Antisemitism by Levy, Richard S., Lindemann, Albert S. & Richard S. Levy

By Levy, Richard S., Lindemann, Albert S. & Richard S. Levy

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Some see antisemitism much as others see criminality; both are deeply, even mysteriously rooted and largely incurable. Antisemites, like hardened criminals, must be met with force, not sympathetic understanding; they need to be punished, incarcerated, or rigorously isolated. Efforts to understand them sympathetically will be thankless—and dangerous, much like efforts to appease dictators. Whichever position one favors, the far-reaching implication of the different power of Jews and non-Jews in history is a crucial consideration.

From this perspective, Gentile hatred is to be interpreted not only as divine punishment for Jewish transgressions but as part of God’s plan to preserve Jewish separateness—to uplift, purify, and ennoble the Jews through suffering. , Next Year in Jerusalem, London: Viking, 1976, 8). In other words, the centuries-long experiences, both negative and positive, of Jews in being driven from their promised land into exile have deepened their spiritual sensibilities and broadened their intellectual horizons, rendering them in some sense unique or at least highly unusual among the peoples of the world.

The specific term, the Jewish Question (sometimes the Jewish Problem), came into wide usage in the early nineteenth century, as part of a characteristic reforming mood and an optimism about how a series of problems could be solved reasonably, prominent among them the Irish Question, the German Question, the Social Question, and the Woman Question. To state what is obvious but at times unappreciated, most of those who offered proposals to solve the Jewish Question believed in that possibility, implicitly accepting Jews into the human family and not considering them a mystically separate and unchangeable branch of it.

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