Noël/2015e: Attention, un antijudaïsme peut en cacher un autre (From anti-pharisianism to anti-Judaism: the long history of one of the West’s most powerful theoretical systems for making sense of the world)

Quel est ici le marchand, et quel est le Juif ? Portia (Le Marchand de Venise, Shakespeare)
Alors Hérode, voyant qu’il avait été joué par les mages, se mit dans une grande colère, et il envoya tuer tous les enfants de deux ans et au-dessous qui étaient à Bethléhem et dans tout son territoire … Mathieu 2: 16
À tous ceux qui sont – ou ont été – déshumanisés par la tyrannie et la cruauté d’un Hérode ou d’un État islamique, l’Hérode d’aujourd’hui, le jugement de Dieu arrive comme une bonne nouvelle, car il promet la justice. Justin Welby (archevêque de Cantorbéry)
Mais si vous ne m’écoutez point et ne mettez point en pratique tous ces commandements, si vous méprisez mes lois, et si votre âme a en horreur mes ordonnances, en sorte que vous ne pratiquiez point tous mes commandements et que vous rompiez mon alliance, voici alors ce que je vous ferai. J’enverrai sur vous la terreur, la consomption et la fièvre, qui rendront vos yeux languissants et votre âme souffrante; et vous sèmerez en vain vos semences: vos ennemis les dévoreront. Je tournerai ma face contre vous, et vous serez battus devant vos ennemis; ceux qui vous haïssent domineront sur vous, et vous fuirez sans que l’on vous poursuive. (…) Si, malgré cela, vous ne m’écoutez point et si vous me résistez, je vous résisterai aussi avec fureur et je vous châtierai sept fois plus pour vos péchés. Vous mangerez la chair de vos fils, et vous mangerez la chair de vos filles. Je détruirai vos hauts lieux, j’abattrai vos statues consacrées au soleil, je mettrai vos cadavres sur les cadavres de vos idoles, et mon âme vous aura en horreur. Je réduirai vos villes en déserts, je ravagerai vos sanctuaires, et je ne respirerai plus l’odeur agréable de vos parfums. Je dévasterai le pays, et vos ennemis qui l’habiteront en seront stupéfaits. Je vous disperserai parmi les nations et je tirerai l’épée après vous. Votre pays sera dévasté, et vos villes seront désertes. Alors le pays jouira de ses sabbats, tout le temps qu’il sera dévasté et que vous serez dans le pays de vos ennemis … Lévitique 26: 14-34
Mais si tu n’obéis point à la voix de l’Éternel, ton Dieu, si tu n’observes pas et ne mets pas en pratique tous ses commandements et toutes ses lois que je te prescris aujourd’hui, voici toutes les malédictions qui viendront sur toi et qui seront ton partage (…) L’Éternel fera partir de loin, des extrémités de la terre, une nation qui fondra sur toi d’un vol d’aigle, une nation dont tu n’entendras point la langue, une nation au visage farouche, et qui n’aura ni respect pour le vieillard ni pitié pour l’enfant. Elle mangera le fruit de tes troupeaux et le fruit de ton sol, jusqu’à ce que tu sois détruit; elle ne te laissera ni blé, ni moût, ni huile, ni portées de ton gros et de ton menu bétail, jusqu’à ce qu’elle t’ait fait périr. Elle t’assiégera dans toutes tes portes, jusqu’à ce que tes murailles tombent, ces hautes et fortes murailles sur lesquelles tu auras placé ta confiance dans toute l’étendue de ton pays; elle t’assiégera dans toutes tes portes, dans tout le pays que l’Éternel, ton Dieu, te donne. Au milieu de l’angoisse et de la détresse où te réduira ton ennemi, tu mangeras le fruit de tes entrailles, la chair de tes fils et de tes filles que l’Éternel, ton Dieu, t’aura donnés. Deutéronome 28: 15-53
Et Jésus ajouta une parabole, parce qu’il était près de Jérusalem, et qu’on croyait qu’à l’instant le royaume de Dieu allait paraître. Il dit donc: Un homme de haute naissance s’en alla dans un pays lointain, pour se faire investir de l’autorité royale, et revenir ensuite. Il appela dix de ses serviteurs, leur donna dix mines, et leur dit: Faites-les valoir jusqu’à ce que je revienne. Mais ses concitoyens le haïssaient, et ils envoyèrent une ambassade après lui, pour dire: Nous ne voulons pas que cet homme règne sur nous. Lorsqu’il fut de retour, après avoir été investi de l’autorité royale, il fit appeler auprès de lui les serviteurs auxquels il avait donné l’argent, afin de connaître comment chacun l’avait fait valoir. Le premier vint, et dit: Seigneur, ta mine a rapporté dix mines. Il lui dit: C’est bien, bon serviteur; parce que tu as été fidèle en peu de chose, reçois le gouvernement de dix villes. Le second vint, et dit: Seigneur, ta mine a produit cinq mines. Il lui dit: Toi aussi, sois établi sur cinq villes. Un autre vint, et dit: Seigneur, voici ta mine, que j’ai gardée dans un linge; car j’avais peur de toi, parce que tu es un homme sévère; tu prends ce que tu n’as pas déposé, et tu moissonnes ce que tu n’as pas semé. Il lui dit: Je te juge sur tes paroles, méchant serviteur; tu savais que je suis un homme sévère, prenant ce que je n’ai pas déposé, et moissonnant ce que je n’ai pas semé; pourquoi donc n’as-tu pas mis mon argent dans une banque, afin qu’à mon retour je le retirasse avec un intérêt? Puis il dit à ceux qui étaient là: Otez-lui la mine, et donnez-la à celui qui a les dix mines. Ils lui dirent: Seigneur, il a dix mines. – Je vous le dis, on donnera à celui qui a, mais à celui qui n’a pas on ôtera même ce qu’il a. Au reste, amenez ici mes ennemis, qui n’ont pas voulu que je régnasse sur eux, et tuez-les en ma présence. Jésus (Luc 19: 11-27)
Ce sont ces Juifs qui ont fait mourir le Seigneur Jésus et les prophètes, qui nous ont persécutés, qui ne plaisent point à Dieu, et qui sont ennemis de tous les hommes, nous empêchant de parler aux païens pour qu’ils soient sauvés, en sorte qu’ils ne cessent de mettre le comble à leurs péchés. Mais la colère a fini par les atteindre. Paul (1ère Lettre aux Thessaloniciens 2: 15)
J’éprouve une grande tristesse, et j’ai dans le coeur un chagrin continuel. Car je voudrais moi-même être anathème et séparé de Christ pour mes frères, mes parents selon la chair, qui sont Israélites, à qui appartiennent l’adoption, et la gloire, et les alliances, et la loi, et le culte, et les promesses, et les patriarches, et de qui est issu, selon la chair, le Christ, qui est au-dessus de toutes choses, Dieu béni éternellement. Amen! Ce n’est point à dire que la parole de Dieu soit restée sans effet. Car tous ceux qui descendent d’Israël ne sont pas Israël, et, pour être la postérité d’Abraham, ils ne sont pas tous ses enfants; mais il est dit: En Isaac sera nommée pour toi une postérité, c’est-à-dire que ce ne sont pas les enfants de la chair qui sont enfants de Dieu, mais que ce sont les enfants de la promesse qui sont regardés comme la postérité. Paul (Romans 9: 2-8)
Frères, le voeu de mon coeur et ma prière à Dieu pour eux, c’est qu’ils soient sauvés. Je leur rends le témoignage qu’ils ont du zèle pour Dieu, mais sans intelligence: ne connaissant pas la justice de Dieu, et cherchant à établir leur propre justice, ils ne se sont pas soumis à la justice de Dieu; car Christ est la fin de la loi, pour la justification de tous ceux qui croient. Paul (Romans 10: 1-4)
Je dis donc: Dieu a-t-il rejeté son peuple? Loin de là! Car moi aussi je suis Israélite, de la postérité d’Abraham, de la tribu de Benjamin. Dieu n’a point rejeté son peuple, qu’il a connu d’avance. Ne savez-vous pas ce que l’Écriture rapporte d’Élie, comment il adresse à Dieu cette plainte contre Israël: Seigneur, ils ont tué tes prophètes, ils ont renversé tes autels; je suis resté moi seul, et ils cherchent à m’ôter la vie? Mais quelle réponse Dieu lui fait-il? Je me suis réservé sept mille hommes, qui n’ont point fléchi le genou devant Baal. De même aussi dans le temps présent il y un reste, selon l’élection de la grâce. Or, si c’est par grâce, ce n’est plus par les oeuvres; autrement la grâce n’est plus une grâce. Et si c’est par les oeuvres, ce n’est plus une grâce; autrement l’oeuvre n’est plus une oeuvre. Quoi donc? Ce qu’Israël cherche, il ne l’a pas obtenu, mais l’élection l’a obtenu, tandis que les autres ont été endurcis, selon qu’il est écrit: Dieu leur a donné un esprit d’assoupissement, Des yeux pour ne point voir, Et des oreilles pour ne point entendre, Jusqu’à ce jour. Paul (Romans 10: 1-8)
Qu’en Judas le Juif soit maudit. Saint Jérôme
Par Allah […], c’est avec certitude que je déclare licite le sang des Juifs, de leurs enfants et de leurs femmes. Al-Maghîli (Algérie, vers 1500)
Tout d’abord, mettre le feu à leurs synagogues ou écoles… Luther
Le gouvernement révolutionnaire parisien est dirigé par des « courtiers juifs ». Edmund Burke
Considérons le Juif réel, non pas le Juif du sabbat, comme Bauer le fait, mais le Juif de tous les jours. Ne cherchons pas le secret du Juif dans sa religion, mais cherchons le secret de la religion dans le Juif réel. Quel est le fond profane du judaïsme ? Le besoin pratique, l’utilité personnelle. Quel est le culte profane du Juif ? Le trafic. Quel est son Dieu profane ? L’argent. Eh bien, en s’émancipant du trafic et de l’argent, par conséquent du judaïsme réel et pratique, l’époque actuelle s’émanciperait elle-même. Une organisation de la société qui supprimerait les conditions nécessaires du trafic, par suite la possibilité du trafic, rendrait le Juif impossible. La conscience religieuse du Juif s’évanouirait, telle une vapeur insipide, dans l’atmosphère véritable de la société. D’autre part, du moment qu’il reconnaît la vanité de son essence prati­que et s’efforce de supprimer cette essence, le Juif tend à sortir de ce qui fut jusque-là son développement, travaille à l’émancipation humaine générale et se tourne vers la plus haute expression pratique de la renonciation ou aliénation humaine. Nous reconnaissons donc dans le judaïsme un élément antisocial général et actuel qui, par le développement historique auquel les Juifs ont, sous ce mauvais rapport, activement participé, a été poussé à son point culminant du temps présent, à une hauteur où il ne peut que se désagréger nécessairement. Dans sa dernière signification, l’émancipation juive consiste à émanciper l’huma­nité du judaïsme. Le Juif s’est émancipé déjà, mais d’une manière juive. « Le Juif par exemple, qui est simplement toléré à Vienne, détermine, par sa puissance financière, le destin de tout l’empire. Le Juif, qui dans les moindres petits états allemands, peut être sans droits, décide du destin de l’Europe. » « Tandis que les corporations et les jurandes restent fermées aux Juifs ou ne leur sont guère favorables, l’audace de l’industrie se moque de l’entêtement des institutions moyenâgeuses. » (B. Bauer, La Question juive, p. 114.) Ceci n’est pas un fait isolé. Le Juif s’est émancipé d’une manière juive, non seulement en se rendant maître du marché financier, mais parce que, grâce à lui et par lui, l’argent est devenu une puissance mondiale, et l’esprit pratique juif l’esprit prati­que des peuples chrétiens. Les Juifs se sont émancipés dans la mesure même où les chrétiens sont devenus Juifs. Karl Marx
La Bible hébraïque, le Nouveau Testament et le Coran  n’offrent pas d’instructions claires sur la façon de composer avec les autres religions.  Comme l’écrit Nirenberg, ils « peuvent donner lieu à toutes les interprétations possibles, depuis l’amour et la tolérance jusqu’à l’extermination complète ». Le Nouveau Testament, par exemple, ordonne d’aimer son voisin,l’étranger et même l’adversaire. Mais le Christ dit aussi: « Au reste, amenez ici mes ennemis, qui n’ont pas voulu que je régnasse sur eux, et tuez les en ma présence.  » (Luc 19, 27) Carlos Fraenkel  
Carlos Fraenkel quotes Luke 19.27 as his proof text for Jesus’s exterminating tendencies (LRB, 21 May). But that verse is part of a parable. Jesus said, ‘As for my enemies who don’t want me as their king, bring them here and slaughter them before me’ only in the sense that he told a story in which a character said it. The three-cornered relations of predecessor-hood and successor-hood between the monotheisms are vexed enough without confusing Christ with a Dalek. Francis Spufford (Goldsmith College, University of London)
Francis Spufford’s objection to Carlos Fraenkel’s quotation from Luke is spurious (Letters, 4 June). The sentence in dispute is surely not a quotation within Christ’s parable (i.e. a meta-quotation) as he claims. My King James Bible gives ‘But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me’ as Luke 19:27, the previous verse being: ‘For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.’ The parable takes up verses 11 to 25, but the phrase ‘For I say unto you’ changes the status of the following text. It occurs 11 times (including this one) in Matthew and Luke, each time as a discourse marker for a significant statement of Christ’s own, in this case the content of verses 26 and 27. This is not just in the King James version: all 11 times it corresponds to ‘λέγω γὰρ ὑμῖν’ in the Archetypum Graecum edited by E.W. Stier (1852). I do not know whether a historical Jesus of Nazareth – speaking Aramaic, presumably – really said such a bloodthirsty thing, and, if so, how he meant it, but the Bible clearly suggests that he did say it. James Fanning (Universität Greifswald, Germany)
No, it isn’t ‘spurious’, as James Fanning suggests, to claim that Luke 19.27 is part of the preceding parable of the ten minas (Letters, 2 July). In fact, it’s the conventional reading, signalled in contemporary English translations with an apparatus of nested single and double quote-marks. These are of course interpretative, but even in the King James Version, which stays closer to the punctuationless original Greek, it’s perfectly clear that ‘those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them’ in verse 27 are the citizens of verse 14, unambiguously within the embedded parable narrative, who say ‘we will not have this man to reign over us.’ Verse 27 plainly completes the arc of the embedded story. I agree that it’s very odd that verse 26, just before it, appears to step halfway out of the he/they dialogue of the parable into an I/you statement – ‘For I say unto you, that unto every one which hath shall be given’ – which does indeed lead a detachable existence thereafter as a direct maxim of Jesus’s own. But then he seems to have been, as we peer at him through the multiple screens of text, a remarkably slippery and complicated storyteller, up there with Kafka in his nuanced layering of implication. His parables tend to leak, disturbingly. For me, the decisive factor in not reading this one as bloodstained zealotry is that it is followed immediately in Luke by his arrival in Jerusalem, and his orchestration of a deliberately paradoxical and impractical bid for a throne, carefully arranged so that unlike all the other rebellions against Roman rule, it should produce a body-count of exactly one, himself. I wonder if it is our desire to stick him with the bill for the later bloodshed of Christian history, and Christian-Jewish relations, that creates the present urge to Dalekify him. Francis Spufford (Goldsmiths, University of London)
Mahomet s’est établi en tuant ; Jésus-Christ en faisant tuer les siens. Mahomet en défendant de lire; Jésus-Christ en ordonnant de lire. Enfin cela est si contraire, que si Mahomet a pris la voie de réussir humainement, Jésus-Christ a pris celle de périr humainement. Et au lieu de conclure, que puisque Mahomet a réussi, Jésus-Christ a bien pu réussir ; il faut dire, que puisque Mahomet a réussi, le Christianisme devait périr, s’il n’eût été soutenu par une force toute divine. Pascal
Dans certains des Psaumes l’esprit de haine nous frappe au visage comme la chaleur d’une fournaise. Dans d’autres cas, le même esprit cesse d’être effrayant mais c’est pour devenir (aux yeux de l’homme moderne) presque comique par sa naïveté. (…) Si nous excusons les poètes des Psaumes sous prétexte qu’ils n’étaient pas chrétiens, nous devrions pouvoir montrer que les auteurs païens expriment le même genre de choses et pire encore (….) Je peux trouver en eux de la lascivité, une bonne dose d’insensibilité brutale, une froide cruauté qui va de soi pour eux, mais certainement pas cette fureur ou cette profusion de haine…. La première impression que l’on en retire est que les Juifs étaient bien plus vindicatifs et acerbes que les païens. CS Lewis
Le fait que Jésus s’adresse à des Juifs est beaucoup moins important que ne se l’imaginent ceux qui n’ont qu’un souci en tête : convaincre les Evangiles d’antisémitisme. […] Au-delà des interlocuteurs immédiats de Jésus, qui sont des Juifs inévitablement, c’est l’humanité entière qui est visée, comme toujours dans les Evangiles. René Girard
De nombreux commentateurs veulent aujourd’hui montrer que, loin d’être non violente, la Bible est vraiment pleine de violence. En un sens, ils ont raison. La représentation de la violence dans la Bible est énorme et plus vive, plus évocatrice, que dans la mythologie même grecque. (…) Il est une chose que j’apprécie dans le refus contemporain de cautionner la violence biblique, quelque chose de rafraîchissant et de stimulant, une capacité d’indignation qui, à quelques exceptions près, manque dans la recherche et l’exégèse religieuse classiques. (…) Une fois que nous nous rendons compte que nous avons à faire au même phénomène social dans la Bible que la mythologie, à savoir la foule hystérique qui ne se calmera pas tant qu’elle n’aura pas lynché une victime, nous ne pouvons manquer de prendre conscience du fait de la grande singularité biblique, même de son caractère unique. (…) Dans la mythologie, la violence collective est toujours représentée à partir du point de vue de l’agresseur et donc on n’entend jamais les victimes elles-mêmes. On ne les entend jamais se lamenter sur leur triste sort et maudire leurs persécuteurs comme ils le font dans les Psaumes. Tout est raconté du point de vue des bourreaux. (…) Pas étonnant que les mythes grecs, les épopées grecques et les tragédies grecques sont toutes sereines, harmonieuses et non perturbées. (…) Pour moi, les Psaumes racontent la même histoire de base que les mythes mais retournée, pour ainsi dire. (…) Les Psaumes d’exécration ou de malédiction sont les premiers textes dans l’histoire qui permettent aux victimes, à jamais réduites au silence dans la mythologie, d’avoir une voix qui leur soit propre. (…) Ces victimes ressentent exactement la même chose que Job. Il faut décrire le livre de Job, je crois, comme un psaume considérablement élargi de malédiction. Si Job était un mythe, nous aurions seulement le point de vue des amis. (…) La critique actuelle de la violence dans la Bible ne soupçonne pas que la violence représentée dans la Bible peut être aussi dans les évènements derrière la mythologie, bien qu’invisible parce qu’elle est non représentée. La Bible est le premier texte à représenter la victimisation du point de vue de la victime, et c’est cette représentation qui est responsable, en fin de compte, de notre propre sensibilité supérieure à la violence. Ce n’est pas le fait de notre intelligence supérieure ou de notre sensibilité. Le fait qu’aujourd’hui nous pouvons passer jugement sur ces textes pour leur violence est un mystère. Personne d’autre n’a jamais fait cela dans le passé. C’est pour des raisons bibliques, paradoxalement, que nous critiquons la Bible. (…) Alors que dans le mythe, nous apprenons le lynchage de la bouche des persécuteurs qui soutiennent qu’ils ont bien fait de lyncher leurs victimes, dans la Bible nous entendons la voix des victimes elles-mêmes qui ne voient nullement le lynchage comme une chose agréable et nous disent en des mots extrêmement violents, des mots qui reflètent une réalité violente qui est aussi à l’origine de la mythologie, mais qui restant invisible, déforme notre compréhension générale de la littérature païenne et de la mythologie. René Girard
La condition préalable à tout dialogue est que chacun soit honnête avec sa tradition. (…) les chrétiens ont repris tel quel le corpus de la Bible hébraïque. Saint Paul parle de  » greffe » du christianisme sur le judaïsme, ce qui est une façon de ne pas nier celui-ci . (…) Dans l’islam, le corpus biblique est, au contraire, totalement remanié pour lui faire dire tout autre chose que son sens initial (…) La récupération sous forme de torsion ne respecte pas le texte originel sur lequel, malgré tout, le Coran s’appuie. René Girard
Dans la foi musulmane, il y a un aspect simple, brut, pratique qui a facilité sa diffusion et transformé la vie d’un grand nombre de peuples à l’état tribal en les ouvrant au monothéisme juif modifié par le christianisme. Mais il lui manque l’essentiel du christianisme : la croix. Comme le christianisme, l’islam réhabilite la victime innocente, mais il le fait de manière guerrière. La croix, c’est le contraire, c’est la fin des mythes violents et archaïques. René Girard
Ceux qui considèrent l’hébraïsme et le christianisme comme des religions du bouc émissaire parce qu’elles le rendent visible font comme s’ils punissaient l’ambassadeur en raison du message qu’il apporte. René Girard
Dans la dispute entre ces races pour savoir à laquelle revient le prix de l’avarice et de la cupidité, un protestant genevois vaut six juifs. A Toussenel (disciple de Fourier, 1845)
Qu’ils s’en aillent! Car nous sommes en France et non en Allemagne! … Notre République est menacée d’une invasion de protestants car on choisit volontiers des ministres parmi eux., … qui défrancise le pays et risque de le transformer en une grande Suisse, qui, avant dix ans, serait morte d’hypocrisie et d’ennui. Zola (Le Figaro, le 17/5/1881)
Pour ses promoteurs, il existe dans la France de la Troisième République un » complot protestant « , mené par des étrangers de l’intérieur. Ce » péril » menace l’identité française et cherche sournoisement à » dénationaliser » le pays. Leurs accusations veulent prendre appui sur l’actualité : la guerre de 1870, la création de l’école laïque, les rivalités coloniales, l’affaire Dreyfus, la séparation des églises et de l’État. Derrière ces événements se profilerait un » parti protestant » qui œuvrerait en faveur de l’Angleterre et de l’Allemagne. Mais, à coté de l’actualité, la vision de l’histoire constitue également un enjeu et les antiprotestants, en lutte contre l’interprétation universitaire de leur époque, tentent une révision de la compréhension d’événements historiques comme la Saint-Barthélemy et la Révocation de l’Édit de Nantes. Ils accusent les protestants d’intolérance et érigent des statues à Michel Servet, victime de Calvin au XVIe siècle. La réaction protestante à ces attaques se marque non seulement par une riposte juridique, mais aussi par une auto-analyse plus critique que dans le passé. Cet axe se termine par une réflexion plus large sur la condition minoritaire en France et la manière dont la situation faite aux minorités est révélatrice du degré de démocratie de la société française. (…) L’antisémitisme de cette époque concentre deux traditions hostiles aux juifs : l’une, religieuse, qui les accuse de » déicide « , l’autre, économique, qui les accuse de » spéculation financière « . La conjonction de ces deux traditions engendre des thèses raciales sur une lutte éternelle entre l’ » aryen » et le » sémite « , alors que les accusations raciales antiprotestantes, quand elles existent, n’atteignent pas ce degré d’intensité. L’anticléricalisme est l’envers du cléricalisme : deux camps de force égale se trouvent en rivalité politico-religieuse et leurs arguments dérivent souvent dans des stéréotypes où la haine n’est pas absente. La haine anticléricale se développe lors de la lutte contre les congrégations. Mais, à partir de 1905, la séparation des églises et de l’État constitue un » pacte laïque » et permet un dépassement de l’anticléricalisme. (…) Paradoxalement, plus le groupe visé est faible, plus la haine à son encontre est forte. À ce titre, l’antiprotestantisme apparaît comme une haine intermédiaire entre l’anticléricalisme et l’antisémitisme. Mais, partout, à l’origine des haines, se trouve une vision conspirationniste de l’histoire : les pouvoirs établis et les idées qui triomphent sont le résultat de « menées occultes », d’ « obscurs complots ». Jean Bauberot
Le Mouvement de la Résistance Islamique est un mouvement palestinien spécifique qui fait allégeance à Dieu, fait de l’islam sa règle de vie et oeuvre à planter l’étendard de Dieu sur toute parcelle de la Palestine. A l’ombre de l’islam, les fidèles de toutes les religions peuvent coexister en toute confiance et sécurité pour leur vie, leurs biens et leurs droits; en l’absence de l’islam, les luttes apparaissent, l’injustice se développe, la corruption se répand, les conflits et les guerres surviennent. Charte du Hamas (article 6, 1988)
Une expérience sociale pour voir quels sont les préjugés des Néerlandais vis-à-vis de l’islam. Sacha Harland et Alexander Spoor, deux Youtubeurs néerlandais, ont réalisé une petite expérience : l’islam étant ces derniers temps la cible de critiques jugeant que c’est une religion qui prône la violence, ils se sont demandé ce qu’il en était du côté des chrétiens. Ils ont donc dissimulé une Bible sous la couverture d’un Coran, et sont allés en lire les passages les plus affreux à des passants dans la rue. Parmi les passages choisis : « Si vous ne m’écoutez pas et ne mettez pas tous ces commandements en pratique, (…) Vous mangerez la chair de vos fils, vous mangerez la chair de vos filles » (Lévitique 26 : 33-35). « Je ne permets pas à la femme d’enseigner, ni de prendre de l’autorité sur l’homme » (1 Timothée 2:12). « Si un homme couche avec un homme comme on couche avec une femme, ils ont fait tous deux une chose abominable ; ils seront punis de mort » (Lévitique 20:13). Ils ont ensuite demandé aux passants ce qu’ils pensaient de ce qu’ils venaient d’entendre. « Comment quelqu’un peut-il croire ça ? ! Ce n’est pas possible pour moi », a répondu une femme. « Si on a été élevé avec ce livre et ce genre de phrases, cela influence la façon dont on pense », a jugé un autre passant. (…) Ils ont ensuite demandé aux passants quelle était selon eux la plus grande différence entre le Coran et la Bible. Un homme interrogé a alors expliqué que, d’après ce qu’il venait d’entendre, le livre saint des musulmans était beaucoup plus agressif. On imagine donc bien leur surprise lorsque Sacha Harland et Alexander Spoor leur ont révélé la supercherie : la plupart ne s’imaginaient pas qu’il puisse y avoir des écrits aussi violents dans l’Ancien Testament. 20 minutes
De nombreux Israélites du temps de Jésus attendaient un Messie qui viendrait sur Terre sous la forme d’un être humain. […] De nombreux Juifs de l’Antiquité ont accepté simplement Jésus comme Dieu, et ils le firent parce que leurs croyances et attentes les y conduisaient. D’autres, bien qu’ayant des idées similaires sur Dieu, ont eu du mal à croire que ce Juif-là, apparemment banal, était celui qu’ils attendaient.  (…) la plupart, et peut-être même la totalité, des idées et pratiques du mouvement de Jésus au ier et au début du IIe siècle – voire après – peuvent être considérées comme faisant partie intégrante des idées et pratiques du judaïsme de cette époque (…) les idées de la Trinité et de l’incarnation, ou du moins les germes de ces idées, étaient déjà présentes parmi les croyants juifs longtemps avant que Jésus ne surgisse (…) la notion d’un Messie humilié et souffrant n’était pas du tout étrangère au judaïsme avant la venue de Jésus et elle est demeurée courante chez les Juifs après, et ce jusqu’au début de l’époque moderne. David Boyarin
L’identification des Juifs aux marchands, aux prêteurs sur gages, aux responsables des finances royales et aux capitalistes voraces traverse l’histoire racontée par l’auteur. Un moment particulier de ce développement, l’Angleterre de Shakespeare, me permettra d’illustrer en quoi l’antijudaïsme du dramaturge se distingue de l’antisémitisme proprement dit. (…) Nirenberg pose une question qu’Anthony Julius ne pose pas: pourquoi y avait-il autant de Juifs (tels Shylock ou le Juif de Malte de Marlowe) sur la scène du nouveau théâtre de Londrenism to s, «une ville qui avait sans doute accueilli moins de “vrais Juifs” que toute autre métropole européenne»? Il répond, en substance, que la capitale se muait à l’époque en une cité de marchands, devenant de ce fait une ville «juive»; la pièce de Shakespeare était une réaction artistique à cette évolution. Le dramaturge avait tenté d’évoquer les aspects prétendument judaïsants des relations commerciales, tout en exonérant les marchands chrétiens en les distinguant du type extrême incarné par le Juif. Mais cette distinction est ouverte à la discussion, et le sens de la pièce est parfaitement résumé quand Portia demande: «Quel est ici le marchand, et quel est le Juif ?» L’œuvre nous parle de loi, de propriété, de contrats, de serments, d’engagements et de promesses. Shylock incarne le Juif des Évangiles quand il s’écrie : «J’attends ici justice.» Mais il doit s’incliner devant un avocat plus habile et une interprétation du droit encore plus littérale : Portia bat le Juif sur son propre terrain – ce qui est certainement une forme ironique de la théorie chrétienne de la substitution. Shakespeare appréhende ainsi l’essor du commerce moderne à l’aide du judaïsme, alors qu’il ne connaissait aucun Juif et n’avait jamais lu une page du Talmud. (…) Selon [Nirenberg], une certaine vision du judaïsme est profondément enracinée dans la structure de la civilisation occidentale, et ses intellectuels et polémistes s’en sont servi pour comprendre les hérésies chrétiennes, les tyrannies politiques, les épidémies médiévales, les crises du capitalisme et les mouvements révolutionnaires. L’antijudaïsme fut longtemps, et reste, l’un des plus puissants systèmes théoriques «permettant de rendre le monde intelligible». Certes, il arrive que les Juifs remplissent les rôles que cette idéologie leur assigne – mais c’est aussi le cas de tous les autres groupes nationaux et religieux, beaucoup plus nombreux. La théorie ne reflète en rien le comportement des Juifs «réels». Michael Walzer

Attention: un antijudaïsme peut en cacher un autre !

