by Joe Sobran

(Reprinted from SOBRAN'S, May 2004, pages 3-6)

{{ Material dropped from this feature in the print 
edition or changed solely for reasons of space appears in 
double curly brackets. Emphasis is indicated by the 
presence of asterisks around the emphasized words. }}

     Jews in America are often spoken of as a "minority." 
So they are, in more than a numerical sense, as I will 
explain. But despite their small numbers they are also a 
powerful faction, though the term "faction" is rarely 
applied to them.

     In Federalist Number 10, James Madison gave a 
{{ famous and }} useful definition of the word: "By a 
faction I understand a number of citizens, whether 
amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who 
are united and actuated by some common impulse of 
passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other 
citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of 
the community."

     The organized Jewish faction is what I call the 
Tribe. It's a bit more specific than "the Jews"; but it 
includes most Jews, who, as many opinion polls show, 
overwhelmingly support the state of Israel and, 
furthermore, overwhelmingly favor "progressive" causes 
like legal abortion, "sexual freedom," and "gay rights."

     What is striking about the Tribe is not that its 
positions on such matters are necessarily wrong, but that 
they are anti-Christian. They are even anti-Judaic, in 
that they contravene the moral code of Moses. Jews today 
define themselves formally by descent (or, less politely, 
race, though the term is taboo) rather than by religion; 
and, less formally, by antagonism to Christianity. It 
would be inaccurate to say that the Tribe adopts certain 
social attitudes and political positions even though 
these are repugnant to most Christians. It adopts them 
chiefly *because* they are repugnant to Christians.

     Within the Tribe, one of the worst sins a Jew can 
commit is to become a Christian, as witness Jewish 
hostility to Jews for Jesus. An irreligious or atheist 
Jew may claim Israeli citizenship at any time, but a Jew 
who has converted to Christianity may not. This 
antagonism is so predominant that the Tribe opposes not 
only government endorsements of Christianity, but even 
the public exaltation of the Old Testament (as in 
displays of the Ten Commandments on public property) 
because Christians have adopted it too. The 
"Judaeo-Christian tradition" is a sentimental myth, 
treasured by many Christians but by very few Jews.

     The Tribe has no pope or authoritative body defining 
its creed, but its attitudes aren't hard to discern. As 
Samuel Johnson says, a community must be judged "non 
numero sed pondere" -- not by numbers, but by weight. And 
the preponderance of Jewish sentiment is clear: it 
loathes Christianity and Christian influence in public 
life. It resents Christian proselytizing, one of the 
first Christian duties (virtually banned in Israel). It 
considers the Gospels the very source of what it calls 
anti-Semitism. In fact, the very word "anti-Semitism" is 
basically a Tribal synonym for Christianity.

     This was all spelled out for even the most naive 
observer by the fierce Tribal reaction to Mel Gibson's 
film THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. The barely concealed 
hatred of Christianity came roaring forth long before the 
movie was {{ even }} finished. {{ The columnist }} 
Charles Krauthammer spoke for many Jews when he wrote 
that the story of Christ's Passion had "resulted in 
countless Christian massacres of Jews, and prepared 
Europe for the ultimate massacre -- six million Jews 
systematically murdered within six years -- in the heart, 
alas, of a Christian continent." Alas indeed!

     That Christianity caused the Holocaust, along with 
"countless" other Christian persecutions of Jews "for 
almost two millennia," was a given for Jews commenting on 
the film. Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, 
along with other Jewish leaders, flatly predicted that 
Gibson's film would cause hatred and violence against 
Jews -- implying, of course, that Christians are fully 
capable of such rabid conduct even now, though it would 
be directly contrary to Christian doctrine. William 
Safire of the NEW YORK TIMES virtually blamed the 
Holocaust on Christ himself, citing the words "I come not 
to bring peace, but a sword" as evidence of 
Christianity's inherent violence.

