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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 03, 2003

Prejudice produces counterprejudice.

You are probably aware of this if you have been following the modern American Black culture. I dare to say that it's the same with the Jews. Or at least with this particular Jew: me. Well, not entirely the same. The background, including the reasons for the original prejudice, is different. And the way it is played out in reality is different as well: no one knows I am Jewish by just looking at me, and I have no way - at least not always - of knowing if the other person is Jewish just by looking at them.

I was born and grew up in Russia, where it went without saying that most non-Jews don't like Jews. When I came to Israel, I learned from Jews from other European countries that it is more or less the same there.I know the historical and religious roots of the European antisemitism, and I take it for granted, and most of the time quite dispassionately (no, I did not say "always").

After I came to the US, I discovered that there is antisemitism present here as well. I was not surprised by this. Most Americans are descendant from Europeans, so it is natural for them to inherit at least some of the prejudices their ancestors brought with them. Luckily, antisemitism is much less prevalent here than it is in Europe (both Old and New, BTW), for a number of reasons. But still, it is here, all-right.

So I am prejudiced towards Europeans, wherever they are. Or, more precisely, towards European Christians. I am not at all proud of my prejudice, and the only reason I am discussing it, is that I think it is pointless to discuss antisemitism, without examining the Jewish view of it. Also, since I am mostly dispassionate about it, I am able to control it, which is to say I do not automatically assume that every Christian is an antisemite. But when I discover that one is, I am not shocked. In fact, I have a neighbor with whom I am quite friendly, who is an antisemite (she says I am not typical - how very typical...)

So is the Vatican antisemitic? Not as an institution, at least not in its modern reincarnation. But I am sure it has enough antisemites to make it look that way. Is John Paul II an antisemite? I have no idea, but he is Polish, and his nation has a very bad record on the issue. Combine this with some of his own actions, and it makes one wonder. However, his Catholicism seems to have only some relevance to his supposed antisemitism, in my view. His Christianity has more. His ethnic culture has the most.
Here you go, I give you my prejudice in action.

P.S. A couple of related posts here and here.