If five percent of Jews believed that the Talmud said that Jews should harvest organs and poison wells of gentiles, would that mean that these views weren’t Antisemitic? And if ten percent of Jews were unhappy about not being included in a purported Jewish conspiracy to take over the world, would that make the point of view that Jews were trying to take over the world legitimate? As it is, a staggering one in ten Israelite-Americans support the BDS movement to destroy the State of Israel[i].
I’d like to be perfectly clear and state that I am totally against the current government in Israel which I consider both fascist and racist. However, the problem of Antisemitism against the global Israelite population is so great that I feel compelled to speak up about it, despite obvious problems with the timing.
You may also note the fact that I’m mostly using the term Israelite to refer to Karaite Jews, Rabbanite Jews and Samaritans. This is because we are one single, albeit extremely varied ethnicity. We are one people who have worshiped the same God in the same language and called ourselves the same name for thousands of years. Not using this name creates a number of terminological problems vis a vis the State of Israel, creating a debate over the need to define it as a ‘Jewish State’. It auto-excludes the Samaritans who while currently numerically small, have been historically much larger and important. It also distances us from the covenant made with Israel. Finally, most religious literature of Christians and Muslims speaks highly of Israel and poorly of ‘the Jews’. But to follow up on this topic further at this juncture would be to go on a long tangent.
There are two main components which define being what we call Jewish. One is the Jewish religion, and the other is Israelite ancestry. Any person, Jewish or not, who is for the eradication of one of those two elements is surely prejudiced against Jews. In ‘How to Fight Antisemitism’, opinion writer and editor Bari Weiss quotes novelist Dara Horn in the Jewish Review of Books as having divided Antisemitism into two types named after relevant Jewish holidays, Purim Antisemitism and Hanukkah Antisemitism[ii]. For those that don’t know, Purim commemorates an attempt by the Persian empire to exterminate its Israelite population and the Israelite community’s triumph over those who wished to destroy them. Hanukkah on the other hand, commemorates Israel’s liberation from Greek rule, from a Hellenic empire who sought to Hellenize the Israelites and erase their culture and religion. Specifically, the alleged miracle where the lamp in the rededicated Temple in Jerusalem burned for eight days, on enough oil for only one day.
Purim Antisemitism, made globally famous by the Nazis, essentially says that Jews are bad and must be annihilated. Hanukkah Antisemitism says that Jews are different and an obstacle to realizing a universalist ideology. As such, their civilization must disappear and they must be forcefully assimilated. As Weiss points out, Jews are frequent collaborators in the latter type of Antisemitism[iii]. One such example may be Peter Beinart who ‘called for distinguishing more clearly “between Jewishness and the State of Israel.”[iv] and believes that most Antisemitism on the left is just Anti-Zionism, which he doesn’t think is Anitsemitic[v]. There are even those supporting the Purim Antisemites such as Naomi Wimborne-Idrissi, co-founder of Jewish Voice for Labour, the sham Antisemitism denial organization supporting notorious Antisemite Jeremy Corbyn. Wimbourne-Idrissi actually supports Britain having diplomatic relations with racist terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah[vi]. So let us be absolutely clear on what is Antisemitic.
It is not a political or merely anti-Zionist statement to deny that Jews are an ethnicity (or the greater part of the Israelite ethnicity for that matter) or are not a nation that could form the basis of a state. This is an iron-clad fact that has been known for thousands of years and even the anti-Israel Soviets officially considered Jewish to be one of their nationalities. Likewise, it is not merely anti-Zionist or political to deny that Jews come from the Levant. These are not matters concerning a modern political movement but rather about Jews themselves, their heritage, identity and characteristics.
