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Allan C. Brownfeld
FALL 2023

While the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the Israeli Government and others have  
launched a campaign against antisemitism, which has been redefined to include  
criticism of Israel, little attention has been paid to growing Jewish intolerance  
and the promotion of contempt for non-Jews in Jewish literature, including the  
A recent headline in Al-Monitor (June 19,2023) declared: “Christians Horrified by  
Hate Crimes in Jerusalem.” It reports that Tag Meir, an Israeli anti-racism  
organization, has documented an increasing number of hate crimes against  
Christians. These include a case of two young Israeli Jews spitting at a  
disabled priest upon his leaving the Greek Orthodox monastery in Jerusalem’s Old  
City and then threatening with pepper spray another priest who was trying to help  
their victim. In another case, a young Jewish man entered the Tomb of the Virgin  
Mary on Jerusalem’s Mount of Olives with an iron bar to threaten worshipers.  
Tag Meir documents hate crimes against Christians and Muslims and tracks the  
authorities’ response to them. The group’s chair, Gadi Gvaryahu, believes that  
these attacks can be attributed to the current right-wing coalition. He says  
there has been a “disturbing” rise in violent attacks and incidents of vandalism  
targeting Christian pilgrims, clergy, and institutions. Victims have been  
jostled and spat at, religious symbols and icons defaced and inflammatory  
graffiti has appeared near Christian institutions. Most of the attacks have  
taken place in Jerusalem’s Old City, near churches and monasteries.  
Segregation of Jewish and Arab Mothers  
He noted that most Knesset members from the Jewish Power party, headed by  
National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, advocate for segregation of Jewish  
and Arab mothers in hospital maternity wards. They believe Jews are forbidden  
from renting or selling apartments to Arabs and that there is no such thing as  
Jewish terrorists.  
On May 28, demonstrators, including Jerusalem’s Deputy Mayor Aryeh King,  
protested Christians visiting the Western Wall. They carried banners reading  
“Missionaries Go Home!” Father Francisco Patten, the Vatican Custodian of  
Christian Sacred Sites in the Holy Land, says, “I am very concerned as I watch  
the rise in acts of violence and hatred against Christians. Not a week goes by  
without Christians being heckled and spat at, graffiti, vandalism, and other  
forms of harassment. Israeli authorities know what to do, but they do not want  
to put an end to this serious phenomenon.”  
To determine whether the claims of increased violence and hate crimes directed  
against Christians were true, on June 26 the Israeli newspaper Haaretz sent one  
of its journalists dressed as a priest into downtown Jerusalem. Within five  
minutes, the journalist, Yossi Eli, was derided and spat at, including by a child  
and a soldier. A bit later, a man mocked him in Hebrew, saying “Forgive me  
Father for I have sinned.” After this, an 8-year-old child spat at him as did  
another soldier when a group of troops passed by later.  
Contempt Toward Non-Jews  
Jewish fundamentalism shows contempt toward non-Jews, and this dangerous tendency  
is growing in Israel. Rabbi Kook the Elder, the revered father of the messianic  
tendency in Jewish fundamentalism, said, “The difference between a Jewish soul  
and the soul of non-Jews—-all of them in all different levels—-is greater and  
deeper than the difference between a human soul and the souls of cattle.”  
Rabbi Kook’s entire teachings, which are followed devoutly by, among others,  
those who have led the settler movement in the occupied West Bank and many in  
Israel’s current right-wing government, is based upon the Lurianic Cabbala. In  
their book, “Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel,” Norton Mezvinsky and Israel Shahak  
note that this school of Jewish mysticism dominated Judaism from the late 16th to  
the early 19th century.  
“One of the basic tenets of the Lurianic Cabbala,” the authors write, “is the  
absolute superiority of the Jewish soul and body. According to the Lurianic  
Cabbala, the world was created solely for the sake of the Jews: the existence of  
non-Jews was subsidiary. If an influential bishop or Islamic scholar argued that  
the difference between the superior souls of non-Jews was greater than the  
difference between the human soul and the souls of cattle, he would incur the  
wrath of all and be viewed as an antisemite by most Jewish scholars.”  
