Operation Shylock: A Confession

Published: 1996-01-01


Following are a number of quotations taken from Philip Roth's "Operation Shylock: A Confession," Simon and Schuster, New York, 1993. The page numbers refer to the hardcover edition. Mr. Roth's frequent use of italics have not been reproduced. These quotations are the words or thoughts of characters in a novel by Philip Roth, and thus do not necessarily represent the beliefs of Mr. Roth himself. As there are two Philip Roths within the novel itself, the appearance of "Philip Roth" in one of the quotations below should not be taken to be a reference to the author Philip Roth, but only to one of the characters within his novel. CODOH presents the quotations in the order in which they are encountered and without further comment.

"I am for the Jews and Israel is no longer in the Jewish interest. Israel has become the gravest threat to Jewish survival since the end of World War Two." (p. 41)

"Diasporism seeks to promote the dispersion of the Jews in the West, particularly the resettlement of Israeli Jews of European background in the European countries where there were sizable Jewish populations before World War II. Diasporism plans to rebuild everything, not in an alien and menacing Middle East but in those very lands where everything once flourished, while, at the same time, it seeks to avert the catastrophe of a second Holocaust brought about by the exhaustion of Zionism as a political and ideological force. Zionism undertook to restore Jewish life and the Hebrew language to a place where neither had existed with any real vitality for nearly two millennia. Diasporism's dream is more modest: a mere half-century is all that separates us from what Hitler destroyed." (p. 44)

"Whatever hatred for Jews may be present in Europe—and I don't minimize its persistence—there are ranged against this residual anti-Semitism powerful currents of enlightenment and morality that are sustained by the memory of the Holocaust, a horror that operates now as a bulwark against European anti-Semitism, however virulent. No such bulwark exists in Islam. Exterminating a Jewish nation would cause Islam to lose not a single night's sleep, except for the great night of celebration. I think that you would agree that a Jew is safer today walking aimlessly around Berlin than going unarmed into the streets of Ramallah." (pp. 44-45)

"You know what will happen in Warsaw, at the railway station, when the first trainload of Jews returns? There will be crowds to welcome them. People will be jubilant. People will be in tears. They will be shouting, 'Our Jews are back! Our Jews are back!' The spectacle will be transmitted by television throughout the world." (p. 45)

"Once again the Jewish people are at a terrible crossroad. Because of Israel. Because of Israel and the way that Israel endangers us all. ... The majority of Jews don't choose Israel. ... Israel only endangers everyone. Look what happened to Pollard. I am haunted by Jonathan Pollard. An American Jew paid by Israeli intelligence to spy against his own country's military establishment. I'm frightened by Jonathan Pollard. ... Pollard is just another Jewish victim of the existence of Israel—because Pollard enacted no more, really, than the Israelis demand of Diaspora Jews all the time. I don't hold Pollard responsible, I hold Israel responsible—Israel, which with its all-embracing Jewish totalism has replaced the goyim as the greatest intimidator of Jews in the world; Israel, which today, with its hunger for Jews, is, in many, many terrible ways, deforming and disfiguring Jews as only our anti-Semitic enemies once had the power to do." (p. 81)

"This is the Bible all over again. God prepares a catastrophe for these Jews without souls. If ever there will be a new chapter in the Bible you will read how God sent a hundred million Arabs to destroy the people of Israel for their sins." (p. 110)

"This is arrogance. Jews who make military brutes of their sons—and how superior they feel to Jews who know nothing of guns! Jews who use clubs to break the hands of Arab children—and how superior they feel to you Jews incapable of such violence! Jews without tolerance, Jews for whom it is always black and white ... these are the Jews who are superior to the Jews in the Diaspora? Superior to the people who know in their bones the meaning of give-and-take?" (pp. 124-125)

"It becomes official Jewish policy to remind the world, minute by minute, hour by hour, day in and day out, that the Jews were victims before they were conquerors and that they are conquerors only because they are victims. This is the public-relations campaign cunningly devised by the terrorist Begin: to establish Israeli military expansionism as historically just by joining it to the memory of Jewish victimization; to rationalize—as historical justice, as just retribution, as nothing more than self-defense—the gobbling up of the Occupied Territories and the driving of the Palestinians off their land once again. What justifies seizing every opportunity to extend Israel's boundaries? Auschwitz. What justifies bombing Beirut civilians. Auschwitz. What justifies smashing the bones of Palestinian children and blowing off the limbs of Arab mayors? Auschwitz. Dachau. Buchenwald. Belsen. Treblinka. Sobibor. Belsec. ... Power-mad Jews is what they are, is all that they are, no different from the power-mad everywhere, except for the mythology of victimization that they use to justify their addiction to power.... (pp. 132-133).

