Further tarnishing his reputation, the Chief Rabbi if Great Britain Lord Jonathan Sacks accused noted evolutionary biologist and atheist Professor Richard Dawkins of using antisemitic stereotypes in his best-selling book The God Delusion.
British Chief Rabbi Accuses Atheist Richard Dawkins Of Antisemitism
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Further tarnishing his reputation, the Chief Rabbi of Great Britain Lord Jonathan Sacks accused noted evolutionary biologist and atheist Professor Richard Dawkins of using antisemitic stereotypes in his best-selling book The God Delusion.
In a debate earlier this month with Dawkins filmed by the BBC (and which is not online), Sacks reportedly complained that Dawkins's 2006 book calls the God of the Old Testament as the "most unpleasant character in all fiction.”
God is “jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully,” Dawkins, who is a professor at Oxford University, wrote then.
Sacks called that antisemitic.
"There are Christian atheists and Jewish atheists, you read the Bible in a Christian way. Christianity has an adversarial way of reading what it calls the Old Testament – it has to because it says ‘we’ve gone one better, we have a New Testament.’ So you come prejudiced against what you call the Old Testament and that's why I did not read the opening to chapter two in your book as a joke, I read it as a profoundly antisemitic passage."
Dawkins dismissed Sack’s allegations, calling them “ridiculous.”
"How you can call that anti-Semitic?, a stunned Dawkins reportedly said. “It’s anti-God."
Sacks responded that what Dawkins wrote was "anti the Jewish God".
Why Sacks chose to wait six years after the best-selling book’s publication to cry antisemitism – especially when he has previous cited Dawkins and The God Delusion – is unclear.
Sacks was chastised last month by academics for intentionally misrepresenting noted secularist Baruch Spinoza’s view of Jewish ritual circumcision. Spinoza – an excommunicated Jew – opposed and detested ritual circumcision. Sacks cherry picked and truncated a quote of Spinoza’s to make it appear that the noted philosopher, whose works are still studied in universities worldwide 335 years after his death, supported Jewish ritual circumcision.
The Spinoza flap isn’t Sacks’ only instance of misleading speech and words. He has a history of making finely parsed, allegedly misleading statements to the press and to the Jewish community.
It was only after the debate with Dawkins concluded that Sacks thought to clarify what many see as a slur against the noted scientist and atheist,
“I was not concerned that Richard was anti-Semitic at all,” Sacks is quoted as saying. “I was concerned that he was using an anti-Semitic stereotype, which has run through a certain strand of the Christian reading of what is called the Old Testament as a result of which thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of Jews, died in the Middle Ages."
The Torah’s own representation of God is as “a jealous God” (and who is proud of it). The Torah’s God called for ethnic cleansing to carried out against the nation of Amalek and for all males (including babies) of certain other tribes and nations to be killed. God saw women as impure, therefore requiring monthly ritual cleansing, and limited women’s rights. He commanded the stoning of homosexuals and the killing of rebellious sons.
Later rabbinic teaching and apologetics mitigates some – but by all means, not all and not the majority – of these problematic positions, and how Sacks accounts for those it did not is unclear.