WN: This review is from THE AMERICAN COUNCIL FOR JUDAISM
by Allan C. Brownfeld
I Was a Catholic Zionist: A Biblical Challenge to Tribalism and Idolatry
By Ted Schmidt
430 pages, $28.00
(information at: email@example.com)
Growing up on Palmerston Blvd. in downtown Toronto, Ted Schmidt was exposed at an early age to the richness of Jewish culture. His memoir “Shabbes Goy: a Catholic Boyhood on a Jewish Street in Protestant Toronto” (2001) detailed his early exposure to anti-Semitism which resulted in his pioneering work (1968-1996) as a Holocaust educator in Canada. For two decades he taught Catholic teachers the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. For many years, he wrote a column in Canada’s leading progressive Catholic newspaper, Catholic New Times, and served as editor from 2001-2006. In 2013, he received the Queen Elizabeth Jubilee Medal for his work in Education and Justice.
This book is dedicated to “…the Jews of Conscience whose hearts remained open when the great gift of the prophetic came calling. You are the ones who will redeem Israel. There are thousands of you and I am very grateful for your witness. I believe you have carried the spirit of the Torah into history. You are the true ‘Jewish Jews’ whose witness will endure.”
The beginning of his association with Zionism came at a very early age for Ted Schmidt: “I was a Catholic Zionist. I just couldn’t help it, growing up where I did and when I did…On November 29, 1947, a cheer had gone up in the neighborhood when the UN General Assembly voted by a two thirds majority to partition Palestine into two parts.”
Observing the anti-Semitism his Jewish friends and classmates met produced “righteous anger” in Schmidt: “My friendship with the living embers of Europe had been soldered permanently into my young heart. Jews and the Jewish state would find a lifelong friend. Anger at any sign of anti-Semitism and courage at fighting it would be my lifelong companions…I was a Catholic Zionist. Of course, I had no idea what Zionism was.”
Holocaust loomed large
The Holocaust loomed large in Schmidt’s early days: “I had been largely affected by the Holocaust largely because of my close proximity to the children of survivors. Third baseman Manny Gold had lost eight aunts and uncles ..in Poland. Shortstop Brian Analevitz was a cousin to Mordecai Anielewicz, one of the Zionist leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising…Here was my chance in 1968 to perform an act of reparation for these friends” relatives whose only crime was that they were Jewish. Remembrance, as the great Hasidic master the Baal Shem Tov said, is the secret of redemption. I know I was the first secondary teacher in Canada to tackle this subject in depth..Over the next two decades I refined, expanded and deepened my exposure…Catholics, I felt, needed to deal with the issue of mass murder perpetrated by the baptized. We had to confront ‘the teaching of contempt’ (Jules Isaac) that had undoubtedly poisoned Christianity for 2, 000 years. It was quite simply an act of Justice.”
As time went on, Schmidt came to the view that Zionism had, In effect, hijacked Judaism, and transformed it into a form of tribalism and ethno-nationalism, abandoning the prophetic universalism he believes to characterize genuine Judaism. He provides the reader with an extensive history of Zionism and explores the indifference of Zionists, from the earliest settlers of Palestine in the 19th century, to the area’s indigenous inhabitants. He describes the terrorism of men such as Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir—from the bombing of the King David Hotel to the assassinations of Lord Moyne and Counte Folke Bernadotte, the Swedish U.N. negotiator who had saved thousands of Jews from the Nazis, to the massacre at Deir Yassin and the ethnic cleansing which followed. He moves forward to the 51 year occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and the growth of religious extremism which fosters contempt for non -Jews.
The history of Zionism, Schmidt shows, from the very beginning had as its goal the establishment of a Jewish state in all of historic Palestine and the removal of as many of the indigenous population as possible. In a now infamous letter (Oct. 5, 1937), to his son Amos, David Ben-Gurion explained what had always been the Zionist plan: “A partial Jewish state is not the end, but only the beginning. The establishment of such a Jewish state will serve as a means in our historical efforts to redeem the country in its entirety We shall organize a modern defense force…and then I am certain that we will not be prevented from settling in other parts of the country, either by mutual agreement with our Arab neighbors or by some other means…We will expel the Arabs and take their places…with the force at our disposal.”
There was Nazism, but was that their fault?
David Ben-Gurion once confessed to Zionist leader Nahum Goldmann that if he were a Palestinian he would do all he could to resist the Zionist encroachment upon his land. Ben-Gurion, who was not in any sense religious, declared: “Sure, God promised it (the land) to us but what does that matter to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing. We have come here and stolen their country.”
