I MUST copy this over from Amazon on this book I am reading.
'Jewcentricity'. Two names: Shabtai Tzvi & John Nelson Darby.
Advance Praise for Jewcentricity
"Adam Garfinkle punctures the myth of the omnipotence of the
Jews with such intelligence and reflective sweep that we
still can go on discussing the 'exaggerations' forever."
—Leslie H. Gelb, former columnist for the New York
president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations
"Jews, as the saying goes, are news. Why is that? In this
elegant, witty, learned, insightful, always interesting, and
occasionally alarming book, Adam Garfinkle explains the
world's fascination with the practitioners of its oldest
—Michael Mandelbaum, author of Democracy's Good Name: The
Rise and Risks of the World's Oldest Form of Government
"One would have thought that everything that could be
written or said about the relationship between Jews and
their environment has been written and said. It was a
pleasure, though hardly a surprise, that Adam Garfinkle,
thinker, scholar, editor, and iconoclast at large, has been
able to offer us fresh insights into this complex issue and
apply his original mind to the subject matter."
—Itamar Rabinovich, former Israeli ambassador to the
States and former president of Tel-Aviv University
"There is a lot to argue about and ponder in this riveting
manuscript. It is bound to cause a stir."
—Robert D. Kaplan, author of The Arabists: The Romance
"One way of looking at this brilliant book is to see it as
an extended commentary on an old joke that defines a
philo-Semite as an anti-Semite who likes Jews. Garfinkle
shows, with many examples, what both characters have in
common—a wildly exaggerated notion of the importance
in the world. Garfinkle's argument is scholarly, lucid,
witty, and very persuasive. It deserves a wide readership."
—Peter L. Berger, director, Institute on Culture, Religion
and World Affairs at Boston University
Amazon-Exclusive Interview of Author Adam Garfinkle by
Walter Russell Mead
Adam M. Garfinkle is the founding editor of the American
Interest, a bimonthly magazine on politics and public
affairs. Prior to that he was speechwriter for both Colin
Powell and then Condoleezza Rice. He's also been a professor
at John Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania,
and Tel Aviv University. Walter Russell Mead the Henry A.
Kissinger Senior Fellow in U.S. Foreign Policy at the
Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of Mortal
Splendor and Special Providence, which won the Lionel Gelber
Award for best book on international affairs in English for
the year 2002, and God and Gold: Britain, America and the
Making of the Modern World (2007). He is a contributing
editor to The Los Angeles Times; has written for The New
York Times, the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal,
and The New Yorker; and is a regular reviewer of books on
the United States for Foreign Affairs. Mr. Mead also
lectures regularly on American foreign policy. He lives in
New York City.
Mead: So much has been written and said about anti-Semitism
over the years, but you are proposing a different kind of
discussion about it. Could you explain that?
Garfinkle: Jewcentricity is not the same as anti-Semitism.
Not all exaggerations about Jews are negative and not all
are propagated by non-Jews. Jewcentricity aligns along a
simple two-by-two matrix: positive and negative, Jewish and
non-Jewish. Classical anti-Semitism fills only one of the
four quadrants suggested by the matrix. My argument is that
all four quadrants tend to goad and feed on one another, so
that it becomes impossible to really understand
anti-Semitism without taking the bigger picture into
consideration. Too many Jews exaggerate how much
anti-Semitism there really is, especially in the United
States. It is a Jewcentric conceit to think everyone hates
you; but worse, expressing this exaggeration tends to cause
what it fears. There are some secular Jewish organizations
in the United States that make a living doing this and, in
tandem, reifying the Holocaust as a tool in that effort, as
if that and similar disasters are the only things worth
remembering about Jewish history. This sort of behavior does
net harm, and exemplifies what I mean by one kind of
Jewcentricity goading and feeding on the others.
Mead: To what extent are global attitudes toward Israel,
both positive and negative, really just reflections of this
fascination with Jews that goes back for thousands of years?
Garfinkle: To a considerable extent, I think. The widespread
belief in Europe and, to a lesser degree, here in the United
States that the Arab-Israeli conflict is the be-all and
end-all of every problem throughout the Middle East and even
beyond, and that Israel must bear the brunt of its solution,
is a residual effect of Jews having been the most prominent
“other” in European history. This belief is
false, and can
lead to ineffective and even counterproductive policies.
Another example: The importation of 19th and 20th century
European anti-Semitism into the Muslim world over the past
eight to ten decades has set such deep roots because of old
Jewcentric folk prejudices that go back to the early years
of Islam. Another: The Emir of Bahrain recently appointed
one of only 37 Bahraini Jews to be his ambassador to the
United States, and a while back the Turkish government
closened relations with Israel in the expectation that the
Jewish lobby in America would help the Turks against the
Greek and Armenian lobbies, all because of a
perception about the outsized power of Hofjuden, court Jews.
And one more example, an important one: Massive support for
Israel here in the United States goes back in part to the
highly philo-Semitic attitudes of our Founders, and here I
mean not only the Puritans of New England, who wanted to
create a Biblical Commonwealth in a new Promised Land, but
also the “low-Church” Scots-Irish who are the
most of today’s very pro-Israel Evangelicals.
Mead: A well-known Jewish lawyer once turned to me at a
dinner party and, apparently thinking I was Jewish, told me
not to be deceived: that all the gentiles were anti-Semites.
