Two years ago the American Jewish Committee published this report saying that anti-Zionism is antisemitism, written by Alvin Rosenfeld of Indiana University. Now the JPost has interviewed Rosenfeld and asked him about Jewish “self-hatred.” Says Rosenfeld:
Sadly, it does exist, especially among Jews
who are beset by a disturbed or deeply conflicted Jewish identity…. Let me just say this much for now: No one who knows the
Jews well would mistake them for being a normal people. They are not.
The Jews date back a long time – we are now in the year 5769 – and in
different ways see themselves as part of a long, accomplished, but
often difficult history. Threatened with total annihilation by Nazi
Germany and its allies just the day before yesterday, as Jews count
time, some Jews do not want to see themselves or want to be seen by
others within this line of descent.
Add to these anxieties and rejections the revival of Jewish
national sovereignty in the State of Israel after millennia of national
political disenfranchisement, and you can begin to see how complex
Jewish identity can be. It is impacted by numerous factors – family,
community, country, culture, history – some of which make Jews feel
uneasy or inadequate or embarrassed or vulnerable.
One way – not a healthy way – to deal with the tangle of
pressures that accompany such a multifaceted identity is to deny it
altogether or turn aggressively against it. When that happens, and
especially when Jews internalize the external charges against them and
adopt the negative stereotypes in which these charges crystallize, you
get something like Jewish self-hatred. Most Jews are not afflicted by
it, but some are.
Emphasis mine. Rosenfeld’s explanation strikes me as simplistic and condescending horse feathers, which somehow leaves out the fact that 4 million Palestinians are stateless and denied basic human rights, while Rosenfeld has a fancy center in the Midwest.
But here’s the answer from my friend Yakov (who took on antisemitism the other day):
celebration of Jews and Jewishness for a long time now. The message that
American culture sends is that achievements by individual Jews have something to do
with their Jewishness, while misdeeds by Jews happen in spite of their being
Jews or just that they “happen to be Jews.â In this context, with Jewish pride at
an all time high, the phenomenon of Jews being critical of or having some
misgivings about certain Jewish organizations creates bewilderment. Since it has
become conventional wisdom that
Jews are not only just like everyone else but in fact theyâre more righteous,
more moral than the rest of the world, the search then begins to try to identify
the psychological ailment of the âself hating â Jews.