- A new book describing Gentiles as evil and inferior is
causing controversy in the Jewish community. While some think it is a true
reflection of Talmud and Torah teaching which should be expressed, others
are fearful that an open statement of their shared sense of Jewish supremacy
could lead to backlash among those who are not "Chosen." In this
article, one Jewish newspaper describes the debate.
- Is this 'hate'? If a book advocating gentile supremacy
was published, would Jews demand 'hate crime' charge be filed?
- NEW YORK--A leading
ultra-Orthodox organization has launched a campaign to shift attention
from a controversial book on Jewish superiority, choosing instead to attack
the Forward's reporting on it.
- Agudath Israel of America has refused to condemn the
book by Rabbi Saadya Grama, published in Hebrew under the title "Romemut
Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut," which can be translated in several ways,
including "The Grandeur [or Superiority] of Israel and the Question
of Exile." Instead, several Aguda officials have sought to discredit
the Forward's account of the work.
- The Aguda's response contrasted sharply with that of
the nation's most prominent ultra-Orthodox yeshiva, Beth Medrash Govoha
in Lakewood, N.J., whose religious leaders had given the self-published
book a pre-publication endorsement.
- Questioned by the Forward last month, the yeshiva's religious
leader, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, issued a statement saying he had not
read the book carefully before endorsing it, but was repudiating its "alleged"
contents. Grama, the author, is a graduate of the yeshiva, and such perfunctory
pre-publication endorsements of graduates' works are common, Kotler said.
- "In looking at the specific points allegedly contained
in the sefer [book], I can certainly tell you that they are not reflective
of normative Jewish thought and are certainly not the philosophy of our
yeshiva," Kotler said in his statement.
- GENTILES 'COMPLETELY EVIL'
- In its December 19 article, the Forward reported that
"Romemut Yisrael" describes gentiles as "completely evil,"
constituting an inferior "species."
- One member of the Aguda's ruling Council of Torah Sages,
Rabbi Avraham Chaim Levin, publicly described the Forward article on the
book as an anti-Semitic "blood libel," while acknowledging never
having read "Romemut Yisrael."
- Speaking January 3 at an Aguda convention near Chicago,
Levin approvingly cited a critical letter sent to the Forward by David
Zwiebel, the organization's director of government and public affairs.
In an interview Tuesday with the Forward, Zwiebel acknowledged sending
many Orthodox leaders copies of private letters that he had written to
Forward editor J.J. Goldberg attacking the initial coverage of the book.
- The Forward article, said Levin, a widely respected Aguda
leader, "is reminiscent of the blood libel trial of Beilis, in which
the anti-Semitic prosecutor researched talmudic and midrashic literature
to find any hints of any statements which would be derogatory about gentiles."
- "You would not expect this type of anti-Semitism
from a Jewish newspaper," Levin said. A video clip of the speech was
obtained by the Forward.
- In his speech, Levin cited Zwiebel's letter, saying:
"He says he read the book thoroughly, and [that] there is not a single
passage in the book which can remotely be seen as embracing deception or
duplicity to gentiles, nor any allusion to genetic superiority."
- NO COMMENT
- Following the speech, the Forward faxed photocopied sections
of Grama's book to Levin and several other members of the Aguda's Council
of Torah Sages, but by press time none had returned phone messages seeking
- In its initial coverage, the Forward quoted condemnations
of the book by an official at the Anti-Defamation League and by Rabbi Norman
Lamm, chancellor of Yeshiva Univesity and dean of its affiliated rabbinical
seminary. Both based their criticisms on translated passages and summaries
provided to them by the Forward.
- The book was subsequently condemned by the brother of
the Lakewood leader, Rabbi Aaron Kotler, who serves as the yeshiva's chief
executive officer. In an interview with the New Jersey Jewish News, Kotler
stated without qualification that the ideas in Romemut Yisrael are "repugnant
- The Aguda, however, has avoided airing any public criticisms
that its officials may have of the book's content. Instead it has focused
its public response on challenging the Forward's reporting.
