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But both the benevolent Jew and the reprobate Jew, the supposedly reasonable and the plainly irrational, work against their own long-term interests in a pusillanimous and delinquent flight before the Accuser. These are the “degraded” Jews whom the great Jewish patriot Vladimir Jabotinsky deplored. They are reminiscent of the spies that Moses sent out to reconnoiter enemy territory, ten of whom on returning compared themselves to frail grasshoppers before the fearsome Anakim and recoiled from their destiny (Numbers 13: 33). They do not understand, in the words of Nurit Greenger, that “Israel is the last station in the Jews’ Via Dolorosa” and that “beyond this station is the Jews’ final crucifixion,” nor do they realize how profoundly they themselves are at risk. They have forgotten that the Jewish sense of security is always a false sense of security—that over the past 2000 years, as Melvin Konner points out in Unsettled: An Anthropology of the Jews, Jews have been expelled from 94 countries—and do not think to ask themselves why the future should be any different.
Renegade Jews especially have much to answer for. They are always happy to become token Jews, showcased at antisemitic seminars and congresses—where, as Alan Dershowitz writes in an article titled “Why Anti-Semitism Is Moving Toward the Mainstream,” the “red lines separating legitimate criticism of Israel from subtle anti-Semitism” are now being crossed at will. These turncoats pose as principled anti-Zionists, but their anti-Zionism is nothing more or less than a kosher antisemitism. In so being and doing, they acquire what historian Robert Wistrich calls “historic dissident status” by willfully providing their enemies with the ammunition they need to advance their cause while disguising their intentions. There is not much doubt that what we are looking at is a pathology of the first magnitude, what the Talmudic sages called sin’at akhim, or brotherly hatred, an element of Jewish life sufficiently pronounced to merit a name of its own. The 1930s Zionist Labor leader Berl Katznelson was very explicit about this. “Is there another People on Earth,” he asked rhetorically, “so emotionally twisted that they consider everything their nation does despicable and hateful, while every murder, rape, robbery committed by their enemies fill their hearts with admiration and awe?” The syndrome has come to be known as Jew Flu.
Jews do not have the privilege enjoyed by all other peoples in the world, that is, the luxury of hating one another or, for that matter, of hating themselves. Other groups can get away with intramural conflict, the Islamic umma being the chief example of a community that can inflict enormous damage on itself, sundered between Sunni and Shia, nationalists and pan-Arabists, despotic regimes and the equally tyrannical Muslim Brotherhood. Due to its numbers, its domination of the United Nations, its vast oil reserves and its energy stranglehold on the rest of the planet, it survives robustly and continues to exercise global power. Jews have no such exemption.
A Jew who hates another Jew or who is mortified by his own Jewishness has given hostages to fortune and rendered his own prosperity and well-being, let alone his survival, hypothetical. The universal human prerogative of hating one’s fellow man, whether members of one’s race, ethnicity or nation, should be anathema to Jews since they of all peoples can least afford it. No less than Cain hated Abel or Jeroboam hated Rehoboam or Paul hated Saul, the pathology continues to work its harm or, at the very least, to produce an etiology of dislocation in the self. It is only a small step from this ancient matrix to the current mob of anti-Zionist Jewish Jew-haters we are all familiar with, schismatics like George Soros, Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Amos Elon, Naomi Klein, Richard Falk, the late Tony Judt and, most recently, Gilad Atzmon asserting in The Wandering Who? his “contempt for the Jew in me.”
In his important book United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror, Jamie Glazov states that “Two of the most outstanding Jewish characteristics are the love of life and the enduring struggle to survive.” There is much truth in this observation; how else explain Jewish survival into the modern world against all the odds? Yet I fear that this is only part of the story and that in our ceaseless squabbles and conflicts with one another, our misdirected skepticism and historical amnesia, we may one day bring about our own demise. It is as if there is something in the Jewish soul that, despite its love of life, paradoxically hungers for its own extinction, as if the very quick of life, of practical wisdom, ethnic solidarity, love of the better part of heritage, faith in the political miracle known as Israel, and the stubborn desire to persist, will often lie dormant.
Under these circumstances, it is hard not to sympathize with the pungent and despairing remark of the Przysucha Hassidic Rebbe, Menachem Mendel of Kotzk, who said: “I could revive the dead, but I have more difficulty reviving the living.”
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