In a column appearing in The Independent, the fiercely anti-Israeli UK daily, Avram Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset, Chairman of the Jewish Agency and scion of one of Israel’s renowned religious Zionist families, commended the UK government for measures designed to boycott Israeli goods produced beyond the green line and urged the EU to do likewise “in Israel’s interest”.
Burg, who had the chutzpa to state that he was writing as a “Zionist”, described Israel “as the last colonial occupier in the Western world” and proclaimed that “the Israeli people’s eyes are blind and their ears are deaf” and the “real enemy of Israel’s future is Bibi Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel”.
In the past, Burg has called for the abrogation of “the law of return” which he defined as “a mirror image of Hitler”. He has described the Jewish state as “a ghetto of belligerent colonialism” and urged Israelis to obtain foreign passports. He also recommended the dismantlement of Yad Vashem and its substitution by new headquarters for the International Criminal Court.
Yet few would dare to describe this man, whose mother’s family was butchered in 1929 during the pogroms in Hebron, as a “self-hating Jew”.
That is because one of the most effective accomplishments chalked up by political far-left activists was their success in eliminating the term “self-hating Jews” from the Jewish political lexicon. They are abetted by those from the extreme right who indiscriminately label every Jewish critic of Israeli policy as a self-hating Jew.
By cynically employing inverse McCarthyist tactics to silence their critics, the far left succeeded in intimidating politicians and writers into adopting a form of political correctness which suppresses mention of one of the primary factors motivating the bizarre Jewish involvement in the campaign to demonize and delegitimize Israel.
Today, anyone employing the term “self-hating” in relation to Jews is summarily condemned and accused of being chauvinistic.
Yet any objective review of Jewish history demonstrates that “self-hatred” was always an important element motivating Jews who turned against their own people and far predates the existence of Israel.
The current situation was accurately summarized in a recent interview with Howard Jacobson, recipient of the highly coveted Man Booker Prize for the novel “The Finkler Question” which satirized British anti-Semitism and “self-hating Jews”.
Ironically, his interview with Maya Sela appeared in the English internet edition of the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, which is probably the most important global media platform promoting the rantings of Jews demonizing Israel.
Jacobson nonchalantly abandons political correctness by ignoring the taboo on the term “self-hating Jews” when referring to Jews who demonize and delegitimize Israel.
He relates to “the need for Jews to be, one way or another, anti-Jewish. The need for so many Jews, particularly intellectual Jews, to express their hatred with embarrassment with Jewishness, and hating Israel is just the latest version of it. Jews were doing that long before there was a modern state of Israel… I suppose that if you belong to a minority that has been hated for so long, then you begin to sort of absorb some of that. It would be very surprising if you didn’t. In psychology they would tell you that an abused child will in the end come to take the view of himself that the abuser has. I don’t doubt that some Jews do that”.
Over the ages, anti-Semitism has inflicted such devastating suffering on the Jewish people that it inevitably spawned a small but highly vocal number of Jews obsessed with dissociating themselves.
If one analyzes the behavior of Jewish apostates during the Middle Ages, notorious for accusing their kinsman of satanic rites and churning out the vilest anti-Semitic tracts, there is little doubt that they were motivated by self-hatred as well as opportunism.
The era of Emancipation also witnessed Jewish Universalists engaged in campaigns defaming their fellow Jews. In the nineteenth century socialist revolutionary arena, self-hatred led to justifying pogroms as a lubricant to generate revolutions.
Karl Marx was a prime example of this. Although converted to Christianity, he was a descendant of a long line of rabbis. His noxious self-hatred was the basis for his vile anti-Semitic tract “Zur Judenfrage”, in which he stated that “money is a jealous God of Israel… The social emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of society from Judaism.”
The tradition of “self-hatred” was sustained by Jewish communists. In the Soviet Union, the Yevsektsia, the Jewish section of the Bolsheviks, were notorious for behaving more harshly and displaying a greater determination to destroy synagogues and Jewish cultural institutions than their non-Jewish counterparts.
Western Jewish communists applauded Stalin’s murder of Jews and crimes against the Jewish people and were amongst the staunchest defenders of the Evil Empire.
In Israel, the fellow traveling Mapam, the forerunner of Meretz, behaved as schizophrenics, seeking to combine their Zionism with love and allegiance to the Soviet Union, even when one of their leaders, Mordechai Oren, was arrested and tried on trumped up espionage charges in Czechoslovakia.
Yet it was only after the Oslo Accords, when Labor (Mapai) was desperately trying to convince Israelis that peace with the fork-tongued Arafat was feasible, that the self -haters emerged en mass from the closet. They assumed prominent roles at universities and attained political respectability by infiltrating the Labor Party and obtaining excessive media coverage in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz and its English language website, which prior to becoming dominated by post Zionists, was considered the leading intellectual newspaper of the land. Today it vigorously promotes journalists who demonize the state with the same vigor as their communist antecedents.
The Israeli self-haters range from outright political psychopaths like former Israeli musician Gilad Atzmon who justifies the Nazi murder of the Jews, to failed politician Avram Burg who delegitimizes his country. They include journalists who paved the way for the Goldstone report and charges of war crimes against Israel by demonizing the IDF, whilst defending the intransigent and duplicitous Palestinians.
In addition, there are some diaspora Jews, ugly blemishes on the fringes of Jewish communities throughout the world, who stand at the vanguard of the anti-Israeli pack. Most of those engaged in these activities, unlike Avram Burg, stem from assimilated or delusionary leftist backgrounds and have no genuine involvement in Jewish life.
But occasional despicable behavior by groups on the extreme right may also qualify as a manifestation of self-hatred. Ironically, I clearly recollect the late National Religious Party leader Dr. Josef Burg, father of Avram, confessing to me that he was having sleepless nights out of concern that some Jews residing in isolated settlements would absorb and transform the fierce animosity radiated by Palestinians surrounding them into a form of “self-hatred” which could manifest itself by anti-social behavior.
In summary, “self-hating Jews” is unquestionably a term which should be employed to identify those small pockets of Jews who demonize their own people. But it should be employed in a highly selective manner and not utilized indiscriminately against naïve well-meaning “bleeding hearts” or legitimate critics of Israeli policies with whom we may disagree.
The writer may be contacted at [email protected]
This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post