New Book Advocates
Jewish Supremacy
Ultra-Orthodox Officials Go To Bat for Anti-Gentile Book

By Steven I. Weiss
Forward, New York

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.
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."
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 comment.
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 and abhorrent."
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."
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.
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 gentiles.
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 57
"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, Shagiga 13
"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 37
"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 of Moses.
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.



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