WRITER’S NOTE: This post engendered a lot of empassioned responses. Some of the responses were directed at the question I posed; Others were directed at me.
I normally don’t shy away from passionate responses: In fact, I feel that part of my job is to write about topics people care about enough to respond passionately to. And when I saw the response to the British test question I described below–the same question I posed here–I thought that this would be a question our readers might want to respond to as well.
(I had actually been thinking of asking this question for a while. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article about Goldman Sachs that led to the arrival of some of the anti-Semitic commenters who seem to be prevalent online. As I was deleting their comments, I thought, as I had before, “Where on earth does this stuff come from?”)
As I said, the post was greeted with an empassioned response. Lots of the feedback, believe it or not, was positive: I was praised for starting a discussion on a sensitive topic. But lots of the response was also negative–as in, “What kind of an insensitive rockhead would ever ask a question like that?”
Some readers also felt that, if I was going to ask why some people hate Jews, I should also ask why some people hate blacks, Mormons, Christians, Muslims, and every other group that is occasionally subjected to hate. And I certainly could have asked those questions, too (If the commenters on my Goldman post and the British religious-studies exam had focused on Muslims, I might have asked that question first). One smart reader suggested that I just summarize all those questions by asking “Why do people hate?” And that was a reasonable question.
And then I got the feedback that clued me into the fact that I had crossed a line I hadn’t intended to cross. Some people I like and respect told me they felt insulted by and uncomfortable with the post.
That did it.
Whatever interesting responses came from the post, I now regret writing it. (I’m OK making people feel uncomfortable about some topics, but not this one.)
I am very sorry to anyone I offended. I sincerely apologise.
Citizens in Britain were startled recently when a religious-studies exam featured the question, “why do some people hate Jews?“
The question was immediately blasted as inappropriate and quickly withdrawn.
But it’s an interesting and important question.
Along with many other sites, this site is occasionally visited by people whose mission in life appears to be to express hatred of Jews. (We delete these comments as quickly as we can, but they’re always startling in their venom, meanness, and stupidity.)
And hatred of Jews has obviously been an ongoing theme worldwide for centuries.
Hitler, for example, hated the Jews so much that he murdered 6 million people.
What is the source of this animosity? Why does it perpetuate itself? Where did this prejudice come from?
I’m asking this question seriously, and I’m going to Bleacher any comments that don’t answer it seriously. As usual, I’m also going to ban any anti-Semitic commenters. And I’m only going to keep the comments open for 24 hours, because I know what will happen once I stop checking back in and reading them.
In the meantime, I’m genuinely mystified and curious, and I look forward to reading your responses.
Why do some people hate Jews?
Or, put in a more delicate fashion, what are the sources of the anti-Semitism that seem to play such a central role in many people’s lives?
NOTE: The original photo in this post was of a couple of jovial Orthodox Jews, one of whom was wearing a traditional hat. Some readers found that needlessly provocative. One suggested I replace it with a picture of Natalie Portman. So I have.
NOTE 2: The original title of this post was “Why Do People Hate Jews?” That made a lot of people angry. Folks seem more comfortable with the current title, which, admittedly, is less direct. So I changed it.
UPDATE: Now I see why Britain was startled when this question appeared on that religious-studies exam. Apparently, it’s not a question you’re supposed to ask.
UPDATE 2: Readers would also now like me to ask the following questions:
- Why do people hate ____ people [fill in any skin colour]
- Why do people hate ____ [fill in any religion]
- “Why do people hate?”
Those are all good questions, too. Feel free to add your answers to those below, too.
UPDATE 3: John Podhoretz has been kind enough to send along a list of books on this topic, written by professor Robert Wistrich. It’s available here. Please let me know which is the best, and I’ll read it and summarize it in a future post.
NOTE 4: Thank you. Lots of interesting comments mixed in with some more predictable ones (along with a lot of frustration with me for even posing the question). I’m going to close the comments now, because I can’t keep scanning them. I’ll read Mr. Podhoretz’s book recommendation above and come back with the scholarly answers.
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