The massacre of Palestinian men, women and children at Deir Yassin is discussed in some detail. Arthur Koestler, the Hungarian Jewish author, noted that, “The bloodshed at Deir Yassin was the psychologically decisive factor in the spectacular exodus of the Arabs from the Holy Land and the creation of the Palestinian refugee problem.” Deir Yassin, a village just outside Jerusalem, had lived in amity with its Jewish neighbors. In fact, it had signed a non-aggression pact with the Haganah, the mainline Jewish defense group, in exchange for its safety. In the end, the terrorist groups, Irgun and Lehi (the Stern gang) were permitted to enter the village.
The New York Times of April 13, 1948 estimated the death toll at 248. This came after the dead were hurned but further research lowered the toll to 120. “But the scope and nature of the massacre, ” writes Schmidt, “was profoundly shocking—old men, women and children were the main victims. Mutilation, rape, looting and dynamited houses proceeded apace. Several stunned survivors were paraded through Jerusalem on a flat bed truck where they were mocked before being returned to Deir Yassin where they were shot…The Arabs fled in terror. The cry ‘Deir Yassin’ was yelled through bullhorns as the soldiers of the Yishuv advanced on villages and towns. Terror spread like wildfire through Palestine as the exodus continued.”
Myth that Palestinians left voluntarily
For many years, Israel spread the myth that Palestinians left the country voluntarily, a myth widely promoted by the organized Jewish community in the U.S. and elsewhere. It was Israeli historian Benny Morris, with access to Israeli Army files of June 30, 1948, who, exploded this false narrative: “As for Arab calls for flight, these were reckoned to be be significant in only 5% of cases…Above all, let me reiterate, the refugee problem was caused by attacks by Jewish forces on Arab villages and towns and by the inhabitants’ fear of such attacks, compounded by expulsions, atrocities and rumors of atrocities, and by the crucial Israeli Cabinet decision in June 1948 to bar a refugee return.”
The growth of religious extremism in Israel is particularly disturbing, as Schmidt shows us. Baruch Goldstein, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who emigrated to Israel from the U.S., murdered 29 Muslims at prayer in the Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron on Feb. 25, 1994. At his funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin declared: “Even one million Arabs are not worth a Jewish fingernail.” Ovadia Yosef, Israel’s Sephardi Chief Rabbi, said in October 2010 that, “The sole purpose of non-Jews is to serve Jews. They have no place in the world…”
Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a rabbi who runs a yeshiva in the West Bank, reminds his followers that, “ Something is special about Jewish DNA..If a Jew needs a liver, can you take the liver of an innocent non-Jew passing by to save him? The Torah would probably permit that. Jewish life has an infinite value.” Sadly, many pages are filled with similar sentiments.
Schmidt is saddened that so many Jews have acquiesced in this corruption of their faith: “As a young teenager, I was staggered by awareness of Christian complicity in the Nazi Judeocide. How could people go along with this…’I asked myself. Where were the prophets, the courage of the baptized, the voice of Catholic officialdom, I was angry for decades and slowly turned this anger into solidarity with Jews and then all victims. And now I was watching Judaism being emptied of evangelical power and prophecy. This was not good news for organized religion which was already in free fall…I finally realized 25 years ago that Israel and Zionism was wreaking havoc on the gift of Sinai. Hence, this book.”
Another time, another place
The Catholic Zionism he embraced, Schmidt writes, “…was rooted in another time and another place. I was a Catholic traumatized by the Christian complicity in the Nazi genocide. Because of an historical accident of place and birth, I had no sense of anti-Judaism. …My broad Vatican ll social justice Catholicism freed me to see clearly that the Palestinian people were the new Jews…who were living under a brutal occupation. My faith and my love of prophetic Judaism impelled me to enter into a double solidarity with my first love, Jews and Judaism, and. secondly, …another solidarity with the humiliated outsiders in Israel.”
From its very beginning, Schmidt shows, Zionism was a minority view among Jews: “Response to this radical break, with traditional Judaism was swift and universal. It may be summed up this way: There is no Jewish nation. Jews are a religious community. Its fundamental territory is not the land of Israel but the Torah. Jews living in the yishuv (Jewish colony) in Palestine were not yearning for a country. In fact, in the history of Judaism, there had never been a mass movement of return. Fidelity to the covenant and the mitzvahs (good deeds) which flowed from them constituted Judaism.”