En cette journée où à travers ce fils d’Israël qui lui a été donné l’Occident fête, souvent sans le savoir, le fondement même de ce qu’il a de meilleur comme hélas de ce qu’il a de pire …

Quelle meilleure illustration, sans parler de la plus crasse ignorance qui la rend possible, du degré de perversité où peut descendre l’esprit humain …

Que ces nouveaux damnés de la terre qui vont jusqu’à se réclamer de la figure christique pour justifier leur continuation à eux, sur la même terre d’Israël, du Massacre des innocents d’il y a 2 000 ans ?

Mais aussi quel meilleur exemple de cet esprit de néo-dhimmitude que ces Occidentaux qui, non contents de rappeler l’évidente violence de certains de leurs textes fondateurs les plus archaïques et aujourd’hui justement abrogés pour cela, vont jusqu’à dénaturer en appel au cannibalisme familial une simple avertissement des conséquences funestes du non-respect des commandements divins ?

Ou par l’auteur même d’une par ailleurs fascinante étude de la dimension intellectuelle de l’antijudaïsme occidental qui a longtemps servi …

A l’instar de l’antiprotestantisme littéraire de nos Stendhal, Baudelaire ou Zola …

Comme d’ailleurs de l’antichristianisme juif et son idéalisation, aujourd’hui instrumentalisée comme on le sait jusque par le Hamas, de la plus grande tolérance supposée de l’islam envers les religions dites du Livre …

A diaboliser, y compris entre non-juifs, l’adversaire et notamment l’avènement de la société marchande moderne …

Que cette singulière propension, derrière la confusion antipharisaïsme-antijudaïsme, à rejeter sur les auteurs nécessairement juifs des Evangiles voire sur le Christ lui-même …

L’origine non seulement de l’ensemble de la tradition antisémite occidentale et de l’antisémitisme islamique lui-même …

Mais d’attribuer au Christ lui-même un appel au meurtre prononcé de toute évidence par le protagoniste d’une de ses paraboles ?

Un fantasme vieux comme l’Occident

Books
octobre 2015

En 1844 paraissait l’article de Karl Marx intitulé «Sur la question juive». Ce texte ne traitait ni du judaïsme ni de l’histoire de ce peuple, ni même de la sociologie des Juifs allemands. Prenant prétexte du débat alors en cours sur l’émancipation des Juifs, il avait pour véritable objet d’appeler au renversement de l’ordre capitaliste. Le langage dans lequel cet appel était formulé ne surprendra sans doute pas le lecteur d’aujourd’hui, et il était assurément familier à celui du XIXe siècle. Il n’en est pas moins étrange. Le capitalisme est identifié au judaïsme, ce qui amène Marx à écrire que l’abolition du premier consistera à «émanciper l’humanité du judaïsme». L’argument mérite d’être cité, ne serait-ce que brièvement:
Le Juif s’est émancipé d’une manière juive, non seulement en se rendant maître du marché financier, mais parce que, à travers lui et sans lui, l’argent est devenu une puissance mondiale, et l’esprit pratique juif, l’esprit pratique des peuples chrétiens. Les Juifs se sont émancipés dans la mesure même où les chrétiens sont devenus juifs.»

« À travers lui et sans lui » – en fait, principalement sans lui : comme Marx le savait sans doute, les Juifs ne représentaient qu’une minuscule partie de l’élite fortunée d’Angleterre, le pays capitaliste le plus avancé, et une fraction plus infime encore de la bourgeoisie allemande «montante». Son propre père s’était converti au protestantisme pour faciliter son intégration dans la bonne société, où les Juifs n’étaient pas les bienvenus au début du XIXe siècle.

Pour David Nirenberg, qui l’explique dans un livre à la fois brillant, fascinant et profondément déprimant, Marx ne fait ici que perpétuer la démarche adoptée par une foule d’auteurs au cours de la longue histoire de l’Occident. Avec ce texte, il «s’approprie de manière stratégique le langage le plus terriblement infamant dont dispose un critique des pouvoirs et institutions de ce monde.»

Cette phrase est tirée d’un développement de Nirenberg sur Martin Luther, mais elle s’applique tout aussi bien à Marx. Ce langage devrait néanmoins, chez lui, nous surprendre davantage que chez Luther, non seulement en raison de ses origines juives, mais aussi parce qu’il prétendait contester radicalement l’idéologie dominante de son temps. Il aurait pu, explique Nirenberg, remettre en cause l’assimilation du judaïsme au capitalisme, et écrire une histoire critique afin d’éveiller l’esprit de ses lecteurs sur cet amalgame. Il préféra exploiter «les vieilles idées et les vieilles peurs concernant les Juifs».

Considérons une autre utilisation célèbre de ce langage de l’opprobre, mobilisé cette fois non pas pour soutenir le mouvement révolutionnaire, mais pour le combattre farouchement. Dans ses Réflexions sur la Révolution française, ouvrage publié en 1790, Edmund Burke oppose ce qui se passait en France aux révolutions antérieures (comme la révolte anglaise de 1688), conduites par des aristocrates «de grands talents civil et militaire». Le gouvernement révolutionnaire parisien, écrit-il, est dirigé par des «courtiers juifs disputant ensemble à qui guérira le mieux, par la circulation frauduleuse d’un papier déprécié, la misère et la ruine déchaînées sur leur pays par leurs absurdes conseils.»

Une pédagogie vieille de deux mille ans

Dans le cas de Burke, le choix de ce type de discours n’était probablement pas «stratégique», mais structurel. L’antijudaïsme participait de la vision du monde grâce à laquelle Burke pouvait identifier ce que les marxistes allaient plus tard qualifier de révolution «bourgeoise». «Étant donné l’absence de Juifs parmi les leaders de la Révolution française, tant politiques que financiers ou philosophiques», écrit Nirenberg, cette tirade sur les «courtiers juifs» (ainsi que la proposition de Burke d’aider les révolutionnaires en expédiant en France les Juifs anglais «pour plaire à [leurs] nouveaux frères hébraïques») peut de nouveau paraître fort étrange. En réalité, rien n’est plus banal ; seule l’éloquence féroce de Burke sort ici de l’ordinaire.

Des auteurs bienveillants se sont efforcés de défendre le philosophe contre l’accusation d’antisémitisme. Nirenberg note simplement qu’ils sont passés à côté du vrai problème. Burke savait pertinemment que Danton, Robespierre, Saint-Just, tout comme leurs amis et ennemis révolutionnaires, étaient des catholiques ou d’anciens catholiques (auxquels s’ajoutaient quelques protestants). Ils n’étaient juifs qu’au sens figuré, des Juifs imaginaires, surgissant dans l’esprit de Burke et de tant d’autres «parce que la Révolution l’obligeait à faire face […] à des questions fondamentales sur la manière dont se nouent les relations au sein d’une société. Or, ces questions, une pédagogie vieille de deux mille ans avait appris à l’Europe à les poser dans des termes relatifs au “judaïsme” – et Burke avait bien retenu sa leçon.»

Le livre de Nirenberg porte précisément sur ces deux millénaires et sur cette pédagogie. Ce n’est pas un ouvrage sur l’antisémitisme, ni une histoire des discriminations, des persécutions puis du génocide subis par les Juifs. Ce n’est pas non plus, pour reprendre l’expression de l’historien Salo Baron, un récit «lacrymal» sur la vie des Juifs de la diaspora. Pas plus qu’il ne s’agit d’une condamnation de l’antisionisme contemporain ou d’un plaidoyer pour l’État d’Israël. Ce livre ne parle pas des Juifs, ou du moins pas des Juifs de chair et d’os ; c’est au Juif imaginaire qu’il se consacre presque exclusivement, et de manière approfondie.

Nirenberg a écrit une histoire intellectuelle de la civilisation européenne en l’abordant sous un angle restreint mais terriblement révélateur : la place de l’antijudaïsme comme idée fondamentale et principe explicatif dans la pensée chrétienne et postchrétienne. Et cela même si l’ouvrage s’ouvre sur un examen des critiques adressées aux Juifs par les Égyptiens et intègre une analyse des premiers savants de l’islam, qui font écho à la polémique chrétienne et s’en sont apparemment nourris.

Nirenberg évoque par endroits l’impact de l’antijudaïsme sur la vie des Juifs réels, mais une analyse exhaustive de ces retombées demanderait un autre livre, de facture très différente. «Antijudaism» est un travail de recherche d’une qualité exceptionnelle. L’auteur explique qu’il a laissé beaucoup de choses de côté (je reviendrai sur ces quelques lacunes), mais il donne l’impression de tout savoir. Il ne mentionne que des sources qu’il peut lire dans la langue originale, mais cela ne semble guère l’entraver. Par chance, le chapitre sur l’Égypte n’exige pas de savoir déchiffrer les hiéroglyphes : le grec, l’hébreu et le latin suffisent. Mais la similitude des thèses avancées dans toutes ces langues, et inlassablement ressassées, lui facilite peut-être la tâche.

Une certaine conception du judaïsme (principalement négative) s’est forgée très tôt, surtout dans la polémique chrétienne. Elle s’imposera ensuite comme un outil d’appréhension du monde et de contestation des théories rivales – un outil qu’on trouve employé dans diverses entreprises intellectuelles. En proclamant que le «Dieu profane» des Juifs était «l’argent», Marx croyait peut-être faire une observation originale. Mais l’assimilation du judaïsme au matérialisme et aux biens de ce monde a précédé d’au moins mille cinq cents ans l’apparition du capitalisme en Europe.

Puisque mon intention est avant tout de résumer le raisonnement de Nirenberg (et même de le reprendre à mon compte), qu’on me permette d’évoquer rapidement une légère bizarrerie. Il se trouve qu’on pourrait aussi bien écrire une histoire (ce serait nettement plus court) du philojudaïsme. Elle commencerait avec ces presque Juifs, les «théophobes» de la Rome antique, que Nirenberg ne mentionne pas.

Mais le meilleur exemple en serait fourni par les travaux des hébraïstes chrétiens (protestants pour la plupart) de la fin du XVIe et du début du XVIIe siècle, qui fouillaient les textes bibliques et rabbiniques à la recherche d’une Constitution conforme à la volonté divine et publiaient des ouvrages s’intitulant, par exemple, «La République hébraïque». Nombre de ces auteurs étudiaient aux côtés de savants juifs, surtout originaires des Pays-Bas. Pourtant, à quelques notables exceptions près, ils restaient le plus souvent fidèles à l’antisémitisme ambiant à propos des Juifs de leur temps.

David Nirenberg a beau évoquer ces hébraïstes chrétiens avec son érudition coutumière, ils trouvent difficilement leur place dans son livre. Ces savants, utilisant les rabbins de l’époque talmudique comme d’utiles interprètes, étaient en quête d’un judaïsme ancien, biblique, qu’ils voulaient étudier, voire imiter. Nirenberg traite de la représentation hostile du judaïsme de toutes les époques, vision réaffirmée par des auteurs de toute sorte. Représentation qui a permis de construire le monde social, politique, théologique et philosophique, de nommer les ennemis et de renforcer les positions. Le philojudaïsme est une ambition; l’antijudaïsme se veut une explication.

Tyranniques, subversifs, matérialistes

Il s’agit de donner du sens au monde social, en s’appuyant sur certains traits supposés du judaïsme. Et les ennemis sont pour la plupart des non-Juifs, mais réputés «judaïsants» parce qu’ils présentent ces traits, et dénoncés pour cette raison même. Je n’évoquerai qu’un petit nombre de ces caractéristiques négatives : l’hyperintellectualisme; le goût de la tyrannie; la prédilection opposée, et aussi forte, pour le radicalisme subversif; enfin, le matérialisme exaltant les biens de ce monde, invoqué comme nous l’avons vu tant par Burke que par Marx.

Aucun de ces traits n’a de vraie valeur descriptive : il existe sans doute des Juifs hyperintellectuels, tyranniques, subversifs et matérialistes (et des Juifs stupides, sans pouvoir, conformistes et idéalistes), mais Nirenberg insiste justement sur le fait que les individus réels ont étonnamment peu de rapport avec l’antijudaïsme.

« L’ère de l’intellectualisme juif rampant touche à présent à sa fin», annonçait Joseph Goebbels dans un discours aux étudiants allemands en mai 1933, quelques mois après la prise du pouvoir par les nazis. Goebbels était un intellectuel allemand de troisième zone (intellectuel quand même, puisqu’il était titulaire d’un doctorat et écrivait des articles) que Nirenberg propose de voir comme un intellectuel déchu.

Mais il utilisait un argument développé avant lui par de nombreux personnages plus respectables. Lequel prend sa source dans les Évangiles, où l’on trouve les premières attaques contre le judaïsme des pharisiens. La théologie chrétienne de la substitution (théorie qui met en avant les aspects du judaïsme que le christianisme aurait supplantés) s’est appuyée sur une série d’oppositions: la loi remplacée par l’amour, la lettre par l’esprit, la chair (le monde matériel, les commandements de la Torah, le texte littéral) par l’âme. «Je te bénis, Père […], écrit Luc, d’avoir caché cela aux savants et aux intelligents et de l’avoir révélé aux tout-petits.» (Luc 10, 21).

Or les pharisiens étaient assurément savants et intelligents, comme les rabbins qui vinrent après eux. Les discussions et débats contradictoires rassemblés dans le Talmud sont une démonstration particulièrement éloquente de culture et de subtilité. Par comparaison, les premiers chrétiens étaient de leur propre aveu des enfants naïfs et innocents à qui Dieu s’adressait directement, leur promettant une foi porteuse de salut. Ce que ni la loi ni l’étude ne pouvaient offrir.

Le problème, c’est que les chrétiens eurent bientôt eux aussi des théologiens extrêmement savants, intelligents et raisonneurs, qui furent alors accusés (et s’accusèrent réciproquement) de «judaïser», de penser ou d’agir comme des Juifs. Les plus anciens auteurs chrétiens, au premier rang desquels saint Paul, frayaient avec des Juifs réels. Leurs relations mêlaient coexistence et compétition, dans des proportions que les spécialistes s’efforcent encore de mesurer. Nirenberg se montre subtil dans son traitement de Paul et lui témoigne même une certaine sympathie, bien qu’il ait posé les bases d’une bonne part de l’antijudaïsme ultérieur.

À l’époque d’Eusèbe de Césarée, d’Ambroise et d’Augustin [aux IVe et Ve siècles], les Juifs avaient déjà subi, comme l’écrit Nirenberg, une «double défaite» : la première, militaire, face aux Romains; la seconde, religieuse, avec la consécration impériale du christianisme. Pourtant, la menace judaïque ne faisait que grandir à mesure que les Juifs s’affaiblissaient. À en croire leurs adversaires triomphants, ceux-ci n’avaient rien perdu de leur hostilité envers Jésus et ses disciples (de fait, ils ne s’étaient pas convertis). Leur ruse était infinie : hypocrites et trompeurs infatigables, ils mêlaient le vrai et le faux pour séduire les chrétiens innocents, à la manière d’empoisonneurs «enduisant de miel les bords d’une coupe pour faciliter l’absorption de la mixture mortelle».

Ce dernier réquisitoire est signé saint Jean Chrysostome. Cet auteur s’élevait avec tant de violence contre «les Juifs» que des historiens sérieux en ont conclu que le judaïsme représentait à l’époque une menace claire et immédiate pour le christianisme. Il n’en était rien, explique Nirenberg. Les «empoisonneurs» dans le collimateur de Jean étaient les chrétiens hérétiques. Si ce père de l’Église redoutait les Juifs, «c’est parce que sa théologie lui avait appris à analyser les autres dangers en termes de menace judaïque».

La mise en accusation de l’astuce juive est à peu près une constante de l’histoire, mais elle acquiert une force particulière chez les philosophes idéalistes allemands des XVIIIe et XIXe siècles, qui empruntèrent aux premiers chrétiens une multitude d’arguments de la théologie de la substitution. Kant s’appuyait ainsi sur l’exemple juif pour définir l’hétéronomie qu’il entendait dépasser (chez Kant, une action est dite «hétéronome» quand la loi morale à laquelle elle se conforme est imposée de l’extérieur, et non acceptée librement par l’agent), mais il fut à son tour accusé d’être trop juif par des philosophes ultérieurs, en particulier Hegel.

Pour ce dernier, la philosophie kantienne n’était qu’une nouvelle version du «principe juif de l’opposition de l’idée à la réalité, du rationnel au sensible, [un] déchirement de la vie [qui] restera toujours une cohésion morte de Dieu et du monde.»  Selon Hegel, Abraham avait pris une décision fatidique : en rejetant le monde pour lui préférer un Dieu sublime, il avait rendu les Juifs à jamais étrangers à la beauté de la nature, prisonniers de la loi et incapables d’amour. (Inutile de préciser que Schopenhauer, à la génération suivante, considéra à son tour les universitaires hégéliens de son temps comme des «Juifs» et des disciples du «Dieu juif».)

Nirenberg ne taxe aucun de ces philosophes d’antisémitisme. De fait, Hegel défendit les droits des Juifs dans les universités et dit du nationalisme allemand antisémite qu’il ne relevait pas de la «germanité» mais de la «stupidité germanique». L’historien ne verse pas non plus dans le moindre déterminisme intellectuel. Il ne présente pas l’assaut de Goebbels contre l’intellectualisme juif comme le résultat mécanique de l’identification du judaïsme à une rationalité sans vie par certains philosophes allemands. Pas plus que l’idéalisme germanique ne découlait nécessairement de la prétention des chrétiens à remplacer le judaïsme des pharisiens, ou de celle des luthériens à supplanter les catholiques judaïsants. Mais des penseurs comme Hegel utilisèrent le langage de l’antijudaïsme pour résoudre ce qu’ils appelaient «la tension ancienne entre l’idée et la réalité», et leurs solutions eurent une influence considérable. L’idée que le judaïsme était hostile à la «vie» était promise à un bel avenir.

Les clichés assimilant le judaïsme tantôt au pouvoir temporel, tantôt à la rébellion et à la subversion sont étroitement liés : qu’est-ce en effet qu’une rébellion, sinon une tentative de s’emparer du pouvoir? Les banquiers juifs peuvent donc régner sur le monde tandis que les Juifs bolcheviques peuvent rêver de les renverser et les remplacer. Dans certains replis de l’imagination occidentale, ces deux groupes apparaissent même presque comme complices.

L’antisémitisme populiste des XIXe et XXe siècles (ce que le socialiste allemand August Bebel appelait le «socialisme des imbéciles») a une longue histoire. Un témoignage très précoce est la réaction de saint Ambroise à une décision de l’empereur Maxime [fin du IVe siècle]. Celui-ci avait puni les chefs d’une bande de chrétiens coupables d’avoir incendié une synagogue dans la cité mésopotamienne de Callinicum : «Ce prince est devenu un Juif», écrivit Ambroise. Ce ne fut pas sa défense des Juifs de Callinicum qui valut à l’empereur Maxime d’être ainsi qualifié, mais le fait d’avoir placé l’application de la loi au-dessus des exigences de l’esprit (et de l’enthousiasme religieux des incendiaires).

« Plutôt mourir que d’être traités comme des Juifs »

Tout au long du Moyen Âge, des rebelles populistes accusèrent les princes chrétiens de «judaïser». Cette accusation présentait une étrange dualité. La tyrannie était, d’abord, conçue comme une caractéristique du judaïsme, aussi bien quand des Juifs étaient présents à la cour (ils y exerçaient les fonctions de médecin, de conseiller, de collecteur d’impôts, de prêteur sur gages) que lorsqu’ils en étaient absents. La «séduction» du prince par les Juifs était une manière courante d’expliquer le despotisme.

Bien entendu, ladite séduction cachait souvent une exploitation du souverain : le roi autorisait les Juifs à percevoir des intérêts sur les sommes prêtées à ses sujets chrétiens, pour ensuite «leur soutirer une part considérable de la recette». C’était une forme de taxation indirecte, à une époque où la capacité du pouvoir royal à lever l’impôt était extrêmement limitée. Les particuliers soumis à cet impôt indirect concevaient de la haine pour les prêteurs juifs. Un ressentiment souvent exploité politiquement, comme le souligne Nirenberg, alors même que les Juifs ne conduisirent que rarement les affaires financières des royaumes, «et alors seulement pour une brève période».

L’antijudaïsme avait également une seconde utilité politique, sensiblement différente. On se représentait les Juifs non seulement comme des tyrans ou alliés des tyrans, mais aussi (ce qui était plus proche de la réalité) comme une caste opprimée et impuissante. Étant donné leur rejet du Christ et leur rôle dans son exécution, cette persécution paraissait justifiée. Mais, quand un prince tyrannique écrasait ses sujets chrétiens, on l’accusait parfois d’«en faire des Juifs» – ce que, bien sûr, rien ne justifiait. «Plutôt mourir que d’être traités à l’égal des Juifs», lit-on par exemple dans une pétition du conseil municipal de Valence, en Espagne, et adressée au roi Pierre IV d’Aragon en 1378. La tyrannie était ainsi doublement définie en des termes relatifs aux Juifs : le propre d’un prince judaïsant était de traiter ses sujets comme des Juifs.

Les rebelles populistes ne se pensaient évidemment pas comme juifs. Ce fut – et cela reste – l’œuvre d’auteurs conservateurs et réactionnaires que de définir la subversion et la révolte comme des activités typiquement «juives». Parmi les révolutionnaires modernes, les puritains anglais font toutefois figure d’authentiques «judaïsants» (ils mettaient bien plus l’accent sur l’Ancien que sur le Nouveau Testament), tout en ayant leur propre théologie de la substitution. L’utilisation des poncifs du philojudaïsme et de l’antijudaïsme durant la Guerre civile anglaise répondait donc à une certaine logique, même s’il n’y avait pas de Juifs en Angleterre dans les années 1640.

Les révolutionnaires français n’étaient ni juifs ni judaïsants, même si Burke et d’autres les appréhendaient par le biais des «vieilles idées et des vieilles peurs». Mais ce sont les bolcheviks qui, plus que tout autre groupe de rebelles, furent catalogués comme «juifs». Certes, bon nombre d’entre eux l’étaient, mais plutôt du genre de ceux qu’Isaac Deutscher appelait les «Juifs non juifs». Le judaïsme n’avait aucun rapport avec l’idéologie bolchevique, et pourtant, à en croire Nirenberg, les révolutionnaires russes auraient été pensés dans le langage de l’antijudaïsme même sans Trotski, Kamenev ou Radek dans leurs rangs.

Capitalistes voraces

L’identification des Juifs aux marchands, aux prêteurs sur gages, aux responsables des finances royales et aux capitalistes voraces traverse l’histoire racontée par l’auteur. Un moment particulier de ce développement, l’Angleterre de Shakespeare, me permettra d’illustrer en quoi l’antijudaïsme du dramaturge se distingue de l’antisémitisme proprement dit.

Dans «Les épreuves de la diaspora», Anthony Julius propose une analyse longue et très pertinente du «Marchand de Venise». Selon lui, il s’agit à la fois d’une pièce antisémite et d’une mise en scène de l’antisémitisme, marquant le début de l’exploration littéraire de ce thème. Comme toujours, Shakespeare écrit en adoptant des points de vue opposés, mais il penche clairement du côté des ennemis de l’usurier Shylock. Ce dernier incarne le stéréotype du Juif : il déteste les chrétiens et rêve de les tyranniser; l’argent lui est plus précieux que sa propre fille; c’est une créature de la loi plutôt que de l’amour. Il ne s’agit certes pas d’un Juif rusé: dans ses efforts pour utiliser la loi contre ses adversaires chrétiens, il se montre borné et maladroit. À cela près, il correspond en tout point au cliché, et mérite donc la défaite et l’humiliation qu’il subit, censées réjouir le public élisabéthain.

Mais Nirenberg pose une question qu’Anthony Julius ne pose pas: pourquoi y avait-il autant de Juifs (tels Shylock ou le Juif de Malte de Marlowe) sur la scène du nouveau théâtre de Londres, «une ville qui avait sans doute accueilli moins de “vrais Juifs” que toute autre métropole européenne»? Il répond, en substance, que la capitale se muait à l’époque en une cité de marchands, devenant de ce fait une ville «juive»; la pièce de Shakespeare était une réaction artistique à cette évolution. Le dramaturge avait tenté d’évoquer les aspects prétendument judaïsants des relations commerciales, tout en exonérant les marchands chrétiens en les distinguant du type extrême incarné par le Juif.

Mais cette distinction est ouverte à la discussion, et le sens de la pièce est parfaitement résumé quand Portia demande: «Quel est ici le marchand, et quel est le Juif ?» L’œuvre nous parle de loi, de propriété, de contrats, de serments, d’engagements et de promesses. Shylock incarne le Juif des Évangiles quand il s’écrie : «J’attends ici justice.» Mais il doit s’incliner devant un avocat plus habile et une interprétation du droit encore plus littérale : Portia bat le Juif sur son propre terrain – ce qui est certainement une forme ironique de la théorie chrétienne de la substitution.

Shakespeare appréhende ainsi l’essor du commerce moderne à l’aide du judaïsme, alors qu’il ne connaissait aucun Juif et n’avait jamais lu une page du Talmud. Il était en revanche familier de la Bible, comme l’indique clairement le discours de Shylock sur l’épisode où Jacob multiplie les moutons de Laban. Les épîtres de Paul et les Évangiles occupaient une place centrale dans sa formation intellectuelle. Shylock sort tout droit de ces textes, comme les «courtiers juifs» de Burke ou les «Juifs émancipés» de Marx, bien que la généalogie soit dans ces deux cas plus complexe. La lignée est ininterrompue.

Cette continuité a pourtant été mise en cause par une intellectuelle de premier plan, que Nirenberg mentionne dans son épilogue. Dans le premier chapitre des Origines du totalitarisme, Hannah Arendt se moque de ce qu’elle appelle la doctrine de l’«éternel antisémitisme» (formule qui, note Nirenberg, pourrait «servir de titre ironique à mon propre livre») et souligne que les «fonctions occupées par les Juifs» (la banque et la finance) dans l’économie capitaliste les ont rendus partiellement «responsables» (c’est son mot) de la haine dont ils faisaient l’objet.

Cela ressemble fort à Marx écrivant que «les Juifs ont contribué avec ardeur» au triomphe de leur «culte profane», le «trafic», et de leur «Dieu profane», l’«argent».

Pourquoi les Juifs ?

Arendt s’appuyait sur les travaux statistiques de Walter Frank (un historien nazi, qui présida l’Institut du Reich pour l’histoire de la nouvelle Allemagne) pour étayer son explication du rôle que jouaient les Juifs au sein de la bourgeoisie allemande. Les nazis, soutient-elle, qui devaient «persuader et […] mobiliser les gens», n’auraient pu en aucun cas choisir arbitrairement leurs victimes. Il doit exister une réponse concrète, une réponse locale de nature socioéconomique à la question : pourquoi les Juif?

Nirenberg pense lui aussi que le choix n’était pas arbitraire ; il ne trouve pas non plus l’argument d’Arendt surprenant, même s’il rejette toutes les explications hostiles habituelles : le milieu assimilationniste dans lequel elle a grandi, sa longue relation avec Heidegger, etc. Il juge en revanche très étonnant qu’Arendt se soit «accrochée» à sa thèse «même après que l’antisémitisme nazi eut révélé toute son étendue et sa gigantesque force de frappe (y compris dans son exagération considérable de l’influence économique des Juifs)». Mais son livre nous permet de comprendre comment cette auteure s’est si facilement laissée entraîner à assimiler les Juifs et la finance : ce lien était l’un des «principes idéologiques a priori qui structuraient sa sélection et son interprétation des “faits” relatifs aux Juifs.» [Lire «La fausse banalité d’Eichmann», BoOks, janvier 2015].

Ce désaccord avec Arendt résume bien l’ouvrage de Nirenberg. Selon lui, une certaine vision du judaïsme est profondément enracinée dans la structure de la civilisation occidentale, et ses intellectuels et polémistes s’en sont servi pour comprendre les hérésies chrétiennes, les tyrannies politiques, les épidémies médiévales, les crises du capitalisme et les mouvements révolutionnaires. L’antijudaïsme fut longtemps, et reste, l’un des plus puissants systèmes théoriques «permettant de rendre le monde intelligible». Certes, il arrive que les Juifs remplissent les rôles que cette idéologie leur assigne – mais c’est aussi le cas de tous les autres groupes nationaux et religieux, beaucoup plus nombreux. La théorie ne reflète en rien le comportement des Juifs «réels».

L’histoire de l’antijudaïsme retracée par Nirenberg est à la fois puissante et convaincante, mais elle est aussi inachevée. Il n’évoque jamais le cas des États-Unis, où l’antijudaïsme semble avoir été beaucoup moins répandu et moins utile (comme clé d’interprétation des phénomènes sociaux et économiques) qu’il ne l’avait été dans l’Ancien Monde, et où le philojudaïsme semble avoir été bien plus fort. L’État d’Israël moderne n’est lui non plus jamais mentionné, si ce n’est au détour d’une phrase de l’avant-dernière page :

Nous vivons à une époque où des millions de personnes sont exposées quotidiennement à l’une ou l’autre forme de l’argument selon lequel les problèmes du monde dans lequel elles vivent s’expliquent par “Israël”.»

