Antisémitisme: Est-il rien sur la terre qui soit plus surprenant ? (The longest hatred in history: Retracing the thread from the New Testament to Auschwitz and today)

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Si je veux qu’il demeure jusqu’à ce que je vienne, que t’importe? Jésus (Jean 21: 22)
Je vous le dis en vérité, quelques-uns de ceux qui sont ici ne mourront point, qu’ils n’aient vu le Fils de l’homme venir dans son règne. Jésus (Matthieu 16: 28)
Est-il rien sur la terre qui soit plus surprenant que la grande misère du pauvre Juif errant ? Complainte du Juif errant
Jamais je ne m’arrête ni ici ni ailleurs; par beau ou mauvais temps je marche incessamment … Le juif errant
Des remords ? Pourquoi ? Gardez la paix de l’âme et soyez méchant. Les bons vous en sauront gré. Le Christ ! je l’ai bafoué. Il m’a fait surhumain. Adieu !…  Apollinaire
La complainte que l’on chanta après ma visite à Bruxelles me nomme Isaac Laquedem, d’après Philippe Mouskes, qui, en 1243, mit en rimes flamandes mon histoire. Le chroniqueur anglais Mathieu de Paris, qui la tenait du patriarche arménien, l’avait déjà racontée. Depuis, les poètes et les chroniqueurs ont souvent rapporté mes passages, sous le nom d’Ahasver, Ahasvérus ou Ahasvère, dans telles ou telles villes. Les Italiens me nomment Buttadio – en latin Buttadeus ; – les Bretons, Boudedeo ; les Espagnols, Juan Espéra-en-Dios. Je préfère le nom d’Isaac Laquedem, sous lequel on m’a vu souvent en Hollande. Des auteurs prétendent que j’étais portier chez Ponce-Pilate, et que mon nom était Karthaphilos. D’autres ne voient en moi qu’un savetier, et la ville de Berne s’honore de conserver une paire de bottes qu’on prétend faites par moi et que j’y aurais laissées après mon passage. Mais je ne dirai rien sur mon identité, sinon que Jésus m’ordonna de marcher jusqu’à son retour. Je n’ai pas lu les œuvres que j’ai inspirées, mais j’en connais le nom des auteurs. Ce sont : Goethe, Schubart, Schlegel, Schreiber, von Schenck, Pfizer, W. Müller, Lenau, Zedlitz, Mosens, Kohler, Klingemann, Levin Schüking, Andersen, Heller, Herrig, Hamerling, Robert Giseke, Carmen Sylva, Hellig, Neubaur, Paulus Cassel, Edgar Quinet, Eugène Suë, Gaston Paris, Jean Richepin, Jules Jouy, l’Anglais Conway, les Pragois Max Haushofer et Suchomel. Il est juste d’ajouter que tous ces auteurs se sont aidés du petit livre de colportage qui, paru à Leyde en 1602, fut aussitôt traduit en latin, français et hollandais, et fut rajeuni et augmenté par Simrock dans ses livres populaires allemands.  Apollinaire
Le Juif errant est une figure symbolique d’une grande densité, multiple et unitaire à la fois, située au centre d’un univers mythologique dont l’extension notable dans le temps n’est pas moindre que sa diffusion dans l’espace. Un bref passage de l’Évangile de Jean est à l’origine d’une floraison de récits, différents les uns des autres non seulement par la variété des trames et des formes expressives, mais aussi par la diversité des configurations mentales sous‑jacentes à la narration des vicissitudes du protagoniste. Ces récits, selon nous, se prêtent à être lus comme autant de variantes d’un mythe qui, toutes, le contiennent à un niveau potentiel. (…) Une telle plasticité intrinsèque, qui n’a pas d’autres exemples hors de la mythologie, est une des raisons qui ont permis à la figure du Juif errant de ponctuer le chemin de la civilisation occidentale chrétienne, sur une longue durée, allant grosso modo du Moyen Âge au xxe siècle (personne ne peut dire si actuellement l’élan initial a épuisé ou non ses propres potentialités). Si l’on s’interroge sur les motifs d’une diffusion aussi vaste et d’une aussi longue durée, on ne peut éviter de commencer par l’observation suivante : l’Europe chrétienne à travers la construction du mythe du Juif errant a forgé une image particulière de l’Autre, à laquelle elle ne pouvait pas ne pas confronter sa propre image. Il ne s’agit pas d’un quelconque « autre », mais du plus problématique et « impliquant », marqué par un paradoxe éclatant : le juif, le juif modelé par l’imaginaire chrétien, a le privilège de réunir en lui des pôles opposés dans la mesure où il incarne simultanément la diversité et la similitude. Séparé du monde chrétien par un fossé abyssal, car il n’a pas reconnu le Messie dans le Christ, il est néanmoins le dépositaire d’une vérité fondamentale pour la chrétienté : celle de l’incarnation de la passion du Christ, dont il a été le témoin direct. Le monde chrétien ne peut que prendre ses distances avec lui mais, dans le même temps, ne peut se permettre de l’ignorer : est‑il possible de résoudre, ou tout au moins atténuer une contradiction aussi marquée ? Marcello Massenzio
Despite the real efforts to develop a Christian-Jewish dialogue, it is only among the educated and broad-minded elite in the Catholic and Protestant churches that there has been a significant shift in the perception of Judaism and the Jews. But this is much less true of the Orthodox Christians, who account for well over 300 million people. Furthermore, we would have to qualify even the progress made with the Catholic Church by saying that it is in the theological realm, not manifested in attitudes towards Israel — though, yes, finally in the 1990s, the Vatican recognized the Jewish state. In the Protestant world, it’s a slightly reversed trend. The Evangelical Christians are among Israel’s most passionate supporters. But they have not altogether cast overboard more traditional theological ideas about conversion of Jews being the indispensable prelude to the ultimate redemption. (…) There are important nuances here, both between countries in different parts of the world, and within the West itself. American and European Christendom, for example, are completely different. In the U.S., many Christians see Jews as allies in the struggle to protect and preserve all the core values that are threatened directly by militant Islam; just as many Jews see those Christians who understand the moral, historical, and political legitimacy of Israel as indispensable allies. The common interest is glaringly obvious, although sometimes more to Christians than to Jews. Here lies a paradox that has to be addressed: Christians of the more liberal persuasion, particularly liberal Protestants, are very often hyper-critical of Israel, and push for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. They also support charity organizations like War on Want and Christian Aid, which utterly and uncritically embrace the Palestinian cause. Then there’s the left wing of Christianity, which has roots in the Third World and Latin America. It espouses a kind of Marxist liberation theology. The conservative Christians have a totally different perception of Israel from these groups. They, unlike their more liberal coreligionists, passionately support Israel as a front line of democracy, which they sincerely define as the Judeo-Christian basis of all the freedoms that we tend to take for granted in Western countries. Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
What needs to be understood — and it’s a case I make strongly in the book — is why the ayatollahs have invested such great efforts in their propaganda against Israel. The reason they have presented themselves as — and have carried out a policy of being — the avant garde of total opposition to Israel’s very existence is that they see this as their most powerful card in a much broader and more ambitious aim. This aim is first to establish hegemony throughout the Middle East, and then to be in a position where they can actually challenge the hegemony of the West. Hatred of Israel and this very intense, religiously driven indoctrination on Iran’s part is designed primarily for the Arab street, and it has had some success. Its most important success was in underwriting and reinforcing the Hizbullah movement it created in Lebanon in 1982. Hizbullah (the Party of God) is a movement which operates in an Arab country and whose members are all Arabs. But they are Shiites — Arab Shiites who have become a proxy of Iran, and closely controlled by its regime. Their ideology is completely Iranian-oriented, and includes a visceral hatred of Jews. (…) That Hamas, a Sunni Muslim organization, has increasingly become another Iranian proxy in the region has been one of the most striking developments in the last five or six years. The seeking of Israel’s destruction has become the most effective glue linking Iran to an Arab world that is naturally and rightfully suspicious of its intentions. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, which are all Sunni, and often considered to be moderate or pro-Western in some way — though that would have to be seriously qualified in practice — do feel threatened by Iran. In their own ambiguous way, they are seeking means to diminish or neutralize the Iranian threat. Then there are the smaller Gulf States, which are literally defenseless in the face of a nuclearized Iran. Presently, they may feel they have an American shield to protect them from future Iranian threats. But how much would such a shield be worth if there were a nuclear Iran nuclear? Not very much. (…) The bulk of them [students on Western campuses] have completely bought in to the Palestinian version of the conflict: that the Jews came in and stole the land; that the state of Israel was an illegitimate creation with no historic justification; that its establishment was a colonialist and imperialist conspiracy. This is now a kind of lingua franca of a whole generation of students. Probably 90% of the books they are assigned in Middle East studies point in that direction. (…) We have far more possibilities than the Jews of the pre-Holocaust period had. We have an independent state, with a very advanced and flourishing society. Admittedly, our adversaries today have much more extensive resources with which to circulate and amplify the cycle of lies. This doesn’t mean, however, that we are fated to be passive recipients of vilifying accusations on the part of forces intent on Israel’s demise. One of the reasons I wrote this book was to identify those forces and the impetus behind them. Their build-up is something that only seems to have hit home to many Israelis after the Goldstone report. But that report is only the last straw in a long indictment that has been mounting with very little response, other than from a handful of people.(…) Here we are touching on one of the core problems of dealing with this escalating process of undermining the moral foundations and legitimacy of Israel. It’s difficult for me to be cool, calm and collected when, as part of my everyday work, I have to read so many self-accusatory statements and indictments either by Israelis who have left Israel, or by those who remain and teach in Israeli universities, or by Diaspora Jews who have jumped on this bandwagon and seem so keen to produce their “divorce certificates” from the Jewish state. And they do this in order to give themselves the appearance of a clean bill of health. It is their way of saying: “We are good Jews; we have nothing in common with those bad ones.” (…) Indeed, I think there is an analogy to be drawn between the highly assimilated, well-off, middle- and upper-middle-class Jews of Weimar Germany, who believed that if only they could demonstrate to non-Jewish Germans that it was the east European Jewish immigrants at the root of all the problems, they themselves would be spared anti-Semitism. This, of course, was all blown away after 1933, because it wasn’t of the slightest interest to Hitler and his supporters what kind of Jew you were. As a matter of fact, it was the well-established Jewish professionals and intellectuals who the Nazis were determined to “cleanse” Germany from first. Today, those left-wing and liberal Jews who feel that if only they can show they fully share the anti-Zionist zeitgeist, they will be spared the indictment that is being handed out, are victims of the same delusion. (…) We recently celebrated the festival of Purim. And though nobody believes in the literal historicity of the events in the Book of Esther, it is a document of great importance, because of what it tells us about anti-Semitism and Jewish responses to it. It is astonishing to find such continuities from more than 2,000 years ago to today. And it is ironic that the great Jew-hater of the story, Haman, hails from the same country — what was then Persia — as Ahmadinejad today. In the story, the Jews are already in the Diaspora — so presumably it was written in the Hellenistic period — and they are described as being a dispersed people, and divided among themselves, although they have their own laws and customs, which are distinct from those of the other habitants of the kingdom. And the bait that Haman offers to the king to carry out the extermination of the Jews is that it will bring great economic benefits to the treasury, and that it will introduce an element of uniformity in the kingdom that is actually a multicultural, multinational, perhaps quite shaky empire. And how do the Jews react? Well, Mordechai and Esther engage in a political action; there are court intrigues; a complex plot unravels. But ultimately, in the Diaspora, Jews are dependent on fate, on the powers-that-be, and on persuading at least some of those powers-that-be