Understanding the Unparalleled Phenomenon of Jewish Self-Hatred

August 26, 2012 1:48 am 1 comment

Enemy of Israel, Noam Chomsky at World Social Forum. Photo: Marcello Casal Jr.

A Small Minority Struggles to Overcome Lingering Remnants of Bitter Centuries in Slavery and in the Ghetto

Unknown in other faith communities, Jewish self-hatred has by now accumulated a long and infamous history transcending centuries. In no other social grouping – religious, racial, ethnic, linguistic – is the will-to-self-loathe as popular or as pronounced. Or seen as a virtue.

Even intellectually, a person can feel swarmed. The mentality of a minority is such that senses are ever alert to the masses in proximity who do not share their background, and so oftentimes overcompensation ensues in the form of pandering and kowtowing before the dominant group. Self-haters bend over backwards to excuse their minority status, or else divorce themselves from it as much as possible.

Assimilationists have only a vague awareness of themselves, and believe that everything distinctly Jewish is in need of an apology. It is oftentimes painful to observe the agonizing gestures and convoluted contortions apologists are willing to undertake in the hope of greater acceptance or tolerance from the world around them. For them, public apostasy equates to self-interest and self-preservation, a misguided notion.

During the Maccabean Revolt (168-134 B.C.E.), Hellenist Jews (‘Mityavnim’) who wished to discard their ancestral tradition in favor of the Greek aesthetic actually underwent procedures to hide their circumcisions. They did not wish to be humiliated in the wrestling arenas or distinguished by their peculiar dress in the amphitheaters and hippodromes. During the Middle Ages, many Jews converted to Christianity to avoid the Inquisition, but some went so far as to denounce Jews to the authorities, resulting in book-burnings of the Talmud and humiliating disputations before reigning monarchs.

This notorious phenomenon goes beyond the mentality of a minority, and in large part results from the fashion in which a weak minority is treated by the powerful majority. For four hundred years the Israelites dwelt in ancient Egypt, and many years were spent in slavery to Pharaohs who required storehouse cities to be built, such as Pithom and Raamses. Conditions were punishing and taskmasters harsh. Even after their Exodus, it took the Israelites many centuries to purge the mindset of slavery from their psyches, and the attendant aspects of their prolonged foreign sojourn (idol worship, superstitions, etc.).

Beginning in Italy in medieval times, ghettos were erected to house Jews in special quarters distinct from the dominant populations of European countries. Constricted and constrained in their milieux, the Jews hunkered down and kept largely to themselves, anxious of the authorities and the sporadic mobs who stormed the walled bastions to wreak havoc on these vulnerable communities. Segregation and the constant threat of persecution, inquisition, pogroms, and expulsions were ingrained in the minds of the susceptible Jews, many of them poor and helpless, all of them deeply impressionable and ever wary of the whims of the Church.

It is these factors that most influence the modern phenomenon of Jewish self-hatred – slavery and ghettoization – and cause some Jews who feel insecure in their identity to resort to the abnegation of self. Judaism becomes just another shackle to escape, another walled ghetto closing them in and condemning them to social isolation. Reactions to this feeling are often adamant and extreme, with little thought given to alternative approaches and attitudes.

Another psychological phenomenon, well-documented in the Holocaust, is that of eventual acceptance by the vulnerable and persecuted of their dominant oppressors’ charges against them. After those in power – the authorities – and the majority of a society repeatedly tell you over an extended period of time that you are sub-human, swine-dogs, filth, and vermin…gradually you start to believe them. The unrelenting message of worthlessness penetrates the human psyche and cements despair within.

Psychiatrists would be quick to point out the fundamental frontier separating the neurotic from the psychotic. For some self-hating Jews, the understandable neurosis of being overwhelmed by the gentile majority merely results in placating and mollifying the non-Jewish masses; they withdraw and hide. However, other self-hating Jews are not content with such prostrations, instead giving over to vitriolic excoriations of Judaism, the Talmud, rabbis, and the universally-preferred punching bag, Israel. Israel-bashing is now the most accepted form of anti-Semitism in the world, less gauche than picking on individual Jews. Not to be outdone by mere outsiders, self-haters desirous of demonstrating the extent of their assimilation are in the front ranks of those pinning the yellow star on Israel’s breast (and thinking themselves liberal heroes for doing so).

Radical Leftists who have occupied university positions – Noam Chomsky and Norman Finklestein are exemplars – have used their professorships as platforms to launch blistering diatribes and spiteful rants against Israel, Zionism, World Jewry, etc. in the hope of the dominant gentile society elevating them to positions of high esteem. The fact that their personal success – their teaching roles, access to research grant funds, and ability to traditionally publish – degrades and alienates their own people is classified as a necessary casualty in the noble effort to assimilate and ascend within a popularly left-wing society.

Long after liberation from chains and emancipation from cloisters occur, the minds of those once oppressed struggle for freedom. Trauma lingers and spans generations, and pathologies can be inherited from parents and grandparents. Tragically, those unable to transcend their insecurities are awash in denial and self-hatred, and find themselves floundering among the few who range themselves against their own people.

1 Comment

  • Yael pedhatzur

    The biggest problem is that jews (israelis), want to be loved. They willl do just about anything to win the affection and approval of the gentiles. These jews will lmost always side with their own enemies and negate their own peoples right in favor of the enemy . It is an illness.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    Biography Sheds New Light on David Ben-Gurion’s Place in Jewish History

    JNS.org – There is one sentence in “Ben-Gurion: Father of Modern Israel” that made me sit up in surprise. I thought that I knew the basic facts about how Israel came into being, but while describing what it was like in the days and hours before the state was declared, author Anita Shapira provides one important anecdote I was not aware of. On the 12th of May, the Zionist Executive met to decide what to do. Moshe Sharrett had just returned [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    ‘Death of Klinghoffer’ Actress Compares Met Opera to ‘Schindler’s List’

    An actress starring in the controversial Met Opera The Death of Klinghoffer defended the show on Tuesday by comparing it to the 1993 Holocaust film Schindler’s List, New York Post reported. “To me, this was like [the movie] Schindler’s List. We make art so people won’t forget,’’ said the actress, who plays a captured passenger in the show and asked not to be identified. The Met Opera focuses on the infamous murder of Lower East Side Jewish resident Leon Klinghoffer, 69. The wheelchair-bound father of [...]

    Read more →
  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.