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Why the Jews?

Why the Jews?

The Reason for Antisemitism

  • reading group guide
From the bestselling authors of The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism comes a completely revised and updated edition of a modern classic that reflects the dangerous rise in antisemitism during the twenty-first century.

The very word Jew continues to arouse passions as does no other religious, national, or political name. Why have Jews been the object of the most enduring and universal hatred in history? Why did Hitler consider murdering Jews more important than winning World War II? Why has the United Nations devoted more time to tiny Israel than to any other nation on earth?
In this seminal study, Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin attempt to uncover and understand the roots of antisemitism -- from the ancient world to the Holocaust to the current crisis in the Middle East. This postmillennial edition of Why the Jews? offers new insights and unparalleled perspectives on some of the most recent, pressing developments in the contemporary world, including:

• The replicating of Nazi antisemitism in the Arab world
• The pervasive anti-Zionism/antisemitism on university campuses
• The rise of antisemitism in Europe
• Why the United States and Israel are linked in the minds of antisemites

Clear, persuasive, and thought provoking, Why the Jews? is must reading for anyone who seeks to understand the unique role of the Jews in human history.
Choose a format:
  • Touchstone | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743246200 | 
  • August 2003
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One: Why Jew-Hatred Is Unique

Hatred of the Jew has been humanity's greatest hatred. While hatred of other groups has always existed, no hatred has been as universal, as deep, or as permanent as antisemitism.

The Jews have been objects of hatred in pagan, religious, and secular societies. Fascists have accused them of being Communists, and Communists have branded them capitalists. Jews who live in non-Jewish societies have been accused of having dual loyalties, while Jews who live in the Jewish state have been condemned as "racists." Poor Jews are bullied, and rich Jews are resented. Jews have been branded as both rootless... see more

Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Guide
1. Early on, the authors state that they have rewritten this book "in order to counteract the dejudaization of Jew-hatred." How do they accomplish this? In what ways do they prove this "dejudaization," and how do they counteract it? Is this counteracting a matter of defining the problem, of offering solutions, or both?
2. What were your thoughts about the roots and nature of antisemitism before reading the book? Did those thoughts change at all, and if so, how? Which arguments -- historic or current -- had the greatest impact on your understanding of the situation?
3. Prager and Telushkin write: "Economic depressions do not explain gas chambers." Explain what they mean by this, in a larger sense. Do you agree entirely? How does the book generally deal with the relationship of cause and effect? In what other global conflicts have transparent rationalizations been offered for abhorrent behavior?
4. Discuss the idea of "non-Jewish Jews." How are these Jews defined, and what is their role in the history of antisemitism? Do the authors believe non-Jewish Jews have helped to ease or exacerbate the effects of Jew-hatred? Why?
5. Voltaire, Luther and Chaucer, among others, are shown to be antisemitic. How surprising is it that these figures -- celebrated through time for the achievements of their minds -- would harbor such deep feelings of intolerance? Or, as the authors put it, "How could the rational and tolerant Voltaire be so ir see more

About the Authors



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