Review of Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism

I had known about Douglas Rushkoff’s treatment of Judaism; Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism, for some time and had always meant to read and review it.[i] A video of Rushkoff discussing his take on Judaism surfaced online discussing the infamous ‘Barbara Spectre moment’ — that is a political gaffe from the tribe’s mouth. We can say these “Spectre moments” are when a Jewish activist candidly discusses Jewish cultural activism on non-Jews and their nations. Here’s Rushkoff’s Barbara Spectre Moment:

The thing that makes Judaism dangerous to everybody, to every race, to every nation, to every idea, is that we smash things that aren’t true, we don’t believe in the boundaries of nation-state, we don’t believe in the ideas of these individual gods that protect individual groups of people; these are all artificial constructions and Judaism really teaches us how to see that. In a sense our detractors have us right, in that we are a corrosive force, we’re breaking down the false gods of all nations and all people because they’re not real and that’s very upsetting to people.”

The central reason Jews like Rushkoff and Barbara Spectre allow themselves to speak candidly about Jewish social engineering is because they believe that by manipulating predominantly non-Jewish societies they are doing the world a service — they are in fact doing God’s work. By undermining their host nations so as to bring about conditions of disunity, Jews like Rushkoff and Spectre believe that in performing this role of “a corrosive force” “breaking down the false gods of all nations and all people,” they are performing a mitzvah as part of their god-ordained task of tikkun olam. A mitzvah is translated as a ‘commandment’ but more commonly means a good deed done from religious duty. Rushkoff describes tikkun olam as “a poetic way of expressing the responsibility Jews have to ‘heal the earth.’[ii] In my two part essay on integration, “Manspreading for Lebestrum,” I discuss the HBO series Show me a Hero, based on a book by Jewish New York Times writer Lisa Belkin about the integration struggle in Yonkers between the NAACP and their Jewish lawyers versus the ethnic Whites of Yonkers. Again we discern the same underlying self-justification:

Belkin seeks to frame the issue of integration in terms of a progressive Jewish solution to the Jewish problem, while fully retaining her Jewishness. When asked about the overtly Jewish role in integration, Belkin neither denies nor downplays the Jewish role. Instead she invokes the Jewish religious principle of Tiklun Olam, a Hebrew phrase meaning ‘repairing the world.’ Tiklun Olam, was described by Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch in terms of a Kehilla (community) of Jews in galut (diaspora) successfully influencing their non-Jewish neighbors.”[iii]

What Jews like Rushkoff, Spectre and Belkin affirm is that what “anti-Semites” claim; that Jewish manipulation and its corrosive effects are real; they agree that Jews influence various things but they give it a benign interpretation;  the “anti-semite” is simply a gentile with the wrong interpretation of why Jews do what they do. Jews know better. “The Jews’ unique position as perpetual outsiders led them to adopt and promote a wide range of cosmopolitan and inclusive business strategies and ethical standards.”[iv] Thus, diaspora Jews living in host nations seeking to ‘influence’ their non-Jewish neighbors in a manner which is demonstrably detrimental to their hosts by acting against the authentic bonds of organic society—Tonnies’ Total Gesellschaft.  It just so happens that these actions are beneficial to Jews, as Rushkoff acknowledges. A Jewish attitude like “A fluid society with ever-changing boundaries served them better than a closed or static one in which outsiders and new ideas were feared”[v] is interpreted by Jews as a gift or a service they are rendering onto their Gentile neighbors.

Rushkoff and Belkin make Jewish social engineering into a fundamental religious precept inherent in Judaism rather and sometimes partially acknowledged as a diaspora social-political strategy to weaken the host; “It is not only our tradition, but our explicit obligation to act as stewards for the greater society.”[vi] To this end Rushkoff discusses the widely known Jewish role in desegregation and integration; “In 1952, the American Jewish Congress worked with the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) to target unfair housing policy. Through a series of legal battles, American Jewish Congress attorneys ended the whites-only policy of New York City’s Stuyvesant Town, setting an important legal precedent against discrimination in housing projects that received any amount of public aid.”[vii]

