L’associazione Utopia Rossa lavora e lotta per l’unità dei movimenti rivoluzionari di tutto il mondo in una nuova internazionale: la Quinta. Al suo interno convivono felicemente – con un progetto internazionalista e princìpi di etica politica – persone di provenienza marxista e libertaria, anarcocomunista, situazionista, femminista, trotskista, guevarista, leninista, credente e atea, oltre a liberi pensatori. Non succedeva dai tempi della Prima internazionale.



mercoledì 7 giugno 2017

A PARIAH PEOPLE: A PLEA FOR HYAM MACCOBY AND HIS CRITICISM OF ANTI-SEMITISM, by Peter Gorenflos (in cooperation with Emanuel Rund)

IN DUE LINGUE (Inglese, Tedesco)
IN TWO LANGUAGES (English, German)

Barnes & Noble, 1998
The Disputation

Hyam Maccoby (1924–2004) became known to a wider audience in the US and the UK above all through his play The Disputation. This is about one of the publicly led disputations that took place in the Middle Ages between a rabbi and a Catholic priest with the purpose of moving the Jewish people to convert to Christianity. In the historically proven disputation of 1263 in Barcelona between Rabbi Moses ben Nahman and Catholic priest Pablo Christiani, which took place under the liberal regency of King James of Aragon, the Christian had no chance against the rabbi’s logically stringent line of argument. After this, the Dominicans propagated a distortion of what really happened and thereby forced Moses ben Nahman to reply. Despite promises to the contrary, he then, under pressure from the Pope, had to go into exile. Other, similar disputations often ended with a bloodbath carried out against the Jews and public burnings of the Talmud. The Inquisition was at the ready, supported by the Pope, who would soon gain considerable political influence. The play, directed by Bob Kalfin and starring well-known actor Theodore Bikel as the rabbi, was a great success and was subsequently adapted as a film by the BBC, with Christopher Lee as King James.
Only on the predominantly Catholic European mainland, the “continent”, is the ancient history expert, Talmud philologist and former librarian at the Leo Baeck College in London, Hyam Maccoby, almost unknown. His most recent position was a professorship Jewish Studies at the University of Leeds.

The Mythmaker

His central work, The Mythmaker (1986), did not appear in Germany until 20 years later. As a historian of the school called “the Jewish view of Jesus”, he documents and substantiates the proof, hardly new, that Jesus could not have been the founder of Christianity but was firmly anchored in Jewish society, which regarded the Torah and took on a leading role in the Pharisee movement. He had the Messianic aim of re-establishing the Jewish monarchy, freeing his land from the yoke of Roman occupation and then doing away with all military rule worldwide. This claim to be the King of the Jews – an open provocation to the Roman occupiers – landed him in prison and after sentencing by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate on the cross, where he and numerous other Jewish freedom fighters died a martyr’s death. Had he simply been one of the many unsuccessful aspiring Messiahs, he would soon have been forgotten, if it had not been for his direct adherents, the Nazarenes, who believed in his resurrection by means of a divine miracle and began to establish themselves as a Jewish sect within the Pharisee movement, led by their Jewish leaders Peter and James. Here, Maccoby develops the whole panorama of a society under the rule of the world power of Rome, he shows the various groups, the compromising sect of the Sadducees, one of whom was the high priest who acted as a chief of police for Rome, the Herodians as Quisling and titular kings, the militant Zealots and above all the Pharisees, well regarded among the people, who were the real leaders of the oppressed Jewish majority and guaranteed the spiritual survival of the Jews after the destruction of the Temple.
Maccoby provides countless pieces of evidence supporting the premise that Paul was the actual founder of Christianity. He reconstructs the true story behind Paul’s Epistels, the oldest part of the New Testament that was written before the destruction of the Temple, and the Gospels, which were written afterwards. Maccoby reveals Paul as a Greek adventurer who was only superficially familiar with Judaism and could presumably speak hardly any Hebrew. He did not leave his home town of Tarsus in Asia Minor until he was an adult and, impressed by Jewish authorities such as Hillel, Shammai and Gamaliel, tried to find a connect to the Pharisees and make a career for himself with them. However, he failed in his ambitions: he never became a Pharisee scholar, as he claimed for himself and his alleged origins from the tribe of Benjamin, which is a questionable construct in itself, a pure invention in order to make a name for himself in his later missionary activities. He was also never a disciple of Gamaliel, as Luke claims in Acts. After failing to achieve his ambition, he joined the high priest’s auxiliary police – presumably out of desperation. In his function as a police agent, Paul, who was still Saul at that time, was involved in the persecution of the Nazarenes, amongst other things.

