Paul Eisen

Paul Eisen

Friday, 4 January 2013

Could anyone be quite as horrible as Jonathan Sacks? I'm not sure there could.

I recently asked whether anyone could be quite as horrible as Dr Jonathan Sacks and then my answer was that it was certainly possible.

But now I'm really not so sure.

Imagine the very worst settler or Alan Dershowitz or Avigdor Lieberman. Consider Ilya Ehrenberg, Abe Foxman or Deborah Lipstadt. And what about... oh, I'm sure you can fill some in for yourselves...

Can you imagine any of them matching the mellifluous horribleness of Dr Jonathan Sacks? I don't think so, so I'm going to stick my neck out and predict that his successor, one Rabbi Mirvis, will be an improvement.

Truly great Talmudism is when you know they're talking rubbish but you can't quite say why.

So here, lifted from Harry's Place, is Dr. Sacks in fine Talmudic form.

And for non-UK readers I've added a (unrelated) clip below it, so you too can enjoy Dr Sacks' particular style of delivery.

"I have argued for some years that an assault on Jewish life always needs justification by the highest source of authority in the culture at any given age. Throughout the Middle Ages the highest authority in Europe was the Church. Hence anti-Semitism took the form of Christian anti-Judaism.

In the post-enlightenment Europe of the 19th century the highest authority was no longer the Church. Instead it was science. Thus was born racial anti-Semitism, based on two disciplines regarded as science in their day: the "scientific study of race" and the Social Darwinism of Herbert Spencer and Ernst Haeckel. Today we know that both of these were pseudo-sciences, but in their day they were endorsed by some of the leading figures of the age.

Since Hiroshima and the Holocaust, science no longer holds its pristine place as the highest moral authority. Instead, that role is taken by human rights. It follows that any assault on Jewish life -- on Jews or Judaism or the Jewish state -- must be cast in the language of human rights. Hence the by-now routine accusation that Israel has committed the five cardinal sins against human rights: racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing, attempted genocide and crimes against humanity. This is not because the people making these accusations seriously believe them -- some do, some don't. It is because this is the only form in which an assault on Jews can be stated today."