Buddhism Has Its Own Anti-Semitism Problem

Feb. 26 2021

While it may surprise Westerners with a romanticized view of Buddhism, hostility toward Jews is not uncommon among its practitioners, and, moreover, anti-Semitism had a particular hold on some of those most influential in bringing the religion to the West. Christopher Schilling writes:

[The scholar] Arno Tausch found in his analysis of the [2017] World Values Survey that participants with a Buddhist background “are much more anti-Semitic than the adherents of mainstream Western Christianity, [Eastern] Orthodoxy, or people without any denomination.” In fact, the World Values Survey found that 33 percent of its Buddhist respondents [said they wouldn’t want to have a] Jewish neighbor, compared to 19.9 percent of Protestants and 17.7 percent of Roman Catholics (the highest-ranking religious group were Shiite Muslims at 83 percent). This may largely be due to a xenophobic confusion of Jews as Muslims.

Anti-Semitism became part of Buddhist Modernism in Japan. The Zen master Hakuun Yasutani (1885-1973), the founder of the Sanbo Kyodan organization of Japanese Zen, who later became famous in the West through Philip Kapleau’s book The Three Pillars of Zen, was a virulent anti-Semite and did not hesitate to publish his anti-Semitic views. While the majority of Zen masters in Japan actively supported Japanese militarism during World War II, Hakuun Yasutani actively supported the killings of “as many [enemies] as possible.” . . . After World War II, Yasutani traveled to the United States and became a principal teacher of influential people in the American Buddhist community.

Another controversial figure who was highly influential in introducing Zen Buddhism to the United States was the Japanese author D.T. Suzuki (1870-1966), who went on a lecture tour of American universities and taught at Columbia University in the 1950s. The killing of enemy soldiers he called an act of “religion during an emergency.” Regarding the Jewish fate under the Nazis, Suzuki [suggested that perhaps] “for a time, some sort of extreme action is necessary in order to preserve the [German] nation.” Brian Victoria, author of Zen at War, has demonstrated in his fascinating work Suzuki’s multiple contacts with leading Nazis in wartime Japan, particularly the Nazi propagandist (and later Zen master) Karlfried Dürkheim.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Jewish Political Studies Review

More about: anti-Semitsm, Buddhism, Nazism

 

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy