On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred by Paul Reitter

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Today, the term "Jewish self-hatred" often denotes a treasonous brand of Jewish self-loathing, and is frequently used as a smear, such as when it is applied to politically moderate Jews who are critical of Israel. In On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred, Paul Reitter demonstrates that the concept of Jewish self-hatred once had decidedly positive connotations. He traces the genesis of the term to Anton Kuh, a Viennese-Jewish journalist who coined it in the aftermath of World War I, and shows how the German-Jewish philosopher Theodor Lessing came, in 1930, to write a book that popularized "Jewish self-hatred." Reitter contends that, as Kuh and Lessing used it, the concept of Jewish self-hatred described a complex and possibly redemptive way of being Jewish. Paradoxically, Jews could show the world how to get past the blight of self-hatred only by embracing their own, singularly advanced self-critical tendencies--their "Jewish self-hatred."

Provocative and elegantly argued, On the Origins of Jewish Self-Hatred challenges widely held notions about the history and meaning of this idea, and explains why its history is so badly misrepresented today.


About Paul Reitter

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Paul Reitter is associate professor of Germanic languages and literatures at Ohio State University. He is the author of "The Anti-Journalist: Karl Kraus" and "Jewish Self-Fashioning in Fin-de-Siècle Europe".
Published April 29, 2012 by Princeton University Press. 175 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Lessing’s 1930 book, Jewish Self-Hatred, as the author writes, caused quite a reaction, and the term quickly spread throughout the writings of scholars and philosophers concerned with Jewish identity.

Mar 15 2012 | Read Full Review of On the Origins of Jewish Self...

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And here's what I wrote: "To say that Kuh's way of working with 'Jewish self-hatred' accommodates such complexity better than [Sander] Gilman's or [Shulamit] Volkov's isn't to suggest that we should embrace Kuh's speculations about how Jewish self-hatred is formed, or his thoughts about how Jewis...

Aug 09 2012 | Read Full Review of On the Origins of Jewish Self...

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