The Schizophrenia of Judaism

by Serban V.C. Enache

The following paragraphs are from the book: The Vanishing American Jew, by A.M. Dershowitz, 1997.

“THE GOOD NEWS is that American Jews–as individuals–have never been more secure, more accepted, more affluent, and less victimized by discrimination or anti-Semitism. The bad news is that American Jews–as a people–have never been in greater danger of disappearing through assimilation, intermarriage, and low birthrates. The even worse news is that our very success as individuals contributes to our vulnerability as a people. The even better news is that we can overcome this new threat to the continuity of American Jewish life and emerge with a more positive Judaism for the twenty-first century–a Judaism that is less dependent on our enemies for its continuity, and that rests more securely on the considerable, but largely untapped, strengths of our own heritage.

American Jewish life is in danger of disappearing, just as most American Jews have achieved everything we ever wanted: acceptance, influence, affluence, equality. As the result of skyrocketing rates of intermarriage and assimilation, as well as “the lowest birth rate of any religious or ethnic community in the United States,” the era of enormous Jewish influence on American life may soon be coming to an end. Although Jews make up just over 2 percent of the population of the United States–approximately 5.5 million out of 262 million–many Americans mistakenly believe that we constitute a full 20 percent of the American people, because of our disproportionate visibility, influence, and accomplishments. But our numbers may soon be reduced to the point where our impact on American life will necessarily become marginalized. […]

Jews have faced dangers in the past, but this time we may be unprepared to confront the newest threat to our survival as a people, because its principal cause is our own success as individuals. Our long history of victimization has prepared us to defend against those who would destroy us out of hatred; indeed, our history has forged a Jewish identity far too dependent on persecution and victimization by our enemies. But today’s most serious threats come not from those who would persecute us, but from those who would, without any malice, kill us with kindness–by assimilating us, marrying us, and merging with us out of respect, admiration, and even love. The continuity of the most influential Jewish community in history is at imminent risk, unless we do something dramatic now to confront the quickly changing dangers.

This book is a call to action for all who refuse to accept our demographic demise as inevitable. It is a demand for a new Jewish state of mind capable of challenging the conventional wisdom that Judaism is more adaptive to persecution and discrimination than it is to an open, free, and welcoming society–that Jews paradoxically need enemies in order to survive, that anti-Semitism is what has kept Judaism alive. This age-old perspective on Jewish survival is illustrated by two tragic stories involving respected rabbinical leaders.

The first story takes place in 1812, when Napoleon was battling the czar for control of the Pale of Settlement (the western part of czarist Russia), where millions of Jews were forced to live in crowded poverty and under persecution and discrimination as second-class subjects. A victory for Napoleon held the promise of prosperity, first-class citizenship, freedom of movement, and an end to discrimination and persecution. A victory for the czar would keep the Jews impoverished and miserable. The great Hasidic rabbi Shneur Zalman–the founder of the Lubavitch dynasty–stood up in his synagogue on the first day of Rosh Hashanah to offer a prayer to God asking help for the leader whose victory would be good for the Jews. Everyone expected him to pray for Napoleon. But he prayed for the czar to defeat Napoleon. In explaining his counterintuitive choice, he said: “Should Bonaparte win, the wealth of the Jews will be increased and their [civic] position will be raised. At the same time their hearts will be estranged from our Heavenly Father. Should however our Czar Alexander win, the Jewish hearts will draw nearer to our Heavenly Father, though the poverty of Israel may become greater and his position lower.”

This remarkable story is all too typical of how so many Jewish leaders throughout our history have reasoned about Jewish survival. Without tsuris–troubles–we will cease to be Jewish. We need to be persecuted, impoverished, discriminated against, hated, and victimized in order for us to retain our Jewishness. The “chosen people” must be denied choices if Judaism is to survive. If Jews are given freedom, opportunity, and choice, they will choose to assimilate and disappear.”

Dershowitz goes on to argue that the Jewish identity can and should protect itself in calm, prosperous times via positive self-description and not victimization. The author perpetuates a myth, though, when invoking Herzl’s argument of a Jewish homeland to keep Jews safe. That Jewish homeland was NEVER about peace and security for Jews, it was always about a return to Israel, which implied ethnic cleansing and war with the Arabs [i.e. perpetual danger for Jews, not safety, because safety would make them weak]. They were given options, from Uganda to Madagascar, yet they refused. The Zionists chose the most dangerous piece of land, knowing full well what would happen – as these scenarios were contemplated long and hard [50+ years in advance]. This deranged principle of survival by trial is far older than Hitler’s “Mankind has grown strong in eternal struggles, and it will only perish in eternal peace.” Is it any wonder why critics of Zionism and of the murderous actions of the state of Israel often equate the two with Hitlerist/Nazi philosophy and means?

It seems counter-intuitive doesn’t it, that Jewish people would not convert to Christianity, when the Roman Empire adopted a religion in which their god was a [fellow ethnic] Jew. It would be the most logical thing, the fastest way to avoid institutional discrimination, especially since the Church/es sought to convert [Jews & pagans]. There must be a reason for why the Jews didn’t accept assimilation. Because they believed Judaism is BLOOD, not just faith – divinely promised supremacy of blood & faith. This mythology imprisoned them in a schizophrenic relationship with the Goyim. A people both chosen and cursed by their vengeful, jealous, and exclusivist Yahweh, to be perpetual guides of the world and its eternal victims, to always live apart from the rest of humanity while reproducing the biblical scheme along the way – the captivity in Babylon, the flight from Egypt, and the Book of Esther [the vengeance & slaughter known as Purim].

It’s an ongoing tragedy; in fact, the Abrahamic religions have proven incapable of working toward temporary peace, let alone that ‘dreaded’ goal called ‘eternal peace.’ On the contrary, powerful denominations from all three strands would gladly perform any sacrifice to bring about the Apocalypse, thus fulfilling their own perverse, prophecy of doom. Dershowitz was wrong, though… Jewish affluence and influence, ever more disproportionate to their share of demographics [and IQ scores], did not weaken Judaism in its many faces [especially Zionism], not in the US, nor in Europe. To quote an ancient stoic, the purpose of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself among the ranks of the insane. Sadly, much of the world is, has been, and will continue to be trapped in this mental prison of schizophrenia and supremacism…