16.01.2012, Xenophobia and anti-Semitism
There is no topic that interests sociologists more than anti-Semitism. New books and studies on this topic appear in droves, and not because of extreme anti-Semitic acts in the modern world. It can be definitely said that in America, in Russia, and of course,in Israel Jews today live safer and better than ever. But the the multitude of reasons, the diverse groundlessness, the rational and mystical background behind anti-Semitism make it a unique phenomenon.
The mystical reason for anti-Semitism: the Torah and the Prophets predict our scattering and the persecution we face. “And God will spread you out unto all the nations - from one end of the world to the other...” (Devarim 28:64) The religious anti-Semitism of Christianity is not very rational: it is difficult to even find a non-Jew, Pilate excluded, in the New Testament. The Christian philosemitism, which also exists in the modern world, is far more logical. “We understand that our religion takes everything from you,” one British woman told me ten years ago at a pro-Israeli demonstration on one of Jerusalem's squares.
The rational reasons for anti-Semitism: people do not like those who live next to them yet are different. A French man once told me a long serious of unfunny jokes about the stupidity of the Belgians, like “They stood on a broken escalator for half a day, being too stupid to just walk down.” And, in turn, a Belgian lady told me, “France would be wonderful country, if not for the French.”
Another reason includes some of our traditional occupations. Debtors naturally did not like money-lenders. There is, however, a tale of one Italian city, the citizens of which drove away their Jewish money-lenders; however, the Jews were soon called back, because the people needed credit, and their own money-lenders had far worse rates.
The money-lender story continues today. The “occupiers of Wall Street” decided that all of the problems in their life come from banks – those same moneu-lenders. And the anti-Semitism of the “occupiers” seems to be the deformed anti-money-lender attitude of the past. “Occupy Wall Street” posters like “Humanity vs. the Rotshilds” illustrate this.
Fixations on the general success of the Jews and envy stoke anti-Semitism. In a novel by Leon Feuchtwanger, a Lithuanian man in litigation with a Jew says, “It's easy to be smart when you're a Jew. I'd see how well you do being in my place.” But this is also the reason of reverence towards then, sometimes undeserved. The Major at the Moscow State University reserve officer training department kept calling my mate Borya Landa “Landau,” and for some reason was certain that Borya would become a great physicist, even though we studied psychology.
However, I believe that the main reason is yet different. Only those who can be persecuted, those who are weaker, are. Those who organized the provocative “Baylis case,” as I understood from studying it, did not like the Jews as much as their own children. The sense of the provocation was economic – to find a reason for the pogroms and robbery of lamblike Jews.
I remember from as early as school: only the weak are bullied. If you can defend yourself – anti-Semitism becomes respect. But Jews usually want love, as well. In his famous essay “The Russian Affection,” Jabotinsky reproached Russian literature for “not saying one good word by the mouths of its best of the peoples oppressed under the Russian state.” I do not understand the need for the love of anti-Semites.
People admire strength. Not nearly all of Hercacles' deeds were honorable: he killed Hyppolita, queen of the amazons for her belt, he stole the red cattle of Geryon, he hurt animals (the Nemean lion, the Lernaean hydra). Our hero, Samson, first married an idol-worshipper, then tied himself to Delilah the temptress. But both of the were strong, and thus lauded.
I believe that an understanding of this fact defined the main task of Zionism – to make Jews strong. An unprecedented military victory in the history of modern warfare – the Six Day War of June 1967 – showed that this goal had been achieved. That war marked the end of old anti-Semitism. Jews began to be respected throughout the world. Even in the historically anti-Semitic Russia, with a government opposed to Jews, the people's attitude toward Jews changed sharply.
Jewish self-consciousness also rose, and the Jewish Renaissance movement began in the USSR.
The date of the appearance of new anti-Semitism is also known. This is September 13, 1993, the date when the Oslo Accords were signed in Washington. In a single moment, the Jews once again became weaklings, asking peace from a bunch of miserable terrorists an child-killers. Wily Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will later say frightening words: “We are tired of victories.”
The world has begun to love “Palestinians” not because they are being hurt, not because they are weak. No one likes weaklings. “Palestinians” are loved because they seem strong, because they can blow up a bus with people, a dance floor, or a pizza house with a home-made bomb. Because they can afford to shoot tens of thousands of rockets from Gaza to Israel and can trade more than one thousand of their terrorists for one unlucky corporal. Because PLO, which was dying in Tunis in 1993, became an important player at the global game table, which has a territory, an army, which is involved in global politics.
And after Oslo Jews began to see themselves differently. The psychological problems of the weak have been restored, self-hatred has awoken. Dozens of Jewish anti-Israeli organizations flowered in the USA and in Israel. The new anti-Semitism of today is mostly Jewish..
It is, of course, a swindle to try to divide anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. Israel today is the fate of the Jews, at least of those who did not make a conscious decision to disappear, to dissolve their identity among other peoples. Hatred towards Israel is hatred towards the Jews.
Thus the perspectives of the new anti-Semitism and the self-consciousness of the Jews of the Galut depend on how Israel sees itself. Israel's self-imposed position of weakness strengthens the new anti-Semitism, proliferates self-hatred in Jews, and destroys the Jews of Galut. The rebirth of the understanding of its rightness and strength by Israel will not leave a place for new anti-Semitism.