In 1918, Moritz Gudemann, the Chief Rabbi of Vienna, said this of Zionism: “The Zionists would ultimately create a Judaism of cannons and bayonets that would invert the roles of David and Goliath and would end in a perversion of Judaism, which never glorified war and never idolized warriors.”
Among the many figures critical of political Zionism at its very beginning was Ahad Ha’am, who embraced cultural Zionism and rejected Theodor Herzl’s political goals. He wrote an important article in 1881: “We who live abroad are accustomed to believe that almost all of Eretz Yisrael is now uninhabited desert and whoever wishes can buy land there as he pleases. But this is not true. It is very difficult to find in the land cultivated fields that are not used for planting. ..We believe that the Arabs are all wild desert people who, like donkeys, neither see nor understand what is happening among them. But this is a grave mistake. ..They see and understand what we are doing and what we wish to do on the land…And what do our brothers do? This sudden change has has planted despotic tendencies in their hearts, as always happens to former slaves. They deal with the Arabs with hostility and cruelty, trespass unjustly, beat them shamefully for no sufficient reason, and even boast about their actions. If this be the Messiah, I don’t wish to see him coming.”
In 1905, Yitzhak Epstein, a Russian Jew, gave a speech to a cultural association which laid out “the hidden question”—which to this day Zionism has failed to deal with: “Among the difficult questions linked to the idea of the rebirth of our people on its land, there is one question that outweighs all the others: the question of our attitude toward the Arabs. Faithful Zionists have not dealt with this question. Our brothers in Eretz Israel did not realize the seriousness of the question and we forget one small detail: that there is in our beloved land an entire people that has been attached to it for hundreds of years and has never considered leaving it.”
Judah Magnes, the first president of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, declared: “If we cannot find ways of peace and understanding, if the only way of establishing the Jewish National Home is upon the bayonets of some Empire, our whole enterprise is not worthwhile, and it is better that the Eternal People that has outlived many a mighty empire should possess its soul in patience…but not in the Joshua way…Do we want to conquer Palestine now as Joshua did in his day—with fire and sword? Or do we want to take cognizance of Jewish religious development since Joshua, our Prophets, Psalmists and and Rabbis, and repeat the words ‘Not by might, and not by violence, but by my spirit saith the Lord.’”
The German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, who made his way to Palestine during the rise of Nazism, immersed himself in the prophets and adopted a universalist worldview. He warned Zionists not to embrace imperialist Europe’s arrogance and callous behavior to “those in need of civilizing, ” the indigenous population of Palestine. Buber, along with Judah Magnes and others, founded Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace) in 1925 when Palestine was home to 750, 000 Arabs and only 75, 000 Jews. In its first publication, it set forth its goals: “To create in Palestine a binational state in which the two peoples will enjoy totally equal rights as befits the two elements shaping the country’s destiny, irrespective of which of the two is numerically superior at any given time.” In 1923, Buber had published his magnum opus, “I and Thou.” Clearly, this theologian-philosopher insisted on treating others as “thou” and not as “it.”
Much is said about “Jews of Conscience” who have rejected nationalism and the idolatry of substituting Israel for God as an object of worship. Hebrew University’s highly regarded Orthodox Jewish thinker Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote: “If there exist Jews willing to join the national-occupationist trend and go so far as to make ‘a greater Israel’…the essential element of their faith, a religious commandment, well then, these people have become the heirs of worshippers of the golden calf who also proclaimed, ‘Behold your God, O Israel.’ The golden calf need not be made of gold. It may also be called ‘nation, ’ ‘land, ’ ‘State.’”
Rabbi Henry Siegman, former head of the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America, referred to this debilitating idolatrous trend in American Jewry: “For many American Jews—and I suspect for most American Jews—Israel has become the content of their Jewish religious identification. It has very little other content. I rarely have been at a Shabbat service where a rabbi gives a sermon where Israel isn’t a subject of the sermon. And typically, they are. The sermons are not in the spirit of an Isaiah, you know, who says, ‘My god, is this what God wants of you? Your hands are bloody, they’re filled with blood. But he doesn’t want your fast. He doesn’t want—he despises the sacrifices and your prayers. What he wants is to feed, to feed the hungry, to pursue justice…So what I mean…is that there is much more to Judaism …than support for the likes of Netanyahu.”
