Let's say that Chester A. Maxwell decides that he hates America. He takes a flight from Massachusetts to Paris, renounces his citizenship and spends the rest of his life stomping up and down the beaches of France and screaming imprecations at Americans.
Our friend Chester is not a self-hating American because he is no longer an American. He may have an American accent, like the same foods, books and movies that give him a common reference point with many of his old countymen and otherwise be mistaken for one of the gang. But he isn't.
Even if he chooses to continue describing himself as an American, it's a meaningless self-description. 'American' is a group identity. Not an individual identity. You cannot be an American who does not want to be part of America or to associate with other Americans.
Nor is Chester self-hating. Just because he hates America and Americans doesn't mean that he hates himself. He probably likes himself a good deal. People with poor self-images rarely reject group identities. Those who reject a group identity this vehemently tend to be extremely egotistical.
Now suppose Chester Maxwell's real name is Howard F. Goldstein and he spends all his time screaming about Israel from Ann Arbor. When he speaks, his accent has more than a little Brooklyn in it, his bookshelves are lined with books by Jewish authors and he has a fondness for knishes.
Accuse him of anti-Semitism and he exclaims that he's a Jew. But Howard is as Jewish as Chester is American.
Jewish is a group identity. There is no such thing as an individual Jew. No man is an island and certainly no Jew is. Someone who is not part of the Jewish people is not a Jew.
The term self-hating Jew is also self-nullifying. Self-hating Jews rarely hate themselves, though sometimes the neurotic stereotypes hold true. And someone who hates Jews is not a Jew.
Modernism has confused many of these issues. Pundits scratch their heads wondering whether the Jews are a religion, an ethnic group or a nation... when they have always been all three. Likewise the left has defined bigotry exclusively in terms of an oppressor-oppressed relationship. And while bigotry can relate to the attitude of an oppressor toward the oppressed, it is not limited to that. It is possible for bigotry to exist without power relationships and even within a particular group.
The anti-Semitic Jew is as real a manifestation as white liberals who emphasize their disdain for white people or the middle class black man who sneers at most of his own race as 'ghetto'.
Jewish anti-Semites hate Jews for most of the same reasons that his fellow non-Jewish anti-Semites do. He may focus in on certain perceived Jewish traits that he despises, he may feel injured in some way by Jews as a group, but these and other examples are instances of viewing Jews as an "Other".
By viewing Jews as an "Other", the Jewish anti-Semite concedes that he is no longer a Jew, no matter how much Brooklyn there is in his voice or how many Jewish authors line his bookshelf.
The most common anti-Semitism is the explicit perception of Jews as an "Other" who are seperatists and disrupt the larger society by clannishly holding themselves apart from it for their own agenda. The left's expressions of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism have always consisted of this same critique. And the most common Jewish anti-Semites today are those of the left.
The Jews who publicly beat their breasts in the pages of the New York Times or on Twitter about how "conflicted" they feel because of what Israel is doing in Gaza are torn between two identities. One is a subordinate Jewish identity and the other is the dominant identity of the left. The left views Jews and the Jewish State as an "Other" and they see the scraps of their Jewish identity as an "Other". A cruel murderous Nazi-like "Other" who senselessly kills children out of fanatical nationalism.
Full-blown Jewish anti-Semites are not conflicted. They simply view Jews as a group as an "Other". They are not Jews. No more than Chester is an American. They simply have some of the cultural markers.
The stereotypes had nothing to do with Jewish identity. A quick look at Yemenite Jews would confirm that. They were markers associated with some urban centers in some parts of the United States around the early and middle parts of the 20th century. Most of them are vanishing now. They were never anything more than cultural immune system reactions, neurotic multicultural rashes.
This confusion of stereotypical traits with identity is what leads some to identify Woody Allen as a quintessential Jew when he has no Jewish identity and is not Jewish in any sense that matters. Confusing a display of stereotypes with identity would make Al Jolson black and Mickey Rooney Asian.
The question of "Who is a Jew" has endlessly and needlessly complicated. When the question is broken down into modern categories like race and religion and then run through the filter of individually constructed identities and assorted stereotypes, it becomes endlessly confusing.
