Obituary – The Death of an Establishment Bigot – Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (8 March 1948-7 November 2020)
Obituary – The Death of an Establishment Bigot – Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (8 March 1948-7 November 2020)
Obituary – The Death of an Establishment Bigot – Rabbi Dr Jonathan Sacks (8 March 1948-7 November 2020)
For all his pretentious and affected learning Sacks was a racist, a homophobe and a supporter of Judeo-Nazi Settlers
Of one thing you can be certain. When the press sings in unison you can be sure that they are wrong. And sure enough they fell over themselves to sing the praises of Saint Sacks. It is most unfortunate that the Jewish religion doesn’t have saints, though it does have tzadiks. (righteous persons).
Sacks was described by NPR as a ‘Towering Intellect Of Judaism’ which probably says more about the state of modern Judaism than it does about Sacks.
prodigiously talented in two areas that only rarely come together. He had a trained and sharply honed philosophical mind, and he combined this with superb powers of storytelling and popular communication
There was a particular bond with George Carey, because of their shared support for Arsenal….
The Independent recalled how Sacks visited the United States to visit his family and how he visited the Brooklyn-based leader of the racist Lubavitch hasidic movement, Menachem Schneerson
We can get a flavour of Sack’s political orientation from the fact that in 2018 Sacks helped Mike Pence, the US Vice President, write a speech to be delivered in the Knesset in which he announced the date of Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem. Sacks thus demonstrated that when it comes to the Occupied Territories, of which Jerusalem is a part, that he was signed up to a Greater Israel. Pence saw Sack’s contribution as a “hugely critical element in crafting the speech”.
Pence is an evangelical Christian and a reactionary on all social issues from gay rights and abortion to demanding that public funds for HIV/Aids be redirected to “conversion therapy” for LGBT people. Sacks had no problem in working with such a vile creature.
However Sacks was anything but righteous. He was a pretentious windbag who wrote over 20 books without saying anything worthwhile. Sacks flattered to deceive and created an aura of profundity. He was also apparently a philosopher.
I must confess that I treat philosophy as a way of saying the same thing in different ways but maybe I’m being unfair. The greatest philosopher of the past century is acknowledged to be Martin Heidegger, the author of Being and Time which gave rise to existentialism and Sartre, phenomenology and Derrida’s notion of deconstruction.
Although I don’t believe that you can simply write off art because it is produced by the politically obnoxious or backward, an obvious example being Salvador Dalli, when it comes to Philosophy we are dealing with political thought and ideas. Philosophy is a study of life itself, our understanding of reality and the meaning of one’s existence. If the greatest philosophical work in the last century was produced by someone who went on to become a Nazi, what does it say about his work? Or are we to accept that his personal political choices were separate from the ideas that he sponsored? Even when given the chance, after the war Heidegger refused to renounce his previous support for the Nazis.
The same is true of Sacks. You can best judge his verbal and written output by the stance he took on the various questions that confronted him and the choices he made. The Vatican and Catholic theologians produced millions of words yet that didn’t prevent the Vatican threatening to torture Galileo if he didn’t recant his bizarre ideas about the planets revolving round the Sun!
It was Marx who put his finger on the dilemma of philosophy in his Theses on Feurbach, which was the precursor of The German Ideology in which he said that “Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”
It is therefore worthwhile pointing out the contrast between the erudite and learned Sacks from the common and garden bigot he was in practice.
Jonathan Sacks as Homophobe
Jonathan Sacks was a homophobe, an anti-gay bigot. When the Home Office put out for consultation its proposals on gay marriage the Beth Din, (a Jewish religious court) which Sacks presided over, urged the government to reject any proposals to legalise gay marriage. See Once, the chief rabbi represented all British Jewry. No longer, by dissident Zionist Professor Geoffrey Alderman (13.7.13). The Beth Din declared that
“Our understanding of marriage from time immemorial has been that of a union between a man and a woman. Any attempt to redefine this sacred institution would be to undermine the concept of marriage.”
Marriage has in fact not been an institution ‘from time immemorial’. Marriage as we know it now is of recent origin and has changed fundamentally over time as has the family itself. It is a common fault to read back from today into ‘time immemorial’.
‘Lord Sacks’s mellifluous voice may have charmed millions. But he was unable convincingly to explain why the dignity of difference does not also mean the dignity of diversity.
In 1992 Sacks excluded the Jewish Lesbian and Gay Helpline from a communal charity walkabout in Hyde Park which he had organised. According to a spokesman for his office the helpline
“presented an alternative lifestyle which we don’t accept. We know that some people feel that they are inclined that way but we draw the line at institutionalising it.”