Voir aussi:

Genèse d’une séparation

Books

septembre 2015

Il est coutumier de penser que le christianisme s’est séparé du judaïsme vers la fin du Ier siècle. C’est la « séparation des chemins », consacrée par la « théologie de la substitution », selon laquelle la religion chrétienne s’est substituée à la religion juive. Ce point de vue est vivement contesté par l’historien David Boyarin, professeur à Berkeley, dont plusieurs livres ont été traduits en français*. Pour cet auteur, Juif orthodoxe, la notion même de religion, au sens où nous l’entendons, n’était nullement fixée à cette époque. Le monde juif, auquel le Christ et ses disciples appartenaient, était habité par des croyances diverses. Surtout, selon Boyarin, la plupart des thèmes considérés rétrospectivement comme proprement chrétiens faisaient en réalité partie de la tradition juive. « De nombreux Israélites du temps de Jésus attendaient un Messie qui viendrait sur Terre sous la forme d’un être humain. […] De nombreux Juifs de l’Antiquité ont accepté simplement Jésus comme Dieu, et ils le firent parce que leurs croyances et attentes les y conduisaient. D’autres, bien qu’ayant des idées similaires sur Dieu, ont eu du mal à croire que ce Juif-là, apparemment banal, était celui qu’ils attendaient. »

On pouvait donc parfaitement être à la fois juif et chrétien au cours des premiers siècles, sans ressentir de contradiction. Car, écrit Boyarin dans un chapitre intitulé « Jésus mangeait casher », « la plupart, et peut-être même la totalité, des idées et pratiques du mouvement de Jésus au ier et au début du IIe siècle – voire après – peuvent être considérées comme faisant partie intégrante des idées et pratiques du judaïsme de cette époque ». Qui plus est, « les idées de la Trinité et de l’incarnation, ou du moins les germes de ces idées, étaient déjà présentes parmi les croyants juifs longtemps avant que Jésus ne surgisse ». De même, « la notion d’un Messie humilié et souffrant n’était pas du tout étrangère au judaïsme avant la venue de Jésus et elle est demeurée courante chez les Juifs après, et ce jusqu’au début de l’époque moderne ».

Ce sont en réalité les chrétiens qui ont organisé la rupture, non avec le Nouveau Testament, qui est « profondément juif » (écrit Boyarin), mais beaucoup plus tard. D’abord avec le concile de Nicée, en 318, qui décréta que le Père et le Fils étaient des personnes distinctes mais de même substance et surtout sépara définitivement la Pâque chrétienne de la Pâque juive. Puis avec le concile de Constantinople, en 381, qui interdit aux chrétiens d’aller à la synagogue le jour du sabbat. Les sermons de l’évêque Jean Chrysostome « contre les Juifs », autour de l’an 400, symbolisent la fixation de la nouvelle orthodoxie.

Notes
* La Partition du judaïsme et du christianisme, Cerf, 2011, et Le Christ juif, Cerf, 2013.

Extraits de Sur la question juive de Karl Marx :

Ne cherchons pas le secret du juif dans sa religion, mais cherchons le secret de la religion dans le juif réel. Quel est le fond profane du judaïsme? Le besoin pratique, l’intérêt personnel.
Quel est le culte profane du juif ? Le trafic.
Quel est son dieu ? L’argent.
C’est de ses propres entrailles que la société bourgeoise engendre continuellement le juif.
Quel était, en soi et pour soi, le fondement de la religion juive ? Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme.
Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme, voilà le principe de la société bourgeoise, et il se manifeste comme tel dans toute sa pureté dès que la société bourgeoise a achevé de mettre au monde l’État politique. Le dieu du besoin pratique et de l’intérêt personnel, c’est l’argent.
L’argent est le dieu jaloux d’Israël, devant qui nul autre dieu ne doit exister. L’argent avilit tous les dieux des hommes: il les transforme en une marchandise. L’argent est la valeur universelle de toutes choses, constituée pour soi-même. C’est pourquoi il a dépouillé le monde entier, le monde des hommes ainsi que la nature, de leur valeur originelle. L’argent, c’est l’essence aliénée du travail et de la vie de l’homme, et cette essence étrangère le domine, et il l’adore.
Aussi, n’est ce pas seulement dans le Pentateuque ou dans le Talmud, mais dans la société présente, que nous découvrons l’être du juif d’aujourd’hui : non pas un être abstrait, mais un être éminemment empirique, non seulement comme mesquinerie du juif, mais comme mesquinerie juive de la société.
Du moment où la société réussit à faire disparaître l’essence empirique du judaïsme, le trafic et ses prémisses, le juif est devenu impossible, parce que sa conscience n’a plus d’objet, parce que la base subjective du judaïsme, le besoin pratique, s’est humanisée, parce que le conflit entre l’existence individuelle sensible, et l’existence générique de l’homme est surmonté.
L’émancipation sociale du juif, c’est l’émancipation de la société libérée du judaïsme.
Karl Marx  » A propos de la question juive « , in Annales franco-allemandes, 1843

[« le juif » est l’inspirateur de l’esprit de trafic et d’argent]

Considérons le Juif réel, non pas le Juif du sabbat, comme Bauer le fait, mais le Juif de tous les jours.
Ne cherchons pas le secret du Juif dans sa religion, mais cherchons le secret de la religion dans le Juif réel.
Quel est le fond profane du judaïsme ? Le besoin pratique, l’utilité personnelle. Quel est le culte profane du Juif ? Le trafic. Quel est son Dieu profane ? L’argent. Eh bien, en s’émancipant du trafic et de l’argent, par conséquent du judaïsme réel et pratique, l’époque actuelle s’émanciperait elle-même.
Une organisation de la société qui supprimerait les conditions nécessaires du trafic, par suite la possibilité du trafic, rendrait le Juif impossible. La conscience religieuse du Juif s’évanouirait, telle une vapeur insipide, dans l’atmosphère véritable de la société. D’autre part, du moment qu’il reconnaît la vanité de son essence pratique et s’efforce de supprimer cette essence, le Juif tend à sortir de ce qui fut jusque-là son développement, travaille à l’émancipation humaine générale et se tourne vers la plus haute expression pratique de la renonciation ou aliénation humaine.
Nous reconnaissons donc dans le judaïsme un élément antisocial général et actuel qui, par le développement historique auquel les Juifs ont, sous ce mauvais rapport, activement participé, a été poussé à son point culminant du temps présent, à une hauteur où il ne peut que se désagréger nécessairement

[« le juif » toléré domine l’économie et transmet son esprit de profit aux chrétiens]

Dans sa dernière signification, l’émancipation juive consiste à émanciper l’humanité du judaïsme.
Le Juif s’est émancipé déjà, mais d’une manière juive.  » Le Juif par exemple, qui est simplement toléré à Vienne, détermine, par sa puissance financière, le destin de tout l’empire. Le Juif, qui dans les moindres petits états allemands, peut être sans droits, décide du destin de l’Europe.  »
 » Tandis que les corporations et les jurandes restent fermées aux Juifs ou ne leur sont guère favorables, l’audace de l’industrie se moque de l’entêtement des institutions moyenâgeuses.  » (B. Bauer, La Question juive, p. 114.)
Ceci n’est pas un fait isolé. Le Juif s’est émancipé d’une manière juive, non seulement en se rendant maître du marché financier, mais parce que, grâce à lui et par lui, l’argent est devenu une puissance mondiale, et l’esprit pratique juif l’esprit pratique des peuples chrétiens. Les Juifs se sont émancipés dans la mesure même où les chrétiens sont devenus Juifs. …
Si nous en croyons Bauer, nous nous trouvons en face d’une situation mensongère : en théorie, le Juif est privé des droits politiques alors qu’en pratique il dispose d’une puissance énorme et exerce en gros son influence politique diminuée en détail. (La Question juive, p. 114.)
La contradiction qui existe entre la puissance politique réelle du Juif et ses droits politiques, c’est la contradiction entre la politique et la puissance de l’argent. La politique est théoriquement au-dessus de la puissance de l’argent, mais pratiquement elle en est devenue la prisonnière absolue. …
Le judaïsme s’est maintenu, non pas malgré l’histoire, mais par l’histoire.
C’est du fond de ses propres entrailles que la société bourgeoise engendre sans cesse le Juif.

[Le judaïsme, religion de l’argent]

Quelle était en soi la base de la religion juive ? Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme.
Le monothéisme du Juif est donc, en réalité, le polythéisme des besoins multiples, un polythéisme qui fait même des lieux d’aisance un objet de la loi divine. Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme est le principe de la société bourgeoise et se manifeste comme tel sous sa forme pure, dès que la société bourgeoise a complètement donné naissance à l’état politique. Le dieu du besoin pratique et de l’égoïsme, c’est l’argent.
L’argent est le dieu jaloux d’Israël, devant qui nul autre dieu ne doit subsister.
L’argent abaisse tous les dieux de l’homme et les change en marchandise.
L’argent est la valeur générale et constituée en soi de toutes choses. C’est pour cette raison qu’elle a dépouillé de leur valeur propre le monde entier, le monde des hommes ainsi que la nature.
L’argent, c’est l’essence séparée de l’homme, de son travail, de son existence; et cette essence étrangère le domine et il l’adore.
Le dieu des Juifs s’est sécularisé et est devenu le dieu mondial.
Le change, voilà le vrai dieu du Juif. Son dieu n’est qu’une traite illusoire.
L’idée que, sous l’empire de la propriété privée et de l’argent, on se fait de la nature, est le mépris réel, l’abaissement effectif de la religion, qui existe bien dans la religion juive, mais n’y existe que dans l’imagination.
C’est dans ce sens que Thomas Münzer déclare insupportable que toute créature soit transformée en propriété, les poissons dans l’eau, les oiseaux dans l’air, les plantes sur le sol : la créature doit elle aussi devenir libre « .

[le judaïsme religion subsiste car il a infecté de son esprit de trafic la société bourgeoise]

La nationalité chimérique du Juif est la nationalité du commerçant, de l’homme d’argent.
La loi sans fondement ni raison du Juif n’est que la caricature religieuse de la moralité et du droit sans fondement ni raison, des rites purement formels, dont s’entoure le monde de l’égoïsme.
Ce n’est qu’alors que le judaïsme put arriver à la domination générale et extérioriser l’homme et la nature aliénés à eux-mêmes, en faire un objet tributaire du besoin égoïste et du trafic.
C’est parce que l’essence véritable du Juif s’est réalisée, sécularisée d’une manière générale dans la société bourgeoise, que la société bourgeoise n’a pu convaincre le Juif de l’irréalité de son essence religieuse qui n’est précisément que la conception idéale du besoin pratique. Aussi ce n’est pas seulement dans le Pentateuque et dans le Talmud, mais dans la société actuelle que nous trouvons l’essence du Juif de nos jours, non pas une essence abstraite, mais une essence hautement empirique, non pas en tant que limitation sociale du Juif, mais en tant que limitation juive de la société.
Dès que la société parvient à supprimer l’essence empirique du judaïsme, le trafic de ses conditions, le Juif est devenu impossible, parce que sa conscience n’a plus d’objet, parce que la base subjective du judaïsme, le besoin pratique, s’est humanisée, parce que le conflit a été supprimé entre l’existence individuelle et sensible de l’homme et son essence générique.
L’émancipation sociale du Juif, c’est l’émancipation de la société du judaïsme. »
Karl Marx, La question juive

http://paris4philo.over-blog.org/article-12587593.html

Histoire de l’antijudaïsme de gauche par Arendt :

Les hommes des Lumières qui préparèrent la Révolution française méprisaient tout naturellement les Juifs : ils voyaient en eux les survivants de l’obscurantisme médiéval, les odieux agents financiers de l’aristocratie. Leurs seuls défenseurs déclarés en France furent les écrivains conservateurs qui dénoncèrent l’hostilité envers les Juifs comme « l’une des thèses favorites du XVIIIe siècle » (J.de Maistre). Les auteurs les plus libéraux ou radicaux avaient quasiment pris l’habitude de mettre en garde l’opinion contre les Juifs, décrits comme des barbares vivant encore sous un gouvernement patriarcal et ne reconnaissant aucun autre Etat (C.Fourier, Le nouveau monde industriel et sociétaire). Pendant et après la Révolution française, le clergé et les aristocrates français ajoutèrent leurs voix au sentiment antisémite général, mais pour des raisons différentes et plus concrètes. Ils accusèrent le gouvernement révolutionnaire d’avoir ordonné la vente des biens du clergé pour payer « les Juifs et les marchands envers qui le gouvernement est endetté » (Le patriote français, 8 nov. 1790). Ces vieux arguments, entretenus en quelque sorte par la lutte éternelle entre l’Eglise et l’Etat en France, vinrent renforcer l’aigreur et la violence déclenchées par d’autres forces, plus modernes à la fin du siècle.

Les cléricaux se trouvant dans le camp antisémite, les socialistes français se déclarèrent finalement contre la propagande antisémite au moment de l’affaire Dreyfus. Jusque-là, les mouvements de gauche français du XIXe siècle avaient été ouvertement antisémites. Ils ne faisaient que suivre en cela la tradition des philosophes du XVIIIe siècle, à l’origine du libéralisme et du radicalisme français, et ils considéraient leur attitude à l’égard des Juifs comme partie intégrante de leur anticléricalisme. Cette attitude de la gauche fut renforcée par le fait que les juifs d’Alsace vivaient encore des prêts qu’ils consentaient aux paysans, pratique qui avait déjà entraîné le décret napoléonien de 1808. Après que la situation se fut modifiée en Alsace, l’antisémitisme de gauche trouva un aliment dans la politique financière des Rothschild, qui financèrent largement les Bourbons, conservèrent des liens étroits avec Louis-Philippe et furent plus florissants que jamais sous Napoléon III.

Voir également:

VIDEO. Ils lisent la Bible à des passants en leur faisant croire que c’est le Coran

EXPERIENCE Deux Youtubeurs néerlandais ont dissimulé une Bible sous la couverture d’un Coran, et sont allés en lire les passages les plus affreux à des passants dans la rue…

B.D.

20 minutes

07.12.2015

Une expérience sociale pour voir quels sont les préjugés des Néerlandais vis-à-vis de l’islam. Sacha Harland et Alexander Spoor, deux Youtubeurs néerlandais, ont réalisé une petite expérience : l’islam étant ces derniers temps la cible de critiques jugeant que c’est une religion qui prône la violence, ils se sont demandé ce qu’il en était du côté des chrétiens. Ils ont donc dissimulé une Bible sous la couverture d’un Coran, et sont allés en lire les passages les plus affreux à des passants dans la rue.

Parmi les passages choisis : « Si vous ne m’écoutez pas et ne mettez pas tous ces commandements en pratique, (…) Vous mangerez la chair de vos fils, vous mangerez la chair de vos filles » (Lévitique 26 : 33-35). « Je ne permets pas à la femme d’enseigner, ni de prendre de l’autorité sur l’homme » (1 Timothée 2:12). « Si un homme couche avec un homme comme on couche avec une femme, ils ont fait tous deux une chose abominable ; ils seront punis de mort » (Lévitique 20:13).

Ils ont ensuite demandé aux passants ce qu’ils pensaient de ce qu’ils venaient d’entendre. « Comment quelqu’un peut-il croire ça ? ! Ce n’est pas possible pour moi », a répondu une femme. « Si on a été élevé avec ce livre et ce genre de phrases, cela influence la façon dont on pense », a jugé un autre passant. « Pour moi, on dirait qu’ils veulent vous forcer à croire ce en quoi ils croient », a indiqué une troisième.

Des préjugés « inconscients »

Ils ont ensuite demandé aux passants quelle était selon eux la plus grande différence entre le Coran et la Bible. Un homme interrogé a alors expliqué que, d’après ce qu’il venait d’entendre, le livre saint des musulmans était beaucoup plus agressif.

On imagine donc bien leur surprise lorsque Sacha Harland et Alexander Spoor leur ont révélé la supercherie : la plupart ne s’imaginaient pas qu’il puisse y avoir des écrits aussi violents dans l’Ancien Testament. « Bien sûr, j’ai entendu des histoires venant de la Bible quand j’étais petite, et je suis allée dans une école catholique, mais je n’imaginais vraiment pas que cela pouvait y être écrit », a réagi l’une des passantes. « Ce sont des préjugés. J’essaie de ne pas en avoir, mais visiblement ce n’est pas le cas. C’est inconscient », a renchéri un autre.

Voir encore:

Critique
Réflexion sur la question Marx
Jean-Baptiste Marongiu

Libération

23 mars 2006

«Ne cherchons pas le secret du juif dans sa religion, mais cherchons le secret de la religion dans le juif réel. Quel est le fondement profane du judaïsme ? Le besoin pratique, le profit personnel ? Quel est le culte profane du juif ? L’agiotage. Quel est son dieu profane ? L’argent.» Prononcés aujourd’hui, de tels propos entraîneraient un procès pour incitation à la haine raciale, alors qu’ils n’émurent personne lorsque Karl Marx les coucha dans les pages de Sur la question juive. Les accusations d’antisémitisme ne viendront que plus tard : elles sont anachroniques et absolument injustes, selon Daniel Bensaïd qui, pour preuve, vient de rééditer dans une nouvelle traduction le texte de Marx, avec une présentation et des commentaires conséquents. Aussi a-t-on mis sur le compte de la conversion au christianisme du père, une supposée haine de soi du fils (qui a servi également à dénigrer Freud et bien d’autres) pour interpréter le discours marxien. Daniel Bensaïd démonte point par point cette «légende» d’un Marx antisémite en replaçant Sur la question juive dans un double contexte : celui de la condition juive dans l’Allemagne du deuxième quart du XIXe siècle d’une part et, de l’autre, celui du mûrissement de la théorie marxienne elle-même, au moment où un jeune philosophe hégélien libéral radicalise son humanisme avant de se tourner résolument vers le matérialisme et le socialisme révolutionnaire.

Lorsque Marx publie à Paris, en avril 1843, Sur la question juive dans le premier (et unique) numéro des Annales franco-allemandes, il a 25 ans. Avec ce long article, il entend répondre, comme l’indique le titre, à la Question juive, un ouvrage de Bruno Bauer, autre philosophe de la gauche hégélienne. Pour aller vite, Bauer propose aux juifs allemands l’émancipation politique par l’assimilation culturelle. Or, d’après Marx, le dédoublement entre l’Etat et la société civile institué par la Révolution française a déconnecté le citoyen de l’homme privé, l’Etat de la religion, les droits politiques des droits de l’homme. Dès lors, il n’y a aucune nécessité d’associer l’obtention des droits politiques à des renoncements identitaires. Cependant pour Marx, l’émancipation des juifs se pose différemment selon la nature de l’Etat du pays où ils résident. Dans une Allemagne sans un Etat digne de ce nom, elle prend des allures théologiques ; en France, il reste encore à mettre en oeuvre la Constitution ; aux Etats-Unis d’Amérique, pourtant le pays électif de la religiosité, il n’y a pas de question juive du tout, parce que la religion n’est en rien une affaire d’Etat. Marx est clair : «L’émancipation politique du juif, du chrétien, de l’homme religieux en général, c’est l’Etat s’émancipant du judaïsme, du christianisme, de la religion en général.» Mais «l’Etat s’émancipant de la religion ne veut pas dire l’homme réel s’émancipant de la religion».

Aux yeux du jeune Marx encore libéral, l’émancipation politique représente un grand progrès, mais elle n’est qu’une étape de «l’émancipation humaine» ­ dont l’accomplissement (incluant évidemment le dépérissement de toute religion) reviendra dans le marxisme mature au prolétariat qui, en détruisant la société fondée sur le capital, libérera l’humanité tout entière. Pour l’heure, les concepts marxiens sont vagues. Aussi, la question juive se confond-elle avec celle de l’argent, le judaïsme n’étant que le nom impropre que Marx utilise en lieu et place de celui de capitalisme, puisqu’il n’a pas encore formalisé la notion de capital destinée à prendre l’ampleur que l’on sait. Daniel Bensaïd montre aisément que le rapport particulier que les juifs entretiennent avec l’argent, tel que le décrit Marx, est historique et social et non pas religieux et, en tout cas, aucunement racial. C’est l’humanité dans son ensemble qui doit se libérer de l’argent et non pas seulement les juifs, du moment que l’échange monétaire régit désormais l’économie tout entière : «L’argent est devenu la puissance mondiale et l’esprit pratique juif est devenu l’esprit pratique des peuples chrétiens. Les juifs se sont émancipés dans la mesure où les chrétiens sont devenus des juifs.» Libérons-nous donc de l’économie monétaire, semble dire le jeune Marx, et il n’y aura plus ni juifs ni chrétiens mais des simples êtres humains.

Le rapport à l’argent, l’émancipation politique, l’assimilation culturelle ou pas dans le cadre de l’Etat-nation, sont des facettes que structurent la question juive en Europe au cours du XIXe siècle, les plus assimilationnistes n’étant pas nécessairement les non-juifs. Marx analysait le destin juif «dans l’histoire et par l’histoire». Bensaïd reprend la méthode à son compte quand il retrace les contours actuels de la condition juive, déterminée encore une fois historiquement par le «judéocide» nazi, l’antisémitisme bureaucratique stalinien et la création de l’Etat d’Israël. Aussi va-t-il contre l’air du temps, s’élevant avec force contre «la transformation du judéocide d’événement historique et politique en événement théologique» qui «confirme le destin victimaire du peuple juif et légitime par contre-coup l’exception ethnique d’un »Etat juif »».

On suit bien Daniel Bensaïd quand il replace les prises de positions du jeune Marx sur la religion en général et le judaïsme en particulier dans le contexte d’une pensée en formation accélérée. On le suit moins quand il se refuse à voir dans la promesse marxienne de renversement de l’état de choses présentes une manière de fidélité au messianisme biblique, pour n’y déceler qu’une approche de l’histoire matérialiste (ce qui est vrai) et scientifique (ce qui reste à prouver). Un messianisme proprement juif , dans la mesure où le salut de l’humanité adviendra pour Marx sur cette terre, et non pas dans l’au-delà. Mais Bensaïd rétorquerait que la promesse marxienne n’a d’horizon que l’histoire humaine. Certes, mais en vue de son accomplissement… messianique.

Jean-Baptiste MARONGIU Karl Marx. Sur la question juive Présentation et commentaires de Daniel Bensaïd, traduit de l’allemand par Jean-François Poirier. La Fabrique, 190 pp., 14 euros.

Voir encore:

Boucs émissaires

Olivier Postel-Vinay

Books

octobre 2015

Saint Paul : les Juifs « ont tué le Seigneur Jésus et les prophètes et nous ont pourchassés, ils ne plaisent pas à Dieu et sont hostiles à tous les humains ». Saint Jérôme : « qu’en Judas le Juif soit maudit ». Al-Maghîli (Algérie, vers 1500) : « Par Allah […], c’est avec certitude que je déclare licite le sang des Juifs, de leurs enfants et de leurs femmes ». Luther : « Tout d’abord, mettre le feu à leurs synagogues ou écoles… ». Edmund Burke : le gouvernement révolutionnaire parisien est dirigé par des « courtiers juifs ». Marx (d’origine juive) : l’argent est le « dieu profane » des Juifs ; abolir le capitalisme reviendra à « émanciper l’humanité du judaïsme » ; « les chrétiens sont devenus juifs ».

L’humanité a besoin de boucs émissaires, qui justifient la violence… et servent à consolider les sociétés, observait René Girard. Plus fondamentalement, l’humanité a besoin de croire. Le bouc émissaire s’inscrit dans le registre de la vérité. « Ma patrie est le pays de la vérité », chante la jeune Ahlam al-Nasr, poétesse de Daech. L’antijudaïsme des premiers penseurs chrétiens ou musulmans, celui d’un Luther ou d’un Marx, sont scellés au ciment de la vérité. Lequel reste longtemps de nature exégétique, puis, à partir de Marx, s’inspire de la « science », ou d’une certaine idée de la science.

Rétrospectivement, l’antijudaïsme peut donc aussi être considéré comme une puissante idéologie avant la lettre (le mot idéologie n’ayant pris son sens moderne que dans les écrits de Marx, justement). De façon significative, l’auteur du Capital dénonce l’idéologie comme la science fausse par excellence, mais n’imagine pas qu’il puisse en être lui-même victime. On peut en dire autant de son exact contemporain, Paul Broca, le fondateur de la science du cerveau : « Il est permis de supposer que la petitesse relative du cerveau de la femme dépend à la fois de son infériorité physique et de son infériorité intellectuelle. » Le bouc émissaire n’est pas loin, si l’on songe aux sorcières du Moyen Âge et, aujourd’hui encore, au sort fait aux femmes en diverses régions du monde.

Depuis Marx, anticapitalisme et antijudaïsme ont toujours partie liée, observait Hannah Arendt – même si aujourd’hui le premier tend à effacer le second. Avec l’invention de l’écologisme, le principal bouc émissaire est désormais l’homme lui-même : « Le monde a un cancer et ce cancer est l’homme. » 1 La science fait bon ménage avec l’idéologie.

Notes

1| 2e rapport au Club de Rome

http://goo.gl/3y7w5s

Opinions
‘Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition’ by David Nirenberg

Michael S. Roth

April 26, 2013
Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,

And the Catholics hate the Protestants,

And the Hindus hate the Muslims,

And everybody hates the Jews.

So sang Tom Lehrer in his satirical song “National Brotherhood Week.” It’s no news that even those who preach “love they neighbor” have often combined their striving for community with the hatred of a scapegoat, the Jews. David Nirenberg’s “Anti-Judaism” is a thorough, scholarly account of why, in the history of the West, Jews have been so easy to hate. And this story goes back a very long way.

’Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition’ by David Nirenberg (W. W. Norton)
Nirenberg returns to ancient Egypt to examine traditions that portray Jews as “enemies of Egyptian piety, sovereignty, and prosperity.”This was already old in the 7th century BCE! Ancient Greeks and Romans would have their Jews, too; they found use for an “anomalous” people who stuck together and followed their own rules, who were “neither disenfranchised nor citizen, neither conquered nor conquering, neither powerless nor free.” Over the centuries, when there was trouble in the kingdom, be it corruption or military threat, famine or political chaos, pagan ideologues developed a handy solution: Attack the Jews.

Jews were useful for those who were contending for power in the ancient world, and the Egyptian model of scapegoating was often repeated. But it was the Christians who refined anti-Judaism into a core theological and political ideology. Christianity had a particular problem: to show that it had overcome Judaism — overcome its adherence to the laws of the “old” testament, overcome its tribal particularity with evangelical universalism. The idea of Judaism — together with the fact that there were still people in the world who chose to remain Jews — was an affront to that universalism. “To the extent that Jews refused to surrender their ancestors, their lineage, and their scripture, they could become emblematic of the particular, of stubborn adherence to the conditions of the flesh, enemies of the spirit, and of God.”

Throughout the centuries theologians returned to this theme when they wanted either to stimulate religious enthusiasm or quash some perceived heretical movement. Not that you needed any real Jews around to do this. You simply had to label your enemies as “Jews” or “Judaizing” to advance the purity of your cause. In the first through fourth centuries, Christians fighting Christians often labeled each other Jews as they struggled for supremacy. And proclaiming your hatred of the Jews became a tried and true way of showing how truly Christian you were. Centuries later, even Luther and Erasmus agreed that “if hatred of Jews makes the Christian, then we are all plenty Christian.”
Islam followed this same pattern of solidifying orthodoxy by stoking anti-Jewish fervor. Muhammad set Islam, like Christianity, firmly within an Abrahamic tradition, but that made it crucial to sever the new religion from any Judaizing possibilities. Rival Islamic groups, like rival forms of Christianity, often painted their adversaries as hypocritical Jews scheming to take the world away from spiritual truths essential for its true salvation.

Nirenberg shows how consistently the struggle for religious and political supremacy has been described as a struggle against the “Jews.” The quotation marks are especially important as his account moves beyond the medieval period, because between 1400 and 1600 Western Europe was more or less “a world free of Jews.” Banished from most countries, and existing only in the tiniest numbers through special exemptions, actual Jews were hardly ever seen. But it was in this period that “Christian Europe awoke haunted by the conviction that it was becoming Jewish.” In this period of cultural change and doctrinal and political disputes, patterns as old as the age of the pharoahs were reactivated: My adversaries must be extinguished for the polity to be purified; my adversaries must be Jews. And in early modern European eyes, the adversaries were especially dangerous if they were secret Jews who appeared to be Christian. Were Jews hiding everywhere?

Martin Luther brought this rhetoric to a fever pitch. In 1523 he accused the Roman Church of becoming “more ‘Jewish’ than the Jews,” and as he grew older he tried to convince his contemporaries that “so thoroughly hopeless, mean, poisonous, and bedeviled a thing are the Jews that for 1400 years they have been, and continue to be, our plague, pestilence, and all that is our misfortune.” Don’t believe in conversions, the aged Luther urged; the only way to baptize Jews was by tying millstones around their necks.

Nirenberg’s command of disparate sources and historical contexts is impressive. His account of the development of Christianity and Islam is scholarly yet readable. And his portrayal of the role that Judaism has played as a foil for the consolidation of religious and political groups is, for this Jewish reader, chilling. Nirenberg is not interested, as he repeatedly insists, in arguing that Christianity and Islam are “anti-Semitic.” Instead, he is concerned with tracing the work that the idea of Judaism does within Western culture. He shows that many of the important conceptual and aesthetic developments in that culture — from Saint John to Saint Augustine to Muhammad, from Shakespeare to Luther to Hegel — depend on denigrating Jews.That’s what’s so chilling: great cultural achievements built on patterns of scapegoating and hatred.
In the modern period, revolutionaries and counter-revolutionaries continued to employ “the Jewish problem” as something to be overcome. “How could that tiny minority convincingly come to represent for so many the evolving evils of the capitalist world order?” Nirenberg asks. He shows that for thousands of years the patterns of anti-Judaism have evolved to provide great thinkers and ordinary citizens with habits of thought to “make sense of their world.” He doesn’t say that these patterns caused the mechanized, genocidal Nazi war against the Jews in the 20th century, but he argues convincingly “that the Holocaust was inconceivable and is unexplainable without that deep history of thought.”

