15. The spirituality of Europe

15.1 Judaism

15.1.1 The Jewish race

The dispersion of the members of a tribe was and still is a common event. The Diaspora of the Achaeans after the Dorian invasion is an example of this but many other Diasporas occurred: American Indians, Gypsies, French Acadians, Greeks and Turks after the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire, Hindus and Muslims after the partition of India, East Germans after WW II.

The Jews suffered several Diasporas: first was the exile to Babylon in 587 BC, then was the Diaspora under the Roman Emperor Vespasian (66-69) followed by the dispersal ordered by Hadrian. This was followed by the exile of the VIth century and, thereafter, the persecutions of the XVth to XVIIth century. The last exile was inflicted on them in the XXth century.

The Jews suffered pogroms in England in 1190. In 1234, the writings of Maïmonides were burned in Montpellier, and the Talmud was burned in Paris in 1242. The Jews were expelled from England in 1290 and from Francia in 1306. The Diaspora of Sephardic Jews chased from Spain in 1492 and emigrating to Portugal, Bordeaux, Venice, Salonika and Amsterdam is a mastered history. Some aspects of the Jewish reality remain however obscure, either because the Jews themselves have occulted them or else because their knowledge was deemed detrimental and shameful to the accountable nations involved.

The Jews present themselves as a select race keeping to itself, spontaneously segregating from other races. Forced conversions of Jews are abundantly related, persecution of Jews is loudly denounced but a conversion of other races to Judaism is, according to Jewish claims, nonexistent. The Nazi propaganda reinforced the belief that Jews constitute a race, originating from Israel, whose religion is Judaism. This implies that all Jews on earth derive from a Diaspora, always presented as forced. As a consequence, brandishing a Holy Book, the Jews claim an inalienable right to return to their land, Israel.

Modern Israel is well aware that various races have embraced Judaism, including the black Falachas of Ethiopia, who cannot possibly have derived from a Diaspora. The number of Jews on this earth and their morphological divergences preclude a single race. Jews went with Alexander as far as Bengal and made converts along the road. There were Jewish legionaries occupying Gaul well before it was Christianized and these Jewish legionaries also followed the Roman armies in North Africa and the Near East, where they made converts among the native populations.

The historian Ibn Khaldoun (1332-1406) mentions the Kâhina, a Jewish woman who defended the Constantine region of Algeria, populated by Berbers, against the Arab invasion of the VIIth century. There existed a Jewish kingdom in the region of Oujda (in Morocco, near the Algerian border). The missionary John Davidson relates in 1835 the existence of over 100 Jewish Berber villages in the mountains of the Atlas. Obviously, the Jewish Berbers did not originate from a Diaspora but converted at one time to Judaism. The Jews living on the Algerian and Moroccan coast, issued from the Diaspora, do not consider these Berber Jews “true Jews” and reject them.

From the IVth century on, to become Christian implied that one became Roman. A Christian was, by definition, a Roman subject, be it Romania or Byzantium. Judaism then stood out as a religion that opposed these dominating foreign States. Berbers revolting against the Roman conquest could embrace Judaism because this religion did not require them to become Israelis: they were not required to speak Hebrew nor declare a political allegiance, as demanded by the Basileus. Hebraic inscriptions appear in Berberia only in the XIth century, period when the Jews, due to persecutions, began to strengthen their ranks.

The Ashkenazi Jews from Oriental Europe, principal victims of the Nazi genocide, founders and defenders of Zionism, were explicitly defined by Nazi propaganda as Semites. In fact, they are, in their vast majority, non-Semites. A. Koestler advanced in 1976 (The thirteenth Tribe) that they originate from the Jewish kingdom of Khazar, which rose in the VIIth century. This Khazar kingdom was led by Turks and was located between the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea and the Carpathian mountains. In its maximal extension, it covered parts of Poland, Ukraine and the Crimea. The Khazar king Bulan converted to Judaism in 861. The rapid Judaisation of the Khazar aristocracy was followed at a slower pace by that of the common people and vassals (Alans, Comans) who were little inclined to adopt Jewish customs, to follow the rules of the Talmud and to speak Hebrew. They continued to speak Turkish. The Petchenegue and Varegue Swedes who founded the Russian kingdom of Kiev annihilated the Khazar kingdom in 969. At that moment in history, the Russian state could have become either Roman catholic (as the Hungarians and the Poles), or Muslim, as the majority of the Turks, or Jewish, as the Khazars, or Christian Orthodox, as were the Byzantines. Note also that Turkish Jews could not possibly originate from Galilee and, consequently, could not be accused by Christians to have proceeded to the crucifixion of the Son of God. An additional calamity that struck that region was the Mongolian invasion at the beginning of the XIIIth century.