to allow them to defend themselves. This was less and less true in the history of the Diaspora, and Jews were less and less able to organize and defend themselves — which is one of the primary reasons why modern Zionism came into existence. So, clearly, anti-Semitism is an ancient phenomenon. That’s why the subtitle of my book begins with “from antiquity.” And many Jewish responses are traditional ones. We can almost say that nothing new has ever been invented in the history of Jewish self-defense. Some techniques are more refined than others. Jews have achieved greater amounts of power in a number of diasporic societies. But the scenarios don’t change that much. What has changed is the existence of Jewish sovereignty. Of a state. Of an army. Of a cohesive society which is willing and able to defend itself with all the means at the disposal of a modern society, to make sure there is no repetition of the Holocaust or of lower-scale massacres. This is a crucial development, even though it has not diminished anti-Semitism. On the contrary, it has simply given it new pretexts and sources on which it can feed. Still, we Jews are privileged in comparison to all the generations that went before us. For the first time, with our own hands, and using all the creativity, talent, determination and tenacity that we have shown over the centuries in adversity, we can frustrate the evil designs of our enemies. (…) In the Bible, Israel is the name given to Jacob, one of the three patriarchs of the nation, after he struggles with the angel — this mysterious figure, half-God, half-man, God, man, something else, the stranger, a phantom of his unconscious imagination, a real person, who knows? All name changes in the Bible have great significance. And the literal meaning of Israel is “he who struggles and prevails.” Delving into the broader meaning of Israel, both historically and today — and asking what its purpose is, for itself as a people and for the nations — you could say that it represents a struggle for truth. (…) It is a struggle to transcend ourselves, to find our better part, to aspire to the light. Contrary to the stereotype branding Jews as the incarnation of materialism, anybody really familiar with the annals of Jewish history knows this is ludicrous. This is not to say there aren’t materialists among us, of course. On one level, we are no different from anybody else. But there’s another level on which we operate, which, for a lack of a better word, I would call metaphysical. And it is this level, which Israel represents, that is one of the deepest reasons for anti-Semitism. (…) among the many other intrinsically fascinating and horrendous features it has, anti-Semitism is also a continuous challenge to the Jewish people. It is a kind of barometer to us and to the nations, both of what is wrong — because it is often a symptom of major pathologies in a given society — and a warning signal of catastrophes to come. Indeed, it is clear that its current rise is a herald of a catastrophe already in the making. Rather than deluding ourselves that it is a passing storm, if we could only see it as a galvanizer, we could put our energies to more constructive use, and understand that fighting it, too, is part of a wider struggle for continual self-betterment. As with all forms of persecution and oppression, running away doesn’t work. You have to stand up and fight your adversary and — as in the case of Jacob, who becomes worthy to be called Israel — to overcome him, even if this means sustaining a limp, as he apparently did. Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
I write on Christian origins from the standpoint of a scholar of the ancient Jewish writings, including the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Mishnah, the Talmud, and the Midrashim. My view on Christian origins is that Jesus was a Jewish messiah-figure who had no intention of starting a new religion. The real founder of Christianity as a separate religion was Paul. Jesus died on a Roman cross because he was considered a threat to the Roman occupation of Judaea, not because he was regarded as heretical or blasphemous by the Jewish religious authorities, the Pharisees. His Jewish opponent was the High Priest, who was a Roman appointee, who acted for political, not religious motives, in arresting Jesus. Jesus was not a military figure, but, like Theudas, and some other contemporary messiah-figures, relied on the hope of divine intervention, which he thought would take place on the Mount of Olives. Paul was never a Pharisee rabbi, but was an adventurer of undistinguished background. He was attached to the Sadducees, as a police officer under the authority of the High Priest, before his conversion to belief in Jesus. His mastery of the kind of learning associated with the Pharisees was not great. He deliberately misrepresented his own biography in order to increase the effectiveness of missionary activities.(…) Jesus and his immediate followers were Pharisees. Jesus had no intention of founding a new religion. He regarded himself as the Messiah in the normal Jewish sense of the term, i.e. a human leader who would restore the Jewish monarchy, drive out the Roman invaders, set up an independent Jewish state, and inaugurate an era of peace, justice and prosperity (known as ‘the kingdom of God,) for the whole world. Jesus believed himself to be the figure prophesied in the Hebrew Bible who would do all these things. He was not a militarist and did not build up an army to fight the Romans, since he believed that God would perform a great miracle to break the power of Rome. This miracle would take place on the Mount of Olives, as prophesied in the book of Zechariah. When this miracle did not occur, his mission had failed. He had no intention of being crucified in order to save mankind from eternal damnation by his sacrifice. He never regarded himself as a divine being, and would have regarded such an idea as pagan and idolatrous, an infringement of the first of the Ten Commandments. (…) The first followers of Jesus, under James and Peter, founded the Jerusalem Church after Jesus’s death. They were called the Nazarenes, and in all their beliefs they were indistinguishable from the Pharisees, except that they believed in the resurrection of Jesus, and that Jesus was still the promised Messiah. They did not believe that Jesus was a divine person, but that, by a miracle from God, he had been brought back to life after his death on the cross, and would soon come back to complete his mission of overthrowing the Romans and setting up the Messianic kingdom. The Nazarenes did not believe that Jesus had abrogated the Jewish religion, or Torah. Having known Jesus personally, they were aware that he had observed the Jewish religious law all his life and had never rebelled against it. His sabbath cures were not against Pharisee law. The Nazarenes were themselves very observant of Jewish religious law. They practiced circumcision, did not eat the forbidden foods and showed great respect to the Temple. The Nazarenes did not regard themselves as belonging to a new religion; their religion was Judaism. They set up synagogues of their own, but they also attended non-Nazarene synagogues on occasion, and performed the same kind of worship in their own synagogues as was practiced by all observant Jews. The Nazarenes became suspicious of Paul when they heard that he was preaching that Jesus was the founder of a new religion and that he had abrogated the Torah. After an attempt to reach an understanding with Paul, the Nazarenes (i.e. the Jerusalem Church under James and Peter) broke irrevocably with Paul and disowned him. Hyam Maccoby
Paul, not Jesus, was the founder of Christianity as a new religion which developed away from both normal Judaism and the Nazarene variety of Judaism. In this new religion, the Torah was abrogated as having had only temporary validity. The central myth of the new religion was that of an atoning death of a divine being. Belief in this sacrifice, and a mystical sharing of the death of the deity, formed the only path to salvation. Paul derived this religion from Hellenistic sources, chiefly by a fusion of concepts taken from Gnosticism and concepts taken from the mystery religions, particularly from that of Attis. The combination of these elements with features derived from Judaism, particularly the incorporation of the Jewish scriptures, reinterpreted to provide a background of sacred history for the new myth, was unique; and Paul alone was the creator of this amalgam. Jesus himself had no idea of it, and would have been amazed and shocked at the role assigned to him by Paul as a suffering deity. Nor did Paul have any predecessors among the Nazarenes though later mythography tried to assign this role to Stephen, and modern scholars have discovered equally mythical predecessors for Paul in a group called the ‘Hellenists’. Paul, as the personal begetter of the Christian myth, has never been given sufficient credit for his originality. The reverence paid through the centuries to the great Saint Paul has quite obscured the more colourful features of his personality. Like many evangelical leaders, he was a compound of sincerity and charlatanry. Evangelical leaders of his kind were common at this time in the Greco-Roman world (e.g. Simon Magus, Apollonius of Tyana). (…) A source of information about Paul that has never been taken seriously enough is a group called the Ebionites. Their writings were suppressed by the Church, but some of their views and traditions were preserved in the writings of their opponents, particularly in the huge treatise on Heresies by Epiphanius. From this it appears that the Ebionites had a very different account to give of Paul’s background and early life from that found in the New Testament and fostered by Paul himself. The Ebionites testified that Paul had no Pharisaic background or training; he was the son of Gentiles, converted to Judaism in Tarsus, came to Jerusalem when an adult, and attached himself to the High Priest as a henchman. Disappointed in his hopes of advancement, he broke with the High Priest and sought fame by founding a new religion. This account, while not reliable in all its details, is substantially correct. It makes far more sense of all the puzzling and contradictory features of the story of Paul than the account of the official documents of the Church. The Ebionites were stigmatized by the Church as heretics who failed to understand that Jesus was a divine person and asserted instead that he was a human being who came to inaugurate a new earthly age, as prophesied by the Jewish prophets of the Bible. Moreover, the Ebionites refused to accept the Church doctrine, derived from Paul, that Jesus abolished or abrogated the Torah, the Jewish law. Instead, the Ebionites observed the Jewish law and regarded themselves as Jews. The Ebionites were not heretics, as the Church asserted, nor ‘re-Judaizers’, as modern scholars call them, but the authentic successors of the immediate disciples and followers of Jesus, whose views and doctrines they faithfully transmitted, believing correctly that they were derived from Jesus himself. They were the same group that had earlier been called the Nazarenes, who were led by James and Peter, who had known Jesus during his lifetime, and were in a far better position to know his aims than Paul, who met Jesus only in dreams and visions. Thus the opinion held by the Ebionites about Paul is of extraordinary interest and deserves respectful consideration, instead of dismissal as ‘scurrilous’ propaganda — the reaction of Christian scholars from ancient to modern times. Hyam Maccoby (« The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity »)
Sur le long terme, il va falloir reconnaître que Gaza ne peut pas subvenir à ses besoins en étant coupé du monde. Barack Obama
Combien de morts faudra-t-il encore pour que s’arrête ce qu’il faut bien appeler le carnage de Gaza ? La tradition d’amitié entre Israël et la France est ancienne et le droit d’Israël à la sécurité est total, mais ce droit ne justifie pas qu’on tue des enfants et qu’on massacre des civils. Le Hamas porte évidemment une responsabilité écrasante dans cet engrenage macabre qui sert surtout les extrémismes, mais celle-ci non plus ne justifie pas ce que le Secrétaire général des Nations unies a qualifié de crimes. Laurent Fabius
Il faudra bien, à un moment, reconnaître l’Etat palestinien. Laurent Fabius
Je tenais à remercier d’abord Mahmoud ABBAS d’avoir choisi la France avant de se rendre à l’Assemblée Générale des Nations Unies, nous nous y retrouverons d’ailleurs la semaine prochaine, parce que nous devions ensemble rappeler les évènements terribles qui se sont produits à Gaza, qui ont fait plus de 2.000 morts, des milliers de blessés, et des personnes qui aujourd’hui sont dans le dénuement le plus complet. (…) Nous aurons donc à dire très clairement, dans une résolution qui sera présentée au Conseil de sécurité, ce que nous attendons maintenant du processus et ce que doit être la solution du conflit. (…) Mais nous savons que la France est également liée à Israël, que la France veut la sécurité d’Israël et c’est parce que nous savons parler à tous nos partenaires que nous pouvons être une solution pour mettre un terme à ce conflit. François Hollande