Presaging Tom Lehrer, Sigmund Freud in 1929 wrote ironically that Jews, by being objects of aggression, “have rendered most useful services to the civilizations of the countries that have been their hosts; but unfortunately all the massacres of the Jews in the Middle Ages did not suffice to make that period more peaceful and secure for their Christian fellows.” Even when “everybody hates the Jews,” patterns of intolerance and violence remain intact. Nirenberg offers his painful and important history so that we might recognize these patterns in hopes of not falling into them yet again.
bookworld@washpost.com

Michael S. Roth is the president of Wesleyan University and the author of “Memory, Trauma, and History: Essays on Living With the Past.”

Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition

Book:Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition
David Nirenberg
New York, NY, W. W. Norton, 2013, ISBN: 9780393058246; 624pp.; Price: £20.00
Reviewer:Christopher Smith
King’s College London
Citation:Christopher Smith, review of Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, (review no. 1558)
http://www.history.ac.uk/reviews/review/1558
Date accessed: 6 December, 2015
David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition is an impressive scholarly accomplishment that matches a dauntingly large subject matter with a vast vault of personal knowledge. At 474 pages and 13 chapters covering more than 3000 years, it is thorough without being exhaustive. (1) The book cogently follows the development of anti-Judaism from Ancient Egypt through to the de-Judaising theories of Martin Heidegger and Joseph Goebbels. It is, however, first and foremost a history of ideas rather than of societies and some of Nirenberg’s focus and conclusions may sit uncomfortably with readers expecting a straight socio-political history of anti-Judaism. Jewish communities and their religion Judaism appear infrequently in the context of Nirenberg’s sources. They haunt his history like invisible ghosts, invoked to attack perceived enemies who were as likely to be non-Jews as Jews. Take for instance the war of words between the fourth-century Christian theologians St Jerome and St Augustine. Jerome (340/2–420CE) accused Augustine (354–430CE) of ‘Judaising’ tendencies by defending Jewish Law, who in turn labelled Jerome a ‘Judaiser’ for reading original Hebrew texts rather than the Greek translations. Neither knew or had any actual contact with Jews, but their debates on the dangers of Judaism remained seminal guidelines for generations of Christian theologians (pp. 120–34).

Nirenberg focuses rather on how certain aspects of Christian teaching and culture used criticism of Jews and Judaism to make sense of their own religion and society. It is not a history of anti-Semitism, and Nirenberg differs from Robert Wistrich antithetically.(2) He does not examine anti-Judaism to explain the Holocaust, or contemporary western and Middle Eastern attitudes towards Israel. His purpose is more ambitious than this; he aims to show that ‘pathological’ fantasies of Judaism are central to the history of ideas that became deeply ingrained in the Western tradition (p. 468). Ancient civilisations, medieval kingdoms and modern industrial states each developed discourses on the Jewish threat that society could be defined against. For Nirenberg, the barbarism of the Holocaust is the conceivable product of the encoded threat of Judaism in western thought, but was not made inevitable by it. Previous historical instances of anti-Judaism did not create the anti-Semitic ideologies of the 20th century, but they did build on each other to create the cultural and political conditions for them to occur (pp. 469–70).

Nirenberg buttresses this argument with reference to influential thinkers from each era. The Ptolemaic historian Manetho’s (282–246BCE) demonising of the Jewish ‘shepherds’ was central to the development of a unique Egyptian historical and political thought (p. 22). St Jerome and St Augustine’s theological slanging match influenced the medieval Church and monarchies’ treatment of minorities (pp. 120–34). Martin Luther accused his papist opponents of ‘Pharasaism’ and attempted to ‘drain’ Jewish letters from the word of God (p. 252). Both Voltaire and Kant identified Jewish vices in the Old Testament as the source of intolerance in Ancien Régime society (pp. 352–60). And Marx, Heidegger and Sobert provided the philosophical context for Joseph Goebbels’ 1933 declaration ‘The age of rampant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end’ (p. 423).

With a book this ambitious, however, a wide ranging and generous smattering of primary source material drawn from lesser known thinkers is expected. Second-century writers such as Justin Martyr (pp. 100–3) and the chronicler Hegesippus (pp.92–8) inform the reader of the early Church’s anti-Judaism as much as Augustine and Jerome in Nirenberg’s narrative. Likewise Nirenberg uses Sebastian Brant’s Ship of Fools in 1494 to reveal the dramatization of Early Modern English concerns with the ‘Jewishness’ of Christian commerce as relevantly as Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (1598) or Christopher Marlow’s Jew of Malta (1589). It is a testament to Nirenberg’s masterful scholarly skills that his interweaving of diverse primary sources – often across eras and continents – feels appropriate and convincing.

It is hard to avoid the impression that Anti-Judaism: the History of a Way of Thinking represents for Nirenberg the culmination of a career volte-face in respects to his methodological approach. His 1996 work Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages rejected a longue durée history of anti-Semitism.(3) This approach, Nirenberg argued, was liable to assess individual events in structures contextually grounded in the Holocaust, and not in the climatic conditions in which they occurred. The Montcluse massacre of 1320 was more relevant for understanding socio-economic relations between Jews and their Aragonese overlords than explaining the Holocaust, for example.(4) Communities of Violence used a relatively narrow belt of sources covering southwest France and the Crown of Aragon. With Anti-Judaism, his work takes in 3,000 years of historical thought from the Ancient Egyptians to Nazi Germany on a subject almost impossibly vast: how anti-Judaism became the basis for people to criticise and understand their societies, and subsequently, how this became the bedrock of the Western tradition.

In Anti-Judaism, Nirenberg allows for a continuation of trends in the development of a shared concept of anti-Judaism built on and progressed over the periods covered in his book. Nirenberg would not consider this a determinist argument: that questions of Judaism in the history of ideas necessarily connected with each other, or culminated in 20th-century anti-Semitism (pp. 456–7). He attempts to combine his disdain for a structural approach by viewing anti-Judaism within the context of each period ‘and with an awareness of potential futures- that is, of how that material will be put to the work of generating different worldviews in later periods and places’ (p. 11). This leads to dead ends as often as open doors. It is a history of how ideas on Judaism drove forward key concepts of Western thought concerning Christian (and Muslim) society, but that this tradition was not what inherently drove Western civilisation towards the Final Solution. This is perhaps an unsettling conclusion: by implication that the Holocaust was far from inevitable, but equally that it could have occurred not in Germany but in France, Britain, the United States or anywhere in the Western world (p. 458–9).

The great focus of the book is on the Christian history of thinking about Judaism, but the influence of pagan writers and concepts from antiquity were instrumental to the guidance of the early Church on Jewish subjects. In chapter one (‘The ancient world: Egypt, exodus, empire’) Nirenberg shows how Egyptian scholars used negative stories and stereotypes of Jews and Judaism, assigning a centrality to them that helped explain Egyptian civilisation’s past – and just as importantly its future direction. The Passover festival for Jews celebrated their liberation; for Egyptians it was an offensive celebration of their society’s destruction and the defeat of their gods (p. 18). In this context, Nirenberg asserts (conjecturally as the source base provides little assistance) that ancient Egyptians created their own pro-Egyptian versions of the ‘Passover’. Nirenberg quotes Manetho (282–246BCE), an Egyptian priest from Heliopolis, who relates an invasion of Egypt by a people called the ‘shepherds’ residing in Judea, bringing rapine pillage and murder, but more shockingly in Manetho’s view, impious destruction of temples and divine images (p. 23). Ultimately the Shepherds were resisted, and this became the basis for the Egyptian version of the exodus as well as Nirenberg’s first example of how ‘a people’s sense of their past and present place in the world could be articulated through the construction of a fundamental opposition to Jews and Judaism’ (p. 24).

Nirenberg shows how Egyptian anti-Judaism had a powerful influence on the two powers that bequeathed the West its political and cultural heritage: Rome and Greece. Greek thinkers such as Lysimachus (Second century BCE, p.30) accepted Egyptian narratives of Jews acting as the enemies of native piety and prosperity, and Alexandria saw some of the most brutal anti-Jewish riots of antiquity (pp. 40–1). By lobbying for the exclusion of Jews from the privileges of citizenship, Nirenberg asserts that Greeks in Alexandria were in effect defending their own sovereign rights, and by the act of anti-Jewish violence were hypostatizing political and theoretical criticism of the imperial power of Rome onto a powerless minority. Roman generals and governors used Egyptian histories to draw their own conclusions about how to deal with the perpetual rebelliousness of the state of Judea. However, unlike for the Egyptians and Greeks, the Jews mattered little to how Romans thought of themselves. Nirenberg leaves this unexplained but it perhaps resulted from a lack of physical threat from Jews in Roman historical origins (p. 46).

It was within the framework of the Greek cultural world (although deeply within the political sphere and territory of the Roman Empire) that the early Christian Church developed a contrary attitude towards Judaism which Nirenberg discusses in chapters two and three. Nirenberg details the overriding concern amongst early Christians (who were themselves predominantly of Jewish background) to define ‘true teaching’ from ‘false’ in their interpretations of the New Testament (p. 87). It was with the consolidation of the early Church that ‘false teaching’ became equated with ‘Jewish practice’. Second-century CE Christian theologians such as Marcion used the teachings of Paul and the other apostles to denounce as ‘Judaisers’ Christians who adhered too closely to the flesh (i.e. acceptance of circumcision or placing too much focus on Jesus’ mortal status) rather than the spirit (pp. 97–9). This marked a crucial phase in early Christian history. As the Church became increasingly a Gentile movement independent of Jews, they became the medium for which Christians condemned bad practice. Judaism became the ‘Anti-Christianity’ to which the narrative of their own Church and wider gentile society could be favourably compared.

Nirenberg focuses on the continuation of this theme in the medieval period, which became increasingly politicised (chapters four to six). Jews – barred from communal economic activities and guild membership – often found employment as money lenders or tax collectors with tacit sovereign approval. Despite not usually predominating in either professions, Jews became associated with them and therefore with sovereign and fiscal power. Political opponents would accuse rulers of becoming ‘Judaised’. Thus Simon De Montfort based the righteousness of his rebellion against Henry III of England in the King’s endorsement of Jewish economic activity. Nirenberg shows how this built on the teachings of St Augustine – that Jews should be tolerated only as an example to Christians of the ‘wandering’ fate awaiting adherents to a failed and tainted religion. As a De Montfort supporter, the 13th-century CE theologian Robert Grosseteste, stated, toleration should not extend to princely protection and favour: ‘Such lords, like the Jews, drink the blood of their subjects’ (p. 198).

Such powerful anti-Judaist sentiment contributed to the mass expulsion or forced conversions of Jewish populations by European monarchs. Vast tracts of Europe became Jew-free zones. Paradoxically, Nirenberg shows how this widened the scope and range of anti-Judaism in the West. The line between Jews and non-Jews suddenly became blurred. The Inquisition in Spain to root out secret Jews led to accusations of ‘Jewish tendencies’ for as little as refusing to buy an apple on the Sabbath or nodding one’s head during prayer (p. 242). In a Europe largely free from Jews, now potentially everyone could be a Jew or be accused of being ‘Judaisers’.

This was true also of the world of the Reformation as Nirenberg relates in chapter seven. Martin Luther in his polemic ‘That Jesus Christ was born a Jew’ (1523) inferred that the Catholic brand of Christianity was worse even than Judaism in its focus on the flesh and hypocrisy (p. 261). His later hard line towards ‘real’ Jews (‘On the Jews and their lies’, 1543) was perhaps influenced by Catholic counter attempts to Judaize him, and contributed towards the violent expulsion of Jews from most of the German lands by the 1570s (p. 262). But Luther was more concerned with attacking his Christian opponents, seeking to portray them as more ‘Jewish’ than the Jews for their perversion of the sacraments and other ‘Jewish’ crimes (p. 260).

Nirenberg shows how Luther refocused the debate surrounding the interpretation of the Scriptures and the word of God, and made the ghostly spectre of Judaism a ‘real’ threat to which Christian teaching was set against in the Confessional age. The centrality of the threat of Judaism within Europe did not diminish with the gradual move from a divinely to a secularised conception of the ordering of the world – it merely shifted (chapter ten – ‘Enlightenment revolts against Judaism: 1670–1789’). Enlightenment philosophes from Voltaire to Kant derided Christianity for its coupling with, and origin from, the ‘sterile’ and unreligious ‘legalism’ of Judaism (p.359). Only by throwing off the shackles of Judaism could Christianity become the true universal religion of humanity, by separating religious institutions and observance from the mechanisms of state. Here again then, Nirenberg shows political thinkers using Judaism to characterise their opponents and conceptualise the evils they observed in their society.

19th- and early 20th-century Germany provides Nirenberg’s focus in his later chapters. He shows how German philosophers from Hegel (1770–1831) to Schopenhauer (1788–1860) saw the remnants of Jewish law as the principle barrier to the freedom of the individual and human spirit (pp. 404–5). Concerns at the creeping calamity of industrialisation, urbanisation and commercialisation from 1750 onwards animated the writings of Heine (1797–1856), Fichte (1762–1814) and Marx (1818–83) with each equating in their own way these ‘dangerous’ processes with ‘Judaism’ (p. 422). Werner Sombart (1863–1941) saw the origins of capitalism deeply rooted in the migrations of the Jewish people; Max Weber (1864–1920) counters this with his assertion that Protestant capitalism and the ‘capitalist spirit’ originated separately from what he saw as the unethical history of Jewish economic activity. Marx, Sombart and Weber remain towering figures within the modern social sciences, and Nirenberg shows how all of them developed their theories to some degree by thinking about Judaism. And it was within the influence and schooling in such high intellectual German culture that Goebbels’s propaganda developed and provided the context in which it was delivered and received (p. 448).

Ultimately, Nirenberg seeks to show how each era of anti-Judaism to differing degrees built upon one another to develop the 20th-century political and cultural framework in which the Holocaust was realisable, if not inevitable. His is a history of anti-Judaism, but not particularly a history of interaction between Jews and non-Jews. It seeks to ask why so many people through history have thought negatively about Judaism. There is consequently little room for Jewish voices, or evidence of ‘Judeophilia’. The reader is left waiting in vain for a Jewish champion to stand up to the blistering barrage ‘Jews’ are subjected to in this history, or at least for someone to throw in the towel. Nirenberg no doubt would argue that this is not for him to provide; his focus is anti-Judaism and its relevance to Western thought, not the history of philosemitism. However, some acknowledgement of tolerance and co-existence between Jews and non-Jews would provide a useful counterbalance to the relentless pursuit of evidence of anti-Judaism which occasionally feels laboured.

This book is primarily a history of thought not a social history. Given this, Nirenberg is occasionally too quick to inflate the societal importance of the ideas he discusses. Broad socio-economic, cultural and political developments are summarised and dogmatic doctrinal debates between scholars indulged. Generalisations litter these summaries, such as the assertion that the rise of a stock capitalised banking system meant ‘every man became willy nilly a speculator’ (p. 425). 19th-century workers in sweated industries may have had something to say about this statement. It perhaps falls outside the scope of Nirenberg’s work, but I find the general reluctance to directly explore the impact and influence of anti-Judaism on the societies from which his thinkers originate (and vice versa) a tad frustrating. For instance, was the rhetoric and nature of anti-Semitism in 19th- and early 20th-century German towns and villages influenced by the anti-Judaism of Heideger, Marx and Sombert? Was support for the Third Reich a product of this continually evolving process of self-perlustration-by-Judaism?

A case in point is the Russian Jewish community of London during the First World War. A particularly nasty anti-Jewish incident occurred in September 1917 in Bethnal Green; Jewish businesses were looted and vandalised, and hundreds of immigrant Jews subjected to violent attacks in the streets. In determining the motivation driving the English crowd to violence against their Jewish neighbours, documentary analysis has uncovered several key determinants. Anger at a perceived non-commitment on behalf of the Jewish community to Britain’s war cause; war-strain and shortages on the home front; economic xenophobia resulting from Jewish encroachment in traditionally English industries such as tailoring and cabinet making.(5) In truth all three factors – their perception as much as reality – blended together to create the conditions for local fury to pour forth. Local memory mythologised how English tailors serving in the war were muscled out of their territory by entrepreneurial Jews ‘shirking’ their responsibilities, making quick bucks whilst East London families starved.

But was this focus on their supposed fiscal avarice a further example of an historic in-grained anti-Semitic discourse of Jews as money grabbers? A link perhaps from the time of the expulsion under Edward I, which has animated English perceptions of Jews ever since, from Shakespeare to Lord Northcliffe? Was it the legacy of the development of the ideology of anti-Judaism? If only such developments could be explained so simply. The Bethnal Green disturbances in 1917 were the product of a diverse and overlapping set of factors, the chief amongst which was a seemingly indiscriminate economic xenophobia on the part of the East End working class that spared few newcomers, be they French, Irish, Jewish, or Bangladeshi for that matter. In any case Nirenberg does not attempt to answer such questions; his is a history of ideas not a history of peoples. Besides, if Nirenberg had attempted this, his book would take on a length that would necessarily negate the punchy pace and direction that makes it such a delight to read.

This book represents a scholarly feat few writers could hope to match, engagingly tracking the history of how influential thinkers – from ancient Egyptian historians to Weimer Republic philosophers – negatively interpreted Judaism to better understand their own religions and society. But the focus on high philosophical thought, the broad sweeps through major societal transformations, and the brevity of analysis on how anti-Judaism influenced communal interaction between Jews and non-Jews will trouble some historians, perhaps even a young David Nirenberg.

Notes
This rises to 610 pages with notes and index.Back to (1)
R. A. Wistrich, Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to Global Jihad (New York, NY 2010).Back to (2)
D. Nirenberg, Communities of Violence: Persecution of Minorities in the Middle Ages (Princeton, NJ, 1996), pp. 6–7.Back to (3)
Ibid, pp.69–93.Back to (4)
PROHO 45/10822/318095/478, ‘Anti-Jewish Demonstration’, Report of Superintendent J. Best, Hackney Police Station, J Division, 24 September 1917.Back to (5)

Imaginary Jews
The strange history of antisemitism in Western culture
By Anthony Grafton
October 12, 2013
Sometime in the middle years of the sixteenth century, after the bodies were brought up for Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell made England modern, a brilliant Oxford scholar named John Jewel discovered what we now call Late Antiquity. Oxford has always been a city of books, and Jewel—a member of two bookish colleges, Corpus Christi and Merton—came across his newfound land between the leather covers of great folios. A nine-volume edition of the works of Saint Jerome, now preserved in the library of Magdalen College, excited him to fever pitch. Jewel tore through it, underlining passages and leaving notes on every page. And he took away some powerful messages. Jerome taught Jewel that the first Christian bishops had not been silk-clad princes who lived in palaces, but ascetic servants of the Christian believers entrusted to them. When Jewel became Bishop of Salisbury under Elizabeth, he wore himself out defending the Church of England and reorganizing his diocese. Reading had consequences in the sixteenth century.

Practical issues did not claim all—or even most—of Jewel’s attention. He wanted to explore and to map the whole world of early Christian life, and thought, and liturgy. Nothing in the whole massive set of books fascinated him more than the long and pointed letters that Jerome exchanged with his younger contemporary Augustine about the Hebrew language and the Jews. Augustine fired the first shot, protesting Jerome’s effort to retranslate the Old Testament from the original Hebrew. By doing so, he insisted, Jerome would call into question the authority of the apostles, who had used the Greek version. Worse, he would make Jews the arbiters of biblical truth, even for Christians. When consulted, some of them had told Christians disturbed by Jerome’s new translation of a word in Jonah that Jerome was wrong. Jerome, in his turn, denounced Augustine. The younger man claimed that Paul had been right, as a born Jew, to continue observing Jewish rituals even after his conversion to Christianity. But Jewish rituals, Jerome insisted, had lost their meaning with the Incarnation. Paul had observed them only to make his dealings with the Jews go more easily.

Jerome also attacked another powerful idea that Augustine was putting forward, in his letters and elsewhere. Many Christians—such as Jerome himself—thought that Jews deserved only their hatred (at least once they had revealed the secrets of their sacred language). Augustine momentously rebutted them. God had chosen the Jews, he taught, and had given them His law, as preparation for the coming of the Messiah. He wanted the Jews to survive, and to continue practicing their religion, because in doing so they provided a vital form of witness to Christianity. Enemy testimony, after all, offered powerful proof that the church had fulfilled the promises that God had made and the prophecies that He had inspired. Christians should not persecute or harm Jews, but should leave them to wander the Earth as Cain had, protected by the special mark of their sinfulness, eternally stuck in an antiquity that they could not leave.

Imaginary Jews often turned out to be not good, but strangely good to think about.
Jewel sided with Augustine. “Oh Jerome,” he wrote in the margin (in Latin), appalled at the argument that Paul had pretended to follow Jewish customs in order to deceive Jewish converts. “You’re babbling,” he noted at another passage, where Jerome insisted that Jewish rituals had lost all their value with the arrival of Jesus. It seems a strange scene. At this point, Jewel had probably never seen a Jew in the flesh, since England had expelled them centuries before. Only a handful perched in precarious niches in London. Yet we can still stand beside him as he sits, pen in hand, absorbed to the point of obsession by what two ancient men had to say, very much in the abstract, about Jews. You could not easily meet a real Jew in the streets of London. But the intellectuals of the sixteenth century did much of their wandering in the margins of their Christian books, and there they met imaginary Jews of every kind. Often they turned out to be not good, but strangely good to think about.

For David Nirenberg—whose Anti-Judaism
is one of the saddest stories, and one of the most learned, I have ever read—Jewel, and Jerome and Augustine are typical figures from an enormous tapestry. From antiquity to more recent times, an endless series of writers and thinkers have crafted versions and visions of Jews and Judaism that are as ugly and frightening as they are effective. Some of them—for example, the Egyptian priest Manetho—probably drew on older traditions that can no longer be reliably reconstructed. Some of them—Paul, Spinoza, Marx—were Jews by birth. Most of them knew few real Jews and had little or no direct knowledge of Jewish life or thought. Yet working in sequence, each in his fashion and each for his time and place, they have created beings at once complex, labile, and astonishingly consequential: call them, for want of a better term, imaginary Jews. These animated figures rival vampires in their ability to survive for centuries and zombies in their refusal to be defeated by rational argument. And they are of far more than antiquarian interest. Over the centuries, imaginary Jews have found their places, sometimes vital ones, in some of the loftiest intellectual edifices ever raised. Surprisingly often they have been the caryatids: the pillars on which everything else rests.

Anti-Judaism is an astonishing enterprise. It is certainly not the first effort to survey the long grim history of the charges that have been brought against the Jews by their long gray line of self-appointed prosecutors. During World War II, a learned rabbi named Joshua Trachtenberg brought out The Devil and the Jews
, an erudite and wide-ranging effort to explain why Christians found it rational to associate Jews with Satan and malevolent magic, and charge them with crimes that would have been as ludicrous as the indictment of the witch in Monty Python and the Holy Grail if the punishments meted out had not been so savage. In 1955, Léon Poliakov, a Russian émigré who settled in France, published the first of four volumes in which he traced the history of anti-Semitism from antiquity to 1933. As the memory of the Holocaust spread outside the Jewish world, historians began to excavate in the archives that preserved its documents. New social and cultural explanations of the Judeocide, by professional scholars and passionate amateurs alike, now appear every year.

But Nirenberg is after different quarry: he does not trace the millennial story of the Jews and their conflicts with non-Jews, though he does describe individual and communal fights. Nor does he compile a catalogue of the vile ideas about Jews that non-Jews have entertained and publicized. He wants to know why: why have so many cultures and so many intellectuals had so much to say about the Jews? More particularly, he wants to know why so many of them generated their descriptions and explanations of Jewishness not out of personal knowledge or scholarly research, but out of thin air—and from assumptions, some inherited and others newly minted, that the Jews could be wholly known even to those who knew no Jews. Nirenberg’s answer—and to summarize it, as to summarize so much of this impassioned book, is to flatten it—is that ideas about the Jews can do, and have done, many different and important jobs. True, they are anything but stable: this is not a paper chase after some original idea of the Jew that crops up everywhere from early Christianity to early Nazism. Visions of the Jews change emphasis and content as the larger societies that entertain them change shape and texture. Ideas have multiple contexts, and Nirenberg shows dazzling skill and a daunting command of the sources as he observes the changes and draws connections between them and his authors’ larger worlds.

Jews have been characterized by non-Jews for their obstinacy—their refusal, for example, to recognize the known truth that the Messiah had come, which enabled them to become the villains of both early Christian and early Muslim narratives. They have been characterized by non-Jews for their viciousness—their desire to desecrate the sacrament and murder Christian children, which allowed them to be used both by rebels against royal authority, and by kings, in the Middle Ages, as each side could claim, when the wind blew from the right quarter, that Jews were polluting society through their materialism and greed. They have been characterized by non-Jews for their greed—their failure to understand the difference between the value of material things and that of people, which inspired Shakespeare to compose some of the most memorable lines in The Merchant of Venice, when Solanio reports how the Jew cried, “My daughter! O my ducats! O my daughter!” Each account differs from the rest—Shakespeare, using the case of a Venetian Jew to think about capitalism, does not much resemble Martin Luther, using the Jews to think about the relations between God and the created world. Yet somehow, part of each imagined Jew persists in the collected body of them all. Read the radical German philosophers who created the world anew in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Kant, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, through Nirenberg’s eyes, and you see them “Judaize” their opponents—the idealists Judaizing the empiricists who did not see the power of critical reason, and Hegel, for a time, Judaizing the Kantian idealists.

Labile though they are, imaginary Jews have served—and still serve—an extraordinary range of purposes. Like the topics of ancient rhetoric or the harmony of the spheres, they have played a whole series of central roles in the drama of Western culture. They have served controversialists as weapons, provoked political thinkers, and inspired playwrights. Most remarkable—and perhaps most frightening—of all, they have sometimes been vital to the creation of Europe’s most critical and innovative ideas. What Nirenberg is offering, then, is less a history in any standard sense, or a genealogy in any trendy one, than a microscopically precise examination of a set of tools that Western thinkers have wielded for millennia, forging and re-forging and honing them as new tasks required it.

At the end of his book, Nirenberg evokes Erich Auerbach, whose Mimesis surveyed the multiple ways of representing reality practiced by Western writers, every chapter based on his own reading of the original texts—and whose article “Figura” traced the ways in which the Western Church Fathers rejected allegorical readings of the Old Testament for figural ones, which preserved the historical integrity of the ancient Hebrews.1 Like Auerbach, Nirenberg is a scholar of towering erudition as well as towering ambition: his mastery of languages and his command of secondary literature enable him to range the millennia with apparent ease, and, like Auerbach, he finds new and penetrating things to say about texts that scholars and critics have been working over for centuries. Yet this is a profoundly different enterprise from Auerbach’s: a study of the many ways in which language does not show us the world but shapes it for us. In some ways, it reminds me more of the work of E. R. Curtius, Auerbach’s great rival and antithesis, whose European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages
traced the lives and afterlives of classical tropes and forms across the centuries. Like both Auerbach and Curtius, Nirenberg writes with astonishing clarity and panache. He has devised a language equal to the demands of his subject and his sources—a language that not only serves his analytical purposes but also conveys his findings in a form that stamps them on the reader’s memory and imagination: “Secular power could never quite escape Cain’s conjoined significations, as both ‘founder of the earthly city’ and ‘a figure of the Jews.’ Sovereigns therefore trod a path haunted by monsters of Judaism even more ferocious than those that beset readers of biblical texts. Augustine did not seek to slay these monsters. Instead he tried to immure them, like the furies under Aeschylus’s Athens, at the foundations of the Christian city.”

In the end, though, Nirenberg is a historian, and this gives his story qualities found neither in Auerbach nor in Curtius.2 He carefully points out, again and again, that the way thinkers use Jews and Judaism in their work often tells us nothing about their personal relations with Jews. Yet his own story begins not only in antiquity, but also in a real conflict, which he documents in detail: in the Egypt of the first millennium BCE, a culture deeply committed to believing that it had never changed—and all the more deeply as it was conquered, first by the Persians and then by Alexander the Great. Jews enjoyed a privileged status in Egypt, not for the last time, thanks to royal patronage. But they were not seen as true Egyptians, and they suffered criticism and attacks from natives who resented their presence and their peculiar ways of living and worshipping. The ancient Greek version of the Old Testament, which was made in Egypt, shows traces of an effort to scrub Judaism of its traditional, and offensive, denunciations of polytheism. But this and other soft answers failed to turn away wrath. Manetho, an Egyptian priest, composed an elaborate work in Greek in which he described the ancient Jews as lepers—a diseased and antisocial people who, far from suffering servitude in Egypt, had conquered the country and mistreated its native inhabitants until they were expelled by force. Later writers, such as the Greek-Egyptian grammarian Apion, accepted his views and developed his critique.