"Of course Ukrainian anti-Semitism is real. There are many causes that we all know, having to do with the role the Jews played there in the economic structure, with the cynical role assigned to them by Stalin in the farm collectivization—all this is clear. But whether this stupid Ukrainian is Ivan the Terrible is not at all clear, it can't be clear after forty years, and so, if you have any honesty as a nation, any respect left at all for the law, you let him go. If you must have your vengeance, you send him back to Ukraine and let the Russians deal with him—that should be satisfaction enough. But to try him here in the courtroom and over the radio and on the television and in the papers, this has only one purpose—the public-relations stunt a la the Holocaust-monger Begin and the gangster Shamir; public relations to justify Jewish might, to justify Jewish rule by perpetuating into the next one hundred millenia the image of the Jewish victim. But is public relations the purpose of a system of criminal justice? The criminal-justice system has a legal purpose, not a public-relations purpose. To educate the public? No, that's the purpose of an educational system. I repeat: Demjanjuk is here to maintain the mythology that is this country's lifeblood." (p. 134)

"What happens when American Jews realize that these people [the Zionists], with their incredible arrogance, have taken on a mission and a meaning that is utterly preposterous, that is pure mythology? What happens when they come to realize that they have been sold a bill of goods and that, far from being superior to Diaspora Jewry, these Zionists are inferior by every measure of civilization? What happens when American Jews discover that they have been duped, that they have constructed an allegiance to Israel on the basis of irrational guilt, of vengeful fantasies, above all, above all, based on the most naive delusions about the moral identity of this state? Because this state has no moral identity. It has forfeited its moral identity, if it ever had any to begin with. ... [T]his is what they have done by breaking the hands of Arab children on the orders of their illustrious minister of defense. Even to world Jewry it will be clear: this is a state founded on force and maintained by force, a Machiavellian state that deals violently with the uprising of an oppressed people in an occupied territory.... They have advertised this state for forty years as essential to the existence of Jewish culture, people, heritage; they have tried with all their cunning to advertise Israel as a no-choice reality when, in fact, it is an option, to be examined in terms of quality and value. And when you dare to examine it like this, what do you actually find? Arrogance! Arrogance! Arrogance! And beyond the arrogance? Nothing! And beyond the nothing—more arrogance! And now it is there for the whole world to see on television—a primitive capacity for sadistic violence that has finally put the lie to all their mythology! 'The Law of the Return'? As if any self-respecting civilized Jew would want to 'return' to a place like this! 'The Ingathering of the Exiles'? As if 'exile' from Jewishness begins to describe the Jewish condition anywhere but here! 'The Holocaust'? The Holocaust is over. Unbeknownst to them, the Zionists themselves officially declared it over three days ago at Manara Square in Ramallah. I will take you there and show you the place where the decree was written. A wall where the soldiers took innocent Palestinian civilians and clubbed and beat them to a pulp. ... The end of the Holocaust is written on that wall in Palestinian blood. (pp. 134-135)

"For forty years they have been dragging Jews from all over the world, making payoffs, cutting deals, bribing officials in a dozen different countries so as to get their hands on more and more Jews and drag them here to perpetuate their myth of a Jewish homeland. And now comes Philip Roth to do everything he can to encourage these same Jews to stop squatting on somebody else's land and to leave this make-believe country of theirs before these unregenerate, power-mad, vengeful Zionists implicate the whole of world Jewry in their brutality and bring a catastrophe down upon the Jews from which they will never recover." (p. 137)

"To put all these Jews in this tiny place, surrounded on all sides by tremendous hostility—how can you survive morally? Better to be marginal neurotics, anxious assimilationists, and everything else the Zionists despise, better to lose the state than to lose your moral being by unleashing a nuclear war." (p. 158)

"There is nothing in the future for these Jews and these Arabs but more tragedy, suffering, and blood. The hatred on both sides is too enormous, it envelops everything. There is no trust and there will not be for another thousand years." (p. 161)

Additional information about this document
Property Value
Author(s): Philip Roth
Title: Operation Shylock: A Confession
Sources: Simon and Schuster, New York, 1993
Published: 1996-01-01
First posted on CODOH: June 29, 1996, 7 p.m.
Last revision:
Comments: Selected quotes
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