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Jewish self hate is one of the most fascinating of phenomena. While many nations now produce intellectuals who have self-hate the Jews seem especially adept at it. It is worth examining a few cases to understand that self-hate is primarily based on illogical concepts.
Recently the German government gave one of its highest civilian awards, the Federal Cross of Merit, to Felicia Langer, a supporter of the Palestinians who calls Israel the "apartheid of the present" and a defender of Iranian president Mahmud Ahmadinjad. She noted that the Holocaust denying Iranian president "is right" when "speaking about the suffering of the Palestinians". He had left Israel in 1990 "because for the Palestinians, unfortunately we cannot obtain Justice." She speaks often of how the Holocaust has harmed her family and when in Israel spoke of being part of the "other Israel" and noted "I'm for justice and against all those for whom the conclusion of the holocaust is hatred, cruelty and insensitivity." Al Ahram described her as "a beautiful and petite women with intense blue eyes" who "married Mieciu Langer, a Holocaust Survivor" and when she was given the award the spokesmen noted it was partly due to how "her own background as massively affected by the Holocaust."
Then in late July Prof. Yuri Pines wrote in an email to student about the threat of an Israeli soldier who died in a recent war having his home removed by the government that "I hope that not only the Major's home will be destroyed, but the entire settlement, and that the settlers will all be gone with the wind... I favor a complete annihilation of the settlement enterprise...they are my enemy." In an earlier interview the professor had said "I was... disgusted and astonished by the belief in Jews being the 'chosen people', in the 'eternal Jewish rights' and in the need of all Jews to gather in Palestine." He encouraged Israeli soldiers to "betray" their country.
These two cases of angry and fanatical Jews who live and thrive off of condemning other Jews is illustrative of most of the shrill and angry hatred by some Jews of other Jews. This strain of anger and those who practice it should be termed "the people of illogic". Consider a few more examples. Meir Margolit, Meretz representative on the Jerusalem City Council, noted about a new Jewish housing complex on the border with East Jerusalem" The Jews will change the Palestinian profile of east Jerusalem, and this will be an obstacle for peace in the Middle East. I say thank you to these Jews who are coming now because this is a provocation, and we will take advantage of this provocation." Note the anger against "the Jews" and the idea that this will be used as a "provocation" by Meretz in order to encourage Palestinian violence against those Jews.
Consider Professor Bill Freedman, an American immigrant to Israel, who declared that he would begin publically celebrating the Nakba, the day of mourning that Palestinians mark on Israel's independence day, instead of Israel's independence day. Freedman said "I can not sit on the sidelines while Israel descends into anti-democratic fascism... I am American originally, and the subject of freedom of speech is ingrained deep inside of me." Note the anger at his adopted country which he now calls 'fascist.'
Naomi Klein, who frequently stresses that she is a Jew, came to Israel for a book tour recently. She published her book Shock Doctrine in Hebrew through a publisher run by Jews(Andalus) that specializes in Arabic books and donated all proceeds from it to the Palestinians. She went to Bilin to throw stones at Israeli soldiers and noted "Boycott is a tactic ...we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa..It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said. "When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you really want to see doesn't play at the Jerusalem film festival... then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is."
Then there are rabbis Brian Walt, former executive director of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and Brant Rosen of the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston who began, along with 13 other rabbis, a "Taanit Tzedek-Jewish fast for Gaza." The group supports dialogue with Hamas, and asks "why does Israel need other countries to agree to the nature of its existence... why should other parties affirm the Jewishness of Israel?"
On July 1 Jacques Serving and Igor Vamos withdrew their film "The Yes Men" from the Jerusalem Film Festival in solidarity with the boycott and divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel. They spoke of how they "shared with" other participants "our Jewish roots, as well as the trauma of the Holocaust, in which both our grandfathers died." They wrote that ". In the 1980s, there was a call from the people of South Africa to artists and others to boycott that regime, and it helped end apartheid there. Today, there is a clear call for a boycott from Palestinian civil society. Obeying it is our only hope, as filmmakers and activists, of helping put pressure on the Israeli government to comply with international law." They said "its embarrassing as Jews to hear constantly what's going on in Israel"
Lastly there is Rosanne Barr and Josh Neuman, the former a comedian and the latter the publisher of Heeb magazine, a "jewish" magazine. Both are "Jews". In a recent photo shoot Rosanne Barr, who recently compared Israel's actions in gaza to Nazism, dressed up like Hitler and was photographed baking cookies in an oven (a gas oven?) and eating them. Such a stunt could not be made up and who else would publish such a thing but a Jewish magazine. Rosanne blogged about anti-semitism as her reason for doing this, but the same woman who compares Israel to nazim dressing up like the chief nazi, it all seems illogical.
What all these people share and the thousands like them is a claim that they are Jewish, a claim that they were affected by the Holocaust, a focus on Israel although usually they are not born there and an attachment to the Palestinians. But what they also share is a lack of logic. Consider Mrs. Langer. Langer is not a Holocaust survivor. She was born in Poland and fled the German invasion to Russia where her father supposedly died in Stalin's gulag. But she married a Holocaust survivor and from that point began to claim that she was affected by the Holocaust. Now with that supposed connection to the Holocaust she moved to Israel. In Israel she became an immediate supporter of the Palestinians who she identified with. Later she then left Israel, a country she had no sympathy or identification with and went into "exile" in Germany where she then became a "German Jew" even though, in reality, she was a Polish Jew who was not a Holocaust survivor. As a "German Jew" she not peddled her Holocaust credentials more as someone who, with her Holocaust background, was an automatic expert on human rights and "as a Jew" had a moral "obligation" to speak out about Israel. Thus the very fact of being "Jewish" means condemning Israel. That was then taken one step further by her, in her identification with the Palestinians, she supported the Iranian president in his hatred of Israel, even as he denied the Holocaust and called Israel a "nazi" state. But consider this problem. Without the Holocaust Langer could not longer be "massively affected by the Holocaust." Illogic is the center of the Langer ideology. Without the Holocaust there are no Nazis to compare Israel to and there is no Holocaust to make Langer seem like a moral beacon who must "sound the alarm" about Israel. Without the Holocaust, in short, there is no Langer, she is just another "petite blue eyed" woman.
