Self-hating Jew  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Self-hating Jew (or self-loathing Jew) is an epithet used about Jews, which suggests a hatred of one's Jewish identity.

Historical origins of the term

According to Gilman, the term "self-hating Jew" comes from a disagreement over the validity of the Jewish reform movement between neo-Orthodox Jews of the Breslau seminary in Germany and Reform Jews in the 19th century. Some neo-Orthodox Jews viewed Reform Judaism as "inauthentic Judaism" because they felt that the Reformers identified more closely with German Protestantism and German nationalism than with Judaism. In response, some Reform Jews labeled the neo-Orthodox Jews "self-hating Jews". Today there is still a rift between Orthodoxy and Reform Judaism, but the rhetoric has changed; most Orthodox and Reform Jews do not refer to each other as self-hating Jews.

Proposed psychological basis

Historian Sander L. Gilman of the University of Chicago defines self-hatred as:

...the internalization of the negative stereotypes about who you are--the identification with the reference group's image of you as 'the other' in society. The person who is labeled as different wants to find out why he or she fits the stereotype, or to prove that he/she does not. But the more one attempts to identify with societal definitions in order to fit in, the more one accepts the attitudes of the determining group, the farther away from true acceptability one seems to be." Obviously this statement could be applied to any group which is the subject of bigotry.


Many psychologists who have attempted to explain this phenomenon. According to some theorists, Jewish self-hatred may result from feelings of inferiority brought upon by antisemitism they have suffered in the past. This can lead to attempts to distance themselves from their Jewish identity by avoiding activities and styles of dress and appearance currently or traditionally associated with Jewish people. They may also attempt to adopt the behavior patterns and characteristics more predominantly associated with Gentiles. In some cases a Jew will not only distance themselves from other Jews but actually engage in discrimination against other Jews. A famous instance of this phenomenon was the case of Dan Burros, who concealed his Jewish background and joined the Ku Klux Klan, eventually rising to Grand Dragon status; Burros committed suicide after The New York Times reported that he was Jewish. The film The Believer was loosely based on his life. This phenomenon may also contribute to what has been dubbed the Silent Holocaust of modern assimilated Jews in free societies.

See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Self-hating Jew" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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