Wednesday, January 01, 2003 
What about Spinoza?

The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are
by Norman Podheretz

I was just looking at N. Podheretz' The Prophets.  An exceptionally trashy 
book, one can only wonder why he wrote it. Actually, not bad, as a fake 
scholarly book. If I hadn't known about the author, it might have fooled me. 
Now all the other books are suspect, because I don't know their authors. 

Yes, we know the author, a first-class Nietzschean hoodlum trying to play the 
Op Ed version of prophetic justice. Wonder why? Surely the author knows that 
a generation of police torture on the West Bank doesn't merit the 
sanctification of this account of the Prophets genuine plea for justice. 
Surely the author does know. And my own anger springs from the fact that the 
last ounce of reverence for the Old Testament got fried this time, for the 
last time. I won't be fooled again. Counterproductive, eh?

 I am sorry to be so harsh, but these neocons have created something 
dangerous.  At least leave the Old Testament out of it. This route will make 
Bible Studies skirt radical evil. Warning!  At least most theological texts 
in this field are merely Sunday school wishfulfilment, half-conscious. But 
this book, which is designed to pass as a promo for dirty politics, is 
thereby so brazen it discredits the whole subject. 

But why wax indignant? Nothing new there. The Old and New Testaments were 
seen to be fraudulent by a secular age, starting with Spinoza. So we need not 
apologize for our secular condition. There is no going back. 

One might mention that Podheretz left out one of the most significant 
prophets for modern Jews and Christians. A prophet in the true sense, one who 
saw into the future, not with spiritual magic, but with clarity. Spinoza.
 Spinoza patiently pointed out the problems in the seventeenth century, and, 
as one of the first Zionists, made clear from the beginning the basic 
elements for the Jewish (and Christian) predicament. He was quite prophetic 
in his own way, and saw, as a Marrano, what was coming, and tried to lay the 
foundations for something appropriate for the modern world. He is not the 
last word, but his debriefing of the issues of theism as 
materialism/immanence was a brilliant option that might have help, and he saw 
the need for an exit strategy for Jews and Christians both.

 It is a point that the founders of Israel understood, at least I hope so. 
They took their narrow chances, and it would seem the gamble has been lost. 
Has the whole thing been frittered away in this current horror story of 
fruitcake Jewish Old Testament lunatics? 
I mention Spinoza because Jews tend to misread their own history. The place 
of modern Jews in modern history is a big 'might have been', a point brought 
home by the recent book by Amos Elon. The distraction of the Old Testament is 
almost unbelievable here. 
 Podheretz cites Bright's History of Israel, and takes potshots at 
Wellhausen. That's about it. Amazing. But then this genre is one of the most 
mendacious in literature, from its commentators. Christians and Moslems are 
not better. 
The question of the real history of Israel has become a runaway monster here. 
For what it is worth, research in this area has pretty well demolished this 
genre of religious Israel, in the typical versions with their arcane 
distortions of fact.
 Time to start from scratch. Was there a Moses? Take it from there, and stop 
lying. To pretend any longer is sheer dishonesty. Check out something like 
The Bible Unearthed, by Finkelsten and Silberman. It's over when it's over.

 It is not true, false, that Jehovah manifested in history, or that Jews have 
some special claim on modern Israel. Jews have not been appointed a special 
destiny to save the planet by taking over the West Bank. Come on. 

Nonetheless secular accounts often fumble also, and that is also a part of 
the problem of this endlessly persisting confusions arising in the secular 
field. The correct way to take monotheistic history is hard to come by. 

[ I recommend my 'eonic model' of the remarkable Judaic sequence in its 
context, <A HREF=""></A>. Correct perception of the phenomenon of Ancient 
Israel is extremely tricky, and after some 'eonic' perspective, really needs 
to be set aside as useless at this point. The Old Testament is a confusing 
record of this effect, more fascinating in its secular version, by the way, 
than in its archaic and obsolete Bible version which is simply useless as is. 

