Jewish Self Hatred for Dummies


This is the first in a series of articles by David Solway. David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, has just been released by Mantua Books. This article was originally published in Frontpage Magazine on February 18, 2009.

…the heirs
of Hasmoneans lay with trembling knees
concealed and cowering—the sons of the Maccabees
…crammed by scores in all the santuaries of their shame.

Chaim Nachman Bialik, The City of Slaughter

As what Israelis call the matzav, the “situation,” continues to darken and both Jews in general and Israelis in particular confront the growing storm of antisemitism throughout the world, the question must be posed: Why are Jews—not all, of course, but a truly disconcerting number—so prone to turn against themselves and make common cause with those who, given the chance, would delight in their extermination? Why suppress the core of their identity, their defining essence, and encrust it over with a self-simulacrum that falsifies their nature? As if one could indemnify oneself against oneself. As if, to quote Horace Kallen, one could change one’s grandfather.

Are they not cowering in “the sanctuaries of their shame” while at the same time strutting at the podium of their adversaries? Have they interiorized the antisemite’s evaluation of their presumed unworthiness? Is this the real meaning of “assimilation,” the absorption into the plasm of Jewish cultural and intellectual life of a microbial pathogen? Most such Jews, of course, profess not to be anti-Jewish but “only” anti-Zionist, unaware that so facile a distinction puts them squarely in the camp of those who are anti-Jewish and would like nothing better than to see the Jewish community either deprivileged or rendered desolate.

These are Jews who have used whatever means at their disposal to attack the very country that was founded to provide them with shelter in adversity, believing instead that Israel is the greatest obstacle to their dream of seamless assimilation. It is Israel, they feel, that stands in the way of their desire for acceptance by provoking the world’s undiluted animosity, and it is Israel, therefore, that must be resisted, denounced, contained and defeated. The sequel would then presumably lead to harmony and perfect integration into their host societies. Mired in illusion, they are unaware that History is not on their side.

Let us call these perjurious specimens Theobald-Jews. According to the Benedictine monk Thomas of Monmouth in his The Life and Miracles of St. William of Norwich (1173), it was an apostate Jew, a certain Theobald, who, swore that Jews had killed twelve-year old William, a tanner’s apprentice, to fulfill their “Passover blood ritual” in the fateful year of 1144—the first recorded such episode in a long line of murderous defamations.

As a matter of interest, the paradigm of ritual-murder accusation goes back at least to 40 B.C.E. when, as we read in the Contra Apion of Flavius Josephus, the antisemitic grammarian Apion accused the Jews of Alexandria of slaughtering a Greek man, “lying upon a bed in the temple,” for the purposes of ritual cannibalism. “How is it possible,” Josephus asks, “that the entrails of one man should be sufficient for so many thousands of Jews to taste, as Apion pretends?” But antisemitic logic has never been especially profound or intelligible. “It is a great shame,” Josephus concludes, “for a grammarian not to be able to write a true history.” But the shame is shared by many.

The blood libel as such, however, seems to be a medieval Christian invention, fostered with the help of those who were, or were once, part of the Jewish community itself. Apostate Jews were at the source of many of the blood libels in the medieval period and, mutatis mutandis, they are still with us today. Witness Italian-Jewish historian Ariel Toaff who, in Bloody Passover: The Jews of Europe and Ritual Murders, speculates that there might have been some truth to the accusations that the Italian Jews of Trent committed acts of human butchery in 1475 in order to make their passover matzot with the blood of Christian children.

In effectively offering their own up to sacrifice, this lurid sept of anti-Zionist Jews are only participating in the latest form the ancient blood libel has taken. We see this metaphorical transfer at work today in Gaza where, from the grotesque standpoint of the Theobald-Jew, Israel is indiscriminately shedding blood to feed its appetite for conquest and spoliation. Indeed, aligning his sense of canting outrage with the greater anti-Zionist polemic, “Theobald” has convinced himself that Israel, as it were, bakes Palestinian blood into its daily diet.

