There are some CiF columns we comment on due to their anti-Zionist bias, others because they are informed by antisemitism, and still others because they merely turn truth, logic, and historical memory on their head.
Terry Eagleton’s latest CiF entry, “Occupy London are true followers of Jesus even if they despise religion“, Nov. 3, is worth responding to because of all the above.
But, to understand the broader context of Eagleton’s polemic, you must first know a bit about the political-religious background which informs it.
Eagleton is an advocate of Liberation theology – a Christian movement in political theology which interprets the teachings of Jesus Christ in terms of a liberation from unjust economic, political, or social conditions.
Liberation Theology is a movement popularized by secular Marxists in Latin America and South America who realized that Christianity in its current form couldn’t be defeated, and, by selective interpretation, could be used to their advantage.
Decidedly anti-religious Marxist revolutionaries such Fidel Castro and the Sandinistas in Nicaragua all leveraged Liberation Theology to advance their totalitarian aims, earning the movement its characterization as “Christianized Marxism”.
Castro once said:
“Nowonder imperialism, its governments, its spokesmen and its theoreticians have begun a bitter struggle against Liberation Theology… a theory that includes the best in the history of Christianity and which is in absolute contradiction to the values of imperialism. I would define Liberation Theology as an encounter of Christianity with its roots, and all Latin America’s left should consider this one of the most important events of modern times.”
Eagleton begins his essay in ‘Comment is Free’ by drawing an analogy between the Occupy London demonstrators and Christ.
“The fracas Jesus created in this holiest of places, driving out the money changers and overturning their tables, was probably enough to get him executed. To strike at the temple was to strike at the heart of Judaism. This itinerant upstart with a country-bumpkin background was issuing a direct challenge to the authority of the high priests….We are not told whether the riot police (temple guards) dragged him off, but they would surely have felt fully justified in doing so.”
Then, on Jesus:
“What did Jesus have against money changers?
Any Jew [such as Jesus] familiar with scripture would know that the things that are God’s include justice, compassion, welcoming the immigrant and protecting the poor from the violence of the rich.”
“Jesus’s [views against money lenders at the Temple were] at one with a later Jewish prophet, Karl Marx, whose concept of alienation involves just such a break between the product and the producer. Under capitalist conditions, Marx thought, men and women cease to see themselves reflected in the work of their own hands.” [emphasis mine]
Yes, Karl Marx, who opposed all religion, and whose ideas on the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ gave rise to a communist regime which – in addition to amassing a death toll of up to 20 million – systematically denied Jews even the most basic religious liberties (Most of the 5,000 synagogues functioning prior to the Revolution were closed under Stalin) as a “Jewish prophet”.
Leaving the fruit of his ideological endeavor aside, Marx, though born Jewish, used antisemitism quite aggressively to promote his theories.
His first paper on “the Jewish question” described the Jew as a greedy manipulator of money, and his contempt and hatred for “Jews” and Judaism were quite constant. The “Jewish Problem”, according to Marx, arises because of the actions of Jews – such as their practice of usury and the Jews’ insistence on separating themselves from society.
“Contempt for theory, art, history, and for man as an end in himself…is contained in an abstract form in the Jewish religion “ he wrote in A World Without Jews, and, “The bill of exchange is the real god of the Jew. His god is only an illusory bill of exchange.”
But, of course, the good Marxist theorist that he is – his book, “Why Marx was right”, is available at the Guardian’s bookshop – surely knows all of this.
Finally, evidence that Eagleton is not in the least bothered by Marx’s Judeophobic commentary can be found in praise he gave to a certain notorious, and highly discredited book which argues: There is no such thing as a Jewish people; today’s Jews are descended from disparate groups of people who converted to Judaism and had no ties to the land of Israel; And, conversely, there was no exile of Jews from the land of Israel and that most Jews remained in the land, converted to Islam and were the progenitors of present-day Palestinians.
Terry Eagleton characterized Shlomo Sand’s “The Invention of the Jewish People” as “one of the bravest books of the year”.
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