Shlomo Sand’s forthcoming How I Stopped Being A Jew is a sharp slap to the brain. He challenges many of today’s tropes of Jewishness - the notion that there is a “Jewish culture,” the exclusive attention to Jewish suffering at the hands of Nazis, the contempt of Yiddish language and culture, the antiquity of Zionist ideology.
Most centrally, he challenges the notion of “secular Jewishness,” arguing that it is a recent construct that shares an uncomfortable affinities with the racist theories with which it claims to be at war. Sand didn’t really stop being Jewish. As an atheist and secularist, he has concluded that he was never been Jewish in the traditional religious sense of the term.
Early on, he challenges the notion that anti-Semitism, or “Judeophobia” continues to victimize Jews in the way that it has done in the past. He writes, “The long and tormented century of Judeophobia that the Western world experienced between approximately 1850 and 1950 has effectively ended,” and complains that “To try to equate today’s marginal anti-Semitism with the powerful, mainstream Judeophobia of the past amounts to greatly downplaying the impact of Jew-hatred in Western, Christian and modern civilization as expressed until the mid-twentieth century.”
In place of the virulent hatred of the past, “Today, on the part of the ‘post-Shoah goyim’, we face a symbiosis of fears, guilty consciences and ignorance, while among the ‘new Jews’ we often find victimization, narcissism, pretentiousness, and likewise a crass ignorance.”