Toward the Making of Self-Hating Jews

Self-hating Jews, I think, deplore the reflection of themselves that they see mirrored in the eyes of the non-Jewish world; this determines how they experience their own Jewishness.

self-hating Jews

Non-Jewish societies have, for centuries, found reason to hate and criticize us Jews and we seem to buy into it each time anew. In ancient times, some of us conspired with our enemies to slaughter the more religiously observant members of our community (the Hanukkah story, for example). In later times, there were self-hating Jews who converted to Christianity and were often instrumental in the persecution of other Jews (examples given in Baum, 2010, pp 163-168).

self-hating Jews need to be reflected in globally accepted humanitarian rights activism
Rabbi Heschel marched with Martin Luther King, Jr., an example of Jewish participation in the civil rights movement in the USA.

Today the Jew-mirror reflects upon Israel and uses so-called violation of “Palestinian” human rights as the excuse. This is a particularly cynical weapon to use against us given the centrality of human rights issues within Judaism. Our orientation toward human rights was expressed, for example, in the not insignificant parts Jews played in the civil rights movement in the USA and in the fight against apartheid in South Africa (you do see the irony in that one, don’t you?).

The Jew, Israeli or not, who does not know our history sufficiently well, who does not truly understand the context of the conflict between Israel and the Arabs, shouts out: “Not me! I’m not that kind of Jew.” This Jew tries to separate himself or herself from the Jew reflected in the eyes of contemporary haters. This Jew even shouts out: “Not In My Name,” meaning: “I’m a good Jew, not like those Jews there!” This Jew even conspires with the haters, imploring the haters to boycott that Jew and to file a suit against that Jew in the International Criminal Court. This Jew is no different than Tiberius; he used his knowledge of Jewish life to serve as advisor to the Roman legions that destroyed the very Temple the gates of which were constructed using resources donated by his own father.

Self-hating Jews, like many of us, have learned that each and every Jew represents The Jewish People in the eyes of those who hate us and those who do not (see: Once a Jew Always a Jew). Therefore, they have one of two options: (1) pretend they are not Jews at all; or (2) try to filter out those of us who, they think, reflect badly upon themselves. The latter are trying to create a Homogenized Jewish People, one they believe would render us acceptable to the non-Jewish world. If only the non-Jewish world would see how good we really are, they would not hate us so much, as if the hater distinguishes between this Jew and that Jew.

Not every Jew who criticizes the behaviour of our country is a self-hating Jew. Criticism is legitimate and important. However, there is a difference between criticism that attempts to make this country a better one and criticism voiced in such a way as to provide ammunition to the Jew-haters who seek our demise. The former can tolerate the tensions among all our diverse views and the latter is threatened by it.

The former can feel pride in our accomplishments, grief in our tragedies and dismay at our faults; the latter feels little if any pride in our accomplishments, righteousness in face of our tragedies and gloats about our faults. THAT is self-hatred.

So, when propagandists tell the world that Israel is oppressing Arabs, and neither the world nor many Jews have the historical facts straight, you create horror and anxiety in the minds of those Jews who impulsively agree that such oppression is criminal and must be stopped. They seem to feel they must fight against their fellow Jews — those who proudly serve in the IDF and those who live in Judea & Samaria.

They see the soldier and the “settler” as the reason for our decline from the former exalted status Israel enjoyed when we were seen as weak: David with a slingshot fighting the Goliath Arab World that tried to roll over us from north, south and east and push us into the sea. How absurd it is that in the wake of our astounding unanticipated success in defending ourselves, the wheels have turned and now we are being accused of bulldozing our way into Judea & Samaria, supposedly with the intention of doing to them what they intended (and still hope) to do to us!

Jews – Israeli or not — who do not know our history, who do not truly understand the context of the Middle East, seem to be able to regain their sense of security as “good people” only by agreeing to recognize themselves in the mirror set up by haters reflecting their distorted image back to them.


This article first appears on Israel Diaries.

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  1. Very well said Sheri and well written as per your norm.

