A recurrent theme here is the contrast between the moral universalism of the West versus Jewish moral particularism. Moral universalism is a corrollary of individualism: Groups have no moral standing. Stealing doesn’t become right depending on what group the victim belongs to.In fairness, the Jewish ADL has written an essay calling people anti-Semites if they quote the Talmud for the purpose of criticizing Jewish law:
But Jewish ethics is based fundamentally on the group status of perpetrator and victim. It’s okay if the victim is from a different group. And within the group, ethics is structured so that the group as a whole benefits: What’s good for the Jews.
Dennis Praeger has a nice column on traditional Jewish moral particularism (“Can Halachah ever be wrong?“).Suppose you ordered an electric shaver from a store owned by non-Jews, and by accident the store sent you two shavers. Would you return the second shaver?
Nine said they would not. One said he would.
What is critical to understand is why they answered the way they did. The nine who would not return the second shaver were not crooks. They explained that halachah (Jewish law) forbade them from returning the other shaver. According to halachah, as they had been taught it, a Jew is forbidden to return a lost item to a non-Jew. The only exception is if the non-Jew knows a Jew found the item and not returning it would cause anti-Semitism or a Khilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name). The one who said he would return it gave that very reason — that it would be a Khilul Hashem if he didn’t return it and could be a Kiddush Hashem (sanctification of God’s name) if he did. But he, too, did not believe he was halachically bound to return the shaver.
The nine were not wrong, and they were not taught wrong. That is the halachah. Rambam (Maimonides) ruled that a Jew is permitted to profit from a non-Jew’s business error.
The Talmud - the classic text of Jewish law and lore, history and philosophy - increasingly is being used by extremists to promote their anti-Semitism. In a new report, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) exposes the lies of anti-Semites, Holocaust deniers and others who cite Talmudic texts as evidence that Judaism is "perverted" or "immoral."Well, you can read the Talmud quotes for yourself. If the ADL were right about this, then it could just explain the facts, and not go around calling everyone anti-Semites.
"It has become a common refrain among the anti-Semites that the Talmud is the 'smoking gun' that confirms their belief about Jews being stingy, malevolent and intent on world domination," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director. "They create this myth about Jewish practices and tradition, which helps to further justify and promote their anti-Semitism."
This helps explain the ethics of psychologist Ken Perlmutter of Palo Alto. He got a $28,000 windfall from me as a result of being appointed by Jewish Commissioner Irwin H. Joseph, and he adamantly insisted that he had no obligations to me, a non-Jew, or to my kids. He admitted straight to my face that I had been falsely accused of abuse, that I was just as good a parent as my ex-wife, and that there was no psychological or legal reason to deny me access to my kids. And yet he would not lift a finger to help us or to do what he was paid to do. He was punishing me and my kids out of pure personal animosity and profit.
According to Jewish Talmudic ethical law, a Jew must always side with the false accusation of a Jew against a non-Jew. If there is money available from a non-Jew, a Jew pockets the money and has no responsibility to provide honest services. The ADL denies this, but traditional "Judaism views non-Jews as a subhuman species deserving only hatred and contempt from its Jewish superiors."
Most American Jews do not subscribe to this, as far as I know. They probably have never read the Talmud. I am just describing traditional Jewish ethics, and the ethics of unscrupulous quacks like Perlmutter.
Sunday's CBS 60 Minutes show on Jack Abramoff said:
Jack Abramoff may be the most notorious and crooked lobbyist of our time. He was at the center of a massive scandal of brazen corruption and influence peddling. ... He was so good at it, he took home $20 million a year. ...The show said that Abramoff was "devoutly religious", but never mentioned his religion. He was an orthodox Jew. He thought that cheating Indian tribes out of money was the moral thing to do.
Jack Abramoff: I was so far into it that I couldn't figure out where right and wrong was. I believed that I was among the top moral people in the business. I was totally blinded by what was going on. ...
Abramoff prided himself on being a man who did good. He was devoutly religious and exorbitantly charitable and he says he gave away 80 percent of his earnings. When he fell from grace, his reputation was in tatters because it was not just that he had corrupted Congress - it was found he had cheated his clients, like the Indian tribes.
Abramoff: Most of the money I made I gave away, to either communal or charitable causes. So I thought frankly I was one of the most moral lobbyists out there. ...
Abramoff: My first response was, "What's the big deal? I don't understand what this is about. This is what lobbyists do.
I have detailed my ethical complaint against Perlmutter. I did not know anything about traditional Jewish ethics, but it describes Perlmutter perfectly. I have never met anyone else with such a premeditated disregard for human life, such greedy money collection for incompetent work, and such immoral maliciousness. No Christian would do what Perlmutter did.
Again, I want to make it clear that I am not criticizing all Jews. I am criticizing Ken Perlmutter, the corrupt profession he belongs to, and the ethical tradition that he subscribes to.