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09/04/2019

Voltaire to Samuel, are they all wrong?

QUESTION
Voltaire to Samuel, are they all wrong?
Voltaire to Samuel, are they all wrong?

VOLTAIRE (Francois Marie Arouet) 18th century French philosopher, writer:
“Why are the Jews hated? It is the inevitable result of their laws; they either have to conquer everybody or be hated by the whole human race…”

“The Jewish nation dares to display an irreconcilable hatred toward all nations, and revolts against all masters; always superstitious, always greedy for the well-being enjoyed by others, always barbarous – cringing in misfortune and insolent in prosperity.” (Essai sur le Moeurs)

“You seem to me to be the maddest of the lot. The Kaffirs, the Hottentots, and the Negroes of Guinea are much more reasonable and more honest people than your ancestors, the Jews. You have surpassed all nations in impertinent fables in bad conduct and in barbarism. You deserve to be punished, for this is your destiny.” (From a letter to a Jew who had written to him, complaining of his ‘anti-Semitism.’ Examen des Quelques Objections…dans L’Essai sur le Moeurs.)

“You will only find in the Jews an ignorant and barbarous people, who for a long time have joined the most sordid avarice to the most detestable superstition and to the most invincible hatred of all peoples which tolerate and enrich them.” (“Juif,” Dictionnaire Philosophique)
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“I know that there are some Jews in the English colonies. These marranos go wherever there is money to be made…But whether these circumcised who sell old clothes claim that they are of the tribe of Naphtali or Issachar is not of the slightest importance. They are, simply, the biggest scoundrels who have ever dirtied the face of the earth.” (Letter to Jean-Baptiste Nicolas de Lisle de Sales, December 15, 1773. Correspondance. 86:166)

“Our Jewishness is not a creed, it is ourself, our totality. Indeed, it may be fairly said that the surest evidence of your lack of seriousness in religion is the fact that your religions are not national, that you are not compromised and dedicated, en masse, to the faith.” (Maurice Samuel, You Gentiles, p. 73).
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“In the heart of any pious Jew, God is a Jew. Is your God an Englishman or an American?” (Maurice Samuel, You Gentiles, p. 75).
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“When Germany and England and America will long have lost their present identity or purpose, we shall still be strong in ours.” (Maurice Samuel, You Gentiles, p. 111).
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It is a part of history project.

ANSWER
As for Voltaire, he was WRONG about the Jewish people; however, I would not rely upon the quotes above to prove that argument. It would be unfair to Voltair.

Is there ample evidence that he was a racist anti-Semite? I believe so. Voltair’s anti-Semitism has been the subject of scholarship for two centuries. Without dignifying Voltair’s anti-Semitism by repeating other examples of it, I direct your attention to the work of Arthur Hertzberg, particularly his book ”The French Enlightenment and the Jews.”

For a sampling of Hertzberg’s analysis, please see:
http://www.nytimes.com/1990/09/30/books/…
http://www.nybooks.com/articles/11525

For additional evidence of Voltair’s anti-Semitism, please see:
http://remember.org/guide/History.root.m…
http://www.library.flawlesslogic.com/jtr_01.htm

As for Maurice Samuel, the out of context statements you present may be examples of hyperbole; but was he WRONG in his views about the Jewish people? NO. I regard his large body of work to have much to teach all of us. His many books and essays are informative, witty, and well written.

Was he a defender of Jews against anti-Semitism? Yes. Is that wrong? I think not. Was he a Zionist and strongly pro-Israel? Yes. Is that wrong? I think not. Was he sometimes hyberbolic in his defense of Israel and in his celebration of Jewish heritage? That is part of your assignment.

To assist you in your work, I suggest that you consult the following sites:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0411/is_n4_v46/ai_20583580/?tag=content;col1
http://lts.brandeis.edu/research/archives-speccoll/findingguides/xml/samuel.html#d0e99
http://books.google.com/books?id=XxUCRpVg7LAC&pg=PA155&lpg=PA155&dq=bio+Maurice+Samuel&source=bl&ots=N_P5lv_-5b&sig=A-_J_lEAOhw6kFe-or8RLXlYhww&hl=en&ei=TeUySsL8E6f0tQO9zqD0Bg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5

Good luck!