     Since the allegations about the past are never more 
definite than Krauthammer's unspecified "countless" 
(would that be more, or less, than six million?), we are 
dealing here not with genuine historical memory, but with 
a mythological caricature of Christian history that still 
obsesses the Tribal mind, both shaping and expressing its 
present feelings. So much for "interfaith dialogue." As 
Rabbi Jacob Neusner has observed, for most Jews today 
Auschwitz has replaced Sinai as the definitive moment in 
the Jewish past. And Auschwitz is projected all the way 
back to Calvary.

     It's now a Tribal article of faith that until the 
Second Vatican Council in 1965, the Catholic Church 
taught that all Jews were "Christ-killers." This is of 
course false, as older Catholics know first-hand and as 
anyone else can easily ascertain. The notion that the 
Church "reversed" this supposedly ancient teaching 
displays modern ignorance of the way the Church does 
business: It assumes that she can arbitrarily make and 
unmake doctrines, like a contemporary dictator changing 
the Party line overnight. She acts slowly and 
deliberately precisely because she can *never* repudiate 
a settled teaching while claiming infallibility. Even 
Catholic children used to grasp that.

     When I joined the Church in 1961, the only Jews I 
knew personally were some quite amiable neighbors. If 
anyone had told me that the Halman family down the street 
bore special responsibility for the Crucifixion, I would 
have been utterly mystified. So bizarre an idea would 
have been an impediment to my conversion: it simply 
wouldn't have made sense. And it never occurred to my 
Catholic mentors; they didn't need a new Church council 
to tell them that it was nonsense. They didn't speak 
nonsense. It had nothing to do with loving or hating Jews 
as such. I was far more inclined to hate Protestant 
heretics at that point, but I never even thought of 
blaming them for, say, Communist persecution of 
Catholics. It would have been about as rational as 
blaming Julius Caesar for Pearl Harbor.

     The Tribe, however, embraces the mythical charge of 
"Christ-killing" in order to reverse it: Christians are 
Jew-killers. And it all began, by implication, with 
Christ himself, whose followers, immediately after his 
death, naturally began implementing his principles of 
charity by persecuting Jews, a course they have persisted 
in "for almost two millennia."

     Astute readers will sense a discrepancy here. 
Christians were in no position to persecute anyone 
{{ for nearly three centuries, }} until the conversion of 
Constantine in A.D. 313. Meanwhile, they suffered some 
pretty severe persecution themselves. According to the 
Acts of the Apostles, it began with the Jews who rejected 
Christ and tried furiously to exterminate the infant 
Church. We also know this from the testimony of one of 
the persecutors themselves, the turncoat Saul of Tarsus, 
whom we know as St. Paul. Paul himself died as a result 
of charges brought by the Tribe before Roman officials, 
just as Christ had.

     The Tribe's cohesion and survival over the two 
succeeding millennia has often seemed miraculous, even to 
Christians. By a fine irony, the Talmud claims "credit" 
for Christ's death beyond what the Church has actually 
taught: It says that "our sages" justly condemned him to 
death as a sorcerer, not even mentioning a Roman role in 
the event. The Gospel of John merely says that "his own 
received him not" and the creeds say that he "suffered 
under Pontius Pilate," passing up golden opportunities to 
affix Tribal guilt at the outset.

     At any rate, Christians knew from the start how the 
Tribe felt about them, and nothing has changed since then 
except that today's Christians have become remarkably 
naive about it. Christ tells us to forgive our enemies, 
but he doesn't ask us to pretend that they are our 
friends. He predicted persecution as the natural price of 
discipleship; hence we are to be "wise as serpents, but 
harmless as doves." Christians have often failed on both 
counts, but the guidelines are clear enough. In fact, 
Church officials have often condemned popular Christian 
outrages against Jews, the worst of which occurred during 
the Black Death of the fourteenth century. Not only 
Christian charity but worldly common sense could see that 
the Jews were being victimized by a superstitious fury, a 
madness brought on by an inexplicable calamity.