It was part of the whole so-called 'Axial Age' enigma, which, however, was 
confused by Jaspers, and was both special and unspecially the same as the 
entire spectrum of that nexus. It has nothing whatsover to do with God or 

This circumstance has no repetition or continuation in the original form. 
Herzl sensed the point. And I think the founders of secular Israel would be 
appalled to think that anyone would now think so, and have entire lobbies 
manipulating conservative Christians and corrupt politicians in Congress to 
repromote this. 
Remember the shock of Germans waking up to see how they slide into the abyss. 

 The eonic model is a time and motion study, and relatively neutral and would 
make a good standard here for all parties  (and you are free to critique that 
also, but it can help to see why the subject is so confused), because it is 
neither mythology nor secular trashing of the data. Jewish history does 
indeed have a special status, but that requires extreme care in its 
interpretation. Jews and Christians have no connection with those events now, 
which are so antiquated as to be a dangerous quagmire whose status is no 
better than Hollywood fiction.]

Time to face reality, the Judaic tradition based on the Old Testament is 
dying, along with the Christian and Islamic. I don't like that, but I can't 
change it. At the dawn of the Enlightenment Spinoza appeared to issue a 
warning. Bashing the Enlightement as antisemitic entirely misses the point. 
 We need to pull each other out of the wreckage and move on, and that 
requires Americans to wake up to the media control that has suppressed proper 
discussion and dissent of the nearly fascist concealed manipulation of the 
American government on these issues. 

Actually, minus the neo-conservative boilerplate inserted in ludicrous 
fashion at strategic points in the book, it is no worse than most in this 
genre, but when someone like Podheretz dips into this field, it becomes 
tastelessly obvious, if not dangerous to critics,  that the Old Testament is, 
was, and remains mostly propaganda. This time it is going to backfire sooner 
or later, and the later is getting to be soon. 

  So let me guess, this is a rightwing shot-in-the-arm for the Jewish Lobby 
and the Bible Belt, and much needed religious justification, mystique 
pandering, for the Israel's permanently ambiguous 'right to exist'. The 
latter is a lost cause, although I, for one, would not challenge a de facto 
existence on the spot, apocalyptic leftist answers are not my point.
But I would put the American right to exist a la the destruction of the 
American Indian, and the Islamic right to its Koranic imperialism over a 
multitude of subject peopls, etc... in the same category of strong man 
tactics dressed up in variants of mythology. Again, I acknowledge the de 
facto presence of Israel, lest I be misunderstood, but remain puzzled at the 
self-destructive nature of this immense effort to destroy the very idea. 
So we have three sets of thugs here, and it might help to dispense with 
religious baloney. 

Zionism has/had a very narrow launch window based on a secular vision of some 
homeland for the Jews. It was not a religious proposition based on the Old 
Testament Jehovah concoctions.  The destruction of that vision of the 
Zionists, whatever we think of that and it could have been a viable project, 
has been almost systematic since 1968, and it is based on this regurgitation 
syndrome of Judae-Christian history. 
As we watch the slow destruction of the Two State option in some horror, and 
this is my real concern since my sympathy and support is found to have been 
exploited by con men, it is essential to try and talk madmen out of this 
endless conspiracy to pretend they want justice. 
Why take this route, the whole possibility is being frittered away, to the 
great historical dishonor of the Judaic tradition. 

 What the answer is I don't know. I have no options to even express dissent 
or indulge in political action. I have been cheated out of intelligent 
options, and have to face the dangers of dissent as against the corruption of 
being silent.
 I can only state for the record my dissent at the point where trust and 
support was betrayed by Machiavellian evils dressed up in Old Testament 
sanctities in the think tanks of the likes of Podheretz. 
I may be a powerless nobody, but don't push your luck.
 And I watch in some frustration the muzzled dissent of those who dislike 
this gross novelty, the leveraging of antisemitism for a geopolitical 
swindle, while a Podheretz throws the Justice of the Prophets into the 
propaganda pot. Leveraging antisemitism! what a thought.

