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...

  • Arts and Culture Middle East Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Larry King Asks Saudi Arabian Fan If Taking Pictures With Jews Is Permitted

    Jewish former CNN host Larry King asked a Saudi Arabian fan if taking pictures with Jews is allowed in his country, before agreeing to pose for a photo with the man, The New York Times reported on Wednesday. The world-famous interviewer was leaving the Ritz Carlton hotel in Washington, D.C. with a New York Times reporter when a “dark-skinned man” approached and asked to take a picture with him, according to the publication. Whereupon, King asked the fan where he was from. When the man said Saudi […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    Britain’s Lord Sugar Says Synagogues Will Be Empty With Yom Kippur Matchup of Jewish-Supported Soccer Teams

    British-Jewish business tycoon Lord Alan Sugar joked on Wednesday that London synagogues will likely be empty during Yom Kippur with congregants fleeing to watch the match-up of two leading English soccer teams known for having hordes of Jewish fans. “Spurs V Arsenal cup game drawn on most important Jewish festival,” Lord Sugar pointed out on Twitter. “Both teams have loads of Jewish fans. Conclusion Synagogues will be empty.” North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal FC will go head-to-head in the Capital One Cup third-round […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Jewish Men Pass Jimmy Kimmel Social Experiment, Rescuing ‘Spongebob’ in Distress (VIDEO)

    Two Jewish men were the only unwitting participants in a social experiment conducted by Jimmy Kimmel, for his popular TV show. As part of a candid-camera-like sketch featured Monday night on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the host devised different street scenes to observe human behavior — in particular, to see how long it would take people walking down California’s bustling Hollywood Boulevard to notice and interact with others in distress. One scene involved a man in a Spongebob Squarepants costume who had “fallen down” on the sidewalk and needed help […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    International Jewish Organization Blasts Israeli-Born Star Natalie Portman for Comments on Holocaust Education

    A major Jewish organization rebuked actress Natalie Portman on Monday for saying in a recent interview that Jews put too much emphasis on teaching about the Holocaust relative to other genocides. The Israeli-born movie star told the U.K.’s Independent that the Jewish community needs to examine how much focus it puts on Holocaust education over other issues. She said she was shocked when she learned that a genocide was taking place in Rwanda while she was in school learning only about the horrors of the […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    Book Draws Parallels Between Holocaust and Palestinian Nakba, Sparks Outrage

    JNS.org – A new book that draws parallels between the Holocaust and the Palestinian Nakba (the Arabic term for the displacement of Palestinian refugees during Israel’s War of Independence) has sparked outrage ahead of an official book launch, to be hosted by the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute on Sept. 7. The Zionist organization Im Tirtzu wrote a letter to the institute demanding that it cancel an event it planned in honor of the book’s authors, under the title The Holocaust and […]

    Read more →
  • Education US & Canada Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Natalie Portman Says Holocaust Education Shouldn’t be Used for ‘Fearmongering’

    Famed actress Natalie Portman warned on Friday against the use of Holocaust education to evoke fear and paranoia. In an interview with the U.K. Independent she added that the trauma should make Jews more empathetic to others who have also experienced hatred. “Sometimes it can be subverted to fearmongering and like ‘Another Holocaust is going to happen,’” the Israeli-American star said. “We need to, of course, be aware that hatred exists, antisemitism exists against all sorts of people, not in the same way. I […]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    A Righteous Gentile Navigates the Sharkpool of Washington’s Middle East Correspondents (REVIEW)

    The Tribalist, by Louis Marano, is ostensibly a work of fiction but at its core a kind of love song by a gentile journalist for the State of Israel, and especially its secular Zionist core. (Because of the relentless attacks by left-wing polemicists on Israel’s allegedly “messianic” fringe, it’s often forgotten that most of Israel’s founders and all its leaders have been secular Zionists.) The author, the product of an Italian-American family in Buffalo, served two tours of duty in […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    Rugelach Roundtable: Does Beloved Pastry Need Dairy to Taste Good?

    JNS.org – Rugelach (singular: rugala) are a beloved traditional Jewish pastry, with a quirky history to boot, but they often present a kosher conundrum. Though parve rugelach are often a preferred dessert after a meat meal for those observing kosher laws (which stipulate a waiting period between eating meat and dairy), some of today’s most popular rugelach are known for their dairy fillings. Pastry chef Paula Shoyer—author of the books “The Kosher Baker: Over 160 Dairy-free Recipes from Traditional to Trendy” and […]

    Read more →