What is interesting is that Rushkoff subtly acknowledges the self-serving and contingent strategic basis of such practices, something Karl Popper, the Jewish philosopher of the ‘Open Society,’ never could. Popper in his The Open Society and its Enemies, expressed the same desires for a universalist, cosmopolitan, pluralist, liberal society, yet Popper rightly concluded that these values were largely the opposite of the Jewish religion, which according to Popper,[viii] and almost all students of comparative religions (e.g., Hegel) is a tribal supremacist ‘closed society.’ On the other hand, in Rushkoff’s deconstructionist, self-serving interpretation of Judaism, it becomes the wellspring from which ‘open society’ values spring. While Popper denied the very Jewish strategic basis of his viewpoint, conservative Jew Malachi Haim Hacohen, who is a foremost Popper scholar and critic, points towards Popper’s assimilated Ashkenazi Jewishness as the main source of his political viewpoint: Cosmopolitanism appealed to Popper and liberal Jews precisely because of their life in between cultures and their indeterminate identity. Claiming membership in an imagined cosmopolitan community, Popper rejected Jewish identity. “I do not consider myself ‘an assimilated German Jew,’” he told a critic of his Autobiography, “this is how ‘the Fuhrer would have considered me.”[ix]

Enlightenment philosophers, especially Voltaire, often portrayed the Jew as the counter-universal.[x] Popper refused to see the Jewish basis for his commitment to Kant’s cosmopolitanism. He would have sided with Marx and declared, “the question is not the emancipation of the Jews, but, rather, emancipation from the Jews… The emancipation of the Jews . . . is the emancipation of humanity from Judaism.” Whereas Popper considered Judaism as a tribalist cult of a ‘closed society,’ Rushkoff seeks to re-interpret and thus salvage Judaism by imagining that the social engineering that Jews have been engaged in during modernity is actually the philosophical and moral foundations of Judaism itself. Jews are able to successfully carry out radical changes in society because of their internal cohesion, their sense of mission as Jews, while the changes they bring about are specifically designed to fragment the internal cohesion, the ‘we-ness’ of their hosts. The very success of the Jews working as groups of Jews undermines their stated principles of tolerance and plurality as inherently beneficial. Thus, the changes they established in immigration, desegregation, and integration can only be viewed as acts of subversion.

The problem here is that Jewish tribalism and secular universalism are antithetical, and hence assimilated Jews, especially if they are conscious of maintaining their Jewishness, are involved in a kind of fraud and deception (or self-deception). Nevertheless, Rushkoff in the face of all prevailing evidence (which he himself acknowledges), writes:  “True enough, my entire premise is contradicted by the many ways our own myths and customs have always been profoundly steeped in racial and ethnic assumptions. There are as many warnings in the Torah to kill our tribal neighbors as there are encouragements to embrace them [actually it’s weighed quite a bit more to the killing side]. A good number of our most observant members ground their faith and pride in the Torah’s plentiful admonitions not to mix with other, lesser people”[xi]  Rushkoff explains the Jewish strategy: “Anti-semites are not entirely unfounded in their claim that Jews are behind a great media conspiracy… If there is an agenda underlying Jews’ dedication to expanding the role of media in people’s lives, it is to promote an intellectual perspective and the value of pluralism.”[xii] ‘Intellectual perspective’ as used here is obviously a euphemism for the values and perspectives of the Jews. “Media, then, at its best, is a form of mass education” meaning brainwashing. “The more interconnected a society, the more likely it was to engage in complex transactions requiring Jews’ service. And the more inclusive and tolerant a society, the more likely it was to include the Jews, too.” Is this not saying diversity is good because it is good for the Jews?[xiii]

[i] It was some years ago that I first encountered Rushkoff. I read his Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take it Back. This was a part of a resurgence of far-left anti-corporatism, such as Jewish author Naomi Klein’s No Logo, and the film The Corporation (2003) by Jewish-Canadian filmmaker Mark Achbar. Having never abandoned a belief in socialist leanings and the negative effects of unbridled capitalism there was something to glean out of these student day forays of mine.

I recall even now that the central problem with Rushkoff’s book was the superficial quality of it; he attempted to fill pages buttressing his specious arguments with name-dropping and platitudes instead of real critical analysis to give the book the illusion of weight rather than internal cohesion. It had the same kind of swindling fraudulent quality as Jonah Lehrer’s work.

