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Anti-Semitism: See Under Hate, Envy, and Israel


Every weekend I go down to the American River to wash my eyes with its beauty, and to refresh my mind as to what truly matters. I have a saying: Every week that ends by the river, was a good week; every week that begins in the river, will be a good week. But a couple of months back when I went there for my weekend visit, I was shocked to see a swastika painted in white on the bike-trail, from where I take a small dirt path that leads to the bank of the river. I saw no one around, and still went ahead with stopping by my favorite tree on the small hill, washing my eyes with the beauty of the rapids, enjoying the cool breeze, marveling at the flight of the birds.

And yet, this incident kept rolling in my head weeks after I’d informed the police and the park authorities about it, and after I’d been informed by a Park Ranger that they erased it. I did visit the river again, of course, and was happy to see that the hateful emblem was no longer there. Still, with everything else going on around the issue of anti-Semitism—I don’t need to spell it out for you, do I?—I decided to jump into these turbulent waters, see if I can reach the other side with something of value to tell you.

Here’s what I found: The cause of anti-Semitism is rooted, first, in deep old hatred. Hatred that, for whatever reason, is ingrained in some people hearts and minds. I can hardly explain it, as I’m not sure I know where it comes from; but it’s being passed on from generation to generation. Some people are so full of hatred and resentment, it simply blind them to the truth. They bring up and educate their offspring this way, and the children grow up hating Jews, yet without knowing really why they do, just as other people hate blacks or gays no matter the progress we’ve made. That’s the reality that some people live with, while trying to inflict and spread their venom around.

For me, however the question of envy is more prominent. Let’s be frank about it: The Jewish people—wherever they were, however much suffering, atrocity, and misfortunes befallen them—always managed not only to survive, but to excel. They are successful in most things they try their hands in, with some of the best doctors, scientist, artists… you name it. No wonder no other group, race or ethnicity, while being such a minority, can claim so many Noble Prize winners among their ranks. And of course, the need to survive in tough environments and circumstances had thought them how to be good in business. Yes, with money. How to work hard and make a good living.

Nothing wrong with that. Except in the eyes of some uneducated people, who’d rather lay around drinking beer instead of getting an education, or working-skills. Some poor people hate rich people; some unsuccessful people hate successful people; some downtrodden people take these feelings of envy and resentment on the most obvious easy target: the Jews. In their misinformed minds, Jews are responsible for all their problems. If it weren’t for the Jews, they would be well off. They’d get their money and be successful without the need to work hard and get an education. Blame the Jews, it’s easier; unleash violence too, and conspiracy theories on them.

As of late, though, I find myself concerned more with another source for the prevalence of anti-Semitism. It’s the “New anti-Semitism,” as I call it, result of Israel’s government actions, and the attitude of its people. This reason for anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, is a cause for great discontent among Jewish people, especially here in America. Because, when it comes to Israel and the way it deals with the Palestinian people and issue—the occupation and military rule over other people, the constant violation of basic human rights—they prefer to look the other way.

But in the world we live in, this might be of greater cause for anti-Semitism. Many people the world over, most of them democrats, liberals, open-minded people—most prominently in academia, media, and the arts—refuse to look the other way when it comes to Israel’s constant abuse of human rights and international law. Of course, Jewish organizations here in America are quick to equate it—wrongly!—with anti-Semitism. Add to that the large immigration of Muslim refugees, in Europe and also here, from Middle Eastern and North African countries, and we have a combustible situation ready to be ignited.

The Israeli government, especially all these years under the rule of Netanyahu, had operated under the belief that the increase in anti-Semitic virulent sentiments and violent actions in Europe and America, will in return increase the immigration of Jews to Israel. Will help Zionism, the way they see it; decrease the unfavorable demographic situation, and will help deflect the need to solve the Palestinian conflict. Which, to a degree, is what has happened. However, it’s also very unscrupulous and dangerous, as it continues to cultivate and fester anti-Semitism outside Israel, with accusation of Apartheid state in-the-making, and with unforeseen consequences.

* The ‘Leave a Comment’ link is the last tag below, in blue.

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One Response

  1. Good for you Hillel, for recognizing that the atrocities committed by the Israel government are one cause of an increase in antisemitism on the part of those who associate its acts with Jews in general. Also the cynical belief by Israeli leaders that any sort of antisemitism will be good for Zionism because more Jews will immigrate to Israel. That’s a sad, old story, unfortunately, in the annals of Zionist leaders effectively, and sometimes explicitly, allying with the worst antisemites.
    The “new antisemitism” label isn’t new. It’s been the rubric used for several decades now by those who try to take the leap from the old-fashioned variety, based on a combination of religious and racial hatred with class marginality, to asserting that all or at least most criticism of Israel is based on analogous motives. You show effectively how that is nonsense.
    And don’t forget that it’s made even worse by the public assertion of Israel’s leaders that they speak for Jews everywhere, that our loyalty belongs to the “Jewish state” no matter what it does. Thank goodness more and more U.S. Jews, especially young ones, no longer buy that nonsense.

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