Good Jews

Philosemitism in Post-Holocaust Europe

  • Daniel Cohen
Keywords: philosemitism, postwar history, discourse analysis, history of ideas

Abstract

While the liberation of Europe in 1945 did not result in the end of antisemitism, Jews, Judaism, and Jewishness acquired new value in the aftermath of the Shoah. In democratic Europe, the Jew became at the very least the “enemy that we now must love”. Like antisemitism, European philosemitic discourse mutated over time. To counteract the image of the Jewish enemy, secular and Christian philosemites imagined various types of loveable “good Jews”. This newfound sympathy was not devoid of ambiguities. Philosemitism, broadly conceived as positive discourse on Jews, can indeed easily recycle antisemitic themes, recreate Jewish otherness, or strategically compensate for Holocaust guilt. However, while the Israeli or cosmopolitan Jew continues to fuel antisemitic paranoia, post-Holocaust ‘philosemitism’ has redefined the relationship between contemporary Europe and its Jews. 

Published
2020-05-08