Self Hating Jew?

The following is a piece that I wrote on February 5th of this year. I never finished it, and never sent it to the place I wrote it for, an email list used by a large number of NZ Jews.

Since I became more public with my beliefs as a anti-Zionist member of the New Zealand Jewish community, a large number of people, many of whom have known me most of my life, have seen fit to label me with that cruel epithet "self-hating Jew". This has reached the stage where I now very rarely involve myself in the Jewish community or it's activities. I no longer feel welcome at the Jewish community centre in Wellington, a place where I went to kindergarten and primary school, a place where I have spent so much of my life.

Now, I could write here about the role my Jewish identity plays in my life. I could write about how I express my Judaism, or the role Judaism plays in influencing the political activism I do (such as anti-fascist activism). But I'm not going to do that, because that would be allowing those who have smeared me to dictate the frame of the argument. I'm not going to defend myself or my beliefs, because I shouldn't have to. In a truly respectful community, we would agree on some things, disagree on others and respect each others differences. We would discuss, and we would argue, but at the end of the day, regardless of the outcome, we would continue on our seperate paths with both of us having grown from the experience, because that's what a community is about.

If you feel uncomfortable associating with me because my beliefs differ from yours, perhaps you should seek out a cult, rather than our community, because there you won't have to question yourself – everything you say will be echoed by everyone else.

If you haven't run away after that last paragraph, I'm going to assume you want to be a part of the Jewish community still. That's fantastic. Now, how about we engage in some dialogue, rather than spreading (frequently false) rumours about me behind my back.

I don't want to hear your patronising comments about how me not believing in G-d (you see, I write it that way out of respect for you, even if I may not agree) or not linking my fate to that of Israel's is a "failure of the community to properly educate". As I said in a previous email to this list a few months ago:

"Education is giving knowledge in such a way that empowers the educated to form their own opinions

In education, as long as the educated are sufficiently able to form their own opinions, you cannot fail. The only way to fail in education is if you fail to educate.

On the other hand, indoctrination is regarded as exactly what the dictionary says: "To imbue with a partisan or ideological point of view". This means teaching certain things with the explicit goal of producing a specific point of view. In indoctrination, one is considered to have failed if the recipient does not come out with the required point of view."

I hope sincerely that our community aims to educate, not indoctrinate, although sadly sometimes I'm not sure that it does.

So, why did I never finish this? Sadly, the reason was not because the community suddenly became welcoming and ceased to be bigoted against me. Rather, I never spent the time finishing this piece because I lost hope that things would ever change.
Of course, there are some Jews in the Wellington community who I love dearly with all my heart. Some agree with my politics on Israel/Palestine, others disagree but are able to keep our differences respectful. To these people, I say thank you.

To those who would seek to informally excommunicate me from the community however, I wish to issue a resounding fuck off. I won't let you dictate my identity to me, and I sure as hell won't bow to your pressure. If you want your little exclusive cult, you're going to have to fight for it.

16 Responses to Self Hating Jew?

  1. The Self Hating Jew said, quote ” I lost hope that things would ever change.”

    Have things changed since Feb. 5 ? and how would you say fuck off in, how you say, Jewish?

  2. Asher says:

    Nope, nothing has changed since Feb 5th, still the same bigoted opinions are prevalent.

    In Hebrew, the equivalent of fuck off is “Lech Lehizdayen”, which basically translates to go to hell. I don’t know Yiddish or Ladino, so couldn’t tell you those…

  3. In Yiddish, you’d say “Gey kak afn yam” – “Go shit in the ocean”; but that’s besides the point.

    If there are some people in the Wellington Jewish Community that you feel have been malicious to you, that should not be entirely unexepected – they’re reacting in the only way they know how. You’ve had the chutzpah and temerity to try to pull people out of their calcified views – good on you, at least you can say that you may have provoked some people into questioning their own beliefs and opening the issue for debate.

    Having said that, I think it’s as one-eyed of you to blame the Wellington Jewish Community for the negative reaction, as it is of those in the community who have striven to alienate you. I see Wellington Jewish Community undergoing a seismic shift at the moment, which will be further fuelled by demographic change over the next twenty years.

    So don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, bubbeleh, the community is bigger than you think, and harbours a huge spectrum of views. If the opinions you hear are the most distressing, it is only because you are not talking to the right people — the loudest voices are not necessarily representative of the whole, and on balance are more representative of the past than of the future.

    Think Positive, and work for the changes you want to see take place.

    Im ain ani li, mi li …

  4. Asher says:

    Dave – Fair call, I shouldn’t have made the generalisations I undoubtably made. For sure those who have spread rumours and called me some disgusting names are a minority. Given that the minority has known me since birth, it still hurts one hell of a lot.

    As for Hillel quotes, I prefer “If there is none, and one is needed, strive to be that one” :)

  5. t selwyn says:

    A flatmate of mine of the G-d variety once told me “All Jews are Zionists”. I don’t think she had a different interpretation of Zionism than me – which made me think that perhaps it is all Zionists that think their ideology represents the views of all Jews?

  6. Asher says:

    Definately not all Zionists are arrogant enough to claim their ideology represents all Jews, but it is a common thing to hear.

  7. Asher, thank you for the links and explanations.

  8. Pedro says:

    All of your blog. I enjoyed. We differ greatly in some points but agree entirely on others. I am not a Jew, so being have never been called Self-Hating Jew. But even so I see many Jew friends of mine change their ways with me after we talk about Israel and Zionism. I was never called anti-semite (is this the word in english?) but some people are inclined to suppose such thing. Apart from this, I was wondering, have you ever read anything by Hannah Arendt? I have The Origins of Totalitarianism in mind.

  9. Asher says:

    I have read a bit of Arendt, but not a huge amount…mostly just chapters and excerpts rather than whole books. I should really do something about that.

  10. shlemazl says:

    Do you think that Israel should not exist?

  11. Asher says:

    I don’t think any state on earth (or any other planet, for that matter) should exist.

  12. [...] This is a follow up to a post I did a short time ago called Self Hating Jew? so it might help to read that first. [...]

  13. ariel sharon says:


  14. In Yiddish, one would say Gay Tren, which literally translates to “go fuck.”

  15. Tipene Daniels says:

    I’ve always respected your opinions and the fact that you choose so courageously to express your opinions in the face of a non-agreement. I think the fact that you have presented ideas and thoughts which are not always shared refreshing. i also see it as a tribute to the Jewish community (which by the way, you are very much still a part of)in making room for such difference in opinion. I may not always agree with you or even like what you say Asher, but I can’t help but respect you for speaking up the way you do.
    I doubt you are given by external validations and I doubt that invalidations share even more consideration.

  16. Asher says:

    Thanks Tipene, I appreciate it :)

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