In Norwich, in the year 1144, one finds the first recorded case in which Jews were accused of having killed a Christian child for ritual purposes. The accusation came from a Jew—a Jewish convert to Christianity, to be precise—Theobald of Cambridge. One does not have to go back a millennium to find "renegade" Jews eager to level accusations against the Jewish community. And unlike their counterparts of that distant era, contemporary Jews need not go through a formal conversion to another faith in order to play the role of accusers of their coreligionists.
A gallery of such Jews can be found in The Jewish Divide over Israel, edited by Alexander and Bogdanor, a collection of essays devoted to analyzing the contemporary manifestations of this antique phenomenon. Jewish hostility toward the state of Israel is the volume's central focus. In studies of figures on the extreme edge of anti-Israel politics (such as Norman G. Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, and Marc Ellis) and other more temperate cases (such as Tony Judt, Thomas Friedman, George Steiner, and Peter Novick), the volume offers a survey of left-wing Jewish intellectuals whose stock and trade is calumniation of the Jewish state. Its best essays go beyond cataloging outrageous lies and antics to offer plausible explanations of the psychosocial factors that impel such behavior.
Because extreme denunciations of Israel by prominent Jews have played an exceptionally important role in legitimizing hatred of the Jewish state in the Middle East and across the world, this volume is not only timely, it is overdue.