Damascus and after

On the way to Damascus, where he was supposed to arrest Jewish resistance fighters from the Nazarene faction, this torn adventurer was befallen by a kind of hallucination, a revelation in which, according to his own statements, Jesus appeared. This was the starting point, the initial spark, of the foundation of a new religion, Christianity. Because Paul was fascinated by the ideas of the Nazarenes, Jesus’s Jewish supporters. A crucified and resurrected Messiah figure reminded him of the mystery religions of his childhood, the Phrygian Attis cult and also the cult of Baal-Taras, who gave his home town its name. As in other Hellenistic mystery religions, the Adonis cult in Syria, the Osiris cult in Egypt and many others, sacrificed god-figures died and were then resurrected. Their suffering was required for the spiritual redemption of their followers and assumed a sinister perpetrator who could be given the blame for the necessary sacrifice. This concoction began to ferment in Paul’s mind and blended with the concept of Gnosticism, which was also Hellenistic, in which an extraterrestrial saviour descends from heaven in order to liberate an evil world from the demiurge and his false doctrine by bringing the knowledge, the true cognition, “gnosis” to a select few. The demiurge is then made the same as the Hebrew god, the Torah becomes the imperfect law, a kind of deception. The true, highest god would send down his son to depose the Jewish god and save selected souls for eternal life. Gnosticism transported anti-Semitism into Paul’s religious ideas and developed a taste for escape from a terrible doom. It had demonstrably come about before Christianity among the Greeks in Alexandria, who had initially been impressed by Judaism but then capitulated to the demands of the Torah and assumed an inimical stance against this religion. And this is exactly the dilemma Paul found himself in: he began to fabricate a new religion, a highly virulent “myth mixture” with a resounding effect composed of these three elements, the mystery cults, Gnosticism and Judaism. And this ultimately led to a new prospect for his leadership aspirations, which went far beyond his previous ambitious ideas, saved him from reversion to paganism, made him a kind of prophet and raised him far above the envied Pharisees.
His connection to the Nazarenes was only superficial, because for these strictly religious Jews Jesus was not a mythical figure but a political and religious leader. Paul initially gained their confidence and entitlement to conduct heathen missions, but it then came to a dispute when it became clear that he had been spreading the entirely new concept that Jesus had died for the sins of man and for their salvation, his atoning and sacrificial death had made the Torah superfluous and he was to be viewed as a divine being, ideas that the historical Jesus would have been horrified at. After a council in Jerusalem he initially manoeuvred himself out of it; five years later he stood trial and there was then a final break between him and the Jewish followers of Jesus, led by Peter and James. Paul, who had bought Roman citizenship with donations he had appropriated that were thought to have been for his supposed fellow believers, fled to Rome, where his historical trace disappears. According to Christian mythology he is supposed to have suffered martyr’s death there. But it is just as possible that he still lived for several years there and was occupied with developing his Pauline church. Peter never supported him and was probably never in Rome, and he was certainly not “the rock on which the Church was built”, i.e. the first Pope.

