The Scourge of Jewish Self-Division


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I have often written, sometimes bemused, sometimes incensed, about what is surely the strangest fact of Jewish life, namely, its self-division. Since time immemorial, the Jewish people have been at war with themselves, both in the Holy Land and the Diaspora, allowing themselves to succumb to one of history’s most mordant ironies. In turning against themselves, they have effectively collaborated with those who would suppress, conquer or extinguish the Jewish community.

The template was already established in the Book of Genesis, where we read how one brother slew another in jealousy and resentment and a group of conspiratorial brothers sold their sibling into slavery. From that point on, the biblical archive presents a saga of recrimination, envy, hatred and fratricidal strife that in different degrees has imperiled the very survival of the Jewish “nation.” The pattern was consolidated in the story of Korah, Dathan and Abiram, the three rebels who “rose up” before Moses and challenged his authority. As the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen these people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people” (Exodus 32:9).

Brother against brother, prophet against people, king and priest, and even nation against nation form an indelible part of the Jewish chronicle. The history of the Two Kingdoms provides a continuingly relevant object lesson. After the death of King Solomon, the Israelite communality broke apart into the two warring monarchies of Israel and Judah. The shedding of kinship blood critically weakened the two kingdoms, leading to the conquest of Israel by the Assyrians and the reduction of Judah first by the Chaldeans, then by the Egyptians, and finally by the Babylonians. The Jewish epic may be described as: divide and be conquered. Indeed, surah 59:14 of the Koran tells us something very true about Jews: “There is much hostility between them: their hearts are divided…” It seems that the wise counsel of Maimonides in the Mishneh Torah has no resonance for the backsliders: “All of Israel and those who are joined to it are to each other like brothers. If brother shows no compassion to brother, who will show compassion to him?”

The fault line in the Jewish sensibility is tectonic in its dimensions and destructive in its effect. Perhaps the single most resonant case study in self-division involves the institutional founder of the Christian faith. The story of St. Paul is too well known to require much in the way of comment, yet it is richly instructive. A rabid persecutor of the followers of Jesus, Saul of Tarsus experienced a blinding conversion to the new faith and was shortly thereafter  called by the name of Paul (Acts 13:9). He then became the Apostle of Christianity, considering his Jewish identity a mere rehearsal for a larger identity and at times expressing strong disapproval of Jews who held to their traditional beliefs and identity. (His quarrel with the Desposyni, the “servants of the Lord,” led by James the brother of Jesus who wished to preserve the purity and exclusivity of the original faith, is a matter of historical record.)

But the details of the Apostle’s former activities and subsequent religious convictions are specific to the time. Jews today do not persecute Christians. Indeed, they are the ones who are relentlessly persecuted—by Muslims, by secular antisemites and unhinged fanatics from both sides of the political spectrum (though massively from the Left), and by several Christian denominations associated with The World Council of Churches, replacement and liberation theologians, and the Quaker-Presbyterian axis promoting its BDS campaigns. More to the point, and the most indigestible perversion of all, countless Jews harry and denounce their own congeners. The tendency to a kind of binary kinesis seems inherent in the Jew, whether it is himself he loathes or his own people he reproaches and undermines. It is the psychic split itself, not its local content, that transcends the ages. In this respect, the Saul/ Paul fracture represents a longstanding Jewish archetype.

This history of self-estrangement, political strife and cultural rupture has been played out from the biblical era through the centuries of religious factionalism and reciprocal excommunication culminating in our own epoch. The profound antipathy between assimilated Jews and their irredentist counterparts in Jerusalem, Tiberias, Safed and Hebron, as well as the caste-like contempt of Western Jewish intellectuals for the Ostjuden, that is, their assumed “plebeian” and “uneducated” East European brethren, are facts of modern Jewish history. The shame of many of the Jewish Councils in Nazi Europe that collaborated with their murderers (not all, as Gershom Scholem justifiably argues in On Jews and Judaism in Crisis) cannot be forgiven, despite attempts to explain it away as the least of worst alternatives. The legacy of the celebrated Jewish philosopher Martin Buber and the equally acclaimed Jewish political writer Hannah Arendt, who could never forget their German patrimony and were corrosively suspicious of the Zionist project, has been broadly and unambiguously noxious. In the present moment we observe their offspring, that is, left-wing “peace activists,” liberal rabbis and “post-Zionist” intellectuals, who strive to erode the Jewish character of the state of Israel and so deprive it of its legitimacy. The Jewish Left, as it dances around the golden calf of a fictitious peace, represents perhaps the gravest danger to the survival of the country.

