Let’s begin this discussion with an excerpt from Chloe Valdary’s much larger column on J Street.
By adopted persecution, I mean the tendency both historically and in recent years of certain segments of the Jewish community to internalize the accusations foisted upon them and blame themselves for the evils of the world. What often happens is, in an effort to achieve ostensible peace with one’s adversaries, one essentially agrees with everything the adversary says, and works with the adversary to rid Jewish society of its alleged evils to obtain an idyllic utopian society of brotherhood.
Benzion Netanyahu writes about this manifestation in pre-Zionist days when ideas were being debated in the Jewish community on how to stem the tide of European anti-Semitism. Communism was advanced by some Jews as an alternative to Jewish national pride, what we call Zionism today. One of the premises of this notion of thinking was that since communism proposed the dissolution of all distinctions, whether that be ethnic or national, Jews would no longer be persecuted.
They would not be viewed as a distinct nation but rather apart of the larger brotherhood of the world. So, like the notion that a woman is responsible for being raped, certain Jews sided with those who proclaimed that their very “Jewishness” was what caused anti-Semitism in the first place. Anti-Semitism would necessarily cease with the eradication of this Jewish distinction, both cultural and national. But it is the very eradication of Jewish distinctiveness that is itself a form of anti-Semitism. Indeed, history proved this. Yet, this new variation of Stockholm Syndrome is still advanced as a legitimate position within the Jewish community.
I haven’t heard the term Adopted Persecution used before and it’s apt. I think that there are several manifestations of what is widely referred to as “Jewish Self-Hatred”.
1. Self-Hatred – On the one hand there are a variety of neurotic responses to persecution. There is the personal response. Like the fat kid who begins preemptively making fat jokes, there are neurotic Jewish Anti-Semites who respond to Anti-Semitism by becoming Anti-Semitic.
Some of these are classical mental cases. Others identify with the ‘superior group’ by despising Jews. You can see in the twisted saga of the Soros clan. It may not be accurate to call them neurotic. They’re wannabe Nazis. Soros isn’t crazy. He isn’t notably neurotic. There’s nothing of Norman Finkelstein about him. His sense of superiority is rooted in despising Jews. And he gets that from his parents.
It’s not a unique phenomenon. There was a segment of 19th and 20th century European Jewry that saw itself as superior because of its distaste for the Jews. Their spiritual descendants today boast of having no connection to the Jewish people while ranting about Israel. They’ve simply swapped out aspiring to membership in one elite group for another through Anti-Semitism.
There are also the collective responses to solving the Jewish problem that Chloe references. They have become rare domestically, but you can see that driving impulse to repair the reputation of the Jewish people by solving Israel. You can see that attitude bleeding through Roger Cohen’s pieces, but it’s become rarer these days as the Jewish people are becoming polarized into a secure community and an insecure non-community. The latter is not concerned with the Jewish people as a whole. They’re not interested in Jews as a people in any way.
Those still concerned that Israel is making Jews look bad are generally older.
2. Egocentric Jewish Anti-Semitism – This overlaps somewhat with the Soros brand, but it’s not a response to history of any kind. It’s often personal. Sometimes it comes from a sense of rejection. Their lifestyle clashed with a community. They resent their parents.
Other times it’s as senseless as any other form of hatred. Left-wingers of Jewish descent are indoctrinated to hate their own people. It’s a subset of the white privilege school. Even when they aren’t, their politics lead them to do it anyway. If you have no special feeling for Israel and you take a college course on the Middle East, you’re likely to come out hating Israel and then Jews for being so greedy and provincial. And like Soros, you’ll feel that your Anti-Semitism makes you a better person.
What it isn’t however is self-hatred.
The term self-hatred is often a misnomer especially today. Jewish Anti-Semites of the non-neurotic kind rarely hate themselves. They hate others. They like themselves quite a lot.
This flavor of Jewish Anti-Semitism is becoming more common than the self-hating kind.