Jonathan Sacks and Universalism
In his Wiki entry Sacks is described as ‘paradoxically one of the most universalizing voices within contemporary Judaism.’ I sometimes feel like Humpty Dumpty who remarked that words mean what you want them to mean. The only question being who is the master. To Sacks words lost any independent existence. They were merely weapons of war.
Universalism means that ideas, ethics and behaviour towards others have universal application. Sacks Zionism stood for the complete opposite. What is good for the Jews is its first question. Zionism is dedicated to creating and sustaining a Jewish state that is as ethnically pure as is possible
Sacks was a vehement Zionist and opposed to anything remotely approaching a universalist outlook. He used his academic background in philosophy in order to legitimise Jewish chauvinism and particularism. His academic learning was employed to defend Jewish exceptionalism, muddying it with a commitment to interfaith ‘dialogue’.
When it comes to bourgeois philosophy, terms such as ‘universalism’ mean anything you want them to mean. What his flatterers meant was that he spoke the language of ‘interfaith’ whilst subscribing to the idea that only the Jewish religion enables an acquaintanceship with god. The getting together of Christians and Jewish religious leaders to pat each other on the back, what is called interfaith ‘dialogue’, in practice meant Christian clerics giving unstinting support to Israeli ethnic cleansing and its barbaric occupation.
It says a lot about the intellectual poverty of the organised, synagogue going British Jewish community around the United Synagogue, that someone like Sacks was treated with veneration. Sacks was an intellectual fraud posing as someone with deep insight into the human condition.
When it came to the victims of Zionism, the Palestinians, Sacks was anything but a universalist. He held his arms out to the most murderous and racist settlers of all. Sacks was a bigot who dressed up his prejudices in flowery language, sophistry and semantics. What mattered was not how many philosophy books he wrote but how he interpreted them.
When in his 2002 book The Dignity of Difference, Sacks wrote
“God has spoken to mankind in many languages: through Judaism to the Jews, Christianity to Christians, Islam to Muslims. … God is the god of all humanity, but no single faith is or should be the faith of all humanity.”
he sparked a backlash amongst the ultra-Orthodox. What was Sack’s reaction? Did he stand his ground? No, he amended his book so that it read
“As Jews, we believe that God has made a covenant with a singular people, but that does not exclude the possibility of other peoples, cultures, and faiths finding their own relationship with God.”
Sacks, Corbyn and Hypocrisy
Sacks’ hypocrisy was on full display when he took advantage of the media chorus, fawning tabloid headlines and vacuous pundits, to launch a vicious personal attack on Jeremy Corbyn. In a New Statesmaninterview, if you can call it that, Sacks accusing Corbyn of having made the most racist speech since Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. Here was the ‘deep thinker’ Sacks playing to a gallery of sycophants and reactionary press clowns, offering a cheap quote in return for even cheaper applause. Sacks demonstrated not only his own hypocrisy but his willingness to indulge in cheap demagogy.
Corbyn you will remember accused two Zionist thugs, Jonathan Hoffman and Richard Millett, who have a history of disrupting meetings that they disagree with, of failing to understand British irony. Corbyn’s comparison was with the Palestinian Ambassador Manuel Hassassian whose meeting they had tried to disrupt. Corbyn’s accusation was made against 2 particularly obnoxious Zionists, not Jews, although the media tripe treated ‘Zionist’ as equalling ‘Jew’. The contrast was between 2 individuals who were born in Britain but who lacked any sense of irony with the Palestinian Ambassador who wasn’t born in Britain. It was the exact opposite of Powellism. See You were never my Chief Rabbi, bruv
If Sacks had possessed any integrity, still less irony, he might have kept his rabbinical trap firmly shut. However people like Sacks tend to verbal incontinence. When asked to name his favourite book for 2017, Sacks volunteered Douglas Murray’s ‘Strange Death of Europe’! It is a book that not only praises Enoch Powell but it is the bible of the far-Right identitarian movement with its replacement theory which argues that mass Muslim immigration is part of a conspiracy to replace and eradicate White European identity.
Below is one of Murray’s tributes to his hero, Enoch Powell:
“among the things most striking when reading his [Powell’s] speech – and the reactions to it – today are the portions for which he was lambasted that now seem almost understated… if anyone had suggested to Powell in 1968 that he should use his Birmingham speech to predict that within the lifespan of most people listening those who identified as ‘white British’ would be in a minority in their capital city, he would have dismissed such an advisor as a maniac …even the most famous prophet of immigration doom in fact underestimated and understated the case.’….”
To criticise Corbyn, the opponent of White Supremacy and Apartheid, for being a latter-day Enoch Powell when his own views dovetailed with racists like Douglas Murray was the height of hypocrisy.
Indeed the full blown version of identitarianism has Jews as the masterminds of this immigration, financed of course by the ubiquitous George Soros. So not only was Sacks signing up to a racist far-Right ideology but he was giving sustenance to the very anti-Semitism that he accused Corbyn of!