Differentiation Between Jews and Non-Jews  
Common to both the Talmud and the Halacha (Orthodox religious law) is a  
differentiation between Jews and non-Jews. The respected Rabbi Menachem Mandel  
Schneerson, who headed the Chabad movement and wielded great influence in the  
U.S., explained that, “The difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish person  
stems from the common expression, ‘Let us differentiate.’…We have a case between  
totally different species. The body of a Jewish person is of a totally different  
quality than the bodies of (members) of all nations of the world…A non-Jew’s  
entire reality is only vanity…The entire creation of a non-Jew is only for the  
sake of the Jews.”  
Among the religious settlers in the occupied territories, the Chabad Hasidism  
constitute one of the most extreme groups. The Hebron mass murderer Baruch  
Goldstein was one of the members of this group. Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburgh, who  
wrote a chapter in a book in praise of Goldstein and his massacre of Muslim  
worshipers in the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron is another member of this group.  
He speaks freely of Jews’ genetic-based spiritual superiority over non-Jews. “If  
you saw two people drowning, a Jew and a non-Jew, the Torah says you save the  
Jewish life first,” Ginsburgh states: “If every simple cell in a Jewish body  
entails divinity, is a part of God, then every strand of DNA is part of God.  
Therefore, something is special about Jewish DNA…If a Jew needs a liver, can you  
take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would  
probably permit that. Jewish life has infinite value.” Shahak and Mezvinsky  
point out that, “Changing the words ‘Jewish ‘to ‘German’ or ‘Aryan’ and ‘non-  
Jewish’ to ‘Jewish’ turns the Ginsburgh position into the doctrine that made  
Auschwitz possible in the past.”  
The views that characterize Israel’s now dominant right-wing are understood by  
few Americans. At the funeral of the ultra-Orthodox extremist Goldstein, Rabbi  
Yaakov Perrin stated that, “One million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.”  
Shmuel Hacohen, a teacher in a Jerusalem college, said, “Baruch Goldstein was the  
greatest Jew alive, not in one way, but in every way. There are no innocent  
Arabs here.”  
Intolerance in the Jewish Tradition  
Intolerance can be found throughout the Jewish tradition. Most Jewish Americans  
are unfamiliar with this material and it is certain that the vast majority would  
find it objectionable. The earliest code of the Talmudic law which is still of  
major importance is the Mishneh Torah, written by Moses Maimonides in the late  
12th century. The most authoritative code is the Shulhan Arukh , composed by R.  
Yosef Karo in the late 16th century. According to religious law, murder of a Jew  
is a capital offense. When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite  
different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty of what Talmudic law calls a  
“sin against the laws of heaven,” to be punished by God rather than man in a  
court of law. To cause the death of a Gentile indirectly is no sin at all.  
One of the two most cited commentaries on the Shulhan Arukh explains that when it  
comes to a Gentile, “One must not lift one’s hand to harm him, but one may harm  
him indirectly, for instance by removing a ladder after he had fallen into a  
crevice…There is no prohibition here, because it was not done directly.”  
However, an act leading indirectly to a Gentile’s death is forbidden if it may  
cause the spread of hostility to Jews. A Gentile murderer who happens to be  
under Jewish jurisdiction must be executed whether the victim was Jewish or not.  
However, if the victim was Gentile and the murderer converts to Judaism, he is  
not to be punished. Perhaps the most troubling rabbinic statement about non-Jews  
is attributed to the Second Century sage Rabbi Shimon bar Yohar: “The best of the  
Gentiles should be killed.”  
Maimonides, in his interpretation concerning prohibitions on intercourse, writes:  
“But an Israelite who has intercourse with a Gentile woman…she is to be killed;  
since she caused Israel trouble, as if she was a beast of burden.”  
