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Shahak, Israel. 1994. Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years. London and Boulder, Colo.: Pluto Press.
Published nearly 30 years ago, this superb book remains unique. Perhaps its best recommendation is the fact that no official publisher ever agreed to print it in Hebrew. (Posthumously, some of Shahak’s friends translated and posted a free Hebrew version here.)
The book’s key novelty is showing how the diaspora’s Jewish elites acted as administrative subcontractors for weak/fractured regimes in return for having ‘sovereignty’ over their own Jewish laity, whom they more or less forced to remain ‘devoted’. This hierarchical power arrangement helps explain, at least in part, Judaism’s seemingly miraculous survival.
In addition, Shahak analyses (1) the racist offshoots of Judaism and their role in modern-day Israeli colonialism, and (2) the two key forms of antisemitism — ‘class-based’ popular antisemitism from below and state antisemitism from above.
Accessible and highly recommended to experts and the uninitiated alike.
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