- Zwiebel originally sent letters to the Forward and asked
that they not be published, a request the newspaper honored. He subsequently
distributed copies to leaders of other Orthodox organizations. In his first
letter to the Forward, dated December 22, Zwiebel wrote that he does not
consider it his "purpose to defend the book."
- 'DUPLICITY AND DECEPTION' RECOMMENDED
- Instead, Zwiebel wrote, he wanted to "call [the
editors'] attention to the shoddy quality" of the article, which he
characterized as "grossly inaccurate and misleading, perhaps libelously
so." Zwiebel repeatedly claimed in his letters that Grama's actual
ideas are consistent with those found in earlier Jewish texts.
- Goldberg described his correspondence with Zwiebel as
a "difficult exchange" between friends. He said Zwiebel's distribution
of the letters was "surprising" but understandable.
- Zwiebel's primary objections to the Forward's coverage
of the book centered on the paper's assertion that Grama had characterized
Jews and gentiles as different species, and that Grama had recommended
"duplicity and deception" when dealing with gentiles.
- In his book, Grama used the phrase "shnei minim
nifradim," which the Forward translated as "two separate species."
In an interview with the Forward, Zwiebel suggested that "two different
types" would be a more accurate translation.
- In a reply to Zwiebel, Goldberg argued that "min"
is the standard word used in modern Hebrew for the term species, and that
Grama's prose reflected a thorough grounding in modern Hebrew usage.
- Scholars interviewed by the Forward said the term is
generally understood the same way in earlier texts. "The definition
of the term 'minim' in both Jewish thought and Halacha means biological
species," said Rabbi Alan Brill, a professor of Jewish intellectual
history at Yeshiva University.
- 'HIDE TRUE BELIEFS AND FEELINGS FROM GENTILES'
- As for the Forward's description of Grama's book as urging
"deception" and "duplicity," Zwiebel noted that the
words do not appear in the text itself. The article's author, Allan Nadler,
director of Jewish studies at Drew University in New Jersey, replied that
those words were intended in the article to sum up the contents of a chapter
in which Grama urged Jews to hide their true beliefs and feelings from
- Zwiebel countered that the words had an emotional charge
not present in the chapter in question, making them misleading.
- After reading Grama's book, Rabbi Yosef Blau, a leading
rabbinic counselor at Yeshiva University, sent the Forward a letter arguing
that the newspaper had accurately translated the work (please see Page
10). But, he added, Grama "is not an advocate of acting against the
gentile. On the contrary, his message is the need to separate from a hostile,
intrinsically anti-Semitic world."
- Still, Blau wrote, the "possibility exists"
that Jewish extremists in Israel could use the text to "justify horrendous
behavior." He suggested that American scholars such as Grama may be
unaware of the possible impact of such writings in today's charged atmosphere.
- Moreover, Blau added, it is possible for traditionalists
to argue for Jewish isolation "without ascribing evil to gentiles
and denying that they are created in God's image. One can acknowledge the
intractable existence of anti-Semitism without seeing it emanating from
the essential nature of the gentile.
- "Unfortunately this book does not make such distinctions.
Yet it is inaccurate to place it in the category of racist tracts that
call for the superior race to rule the world. This work is a call for a
superior people to withdraw from the world and live in isolation while
submitting to its enemies and placing trust in God."
- The following is but a tiny sampling of some of the more
hateful passages to be found in the Jewish bible--both Torah and its companion
Talmud--Also included are some representative remarks by those who fancy
themselves as "Chosen," with a claim to rule over the Gentiles.
