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Antisemitic fresco in St Paul's Church in Sandomierz, Poland, depicting antisemitic blood libel canard.
News and Opinion

Faces of Political Judeophobia
The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. (Job 9:24) .

-- Sergio Caldarella

At the core of the political doctrine of the legal scholar Carl Schmitt, an ideologist of German Nazism and a student of Max Weber, lays the opposition of Friend versus Enemy. In the political manipulation of masses, the friend/enemy mechanism plays a very important role: you’re either with us or against us, tertium non datur, third is not given. When complex human interactions are reduced to the basics of small desires and primitive instincts, as in certain political doctrines, the simplification of a world divided into “with us” or “against us” becomes an element of cohesion and a reason for political legitimacy. Jews, blacks, immigrants, gypsies, homosexuals, and all the “different from us” are, from time to time, ideal candidates for the creation of the opposition “us” versus “them.”

In the case of the hate against the Jews, this mechanism seems to be reinforced by an inexplicable phobia of “the Jew” as an abstract entity. This is the reason why the predominant psychological aspect of hate against the Jews makes more appropriate the use of the term “Judeophobia,” coined by the Jewish scholar Yehudah Leib (Leon Pinsker) in 1882, in reference to anti-Semitism. As the scholar Gustavo Perednik pointed out, one advantage of Judeophobia over anti-Semitism is that “Firstly, it makes manifest that the Jews are targeted for hatred and not anyone else. Secondly, while the prefix ‘anti’ and the suffix ‘ism’ suggest that their bearer opposes an ideology, the suffix ‘phobia’ implies that we are talking about an irrational phenomenon and not about an idea or opinion.” There are no reasons whatsoever to hate Jews, blacks, immigrants, gypsies, homosexuals or any other group of people on the basis of their ethnicity or diversity: The fact that such a simple truth needs to be clarified so repeatedly over the past centuries has already something bitter and grotesque in it.

According to some philosophers, man is, by nature, a zoon politikon, a political animal; and politics, at least in the intension of some scholars, is supposed to be the organization and clarification of human affairs, although organized society has transformed or interpreted this aspiration as just a basic simplification of the material instincts of man. Politicians do not address individuals; their speeches are usually for the masses. Material strength and electoral victory is in the number: the word “politics” itself comes from the Greek polis, which means “community” but derives from poli, “many.” We know well that the vote of two illiterates counts democratically more than the vote of a Nobel laureate. Democracy is basically arithmetical and it is a simple fact that the vote of two serial-killers counts more than the vote of one winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace; it is simple math! That’s probably why the Roman philosopher Seneca said that we have to weigh votes, instead of counting them, and this paradox of democracy is at least as old as the popular choice between Jesus and Barabbas. One possible way of reading the evangelical story is that the decision of the majority is not automatically the “right” decision, especially if the masses are, in one way or another, misinformed and manipulated. That’s probably one of the psychological reasons why, in the 1930’s, two Jews — Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — created the character of Superman. In a time when Nazi ideals were successful and supported by many people around the globe, the creation of a fictional superhero, from a psychological standpoint, was the product of the unconscious desire of having at least one moral man with superpowers opposing the strength of the wicked multitudes.

None of the bizarre accusations against the Jews produced by the Judeophobic mentality has ever been proved true, and most of the stories they are based on are so incredible that only a mind willing to believe these weird tales could accept them. These include the accusation of the ritualistic killing of children, promulgated in Europe by Christians, repeated later by Communists, and echoed most recently by Islamic clerics in Saudi Arabia. Evidently, Judeophobics are not at all concerned with reality, but mainly with its manipulation. They do not need evidence for their accusations, because their main argument is based on pseudo-legitimacy, paralogism, denial and revisionism – in most cases combining all of these into a curious mixture of irrationality, hate and rhetorical abilities.

Even without putting reason on an undeserved pedestal, we notice that the only rationality Judeophobics accept is reason as they want it to be. During an interview for a TV documentary in New York, a street person pointed out that Michael Bloomberg, the city major, is of Jewish heritage, and he added that Rudolph Giuliani is Jewish. When the interviewer objected to that statement, the man replied, with a curious certainty, that one has just to pronounce the name of the former Italo-American major to understand —because the English phonetic pronunciation of the name “Giuliani” sounds like “jewliani,” and for a Judeophobic person that’s enough to make Giuliani Jewish!