Many Jews, as I wrote in Hear, O Israel!, tend to transpose the fight against iniquity and oppression to other nations and communities rather than press for the rights of their own people. Or they believe, “in traditionally Marxist fashion,” as Sol Stern writes in City Journal, “that the way to fight anti-Semitism was through the broader struggle for international socialism.” Thus they pursue their fugitive merit. Like Paul, their main focus falls on the Corinthians and Ephesians et al. of the time. Indifferent to the reality of their own condition—ignoring the rain clouds until they are drenched and catch pneumonia, as the 19th century Jewish philosopher Max Nordau noted—these are the ostensibly benevolent Jews who wish to “repair the world” (Tikkun Olam). That it would be a world in which their place would nevertheless remain precarious escapes them entirely.

The benevolent Jews are bad enough. Their spirit of pharisaic charity, however, is exceeded by that of the reprobate Jews, who take their “idealism” to the next level of unctuous self-effacement. They struggle against injustice by reprehending, for example, not Palestinian terrorists and Hezbollah jihadists but Israeli Jews themselves whose right to national legitimacy they perceive as an affront and do everything in their power to misrepresent. Again, like Paul, they regard their own people as “those who please not God, and are contrary to all men” (1 Thessalonians 2:15).

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  • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

    When you used the term "schizmatics" to describe human beings who happen to be Jewish but who disagree with Zionists, I realized that you view Judaism and Jewishness the way a Muslim views Islam, as an internally consistent, inviolate and complete system in which infidels must not be tolerated.

    You also said, "A Jew who hates another Jew or who is mortified by his own Jewishness has given hostages to fortune and rendered his own prosperity and well-being, let alone his survival, hypothetical." Do I misunderstand this? Are you saying that he cannot make it in the world economically as a Jew, or simply that he will suffer economic shunning, whereas before he had economic survival ensured? These kinds of beliefs are very primitive to me.

    And watch out what you say about The Renegade Jew. He'll be coming right atchoo.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5FnJhHvCAc

    • stern

      Your hatred for Jews disqualifies you from commenting on this post. Keep your misinformed, idiotic musings to yourself.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        There is nothing more amusing than watching you hatemongers declare fatwa against people who crossed some imaginary Red Line of free speech where their observations suddenly become “illegitimate discourse” and make them fair game for censorship, harassment and crime. You should take a lesson from Andrew Adler on what should not be said.

        • dave

          I think you need to try to empathize. I don't know what your heritage is but many Jews, Blacks and other ethnic minorities with a long history of being 'other' in the west or even Muslim countries, have within them a self loathing which comes from centuries of being put down by their 'host' countries. This culminates in an inability to fully embrace your ethnicity and therefore rejecting it, like many Jewish people do, simply wanting to fit in and not be defined by their Jewishness. But it also becomes very hard to fully embrace the 'host' culture which has historically persecuted you, which is why some Black people feel unable to integrate fully.

          • dave

            Both Jews and Blacks are stuck, they have nowhere else to go. Israel is hated to a level that is unhinged, and also a dangerous place to move to, while going 'back to Africa' is not a realistic option for most westernized Blacks. Muslims have about 94 countries they could live in and fit in happily, they can afford to hate us and not integrate. To hate Jews for wanting to maintain their ethnicity is a unique hatred. We seem to encourage and celebrate every other cultures diversity except Jews, who we want desperately to denounce their heritage and assimilate. This is mainly from 2 thousand odd years of anti semitism from the Catholic church which persists to this day. Most people are unaware of it as it has been so ingrained onto our sub-concious minds that we need very little encouragement to bring it out. I can understand if people object to Jews or anyone not like them, but to also deny them a place to 'banish' them to, ie Israel is nothing other than genocidal hatred.

    • zionista

      the obsessed Jew hater weighs in. get a life you Jew hating loser

    • reader

      "Are you saying that he cannot make it in the world economically as a Jew, or simply that he will suffer economic shunning, whereas before he had economic survival ensured? These kinds of beliefs are very primitive to me."