Christian Churches And Antisemitism  
For many years, Jewish organizations have been in the forefront of urging  
Christian churches to remove from their sacred literature those elements which  
have helped to produce religious intolerance, in particular antisemitism. The  
Christian world has, in large measure, responded to those calls and has formally  
apologized for the narrow teachings of the past which led to widespread  
In 1985, for example, the Vatican Commission for Religious Relations with the  
Jews produced “Notes on the Correct way to present Jews and Judaism in Preaching  
and Catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church.” Here the church took up the anti-  
Judaic language in some of the Gospels. Matthew 27:25, for example, has the Jews  
saying “His blood be upon us and our children.” The “Notes” reflected the views  
of Pope John Paul II on the subject of Judaism and he was a key source and  
motivator of the Catholic rethinking. The covenant between God and the Jews, he  
said, in the Mainz, Germany synagogue in 1980, “has never been revoked.”  
Speaking in the synagogue in Rome in 1986, the Pope declared: “With Judaism…we  
have a relationship we do not have with any other religion. You are our dearly  
beloved brothers and, in a certain way, it could be said that you are our elder  
brothers. It is not lawful to say that the Jews are repudiated for the Jews are  
beloved of God, who called them with an irrevocable calling.”  
The General Convention of the American Lutheran Church in 1974 dealt specifically  
with the anti-Jewish writings of Martin Luther: “American Lutherans are the heirs  
of a long history of prejudicial discrimination against Jews…Lutherans bear a  
special responsibility for this tragic history of persecution because the Nazi  
movement found a climate of hatred already in existence…That the Nazi period  
fostered a revival of Luther’s own medieval hostility toward Jews…is a special  
cause of regret. Those who study and admire Luther should acknowledge  
unequivocally that his anti-Jewish writings are beyond any defense.”  
No Effort To Cleanse Jewish Sacred Literature  
While Christian churches have sought to excise from their tradition those  
teachings of the past which led to intolerance, there has not been a similar  
effort to cleanse Jewish sacred literature of its own hostility to those of other  
traditions and backgrounds. Instead, in Israel, such hostility is growing. The  
respected Israeli sociologist Baruch Kimmerling, citing evidence from a study  
conducted by other scholars, declared: “The values of the (Jewish) religion, at  
least in the Orthodox and nationalistic form that prevails in Israel, cannot be  
squared with democratic values. No other variable—-neither nationality, nor  
attitudes about security, nor social or economic values, nor ethnic descent nor  
education—-so inflames the attitudes of (Israeli) Jews against democratic values  
as does religiosity.”  
Mordechai Nisan, a lecturer at the Hebrew University, wrote in an official  
publication of the World Zionist Organization, relying upon Maimonides, that a  
non-Jew permitted to reside in the land of Israel “must accept paying a tax and  
suffering the humiliation of servitude.” He said that, “non-Jews must not be  
appointed to any office or position of power over Jews.”  
When it comes to Maimonides, his view of non-Jews is less than positive. His  
“Guide To The Perplexed” (Book 3, Chapter 51) discusses how various sections of  
humanity can attain the supreme religious value, the true worship of God. He  
identifies the following groups who are “incapable of even approaching this:  
some of the Turks, i.e., the Mongol race and the Nomads of the North and the  
Blacks and Nomads in the South, and those who resemble them in our climates. And  
their nature is like the nature of mute animals, and according to my opinion,  
they are not on the level of human beings, and their level among existing things  
is below that of a man and above that of a monkey, because they have the image  
and resemblance of a man more than a monkey does.”  
Maimonides And Blacks  
In the popular translation of Maimonides’ “Guide To The Perplexed” (1925), the  
Hebrew word Kushim, which means blacks, was simply transliterated and appears as  
Kushites, a word which means nothing to those who have no knowledge of Hebrew.  
Israel Shahak points out that, “During all those years, not a word has been said  
to point out the original deception…and this throughout the excitement of Martin  
Luther King’s campaigns, which were supported by so many rabbis, not to mention  
other Jewish figures, some of whom must have been unaware of the anti-black  
racist attitude which forms part of their Jewish heritage.”  
