The Complicated Faces of Anti-Semitism

I cannot speak for the situation elsewhere, but in the US, I doubt if there is a another definable group that equals or surpasses Jews in their achievements in so many different fields, their support for civil liberties and civil rights, and their philanthropy or general support of charitable causes.

But when Israel enters the equation, those truly admirable qualities are often set aside. Israeli bigotry, atrocities and crimes against humanity are largely ignored, excused or vociferously supported, and Jewish-dominated institutions such as the mainstream media pointedly refrain from publishing or reporting blatant contemporary examples of Israeli misconduct.

This brings to mind a conversation I had a few years ago with a Jewish friend whose parents met in a Nazi concentration camp. We were discussing something historical, and she remarked that Jews had been persecuted by almost everyone throughout their history. Said I (paraphrasing), well, what’s wrong with you? Said she, what’s wrong with us? Sure, I replied, it simply isn’t natural for any people to be so consistently disliked. Look at it in personal terms. If a few people I meet don’t like me, I can easily say the problem is with them. But if virtually everyone I meet hates or despises me, it is pretty hard to escape the conclusion that there is something fundamentally wrong with me, or with how I behave.

The Basis of Anti-Semitism

Now, Jews inveigh often and loudly against Anti-Semitism, which is itself a bit odd, coming from a people whose — well, “Anti-Gentilism” (i.e., everyone else) for lack of a better term — seems embedded in their religion and culture. The Books of Judges and Deuteronomy are awash in bloodshed, with Deuteronomy endorsing the slaughter of people who worshipped a different God. Now, those people were not threatening Jews; they just had chosen a different way to seek answers to the eternal questions of life and death. But to Jews, at least in their core scripture, this sufficed for their extermination, and their livestock and possessions as well. This trait alone would make Jews unwelcome — how many people willingly reside next to their own executioners, simply for the crime of existing?

Then there is the problem of dealing with a people whose religion includes a major holiday — Passover (or Pesach) — based on mass infanticide. True, the side of the Passover coin presented to the world is that of God “passing over” the Jewish homes en route to punish the Egyptians for keeping them in captivity. But the other side of that Passover coin is the punishment itself, the killing on behalf of the Jews of all of the first-born of Egypt: not just of Pharaoh, or of Pharaoh’s priests and ministers and generals, who might reasonably have been held responsible for that captivity, but of the poor peasants and fishermen and even prisoners as well, who had no conceivable role in it at all. Hating people who praise their God for murdering your children is not at all irrational — it would be as if America made the firebombing of Dresden and the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki into national holidays, and added some divine glorification to it as well. Not pretty, to say the least.

The Three Faces of Anti-Semitism

From this derive the three faces of anti-Semitism, two defined by assorted Gentiles and the third by Zionists. The first is essentially the Roman view, highlighted in the Jewish War that ended in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple and the dispersal of the remnants of the population. This did not see Jews as the problem, but rather an armed Jewish state — i.e., how Jews collectively behave in an organized polity. Even while the armies of Titus were battering Jerusalem down, thriving Jewish communities existed in virtually every city of consequence throughout the Empire, including Rome itself.

The second defines Jews as a people and as individuals as disposable for any of a variety of reasons. It predominated in much of Christian Europe for centuries (and parenthetically was almost unknown in the Muslim world), and culminated in the Nazi Holocaust. This would make no distinction between an Israel Shamir and a Yitzhak Shamir, or even me; all could go.

And the last form is the so-called “new” anti-Semitism, defined by assorted Israeli governments and Israel’s advocates overseas as any criticism whatsoever of any Israeli domestic or foreign policy, and thus an “existential threat” to Israel itself. This is now the favored usage of the term by Israeli partisans, intended to protect Israel from criticism or sanctions abroad, and to stifle debate over its actions.

Anti-Semitism Reconsidered

Of these three forms of anti-Semitism, the last is an understandable political ploy for a country that cannot survive open disclosure of its attitudes, internal practices and policies. Being nonsense does not make it ineffective, of course, given the extent of its media support and the money poured into political coffers on its behalf.

The second is neither ridiculous nor nonsense. It is an exercise in criminal idiocy that merits condemnation, whether perpetrated by (e.g.) the Inquisition, the Black Hundreds, or the Nazi SS.

But the first is on the mark, and the pragmatic Romans got this right. Whether the scriptural affinity for bloody-mindedness reflects the Jewish culture or affected it over time is immaterial. Either way, the outcome is an exceptionally nasty people within an armed and independent Jewish state, ranking at least up (or down) there with the Huns and the ancient Assyrians.

The oddity is that as individuals without an organized Jewish state, what one sees is admirable achievements instead of aggressive abominations. Without a Jewish state, the dark side of Judaism has no way to express itself, so the admirable side of the Jewish cultural coin — and there is a great deal to admire — shines instead. Getting there without a catastrophe is our task in the years ahead.

Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D., University of Michigan) is a writer and consultant specializing in national and international security affairs. In December 1988, he received the Superior Civilian Service Award after more than five years of service at the U.S. Army War College as Director of Studies, Strategic Studies Institute, and holder of the General of the Army Douglas MacArthur Chair of Research. He can be reached at: docbrosk@comcast.net. Read other articles by Alan.