To be clear, Israelites are an ethnicity, a people and the basis for a nation-state. Israelites consist of Jews (Karaites and Rabbanites) and Samaritans. Jews and Samaritans have carried on their varieties of Israelite religion for thousands of years. Furthermore, they continued to read and write every language they spoke in two varieties of Hebrew script. They also preserved their Hebrew language with a generous helping of Hebrew vocabulary infused into their dialects of mixed origin such as Yiddish-Taytch, Judezmo – Ladino or Judeo-Arabic. Israelites have maintained a constant, uninterrupted presence in Israel for thousands of years and their calendar is based on the seasons of the land. As such, Israelites (Karaite Jews, Rabbanite Jews and Samaritans) constitute the oldest extant population from the Southern Levant/Palestine. Finally, there tends to be accusations from Israel’s enemies and Antisemites in general that Jews and in particular, the Ashkenazi variety of Jews (who for most of the last 2,000 years lived in Northern, Central and Eastern Europe) are not real Jews because they are alleged to not be biologically related to Israelites or are just seen as ‘European’. This is significant as Ashkenazi Jews were modern Israel’s founding fathers, make up half of Israel’s Jews and 80% of world Jewry. Dani Ishai Behan wrote an excellent article explaining why Ashkenazim are Middle Eastern and along with other Jews and Samartians, are aboriginal to Palestine. Micha Danzig also wrote a great piece about why Zionism is not European colonialism and being Jewish is not simply a religion. Native American aboriginal rights activist Ryan Bellerose also wrote a fantastic article on why Jews are aboriginal to Palestine. First and foremost, we are and have always been an adoptive people and while the conditions for conversion to join our people are strict, we have never attempted to be or claimed to be biologically pure and do not define ourselves based on biology only. Karaites and Samaritans have always traced ancestry via the father and Rabbanites via the mother but no ethnicity is biologically pure. Nevertheless, we have been extensively tested by geneticists. They have found time and again that with the exception of one relatively small community, the rest of us are genetically closer to each other than to the populations of our host countries in the diaspora and that even in the case of Ashkenazi Jews, the male line is mostly Israelite and the female line is mostly not. Thus even Ashkenazi Jews have been proven time and again to be half Israelite by DNA. A wealth of sources on the subject can be found right on Wikipedia here and here, both are extremely well sourced (yes, even the same Wikipedia whose core members are often hostile to the Israelite narrative). This entire argument or accusation though is a double edged sword. To not reply or simply say that we’re not trying to be genetically pure invites accusations that the Antisemites are right whereas to dispel the accusations with proof invites accusations that we’re racists or racial purists.
Antisemites will point to the minority of people of Jewish heritage backing this same narrative, accusing Jews of being settler-colonialists and absolving left-wing Antisemites of their crimes such as this piece in Jewish Currents but there are and always have been Antisemites of Jewish descent in relative abundance. Dating back at least as far as Yehoshua (Jesus) of Nazareth and Sha’ul of Tarsus (St. Paul) there have always been Israelites who wished for a more universalist religion or had severe criticism for their people. If we go then to the Middle Ages or as late as the 19th and 20th century in Europe where Antisemitism was the norm, there have always been Israelites who converted to another religion and then attacked their own people such as Karl Marx, Nicholas Donin, Gerónimo de Santa Fe, all Hannukah Antisemites of Jewish heritage. During the Holocaust, we even have at least one Purim Antisemite of Jewish heritage Stella Goldschlag who worked for the gestapo exposing Jews who were in hiding and who later ‘converted to Christianity and became an open Antisemite'[vii] after the war, despite twice marrying other Jews.
The principles set upon the Jews by Napoleon in return for their first emancipation in Europe at the Assembly of Jewish Notables he called in 1806 resonated throughout the continent. The idea that in order to be proper French citizens, Jews had to give up their own national qualities[viii] and become Frenchmen of the Jewish religion, that the Jews should be ‘denied everything as a nation, but granted everything as individuals[ix]. This and their dire position in the preceding centuries led led religious Jews in Europe to cling to their civic identity as if it would save them from the coming horrors of the Holocaust. Post-Holocaust, having had not only their books burnt but also their facial features scrutinized, many Jews have been left feeling extremely self-conscious about their ethnicity, their peoplehood and the way that they look. This has led many Israelites to feel uncomfortable about being counted on the census as an ethnicity in the Western nations and led many to deny their heritage and/or embrace radically leftist ideologies which advocate for doing away with all such identities. A prime example of modern Jewish Antisemitism is this anonymously written piece which claims that American Jewish day schools are teaching dual loyalty to the US and Israel and that this is essentially negative. The accusation of dual loyalty is an old one, which is widespread among US Antisemites. As if, Armenian-Americans have no love for the Republic of Armenia, Italian-Americans no regard for Italy or an abundance of other ethnicities in the US don’t feel some identification with their ethnic homeland. It’s perfectly reasonable for Israelites to feel some identification with Israel and here, we have a person of presumably Israelite heritage attacking them for doing just that. Then we have Bernie Sanders, who bear hugs practically every notable Hannukah Antisemite in the Anglophone world including Linda Sarsour, Ilhan Omar, Jeremy Corbyn, Amer Zahr and many more[x].
