The Jewish Problem: Eyes of the Beholder?

Over the past year or so developing my book as a  JPost blog I have had an interesting, sometimes contentious on-line debate with the responder I have several times on my TOI blog referred to as “Philosopher.” At bottom the “debate” is about the “uniqueness” of the Holocaust as Jewish: should all persons and peoples (Roma, Sinti, Poles, etc) also be collected under “the Holocaust”? I never question the tragedy all populations as “peoples” suffered during the Second World War. These too are examples of genocide. But the term “the Holocaust” did not even appear until the Eichmann trial in 1961 (coincidentally his date of hanging coincides with my birthday), and was specifically created to describe the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem. I refer to my collaborator/opponent as Philosopher because that is among his vocations. As a hard-nosed Zionist wholly identified with the survival of our people I am write in language I and nearly all English speakers recognize and understand, however imprecise and according to him “misleading,”  Still, by our dialogue I have come to appreciate the need to at least understand the role, for example, or “reification” in creating the “demon” Jews are represented as even today in stereotypes dating back to the Middle Ages based on how Jews are described in Christian scripture.


“Philosopher, If you are suggesting we collaborate on this as a project outside of, rather than intended to “correct” my book’s present course then I am open to the idea. But for me the book is all but complete in present form. Outside, perhaps, some conforming to your contribution of issues relating to the role of “Jew” as appears in Christian scripture, theology and WOT (World Out There, or common) perception.

“My purpose is not to cure Christianity of its views or purpose regarding my subject, the Jewish Problem. I refer in my writings to half-dozen very competent Christian thinkers, and could easily add a dozen others, who see the impossibility of that from within. They conclude that short of discarding the religion(s) root and branch, something none are willing to do, that anti-Judaism is just too deeply embedded in Christianity that once expunged all that would remain would be a shallow Judaism!

“MY project is simply to sound an alarm first effectively raised and all but ignored 150 years ago and still not heeded, that antisemitism is a 2000 year old and INCURABLE pathology; a warning repeated with far more clarity in 1937 as, LEAVE WHILE YOU STILL HAVE THE CHANCE!

“My intended audience is my people, the Jewish people, as threatened going forward as we were in the past. It is our children who are at risk. And unless we take matters into our own hands, emancipate ourselves through first recognizing the real danger in the WOT and then acting by removing ourselves; in the end we provide the next Hitler whose name will likely be “Smith” or “Jones” to complete that which Europe failed seventy years ago.

“Philosopher”, your project is far more ambitious than mine, as I wrote likely in our first exchange. But saving the world will, for me, have to wait the more important for me at this moment priority of “saving the Jews.” And, to my mind and purpose, that means describing the WOT as all recognize it. Even if general understanding is flawed.

“Hitler, Germany’s professors, Chamberlain and Roosevelt were not much disturbed or likely even aware that the Holocaust was but a reificatory event based on a falsification and misunderstanding of the Jewish people: a reification once removed from that much earlier scriptural reification of “the Jews” as represented in Christian scripture first appearing in Paul in the First Century.”

About the Author
David made aliya in 1960 and has been active in Jewish issues since. He was a regional director for JNF in New York, created JUDAC, Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery during that controversy; at the request of Jonathan Pollard created and led Justice for the Pollards in 1989.