The question of whether the Anti-Semite creates the Jew or the Jew creates the Anti-Semite is one of those chicken or egg questions. Jean-Paul Sartre believes that the Anti-Semite (A.S.) creates the Jew because he is motivated by his fear. I order to cope with the fear of an undecided existence the A.S. creates a creature which is essentially the opposite of himself and considers it an evil entity. By forming this “doppelganger” he places himself in the category of the good creating a small amount of assurance in his life. In addition to this he is also bonded to others with similar viewpoints to his own placing him in a group of like minded (insecure and fearful) individuals. This group formation adds another layer of stability for the A.S.’s while further ostracizing Jews.
While this idea fits with Sartre’s existentialist ideology very well I would have to disagree with his belief that the A.S. creates the Jew. The characteristics of the anti-Semitic idea of a Jew(Big nosed, underhanded, hardworking etc.) were established by the A.S. the Jewish people were not brought about by the hatred of others. The Jewish people are those that share religion, history and the “Jewish experience.” The establishment of the Jew as a target might have been what Sartre was referring to which I can agree with, but the A.S. is not the creator of what it means to be Jewish. I believe that the Jews were the target of anti-Semitism not the creator of it.
Anti-Semitism was created by several factors; people’s innate fear of the world, hatred/jealousy that develops from this fear, and the ability of a person to categorize people. The fact that people have an innate fear of an uncertain future causes an illogical disruption in a person’s psyche. This disruption turns into a passionate hatred when they are wronged in some way or unfairly treated. The passionate hatred which develops needs a target to be acted upon. The target is acquired from our ability to categorize people. By saying someone is different from ourselves we can attribute negative qualities to that person without feeling bad about it because they are “not like us”.
This formula can also be applied to other types of discrimination, including racism, sexism etc. By saying we are different from those people we can apply negative characteristics to them while staying on our pillar of perfection.
What do y’all think, is Sartre right when he says the A.S. creates the Jew?