Kurt Lewin wrote that Jewish self-hatred ‘may be directed against the Jews as a group, against a particular fraction of the Jews, against his own family, or against himself. It may be directed against Jewish institutions, Jewish mannerisms, Jewish language, or Jewish ideals.'[xi]. The most dangerous he argues are forms which are ‘a kind of indirect, under-cover self-hatred'[xii]. I think that every Israelite has felt some negative feelings towards one or more of those entities during their lifetime. Theodore Lessing wrote a book called ‘Jewish Self Hatred’ in which he told us how the centuries of exile and persecution had ‘undermined Jewish pride, dignity and self-esteem’. This coupled with a ‘slavish devotion to the ideal of Germanness’ caused a ‘psycopathology of self-hatred'[xiii]. Todd Endelman on the other hand advises caution in that we should be careful to distinguish genuine Jewish self-hatred from the tradition of ‘Jewish self-criticism'[xiv]. So how can we tell the difference? What separates legitimate criticism from bigotry and/or prejudice?
Lewin tells a story of a Jewish diner and her non-Jewish friend. The Jewish diner is embarrassed by the behaviour of what she thinks are the Jewish diners sitting next to them. When her friend makes comments indicating that she doesn’t think they’re Jewish, the Jewish diner felt ‘relieved'[xv] and from then on, she was ‘amused'[xvi] by their behaviour rather than embarrassed. The Jewish woman apparently felt that her ‘position’ was ‘threatened’ and ‘future’ ‘endangered'[xvii] by ‘being identified with a certain group'[xviii]. He also puts forward the idea that if the ‘balance of forces toward and away from'[xix] such a group is ‘negative'[xx], then ‘the individual will leave the group if no other factors intervene'[xxi]. He further explains that as such, when conditions are ‘free'[xxii], a group will contain only the people for whom positive forces to stay outweigh the negative[xxiii]. A person may be forced to stay inside a group they wish to leave or prevented from joining a group that they wish to[xxiv]. Essentially, the more that reaching the person’s goal is helped or hindered by joining or leaving a group, the greater the pull toward or push away from the group will be[xxv]. Those who are loyal to a group have a tendency to rate its ‘central layers'[xxvi] or its very identity higher with a degree of chauvinism[xxvii]. This is both a natural outcome of their loyalty and necessary for keeping a group together and without this loyalty, a group is impeded from succeeding[xxviii]. Conversely, Lewin tells us that those who wish to leave a group don’t have such loyalty. In underprivileged groups he explains, many are forced to stay within the group and as a result many are ashamed of belonging to that group[xxix]. Jews in this predicament will try to move away from all things Jewish[xxx]. Such a Jew will have ‘values'[xxxi] which rank Jewish ‘habits, appearances and attitudes'[xxxii] as low and will show a ‘negative chauvinism'[xxxiii].
Lewin tells us that those in a ‘lower social strata tend to accept the fashions values and ideals of the higher strata'[xxxiv] and that their opinions about themselves are shaped by the low regard that the higher strata has for them[xxxv]. This dynamic prompts Jews to view their Jewishness as an obstacle to success and elicits the need to become free of all things Jewish[xxxvi]. Due to the person’s inability to become entirely free of this Jewishness, ‘the hatred turns upon himself'[xxxvii]. He also points out how many such individuals are happy to assume leadership roles for the community ‘partly as a substitute for gaining status in the majority’ and partly because it facilitates their contact with the majority[xxxviii]. Members who are economically and/or professionally successful may gain a higher degree of acceptance from the majority but this places them on the periphery of the group to which they belong[xxxix]. They tend to have a ‘negative balance'[xl] in terms of their push/pull factors towards their group and their identity and are ‘particularly eager to have their “good connections” not endangered by too close contact with the underprivileged group'[xli]. Nevertheless, they’re frequently called to leadership positions due to their influence[xlii] and we end up with people who have a ‘lukewarm’ at best attitude towards their own group[xliii]. Having achieved a reasonable status among non-Jews, they’re weary of anything which may rock the boat and jeopardize their position[xliv]. Jstreet, Jewish Voice for Labour and many hard left ‘Jewish’ organizations spring to mind. Lewin essentially describes the average assimilated hard left wing Israelite and in particular the hard left Israelite-American.
The debate rages on about the connection of ethnicity to state. If Israelites are shown as an ethnicity which does not have an intimate connection to the state’s character, a shift in popular currents to a more ethnic type of national identity would be catastrophic for them in most cases. Jews are terrified of this possibility post-Nazism. The only alternative as far as many see it is to promote a purely civic state from within the privileged class and this is why so many Jews are socialist. In order to safeguard their position however, they will try to negate the ethnic element of their identity and in this way preserve the original redefinition of what is Jewish that was forced upon them in exchange for receiving emancipation and ultimately being able to pass as White in Western civilization.
