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Mar 2003 Journal

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Roll of dishonour

The Albrecht Dürer exhibition at the British Museum features a portrait of the artist’s patron, Pirkheimer, who also befriended the great Humanist scholar Johannes Reuchlin. A philosemite, Reuchlin produced the first Hebrew grammar and dictionary widely available in Renaissance Europe.

Reuchlin achieved additional prominence through combating Johannes Pfefferkorn, a converted Jew, who, at the behest of the Dominican friars of Cologne, scoured the Rhineland confiscating and publicly burning copies of the Talmud on the grounds that it incited hatred against Christianity.

Three centuries later Germany witnessed another instance of a (converted) Jew denigrating his ancestral heritage when Karl Marx equated the ethos of Judaism with that of greed-driven capitalism. In the 1890s the journalist Maximilian Harden, no less right-wing than Marx had been left-wing, warned his co-religionists not to let their concern for pogrom-threatened Jews – primarily in Tsarist Russia, but potentially even in anti-Dreyfusard France – lead them into criticism of German foreign policy, the single-minded aim of which had to be the enhancement of the Reich’s power.

In Austria, meanwhile, another Jewish-born journalist, Karl Kraus, savaged Theodor Herzl, whose outrage at the Dreyfus scandal had galvanised him into converting vague centuries-old Zionist longings into a political project. In A Crown in Zion Kraus dubbed Herzl a megalomaniac, who advocated the creation of a Jewish state essentially so that he might make himself its monarch.

After the Great War the aforementioned extremes of Left and Right became ever more pronounced. In Germany, Max Naumann created the pathetic Verband national-deutscher Juden. The Austrian Social Democrats ordered their Jewish members – e.g. the young Bruno Kreisky – to disaffiliate from the Jewish community. In Soviet Russia, the Yevsektsia, or Jewish sections of the Communist Party, set about zealously destroying Jewish religious institutions and secular Hebrew culture.

One would have expected Hitler’s genocide to substantiate the case for a Jewish state beyond peradventure. But this, alas, did not hold universally true – not even among Jews. Although anti-Zionist Jews were always numerically insignificant, they made up for their paucity by their celebrity status. Their number included the sometime First Lady of Poland, Madame Gomulka, Yergeni Primakov, architect of the Soviet-Iraqi alliance, Gaddafi’s chum Bruno Kreisky, and the ANC leaders Joe Slovo and Ronnie Kasrils, to both of whom Nelson Mandela gave government posts. Slovo died too soon after his elevation to make his mark as a spokesman for anti-Zionism. Kasrils, on the other hand, still holds office in the current Mbeki cabinet, and has a high profile among calumniators of Israel. Taking a leaf out of Robert Fisk’s book – cf the Independent journalist’s assertion that the Israelis carried out a massacre in Jenin – Kasrils compared the IDF’s actions in Bethlehem in retaliation for a suicide bombing to the Sharpeville shootings in South Africa. This is typical of the hyperbole employed by the anti-Israel lobby. After all, Sharpeville turned world opinion against the apartheid regime and heralded its ultimate demise.

Anti-Zionist Jews further included Nobel Prize winners of literature like Boris Pasternak – who viewed Jewish identity as ‘an ancient burden to be discarded’ – and Nadine Gordimer. Pride of place among the anti-Zionist Jewish elite, however, goes to two men who derogate Israel as a small Satan linked to the Great Satan of the United States: Harold Pinter and the eminent linguistics professor Noam Chomsky.

Of Pinter no more needs to be said. As for Chomsky, he made the headline-grabbing assertion that every single US president since 1945 deserved to be indicted as a war criminal under the terms of the Nuremberg Judgment. By a strange coincidence, he produced that coup de foudre in the very week that ex-US President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize!
Richard Grunberger

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