Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Jewish Authenticity

(A second quote from Jean-Paul Sartre's: Anti-Semite and Jew)

Authenticity, it is almost needless to say, consists in having a true and lucid consciousness of the situation, in assuming the responsibility and risks it involves, in accepting it in pride or humiliation, sometimes in horror and hate.

There is no doubt that authenticity demands much courage and more than courage. Thus it is not surprising that one finds it so rarely....

And the Jew does not escape this rule: Authenticity for him is to live to the full his condition as Jew; inauthenticity is to deny it or to attempt to escape from it. Inauthenticity is no doubt more tempting for him than for other men, because the situation which he has to lay claim to and to live in is quite simply that of a martyr....

What characterizes inauthentic Jews is that they deal with their situation by running away from it; they have chosen to deny it; or deny their responsibilities, or to deny their isolation, which appears intolerable to them. That does not mean that they wish to destroy the concept of the Jew... but their gestures, sentiments and acts aim secretly at destroying this reality.

In a word, the inauthentic Jews are men whom other take for Jews and who have decided to run away from this insupportable situation. The result is that they display various types of behaviour not all of which are present at the same time in he same person but each of which may be characterized as an avenue of flight. The anti-Semite by collecting and assembling all these distinct and often incompatible avenues of flight has traced a monstrous portrait which is supposed to be that of the Jew in general; at the same time he explains these free efforts at escape from a painful situation as hereditary traits, engraved on the very body of Israel and consequently, incapable of modification.

(First quote, here)

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