The Eucharist

Maccoby makes it clear that Paul was the founder of Christianity. He was the one who introduced the Eucharist as the central sacrament of his new religion, not Jesus. This is only superficially connected to the Kiddush, which is a simple thanksgiving prayer for God. The Eucharist, by way of contrast, is a sacrificial ritual in which an incarnated God-man is symbolically eaten. The wine becomes his blood, the bread his flesh. It is worthy of note that the term Paul uses for the Eucharist is “the Lord’s supper”. This same expression was used in mystery religions for the sacred meals dedicated to the saviour-god. Historically, these cults served to make the fields fertile, to avert a danger, or to found a new city or tribe, and there were actual human sacrifices, as proxy for a god; Maccoby examines these in detail. The mystery religions weakened the human sacrifice ritual and Judaism ended it completely with the Akedah. Here, a human sacrifice became an animal sacrifice and the whole concept of a sacrifice was gradually completely sublimated. But Paul revised this development and made a fantasised human sacrifice the central sacrament of his new religion. He transfers the mythical concept of salvation from the atonement sacrifice of a god to a historical person, Jesus, which gives his myth mixture an especially dramatic, impressive aura and revives the necessity of a scapegoat, which he already begins to see as “the Jews”. In form, however, he adheres to Judaism, which he wants to rebuild without breaking away from it, above all in order to give his new religion authority and authenticity. Paul usurps Judaism, as Maccoby makes clear. His followers, freed from the burden of the Torah, saved from their sins and mortality by the death of Jesus, form the New Covenant with God that is to replace the Old Covenant of Judaism.

The Judas legend

After the First Jewish–Roman War (66–70 CE) and the destruction of the Temple, the Church of Jerusalem, i.e. the Nazarene movement, slowly began to dissolve, because its competing organisation, the Pauline Church, accused it of heresy, as did the Pharisees in Jerusalem themselves. It survived for a few centuries still, scattered, isolated and persecuted, under the name of “Ebionites”, which means “poor people”, and was then eroded away inconspicuously by the maelstrom of history. When the Pauline Hellenistic followers of Jesus no longer had anything to fear from the Jewish side, when the Torah-true Jewish followers of Jesus were too weakened to assert themselves, the former went on the offensive on a Pauline basis from Rome, their new religious centre. The era of virulent anti-Semitism began with the Gospels, which were written between 70 and 110 CE. The Pharisees were reviled as dry, hypocritical legalists, which made a considerable contribution to the anti-Jewish stereotypes of the Middle Ages and afterwards. The Torah was portrayed as a relentless, misanthropic law and “the Jews” were made responsible for Jesus’s death. The Passover privilege was fabricated according to which the Jewish people were supposed to be permitted to pardon a prisoner once a year. In the Barabbas episode, the whipped-up crowd decides to free Barabbas and loudly demand the death of Jesus: “Crucify him!”. The legend of the benevolent Pontius Pilate was created, who in reality was an evil, corrupt and violent governor. In the Gospels he mutates into a beset man who washes his hands in innocence. Judas Iscariot was turned into a money-grabbing perpetrator who is said to have sold Jesus out for thirty pieces of silver. His name was chosen because it is intended to represent the entire Jewish people. And thus the “sacred executioner” was finally found, the scapegoat who commits the evil deed that is urgently necessary for the salvation of the community. This was crucial to later developments because there would now be, in “the Jews”, a reservoir of whipping-boys for all generations who could be used as a lightning rod to indemnify perpetrators.
Hyam Maccoby proves that the main purpose of Paul’s Epistels and the Gospels consists in masking the radical break between the heathen Christian and the Jewish Christian churches and turning it into a different conflict between the allegedly united Pauline and Jewish followers of Jesus on the one hand and “the Jews” on the other, who stubbornly refused to recognise Jesus as the ultimate divine Messiah. They also postulated that Jesus was the founder of the new religion of Christianity and Paul merely his prophet, that all the prophets of the Hebrew Bible had already announced Jesus as the Messiah and had already been prevented in doing this and executed by – once again – “the Jews”. And they depoliticised Jesus, turning him from an anti-Roman Jewish resistance fighter into an anti-Jewish mythical figure, half god, half man, whose sacrificial death would deliver all those who believed in him from sin and give them eternal life. Rome and the Romans are hardly mentioned in the New Testament at all. This is like talking about France during the Vichy regime without mentioning the German occupation. In order for a religion to be successful in the Roman Empire, no anti-Roman firebrand could be at the centre of Christianity who was punished by crucifixion for his aim of trying to free his land from the Roman invaders.

