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Is criticizing Judaism or Jews ipso facto anti-Semitism ?

Reader comment on item: Immanuel Kant vs. Israel
in response to reader comment: Kant and German Antisemitism

Submitted by Ianus (Poland), Aug 30, 2010 at 10:31

Dear PLRose ,

Thanks for the explanation. But let me ask you out of curiosity a few questions. How do you define "anti-semtism" ? You speak of social and official anti-Semtisim. Now I wonder , is criticisng Judaism as an absurd creed anti-Semitism ? Is criticizng Jews equivalent to anti-Semitism? Unless these questions are clarified I consider your charges against Germans in the 19th century with utmost caution.

If there were people in Germany who disliked some of the habits and mentality of Jews , then this doesn't make them automatically anti-Semites in my eyes because as far as I know the Jews themselves are well aware of their own imperfection and short-comings and admit them. What are Jewish jokes about their greedy rabbis all about ? If Kant criticized Judaism as an absurd creed, then just a look at the so called Scripture ( bloody Mosaic laws and absurdities like magic healing of lepra ) confirms he was right without any necessary corollary he was an anti-Semite.

Second, the Jews had many friends in Germany in the 19th century like Friedrich Nietzsche whose misuse by the Nazis doesn't change his basic philosemitism. But for me the problem with German Jews was a bit different. The problem was their rapid and total assimilation. By 1914 you couldn't se any kaftan Jews as in Poland's shtetls. German culture was very attractive for them , German universities opened up new horizons and showed all the absurdity of the rabbinic wisdom. Atheism and agnosticism were widespread among the German Jewish youth. Theodor Herzl , Einstein and a plethora of other Jewish Germans show what the tendency was . The Jews had no chance in Germany not because of anti-Semitism but becaus the Jews there wanted to be Germans, not Jews. During WWI 100000 German Jews fought for Kaiser (whom you brand as social anti-Semite) und Vaterland , many won iron crosses. Rathenau saved Germany from immediate defeat through the shortage of ammunitions , Fritz Haber introduced chemical warfare. All of them considered themselves as good Germans , not good Jews!

I understand that this in turn must have alarmed the conservative Jews, especially the rabbis who stood before a perspective of losing their flocks to the German majority.

I agree with what you write :

" The defeat in 1918, however, uncorked the bottle and allowed extreme antisemitism - including fantasies of extermination - to emerge into public debate."

But the sad history of the Soviet Republic of Bavaria in the spring of 1919 suggests these "fantasies" had some quite real background.

Submitting....

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