Charges World Historians Fail to Deal Adequately with Emergence of Anti-semitism

The failure of American and world history texts to recognize the spiritual and cultural interchange between Jews and Christians throughout the centuries or to deal adequately with the emergence of anti-Semitism in Western civilization, was noted by Rabbi Arthur Gilbert in an address before an audience of Protestant students and faculty at Carleton College, Northfield, Minn. Rabbi Gilbert, who is assistant to the president of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation and a frequent participant in inter-religious dialogues, told another audience at the Presbyterian-affiliated Macalester College in St. Paul, that Jewish youth, “in larger numbers than their parents, view their religious affiliation to the synagogue as a significant aspect of their Jewish existence.”

In his discourse on history texts at Carleton, an institution affiliated with the United Church of Christ, Rabbi Gilbert said “damage is continually inflicted upon the Jew both by what the historian remembers but also by what he chooses to forget.” All religious groups, he said, “have been guilty of reciting history in a selective fashion, revealing thereby our particular prejudices and aspirations.” He pointed to “deficiencies” in the historical accounts written by Jewish, no less than by non-Jewish, scholars, who “bear down heavily on Jewish anguish, underscore Christian hostility to the Jews and ignore many periods in history when Jews were well accepted or in intellectual dialogue with the Christian community.” It is time now, Rabbi Gilbert said, “for all of us to re-write history books in the light of an ecumenical age.”

NEXT STORY