“The Book of Education,” a popular Orthodox religious manual subsidized by the  
Israeli government, was written by an anonymous rabbi in early 14th century  
Spain. A central aim of this book is to emphasize the “correct” meaning of the  
Bible with respect to such terms as “fellow,” “friend,” and “man.” Thus, #219,  
devoted to the religious obligation arising from the verse, “Thou shalt love thy  
fellow as thyself” is entitled “A religious obligation to love Jews.”  
In #322, dealing with the duty to keep a Gentile slave enslaved forever whereas a  
Jewish slave must be set free after seven years, the following explanation is  
given: “And at the root of this religious obligation (is the fact that) the  
Jewish people are the best of the human species…and worthy of having slaves to  
serve them.”  
The authors of the Bible used magnanimous language such as “Thou shalt love thy  
fellow as thyself.’ (Leviticus 19:13) but is interpreted by Orthodox Judaism as  
an indication to love one’s fellow Jew, not any fellow human being.  
Taught That “The Arab Is Amalic”  
In his book “Arab and Jew,” David K.Shipler, who served as The New. York Times  
correspondent in Jerusalem, writes: “As the 11-and-12-year-old. Boys in Kiryat  
Arba explained, they are learning in their yeshivas that the Arab is Amalic, the  
enemy tribe that God instructed the Jews to fight eternally and destroy.”  
All through history, we have seen great horrors inflicted upon mankind in the  
name of one or another narrow view of religion and God’s will. Jews have all too  
often been the victims of such religious-mandated intolerance. It is a hopeful  
sign that Christian churches have rejected the antisemitism that some of them  
preached in the past. As we have seen, there is much ethno-centric contempt for  
those who are not Jewish to be found in Jewish sacred literature. It is now time  
that Judaism be purged of its own intolerant teachings.  
Reform Judaism, at its beginning, abandoned the ethno-centric bigotry to be found  
in the Talmud and other Orthodox religious writing. It looked to the God of the  
Prophets, who was not a God for Jews alone, but the Lord of all creation. Second  
Isaiah proclaims God the God of all people. In chapter 56 of the Book of Isaiah  
we find the famous passage epitomizing universalism: “My house will be called a  
house of prayer for all peoples.”  
A Universal God  
The idea of one God for a particular people was not the unique contribution of  
the Jews. There had been other peoples who promoted such ideas. Judaism’s  
unique contribution was the idea of one God for all peoples, representing a  
single standard of morality with one set of moral values applying universally.  
This was the revolution in religious thinking the Hebrew Prophets brought about.  
The Prophets sought adherence not to the oaths of a tribal god, but to a more  
substantive worship of God. The literary prophets, so called because they  
recorded for posterity their messages, considered themselves not predicters of  
events to come but simply spokesmen for God. They spoke out against oppression,  
corruption, paganism, and social injustice—-conditions that existed in every  
society. Inspired by what Rabbi Abraham Heschel called “a breathless impatience  
with injustice,” the prophets portrayed a God who consistently favored justice  
and righteousness.  
The prophets repeatedly challenged the idea of a “chosen people” and asked,  
“chosen for what?” The fundamental objective of the prophets, argues Heschel,  
was to be “an individual who said ‘No’ to his society, condemning habits and  
assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism. His fundamental  
objective was to reconcile man and God.”  
Challenging the Rulers For Oppression  
The Prophets challenged the rulers for their luxurious ways, and their oppression  
of the poor; they criticized the priests for conducting empty sacred rituals  
rather than promoting a substantive religion and they harshly criticized the  
general population for its iniquitous ways. The Prophets questioned much that  
was generally considered impressive for, as Heschel points out, “the Prophet’s  
ear…is attuned to a cry imperceptible to others.” It is the cry of God for  
social Justice and righteousness and it contrasts with human strivings for  
material and social advancement.  
As Heschel writes: “Human justice will not exact its due, nor will pangs of  
conscience disturb intoxication with success, for deep in our hearts is the  
temptation to worship the imposing, the illustrious, the ostentatious.”  
