Leftist rally in Tel Aviv, March 2015
Leftist rally in Tel Aviv, March 2015 Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Seth Rogen’s recent rant against Zionism benevolently reported by the Forward newspaper (and then everywhere else of course) showcases one of the most stunning features of the Jewish nation: its unsurpassed capacity to draw critics and enemies from within its own ranks. In a way, this trait arouses my admiration. As a friend recently remarked, the Almighty must be really looking after Jews if they survive despite being few, persecuted and always sabotaged by a fifth column.

By a “fifth column” I do not mean all independent Jewish spirits whose foremost allegiance is to truth and justice regardless of whether it primarily benefits Jews. In this case I am referring to self-identified Jews who embrace positions clearly detrimental to the well-being of fellow Jews.

Many would like to believe that these individuals are driven by career ambitions and Gentile peer pressure. My social media experience suggests that most of these individuals sincerely believe that dismantling Zionism or banning circumcision and shechting is a good thing. Particularly, since their enthusiasm for these causes is often fired by meeting like-minded Jews.

Some Jews label this fifth column a descendant of the mixed multitude or “Erev Rav”. With due respect to the rabbinical sages I have a considerable deal of respect for the “Erev Rav”. They were the Egyptians who dared to venture into the desert and flee from Pharaoh’s armies at a time when over 80% of Egypt’s Jews preferred bondage to freedom. Even righteous converts nowadays are not expected to risk so much in order to join the Jewish people!

The “Erev Rav” sheds light onto the essence of Jewish self-hatred. The mixed multitude undermined the Jewish people because it was plagued by self-hatred. Posing as Jews without really being Jewish while reneging upon its Egyptian roots without ceasing to be Egyptian, the mixed multitude was bound to be riven by guilt and inferiority complexes. Since guilt and hang-ups invariably curdle into hatred for the outside world, it was only a matter of time until the self-hatred of the mixed multitude morphed into hatred for Jews and Judaism.

A Gentile always has two distinct identities: an ethnic identity and a religious identity. An Italian can be Catholic or Protestant. If an Italian lacks a religious calling he or she is just Italian. The same is true for Germans, Americans, Australians, and so on. Jews do not have this option. Given that in Judaism ethnic and religious identities completely overlap, there is no neat and clean cut possible between these two facets of Jewish identity. In other words, a secular Jew is someone who necessarily bases half of his or her identity on a denial of its other half.

Prior to World War II it was possible for Jews to believe that they were first and foremost Dutch, French, Italians or Americans. After the Holocaust, I doubt any Diaspora Jew does not know deep down that he or she is first and foremost a Jew.

This self-realization is also true in Israel. For quite some time a number of secular Jews pretended they were just Israelis – not Jews. Nevertheless, once the shortcomings of post-Zionism became even more obvious than those of Mapai Zionism, Israel rediscovered its religious bearings. Particularly so, since deprived of religious-historical legitimacy, Zionism is a mere by-product of British machinations and UN resolutions. No self-respecting nation can base its sovereignty and self-determination rights on the

After the Holocaust, I doubt any Diaspora Jew does not know deep down that he or she is first and foremost a Jew.
goodwill of third parties. How much more so a people with over three thousand years of history!

The paradigm of Israel highlights that ultimately any healthy and whole Jewish identity needs to make space for a considerable religious and spiritual element. Without this element, the Jewish identity is truncated like the identity of the mixed multitude and eventually slides into self-destructive behavior.

In an ideal world, all streams of Judaism would shield Jews equally well from self-hatred. However, it is harder for streams which embrace the contemporary Zeitgeist to inculcate communal pride and self-respect than for the heirs to millennia of religious engagement and learning. Jewish self-hatred thus appears to be intimately tied with alienation from traditional Jewish religious practice. This does not mean that only religious Jews are shielded from self-hatred. However, it means that Jews not blessed with religious faith ought to cherish the spiritual traditions of their people in order to enjoy the full benefits of a whole and wholesome identity.

At this point, a word needs to be spent on the virulently anti-Zionist fringe of Satmar Hasidism. The Neturei Karta might be easily labeled as self-hating for marching together with Israel’s enemies. Nevertheless, I would refrain from labeling them as such. They have been brainwashed since childhood to believe that Zionism is guilty of all tragedies befalling the Jewish people during the 20th century. Their religious anti-Zionism will die out in coming decades.

Unfortunately, in contrast, the anti-Zionist self-hatred of Diaspora Jews appears to be strengthening. Secular Jews who fail to understand and treasure their Jewish identity are more likely to misconstrue and undermine Israel’s Jewish identity. This self-destructive attitude is an unfortunate, yet understandable, attempt to fight off their Jewish shadow they cannot escape from.

Although considerable resources may be invested in coming years to tailor Zionist programs for young secular Jews, ultimately the only way to secure their loyalty to the Jewish people is to make them love the Jewish faith.

Rafael Castro, a Noahide, is a Yale and Hebrew University educated business and political analyst based in Europe. Rafael specializes in proofreading, editing and ghostwriting quality texts for entrepreneurs and politicians. Rafael can be reached at rafaelcastro78@gmail.com