Croyance populaire plus ou moins inspirée d’un texte biblique mal compris, diffusion via images, complaintes, livres de colportage mais aussi l’Inquisition espagnole et le protestantisme allemand, entrée dans la grande littérature européenne y compris avec une certaine mais ambiguë valorisation positive en une sorte de « christ porteur de malédiction éternelle » …

A l’heure où nos amis juifs et israéliens s’apprêtent à fêter leur nouvel an

Et, avec l’ouverture de l’Assemblée générale des Nations Unies à New York et les plus que douteuses initiatives des prétendus amis d’Israël comme les Etats-Unis de Barack Obama ou la France de François Hollande ou les habituels idiots utiles juifs compris, se préparent à une nouvelle année d’attaques, menaces d’annihilation et condamnations internationales …

Pendant qu’entre détournements de fonds et  trafic d’êtres humains et de Gaza au Liban et à l’Iran, leurs ennemis fourbissent leurs armes pour la prochaine fois …

Comment, avec la complainte du Juif errant et à travers l’histoire multiséculaire du mythe du même nom, ne pas s’étonner de cette « plus longue haine de l’histoire » ?

Carol Iancu, Les mythes fondateurs de l’antisémitisme. De l’Antiquité à nos jours
Toulouse, Privat, 2003, 189 p. (coll. « Bibliothèque Historique »)
Doris Bensimon

Un mythe est une légende. Pour l’auteur, les mythes fondateurs de l’antisémitisme sont « la projection de complexes engendrés par l’intolérance à l’égard de l’altérité juive ». Carol Iancu, historien, retrace l’histoire de « la plus longue haine » dans le temps et dans l’espace.

Le peuple hébreu a inventé le monothéisme. Dans l’Antiquité égyptienne et grecque, les juifs s’opposent aux dieux païens. Aussi, dès le IVe siècle avant l’ère chrétienne, ils sont considérés comme différents des autres peuples. Leurs lois et coutumes sont contestées par le monde païen. Mais l’antisémitisme naît surtout dans le christianisme et l’islam, les deux religions issues du monothéisme juif.

Les chrétiens accusent le peuple juif de déicide, mais un « reste d’Israël » doit survivre comme témoin. L’antijudaïsme est d’abord théologique. Il s’exprime dans les écrits des pères de l’Église cités en grand nombre par l’auteur. Pendant les premiers siècles, prosélytismes juif et chrétien se concurrencent. Le christianisme l’emporte et devient religion d’État après la conversion de Constantin en 313. L’empire chrétien féodal succède en Europe à l’Empire romain. À partir de cette époque et pendant de nombreux siècles, les conciles élaborent une législation antijuive : les juifs sont discriminés dans les activités économiques, dans l’habitat (le ghetto), dans la tenue vestimentaire et par le serment more judaico. À ce rejet légal s’ajoute la haine populaire qui affuble les juifs des crimes les plus invraisemblables : le meurtre rituel, la profanation d’hosties, l’empoisonnement des puits. Le juif est perfide et démoniaque. Expulsé, il devient le « juif errant », l’étranger à jamais puni pour son refus du message chrétien. C. Iancu décrit en détail la naissance des « mythes » antijuifs qui, dans leur application concrète, sont le sort quotidien des populations juives ou de massacres en période de crise.

