In this dialog I try to deconstruct a "mild" anti-Semitic text. I myself wrote the text - not an easy task considering my ancestry (a Jew) and my citizenship (an Israeli). But to penetrate the pertinent layers - historical, psychological, semantic, and semiotic - I had to "enter the skin" of "rational", classic anti-Semites, to grasp what makes them click and tick, and to think and reason like them.
I dedicated the last few months to ploughing through reams of anti-Semitic tracts and texts. Steeped in more or less nauseating verbal insanity and sheer paranoia, I emerged to compose the following.
The rising tide of anti-Semitism the world over is universally decried. The proponents of ant-Semitism are cast as ignorant, prejudiced, lawless, and atavistic. Their arguments are dismissed off-handedly.
But it takes one Jew to really know another. Conditioned by millennia of persecution, Jews are paranoid, defensive, and obsessively secretive. It is impossible for a gentile - whom they hold to be inferior and reflexively hostile - to penetrate their counsels.
Let us examine anti-Semitic arguments more closely and in an unbiased manner:
Argument number one - Being Jewish is a racial distinction - not only a religious one
If race is defined in terms of genetic purity, then Jews are as much a race as the remotest and most isolated of the tribes of the Amazon. Genetic studies revealed that Jews throughout the world - largely due to centuries of in-breeding - share the same genetic makeup. Hereditary diseases which afflict only the Jews attest to the veracity of this discovery.
Judaism is founded on shared biology as much as shared history and customs. As a religion, it proscribes a conjugal union with non-Jews. Jews are not even allowed to partake the food and wine of gentiles and have kept their distance from the communities which they inhabited - maintaining tenaciously, through countless generations, their language, habits, creed, dress, and national ethos. Only Jews become automatic citizens of Israel (the infamous Law of Return).
The Jewish Response:
Race has been invariably used as an argument against the Jews. It is ironic that racial purists have always been the most fervent anti-Semites. Jews are not so much a race as a community, united in age-old traditions and beliefs, lore and myths, history and language. Anyone can become a Jew by following a set of clear (though, admittedly, demanding) rules. There is absolutely no biological test or restriction on joining the collective that is known as the Jewish people or the religion that is Judaism.
It is true that some Jews are differentiated from their gentile environments. But this distinction has largely been imposed on us by countless generations of hostile hosts and neighbors. The yellow Star of David was only the latest in a series of measures to isolate the Jews, clearly mark them, restrict their economic and intellectual activities, and limit their social interactions. The only way to survive was to stick together. Can you blame us for responding to what you yourselves have so enthusiastically instigated?
Argument number two - The Jews regard themselves as Chosen, Superior, or Pure
Vehement protestations to the contrary notwithstanding - this is largely true. Orthodox Jews and secular Jews differ, of course, in their perception of this supremacy. The religious attribute it to divine will, intellectuals to the outstanding achievements of Jewish scientists and scholars, the modern Israeli is proud of his invincible army and thriving economy. But they all share a sense of privilege and commensurate obligation to civilize their inferiors and to spread progress and enlightenment wherever they are. This is a pernicious rendition of the colonial White Man's Burden and it is coupled with disdain and contempt for the lowly and the great unwashed (namely, the gentiles).