I guess I’m lucky but there haven’t been too many instances in my life when I have come across rabid anti-Semitism.
You just don’t see much open Jew-hatred in Canada. There is a social taboo against it.
Now while I am sure there are many people who harbour anti-Jewish feelings and beliefs and, in private, will give voice to those sentiments, you rarely hear these things spoken in public.
In Canada, it’s ‘just not done.’
It is precisely because of this collective agreement in our society that when people do express unvarnished and vitriolic Jew-hatred, it stands out so distinctly. It sounds even more appalling because our ears are not accustomed to it.
When presented with this ugly side of mankind, I try to make a distinction between the ignorant and the genuinely hateful.
For example, many people say offensive things ‘innocently’ in the sense that they are truly ignorant (i.e. they just don’t know). I don’t think they are being deliberately hateful. They could use some education, cultural awareness and tact… but I wouldn’t automatically lump these people along with neo-nazis, white supremacists and Klansmen.
There are also different brands of Jew-hatred.
The oldest, of course, is religious Jew-hatred. Jews as Christ-killers. Mercifully, in Canada and the United States, at any rate, this type of anti-Jewish mindset is not nearly as common as it was decades ago. This is due to in large part to the modern born-again evangelical community and their embrace of the Jewish people and Israel. Mind you, despite all their love and support, I believe the old Jew-hatred has just been shifted over and relabeled ‘anti-Judaism.’ Try this experiment. Next time an enthusiastic born-again fundamentalist evangelical is going on about how much he loves Israel and the Jewish people, ask him what he thinks about Judaism. What does he think about the Rabbis and the Talmud? Chances are, that old-time Jew-hatred is still there – it’s just been filed under a different heading.
Then we have the cultural/ethnic/racial hatred. The Jews as the eternal strangers in a strange land. Racially inferior. Never wanting to join the mainstream culture but always prepared to feed off of it. To this kind of Jew-hater, Jews are a disease, a parasite, a cancer which must be eradicated. The world needs to purify itself by ridding itself of all Jews.
There is the sociopolitical Jew-hatred. The age-old conspiracy theories have Jews controlling the banks and media. Jews pulling the strings behind the governments. Jews are the ultimate capitalists. Jews are the ultimate communists. The image of the blood-sucking Jew… the International Jewish Conspiracy… only this time it is the whole world that is the victim.
They’re all disgusting, of course, but as I said above, these kinds of Jew-haters are, thankfully, a tiny minority.
Then there are other groups that are larger, more vocal and more brazen.
I won’t even get into the whole subject of modern Islamic Jew-hatred. To a large extent, it is basically a rehash of Christian European brands of Jew-hatred, just tailored to suit their purposes.
I am also avoiding modern liberal anti-Jewish feelings dressed up to look and sound like anti-Israel or anti-Zionist arguments. And what drives me nuts about it the most? I am a liberal! There was a time when supporting Israel was a liberal position! You support free speech? Gay rights? The right to vote? Women’s rights? Freedom of association? Then you should support the Jewish state. This modern day ‘liberal’ stance makes me sick because there is nothing liberal about it. It gives me a headache and makes me want to turn to violence. Suffice it to say that it is a good thing that I am no longer in university. I would have to be tied down and sedated during the annual Israel Apartheid Week hate-fest.
By the way, if you want to hear a South African member of Parliament (i.e. Kenneth Meshoe, someone who has lived under an apartheid system and knows more than any of the Israel Apartheid Week participants what he is talking about) address the charge that Israel is an apartheid state, you really have to watch this video clip.
But what I am talking about is Jew-hatred on an individual level… not at the group level.
I can probably count on two hands the times in my life when I was confronted by someone who I firmly believed hated Jews. And I mean HATED Jews. And each and every one of these times, it was a most unpleasant situation.
There is no talking with true Jew-haters. And that’s one of the things I hate most about them. You cannot reason with them. They are literally blinded by hatred. Anything you say or do that fits in with their prejudice will be remembered and used to further bolster their beliefs. Anything you say or do that does not fit in with their hatred will be ignored. They don’t hate Jews because of what they did or what they said. They hate Jews for what they are in their twisted imaginations. It is almost impossible to ‘fix’ these people. The disease is too ingrained… too much a part of their DNA.
It is this type of person that I am talking about. Blind, bitter, poisonous people filled with an impotent rage. They’ll spray-paint some cemetery headstones or paint something on a synagogue wall. But by and large they are the ones who blame all of the failings in their own lives to ‘the Jews.’ Can’t get a promotion? The Jews are holding them down. Can’t get a loan or a mortgage? The Jews run the banks and financial institutions. The economy is doing poorly? The Jews own Wall Street. The movies these days are crappy? The Jews control Hollywood and are using it to poison the minds and souls of moral right-thinking members of society.
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of listening to some booze-soaked middle-aged white guy grumbling on about ‘those damned Jews’, you’ll know the kind of person I’m talking about.
So, you can’t talk to them. You can’t fix them. You shouldn’t ignore them. What do you do?
Two things prove effective, not so much against the Jew-hater but with normal people who are exposed to the hatred.
Education. And ridicule. This is a pretty good one-two punch.
Educate yourself as best you can. Mock them mercilessly.
It’s perhaps not as satisfying as taking a Louisville Slugger to them… but in the long run, it probably works better for everyone else.