Hollywood offers an important insight on atheism and anti-Semitism. Hollywood productions generally picture the people next-door with mind-boggling achievements in anything from wealth to love. The message is, You can be one of them. This creates rapport and compassion, viewers imagine themselves as movie characters and laugh and shed tears with them. By watching movies, they virtually acquire the attributes they lack in real life, visit the places they would never be in, and experience the emotions they dream of.

Not so with Jewishness. There is no easy way for Gentiles to imagine themselves the chosen people of God. They know that practically speaking they cannot become Jewish. They can suddenly become rich, or fall in love with a top model, or win a computer gaming contest—but can never become a Jew.

Until recently, some other transformations were also problematic: a man could not become a woman, for example. But the female position was not perceived to be better. People hate those in coveted positions they cannot ever reach; Jews and aristocracy, for example.

Atheism is of the similar stock. People trust blindly many concepts with immense negative bearing on their lives: safety of social security accounts, the wisdom of fighting wars in distant lands, or immigration. But a suggestion to believe in God causes a bitter reaction because people are loathe to accept that any beings are inherently higher than themselves. This is not related to the burden of the commandments: even Christians who don’t have to alter their lifestyle (assuming it is basically moral) to conform to religious principles convert to atheism en masse.

The Jewish state is another unreachable ideal. Israelis came to believe in the impossibility of expelling the Arabs, rebuilding the Temple, and establishing a secure state in decent borders. People cannot stand the idea that some things are unreachable, so they hate and denigrate those things. Accordingly, proponents of the Jewish state are labeled “clowns,” and ethnic-blind democracy is embraced in place of Zionist ideals.

Sometimes it is worthwhile to dream.