Richard Alperin talks about Jewish self hatred from a clinical perspective. Alperin observes that persecution has left Jews with ‘deep psychological scars'[xlv] as well as defence mechanisms[xlvi] and that one ‘manifestation'[xlvii] of the trauma is Jewish self hatred[xlviii]. Alperin points to the historical fact that ‘there is hardly anything which has not been blamed on the Jewish people and hatred felt toward them has been acted out in countless ways[xlix]. Alperin observes that it is known to clinic social workers that the abused tend to develop psychological scars and defence mechanisms[l] but that little has been written about Jewish self-hatred in spite of all of the Antisemitism[li]. Alperin suggests that the widespread nature of Jewish self-hatred may be responsible for the large number of Jewish mental health specialists ignoring the problem of Jewish self-hatred[lii]. Despite this, he lists a number of prominent experts on psychology and psycho-analysis who have noted the phenomenon[liii]. He defines this phenomenon as Jews who ‘feel hatred or shame towards their Jewish identities, towards other Jews, or toward the Jewish religion in particular[liv]. Alperin notes that ‘throughout history, rulers have persecuted and oppressed Jews, expelled them from one geographical area to another, and attempted to eradicate them'[lv] and that rather than being an isolated case, the Holocaust was more of a culmination of the centuries of persecution[lvi].
As Jewish immigration to the United States increased, so too did negative stereotypes in the media and popular culture, as well as physical attacks[lvii]. Jews were regarded by many Americans as inferior and laws were passed to limit their immigration[lviii]. Alperin points out that during the interbellum period, Antisemitism reached ‘unprecedented heights'[lix], that Jews were blamed for the depression, that there were restrictions on Jews in a number of fields, institutions and residential areas, and that most Americans had a negative view of Jews[lx]. While the levels have decreased, such views are still held by a substantial minority[lxi]. Israelites were of course still attracted to the wider society and wished to be a part of it, however Alperin points out, proponents of the Enlightenment weren’t willing to accept Jews who wanted to preserve their identity and/or remain separate[lxii]. As such, some Jews began the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment. They advocated the adoption of enlightenment ideas and across the board reforms[lxiii]. However, their harsh criticism of their fellow Jews often resembled that of non-Jews[lxiv]. They branded Jews in commerce corrupt and responsible for prejudice[lxv]. Many Haskalah Jews converted to Christianity and this included many who were ‘some of the greatest enemies and persecutors of Jews'[lxvi]. As restrictions decreased, many Enlightenment Jews married non-Jews, raised their children Christian, abandoned the community and hid their identity[lxvii]. Despite the end of the movement, Israelites internalized the prejudice against them and in the 20th century some even believed the accusations that they were biologically inferior[lxviii]. Alperin tells us that ‘self-condemnation’ was rampant among German Jews with many believing that Jews weren’t dedicated enough to their countries’ priorities and that Jews were too distinctive[lxix]. They dealt with prejudice by trying to not attract attention rather than by confronting it. Some blamed the unassimilated Jews from Poland and some Jews even blamed Jews for their situation during the Holocaust[lxx].
Some Israelites, especially in the East of Europe believed that a ‘radical restructuring of society'[lxxi] was the only way out of their dire situation. While a minority of Jews played a role in leftist politics, their numbers were disproportionate in the parties[lxxii]. Alperin tells us that while their anger was directed towards the society as a whole, a major underlying cause of their leftist politics was the desire to exchange their Jewish identity for a ‘social activist or communist'[lxxiii]. In ‘joining the new brotherhood’ Alperin tells us, they believed that they could rid themselves of their Jewish identity and ‘exchange their faith for that of the party'[lxxiv].
Someone is bound to pull an Antisemite of Israelite heritage out of a hat to say something Antisemitic. You can always find turkeys voting for Christmas and nowhere is that more true than within the Jewish people. However, the radical right, with its will to discriminate or even exterminate Israelites based on their biology holds little attraction to most Jews, as self-preservation and success are goals that most people hold dear. On the other hand, for reasons I’ve explained, we find many self-hating Israelites on the radical left, providing a token Jew for leftist and ‘Hanukkah’ Antisemites.
