By D. R. Khashaba
The question of religion is becoming oppressive. The onslaught of religious militancy worldwide is threatening to drive human culture and human civilization millennia back.
I have just seen an article by Charles Murray (“Jewish Genius”, Commentary, April 2007, (link). I have no intention of dealing with the main theme of the article. I wish merely to point to two statements that I find particularly stupefying. But first, since the article has something to do with Jews, I beg you before rushing to the charge of anti-Semitism, to have a look at my recently published Hypatia’s Lover (2006) and see my treatment of Jewish characters and Jewish events there.
Professor Murray speaks of "two examples of great Jewish accomplishment ... The first is the fully realized conceptualization of monotheism, expressed through one of the literary treasures of the world, the Hebrew Bible. ... The second achievement is not often treated as a Jewish one but clearly is: Christian theology expressed through the New Testament .." If Murray meant us to regard these simply as literary achievements, on par with the Iliad or the ancient Egyptian myths, I would not trouble to oppose him. But Murray obviously means to present these as achievements in some profounder sense. To do that we have to accept without question the truth and the moral superiority of the concept of monotheism and of Christian theology. Along with these we have, naturally, to accept the ferocious wrath, the caprice, the cruelty of the revealed God, both Hebrew and Christian.
Murray, after searching inconclusively for an explanation for Jewish genius concludes, "At this point, I take sanctuary in my remaining hypothesis, uniquely parsimonious and happily irrefutable. The Jews are God's chosen people." Unless I have missed the irony of the article as a whole, I can only congratulate the whole of humankind, minus the Jews, on being granted the status of second-class servants of the Almighty!
D. R. Khashaba
Cairo, April 3, 2007.