It is said that five Jews defined our culture:
Moses said: the LAW is everything
Jesus said: LOVE is everything
Marx said: MONEY is everything
Freud said: SEX is everything
Then Einstein said: everything is RELATIVE
A Jewish friend, who does not know much about my past, asked me the other day: are you a philosemite?
Seeing the expression on my face as I was preparing to answer she must have thought that I don’t know what the word means so she started to explain. I had to stop her, reassuring her that I do know. I did not want to give her another “it’s not that simple” answer, so I just said “well, you can say that.”
……. But then, can it be said? Do I really know what it means?
Let me see. My very first best friend in first grade was Jewish. The first girl I kissed was Jewish. My first true love was Jewish. So was the first woman I lived with. The most important group of friends I ever had were so Jewish that I was the only gentile among the around 40 of them. Most of my most respected mentors were Jewish.
Was it only good? Not really. I also had my Shylock moment. I’ve been rejected, screwed, belittled and insulted by Jews. I know some revoltingly arrogant ones. While some people may find the orthodox Jews quaint the way the Amish and the Mennonites are, I find their unveiled racism offensive.
All this means is that I have a history with them.
When I am asked about the Jews, I have to consider whether we are talking about people, the culture or the religion. I am not particularly crazy about the culture. I have the same level of interest in it as I have in any other. The religion? It has its pros and cons, both only in comparison. Its best aspect is that it does not try to proselytize. I just don’t care much for religion.
The cultural achievements? The Music? The literature? Not really. Not as long as its only focus is the Jewish culture itself. Most Jews who achieved greatness did so in a wider culture, representing far more than just their ethnic background. Mises is not about Judaism and neither is Marx. Some Jews embrace their background, some, like Marx or Soros actively reject it.
Jews are all over the intellectual landscape. They invented communism on the one hand while they are the most fervent advocates of freedom on the other (Mises, Rothbard, Hayek, Friedman).
Jews are overrepresented on both sides of the political divide between the champions of freedom and the goons of statism.
Do I respect their achievements? How could I not? Jews are one of the most accomplished ethnic groups in the history of mankind. They are also the most prosecuted. People with a complex and often painful history, people with the strength to flourish even under adverse circumstances. These adversities brought the best out of most of them. Does the recognition of these facts make me a philosemite?
Jews, like any other ethnic group, are whatever they are. Understanding their culture, knowing their history may help you to understand them better but it cannot be the foundation of any kind of blanket judgement in any decent person’s mind.
In the end, I am left with the people. But where does that actually leave me? I like and appreciate most of the Jews I know. I respect many of the Jews I know through their work but the fact that they are Jewish is not a factor in my liking of them. The same way my dislike of George Soros, Noam Chomsky or Naomi Klein has nothing to do with the fact that they are Jews.
Jeffrey Goldberg quotes a friend who said that “Philo-Semites are Anti-Semites who like Jews.” It is a smart-ass remark but it has a point. Loving all Jews still sees them primarily as members of an identifiable group. Philosemitism is akin to affirmative action. It is just another kind of racism.
Why am I telling you all this? Because the question came up in relation to the conflict in Ghaza as I was expressing my outrage over the treatment of the conflict in the mainstream media.
A while back I had a conversation with some other friends, liberals advocating the progressive mantra about the poor Palestinians and their Zionist oppressors. We have some mutual friends who are Jewish. My reaction threw them back a little. They asked if I am Jewish then started some defensive explanations saying that they have Jewish friends too. I am afraid that we ended the conversation with them believing that I am siding with the Israelis because I like the Jews.
But philosemitism has nothing to do with my position.
It has everything to do with my sense of justice, right and wrong. It has everything to do with my nauseating disgust of the intolerant, primitive, sleazy, evil and blood-thirsty barbarism of the Muslim radicals. It has everything to do with my anger about the rising anti-Semitism in the Western world.
Shortly after the question was asked, there were some riots in Calgary where Muslims were beating up Jews and other supporters of Israel. The police was nowhere and if it was not for Ezra Levant’s efforts of shining the light on the atrocity and calling people to action, the Muslim mob would have gotten away with it with impunity.
You may have a personal dislike of the Jews, their culture, their achievements and I would still expect you to support their right to exist. I would still expect you to take their side because the other side is so clearly in the wrong, so clearly and unrepentantly evil.
My concern here is that what I consider most elementary decency is becoming at odds with the world around me. My concern is the rising anti-Semitism and the cowardly response to it by politicians and the wider culture around us.
Anti-Semites of today use the politics of Israel as an excuse for their racism. But it isn’t that hard to find out what is going on there. It isn’t that hard to find the Hamas charter. The Muslims do not keep their feelings and their goals secret. We do not need special intelligence to find out what their immediate and long term goals are. First kill the Jews then move on to the rest of the infidels. As the Calgarian jihadist said: “We will destroy you.” Shouldn’t be a sense of self-preservation from all of us to unequivocally support the Jewish cause? To stand behind Israel?
You don’t have to like the Jews to be on their side. You don’t have to be a philosemite to support them on the front-line defending our world against barbarism.
~ ~ ~
…but maybe not like Kerry:
This is an excellent short history of the conflict.
This is an excellent site addressing just about any question you may have about the conflicts.
I am also particularly fond of the commentaries of Pat Condell, who still did not manage to say anything on any of his subjects that I cannot agree with. (That is a very rare feat)
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