As my father would say in answer to a paradoxical question that he had no answer for, “Shit, I don’t know,” or sometimes, “How the hell should I know?”
Or as my teenage friends, Jewish and non-Jewish in Brooklyn would have responded, “Well, fuck ’em then.”
Both bemused questions and belligerent answers reflect the seemingly bottomless well of Jew hatred in what we’d like to view as a rational world. Global cultures of course are never free of bigotry and inter group conflict- religious, ethnic, class, gender, physical appearance, mental capacity; whatever people can come up with to convince themselves that they are superior. Blacks don’t like whites, whites don’t like blacks, neither of them like Koreans, and everybody hates the Jews. When I was younger a Christian colleague told me one day how lucky I was to be Jewish, how he wished he had been born a Jew so he could have been part of the “Jewish soul,” and have experienced our deep mystical connections. ‘How odd,’ I thought, that even though he was being genuinely friendly, he managed to be insulting, stereotyping Jews like we were some sort of ants trapped in amber. Of course this event happened not long after another ‘friend’ tried to shove in front of me in a cafeteria line, snarling “Out of the way Jew boy.”
Sometimes I think that maybe I’m being paranoid, but I’m totally aware that in any random sampling of humanity, most people will be open and accepting. Or will it be just the opposite? Are we as Jews just another group relegated to the bottom of the social structure?
And then again, how do our intra Jewish prejudices fit into the picture- Orthodox and Conservative, religious and secular, yekkes and Litvaks, Lubavitcher and Satmar, Mizrachi and Ashkenazi, etc., etc.?
Israel as a nation state can certainly be criticized for its actions or policies, but when attempts to answer critics are brusquely dismissed as hypocritical attempts to play the anti Semitism card, there is something out of balance there.
When Israel’s openness to gay lifestyles is automatically written off by ‘progressives’ as “pinkwashing,” there is something out of balance there.
When Israel’s acceptance of and successful integration of all kinds of racial and ethnic groups is pointedly ignored while ‘progressive’ morons blithely paint her as ‘an apartheid state,’ there is something out of balance there.
When it is pointed out that many other states with abysmal human rights records are rarely criticized while Israel is singled out, and we are told that Israel should be held to a ‘higher standard,’ there is something out of balance there too.
Try as I might to be open to other views and to acknowledge any real or perceived issues, the singling out of the State of Israel as a pariah state is puzzling to me. The uncritical portrayal of the IDF as nothing more than cruel and vicious killers is puzzling to me. The lack of context in so many representations of Israel and Israelis is puzzling to me.
Which brings me back to the original topic; why the Jews?
The usual answers are tedious: We killed Jesus? A contrived answer.
We control the world’s finances and promote war? Do we really? How come I don’t have a piece of it?
We deserve it? Hah! How exactly is that?
We are ‘intransigent?’ Huh?
And I’m reminded of the response of the old Jewish man (I can’t remember where I heard it–Tevye maybe?) to the anti semitic press. and I paraphrase, “It makes me feel good. Here I sit in poverty and misery, struggling to survive, and I pick up the newspaper and suddenly I’m a rich man, a prince, a mover of worlds. Ah it makes me feel good!”
But it sure is puzzling to me.