      Here's a moron declaring something stupid because he does not understand. You can join public school sophomores strolling a mall and uttering "this is sooh stupid" every 5 minutes to enter your comfort zone.

      • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

        The man did say that a Jew becomes existentially an economically unviable the day he renounces his Jewishness. I would just like an explanation how this magical process works.

        • reader

          I expect a second grader reading Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity to do a better job in reading comprehension. To make it so that even a troll like you can grasp the idea, perhaps, you may really make an effort and wrap your hands around the fact that dhimmitude does not pay.

          • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

            The word “dhimmi” means nothing to a person who has no inferiority complex regarding Islam.

          • reader

            the word dhimmi means nothing to a person who was born yesterday. Those who know anything about Islam know what dhimmi is. Also, except for muslims themselves, those who know anything about Islam have a superiority complex regaeding Islam, as they should.

    • Nakba1948

      Solid argument, Flipside. Ideological "self-division" is innate to the human condition, and it benefits Judaism as much as it does Islam. Heck, it's the very foundation of democratic society. Take away this sort of self-division, and you get something like North Korea; everyone thinks the same, and if you deviate from the party line, you conveniently disappear one day. It's a shame you can't discuss the point without have the usual barrage of empty epithets hurled at you.

      • Ghostwriter

        And it's a shame,Nakba1948,that you and Flipside have no heart. You guys are supreme as Jew haters without peer. You both are without conscience or soul.

        • http://www.contextflexed.com Flipside

          I think Ghostwriter is a bot. Look at that comma error.

  • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

    What a profound analysis! Thank you Mr. Solway.

    Yet Mr. Keith Davies gave a better answer to the question:

    "How else explain Jewish survival into the modern world against all the odds?"

    Mr. Davis wrote:

    The only conclusion I can come to as a Jew is that we have survived because of God himself and his mercy and compassion.

    However, for how long more dare we try the patience of the Almighty, abusing His mercy?

  • Amused

    Soiunds like another prelude to replacement theology , with an attempt at a spritual rational . "See those Jews " ? "They getting what they deserve " ! And Solway uses scripture to make his point . Well one must understand the scriptures FIRST , before coming to ERRONEOUS conclusions . The above statemen quotes a Mr.Davis ,who asks "how long " when in FACT the answer has been provided ! Throughout both Tanach and Christian Scriptures . Indeed all of the parables spoken by Jesus were directed exclusively towards Jews FIRST . The answer ?…as long as it takes ! this is constantly reiterated throughout the Bible ,as the many parables give proof .Whether the Jews themselves do not understand it fully is irrelevant, G_D has made a promise , and it is immutable . "How dare we " …bring into question such a promise ? Who are we to put a limit on the Mercy of G_D ? have all you "good christians " AND jews forgotten the parable of the Prodigal son ?? It seem the author takes the position of the disgruntled brother .

    • http://www.resonoelusono.com/NaturalBornCitizen.htm Alexander Gofen

      Amused wrote:

      <<G_D has made a promise , and it is immutable . "How dare we " …bring into question such a promise ? >>

      - But hadn't it already happened in the past: Sodom and Gomorrah, and the great Deluged? Doesn't it mean that the patience and mercy of G_d may sometimes get exhausted so that again He comes to the conclusion that alas, also this experiment with humanity has failed…

      • Amused

        You express an ignorance of the the Tanach Gofen . Please do your homework before making such statements . The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were not Jews , nor were the people of Noah's time .Amongst those peoples G_D found faithfull servants in Lot and Noah . If G_D's promise [covenant ] is revocable to Jews , then it mut also be revocble to christians , You are in error Gofen , as it is obvious , Israel stands and Christians embrace the Everlasting Gospel . I suggest further study , lest you make more statements borne of ignorance .

  • Amused

    The Great Irony here , is that the muslims knowing full well the Jewish and Christian holy books , for they have mined them both to create the perversion called Islam , use this very rationale , but take it a step further as THEY will mete out the puinishment for the alleged abuse of G_D's Mercy , THEY will be the Right Handf of G_D , who will determine the limit of His Mercy .
    Better be carefull Solway !

