Hating the Label ‘Self-Hating Jews’

While I think that policies promoted by Israel’s leftist parties and their supporters in the diaspora would mean the demise of the Jews in Israel, it is not right to label these people as self-hating Jews.

I see the left as a herd of lemmings headed out to a cliff, unaware of the perils involved in playing Follow the Leader. In this case, the ‘Leader’ is the anachronistic and seemingly uncritically accepted belief that what was right for democratic societies struggling with racism and discrimination in another place and/or another time is right for Israel in the current context of our national development.

I see the left today as misguided and naïve. Interestingly, the left is commonly comprised of members of the intelligentsia – university professors and the like – who have made careers of being able to apply analytic skills to a variety of academic domains. For some reason, however, that capability for critical analysis is apparently set aside when faced with the question of the Israel-Palestine conflict.
Yet that does not mean that they are self-hating Jews. I believe that those who say we should talk with Hamas, those who say we should dismantle all West Bank Jewish settlements, etc. are sincere in their belief that this would bring peace for Jews and Palestinians and security for Jews. I think they are wrong. But I accept it as a truism that they believe that that is the best option for Jews and for Israel. And I see them as concerned Jews who love the Jewish people and love the Zionist dream for Israel. I believe that their anguish and anger regarding the direction Israel is now going is a deep feeling of grief for the death of the dream they held in their hearts for two states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace side by side. To them we seem to be perilously close to the point at which resuscitation of the dream will no longer be possible.

At the same time, the unfortunate label, self-hating Jews, only curtails what might otherwise be fruitful ideological examination and debate as these so-called self-hating Jews are left no option other than to defend themselves against such a horrid term that may, in fact, be a kind of character assassination. We most emphatically need the ongoing re-examination that is triggered by very different points of view offered up by all those lying at all points on the political spectrum. We need the far left to keep us honest and we need the far right to keep us from forgetting to take care of ourselves.

It equally behooves the left to examine their own use of labels (I’ll attend to the right in a separate post) and to be sure to verify whether or not it is justified, because they find their own voice getting weaker, to claim that Israel is becoming fascist. Is that really a sign of fascism or of some other dynamic? Equally, they need to re-examine their application of the word ‘occupation’ to the disputed territories in general, and to Gaza in particular.

Language is the most human means for communication and we name things and ideas so we don’t have to re-describe them every time we talk about them. But we need to make sure that the names we apply are truly accurate. I contend that it is not accurate to call leftists, who promote ideas I do not agree with and may even find dangerous, ‘self-hating Jews’.

Therefore, let us set aside the labels and focus on the issues.

About the Author
Sheri Oz, owner of www.israeldiaries.com, is a retired family therapist exploring mutual interactions between politics and Israeli society.