Tuvia Tenenborn has German youth lining up to buy his book on Germany today. It is about an incurable disease. But he can’t find a publisher in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I first met Tuvia Tenenbom, the author of the provocatively titled book, “I Sleep in Hitler’s Room”, a few years ago at a lecture. I was pointed out as “an expert in anti-Semitism,” and his wife, Isi, insisted on giving me their very last copy. In 2011, Tuvia had just self-published the book.
Tuvia’s group, The Jewish Theatre of New York Incorporated, was his publisher and the philanthropist, Michael Steinhardt, funded its publication.
Last night, I attended what was advertised as a theatrical presentation of Tuvia’s book. The theatre, “The Triad,” is a Weimar era-like cabaret. It felt as if I’d walked right onto the set. The scene was funny, a bit disorienting. The address was right—but it was also a Turkish restaurant, “Seven,” which occupied that same address. The staircase to the cabaret-theatre was located in the restaurant.
I would have passed it by entirely if I hadn’t seen Tuvia on the street an hour before the performance was to start. We greeted each other. I congratulated him on his larger “performance.”
You see, the book that Alexander Fest, the head of the German publishing house, Rowohlt, cancelled, (Tuvia refused to take the material about “Jews” and “Israel” out), is now a sensational bestseller in Germany. It has been on the best seller list of Germany’s leading newspaper, Der Speigel, for the last four months. Editions of the work are now being prepared in Poland and elsewhere in Europe.
Initially, Tuvia’s book was met with silence—or intense hostility in Germany. He was called “the hysterical Jew,” or “The Jew, Tenenbom.” He took on his critics, one by one, demanded to know if they had actually read his book (most hadn’t), before they dismissed it. Tuvia insisted on starting public dialogues and confrontations.
Then, Tuvia and Isi schlepped their sacks full of laughs and chutzpah and important ideas from one German city to another. He had not intended to write about Jews at all. He had been commissioned to write about Germany Today. “But the subject of Jews and Israel kept coming up. It turned out to be a German obsession. Everyone wanted to talk about it, fight about it.”
According to Tuvia, the Turks and Muslims in Germany hate Jews. But so do the Germans. “At least the Muslims are open about it. The Germans deny and deny and then fly into a rage.” The German peace-loving, progressive left – including “the feminists who believe in women’s liberation,” – is colluding with Muslims who veil their women, keep them in the kitchen, and refuse them prayer access in the mosque.
“The Germans can’t look at themselves in the mirror.”
I (and others) have written about the nature of European Jew-hatred for many years now, especially about why Europeans are ostensibly embracing the violent and hostile “Semites” among them after having murdered six million of their assimilated or non-violent “Semites.” European Jew-hatred still expresses itself by taking the “Palestinian” side against the evil, Nazi Israeli Jews. They can feel guilt-free, superior—even justified in having murdered so many Jews.
“They don’t know the names of their own political leaders, but they hang photos of Mahmud Abbas in their offices and march for Palestine. They do not care about what Putin did in Chechnya. They care only about Palestine.”
Tuvia took this message across Germany. The young people of Germany wanted to hear him speak and crowded the auditoriums. And they bought his book in record numbers. He told them: “Hitler understood the Germans. He said: You hate them (the Jews). Okay. Let’s kill them. Let’s act on what we believe.”
Nothing surprises me anymore on this subject. Not the denial, not the rage, not the twisted logic. Things can still sadden or enrage me.
For example, Tuvia said that “European Jews did not support my book.” He had to “defend himself” at a reading at the Jewish Center in Berlin. The assembled Jews attacked him as “primitive,” an embarrassment. Afterwards, to his surprise, a long line formed to buy his book. One Jew after another told him, in a whisper: “You have written the story of my life.”
And, in Warsaw, “the Jews tried to prevent him from appearing.” The audience was 90% Catholic. They gave Tuvia a “twenty five minute standing ovation.” Only afterwards, did the Jews apologize to Tuvia—and then, “only because the Catholics liked it.”
“The Jews have no spines in Europe.”
Tuvia is quite the showman. He engages in an almost stream-of-consciousness monologue; sometimes, he rambles. Four very good actors and actresses read aloud from a chapter titled: “Peace and Love. Why Jews Like to Shoot the Dead.” It is not a funny chapter. It is sad and serious.
And Tuvia is often very, very funny. He is a natural clown: Touseled red hair, loose pants hiked up a bit too high, old-fashioned suspenders, and a fine flair for theatrical exaggeration.
So far, Tuvua cannot find a publisher in America. This does not surprise me—but he is surprised. This surprises me. But after all, I am the one whose phone often rings when another author has been asked to make unacceptable cuts to their manuscripts or risk having their contracts cancelled on this very subject.
I hope that Tuvia barnstorms right across America the way he did across Germany.
Prof. Phyllis Chesler
The writer is the author of fourteen books, including Women and Madness, Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman, and The New Anti-Semitism. She has published three studies about honor killing and is work on a fourth. Her new book, An American Bride in Kabul, (Palgrave Macmillan) will be out in the fall. Professor Chesler may be reached at her website www.phyllis-chesler.com