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B o o k o f t
h e M o n t h
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by L. Neil Smith and Aaron Zelman
Mazel Freedom Press
$7.95 ($10.95 postage paid)
Throughout history, the Jews have suffered persecution. They've been
enslaved, dispersed over the face of the earth, and subjected to
expropriation, ghettoization, and pogrom. They have been barred from
professions, forced into the banking industry by a church that
forbade its adherents to charge interest, and reviled for their
success in it. These atrocities form part of the core of what we
commonly call "The Jewish Experience."
There is, however, another key component to that experience:
Throughout history, when they have faced their darkest days, the Jews
have fought. In the alleyways of Jerusalem. At Masada. In the Warsaw
Ghetto. On the frontier kibbutzim, and in the arid Negev from which
the Jews have carved their modern state and held it against all
The Jews have fought. While historical persecution may be key to
their identity, their willingness to fight for that identity is
certainly key to their survival as a people. Those among them who
attempt to negate that principle do their culture a disservice.
It is fitting that Aaron Zelman of Jews for the Preservation of
Firearms Ownership should collaborate with L. Neil Smith, the most
prolific living libertarian novelist -- and arguably the most
effective advocate of the right to keep and bear arms -- in producing
The premise of the novel is straightforward enough: The protagonist,
Monsignor John Greenwood, finds his world turned upside down by the
revelation that he is one of the many Jewish survivors of the
Holocaust who was hidden and eventually adopted by a Catholic family
after his parents were taken by the Nazis. As he begins to explore
his heritage, Greenwood comes face to face with what the policies he
advocated as a liberal priest have accomplished.
It isn't a pretty picture.
Those who are familiar with Zelman and Smith know that neither is
given to pulling punches. The right to keep and bear arms -- in its
pure, unadulterated form -- receives cogent support both in an
elaboration of the historical experience of the Jewish people and in
the events of Greenwood's life as they unfold. The novel certainly
succeeds as an admonition to those in the Jewish community who are
all too quick to place their trust in a government whose recent
actions hearken back to the days of the cattlecars and the gas
"The Mitzvah" succeeds on another level, too. It's a damn good story.
Smith and Zelman have ably rendered the shock and confusion of
Greenwood as he enters into a world that Hitler's thugs deprived him
of, the world of Judaism. They make real the love of freedom that
motivated many who survived the Holocaust to emigrate to the United
States, and the horror they feel as they watch this country sliding
down the slippery slope of gun control (or, as Smith accurately names
it, "victim disarmament"), official murder, and political and
religious oppression. They bring to life the lady who carries a
pistol in her purse because she knows that the police only arrive
after the fact.
Buy this book. And while you're at it, make a contribution to JPFO.
No, I don't care where you go to church. It's not about that. As
Reinhold Niebuhr said, "First, they came for the Jews ...." If "they"
had found themselves, the very first time they came, staring down the
muzzle of a loaded rifle, that might have been the end, rather than
the beginning, of the Holocaust.
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