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September 20, 2012 - Image 54

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2012-09-20

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

points of view

Commentary

The Source of Anti-Semitism

A

nti-Semitism is practically
as old as Jewish history.
Over thousands of years,
our ancestors suffered blood libels,
inquisitions, expulsions and pogroms,
all leading up to the Holocaust, the
ultimate tragedy in our history of per-
secution. And still today, the Jewish
people continue to suffer from ter-
ror attacks around the world, vicious
threats of annihilation by evil dicta-
tors, and anti-Semitic acts and intimi-
dation in the U.S.
That we are hated indiscriminately
is a fact that is part of our collec-
tive memory, and, being Jewish, it's
something we take for granted. To
us, it seems that the basis for anti-
Semitism is totally unfounded. Indeed,
British statesman Lloyd George wrote,
"Of all the extreme fanaticism which
plays havoc on man's nature, there
is not one as irrational as anti-Sem-
itism." Yet those who examine these
atrocities in our history may begin to
wonder if perhaps there is something
wrong with the Jews. How else can
we explain how one nation could be so
hated throughout history by so many
people?
Historians suggest various paradox-
ical theories to explain anti-Semitic
sentiments: Jews are an inferior race,
but are also hated for dominating the
world; they are hated for persistently
separating themselves from others,
but also for contaminating a pure race
by intermarriages; they are hated for
being ardent capitalists, but also for
being passionate communists. We are
hated for being a parasite on other
nations' soil, but also for having our

own land. No, it seems that there is
something much deeper hiding at the
foundation of anti-Semitism.

Thoughtful

Insight

Judaism has its own way of explain-
ing this irrational hatred toward Jews.
The Talmud asks: Why is the moun-
tain where Israel received the Torah
called "Sinai"? The Talmud answers:
Because this was the time when
hatred (Hebrew: sina) toward the
Jews began.
But why would receiving the Torah,
the definitive event in
Jewish history and the
world's most important eth-
ical document, warrant such
hatred from others? The
Rev. Edward H. Flannery
stated, "It was Judaism
that brought the concept of
a God-given universal moral
law into the world ... The
Jew carries the burden of
God in history [and] for this
has never been forgiven."
The Jewish people repre-
sented the conscience and morality
from which other nations wanted to
be free.
Anne Frank came to a similar con-
clusion. On April 11, 1944, she wrote in
her diary: "Who knows, it might even
be our religion from which the world
and all peoples learn good, and for
that reason and that reason alone do
we now suffer. We can never become
just Netherlanders, or just English, or
representatives of any other country
for that matter. We will always remain
Jews."

Greenberg's View

THE MAN WHO( STILL) ISN'T THERE

AgeoraWeri... steve@greenberg-artcom

54

September 20 • 2012

Hitler recognized Judaism's depen-
dence on a strong moral code. He
viewed the ethics that were derived
from the Torah as something that
mankind needs to be liberated from:
"The Ten Commandments have lost
their validity. Conscience is a Jewish
invention, it is a blemish, like circum-
cision."

Historic Backdrop

Over the course of time, anti-Sem-
itism took on different forms that
sometimes intertwined: The ancient
and false anti-Semitic belief
that the Jews killed Jesus,
modern anti-Semitism
(Jewish economic control
and racial impurity), and
now the newest form of
anti-Semitism, hatred that
is disguised in anti-Israel/
anti-Zionist sentiment and
acts.
Today, Muslim clerics
publicly extol the murder
of Jews, and Palestinian
textbooks teach that Jews
are "apes and pigs." And Egyptian
television programs claim that Jews
use the blood of Arab children to bake
matzah for Passover.
Unfortunately, we truly are our
own worst enemies. How else can we
explain Jews who feel so negatively
about Israel that they publicly com-
pare it to Nazi Germany? How do
we comprehend Jews who not only
incite hatred against Israel and the
Jewish people who live there, but also
cheapen the tragedy of the Holocaust
and disrespect the millions who were
murdered?
In an interview with Haaretz, Avrum
Burg, a former Knesset member
(who will speak at this year's Jewish
Book Fair at the Jewish Community
Center of Metroplitan Detroit) sug-
gested amending the Law of Return,
which allows any Jew to become an
immediate citizen of Israel. He stated
that "to define the State of Israel as
a Jewish state is the key to its end.
A Jewish state is explosive. It's dyna-
mite." Says Burg, "The Law of Return
is the mirror image of Hitler. I don't
want Hitler to define my identity."
Burg also published an article in
which he wrote, "Israel, having ceased
to care about the children of the
Palestinians, should not be surprised
when [Palestinians] come washed in
hatred and blow themselves up in the
centers of Israeli escapism."

Throughout our history, Jews have
used their physical connection to
Judaism to give them the credibility
to speak out against the religion and
the Jewish people. This is why the
United Nations used Judge Richard
Goldstone, a South African Jew, to
accuse Israel of war crimes; it is
why Norman Finkelstein, a child of
Holocaust survivors, is repeatedly
invited by pro-Palestinian groups to
rile up negative sentiment about the
State of Israel; and it is why the New
York Times invited Avrum Burg to
bash Israel in the newspaper's op-ed
section. Finding a Jew to speak ill of
Israel gives more credibility to the
negative sentiment than having a non-
Jew do so.

Moral Probing

Kenneth Levin, a psychiatrist at
Harvard University, claims there are
two reasons for Jewish self-hatred.
One is a type of Stockholm syndrome,
in which "population segments under
chronic siege commonly embrace the
indictments of their besiegers howev-
er bigoted and outrageous." The sec-
ond reason is that Jews may blame
themselves for their predicament —
i.e., "everyone hates us so we must be
doing something wrong" (the battered
person syndrome). We believe that we
can become "good" and mollify those
who hate us and end our torment. For
example, if we just give up more land,
or if we just take down the fence, or
if we just give up on those annoyingly
high morals of ours, then we will have
peace.
It is our duty to stand strong
against those who delegitimize Israel.
We must recognize that they all
come from the same initial source of
anti-Semitism, whether they blame
Jews for crucifying Jesus, wrote The
Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or
view Israel as an apartheid and occu-
pier state. The conflict today reaches
far deeper than the land under dis-
pute. In order to understand the pres-
ent feelings against Jews, we must
first understand the past.
It is our responsibility to safeguard
the torch of Judaism our ancestors
kept alive under the worst circum-
stances and pass it on to the genera-
tions that will come. That is the key
to our survival. E

Kobi Erez is executive director of the

Bloomfield Township-based Zionist

Organization of America-Michigan Region.

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