The Gentile (Jewish Invisibility & Disappearance)

ts elliot

There are how many books about Jews and Jewish identity?  But what about gentiles and the Gentile? Or is it impolite, not genteel to ask about the Gentile? For its part, Black Critical Theory has developed sophisticated theories of whiteness. If there were such a thing as Jewish Critical Theory, would it not have to advance a theory about this particular figure, the Gentile? As opposed to gentiles, namely ordinary people, the Gentile as a theoretical subject positioning does not refer to real people as such. The Gentile splits into two figures. The one is the Gentile who actively fears the Jew, hates the Jew and or holds them in contempt. The Jew and Jews do not and should not belong. The malevolent Gentile is the more dangerous and the least interesting. The other type of Gentile is the indifferent one who simply doesn’t see the Jew, who doesn’t think the Jew really matters, but who doesn’t actually know what they’re not seeing and what they don’t know, and doesn’t really care. Putting “himself” forward, the Gentile is the condition of Jewish invisibility and Jewish disappearance, but, ironically, the Gentile stands in sharpest profile when Jews are made most visible and exposed.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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