If we were only dealing with a mere scattering of Jews who have adopted so invidious a position, the situation would be manageable. But the world is brimming with Theobald-Jews ready to betray their own people to serve what they regard as their advantage, or the need for acceptance, or as an expression of their own self-loathing, and in the process cater to the ammoniac hatred of the current brood of crypto-antisemites posing as anti-Zionists. “These words—observe, the words of a converted Jew—we reckon to be all the truer,” wrote Thomas of Monmouth, “in that we received them as uttered by one who was a converted enemy.”

In today’s world, of course, conversion is no longer necessary; compliance will do. The value of the turncoat is well understood by the anti-Israel organizations which co-opt him or her. A timely example has just been afforded by the pro-boycott, anti-Zionist University and College Union in the U.K., which has created a Facebook page in order to build, according to its spokesman Mike Cushman, an international network of “anti-Zionist Jews to support Palestinian resistance and seed new Jewish anti-Zionist organizing.” The apostate Jew, the apikoros or “wicked son,” who confers legitimacy on the vengeful campaign against Jewish interests or the state of Israel, is the antisemite’s most effective weapon. Even the word “antisemitism” was coined by an apostate, the half-Jew William Marr whose 1879 pamphlet, The Victory of Judaism over Germanism, launched the modern antisemitic movement in the West.

An act of psychic displacement has taken hold in the Jewish soul, variously leading it to shrink in self-abasement, to retire into the shell of subdued anonymity, to do everything in its power not to call attention to itself, to suffer indignities quietly, to suspect its own motivations and to accept the scriptures of a demonic inquisition. The culmination of these prodigies of self-denial is the well-attested tendency of the insecure and self-doubting Jewish soul to turn about and attack itself, like an immune system gone awry.

Millennia of social and cultural quarantine must have their effect on the sensibility of a people, producing a creature who is always in danger of becoming reflexively disenchanted or of contracting that wasting disease which Ruth Wisse in Jews and Power has called “the veneration of political weakness.” Only the strong survive themselves. One thinks of that memorable scene in novelist Paul Scott’s Raj series, in which a scorpion, trapped in a ring of fire, coils up with the heat and appears to sting itself with its own lethal tail. Analogously, surrounded by the flames of enmity, misprision and commination, the self-reviling Jew shrivels back upon himself, the autonomic convulsion of an ailing and enervated soul.

But he goes even further, anticipating his own demise by self-administering the piqûre de grâce, doing the work of his tormentors as if in agreement with their salvos of defilement and vilification. He may even delude himself into believing that the high conception of justice inherent in the Jewish faith requires him to decry the Zionist enterprise which is its flickering and terrestrial embodiment, if not to renounce that very faith itself. By a bizarre act of metaphysical commutation, the self-despising Jew becomes the antisemite’s loyal deputy, assuming liability for the world’s mortal caricature of him and willing his own eclipse.

It’s a kind of solution, after all.

26 comments on “Jewish Self Hatred for Dummies

  1. Excellent article.

    Actually, I date this problem back further – there is good reason to belief that Torquemada was descended from a Jewish family.

  2. there is good reason to belief that Torquemada was descended from a Jewish family.

    I have seen suggestions in the past that Hitler had Jewish ancestry.

  3. This self hatred,has been going on for quite a while,especially by Israeli’s themselves .Israel ignored it for too long.And now it’s biting us in the bum.

    We need to clamp on it,Israeli’s who help foreigners and palestinians to riot in Beilin,professors in Israeli unis who teach hatred of Israel.Israeli students who are on a tour overseas telling everyone how rotten Israel is.And list goes on and on.

    Revoke their citizenship.And don’t allow them back into Israel.

    Perhaps we could learn from the Muslims,how to deal with these people.
    You don’t hear too many Muslims running Islam down.

  4. Revoke their citizenship.And don’t allow them back into Israel.

    Sounds great but we are not like the surrounding states. Or any Muslim states where apostates can fear for their lives.

