Monday, May 14, 2012

The Anguish of the Jews by Edward H. Flannery

This exhaustive study of Anti –Semitism brings to light an important Church doctrine: to be an Anti-Semite means to deny the Pauline doctrine of Love.  Hating Jews also means an awkward lack of identification of the experience of Christianity’s central figure since he was hated as a Jew (by the Romans.)  The author, a Catholic priest concludes that a true Christian cannot be an Anti-Semite because of the Pauline doctrine. 

A Jewish reader will find the author’s opinion that the Jewish people are complicit in encouraging or causing Anti-Semitism by their separatism somewhat disturbing.  Although the author is quick to clarify that Jewish separatism is only a secondary cause and cannot be the sole cause, he does claim that it is obvious. I would counter and say historically, even when the Jew attempted to assimilate, Jew hatred nevertheless showed its ugly face.  Separatism is certainly easy to point out, but not easy to prove nor obvious to justify vicious hatred.

Throughout the book he defends the Church against the charge that the Church is the fundamental culprit.  He proves from the ancient world of Greece and Rome predating the Church that Jew hatred was well established.   He shows that not all Churchmen were anti-Jewish.  Interestingly, Martin Luther is compared with Mohammed: each expected the Jewish people as allies and when this expectation failed to fructify, each turned vicious against the Jewish people.  During the Enlightenment there was a general assault against religion, Church included.  He shows that Hitler’s racial theory fits well into the pagan Anti – Church authority.  During WWII, the author acknowledges the Church’s silence but so was most of the world silent, making a terrible blemish on humanity. He names many individuals who fought against Hitler, saving Jews. 

The book shows that the USA never had the deep seated roots of Anti-Semitism and it never really took root, even though great Americans like Henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh tried hard to poison Americans against the Jewish people.  Although there have been periods of “Gentleman’s Anti-Semitism” with restrictions in lodging and eateries and quotas in education, these actions were never popular.

The timing of the book is interesting by the fact that it comes out at the heels of Vatican II, a conference of conciliation with the Jewish people.  After giving some highly psychological interpretations of Anti-Semitism, he concludes that identifying the causes of Anti-Semitism is difficult even illusory. 
Unfortunately in the 21th century, Jew – Hatred is still part of current events, not related to the Church as much as to Islamist ideology.  The book is a fine read from a Christian point of view.

No comments:

Post a Comment