- "And thou shalt consume all the people . . . "
--Deuteronomy, Chapter 7:16 "Ye shall eat the riches of the goyim
. . . " --Isaiah 61:6
- "A Jew may rob a goy: that is, he may cheat him
in a bill, if it be unlikely to be perceived by him." --Shulchan Aruch,
Choshen Hamishpat 348
- "[Property owned by Gentiles] is considered public
property, like unclaimed land in the desert." --The Jewish Encyclopedia,
Vol. X, p. 621, under the heading "Gentile"
- "Jews are human beings, but the nations of the world
are not human beings, but beasts . . ." --Saba Mecia 114, 6
- "Thou shalt not do injury to thy neighbor, but it
is not said, 'Thou shalt not do injury to a goy.' '" --Mishna Sanhedrin
- "Do not have pity for them. Show no mercy unto them.
Therefore, if you see one in difficulty of drowning, do not go to his help
. . . it is right to kill him by your own hand by shoving him into a well
or in some other way." --Maimonides, Hilkoth Akrum, X, 1
- "A Jew is permitted to rape, cheat and perjure himself;
but he must take care that he is not found out, so that Israel may not
suffer." --Shulchan Aruch
- "A heathen [Gentile] who studies the Torah deserves
death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance;
it our inheritance, not theirs. . . . --Sanhedrin 59a
- "Every goy who studies the Talmud, and every Jew
who helps him in it, ought to die." --Sanhedrin, 59a, Aboda Zora 8-6,
- "If a Jew be called upon to explain any part of
the rabbinic books, he ought to give only a false explanation. Who ever
will violate this order shall be put to death." --Libbre David 37
- "To communicate anything to a goy about our religious
relations would be equal to the killing of all Jews, for if the goyim knew
what we teach about them they would kill us openly." --Libbre David
- "The body of a Jewish persons of a totally different
quality from the body of members of all other nations of the world. Bodies
of the Gentiles are in vain. An even greater difference is in regard to
the soul . . .A non-Jewish soul comes from three satanic spheres, while
the Jewish soul stems from holiness." --Lubavitcher Rabbi Mendel Schneerson
- "Everything about us is different. Jews are ontologically
exceptional." --Professional Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel
- From Name On File
- Jeff -
- I don't know about the accuracy of these passages. I
am a Jew and have never heard anything negative said about Gentiles. The
Talmud, which is often misquoted, does contain some passages which are
decidedly negative towards others, but such stuff is nonsense. The Bible
itself, including the Christian New Testament, contains material that can
be construed as hateful as well. A crucial difference is that the Talmud
is NOT a holy book. It is merely rabbinical commentary from ancient times.
Likewise the Shulhan Aruch, which often contradicts the Talmud, incidentally.
Neither is holy scripture -- only the Torah is considered holy writ and
that exists in the Christian Bible as well, as the Pentateuch or five books
- The Jewish Encyclopedia, volume X, page 621 deals specifically
with burnt offerings in the ancient Temple and makes no mention of Gentiles
or their property. The fact that this citation is blatantly false diminishes
the credibility of the others in my view, not to mention the fact that,
as I said before, mainstream Judaism does not condone anti-Gentile teachings.
I suppose there may be renegades out there who do but they are rare, just
as their Christian counterparts are. I have never in my life heard broad-based
anti-Gentile comments from any Jews I know nor have I encountered such
teachings in any aspect of my faith (quite the opposite, in fact).
- I HAVE, however, heard anti-Jewish comments and teaching
of this sort coming from non-Jews. So some author wrote a dumbass book
that is out in left field. It doesn't represent Judaism or the views of
99.999% of Jews. Even if it represented the views of all ultra-orthodox
Jews (which it does not), they account for only 1% (or slightly less) of
all the Jews in the world. This guy is on the lunatic fringe, just like
Schneerson (who was a blasphemer who announced to the world that he was
the Messiah; the late "Rabbi" Scheerson has a small cult following
but true Jews know he was a heretic, yet here he is quoted as though he
spoke for the majority of Jews!). Freedom of speech allows this meshugganer
to write this dreck just as it allows the anti-Semites to make a big issue
of it and blow it all out of proportion. Unfortunately, the more press
coverage he gets the more books he sells.