     Anyone who concentrates on the Tribe risks losing 
his sense of proportion. This includes, preeminently, the 
Tribe itself. If the history of Christian Europe is the 
history of persecution of Jews, the first question that 
naturally arises is why the Jews have chosen to live in 
Europe for so many centuries. If you were wanted for 
murder in Detroit, why would you choose to move to 
Detroit, of all places on earth? Why have "Diaspora" Jews 
persistently settled in Christian lands, instead of 
rushing en masse to their "homeland" in the Middle East, 
the Holy Land itself? "Next year in Jerusalem"? Why, as 
Dodger fans used to say, "wait till next year"?

     May I utter here, in the privacy of my own 
newsletter, the dark and reactionary suspicion that the 
perpetually plaintive Tribe was actually *content* to 
live in Christian lands? Even today, more Jews choose to 
live in Christian America than in the state of Israel, 
typically attacking Christians for supposed bigotries 
they harbor instead of thanking Christians for their long 
record of tolerance and benevolence.

     Again, the Tribe seems, by its own account, to have 
a long and puzzling tradition of migrating to 
anti-Semitic countries. Or rather, "anti-Semitism" is the 
explanation it gives for its own perpetual unpopularity, 
and at the root of anti-Semitism, it insists, is 
Christianity (though a new explanation has to be found 
for its unpopularity in the Muslim world).

     Enough already. It's time to face the possibility 
that Jewish problems are sometimes due to Jewish 
attitudes and Jewish behavior. My father once remarked to 
me that the Jews are disliked everywhere they go because 
of "their crooked ways." Though, as I later learned, Dad 
had been an altar boy, he said nothing about 
Christ-killing; he'd long since left the Church and he 
didn't particularly care who had killed Christ. As a 
matter of fact, he didn't particularly dislike Jews; but 
he did think it was their ethics, not their biblical 
record, that had earned them their low reputation.

     {{ The popular verb "jew" would seem to bear him 
out. So do countless ethnic jokes about Jewish sharp 
dealing and devious conduct. So, in fact, do Talmudic 
passages authorizing Jews to relieve gentiles of their 
property, if they can do it without incurring anger 
against Jews in general. These are the sorts of things 
that actually irritate (and sometimes amuse) non-Jews. 
Has anyone ever heard a joke about Jews killing 
Christ? }}

     The Tribe's obloquy long predates the Third Reich's 
propaganda. Government libel campaigns, a feature of the 
modern world of mass communication, rarely succeed for 
long; even popular myths die out over time. But a durable 
reputation, lasting over many centuries, is hard to 
account for unless it contains some truth confirmed by 
experience. Few Christians have said that the Jews killed 
Christ; they have always said that the Jews *rejected* 
Christ, as indeed Jews still do. The Tribe itself makes 
rejecting Christ a defining feature of Jewishness, even 
more than adhering to Judaism.

     Where does the charge of Christ-killing show up in 
Christian culture? I have done a bit of spot-checking in 
English literature during the Christian era, in three 
famous stories about Jews.

     "The Prioress's Tale," in THE CANTERBURY TALES of 
Geoffrey Chaucer, is a pious fable about a small boy 
whose throat is cut by malicious Jews, who then throw the 
little corpse into a pit. The story is designed to put 
the Jews in a bad light, by contrasting Christian piety 
with inhuman Jewish cruelty; yet it says nothing about 
the Jews' having killed Christ.

     The most famous and fascinating Jewish character in 
secular literature is Shakespeare's Shylock in THE 
MERCHANT OF VENICE. He is a villain, but he also speaks 
his piece so eloquently that readers are still divided 
over his creator's attitude toward him. Is he more victim 
than villain? At any rate, one thing is clear: Though 
Shylock's Christian enemies call him a bloodthirsty 
usurer, a "wolf," "misbeliever," "cutthroat dog," and so 
forth, none of them, even in their most violent 
vituperation, suggest that he is guilty of killing 
Christ. The idea of Jewish guilt for the Crucifixion, 
which Krauthammer insists obsessed Christians "for almost 
two millennia," never even crosses their minds!

