Judaism vs. Humanism

Karin McQuillan recently posed the question, Are Jews Traumatized? Ms. McQuillan indicates that she is a psychotherapist trying to fathom the unconscious psychodynamics of the Jew-hating voiced by a professor of Judaism at Brandeis University. Ms. McQuillan's answer is that the traumata of historic or contemporary anti-Semitism is the primary cause of institutional Jew-hating at Brandeis. But if trauma were the cause, it would follow that earlier generations of Jewish Americans would have been more anti-Israel. The opposite is true. As Jewish Americans experience less first- and second-hand trauma they become more disloyal to Israel. It is not Jewish self-hatred, it is Jew-hating. The professor does not hate himself; he hates the Jews he views as unlike himself, those loyal to Israel.

Before answering Ms. McQuillan's question, here is a nip of esoterica. One school of psychology accepts reincarnation and would agree with Ms. McQuillan. Of course, Carl Jung theorized a collective unconscious. His theories would suggest that the Jewish people carry a special narrative of suffering down through the ages. More specifically, Rabbi Yonassan Gershom wrote a book entitled Beyond the Ashes: Cases of Reincarnation from the Holocaust. The Rabbi asserts that the aversion to Judaism among Jewish-Americans of the baby-boom generation is because they remember the Holocaust from their last lives, and they reject their Jewish identity out of unconscious terror.

A better explanation of the culture of Jew-hating at Brandeis and other left-wing Jewish institutions is that it is a political groupthink effect. It actualizes the psychology of obsessively moralistic people who have no moral code. Such people experience rage when moral demands are placed on them, and hate Jews to protect their egos from feeling the shame of disloyalty to their own people. They think and speak Jewishly, in that they are preoccupied with truth and justice, but not only have they no moral code, they mock those who are trying to follow the moral code God gave to the Jews! “Un-Jews” angrily defend against the dissonance of this dynamic by attacking Judaism.

Ms. McQuillan tells us the professor was eager to minimize the suffering of the Jewish people and to blame Jews for defending their homeland – despite the fact that Israel's existence rests upon the strongest religious territorial claim in human history. This is because the professor is Jewish without being a Jew. He is morally judgmental, which is the defining attribute of the Jewish mindset. Brandeis University is also Jewish in its strident political judgmentalism, which is why it is often first in line to advance the dehumanizing and degrading politics of the left. The university’s nickname is the Judges, though the school is not known for intercollegiate athletics. (There used to be a joke at Brandeis -- we don't play sports, we just work out the strategies.)

To be a Jew is to fulfill a unique moral obligation among the nations. It is to be overjoyed that God chose the Jews to receive and preserve an eternal moral code, given directly in human language to an illumined Jew called Moses, and that the Jewish people would be restored to Israel when God returned to walk as Man amongst men. This is not myth or legend, it is Judaism.

Humanism replaced Judaism as the spiritual orientation of academia. This transition is like a concussion at Brandeis, banging the Jewish brain against its own skull. Only God can provide a permanent moral code, humanism offers ethics. Morality is the business of pleasing God by trying to be true to other people. Ethics is the business of identifying one's own purposes while being sensitive to other people. Morality pertains to the relationship between humanity and God. Ethics pertains to the relationships among human beings, which is another word for politics.

The intelligence and learning of the Judaism professor who blames Israel is not about understanding Judaism, it is about politics. Because the professor is a humanist he is trapped in the prison of himself, answering ultimately to his own comfort and needs. These comforts do not include, for instance, the possibility of having his brother killed while defending Israel, as happened to Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ms. McQuillan summarizes the professor's statements as, “Jews are the culprits, especially bad Israel.” She writes, “The reaction of [the professor] was a textbook example from psych 101 of identification with the aggressor -- the self-blame, the guilt, the false accusations of being worse than the abuser, the pretense you were the one who caused the problem.”

The theories of Freud were indelibly humanistic and a coffin nail for Judaism. But identification with the aggressor involves resolving traumatic anxiety by introjecting and identifying with a needed but feared figure. It was developed to explain the transference of male identification from the mother to the father in early childhood. The Brandeis professor neither needs nor fears Hamas or the so-called Palestinians. While he may be theoretically sympathetic to them from a healthy distance, it is unlikely he personally identifies with aggressors against Israel. Psych 102 is about the pain and pleasure principles. These comforting psychological perimeters better explain the psychodynamics of Jew-hating at Brandeis. Only a God-given moral code offers the fortification to stand with tiny, embattled Israel, which is why American Christians are the only major group to do so. People like the professor have a need to think of themselves as highly moral, but would they risk so much as a cheese blintz to personally face the dire threats against Israel?

A case can be made that humanistic psychology is post-Judaism Jewishness, a ghost that arose from the body of Judaism as it expired among the Jewish intelligentsia. I enrolled at Brandeis University to study humanistic psychology a few months after Abraham Maslow died. As an au paire to his children, I was close to Morrie Schwartz, although he treated me like a guest rather than an employee. He represented a transitional generation from the morality of Judaism to the ethical politics of humanism, which more often than not works against simple loyalty and goodness. Where is our Morrie in 2015?