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.

Read more at Jewish Political Studies Review

More about: anti-Semitsm, Buddhism, Nazism


The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy