26 July 2007

"Self-hating Jew" - a terminology issue?

The article What self-hating Jews can teach Muslims is one of the many thought provoking pieces by Bradley Burston. Its main premise: using a specific category of Jews (and Muslims) as a mirror, albeit distorted and faulty, to highlight the ills of the respective societies, is not a trivial idea. Of course, this article will be attacked (actually it is attacked, just look at the talk-back) by both the ultra-left and supra-right and no doubt Bradley himself will be branded as a self-hating Jew (I just cannot force myself to read the talk-back, after stumbling on a revelation that "Einstein gave Israel the formulae for the Atom bomb").

My attention, aside of the main idea mentioned above, was riveted by the use of the term "self-hating Jew". It seems that this buzzword, so beloved by the cranks of the Masada2000 type, was unquestioningly accepted not only by the hawks of the Jewish political spectrum but by the doves as well.

It is rather an unfortunate turn of events, for several reasons.

1. "Self-hating Jew" is a fallacy.

Aside of a handful of (more or less) obvious psychiatric cases like this one, the overwhelming majority of people branded this way are anything but self-haters. These people do hate most of us, Israelis, for just being what we are. They hate the unfortunate (for them, but also for us) fact of being born into a Jewish family. They hate the mere suspicion of whispering behind their backs, especially during an anti-Zionist gatherings they frequent. They hate each other, squabbling and competing for media attention and notoriety.

But they definitely do not hate themselves, rather the opposite. They clearly understand where their personal profit is and do their best to turn even the fact of their Jewishness into a marketable product. It could be witnessed by so many articles starting with a statement like "I am a Jew, but...".

Ask yourself whether insidious Norman Finkelstein - a man who transformed the largely Jew-haters' occupation of denouncing the so called "Holocaust industry" into a profitable high visibility business - is a self-hating Jew? Hardly.

Is John Rose - a person whose hate of the "Zionist Entity" may serve as a beacon for any wannabe Jihadi martyr - a self-hating Jew? Nope.

Is Tony Greenstein (to use another recently reviewed example) a self-hating Jew? No way, his love of self is nothing short of narcissism...

Etc. The examples above are not anecdotal evidence, rather some fairly typical, if more notorious, representatives of the species.

2. "Self-hating Jew" is misleading.

I would guess that Bradley used this term for convenience only - to designate the easily identifiable group of people. However, the danger inherent in this unfortunate term becoming a commonly used language coin should be transparent. For those of us who are just lazy, it contains a convenient explanation of the phenomenon. This term does not require further breakdown, analysis and the trouble of going into the reasons why. Which frequently leads us to wrong conclusions about the nature of this or that attack and, as a result, to a wrong response that may entirely miss the point addressed by this or that SHJ...

3. "Self-hating Jew" label is convenient to the so called "self-hating Jews".

Of course, the two points above are used (and abused) exceedingly well by the people we unthinkingly label by that term. It should be clear that by wrongly labeling a person we provide him/her with a convenient point for a counter-attack, having nothing to do with the issue at hand and in this way only help this person in muddying the issue.

These are my three points on the subject, following the IDF tradition of dividing everything (but the cafeteria chicken) into three parts. And my only hope is that it will dissuade a few of my readers from using this term altogether.

And if you are in need of a strong adjective or two to replace that SHJ nonsense - we are open for business here at any time (aside of that allocated for eating, sleeping and related tasks).



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