Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


The Pfefferkorn - Reuchlin Controversy


     It is hardly news that there have always been Jews who sought to enrich themselves by denouncing our Jewish brethren to our enemies. The most recent example is the conduct of Richard Goldstone, a Jew, who works for the UN so-called “Human Rights Council”, a direct successor of the endless list of Jews seeking to destroy the Jewish people. Goldstone, like Pfefferkorn before him, looks for the destruction of Israel by “investigating” the complaints of the Arabs against the Jewish people and Israel. Goldstone finds all Jews “guilty as charged” by the terrorists and demands the annihilation of Israel.

     Likewise, Johannes Pfefferkorn (1469-1523), a contemporary of Martin Luther, converted to Christianity and then published pamphlets pretending that the Jewish religion is hostile to Christianity and deserves to be suppressed.

     In 1507 Pfefferkorn published a book called Der Judenspiegel or the Jew Mirror, which sought to force Jews to attend Christian churches and to relinquish the Talmud, which Pfeffferkorn claimed tells Jews to murder Christian children and drink their blood. Like Goldstone today, Pfefferkorn accused Jews of all the evil deeds of his day. He claimed that the Talmud teaches Jews to consider the killing of  Christians a good deed. Pfefferkorn was empowered by the Emperor Maximilian to destroy all Hebrew books, a task which Pfefferkorn gladly accepted. He traveled all over Germany and confiscated Jewish books, which he had promptly burned.

     Hebrew was then known only to a few priests and the Jewish clergy. However, some Christians had studied with rabbis and knew Hebrew, as did Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism and author of an anti-Jewish book, Vom Shem Hamphorash, which I translated into English (The Jew in Christian Theology by Gerhard Falk, McFarland publishers).

      Included among the Hebraists of that time was Johannes von Reuchlin.  Reuchlin denounced anti-Jewish conduct and defended the Talmud and the Jewish people against the lies of Pfefferkorn. Reuchlin, although a Christian, had studied Hebrew so as to learn the “secrets” of the Kabbalah.  That word means “tradition” and refers to a book seeking to show the road to “spiritual perfection”. Kabbalah practice includes the combination of Hebrew letters revealing all sorts of “secrets”, magical formulas, means of healing the sick, hastening the advent of the Messiah (smeared), and inducing “mystical” experiences similar to drug induced feelings. Currently, the most prominent Kabbalah practitioner is actress Madonna Ciccone.

     Pfefferkorn succeeded in convincing the emperor Maximilian to condemn the Talmud and all Hebrew literature to destruction. Reuchlin was denounced by the Dominican priests and others until the pope, Leo X, also gave a verdict against him. It is generally held by historians that the dispute concerning the Talmud and the support Reuchlin received from some Christians led eventually to the Protestant reformation. This is despite the evidence that Luther was a malicious Jew hater who wrote numerous diatribes against Judaism and Jews.

     Jews who denounce their own people are often called apostates. That Greek word is derived from two Greek words meaning “to stand apart” and is commonly translated “to revolt” against a cause. Here it is used to indicate the denunciation of Jews by other Jews for the private advantage of the denunciator. Apostates usually distinguished themselves by the virulence with which they attacked their former Jewish co-religionists. There a innumerable examples of Jewish persecutors of the Jewish people from Tiberius Julius Alexander, a first century Roman governor of Judea who was born a Jew. He brutally suppressed the Jews of Alexandria, Egypt. He had all synagogues burned down and, as “procurator” of Judea, murdered the Jewish population. He took part in the siege of Jerusalem.

     Today, Richard Falk, a Jewish professor of international law, calls the Israelis Nazis. Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, wants the government of Israel and any Israelis prosecuted as “war criminals” for defending their lives against Arab terror. The academic community is the home of anti-Jewish propaganda reminiscent of the outbursts of Joseph Gőbbels, Hitlers’ propaganda minister.  Among these perverts are large numbers of professors with Jewish names who are used by the Arabs and others to demonstrate the legitimacy of Jew hatred. Included in this chorus of hate are magazines such as Tikkun, devoted to the destruction of Israel and published by a Jew.

      Even in Nazi Germany there were Jews who telegraphed and praised Hitler on his announced intentions to invade Poland and France and prided themselves on their service to the fatherland in the First World War. They were promptly murdered.

     It appears unique among the peoples of the world that Jews are victimized by other Jews. Is there any other ethnic or religious group so afflicted? Have we ever heard of an Arab or a Muslim denouncing others of their faith?

      The Pfefferkorn experience has repeated itself many times. There are always Jews who believe that our enemies will reward them if they participate in the assault against us. These Jews are our worst enemies and instigators of much Jewish suffering. Nevertheless there are other Jews as well. There is the great Jewish hero Ariel Sharon, who led the Israeli army into Egypt. There is the current prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, who fought in several wars imposed on Israel by its would-be destroyers and who stands up to the “liberal” politicians seeking to undermine Israel. Evidently, “liberal” and anti-Jewish are the same position, despite the “liberal” vote of 78% of American Jews who financed and voted for a president who cannot tolerate Jews who defend their right to live.

     All this means that we who are Jews in every sense of that honorable appellation must defend our cause at all times and at all occasions. We, who know our history, attend a synagogue every week. We ,who are proud of our heritage, speak up for the Jewish people at all opportunities and vote for those who side with us. Twenty two percent of the American Jewish voters know that “liberals” are our enemies. Indeed we are a small minority. Better to defend ourselves as a minority than to grovel before the haters and denunciators of our people. Think about that.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including Women & Social Change in America (2009).

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