What is also clear is that Sacks himself didn’t understand British (or any other) form of irony. On learning of Sacks death Murray paid him a heart felt tribute: ‘We have lost one of our kindest, deepest, most thoughtful minds. A terrible loss.’
Heidegger was a far greater philosopher than Sacks whose legacy consists of a few pious homilies. Nonetheless, for all his erudition Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933 becoming Rector of Freiburg University.
He distanced himself from fellow Jewish academics including his mentor Edmond Husserl, a ‘Christian’ Jew. Heidegger signed the dismissal letters of Jewish faculty, including Husserl. Even his lover Hannah Arendt accused him of effectively killing Husserl. Some might suggest that there is a dichotomy between a philosophy that critiques society and our place in it and a philosophy which ends up in Nazi dictatorship and biological racism. The same is equally true with Sacks. For all his fine, measured words, he lent his weight to the sanitizing of bigotry and racism.
Jonathan Sacks, with his affected profundity and learning, was an Establishment courier, flattering those with privilege and power but with nothing to say to the dispossessed. He was a man with little in the way of original thought. He simply repackaged the mundane.
Sacks, Israel and Zionism
Jonathan Sacks in a speech at a Solidarity Rally for Israel on 23rd July 2006, during Israel’s attack on Lebanon, including its slaughter of its civilian population, said that
“Today we stand in solidarity with Israel, and rarely have I felt so proud of Anglo-Jewry as I have done these past few days. Especially of our young people. Last week 1300 of them, from youth groups right across the religious spectrum, went out to Israel. Every one of them, or their families, might have said, ‘No, not now. It is too dangerous.’ Yet almost none of them did. I want to say to every one of those young people: Kol hakavod. You make us proud … And today I want a message to go forth from us to Israel to say: Israel, you make us proud …”
Israel’s bombing of Lebanon’s civilian population, including Western Beirut made Sacks proud. To compound just how deceitful and treacherous he was. he proclaimed how he ‘wept’ for the people of Lebanon even as the Israel he supported was bombing them! He was ‘proud’ of the murderers yet expressed sympathy with the murdered.
This is the Israel which committed the Qana massacre in Lebanon 10 years earlier, killing over 100 of the 800 refugees who had gathered there. Sacks said:
Does any of us, God forbid, take satisfaction at the devastation of Lebanon? Is that who we are? Let me be clear and unambiguous. We weep not just for Israel but for the people of Lebanon also …”
But of course all this ‘devastation’ was justified:
“And if we, if Israel, if Europe, if America do not take a stand against terror, if we ignore it as the world ignored it for so long, then it will leave a stain on the human future that no tears, no regrets, will ever remove.
Presumably it didn’t occur to this great philosopher and scholar that the terror the world was ignoring was that committed by Israel. However Hezbollah ensured that Israel was driven out of Lebanon in 2006. Its first defeat at the hands of an Arab army since 1948. Israel has since, together with the United States, branded Hezbollah a ‘terrorist’ group rather than a national liberation movement.
In 2012 during Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza in November 2012, in which 174 Palestinians were killed and many hundreds wounded by Israeli bombing, Sacks was asked by presenter Evan Davis, after giving his usual homilies on Thought for the Day, if he had ‘any thoughts on what’s going on over in Israel and Gaza at the moment?’ Sacks sighed and said ‘I think it’s got to do with Iran actually.’ Co‑presenter Sarah Montague quickly whispered ‘we’re live.’ Sacks immediately reverted to his normal pious tone offering a ‘continued prayer for peace, not only in Gaza but the whole region.’” Sacks was brought up in the tradition of the ‘left’ Zionists of ‘shooting and crying’. You weep, not for your victims but because they forced you to kill them.
Supporting Israel’s Judeo-Nazi Settlers’ Pogrom
Every June Israeli Jews celebrate Jerusalem Day, marking the 1967 War when the city was captured. As part of the celebrations, thousands of settlers take part in the “March of the Flags”.
This march includes a walk through Arab East Jerusalem by young settlers who chant slogans such as ‘Death to the Arabs’ whilst banging on the shuttered Arab shops. All under the gaze of the Israeli Police.
In 2017 Sacks extended a “personal invitation” to Diaspora Jews to join him on a trip to Israel which included “leading” the March of the Flags and “dancing with our brave IDF soldiers” in the far-Right settler enclave inside Hebron.
Ha’aretz’s correspondent Bradley Burston asked ‘Rabbi Sacks, Why Are You Cheerleading for anti-Palestinian Provocateurs?’ Burston never received a reply. Burston described it as
“an annual, gender-segregated extreme-right, pro-occupation religious carnival of hatred, marking the anniversary of Israel’s capture of Jerusalem by humiliating the city’s Palestinian Muslims”, in which marchers have “vandalized shops in Jerusalem’s Muslim Quarter, chanted ‘Death to Arabs’ and ‘The (Jewish) Temple Will Be Built, the (Al Aqsa) Mosque will be Burned Down,’ shattered windows and door locks, and poured glue into the locks of shops forced to close for fear of further damage.”
