Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Would You Answer This Question?

I know that this post may bring out the trolls and may not produce the sort of feedback and discussion that I’d like, but I’m willing to take that risk. You see, this morning on the way to school, my daughter (who is now a freshman in high school [and a varsity cheerleader, if I can brag for a moment]), asked me a question that she’s asked me several times over the years. The first time that she asked the question, she was probably in 3rd or 4th grade and I was stunned. Since then, the question has been posed numerous times. Each time, as she’s been a bit older, I’ve tried to make my answer more involved, more nuanced, more … complicated. But I can tell by the fact that she keeps asking the question that she remains troubled.

So what is her question?

“Daddy, why do people hate the Jews?”

I’ve posed her query to leading scholars of Jewish history and anti-Semitism. I’ve discussed her concern with rabbis and Jewish educators. But I still don’t feel like I have a satisfactory way to answer her question. And each time she asks me, I find myself troubled by how hard it is to answer her and by how persistent anti-Semitism really is.

There are all sorts of simple answers; most, however, are nothing more than excuses, some based in ancient history, others in conspiracy or theology. But few, if any, of those responses really seem to address the core question and reflect attitudes present today.

So how would you answer my daughter’s question? How would you explain to her why people who have never met her and who know nothing about her, can nevertheless hate her, simply because my daughter would say, if asked, “I’m Jewish”?

Why do people hate the Jews?

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2 Comments:

At Friday, September 05, 2014 9:03:00 AM , Blogger Reuben said...

Good question. My only thought is because they are taught to by previous generations. Same reason people hate any race - ignorance.
There is, of course, a more thorough answer somewhere, but I don't have it or would I understand it if explained.

 
At Friday, September 05, 2014 7:51:00 PM , Blogger David Kenyon said...

This is my hypothesis ... Fodder for your blog ...

I think most of the hate is from religious beliefs. While not all Muslims and Christians hate Jews, there is enough evidence that Islam and Christianity have doctrines which are anti-Semitic. And while liberal Christians denominations have renounced such doctrines and moderate sects of Islam explain them away, conservative religious groups have an active element of this in their belief systems. Such ideas had become ingrained in the culture to the point where unless a conscious effort is made, undercurrents will remain.

It would be no surprise that the hate is stronger in more conservative areas. Conservative Christianity believes anyone who doesn't accept Jesus is an outsider and will be headed to Hell. The unchurched might be "ignorant" in the minds of the pious or "mistaken" so ... unchurched people don't incur the hate ... they can be "saved". The Jews, in minds of some, not only are going to Hell but have REJECTED Jesus. "In the minds of some" is kind of key. Does lack of belief mean rejection? I guess if something is presented as an existent fact, then one can reject it. But if one just doesn't believe something is true, is that a rejection? (semantics?) I don't go around saying I reject Zeus. If Zeus were real, and I acknowledged it, and I said I hate Zeus, then I would reject Zeus. But if Zeus isn't real, I just don't believe. Jews just don't believe in Jesus as God or a the center of their faith, but in this minds of Conservative Christians, Jews reject Christ. So why do many Conservative Christians love Israel? Well ... in their minds, the Jews are a means to an end, which is the Second Coming. Supporting the State of Israel does two things - keeps the land open to Christians and progresses the World towards the Second Coming (in some strange way I don't understand). So while a Southern Baptist church might support Israel, they likely won't want many Jews living in their community, ... or perhaps certain kinds of Jews. A closed off Hasidic community might be welcomed, if they pretty much keep to themselves ... but what about the progressive-minded, Liberal, college educated Jews who believe in science? In some circles, this might be considered a bad influence, especially if some ideas of modernity run counter to Conservative Christian beliefs. An Atheist in such communities would have a hard time too. While a white man named "John Smith" might be mistaken for anyone else at first, expressions of non-belief would ostracize him immediately.

PCUSA?
It's hard to know what the hell they are thinking. Is it just the traditional and culturally ingrained anti-Semitism finding some rationalization in anti-Zionism? Not sure ... but seems more likely.

Non-religious societies?
This is a stretch .... but I am offering a possible hypothesis that would need some research --> The cultures built around these religions have the bias as part of the fabric. It is only when the anti-Semitism is recognized and culture is changed consciously does it leave. So while the Soviet Union was officially atheistic, the State exploited the organic anti-Semitism of Russian culture which originated from Orthodoxy and a tribal Russian xenophobia. Even in places like Western Europe where the Church has less influence, the cultural influence of the Church segregating the Jews out of mainstream society and treating them as outsiders is part of a cultural feeling that is hard to purge.

Leftist groups
Delusion? ... Hating on successful societies with power? The belief that the First World apparently represses other groups to maintain hegemony? The belief that Gazans are freedom fighters?

 

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