But it doesn't have to be.
Jews are a family united by a common religion and originating from a single land. They have been described as a religious civilization. Considering the Bible as the oldest history of the Jewish people and the Jewish role in the world's religions, that seems like an apt description.
Like any family, it is possible to marry into it. It is not however possible to leave it and remain a Jew.
The most significant part of Jewish identity is not who your parents were, but who your children will be. It is possible to be a Jew if your parents were not Jewish. It is not however possible to pull a Chester, to stomp around the beaches of France insisting that you're an American. If Chester marries in France, his children and grandchildren will be French. Chester's American identity ends with him.
There are real examples of that, such as the Confederados of Brazil who still have the gray uniforms and bits and pieces of Southern history, but whose children don't speak English and haven't been to the United States. America is a distant cultural legacy to them, but they are now Brazilians.
Being Jewish is not an accident. It's not a collection of Woody Allen movies or any other meaningfully meaningless cultural signifiers from 20th century New York.
It's Jewish children who raise other Jewish children who will go on to do the same thing.
The Jews of the present day are only a cross-section of the Jewish People in its entirety, comprising the past, present and future. It is possible to enter that cross-section in the past and the present. But once you step out of that cross-section in the present, you are out of that civilization for good.
The so-called "Self-Hating Jew" has stepped out of Jewish history. He remains behind only as an antagonist in the dim recollections of the descendants of the people he has tried to destroy. He may protest that his hatred is founded on some pure source of what Jewish ethics ought to be, but it is not possible for an individual to define Jewishness on his own terms in a way that will last across time.
It takes a great deal to maintain a civilization across thousands of years. Whatever else the civilization does, it must perpetuate itself to exist. If it cannot pass down its values to its children in a way that will be perpetuated countless centuries from now, it will cease to exist.
Civilizations are the trains that ride the tracks of time. You are either on the train or you aren't. Either you maintain the train or it breaks down and your civilization ends. If your civilization is mobile and flexible, then when the train is destroyed you learn to ride a bike. When the bike breaks, you run for a while and hitch a ride. When the tide floods the tracks, you build a boat. When the water dries, you slowly and patiently build another train. That's what the Jews have been doing for a long time.
Adaptability can be dangerous. Those whose minds are too open, lose them. The same biological flexibility that provides vitality also leads to mutations and cancers. Being able to adapt to catastrophic changes makes it more likely that the group will survive, but that you will also lose a lot of individuals along the way. That is what happened to the Jewish People in the last century.
In this century the effects of those crises will be resolved in one way or another. The dead ends will die off. They will leave behind few Jewish children and fewer Jewish grandchildren. It will take some time, but the demographic impact can already be seen in New York. It will be seen elsewhere too.
The leftist Jew who sees the members of the Jewish civilization as an "Other" is a dinosaur. And he
knows it and like the dinosaurs, he will do as much damage as he can on the way out. His organizations will wreak havoc. They will work to destroy the Jewish State and wage war on traditionalist Jews. That is what has been happening in this generation.
Like the Jewish Communist, he has no future. He has a past. But to have a past and no future is to be irrelevant. The Jewish Communists of Russia came from Jewish homes and went to cold graves. Their Western counterparts will fill out cemeteries leaving behind multicultural descendants. Their numbers, for now, appear intimidating, but looking at the cross-section of the Jewish People, they are already gone. It's easy enough to see that in the demographic picture of the next generation.
The self-hating Jew is not a Jew. He is not part of the Jewish civilization moving through time. He may have a Jewish past, but he has no Jewish future.
His malice causes damage in the present, but it is the frustrated act of a mortal man who knows that he has no future, that he will leave behind no legacy that a century of time will not wash away as thoroughly as the debris in the gutter.
There are no self-hating Jews. There are Jews who hate the Jewish People. Their hatred excludes them from the thing that they hate. By Othering Jews, they only Other themselves. Their books, their petitions, their jokes and their protests, their boat trips to Gaza and their letters from 199 Rabbis Against the Occupation and all the other symptoms of their hatred exist in the present, but not the past or the future. In the totality of Jewish civilization across time, they are already gone.