Russia Investigating Whether Book Containing Jewish Law Is Illegal:

Ha'aretz reports:

The Moscow district prosecutor has ordered an examination into the Shulhan Arukh -- a code of Jewish halakhic law compiled in the 16th century -- to ascertain whether it constitutes racist incitement and anti-Russian material.

The prosecutor ordered the probe against a Jewish umbrella organization in Russia for distributing a Russian translation of an abbreviation of the Shulhan Arukh. . . .

The inquiry was launched following a letter signed by 500 public figures, including some 20 members of the nationalist Rodina party, urging the district prosecutor to outlaw the Jewish religion and all the Jewish organizations operating in Russia. . . .

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  2. Russia Investigating Whether Book Containing Jewish Law Is Illegal:
Craig Oren (mail):
here is a little background on the shulchan arukh) (let me hear those ch's pronounced as in Bach) obviously the work must be anti-Russian.

6.27.2005 9:03pm
Craig Oren (mail):
well, I thought I posted the link, but I guess I don't understand properly how to link here. Let me post it with a superfluous space for the time being /jsource/Judaism/shulkhan_arukh.html
6.27.2005 9:07pm
Patrick McKenzie (mail):
Hate speech regulations used to ban a religion... I wish I could say that spectre was completely unknown in the US, but, to the surprise of no one who opposed them, they're used as political weapons anywhere they managed to get enforced here too.

Patrick McKenzie
6.27.2005 9:12pm
Abigail Krauser (mail):
I do not think the comparison Mr. McKenzie offers is quite apposite-- That is, the general antireligious sentiment often borne by proponents of hate speech regulation in America seems a very different beast from European (or Russian) anti-Semitism generally—or its most recent manifestation, apparently unleashed by Intifada II. The most obvious historical parallel for this current effort is the Disputations of the Middle Ages. And it is no surprise (as a historical matter) that this recent effort would emerge in a country that birthed that seminal document of Jewish conspiracy theory: Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

To be sure, any analogy is born of limitations: I do not mean to make the obvious point that the one McKenzie offers has limitations as well. But I'm not sure that lumping in the recent awakening of anti-Semitism, or any of its manifold recent manifestations, as part of some general leftist effort to encroach on free speech is at all helpful. In this case, the one, quite simply, has nothing to do with the other.

The Shulhan Arukh is not an obscure Jewish text or even a mystical work, which might provide an obvious target for conspiracy theory. Nor is this the equivalent of locating heretical statements in the work of Ockham or some other (relatively marginalized) scholastic. As Mr. Oren's helpful link indicates, the Shulhan Arukh is a central and authoritative catalogue of the basic tenets of Jewish faith and practice—an orthodox compendium, to be sure, but one of the most authoritative. If the Shulhan Arukh is treasonous, then it is a very short step (perhaps no step at all) to finding observant Jews treasonous as well, simply by virtue of their observance. And the specter of that notion, of that strain of hatred, is as foreign to America as it is at home in Russia.
6.28.2005 12:21am
Robin Roberts (mail) (www):
I've long thought that Russia was poised on the knife edge between civilization and barbarity. This isn't weight on the civilization side of the edge.
6.28.2005 2:11am
If one wishes to begin banning all religions whose historical documents contain something that suggests superiority or exclusivity, then a quick slide will begin that can only end in everyone being ba'hai.

I can't say I'm surprised by this, though; certain countries have never really apologized for their bloody histories of antisemitism. Polish priests and elected officials, in remembering various pogroms and Holocaust atrocities, often ask what it is about the Jews that inspired the incidents. Russia, of course, has its own recent history, including the prosecution of Jewish robber-baron Mikhail Khodorkovsky ahead of all other post-soviet oligarchs. There are, I think, certain places that Jews cannot benefit from inhabiting.

The interesting thing is that, here in the U.S., the power dynamic of Russian Jews and Christians is reversed. My friends in the community tell me that once they immigrate here, the Russian Jews have all the good restaurants and clubs, and have the prerogative to exclude the Russian Christians. Of course, when the Jews get exclusive, it tends not to involve jail, killing or systematic dehumanization...
6.28.2005 8:01am
Shlomo Rubin (mail):

The prosecution of Mikhail Khodorkovsky was wrong, because it was orcastrated by Putin, and motivated by a desire to imprison someone who might oppose his regime. Putin was not concerned about the underlying crime, but merely trying to suppress dissent. However, there is no evidence that Khodorkovsky's being Jewish was a factor.
6.28.2005 4:23pm