[ii] ” Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 36.

[iii] “Manspreading for Lebensraum, Part 1 and 2 – Alex Fontana.” 30 Sep. 2017, Accessed 28 Feb. 2018.

[iv] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 06.

[v] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 07.

[vi] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 04.

[vii] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 41.

[viii] “Hearing as a young boy the biblical story of the Golden Calf, said Popper, he had recognized the roots of religious intolerance in Jewish monotheism. The Hebrew Bible was the fountainhead of tribal nationalism. Oppressed and persecuted, exilic Jews created the doctrine of the Chosen People, presaging modern visions of chosen class and race. Both Roman imperialism and early Christian humanitarianism threatened the Jews’ tribal exclusivism. Jewish orthodoxy reacted by reinforcing tribal bonds, shutting Jews off from the world for two millennia. The ghetto was the ultimate closed society, a “petrified form of Jewish tribalism. Its inhabitants lived in misery, ignorance, and superstition. Their separate existence evoked the suspicion and hatred of non-Jews and fueled antisemitism.” Hacohen, M. (1999). Dilemmas of Cosmopolitanism: Karl Popper, Jewish Identity, and “Central European Culture”. The Journal of Modern History, 71(1), 105-149.

[ix] “The ambiguity of Austrian nationality gave Jews an opportunity missing elsewhere for negotiating Jewish and national identity. Jews were the only ethnic group to adopt enthusiastically the official Staatsgedanke.

The politics of Jewish identity was notoriously contentious, but poor Galician traditionalists and re-fined Viennese assimilationists, orthodox rabbis and liberal scholars, Zionists and socialists, all declared their loyalty to the dynasty and the supranational empire. “Jews are the standard-bearers of the Austrian idea of unity,” stated the liberal Viennese rabbi Adolf Jellinek.” Hacohen, M. (1999). Dilemmas of Cosmopolitanism: Karl Popper, Jewish Identity, and “Central European Culture”. The Journal of Modern History, 71(1), 105-149.

[x] Arkush, Allan. “Voltaire on Judaism and Christianity.” AJS Review, vol. 18, no. 2, 1993, pp. 223–243.}

[xi] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print. 176.

[xii] Rushkoff, Douglas. Nothing sacred : the truth about Judaism. New York: Crown Publishers, 2003. Print.  8.

[xiii] If real unity comes from a shared sense of ‘we’ that is internal cohesion, prior to the changes wrought about by special interests groups in the Anglosphere’s immigration policies (1965 US, 1967 Canada, 1972 Australia) collectively neologized as “globalized integration strategy,” (GIS) immigration was dictated in terms of racial-cultural preference. As such the idea of the melting pot was one based on shared culture, race and civilizational bloc. The idea was to create a melted European-American. As such the bio-politics of Europe have been left behind in favor of what I have elsewhere called “elective affinities.” Elective Affinities denote the linear and interconnected tradition of Western Civilization and peoples – we feel ourselves to be a part of European Civilization. As such the crude biological determinism of Nordic supremacy has betrayed the more rational argument of in-group preference,  ‘a shared sense of we’ as Charles Maurras put it.  “Jews threatened the integral nation not by their blood but by their own nonlinear history and alternative tradition, by the disruption to integral form their presence within the nation provoked in the nation-work. The Jew is the ultimate figure of the non-Greek or anti-Greek (and thus the non-French or anti-French…”) See: Carroll, David. French literary fascism : nationalism, anti-Semitism, and the ideology of culture. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press, 1995. Print. 88.

Maurras is essentially holding the same views as Voltaire: “The nucleus of Voltaire’s view of the Jews, however, amounts to this: there is a cultural, philosophical, and ethnic tradition of Europe which descended, through the human stock of that continent, from the intellectual values that were taught by the Greeks. Those were in turn carried to all the reaches of the European world by the Romans. This is the normative culture of which Voltaire approved. The Jews are a different family, and their religion is rooted in their character.” See: Arkush, Allan. “Voltaire on Judaism and Christianity.” AJS Review, vol. 18, no. 2, 1993, pp. 223–243. With Rushkoff,, the Jew can  have his cake and gets eat it too.

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