Many people asked me to comment on this Ron Unz essay. I read it. I see that the author keeps noting that he’s no expert in the subject. So, once again, I find it hard to take him seriously. I can’t recall an instance when investing time reading Unz was a good investment of my time. He’s a political activist. If he claimed it was raining outside, I wouldn’t reach for an umbrella before leaving for my walk.
Even with all of that due diligence, I must emphasize that I cannot directly vouch for Shahak’s claims about Judaism. My own knowledge of that religion is absolutely negligible, mostly being limited to my childhood, when my grandmother occasionally managed to drag me down to services at the local synagogue, where I was seated among a mass of elderly men praying and chanting in some strange language while wearing various ritualistic cloths and religious talismans, an experience that I always found much less enjoyable than my usual Saturday morning cartoons.
Judaism is a deep and complex national religion. It is not amenable to hot takes by the ignorant.
A Jewish friend responds to me:
The big issue isn’t whether his article is “accurate.” What surprised me was that he published it. Unz is a very smart man – a genius, and has since he made his fortune had the great luxury of researching things he finds of interest and then writing about them.
As you know, and as Unz says in his article, much of the Talmud contradicts other portions of the Talmud, and one commentators interpretation can be 180 degrees different from the original commentators analysis and comments.
Unz has provided an invaluable service, first with digitizing and putting on line all those periodicals which otherwise might be gone for ever, and now for publishing controversial books that have gone out of the print and are in the public domain. He has long been a contrarian thinker. His articles about John McCain being a traitor have been one of the few places to actually read about the corroborating evidence to support this.
He is on shakier grounds when discussing Judaism. On the other hand, perhaps as an outsider who knows nothing about it, he is a more objective source than a convert who has every incentive to believe the overall probity of his chosen religion.
Unz has published persons with a decided anti Israel slant (the Saker and Israel Shamir come to mind) and anti semites as well. But he does publish a variety of viewpoints not available elsewhere and I think he is to be commended for this.
I do think there will be one positive outcome from Unz’s article. It is a matter of firm belief among many non Jews that in some way organized Jewry (by which I don’t mean the Rabbis) but organizations such as the ADL, Marvin Heir, Aipac, or organized Israeli organizations ranging from the Hasbara groups to the Mossad will suppress anyone who publishes things like Unz did. I don’t think there is any such powerful coordinated group. I think the Israelis act in what they think is in their best interest, but I think that if Unz receives cyber attacks or there are physical threats (or killing) directed at Unz that will be counterproductive. In the world of on line “Journalism” Unz is a small fish and I think that he will be ignored. He may be ostracized, but its not as if he is dependent on Jewish largesse to keep going.