Friday, May 13, 2016

Introducing Rabbi Joachim Prinz

An interesting comment on the relationship between Zionism and anti-Semitism by Stephen Shenfield from the comment thread following Roland Nikles' An apologia for Ken Livingstone (What would Buber say?) at

"Zionism... was steeped in anti-Semitism from the start. Zionists agreed with anti-Semites that the Jews were a foreign and unassimilable element in their host societies and that it was therefore natural, inevitable, and humanly understandable that they should be rejected and persecuted. They shared the anti-Semites' negative perceptions of Jews as they actually existed. That also meant that they hated themselves. Where they differed from the more thoroughgoing anti-Semites was their believe that at least some Jews could be rehabilitated and normalized through Zionist efforts. Hitler in particular did not believe this was possible; for him the only final solution of the Jewish question was extermination.

"However, Hitler cannot be equated with Nazism as such. In the 1930s there were Nazis, including SS officers, who thought Zionism could solve the Jewish question. A key figure in the attempt at a Zionist-Nazi rapprochement was Rabbi Joachim Prinz. I got hold of his book Wir Juden (We Jews), published in Berlin in 1934, i.e. under Nazi rule. The author himself apparently blocked publication of an English translation after his emigration to the US in 1937 - and no wonder. The book is a skillful synthesis of Nazi and Zionist ideas, with the 'German Revolution' presented as a model for Jews to emulate. It shows that the German Zionists did not collaborate with the Nazis for purely practical purposes - they also saw the two movements as ideologically complementary. Of all the tendencies of Jewish thought Zionism is and always was the closest to anti-Semitism. The hypocrisy of Zionists accusing other people of anti-Semitism on the flimsiest grounds is astounding."

Here's more on Rabbi Prinz by Israel Shahak:

"Dr Joachim Prinz, a Zionist rabbi who subsequently emigrated to the USA, where he rose to be vice-chairman of the World Jewish Congress and a leading light in the World Zionist Organization (as well as a great friend of Golda Meir), published in 1934 a special book, Wir Juden (We Jews), to celebrate Hitler's so-called German Revolution and the defeat of liberalism: 'The meaning of the German Revolution for the German nation will eventually be clear to those who have created it and formed its image. Its meaning for us must be set forth here: the fortunes of liberalism are lost. The only form of political life which has helped Jewish assimilation is sunk.'

"The victory of Nazism rules out assimilation and mixed marriages as an option for Jews. 'We are not unhappy about this,' said Dr Prinz. In the fact that Jews are being forced to identify themselves as Jews, he sees 'the fulfilment of our desires'. And further: 'We want assimilation to be replaced by a new law: the declaration of belonging to the Jewish nation and Jewish race. A state built upon the principle of the purity of nation and race can only be honoured and respected by a Jew who declares his belonging to his own kind. Having so declared himself, he will never be capable of faulty loyalty towards a state. The state cannot want other Jews but such as declare themselves as belonging to their nation. It will not want Jewish flatterers and crawlers. It must demand of us faith and loyalty to our own interest. For only he who honours his own breed and his own blood can have an attitude of honour towards the national will of other nations.'

"The whole book is full of similar crude flatteries of Nazi ideology, glee at the defeat of liberalism and particularly of the ideas of the French Revolution, and great expectations that, in the congenial myth of the Aryan race, Zionism and the myth of the Jewish race will also thrive." (Jewish History, Jewish Religion: The Weight of Three Thousand Years, 1994, pp 71-72)

Compare the above with the following account of Prinz from the promotional website of the 2013 documentary, Joachim Prinz: I Shall Not Be Silent:

"In Berlin in the 1930s, the civil rights of Jews were systematically stripped away. A young rabbi refused to be silent. His name was Joachim Prinz and he set out to restore the self-esteem of the German Jews. Knowing the Nazis were monitoring his every word, and despite repeated arrests, Prinz continued to preach about the value of Judaism. He saved many lives by encouraging Jews to emigrate from Germany. Expelled from Germany in 1937, Prinz arrived in the United States, the land where democracy had supposedly triumphed over bigotry and hatred. Here, he witnessed racism against African Americans and realized the American ideal was not a reality. As rabbi of Temple B'nai Abraham in Newark, NJ and later as President of the American Jewish Congress, Prinz became a leader of the civil rights movement. Prinz worked to organize the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, declaring, 'bigotry and hatred are not the most urgent problem. The most urgent, the most disgraceful, the most shameful and the most tragic problem is silence.' Moments later, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his 'I Have a Dream' speech. Throughout his career, Prinz spoke out for justice, unconcerned with the popularity of his positions. He identified with the prophets, writing in a 1975 letter, 'Remember the Biblical adage, 'For the sake of Zion, I shall not be silent'." (Prinz's Story,

Returning to earth:

"Said Rabbi Joachim Prinz, President of the American Jewish Congress in a resolution he introduced at the closing session of the group's biennial national convention in Miami Beach on May 18, 1958: 'We call upon the United States to take the lead in solving the Arab Refugee problem by pressing for the resettlement of the bulk of the refugees in the sparsely populated land of their Arab kinsmen'." (The Decadence of Judaism in Our Time, Moshe Menuhin, 1969, p 142)

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