    My only issue is with the title ‘self-hating Jew”. It’s a mis-nomer. I don’t think they hate themselves. They just have the need to point out to all the world, in no uncertain terms, that we are far from perfect. It’s as if they want to bring us down.

    • Thanks, Shirlee.

      I must admit that I still struggle with the term, self-hating Jew. As I think those I wrote about here struggle with their own feelings about the fact that they are Jewish.

      • The term David Guy suggests is ‘Jews Against Themselves’. I think that is perfect.
        I receive their emails and FB feeds and many are religious.

    • How can someone with so much self love be self hating? After all they publicly proclaim themselves as so much more moral and wise than the rest of us run-of-the-mill Jews.

      I call them as-a-Jews from their favourite phrase “I condemn Israel as a Jew”. Edward Alexander called them Jews Against Themselves,

  2. I never used the term “self hating Jews “.

    It gives them a status and a degree of understanding they do not deserve. Their sheer bloody minded cowardice disqualifies them.

    They remind us that Jews can be very very bad people. They disgust me more than the language allows me to say.

    They are antisemitic Jews. A bizarre and commonplace phenomenon that has been with us longer than we care to admit.

    There is no worse racist than an antisemitic Jew.

    They shame us all

  3. What I’d like to call them isn’t permissible. !!!

  4. Larry Langman

    “There is no worse racist than an antisemitic Jew.” – Geoff this comment needs a bit of expansion I think. To my mind their are many “worse racists” that have done harm to the Jewish People…..

    The history of the Jewish People is littered with Jews who chose a different direction from that of normative Judaism. And I think in the majority of cases, it has been the contest against such people that has made the Jewish people stronger and better. I think that is still true today.

    I am far more interested in finding out why a Jew should feel that Judaism is heading in the wrong direction than someone who is not a Jew

    I agree with the general view that “self-hating Jews” is a poor term for these folk. Many would claim that they love Judaism……though that love is extremely conditional. Their claim is always, “Change………its for your own good!”

    As the festival of Hanukkah reminds us……opposition to such folk can lead to some really interesting outcomes.

    • I am not talking about dissidents, Larry,least of all religious dissidents, no matter how strident they are.

      I have in mind individuals who adopt the ugliest slurs of the slanderers, give them a new twist or two of their own, and then allow themselves to be used as cover by ordinary, garden variety racist antisemites usually of the “left wing “type

      The sheer cowardice and violent vanity of this disgusts me. It’s like a black man joining the Klan because he likes hiding in a cape.

      If you go to the left wing site, New Matida, you will see an example of what I am talking about.

      This individual recently wrote an article to mark the anniversary of Gaza war. All the usual antisemitic tropes were pressed in ” the Israelis deliberately targeted children ” (the classic blood libel),the IDF shelled hospitals, schools, mosques etc etc

      Now go to comment thread. It’s not all there. “The Jews learned nothing from the Holocaust ” (they always manage to cram in the Holocaust somewhere ) the Jews are guilty of genocide and so on and so on.

      The astonishing thing is the proprietor of this site and responsible for publishing this muck sees himself as a champion of aboriginal rights and is member of the Australian Press Council.

      Although nothing should surprise us any more

      I’m not a fan of 18C type legislation but if there ever was a case for a 18C prosecution (or something even tougher under state laws this would have to be it.

      • Geoff, the Board of Deputies, along with other ethnic groups are working on it.
        Last year, when the complaint against that dreadful video by a member of Hiz but-Tahrir was rejected, the BoD contacted the relevant state ministers.

  5. Andrew Schonberger

    May I add, as possible cause, the decentralised nature of Jewish society, from day one. The Pesach story teels us that Jewish culture has been born to be the opposite of the great river civilisations of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
    More than three millenia later, this shows in the Jewish tendency to contradict the majority. A Jewish person feels satisfaction, by voicing an original opinion. The pursuit of such contrarian pleasures may take certain Jewish individuals quite far from the tribe.