  • mrbean

    Today we have a serious problem that is evasion of the evil nature of the enemies of Israel by many Jews who will not or are unable to grasp that this is about the survival of Israel not egtting along with your enemies on their terms.

    • Nakba1948

      You do realize the vast majority of your so-called "enemies" (I won't bother pointing out the distinction between an enemy and a critic) would have no issue with you if not for the scourge of Zionism, right? Israel has made the world less safe for Jews, whether Zionist or anti-Zionist. I dare you to argue otherwise.

      • reader

        This is a lie. This lie has been disected in many different ways, and here is one:
        http://www.amazon.com/Al-Yahud-Eternal-Islamic-En

      • FriendofGaryCooper

        Muslims treat anyone who criticizes Islam as an enemy; so where do you get the credibility to say that Jews shouldn't do that? (That Jews–sometimes justifiably–look on those who criticize Judaism/Israel/Zionism–as enemies) Second; the vast majority of our "so-called enemies" were, in times before Zionism, foaming at the mouth anti-semites who burned down the synagogue in Worms, in 1349; and started countless pogroms all through medieval and Renaissance Europe, using the Passover Matzoh blood libel. Zionism has simply given these monsters something to hide behind. You are appallingly ignorant.

  • aspacia

    All groups have divisions

    Early Christians were divided between the Gnostics and non. Just look at the Republican candidates picnicing on each other. Democrats too.

  • NotaBene

    I'm not a self-hating Jew but I am a YOU-hating Jew.

    Wouldn't it have been simpler for you to write "Everyone who disagrees with me is a bad Jew and to even suggest self-criticism makes you worse than Hitler'.

    • reader

      Wouldn't it have been simple to rather write "not all Jews are Einsteins, and some can be quite moronic"?

  • Debanjan Banerjee

    "George Soros, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Amos Elon, Naomi Klein, Richard Falk, the late Tony Judt and, most recently, Gilad Atzmon"

    Now this list is not complete. It should add another three names to it. Jesus , Baruch Sphinoza and Karl Marx.

    All these people ceased to consider themselves as Jews only and decided to submerge their identities in humanity.

    That is why the whole of the World remembers them and will continue to remember them well after their deaths. They decided to dissolve the boundaries between Jew and Goy.

    Who remembers Jabotinsky or Herzl or for that matter Meir Kahane outside Israel and USA ?

    As long as the Jews will continue to maintain the red lines between them and the Goyim , their will be dissidents like the ones these author mention about who will try to dissolve these differences.

  • Eric

    This is an insightful and well-written analysis of an ongoing phenomenon in Jewish history that merits more attention. Thank you.

  • red wolf

    Solway along with David Mamet and Ken Levin is one of the most insightful writers on Jewish self-loathing. Yet it's worth adding that self-loathing is a universal trait and one finds that it runs rampant among non-Jewish anti-Semites themselves. There is widespread self-loathing and masochism among anti-Semitic Muslims and anti-Semitic Catholics, Protestants. The Western Left inclusive of atheist communists and socialists is riddled through with self-hatred. Where women and girls are hated in heavily misogynistic societies (eg Saudi Arabia, Pakistan), the hatred is likewise often internalized. Of course the difference is – as Solway elucidates – Jews are too few in number and have too many enemies, we cannot afford the luxury of this psychosis of self-contempt.

  • jaja

    Heres the Muslim Children who “Persecute” Jews:

    http://www.drivebyplanet.com/2009/01/dead-palesti

    This whole site is a bunch of Far Right Islamophobic Ultra-Zionist Propaganda.

    • Melody Caine Bier

      Hey Jaja.,,you should be more careful wuth your propaganda! That photo is of a child killed an a car accident! Go to snopes if you don't believe me! You sure are quick to say Far Right Isalamophobic Ultra-Zionist Propaganada which is a catcphrase for Jew haters everywhere! I guess anyone who defends Israel is a "fascist" to you! Well most of us have been fighting for human rights since befire you were born! Esp in the Islamist countries you so idolize…the true far rifgt Fascists! Israel has never hung a homosexual or stones a woman to death. Tell me which Islamic country can say the same? Case closed. Give me "Big or Little Satan" or give me death!

