Judah; the reed, freedom, and salvation : Common wealth through promise, by Femi Davids

Hot Off the Presses scours the internet for newly published debut books from unknown authors, and saves everyone else the trouble of actually reading books to find out if they’re good or not. New posts monthly, or whenever I feel like it, apparently. This is meant for entertainment purposes only, not serious consumer advice. And there will be spoilers.

I know it’s been a while since my last review, but the good news is that the thematic continuity is so on-point you’re not even going to notice. And probably you don’t care because the less the world is subjected to an old woman shouting into her kindle about a book she picked out, the better. Anyway, in today’s installment we’re continuing our theme of reimagining the meaning of Judaism (refresh your memory here if you’ve forgotten about Gay Jesus). Judah: the reed, freedom, and salvation: Common wealth through promise by Femi Davids is a personal wealth guide that asks the question: “Why are Jews all so rich and in charge, anyway?”

OK, wait, don’t go. You’ve stuck with me through books about having dubiously consensual sex with orcs; don’t grow a conscience on me now. You’re probably already on a list, so make the most of it. I was immediately drawn to this book like a moth to a flame, if you picture the moth doom scrolling new releases in a sweatshirt decorated with last night’s soup, and the flame as anything that lets me play my favorite game: “Is This Nazis?” It’s like Feelyat, but instead of a biffsteck it’s lebensraum. Wats du fili?!?

The author starts with the assumption that Jews “run the world economy,” and achieve this “silent growth and dominance” by applying Biblical principles, primarily a circular economy that focuses on uplifting the entire community, both present and future. This is contrasted with most modern economic systems, which incentivize individuals to earn as much for themselves in the short term, at the expense of everyone else. Davids helpfully lists sectors that this community mindset motivates Jews to do business in, like banking, exporting, and manufacturing (with the caveat that Jews aren’t just in these sectors, but have many diverse interests… What? I didn’t ask for a salad with my raw meat, Femi). And we get a list of traits that define “business the Jewish way,” like honesty, moderation, charity, and hard work. All of these things come from the faithful adherence to the blessings and covenant passed down from one generation to the next, to serve God’s people instead of one’s self. So basically, there’s a secret cabal of Jews running the world, and that’s awesome because they earned it by being amazing at the Bible. My brain pan was smoking like a Trabant going uphill reading this.

Femi Davids is from Nigeria, and you probably know that the religious situation there is slightly Calvinball. There’s the Roman Catholic Church, which has offset its bigotry losses in other parts of the world by investing heavily in underground African bigotry reserves in a sort of counter-counter-reformation. There’s Islam, not to be outdone by the lunacy among the fellow people of the book by making Boko Haram. Animist beliefs are still a thing there. Then there’s the Jews. Africans love to be Jews. It’s a whole thing. From Ghana to Zimbabwe, there are African groups that have come to adopt an Israelite identity over the last one or two hundred years. It makes sense: a proud history of mobility and perseverance, relatable goat-based metaphors, and more holidays than my skipping American Idiot CD from college. The point is, I don’t pretend to know how to sort or classify West African Antisemitism. But I did try to follow up with some of the names mentioned in the text. One of Davids’ inspirations is a man named Berel Soloman, who makes youtube videos about Jewish secrets of wealth. Soloman himself is Jewish, but also suspended on Twitter, for a net anti-Semitism score of 50%. Other dramatis personae, like Reverand Chinedu Chukwu and Apostle Joshua Selman, seem like fairly innocuous religious figures. At least none of them has a blog about international bankers. To bring it back to Feelyat, I’ve got my oven mitts wrapped around a pointy object, and I can’t be sure if it’s an alarm clock or a swastika, and I have no idea how to pronounce anything.

Is This Nazis is a fun game for the whole family that really puts your brain to work. It turns out, it’s shockingly easy to do a Nazism. This could be because deep down you’re a Nazi, but it could also just be that you’re tone deaf. I submit to the court Starship Troopers. Is it ablist to say that Paul Verhoeven needs to learn tone sign language? Yeah, that sounds bad. Scratch that. But this guy never seems to know what kind of movie he’s making until it’s too late. He and Joe Eszterhas tirelessly researched Showgirls. I’m going somewhere with this, shut up. They interviewed Vegas hookers. They really thought they were making a scathing expose of the exploitation of women in the entertainment industry, as opposed to what they actually made, which was an example of the exploitation of women in the entertainment industry. Starship Troopers is a satire about the toxic triumphalism of Fascism that is so scrupulous about not winking to the audience that literally every single person who saw it but me was convinced they were watching a celebration of the triumphalism of Fascism. It was like our entire society was playing a round of Is This Nazis, and Paul got whatever was the pre-Cosby version of canceled so hard he had to move to Europe and make art films, like some sort of Greek mythological figure who angers the gods and has to finger a turtle for all eternity. I don’t know Greek mythology. That part of my brain is full of tea about Below Deck cast members (which… is it different?). But I knew the whole time what Paul was doing with Starship Troopers. The point is, my Is This Nazis game is pretty strong. I’m sitting here on my stratospherically high horse watching newbs squint at Posie Parker, and I’m like “Guys. Too easy.” Then this thing comes along and I have no idea.

Christians have been using various groups of people as a rhetorical cudgel in arguments that are entirely interior to Christianity, without saying anything overtly bad about those people, for centuries. On the first day of Spanish colonization, some guy named Esteban (it’s always fucking Esteban) probably pointed at a freshly tuberculized Native American and complained about Spain. Knowing Esteban, he probably also used the locals as a vehicle to complain about the two party system. Jesus, I hate Esteban. Using Jews as an allegory of Biblical lifestyle for a Christian audience, even if the language is laudatory, is still otherizing, conspiratorial, and (as the Zoomers like to say, when they’re not making fun of me for being locked out of my email or bullying Apple into making its UI worse) “unvoicing.”

But even if you’re willing to look past that, there’s no meat on this book’s bones. We get vague Biblical allusions to the blessings of Isaac that don’t go anywhere, and recommendations to… not be selfish, I guess? Even if you’ve been browsing 4-chan or 8-cunt or whatever, wondering “Why are Jews all such happy merchants?” I’m not sure I could recommend Judah: the reed, freedom, and salvation: Common wealth through promise. It’s just too thin on useful information. Yeah, I get that our expectations of how useful a book like this was going to be were in the basement to begin with, and we’re all heaving a sigh of relief that it’s not just a list of protocols of certain elders. But still, part of me was hoping for more research and actionable advice. I don’t know which part of me, but probably the same part that tries double IPAs over and over again thinking “maybe this one will be good.” It’s rare for me to review a book and not recommend it, but I might have to sprinkle some cold water on the white-hot enthusiasm for this particular book. Much like Paul Verhoeven, Femi Davids has unintentionally or otherwise created something indistinguishable from a far-right screed. If you’re curious, it’s only a buck fifty on Kindle.

I got 613 mitzvat, and a sales pitch ain’t one.