"Self Hatred and Faithlessness"
By Richard A. Kulick on Oct 14, 2002
This is possibly the most intriging work of Jewish fiction published in the last decade. Based on the real life story of Jewish KKK Wizard Danny Burros (1938-65), this book explores the history, psychology and internal motivations of a young Jew, who out of his self hatred, turned violently against the Jewish people. The real life Danny Burros, committed suicide when the New York Times "outed" him as a Jew in 1965. The book contains not only Bean's play ironically titled "The Believer" but also outstanding commentary by scholars David Kraemer and Sander Gilman. The play is set contemporaneously, but the course of a young Jew becoming a Nazi out of self hatred is somewhat archaic. Jews are more likely to support Palestinian "liberation" based on self hatred than Nazism these days. But the truly interesting question is: Why the self hatred at all? This disease has struck Jews all through the history of the Jewish people, and frequently lead those who feel it to persecute the Jewish people, to the point of fanning massacres and riots. In the modern period, it began with towering figures like Marx and Heine, through Lenin and Trotsky, down to the present. Both David Kraemer and Sander Gilman give their own answers for this, derived both from Jewish tradition and modern psychology and literary criticism. However, given that Jewish self hatred is as old as Judaism itself, these answers, for this reviewer ring quite hollow. I find the answers to this question in the nature of Judaism itself; in that Judaism is a religion of analysis, criticism and argument, which enshrines a tradition of severe self critique and reproof in the Bible itself. One sees the Jewish tendency toward almost violent disagreement from the Torah through the Writings to the end of the Prophets. In general it takes a very strong individual, to observe and internalize this culture without finding it defacto flawed by excessive internal divisiveness. This reviewer so found Judaism similarly flawed for decades, until he made a thorough and searching study of the Bible and Jewish history, and realized that the God that inspired the Torah, is still with the Jewish people today. I used this inspiration to write my own commentary on the ideas in The Believer; [...]However, in my case, I discuss in a much more profound way the true causes of Jewish self hatred, which is the illusion fostered by so many different'modernizing' Jewish groups, that God is a thing of the distant past.
Rosenthal's book is better
By New York Skyline on Nov 23, 2004
Having read both books on Dan Burros I thought the older book on him by Rosenthal called "One More Victim; The Life and Death of a Jewish Nazi" was far better. That one was better researched, maybe because it was written only a year or so after Burros killed himself so the people he knew were still around to be interviewed. The fact that the New York Times reporter who "outed" Burros, which directly led to him shooting himself as soon as he saw the article on page 1 stating his history and that he was Jewish, stated he had no guilt or regret for having published this even knowing Burros 'delicate' state of mind sure wouldn't fly in this era. They would have been sued for that by Burros relatives after his death as there were several witnesses to his death. The other book is hard to find but worth getting if you can. Burros certainly was a fascinating twisted and tormented man.