The Jews as the enemy of mankind: this image, like the statue of the four empires in the book of Daniel, had legs. Though Roman writers had little good to say about the Jews, they did not take a deep interest in them. In Egypt, by contrast—the Greek-speaking Egypt that steamed and grumbled under Roman rule—the diseased and antisocial Jews called into being by Greek-writing scholars proved provocative and fertile. Egyptians rehearsed the crimes that Jews committed against them. They appealed to the Roman emperor Titus, after the defeat of the Jewish revolt, to strip Alexandria’s Jews of their civil rights. Finally, over a period of civil war, they slaughtered most of the thousands of Jews who lived in Alexandria. Even more remarkably, they rejoiced. As the great historian of science Otto E. Neugebauer once remarked, Egyptians normally showed little or no interest in that spirit of heroism that so often made life in ancient Greece a hell on Earth. But in Oxyrhynchus, the city of the sharp-nosed fish, they remembered, and celebrated, the crushing of the Jews, eighty years after it happened.
More subtle—and in a way even more deadly—were the complementary versions of Jews and Judaism elaborated by the early Christians—many of whom were born into Jewish communities, and some of whom continued to practice Jewish rituals throughout their lives. Nirenberg starts with Paul, the Pharisee who became the earliest and greatest Christian writer. In those dazzling works of Jewish exegesis, his New Testament epistles, Paul interpreted the history and the future of the world in terms of a series of opposites, tabulated with breathtaking precision and assurance: death and life, letter and spirit, outward observance and inner faith. In his early letter to the Galatians and sporadically after that, Paul accepted that Jewish converts to Christianity could go on practicing the rituals of their ancestral religion. Gentile converts, however, need not do so. Christ’s sacrifice, already complete, was the one and only thing that could save them, if they could only manage to have faith in Him. And only that—not circumcision of their flesh—could make them members of the true religious community.

Paul’s argument was balanced and tolerant, but his language had a power of its own. He associated Jews with letter rather than spirit, death rather than life, ritual rather than faith—and stasis rather than salvation. As Paul’s own message evolved, as he responded to opposition in some communities, and as his letters were read by later Christians in the light of later events, Judaism came to seem, if never wholly bad, at least wholly wrongheaded, the chosen people’s disastrous march in the wrong direction on a one-way street.

Even more than Paul, the Gospel writers are central to Nirenberg’s story. They transmuted theory into narrative: the table of oppositions came into play in action and dialogue to separate Jesus and his followers, parable by parable and sermon by sermon, from the Jews. Paul’s task had been to explain why Jesus and his sacrifice completed the history of Judaism. That of the evangelists was in some ways harder: they had to explain why, though the Messiah had come, the Romans had destroyed the Temple—and why, in their time, it seemed necessary to exclude Christians who wished to continue living as Jews from the church community. In their complementary accounts, the Pharisees and other Jews misunderstand, because they read too literally, every sign and interpretation that Jesus offers them. The seeds of truth fall on stony ground, and the Jews betray, denounce, and finally kill their savior. And as they commit this collective crime, the Jew is named and defined: he is the one who does not see, who always chooses the external, the letter that kills, over the internal, the spirit that gives life.

The Pharisees, strict in their upholding of the law and proud and unbending in their daily lives, think themselves splendid but in fact resemble the tombs of the prophets, which they guard: “You are like whited sepulchers,” Jesus tells them, “which look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of the bones of the dead and every kind of corruption.” Nirenberg appreciates the terrible beauty of this and other Gospel texts. Unlike Paul, the evangelists mobilize their unforgettable images not only to distinguish but also to condemn: to identify the Jews not only with the dead letter and the flesh, but also with Satan, the ruler of this world and the enemy of Christian followers of the spirit.
In Nirenberg’s first two cases, ideas about the Jews do not float free in the air: they are connected with, and sometimes generated by, the ways in which actually existing Jews and non-Jews confront one another at community borders. In an earlier period of his career, Nirenberg wrote as a master choreographer of the past, tracing the tense and intricate interplay, and occasional violence, that Jews, Muslims, and Christians engaged in as they lived, in close quarters, in medieval France and Aragon. It is not surprising, accordingly, to see this book begin with well-documented excursions into the social history of ideas.

But with the rise of a recognizable early Church, an institution with a sacred Scripture, a liturgy, and a table of organization of its own, the music changes. One after another, the theologians appear, and disagree—from heretics such as Marcion, who rejected the entire Old Testament and its God as irreconcilable with the message and values of Christ, to system-builders such as Eusebius, who insisted that Christians must not only take over the histories and prophecies of the Jews, but also reimagine them retrospectively in Christian terms. Marcion wanted to eliminate all traces of Judaism from Christianity. Eusebius, more influentially, set out to appropriate all of them for Christianity—turning Palestine from the promised land of the Old Testament, marked by invasion, battles, and revelation, to the Holy Land of the New Testament, marked by preaching and miracles.3 The patriarchs and prophets of the Old Testament, Eusebius reassured his Christian readers, were not Jews but Hebrews—and could be embraced in retrospect even as their descendants could be ignored.
Illustration by Sabrina Smelko
If the visions of Judaism varied, their uses did not. Again and again, Nirenberg shows, Christians saw those imaginary literalists with their marks of Cain appearing under the priestly garb of friends and rivals. Again and again, Christian thinkers denounced their critics and enemies as “Jews”—that is, Christians who read too literally, or with no inspiration. And almost every one of them was denounced in his turn for the same crime of Jewish deviationism. In this world, in which imaginary Jews haunted real cities and their imaginary crimes became the object of real sermons, Jerome could find it reasonable to insist, almost in the same breath, that the Christian scholar must master Hebrew in order to understand the first half of his own sacred scripture and that Jewish liturgy and practice had lost their entire positive value with the coming of Christ, so that his own duty, as the pupil of a Hebrew teacher, was to hate the entire Hebrew race.

Those whom Jerome denounced, Augustine defended. The Jews must live and worship as they always had, wrongly, but Christian rulers must protect them: not because Augustine had any particular fondness for Jews—the evidence suggests that he had little direct contact with them—but because they would serve, in their endless, sterile wandering of the Earth, as proof that Christianity had superseded their obsolete religion. Paula Fredriksen, a great student of Augustine, has re-created the development of Augustine’s ideas in a profound book called Augustine and the Jews
. She argues that Augustine’s notions about the Jews actually saved lives—during the Crusades, for example, when popes and preachers invoked them to prevent the destruction of more Jewish communities.

Nirenberg appreciates Fredriksen’s insight but reads the evidence differently. The Fathers had far less to do with actual Jews than Paul or the evangelists—which is why Nirenberg’s enterprise really takes wing when he reaches them. In the fourth and fifth centuries, the Jews whom Jerome fiercely hated and Augustine drily pitied were largely abstract figures of thought rather than individuals of flesh and blood. Yet they were central to the two men’s visions of the past and the future—and their errors provided vital weapons with which Jerome could fight those who denied his readings of the Bible, and Augustine the Manicheans who did the same to his. Fictional Jews, as vivid as they were imaginary, began to fill the virtual world that the writers conjured into being. No wonder that Jewel watched with such fascination as the two great men shadowboxed, surrounded by Semitic phantasms.
Nirenberg’s parade of imagined and imaginary Jews—the most hideous procession since that of the flagellants in The Seventh Seal—stretches from the Arabian peninsula to London, and from the seventh century BCE to the twentieth CE. Working always from the original sources in their original languages, he observes the multiple ways in which imaginary Jews served the purposes of real writers and thinkers—everyone from Muhammad, founding a new religion, to Shakespeare, observing a new commercial society. God, here, is partly in the details: in the careful, tenderly observant way in which Nirenberg dissects everything from fierce political rhetoric to resonant Shakespearean drama. In works of the imagination, profound treatises, and acts of political radicalism, as he analyses them, imaginary Jews are wielded to powerful effect. He shows us the philosophes of the Enlightenment, those friends of humanity and enemies of tyrannical “infamy,” as they develop a viciously negative vision of Jewish sterility and error to attack Christianity at its origins or to characterize the authorities whom they defied.

Nirenberg’s lucid, searing narrative and analysis rest on extraordinarily wide reading, the contours of which are charted in his ample and informative notes. He never hesitates to take issue with authorities in many fields, and at times—as when he explains that “I intend no resonance with Jacob Taubes’s treatment of Romans”—his language has a touch of Carthago delenda est. But he conducts his arguments with a seriousness rare in our intellectual life, and vanishingly so in works of historical synthesis. Even when he piles paradox on paradox—as when he argues that Spinoza built the portrait of biblical Judaism in his Tractatus from the stockpile of materials that non-Jewish thinkers had created over the centuries—Nirenberg grounds his arguments in close reading of the texts and engages with the modern authorities whose interpretations he rejects.

An intellectual historian myself, I have no quarrel with Nirenberg’s view that ideas matter, and I have nothing but respect for the methods that he brings to their study. This does not mean that I entirely share his perspective. As a social historian of conflict and an intellectual historian of the uncanny imagination, Nirenberg is unbeatable. But Jews and non-Jews lived other histories together as well. As Josephus recalled, when the thousands of diaspora Jews settled in the cities of the Roman world, across Asia Minor and Italy as well as Egypt, many of their pagan neighbors found their ways attractive. Pagans admired the Jews’ pursuit of a coherent code for living and their worship of a single, unseen god. Some became “god-fearers,” who accepted the Jewish god but did not hold full membership in the Jewish community. Some converted. Jews, meanwhile, pursued their own visions of high culture—whether these involved learning to write Greek tragedies about the Jewish past or rebuilding one’s foreskin to make possible appearances at the gymnasium.

This story of loose borders and unexpected sympathies is hard to re-create—but scholars have teased out some of its contours from the evidence of inscriptions and papyri as well as satirical poetry and the Gospels. The intellectual story that Nirenberg tells—like the story of modern Judeocide—becomes harder to understand, demanding of more interpretation rather than less, when these conditions are brought into it. And they have been the objects of a vast, wide-ranging, and contentious scholarly literature, ever since the great Jewish and Christian scholars of the sixteenth century first realized that the Jews of antiquity had not lived closed off from the societies around them. Nirenberg himself refers to these points in his account of Egypt, but they do not figure largely in his analysis, and seem less prominent in later chapters.

There is another perspective that I wish Nirenberg had also brought to bear—one for which my great colleague Natalie Zemon Davis has always stood. Norms are norms, Davis has always acknowledged: societies have their ways of doing things, and intellectuals have their assumptions, those ideas so seductive that no mere fact can refute them. Historians can use their knowledge of these patterns to fill in gaps in the preserved documents. Yet somehow there are also, always, moments of contingency that unfold differently: moments when the cloud of assumptions clears, when eyes and minds meet across barriers that usually seem as high and deadly as the old Berlin Wall. There were real Jews in early modern Europe—more Jews than Nirenberg has room for in his account: not just the Portuguese in Amsterdam but also Sephardic merchants in other great ports, and smaller communities that survived in more hostile places. Frankfurt, for example, had a small Jewish community. And Frankfurt also housed the spring and fall book fairs, which scholars, writers, agents, and publishers from all of Europe attended, as they still do. No wonder, then, that Christian visitor after Christian visitor heard part of a synagogue service or smiled to see the Torah carried with devotion by the hard-pressed but pious and learned members of the Frankfurt congregation. Contacts would be far closer—and more intimate—in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Amsterdam, which Nirenberg comes close to dismissing as too unusual to matter much.

Nirenberg has rebuilt the walls, and shown us that, though they were abstract and immaterial, they were nonetheless real. They channeled most of the traffic—but not all of it. Sometimes men saw things they should not have seen—as when Montaigne, observing a circumcision in Rome, noted that the baby cried, like a Christian baby (“one of ours”) being baptized; or as when Joseph Scaliger would go from Leiden, where he was a professor, to Amsterdam, on Saturdays, for the sheer joy of seeing the Portuguese Jewish women sitting outside their houses, observing the Sabbath; or when Scaliger and other Christians began to read Jewish texts, and came to see that the ethics of the early rabbis and those of Jesus had far more in common than the Gospel writers suggested. The consequences of these little breaches of the wall could be disproportionately big.

Think of Paul Fagius—Reformed minister, Hebraist, often bitter critic of Jews—writing his commentary on Pirqe Avot, or The Teachings of the Fathers. Yossi ben Yo’ezer, so Fagius read, “used to say, let your house be a meeting place for the sages, cleave to the dust of their feet, and drink thirstily their words.” Yes, Fagius wrote, this was true: it was what Mary Magdalene was doing when she clung to the feet of Jesus, her teacher. This tiny insight, recorded in a technical little book in Hebrew and Latin, could be seen as the beginning of some very large changes in the way that Jews and Christians saw one another—a triumph of the scholar’s sharp eye over the beam that usually obstructed it. Fagius had some help: he worked for several years, day after day, with the great Ashkenazi Jewish scholar Elijah Levita. But from the eyes of Nirenberg’s scholars and writers, sadly, the beams are never removed, and in their lives the moments of communion across religious barriers are few.

Yet even in uttering these very small complaints, I feel like one of the critics who occupy the Temple of Dulness in Pope’s Dunciad
. David Nirenberg sets out his argument with a learning, a panache, and a style—as well as a range of interests and of erudition—that put workaday scholars like me to shame. Anti-Judaism is that rare thing, a great book, as much in its ability to provoke disagreement as in its power to shape future writing on the vast territory that its author has so brilliantly mapped. I only wish that John Jewel could come back to life and read it, pen in hand. It would take a multilingual bishop who knew his Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament, his Jerome and his Augustine, his Erasmus and his Luther, to confront this extraordinary and troubling book with the intensity and the erudition that it deserves.

Anthony Grafton is a contributing editor at The New Republic, the Henry Putnam University Professor at Princeton University, and the author of Worlds Made by Words: Scholarship and Community in the Modern West
(Harvard).

As a learned friend sums up Auerbach’s secondary message: “We’re still here.”
Nirenberg is based not only in the Department of History, but also in the Committee on Social Thought at Chicago, perhaps the only academic institution designed for scholars and teachers whose range makes them impossible to pigeonhole.
Eusebius also managed to eliminate most traces of Jews and Judaism—as opposed to ancient “Hebrews”—from his influential history of the early Christian church.

ANTI-JUDAISM

The Western Tradition

By David Nirenberg

Norton. 610 pp. $35

Imaginary Jews

Michael Walzer
March 20, 2014 Issue
Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition
by David Nirenberg
Norton, 610 pp., $35.00
1.
In 1844, Karl Marx published his essay “On the Jewish Question.” This wasn’t an engagement with Judaism, or with Jewish history, or even with the sociology of German Jews. Its occasion was the contemporary debate about Jewish emancipation, but its real purpose was to call for the overthrow of the capitalist order. The call was expressed in a language that is probably not surprising to readers today and that was entirely familiar to readers in the nineteenth century. Still, it is a very strange language. Capitalism is identified by Marx with Judaism, and so the overthrow of capitalism will be, he writes, “the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.” The argument is worth quoting, at least briefly:

Hermitage, St. Petersburg/Bridgeman Art Library
Rembrandt: Portrait of an Old Jew, 1654
The Jew has already emancipated himself in a Jewish way…not only insofar as he has acquired financial power, but also insofar as, through him and without him, money has risen to world power and the practical Jewish spirit has become the practical spirit of the Christian peoples. The Jews have emancipated themselves to the extent that the Christians have become Jews.
“Through [the Jew] and without [the Jew]”—mostly without him: as Marx certainly knew, Jews made up a very small part of the moneyed elite of England, the most advanced capitalist country, and an even smaller part of the “rising” German bourgeoisie. His own father had converted to Protestantism in order to facilitate his entry into bourgeois society, where Jews were not welcome in the early nineteenth century.

What Marx is doing here, David Nirenberg argues in his brilliant, fascinating, and deeply depressing book Anti-Judaism, is exactly what many other writers have done in the long history of Western civilization. His essay is a “strategic appropriation of the most powerful language of opprobrium available to any critic of the powers and institutions of this world.” That sentence comes from Nirenberg’s discussion of Martin Luther, but it applies equally well to Marx. Still, we should be more surprised by Marx’s use of this language than by Luther’s, not only because of Marx’s Jewish origins but also because of his claim to be a radical critic of the ideology of his own time. He might, Nirenberg says, have questioned the association of Judaism and capitalism and written a critical history aimed at making his readers more reflective about that association. Instead, he chose to exploit “old ideas and fears about Jewishness.”

Consider another famous use of this language of opprobrium, this time not in support of but in fierce opposition to revolutionary politics. In his Reflections on the Revolution in France, published in 1790, Edmund Burke compared what was going on in France to previous revolutions (like England’s in 1688) that were led by noblemen “of great civil, and great military talents.” By contrast, he wrote, the revolutionary government in Paris is led by “Jew brokers contending with each other who could best remedy with fraudulent circulation and depreciated paper the wretchedness and ruin brought on their country by their degenerate councils.”

In Burke’s case, the choice of this language was probably not “strategic.” The choice was structural—anti-Judaism was a feature of the worldview with which Burke was able to recognize what Marxists later described as a “bourgeois” revolution. “Given the complete absence of Jews from the actual leadership, whether political, pecuniary, or philosophical, of the French Revolution,” Nirenberg writes, the line about “Jew brokers” (and also Burke’s proposal to help the revolutionaries by sending English Jews to France “to please your new Hebrew brethren”) may, again, seem very strange. In fact, it is utterly common; only Burke’s ferocious eloquence is uncommon.

Friendly writers have worked hard to exonerate Burke of anti-Semitism. Nirenberg says only that they miss the point. Burke certainly knew that Danton, Robespierre, Saint-Just, and their friends and enemies among the revolutionaries were, all of them, Catholics and lapsed Catholics (plus a few Protestants). They were only figurative Jews, imaginary Jews, who came to Burke’s mind, and to many other minds,

because the revolution forced him…to confront basic questions about the ways in which humans relate to one another in society. These were questions that two millennia of pedagogy had taught Europe to ask in terms of “Judaism,” and Burke had learnt the lesson well.
2.
Nirenberg’s book is about those two millennia and their pedagogy. It isn’t a book about anti-Semitism; it isn’t a history of the Jewish experience of discrimination, persecution, and genocide; it isn’t an example of what the historian Salo Baron called the “lachrymose” account of Jewish life in exile; nor is it an indictment of contemporary anti-Zionism or a defense of the state of Israel. The book is not about Jews at all or, at least, not about real Jews; it deals extensively and almost exclusively with imaginary Jews.

What Nirenberg has written is an intellectual history of Western civilization, seen from a peculiar but frighteningly revealing perspective. It is focused on the role of anti-Judaism as a constitutive idea and an explanatory force in Christian and post-Christian thought—though it starts with Egyptian arguments against the Jews and includes a discussion of early Islam, whose writers echo, and apparently learned from, Christian polemics. Nirenberg comments intermittently about the effects of anti-Judaism on the life chances of actual Jews, but dealing with those effects in any sufficient way would require another, and a very different, book.

Anti-Judaism is an extraordinary scholarly achievement. Nirenberg tells us that he has left a lot out (I will come at the end to a few things that are missing), but he seems to know everything. He deals only with literature that he can read in the original language, but this isn’t much of a limitation. Fortunately, the chapter on Egypt doesn’t require knowledge of hieroglyphics; Greek, Hebrew, and Latin are enough. Perhaps it makes things easier that the arguments in all the different languages are remarkably similar and endlessly reiterated.

A certain view of Judaism—mainly negative—gets established early on, chiefly in Christian polemics, and then becomes a common tool in many different intellectual efforts to understand the world and to denounce opposing understandings. Marx may have thought himself insightful and his announcement original: the “worldly God” of the Jews was “money”! But the identification of Judaism with materialism, with the things of this world, predates the appearance of capitalism in Europe by at least 1,500 years.

Since I want mostly to describe Nirenberg’s argument (and, though without the authority of his erudition, to endorse it), let me note quickly one bit of oddness in it. One could also write—it would be much shorter—a history of philo-Judaism. It might begin with those near-Jews, the “God-fearers” of ancient Rome, whom Nirenberg doesn’t mention. But the prime example would be the work of the Christian, mostly Protestant, Hebraists of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, who searched in biblical and rabbinic texts for God’s constitution and produced books with titles like The Hebrew Commonwealth. Many of these writers studied with Jewish scholars, chiefly from the Netherlands, but (with some notable exceptions) remained in most of their references to contemporary Jews conventionally anti-Semitic.

Nirenberg writes about these Christian Hebraists with his usual learning, but they don’t fit neatly into his book. They were looking for an ancient, biblical Judaism (with the rabbis of the talmudic age as helpful interpreters) that they could learn from, even imitate. Nirenberg’s proper subject is a hostile understanding of Judaism, early and late, reiterated by writers of very different sorts, with which the social-political-theological-philosophical world is constructed, enemies are identified, and positions fortified. Philo-Judaism is aspirational; anti-Judaism claims to be explanatory.

What is being explained is the social world; the explanatory tools are certain supposed features of Judaism; and the enemies are mostly not Jews but “Judaizing” non-Jews who take on these features and are denounced for doing so. I will deal with only a few of Judaism’s negative characteristics: its hyperintellectualism; its predilection for tyranny; its equal and opposite predilection for subversive radicalism; and its this-worldly materialism, invoked, as we’ve seen, by both Burke and Marx. None of this is actually descriptive; there certainly are examples of hyper-intellectual, tyrannical, subversive, and materialist Jews (and of dumb, powerless, conformist, and idealistic Jews), but Nirenberg insists, rightly, that real Jews have remarkably little to do with anti-Judaism.

3.
Speaking to German students in May 1933, a few months after the Nazis took power, Joseph Goebbels proclaimed that “the age of rampant Jewish intellectualism is now at an end.” Goebbels was a third-rate German intellectual (the word is unavoidable: he had a Ph.D.; he wrote articles; Nirenberg suggests that we think of him as an apostate intellectual). But he was making an argument that had been made by many less infamous, indeed, more worthy, figures. It begins in the Gospels, with the earliest attacks on the Judaism of the Pharisees. Christian supersessionist arguments—i.e., arguments about what aspects of Judaism had been superseded by Christianity—were based on a set of oppositions: law superseded by love, the letter by the spirit, the flesh (the material world, the commandments of the Torah, the literal text) by the soul. “I bless you father…,” writes Luke, “for hiding these things from the learned and the clever and revealing them to little children.”

The Pharisees were indeed learned and clever, as were their rabbinic successors; the discussions and disputations of the Talmud are a particularly revealing display of learning and cleverness. By comparison (it’s a self-description), the early Christians were naive and innocent children to whom God spoke directly, evoking the faith that brought salvation (which law and learning couldn’t do).

The difficulty here is that the Christians very quickly produced immensely learned, clever, and disputatious theologians of their own, who were then accused, and who accused each other, of Judaizing—thinking or acting like Jews. The earliest Christian writers, Paul most importantly, were engaged with actual Jews, in some mix of coexistence and competition that scholars are still trying to figure out. Nirenberg writes about Paul with subtlety and some sympathy, though he is the writer who sets the terms for much that comes later.

By the time of writers like Eusebius, Ambrose, and Augustine, the Jews had been, as Nirenberg says, “a twice-defeated people”—first militarily by the Romans and then religiously by the imperial establishment of Christianity. And yet the threat of Judaism grew greater and greater as the actual Jews grew weaker and weaker. According to their triumphant opponents, the Jews never gave up their hostility to Jesus and his followers (indeed, they didn’t convert). They were endlessly clever, ever-active hypocrites and tricksters, who mixed truth with falsehood to entice innocent Christians—in the same way that those who prepare lethal drugs “smear the lip of the cup with honey to make the harmful potion easy to drink.”

That last charge is from Saint John Chrysostom, who was such a violent opponent of “the Jews” that earnest scholars have assumed that Judaism must have posed a clear and present danger to Christianity in his time. In fact, Nirenberg tells us, there was no such danger; the people mixing the poison were Christian heretics. If Saint John feared the Jews, “it was because his theology had taught him to view other dangers in Jewish terms.”

Bridgeman Art Library
The cover of a French edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, circa 1940
The critique of Jewish cleverness is fairly continuous over time, but it appears with special force among German idealist philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who repeat many of the supersessionist arguments of the early Christians. Kant understood the heteronomy he sought to overcome—action according to moral law externally imposed rather than freely accepted by the agent—in Jewish terms, but he was himself considered too Jewish by the philosophers who came next, most importantly by Hegel. Kantianism, Hegel claimed, was simply a new version of “the Jewish principle of opposing thought to reality, reason to sense; this principle involves the rending of life and a lifeless connection between God and the world.” According to Hegel, Abraham had made a fateful choice: his rejection of the world in favor of a sublime God had alienated the Jews forever from the beauty of nature and made them the prisoners of law, incapable of love. (Needless to say, Schopenhauer, in the next generation, thought that the academic Hegelians of his time were “Jews” and followers of “the Jewish God,” but I shall stop with Hegel himself.)

It isn’t Nirenberg’s claim that any of these philosophers were anti-Semites. Indeed, Hegel defended the rights of Jews in German universities and thought that anti-Semitic German nationalism was not “German-ness” but “German-stupid-ness.” Nor is Nirenberg arguing for any kind of intellectual determinism. He doesn’t believe that Goebbels’s attack on Jewish intellectualism was the necessary outcome of the German philosophical identification of Judaism with lifeless reason—any more than German idealism was the necessary outcome of Christian claims to supersede Pharasaic Judaism or of Lutheran claims to supersede the Judaizing Catholics. In all these cases, there were other possible outcomes. But philosophers like Hegel used the language of anti-Judaism to resolve “the ancient tension between the ideal and the real,” and their resolutions were enormously influential. The idea of Judaism as the enemy of “life” had a future.

4.
Judaism’s associations with worldly power and subversive rebellion are closely linked, for what is rebellion but an effort to seize power? So Jewish bankers can rule the world and Jewish Bolsheviks can aspire to overthrow and replace the bankers. In some alcoves of the Western imagination, the two groups can almost appear as co-conspirators. The populist anti-Semitism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (what August Bebel called “the socialism of fools”) has a long history. One very early example is Saint Ambrose’s response to the emperor Maximus, who punished the leaders of a Christian mob that burned a synagogue in the Mesopotamian city of Callinicum: “That king,” Ambrose said, “has become a Jew.” What made Maximus a “Jew” was not that he defended the Callinicum Jews but that he ranked enforcement of the law over the demands of the spirit (and the religious enthusiasm of the mob).

Often in the Middle Ages, Christian rulers were accused of Judaizing by populist rebels; the accusations had a curious doubleness. Tyranny was, first of all, imagined as a feature of Judaism, both when there were Jews at court (as physicians, advisers, tax collectors, and money-lenders) and when there were no Jews at court. The Jewish “seduction” of princes was one common way of understanding tyranny. Of course, Jewish seduction was often princely exploitation: the Jews were allowed to collect interest on loans to the king’s Christian subjects so that he could then “expropriate a considerable share of the proceeds.” It was a kind of indirect taxation, at a time when the royal power to tax was radically constrained. The indirectly taxed subjects resented the Jewish money-lenders, but, Nirenberg stresses, the resentment was politically acted out, again and again, in many times and places, though Jews rarely predominated in royal financial affairs “and then only for short periods of time.”

Anti-Judaism also had a second and rather different political usefulness. Jews were imagined not only as tyrants or the allies of tyrants but at the same time, and more realistically, as oppressed and powerless. Given their rejection of Jesus Christ and their complicity in his death, the oppression of the Jews was justified; but when a tyrannical ruler oppressed his Christian subjects, he could be accused of trying “to make a Jewry” out of them, which obviously wasn’t justified. “We would rather die than be made similar to Jews.” That last line is from a petition of the city council of Valencia to King Peter in 1378. So tyranny was twice understood in Jewish terms: a Judaizing prince treated his subjects like Jews.

Populist rebels obviously did not think of themselves as Jews; the construction of subversion and rebellion as “Jewish” was, and is, the work of conservative and reactionary writers. Among modern revolutionaries, the Puritans actually were Judaizers (focused far more on the Old than the New Testament), though with their own supersessionist theology. The use of the tropes of philo- and anti-Judaism during the English civil war made some sense, even though there were no Jews in England in the 1640s. The French revolutionaries were neither Jews nor Judaizers, though Burke and others understood them by invoking the “old ideas and fears.” But it was the Bolsheviks who, more than any other group of rebels, were widely understood as “Jewish.” It is true that many of them were Jews, though of the sort that Isaac Deutscher called “non-Jewish Jews.” Judaism had nothing at all to do with Bolshevism and yet, if Nirenberg is right, the Bolsheviks would have been explained in the language of anti-Judaism even if there had never been a Trotsky, a Kamenev, or a Radek among them.

5.
The identification of Jews with merchants, money-lenders, royal financiers, and predatory capitalists is constant in Nirenberg’s history. I will focus on one moment in that history, Shakespeare’s England and The Merchant of Venice, which will give me a chance to illustrate the difference between his anti-Judaism and the anti-Semitism that is the subject of more conventional, but equally depressing, histories. Anthony Julius’s Trials of the Diaspora: A History of Anti-Semitism in England includes a long and very intelligent discussion of Shakespeare’s play.1 Julius calls The Merchant of Venice an anti-Semitic drama that is also a dramatization of anti-Semitism and the beginning of its literary investigation. Shakespeare, as always, writes from opposing perspectives, but he clearly leans toward Shylock’s enemies.

Shylock himself is the classic Jew: he hates Christians and desires to tyrannize over them; he loves money, more than his own daughter; he is a creature of law rather than of love. He isn’t, indeed, a clever Jew; in his attempt to use the law against his Christian enemy, he is unintelligent and inept. (A modern commentator, Kenneth Gross, asks: “What could [he] have been thinking?”) But in every other way, he is stereotypical, and so he merits the defeat and humiliation he receives—which are meant to delight the Elizabethan audience.