God replaced by Israel
Rabbi David Goldberg of the Liberal Synagogue of London notes that, “With the erosion of belief, God has been replaced by Israel as the credo of the Jewish people to the benefit of neither. Excessive reference to the Holocaust and dark allegations about resurgent anti-Semitism are two of the diversionary tactics used in the diaspora by the Israel lobby to deflect growing criticism of Israel.”
On a visit to Israel, Scmidt interviewed Rabbi David Foxman, who was chairman of Rabbinic Human Rights Watch. Discussing the mistreatment of Palestinians, Rabbi Foxman said that, “The good news is that many Israeli Jews , following the tradition of the prophets, are protecting the dignity of these victims. Those of us in Israel who object to the double standards applied to the Palestinians do so because they offend the standards that we, not others, have set for ourselves…we must always judge ourselves by a single standard, one based on the prophetic vision of social justice and equality.”
Using Jewish victimhood as a justification for victimizing Palestinians is assessed by American Jewish theologian Marc Ellis: “By constantly referring to suffering in the Holocaust—as if only Jews have suffered in history—and pretending to innocence in Jewish empowerment in Israel—Jews, most especially Jewish leadership, appropriate a narrative justification to use power over against the Palestinian people without accountability.”
After Israel was established, Palestinian Arabs soon found themselves living in 50 camps, 20 near cities in the West Bank, others in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. They lost 4.5 million of the 6.5 million acres of mandate Palestine. Privately held land increased dramatically for Jews. It went in three years from from 10% to 85%. Immigrants from Europe took over Palestinian homes and land. In December 1948, the U, N, General Assembly’s Resolution 194 had demanded the repatriation of all refugees or monetary compensation. This has been ignored until today. Judah Magnes said that the human disaster of the Arab refugees was “the great sin of omission, ”
The Lausanne Conference called to deal with this question opened on April 27, 1949. Mark Ethridge, a personal friend of President Harry S.Truman, represented the U.S. He wrote to Truman on Jan. 11: “The Jews are still too close to the blood of their war —and too close to the bitterness of their fight against the British Mandate to exercise any degree of statesmanship yet. They still feel too strongly that their security lies in military might instead of in good relations with their neighbors, The Arabs have made what the Commission considers very great concessions; the Jews have made none so far, ”
The New York Times reported (April 28, 1949) about Israel’s inflexible position: “As the Lausanne talks move slowly through their preliminary stages, it seems to some observers that for the first time Israel is on the ‘wrong’ side of almost every point at issue in the eyes of world opinion, as expressed through the United Nations resolutions on Palestine, The observers reason as follows: Israel is occupying territory, notably western Galilee, that has been repeatedly assigned to the Arabs in various partition plans. Israel is acting as if Jerusalem were to be incorporated fully into the new state. Israel is encouraging further immigration of Jewish settlers while rejecting responsibility for the re-establishment of 600, 000 to 1, 000, 000 Palestine Arabs displaced from their former homes.”
In late May, 1949, President Truman declared: “The United States is seriously disturbed by the attitude of Israel with respect to a territorial settlement in Palestine and to the question of Palestinian refugees. The U.S. Is gravely concerned lest Israel now endanger the possibility of arriving at a solution of the Palestine problem.”
Massacre at Sabra and Shatila
The Lausanne Conference ended in failure. The Arab refugee problem persists. In 1982, an assault upon the Palestinian refugees at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon by the Lebanese Phalange forces, conducted with Israeli logistical support, was permitted by Ariel Sharon, then Minister of Defense. The massacre took hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives, many of them women and children. When he heard news of the massacre on BBC, Menachem Begin, the Israeli Prime Minister, said, “Goyim kill goyim, and they blame the Jews, ” Begin never issued an apology for the slaughter. Israel’s Kahan Commission found that “the Minister of Defense (Sharon) bears personal responsibility” for the massacre and recommended that he be fired if he did not resign. He refused and was fired. Schmidt notes that, “To the shame of Zionism and Israel’s credibility, Sharon became prime minister in 2000. Sadly, in parts of Israel at his death Ariel Sharon…has become an Israeli hero.”
The use of terror, Schmidt shows, has characterized Israeli policy for many years. On June 8, 1967, the USS Liberty, an American spy ship with a capacity to monitor traffic over a 500-mile range—literally a floating listening device—was resting off Gaza to make sure Israel kept its word and did not initiate war with Egypt. Schmidt writes: “President Johnson and his Defense Secretary Robert McNamara knew exactly who they were dealing with–the supreme adventurist Moshe Dayan. The situation was fraught with danger in that the Syrians were Moscow’s clients, so the risk of a major international incident was very serious, The Liberty was the American fail-safe card…Despite the obvious markings on the American ship, Dayan ordered it attacked if it did not move away.”
