In Judaism, “chosenness” is the belief that the Jews are the chosen people, chosen to be in a covenant with God. This idea is first found in the Torah (five books of Moses in the Bible) and is elaborated on in later books of the Hebrew Bible. Much is written about these topics in rabbinic literature.
According to the traditional Jewish interpretation of the Bible, Israel’s character as the chosen people is unconditional as it says in Deuteronomy 14:2, “For you are a holy people to YHWH your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth.”
Racism, sexism, homophobia, religious prejudice, and all forms of bigotry have been on the decline for decades, in the US especially.
Hollywood and our media in general have played a huge role in this cultural shift, and it wouldn’t have happened without them.
How do I know? Because in the instances where our media conglomerates decide to promote bigotry, opinion polls follow suit.
While the poll revealed that prejudice toward Muslims is widespread, respect for other religious traditions remains sturdy. Respondents held the Jewish faith in the highest regard, with 75% professing to hold a favorable impression — just slightly higher than attitudes toward Protestants and Catholics. Fifty-seven percent say they have a favorable view of the Mormon faith, compared with 44% for Muslims. Despite (or perhaps because of) this widespread antipathy, 62% of respondents say they don’t personally know a Muslim American.
One form of bigotry that seems to be impervious to any serious criticism is Jewish Chosenism, which seems to fit most any definition of chauvinism.
Jewish chauvinism comes in many forms and has many manifestations. It can be as mild as the belief that Jews are generally smarter than everybody else, or as extreme as what many top rabbis believe in Israel:
As soon as it was published late last year,Torat Ha’Melech sparked a national uproar. The controversy began when an Israeli tabloid panned the book’s contents as “230 pages on the laws concerning the killing of non-Jews, a kind of guidebook for anyone who ponders the question of if and when it is permissible to take the life of a non-Jew.” According to the book’s author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, “Non-Jews are “uncompassionate by nature” and should be killed in order to “curb their evil inclinations.” “If we kill a gentile who has has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder,” Shapira insisted. Citing Jewish law as his source (or at least a very selective interpretation of it) he declared: “There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults.”
Here’s another gem from a top Israeli rabbi who has since set up shop in the US, with little outcry:
The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews, according to Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, the head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages and a senior Sephardi adjudicator.
“Goyim were born only to serve us. Without that, they have no place in the world – only to serve the People of Israel,” he said in his weekly Saturday night sermon on the laws regarding the actions non-Jews are permitted to perform on Shabbat.
According to Yosef, the lives of non-Jews in Israel are safeguarded by divinity, to prevent losses to Jews.
“In Israel, death has no dominion over them… With gentiles, it will be like any person – they need to die, but [God] will give them longevity. Why? Imagine that one’s donkey would die, they’d lose their money.
This is his servant… That’s why he gets a long life, to work well for this Jew,” Yosef said.
“Why are gentiles needed? They will work, they will plow, they will reap. We will sit like an effendi and eat.
That is why gentiles were created,” he added.
Human rights activist and Israeli physicist Israel Shahak addresses Jewish Chauvinism head-on in his 1994 book, Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight Of Three Thousand Years. This is where I came across the term “Jewish Chauvinism” and I’ve never heard the term elsewhere.
Shahak points out that the Torah and especially the Talmud are filled with passages that are completely supremacist and encourage wrong-doing against the Gentiles, aka the Goyim, aka the cattle, aka all non-Jews.
Israel Shahak makes the now obvious point that one cannot understand and address the issue of anti-Semitism without also addressing Jewish chauvinism.
It seems so obvious to me now, and I think we are long overdue for an open, public discussion of this issue.
From Wikipedia’s discription of the book:
In 1994, Shahak published Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight Of Three Thousand Years. In it he proposes that most nations’ histories are initially ethnocentric. However they then evolve through a period of critical self-analysis to incorporate other perspectives. Jewish emancipation by the Enlightenment was a dual liberation, from both Christian anti-Semitism and a ‘ghetto priesthood’ with its ‘imposed scriptural control’. But, he argued, the history of Judaism itself had not yet been the full beneficiary of modern critical perspectives. For Shahak, open public discussion of what he called ‘Jewish ideology’ is required if people are to take the same attitude towards Jewish chauvinism as is commonly taken towards anti-Semitism and all other forms of xenophobia, chauvinism and racism. He believed the political influence of Jewish chauvinism and religious fanaticism was much greater than that of anti-Semitism, and affirmed his belief that anti-Semitism and Jewish chauvinism could only be fought simultaneously.
I am very interested in an open discussion of this issue, and I’d love to here your thoughts on it. If we can inject the issue of Jewish chauvinism into the national conversation, I think much good will come of it.
Most American Jews self-identify as to the left on the political spectrum, but haven’t been asked to confront the issue of Jewish chauvinism, and how it relates to both US policy and the issue of anti-Semitism.
White supremacists didn’t become embarrassed until they saw themselves on national television mistreating blacks.
Insisting on a national conversation about mild and militant Jewish chauvinism might be embarrassing for some or many people, but I think it will lead to more universalist values among an even higher proportion of young Jews than we are seeing already.
The only downside that I see is that the Jewish community will become more fractured, and less united. But considering that criticizing Israel’s brutal occupation is more likely to lead to shunning than the most militant chauvinism imaginable, I think that even this downside is an upside.
Looking forward to your comments. Below are a few more examples of Jewish chauvinism, to illustrate the harm it continues to cause America today. Hopefully we can avoid a war on Iran that will send the entire world into an economic tailspin.
Feeling the Hate in Jerusalem:
“At one time, the people with the highest I.Q.s in the world were Eastern European Jews. Personally, I think intermarriage and the lack of culture in America has made us stupid.”
During a week in which the so-called Jewish domination of the media was being bandied about thanks to Oliver Stone, I’m reminded of the following quip my editor Rob Eshman made three summers ago, the year “Mad Men” made its television debut:
“When they say Jews control Hollywood, I always think to myself: Thank God.”
He wrote that in a 2007 profile of “Mad Men” creator Matt Weiner, in which he touted the show as a shining example of why Jews should dominate Hollywood. It made sense, after all, he wrote, “it is Jews whose style and whose themes have dominated the entertainment media for much of the past century.”
Finally, here’s Eric Alterman:
Now it so happens that because so few people are willing to say this, and there’s certainly good historical reasons for this, I end up being quoted by Walt and Mearsheimer as the only person saying, I am a dual loyal Jew and sometimes I’m going to actually go with Israel, because the United States can take an awful lot of hits and come up standing. Whereas if Israel takes one serious bad hit it could disappear. So there’s going to be some cases where when Israel and the United States conflict I’m going to support what’s best for Israel rather than what I think is best for the United States.
I think a great deal of the terrorist attacks and the sort of pool of potential terrorists who want to attack the United States are inspired by the United States support for Israel. I’m not saying we shouldn’t support Israel for that reason. I’m saying, Dammit if that’s the price we have to pay, then I’m willing to pay it.
He’s willing to pay the price with the blood of goy American soldiers, and that’s fucked up. And many other Jews feel the same way – Iraq was worth it, Iran would be worth it, because it’s “good for the Jews”, aka, the chosen ones. Programs like Birthright Israel re-inforce this chauvinism all the time, in case kids don’t get enough of it at home.