A Surprising Psychological Relationship


         

Anti-Semitism and Jewish Self-Delusion

 
 
 
 

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Anti-Semitism and Jewish Self-Delusion

By Bernard J. Shapiro

I had always been curious about anti-Semitism. The fact that a person who didn't know me could harbor virulent hatred of me and my people left me amazed and somewhat fascinated. While attending the University of California at Berkeley, I had an opportunity to take a psychology course dealing with prejudice. In our course of studies we read two landmark books: The Nature of Prejudice by Gordon Allport and The Authoritarian Personality which was the result of an extensive research project done at U.C. with a grant from B'nai B'rith.

Both books clearly stated that prejudice springs from a projection of evil from inside the individual bigot. In other words, the prejudiced person does not perceive reality correctly when assessing a minority group. To test this finding, I conducted an experiment. I took 15 extracts from each of three sources of highly prejudiced material: Anti-Jewish literature from Nazi Germany circa 1930's; anti-Japanese literature from California circa 1940's; and anti-Black literature from the American South circa early 1950's.

I then mixed up the articles, while keeping a list of their origins and order. I then cut out all the words that would give away who was being attacked (e.g., jap, nigger, kike, etc.). I then duplicated the sets of articles, minus those words, and presented them to a freshman psychology class and requested that they identify the group being attacked. They were simply not able to do so and their choices were quite random. This showed that, while Jews, Blacks, and Japanese are quite dissimilar in reality, the people who hate them are quite similar. Projection of the evil in their psyches was so strong as to obscure reality about these groups entirely.

Thus far I've written about projection among the bigots toward the often targeted groups. However, to project, as defined by Webster, means to externalize a thought or feeling so that it appears to have objective reality. Just as bigots obscure reality about certain groups in an evil way, reality can be obscured about the seemingly well-meaning by those who are deluded. This self-delusion, or self-deception, can sometimes have tragic consequences.

Unfortunately, Jews throughout history have deluded themselves about their position in society. They pursue utopian solutions to complex political problems and disputes. Jews rejoiced as the enlightenment spread across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many were eager to give up their Jewishness and become German, French, Italian, and English. In the final analysis those societies viewed them as Jews. Self-delusion came into collision with reality and left us with the stench of burning flesh from the ovens of Auschwitz. Many Russian Jews eagerly supported the communist idea of a worker's utopia with no nationalities and no religion. Reality taught them that their neighbors still considered them Jews.

The left-wing in Israel believes in a common humanity of shared values with the Arabs. In the face of all empirical evidence to the contrary they believe peace is possible. In the book Self Portrait Of A Hero: The Letters of Jonathan Netanyahu (1963-1976), Jonathan Netanyahu, the fallen hero of Entebbe and brother of Benjamin, said it best:

"I see with sorrow and great anger how a part of the people still clings to hopes of reaching a peaceful settlement with the Arabs. Common sense tells them, too, that the Arabs haven't abandoned their basic aim of destroying the State; but the self-delusion and self-deception that have always plagued the Jews are at work again. It's our great misfortune.

They want to believe, so they believe. They want not to see, so they shut their eyes. They want not to learn from thousands of years of history, so they distort it. They want to bring about a sacrifice, and they do indeed. It would be comic, if it wasn't so tragic. What a saddening and irritating lot this Jewish people is!"

Need I say more?


Bernard J. Shapiro is the executive director of the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies and editor of of its monthly internet magazine, THE MACCABEAN ONLINEThis article was originally published on April 23, 1992 in the Jewish Herald-Voice, Houston Texas

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from the April 2002 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

 

 

 

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