Published by The Freeman Center

The Maccabean Online

Political Analysis and Commentary
on Israeli and Jewish Affairs

"For Zion's sake I shall not hold my peace, And for Jerusalem's sake I shall not rest."



ASSIMILATION OF AMERICAN JEWS
CAN BE CURBED
by Michael Anbar PhD  
  
 
For centuries Jews have been subject to bigotry, i.e., misojudaic prejudice, often associated with violence that ranged from arson, molestation and pogroms to the Holocaust.  Yet the Jewish nation survived in a grueling Diaspora. But later, once Jews were fully emancipated, many of them assimilated, and the Jewish nation lost many individuals. People born to Jewish parents have denied their heritage, joining subcultures that disregard ethnicity or religion but still hate Jews.  This process is ongoing in American Jewry, especially among its younger, most productive members.
 
The older generation, including Holocaust survivors, who are the majority of synagogue attendees, is not likely to abandon Judaism. However, their sons and daughters seem to assimilate in droves.  Unlike in 19th Century Germany, assimilation of American Jews is not by conversion to Christianity but by joining transnational “progressive” political movements that despise Jewish nationalism. Giving up the national rights of Jews is not better than giving up the Jewish religion. A substantial number of the Jews who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are assimilated transnationalists.
 
This demographic danger to the Jewish nation, half of which resides in the US, must be effectively curbed. It is aggravated by the existential risks facing the other half of the Jewish nation in Israel. 
 
Substantial lip service has been paid by Jewish national organizations to the need to “maintain Jewish identity” of American Jewry as a way to combat that ongoing rampant assimilation.  One way suggested is to demonstrate Jewish identity in society by distinctive markers on the attire of Jews or by distinctive dietary habits.  Maintaining Jewish identity by external markers has allowed Jews to survive in hostile environments by facilitating mutual help among Jews (the classical tribal instinct), while significantly reducing assimilation.  However, while having been of benefit in periods of rampant persecution, Jewish markings generally helped not Jews but bigots who have imposed them on Jews to facilitate discrimination in misojudaic environments.
 
The yellow Star of David was mandated by Muslims in the 9th Century to facilitate discrimination against Jews. In the 11th Century it was imported European Christians for the same purpose. Jews were marked by Muslims and Christians as downcast people, or even as unredeemable sub-humans (e.g., in Nazi Germany).  The distinctive sign on the attire of Jews was instrumental to inhibit association with those god-forsaken people, as mandated by Islam.
 
Identifiable Jewish markers have become redundant in the free and tolerant United States, where Jews gained full civil rights even before Napoleon emancipated European Jewry.  One must then ask: Can Judaism be maintained without external markers and without misojudaic discrimination? Emancipation facilitated assimilation both in Europe and in the US.  Many of American-born Jews may be aware of the Jewish ethnicity of their parents, but do not indentify themselves as members of the Jewish nation. There is little reason for them to do so. It is noteworthy that German Jewry followed the same mode of behavior following the Napoleonic emancipation.
 
In brief, the Jewish nation survived in the Diaspora not because Jews chose to be different from their neighbors out of free will. They were not. They were marked to appear different by their oppressors, e.g., wearing funny pointed “Jewish” hats, with or without a yellow patch on their garments. They were forced to live in segregated quarters subject to occasional violent assaults by disgruntled peasants, incited by the local clergy.  As pariah subhumans they were forbidden to marry non-Jews.
 
Now, that America is becoming more and more secularized and atheism has no more stigmas attached to it, “progressive” Jews are at the forefront of American anti-religious movements, such as the ACLU, because these legitimize assimilation, i.e., abandonment of the Jewish nation. 
 
On the other hand, while 78% of Jews voted for Obama and his transnational socialist agenda, there has been a recent tendency among the new generation of Jewish college students to become secular Zionists, i.e., non-religious Jewish nationalists. Although this new development will hopefully evolve, evidently, an overwhelming majority of American Jewry seems to support transnational anti-Zionist socialists. This might lead to the eventual extinction of a majority of American Jewry.
 
