By Daniel Chejfec
I just finished reading a book by Dennis Praeguer and Joseph Telushkin called "Why the Jews". It was first published in 1983, and it is now out in an updated version. The original book was about Anti Semitism, the updated version incorporates the notion of Anti-Zionism. What makes this book unique is its theory of what is Anti Semitism. Others talk about socio economic conditions, religious theological reasons, economic competition, scapegoats, etc. The authors of this book postulate that anti Semitism is a negative reaction to the role Jews took upon themselves many years ago at Sinai, that is being Jews.
They make a powerful case for the belief that it is Judaism (not the religion, but the whole package of Jewish Identity) that anti Semites oppose. Why? Because Judaism demands from Jews the promotion of the concept of Ethical Monotheism, a system that demands the existence of God and sees God as demanding ethical behavior. It implies the existence of an absolute morality based on absolute concepts of right and wrong, limiting to some extent the freedom of the individual. So it is the Jews by their very existence, with their laws and their trans national Nationalism that makes the anti Semites cringe.
They also believe that many of the same people oppose America and Israel for the same reason, since a Democracy implies by definition a law that is beyond the relativistic ideas of morality, since Justice is based on absolute ideas of morality, ideas of right and wrong and not just ideas of a majority. So those who would oppose Jews for their attitude of believing in Ethical Monotheism, oppose America as a symbol of Democracy.
They actually put this thesis to the test by looking at very different times in Jewish history and very different ideological contexts. I might disagree with some of their conclusions, but I highly recommend the book as a novel and different way to look at what it means to be a Jew...