     More important for our purposes, Shakespeare doesn't 
connect Shylock with the Crucifixion either. Shylock 
speaks of Christ and Christians with brusque contempt, he 
is tortured by his daughter's elopement with a Christian, 
but, for all his cruelty, he never adverts to the 
Crucifixion. The play assumes enmity between Christians 
and Jews, but not the sort the Tribe's rhetoric would 
lead us to expect.

     An even more telling example is another play of the 
period, THE JEW OF MALTA, usually ascribed to Christopher 
Marlowe. Its chief character, Barabas, is an uninhibited 
exaggeration of the villainous Jew: He walks abroad at 
night poisoning wells for the sheer, gleeful pleasure of 
it; he poisons his own daughter for becoming a Christian 
nun. His cunning malice, comic in its sheer extremity, 
knows no bounds; in contrast to Shylock, Barabas is 
robustly implausible. Yet nowhere in the play is there 
any hint of the theme of Christ-killing. That would be 
beyond even this absurd Christian fantasy of the 
hate-crazed Jew.

     And of course Charles Dickens created an 
unforgettable Jewish villain: Fagin in OLIVER TWIST. 
Though far from inhuman, he is certainly disreputable, 
teaching urchins to pick pockets and receiving stolen 
goods. Dickens usually refers to him simply as "the Jew." 
But again, there is no hint that this Jewish rascal bears 
any guilt for the Crucifixion.

     Hilaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton, two of the 
greatest Catholic writers of the last century, were often 
critical of the Jews -- each wrote a book about them -- 
and today are routinely referred to as anti-Semites. 
Neither of them accused the Jews of killing Christ. In 
fact, both sought solutions to the "Jewish problem" which 
would be fair to Christians and Jews alike; Chesterton 
was pro-Zionist, Belloc anti-Zionist, and both spent many 
pages defending the Jews against common charges. But 
neither of these alleged bigots thought the accusation of 
deicide was worth mentioning, either to assert or to 

     In truth, the charge of "Christ-killing" is hard to 
find anywhere, outside of schoolyard taunts. Yet the 
Tribe "remembers" it, just as innumerable baseball fans 
used to "remember" seeing Babe Ruth's legendary (and 
apocryphal) "called shot" in the 1932 World Series, the 
most famous home run never hit. Such non-happenings are a 
regular feature of Tribal memory, as witness the many 
testimonies of "Holocaust survivors" that have turned out 
to be delusions or outright forgeries. A large proportion 
of the Tribe is still absolutely convinced that Pius XII 
was "Hitler's Pope," despite mountainous, and mounting, 
evidence to the contrary. (Hitler's media called Pius 
"the Jews' mouthpiece.")

     Similar bogus memories {{ of victimization }} 
surround the state of Israel. Far from facing extinction 
in 1948, Zionist Jews enjoyed great military superiority 
to the Arabs and ruthlessly drove the native Palestinians 
from their homes with liberal applications of terrorism. 
Since then the Jewish state has behaved according to the 
harshest Jewish stereotypes, deceitfully, parasitically, 
and cruelly. It was supposed to provide Jews with a safe 
haven from persecution, where they could at last be 
self-sufficient; instead, it has depended for its 
survival on foreign aid, chiefly American. Proclaiming 
democracy and equality, it has imposed racial tyranny of 
the sort the Tribe roundly condemns everywhere else.

     And it has failed in its whole original purpose of 
ensuring Jewish safety. Despite its military power and 
nuclear arsenal, it has engendered such hatred among 
Arabs that Jews are afraid to go there and fret for its 
survival -- even as they fret about nonexistent Christian 
anti-Semitism in pro-Israel America. As the Good Book 
says, "The guilty flee when no man pursueth." Zionism has 
vividly shown that the Tribe is perfectly capable of 
making enemies without the help of the Christians it 
still, after almost two millennia, loathes.