Christianity becomes the state religion in the Roman Empire

At first, there were actual persecutions of Christians in Rome, from Nero to Diocletian, because unlike Judaism, Christianity was not officially recognised in the Roman Empire. That changed when Constantine came to the throne. After his conversion it became a state religion; this was finalised officially at the Council of Nicaea in 325. He had already issued a ban on Jewish missionary work ten years before, influenced by the Roman bishop Sylvester. It was the first of countless anti-Jewish edicts in the coming centuries. Christianity turned from a persecuted church into a persecuting one. Teaching of Judaism was banned, mixed marriages and conversion was punishable by death and Palestine had unpayable taxes loaded upon it until there was a revolt, which was then put down in a bloody massacre. At this point, Babylon became a cultural centre outside Christian influence. After a short interval of tolerance under Emperor Julian, “the Apostate”, there was a long phase of anti-Jewish legislation which destroyed all the rights of the Jewish people and degraded them to slaves and foreigners as befitting the Christian view. In the Eastern part of the Roman Empire, Jews had to leave Jerusalem, Palestine was Christianised, Greek had to be spoken in the synagogues instead of Hebrew and the building of new synagogues was banned.
The Western part of the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century in the wake of the Barbarian invasions, which gave the Jewish population some relief for a long time. The Franks embraced a less fanatical form of Christianity and saw Jews as useful citizens. Charlemagne’s successors continued this policy of tolerance despite objections from the archbishops Agobard and Amolo, who demanded the anti-Jewish legislation be tightened.
In Spain, Jews were so popular among the people that rabbis were asked to bless Christian fields, even though this was banned by the Council of Elvira. The Spanish bishop Isidor of Seville tried to reintroduce anti-Jewish laws but the noblemen ignored this. They preferred to protect the Jews. They prospered here under Christian and Muslim rule and their culture experienced its zenith in the 11th and 12th centuries, the Golden Age, which was not ended by the Church until the following century. In the rest of Europe, this phase of relative tolerance had already ended two centuries before.
Now that the Church had become powerful politically, its long-standing malicious anti-Semitic propaganda started to bear fruit. It was the brainwashing by Church Fathers and the clergy with which the increasingly Christianised Europe was indoctrinated, Late Antiquity Church Fathers such as St. Origen, Augustine (Contra Judaeos) and Chrysostom, whose malicious anti-Jewish tirades were surpassed only by those of Hitler. What had been merely a religious fantasy of the Christians – the myth of Jewish evil – now became social reality by means of the increasing power of the Church and the Jewish people had their pariah status forced upon them. The nightmare of the Middle Ages had begun.
If Christianity had remained one of many religions in the Roman Empire, if Paul and the Evangelists had not declared Jesus to be a divine figure, if he had been presented as a human martyr like Socrates, if he had not been made a mythological expiatory sacrifice for the purpose of saving the poor sinners, then history would have taken a different course. Then the Jews might at least have received the status of despised second-class citizens in Christian Middle Ages, of taxable dhimmis, as they were in Islamic countries - at least before Israel was founded -, instead of being degraded to demons, bloodsuckers and vampires, to subhumans, to a pariah people.

Ocean Books, 1973
Demonisation in the Middle Ages

The turning point in the 11th century – after a period of relative tolerance – came in Germany and France first, when the Christian brainwashing started to bear fruit. There were rumours that Christians were being maltreated under Muslim rule and somehow the Jews were made responsible for it. The legend of the Antichrist arose on the basis of Paul’s cryptic remarks in 2 Thessalonians and was developed by the Church Fathers Irenaeus, Hippolyte and Lactantius. This extraordinary vision of future was fundamentally different from the traditional idea that “the Jews” would one day gain insight into their criminal actions, accept their role in the Christian myth and initiate his second coming with the admission that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah and saviour. An alternative to this version was that a man would appear at the beginning of the Millennium who would lead the army of the Devil against the army of Jesus. This man, the Antichrist, is a Jew from Babylon who goes to Palestine, rebuilds the Temple and rules a worldwide Jewish empire. Christ returns at the peak of his success and leads his army against the Antichrist, defeats him and destroys all his followers, including the Jewish people, in order to set up a thousand-year empire. This legend now started to bear fruit and there were pogroms in Rouen, Orleans, Limoges and Mainz. When Pope Urban II proclaimed the first crusade in 1096 to free Jerusalem, the Crusaders massacred all the Jews they came across. These outbreaks of violence brought Europe’s Jews outside Spain to the point of extinction and almost became a purely Christian Final Solution.
The Jewish nightmare that now began under Christian rule also included their exclusion from the growing guilds and a ban on practising respected professions. Their long tradition as international traders, farmers, vintners or doctors was now at an end. But they were allowed to practise the frowned on lending of money for interest, which gave them a reputation of being usurers and fired up the Judas myth of the money-grabbing betrayer of Christ. This made them the involuntary first bankers of Europe.