In the mouths of the Prophets the concept of chosenness is turned on its head.  
The Prophets’ message is that what happens to the Israelites is just punishment  
for their wickedness and that other nations serve as “the rod for God’s anger.”  
God is not only the God of Israel, but of all nations. To the Prophets, the  
Israelites are not chosen in the sense that God will love them unconditionally,  
regardless of their behavior. Instead, qualities such as Justice and  
Righteousness have an importance that exceeds sustaining Israel as a nation.  
“Do Justice And Righteousness”  
Thus, the preservation of Israel is not an end in itself. Jeremiah speaks for  
God: “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor  
him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the  
fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place. For if you  
will indeed obey this word, then there shall enter the gates of this house kings  
who sit on the throne of David…But if you will not heed these words, I swear by  
myself, says the Lord, that this house shall become a desolation.” (Jeremiah,  
The transformation of the concept of the chosen people began with Amos. God is  
presented by Amos as disconsolate over a people chosen for special purposes, a  
people that has, however, revealed itself as disappointingly wicked. The  
Israelites were chosen not for favoritism but for a higher purpose: “You only  
have I known, Of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for  
all your iniquities.” (Amos 3: 1-2)  
In his book “Meet The Prophets,” Rabbi David Goldberg notes that Amos laid the  
foundation of a Judaism that was no longer the cult of a mere clan of tribe, or  
even a nation, but which was to become the common possession of all civilized  
humanity. As if to underline that chosenness does not mean favoritism, Amos  
points out that the God of Israel is the God of all nations:  
Are you not like the Ethiopians to Me,  
O people of Israel? says the Lord.  
Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,  
and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?  
(Amos 9:7)  
Chosenness Means Responsibility  
With Amos the idea of being chosen is transformed from that of favoritism to that  
of responsibility, a change that is at the heart of the development of Judaism  
from a narrow tribal religion to that of a universal faith open to all believers.  
Amos always reminds the Israelites of the special meaning of being chosen. Rabbi  
Heschel writes that, “From the beginnings of Israelite religion the belief that  
God had chosen this particular people to carry out His mission has been both a  
cornerstone of Hebrew faith and a refuge in moments of distress. And yet, the  
Prophets felt that to many of their contemporaries this cornerstone was a  
stumbling block; this refuge, an escape. They had to remind the people that  
chosenness must not be mistaken as divine favoritism or immunity from  
chastisement, but, on the contrary, that it meant being more seriously exposed to  
divine judgement and chastisement.”  
The literary Prophets were particularly disturbed over the ritualistic approach  
to religion among the Israelites because they believed that animal sacrifice and  
other such observances were a distraction from a more substantive form of  
worship. Rabbi Heschel observes that, “Sacrifice and ritual were regarded as the  
way that leads to the Creator. The men and the institutions dedicated to  
sacrificial worship were powerful and revered.”  
God, however, speaking through Amos declares angrily:  
I hate, I despise your feasts,  
and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.  
Even though you offer me your burnt offerings  
and cereal offerings  
I will not accept them  
and the peace offerings of your fatted beasts  
I will not look upon.  
(Amos 5:21-22)  
“Let Justice Roll Down Like Waters”  
The form of worship that God has in mind, according to Amos, is something far  
more difficult to fulfill:  
But let justice roll down like waters,  
and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.  
(Amos 5:24)  
If Amos was concerned with justice, his successor Hosea, was concerned with  
justice tempered with love. In Hosea’s view, God was always ready to pardon his  
people as soon as they repented. Hosea rejects superficial rituals in favor of  
the inner meaning of religion. He laments the unfaithfulness of the Israelites  
to God:  
What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?  
What shall I do with you, O Judah?  
our love is like a morning cloud, like  
The dew that goes early away.  
(Hosea 6:4)  
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,  
The knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings.  
