Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition by David Nirenberg

By David Nirenberg

A strong heritage that exhibits anti-Judaism to be a valuable frame of mind within the Western tradition.
This incisive background upends the complacency that confines anti-Judaism to the ideological extremes within the Western culture. With deep studying and style, David Nirenberg indicates how foundational anti-Judaism is to the heritage of the West.

Questions of the way we're Jewish and, extra seriously, how and why we're not were churning in the Western mind's eye all through its historical past. old Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans; Christians and Muslims of each interval; even the secularists of modernity have used Judaism in developing their visions of the area. The thrust of this practice construes Judaism as an competition, a threat usually from inside of, to be criticized, attacked, and eradicated. The intersections of those rules with the realm of power—the Roman destruction of the second one Temple, the Spanish Inquisition, the German Holocaust—are renowned. The methods of suggestion underlying those tragedies are available on the very beginning of Western background.

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All-powerful and exclusivist (therefore usually antisemitic) nationalism is a key ingredient in the ideal environment for Jewish nationalism because it rebuffed individual Jews seeking to merge into the dominant nationality (for example, the Polish nationality in Poland) while serving as a significant model and inspiration for autonomous national Jewish politics. Indeed, it stands to reason that antiscmitism in general—whether or not it is linked to nationalism—is a "good thing" for Jewish nationalism, for one thing because it disabuses Jews of the hope that integrationist solutions are possible, for another because it often precludes Jewish economic progress and upward social mobility.

Insofar as we speak a different language, we are obligated to make an effort to have the Jewish masses know their own language, satisfy their needs in their language. . We are not, however, fanatics of the Yiddish language. There is no "holy Yiddish" for us. It is entirely possible that in the near future the richer languages of the stronger and more highly developed peoples will push aside the Yiddish language in every country. 56 Dimanshtain was obviously no Jewish nationalist. Moreover, since he and his fellow left-wing Jewish section activists, whether socialists or Communists, were total secularists, they could not, in contrast to the integrationists, combine a belief in the necessity for acculturation with a conception of a Jewish future as a religious sect with a unique, even holy mission.

I have already said that the answers to the questions I have posed in order to arrive at a typology were sometimes ambiguous. The "frontiers" separating the various camps were not always clearly defined—for example, in the case of the various Jewish socialist "sections" and die members of such Jewish socialist organizations as the Bund. An important complicating factor was the international status of the Jewish people. Since the Jews' situation differed greatly from one country to another, it made perfect sense, and was quite common, for some Jewish organizations to claim that in one country (the United States, for example) the Jews constitute a religious group, but in another country (for example, Poland) the Jews may well be a nation and therefore should have national rights.

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