    Apart from the fact that they may not have dual citizenship.

    The UK can revoke someones citizenship if their actions can be proved to be against the interests of the UK. Something like that. But the assumption is the the person is living in another country and acting against the interests of the UK in a somewhat military sense.

    Not by talking and criticizing.

  5. I date this problem back further …. Torquemada

    Much further than that – back to 389 C.E. (first edicts) or even to 80 C.E. (first New Testament scriptures).

    The American priest James Carroll, in his excellent book, Constantine’s Sword has pointed out that the Holocaust was the logical culmination of 16 to 19 centuries of virulent Jew-hatred originating in the New Testament. The New Testament was, for the most part, written by Jewish Christians bitter at Judaism’s rejection of their new religion. (Muhammad and Luther also followed the same pattern.)

    In our own day, for example, Enderlin’s fabricated al-Dura episode fed anti-Semitic violence in France. The blood of Ilan Halimi may be on Enderlin’s hands.

    So, self-haters have done more than just slight harm – they have done incalculable harm.

  6. The Guardian will only publish Jewish writers if they lambaste Israel and ridicule anyone and anything Jewish. The Guardian is really odious.

  7. Let’s not forget the many successful Jewish comedians in the past, notably Woody Allen and Jerry Seinfeld who prefer assimilation and whose wit is very negative and unkind towards their fellow Jews.

    Self-mocking Jewish humour has always been a subtle way of turning our enemies’ weapons back against them. Jewish self-hatred is a subtle way of surrendering and turning our enemies’ weapons against ourselves.

    It’s hard to be a Jew, either in exile among the goyim, or in Israel among the Jews. Otto Weininger must have known Jewish self-hatred intimately; he even anticipated by about 70 years the melody “Suicide is Painless”…

  8. Fairplay – Jerry Seinfeld visited Israel a short while ago if I am not mistaken. He may ‘do’ self mocking as a Jew but I don’t know about self hatred.

    Woody Allen is something else and there are quite a few others who appear to have wished that they had not been born Jewish. That is their privilege.

    I take issue only with those who make a career about it.

    JubelFoster The Guardian is really odious.

    It certainly is.

  9. When someone says he’s proud to be a Catholic, I know he’s a Catholic.
    When someone says he proud to be a Muslim, I know he’s a Muslim.
    When somebody says he’s above all a secular humanist and universalist espousing all humanitarian and nationial causes ( except that of Israel and the Jewish people), I know he’s a self-hating Jew. The Guardian is full of such people.

    To recap – it ain’t easy being a Jew, or being proud to be a Jew, but ( as they used to say in Israel ) they never promised us a rose-garden.

    Seiny may have visited Israel to plug his material, and he may have married a nice Jewish girl, but the fact remains his humour, like that of Hollywood or TV shows generally, assumes that Jewish culture is square and assimilation is cool.

  10. This is an excellent article, David.

    “…These are Jews who have used whatever means at their disposal to attack the very country that was founded to provide them with shelter in adversity, believing instead that Israel is the greatest obstacle to their dream of seamless assimilation. It is Israel, they feel, that stands in the way of their desire for acceptance by provoking the world’s undiluted animosity, and it is Israel, therefore, that must be resisted, denounced, contained and defeated. The sequel would then presumably lead to harmony and perfect integration into their host societies. Mired in illusion, they are unaware that History is not on their side…”

    I would have said “delusion” rather than “illusion” above.

    I very much agree with you that the distinction between a Jew being “anti-Zionist” and his/her being anti-Jewish is a false one. Since the Arab world makes no distinction between its hatred of Israel and its hatred of Jews, and large numbers in the wider world are afflicted with the same inability to separate out the two, then it’s more than a 99% probability that what you say is true.

  11. truthwelltold, you may have a point about how Israel should treat those who, in effect and in actuality, act against her alongside her enemies, but my guess is that the Israeli governments have been reluctant to confront that or do anything about it because these people are nevertheless Jews.

