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The 'Post-Holocaust Jew' and the Instrumentalization of Philosemitism

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Abstract:

Altfelix attempts to examine and explain why xenophiles are politically prone to an ambivalent re-utilization of xenophobic images of the Other. In Germany both 'the Jew' and 'theAusländer' have been instrumentalized xenophilically in their capacity as abstract notions by certain system actors and publics in a manner which appears to shed more light on the in-group than the Other. Xenophilia as a self-oriented, positive in-group evaluation may be identified as particularly evident in the post-war German political discourse on the Holocaust. In similar fashion to antisemitism, philosemitism represents an 'allosemitic' (Bauman) abstraction of 'the Jew', whose evocation is comparable to the idea of a 'good foreigner' as expressed inAusländerfreundlichkeit(foreigner-friendliness). Xenophilia/philosemitism-like xenophobia/antisemitism-is dependent upon a relative opposition between 'concretized Self' and 'abstracted Other'. Altfelix argues that this relationship emerges for two reasons. First, manifestations of xenophilia are generally preceded by bouts of xenophobia. Consequently, some publics may identify a need for creating a positive in-group focus. In this, the Other must not become too concrete for fear of distracting attention away from the xenophile's agenda. Second, the difference between Self and Other must be effectively maintained, since the xenophile's raison d'êtredepends upon it. Post-war German philosemitism appears to be a good exemplar for this definition of 'xenophilia'. It demonstrates the dangers of moving within an allosemitic cycle in which difference becomes a method of keeping otherness at bay through abstraction. The fear of a misremembrance of the Holocaust resulting from an abstract memorialization seems to provide a very solid political basis for perpetuating a philosemitic identity-construction of 'the Jew' as abstracted Other.

Keywords: Auslýnderfreundlichkeit; Holocaust; antisemitism; exclusion; inclusion in-group; philosemitism; the Other; xenophilia; xenophobia

Document Type: Miscellaneous

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/003132200128810829

Affiliations: University of Potsdam, Germany

Publication date: 2000-04-01

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