After the destruction of their State, the Khazars dissolved into small communities among the Slavs, Germans, Hungarians and Poles. They formed shetls first on the border of Lithuania (a State that was, in those days, much larger than it is now) and later on in Poland, East Germany and Russia. The confinement of the Jews into their settlements was voluntary. These shetls were protected and welcomed by the State, enjoying rights and privileges that Jewish settlements in West Germany and Francia (from which the Jews were expelled by Philip the Fair at the beginning of the 14th century) did not enjoy. Poland was during a long time a land of liberty for Jews. It is only from the XVth century onwards that the privileged relations between Jews and the Polish population deteriorated, with forced confinement of the Jews in the ghettos they had created for themselves.

The Khazar Jews who adhered to Turkish became Karaïtes but the vast majority of them engaged in commercial relations with their neighbors and evolved Yiddish as a lingua franca. Yiddish is essentially made of a German tongue that evolved in the Eastern parts of the German realm, bastardized with a little Hebrew, Slavonic and Hungarian. Once the Saxon language became German under the influence of the bible translated by Luther, the Ashkenazi Jews turned to German as their principal means of communication.

15.1.2 The Torah

The Torah (i.e the Pentateuch and the Talmud) was written over centuries, probably beginning during the 9th century BC and pursued by priests around 500 BC, embellishing the history of the Jewish people and enforcing the religious and political beliefs of the scribes who wrote it. The exegetes recognize three contributions: the provincial, nationalist, nomad Yahwist writing used the name Yahweh to indicate the God of Israel, the universal Elohist writing names God Elohim, and the third contribution is Sacerdotal, i.e. the specific contribution of the priests. For example, the story of the creation of Adam and Eva is Elohist (Gen. 1:26, 27): God is named God, Adam and Eva are created together and they are equal. The Yahwist story takes over on Gen. 2:4-25. This version is much more naive, profuse and colored. Adam is created first from clay, then follow the animals and finally woman from a rib of Adam. In this version, she is inferior to animals. The Yahwist version also mentions their nudity, which appears from the outset to be an obsession for the Yahwist writers.

The primitive Torah multiplies ritual prescriptions and imposes clothing and alimentary restrictions on the initially nomad and polygamous Jews. Rituals and sacrifices, including human sacrifices, which are mentioned in the Torah and were common in ancient Israel as they were also in surrounding cultures (Jg. 11: 30 +; 2R. 3:27; Lv. 18:21+; 2R. 23:10), sanction the alliance between a jealous master and his slaves. Assuredly, no one will seriously claim that elementary ethical laws (you will not kill, you will not steal , etc…) enounced in the Decalogue and the Alliance were not generally enforced in the region the Jews were about to occupy. But the Alliance is very clear (Deut. 6:10-13): “the great and prosperous towns you did not build, the houses full of good things you did yourself not gather, the wells you did not excavate, the olive trees you did not plant, do not forget Yahweh”…., and further (Deut. 7: 2): “do not conclude alliances with them”, and still further (Deut. 7:12-13): “if you listen to this and practices these commands, God will love you”. One cannot be more explicit: the alliance is a regression that allows the stealing and destroying of whoever and whatever is not Jewish. This behavior also characterizes the Muslim moral, which feels no duty to respect contracts and word given to a heathen. This Alliance generated a rigid ethnocentrism that favored exterminations and destructions, endogamous procreation, exclusion of exogamous marriages as well as repudiation of foreign spouses and children (Esd. 9:2 and 10:2, and Neh. 9:2). Esau took two Hittite women as spouses and lost therewith the benediction of Isaac (Gen. 26:34 and 27:1+) with the father’s recommendation to Jacob not to marry a woman from Canaan (Gen. 28:1). This racism instilled by the Torah maintained itself throughout the centuries. The Jews of Visigoth Spain had no loyalty toward the Christian rulers. They collaborated with the Arab armies for the conquest of Spain. These Muslim armies comprised Berber Jewish troops. Here is the reason for the rapidity of the conquest, and also for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain after the Christian Reconquista. The Jews supplied the Muslims in slavon slaves. The male slaves destined to domestic tasks were castrated on their way from Poland and Russia to Spain, in the French city of Verdun. The Orthodox Jews thank God daily for not have been born female and impose on their wives a periodic humiliating and degrading ritual of menstrual purification (Lev. 15:19-30) to which most of them zealously submit. Today in the Occident, a Jewish spouse married according to the orthodox rules becomes the possession of her husband. He alone may divorce and, once the divorce has been refused to his wife, may live and procreate with another woman, but she may not.

