The rampant antisemitism in the news these days has taken a toll on the psyches of Jewish people like me around the country. But on top of that, the high-profile conspiracy-mongering and acts of violence against Jews have made it incredibly tricky to hate any Jew at all, which simply isn’t fair to people who are skeeved out by Woody Allen or who were swindled out of their life savings by Bernie Madoff. It’s totally reasonable to have a Jewish nemesis or adversary—I personally have several—but it’s important to carry your grudge in a thoughtful, culturally sensitive way. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to hate a Jew like a Jew.
1. Choose your Jew. It’s critical to start with a personal connection. Which Jew do you hate, and why? Was your high school bully Jewish, and have they continued to dunk your head in a toilet regularly as an adult? Did a person who once celebrated a bar mitzvah engage in sexual intercourse with your spouse, setting off acrimonious divorce proceedings? Did Steven Spielberg accidentally or intentionally run over your beloved dog? These are all legitimate reasons for hating someone Jewish, but not every Jewish person.
If you absolutely must resent George Soros, please make sure you have an exceptionally specific reason. Unless he committed an offense as personal as stealing your family’s prize-winning cheesecake recipe and passing it off as his own, consider giving him a pass. He’s been through enough.
2. Be specific. Similar to #1, this is huge. You’ll want to steer clear of any sweeping generalizations about Jewish people as a whole. Definitely avoid dipping into talk about “cabals,” “protocols,” or “the banks.” Don’t happen to “notice” when a few people have names that end in -berg or -stein. No need to “just ask questions” about Jews overall unless those questions are “When is Hanukkah this year?” (Answer: Sometime in December, but I haven’t looked it up yet.) or “Is it weird if I wear a yarmulke at your wedding?” (Answer: Nope!)
Also… there’s no such thing as “the Jews.” A global conspiracy of all Jewish people would be impossible to cultivate and keep up. Canonically, no gathering of more than one Jewish person in history has been able to reach a consensus on where to get the best bagels in town or what shoes Grandpa should be buried in. Dominating international financial markets is, to be frank, above our organizational capacity.
3. Follow the Gibson Guideline (a.k.a. the Kanye Korollary). If what you’re saying sounds like a voicemail Mel Gibson might leave while drunk, your vendetta has gone off the rails. (Remember Mel Gibson? From Lethal Weapon and also from continuing to direct and star in movies despite his numerous loathsome tirades against Jews and African Americans? No, I don’t have any follow-up to that recollection. Just taking a walk down memory lane!)
4. Leave Israel out of it. Unless, of course, you’re criticizing the Israeli government on its own merits. And in that case, leave the rest of us out of it. As an American Jew, my most deeply held problematic allegiance is to the seasons of Seinfeld after Larry David left.
5. In fact, maybe don’t bring up Judaism at all. Honestly, the only time it really makes sense to hate someone because of their Judaism is when you are both rabbis, and you’re arguing over how to define “sunset” or whether vegan bacon is kosher in the spirit of Biblical law. Instead of mentioning the religion of a person you hate, focus again on the cause of your animus. Rather than calling someone a “sneaky Jew,” perhaps refer to them as “the bastard who crushed Muffin with his goddamn Lexus SUV and who also produced the beloved but overrated film The Goonies.” It lets whoever you’re talking to know what you’re actually mad about.
6. It helps if you yourself are Jewish. I’m not saying this qualification is mandatory, but it’s definitely a point in your favor. As a Jewish person, you’re likely to find yourself in close contact with other Jews and have more opportunities to get sick of and annoyed at them. Friends. Family members. Colleagues. These are the kinds of people it’s common to come into conflict with. Familiarity breeds kvetch, as no one says, but they should. And if you don’t know what kvetch means, that is basically antisemitism on its own. I’m not saying to convert to Judaism for the purpose of maintaining Jewish enemies, but it is worth considering.
With these guidelines, you should be equipped to hate a Jew the Jewish way, for petty personal reasons, rather than right-wing conspiracy talking point reasons. There’s no need to play into broad antisemitic tropes or post links to bizarre antisemitic “documentary” films (I’m looking at you here, Kyrie Irving). Hate any Jew you want on the merits of their own behavior. We, the Jews, will thank you for it. Well, most of us will, at least. Consensus remains impossible for us.