9 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. NatanPress said on March 23rd, 2010 at 11:49am #

    Is there something inherently wrong with African people that they get mistreated everywhere they go? Or that states run by Africans practice horrible acts of destruction on humanity?

    Is it strange or unfair for Africans to claim that they are constantly prosecuted?

    Maybe the history of Jewish (and African) persecution has more to down with the history of mankind attacking what they see as an other. Maybe Israel does not act particularly unlike any other state.

    Accusing Israel of acting different than others is ridiculous. Is what Israel is doing wrong? Yes. Is what Israel is doing wrong because its Jewish?

    Please read real antisemitism. You know, the kind you gloss over as the older stuff. It’s not that old. It’s easy to find. Read Mein Kampf. Read various eurpoean treatises on “the Jewish Question.” Read contemporary American literature, like that by David Duke, if you don’t believe that what you yourself say is antisemitic.

    Try to distinguish what you say from them. That would be honest thought.

  2. Rehmat said on March 23rd, 2010 at 2:32pm #

    Anti-Semitism lost its true meanings long time ago. It’s not equated with hatred towards the followers of Talmud anymore – but the criticism of Israel and Zionism. Furthermore, historically, the great majority of the present-day 12.7 million Jews are not the offsprings of the 12-sons of Jacob (Israel) but Asiatic Khazarians.

    Anti-Semitism is a whip used by the Zionist Jews and Christians on any individual or organization which dare to expose the Zionazi nature of Israel. Sometime its application becomes a joke. For example:

    British Iraq Inquiry: An ‘old fashioned anti-Semitism’
    http://rehmat1.wordpress.com/2010/01/30/british-iraq-inquiry-an-old-fashioned-anti-semitism/

  3. NatanPress said on March 23rd, 2010 at 2:45pm #

    I agree that the knee jerk reaction to criticism of Israel is often wrong and/or misplaced.

    But the above article is not saying that. The article says that organized Judaism is inherently bad. It say that the constant persecution of the Jews is somehow the fault of the Jews.

    It is the equivalent of saying that those who practice Islam must be bad because it’s in their holy book to be bad. That an organized Islamic state cannot be a good thing. That the reason people bomb Islamic countries is that there’s something inherently wrong with them.

    Also, old antisemitism is not gone. It is very much alive. Many of those who are right in saying that the Israelis accusations of antisemitism are wrong are simply apologizing for their own antisemitism (like the above article).

    There’s a difference between constructive criticism and using constructive arguments to fuel a hate-filled agenda. Again, please read the works of the likes of David Duke. Learn to differentiate yourself. Learn what is the language of hate. Learn the difference between defending Liberal values of life, liberty and property (those things that Israel is taking from the Palestinians), and attacking a people based simply on the fact that they are a people that is not you, and that does not want to be you.

  4. Deadbeat said on March 23rd, 2010 at 3:47pm #

    NatanPress writes …

    Is there something inherently wrong with African people that they get mistreated everywhere they go? Or that states run by Africans practice horrible acts of destruction on humanity?

    Please spear us the victimization crap. About 75% of Jewish families in the US. South according to the 1830 census owned African slaves.

  5. M Richards said on March 25th, 2010 at 4:14pm #

    @NatanPress, “But the above article is not saying that. The article says that organized Judaism is inherently bad. It say that the constant persecution of the Jews is somehow the fault of the Jews. [...] It is the equivalent of saying that those who practice Islam must be bad because it’s in their holy book to be bad. That an organized Islamic state cannot be a good thing. That the reason people bomb Islamic countries is that there’s something inherently wrong with them.”

    umm, no-ooooo, that is NOT what the article is saying; it recognizes quite the opposite of your conclusion, i.e. that there is NOT an equivalence. The point made is that Judaism claims that its tribe and people AND no others are Judaism as ein Ur-volk AND that Zionism inflates that quantum. Islam certainly does NOT contain that paradigm; it contains other paradigms that are *as* pernicious, as does Christianity (since this pertains to the Abrahamic triad), but not THAT paradigm.

    Re-read the assignment. The main subject of the article is that there is a common denominator; that there is a repeating set of independent variables yielding a common result.

  6. Deadbeat said on April 11th, 2010 at 9:36pm #

    And the reason for Zionism tremendous influence on the U.S. political economy is the misuse of “anti-Semitism”.

  7. jon s said on April 12th, 2010 at 4:03am #

    Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day. Take a moment to honor the survivors and the memory of the victims and to also contemplate the recent upsurge in violent Anti- Semitic incidents. (According to a study published yesterday a 100% [!] increase in the last year).

  8. bozh said on April 12th, 2010 at 7:17am #

    Let us also remember poles, yugoslavs, romas, soviets, iraqis, pashtuns, indigenes, et al, who were slaughtered by asocialists.
    And why not remember all dead in the thousand wars asocialists have waged since ca 8k y’rs? tnx

  9. Maien said on April 12th, 2010 at 8:59am #

    Thanks for the suggestion jon s. I made a point of searching out a number of articles/history so that I could better understand what events and decisions led up to THE holocaust and who was making the decisions. I have now re-read information about the events/leaders in Russia, Europe and of course specifically Germany. I have learned more about the leaders in the US who were involved with the Rothschild family.

    And I wonder …again… that if there is a recent surge in anti-semitic acts… why won’t the self-labelled ‘semites’ who are being attacked, look at what they themselves are doing to create such distaste, from those ‘anti-semites’.