Friday, March 2, 2012
Nicholas Donin and the Proud Self-Hating Jew
On February 24th of this year, Gilad Atzmon published two tweets in close succesion. The first read: It's ironic that Anti-Defamation League @ADL_National defames me calling me anti-semite, I am jewish #ThoughtPolice. US tour begins Feb 25
Shortly thereafter, Atzmon seemed to feel the need to clarify, and tweeted again. Meant to say, it's ironic that Anti-Defamation League @ADL_National defames me calling me anti-semite, I am jewish by origin.
Atzmon's followers love this line of reasoning--a Jew, they believe, even one who calls himself 'proudly self-hating', must be accepted as an authentic Jewish voice, (in fact, a more authentic Jewish voice, for some reason) and cannot be called an anti-Semite. This reminds me of the people who haunt the Internet, linking over and over to the same video of black people talking about how they like Ron Paul--proof absolute, they insist, that Ron Paul cannot be a racist.
It also reminds me of Nicholas Donin.
You may not have heard of Donin. 'Of Jewish origin', like Gilad Atzmon, he became a Christian, and was in 1225 excommunicated by Rabbi Yehiel of Paris. Donin spent his life trying to destroy Jews, and he was appallingly successful. Joining a monastic order, he first appears to have incited attacks by Crusaders on the Jewish community in France, leading to 3000 deaths. In 1236, he approached Pope Gregory IX with a list of accusations of blasphemies supposedly contained in the Talmud. Books were seized, and after the Disputation of Paris, in which Donin faced off with his old adversary, Rabbi Yehiel, the Talmud was burned in Paris.
Donin used his identity as a person 'of Jewish origin' to effectively destroy the stability of the medieval Jewish community of France. His legacy persists to this day--anti-Semitic websites still quote the same passages Donin mined from the Gemara in the thirteenth century to smear and defame Jews and Judaism.
Gilad Atzmon, the man who feels that Hitler was hard done by when Jews organized a boycott of German products, would probably have liked him. Donin and Atzmon share a deep and abiding hatred for Jews and for Judaism, and a willingness to use their status as 'insiders' to claim special knowledge, and harm other Jews.