Contempt breeds familiarity. Never has this been more true than with the Jews. Those who hate Jews consider themselves most intimately acquainted with us. Why? Because the hater knows the Jew -- better than the Jew knows himself -- and wants others to know him too.
Nowhere is this more evident than in those Jews who hate Jews. Dershowitz has called our attention to one of them last week, a Gilad Atzmon, who, except for the brazenness of his reflexive Jew-hating, the world would have forgotten before he was at all remembered.
Atzmon has written a book about Jewish bankers, syndicates, avarice and world-domination. It''s a story line parsed from the Nazis, The Protocols, and the Comintern''s anti-Semitic propaganda. Atzmon hasn''t the courage to even be original. The only reason he''s noted, instead of being ignored as another Jew-hating crackpot, is that he has craftily taken refuge in what he himself professes to hate: his Jewishness. It''s the only reason he''s been able to publish a work like the one he''s written with even a muslin of seriousness to cover its open bigotry.
But despite all of his hateful frothings, Atzmon''s most insidious claim is that he''s a "classic self-hating Jew." He''s not. The notion of "classic" Jewish self-hatred (as if it were a Doric column) relates to the breach in Jewish identity. Being torn between the demands of the Jewish tradition and the conditions of modern life has created a tension in many Jews. It''s this tension, punctuated by self-doubt, hesitation, and disappointment, but expressed as personal self-denigration (and often in humor) that''s the essence of "classic" Jewish self-hatred.
Atzmon isn''t this. He hasn''t remained torn by conflicting parts of his identity, and he definitely hasn''t resolved the tension. He has made a Faustian pact, using hatred to transfigure the reality of his own internal conflict. And in this he is again unoriginal, pouring himself into the archetype of Melville''s Ahab, who externalized his own discontent by breathing his hate into the figure of a white whale.
Psychology aside, people like Atzmon should not be tolerated. Yet there he is on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, peddling his wares. Would a book of equivalent hatred (for any other group) be openly sold at these places? Probably not, but only because the outcry of other people would be enormous. Ours should be the same.