The BBC tells the story of the row:
Professor Richard Dawkins has rejected a charge from the Chief Rabbi that his description of the "Old Testament God" is "profoundly anti-semitic".The conflict here is fascinating on several levels.
The passage in Dawkins' book, The God Delusion, reflects a centuries-old anti-Jewish attitude, Chief Rabbi Sacks said.
Prof Dawkins dismissed the allegation as "ridiculous".
The exchange took place at the BBC's RE:Think festival in Salford during a debate about science and religion.
The dispute began with Prof Dawkins' claim that a controversial passage from his 2006 book was intended to be "humorous".
"The beginning of chapter two, which says the God of the Old Testament is the most unpleasant character in all fiction, that's a joke," he said in the early stages of the debate.
Later Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks said that Dawkins had misunderstood sections of the Hebrew Bible, which are also part of the Christian Old Testament, because he was a "Christian atheist" rather than a "Jewish atheist".
It meant that Dawkins read the Old Testament in an "adversarial way," he said, something that was "Christian" because the faith's New Testament was believed to have "gone one better".
"That's why I did not read the opening to chapter two in your book as a joke, I read it as a profoundly anti-semitic passage."
The text was read out loud by Lord Sacks at the debate.
It described "the God of the Old Testament" as a "vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser" as well as "misogynist", "homophobic", "racist", "pestilential" and "infanticidal".
"How you can call that anti-semitic, I don't even begin to understand. It's anti-God," said Prof Dawkins.
First, the dispute could easily be settled as a draw, as anyone can see that the Dawkins book is indeed anti-Torah/Old Testament, but that it is anti-Christian and anti-Islamic as well, even just on the level that the O.T. is part and parcel of all Abrahamic religous doctrine. (The wily Brit Dawkins is probably attempting to dodge the U.K.'s ridiculous and restrictive, Orwellian "hate crime" codes by claiming he's not singling any out particular religion(s), just as the wily Jew Sachs is attempting snag him in those very laws.)
But what's also interesting is the rabbi's approach to why Dawkins in particular is unfit to criticize Jewish doctrine -- namely because he's of Christian heritage, or as the BBC put it, "because he [is] a 'Christian atheist' rather than a 'Jewish atheist.'
What the rabbi seems to be suggesting here is that those of Christian heritage, even accomplished atheists like Dawkins himself, are inherently biased against Jewry due to the Christian cultural stew in which they were raised, which includes the inference that only Jews should be allowed to criticize the Hebrew Bible, and perhaps even the Old Testament (which is comprised mostly of Jewish Torah scripture).
As noted, the Old Testament is integral to both Christian and Islamic doctrine (in the case of the former, as the status-quo thesis that Jesus was rebelling against and sought to overthrow; in the case of the latter, as the fulfillment of what God/Yahweh, through the Prophets, was aiming for). So the rabbi appears to be making a case for Jewish intellectual "ownership" of the Old Testament portion of the Bible, with the inference that only Jews are fit or entitled to critique it.
Of course, if Rabbi Sachs wants to argue that those raised in cultural Christendom shouldn't be able to criticize Jewish doctrine in any way, shape or form because they've essentially been indoctrinated against Jewry, and hence can never give the Jews a fair shake, he should acknowledge that the opposite applies as well...that Jewry shouldn't be allowed to criticize Christian doctrine or Christendom, because Jews have been indoctrinated against Christians and Christianity.
Remember, the Talmud, by some accounts modern Jewry's highest holy book, curses and condemns Jesus and his mother Mary no end, and essentially claims Mary was a harlot who slept around with Gentiles and that Jesus was the bastard offspring of such an affair, and went on to a career as a Jewish heretic and sorcerer who today is in hell, boiling in excrement as punishment for his rebellion against Judaism.
But it's not just Jesus, but all of Christianity that Judaism condemns. As the famous monk, priest, professor of theology and instigator of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, observed of Judaism in practice:
"For the Jews, these very learned saints, look upon God as a poor cobbler equipped with only a left last for making shoes. This is to say that he is to kill and exterminate all of us Goyim through their Messiah, so that they can lay their hands on the land, the goods, and the government of the whole world. And now a storm breaks over us with curses, defamation, and derision that cannot be expressed with words. They wish that sword and war, distress and every misfortune may overtake us accursed Goyim. They vent their curses on us openly every Saturday in their synagogues and daily in their homes. They teach, urge, and train their children from infancy to remain the bitter, virulent, and wrathful enemies of the Christians." -- M. Luther, Von den Juden und ihren Luegen, Hans Lufft, Wittenberg, (1543); Reprinted, Ludendorffs, Muenchen, (1932); English translation by Martin H. Bertram, "On the Jews and Their Lies", Luther's Works, Volume 47, Fortress Press, Philadelphia, (1971), pp. 123-306, at 264.And Luther was well within the intellectual high-ground to judge organized Jewry thus, as the Old Testament itself validates his critique of Jewish doctrine, and as modern organized Judaism, as manifest in contemporary Zionism, reveals the inherent racist contempt that the religion has for non-Jews -- as admitted by contemporary Jewish religious authorities themselves.
But beyond the question of intellectual control of the Bible, is Rabbi Sachs also attempting to control the debate and direction of atheism by suggesting those of Western Christian heritage like Dawkins cannot criticize Jewish religious doctrine without being anti-Semitic?
Sachs is essentially issuing a declaration that Judaism is "off limits" for non-Jewish Westerners vis-a-vis the question of atheism, and that critique of organized religion by Westerners and atheists should be limited primarily to Christianity and perhaps Islam, because those non-Jewish Westerners that criticise Jewish religious doctrine are ipso-facto guilty of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The practical effect of this is to render the Old Testament off limits to debate and critique as well, while simultaneously declaring "open season" on the New Testament, hence channelling atheistic rage away from Jewry and towards New Testament Christianity -- which was the exact modus operandi of the Jewish Bolsheviks in the early Soviet, who deployed the angry forces of atheistic Communism against Christianity, resulting in a sustained orgy of mass murder.
Old Testament Christianity (aka Judeo-Christian Zionism) is no doubt kosher in Rabbi Sachs' eyes, and so is anti-Christian atheism; but New Testament Christianity or Western-based atheism? That's anathema to Rabbi Sachs and his Zionist ilk, and should be outlawed as anti-Semitic.
It seems organized Judaism and its sadistic, authoritarian allies, lackeys and useful idiots are up to their same old anti-Christian and anti-Western treachery.