- Jews are usually proud to define themselves as Jews.
Some Jews may, for instance, proudly carry the Jewish banner (Jews for
Peace, Jews for Justice, Jews for Jesus and so on) as if they believe that
the 'J' word contains special righteous attributions. However, they also
will be gravely offended if they are called a 'Jew' by others. Suggesting
to a Jew that "he is a Jew" or "behaves like a Jew"
can be regarded as a serious 'racist' offence.
- It is linguistically noticeable that the symbolic identifier
'Jew' or 'Jewish' operates as both noun and as an adjective. As much as
the term points to a 'thing' it is also descriptive. However, I assume
that symbolic identifiers associated with ideological and identity politics
tend to function in a dual grammatical mode. The words 'feminist', 'socialist',
'Nazi' and 'white supremacist' can point to a human subject but they can
also be descriptive. I guess, for instance, that a feminist who proudly
carries the feminist flag may also accept that being called 'a feminist'
will also assign some particular characteristics and ideological beliefs.
Crucially, we also accept that being a feminist, a socialist, a Nazi or
a white supremacist are matters of political choice. People are not bornfeminists
or as socialists. They adopt those ideologies or identities later in life.
- From this perspective the 'Jew' signifier or symbolic
identifier is slightly different for the Jews who are born into a collective
identity. Almost like any case of biologically determined conditions such
as 'women', 'men' or 'blacks', some people are born Jews However, here
we are clearly setting ourselves into an interesting twist. First, European
Jews can easily disappear into a white Western crowd by means of assimilation
and integration and leave their Jewish identity behind, where as black
people and women have to live their life accepting and enjoying who they
are. Second, the duality between the noun and the adjective in the case
of 'black' and 'women' is not necessarily realised as a gulf. Neither black
people nor women are offended being called 'black' or 'women'.
- To a certain extent the manner in which 'Jew' as a signifier,
operates within the discourse may be similar to the case of the 'gay' symbolic
identifier. While many gay people are proud to exhibit their gay identity,
many gays are also offended when being labeled as 'gays' by others. In
different cases of identity and marginal politics we can notice a parallel
and simultaneous tendency to 'own' and 'disown', a clear inclination to
'identify' with a collective yet a refusal to be 'identified' as such by
- In multicultural reality we tend to believe that this
contradictory mode of behavior is something to do with the usage and misusage
- A stereotype is commonly defined as a public or common
belief about specific social groups, or types of individuals. It is often
a product of an essentialist generalization by the means of induction:
it involves a nonscientific assumption about the properties of a class
of subjects based on an accumulation of observations or anecdotal encounters
which become reinforced with time and repetition.
- The concept of 'stereotype' is often confused with the
notion of 'prejudice'. Rather often we notice that a stereotype attached
to ethnicity, class or any group are a means of performing an opinion,
usually an unfavorable one, based on insufficient knowledge and irrational
- On the face of it, it would seem as if Jews are over
sensitive to the 'racial' discriminatory implication of the 'J' word. However
most Jews are not that concerned when being associated collectively with
some great minds, adorable violin players or conductors. In short to safely
apply the 'Jew' category, you just have to make sure you say the right
things. No one will ever cause you any trouble for mentioning Albert Einstein
in reference to Jewish intelligence or even bringing up Anne Frank as an
exemplary motif of Jewish innocence but you may get into some serious trouble
once you mention the following list of real and fictional characters: Bernie
Madoff, Fagin, Wolfowitz, Lord Levy, Shylock, Alan Greenspan, Netanyahu
and Nathan Rothschild without even identifying them as Jews.
- All of the above depicts a very obscure, yet far from
surprising picture. As it seems, Jews, largely do not mind stereotypes
or collective categories. They do not mind racial generalizations and essentialist
stigmas as long as they are positive.
- Fagin Vs Anne Frank
- It occurred to me recently that by juxtaposing Jewish
stereotypes (those Jews seem to hate versus those Jewish ethnic campaigners
try to promote) may throw some crucial light over issues to do with Jewish
collective identity. It would also suggest to us how Jews might see themselves
and even more importantly, it may also help us to grasp how they prefer
to be seen.
- It is rather obvious that some Jews are rather unhappy
with Charles Dickens' Fagin and Shakespeare's Shylock who they regard as
'anti Semitic'. I get the impression that the prominent Zionist enthusiast
and London Barrister Anthony Julius would like to see these cultural iconic
characters diminished from popular discourse. On the other hand, the British
Holocaust Education Trust (HET) already managed to plant Anne Frank within
the British curriculum.
