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Confronting Scandal: How Jews Can Respond When Jews Do Bad Things;Touches on Jewish Elitism. Of Value, But Needs to Examine Much More Substantive Issues Where Jewish Conduct Harms Non-Jews

jan peczkis|Tuesday, April 11, 2017

This book delves such things as Jewish gangsters in early 20th century USA, financial scandals involving Jews (e. g, Bernie Madoff), rabbis who have committed crimes, etc. Other reviewers have detailed these matters, and I will not repeat them. Instead, I focus on other issues.

Author Erica Brown approaches Jewish wrongdoing both in terms of SHANDA FAR DE GOYIM (embarrassment in front of non-Jews) as well as the failure of Jews to live up to their ethical obligations. She strongly challenges Jews to not only talk about ethics, but actually to live ethically.


Erica Brown makes this pointed comment, "In terms of abuses, one of the reasons whispered in some circles and shouted in others about the rise of Jewish white-collar crime, particularly among religiously observant Jews, is a cavalier and denigrating attitude to non-Jews that many claim is part and parcel of Jewish law. The Talmudic principle DINA DE-MALKHUTA DINA 'the law of the land is law,' [e. g, NEDARIM 28a] that is to guide Jewish behavior in the Diaspora (and presumably the secular State of Israel) is not regarded by some as a statement demanding good citizenship but merely one of normative expediency." (pp. 94-95).


The author continues to quote the Talmud. For example, consider the rabbinical interpretation of King David marrying a woman (Bathsheba) who was already married (to Uriah).

I have looked up the indicated passage in the online Babylonian Talmud (SHABBAT 56a). Here is what it says: For R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Jonathan's name: Every one who went out in the wars of the house of David wrote a bill of divorcement for his wife, for it is said, and bring these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge [‘arubatham].14 What is meant by ‘arubatham? R. Joseph learned: The things which pledge man and woman [to one another].15 And thou hast slain him with the sword of the children of Ammon:11 just as thou art not [to be] punished for the sword of the Ammonites, so art thou not [to be] punished for [the death of] Uriah the Hittite. What is the reason? He was rebellious against royal authority, saying to him, and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open field [etc].

The Talmud exculpates David’s behavior by arguing that Bathsheba was not married to Uriah at the time that David took her, and that Uriah deserved to die anyway. Erica Brown (pp. 93-94) strongly rejects this Talmudic exculpation, pointing out that the Bible unambiguously states that David did evil in the sight of the Lord (2 Samuel 11:27), and was punished by the death of the child of the union.


Author Brown realizes that the long history of Jewish nonviolence owed less to Jewish ethics and more to circumstances. She brings up the KUZARI, a volume of Jewish thought written by Rabbi Judah Halevi of 12th-century Spain. It features the dialogue between the king of the Khazars and representatives of three faiths, which ends with him deciding to convert himself and his kingdom to Judaism.

The king recognized that “Jewish humility” existed, but was no moral credit to the Jews, as it was involuntary. Brown comments, “Jews cannot praise the way that they manage power through nonviolence because they have no other choice. They are not, or were not, autonomous and thus politically empowered to wield authority over others through the sword. To this the rabbi honestly and remarkably confesses, ‘Though hast touched our weak spot, O King of the Khazars.’” (p. 92).


However, Jews were not quite as nonviolent as commonly believed. The author elaborates on significant numbers of Jews involved in organized crime, in the USA, between WWI and WWII. She concludes, “How did the Jewish gangster movement end? Looking back in time, the phenomenon ended not long after the Second World War. As Prohibition dried up and alcohol made its way back onto the streets, the money Jews made in illegal alcohol trafficking dried up with it.” (p. 51).


The following comments of Erica Brown are revealing, “Who guides us and to whom do we answer morally? For most of Jewish history, the answer was unambiguous: God. The moral universe had God at its center as Creator, Enforcer, Judge, Guide, and Parent. The modern universe is one where God is largely absent in conversation, especially among Jews. A colleague said that a convert she was teaching approached her with anxiety about her new changes: ‘If I become Jewish, does that mean that I should stop believing in God?’ Her experience of Jews was that we are not people who talk about God or believe in God or bring God into our lives with linguistic frequency.” (p. 146).



Personally, I do not care about Bernie Madoff or the tiny number of rabbis that have committed crimes. I am much more concerned about the kind of Jewish conduct that does great harm to large numbers of non-Jews. I now raise a few matters not touched by the author.

Consider, first of all, the Holocaust in the American media and educational system. Holocaust supremacism means the elevation of the Holocaust over the genocides of all other peoples. It also means that the genocides of all other peoples become marginalized to one degree or another. I hope that, one day, there comes a time when Jews will find this arrangement ethically unacceptable, even if gentiles generally continue to tolerate it.

The foregoing extends to the Holocaust Industry. Is it ethical to make various nations pay for German crimes and for the consequences of German crimes? Is the Holocaust Industry—as depicted by Norman Finkelstein—a racket?

On another subject, speaking the truth is the core of all ethics. Yet various influential Jews regularly make false and defamatory statements about Poles and Poland. While most Jews do not make such statements, they also are in no hurry to reject or condemn those Jews that do. This needs to change big time.

Finally, there is the matter of double standards. Speaking to her fellow Jews, author Erica Brown declares, “If you feel special when a Jew who you don’t know gets a Nobel Prize, it is challenging to distance yourself when another Jew you don’t know commits an extremely public and despicable crime.” (pp. 11-12). Shouldn’t this reasoning be extended to Jews accepting collective liability for the crimes of Jewish Communists, instead of blaming everything on the Poles? Since Jews keep calling on Poles to “come to terms with the past” and “face up to dark chapters in their history”, should Jews not be held to the same standard?
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