Un tournant semble se dessiner au siècle des Lumières suivi par l’émancipation civique des juifs en France (1791), en Angleterre (1866), en Autriche-Hongrie (1867), en Italie (1870), en Allemagne (1871). Avec l’émancipation, on pouvait s’attendre en Europe centrale et occidentale à l’intégration des juifs dans la société. Pourtant, l’antijudaïsme chrétien persiste dans ces pays. Il est complété par des thèmes nouveaux : nation et race. Il devient l’antisémitisme moderne. Par la presse, la littérature, l’action parlementaire, les antisémites mènent leur combat contre l’émancipation des juifs. Cette tendance est très nette en Allemagne. En France elle culmine avec l’affaire Dreyfus.

Dans les dernières décennies du xixe siècle, l’antisémitisme prend de nouvelles orientations. L’anticapitalisme socialiste est représenté en Allemagne par Ludwig Feuerbach, Bruno Bauer, Karl Marx et en France, par Charles Fourrier, Alphonse Toussenel et Pierre Proudhon. Chacun, à sa manière, s’attaque aux banquiers juifs et ignore les masses juives pauvres de son pays comme celles d’Europe orientale, victimes de pogroms. À partir du milieu du xixe siècle paraissent des publications sur les inégalités des races. La race indo-européenne serait supérieure à la race sémite. Parmi les précurseurs des théories raciales, C. Iancu cite en France le comte Arthur de Gobineau, Ernest Renan. Edouard Drumont diffuse le mythe de l’antagonisme Aryen/Sémite. En Allemagne, ces théories sont amplifiées. En 1879, Wilhelm Marr, auteur du pamphlet La victoire du judaïsme sur le germanisme aurait inventé le mot « antisémitisme ». Le gendre anglais de Richard Wagner, Stewart Houston Chamberlain publie en 1899 La Genèse du xixe siècle, un panégyrique de la race aryenne dont la meilleure part serait les Germains. Les théories de l’antisémitisme racial circulent en Europe occidentale et centrale. Elles préparent les voies aux national-socialistes.

À cette même époque, le mythe de la conspiration juive contre le monde chrétien est repris par celui du complot judéo-maçonnique. Ce mythe devient la conspiration mondiale dans les tristement célèbres Protocoles des Sages de Sion. Ce pamphlet a été fabriqué à Paris par la police secrète du tsar de Russie. Entre 1919 et 1920, il fut traduit dans la plupart des langues européennes. Aujourd’hui, il circule non seulement en Europe et Amérique, mais encore, traduit en arabe, au Proche et Moyen Orient.

La haine accumulée par l’antijudaïsme chrétien et par les idéologies de l’antisémitisme moderne aboutit à la Shoah, l’extermination d’un tiers du peuple juif par les nazis et leurs comparses.

Au lendemain de la Deuxième Guerre mondiale s’amorce un dialogue entre les Églises chrétiennes et les représentants du judaïsme. Les relations entre juifs et chrétiens s’améliorent, mais elles ne sont pas à l’abri de nouvelles flambées d’antisémitisme.

Dans la première partie de ce livre, C. Iancu évoque brièvement les relations entre musulmans et juifs. L’islam partage avec le judaïsme le strict monothéisme. Mais juifs et chrétiens refusent l’adhésion à la nouvelle religion prêchée par Mahomet. Quelques sourates du Coran condamnent leur « incroyance ». Pourtant, juifs et chrétiens sont considérés comme les « gens du Livre » (la Bible). Ils deviennent des dhimmi par leur soumission au pacte de protection appelé la charte d’Omar. Le dhimmi pouvait résider en terre d’islam, pratiquer son culte et bénéficier d’une autonomie concernant son droit privé. En contrepartie, le dhimmi devait accepter son infériorité par rapport aux musulmans, payer des impôts spécifiques, porter un signe distinctif sur son vêtement, jaune pour les juifs, bleu pour les chrétiens. La dhimma fut appliquée avec plus ou moins de rigueur selon les pays et les époques, pendant plus d’un millénaire dans l’espace conquis par l’islam. Dans ce contexte, les juifs connurent des périodes de coexistence paisible, mais aussi de persécutions.

Les deux derniers chapitres de ce livre sont consacrés à l’antisionisme et au « nouvel » antisémitisme. L’auteur relate brièvement la naissance du mouvement sioniste, de la création d’un Foyer national juif sous mandat britannique décidée en 1919 à la fondation de l’État d’Israël.

En Russie, pendant le régime tsariste, l’antisémitisme était une institution d’État. En 1917, les juifs obtiennent la pleine égalité civile et politique. Lénine condamne l’antisémitisme, mais les associations juives et parmi elles les groupements sionistes doivent cesser leurs activités. Pourtant, en 1947, l’Union soviétique a voté le partage de la Palestine mandataire. Elle fut l’un des premiers pays à reconnaître l’État d’Israël. Ce soutien fut de courte durée. L’antisémitisme n’a pas disparu en URSS et le sionisme était toujours condamné. À partir de 1950, la propagande soviétique élabore l’amalgame entre l’antisémitisme et le sionisme : cette nouvelle idéologie est reprise par les pays d’Europe de l’Est, membres du bloc de Varsovie.

Dans le contexte des guerres israélo-arabes et du conflit entre Israéliens et Palestiniens, les relations entre juifs et musulmans se sont gravement détériorées. Les arabo-musulmans ont intégré dans leurs discours et leurs actions l’ensemble des « mythes » antisémites et antisionistes européens.

Aujourd’hui, en Europe, mais aussi en Amérique, le « nouvel » antisémitisme est un amalgame entre les retombées du conflit israélo-palestinien, la résurgence des mouvements d’extrême droite et leur rencontre avec des groupes d’extrême gauche.

C. Iancu dresse le tableau presque exhaustif des multiples expressions de la « haine la plus longue de l’histoire ». Il cite des faits. Mais il ne démolit peut-être pas avec assez de force les mythes. En guise de conclusion, il affirme qu’il ne voulait pas écrire une « histoire larmoyante » du peuple juif. L’histoire positive des relations entre juifs et non-juifs devrait, elle aussi, être écrite.

 Voir aussi:

Comptes rendus

Edgar Knecht, Le Mythe du Juif er rant, essai de mythologie littéraire et de sociologie religieuse. Grenoble, Presses universitaires de Grenoble, 1977.

J-C Fizaine

Sujet mince et grandiose » dit l’auteur (p. 7). Sujet épineux en tout cas « tant la complexité du problème postule la complexité des voies d’approche ». (p. 12) L’histoire du mythe du Juif errant à l’image de celle de son personnage est marquée de discontinuité, de lacunes énigmatiques. L’auteur,  sans cacher que bien des points d’interrogation restent posés, présente les pièces du dossier avec un scrupule d’érudition exemplaire sans jamais conclure témérairement.

Le plan de son étude est calqué très naturellement sur les deux époques et  les deux espaces de diffusion du « mythe »: réservé à la consommation populaire jusqu’au xix » siècle, il fait alors une entrée manquée dans la grande littérature. Il est en ce sens révélateur des ambitions et des ambiguïtés du romantisme : pourquoi l’effort de certains romantiques pour élaborer, à partir de « croyances populaires » (1ère partie) un mythe poétique (2ème partie) pourvu d’investissements idéologiques divers (3ème partie), aboutiti-il à un écehc presque complet (4ème partie: Fin d’un mythe ?) ?

