Baseless hatred

This is a guest post by Malachi

Today is Tisha B’Av or ninth of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar when Jews have traditionally marked the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem by respectively the Babylonians and the Romans along with other calamities suffered by the Jews over the centuries.

The destruction of the Second Temple was attributed by the Rabbis to baseless hatred (sinat hinam) amongst the Jews. The period leading up to the destruction of the temple was graphically recorded by the contemporary historian Josephus and describes the senseless blood-letting within the besieged population by the zealous sectarians led by tyrants John of Gischala and Simon ben Giora.

Scrolling forwards 2000 years I recently came across of one of the most sickening examples of sinat hinam in the context of the Stalinist purges in the late 1930’s as recounted in Simon Sebag Montefiore’s majestic work Stalin, The Court of the Red Tsar:

‘Weeks later [after the executions of Kamenev and Zinoviev following the first great show trial], at a dinner to celebrate the founding of the Cheka, Pauker, Stalin’s comedian, acted the death and pleadings of Zinoviev. To the raucous guffaws of the Vozhd [Stalin] and Yezhov, plump, corseted and shiny-pated Pauker was dragged back into the room by two friends playing the role of the guards. There he performed Zinoviev’s cries of ‘For God’s sake call Stalin’ but improvised another ingredient. Pauker, a Jew himself, specialised in telling Stalin Jewish jokes in the appropriate accent with much rolling of ‘R’s and cringing. Now he combined the two, depicting Zinoviev raising his hands to the Heavens and weeping ‘Hear oh Israel the Lord is our God the Lord is one’, Stalin laughed so much that Pauker repeated it. Stalin was almost sick with merriment and waved at Pauker to stop.’ See page 176.

Stalin had Pauker quietly shot on 14th August 1937.

I think it was Disraeli who said ‘There is no fate worse than to be a stupid Jew’.