The Israeli attack on the Liberty took the lives of 34 American servicemen and wounded 174, This incident was covered up and attributed to Israel not realizing it was attacking an American ship, Later on, the true story came to be known. “Ten years later, ” writes Schmidt, “the American Palestine Committee had obtained CIA documents revealing that Moshe Dayan had indeed ordered the attack. Fifteen years after, an Israeli pilot spoke to Liberty survivors…He told them he immediately had recognized the Liberty as an American ship and so informed headquarters. He was told to ignore the U.S. flag and continue his attack. He refused and returned to base and was arrested.” The reason for the attack was to prevent the U.S.from learning that Israel was not the victim of attack in 1967 but was, in fact, the one who initiated the war.
Later, Israeli officials admitted that the initial rhetoric about the 1967 war by Israel was not true. Schmidt reports that, “General Matti Peled, the chief of Logistical Command during the war agreed. The story according to which Israel was fighting for her survival was nothing but a bluff which was born and bred after the war.. ‘Israel, was never in real danger and there was no evidence that Egypt had any intention of attacking Israel.’ Ever Weizmann , the former Chief of Operations, stated, ‘There was never a danger of extermination…this hypothesis had never been considered in any serious meeting.’ Haim Herzog, former head of Military Intelligence, readily agreed: ‘There was no danger of annihilation. Neither Israel or President Johnson believed this.’ And so the myth has remained, fanned by the convenient untruths of Israeli innocence and vulnerability, ”
The role of Christian Zionism, which is increasingly influential among evangelicals in the U.S. and elsewhere, is viewed by Schmidt as a departure from genuine Christianity. He quotes Stephen Sizer “This movement can be traced to the early 19th century when a group of eccentric British Christian leaders began to lobby for Jewish restoration to Palestine as a necessary precondition for the return of Christ, Followers of Christian Zionism are convinced that the founding of the State of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967 were the miraculous fulfillment of God’s promises made to Abraham that he would establish Israel as a Jewish nation forever in Palestine.”
In Schmidt’s view, “It is important to understand that these wild visions are not to be taken literally—but they were all before the rise of the assured results of biblical criticism began to chip away at fundamentalism. It wasn’t until the end of the nineteenth century that bible scholars developed the tools that we have today. Christian Zionism has absolutely no credibility in the academy today, but it has played havoc with good people in the Bible with no biblical literacy. …The Antichrist, the return of Jews to the Holy Land before the end times, the Temple rebuilt before the second coming, the Rapture which removes Christians from the earth so they can avoid the tribulation, the conversion of the Jews to Christ is wild stuff—a fundamentalism used to justify the theft of Palestinian land and the ongoing oppression.”
Schmidt associates himself with the declaration of Kairos USA: “We maintain that it is theologically , historically and politically incorrect to equate biblical Israel with the modern State of Israel. We reject Christian Zionism in all its forms because it supplants God’s gracious presence in all the world with a territorial theology and with the promise of land to one particular people, a promise that leads inevitably to the oppression and even dispossession of other peoples.”
Role of John Hagee
The major promoter of Christian Zionism in the U.S. is John Hagee, the leader of Christians United for Israel (CUFI). He is known for a variety of extreme statements, On Sept. 18, 2006 he insisted that “Hurricane Katrina was the judgment of God against the city of New Orleans …there was to be a homosexual parade there on the Monday that Katrina came.” In his book “Four Blood Moons: Something Is About To Change, ” he lays out what he calls celestial signals, He describes how a series of blood moons in 2014 and 2015 will have great significance for Israel.
“In March if 2015, ” writes Schmidt, “Hagee stated that he was indeed anti-Semitic. He censured a publication for spreading a lie about Jews not needing conversion to Christ and defensively clarified that he does indeed believe that the Jewish people are going to burn in hell for all eternity unless they abandon Judaism and and convert to Christianity.”
Gershon Gorenberg, an Orthodox commentator in Israel, had this to say about Christian Zionism in his book “The End of Days”: “The Jews die or convert. As a Jew, I can’t feel very comfortable with the affections of somebody who looks forward to that scenario. They don’t love real Jewish people. They love us as characters in their story, in their play, and that’s not who we are, and we never auditioned for that part, and the play is not one that ends up good for us. If you listen to the drama they’re describing, essentially it’s a five act play in which the Jews disappear in the fourth act.”
