by Paul Eisen
Sunday, March 25th, 2012
Solar, one of our commentators asks me to name one living anti-Semite. I’m happy enough to do this but before I do, I ask him what he means by the term.
Solar is reluctant to commit himself so, to help him along, I say what the term means to me.
For me, there seems two possible meanings. The first is someone who opposes all Jews simply because they’re Jews. The second is someone who opposes ‘Semitism’ – some kind of Jewish ideology, mindset or spirit.
The first is of course absurd. In all my life I’ve never come across anyone who opposed Jews just because they were Jews. Oh, I’m always running into people (more and more these days) who don’t seem to like Jews very much, but that’s always because of the way Jews think and behave, – more recently the way Jews behave towards Palestinians and the way other Jews behave to defend the way Jews behave towards Palestinians.
Anyway, the notion is implicitly absurd. I don’t like cauliflower, but not just because it’s cauliflower, but because it’s white, looks funny and smells of sick.
Trouble is, the situation becomes so much more complicated with the possibility that a Jew is a Jew only because he/she thinks and behaves like a Jew (I suppose a cauliflower is also only a cauliflower because it’s white, looks funny and smells of sick).
Still, any way you look at it, people don’t much like the way Jews think and behave and my feeling is they’re not going to put up with it forever.
So what to do?
Well, one way is that Jews simply stop being Jews – just as Jesus, St Paul, Karl Marx, Israel Shamir and Gilad Atzmon have done. It is a solution but, for me, not a satisfactory one. A few years ago I went to observe Jewish Book Week in London. During one of the sessions, someone from the audience asked the distinguished panel whether they agreed that if our Royal Family were Jewish they would be slightly more amusing. The panel thought they would and so did I. It would be a pity if there were no Jews and for me, it would be a tragedy.
No, there’s a better solution. Jews should be Jews but they should try and contain themselves a bit more. Sure, there’ll be peaks and troughs in their behaviour just as there always has been, but perhaps the peaks could be a little less peakier and the troughs a little less troughier.
Because if they don’t, it’ll take me a lifetime to meet Solar’s challenge and name all the living anti-Semites and the day will surely come when you’ll all be singing, ”We’re all anti-Semites now!”