When I sold out my small chain of prescription pharmacies (Vanguard Pharmacy) I had to fill in my time, and one of my former tenants gave me the idea to have a blog. To be honest at that time I was unaware as to what constituted a blog. Now I know! It couldn’t have filled in my time better, as I have a reputation for saying my piece when even on occasion I would have been better off by saying and doing nothing. This is not one of those times. I am born Jewish and even though I practiced my religion in a modest way , I felt and acted like a person of the Jewish religion. I had a Bar-Mitzvah and before reaching 90 years attended a synagogue on the high holidays. As anybody who has read my blog knows I have many articles describing the Jewish faith in one way or another but I centre primarily on anti-Semitism and to try and figure it out with no success! This bothers me a great deal as I try to the best of my limited ability to come to conclusions, and to make sense of why 15 million people spread all over the world can be disliked by such diverse groups. At the time of the second world war 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis throughout Europe but you may not be aware that many other Jews for centuries in smaller numbers suffered their minor killings all through Europe. I believe that the Germans and Adolf Hitler would never have succeeded in these murders without the active acquiescence of most of the nationalities in Europe and even though they had been invaded by Germany and occupied, their hatred of Jews was paramount and they looked to benefit from the holocaust. I was looking for answers and read two articles that I found at least came close. I have a friend Catherine Chatterley who has an organization that she successfully manages called CISA ,The Canadian Institute For The Study Of Anti-Semitism and one of the authors Moishe Postone wrote the following.
Whereas most forms of racism attribute concrete physical and sexual power to an “OTHER” that is considered inferior, modern antisemitism does not treat Jews as inferior but as dangerous purveyors of evil. It attributes great power to Jews, but that power is not concrete and physical. Rather, it is abstract, universal, intangible, and global. The Jews within this framework constitute an immensely powerful international conspiracy. Modern antisemitism is not simply a form of prejudice directed against a minority group but provides a framework for understanding an extremely complex and historically dynamic world. Modern antisemitism then, is a worldview that, building on earlier forms of antisemitism, purports to explain critically the modern capitalist world. It is distinguished by its populist anti-hegemonic and antiglobal character…Against the abstract domination of capital, reified in concretistic terms as the Jews, it posits concrete particularity as that which is authentically human. Antisemitism then, does not treat the Jews as members of a racially inferior group who should be kept in their place (violently if necessary) but as constituting an evil destructive power–an antirace opposed to humanity. In its totalizing explanatory paradigm, the Jews are associated with an immensely powerful intangible international conspiracy that encompasses the entire world system. Postone analyzes that modern antisemitism perceives “international Jewry” to be centred in the asphalt jungles of the newly emergent urban megalopoli, to be behind vulgar, materialist, modern culture and, in general
all forces contributing to the decline of traditional social groupings, values and institutions. The Holocaust, he suggests, had no functional purpose and the extermination of the Jews served no goal but the destruction of the Jews. A goal that acquired absolute priority.
WHY THE JEWS Understanding history`s most viral meme
Tablet Magazine By Eugene Bardach
There are “the Jews”, and then there are the Jews, and they are mostly not the same. The Jews live next door or in the next village over. Some are helpful and friendly, others are aloof and greedy. “The Jews,” however, live nowhere in particular. They are a creature of cultural and psychological myth, living in people’s individual and collective minds. “The Jews” of myth also carry a stigma: They excel at communal action, secretive projects, and serve their own interests at the expense of others. At their most dangerous, “the Jews” are a successful conspiracy. When Jews are persecuted, it is usually because the persecutors are aiming those “Jews” of conspiratorial myth, even as the blows fall on the heads of the local Jews, the ones without quotation marks.
This conspiratorial justification for the persecution of Jews is an important part of the larger, more familiar species of “Jew hatred”. Here is a useful anecdote. Matt Collins, a British neo-Nazi turned informer, described his former buddies in a 2019 New Yorker profile as sitting in a pub in Northern England aiming to “Get pissed, make threats, blame the Jews and go home”. Blame which Jews? It must have been the mythic one, because in Warrington, England, Jews are thin on the ground; the Collins group might not have even known any real ones. They were ready for action, though.