Simply a return to “Jewish roots”
To the Zionist refrain that the conquest of Palestine was simply a return to Jewish roots, Jewish social.psychologist Erich Fromm had this response: “If all nations would suddenly claim territory in which their forefathers had lived two thousand years ago, the world would be a madhouse.” In fact, the history of Palestine is far more complex. The Israelites were not the original inhabitants, and their rule extended for only a brief period of that land’s complex history.
In her book “Arab and Jew in the Land of Canaan, ” Ilene Beatty reports that, “All these (different peoples who had come to Canaan) were additions, sprigs grafted onto the parent tree…and that parent tree was Canaanite…They (the Arab invaders of the 7th century A.D.) made Moslem converts of the natives, settled down as residents, and intermarried with them, with the result that all are now so completely Arabized that we cannot tell where the Canaanites leave off and the Arabs begin. The Jewish kingdoms were only one of many periods in ancient Palestine. The extended kingdoms of David and Solomon, on which the Zionists base their territorial demands, endured for only about 73 years…Then it fell apart..(Even) if we allow independence to the entire life of the ancient Jewish kingdoms…we arrive at only a 414 year Jewish rule.”
After the 1967 war, Jewish fundamentalism and religious extremism came to dominate many sectors of Israeli society. To Israeli author Amos Oz, the religious Zionists were “crude, smug and arrogant, power-drunk , bursting with messianic rhetoric, ethnocentric, quite simply inhuman. And un-Jewish.” Former Knesset member and peace activist Uri Avnery wrote in 2004: “The process was led by religious cranks. Their declared aim…is to drive all the Arabs out of the country that God promised us…the settlements have grown like locusts? Every settlement has gradually stolen the lands and water of the neighboring Palestinian villages, uprooted their trees, blocked their roads and built new roads barred to Palestinians. Almost all the settlements have spawned satellite outposts on nearby hills.”
Jewish fundamentalism in Israel
In their book, “Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel, ” Israel Shahak, a Holocaust survivor and Hebrew University professor, and Norton Mezvinsky, an American Jewish scholar and one-time executive director of the American Council for Judaism (which Schmidt describes as keeping alive the universalist prophetic outlook of Classical Reform Judaism) discuss the growth of religious extremism in Israel. They point to “the similarities between the Jewish political messianic trend and German Nazism which are glaring. The Gentiles are for the messianists what the Jews were for the Nazis.” They report that two days after Baruch Goldstein’s massacre of 29 Muslims at prayer, the walls of religious neighborhoods of west Jerusalem were were covered by posters extolling Goldstein’s virtues and complaining that he did not manage to kill more Arabs.
In future years, Ted Schmidt believes, it is the “Righteous Jews” who resisted the politicization and tribalization of Judaism who will be remembered as those who preserved the humane Jewish moral and ethical tradition, He cites and quotes, among others, Judah Magnes, Martin Buber, Albert Einstein, Henrietta Szold, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Avraham Burg, Tony Judt, Philip Weiss, Abraham Heschel and a host of others. He names a number of rabbis active in the American Council for Judaism: Elmer Berger, Morris Lazaron, David Phillipson, Irving Reichart and Louis Wolsey, Just as Jews honor those who resisted the Nazis and helped to save Jewish lives during the Holocaust, so in the future, in Schmidt’s view, the world will honor these “Righteous Jews.” (This writer feels honored to be included by Schmidt in their number)
Justice for Israelis and Palestinians
Ted Schmidt hopes that, in the end, justice will be achieved for both Israelis and Palestinians: “As a friend of the synagogue I have made my case, I believe every citizen of conscience has their role to play in this heart-breaking impasse. Much as ordinary people spoke out clearly against South African apartheid, so we must speak against Israeli apartheid, My reading of Jewish history embraces prophetic figures…They span 3, 000 years of history. In the 20th century, Judaism was challenged by a false creed called Zionism, a settler colonial movement that suborned the ethical values of Judaism. Prophets arose to combat this ersatz faith. The American Council for Judaism struggled valiantly to steer the ancient faith from blood and race…It realized that Jewish nationalism would ultimately betray Judaism’s eternal values….Seventy five years later, its foreboding has been proven true.”
In this important book, Ted Schmidt adds his Catholic voice to the many Jewish voices around the world who recognize that Zionism has turned its back on the humane Jewish tradition. He shows us that this universal moral and ethical tradition of Judaism still lives and, hopefully, will finally prevail. *