    Israel, having been born from the ashes of the Holocaust, takes very seriously the “never again” to the extent that it is blinded to the ways in which these people compromise its safety at home and good name abroad.

    It is only just beginning to learn how to confront Islamist terror from its neighbours – in effect by approaching and acting against it in the way that its enemies might (albeit with obvious distinctions such as trying its utmost to spare civilians). I hope that before too long it will deal with the vipers in its bosom as would any other civilised country with its traitors.

  12. “Theobald-Jews” is an excellent term, David, although I suspect that those it describes would need a history lesson as well as a sharp kick up the rear to recognise its relevance to them.

    One of whom, of course, is the execrable Seth Freedman who was so quick to jump on board the Afton Bladet blood libel against the IDF.

    Now we see that the author of the original article has denied that he wrote that the IDF had killed Palestinians to get their organs, but I doubt that we will hear anything about that from Freedman.

  13. For a change, let’s hear about Jewish self-love and the love of one’s fellow Jews! – If only to counteract Jewish self-hate.

    In my humble experience, it’s quite easy to love Israel – the country, or Am Yisrael – the people, in theory – but much harder in practice. Why are many of us so cold and uncharitable towards our fellow Jews?

    Could it be just another manifestation of Jewish self-hate?

  14. Foreplay

    “Why are many of us so cold and uncharitable towards our fellow Jews?”

    You could be correct. Perhaps, it’s a sub-concious form of self-loathing. How many Jews have you ever met (if any) that are mortified at the thought of “looking Jewish”?

  15. Thanks for the reply, SM. You wouldn’t find too many Italians afraid of looking too Italian. But isn’t this from a Jackie Mason shtik?

    Conversely, I’ve met a few that weren’t ashamed to say they didn’t look ‘Jewish’. Of course there is ‘looking Jewish’, and then there is looking ‘like eine ganze kehille…’

    Antisemitism has become so internalized that Jewish self-pride daren’t express itself too openly, or else it corrodes itself through overcompensation.

  16. To clarify things a bit – since Sticky Mickey seems, ironically enough, to be an outsider and the only respondent – it is very common to find Jews who proudly claim, without blushing, not to ‘look Jewish’.

  17. Fairplay

    “Seiny […] assumes that Jewish culture is square and assimilation is cool.”

    What is wrong with assimilation if you aren’t religious (or even if you are)?

  18. Nothing at all, George. Jews are marrying out in droves and soon, the grandchildren won’t know where they came from.

    People like me whose parents lived through WW2 have good reasons not to give Hitler a posthumous victory ( by us not having Jewish grandchildren ).

  19. If I may at this late date.

    George,
    One does not have to be religious to ascribe to one’s roots and culture.
    Funny how some people in their angst to not associate with the religious aspect part with their traditional culinary delights, for example.
    Many of those assimilating throw out that with which they were brought into this world.

  20. it is very common to find Jews who proudly claim, without blushing, not to ‘look Jewish’.

    Can Catholics claim to not look catholic? Tell me how a relgion can affect somebodys looks?

  21. Mr. Solway:

    A very well-written and thought-provoking article indeed. Many thanks for writing it.

    I think you may draw an incorrect connection when you describe anti-Zionist Jews as participating in their own doom and “willing their own eclipse”. I have known a good many Jews who did not draw the connection between Zionism and themselves. They honestly believed that, were the State of Israel to disappear tomorrow, they would not be affected in the least.

    (They are also the sort of people, in America at any rate, to think that the American military is unnecessary; were it to disappear, their lives would continue unchanged.)

    Israel represents a great many things to many, many people. Israel is a state founded in agriculture that has made the change, successfully, to high technology. Israel is a country that made the transition from almost-socialism to vibrant capitalism, and is a success story for such transitions. Israel is an environmental miracle, which drained swamps, made deserts bloom, and is just about the only country that had more trees at the end of the 20th century than at the beginning. Israel is a country that revived its own ancient language, and gave an ancient people new life on the modern stage. Israel is a living example of what the Jews can make of themselves, with a space to call their own.

