The fallacy of proving antisemitism wrong

In my recent article, An American Holocaust? Assessing the threat a Christian correspondent who regularly exchanges ideas insisted that the only way to overcome antisemitism is to take on the lies by which it is expressed. Of course this has been the preferred approach of Jews over several centuries, to educate our neighbors regarding the falsity of their stereotypes of Jews. And there is, in fact, a statistical correlation between degree of antisemitism and level of education as repeatedly represented by polling commissioned by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). But there is an obvious difference between education, which translates into a greater knowledge base and so more data to draw upon in making judgments, and prejudice, something found at a deeper level of memory. This I describe with the ADL polling and other in my article.

The point is that antisemitism is represented by stereotypes, popular imaginings representing Jewish behavior rooted in centuries of cultural transmission and based in Christian scriptural charges regarding Jews as enemy. The John gospel, for instance, repeatedly references “the Jews” as children of, and conspiring with Satan against Christianity and Christians. Translated: Ever hear the one about Jews smelling of sulphur and possessing a tail and horns? When a Christian girl married one of my cousins decades ago this was one of her expectations, that her new husband also possessed a tail and horns!

And of course there is the direct charge of deicide in Matthew 27:25 in which Pilate washes his hands and “the Jews” represented in a frenzy curse not just themselves, but all generations of Jews in the crime. Translation: the millennial and long-sought solution to the Jewish Problem which most recently expressed itself in the Holocaust.

The Jewish Problem is most popularly represented in stereotypes. And while we Jews may argue the obvious absurdity of lies these represent, even convince that they are irrational and lies, still lay the stereotypes buried in the subconscious of Christendom, only occasional to emerge when social crisis blocks out all possibility of reason, such as the Great Depression.

It is within this context that Jews must appreciate the danger we face in our Diaspora.

“Christopher”, I respect your sincerity but your argument, “confronting the lies, merely results in Jew, and our Christian sympathizers calling the liar “liar.” Since the lie resides first of all in Christian scripture, magnified by centuries of Christian theology; transformed into simple formulae called “stereotypes” in the popular imagination and appearing today in forms alluded to above, I hardly expect me arguing against each lie or, for that matter, accusing Christianity and its secular nation-offspring of being liar will achieve that which you would have it achieve.

My ambitions are far smaller, and likely unlikely anyway: to force Jews to confront the clear and present danger represented by the Diaspora. And while that danger is most immediately and obviously represented by the lies you point to, and I assure your program of confronting lies is the preferred Jewish response, assuming somehow that changing the minds of those unwittingly lying will now join the ranks of anti-antisemites, and provide us our just place alongside Christendom in freedom and democracy…. That strategy, at least two-hundred years in effort has, in two hundred years achieved… the Holocaust.

The issue, “Christopher”, is not confronting the lies which, at worst, satisfies Jewish desire to believe that we truly are living in the New Jerusalem, Zion in Diaspora: we will be accepted in this “exceptional” land of the free. This is, as I said, the “worst” possible outcome because it feeds Jewish Denial. And it is Jewish Denial that was the same attitude held by German Jewry seventy-five years ago.

No, “Christopher”, the only hope for Jewish survival is acceptance that the final Final Solution is yet to be achieved. And that is our future.

Action, and not argument, is what is needed.

About the Author
David made aliya in 1960 and has been active in Jewish issues since. He was a regional director for JNF in New York, created JUDAC, Jews United to Defend the Auschwitz Cemetery during that controversy; at the request of Jonathan Pollard created and led Justice for the Pollards in 1989.