Julius doesn’t ask Nirenberg’s question: What put so many Jews (like Shylock or Marlowe’s Jew of Malta) on the new London stage, in “a city that had sheltered fewer ‘real Jews’ than perhaps any other major one in Europe”? His answer—I can’t reproduce his long and nuanced discussion—is that London was becoming a city of merchants, hence a “Jewish” city, and Shakespeare’s play is a creative response to that development, an effort to address the allegedly Judaizing features of all commercial relationships, and then to save the Christian merchants by distinguishing them from an extreme version of the Jew. But the distinction is open to question, and so the point of the play is best summed up when Portia asks, “Which is the merchant here, and which the Jew?” The play is about law and property, contracts, oaths, pledges, and promises. Shylock is the Jew of the gospels: “I stand here for law.” But he is defeated by a better lawyer and a more literal reading of the law: Portia out-Jews the Jew—which is surely an ironical version of Christian supersession.

So Shakespeare understands the arrival of modern commerce with the help of Judaism, though he knew no Jews and had never read a page of the Talmud. He knew the Bible, though, as Shylock’s speech about Jacob multiplying Laban’s sheep (Act 1, scene 3; Genesis 30) makes clear. And Paul and the gospels were a central part of his intellectual inheritance. Shylock emerges from those latter texts, much like, though the lineage is more complicated, Burke’s “Jew brokers” and Marx’s “emancipated Jews.” The line is continuous.

6.
Nirenberg’s epilogue addresses one major theorist’s denial of that continuity. In the preface to The Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt mocks what she calls the doctrine of “eternal antisemitism” (this could serve, Nirenberg writes, “as an ironic title for my own book”) and insists that the “specifically Jewish functions” (banking and finance) in the capitalist economy made the Jews partly “responsible” (her word) for the hatred they evoked.2 This is much like Marx’s claim that “the Jews have eagerly contributed” to the triumph of their “worldly cult,” “Haggling,” and their “worldly God,” “Money.”

Arendt actually draws on the statistical work of Walter Frank, a Nazi economist, who headed an Institute for the History of the New Germany, to support her account of the role of the Jews in the German bourgeoisie. It can’t be the case, she argues, that the Nazis, who had “to persuade and mobilize people,” could have chosen their victims arbitrarily. There has to be a concrete answer, a local socioeconomic answer, to the question: Why the Jews?

Nirenberg agrees that the choice of the Jews was not arbitrary; nor does he find Arendt’s argument surprising—though he rejects all the usual hostile explanations: her assimilationist childhood, her long relationship with Heidegger, and so on. He does think it remarkable that Arendt “clung” to her argument about Jewish responsibility “even after the full extent and fantastic projective power of Nazi anti-Semitism (including its vast exaggeration of the Jews’ economic importance) became clear.” But his whole book is a kind of explanation for why she found it so easy to connect Jews and finance: the connection was one of “the a priori ideological commitments that structured her selection and interpretation of ‘facts’ about the Jews.”

The disagreement with Arendt nicely sums up Nirenberg’s book. His argument is that a certain view of Judaism lies deep in the structure of Western civilization and has helped its intellectuals and polemicists explain Christian heresies, political tyrannies, medieval plagues, capitalist crises, and revolutionary movements. Anti-Judaism is and has long been one of the most powerful theoretical systems “for making sense of the world.” No doubt, Jews sometimes act out the roles that anti-Judaism assigns them—but so do the members of all the other national and religious groups, and in much greater numbers. The theory does not depend on the behavior of “real” Jews.

Nirenberg’s history of anti-Judaism is powerful and persuasive, but it is also unfinished. It never gets to the United States, for example, where anti-Judaism seems to have been less prevalent and less useful (less used in making sense of society and economy) than it was and is in the Old World—and where philo-Judaism seems to have a much larger presence. The modern state of Israel also makes no appearance in Nirenberg’s book, except for one sentence on the next-to-last page:

We live in an age in which millions of people are exposed daily to some variant of the argument that the challenges of the world they live in are best explained in terms of “Israel.”
So we have a partial discontinuity (the US) and an unexplored continuity (contemporary Israel) with Nirenberg’s history. There is still work to be done. But here, in this book, anti-Judaism has at last found its radical critic.
1Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 178–192. ↩
2Harcourt, 1968, pp. 5–7, 9. ↩

Voir par ailleurs:

Introduction:
Neighboring
Faiths
David
Nirenberg

“The
neighbor
of
a
Jew
will
never
be
a
good
Christian.”

The
words
are
those
of
a
medieval
holy
man,
Saint
Vincent
Ferrer,
whose
massive
campaign
of
religious
segregation
and
conversion
in
the
early
fifteenth
century
forever
altered
the
confessional
landscape
of
Europe.

They
express
a
powerful
view
of
the
world,
simultaneously
sociological
and
theological:
right
faith
requires
distance
from
wrong
faith,
which
otherwise
threatens
the
believer.

St.
Vincent
was
a
brilliant
impresario
of
this
view—just
how
brilliant
we
will
see
in
Chapter
Five
of
this
book—but
he
certainly
did
not
invent
it.

Neighboring
peoples
and
faiths
occupy
a
place
at
the
heart
of
each
of
the
very
diverse
religious
traditions
we
call
Judaism,
Christianity,
and
Islam.

The
scriptures
of
each
of
these
faiths
contain
many,
sometimes
quite
contradictory,
teachings
about
both
the
dangers
and
the
virtues
of
“neighborliness.”

The
Hebrew
Bible,
for
example,
enjoined
the
extirpation
of
the
“seven
nations”
living
in
the
“Promised
Land,”
lest
their
presence
lead
to
intermarriage
and
idolatry.
(Deut.
7:1-­‐5)

But
it
also
decreed
“the
stranger
that
dwells
with
you
shall
be
to
you
as
one
born
among
you,
and
you
shall
love
him
as
yourself,
for
you
were
strangers
in
the
land
of
Egypt.”
(Lev.
19:34,
Deut.
10:19)

It
frequently
condemned
certain
kinds
of
inter-­‐marriage,
but
did
not
hesitate
to
start
the
messianic
line
of
King
David
with
the
union
of
a
Moabite
woman
and
a
Hebrew
man
(on
which
see
the
Book
of
Ruth).

And
it
can
in
one
and
the
same
prophecy
envision
an
apocalypse
in
which
Israel’s
mighty
and
aggressive
neighbors
are
utterly
and
vengefully
destroyed,
and
one
in
which
they
are
saved
and
sanctified:
“Blessed
be
my
people
Egypt,
Assyria
my
creation,
and
Israel
my
heritage.”
(Isaiah
19:25)

The
New
Testament,
too,
contains
many
passages
that
could
be
and
have
been
read
as
commanding
love
of
the
neighbor,
the
stranger,
and
even
the
enemy,
such
as
Luke
10:27,
Matt.
5:43,
Hebrews
13:1.

But
it
also
preserves
some
that
have
been
understood
to
enjoin
quite
the
opposite.

“He
that
is
not
with
me
is
against
me.”
“Do
you
suppose
that
I
am
here
to
bring
peace
on
earth?
No,
I
tell
you,
but
rather
division.”

“As
for
my
enemies
who
did
not
want
me
for
their
king,
bring
them
here
and
execute
them

1

in
my
presence.”
(Luke
11:
23,
12:51,
19:27)

Similarly
in
the
Qur’an,
we
can
find
many
different
injunctions
about
how
to
treat
neighbors
of
other
faiths.

Some
seem
to
encourage
extermination:

“Fight
and
slay
the
pagans
wherever
you
find
them,
and
seize
them,
beleaguer
them,
lie
in
wait
for
them
with
every
stratagem
of
war.”

(Surah
9:5)
Others
might
trend
toward
tolerance:
“It
is
part
of
the
mercy
of
Allah
that
you
deal
gently
with
them
[Unbelievers].

If
you
were
severe
or
harsh-­‐hearted,
they
would
have
broken
away
from
about
you:
so
pass
over
(their
faults),
and
ask
for
(Allah’s)
forgiveness
for
them;
and
consult
them
in
affairs.”
(Surah
3:159).”1

Still
others
suggest
that
some
pluralism
is
possible
but
segregation
necessary:
“O
you
who
believe,
take
not
Jews
and
Christians
as
friends….
Who
of
you
takes
them
as
friends
is
one
of
them.”

“O
believers,
do
not
accept
into
your
intimacy
those
outside
your
ranks:
they
will
not
fail
to
corrupt
you.”
(Surah
5:56,
3:118)2

This
is
not
a
book
about
the
scriptures
of
the
three
religions
that
claim
descent
from
Abraham.

It
is
a
book
about
how
Muslims,
Christians
and
Jews
lived
with
and
thought
about
each
other
in
the
Middle
Ages,
and
about
what
that
medieval
past
can
tell
us
about
how
they
do
so
today.

But
we
must
start
with
scripture,
because
all
later
periods,
including
our
own,
often
look
to
it
for
instruction
about
the
sorts
of
neighborliness
God
has
in
mind.

It
is
through
their
reading
and
re-­‐reading
of
its
pages
that
later
Christians,
Jews,
and
Muslims
alike
debated
how
(in
the
words
of
the
greatest
medieval
rabbi),
“the
Omnipresent
one
has
sanctified
us
and
separated
us
from
the
heathens.”3

So
it
is
crucial
to
acknowledge
from
the
outset
of
our
studies
that
the
scriptures
upon
which
all
three
religions
are
founded
can
themselves
sustain
any
number
of
potential
attitudes
toward
“neighbors,”
ranging
from
love
and
toleration
to
total
extermination.

Even
this
sharp
distinction
between
love
and
extermination

1
For
one
example
of
an
interpretation
that
relies
on
these
verses
to
draw
out
multiple
Islamic
teachings
on
the
treatment
of
non-­‐Muslims
see
Mahmoud
Muhammad
Taha,
The
Second
Message
of
Islam,
trans.
Abdullahi
Ahmed
An-­‐ Na’im
(Syracuse:
Syracuse
University
Press,
1987),
166.
2
For
an
early
Islamic
tradition
about
the
occasion
for
revelation
of
Surah
5.56
see
the
life
of
the
Prophet
by
Muḥammad
Ibn
Isḥāq
(died
in
AH
150/768
CE),
translated
by
A.
Guillaume,
The
Life
of
Muhammad:
a
Translation
of
Ishāq’s
Sīrat
Rasūl
Allāh
(Karachi:
Oxford
University
Press,
2000),
364.
3
The
words
are
Moses
Maimonides’,
from
the
introduction
to
his
Mishneh
Torah.

2

is
a
bit
misleading:
many
communities
of
believers
have
read
their
scriptures
in
ways
that
identify
and
equate
the
two.

In
medieval
Catholic
canon
law,
for
example,
crusading
could
be
considered
an
act
of
love
toward
the
Muslim
enemy,
for
whom
an
early
death
was
considered
more
charitable
than
a
long
life
spent
in
mortal
sin.

And
as
late
as
the
mid-­‐twentieth
century,
the
Vatican’s
lawyers
underwent
what
might
seem
to
us
considerable
contortions
in
order
to
classify
the
Nazi
embargo
and
segregation
of
Jews
in
Germany
as
legitimate
expressions
of
love
of
neighbor.4

One
may
choose,
from
one’s
own
time
and
perspective,
to
disagree
with
these
previous
interpretations
of
God’s
will,
and
indeed
it
is
important
that
we
do
so.

Critical
scholars
of
a
given
scripture,
for
example,
can
argue
that
the
authors
of
the
text
could
not
have
intended
a
given
interpretation
at
the
time
in
which
it
was
written.

Believers
can
cleave
to
the
interpretations
of
their
own
particular
religious
community,
rather
than
paying
attention
or
lending
credence
to
those
of
others.

But
as
historians,
at
least,
we
have
to
concede
that
for
millions
of
believers
in
other
times
and
places,
these
cruel
loves
and
“sharp
mercies”
(the
phrase
is
Martin
Luther’s)
could
be
perfectly
consonant
with
God’s
written
word,
even
demanded
by
it.

Among
the
many
potential
truths
that
scripture
teaches
on
the
subject
of
neighbors,
the
interpretations
that
moved
these
believers
must
count
every
bit
as
much
as
our
own.5

That
concession
alone
can
protect
us
from
two
forms
of
fantasy
as
prevalent
in
our
age
as
in
any
other.

The
first
is
that
my
scripture
is
loving,
while
that
of
the
other
is
cruel;
that
my
faith
community
is
capable
of
tolerance
and
neighborliness,
while
that
of
the
other
is
not.

(Chapter
9
will
focus
on
a
few
modern

4
See
Jonathan
Riley-­‐Smith,
“Crusading
as
an
Act
of
Love,”
History
65,
no.
214
(June
1980):
177-­‐92;
John
Connelly,
From
Enemy
to
Brother:
the
Revolution
in
Catholic
Teaching
on
the
Jews,
1933-­‐1965
(Cambridge,
MA:
Harvard
University
Press,
2012),
37-­‐9.
5
For
Luther’s
“sharp
mercies”
(which
he
also
called
“utter
mercilessness”)
see
his
“On
the
Jews
and
their
Lies,”
vol.
53
in
the
Weimar
Edition
(Weimarer
Ausgabe)
published
by
Hermann
Böhlaus
Nachfolger
(henceforth
WA),
pages
522.34-­‐5,
531.6-­‐7.

The
“mercies”
included
the
burning
of
the
Jews’
synagogues,
the
destruction
of
their
houses,
their
segregation
and
concentration
into
one
place,
the
confiscation
of
their
wealth
and
their
religious
books,
the
prohibition
of
their
teaching
and
their
money-­‐lending,
forced
manual
labor
for
the
young,
and,
if
all
this
still
failed
to
contain
their
blasphemy,
then
“away
with
them.”

3

manifestations
of
this
type
of
fantasy.)

And
the
second
is
that
we
have
scripture
right:
that
our
interpretations
have
recovered
its
original
and
true
intent,
and
that
all
other
interpretations
are
miss-­‐ readings
whose
study
can
provide,
at
best,
only
a
history
of
error.

The
book
before
you
is
premised
on
a
very
different
conviction.

It
pays
close
attention
to
how
Muslim,
Jewish,
and
Christian
neighbors
loved,
tolerated,
massacred,
and
expelled
each
other—all
in
the
name
of
God—in
periods
and
places
both
long
ago
and
far
away.

And
it
insists
that,
no
matter
how
wrong-­‐headed
or
bizarre
these
ways
of
a
distant
past
may
seem,
they
have
something
to
teach
us
about
how
we
think
and
act
today.

Teach,
not
by
way
of
example,
whether
positive
or
negative:
I
am
not
proposing
that
the
past
serve
us
as
a
model
to
emulate
or
avoid.

I
mean
teach
rather
in
the
sense
of
cultivating
within
us
a
sensibility
that
can
discover
in
the
past
a
stimulus
to
critical
awareness
about
the
workings
of
our
own
assumptions,
hopes,
and
habits
of
thought.

Among
those
habits
is
the
conviction
that
our
religious
traditions
are
independent
of
one
another,
that
they
are
stable,
and
that
one
contains
the
capacity
for
truth
and
tolerance
while
the
others
do
not.

And
among
the
hopes
is
the
sense
that
greater
knowledge
of
the
neighbor
leads
to
greater
tolerance,
that
if
only
we
understood
better
the
history
of
our
faiths,
we
would
succeed
in
separating
love
from
violence,
choosing
proximity
over
distance,
and
becoming
better
neighbors.

As
a
stimulus
to
critique
of
these
convictions,
this
book
proposes
a
world
in
which
the
three
religions
are
interdependent,
constantly
transforming
themselves
by
thinking
about
each
other
in
a
fundamentally
ambivalent
form
of
neighborliness.

Again,
this
is
not
a
book
about
scripture,
but
we
do
need
to
remember
that
this
ambivalent
neighborliness,
with
all
its
power
to
produce
both
proximity
and
distance,
is
encoded
in
the
scriptures
themselves.

Consider
just
this
one
example
from
the
Qur’an,
a
verse
focused
on
the
founding
moment
of
scriptural
revelation
itself:

And
remember
we
took
your
covenant
and
we
raised
above
you
(the
towering
height)
of
Mount
(Sinai)
(saying):
‘Hold
firmly
to
what
we
have
given
you
and
hearken
(to
the
Law)!’

They
said:
‘We
hear,
and
we
disobey.’

And
they
had
to
drink
into
their
hearts
(of
the
taint)
of
the
calf
because
of
their
faithlessness.

(2:93;
cf.
2.60,
4.153)

4

In
this
passage
we
see
the
Prophet
and
his
community
of
believers
creating
their
place
in
sacred
history
by
looking
toward
the
Hebrew
Bible
and
the
people
to
whom
the
earlier
prophecies
were
given.

They
do
so
in
ways
that
suggest
deep
familiarity,
not
just
with
those
earlier
scriptures
(the
Hebrew
Bible),
but
also
with
the
religious
culture
of
their
contemporary
neighbors,
the
Jews
of
the
Arabian
Peninsula
circa
600
AD.

That
familiarity
surfaces
even
in
the
geographic
vocabulary
of
the
Qur’an,
which
names
the
mount
of
revelation
not
in
Arabic
but
in
Aramaic,
the
language
of
the
Jews:
Ṭūr
Sīnīn.6
Even
more
remarkable
is
the
cultural
interplay
that
emerges
in
the
strange
citation
with
which
the
verse
begins:
“We
raised
above
you
the
towering
height
of
Mount
Sinai.”

The
passage
is
not
a
citation
from
the
Hebrew
Bible,
but
rather
from
the
Talmud,
the
“oral
Torah”
of
the
rabbis.

Commenting
on
Exodus
19.17,
the
Talmud’s
tractate
Shabbat
reports
the
following
discussion:

“And
they
stood
beneath
the
mount”:
Rabbi
Abdimi
the
son
of
Hama
son
of
Hasa
said:
This
teaches
that
the
Holy
One,
blessed
be
he,
overturned
the
mountain
upon
them
like
an
inverted
cask,
and
said
to
them
“If
you
take
upon
yourselves
the
Law,
good.

If
not,
here
you
will
find
your
grave.”7

The
stunning
familiarity
of
the
early
Muslim
community
with
their
Jewish
neighbors
does
not
end
there.

Even
the
devastating
line
“we
hear
and
we
disobey”
is
an
example
of
multi-­‐cultural
play.

In
Deuteronomy
5:24
the
Israelites
declare
to
Moses,
“we
hear,
and
obey.”

(Compare
Exodus
24:7.)

The
Qur’an’s
transformation
of
that
phrase
is
a
multi-­‐lingual
pun,
playing
on
the
homophony
between
Hebrew
shama’nu
v-­‐‘asinu
(we
heard
and
obeyed/we
will
hear
and
obey)
and
Arabic
sami`inā
wa-­‐`aṣaynā
(we
hear
and
disobey).8

The
play
on
words
reveals
a
shared
scriptural
and

6
Compare
the
Targum’s
Aramaic:
ṭūrā
de-­‐sīnai.

Alternatively,
the
language
may
be
Syriac,
utilized
by
Christians
in
the
region,
for
the
word
is
the
same
in
both.

The
citation
from
the
Talmud
that
follows,
however,
makes
Aramaic
the
more
likely
source.

It
is
curious
that
the
Qur’an
consistently
refers
(with
one
exception)
to
the
site
of
revelation
in
Aramaic
(or
Syriac),
not
Arabic,
as
in
the
opening
of
Sura
52:
“By
the
Mount
[Ṭūr]
(of
revelation)!

By
a
decree
inscribed
in
a
scroll
unfolded!””
7
Babylonian
Talmud,
Shabbat
88a.
See
also
BT
Avoda
Zara
2b.

8
Though
grammatically
in
the
past
tense,
the
phrase
can
be
taken
in
the
future
and
the
present
tense.
The
Qur’anic
transformation
of
this
phrase,
however,
was
itself
deeply
influenced
by
rabbinic
Jewish
commentaries,
as
Julian
Obermann
brilliantly
demonstrated
in
“Koran
and
Agada:
the
Events
at
Mount
Sinai,”

5

linguistic
space
of
neighborliness
at
the
same
time
that
it
shatters

it.

In
this
particular
example
we
can
see
how
familiarity
with
the
Jewish
neighbor
is
deployed
in
early
Islam
in
order
to
claim
continuity
with
that
neighbor’s
religious
tradition
(the
teachings
of
the
Hebrew
prophets)
and
appropriate
its
authority,
while
simultaneously
distancing
the
believers
from
the
truth
claims
of
those
neighbors
themselves
(that
is,
the
Jewish
people
and
children
of
Israel).
9

I
take
the
ambivalence
of
this
gesture
to
be
constitutional
of
Christian,
Jewish,
and
Muslim
scriptural
communities,
which
take
shape
through
a
process
of
simultaneous
identification
and
dis-­‐identification
with
their
rival
“siblings”
and
neighbors.

We
might
call
this
process,
in
all
of
its
ambivalence,
the
“co-­‐ production”
of
religious
communities.10

That
co-­‐production
does
not
end
with
its
codification
in
scripture:
on
the
contrary,
precisely
because
it
is
modeled
in
scripture,
it
continues
to
shape
communities
to
come.

And
conversely,
each
and
all
of
these
later
communities
bring
their
own
experiences
and
worries
of
neighborliness
to
bear
upon
their
interpretation
of
scripture,
transforming
how
that
scripture
can
be
read
in
the
future.

The
dynamic
ambivalence
of
this
process
cannot
be
purged:
it
lies
at
the
foundations
of
all
of
our
scriptural
communities.

But
the
study
of
this
process
nevertheless
offers
us
its
own
principle
of
hope.

That
principle
is
different
from
the
dangerous
fantasy
that
if
only
all
converted
to
the
truth
we
could
live
together

American
Journal
of
Semitic
Languages
and
Literatures
58
(1941):
23-­‐48.

See
also
G.D.
Newby,
“Arabian
Jewish
history
in
the
Sīrah,”
Jerusalem
Studies
in
Arabic
and
Islam
7
(1986):
136-­‐8;
and
Ignazio
di
Mateo,
“Il
Tahrīf
od
alterazione
della
Bibbia
seconodo
i
musulmani,”
Bessarione
38
(1922):
64-­‐111,
223-­‐360.
9
The
multi-­‐lingual
pun
thus
underwrites
the
Islamic
doctrine
of

“taḥrīf”—the
charge
of
Jewish
and
Christian
alteration
and
falsification
of
previous
scriptures—that
allows
the
Islamic
community
both
to
honor
the
previous
scriptures
and
to
set
them
aside
as
tampered
with.

Compare
Sura
4.46:
“Of
the
Jews
there
are
those
who
displace
words
from
their
(right)
places
and
say
‘We
hear
and
we
disobey’…
with
a
twist
of
their
tongues
and
a
slander
to
the
faith.”
10
I
do
not
propose
the
term
co-­‐production
as
a
competitor
to
“convivencia”
and
other
terms
of
art,
but
only
as
a
metaphor.

Although
I
stumbled
upon
the
word
on
my
own,
it
is
a
concept
very
much
in
the
air,
and
I
have
since
discovered
it
also
in
the
work
of
three
kindred
spirits,
Mercedes
García-­‐Arenal,
Galit
Hasan-­‐ Rokem,
and
Uri
Shachar.

6

in
peace.

Nor
is
it
the
blandly
liberal
(and
demonstrably
false)
hope
that
if
only
we
all
knew
more
about
each
other
we
would
love
each
other
more.

The
principle
on
offer
here
is
much
more
modest,
but
perhaps
much
more
realistic.

It
is
the
hope
that
we
can
become
a
bit
more
self-­‐aware,
more
critical
of
the
ways
in
which
we
have
learned
to
think
with
and
about
our
neighbors,
and
that
this
critical
awareness
can
have
an
impact
on
how
we
then
act
in
the
world.

One
necessary
step
toward
greater
self-­‐consciousness
of
how
our
thinking
about
neighbors
shapes
our
world
is
the
realization
that
“neighborliness”
between
the
three
religions
can
take
many
different
forms.

Among
them
is
our
every-­‐day
sense
of
the
word:
at
some
times
and
in
some
places,
Muslims,
Jews,
and
Christians
occupied
houses
next
to
each
other.
Those
times
and
places
were
relatively
rare.

The
lands
of
Islam
contained
large
populations
of
Christians
and
Jews
throughout
much
of
their
history,
yet
it
remains
the
case
that,
in
the
later
medieval
as
in
the
modern
period,
most
Muslims
living
in
those
lands
probably
never
met
a
living
Christian
or
a
Jew.

All
the
more
so
in
Medieval
Western
Europe,
which
was—with
the
exception
of
the
Iberian
Peninsula—the
least
religiously
diverse
of
the
regions
clustered
around
the
Mediterranean,
harboring
vanishingly
small
communities
of
Jews
and
Muslims.

Many
of
the
pages
in
this
book
focus
on
the
lands
we
now
call
Spain:
the
one
extraordinary
region
of
Western
Europe
in
which
Muslims,
Christians,
and
Jews
did
indeed
live
in
close
proximity.11

But
we
will
also
dwell
on
less
local
types
of
neighborliness,
with
their
attendant
anxieties.

After
all,
the
entire
Mediterranean
can
be
thought
of
metaphorically
as
a
neighborhood,
as
when
Plato
wrote
of
the
many
peoples
inhabiting
the
shores
of
that
sea
that
they
lived
“like
ants
or
frogs
about
a
pond.”
(Phaedo
109b)

Even
at
a
global
level,
the
geo-­‐political
“proximity”
of
the
three
religions
could
generate
a
great
deal
of
power.
A
priest
in
12th
century
Paris
did
not
have
to
meet
any
Muslims
in
order
to
preach
about
the
relationship
of
“Christendom”
to
Islam,
any
more
than
it
is
today
necessary
for
a

11
The
term
Spain
is
anachronistic,
since
in
the
Middle
Ages
the
Iberian
Peninsula
was
made
up
of
multiple
polities.

I
use
it
here
for
convenience,
but
will
often
refer
throughout
the
text
to
those
polities
themselves:
Castile,
Catalonia,
Valencia,
Aragon,
Navarre,
Mallorca,
etc.

7

citizen
of
the
Islamic
Republic
of
Iran
to
know
an
inhabitant
of
Tel
Aviv,
or
a
voter
in
Boston
a
resident
of
Baghdad,
in
order
for
them
to
learn
to
think
of
the
perils
and
opportunities
of
their
world
in
terms
of
the
interactions
between
Islam,
Christianity,
and
Judaism.

Finally,
the
book
introduces
yet
another
kind
of
neighborliness
between
the
three
religions:
not
in
space
and
time
but
in
thought.

This
sense
of
neighborliness
is
less
obvious
than
the
others,
but
perhaps
more
expandable,
and
so
deserves
some
explanation.

By
neighbors
in
thought
I
mean
that
believers
in
all
three
faiths
defined
(and
define)
themselves
and
their
place
in
this
world
and
the
one
to
come
by
thinking
in
terms
of
the
other
faiths.

Another
scriptural
example
might
help
to
clarify
this
fundamental
point.

We
all
know
that
the
early
followers
of
Jesus
emerged
within
or
in
close
proximity
to
various
types
of
Judaism,
and
that
for
them
determining
the
appropriate
relationship
between
these
communities
became
an
urgent
question.

There
were
many
different
answers
to
that
question,
some
of
which
are
preserved
in
the
New
Testament
scriptures
that
became
canonical.

Consider,
for
example,
just
one
sentence
from
St.
Paul’s
Epistle
to
the
Galatians,
one
of
the
earliest
writings
produced
by
a
follower
of
Jesus,
circa
50
A.D.

In
chapter
2,
verse
14,
Paul
upbraids
Peter
for
refusing
to
eat
with
gentile
converts
who
do
not
observe
Jewish
dietary
laws,
and
he
does
so
in
striking
terms:
“Since
you,
though
you
are
a
Jew,
live
like
the
gentiles
and
not
like
the
Jews,
how
can
you
compel
the
gentiles
to
Judaize?”

Early
Christians
were
shocked
by
Paul’s
harsh
criticism
of
Peter
(in
2.13,
he
even
used
the
word
“hypocrisy”).

But
for
us
what
is
more
noteworthy
is
the
logic
encoded
in
this
(previously
rare)
verb
“to
Judaize.”
The
verb
is
applied
to
Gentiles,
not
Jews.
Neither
a
Jew
nor
a
Jewish
follower
of
Jesus
“Judaized”
by
observing
dietary
laws
or
being
circumcised.

For
Paul,
“Judaizing”
designated
the
damning
displacement
of
a
gentile
believer’s
attention
away
from
Jesus’
spiritual
message
and
toward
the
literal
commandments
of
the
Jewish
tradition
within
which
Jesus
was
born
and
taught.
By
analogy
it
came
to
signify
the
Christian’s
erroneous
orientation
of
attention
away
from
the
spirit
and
toward
the
flesh,
the
letter
of
scripture,
and
the
material
things
of
this
world:
all
things
that
came
to
be
associated
with
Judaism
in
Christian
thought.12

12
Judaize:
the
Greek
term
(ioudaizein,
tr.
into
Latin
as
judaizare)
appears

8

Over
time,
the
repeated
application
of
this
type
of
analogy
turned
thinking
about
Judaism
and
Judaizing
into
a
basic
resource
for
Christian
self-­‐definition
and
self-­‐critique,
an
important
part
of
the
conceptual
tool
kit
with
which
Christians
could
make
sense
of
their
world,
and
this
even
in
times
and
places
where
there
were
no
“real”
Jews
to
be
found.

In
this
sense,
the
“neighborliness”
between
Christian
and
Jew
is
not
simply
spatial.

