Any discussion of anti-Semitism is bound to raise the question of its cause. Widely-varying attempts have been made to explain this extraordinary phenomenon. Some have sought to find the explanation in factors of psychology, or economics, or sociology.
We are told that the Jew is hated because he is different, because he has his own cultural observances, keeps his feasts and holidays at different times from those of the majority, practices his own marriage customs and, most inconvenient of all if he observes them, has his own dietary laws. No doubt these things often make it difficult for Gentiles to have normal social relationships with Jews, but they hardly seem sufficient to account for the intensity of the dislike which many Gentiles feel for Jews.
We may be told that it is a case of “dislike of the unlike,” something comparable to color prejudice and other forms of racial discrimination, an inborn sense of aversion that centuries of contact have done nothing to eradicate. We may see the force of all this and yet feel that we are only touching the fringe of the problem.
The same is true of arguments oriented to economic factors. Jews are disliked because they are successful in business. They drive hard bargains and display their success in brash and obstentatious behavior. They are too exclusive; they live in a degree of voluntary segregation in neighborhoods they have largely appropriated for themselves. On the other hand, they will at times move into predominantly Gentile areas and cause resentment by their different standards of manners and behavior. Their strong sense of family loyalty is much to be admired, of course, but why must they be so smug about it? And why do they obtrude their Bar-mitzvah and circumcision ...1
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