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Toynbee Equates Zionism with Anti-semitism; Attacked by Jewish Leaders

May 8, 1961
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Arnold J. Toynbee, the British historian, in an address here last night, equated Zionism and anti-Semitism as representing “an identical point of view” and said that anti-Semitism will end and Judaism become “one of the great spiritual possessions of the whole human race” when Jews and non-Jews “abandon” their ethnic or national reservations” about Jews. Jewish leaders immediately took issue with his views charging him with making “distorted statements. “

Dr. Toynbee made-his statements as the principal speaker at the dinner of the 17th annual conference of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism. Both Zionism and anti-Semitism, he declared, assume “that it is impossible for Jews and non-Jews to grow together into a single community and that, therefore, a physical separation is the only way out. “

“The watchword of anti-Semitism, ” Dr. Toynbee continued, “is back to medieval apartheid; the watchword of Zionism is back to the medieval ghetto. All the far-flung ghettos of the world are to be gathered into one patch of soil in Palestine, to create a single, consolidated ghetto.”

Asserting that Zionism “was born of a pessimism” about the prospects of Jewish emancipation, Dr. Toynbee held that “if the Jewish community in the West were to continue to be an ethnic–even if only a partly ethnic and partly religious–community, co-existing with the present State of Israel, it could hardly avoid falling, sooner or later, into the position of being a political dependency of Israel. “

In reply, Murray H. Shusterman, president of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, said: “Professor Toynbee’s statement that Zionism and anti-Semitism stem from the same point of view is a shocking example of defamation of the Jewish people. ” Rabbi Theodore Gordon, president of the Greater Philadelphia Board of Rabbis, commented that Dr. Toynbee’s “lack of understanding of the religious roots of Zionism, and its spiritual implications in Jewish life, is grossly apparent. “

(In New York, Professor Toynbee was accused today of being “ignorant” of the essential nature of Judaism and of “totally misunderstanding” the purpose of Zionism. Professor Sol-Liptzin of City College, chairman of the Commission on Jewish Affairs of the American Jewish Congress, made the criticism at an all-day conference of rabbis and educators. Professor Liptzin told the AJ Congress meeting: “In urging that Judaism abandon its ethnic character, Professor Toynbee is in effect calling on the Jewish people to commit harakiri. For the fact is that Judaism cannot survive without the Jewish people and the Jewish people cannot survive without Judaism.”)


At the concluding session of its conference today, the Council for Judaism adopted a resolution asserting that the Adolf Eichmann trial, currently being held in Israel, is furnishing the Zionist movement with the opportunity of “identifying all Jews with a system of national rights and obligations, “

Emphasizing that “all mankind was horrified by the unparalleled crimes for which Eichmann is being tried,” the resolution declared it “inexcusable” that the trial “provides an other opportunity for Israeli-Zionist officials to foster the concept of ‘Jewish’ nationality by using the term ‘the Jewish people’ to imply an automatic nationalistic relationship to the State of Israel. “

Another resolution called for “effective, real re-organization of the United Jewish Appeal” to include the following: “1. A genuine separation of the control of the UJA from the Jewish Agency for Israel and other Zionist organizations, themselves the major beneficiaries of the UJA; 2. Effective American control over actual disbursement of UJA funds to ultimate beneficiaries; 3. Regular publication of complete, understandable, detailed reports accessible to examination; such reports should include details of expenditures to ultimate beneficiaries.”

The conference “condemned” Zionist efforts “to capture the communities of United States Jews for the purposes of Zionism;” noted the Zionist elaborate structure aimed at “education for Aliyah”; and called upon lay and rabbinical bodies to distinguish between “education in Judaism” and “education for ‘Jewish’ nationalism. “

The delegates also adopted a resolution calling on the United States Government “to examine the structure of the Israeli-Zionist organization” and to “protect United States citizens from involuntary identification with a foreign nationalism. ” This resolution asserted that “Zionism’s representation of the ‘Jewish people’ cannot be regarded as applicable to United States citizens.”

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