WHY THE JEWS: The Reason for Antisemitism by Dennis & Joseph Telushkin Prager

WHY THE JEWS: The Reason for Antisemitism

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The age-old idea of anti-Semitism as natural and inevitable--updated to deny that anyone has ever been hated like the Jews--gets a new, polemical airing. Prager and Telushkin (The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism) come on with blazing guns and specious reasoning. ""The universality, depth and permanence of antisemitism"" (their styling) can only be accounted for by a ""universal explanation."" Jews have been hated for being Jewish, and thus for challenging the values of non-Jews--through 1) the Jewish concept of God, Jewish law, and Jewish nationhood; 2) the Jewish mission ""to change the world for the better""; 3) the doctrine of the Jews' ""divine election""; 4) the fact that, ""as a result of their commitment to Judaism, they have led higher lives than their non-Jewish neighbors in almost every society in which they have lived."" In short: ""the mere existence of the Jews, with their different values and allegiance, constitutes a threat to the established order."" In successive chapters, Prager and Telushkin reiterate and embellish these points, both topically and (in the book's second half) chronologically. They also take issue with ""other theories of antisemitism""--the ""scapegoat,"" the economic, the psychological--and mount an offensive against ""radical non-Jewish Jews"" who allegedly foster anti-Semitism. (Some nasty attacks on individuals here.) For Jews, the remedy is said to be converting others to their ""ethical monotheist values"" (""For Jews to attempt to eliminate anti-semitism through ideologies which themselves have easily led to anti-semitism is obviously an exercise in self-destruction""); for non-Jews, the answer is to take stock and recognize that ""treatment of the Jews has served as one of humanity's moral barometers."" An ahistorical, ascientific, afactual expression of a certain traditional kind of Jewish thinking and a certain contemporary political outlook.

Pub Date: Aug. 9th, 1983
ISBN: 0743246209
Publisher: Simon & Schuster