(Hosea 8:13)  
With Hosea, as with the other prophets, writes Rabbi Goldberg, came “the  
transition from the primitive ritualistic approach to God to that of the moral  
and ethical—-the transition from the clerical to the prophetic—-which finally  
crystallized Judaism into a religion centered on ethical monotheism.”  
An Inclusive And Expansive God  
Yahweh developed into a God who was inclusive and expansive. Hosea urged the  
Israelites to replace their animal sacrifices with heartfelt prayer. Hosea’s idea  
that the Israelites replace animal sacrifice with prayer as a form of worship is  
an important step. Some two hundred years later when the people of Judah went  
into exile in Babylon, the idea of using words to replace acts took on central  
importance. Far from the Jerusalem temple, the exiles, ironically, experienced a  
renewal of their religion. It was in Babylon that the followers of Yahweh became  
Jews. The years of exile removed from Judaism the elements of the nationalistic  
religion as the exiles learned to worship God far from the place of the origin of  
their religion. Hosea had planted the seed for worship through prayer, without  
“The very idea of substituting words for sacrifices,” writes Rabbi Goldberg,  
“carried within itself the germ of reformation, for in effect it meant that the  
practice of Judaism from now on would be up to the individual Jew, rather than to  
a hereditary priestly caste.”  
As Zionism emerged in the late 19th century, it was rejected by the leading  
religious figures of the day. The chief rabbi of Vienna, Moritz Gudemann,  
denounced the mirage of Jewish nationalism. “Belief in One God was the unifying  
factor for Jews," he declared and Zionism was incompatible with Judaism’s  
Zionism Conflicts With Universal Prophetic Judaism  
For Reform Jews, the idea of Zionism contradicted almost completely their belief  
in a universal prophetic Judaism. The first Reform prayerbook eliminated all  
references to Jews being in exile and to a Messiah who would miraculously restore  
Jews throughout the world to the historic land of Israel and who would rebuild  
the Temple of Jerusalem.  
The most articulate spokesman for the German Reform movement, the distinguished  
rabbi and author Abraham Geiger, argued that Judaism developed through an  
evolutionary process that had begun with God’s revelation to the Hebrew Prophets.  
That revelation was progressive; new truth became available to every generation.  
The underlying and unchangeable essence of Judaism was ethical monotheism. The  
Jewish people were a religious community destined to carry on the mission “to  
serve as a light to the nations, to bear witness to God and His moral law.” The  
dispersion of the Jews was not a punishment for their sins, but part of God’s  
plan whereby they were to disseminate the universal message of ethical  
In November 1885, Reform rabbis, meeting in Pittsburgh, wrote an eight-point  
platform which emphasized that Reform Judaism denied nationalism in any variety.  
It stated: “We recognize in the era of universal culture of heart and intellect,  
the approaching realization of Israel’s great Messianic hope for the  
establishment of the kingdom of truth, justice, and peace among all men. We  
consider ourselves no longer a nation, but a religious community, and therefore  
expect neither a return to Palestine, nor a sacrificial worship under the sons of  
Aaron, nor the restoration of any of the laws concerning the Jewish state.”  
Orthodox opposition to Zionism  
It was not only Reform Judaism which rejected the Zionist idea. In 1929,  
Orthodox Rabbi Aaron Samuel Tamarat wrote that the very notion of a sovereign  
Jewish state as a spiritual center was “a contradiction to Judaism’s ultimate  
purpose.” He noted that, “Judaism at root is not some religious concentration  
which may be localized or situated in a single territory. Neither is Judaism a  
‘nationality,’ in the sense of modern nationalism, fit to be woven into the  
three-foldedness of ‘homeland, army and heroic songs.’ No, Judaism is Torah,  
ethics and exaltation of spirit. If Judaism is truly Torah, then it cannot be  
reduced to the confines of any particular territory. For as Scripture said of  
Torah, ‘Its measure is greater than the earth.’”  