     What is the source of this deep enduring hatred of 
Christianity? No doubt there are several; an obvious one 
is the Church's claim to be the New Israel, a spiritual 
one, supplanting the old ethnic one. Even many secular 
Jews resent "supersessionist" Christian theology; it's 
apparently an affront to be replaced as God's Chosen 
People even if you no longer believe in God. This offense 
is avenged by blaming Christians, especially popes, for 
the Holocaust, any doubt of which the Tribe treats as 
heresy. {{ In many Western countries the Tribe has 
succeeded in criminalizing the expression of such 
doubts. }}

     Moreover, Christianity's universality has given it a 
worldwide appeal that Judaism by its nature can never 
enjoy. This consigns the Tribe to a permanent minority 
status, confounding its proud expectation that with the 
coming of the Messiah it would rule all nations. Worse, 
Christians take it for granted that their ethic is 
immeasurably superior to that of the Jews; this isn't 
even debatable, for the Tribe can find no ground for 
persuading Christians that the Jewish ethos is better. 
Just as the dwarf is obsessed with height in a way people 
of normal size can hardly imagine, the Tribe is obsessed 
with its marginal minority status, which it experiences 
as victimization, imagining slights and insults -- 
"anti-Semitism" -- even when none are intended. Its 
inverted pride expresses itself in claims of persecution. 
The Jews are still "chosen," if only for a singular 
Christian hatred. The emergence and military power of the 
Zionist state have partly assuaged this "ressentiment," 
while Arab hatred and Western disapproval have also 
reinforced the feeling of persecution.

     A subtle twist on this theme is offered by John 
Murray Cuddihy in his book THE ORDEAL OF CIVILITY. For 
the Jews, argues Cuddihy, adapting to the modern West has 
indeed been an "ordeal," as they have found themselves 
regarded as backward and "crude" against the "refined" 
standards of Western Christian man. Such Jewish 
ideologies as Marxism and Freudianism are disguised 
apologias for the Jews, denying the superiority of 
Western standards. For Marx, capitalism boils down to 
mere greed; while for Freud, romantic love boils down to 
mere lust. Both view Western manners as mere hypocrisy, 
self-deluding airs put on by the goyim. Marxist and 
Freudian reductionism have had tremendous attraction for 
Jewish intellectuals, and not a few gentiles who feel 
alienated from the Christian world.

     The exaltation of alienation has been the 
distinctive achievement of the Tribal intellectual. To be 
alienated is to be superior, "chosen." There is something 
richly symbolic in the creation of the state of Israel, 
where an alien population has claimed the right to 
dispossess the native one. Here is the psychic Tribal 
drama played out in the real world, with the usurpers of 
Palestine brazenly calling their regime a "democracy," 
while feeling victimized by the angry population they've 
robbed and murdered.

     President Bush sometimes says that minority children 
suffer from "the soft bigotry of low expectations." They 
get the message that nobody expects them to achieve 
anything, so they don't even try. The very term 
"minority" now signifies a group not only recognized as 
having what Cuddihy nicely calls "accredited victim 
status," but felt to be incapable of meeting normal 
standards of conduct. Polish-Americans, for example, are 
a numerical minority, but not a "minority" in this subtly 
condescending sense.

     One might also speak of a "soft" anti-Semitism of 
low *moral* expectations. Most gentiles respect Jews for 
their intelligence and ability, but they have also come 
to take certain kinds of Jewish misbehavior for granted. 
Israeli racial supremacism is assumed as inseparable from 
"Israel's right to exist"; loose Jewish charges of 
anti-Semitism, especially against Christians, are 
likewise so predictable as to cause little surprise or 
outrage. In public life, at least, the Tribe has embraced 
this baneful form of "minority" status and the implicit 
contempt that goes with giving up hope of normal 

     As with other "minorities," the Christian habit with 
the Tribe is simply to pretend not to notice obvious and 
distressing things. This, we assume, is just their 
nature; they aren't going to change; maybe they can't 
help being this way.

     This is what "interfaith dialogue" has come to: 
Christian despair and surrender.


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