That’s also why it is so difficult to analyze Judeophobia, because one is trying to rationally apply the scope and tools of analysis to irrationality; but rationality is forever doomed to be incapable of “understanding” irrationality and vice versa. Every effort to understand Judeophobia needs to be, at the same time, analytical, sociological and historical as much as psychological and psychoanalytical. In Civilization and its Discontent, Sigmund Freud states that “If the development of civilization has such a far-reaching similarity to the development of the individual and if it employs the same methods, may we not be justified in reaching the diagnosis that, under the influence of cultural urges, some civilizations, or some epochs of civilization — possibly the whole of mankind — have become ‘neurotic’?”. If an entire society could be neurotic, certain doctrines might prove, better than others, that certain aspects of a collective neurosis or delusion of the modern mind and Judeophobic statements, in their confusion and intellectual disorder, are not the product of a real situation but the byproduct of a psychological one. Apparently, in modern Western countries, the mass media do not use direct Judeophobic propaganda; the stress is more on Zionism and the State of Israel. While in some non-western countries, Jews are still the object of infamous propaganda.

The use of propaganda, misuse of words and information ad hoc plays a fundamental role in the psychological shaping of a negative perception of the Jews in the public opinion. Usually this propaganda just repeats simple mystifications over and over. The terms “Palestine” and “Palestinians,” for example, are used repeatedly with such an obstinacy that, in the western public opinion, they have acquired a sort of “historical legitimacy.” But even in the 1970’s well-known leaders of the PLO refused to acknowledge a distinction between Palestinians and other Arabs in the area. “There is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians and Lebanese; we are all members of a single nation,” Zahir Muhsein, Chief of Military Operations of Arafat and the PLO, stated clearly during an interview published in the Dutch newspaper Trouw on March 31, 1977. “Solely for political reasons are we careful to stress our identity as Palestinians, since a separate State of Palestine would be an extra weapon in Arab hands to fight Zionism with. Yes, we do call for a Palestinian State for tactical reasons.”

The Arab-American journalist Joseph Farad then posed a very interesting question that echoes Muhsein’s statement: “Isn't it interesting that before the Six Day War there was not among the Arabs a serious movement to found a Palestinian homeland? How is it possible for Palestinians to suddenly discover their national identity after Israel won the war?”

But, in spite of cultural or historical knowledge, the talk about Palestine and the Palestinians has entered so much into the arena of common language that nowadays few pay due attention to the content of such a term and its legitimacy. Where does the word “Palestine” come from? The Latin name Palaestina was originated by the Canaanite tribe of Philistines, which, in turn, is basically an etymology from the Jewish P'lishtim. Officially, the name Palaestina came into modern use because the Romans adopted it around the 2nd century and there is no connection whatsoever between the Canaanite tribe and the modern-day Arabs.

Yehezkel Bin-Nun, in his essay The Myth of The Palestinian People, also pointed out some interesting geographical problems. “To maintain the charade of being an indigenous population, Arab propagandists have had to do more than a little rewriting of history,” Bin-Nun wrote. “A major part of this rewriting involves the renaming of geography. For two thousand years the central mountainous region of Israel was known as Judea and Samaria, as any medieval map of the area testifies. But ever since Jordan occupied the area in 1948 they renamed it the West Bank. This is a funny name for a region which actually lies in the eastern portion of the land and can only be called ‘West’ in reference to Jordan” (Israel Insider, January 7, 2002).

All this twisting of historical facts is happening with the consent of the great majority of the press, the academy, some politicians and — puzzling enough — many intellectuals. In the political arena, even among politicians who paradoxically define themselves as progressive, it is very common to find Judeophobic statements disguised as anti-Zionistic. This is probably one of the reasons why Reverend Martin Luther King, certainly a man of high sensitivity to discriminatory and racist issues, during a 1968 appearance at Harvard, demystified certain political disguises of Judeophobia with a short but conclusive statement: “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” Leon Wieseltier extends this concept, saying that ”The notion that all Jews are responsible for whatever any Jews do is not a Zionist notion. It is an anti-Semitic notion.”

Wherever the right to exist is denied in the name of an abstract difference of color, ethnicity, gender, sexual preference, etc., there we have the triumph of ignorance and evil which leads to denial of the sacredness of human life. Fear is the ugly nephew of ignorance and human defection; that’s why fighting against ignorance is to fight for mankind and democracy. It is probably not stressed enough that without education, no real democracy can exist — and by education, we do not mean just the achievement of a school degree. Socrates was democratically condemned by an audience of malicious and ignorant Athenians. To know and to understand are synonymous with comprehension and acceptance. The opposite of knowledge and understanding is not bliss, but condemnation to a world where the beast weighs more than the angel.

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