L’auteur cherche la réponse dans deux directions : l’antisémitisme véhiculé par le mythe — son caractère « populaire ». Ce qui exige bien des mises au point. A l’antisémitisme « théologique » cristallisé autour de Juda, Ahasvérus, substitue un antisémitisme racial qui est au départ le contenu essentiel du mythe (pp. 29, 51, 59). Création cléricale et savante, « amalgame habile  » de sources livresques et de légendes orales à des fins d’ « édification » morale er religieuse ?   Expression de quelque réalité sociologique ? L’auteur ne conclut pas, relevant seulement, à titre d’hypothèses prudemment avancées, le rôle probable de certaines circonstances religieuses dans la formation et la diffusion du mythe: L’Espagne de l’Inquisition (p. 39); le protestantisme allemand au xvii» siècle (p. 48).
Cependant il ne renonce pas à cher cher les traces d’un « mythe populaire du Juif errant », passant outre à l’ave rtissement de G. Paris (cité p. 32 : « II faut se garder de faire du Juif errant un personnage mythique et orageux »).
metaient-ils
losophique et critique ? Bien vite, Qui net comme Shelley abandonnent le Juif errant pour Prométhee… Confirmation de la thèse de P. Bénichou sur l’impas senécessaire d’une mythologie chré tienne au xixe siècle.

En fait, dans sa première époque, le « mythe » ne donne guère lieu qu’à des commentaires antisémites et… gérontologiques ! (p. 49) Et l’on ne sait pas sur quoi l’auteur s’appuie pour affirmer, à propos de l’Histoire admirable de 1702 que, « écrite pour le peuple », elle est aussi « l’expression la plus vraie du mythe populaire du Juif errant » (p. 58). Mais sur l’imaginaire collectif l’au teur convient que nous sommes fort mal renseignés (pp. 24, 41, avec cet avertissement : « Encore faudrait-il préciser ce terme de « littérature populaire»…) et que l’étude de sociologie religieuse à faire ici supposait l’exploitation d’un très vaste corpus, qui dépassait les limites d’un travail de litt érature comparée (p. 10).

Le terme « populaire » en viendrait-il à ne plus traduire que le mépris des lettrés (p. 73) pour une légende où ils ne cherchent rien de plus qu’un narrateur commode pour une histoire satirique (cf. Marana et l’Espion turc) ?

Pourtant non : un des points intéressants du livre est celui où il nous montre la réélaboration que subit le mythe au xviie siècle, de version en version. On assiste à une valorisationier positive du personnage, et le cordonnier Ahasvérus permet alors «une identification sociale et une évasion sentimentale » (p. 63). Le contenu édifiant est alors doublé — et subverti — par une «valeur sociale» (p. 64); cf. notament les guez bretons où le Juif errant dialogue avec le Bonhomme Msère. C’est cette version, dont d’autres chercheurs avaient méconnu la profonde ambiguïté,que propagent dès lors jusqu’en 1851 images, complaintes, livres de colportage… C’est elle que prendront comme matière première les écrivains qui façonneront le « mythe poétique ».

Les romantiques exploiteront toutes les virtualités contradictoires du « myt he » : Identification imaginaire et révol temétaphysique (Schubart, Shelley, Quinet); antisémitisme (Tousenel ); protestation sociale (E. Suë). C’est peut-être justement la grande erreur de Quinet d’avoir résolument parié pour le caractère populaire de ce qu’il prend pour une vieille légende populaire ( « Le mystère est du peuple comme Ahasvérus (cité par E. Knecht, p. 165). L’analyse du poème, trop brève pour en montrer la complexité, dégage nettement le renversement de la polarité Christ /Juif que tente d’imposer Quinet: c’est Ahasvérus le vrai Messie, « la théogonie se renverse en une anthropogonie ». Mais l’origine antisémite et le caractère clérical de la donnée lui permettaient-ils d’assumer un contenu philosophique et critique ? Bien vite, Quinet comme Shelley abandonnent le Juif errant pour Prométhee… Confirmation de la thèse de P. Bénichou sur l’impassenécessaire d’une mythologie chrétienne au xixe siècle.

Avec Eugène Siie et Toussenel, l’évolution du mythe s’achève en fermant la boucle ; il revient à son origine en se révélant capable de véhiculer à la fois un contenu antisémite et un contenu anticlérical (p. 248). Mais du même coup le Juif errant, « mythe suspect » (p. 249), retombe définitivement dans le double discrédit d’où quelques«parias » romantiques avaient cru pouvoir le faire sortir …

L’ouvrage d’E. Knecht est à la fois passionnant à lire et un peu frustrant. Les questions posées (la perception du Juif dans les textes, du Moyen Age à nos jours — la nature et le statut de la « littérature populaire » — les conditions de création d’un « mythe poétique») sont d’une importance capitale.

On souhaiterait parfois que l’auteur y donne des réponses plus systématiques et plus tranchées. Il soutient à la fois « le caractère profondément chrétien du  mythe du Juif errant » (p. 328) et — laissant il est vrai la parole au moment décisif à A. Memmi  t — qu’il exprime le négatif du christianisme (passim et notamment pp. 334, 335): n christ porteur de malédiction éternelle … Il plaide pour le caractère profondément populaire de la légende tout en notant qu’elle a dès l’origine, servi àl’endoctrinement idéologique. Ces éléments sont conflictuels, et l’histoire du mythe est celle de ces conflits.   L’étude les donne à voir, concluant sur le caractère inquiétant d’un « mythe de négation et d’évasion » (p. 329), création frelatée et stérile, sans souligner toujours les malentendus auxquels il a pu donner lieu.

Voir également:

The Longest Hatred, Part One
The first part of a two-part interview with Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, author of A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad.
Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
PJ Media
March 16, 2010

In his recently released book, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (Random House), Prof. Robert S. Wistrich provides one of the most comprehensive overviews to date of the “longest hatred,” which he has spent the better part of his life documenting and analyzing.

Though much of his mission involves the sounding of alarm bells about the historical significance of Jew hatred and the role it plays today in the spread of fundamentalist Islam, Wistrich — holder of the Neuberger chair for modern European and Jewish history and head of the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem — is oddly serene. While warning of imminent catastrophes, boded by the likes of Ahmadinejad on the one hand and left-wing promoters of anti-Israel and anti-Western narratives on the other, he also stresses the spiritual opportunity this provides the Jewish people to, well, get its act together.

This challenge, like the author’s nearly 1,200-page tome, is weighty indeed. But it is one that the 64-year-old Wistrich — who was born in Kazakhstan to Polish Jews, raised in Britain, educated in America, and who settled in Israel in 1981 — believes is worth confronting.

“It requires faith,” says Wistrich, in an interview on his return from a whirlwind book tour across the United States. “Our presence in the land of Israel is providential, and cannot be explained by purely rational arguments. Whether we live up to that depends on us.”

Q: Why do you call anti-Semitism an obsession, rather than a compulsion?

A: There is something in the history of anti-Semitism that better fits “obsession.”

“Compulsion” suggests being coerced; and I think of anti-Semitism as more inner-driven, though it can also be imposed from outside; it can even be both simultaneously. The word “lethal” was even more critical for the message I want to convey: that the commonplace notion of anti-Semitism — as a form of prejudice or a sub-category of racism — is both trivializing and inaccurate. In the book’s introduction, I quote French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre — not one of my heroes by any means, but who, in his classic 1946 essay, “Reflections on the Jewish Question,” said that anti-Semitism is not an opinion, but rather a crime of passion; and, in the final analysis, the anti-Semite wants, consciously or unconsciously, to kill the Jew.

Q: Would you say that anti-Semitism is religion-based at its core?

A: I certainly think that researchers have seriously underestimated the power of the religious driving force in anti-Semitism. I attribute that to something I remember vividly from my own student years in the mid-to-late 1960s, and then when I did my doctorate in the 1970s. There was a consensus, particularly in academia, that religion was a force of the past; that it was in the process of becoming extinguished in most parts of the world; that it was symptomatic of backwardness in those countries where it still played a role; and as a result of economic and technological progress, it would become a distant memory by the 21st century. Yet here we are, at the end of the first decade of this century, and a person would have to put blinkers on his eyes, seal up his ears, and be completely disconnected from the world to think that religion is not a powerful factor, both in general, and in relation to how Jews are perceived. Islamic fundamentalism is the most obvious and startling example. But Christian Jew hatred, though definitely diminished since WWII, is also prevalent.

Despite the real efforts to develop a Christian-Jewish dialogue, it is only among the educated and broad-minded elite in the Catholic and Protestant churches that there has been a significant shift in the perception of Judaism and the Jews. But this is much less true of the Orthodox Christians, who account for well over 300 million people.

Furthermore, we would have to qualify even the progress made with the Catholic Church by saying that it is in the theological realm, not manifested in attitudes towards Israel — though, yes, finally in the 1990s, the Vatican recognized the Jewish state.

