paranoid Jews? (was: RE: Michael Lerner bashing)

Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Mon Jul 6 12:19:22 PDT 1998

At 12:17 PM 7/3/98 -0400, Max Sawicky wrote:
>> Do you really think this is paranoia is justified in the case of
>> assimilated, successful US Jews? Or are you going to suggest that "the
>no, but informed Jews know that the same could have
>been said about German Jews before Hitler.
>That little fact is hard to escape.

WEll, that would hold only if Jews were persecuted simply because they were Jews (or that Blacks are now disadvantaged simply because of their skin color), and not because of the place they occupied in a society that persecuted them.

To be a systematically persecuted minority, a group has to meet two necessary 'structural' conditions: it has to be sufficiently visible as an indentifiable collective entity that is separate from the society in which they live, and it has to be vulnerable to repression, that is, no state that will defend that group if another state persecutes it or, if that defence fails, accepts its members as full citizens (rather than refugees).

I'd like to stress that these are necessary rather than sufficient conditions. In other words, they do not not mean a group will be automatically persecuted, but they may - if such persecution can be useful to the agents of a state. Thus, pogroms were usually instigated to defuse discontent caused by the feudal rule in the tsarist Russia. To my limited knowledge of American history, anti-Black sentiments and Jim Crow laws served a very similar function in the post bellum US - they were elite's response to the populist challenges.

Both European Jews and American Blacks met the structural pre-requisites of a systematically oppressed minority, hence both were systematicall persecuted. However, with the establishment of the state of Israel, one structural prerequisite disappeared, for the Jews so it is unlikely that pogroms will be repeated. That, of course, doe not mean disappearance of negatigve stereotypes, but virtually any group is subject to such stereotypes.

Thus, the bottom line is that the past history of the persecution of Jews is in no way an indication of what may happen in the future.

Best regards,


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