    But Israel is also an insurance policy. For Jews who feel the cold breath of antisemitism down their necks, Israel is the place guaranteed to let them in. And many people don’t value insurance policies until the day when they desperately need them.

    Many Jews don’t see this; many Jews don’t want to see this. Perhaps they simply don’t want to believe that such a national insurance policy is necessary, or could ever apply to them. Or perhaps they are seduced by the lies of the evil Israel stands accused of — always dwarfed by the evils Israel’s enemies are known to perpetrate — and blinded to the tremendous good that Israel does in the world.

    Emil Fackenheim once wrote something on this subject which haunts me:

    “For Christians, the first priority may be theological self-understanding. For Jews it is, and after Auschwitz must be, simple safety for their children. In pursuit of this goal, Jews seek — are morally required to seek — independence of other people’s charity. They therefore seek safety — are morally required to seek it — through the existence of a Jewish state. Except among the theologically or humanly perverse, Zionism — the commitment to the safety and genuine sovereignty of the State of Israel — is not negotiable.”
    –Emil Fackenheim, “To Mend The World”

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  22. @Fairplay

    “Nothing at all, George. Jews are marrying out in droves and soon, the grandchildren won’t know where they came from.”

    People are becoming more interested in their roots – witness the proliferation of TV programmes and of genealogy research sites on the net. The more diverse your ancestors, the more interesting it is!

    “People like me whose parents lived through WW2 have good reasons not to give Hitler a posthumous victory ( by us not having Jewish grandchildren ).”

    I understand your point about posthumous victory, although I doubt he would have seen it that way – rather the reverse, since you would twice as many half-Jewish grandchildren.

    I suppose the reason for my original question is that I detect a touch of hysteria in calling people “Theobald-Jews”. Is it not possible to be an anti-Zionist Jew without being insulted by pro-Zionist Jews?

  23. Mr. Porter:

    I suppose the reason for my original question is that I detect a touch of hysteria in calling people “Theobald-Jews”. Is it not possible to be an anti-Zionist Jew without being insulted by pro-Zionist Jews?

    Is it possible to BE an anti-Zionist Jew? Of course. Is it possible to be a reasonable, rational one? Maybe we should look at that a bit more carefully.

    The problem here is that Zionism is the national movement of the Jewish people. Zionists are those committed to keeping the State of Israel alive and well, who want to see it constantly improving. Anti-Zionists, as near as I can tell, are almost universally those people who think Israel has no business existing in the first place. (Some of them speak calmly; others froth at the mouth on a regular basis.)

    Perhaps there should be another term, for people who are indifferent to Zionism — people who don’t particularly care if Israel prospers or withers, one way or the other. But they’re not the people I’m talking about.

    Anti-Zionism, as I’ve defined it, therefore means that you’re unwilling to give Jews the right to their own state, a right just about every other major religion on Earth has. (Anti-Zionists hardly ever complain about the others, although some claim that they have nothing against Israel, they just hate the idea of a country with a state religion of any sort. But they reserve their venom for Israel, and leave e.g. Saudi Arabia alone.) And denying Jews the rights you acknowledge others can have — well, that’s not anti-Israel; that’s antisemitic, pure and simple. And if it’s a Jew espousing antisemitism, then we have something special here, don’t we?

    Let me add: if you want to protest the policies of the Israeli government, be my guest. (Just about every Israeli does that, sooner or later, most emphatically including members of parliament.) But there’s a big difference between saying that Israel did something wrong and must fix it (as her loyal critics often say), vs. saying that Israel should not exist at all (as Hamas, Fatah, Hezballah, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, and many others frequently say).

    Let me also add: if you are a frequent critic of Israeli policies, and your reason for this is that you want Israel to correct her mistakes and not make them again, that’s not anti-Zionist. That’s Zionist.

    respectfully,
    Daniel in Brookline

  24. Pingback: Augean Stables » Not “Self-”Hating Jews, but Jewish Scourges of Jews

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