“The Jews” is also a meme, a bit of information that has the ability to spread like a virus among various populations, to become highly visible, and to serve as a target for a generalized mood of hostility and violence. The meme of “the Jews” is not encumbered by actual Jews, who are impeded by gravity, time, and traditional means of travel. Because it is a cultural phenomenon rather than a reality, “the Jews” meme can leapfrog freely from one geographically disconnected but culturally networked community to another—from Christianity to Islam to communism—from Christianity to Islam to communism—hibernate for long periods.
It is an unusually adaptable meme, too, and finds a way to wiggle into every social, political, and cultural crevice. Its core message—that Jews have a unique capacity for collective agency—is the part that gives it such resilience across time and place. The varied, seemingly inconsistent charge sheet of offenses—from deicide and plague to racial pollution and financial manipulation—makes t adaptable in every temporal, social, or political context.
In its travels, the viral meme of “the Jews” has had lots of help. Person-to-person transmission is only one mechanism among many–and effective too, because it relies on human beings’ desire to carry and transmit the popular ideologies of their environment. Since the earliest days of the blood libel until the last decades of the 20th century, Christian doctrine was effective carrier. Both left-wing and right-wing populism are ideal carriers too, as well as are all varieties of demagoguery, and totalitarian movements like fascism and communism.
The broad reach of “the Jews” — alternately a myth, a meme and a virus, with its powerful combination of thnoreligious bigotry and conspiracy attribution–helps explain why Jews (no quotation marks) are disproportionately blamed when either a faith or secularism is considered to have gone astray. “The Jews” myth explains why, after so many centuries of evidently false and destructive accusations, something as new and specific as QAnon still immediately comes up with, of all things, charges of child trafficking against the Jews. While these misdirected attacks aim straight at “the Jews” of myth, they are of course absorbed by the real, local, proxy Jews. By understanding the nature of “the Jews” myth, it becomes a lot easier to answer the question, “Why the Jews?” Because with them, you are free to choose any accusation; as for the accused, any Jew will do.
In one respect, the conspiratorial persecution of Jews is welcome news: It suggests that what is abundant in the world is not a specific or personal hatred of Jews, but conspiracy-driven hatred in general, for which the Jews just happen to make a good target.
But the significant role of conspiracy in the persecution of Jews is not exactly goodnews: Regardless of how Jewish persecution begins, the results are often the same. Fear and atred of “the Jews” may be even more resistant to countermeasures, and thus more resilient, than gut-level hatred of the actual Jews next door. With the latter, at least we can hold out hope for the positive impacts of education, familiarization, and facts. Conspiracy theories of any kind, however, are notoriously hard to combat. Facts and reasoning don’t get the job done, and proving a negative (no, Virginia, there is no secret, invisible conspiracy”) is challenging.
Fighting antisemetism–that is, the conspiracy-driven kind of hatred–with communal organization or money or government power may make individual Jews and Jewish communities feel like they are “doing something”. There is some value to that; the feeling of agency or control can be enormously important to individual and communal health. But otherwise, it is often largely a wast of time.
A more effective counterstrategy to the viral meme of “the Jews” might target the carrier rather than the virus itself. As the linguist and evolutionary psychologist Steven Pinker has advocated, general enlightenment is the best antidote to a host of illiberal carrier ideologies, antisemitism and conspiracy theories among them. Conspiracy theories are dangerous for Jews no matter who the intended target is or how they start. Sooner or later, they all have a funny way of coming back to us.
The best way to fight antisemitism might be to just continue promoting liberal practices and thought. Achieving enlightenment rationalism on the scale of whole societies, alas, takes time and patience. It also runs against the grain of human nature, which is remarkably resistant to attempts by rationally minded people to stamp out it’s worst demons.
Related articles: “Are Educated People More Anti-Semitic?” A new survey shows that a remedy American Jews have put their faith in for the past century may now be spreading the disease. By Jay P. Greene, Albert Cheng, and Ian Kingsbury.
“Why Conspiracy Theorists Like Marjorie Taylor Greene Always Land on the Jews”. Once you’ve decided than an invisible hand is behind the world’s problems, it’s only a matter of time before you decide it belongs to an invisible Jew. By Yair Rosenberg
“The Flames of Anti-Semitism Are Growing Higher, Fueled by Both the Left and Right”.
2020 was a terrible year for anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and attacks on Jews. 2021 promises to be worse.
By Hannah Elka Meyers