- It doesn't take a genius to gather why Julius and others
are concerned with Fagin or Shylock. Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a
child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With
Fagin and Shylock in mind Israeli barbarism and organ traffickingseem to
be just other events in an endless hellish continuum. However, it is also
obvious why the HET is so thrilled by Anne Frank. On the face of it, and
for obvious reasons, Frank is there to convey an image of innocence. And
indeed not a single moral system could ever justify the ordeal this young
girl went through along with many others.
- Yet, Anne Frank wasn't exactly a literary genius. Her
diary is not a valuable piece of literature. She wasn't an exceptionally
clever either. She was in fact a very ordinary girl and this is exactly
her power within the post WWII Western cultural discourse. She was just
an innocent average girl. In fact, the attempt to make Anne Frank into
a cultural hero may be a genuine reflection of the Zionist inclination
towards sameness. Frank mirrors the desperate Zionist attempt to prove
to the world that 'we the Jews' are people like other people. Moreover,
the success of Anne Frank's Diary is there to suggest the West's willingness
to accept Jews as people amongst peoples.
- Yet, once again, the Jewish discourse is caught in a
limbo. Jewish people can never achieve their task. They can never be like
'other people' for no other people aim to be like other people. In fact,
those who demand to be seen as equal must feel inherently and categorically
different. Once again we face a repetition of the Jewish identity's collective
unresolved chasm between 'who one claims to be' and 'what one happens to
- In his latest book Trials of The Diaspora, Anthony Julius
renews his attack on those whom he labels as 'anti Semites' for being anti
Zionists. The problem with anti Zionism, says Julius, is that "it
denies the Jews the right that it upholds for other comparable people,
it adheres to the right of self determination except in the Jews' case.
It affirms international law. Except in Israel's case. It regards Jewish
nationalism (i.e. Zionism) as uniquely pernicious, rather than merely another
nationalism" (Trials of The Diaspora, Anthony Julius pg Xl, Oxford
University Press). The cry for legitimacy and sameness in Julius' text
is pretty embarrassing,especially due to the fact that the Jewish 'right
of self determination' is celebrated at the expense of someone else (the
Palestinians). Zionism is uniquely pernicious at least for being devastatingly
sinister to the indigenous population of the holy land. It is apparent
in Julius' text that the London barrister somehow prefers to evade engaging
with the notion or the meaning of ethical thinking.
- For Hasbara (propaganda) to win a debate and for Julius
to win his argument, Jews have to prove that they are truly the same rather
than demand to be seen as similar. Surely Julius must know that winning
a moral argument is very different from winning a court case.
- Presumably Julius is familiar enough with Kant's 'categorical
imperative' that suggests that to behave ethically is to 'act in such a
way that the maxim of one's actions can be willed as a universal law'.
Julius may fail to grasp that ethnically cleansing the vast majority of
the Palestinian population cannot be 'willed as a universal law'. Locking
millions in concentration camps such as Gaza is not exactly a maxim of
profound ethical standing. Dropping white phosphorous on people hiding
in a UN shelter doesn't make the Jewish state look like every other state.
In fact, it doesn't make Jews look like other people either. WatchingJewish
lobbies around the world push for a war against Iran doesn't make Jews
look like ordinary people. And this is something that even Anne Frank cannot
- As much as Julius and others would like to remove some
crucial stereotypes from our collective cultural discourse, they can actually
expect the complete opposite. Fagin and Shylock are now more popular than
ever before. Devastatingly enough, it is Fagin and Shylock who shed light
over the Jewish state and its lobbies around the world. Fagin is neither
alone nor is he an isolated fictional episode. The list of Zionist crimes
is emerging so rapidly that it is almost impossible for us to keep up.
- I am reluctant to suggest to Julius that his attempt
is in vain. The world out there is turning rapidly against Israel, Jewish
nationalism and Jewish supremacy. Removing Fagin, Shylock and TS Eliot
won't stop the word 'Jew' from being an adjective and a negative descriptive
emblem. For that to change, or for Jews to be genuinely respected, self-reflection
is of the essence. Instead of pointing out what is so wrong with the Goyim,
Jews may want to consider looking in the mirror. I tried it once many years
ago. I have never recovered. It transformed me into a profound self-hater.