Ritual Murder

A different, new kind of nightmare began in England: the blood libel accusation. The first case was that of William of Norwich in 1144. It was claimed that before Easter, Jews had bought a Christian child, tortured it and crucified it on Good Friday out of hatred of Jesus Christ. The case did not stand up in court, but the reaction to it was so great that this story increasingly gained credibility and spread out epidemically. “Confessions” were obtained through torture, Jewish citizens were executed and entire communities wiped out. A further case was that of Hugo of Lincoln in 1255. After this child had been missing for three weeks, his body was found in a cesspit in which he had clearly drowned. At this time there was a Jewish wedding in Lincoln, which led to an accusation of ritual murder. A Jew called Copin was tortured until he confessed to the boy Hugo being tortured and then crucified by him and his fellow believers. Nineteen Jews, including Copin himself, were subsequently hanged. Jews were accused of these alleged ritual murders throughout the Middle Ages and until the 20th century and this accusation has made a very considerable contribution to their demonisation. It was propagated above all by the lower clergy, but the Civiltà Cattolica, an official periodical of the Catholic Church, had supported the blood libel accusation since it was first published in 1849 with spiteful doggedness and in 1870 even redoubled its efforts, together with numerous other Catholic newspapers, after the remains of the Vatican State had been taken by Italian troops.
Hyam Maccoby describes how a significant psychological transformation took place within Christianity in the 12th century. While Jesus had previously been portrayed and worshipped as a young man, Jesus as a child now became the focal point of the believers. At the same time, Marian devotion, which had not played any part before, came into being. It seems that the popular imagination had begun to see the Christ-child as present in the wafers of Eucharist, rather than the body of an adult Christ. It shows that the Christian imagination of the time, at a hardly preconscious level, was full of fantasies about cutting up and eating of a small child. This was essentially a religious act performed in fantasy by the Christians themselves, but it was easily displaced and imputed to the Jews, who thus once more became the bearers of Christian guilt about their sacrificial modes of handling spiritual problems. It was only from this time on that Jews began to be regarded as subhumans, bloodsucking vampires and demons. There was also a connection to “usury”, because some of the lower nobility relieved themselves of their debts by inciting the mob with legends of ritual murder that ended in the massacre of Jewish people. From hereon in they were, once and for all, the black sheep of the family who were made responsible for all catastrophes, including plague epidemics, after which they were massacred. After they had been pushed out of the money business, their most wretched time as peddlers and pawnbrokers began; this lasted until the 18th century and only their pride, their discipline, the study of the Torah and the Talmud enabled them to survive mentally.
One response to the anti-Semitic campaign of the Christian Middle Ages was to flee, partly to Islamic countries, where they were viewed with contempt rather than hatred, and partly to the East, such as from Germany to Poland, where they were initially welcomed because of their abilities and energy to develop the country only to be expelled again when they were no longer of use and after they had also become the victim of medieval hatred. Another response was conversion, which was usually enforced, and also martyrdom, such as in York in 1190, when death was preferred to conversion to a faith that proved its own falsehood through the behaviour of its adherents. The chief response, however, was endurance. They had resources in their own tradition for weathering the storm; a code of living was developed in the Jewish quarters which was based on Talmudic principles of equality and justice. They regarded themselves as civilized people condemned to endure in surroundings of barbarism and primitive ignorance and rejected the Christian idea of Jewish inferiority completely. In a time of widespread illiteracy nearly all Jews, men and women, could read and write.