Two questions remain. Why then does the media, including even sometimes the Jewish media, provide a platform for Antisemites of Israelite heritage and other Hannukah Antisemites, and how can we identify exactly who these Antisemites are? In giving a platform for such prejudice, it is the rhetoric of the media in general that maybe it’s all okay because they’re not Purim Antisemites and therefore perhaps not Antisemites at all. It is the media’s rhetoric that Hannukah Antisemitism doesn’t exist or isn’t really Antisemitism. That if someone has Jewish friends then he’s not a Nazi and so all is well. This absurdity is akin to claiming that anyone White who has Black friends isn’t racist. Worse still, Purim Antisemitism still tends to seep in through the cracks that have been left by insufficient rejection of Antisemitism by the left and through latent Antisemitism. The latter tends to be covered up by the claim that ‘Antizionism isn’t Antisemitism’ or covered up by accusations of bad faith on the part of the Israelite accuser.
As for identifying Antisemites of Israelite heritage, it really isn’t difficult as they almost all join certain specific movements and causes. Any Jew supporting BDS, Jewish Voice for Labour, Jewish Voice for Peace, any Israelite joining a group which is outwardly in favour of the end of the State of Israel, seeks the abolition of our religion, or the whitewashing of our Middle Eastern heritage, is an Antisemite of Israelite heritage. The line between self-criticism and self-hatred clearly stands where an Israelite begins to say and believe that Israelites deserve most or much of the hatred that they endure.
The kicker of this whole situation is that the levels of pluralism of Israelites and of Muslims are worlds apart. The old saying goes ‘two Jews, three opinions’. Israelites can’t even decide what defines a Jew/Israelite except that the State of Israel considers anyone who’s at least a quarter Karaite, Rabbanite or Samaritan to be Israelite/Jewish enough to move there and gain citizenship. With only 14 – 20 million Israelites in the world and the exclusion of those with Rabbanite Jewish fathers, Israelites can ill afford to exclude people who are Rabbanites according to Rabbanite law simply because they deviate from the consensus. There are of course those among Israelites who don’t hold pluralist views but the consensus and overruling law is that regardless of their opinions, a person with a Rabbanite Jewish mother is one of the people. Herem, or excommunication, hasn’t been practiced in many centuries. In contrast, there are literally countless examples of Islamic civilization and culture clashing with ideas of pluralism and freedom of expression and we’re not just talking about radicals either. Significant deviation from the consensus or ideas deemed to be blasphemy are frequently met with violence or threats of violence. Salman Rushdie couldn’t get away with writing a work of fiction in the 20th or indeed well into the 21st century. If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were to compromise on the right of return for all Arab-Palestinians to Israel proper, he would likely be in danger.
So each and every time that you see an Israelite who is opposed to the existence of the State of Israel or wishes to replace its main religion with progressive ideologies, remember that it’s only because of the Israelites’ relative pluralism (compared with the lack thereof in Palestinian, Arab and Muslim societies) that such voices are heard.
By giving such Israelites a voice and a semblance of legitimacy, the world media is pushing the view that to recognize the iron clad truth of the Jews’ Israelite heritage somehow impinges on the rights of Arab-Palestinians and that the Arab-Palestinians’ rights should include the right to deny the Jews’ heritage. This absurd view gives Jews less democratic rights than Arabs and everyone else for that matter, and it is in and of itself, racist. It tokenizes Jews who suffer from the psychological sickness of self-hatred and uses them to bolster left-wing Antisemitism.
[ii] Weiss, Bari. How to Fight Antisemitism. Crown, 2019. pp. 46-47
[vii] Abrahamson, Irving (3 January 1993). “She Saved Herself In The Holocaust By Betraying Others”. Chicago Tribune.
[x] https://firstonethrough.wordpress.com/2020/03/04/bernie-sanders-antisemitic-and-anti-zionist-friends/?fbclid=IwAR0PSiPAYRVHJHc1ilFvaDNhdfNq_Rgx8CfYEgFoSwEzWjFjKDZ0IYHixfM and https://tnc.news/2020/03/01/eskenasi-left-wing-antisemitism-first-labour-and-now-the-democrats/?fbclid=IwAR2LNkNU7MunrVCkbnc347IxK5irOKSIgMPIXHhfyBIf4PPv0aCF2QSGrY0
[xiii] (https://www.jstor.org/stable/4467748?seq=2#metadata_info_tab_contents Jewish Social Studies
New Series, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Spring – Summer, 2006), pp. 95-136 (42 pages) pg2
Published by: Indiana University Press
[xv] ibid. P.222
[xix] ibid, p.223
[xxv] ibid, p.224
[xxvi] ibid, P.225
[xxxiv] ibid P.226
[xxxix] ibid, P.228
[xlv] Alperin, Richard: ‘Jewish Self-Hatred: The Internalization of Prejudice’, Clinical Social Work J (9th March 2016), Springer Science + Business Media, New York, P. 224
[lv] ibid. P.225
[lxii] ibid, p.226
[lxiv] ibid, P.226