Wake up and face reality. 
One is supposed to be silent, or else... Am I an antisemite? Skip it, I 
wouldn't be interested.  I had three Jewish teachers, one in Kabbalah. That's 
all gone now. A lot of other things are passing away too. 
 In one generation we have seen the poisoning of the great Jewish tradition, 
the discredit of the American government, and the charge of antisemitism 
against anyone who tries to stand up to this and propose some rational exit 
strategy. Jews are supposed to be smart people, but this last generation has 
been a form of stupidity that is mind-numbing. Jews have better things to do 
than this. And this new regime is indeed producing a stupid new type. Ditto 
for Christians, if you like. 

One lesson of the Holocaust was what happens when people remain silent. Here 
we go again. 
 Now everyone is silenced on this issue in the US, as frozen politicians 
cynically allow this curious coup d'etat to corrupt democratic government 
amidst gosh knows what other svengali types. 

The left has also been cockeyed, and rendered itself useless.Has everyone 
lost their minds? 
So one needs to restate the issues for the sake of those still caught up in 
the Madison Avenue tactics applied to gangster politics in a veneer of 
sanctity designed to manipulate a sunday school crowd.  

We need the courage, Jewish lobby plust shadowy enforcers in the shadows, to 
stand up to this mess, in a context where charges of antisemitism are now 
part of the cynical game. And it is alarming to watch the rise of still 
another new form of antisemitism, sometimes so-called, sometimes not. 
One will of course get put in a CIA/Mossad database for saying anything. 
Tough luck. Don't be a lickspittle.
And antisemitism is beside the point, keeping in mind the cynical leveraging 
of this by fanatics. If you really are an antisemite, I hope you will shut 

Americans are going to wake up one day and see the results of their timidity 
in the wreckage of their political tradition.The world will not forgive it. 
This nuttiness has gone on a long time, its getting to demand a 
worldhistorical verdict, set against the name of Judaic tradition. What was 
that tradition? 
  Time for some no-nonsense courage to face the facts and move on bypassing 
the anti-semitic dragons, and the truly nefarious Machiavellianism of the 
Podheretz types who will stoop to anything, including the cynical abuse of 
the sacred. 

Y. Yovel has two interesting books on Spinoza, and his Marrano background. 
Spinoza saw the dilemma of both the religious tradition, and the ambiguity of 
materialist successors. He has been buried by history as an active influence, 
yet he has influenced modern philosophy profoundly.  
Future history will wonder at the irony of the term 'prophet', behind the 
distortions that have fallen into the hands of the manipulators. 

The Prophets: Who They Were, What They Are
by Norman Podheretz
From Publishers Weekly
In what initially appears to be a radical departure from his previous eight 
books, some of which were autobiographical accounts of Podhoretz's move from 
left to right, this effort deals with the Hebrew prophets, a new subject for 
the former editor of Commentary magazine. To his credit, he does indeed 
present a scholarly analysis of the prophets, but it is interwoven with too 
many references to himself. Moreover, the lessons that Podhoretz derives from 
his study of the prophets, as detailed in the last chapter, "The Prophets and 
Us," are a rehash of the neo-conservative views expressed in his other books. 
He condemns relativism, the counterculture, political correctness, the 
women's movement, deconstructionism, multiculturalism and environmentalism. 
He likens his own views to those of the biblical prophets as they fought for 
monotheism and opposed paganism. Podhoretz gives consideration to all 21 
prophetic books in the Bible, as well as to Abraham and Moses. However, he 
focuses mostly on Amos, Hosea, Micah, Isaiah ("First" and "Second"), Jeremiah 
and Ezekiel. He examines their writings, drawing extensively on the work of 
biblical scholars. Although he describes himself as an "amateur" and a 
"non-specialist," he doesn't hesitate to give his opinions on disputes among 
the various schools of biblical interpreters. Podhoretz deserves to be 
applauded for venturing beyond himself (at least in part) as the subject of 
his books, but readers interested in the prophets may wish to consult 
scholarly sources directly rather than rely on Podhoretz's rendering of their 
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. 

John Landon
Website for
World History and the Eonic Effect