Spain and the “purity of the blood”

There was a massacre of Jews in Spain in 1391. As a consequence of this, many of them converted to Christianity and the number of converts rose to over 100,000 by the time they were finally expelled in 1492; the same number chose exile. It was clear to everyone that staying in the country without giving up their religion was tantamount to a death sentence. Theoretically, Christianity was “anti-racist”. Anyone who converted to Christianity was welcome, because according to Christianity, the conversion of all Jews was a prelude of the second coming of Christ. In practice, however, this changed after they had been demonised and degraded to a hated minority with an abominable nature that had its origins in the central Christian myth. Beyond a certain number they became indigestible. After initially being freed from their disadvantages through their conversion and having started to use their natural talents to occupy important positions in Spanish society and rise to respected professions, the ghost of a “hostile takeover” suddenly started to spread. Furthermore, the new Christians, the “conversos”, were under constant suspicion of still practising their former religion in secret. The converted Jews were now the first – and for a long time the only – victims of the Spanish Inquisition, which was used as an air-tight monitoring system. With its method of bureaucratic control, denunciation, the stake and torture, it foreshadowed the persecution of Jews under the Nazis. On this basis a quasi-racist ideology was also developed with the “Statutes of blood purity” (“Estatutos de limpieza de sangre”), a historical precursor to the Nuremberg Race Laws. The differentiation between Old and New Christians was set out first on a local basis then, after 1536, on a national level in civil law, survived until 1876 and made the converted Jews second-class citizens. From 1592 onwards the Jesuits banned all men of Jewish origin from belonging to the order; here, the family tree was traced back five generations – a Catholic “Aryan Certificate” ante datum.

The Enlightenment and afterwards

It was the decay of Christian belief that led to the release of the Jews from medieval oppression. The French Revolution brought the breakthrough in 1791; other countries in Europe followed, and finally Russia with its revolution in 1917. The Church hierarchy exerted considerable pressure against it and wanted to maintain the status of the Jewish people as a “cursed nation” by any means necessary and keep political and social rights from them. A classic example of this was the Vatican State after the Congress of Vienna, in which ghettos, clothing marks with yellow badges, forced sermons and many other things were reintroduced by the Pope King. Some of the Enlighteners, such as Montesquieu with his work The Spirit of the Laws or Rousseau with his “contrat social” had great respect for Jewish tradition and saw the Torah as a kind of early social contract; others, such as Voltaire and Mirabeau, took more of a contemptuous and patronising stance, regarded the Jews as superstitious and backward and only able to be emancipated by a long-winded, difficult process. Many who thought this way were then all the more surprised and shocked at the speed at which Jewish citizens carved out careers for themselves in all respected professions as soon as they were freed from their shameful suppression. This tolerant but condescending stance quickly turned into disfavour when the Jews proved all the negative predictions wrong with their quick success. They were best qualified for this on account of the long tradition of their study of the Talmud with its subtle, rational and humane views. Extraordinary people such as Moses Mendelssohn or Salomon Maimon moved from their Talmudic background to the forefront of European philosophy, paralleled, in a lesser way, by a mass of Jews in bourgeois professions. Resentment and jealousy were the beginning of modern anti-Semitism. The new debate was about loyalty and assimilability and the Christ-murderers from the Middle Ages became the essential strangers and aliens. This shift led to a revival of hate, contempt and medieval demonisation in a new, “rational” guise. For some they became the authors of capitalism, the image of the medieval usurer and the Judas myth being revived, and a small number of prominent families such as the Rothschilds were used as representatives. For others they were the spearhead of conspiracy and revolution. The foundations for the latter were laid by Abbé Barruel during the French Revolution; his sorry effort became the model for the later Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The hostility from so many different sides, which made the Jews responsible for all the evils in the world, proves its religious origin. The medieval, quasi-racist image of the demonised Jews as troublemakers, host desecrators, ritual murderers, with their special stink, the “foetor judaicus”, their special physiognomy and other physical peculiarities, only required a new, “scientific” disguise. The race theory came about in Germany. Adolf Stoecker’s Christian Socials became the political home of religious and racist Jew-haters. This movement advanced from there to France and Eastern Europe. In France, the influential Édouard Drumont book La France juive devant l’opinion was published in 1886; this made the Jews responsible for the corruption in the country. Alfred Dreyfus was the most prominent victim of anti-Semitic smears of that time.
In Russia, the medieval living conditions of the Jews lasted until the October Revolution. In 1881 there were pogroms, and ritual murder legends were propagated. In 1882 the anti-Jewish May Laws were decreed, through which Jewish property was confiscated and new ghettos were built. And then in 1903 the anti-Semitic pamphlet Protocols of the Elders of Zion appeared, which contained the legend of a Jewish world conspiracy and was propagated worldwide. The Black Hundreds organised pogroms, with direct support from the Tsar, in 1903 and 1905 and in 1911 the blood-libel accusation against Mendel Beilis in Kiev was supported by government departments and indirectly by the Vatican itself. Not until after the October Revolution were the Jews given legal equality. Immediately they were viewed all over the world as its instigator, even though the few leaders with a Jewish background, Trotsky, Zinoviev, Litvinov and Kaganovich, had distanced themselves from anything religious.
The response to the growing nationalist and racist anti-Semitism was Zionism. After the Dreyfus affair and the Polish blood-libel accusations of the 19th century, Theodor Herzl was convinced that the hopes and promises of clearing up the “Jewish Question” by means of emancipation were an illusion.