What about philo-Semites, I asked, gentiles who expressed
pro-Jewish views. “A philo-Semite,” he said,
anti-Semite who likes Jews.” You don’t go that
far, but you
do seem concerned about some ‘pro-Jewish’ as
well as some
anti-Semitic ideas. What’s that about?
Garfinkle: Well, your tale illustrates the Jewcentric
conceit I mentioned a moment ago. It’s not true that all
gentiles are anti-Semites; most people, thankfully, have
better things to do than waste time obsessing about Jews one
way or the other. But there is something to the peculiar
locution you quote that a philo-Semite is an anti-Semite who
likes Jews, just, in a way, that an alcoholic can both hate
and love a bottle of booze. Some philo-Semites are
anti-Semites in the sense that dispensationalist theology
holds that the Jews are vehicles for the Second Coming, but
if you examine their end-of-days beliefs about the Rapture
and such, it turns out that nearly all the Jews end up dead.
Some Evangelicals seem to revere Jews as an abstract
theological category, but have problems with individual
flesh-and-blood Jews unless they convert to Christianity. I
think that’s what your lawyer acquaintance meant. I also
worry a little about non-Jews who, for reasons known only to
themselves, parrot the more common tropes of Jewish
chauvinism. Some Jews get the idea of the Chosen People
wrong, interpreting it in bloodline or narrow national
political terms that have nothing to do with the mission of
a people charged with spreading ethical monotheism. When
non-Jews buy into that it makes me nervous. There are
already too many Jews preening, exaggerating and
misunderstanding Jews’ supposed intelligence, domestic
political clout, domination of Hollywood, and so on; we
don’t need outside assistance with this—you
please the touch of sarcasm.
Mead: What do you care if Madonna thinks she's Jewish?
Garfinkle: Madonna does not think she’s Jewish
is not a convert to Judaism, and she knows it. She thinks
she’s a kabbalist, an adept of Jewish mysticism, but
the Jewish foundation that makes this even imaginable. She
nonetheless has taken a Hebrew name and has styled herself
during some recent visits to Israel as an ambassador for
Judaism. If this sounds confused, it’s because it is.
Madonna has been fed a line of dime-store therapy, and
swallowed whole; but that’s her business. It matters to me
because we now live in a post-rabbinic world, in the sense
that most Jews no longer adhere to the system of communal
authority and discipline that kept them a unitary people in
exile since the First Century of the Common Era. Charlatans
and heretics beyond the purveyors of faux-kaballah could
have a field day distorting the traditions of rabbinic
Judaism to the point that the real thing could be
overwhelmed, and the identity of Jewish civilization itself
destroyed. As I say in the book, just imagine what Shabtai
Tzvi, the 17th century false messiah who caused so much pain
and trouble, could have done with the Internet.
Mead: You make a strong case about a set of ideas and
obsessions that have deep historical and cultural roots.
Looking forward, what should the Jews expect? Will things
get better, worse, or will it just be more of the same?
Garfinkle: My hope, of course, is that everyone just relax,
get a grip, and stop these infernal, mutually reinforcing
exaggerations. But I know that’s not going to happen. In
some ways, as I describe in the book, Jewcentricity is
spreading in all its forms courtesy of the virtual world
that has lately been superimposed on the material one. There
have been Jewcentric episodes in the past in the absence of
actual Jewish communities—in Puritan New England, in early
20th century Japan, and in a few other cases. But now
conspiratorial and otherwise unhinged eclectic images of
Jews are zooming around the world at near light speed,
alighting in scores of places where there are not and never
have been significant Jewish communities. This leads me to
suspect that Jewcentricity is, unfortunately, a growth
industry. Whether it will be positive in the main or
negative depends, I think, on how the trials and
tribulations of global capitalism work out. Jews have long
been associated in the eyes of many as the avatars of
“creative destruction,” whether in league with
the 17th and
18th century Dutch, the 18th and 19th century British, or
the 20th century Americans. Images of Jews as shadowy movers
and shakers of high finance is hardwired into the
imagination of our planet, for reasons with at least some
frail historical basis. At this point, I would not want to
hazard a prediction about whether things will look up, or
not. That, certainly, is way above my pay grade.
A wise and wide-ranging explanation of never-ending
exaggeration-by both philo-Semites and anti-Semites-about
Hamas blames the financial crisis on Jews. Mel Gibson blamed
all the wars on Jews. Jews win a disproportionate number of
Nobel prizes. Dishy Danish citizen Scarlett Johansson is
Jewish, Madonna is into Jewish mysticism, and some claim
that Abe Lincoln was Jewish. Who cares? Nearly everyone, it
seems. If it's about Jews, it's news. Adam Garfinkle looks
deeply into the world's obsession with Jews, positive as
well as negative, to find answers about where it comes from
and where it might be going. He identifies four categories
of exaggeration about Jews: positive bias by Jews and
non-Jews, and negative bias by Jews and non-Jews. Combining
insights from history, sociology, religion, and
international politics, he explains how a misunderstanding
of strategies that have kept the Jewish Diaspora going for
millennia have led to distortions about Jewish influence,
intelligence, and success-and to charges of chauvinism,
financial manipulation, and conspiratorial lever-pulling.
Adam Garfinkle (Washington, DC) is the founding editor of
the American Interest, a bimonthly magazine on politics and
public affairs. Formerly a speechwriter for both Colin
Powell and Condoleezza Rice, Garfinkle has taught
international relations at Johns Hopkins University, the
University of Pennsylvania, and Tel Aviv University. --This
text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.