A self-perpetuating hatred

On March 4, Dutch TV Channel 2 provided a good case study of Judeophobia, in a program where six teenagers declared smilingly and assertively, that they are satisfied with the Holocaust and regret Hitler didn’t murder all the Jews.

The six-minute interview reveals once more how, in contrast with other group hatreds, Judeophobia doesn’t need the visibility of its target. You cannot be a misogynist where there are no women, nor be a racist in a racially homogeneous society, nor be a xenophobe if there are no foreigners around. By contrast, in order to become a Judeophobe one doesn’t require the presence of Jews. Their absence can even be helpful to strengthen the stereotype.

The youths declare in the program that Jews are evil and that you don’t need to know any one of them to understand it. They admittedly don’t know any Jews; they hadn’t even heard of Anne Frank, except for one boy who claimed she was not murdered but died of typhus.

Their hatred is against a stereotype of the Jew installed in their minds by centuries of demonization. Therefore the hater will not only avoid a confrontation with reality, he might violently reject the voice of reality should it try to refute him. The boys on Dutch TV have no problem betting 50 Euros that they’ll never change their mind about the Jews. Their hatred is not based upon reason but upon wish.

Judeophobes usually don’t even pretend to be rational. That is why they vilify by wielding contradictory arguments at one and the same time: they accuse the Jews of being simultaneously bankers and Bolsheviks, avaricious and spendthrifts, ghettoized and with their nose stuck everywhere. An episode with a medical doctor during the Dreyfus affair offers an eloquent example. Chatting with friends, he had the audacity to say about the accused: “I would like to torture him.” His sadistic declaration, far from shocking his interlocutors, motivated one of the ladies who heard it to parsimoniously exclaim: “And I would like him to be innocent, so he will suffer even more.”

Another lesson that can be learned from the program is that while all hatred against a particular group stems ultimately from an incorrect interpretation of reality, Judeophobia stands out in that it is based from the outset on a chimerical inference.

When the French loathe the immigrants from Algiers because they commit crimes, or when Germans reject the Turks because they take away their jobs, they start with a grim reality: unemployment and crime. Even when interpreted erroneously, group prejudice has some corollary event as a point of reference.

Judeophobia has no relation with the contemporary world. It relies on fictions nurtured by other fictions. It is not concerned with distorting reality but with spreading a mythological falsehood. And it leaves its main arguments unanswerable. It is hard to respond with rational arguments that Jews don’t drink Christian children’s blood, control the world, fabricate Holocausts, or promote wars and slavery – in short that Jews are not intrinsically evil.

The Dutch program is very disturbing also because the youths interviewed are sure that Judeophobia is the norm. They claim that “nobody in our school likes Jews,” and that “Jew” is unquestionably a curse word. However, the most disturbing sentence of the whole interview was not uttered by the foul-mouthed teenagers but by the well meaning and shocked interviewer, Mehmet Sahin, a PhD student researcher at Vrije Universiteit. His naïve intervention points out to the uniqueness of Judeophobia.

Sahnin is visibly exasperated by the celebration of hatred, but he fails to unveil the hatred’s masquerade. Searching on and on for some reason the interviewed might have to hate all the Jews, he finally gets one: “Because they will try to steal somebody’s country like in Gaza. They kill a lot of people.” That is why they hate the Jews. Obviously, this is nothing but a rationalization used to disguise plain bigotry. But the interviewer legitimizes it when he retorts: “There are many, many Jews who disagree with Israel’s policy.”

With this he touched the nerve of Judeophobia. The audience can conclude that Jews who do agree with Israel’s policies do deserve extermination, and that the “mistake” of these youths was to generalize the punishment to the “many, many” other Jews. The interviewer doesn’t understand that these youths, as with most European “critics” of Israel, couldn’t care less about the wellbeing of the Palestinians (or probably of any other nation) and that their statement is a blatant mask for their Judeophobia.

Our problem is that is one is too tempted to show the obvious: that the Palestinians are not massacred; that the alleged monstrosity of Israel policies is nothing more than the endeavor of a small democracy defending itself; that the threats of the viciously murdering regimes that surround Israel are real, and so on. But this type of argumentation is doomed to fail because it allows the aggressor to “debate” his hatred as if it were a reasonable standpoint. To fall into the trap of the wrong agenda leaves the real problem unaddressed.

A similar risk appears in the international political arena. Israelis or pro-Israel people abroad tend to play down the questionings on the Israeli settlements, but fail to explain that their reluctance doesn’t imply that Israel is not ready to compromise for peace. It means that we reject a wrong diagnosis for the causes of war. The war against Israel predates the settlements and has nothing to do with them. It is the result of a wanton, totalitarian effort to destroy the Jewish State which uses the so-called occupation as a masquerade. To start talking about Israel’s policies avoids peace, because the Jewish state is not attacked for either its policies or size, but rather for its existence.

Some well-meaning people think that the best way to counteract Judeophobia is to extol the victims –how important is the contribution of the Jews to civilization. This approach misses the point because nobody deserves Auschwitz, whatever was his contribution to civilization.

A second mistaken group gets involved in debating the excuses under which the Judeophobes disguise their hatred. Thus, the Jew accepts the role of always defending himself: we don’t control the world, we don’t eat children, we don’t oppress Arabs, we don’t fabricate Holocausts and we are not guilty of deicide. This never-ending and sterile debate, far from restraining Judeophobia, encourages it. The only educational way to prevent Judeophobia is to make clear that it is evil. To show teenagers like those in the interview that their hypocrisy and genocidal tendencies are a danger for a civilized society and not, as they claim, an expression of freedom of speech.

Considering that the appalling TV program aroused almost no complaints from the audience or from anyone else, it appears our chances of success are slim.

About the Author
Gustavo D Perednik has lectured at universities in fifty countries and penned a dozen books, among them Judeophobia (2001) and To Kill Without a Trace (2009) about Prosecutor Alberto Nisman and Iranian terror in Latin America