Christianity’s Complicity in the Holocaust

After the defeat in the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles, the economic crisis and hyperinflation, the time was ripe once again in Germany and a scapegoat was sought. Many social groupings played the anti-Semitic card, but no-one did it as uncompromisingly as Hitler. Of course the Catholic Hitler was not a devout man, but he had not “left” the Catholic Church either (in Germany to this day it is necessary to “join” or “leave” a Church to determine whether or not one has to pay church tax). And of course he was not an agent of the Catholic Church. His clients were heavy industry, big landowners, banks and parts of the aristocracy, without whose financial and propagandistic support he would not have had the slightest chance. For them, his anti-Semitism was merely a fad that they would cynically accept until he had destroyed the aspiring workers’ movement. But why was a cultured nation so susceptible to the political programme of a psychopath? Hyam Maccoby comes to the conclusion that it was the world of the Middle Ages that provided the reservoir of hatred and contempt of the Jews that enabled the Nazis to implement successfully their strategy of annihilation. Hitler’s race theory was pseudo-scientific, because he had no problems with the Arab Muslims, to whom the ethnic designation of “Semitic” applies much more accurately; indeed, he even saw them as his allies and received the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, with all due hours. Hitler was able to resort to all the stereotypes of the Middle Ages with his anti-Semitic policies. Even his concept of the Final Solution and the terminology of the thousand-year Reich had a Christian precursor with the religious idea of the Millennium and the Antichrist which is inexorably linked with the entire history of Christian thought. As a millenarian movement, Nazism knew exclusively the figure of the Triumphant Christ (i.e. Hitler) and not that of the sacrificed Christ. As soon as the thousand-year Reich has begun there is no longer any need for the divine sacrifice and therefore also no need for the Sacred Executioner – the Jews. The fantasies of a Jewish world conspiracy went back to the medieval legend of the blood-libel accusations which suggested that the Jews held secret meetings at international level at which they decided where and when the next child sacrifices should take place. And to the idea of the Antichrist. The image of the medieval usurer and the greedy traitor Judas also lived on in the hate tirades and caricatures of the Nazis.

Concluding observation

In his work, Hyam Maccoby shows the continuity between medieval, religious anti-Semitism and modern, pseudo-scientific anti-Semitism. The Christian churches have constructed an artificial rift valley here, just as they have filled it in another place – the Pauline/Hellenistic Jesus adherents versus the Jewish ones – in order to avoid this explosive taboo topic. All the prejudices that were later used by the Nazis to abuse the Jewish people as lightning rods, to terrorise them and send them to the death camps, had a religious origin in the Christian Middle Ages. Maccoby makes it clear that the particular Christian anti-Semitism was the ideological basis for the Holocaust. In China and India, where there are no usurpation myths that are derived from Judaism and want to supersede it – Christianity and Islam –, there is also no anti-Semitism.
Hyam Maccoby opens our eyes to modern anti-Semitism being a legacy of the Christian myth of the Jews as the murderers of Christ and the pariah status of the demonised Jews in the Middle Ages who were condemned to do the dirty jobs of society that had to be done. In his words, the Holocaust is the greatest crisis Christianity has ever faced, even greater, for example, than the Reformation. The Christian response to the Holocaust will decide the future of Christianity or whether it has a future. The real and only permanent solution of the problem of anti-Semitism is to dismantle the Pauline Christian myth of atonement. One welcome result will be the rehabilitation of Judas Iscariot, who was burdened with a degrading traitor stigma despite his loyalty to the historical Jesus with whom he had set off on a (albeit failed) liberation mission. His name is derived from the tribe of Judah and is an eponym for the entire Jewish people.

