by Elias Cohen
Last Saturday, Robert Bowers entered the synagogue of the Tree of Life in Pittsburgh and, before indiscriminately shooting the people who gathered there for the Sabbath services, shouted “All Jews must die!” Their bullets killed the lives of eleven people and wounded six others. We can go to topical reasons that explain this massacre – the worst anti-Semitic massacre in US history – among them, the growing tension in Western societies, radicalization through of theories of conspiracy and false news or the progressive distrust and zeal towards the different in this financial post-crisis. But they are insufficient to answer underlying questions in the collective consciousness: Why does hatred persist for Jews? Why do they keep killing them?
Perhaps a clear didactic is missing when explaining why there is so much hatred towards Jews in the world. Some argue that stones are always thrown to the tree that bears fruit. This metaphor can explain part of the problem, but we are not all, by any chance, founders of Google, great philosophers or legendary film directors. We would like it Others, with malice, will say that Israel’s role in the Middle East has generated these new and bloody waves of anti-Semitism, justifying on this occasion that American Jews have to suffer, and be killed, for what Israel does. Many will affirm that anti-Semitism is a thing of the past and that this one is an isolated case, a vile act carried out by an alienated man. Beyond all this, the truth is that anti-Semitism has remained constant in the Western psyche since time immemorial, according to the American historian David Nirenberg. An anecdote, perhaps a legend, accounts for the longevity of anti-Semitism: in the France of 1934, a boy George Steiner observed from his window, next to his father, a violent crowd shouting “Death to the Jews!”. His father told him: “Do not be afraid, my son, what you see is called History.” Certainly, the rejection of the Jews exists before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, but it is from that time on that makes it more palpable. The Jews traveled the world as a landless nation, clung to their traditions and their customs and made them the center of their existence. Therefore, in full force homogenization throughout the West, they became the first different. When not assimilated, they were perceived as hostile, denied rights and, in most cases, their way of life was restricted to the loan. They were, then, conceived as a foreign body in the nations and empires where they settled. That foreign body became the scapegoat for despotic rulers and revolutionary movements. The Jews were the perfect culprit of all evils: collective, anonymous, strange. They had killed Christ, they controlled the world despite being locked in ghettos, they conspired to weaken the nations, they were communists and also capitalists and they were behind the wars and revolutions. The libels and the false myths about evil or machinations The conspiracies of the Jews originated – or justified later – persecutions, discrimination, pogroms, and mass exterminations. The words, rarely innocent, dehumanized the Jews and made them fumigable; the prejudices against them settled down over the centuries and became tolerable. Needless to say, the extent of German National Socialism pointing to the Jews as the main enemies of the Reich.Bowers, as revealed by the ongoing investigation, was a faithful follower of these anti-Semitic theories. If it were not tragic, it is even comical the power and omnipresence that these stories give to the Jews. But laugh, little. In the end, as the Pittsburgh massacre attests, the Jews continue, continue, be attacked, and killed, just because they are. And the reason for this is precisely that anti-Semitic myths are still current and do not belong to libraries.
In addition, these myths have evolved. If once the Jews killed Christian children to drink their blood, today Israelis kill Palestinian children for sheer pleasure. If a century ago the Jews planned to dominate the world from a cemetery in Prague, today they have succeeded and it is the Jewish lobby that controls Washington with its great Hollywood propaganda apparatus. Israel is now the perfect excuse and serves many, who would never declare themselves anti-Semitic, to purge guilt for the Holocaust. Revealing were, in this regard, the words of the Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, in 2003: “the Jewish people no longer deserve sympathy for the suffering that happened.” The normality with which society coexists with the constant threat to Jews It was perfectly described by David Gistau about the bombing in the Bataclan Hall in 2015: the Jews are “people in whom it is possible to detect a guilt of being that keeps death contained within tolerable limits. schools and continue with our lives. ” For that, the water wets, the sky is blue and the Jews are hated. It is normal.
Elías Cohen is General Secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (FCJE)