In the Protestant world, it’s a slightly reversed trend. The Evangelical Christians are among Israel’s most passionate supporters. But they have not altogether cast overboard more traditional theological ideas about conversion of Jews being the indispensable prelude to the ultimate redemption.

Q: How much of all this can be attributed to the Islamic world — with some Christians joining Jews by virtue of a common enemy, and others becoming more distant as a result of sympathy with the Muslim cause?

A: There are important nuances here, both between countries in different parts of the world, and within the West itself. American and European Christendom, for example, are completely different.

In the U.S., many Christians see Jews as allies in the struggle to protect and preserve all the core values that are threatened directly by militant Islam; just as many Jews see those Christians who understand the moral, historical, and political legitimacy of Israel as indispensable allies. The common interest is glaringly obvious, although sometimes more to Christians than to Jews.

Here lies a paradox that has to be addressed: Christians of the more liberal persuasion, particularly liberal Protestants, are very often hyper-critical of Israel, and push for boycotts, divestment, and sanctions. They also support charity organizations like War on Want and Christian Aid, which utterly and uncritically embrace the Palestinian cause.

Then there’s the left wing of Christianity, which has roots in the Third World and Latin America. It espouses a kind of Marxist liberation theology.

The conservative Christians have a totally different perception of Israel from these groups. They, unlike their more liberal coreligionists, passionately support Israel as a front line of democracy, which they sincerely define as the Judeo-Christian basis of all the freedoms that we tend to take for granted in Western countries.

Q: How do you explain the attraction on the part of many Westerners to the Third World-ism represented by radical Islam? Is it genuine — a la Lawrence of Arabia — or rather a piggy-back ride on an anti-Semitic movement?

A: There are a number of strands of this phenomenon. One is this Arabophile picture of the romantic and “unspoiled” East and the “glamour” of the Orient. That goes back to the days of colonial rule. Another — intertwined — element was the Lawrencian myth of the Arabs found among the British and French upper classes. I think this was a form of escape from their own societies and unresolved personal problems, among them sexual ones. There was undoubtedly an element of homosexual attraction involved. You find this with writers like Andre Gide, who wouldn’t be suspected of any political motives. But then you also find it in colonial officials. Take Sir Ronald Storrs, the first governor of Jerusalem during the British Mandate in Palestine. He was well-known for his homosexual tendencies, as were many of his advisers and other high officials in the Mandate. And they tended to be militantly anti-Zionist, considering the Jewish national home in Palestine to be a huge historic injustice to the Arabs.

Then there were great Orientalist scholars, like Louis Massignon in France, who adopted the view that turning Palestine over to the Jews was part of the really nefarious, decadent, Western influence that was spoiling the authentic and uniquely spiritual culture of Islam. Today, one reads such views with astonishment, because history has developed in such a contrary direction. But they influenced policy.

Take the case of Sir John Bagot Glubb who commanded the Jordanian-Arab Legion in the 1948 war. A conservative Englishman, he was called “Glubb Pasha” in the new Kingdom of Transjordan. He was a fully-fledged anti-Semite, not merely an anti-Zionist, as you would expect, given his mobilization for the Arab cause.

Still, there is something curious about the British case, because this Arabophile trend in the upper classes for a long time went hand-in-hand with an opposite sentiment held by pro-Zionists such as Lloyd George, Balfour, Churchill and others, who were great figures in British politics in the early 20th century. What distinguished them was that they were schooled in the Bible. So they understood the geography and the history of the Holy Land; the biblical associations meant a great deal to them; and they felt they were performing a great act of historic justice in restoring the Jews to the land from which they came. This was self-evidently true to them in a way that it is self-evidently incomprehensible to people brought up today who do not know the Bible, or dismiss it out of hand; who know nothing about Jewish history, other than the Palestinian version of it.

This narrative basically says that the Zionist movement and the people who came to settle in the Land of Israel are all alien invaders. This is an outright lie, of course, but it’s one that is widely believed by people today who have no interest in history and no respect for truth. It’s astonishing how often one reads complete dismissals of the historical connection of the Jews with Palestine. The Palestinians even deny that there was a First or a Second Temple. And they go even further in falsifying history, by claiming, for instance, that the Arabs of Palestine are descendants of the Canaanites, and therefore preceded the children of Israel in the conquest of Canaan as described in the Bible. Obviously, there’s no shred of evidence for any link whatsoever between the Canaanites and the Arabs of Palestine.

Today, people from Western countries often have not even the vaguest idea of the Jews’ link to this land. They tend to believe the kind of things that were given some credence even by President Obama in his Cairo speech, where he suggested that it was only the history of persecution, and particularly the Holocaust, that provided the source of Israel’s justification.

But anyone really familiar with Judaism and the history of the Jews would know that the tripod that makes up the core of the Jewish people — Judaism, the land of Israel and the laws of the Torah — cannot be disconnected. This is why anti-Zionists, and often anti-Semites, try so hard to separate them.

Voir encore:

The Longest Hatred, Part Two
The conclusion of a two-part interview with Prof. Robert S. Wistrich, author of A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad. (Don’t miss Part One.)
Ruthie Blum Leibowitz
PJ Media

March 18, 2010

In his recently released book, A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad (Random House), Prof. Robert S. Wistrich provides one of the most comprehensive overviews to date of the “longest hatred,” which he has spent the better part of his life documenting and analyzing.

Part one of my interview with Wistrich concerned the historical mindset of anti-Semitism. This is the second and concluding part of my interview, which begins with Professor Wistrich’s look at Iran.

Q: You refer to the Palestinian-Arab narrative and its negative influence on the West. Iran is not an Arab country, yet it is seen today as the greatest threat to Jews and the Jewish state. Can you address that?

A: Iran is a major part of the Middle East. It is a country of 70 million people, with a small Arab minority. It was conquered by the Arabs in the 7th century, as part of the expansion of Islam, and it was converted initially to Sunni Islam. At the beginning of the 16th century — a thousand years later, more or less — it became the largest and most powerful Shiite state in the world. Persians are the dominant people in Iran, but it is a multinational country, with many different ethnic groups. And there is a traditional hostility, going back centuries, between Persians and Arabs. Persians often have very deprecating attitudes towards Arabs, and Arabs regard Persians as a threat. More recently, let us not forget that the bloodiest war in modern times was fought in the 1980s between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the Ayatollah Khomeini’s Islamic Republic of Iran.

What needs to be understood — and it’s a case I make strongly in the book — is why the ayatollahs have invested such great efforts in their propaganda against Israel. The reason they have presented themselves as — and have carried out a policy of being — the avant garde of total opposition to Israel’s very existence is that they see this as their most powerful card in a much broader and more ambitious aim. This aim is first to establish hegemony throughout the Middle East, and then to be in a position where they can actually challenge the hegemony of the West.

Hatred of Israel and this very intense, religiously driven indoctrination on Iran’s part is designed primarily for the Arab street, and it has had some success. Its most important success was in underwriting and reinforcing the Hizbullah movement it created in Lebanon in 1982. Hizbullah (the Party of God) is a movement which operates in an Arab country and whose members are all Arabs. But they are Shiites — Arab Shiites who have become a proxy of Iran, and closely controlled by its regime. Their ideology is completely Iranian-oriented, and includes a visceral hatred of Jews.

Q: What about Hamas?

A: That Hamas, a Sunni Muslim organization, has increasingly become another Iranian proxy in the region has been one of the most striking developments in the last five or six years. The seeking of Israel’s destruction has become the most effective glue linking Iran to an Arab world that is naturally and rightfully suspicious of its intentions. Countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, which are all Sunni, and often considered to be moderate or pro-Western in some way — though that would have to be seriously qualified in practice — do feel threatened by Iran. In their own ambiguous way, they are seeking means to diminish or neutralize the Iranian threat.

Then there are the smaller Gulf States, which are literally defenseless in the face of a nuclearized Iran. Presently, they may feel they have an American shield to protect them from future Iranian threats. But how much would such a shield be worth if there were a nuclear Iran nuclear? Not very much.

Q: You describe the current elites in the West as ignorant and even dismissive of the Bible and religion. How do you explain, then, the sympathy on the part of students on Western campuses for anti-Israel movements whose fervor is religious? And how do you account for the almost natural inclination of academia to side with them over Israel?

A: The bulk of them have completely bought in to the Palestinian version of the conflict: that the Jews came in and stole the land; that the state of Israel was an illegitimate creation with no historic justification; that its establishment was a colonialist and imperialist conspiracy. This is now a kind of lingua franca of a whole generation of students. Probably 90% of the books they are assigned in Middle East studies point in that direction.