Berlin, March 2017


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RED UTOPIA ROJA – Principles / Principios / Princìpi / Principes / Princípios

a) The end does not justify the means, but the means which we use must reflect the essence of the end.

b) Support for the struggle of all peoples against imperialism and/or for their self determination, independently of their political leaderships.

c) For the autonomy and total independence from the political projects of capitalism.

d) The unity of the workers of the world - intellectual and physical workers, without ideological discrimination of any kind (apart from the basics of anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and of socialism).

e) Fight against political bureaucracies, for direct and councils democracy.

f) Save all life on the Planet, save humanity.

(January 2010)

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a) El fin no justifica los medios, y en los medios que empleamos debe estar reflejada la esencia del fin.

b) Apoyo a las luchas de todos los pueblos contra el imperialismo y/o por su autodeterminación, independientemente de sus direcciones políticas.

c) Por la autonomía y la independencia total respecto a los proyectos políticos del capitalismo.

d) Unidad del mundo del trabajo intelectual y físico, sin discriminaciones ideológicas de ningún tipo, fuera de la identidad “anticapitalista, antiimperialista y por el socialismo”.

e) Lucha contra las burocracias políticas, por la democracia directa y consejista.

f) Salvar la vida sobre la Tierra, salvar a la humanidad.

(Enero de 2010)

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a) Il fine non giustifica i mezzi, ma nei mezzi che impieghiamo dev’essere riflessa l’essenza del fine.

b) Sostegno alle lotte di tutti i popoli contro l’imperialismo e/o per la loro autodeterminazione, indipendentemente dalle loro direzioni politiche.

c) Per l’autonomia e l’indipendenza totale dai progetti politici del capitalismo.

d) Unità del mondo del lavoro mentale e materiale, senza discriminazioni ideologiche di alcun tipo (a parte le «basi anticapitaliste, antimperialiste e per il socialismo».

e) Lotta contro le burocrazie politiche, per la democrazia diretta e consigliare.

f) Salvare la vita sulla Terra, salvare l’umanità.

(Gennaio 2010)

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a) La fin ne justifie pas les moyens, et dans les moyens que nous utilisons doit apparaître l'essence de la fin projetée.

b) Appui aux luttes de tous les peuples menées contre l'impérialisme et/ou pour leur autodétermination, indépendamment de leurs directions politiques.

c) Pour l'autonomie et la totale indépendance par rapport aux projets politiques du capitalisme.

d) Unité du monde du travail intellectuel et manuel, sans discriminations idéologiques d'aucun type, en dehors de l'identité "anticapitaliste, anti-impérialiste et pour le socialisme".

e) Lutte contre les bureaucraties politiques, et pour la démocratie directe et conseilliste.

f) Sauver la vie sur Terre, sauver l'Humanité.

(Janvier 2010)

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a) O fim não justifica os médios, e os médios utilizados devem reflectir a essência do fim.

b) Apoio às lutas de todos os povos contra o imperialismo e/ou pela auto-determinação, independentemente das direcções políticas deles.

c) Pela autonomia e a independência respeito total para com os projectos políticos do capitalismo.

d) Unidade do mundo do trabalho intelectual e físico, sem discriminações ideológicas de nenhum tipo, fora da identidade “anti-capitalista, anti-imperialista e pelo socialismo”.

e) Luta contra as burocracias políticas, pela democracia directa e dos conselhos.

f) Salvar a vida na Terra, salvar a humanidade.

(Janeiro de 2010)