A commenter, known as “latte island”, brought “The Ashkenazi Revolution” to my attention a while back. The book was published in Israel in 1964 and was banned there – or, at least, suppressed and condemned. Today, it is almost impossible to find, having been relegated to the dustbin of history and obscurity. Note that I said almost impossible to find – for I have found it and I have purchased it. It was not easy to find and it did not come cheap either.
I intend to translate all 256 pages of it. This will be a mammoth task and very time-consuming. Since I am not a wealthy man, my intention is to publish the translation in PDF format and ask for a modest donation to offset some of the costs of this project. Upon receipt of the donation (which I think should be $20 or so) I’ll send the file via email. I do not expect to be reimbursed for my time, just for the expense of the book itself. It was $157 including shipping.
Here are the headings for the 14 chapters:
1) The Jewish concept of time and space
2) The community of peoples in the Land of Canaan
3) Birth and exile
4) The community of peoples in exile
5) The undermining of the Roman world and the Ashkenazi question
6) The new Hebrew literature
7) Herzl and the new Hebrew literature
8) Exile on exhibition
9) The oppressive rule of the literary mandarins
10) Ashkenaz and Sepharad in the nation of Israel
11) Two peoples
12) The strategic goal of the leaders of Sepharad
13) The false world and the triumph of the achievers
14) The Ashkenazi revolution
It is my understanding that the reason this book was so unpopular was that it was viewed as the epitome of the oppression of Sephardic/Oriental Jews in Israel. This is what Meyrav Wurmser has to say about it:
One of the worst examples of the anti-Mizrahi discrimination involves The Ashkenazi Revolution published in 1964 by writer Kalman Katzenelson in which the author argues that the Mizrahim suffer from irreversible genetic inferiority that endangers the superiority of the Ashkenazi-Zionist state. He called for the establishment of an apartheid regime that, among other limitations, would abolish their political rights. He also objected to mixed marriages and demanded the prohibition of the Hebrew language because it resembled Arabic too greatly. Instead he demanded that Yiddish become the national language because of its supreme Germanic origins. His book was a bestseller until Ben-Gurion banned it.
Regular readers of this blog should already know that, when it comes to the State of Israel versus Oriental Jewry, I am on the side of Oriental Jewry. Of course, there are some features of Oriental Jewish culture that we could do without: a lack of respect for the rule of law, littering and smoking all go hand in hand with the Arab world in general. But just as the Arabs (flaws and all) are heirs to the wonderful Arabic language, so too are Oriental Jews heirs to some of the more authentic and ancient features of Judaism. Aside from this, there is much to admire in their various cultures and much to admire among the actual people. So let it not be said that my goal is to attack Oriental Jews. Rather, my goal is to make this controversial work available to a wider audience so that each of us can judge it on its own merits. I also feel that it is important from a historical point of view.
How long will it take to finish this project? My guess is several months. I have a Hebrew/English dictionary that is almost 4 inches thick. It will be getting a lot of use; there will be difficult sections. Most likely, I’ll have to go back and revise some of them over time.