Q: If that’s the case, then you could say that that their anti-Zionism — and even, perhaps, their anti-Semitism — is rational.

A: I wouldn’t use the word “rational.” I would say it is comprehensible, in light of certain ideological factors that have accumulated in the last two-three decades. It’s not merely a kind of herd-like mentality, although that plays a role, because students have to be both knowledgeable and courageous to go against the stream and risk unpopularity — harassment even — and all such unpleasantness that is now normal on many Western campuses.

Q: How would a student be equipped with the psychological and educational tools upon his arrival at a university to withstand the bombardment? How would he even know that doing so was an option?

A: He wouldn’t — unless there was a comparable effort being made on the Jewish and Israeli side. This has come very belatedly, and thus is an uphill — even Sisyphean — struggle. There still hasn’t been engagement, except among a handful of people, with the prevailing ideas in the political culture in the West about Israel.

Q: What difference can such “engagement” make? Would an effort to deal with “the prevailing ideas in the political culture” have made any difference in pre-Holocaust Europe?

A: We have far more possibilities than the Jews of the pre-Holocaust period had. We have an independent state, with a very advanced and flourishing society. Admittedly, our adversaries today have much more extensive resources with which to circulate and amplify the cycle of lies. This doesn’t mean, however, that we are fated to be passive recipients of vilifying accusations on the part of forces intent on Israel’s demise. One of the reasons I wrote this book was to identify those forces and the impetus behind them. Their build-up is something that only seems to have hit home to many Israelis after the Goldstone report. But that report is only the last straw in a long indictment that has been mounting with very little response, other than from a handful of people.

Q: That “handful of people” would and are often accused by Israeli academics and members of the media of being fanatically right-wing. In fact, a large percentage of Israelis think the government and the military should have cooperated with Goldstone. How can the things you speak about be counteracted if Israeli society and the Jewish people are themselves divided on the issues — and the narrative?

A: Here we are touching on one of the core problems of dealing with this escalating process of undermining the moral foundations and legitimacy of Israel.

It’s difficult for me to be cool, calm and collected when, as part of my everyday work, I have to read so many self-accusatory statements and indictments either by Israelis who have left Israel, or by those who remain and teach in Israeli universities, or by Diaspora Jews who have jumped on this bandwagon and seem so keen to produce their “divorce certificates” from the Jewish state. And they do this in order to give themselves the appearance of a clean bill of health. It is their way of saying: “We are good Jews; we have nothing in common with those bad ones.”

Q: Didn’t many German Jews have that very attitude on the eve of the Holocaust?

A: Indeed, I think there is an analogy to be drawn between the highly assimilated, well-off, middle- and upper-middle-class Jews of Weimar Germany, who believed that if only they could demonstrate to non-Jewish Germans that it was the east European Jewish immigrants at the root of all the problems, they themselves would be spared anti-Semitism. This, of course, was all blown away after 1933, because it wasn’t of the slightest interest to Hitler and his supporters what kind of Jew you were. As a matter of fact, it was the well-established Jewish professionals and intellectuals who the Nazis were determined to “cleanse” Germany from first.

Today, those left-wing and liberal Jews who feel that if only they can show they fully share the anti-Zionist zeitgeist, they will be spared the indictment that is being handed out, are victims of the same delusion.

Q: Is this not typical of Jewish responses to anti-Semitism since time immemorial?

A: We recently celebrated the festival of Purim. And though nobody believes in the literal historicity of the events in the Book of Esther, it is a document of great importance, because of what it tells us about anti-Semitism and Jewish responses to it. It is astonishing to find such continuities from more than 2,000 years ago to today. And it is ironic that the great Jew-hater of the story, Haman, hails from the same country — what was then Persia — as Ahmadinejad today.

In the story, the Jews are already in the Diaspora — so presumably it was written in the Hellenistic period — and they are described as being a dispersed people, and divided among themselves, although they have their own laws and customs, which are distinct from those of the other habitants of the kingdom. And the bait that Haman offers to the king to carry out the extermination of the Jews is that it will bring great economic benefits to the treasury, and that it will introduce an element of uniformity in the kingdom that is actually a multicultural, multinational, perhaps quite shaky empire. And how do the Jews react? Well, Mordechai and Esther engage in a political action; there are court intrigues; a complex plot unravels. But ultimately, in the Diaspora, Jews are dependent on fate, on the powers-that-be, and on persuading at least some of those powers-that-be to allow them to defend themselves. This was less and less true in the history of the Diaspora, and Jews were less and less able to organize and defend themselves — which is one of the primary reasons why modern Zionism came into existence.

So, clearly, anti-Semitism is an ancient phenomenon. That’s why the subtitle of my book begins with “from antiquity.” And many Jewish responses are traditional ones. We can almost say that nothing new has ever been invented in the history of Jewish self-defense. Some techniques are more refined than others. Jews have achieved greater amounts of power in a number of diasporic societies. But the scenarios don’t change that much.

What has changed is the existence of Jewish sovereignty. Of a state. Of an army. Of a cohesive society which is willing and able to defend itself with all the means at the disposal of a modern society, to make sure there is no repetition of the Holocaust or of lower-scale massacres. This is a crucial development, even though it has not diminished anti-Semitism. On the contrary, it has simply given it new pretexts and sources on which it can feed.

Still, we Jews are privileged in comparison to all the generations that went before us. For the first time, with our own hands, and using all the creativity, talent, determination and tenacity that we have shown over the centuries in adversity, we can frustrate the evil designs of our enemies.

Q: The Zionists established Israel as a safe haven for Jews, yet it has become one of the most physically dangerous places for Jews in the world. Can you address that irony?

A: In the Bible, Israel is the name given to Jacob, one of the three patriarchs of the nation, after he struggles with the angel — this mysterious figure, half-God, half-man, God, man, something else, the stranger, a phantom of his unconscious imagination, a real person, who knows?

All name changes in the Bible have great significance. And the literal meaning of Israel is “he who struggles and prevails.”

Delving into the broader meaning of Israel, both historically and today — and asking what its purpose is, for itself as a people and for the nations — you could say that it represents a struggle for truth.

Q: Is this your interpretation of Israel’s serving as “a light unto the nations?”

A: I can already hear the cynics saying, “Oh, some light unto the nations.”

My point is not that we are, but that we struggle to be.

It is a struggle to transcend ourselves, to find our better part, to aspire to the light. Contrary to the stereotype branding Jews as the incarnation of materialism, anybody really familiar with the annals of Jewish history knows this is ludicrous. This is not to say there aren’t materialists among us, of course. On one level, we are no different from anybody else. But there’s another level on which we operate, which, for a lack of a better word, I would call metaphysical. And it is this level, which Israel represents, that is one of the deepest reasons for anti-Semitism.

I’m often asked, “Don’t you get depressed by studying anti-Semitism?”

The answer is that, among the many other intrinsically fascinating and horrendous features it has, anti-Semitism is also a continuous challenge to the Jewish people. It is a kind of barometer to us and to the nations, both of what is wrong — because it is often a symptom of major pathologies in a given society — and a warning signal of catastrophes to come. Indeed, it is clear that its current rise is a herald of a catastrophe already in the making. Rather than deluding ourselves that it is a passing storm, if we could only see it as a galvanizer, we could put our energies to more constructive use, and understand that fighting it, too, is part of a wider struggle for continual self-betterment.

As with all forms of persecution and oppression, running away doesn’t work. You have to stand up and fight your adversary and — as in the case of Jacob, who becomes worthy to be called Israel — to overcome him, even if this means sustaining a limp, as he apparently did.

Voir de même:

Les plus dangereux ennemis d’Israël

Guy Millière

Mena

21/09/14

Israël, hélas, ne manque pas d’ennemis sur la terre. L’antisémitisme reste, selon l’expression si souvent utilisée, la « plus vieille haine », la plus tenace, la plus vicieuse et, sans doute, la plus chargée d’assassinats en tous genres. Il continue à exister et à déferler, et se contente de changer de peau et d’apparence selon les lieux et les époques. Tous les antisémites sont, c’est une évidence, des ennemis d’Israël.

On peut leur ajouter tous ceux qui se disent « antisionistes » et qui nient être antisémites mais traitent Israël comme un pays entièrement à part et déversent sur Israël des phrases et des diatribes qui ont une forte ressemblance avec celles que l’on répandait en Europe sur les Juifs il y a sept ou huit décennies.

On peut leur adjoindre aussi tous ceux qui ne se disent ni antisémites ni « antisionistes », mais qui portent un regard constamment biaisé sur l’Etat hébreu, reprenant à leur compte toutes les falsifications de l’histoire et des faits d’actualité qui circulent concernant Israël et le Proche-Orient ; ils contribuent à la diabolisation d’Israël.

On grossira encore la liste en y faisant figurer les dirigeants occidentaux, qui reprennent, sur un mode plus ou moins feutré, les biais anti-israéliens, souvent par lâcheté devant les menaces de l’islam radical, souvent aussi pour préserver de lucratifs contrats avec des pays du monde musulman.

Et on augmentera le sinistre recensement avec les noms de quasiment tous les dirigeants, intellectuels et prêcheurs du monde musulman, qui n’ont jamais admis l’existence même d’Israël et qui, pour certains, sont imprégnés d’une haine pathologique des Juifs.

Sans oublier tous les Juifs européens ou américains pratiquant la haine de soi, que l’on trouve dans les media, l’Université, la politique, l’activisme gauchiste, et que les ennemis non-juifs d’Israël sont trop heureux d’exhiber dès que l’occasion se présente aux fins de pouvoir dire que même des Juifs sont dans leur camp.

Israël, on le voit, ne manque pas d’ennemis sur la terre. Tous ces ennemis sont dangereux, chacun à leur manière.

Les ennemis les plus dangereux d’Israël, cela dit, ne me semblent appartenir à aucune de ces catégories.

Les plus dangereux ennemis d’Israël me semblent être les Israéliens qui détestent tant leur propre pays qu’ils consacrent leur temps à le dénigrer, à le salir, à contribuer à sa démolition intellectuelle et politique dans le but de contribuer à sa destruction tout court.

Ceux-là sont des gens tels que Shlomo Sand ou Guidon Levy. Ce sont aussi les gens qui travaillent pour de pseudo organisations humanitaires, qui sont en réalité des organisations de propagande et d’incitation à la haine.

Ce sont également ceux dont la presse israélienne et mondiale a beaucoup parlé ces derniers jours : les quarante-trois réservistes de l’unité 82001 (Yekhida Shmoné-Matayim, littéralement : Unité huit deux-cents) qui ont annoncé leur refus de servir désormais dans cette entité en raison de crimes qu’ils lui attribuent. Les quarante-trois personnes concernées ont envoyé une lettre [angl.] au Premier Ministre, au chef d’état-major des armées ainsi qu’au chef des services de renseignement israélien. Ils ont rendu cette lettre publique.

Cette lettre n’est pas uniquement un acte d’insubordination qui ne serait accepté par aucun autre gouvernement d’un pays démocratique. Elle est aussi une lettre de diffamation dans la mesure où elle est porteuse d’allégations graves, et qui semblent infondées. Elle est une lettre de propagande politique au service de l’ennemi, en temps de guerre, car il n’est pas possible de dire, dans le contexte actuel, qu’Israël se trouve en situation de paix. C’est donc une lettre de trahison.

Que des réservistes d’une unité cruciale de l’Armée d’Israël commettent un acte d’insubordination est déjà, en soi, extrêmement grave. Qu’ils ajoutent à l’insubordination la diffamation et la propagande au service de l’ennemi est bien plus qu’extrêmement grave.

Qu’ils ajoutent que l’action de l’unité 8200 en Judée-Samarie est, en soi, une « action de contrôle d’un autre pays » accroît encore la gravité des choses : ils se placent, de fait, sur les positions de l’Autorité Palestinienne et du Hamas, qui usent de ce type de langage. Ils nient l’existence d’une menace terroriste et totalitaire puisqu’ils n’en parlent pas. Ils se placent au service de cette menace totalitaire et terroriste en n’en parlant pas.

Dans un éditorial récent, le Jerusalem Post a défini leur attitude comme « arrogante, inadmissible et inacceptable ».

Dès lors que l’appartenance à l’unité 8200 relève du secret-défense, nul ne sait, certes, qui sont ces quarante-trois réservistes et s’ils existent réellement (les noms figurant sur les copies de la lettre sont floutés). Mais le mal est fait.

Il y a des gens qui n’ont décidément aucune honte.

Voir enfin:

Obituary
Hyam Maccoby
Lawrence Joffe
The Guardian
31 July 2004

In his book Revolution In Judea: Jesus And The Jewish Resistance (1980), Hyam Maccoby, who has died aged 80, responded to Christian denigration of the Pharisees by depicting Jesus Christ as a progressive, Torah-observant Pharisee. An Orthodox Jew, he argued that Jesus opposed not Judaism but the Roman oppressors and their Saducee quislings. For him, Jesus lived, preached and died wholly within the Jewish tradition – a view that discomfited many Jews and Christians.Traditional Christianity also posits Judas Iscariot as an arch-villain, but Maccoby viewed him as a caricatured concoction, symbolising the eternal guilt that Jews supposedly bore for killing Christ. In Judas Iscariot And The Myth Of Jewish Evil (1992), Maccoby traced a thread linking the New Testament to Auschwitz.

The central thesis of another work, The Mythmaker: Paul And The Invention Of Christianity (1986), was that St Paul, not Jesus, created Christianity, being an adventurer who undermined the disciples who had actually known the living Jesus. It was Paul, said Maccoby, who turned Jesus into God and transformed the early Jewish Christian sect into a Gnostic mystery cult imbued with « Hellenistic schizophrenia ».

In Paul And Hellenism (1991), Maccoby wrote that a politically savvy Paul deliberately recast the gospels to exculpate Rome from the charge of deicide. Then, « by stigmatising the Jews as the rejecters of Jesus, [Paul] planted the seeds to anti-semitism in the Christian tradition ».

Maccoby made ancient history and theology come alive. He wrote and lectured on rabbinical literature and Jewish humour, and loved to draw parallels between cultures. In Sacred Executioner: Human Sacrifice And The Legacy Of Guilt (1983), he compared the Greek legend of Iphigenia, Aztec rituals and the Levantine myth of the murdered and resurrected god Attis to the sacrifice of Isaac and Jesus’s execution.

Maccoby argued that the Christian veneration of the crucifixion marked its regression to primitive human sacrifice. Witness his description of the communion, the symbolic eating of Christ’s flesh and blood: « Jesus would have been appalled to know of the pagan interpretation later put on the simple kiddush, or blessing over wine and bread, with which he began the Last Supper. »

Some rabbis were equally distressed to see the Torah apparently reduced to a series of myths, shorn of divine authorship, and Maccoby certainly refused to gloss over the schisms that divide the sister faiths. Judaism On Trial: Jewish-Christian Disputations In The Middle Ages (1981) studied those bizarre mock-trials, which pitted Jewish scholars against Christian theologians. Yet it would be crass to call Maccoby an anti-Christian firebrand. His play, The Disputation (1996), commissioned by Channel 4 and expanded for the London stage, showed James, King Of Aragon, insisting that the learned rabbi, Nachmanides, have his say.

Maccoby was born in Sunderland, the son of a mathematics tutor, who taught him biblical Hebrew and talmudic Aramaic from the age of four. He may have inherited his rhetorical prowess from his grandfather, who had arrived in Britain in 1890 having been the maggid (or itinerant religious preacher) of Kamenets, his home village in Poland.

Maccoby was educated at Bede grammar school, and read classics, and then English, at Balliol College, Oxford. From 1942 and 1946, he served in the Royal Signals, based at the decoding centre at Bletchley Park. He was then, for some 20 years, an English master at Chiswick school, west London.

In 1975, he was appointed librarian and tutor at Leo Baeck College, London, where Reform and Liberal rabbis train. A stream of books followed, including The Day God Laughed: Sayings, Fables And Entertainments Of The Jewish Sages (with Wolf Mankowitz, 1978), Judaism In The First Century (1989), A Pariah People: Anthropology Of Anti-Semitism (1996), Ritual And Morality (1999), The Philosophy Of The Talmud (2002), Jesus The Pharisee (2003) and, earlier this year, Anti-Semitism And Modernity.

In 1998, Maccoby joined the Centre for Jewish Studies at Leeds University, as visiting, and then research, professor. His numerous television appearances included one on Howard Jacobson’s audacious documentary, Sorry, Judas (1993).

He is survived by his wife Cynthia, two daughters and a son. Colleagues and friends cherished his prodigious scholarship and kindness.

· Hyam Maccoby, writer, born March 20 1924; died May 2 2004

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