Arrived in Palestine in 1945, from Poland, IsraŽl Shahak was a emeritus professor of organic chemistry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a life-long human
rights activist, writing on aspects of Judaism in Hebrew and English.
He is the author of Jewish History, Jewish Religion, The Weight of Three Thousand Years, Pluto Press, London, Chicago, 1994, Foreword by Gore Vidal, 1997, Foreword by Edward Said, and Open Secrets : Israeli Foreign and Nuclear Policies, Pluto Press, London, Chicago, 1997.
If was the above quoted passage which was chosen by Karl Popper in The Open Society and Its Enemies as describing the essence of "a closed society". Historical Judaism and its two successors, Jewish Orthodoxy and Zionism, are both sworn enemies of the concept of the open society as applied to Israel. A Jewish state, whether based on its present Jewish ideology or, if it becomes even more Jewish in character than it is now, on the principles of Jewish Orthodoxy, cannot ever contain an open society.
There are two choices which face Israeli-Jewish society. It can become a fullu closed and warlike ghetto, a Jewish Sparta, supported by the labour of Arab helots, kept in existence by its influence on the US political establishment and by threats to use its nuclear power, or it can try to become an open society. The second choice is dependent on a honest examination of its Jewish past, on the admission that Jewish chauvinism and exclusivism exist, and on a honest examination of the attitudes of Judaism towards the non-Jews.
Jewish History, p. 13.
Apologetics of Judaism claim that the fixed in the Talmud, is always more liberal than the literal sense. But some of the examples below show that this is far from being the case.
1 Let us start with the Decalogue itself. The Eighth Commandment, "Thou shalt not steal" (Exodus, 20:15), is taken to be a prohibition against "stealing" (that is, kidnapping) a Jewish person.The reason is that according to the Talmud all acts borbidden by the Decalogue are capital offences. Stealing property is not a capital offence (while kidnapping of Gentiles by Jews is allowed by talmudic law) - hence the interpretation. ... 2 The famous verse "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth" etc. (Exodus, 21:24) is taken to mean "eye-money for eye", that is payment of a fine rather than physical retribution. ...
5 In numerous cases general terms such as "thy fellow", "stranger", or even "man" are taken to have an exclusivist chauvinistic meaning. The famous verse "thou shalt love thy fellow as thyself (Leviticus, 19:18) is understood by classical (and present-day Orthodox) Judaism as an injunction to love one's fellow Jew, not any fellow human. ...
If such a communication gap exists in Israel, where people read Hebrew ans can readily obtain correct information if they wish, one can imagine how deep is the misconception abroad, say among people educated in the Christian tradition. In fact, the more such a person reads the Bible, the less he or she knows about the Orthodox Judaism.
Ibidem, p. 36-37-38.
According to the Jewish religion, the murder of a Jew is a capital offence and one of the three most heinous sins (the other two being idolatry and adultery). Jewish religious courts and secular authorities are commanded to punish, even beyond the limits of the ordinary administration of justice, anyone guilty of murdering a Jew. A Jew who indirectly causes the death of another Jew is, however, only guilty of what talmudic law calls a sin against the "laws of Heaven", to be punished by God rather than by man.
When the victim is a Gentile, the position is quite different. A Jew who murders a Gentile is guilty only of a sin against the laws of Heaven, not punishable by a court (Maimonides, Mishneh Torah,"Laws on Murderers" 2,11 ; Talmudic Encyclopedia, "Goy".). To cause indirectly the death of a Gentile is not sin at all (R. Yo'el Sirkis, Bayit Hadash, commentary on Beyt Josef, "Yoreh De'ah 158. ...). ...
All this has a direct and practical relevance to the realities of the State of Israel. Althought the state's criminal laws make no distinction between Jew and Gentile, such distinction is certainely made by Orthodox rabbis, who in guiding their flock follow the Halakhah. Of special importance is the advice they give to religious soldiers.
US support for Israel, when considered not in abstract but in concrete detail, cannot be adequately explained only as a result of American imperial interests. The strong influence wielded by the organised Jewish community in the USA in support of all Israeli policies must also be taken into account in order to explain the Middle East policies of American administrations.
This phenomenon is even more noticeable in the case of Canada, whose Middle Eastern interests cannot be considered as important, but whose loyal dedication to Israel is even greater than that of the USA. In both countries (an also in France, Britain and many other states) Jewish organisations support Israel with about the same loyalty which communist parties accorded to the USSR for so long.
Also, many Jews who appear to be active in defending human rights and who adopt non-conformist views on other issues do, in cases affecting Israel, display a remarkable degree of totalitarianism and are in the forefront of the defence of all Israeli policies. Ibidem, p.101-102.