The Theobald Jew

Who is a Theobald Jew?

“According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.”



This is the lead-in paragraph to an excellent overview here  focused on Jewish writers who “don’t merely critique Israeli policy, but routinely engage in hyperbole, vitriol, and gross distortions.  Their rhetoric is often spewed with hate towards the Jewish state, all but ignoring the behavior of her enemies – the terrorist and reactionary movements who openly seek her annihilation.  Such commentators often infer that the democratic Jewish state (the most progressive nation, by far, in the region) is almost always in the wrong, is usually motivated by a hideous malevolence, and represents a national  movement which they, as Jews, are ashamed to be associated with.”

Like the author, I am uncomfortable with the term “self-hating Jew”, because, as the author explains “we typically have no way of knowing these writers‘ inner-thoughts.  But, more importantly .. if anything, most seem to possess a belief that they are indeed “better Jews” for being hyper-critical of Israel, opposing their own community, and rejecting the very idea of a Jewish nation-state.  Many seem singularly focused on being seen as a “progressive”.  And, as the progressive movement has moved further and further away from identification with Israel – and, to some degree, further away from identification with Jews as such – the need to be seen as progressive (“righteous”) in the eyes of others, has taken precedence over the seemingly parochial desire to identify with, and defend, their own community.”

There are 4 dynamics at play with these individuals, which the article discusses:

1. Moral Vanity

“… moralisers who continually desire affirmation from the non-Jewish world as to their righteousness.  The moraliser makes judgments on others, and profits by so doing; he puts himself on the right side of the fence. Moralising provides the moraliser with recognition of his own existence and confirmation of his own value. A moraliser has a good conscience and is satisfied by his own self-righteousness . He is not a self-hater; he is enfolded in self-admiration. He is in step with the best opinion.”


Other dynamics are:

2. The temptation of innocence

3. Jewish fear

4. The adversarial Jew


.. well worth reading.  Perhaps the article could feature in discussion of the “wicked son” at the Seder Table.



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