A
potential
“Jew”
exists
within
every
Christian
no
matter
how
“Gentile,”
for
“Judaism”
threatens
all
of
us
as
we
pick
our
hesitant
way
through
this
transitory
world
of
flesh.

Over
the
course
of
this
book
we
will
see
how
variants
of
this
Pauline
logic
were
put
to
work
in
various
Christian
societies,
work
that
transformed
the
possibilities
of
existence
for
Christians,
Muslims
and
Jews
alike.

But
this
“neighborliness
in
thought”
is
an
Islamic
and
Jewish
phenomenon
as
much
as
a
Christian
one.

Like
Christianity,
Islam
faced
questions
about
its
relations
to
previous
prophetic
traditions,
questions
not
so
different
from
the
ones
Paul
and
Peter
had
been
trying
to
address.

In
Islam,
as
in
Christianity,
this
process
of
co-­‐production
did
not
end
with
the
establishment
of
the
new
religion.

According
to
tradition,
Muhammad
himself
predicted
its
ongoing
power:
“Those
who
were
before
you
of
the
People
of
the
Book
[i.e.,
Christians
and
Jews]
became
divided
into
72
sects,
and
this
community
will
be
divided
into
73:
72
in
Hell,
and
one
in
Paradise.”

Across
the
Islamic
centuries
charges
of
“Judaizing”
helped
to
drive
this
sectarian
productivity.

It
would
be
difficult
to
find
a
medieval
Muslim
sectarian
community
that
was
not
at
some
time
or
other
accused
of
being
“Jewish”
by
its
opponents
(“the
Shi’is
are
the
Jews
of
our
community,”
as
an
ancient
Sunni
saying
has
it).
13

As
in

already
in
the
Septuagint
(e.g.,
in
Esther
8.17),
where
it
is
not,
however,
negative.

Paul’s
use
of
it
is
in
the
long
run
transformative.

On
the
verb’s
history
see
Michele
Murray,
Playing
a
Jewish
Game:
Gentile
Christian
Judaizing
in
the
First
and
Second
Centuries
CE
(Ontario:
Wilfred
Laurier
University
Press,
2004),
especially
3-­‐4;

Róbert
Dán,
“Judaizare—the
Career
of
a
Term,”
in
Antitrinitarianism
in
the
Second
Half
of
the
16th
Century,
eds.
R.
Dán
and
A.
Pirnát
(Budapest
and
Leiden:
Akadémiai
Kiadó
and
Brill,
1982),
25-­‐34;
Gilbert
Dagron,
“Judäiser,”
in
Travaux
et
Mémoires
11
(1991)
:
359-­‐80.
13
This
example
and
others
are
found
in
Uri
Rubin,
Between
Bible
and
Qur’an:
the
Children
of
Israel
and
the
Islamic
Self-­‐Image
(Princeton:
Darwin,
1999),
168ff.;
and
in
Steven
M.
Wasserstrom,
“‘The
Shi’is
are
the
Jews
of
Our
Community:’
An
Interreligious
Comparison
within
Sunni
Thought,”
IOS
14
(1994):
297–324.

On
the
“Jewish
lineages”
of
all
sects,
see
Wasserstrom,

9

Christianity,
“Jewishness”
became
a
danger
to
which
every
Muslim
was
potentially
subject,
and
excessive
proximity
exacerbated
the
danger.14

For
a
good
example
we
can
turn
to
the
eleventh-­‐century
Iberian
poet,
polemicist,
politician
and
scholar
Ibn
Ḥazm,
one
of
the
most
prolific
and
original
pens
of
the
Islamic
Middle
Ages:

…God
will
treat
those
who
befriend
the
Jews
and
take
them
into
their
confidence
as
He
treated
the
Jews
themselves.

For
whosoever
amongst
Muslim
princes
has
listened
to
all
this
and
still
continues
to
befriend
Jews…
well
deserves
to
be
overtaken
by
the
same
humiliation
and
to
suffer
in
this
world
the
same
griefs
which
God
has
meted
out
to
the
Jews….
Let
any
prince
upon
whom
God
has
bestowed
some
of
his
bounty
take
heed…
let
him
get
away
from
this
filthy,
stinking,
dirty
crew
beset
with
God’s
anger
and
malediction,
with
humiliation
and
wretchedness,
misfortune,
filth
and
dirt,
as
no
other
people
has
ever
been.

Let
him
know
that
the
garments
in
which
God
has
enwrapped
them
are
more
obnoxious
than
war,
and
more
contagious
than
elephantiasis.15

Following
a
logic
and
a
diction
very
similar
to
that
of
Surah
5:56
(“Who
of
you
takes
them
as
friends
is
one
of
them”)
or
3:118
(“they
will
not
fail
to
corrupt
you”),
Ibn
Ḥazm
produces
the
“Judaism”
of
Muslim
princes.

Perhaps
we
could
speak
of
a
similar
“co-­‐ production”
in
modern
Islamic
political
discourse,
with
its
tendency
to
criticize
Muslim
politicians
as
“Jewish”
hypocrites,
materialists,
and
agents
of
Zionism.

Between
Muslim
and
Jew,
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
1995),
157-­‐8.

His
use
of
the
word
“heresy”
is
a
bit
misleading
here,
since
the
denomination
is
relative
to
the
observer.

The
Khawārij,
for
example,
probably
considered
their
(eventually
victorious
and
therefore
“orthodox”)
opponents
a
“Judaizing
heresy.”
14
For
an
overview
of
this
process
see
David
Nirenberg,
Anti-­‐Judaism:
the
Western
Tradition
(New
York:
W.W.
Norton,
2013),
135-­‐82.
15
Ibn
Ḥazm,
“Al-­‐Radd
`alā
ibn
al-­‐naghrīla
al
yahūdī”
[The
Refutation
of
Ibn
Naghrila
the
Jew],
in
Rasā’il
ibn
ḥazm
al-­‐andalusi,
ed.
Iḥsān
`Abbās
(Beirut,
1980-­‐ 83)
3:67.

Translated
in
Moshe
Perlmann,
“Eleventh-­‐century
Andalusian
Authors
on
the
Jews
of
Granada,”
Proceedings
of
the
American
Academy
for
Jewish
Research
18
(1948-­‐49):
281-­‐3.

On
this
treatise
see
Ross
Brann,
Power
in
the
Portrayal:
Representations
of
Jews
and
Muslims
in
Tenth-­‐
and
Twelfth-­‐Century
Islamic
Spain
(Princeton:
Princeton
University
Press,
2009),
78-­‐9.

10

What
was
true
of
medieval
Muslims
and
Christians
was
true
of
Jews
as
well:
the
rabbis,
too,
understood
godliness
as
produced
and
maintained
in
interaction
with
and
distinction
from
one’s
neighbors,
both
real
and
imagined.

A
rabbinic
text
called
Lamentations
Rabbah,
dating
roughly
to
the
fifth
century
A.D.,
provides
a
parable
on
the
subject:

It
is
like
a
king
who
married
a
woman
and
wrote
her
a
large
marriage-­‐settlement
[ketubbah].

Then
he
left
her
for
many
years
and
journeyed
to
the
provinces.

Her
neighbors
used
to
taunt
her
and
say
to
her:
hasn’t
your
husband
abandoned
you?

Go!

Marry
another
man!

She
would
weep
and
sigh,
and
afterward
she
would
enter
her
bridal
chamber
and
read
her
marriage
settlement
and
sigh
[with
relief].

Many
years
and
days
later
the
king
returned.

He
said
to
her:
I
am
amazed
that
you
have
waited
for
me
all
these
years!

She
replied:
my
master
the
king,
if
not
for
the
large
wedding-­‐settlement
you
wrote
me,
my
neighbors
would
long
ago
have
led
me
astray.16

Parables
permit
play,
so
I
will
interpret
this
one
provocatively,
as
a
recognition
of
the
“neighborly
co-­‐productions”
I
am
attempting
to
describe.

Jews
in
the
diaspora,
whether
in
pagan,
Christian
or
later
in
Islamic
lands,
lived
in
societies
deeply
structured
by
cosmologies
and
theologies
different
from
their
own.

Often
they
adopted
aspects
of
their
neighbors’
cultures.

The
study
of
those
adoptions
and
adaptations
has
of
late
become
an
important
field
in
Jewish
Studies.
The
influence
of
Arabic
grammar
and
verse
on
Hebrew;
of
Islamic
Law
on
Karaite
thought
or
on
the
redaction
of
the
Talmud;
of
Christian
mysticism
and
neo-­‐Platonism
on
Jewish
Kabbalah:
these
are
just
a
few
of
the
countless
co-­‐ productions
that
scholars
of
Jewish
culture
have
explored.

Each
of
these
borrowings
and
adaptations
could
be
(and
was)
attacked
from
within
Judaism
as
illegitimate,
as
idolatrous,
“Christianizing,”
or
“Islamizing.”

The
Kabbalah,
for
example,
seemed
to
many
medieval
(and
modern)
Jewish
critics
a
Christianizing
turn
away
from
the
unitary
God
of
Israel.

But
to

16
Lamentations
Rabbah,
cited
(with
minimal
alteration)
from
Galit
Hasan-­‐ Rokem,
Tales
of
the
Neighborhood:
Jewish
Narrative
Dialogues
in
Late
Antiquity
(Berkeley
and
Los
Angeles:
University
of
California
Press,
2003),
40.

The
translation
is
by
David
Stern,
Parables
in
Midrash:
Narrative
and
Exegesis
in
Rabbinic
Literature
(Cambridge,
MA:
Harvard
University
Press,
1991),
57.

11

continue
with
my
interpretation
of
the
parable,
each
of
these
borrowings
and
transformations
could
also
be
authorized
(as
occurred
in
the
case
of
the
Kabbalah)
by
returning
to
the
bridal
chamber
and
rereading
the
“founding
contract”
in
such
a
way
that
the
new
is
discovered
already
within
it
and
appears
eternal.17

The
parable’s
authors
may
well
have
believed
in
the
impermeability
of
their
scriptural
interpretations
and
religious
practices,
as
well
as
in
the
stability
and
continuity
of
those
interpretations
and
practices
across
space
and
time.

But
I
prefer
to
understand
it
as
pointing
toward
a
more
dynamic
interaction
between
authoritative
scripture
and
the
many
contexts
of
its
reading.

In
my
reading,
the
marriage
contract—that
is,
Scripture— appears
as
both
a
historical
record
of
neighborliness,
and
as
a
living
one.

Scripture
is
a
historical
record,
in
that
the
Hebrew
and
Christian
Bibles,
the
Islamic
Qur’an
and
Sunnah,
and
the
writings
of
the
Rabbis
all
provide
us
with
a
window
into
how
the
communities
that
came
to
be
called
Christian,
Muslim,
and
Jewish
produced
themselves
with
and
through
each
other.

But
these
Scriptures
are
also
a
living
record,
in
that
they
have
been
(and
continue
to
be)
read
and
interpreted
by
believers
in
all
times
and
places.
They
provided
(and
continue
to
provide)
later
communities
with
an
archive
of
ancient
worries
about
neighborliness.
The
authority
of
that
archive
shaped
(and
continues
to
shape)
some
of
the
ways
in
which
these
communities
created
their
own
possibilities
of
neighborliness,
re-­‐imagining
themselves
by
thinking
about
their
proximity
to
and
distance
from
the
others,
and
authorizing
their
fresh
visions
of
the
world
in
the
name
of
God.

How
Muslim,
Jewish,
and
Christian
communities
have
imagined
and
re-­‐imagined
themselves
by
thinking
about
and
(sometimes)
living
with
each
other:
that
is
the
subject
of
this
book.

The
topic
is
important
to
our
understanding
of
the
past,
but
it
is
also
vital
to
the
present,
for
we
too
are
engaged
in
similar
co-­‐ productions,
making
sense
of
our
own
world
by
thinking
about
ourselves
and
our
neighbors.

Indeed
very
often,
the
study
of
past
interactions
between
these
three
faiths
is
undertaken
with
an
eye
on
the
present,
in
the
hope
that
history
might
provide
us
council

17
For
a
striking
example
from
Early
Modern
Central
Europe,
see
Paweł
Maciejko’s
The
Mixed
Multitude:
Jacob
Frank
and
the
Frankist
Movement,
1755-­‐ 1816
(Philadelphia:
University
of
Pennsylvania
Press,
2011).

12

and
comfort
for
the
future.
The
resulting
advice
is
diverse
and
often
contradictory.

For

some,
the
history
of
neighborliness
between
the
three
faiths
is
one
of
inevitable
conflict.

The
political
scientist
Samuel
Huntington
provided
an
influential
synthesis
of
this
view
in
his
essay
and
later
book,
“The
Clash
of
Civilizations,”
where
he
argued
that
contemporary
geopolitical
conflict
is
structured
along
the
fault-­‐ lines
between
competing
civilizational
blocks.

The
cohesion
of
these
blocks
is
determined
by
a
shared
religious
and
cultural
history
(Buddhist
China,
Western
Civilization,
and
the
Islamic
World
were
his
main
categories)
that
puts
them
at
odds
with
their
neighbors.

According
to
Huntington,
the
most
aggressive
of
these
blocks
is
Islam
(in
his
words:
“Islam
has
bloody
borders”).18

Huntington’s
vision
of
an
asymmetrically
violent
neighborliness
may
well
have
influenced
United
States
foreign
policy,
but
more
irenic
views
have
had
their
geo-­‐political
influence
as
well.

There
are,
for
example,
those
who
believe
that
the
long
history
of
neighborliness
shared
by
the
three
“Abrahamic”
religions
provides
an
exemplary
paradigm
for
the
pursuit
of
peace
and
mutual
prosperity.

This
is
the
historical
logic
behind
political
initiatives
such
as
the
United
Nation’s
“Secretariat
for
the
Alliance
of
Civilizations”
(established
in
2005
upon
the
initiative
of
the
Prime
Ministers
of
Spain
and
Turkey),
and
the
“Union
for
the
Mediterranean,”
championed
by
French
President
Nikolas
Sarkozy.

Sarkozy’s
“Union”
was
based
on
a
geographic
definition
of
neighborhood:
it
was
meant
as
an
alliance
of
all
nations—whether
Christian,
Jewish,
or
Muslim—whose
shores
are
lapped
by
the
Mediterranean’s
waters,
including
both
Israel
and
the
Occupied
Palestinian
Territories.

(By
the
time
The
Joint
Declaration
of
the
Union
for
the
Mediterranean
was
signed
on
13
July
2008,
it
included
the
entire
European
Union
and
Arab
League,
embracing
such
“Mediterranean
neighbors”
as
Iceland
and
Yemen.)19

The
last
chapter
of
this
book
will
explore
some
of
these

18
Samuel
Huntington,
“The
Clash
of
Civilizations?,”
Foreign
Affairs
72,
no.
3
(Summer
1993):
35.

For
“bloody
borders”
see
Huntington,
The
Clash
of
Civilizations
and
the
Remaking
of
World
Order
(New
York:
Simon
and
Schuster,
1996),
258.
19
The
Joint
Declaration
of
the
Paris
Summit
of
the
Mediterranean,
July
13,
2008,
Union
for
the
Mediterranean,
http://www.ufmsecretariat.org/en/institutional-­‐ documents.

Another
project
along
these
lines
is
the
United
Nation’s
“Alliance
of
Civilizations,”
founded
in
2005.

13

contemporary
imaginings,
interrogating
their
invocations
of
historical
examples
of
neighborliness
in
order
to
expose
the
fantastic
underpinnings
of
their
resulting
visions
of
current
Muslim-­‐Jewish-­‐Christian
relations.

Here
I’d
like
merely
to
reiterate
the
more
general
point:
our
communities
continue
to
constitute
themselves
by
thinking
about
the
long
history
of
relations
with
their
neighbors.

The
resulting
representations
of
the
world
are
“co-­‐productions,”
not
only
of
Judaism,
Christianity,
and
Islam,
but
also
of
past
and
present.

Visions
of
the
past
are
deployed
to
do
work
in
the
present,
and
visions
of
the
present
transform
how
we
interpret
the
past.

This
inter-­‐dependence
of
what-­‐has-­‐been
and
what-­‐may-­‐ yet-­‐be
means
that
history
and
historians
may
have
a
role
in
shaping
the
possibilities
for
how
we
relate
to
others
in
our
world.

But
what
should
that
role
be?
The
question
is
important,
because
the
pressure
of
present
politics
is
great.

Today
even
the
most
technical
arguments
about,
for
example,
the
role
of
Arabic
manuscripts
in
the
medieval
transmission
history
of
Aristotle
can
become
touchstones
in
bitter
battles
over
Muslim
immigration
to
France
or
the
entrance
of
Turkey
into
the
European
Union.20

How
should
we
write
history,
knowing
that
the
possibilities
for
life
in
the
present
may
be
affected
by
the
ways
in
which
we
choose
to
reconstruct
the
past?
And
in
making
these
choices,
what
responsibility
do
we
as
self-­‐identified
historians
(rather
than,
say,
novelists
or
politicians21)
owe
to
the
past
and
its
inhabitants?

Are
we
free
to
work
over
the
past
until
it
resembles
our
hopes
or
fears
for
the
future?

If
not,
what
commitments
should
discipline
or
limit
the
historian’s
interpretive
freedom?

The
chapters
that
follow
approach
these
questions
in
different
ways,
but
they
all
share
the
goal
of
demonstrating
that

20
I
am
referring
here
to
Sylvain
Gouguenheim’s
Aristote
au
Mont-­‐Saint-­‐Michel
:
les
racines
grecques
de
l’Europe
chrétienne
(Paris:
Seul,
2008),
and
the
ensuing
controversy.
21
For
novelists
who
have
written
on
themes
of
medieval
neighborliness
between
the
three
religions
see,
e.g.,
Salman
Rushdie,
The
Moor’s
Last
Sigh
(New
York:
Pantheon,
1995);
Amin
Maalouf,
Leo
Africanus,
trans.
Peter
Sluglett
(New
York:
New
Amsterdam
Press,
1992);
A.B.
Yehoshua,
A
Journey
to
the
End
of
the
Millennium,
trans.
Nicholas
de
Lange
(New
York:
Doubleday,
1999);
as
well
as
Emile
Habibi,
Juan
Goytisolo,
and
many
others.

There
are
also
countless
politicians
who
have
voiced
views
on
such
questions.

14

the
questions
themselves
are
difficult,
and
do
not
admit
any
one
answer.

That
modest
goal
is
more
ambitious
and
important
than
it
may
seem,
for
every
present
tends
to
seize
upon
“the
manifestations
of
past
or
distant
spiritual
worlds,
in
order
to
take
possession
of
them
and
unfeelingly
incorporate
them
into
its
own
self-­‐absorbed
fantasizing.”22

If
the
past
is
to
provide
us
with
a
perspective
from
which
to
criticize
our
dearest
certainties,
we
need
to
develop
strategies
for
distinguishing
between
the
fantastic
and
the
critical.

Careful
attention
to
the
available
sources,
knowledge
of
the
necessary
languages,
deployment
of
relevant
methodologies,
recognition
of
divergent
interpretations:
these
are
all
necessary,
but
not
sufficient
protections
against
self-­‐absorption.

After
all,
the
categories
of
thought
through
which
we
approach
the
past,
the
methodologies
we
bring
to
it,
the
types
of
information
we
recognize
as
meaningful
and
significant:
these
are
not
independent
of
our
experience
in
our
own
time
and
place.

Similarly,
the
questions
about
the
past
that
strike
us
as
urgent
in
the
present
have
a
great
deal
to
do
with
our
own
fears
for
the
future,
and
our
own
sense
of
what
that
future
should
be.

This
means
that
historians
must
be
both
critics
and
prophets
if
they
wish,
without
impiety
or
disrespect,
to
make
the
dead
instructive
for
the
living.

Critics,
so
as
to
become
conscious
of
the
many
gaps
and
frictions
that
exist
between
their
own
thought-­‐ worlds
and
those
of
the
shades
they
invoke.

And
prophets,
in
order
to
divine
the
best
future
in
whose
service
this
friction
between
past
and
present
should
be
put
to
work.23

Like
most
historians,
I
am
a
poor
prophet.

So
although
my
account
of
the
past
is
animated
by
a
sense
of
what
is
to
come,
I’ve
attempted
as
best
I
can
to
keep
these
chapters
free
of
a
particular
politics
or
vision
of
a
future.

My
goal
in
them
is
simply
to
convince
you
that
Islam,
Christianity,
and
Judaism
have
never
been
independent
of
each
other:
that
it
is
as
neighbors,
in
close
relation
to
one
another,
that
they
have
constantly
transformed
themselves,
re-­‐interpreting
both
their
scriptures
and
their
histories.

Their

22
Walter
Benjamin,
“Delirium,”
in
The
Origins
of
German
Tragic
Drama,
trans.
John
Osborne
(London:
Verso,
1977),
53-­‐54.
23
Compare
Walter
Benjamin,
Gesammelte
Schriften,
eds.
Rolf
Tiedemann
and
Hermann
Schweppenhäuser
(Frankfurt:
Suhrkamp,
1972-­‐1992)
vol.
1,
pt.
3,
p.
1245.

15

pasts
are
not
discrete,
independent,
or
stable,
and
neither
are
their
presents
or
their
futures.

The
Qur’an
speaks
hauntingly
of
its
own
inexhaustible
capacity
to
generate
meaning:
“If
the
ocean
were
ink
(wherewith
to
write
out)
the
words
of
my
Lord,
sooner
would
the
ocean
be
exhausted
than
would
the
words
of
my
Lord.”
(18:109)24
What
is
true
of
prophecy
is
also
true
of
history.

The
countless
ways
in
which
previous
communities
have
re-­‐envisioned
the
world
through
their
neighbors
constitute
an
endless
archive
that
future
communities
will
draw
upon
to
imagine,
legitimate,
and
contest
untold
potential
futures.

Perhaps
it
is
by
making
the
workings
of
this
process
more
visible
that
historians
can
best
serve
those
communities
to
come,
showing
them
how
their
ancestors,
too,
discovered
in
the
past
the
seeming
eternity
of
their
now
long
vanished
convictions.

Though
many
a
place
or
period
could
serve
the
purpose
for
this
pedagogy,
the
chapters
of
this
book
will
almost
all
focus
on
medieval
and
early
modern
Spain,
sometimes
called
the
“land
of
the
three
religions.”

(The
exceptions
are
the
first
chapter,
on
how
medieval
“Christendom”
defined
itself
against
“Islam,”
and
the
last,
on
similar
strategies
today.)
In
that
land
we
can
witness
Jews,
Muslims,
and
Christians
interacting
not
only
as
abstractions
or
categories
in
each
other’s
theologies
and
ideologies,
but
also
as
neighbors
forced
to
jostle
together
on
narrow
streets,
figures
of
thought
elbowing
figures
of
flesh,
and
in
the
process
transforming
both.

We
will,
for
example,
watch
them
simultaneously
theorizing
the
dangerous
attractions
of
their
neighbors,
and
also
embracing
those
neighbors
in
full
carnality,
not
only
in
the
whorehouse
but
also
in
the
household,
and
even
in
the
marriage
bed
(Chapters
Two,
Three,
and
Five).

We
will
explore
how
the
interaction
of
the
two—of
thought
and
of
flesh,
to
hold
onto
our
admittedly
inadequate
metaphor—produced
radically
new
ways
of
thinking
about
the
nature
of
inter-­‐religious
relations,
some
of
them
horrifically
violent,
even
exterminatory
(Chapter
Four),
others
segregationist
(Chapter
Five);
some
playful
and
poetic
(Chapter
Six),
still
others
(Chapters
Seven
and
Eight)
giving
rise
to
new

24
Compare
John
21:25:
“But
there
are
also
many
other
things
which
Jesus
did;
were
every
one
of
them
to
be
written,
I
suppose
that
the
world
itself
could
not
contain
the
books
that
would
be
written.”

16

theories
and
vocabularies
of
what
we
have
learned
to
call
race
(from
the
Spanish
word
raza).

And
we
will
see
how
each
of
these
new
ways
of
thinking
about
world
and
neighbor
re-­‐wrote
the
ways
in
which
people
read
their
scriptures
and
their
history,
so
that
the
new
and
the
particular
could
be
understood
as
universal
and
eternal.

These
chapters
offer
new
ways
of
explaining
the
religious
pluralism,
massacre
and
mass
conversion,
assimilation,
segregation,
and
expulsion
that
marked
the
extraordinarily
rich
history
of
interaction
between
the
three
religions
in
the
medieval
Iberian
Peninsula.

But
in
their
insistence
on
the
dynamic
and
inter-­‐dependent
ways
in
which
religious
communities
constantly
re-­‐create
their
reality
and
their
history,
they
offer
us
something
more.

The
past
of
this
“land
of
the
three
religions”
is
too
often
mined
for
exemplary
histories,
for
models
of
tolerance
or
of
persecution,
Golden
Ages
or
Black
Legends.

I
offer
instead
a
history
that
resists
the
exemplarity
and
stability
of
the
past,
in
the
hope
that
it
might
serve
as
a
stimulus
to
reflection
about
the
ways
in
which
Judaism,
Christianity,
Islam
and
their
many
heirs
continue
to
co-­‐produce
the
realities
of
the
world
today.

17

Voir de même:

Neighboring Faiths, by David Nirenberg

David Nirenberg is a very learned historian who tackles topics of a scope that would be too daunting for most other writers. In Neighboring Faiths, he addresses themes that are critically significant for contemporary debates, and by no means only within the realm of religion.

Nirenberg’s approach runs directly contrary to familiar modern assumptions about the nature and definition of “Great Religions” and about how people belong to them. Particularly in the West, we know that an individual adheres to one faith at any given time, although conversion is certainly possible. The frontiers between those faiths are clear and well patrolled, and dialogue between them is a cautious and tentative enterprise. It is difficult then to imagine non-Western societies—or indeed, earlier Western communities—where such boundaries were much more fluid. But they were. For instance, recent scholarship has stressed how very slow and gradual was the break between Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity; in some regions the process stretched over several centuries.

For much of Western history, Chris­tians lived in societies where they were the overwhelming if not exclusive majority, and other faiths were encountered rarely. Jews and Muslims were imaginary beasts whose views demanded little consideration or respect. Yet historically, such exclusivity was not always the rule, and particularly in the Mediterranean world the three faiths often coexisted for centuries.

The best-known example was un­doubtedly in medieval Islamic Spain. Modern writers love to tell how believers of all shades flourished alongside each other in cultural and intellectual harmony. This was the legendary and somewhat mythical era of convivencia, which is so often cited as a night-and-day contrast with the intolerant Christianity of most European nations. I describe this view as mythical because the authentic spells of harmony were so regularly interrupted by pogroms and persecutions as to cast doubt on the benevolent image of medieval Islamic societies. The Granada pogrom against Jews in 1066 was as savage as anything Christian Europe would produce during the medieval era. The Iberian Camelot of the modern imagination is, to say the least, highly idealized.

Nirenberg is obviously far removed from any such myth making, or even from simple debunking. Rather, he uses Iberia as a setting to explore how the three faiths interacted so intimately, mainly during the era of growing Chris­tian hegemony after 1250 or so. His central theme is how these neighbors “loved, tolerated, massacred, and ex­pelled one another—all in the name of God.” Jews, Muslims, and Christians were indeed all children of Abraham, and that extended family was often spectacularly dysfunctional, but it was a family.

Although well thought out, Niren­berg’s book is avowedly a collection of case studies and essays rather than a thoroughly integrated whole. This means that he offers in-depth treatments of specific incidents, such as the hideous Valencia massacres of 1391, when Christians slaughtered the city’s Jews, and the events he discusses in the chapter titled “Deviant Politics and Jewish Love: Alfonso VIII and the Jewess of Toledo.”

Nirenberg offers splendid and seemingly paradoxical accounts of such religious interactions. He shows repeatedly how scholars constructed their religious foes in the grimmest possible terms, and Iberia produced many such fierce polemics. Such tracts coexisted with extensive social and family contacts that were friendly and often intimate. We see Jews, Muslims, and Christians “interacting not only as abstractions or categories in each other’s theologies and ideologies, but also as neighbors forced to jostle together on narrow streets, figures of thought elbowing figures of flesh, and in the process transforming both.”

There would have been no need for legislatures and councils to continue forbidding intermarriage and interfaith sex unless ordinary laypeople were enthusiastically engaged in these practices. And at least some of those who were not marrying outside their religion were boldly going into the brothels assigned to those other faith communities. Spain inevitably, and uncomfortably, became a land of mixed blood, a fact that tormented later generations.

Also, political exigencies meant that power struggles often crossed religious lines. Spain’s legendary Christian warrior was El Cid, whose Arabic-derived name was bestowed by his allies and vassals. Christian writers often criticized Catholic rulers for their excessive kindness to Jews and Jewish communities, a tolerance that was overruled by infuriated Chris­tian mobs. In the 17th century, Miguel Cer­vantes drily credited his Don Quixote, Spain’s greatest literary classic, to a fictitious Moorish author named Cide Hamete Benengeli.

Plenty of scholars have discussed interfaith relations in this region and have examined how thinkers of each religion portrayed their counterparts. What makes Nirenberg’s book distinctive is his emphasis on how such conversations reshaped the self-image of the religion undertaking the portrayal—how, for example, when Christians studied Islam, their observations redefined Christian identity.

Such redefinitions could lean in the direction of tolerance. Though a medieval Christian might think that a particular idea or practice is characteristic of Muslims and therefore should be avoided at all costs, the idea or practice often leads to the opposite response—members of one group almost unconsciously adopt the practices of their neighbors because they are part of the general cultural ambience and part of what it means to live in that society.

