On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred
Today, the term "Jewish self-hatred" often denotes a treasonous brand of Jewish self-loathing, and is frequently used as a smear, such as when it is applied to politically moderate Jews who are critical of Israel. In On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred, Paul Reitter demonstrates that the concept of Jewish self-hatred once had decidedly positive connotations. He traces the genesis of the term to Anton Kuh, a Viennese-Jewish journalist who coined it in the aftermath of World War I, and shows how the German-Jewish philosopher Theodor Lessing came, in 1930, to write a book that popularized "Jewish self-hatred." Reitter contends that, as Kuh and Lessing used it, the concept of Jewish self-hatred described a complex and possibly redemptive way of being Jewish. Paradoxically, Jews could show the world how to get past the blight of self-hatred only by embracing their own, singularly advanced self-critical tendencies--their "Jewish self-hatred.?
Provocative and elegantly argued, On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred challenges widely held notions about the history and meaning of this idea, and explains why its history is so badly misrepresented today.Paul Reitter is associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures at Ohio State University. He is the author of The Anti-Journalist: Karl Kraus and Jewish Self-Fashioning in Fin-de-Siècle Europe.