In the wake of growing antisemitism in Russia and Eastern Europe at the end of  
the 19th century and the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s, many Jews  
began to look positively upon the idea of creating a Jewish state in Palestine as  
a refuge for those being persecuted. Jewish organizations in the U.S. that had  
always opposed Zionism, slowly began to view it more favorably. They ignored the  
fact that Palestine was already populated.  
The early Zionists not only turned away from the Jewish religious tradition but,  
in their disregard for the indigenous population of Palestine, Jewish moral and  
ethical values as well. In his book, “Israel: A Colonial-Settler State,” the  
French Jewish historian Maxime Rodinson writes that, “Wanting to create a purely  
Jewish or predominantly Jewish state in Arab Palestine in the 20th century could  
not help but lead to a colonial-type situation and the development of a racist  
state of mind, and in the final analysis to a military confrontation.”  
Israel As An Object Of Worship, A New Idolatry  
Since Israel’s creation, much of the organized American Jewish community has  
transformed itself into a defender of whatever that state pursues. Israeli flags  
fly in many synagogues and Israel and “the Jewish people” often appear to be the  
object of worship, not God. This, of course, becomes a form of idolatry, much  
like the Golden Calf in the Bible.  
When Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is described as “apartheid” by such  
groups as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International—-as well as the Israeli  
human rights group B’Tselem—-leading American Jewish groups call this  
“antisemitism.” Now, as Israel’s right-wing government makes clear its desire to  
annex the West Bank and assaults upon Palestinians grow while hundreds of  
thousands of Israelis fill the streets to protest, it is becoming clear to more  
and more Jewish Americans that Zionism was a mistaken course.  
While the Anti-Defamation League and other groups see rising “antisemitism” in  
the growing criticism of Israel, what is clear to more and more Americans of all  
faiths is that Judaism would do well to excise the intolerance within  
contemporary Jewish life as well as in traditional Jewish literature.  
The voices speaking out on this subject are increasingly compelling. In a letter  
to the American Jewish community in August, 750 scholars, including Israeli  
historian Benny Morris accuse it of “ignoring apartheid” in Israel. It called on  
American Jewish leaders to recognize “apartheid” and “restrict American military  
aid from being used in the occupied territories and end Israeli impunity in the  
United Nations and other international organizations.”  
The letter states that one democratic state is a legitimate outcome: “Without  
equal rights for all, whether in one state, two states, or some other political  
framework, there is always a danger of dictatorship.” The letter calls on  
American Jews “to embrace equality for Jews and Palestinians” in Israel and the  
occupied territories. It declares that, “The ultimate purpose of the judicial  
overhaul is to…ethnically cleanse all territories under Israeli rule of their  
Palestinian population.”  
About half of the signatories are Israelis. Among those signing the letter are  
Ian Lustick, Sara Roy, Dov Waxman, Avi Shlaim, Timothy Snyder, Hasia Diner, Ilan  
Pape, Antony Lerman, Peter Beinart, and Lynn Gottlieb. The letter notes that,  
“American Jews have long been at the forefront of social Justice causes, from  
racial equality to abortion rights, but have paid insufficient attention to the  
elephant in the room: Israel’s long-standing occupation that has yielded a  
regime of apartheid.”  
The time has come to confront Jewish intolerance and recognize that Zionism was  
once a minority view among Jews and is likely to become a minority view once  
again. Consider the article written by Professor Morris Raphael Cohen of New  
York’s City College in 1919 for the New Republic, “Zionism: Tribalism or  
Liberalism?” He rejected the idea that Judaism could prosper only in a Jewish  
state and described Zionist leaders as “zealous enthusiasts” and Zionism as a  
“mystic and romantic nationalism” which was “profoundly inimical to liberal or  
humanistic civilization.” He contrasted the American belief in the separation of  
church and state and in individual freedom with the Zionist belief in the union  
of religion and state and the immutability of group loyalties.” The glory of  
Palestine is as nothing to the possible glory of America,” Cohen concluded. “If  
history has any lesson at all it is that never have men accomplished anything  
great by trying to revive a dead past.” *  

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© 2010 The American Council For Judaism.