Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities

Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities

Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities

Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities

Synopsis

This is the newest volume of the annual Studies In Contemporary Jewry series. It contains original essays on Jews and crime in fact, fantasy, and fiction; verbal and physical violence in Israeli politics; Jews as revolutionaires; armed resistance by Jews in Nazi Germany; ethical dilemmas within the Israeli Defense Forces; violence in Israeli society and social stress; and other topics. As with other volumes, it also contains review essays and book reviews.

Excerpt

As reflected in the title Jews and Violence: Images, Ideologies, Realities, the 11 essays composing the symposium in this volume focus primarily on violence by Jews, not that against Jews. To be sure, the two are closely connected insofar as the former may be a direct response to the latter (and vice versa). However, they are also clearly separable: Jews may refrain from responding to violence in kind and may resort to violence even without being subjected to it. in sum, violence against Jews does not always or necessarily beget violence by Jews, and the latter is not always a response (or the only response) to violence against Jews.

Thus, as is amply attested to in these essays, violence by Jews may be directed against other Jews. It may also occur in a wide range of contexts, including struggles for communal supremacy, conflicts over values and policies, maintaining political authority and social order, and ensuring obedience to and implementation of collective decisions. Furthermore, Jews have responded to violence against them in a variety of ways—for example, by persuading, buying off, and otherwise appeasing or mollifying their oppressors; by preaching and practicing nonviolence and other forms of passive resistance; by flight and emigration; by prayer, inaction, and passivity; and by seeking salvation either by repairing the society in which the violence against them occurs, relying upon divine or messianic intervention, or achieving political independence by means of the establishment of a sovereign state. Finally, the actual achievement of Jewish sovereignty, and the need to govern and defend the state of Israel, radically broadened the scope and incidence of violence by Jews, both against fellow Jews and against others.

While such uses of violence by Jews involve ideological and pragmatic considerations and require empirical assessments of reality, they are also affected by images and perceptions. For many centuries, the most significant of these was the image (if not the myth) of the Jew as timid and passive, as unable or unwilling to use force or resort to arms—even in self-defense—and, consequently, as powerless. Historically the imposition of such a negative image upon Jews (in itself, a form of violence against them) and its internalization had a clearly inhibiting influence on the use of violence by them. Once this negative image was rejected, however, the Jews' inhibitions with regard to the use of violence were removed and the myth was shattered. What is more, the effective use of violence by Jews reinforced their propensity to employ it in pursuit of collective Jewish goals—so much so, that among some Jewish groups, it gave rise to the glorification of violence and its transformation from a means to an end. Among other Jewish groups, however, these developments led to ideological soul-searching as to the necessity, legitimacy, and justification of using violence, and to calls for limitations upon it. All in all, these confrontations with the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.