A reader writes:
I was raised Jewish in Tulsa, Oklahoma and I've been thinking about this notion of Jewish "persecutionism" for quite a while.
I spent my early years in Sunday school --like every other Jew I know-- being force fed a diet of Jewish persecution stories. We were either getting kicked out of one country or massacred in another or being forced into hiding somewhere else...and that's not to mention the hours and hours we spent learning about the Holocaust. Endless films of emaciated Jews and readings of the Diary of Anne Frank and statistics from before and after the war and etc. Plus there were the many wars Israel fought in, the many times they were attacked by their neighbors during holy-days or asleep in their beds.
My entire self-concept as a Jew was based around the idea that Jews are simply not safe anywhere and must maintain perpetual militaristic
vigilance both personally and culturally. It's like some kind of cultural post-traumatic stress disorder. Hopefully soon Jews will stop indoctrinating their children to perpetually look over their shoulders for the next Hitler (or Torquemada), but I wouldn't be surprised if it doesn't take some time and until then self-pity and paranoia will continue to define the Jewish experience, for both Jews and non-Jews around the world.