In Iberia, that kind of assimilation in turn inspired new and more intolerant religious movements, which sometimes originated outside of Iberia. Time and again, just as Muslims and Christians were learning to coexist, Christian Crusaders and Islamic jihadis arrived to rebuild the walls between the faiths.

Meanwhile, internal reformers zealously sought to draw firm and proper boundaries. As the Spanish-born St. Vincent Ferrer noted in the early 15th century, “The neighbor of a Jew will never be a good Christian.” Spiritual contamination could be avoided by ensuring that non-Christian neighbors converted to the true faith, willingly or otherwise, and Vincent toiled strenu­ously to win over Jews. He was at his most active in the generation or so after the massacres of 1391, an age of mass conversions when concepts of social and racial identity were in a process of rapid transformation. Vincent became the patron saint of builders precisely because attitudes and acts like his constructed a religiously and racially pure Spain.

Over time, still more radical solutions suggested themselves. Gradually expulsions of religious minorities escalated from local and regional affairs to the thorough national cleansing that reached its culmination in the 17th century. By that point, Spanish governments were no longer content to remove Jews and Muslims (those groups had long gone), but struck at their converted descendants who had formally accepted Christianity, the conversos and Moriscos. Even remaining close to a tainted faith was now enough to attract vengeance.

One of Nirenberg’s major themes is the emergence, especially during the 15th century, of genealogical obsessions ap­plied to Jewish identity that came un­comfortably close to a modern-sounding rhetoric of race. He devotes an important chapter to the vexed question of whether there was race before moder­nity and argues that in the Iberian context, the concept was scarcely avoidable.

It is tempting to extend Nirenberg’s analysis to other regions where Islam rather than Christianity won the decisive political victory. If we look at Egypt, another great land of three faiths, we see close parallels to the systematic hardening of attitudes that Spain experienced, and in the same years. In both lands massacres and forced conversions became much more frequent. It was not just that Christianity was becoming harsher and more intolerant in the late Middle Ages. Rather, larger transnational forces were at work, economic and social trends that were influenced by the change in climate.

By the early 16th century Spanish elites had thoroughly convinced themselves of the intimate alliance between race and faith, and those ideas profoundly influenced the lords and warriors who set off to conquer the New World. The ideas formed in encounters with Moors were now applied wholeheartedly to Aztecs and Incas. The conquistadors who invaded Mexico invoked James as their patron saint—Santiago Matamoros, the Moor-slayer.

The book’s final chapter is “Islam and the West: Two Dialectical Fantasies,” which pulls together themes of the construction of history and memory that appear sporadically throughout the work. How should we regard interactions between communities of different faiths, whether in the past or in the present? One popular solution is to imagine the West and Islam as utterly different categories in perpetual struggle, a continuing clash of civilizations, although such a view represents an abandonment of critical historical sense. Scarcely less improbable, though, is the modern romanticization of the old Arabic Spain, the “fairy tale” of al-Andalus and convivencia. Nirenberg’s comments on these debates are judicious and balanced.

Neighboring Faiths is an excellent book that thoroughly repays careful reading and reflection, but it is not primarily for the general reader. Nirenberg is a scholar writing primarily to scholars; the 210 pages in the chapters are followed by more than 70 pages of endnotes in small type. Nonacademics will find his work densely argued and sometimes heavy going. Any reader who perseveres, though, will be  richly rewarded.

Voir de plus:

Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today

Reviewed by Thomas C. Devaney

Council for European studies

Debates, both popular and scholarly, about interfaith relations have too often been characterized by ahistorical notions of inevitable hostility, such as Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis, or by equally problematic hopes for seamless harmony. David Nirenberg’s Neighboring Faiths, however, examines how Christians, Muslims, and Jews have defined themselves and their place in the world in terms of each other. These “coproductions” of identity do not allow for black-and-white interpretations, for narratives of unthinking tolerance or unceasing violence. This is a book focused on how Muslims, Jews, and Christians have “loved, tolerated, massacred, and expelled each other – all in the name of God” (p. 3). As a historian of late-medieval Spain, Nirenberg considers the neighborliness of the Abrahamic faiths in that context, one particularly appropriate for the questions he asks. But, though this is a work of history, he is not coy about his broader purpose, arguing that however strange or distant the attitudes of the past may seem to us now, they have modern relevance. In one sense, this relevance is literal; Jews, Muslims, and Christians continue to conceive their identities through and against each other. In another sense, Nirenberg hopes that, in these past processes, readers will find “a stimulus to critical awareness about the workings of our own assumptions, hopes, and habits of thought” (p. 3).

While he is perhaps best known for his Communities of Violence (1996) and Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition (2013), Nirenberg has also penned a number of influential articles. Eight of these (published between 2002 and 2009) comprise the majority of this book; only the introduction and chapter 4 are new. Yet this is not a simple reprint of disconnected articles; while the previously published material has been only lightly revised, all chapters are closely connected in theme. Together they trace a clear narrative centered on the transformations of the fifteenth century, a period in which the conversion of large numbers of Jews to Christianity challenged existing ideas about all three faiths.

In the first chapter, “Christendom and Islam,” Nirenberg argues that proximity to and knowledge of other faiths did not necessarily lead to mutual understanding. Instead, such familiarity was often used to enforce boundaries. But the process was transformative, that Christians and Muslims (and Jews) shaped their understandings of themselves through constantly thinking about the others. In the examples he outlines, ranging from medieval Christian knowledge about Islam to the influence of such knowledge on emerging notions of “Christendom” to the creation of a “diasporic Islam” by Muslims living in Christian lands, polemic and hostility loom large. But responses to other faiths were never about enmity alone.

Nirenberg develops this further in chapter 2, “Love between Muslim and Jew.” Despite its title, “love” is not central to this discussion of intercourse, marriage, and conversion; rather, he focuses on the relative power of Jewish and Muslim communities in Christian-ruled Iberia. In tracing how Christian authorities generally permitted intercourse between Jewish men and Muslim women until the fifteenth century, when Christian anxieties about Judaism and conversion led them to favor Muslim claims, he reminds us that that relations between minority groups are always conditioned by the dominant power. The discussion of interfaith love continues in “Deviant Politics and Jewish Love: Alfonso VIII and the Jewess of Toledo,” but now the emphasis shifts to the political ramifications of imagined or fictionalized love. The tale of Alfonso’s misplaced affections serves as an entry into a political discourse in which Jewishness and illicit love are proxies for contested aspects of royal governance. In debates over taxation, administrative control, and the power of royal favorites (privados), depicting monarchical authority as Judaizing and feminizing was an effective means of attack, for it permitted political differences to be framed in terms of gender and religion, and thus as issues of natural and divine law.

The fulcrum of the book is the series of anti-Jewish riots that took place throughout Iberia in 1391, leading to the death or conversion of thousands of Jews. In Iberia, as elsewhere in medieval Europe, Jews traditionally had been directly subject to royal protection, exploitation, and jurisdiction. King Joan of Aragón therefore viewed the attack on Valencia’s Jewish community as an attack on royal power. In chapter 4, “Massacre or Miracle? Valencia, 1391,” Nirenberg creatively analyzes the Valencian response to Joan’s anger. They characterized the riot as a miracle, through which God had signaled his approval of the Christian attackers. This created a constitutional crisis of sorts, as Joan could not assert his authority as superior to that of God. Although this appeal to religion might seem exceptional, the situation was ultimately resolved through normal political means, negotiation, and reconciliation. Given our modern politics of constant emergency, of a routine “state of exception,” Nirenberg suggests that this mundane resolution offers a rebuttal to the claims of political theology as advocated by Carl Schmitt and Slavoj Žižek, among others.

The next several chapters consider the long-term implications of 1391. “Conversion, Sex, and Segregation” examines the creation of sexual boundaries between the converts (conversos or “New” Christians) and “Old” or “natural” Christians. In the decades following 1391, Old Christians expressed jubilation over the mass conversion of Jews, seeing them as miraculous. This initial joy, however, soon turned to “concern … that the disappearance of Jews and the emergence of the conversos would undermine the distinctive value and meaning of Christian identity” (p. 102). What, in other words, was a Christian in a world in which there were no Jews? After a brief overview of the place of sexual honor in conceptions of the Christian community, Nirenberg turns to prohibitions against sex with conversos, promulgated from the second decade of the fifteenth century. This was not for fear of the taint of “Jewish blood” – that would happen later. Rather, it was due to fears that conversion was incomplete, that the absence of traditional markers of religious identity would allow the wolves among the sheep. This recasting of sexual boundaries, in other words, was not a simple application of existing categories to converts but the “outcome of a highly creative historical transformation” (p. 114).

In chapter 6, “Figures of Thought and Figures of Flesh,” we see the emergence of “Jew” and “Judaizing” as key terms in fifteenth-century literary and political critique. Beginning with patristic debates about the meaning of language and about conversion, Nirenberg points to a tension in Christian thought between word – literal, worldly, and Jewish – and meaning – spiritual, heavenly, and Christian. These ideas saw renewed life in the fifteenth century, as ‘natural’ Christians used them to confront the challenges posed by the conversos. Nirenberg focuses on poems collected in the Cancionero de Baena (c. 1430). Baena and his colleagues devoted much of their work to insulting one another, especially through accusations of sexual deviancy or of Judaizing. Nirenberg argues that whether the poets or their targets were actually converts is irrelevant; rather, the gibes were attempts to confirm the spiritual value of poetry that also acted to establish particular meanings for “Jew.” The political utility of these meanings became clear in the second half of the century, as poetic rivalries gave way to efforts to exclude conversos from the body social. That exclusion was not a response to some retained “Jewishness” on the part of the victims, but emerged from a reimagining of a strand of Christian theology that “produced the phenomenon it sought to describe” (p. 140). Modern efforts to read these poets with what Nirenberg calls an “Inquisitorial” approach or to search for the “Jewish” roots of modernism simply replicate this process.

Chapter 7, “Mass Conversion and Genealogical Mentalities,” explores how people created new continuities with the past. That both Spanish Christians and Jews were greatly concerned with lineage and genealogy has often been noted. Here, Nirenberg argues that the emphasis on lineage emerged from a historical moment that made it newly meaningful for both Christians and Jews. Mass conversion and the destabilization of traditional categories of religious identity made new forms of communal identity possible (and necessary), as people forged new ties with “family, faith, ‘race’, and ‘nation’” (p. 167).

The term “race” is always contested, and that is especially the case when it is used in the context of late-medieval society. Nirenberg takes on this question in chapter 8, “Was There Race before Modernity? The Example of ‘Jewish’ Blood in Late Medieval Spain.” After a brief recounting of the debates over whether “race” and “racism” are particularly modern, Nirenberg notes that, in the fifteenth century, terms including raza, casta, and linaje “linked both behavior and appearance to nature and reproduction” (p. 180). Although originating in the context of animal breeding, this discourse evolved over the course of the century through conflicts over the inclusion of converts and their descendants. Both Old and New Christians made recourse to notions of distinct race and blood because, Nirenberg suggests, genealogical understandings of “Jewishness” fit medieval expectations of the relationship between biology and culture. This is not to say, however, that fifteenth-century categories were “racial,” but rather than there is potential for fruitful comparison between this and other ideologies of difference, comparisons denied by those who contend that “race” is a feature only of modernity.

The book concludes with an explicit turn to contemporary issues. In “Islam and the West: Two Dialectical Fantasies,” Nirenberg explores modern attempts to think about the interrelationship between “Islam” and “the West.” Identifying two major modes of characterizing those relations, clash and alliance, he argues that both produce “fantastical dialectics.” Nirenberg offers no solution here, other than to advise wariness of narratives of putative inclusion. For these also posit fundamental differences, with the result that “every dialectical fantasy of inclusion is simultaneously that of exclusion as well” (p. 211)

Throughout the book, Nirenberg brings together social and intellectual history; he writes, in other words, about how ideas shape real lives. In a sense, these articles trace Nirenberg’s evolving understanding of the longue-durée power of ideas. In Communities of Violence, he sharply challenged accounts that set instances of violence into larger frameworks, arguing instead for the centrality of local concerns and power structures. Anti-Judaism, by contrast, charts the history of the “imaginary Jew” across the centuries to argue that particular “ways of thought” lie at the heart of what we might call Western civilization. Here, however, we see both the enduring power of ideas and the local contexts in which people adapted, mobilized, and internalized those ideas.

This method does have its limits, however. One concern is the extent to which the ways of thought Nirenberg describes were comprehensible to those fifteenth-century people unfamiliar with Aristotelian ethics or biblical exegesis. While he clearly demonstrates that some elites were conscious of the intellectual underpinnings of their attitudes, I would like to hear more about popular awareness of the same. Also potentially problematic are the issues that his approach obliges him to turn away from. In chapter 6, for instance, Nirenberg argues that whether a poet was a convert is irrelevant; that the critical issue is how terms like “Jewish” and “Judaizer” acted as envelopes for other meanings. Yet surely it is not reading “like an Inquisitor” to ask whether it was a converso or an Old Christian who was deploying these constructs. Among other insights, such an inquiry might have much to tell us about the coproduction of identity from the convert perspective.

Nirenberg’s political agenda, most explicit in the introduction and final chapter, raises a question of audience. Specialists, of course, are likely to be already familiar with these articles, and the emphasis on modern lessons implies that the book is aimed at a broad audience. Although he certainly gives enough background to make his arguments intelligible, Nirenberg’s erudition, the vast range of sources he employs, the passing references to theoretical constructs, and the language in which these articles – which originally were intended for a scholarly audience – are written would make this book daunting for a neophyte. Such concerns are relatively minor, however. In bringing these articles together in a form that makes their interconnections apparent, in making them available to a wider audience, and in explicitly commenting on their modern implications, Neighboring Faiths is a significant contribution.

Reviewed by Thomas C. Devaney, University of Rochester and Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Neighboring Faiths: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in the Middle Ages and Today
by David Nirenberg
The University of Chicago Press
Cloth / 352 pages / 2014
ISBN: 9780226168937

Voir enfin:

1843 L’un des premiers textes importants de Marx… toujours dénoncé par les ignorants.
Publication réalisée en collaboration avec la bibliothèque de sciences sociales de l’Université de Québec.

La Question Juive

K. Marx
La capacité des juifs et des chrétiens actuels de devenir libres selon Bruno Bauer  [1]

C’est sous cette forme que Bauer étudie les rapports des religions juive et chré­tienne, ainsi que leurs rapports avec la critique. Ce dernier rapport est leur rapport avec « la capacité de devenir libres ».

Il aboutit à ceci : « Le chrétien n’a qu’à s’élever d’un degré, à dépasser sa religion, pour supprimer la religion en général » et devenir, par conséquent, libre; « le Juif, au contraire, est obligé de rompre non seulement avec son essence juive, mais encore avec le développement de la perfection de sa religion, développement qui lui est demeuré étranger (p. 71). »

Bauer transforme donc ici la question de l’émancipation juive en une question purement religieuse. Le scrupule théologique, par lequel on se demande qui a le plus de chance d’arriver à la béatitude éternelle, le Juif ou le chrétien, se répète ici sous cette forme plus philosophique : lequel des deux est le plus capable d’émancipation ? On ne se demande plus : qui est-ce qui rend libre, le judaïsme ou le christianisme ?

On se demande, au contraire : qu’est-ce qui rend plus libre, la négation du judaïsme ou la négation du christianisme ?

« S’ils veulent devenir libres, les Juifs ne doivent pas se convertir au christianisme tout court, mais au christianisme dissous, à la religion dissoute, c’est-à-dire à la philo­sophie, à la critique et à son résultat, l’humanité libre (p. 70). »

Il s’agit bien toujours, pour les Juifs, de faire profession de quelque chose, non plus du christianisme tout court, mais du christianisme dissous.

Bauer demande aux Juifs de rompre avec l’essence de la religion chrétienne; mais cette exigence ne découle pas, il le dit lui-même, du développement de l’essence juive.

Du moment qu’à la fin de la question juive Bauer n’a vu dans le judaïsme que la grossière critique religieuse du christianisme, et ne lui a donc attribué qu’une simple importance religieuse, il faut bien s’attendre à ce qu’il transforme l’émancipation des Juifs en un acte philosophico-théologique.

Bauer considère l’essence idéale et abstraite du Juif, sa religion, comme étant son essence totale. Il conclut donc à juste titre : « Le Juif ne donne rien à l’humanité, quand il fait fi de sa propre loi bornée, quand il renonce à tout son judaïsme (p. 65). »

Le rapport entre Juifs et Chrétiens devient donc le suivant : l’unique intérêt que l’émancipation du Juif présente pour le chrétien, c’est un intérêt théorique, d’un carac­tère humain général. Le judaïsme est un fait qui offusque l’œil religieux du chrétien. Dès que l’œil du chrétien cesse d’être religieux, ce fait cesse de l’offusquer. L’émanci­pation du Juif n’est donc pas en soi une tâche qui convienne au chrétien.

Le Juif par contre, s’il veut s’affranchir, doit faire, en outre de son travail person­nel, le travail du chrétien, la critique des synoptiques, de la vie de Jésus, etc.

« C’est à eux à se débrouiller; ce sont eux qui détermineront leur destinée; mais l’histoire ne permet pas qu’on se moque d’elle (p. 71). »

Nous essayons de rompre la formule théologique. La question relative à la capacité d’émancipation du Juif se change pour nous en cette autre question : quel est l’élément social particulier qu’il faut pour supprimer le judaïsme ? Car la capacité d’émancipation du Juif d’aujourd’hui est le rapport du judaïsme à l’émancipation du monde d’aujourd’hui. Ce rapport résulte nécessairement de la situation spéciale du judaïsme dans le monde actuel asservi (Geknechteten Welt).

Considérons le Juif réel, non pas le Juif du sabbat, comme Bauer le fait, mais le Juif de tous les jours.

Ne cherchons pas le secret du Juif dans sa religion, mais cherchons le secret de la religion dans le Juif réel.

Quel est le fond profane du judaïsme ? Le besoin pratique, l’utilité personnelle. Quel est le culte profane du Juif ? Le trafic. Quel est son Dieu profane ? L’argent. Eh bien, en s’émancipant du trafic et de l’argent, par conséquent du judaïsme réel et pratique, l’époque actuelle s’émanciperait elle-même.

Une organisation de la société qui supprimerait les conditions nécessaires du trafic, par suite la possibilité du trafic, rendrait le Juif impossible. La conscience religieuse du Juif s’évanouirait, telle une vapeur insipide, dans l’atmosphère véritable de la société. D’autre part, du moment qu’il reconnaît la vanité de son essence prati­que et s’efforce de supprimer cette essence, le Juif tend à sortir de ce qui fut jusque-là son développement, travaille à l’émancipation humaine générale et se tourne vers la plus haute expression pratique de la renonciation ou aliénation humaine.

Nous reconnaissons donc dans le judaïsme un élément antisocial général et actuel qui, par le développement historique auquel les Juifs ont, sous ce mauvais rapport, activement participé, a été poussé à son point culminant du temps présent, à une hauteur où il ne peut que se désagréger nécessairement.

Dans sa dernière signification, l’émancipation juive consiste à émanciper l’huma­nité du judaïsme.

Le Juif s’est émancipé déjà, mais d’une manière juive. « Le Juif par exemple, qui est simplement toléré à Vienne, détermine, par sa puissance financière, le destin de tout l’empire. Le Juif, qui dans les moindres petits états allemands, peut être sans droits, décide du destin de l’Europe. »

« Tandis que les corporations et les jurandes restent fermées aux Juifs ou ne leur sont guère favorables, l’audace de l’industrie se moque de l’entêtement des institutions moyenâgeuses. » (B. Bauer, La Question juive, p. 114.)

Ceci n’est pas un fait isolé. Le Juif s’est émancipé d’une manière juive, non seulement en se rendant maître du marché financier, mais parce que, grâce à lui et par lui, l’argent est devenu une puissance mondiale, et l’esprit pratique juif l’esprit prati­que des peuples chrétiens. Les Juifs se sont émancipés dans la mesure même où les chrétiens sont devenus Juifs.

« Les habitants religieux et politiquement libres de la Nouvelle-Angleterre, rap­por­te par exemple le colonel Hamilton, sont une espèce de Laocoon, qui ne fait pas le moindre effort pour se délivrer des serpents qui l’enserrent. Mammon est leur idole qu’ils adorent non seulement des lèvres mais de toutes les forces de leur corps et de leur esprit. La terre n’est à leurs yeux qu’une Bourse, et ils sont persuadés qu’ils n’ont ici-bas d’autre destinée que de devenir plus riches que leurs voisins. Le trafic s’est emparé de toutes leurs pensées, et ils n’ont d’autre délassement que de changer d’ob­jets. Quand ils voyagent, ils emportent, pour ainsi dire, leur pacotille ou leur comptoir sur leur dos et ne parlent que d’intérêt et de profit; et s’ils perdent un instant leurs affaires de vue, ce n’est que pour fourrer leur nez dans les affaires de leurs con­currents. »

Bien plus ! La suprématie effective du judaïsme sur le monde chrétien a pris, dans l’Amérique du Nord, cette expression normale et absolument nette : l’annonce de l’Évan­­gile, la prédication religieuse est devenue un article de commerce, et le négociant failli de l’Évangile s’occupe d’affaires tout comme le prédicateur enrichi. Tel que vous voyez à la tête d’une congrégation respectable a commencé par être marchand; son commerce étant tombé, il s’est fait ministre. Cet autre a débuté par le sacerdoce -, mais, dès qu’il a eu quelque somme d’argent à sa disposition, il a laissé la chaire pour le négoce. Aux yeux d’un grand nombre, le ministère religieux est une véritable carrière industrielle. » (Beaumont, p. 185-186.)

Si nous en croyons Bauer, nous nous trouvons en face d’une situation mensongère : en théorie, le Juif est privé des droits politiques alors qu’en pratique il dispose d’une puissance énorme et exerce en gros son influence politique diminuée en détail. (La Question juive, p. 114.)

La contradiction qui existe entre la puissance politique réelle du Juif et ses droits politiques, c’est la contradiction entre la politique et la puissance de l’argent. La poli­tique est théoriquement au-dessus de la puissance de l’argent, mais pratiquement elle en est devenue la prisonnière absolue.

Le judaïsme s’est maintenu à côté du christianisme non seulement parce qu’il constituait la critique religieuse du christianisme et personnifiait le doute par rapport à l’origine religieuse du christianisme, mais encore et tout autant, parce que l’esprit pratique juif, parce que le judaïsme s’est perpétué dans la société chrétienne et y a même reçu son dévelop­pement le plus élevé. Le Juif, qui se trouve placé comme un membre particulier dans la société bourgeoise, ne fait que figurer de façon spéciale le judaïsme de la société bourgeoise.

Le judaïsme s’est maintenu, non pas malgré l’histoire, mais par l’histoire.

C’est du fond de ses propres entrailles que la société bourgeoise engendre sans cesse le Juif.

Quelle était en soi la base de la religion juive ? Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme.

Le monothéisme du Juif est donc, en réalité, le polythéisme des besoins multi­ples, un polythéisme qui fait même des lieux d’aisance un objet de la loi divine. Le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme est le principe de la société bourgeoise et se manifeste comme tel sous sa forme pure, dès que la société bourgeoise a complètement donné naissance à l’état politique. Le dieu du besoin pratique et de l’égoïsme, c’est l’argent.

L’argent est le dieu jaloux, d’Israël, devant qui nul autre dieu ne doit subsister. L’argent abaisse tous les dieux de l’homme et les change en marchandise. L’argent est la valeur générale et constituée en soi de toutes choses. C’est pour cette raison qu’elle a dépouillé de leur valeur propre le monde entier, le monde des hommes ainsi que la nature. L’argent, c’est l’essence séparée de l’homme, de son travail, de son existence; et cette essence étrangère le domine et il l’adore.

Le dieu des Juifs s’est sécularisé et est devenu le dieu mondial. Le change, voilà le vrai dieu du Juif. Son dieu n’est qu’une traite illusoire.

L’idée que, sous l’empire de la propriété privée et de l’argent, on se fait de la nature, est le mépris réel, l’abaissement effectif de la religion, qui existe bien dans la religion juive, mais n’y existe que dans l’imagination.

C’est dans ce sens que Thomas Münzer déclare insupportable e que toute créature soit transformée en propriété, les poissons dans l’eau, les oiseaux dans l’air, les plan­tes sur le sol : la créature doit elle aussi devenir libre ».

Ce qui est contenu sous une forme abstraite dans la religion juive, le mépris de la théorie, de l’art, de l’histoire, de l’homme considéré comme son propre but, c’est le point de vue réel et conscient, la vertu de l’homme d’argent. Et même les rapports entre l’homme et la femme deviennent un objet de commerce ! La femme devient l’ob­jet d’un trafic.

La nationalité chimérique du Juif est la nationalité du commerçant, de l’homme d’argent.

La loi sans fondement ni raison du Juif n’est que la caricature religieuse de la moralité et du droit sans fondement ni raison, des rites purement formels, dont s’en­tou­re le monde de l’égoïsme.

Ici encore le statut suprême de l’homme est le statut légal, le rapport avec des lois qui n’ont pas de valeur pour lui parce que ce sont les lois de sa propre volonté et de sa propre essence, mais parce qu’elles sont en vigueur et que toute contravention à ces lois est punie.

Le jésuitisme juif, le même jésuitisme pratique dont Bauer prouve l’existence, dans le Talmud, c’est le rapport du monde de l’égoïsme aux lois qui dominent ce monde et que ce monde met son art principal à tourner adroitement.

Bien plus, ce monde ne peut se mouvoir dans le cadre de ces lois sans les abolir de façon ininterrompue.

Le judaïsme ne pouvait se développer davantage au point de vue théorique, en tant que religion, parce que la conception que le besoin pratique se fait du monde est, de par sa nature, bornée et que quelques traits suffisent à l’épuiser.

La religion du besoin pratique ne pouvait, de par son essence, trouver sa perfec­tion dans la théorie, mais uniquement dans la pratique, précisément par sa vérité, c’est-à-dire la pratique.

Le judaïsme ne pouvait créer de monde nouveau « tout ce qu’il pouvait, c’était d’attirer dans son rayon d’action toutes les autres créations et toutes les autres con­ceptions, parce que le besoin pratique, dont la raison est l’égoïsme, reste passif, et ne s’élargit pas ad libitum, mais se trouve élargi du fait même que les conditions sociales continuent à se développer.

Le judaïsme atteint son apogée avec la perfection de la société bourgeoise; mais la société bourgeoise n’atteint sa perfection que dans le monde chrétien. Ce n’est que sous le règne du christianisme, qui extériorise tous les rapports nationaux, naturels, moraux et théoriques de l’homme, que la société bourgeoise pouvait se séparer complètement de la voie de l’État, déchirer tous les liens génériques de l’homme et mettre à leur place l’égoïsme, le besoin égoïste, décomposer le monde des hommes en un monde d’individus atomistiques, hostiles les uns aux autres.

Le christianisme est issu du judaïsme , et il a fini par se ramener au judaïsme.

Par définition, le chrétien fut le Juif théorisant le Juif est, par conséquent, le chrétien pratique, et le chrétien pratique est redevenu juif.

Ce n’est qu’en apparence que le christianisme a vaincu le judaïsme réel. Il était trop élevé, trop spi­ritualiste, pour éliminer la brutalité du besoin prati­que autrement qu’en la sublimisant, dans une brume éthérée.

Le christianisme est la pensée sublime du judaïsme, le judaïsme est la mise en pratique vulgaire du christianisme; mais cette mise en pratique ne pouvait devenir générale qu’après que le christianisme, en tant que religion parfaite, eut achevé, du moins en théorie, de rendre l’homme étranger à lui-même et à la nature.

Ce n’est qu’alors que le judaïsme put arriver à la domination générale et extério­riser l’homme et la nature aliénés à eux-mêmes, en faire un objet tributaire du besoin égoïste et du trafic.

L’aliénation, c’est la pratique du désaisissement. De même que l’homme, tant qu’il est sous l’emprise de la religion, ne sait concrétiser son être qu’en en faisant un être fantastique et étranger, de même il ne peut, sous l’influence du besoin égoïste, s’affirmer pratiquement et produire des objets pratiques qu’en soumettant ses produits ainsi que son activité à la domination d’une entité étrangère et en leur attribuant la signification d’une entité étrangère, l’argent.

Dans la pratique parfaite, l’égoïsme spiritualiste du chrétien devient nécessaire­ment l’égoïsme matériel du Juif, le besoin céleste se mue en besoin terrestre, le subjectivisme en égoïsme. La ténacité du Juif, nous l’expliquons non par sa religion, mais plutôt par le fondement humain de sa religion, le besoin pratique, l’égoïsme.

C’est parce que l’essence véritable du Juif s’est réalisée, sécularisée d’une manière générale dans la société bourgeoise, que la société bourgeoise n’a pu convaincre le Juif de l’irréalité de son essence religieuse qui n’est précisément que la conception idéale du besoin pratique. Aussi ce n’est pas seulement dans le Pentateuque et dans le Talmud, mais dans la société actuelle que nous trouvons l’essence du Juif de nos jours, non pas une essence abstraite, mais une essence hautement empirique, non pas en tant que limitation sociale du Juif, mais en tant que limitation juive de la société.

Dès que la société parvient à supprimer l’essence empirique du judaïsme, le trafic de ses conditions, le Juif est devenu impossible,parce que sa conscience n’a plus d’objet, parce que la base subjective du judaïsme, le besoin pratique, s’est humanisée, parce que le conflit a été supprimé entre l’existence individuelle et sensible de l’homme et son essence générique.

L’émancipation sociale du Juif, c’est l’émancipation de la société du judaïsme.

Notes

[1]  Bruno Bauer : Die Fähigkeit der deutschen Juden und Christen, frei zu werden.

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