Are Jews more just and righteous than other peoples? We get buried in catch-words like “a light unto nations” or “the righteous of the world” that supposedly illustrate the ancient tradition of Jewish enlightenment concerning relations between people of differing beliefs, customs and nations. Jews supposedly had this regard for everyone seeking justice, in spite of their own relentless persecution by other religions and governments.
In truth this ancient Jewish tradition is not ancient, and it didn’t even exist. Where does Jewish worldliness, liberalism, ardent scholarship in the secular world come from? From the emergence of emancipated, non-religious, Jews living outside any segregated Jewish village or ghetto. To the extent Jews managed to distance themselves from the Jewish religion and ingrown culture of orthodox Jewish practice, to that extent, Jews became genuinely humanitarian and liberal.
Before this emergence of a large body of irreligious free-thinking Jews, Jewish traditions, mores, and religious laws of behavior were just as patriarchal, superstitious, intolerant and ignorant as those in the Christian world.
Jewish cosmopolitanism is a modern development, part of the secular world. An open-minded philosopher like Spinoza was anathema to the Jewish community and was excommunicated for among other things “denying the existence of angels.”
Jewish communities in the European ghettoes from feudal times until emancipation were obviously segregated and had a low legal status, but the Christian lords and kings did give these communities autonomous internal-self rule. This meant that the religious elders ran the ghettos internal affairs and enforced Jewish law, meaning a religious police state that could carry out even capital punishment on those who broke the laws.
The point is that there is no ancient tradition of tolerance, or of individual human rights, or support of secular, scientific scholarship (the official “scholarship” was to memorize tedious pointless quotations from ignorant old rabbis) within the Jewish communities from ancient times until the present. It took the French Revolution and similar upheavals to create secular societies to shake apart the Jewish ghetto system.
Jews began to soar intellectually, artistically and socially after they were unshackled from enforced religious enclosures.
The point here is that Jewish traditions are therefore not worse or better than that of Christian traditions; they are the same. Both traditions are lousy. Any society dominated totally by religion (or totalitarian ideology) is rotten; human development is crippled. It took an evolution (aided by actual revolutions) away from Christianity to make Western European nations decent places to live.
Secular atheism is the way to go. Fundamentalist and ingrown tribal religious beliefs and ethnic self-identity as being superior or chosen (or the “elect” if you are looking at Calvinism) is destructive, especially when these chosen ones get control over the life of others and also have nuclear weapons.