Why should a person of Jewish ethnic ancestry identify himself as a Jew? If he is a believer in God, he does this because it was mandated by God. One should not argue with believers. But then one should not argue with devout Muslims who have been told by their god to kill all non-believers (Qur’an 4:89). “They desire that you should disbelieve as they have disbelieved, so that you might be (all) alike; therefore take not from among them friends until they flee (their homes) in Allah's way; but if they turn back, then seize them and kill them wherever you find them, and take not from among them a friend or a helper.” Here you see religion-sanctioned misojudaism.
 
Can a “progressive,” open-minded, Jew claim that the commands of the god of Islam have less validity than those of the God of Israel? Can that Jew claim that the revelations of God to Mohammad are less valid than His earlier revelations to Moses? Thus if a “progressive” Jew wishes to be fair, he should endorse the killing of Jews by devout Muslims as an exercise of an explicit Islamic religious decree.
 
This shows the absurdity of accepting religious doctrines as binding; it explains the secularization of our society and the rapid assimilation of non-religious or anti-religious Jews. Moreover, since people typically need ideals, many of Jewish ethnic ancestry, who have no compelling reason to keep Jewish identity, join the misojudaic radical left and become ardent Jew-haters.
 
Too manyst American Jews have not been proud to be identified as Jews! In fact, many of them have been ashamed of being Jewish. What is there to be proud of being a member of a traditionally hated and discriminated community?
 
Misojudaic prejudice, seen today in the UN and in leftist and Muslim rallies, cannot maintain the Jewish nation, nor can the Jewish religion in a world that is rapidly becoming secularized.
 
To survive as a nation, Jews MUST be proud of their national heritage. Yet to be proud of something one must know what is to be proud of. Therefore, to maintain the Jewish nation one must know the history of this nation, not as a chain of defeats, exiles, segregations and persecutions, but as a succession of cultural, political and military achievements that have contributed to Western civilization for almost three millennia.
 
The leadership of the Afro-American community justifiably understood the need for developing a sense of pride in black Americans. They created a semi-mythical African past, taught in tens of academic “black studies” departments. They invented a unifying African language and new African holidays. Obama’s “black liberation” church has been a revolutionary version of this effort, inventing even a non-historical, non-Jewish, black Jesus.
 
To meet the same goals in the Jewish community one does not need to invent a new history or language. The 3300 years of Jewish national history and language should be more than sufficient to make all Jews proud of their heritage.
 
The history of the Jewish people in the Diaspora between the 7th and the 18th Centuries CE has been characterized by repeated persecutions and exiles - little to write home about. But the preceding 2000 years of Jewish nationality, between the 13th Century BCE and the 7th Century CE (the Arab conquest of the Jewish homeland), and then since the emancipation, at the end of the18th Century, to date, Jewish national history has a lot to be proud of.
 
Moreover, the Jewish nation has maintained its language, ethics, and religion for 3300+ years. It is the only live nation with such a long national history.  No other nation lost its sovereignty over its homeland for such a long period without disappearing. Most importantly, no existing nation had such a profound effect on the life of humanity at large. Not only Christianity, which is a direct offspring of Judaism, but also the Islam is based on Jewish traditions, though generally in a highly distorted form (read the Qur’an).
 
One cannot ignore the host of philosophical, scientific, technological and artistic innovations made by hundreds of people of Jewish heritage all over the world since the 18th Century to date. Their number is out of all proportions to the relatively small number of Jews in the world. Last but not least – the political renaissance of the Jewish nation in its ancient homeland has no parallel in human history. It has demonstrated the amazing ability of a small number of Jews to withstand the repeated onslaughts of Arab aggression, while building up a flourishing, outstandingly productive society.  
 
In addition to producing the Bible and Christianity, Israel’s War of Independence and the Six Days War were unique in man’s history. Yet that was not the first time that Jewish fighters challenged “irresistible” armies – the Bar Kochba revolt in 134/6 CE required seven Roman legions to be vanquished, but not crushed - the Jewish community in the Land of Israel recovered within a generation to produce the monumental Mishna and later the “Jerusalem” Talmud. That revolt took place just 60 years after the fall of Jerusalem in the Great Revolt, which required “just” three roman legions to quell. The resilient rebellious kingdom of Judea was the Afghanistan of the Roman Empire. The spiritual strength of the Jewish nation in those days was amazing.
 
