Assimilation = Anti-Semitism ?


This is something I have been puzzling over for some time. Given:

1. It is not anti-Semitic if "assimilation" means integration into mainstream society without loss of separate ethnic identity.
2. If assimilation results in a loss of separate cultural identity, whether inadvertent or intentional, then it is anti-Semitic.
The next question is what to think if someone says (either then or now) "It would be nice if the Jews lost their separate identity and merged completely with mainstream culture."
By most definitions, this is an anti-Semitic position, whether or not it is intended with an element of compulsion or not.

What are we then to make of the following fact? In modern US society many Jews have lost their separate identity and been assimilated into mainstream culture, becoming non-practicing agnostics. Does that make US society anti-Semitic? If you find this development good, does that make you an anti-Semite? Are such Jews themselves anti-Semitic? If the definition of anti-Semitic is stretched so far that the freedom of an individual Jew to choose to abandon their heritage becomes anti-Semitism, that seems inimical to a humanist view of individual freedom of conscience.
On the other hand, if there is no objection to an individual choosing to abandon their heritage, why is it wrong for someone to say that they feel, in principle, such an occurrence would be desirable? It seems like a catch-22.

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This page contains a single entry by Daniel Hindes published on March 3, 2004 5:37 PM.

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