Jewish Self-Hate:The Phenomenon of Lily Bloom in Will Self’s How The Dead Live. Zofia Janowska
Jewish Self-Hate: The Phenomenon of Lily Bloom in Will Self’s How The Dead Live Zofia Janowska 1. Oxymoronic identity – is Jewish self-hate possible? 1.1 Defining anti-Semitism At first glance, the meaning of the term ‘anti-Semitism’ appears perfectly clear. The largest American on-line dictionary, Dictionary.com, describes an anti- Semite as ‘a person who discriminates against or is prejudiced or hostile toward Jews’1. The newest Encyclopaedia Britannica, on the other hand, defines anti- Semitism as ‘hostility toward or discrimination against Jews as a religious or racial group’2. However, despite its apparent lack of ambiguity, the term in ques- tion is not necessarily so easy to define after all. As Fontette points out (1992: 7), the common understanding of ‘anti-Semitism’ seems inappropriate in rela- tion to the phenomenon this word actually describes. He draws attention to the fact that from a linguistic perspective the adjective ‘Semitic’ does not refer to racial or ethnic groups, but to languages. Yet Hebrew is not the only Semitic language – Arabic is also one of them. Furthermore, there seems to exist a con- fusion as to the exact differentiation between anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism. Both Fontette (8) and Perry & Schweitzer (2002: 5) point to the more historical connotations of anti-Judaism, which deals primarily with the negation of or op- position to religious and theological aspects of Judaism, as, for instance, at the time of the emergence of Christianity as a separate religion (Fontette 1992: 8). Crossan (1998: 51) postulates that anti-Semitism is the combination of anti- Judaism and racism....
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