But Yuri Pines illogic is even more interesting. Here is a "Jewish" person who grew up in Russia and opposed Communism, supposedly. He then moved to Israel where he immediately identified with the Palestinians and joined the Communist party in Israel which he found comforting in its calls for a Jewish-Arab brotherhood. He believes the existence of Israel to be illegal and hates settlers, yet he himself settles on the land, land he believes was illegally stolen from Palestinians. He encourages the murder and annihilation of settlers and the destruction of their homes, all the while living as a settler in Israel. Furthermore he condemns the Jews for claiming to be a "chosen people", a claim that they do not make but one foisted upon them by him. He condemns Zionism for choosing Palestine as a Jewish home and yet he makes his home in Israel, in Palestine. In Russia Yuri hated Communism so he came to Israel in order to hate it as well, condemning it for being Jewish which was the very thing that allowed him as a "Jew" to immigrate there. His Communist Palestinian-Israeli state would, of course, cancel the 'right of return' that allowed him to come.
Every extreme anti-Israel hater has the same illogic in their bones. Bill Freedman, an American who celebrated July 4th independence day in the U.S, moves to Israel, as a "jew", only to then identify with the Palestinians to such an extent that he mourns their Nakba but not his newly adopted state's independence day. Why didn't he just move to Jordan or the Palestinian territories or stay in the U.S? Why move to a state that one feels is "fascist"?
Naomi Klein, a Canadian, comes to Israel and claims to know that it is very important for it to be "western". Towards this end she claims to want to cancel "rock concerts" and "symphonies" from coming to Israel because she believes most Israelis value these things. But most Israelis can't ever afford to see the expensive rock concerts in Tel Aviv and no one in Israel except the Israel-hating bourgouise left in North Tel Aviv go to "symphonies". The "rabbis" in the U.S who fast on behalf of Gaza are equally illogical. Of all the things that as "humanistic Jews" they might fast for Gaza should be low on the list. But there is no fast for Darfur, there is a fast for Gaza precisely because it is next to Israel. Palestinian identity therefore defines these rabbis Jewish identity.
And Jacques Serving and Igor Vamos are even more confused. Neither has a Jewish last name but both claim to be Jewish and both claim to be connected to the Holocaust. Yet while they don't have any connection to Israel, aren't citizens or even visitors, they claim to be "embarrassed" by its behavior and "embarrassed" because other people call it "fascist". Consider the logic in this. A person living in a far off land suddenly decides he has some familial connection with people 5,000 miles away. He then find out other people call those people "fascist" and finds out those people he thought he had a familial connection to don't behave nicely. He then becomes "embarrassed"? Does this seem logical? Finding out that neighbours of this family these people suddenly are embarrassed by are calling for a boycott they then boycott this people. Its twisted because Mr. Serving and Vamos never had to pretend to have a connection to Israel in the first place and the connection to the Holocaust is entirely contrived, the "Holocaust survivor" connection only informs their hatred of Israel.
Ruth Bronner, a Jerusalem based researcher has shown that in fact the self-hatred of the Jews begins with the German Jews and the Holocaust. For leading Jews such as Hannah Arendt and Victor Klemperer the Nazis "were not German." In addition "everything Jewish was foreign." Consider how this works. The Nazis, who sprang from the bosom of Germany, were not the "real" Germans, because that was reserved for the Arendts and Klemperers, assimilated German Jews. Yet the actual Jews, mostly Ostjuden, who were hated and disdained by the German Jews, were "foreign". So the Nazis and the real Jews were both foreign. So how does that translate down to the present? For the German Jews and those who pretended to be German Jews like Langer (Klemperer too was born in Poland, like Rosa Luxembourg-Klemperer and Langer were also supporters of the Communist regime in East Germany and collaborated with it in its creation of the largest police state ever created) the Nazis and Jews were equally foreign and thus Israel, a Jewish state, can easily be transfigured into a Nazi state, as it has been in the language of many German Jewish intellectuals such as Hebrew University Professors Moshe Zimmerman, Zuckerman, Baruch Kimmerling and others. Thus the logic by which non-Israeli Jews object to Israel being a Jewish state has a logic, they believe that they are the true Jews and Israel, as a foreign thing, a Nazi apartheid fascist thing, is not Jewish and cannot be Jewish because to be Jewish is to be German-Jewish and therefore to be a Holocaust survivor. For these people there are two Judaisms, there are the foreign Jews and there is the self-Jews, those Jews for whome everything Jewish is foreign but who nevertheless need their Jewishness to be unique, because otherwise they fade into the larger mass of humanity and can no longer pretend to be "Jews for Justice in Palestine" or "Rabbis for Human rights".
Seth J. Frantzman is a graduate student in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, living in Jerusalem. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit his website: http://journalterraincognita.blogspot.com This article appeared July 26, 2009 on the Terra Incognita website. July 26, 2009
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