Herzl envisioned.

 AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL secretary-general Agnes Callamard announces the organization’s 211-page report, ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,’ in east Jerusalem, February 1. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL secretary-general Agnes Callamard announces the organization’s 211-page report, ‘Israel’s Apartheid Against Palestinians: Cruel System of Domination and Crime Against Humanity,’ in east Jerusalem, February 1.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

The book of Leviticus as well as other parts of the Torah make it clear: Jews are strictly forbidden from eating the blood of animals. 

Therefore, it is peculiar that out of all the European-originated anti-Jewish fables, the one that stuck and became the icon of Middle Age opposition to Judaism was the accusation that Jews consume blood – but not the blood of animals, but that of children.

The “fact” that Jews prepare Passover matzos using the blood of Christian children became common knowledge in many European mainstream communities throughout the middle-ages and into the modern era. It was later exported by Europeans to the world, such as in the 1840 French-orchestrated Damascus blood libels.

This was not the first time, nor the last, that European psychological warfare against the Jews was directed to aspects that are most offensive to them.

When the Romans invaded Judea, destroyed the Jewish Temple and deported the Jews from their land, they renamed Judea after the Jews’ biblical arch rival – the Philistines (which at that time had already been long extinct). 

As Jews were forced into a life of refugees in Europe, a new fable emerged – that of the Wandering Jew living in humiliation as a punishment for his sins. The Wandering Jew was named Ahasuerus, seemingly after the Persian king who initially signed the edict to eradicate the Jews.

Young Theodor Herzl, who as a university student was a proud German nationalist, resigned from his fraternity when they adapted the messages of famed composer Richard Wagner, who claimed that the Jews have corrupted Europe, and that self-annihilation is the only way that can redeem them from their curse – “the redemption of Ahasuerus: going under!” Wagner wrote. Paradoxically it was exactly this anti-Jewish rhetoric by Wagner which helped Herzl find a path toward the ideas of Zionism, which in turn served as the true redemption of the persecuted Jewish nation.

Theodor Herzl leaning over the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, probably during the Sixth Zionist Conference there in 1903 (credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)Theodor Herzl leaning over the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois in Basel, Switzerland, probably during the Sixth Zionist Conference there in 1903 (credit: JERUSALEM POST ARCHIVE)

Similarly, the renaming of Judea to Palestine probably helped solidify a key tenet of Judaism 2.0: The yearning for the return to Zion (as opposed to just Judea) – and the blood libels pushed Jews further toward their Jewish identity and religion. 

Psychological warfare against the Jews continues today

A similar process is beginning to emerge today, as Judaism is faced with a new rapidly expanding form of attack.

Once again, the psychological warfare is directed toward the area of Judaism that is most offensive to the Jews. As Jewish religiosity and insularity dramatically receded over the last century, the core Jewish value of Tikun Olam has been taking an increasingly central role: Repairing the world, being a light unto the nations and protecting human rights. 

Not surprisingly, this is where the assault on Judaism is now taking place. In the last few months alone, the Jewish state has been accused of engaging in genocide, ethnic cleanings, apartheid, war crimes, crimes against humanity and even committing a holocaust.

This is not just coming from a few “rotten apples.” It is coming from mainstream media outlets and credible organizations, such as the United Nations and Amnesty International.

As the organizing principle of the Jewish nation-religion has shifted from its religious aspect (Rabbinic Judaism – Judaism 2.0) to its national aspect (Zionism – Judaism 3.0), so has the currency of age-old opposition to Judaism. 

Just as it was pointless back then for a Jew to try to convince a European murdered at his doorstep that Jews do not use the blood of Christian children to prepare matzos, it is pointless today to convince some Europeans and others who are infected with the cancerous Israel-bashing epidemic that the Jewish state does not engage in crimes against humanity.

Similarly, just like back then there was nothing the Jew could do to self-correct his “bad behavior” short of self-annihilation, there is nothing the Jewish state can do to alleviate the attacks against it: It cannot stop assaulting Palestinian women in roadblocks, because it does not assault them; it cannot stop the genocide of Palestinians, because it does not do that either. Once again, the attackers left no path for the Jews to appease them. The only available option of redemption once again, as Wagner put it, is “self-annihilation.”

Addressing the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said: “when Amnesty publishes their outrageous apartheid report, houses of prayers in California are targeted.” In Herzl’s time, during the early days of the antisemitism movement, it was “only” houses of worship and individual Jews that were being targeted. Soon, it was a well-organized onslaught on all of Judaism. This is precisely the trajectory of the Israel-bashing movement today.

Hasbara is futile – a radical solution needed

Herzl realized that hasbara (Israeli public relations), to use today’s term, is completely ineffective when faced with such dogmatic opposition. He mocked the formation of committees against antisemitism – the tool of hasbara/PR used at his time. He realized that you cannot convince people who have dogmatic thinking – hence, a radical solution was needed. That solution was the establishment of a Jewish state.

The case is the same with Israel-bashing today. The Israel-bashing ideology is by now too entrenched in mainstream society. Hence, rational arguments are of limited use. 

A radical approach is needed to deal with this rapidly-expanding existential threat: The change of global consciousness of what Judaism is. Once there is a broad recognition that Judaism has transformed into Zionism, then Israel-bashing becomes Jew-bashing, which alters the nature of the threat.

The secret-weapon of fighting Jew-hatred

Unlike in the past, there is an invaluable asset available today to the Jews and their friends (and there are a lot of them around the world: Arabs, Americans, Africans, Asians and even righteous Europeans). 

The bashers of the 21st century do not want to be perceived as Jew-haters. For the first time, hating Jews is no longer fashionable. Hence, by artificially separating Judaism from Zionism, the haters can achieve both of their objectives: Pursue with vigor their age-old opposition to Judaism (through Zionism), and maintain their modern-day claim that they love the Jews.

Israel-bashers must stay in Judaism 2.0. As long as Judaism’s organizing principle is perceived to be its religious aspect and not its national aspect, they can claim that they are pro-Jewish and anti-Zionist. Once it is broadly recognized that Judaism has transformed and that its national aspect, Zionism, is now its organizing principle, one can only be an Israel-basher if he is okay with being a Jew-basher. Are Jews committing crimes against humanity (“again”)? Is Judaism an apartheid concept? (After all, non-Jews do not have the same status in Jewish houses of worship as Jews do.)

Recognizing that we are in Judaism 3.0 would address existential threats to Judaism, but it would also provide Jewish clarity that would advance humanity, just as Herzl envisioned. The Israel-bashers would then have a choice: Come out and proclaim your opposition to Judaism openly, or abandon your ways and join those in the Middle East and around the world who are benefiting from Zionism and praying for the success of the Jewish state.■

The writer is the author of newly the released book, Judaism 3.0 – Judaism’s transformation to Zionism. (Judaism-Zionism.com)