Jewish anti-Semites today are at the forefront of virtually every smear campaign directed against Israel, and of nearly every attempt to cow American and Western Jews into guilty support for those groups and countries in the Middle East who aspire to annihilate them. Indeed, Jews pioneered the movements to paint Israel as an apartheid regime and to stigmatize it as the moral equivalent to Nazi Germany. They are leaders in the contemporary campaigns to boycott and "divest" from Israel, and in a host of organizations with terrorist ties. Some of them go so far as to make pilgrimage to the camps of Hamas and Hezbollah, lauding the terrorists and justifying their atrocities against Jews.
Jewish anti-Semites are particularly prominent on Western college campuses. Some even hold leadership positions in Hillel houses. Many others are tenured professors. A Jewish judge (Richard Goldstone) chaired a United Nations commission demonizing Israel. A Jewish member of Britain’s Parliament (Gerald Kaufman) compared Hamas terrorists to Jewish fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto and denounced Israel as a Nazi entity. But this is not only a Western phenomenon: a large number of Jewish anti-Semites are Israelis or ex-Israelis.
Most Jews dismiss such people as “self-hating,” but this term is misleading. These individuals do not hate themselves; they hate other Jews and wish them harm.
Jewish anti-Semitism was once considered a bizarre irrelevance. It was touched upon gingerly in the groundbreaking 1947 film, Gentleman’s Agreement, but was long ignored as a marginal psychological disorder by the organized Jewish community. Modern Zionists expected that the creation of Israel would put an end to any neurotic self-abasement that had afflicted Diaspora communities; that it would end Jewish spiritual insecurity and identity issues as well as physical insecurity. Instead, however, the growth of a powerful Israeli state has enabled the most rabidly anti-Semitic Jews to thrive.
Harvard psychiatrist Kenneth Levin views Jewish anti-Semitism partly as an attempt by some Jews to gain social acceptance in an environment that is hostile toward Jews; as an effort to rectify a menacing situation by self-blame, a response seen in small children who have been abused. Such a phenomenon is akin to the notorious “Stockholm Syndrome,” whereby victims adopt the outlook and agenda of their victimizers.
Jewish anti-Semitism is not easily explained as a result of assimilation by people of Jewish descent who have lost interest in their heritage, or who have become indifferent towards the history of their people and therefore casually alienated from Israel and its travails. On the contrary, Jewish anti Semites are intensely involved in their “roots” and use them adroitly as protective coloration allowing them to more “authentically” advance their anti-Semitic propaganda. The notorious Norman Finkelstein provides a good example of this syndrome. The child of Holocaust survivors, he uses this heritage to legitimate his denial of the Holocaust and his fervid anti-Israel and anti-Semitic message.
Adapted from "The Pathology of Jewish Anti-Semitism," by Steven Plaut (February 16, 2010).