Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

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. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Features Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    Israel and the Apartheid Narrative: 2 South African Student Leaders Weigh In

    JNS.org – About two-dozen people file into Dodd 175 at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus on a Thursday night, scouting out seats and picking at the kosher pizza in the back of the lecture hall. Miyelani Pinini knows the drill. A former student president of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, she’s attended and even organized her share of free-pizza events. But now she and a fellow South African student leader were the stars of this […]

    Read more →
  • Food Spirituality/Tradition The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    The Brewish State: Israel Taps Into Growing Craft Beer Bazaar

    JNS.org – It’s widely known that Israel has penetrated the wine market, with some of its sophisticated Israeli blends surpassing historically excellent wines from areas such as the Napa Valley or Bordeaux. But what about beer? For decades, Israel has offered solely the Maccabi and Nesher brands. Not anymore. “There is a huge push of people making beer at home. The country is approaching over 30 craft breweries in the last year or two, making nearly 200 beers,” says Avi Moskowitz, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Natalie Portman Says She Behaved Like ‘Average Everyday Jewish Mother’ on Set of Latest Movie

    Actress Natalie Portman acted like a typical “Jewish mother” on the set of her latest movie, Jane Got a Gun, the Israeli-born star told the New York Post‘s Page Six on Sunday. The 34-year-old, who also co-produced the western, said she made it her job to look out for everyone involved in the project, because the film has had to overcome “so many obstacles,” such as losing its director early on. She explained: “Actors changed. We suffered financial and legal challenges. We endured so many replacements. There were delays. […]

    Read more →
  • Israel Music Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    Scorpions Lead Singer Sends Message to Israel Ahead of World Tour, Tel Aviv Performance (VIDEO)

    “We’re looking very much forward to coming back to Israel this summer,” said the lead singer of the German rock band Scorpions in a video on Monday. “Make sure you don’t miss it because we rock you like a hurricane!” said a jovial Klaus Meine, quoting the band’s seminal 1984 anthem, “Rock You Like a Hurricane.” The hard rock band lands in Israel for a show at the Menorah Mivtachim Arena on July 14 as part of its 50th anniversary tour. It will be the band’s third time […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    The Collected Works of Primo Levi, Edited by Ann Goldstein (REVIEW)

    Primo Levi and Elie Wiesel were the two most immediate and authentic literary voices who gave witness to the Holocaust. Wiesel was an extrovert and a very public figure who wrote initially in French. Levi was a modest retiring chemist who wrote in Italian. Whereas Wiesel was rooted in the Eastern European Jewish Hassidic world, Levi was the product of an assimilated, secular Italian society that saw itself as Italian first and Jewish as an accident of birth. As Levi himself said, “At Auschwitz I […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Lifestyle Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    Wine Brings Judea and Samaria to Tel Aviv

    JNS.org – Wine has long been considered a social lubricant, and it’s Nir Lavie’s hope that wine from his Har Bracha Winery in the Samarian hills will serve as a social lubricant between the city-goers of Tel Aviv and the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria, two locales split geographically, and often politically, on the left and right of the country. The new flagship store of Har Bracha has recently popped its corks on 190 Ben Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Gentile Actor Zachary Levi Says He’s Denied Roles for Being ‘Too Jewish’

    Actor Zachary Levi said casting directors have denied him roles for being “too Jewish,” despite the fact that he is not a Jew, the New York Daily News‘ Confidenti@l reported on Wednesday. “I guess they were looking for more of a corn-fed, white boy look,” he said. “My family is from f****** Indiana! Come on, I’m like dying here!” The Thor star clarified that he is Welsh, and that Levi is actually his middle name, while his real last name is Pugh. He said he […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Spirituality/Tradition Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    Tracing Chabad’s History and Success (REVIEW)

    The secret of Chabad’s worldwide success is revealed by veteran Chabad shliach (emissary) Rabbi David Eliezrie in his new book, The Secret of Chabad. The Chabad movement was founded by Rabbi Schnur Zalman of Liadi, Belarus, in 1775. Years later it came to the US with the arrival of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn in 1940, after his escape from Nazi-occupied Warsaw. Upon his arrival in New York, a number of his co-religionists advised him that there was no place for traditional […]

    Read more →