The Roman occupation of Judea and Israel since 63 BC was tolerated by the Christian Jews but amplified the nationalist feelings of the Orthodox Jews to whom a literal reading of the Torah served as exclusive and supreme reference, as moral support for the resistance. The dement deuteronomic code asserts (13:15-16): If it is well established that such an abomination (serve other gods) has taken place, you will kill all the inhabitants of the city and you will burn the city with its spoils down. Jerusalem was a citadel of religious fanaticism. The Hebraic tongue had since the deportation to Babylon been superseded by Aramaic, spoken by Jesus and Matthias, who wrote the first evangel in this language. Since the arrival of the Greeks in Palestine in 333 BC, most educated Jews spoke Greek and the priests left the Temple to go all naked exercise sports and occasionally find in the arena a sister soul, but there remained always a nucleus of staunch and stubborn believers, the “separated”, i.e. the Pharisians, to refuse integration. Sixty years ago, the founders of Israel adopted the Hebraic language and script, which had been deemed obsolete and abandoned two thousand years ago by the immense majority of the Jews.

Trajan subdued the nomad Parths of Persia in 113 AD and moved the border of the empire to the Indus river. The merchant Jews lost therewith their profits as middlemen and revolted with the Zelots of Jerusalem. Trajan quelled the revolt. Hadrian proposed to rebuild the city and offered to the Jewish population a place in the Roman community. The old Akiba, who spoke neither Latin nor Greek, explained to Hadrian that the city destroyed by Trajan and the Temple destroyed by Titus should not be rebuilt but were to remain the bastion of a race elected by its exclusive God Yahweh. According to Akiba, only Israel detained the Truth in its Holy Book, which proclaimed Israel superior to all other races. It must be said here that Hadrian had proposed his mignon Antinoüs (see fig. 12.4) as an object of cult to his subjects. Whereupon Judea revolted in 132. The exceeded Hadrian ruined completely the land, made a desert of Judea and leveled Jerusalem, renamed Aelia, to the ground. The Jews became Errant Jews, allowed in the ruins of Jerusalem once a year to lament on the wall of lamentations over their suicidal arrogance and stupidity.

The teaching of Christ sublimates the Torah. The Christian refuses a sterile behavior of retaliation that adjusts one’s conduct to that of one’s neighbor or enemy. The initiation of peaceful and constructive social relations is in the hands of the Christian who does not respond to provocations but adopts on his own initiative a conduct that may lead to peace. Whereas the Torah teaches “eye for eye, tooth for tooth”, the evangel teaches: “love thy enemy and do to him what you would like him to do to you.” Gandhi pointed out that a philosophy of an eye for an eye would render the whole of humanity blind.

15.1.3 Anti-Semitism

Current wisdom traces the violent persecution of the Jews during the pest epidemic of 1349 to primary rabid anti-Semitism. The reality is more complex (La Décapole, B. Vogler, ed. La Nuée Bleue, Strasbourg, 2009). Jews were present in Europe well before the Christians and anti Semitism was inexistent in Europe during the early middle age. Hildebrand made of the Christian faith the cement of the society in 1075. A change in mentality aiming at segregating Christians from Jews is detected in 1179: the 3rd council of Latran forbade Christian midwifes to assist Jewish women. The evil persecution of the Jews by the low clergy, by newly created fundamentalist, egalitarian and martial orders, by frustrated crusader’s captains, by envious common people and by a dishonest or inept political leadership, amplified in the course of time, and Francia, England and Spain eventually expelled them. They were vigorously protected by the papacy, be it in Rome or Avignon, and by the Germanic emperors. Without this protection, the Jews would have been eliminated from late medieval Christian Europe.

Contrary to the Torah, the evangels are obsessed neither with purity nor with hygiene and cleanliness. The cities burgeoning in the Christian realm during the 12th and 13d centuries (see fig. 11.15) developed without the imposition of strict rules of hygiene. In the German realm, the rich, healthy and educated merchant Jews were welcomed in these cities and participated in their development. These merchants segregated themselves voluntarily from the surrounding Christian population. They followed in their secluded neighborhood strict rules of hygiene and cleanliness far superior to those in use in the crowded and filthy Christian neighborhoods. When the pest wiped out a third of the European population in 1349, the Jewish communities remained largely spared. The reason for their immunity was not understood.

Afbeelding 26

Figure 15.1. The Black Pest in the city of Tournai, in 1349. Gilles le Muisit, Ms 13076 fol. 24V. Brussels, Royal Library.

By that time, the Jews, who had refused to assimilate and had remained merchants, had become alien competitors instead of useful collaborators. The Christians, aware that Judaism expressly orders the contamination of foreigners by foul dead animals (Dt 14, 21), concluded that sorcery protected the Jews against the disease and that their malevolence propagated wilfully the epidemic. Their plight amplified during the following centuries.

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