Contrary to the image of the meek Ghetto Jew, the Jewish nation was historically a nation of warriors, while scholars and clergymen were its political leaders – “a nation of philosophers” according to Greeks and Roman contemporary writers.  It may, therefore, not be surprising that the kingdom of Samaria led a large coalition of nations against the Assyrian Empire in the 8th Century BCE, and later Judea led smaller coalitions against the Chaldeans in the 7th and 6th Centuries. Four hundred years later, in the 2nd Century BCE, the Egyptian Ptolemaic army was under the command of Jewish generals. The defeat of the Seleucids by the Hasmoneans in 165 BCE was perhaps less of a miracle.
 
On the other hand, Judea was also the main commercial center of the ME, successfully competing with Egypt, because the routes of commerce from India and East Africa to the West crossed Judea, not Egypt.  This economic boom allowed the impressive constructions of Herod the Great, including the renovation of the Temple in Jerusalem.
 
Two thousand years later, the scientific and technological achievements of less than 6 million Jews living in Israel, their ancient homeland, has put this subset of the Jewish nation ahead of most other Western nations with manifold larger populations.
 
All these historical facts and statistics should be a source of pride for all Jews and should inhibit assimilation. Proud people who know the virtues of their national heritage will be reluctant to give these up to become an insignificant part of a shapeless multinational conglomerate. We must only find ways to instill this knowledge in American Jews.
 
President Obama is trying his best to destroy the exceptionality of the US through his foreign, social and economic policies. That anti-national philosophy, when translated to the very existence of the tiny Jewish nation, implies its demise. Obama’s “progressiveness” is the greatest danger the Jewish nation has faced since the Holocaust; it is greater than the current Iranian threat. Jews must realize the danger of giving up the uniqueness of their nation, just as all Americans must realize the dangers of losing their own unique national stature and consequently their national pride. Most American Jews are not aware of the virtues of the long history of their nation, so they are more likely to accept Obama’s socialist “universalism,” that has no room for national Judaism.
 
Maintaining Jewish religious rituals in American Jewish communities is certainly not sufficient to preserve the Jewish nation. Jewish religious identity could have been preserved if American Jews preferred to lives in self-imposed ghettoes, like the Amish – the fossil German religious sect. Then their religious rituals could differentiate Jews from the rest of the US population, like the isolated residues of Native Americans.  However, unlike the Amish or Native Americans, American Jews wish to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by US colleges and universities and integrate into the mainstream of academic and economic activities of this country.
 
Assimilation is inevitable if American Jews, especially the younger generation, will not be equipped with ideological tools, including appreciation of Jewish history, to withstand assimilatory pressures that are inherent in the prevailing secular antinational socialism.  Religious rituals by themselves, including distinctive sectarian attire, without strong ideological ties to Jewish national heritage, will not prevent assimilation.  
 
“Progressiveness” cannot be used as a source of Jewish national pride, since there is no difference between a Jewish and a non-Jewish “progressive”. Both are anti-nationalist universalists, i.e., anti-Zionists.  Zionism, the 2500 year-old expression of Jewish nationalism, is a foundation of Judaism. The messianic idea, the rule of a descendent of King David over Jerusalem, which is a central premise also in Christianity, is essentially a Zionist idea.  Zionism is an anathema to socialist “progressiveness.”  Like Jewish communism, Jewish “progressiveness” is a tool for assimilation and the eventual disappearance of Judaism.
 
Nationalism is a positive attribute, leading to the progress of nations, very much like personal freedom, which results in personal prosperity. Socialism antagonizes nationalism just as it curtails personal freedoms. Socialism and nationality cannot coexist. “National socialism” is a contradiction in terms that leads to aggressive despotism - see the rise and fall of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany.
 
In conclusion: Anti-nationalistic socialism is prejudiced against national Judaism. This is the reason for intrinsic misojudaism among socialist ideologues. Genuine Jewish socialists must become self-hating Jews, ashamed of their heritage. Likewise, American socialists detest and are ashamed of American nationalism, which they call “exceptionalism.” If they had their way, we might end up with Marxist despotism and the demise of American Jewry within a generation. Jewish and non-Jewish Americans, truly proud of their respective heritages, can and must prevent this from happening.
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Michael Anbar PhD
Professor Emeritus
School of Medicine, University at Buffalo
Fayetteville, NY 13066
E-mail:
bphanbar@buffalo.edu
 
Author of Israel and it Future (2004)