  • Amused

    The title for Solway's article should be titled " Why Don't Jews Do and Act Like we expect them to " . Anyone who attempts to theorize based in a secular scenario , will invariably miss the entire point . And that is because the spiritual aspect [ reality ] of Jews and their entire history and existence is absolutely inseperable from all other aspects of their history . Indeed it merits more attention , it merits closer STUDY .

  • http://www.OnlyWay.com David McElroy

    Studying the Genesis story and the Talmud, you see early Hebrews and later Jews being an immoral treacherous people with no respect for others . They claim being "God's Chosen People," yet act like the Devil. God evicted them from the land of Israel because of their wicked reprobate behavior, which continues today. They openly declare seeing us goyim as nothing more than cattle to serve them. The Talmud's rabbinical teaching advocates pedophilia, theft, murder, and blasphemy against Christ. Some religion! Do the Jews consider God may have chosen them to be an example of what happens to a "stiff necked people" who have enjoyed His blessings and yet rebelled against Him? Scripture says the nations of the world will be gathered against Israel. It does not say the nation of Israel is innocent and unworthy of destruction, despite John Hagee.

    • potb

      Jealous much?

  • Melody Caine Bier

    Let's deal with TODAY (Biblical studies aside)…I have faced down so many fellow Jews who belong to JVP, ISM, ANSWER, CODE PINK, ad nauseum @ many demos.They scream the loudest about Jews & Israel and are silent when the Arabs yell for Jewish blood. I would think, in this day and age, with al the great Jewish minds around, we could finally find a name and cause for this disease.Make no mistake it is a disease that will ruin our people!This article finally brings it out in the open. The very people I participated against injustices in the 60s seem to be on the other side now. It seems to me that Jew hatred unfortunately has become quite "chic", Any time one stands for Israel you become denounced as a fascist, racist, colonialist, etc. It's tome to fight back! After all they are the ones who support honor killings, murdering of gays, oppression of women & enslavement of Africans.

  • Amused

    david McElroy , you are a perfect example of the ignorance involved in viewing the Jews and Israel . In their failings the Jews are representative of all men , and in their repentance , G_D's Mercy is always there , and always will be .The mistake you make is attempting to corrolate "men's mercy " with G_D's Mercy . You foolishly state that Istral is worthy of destruction , while ignoring the significant fact , that it was G_D Himself that brought them back ,[ as prophesized ] and has sustained them since .

  • Maxie

    "19th century Jewish philosopher Max Nordau noted—these are the ostensibly benevolent Jews who wish to “repair the world” (Tikkun Olam). That it would be a world in which their place would nevertheless remain precarious escapes them entirely"

    Whether you call it tikkun olam or communism it's messianic which seems to be largely a Jewish affliction.

  • CharlesJacobs

    "Jupus" — It's a better description than Jew Flu….

    by Charles Jacobs

    Lupus is an auto-immune disease where antibodies that are normally produced to fight off external infections, have their function somehow inverted, and begin to attack the host body itself.

    In Jupus, the special inborn Jewish intelligence provided by the Lord to help Jews survive on a hostile planet, especially perhaps to ward off dangerous anti-Semitic assaults, reverses its function and attacks instead the host Jewish community. It appears that the more advanced the intellectual gifts, the more extreme the disease, as in the Chomskyite strain.

    In its more common form, Jupus is associated with simple leftism – a Jewish adaptation to persistent assault in which the attacked Jewish identity is submerged and a posture of universalism, sometimes also expressed as a soft socialism, adopted in its stead. The resultant universalist-minded Jews ostentatiously demonstrate an exaggerated concern for “the other” – for “everyone” — (at the same time becoming hypercritical of their own). This ostensibly serves the double purpose of achieving some protection from the dangers and burdens of the Jewish identity – without actually having to publicly renounce it and risk charges of disloyalty — while at the same time projecting a status more elevated and virtuous than their un-reformed, “parochial” brethren.

    On the religious plane, this is clearly observable in the growing phalanx of those Jews who seek to substitute leftist universalism for Torah Judaism, the “we’re here to help the world” dodge — Tikkun Olam uber alles, as it were. The religious among the universalist Jews are known as “Tikkunistas.”

  • alexander

    How to buy your book: "Hear, O Israel!"? Is it in audio book?