Jews are not unique in being hated. Russian nationalist radicals attack many other minorities, including decidedly harmless ones such as black students. In India, the caste system closely approximates the Western contempt for certain ethnic groups. European ultra-nationalists increasingly turn on Muslims. In the early twentieth-century United States, Irish and Italians disliked each other, a hatred extinguished by their assimilation rather than by their abandonment of xenophobia.

Two tendencies compete. Globalization and media make people more accustomed to other ethnic groups, but also bring them into close, often unwanted contact. Muslims will assimilate in Europe the way Jews did, but will European ultra-nationalists wait three generations for that to happen? Besides, the first attempts at assimilation are the most dangerous: as can be seen from the example of Jews: nations attacked us specifically when we left our ghettos and intermingled with them. This happened in eighteenth-century Poland, early twentieth-century Russia, and then in Germany.

As Jews assimilate throughout the world, anti-Semitism will persist for some time. Xenophobia can accept a fictional subject. Note the hatred toward Jews in Siberia or Mexico, where the population has hardly met any Jews at all. Ukrainians continue to hate Jews, who are virtually extinct in that country. As Christianity declines and its propagandists become politically correct, overt anti-Semitic indoctrination will vanish. The hatred previously directed toward Jews will become centered on Israel. In a generation or two, people won’t remember why is it common to despise Israel, but the traditional will persist.

In Europe, xenophobia will be directed toward Muslims, and perhaps Chinese. The attitude will depend greatly on their behavior. If Muslims are violent yet institutionally protected like American blacks, they will become popular rather than hated. People hate only those whom they can oppress; they envy and seek to join strong groups. Submissive, assimilating Muslims would likely be hated.

The equation is different in Russia and other illiberal states, which will not allow minorities to raise their heads, and at any rate won’t put up with their criminal behavior. There, radical nationalists will switch from Jews to more visible ethnic groups.

Jews love to know that they are unique in many respects, and that they are even hated uniquely. That uniqueness seems to be passing.

Anti-Semitism and xenophobia