Ha’aretz’s Anna Roiser pleaded with Sacks not to attend, saying,
“one of the world’s most respected rabbis sends a message of normalization and acceptance of the occupation by the mainstream Jewish community. Many Jews in the Diaspora work hard to emphasize that being Jewish is not synonymous with supporting the Israeli government, and that supporting Israel’s right to exist is not synonymous with supporting the occupation. Rabbi Sacks’ actions risk undermining these messages.”
Now if Jeremy Corbyn or members of the Labour Party were to shout ‘Death to the Jews’ as they did in pre-war Poland and Germany, then Mirvis might have something to complain about. I sent an unpublished letter to the Guardian in the wake of Mirvis’s outburst in The Times.
If there is one thing guaranteed to increase anti-Semitism in this country it is the sight of Jewish leaders attacking a Labour Party that represents the only hope for millions of British people. Britain’s Chief Rabbis have a habit of supporting the Conservative Party dating back to Immanuel Jakobovitz’s support for Margaret Thatcher but none have been this blatant.
Ephraim Mirvis’s attack on Corbyn has absolutely nothing to do with racism or anti-Semitism. This is the same person who was singing the praise of Norman Tebbit’s cricket test not so long ago.
This is the same Ephraim Mirvis who joined his predecessor Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and thousands of far-Right settlers on the 2017 Jerusalem Day ‘March of Flags’. The favourite chant of the settlers on these marches is ‘Death to the Arabs.’ Mirvis had no hesitation in joining those who desire nothing more than the expulsion of the Palestinians.
It is because Jeremy Corbyn bought into the myth that anti-Semitism was a problem in the Labour Party that he is now facing such problems. It is however curious that in the thousands of stories on Labour ‘anti-Semitism’ there is a marked absence of evidence.
Sacks ignored all entreaties. Together with Ephraim Mirvis, who was trained in the West Bank yeshivah Har Etzion in the settlement of Alon Shvut, Sacks helped lead the March of the Flags.
In a video taken of the march several youths spoke to Electronic Intifada’s Charlotte Silver. One said that they had come to celebrate the “liberation of Jerusalem from the Palestinians,” others chimed in with “may their memory be erased.”
“May they all die today, all together,” another interjected. A child asserted repeatedly that Jerusalem was “liberated” from “the donkeys.”
The curse calling for someone’s name or memory to be erased was traditionally used for enemies of the Jews as hated as Adolf Hitler or Haman. Its use by Jewish youths against Palestinians indicates the level of genocidal hatred with which they are brought up.
Members of the fascist anti-miscengenation group Lehava shouted “Arab beware – my sister is not abandoned goods” They also chanted, “Girls of Israel, for the Nation of Israel [Jews].” Israeli women are seen as the exclusive property of Israeli Jewish men. As in Nazi Germany, where Rassenchande (racial pollution) meant Jewish men having sexual relations with German women, not the other way around, there were no equivalent slogans telling Arab women to beware of mixing with Jewish men. See Israeli mobs celebrate “Jerusalem Day” with anti-Palestinian rampage in Old City
None of this prevented the Guardian’s Jenni Frazer describing Sacks as
a much admired figure in both the Jewish and non-Jewish world…. Sacks won high praise and was generally acknowledged as one of the most brilliant intellects of his generation. He was particularly lauded for his ability to explain Jewish philosophy to the wider community, which he did with great frequency on BBC Radio 4’s Thought for the Day lecturing in moral philosophy at Middlesex Polytechnic, or as a visiting professor at Essex University.
Sacks and the Funeral of Auschwitz Survivor Hugo Gryn
As Chief Rabbi of the United Synagogue Sacks refused to attend the funeral of Hugo Gryn in 1996. Gryn was a rabbi for 32 years at the West London synagogue – one of the largest Reform congregations in Europe. Gryn was a fellow panellist on The Moral Maze.
Gryn was also an Auschwitz survivor from Berehevo, which was then in Czechoslovakia, today in Ukraine. His family arrived in Auschwitz in 1944 when he was 14-year-old. His 10-year-old brother was gassed on arrival. He and his mother survived. His father died a few days after liberation.
A massive row erupted after the Jewish Chronicle published a leaked letter which Sacks had written which described Gryn as part of a “false grouping” which was “among those who destroy the faith”. Sacks’ subsequent decision to attend a memorial service for Gryn did not appease communal anger.
I know it’s not the done thing to speak ill of the dead but that is no reason to lie about them either.