Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Let me begin by describing bin Laden's view of history less inflammatorily — not as anti-Semitic, but as Judeocentric. He believes that Jews exercise disproportionate control over world affairs, and that world affairs may therefore be explained by reference to the Jews. A Judeocentric view of history is one that regards the Jews as the center of the story, and therefore the key to it.

Judeocentrism is a single-cause theory of history, and as such it is, almost by definition, a conspiracy theory. Moreover, Judeocentrism comes in positive forms and negative forms. The positive form of Judeocentrism is philo-Semitism, the negative form is anti-Semitism. … In both its positive and negative forms, Judeo-centrism is always a mistake. Human events are not so neatly explained.
Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in "The New Republic". Via Andrew Sullivan (in order to get past the requirement of a subscription).

Lest I leave the wrong impression by quoting Goldberg out of context, he does regard Osama bin Laden as an anti-semite. The article isn't ultimately about bin Laden. It is a scathing review of The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, by John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University.


Knotwurth Mentioning said...

Interesting perspective. I can certainly see how judeocentrism would play into US foreign policy. And I always like to hear the counter-argument "it's not so neatly explained." Anyone who takes any concept and makes it the only pivotal topic of the world is verging on insanity, and the consequences of such a worldview can be dire since anything outside of your "norm" can thus be disqualified as incorrect.

Nice quote!

Stephen (aka Q) said...

The quote interested me because the biblical account of salvation history is largely Judeocentric. Some Christians are therefore philo-Semites. It's largely that conservative Christian community that advocates such prominent consideration for Israel in US foreign policy.

But it also happens to be a misreading of the Bible. There's a remarkable text in Isaiah, "In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance" (Is. 19:24-25). Admittedly, in context, the elevation of Egypt and Assyria is something that YHWH will accomplish in the future.

But a text in Amos looks backward: "'Are you not like the Cushites to me, O people of Israel?' declares the Lord.'Did I not bring up Israel from the land of Egypt,and the Philistines from Caphtor and the Syrians from Kir?'" (Amos 9:7). Here YHWH indicates that he is also the Father of the neighbouring nations, with whom Israel was often at war.

Elsewhere, the Bible broadens YHWH's horizons still further and shows his concern for all of creation. Thus there's this tension between Israel as the instrument through whom YHWH intervenes in human history, and YHWH's ultimate concern which extends far beyond any one nation.

Christians ought to "pray for the peace of Jerusalem" (Ps. 122:6), but this doesn't mean an uncritical stance toward modern the modern state of Israel, nor the Judeocentric view of the world that Goldberg warns us against.