Who Will Write the History of Anti-Semitism?

Shakespearian Dreams -or- The Historical Psychodynamics of Hatred

"Field Notes of a Dream Researcher" is intended to give you the reader a more personal view of my own life, memories and dreams. Few Field Notes will come closer to understanding various aspects of my own back-story, my lifetime, and my dreams than the one you are about to read. 

I was born Mark Goldhagen (Meyer ben Pesach) in Orillia, Ontario, a town that is known as once being a summer home for the Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock. My Jewish godmother http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godparent#Judaism was Sarah Goodman, the mohel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mohel who preformed my bris http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brit_milah (covenant of circumcision) was from Toronto, Doctor Eli Cass. 

I have lived in (and visited) many communities in my lifetime, including Toronto, Ontario and Zurich, Switzerland. My father who changed our family name to Hagen in the early 1960's said he did so, because of anti-Semitism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antisemitism, a concept I still was to young to understand. This legal act allowed me to move freely and unencumbered, without people knowing I was a Jew. Only those to whom I disclose my faith, know. In Toronto, my Bar Mitzvah photos with my father were taken infront of the alter at the Beth Tzedec synagogue. 

My Bar Mitzvah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bar_and_Bat_Mitzvah was held in a Jerusalem synagoge and at the "Wailing Wall" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Western_Wall in Israel alittle more than a year after the 1967 Six Day War http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-Day_War. The formal dinner with family friends from Toronto and family from Israel was held at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. In 1970, I spent eight weeks touring Israel, organized by the Betar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betar (Canada).

Moving to Zurich, Switzerland in 1975, as a University student, I took part in the Jewish community's New Year and Passover rituals. In the early 1980s I had a dream/nightmare that still to this day is chilling, you can read about it in; "Note to Children of Holocaust Survivors" http://www.dreamresearch.ca/interpretations.php?interID=233. Since returning to Canada 25 years ago (1987), I have spent many New Years and Passover seders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passover_Seder with family and friends in Toronto. Now for the last 17 years I have lived in the City of Hamilton, Ontario and have also partaken in the Jewish community's ritual and learning both in Hamilton and Toronto. In 1995, my parents and I participated in Steven Spielberg's video documentary "Survivor's of the Shoah" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Survivors_of_the_Shoah_Visual_History_Foundation. My mother and I still visit a Jewish bookstore in Toronto from time to time. 

While I am not an "observant Jew" in the traditional sense, I do have a Mezuzah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mezuzah and a Menorah http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menorah_(Hanukkah) and I wear the Star of David http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_of_David under my shirt. In 1999, when I nearly died due to the act of a wreckless driver, Marc Chagall's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Chagall Jerusalem windows were constantly in my "mind's eye" for three days, post-accident. The wreckless driver was never punished, and I never got what my lawyer called my desire for a "pound of flesh" from him. 

Retrospectively, as a child of a Holocaust survivor, one of the reasons I went to study in Switzerland was to understand the causes of anti-Semitism. While my historical understanding of anti-Semitism may not be complete, my own dreams and nightmares and the dreams and nightmares of other Holocaust survivors and children of Holocaust survivos that I have read, have provided insight. 

From a literary perspective, few have provided an accurate literary dramatic portrait of anti-Semitism, William Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice" is one such exceptional work. Our dreams, as Shakespeare well understood, define us all, and in this historical and dramatic Shakespearian semantic differential sense, have always defined us. 

Antisemitism, as so many other prejudices is alive and well in the global village. These prejudices are found in numerous dream interpretations posted at the International Institute for Dream Research website. If the oneiric history of anti-Semitism has yet to be written, then using Shylock's dream found in Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", let us begin. 

Money Bags -or- The Merchant of Hamilton 

Since the tool of money http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Money was invented, money from a historical perspective has been a powerful behavioural economic motivator. The "Merchant of Venice" and Shakespeare's Jewish stock character "Shylock" is poetic shorthand for "loan shark" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loan_shark. As a student, I had read somewhere that Sigmund Freud who was always interested in the nature of "human error", reportedly was puzzled as to why he was missing appointments with a variety of his patients. When Freud looked at the client list of appointments missed, he realized that the clients were all not paying him for his services. Jesus, known as the "King of the Jews" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus,_King_of_the_Jews (INRI), visiting Jerusalem at Passover was livid with the money changers who did their business at the temple in Jerusalem. The Christian story is retold as "The Cleansing of the Temple" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleansing_of_the_Temple. As Christ tells us; "You cannot serve both God and money." 

Shylock who has been spat on and looked down upon by Christians, unconsciously he seeks to exact personal political economic revenge on them, by getting his "pound of flesh". Shakespeare's Shylock historically personifies the poetic echoes of the wails of the Jews, who were oppressed, persecuted and punished by the Eygyptians, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Spanish, and the Russians to name a few. It is the dramatic Hebrew story of the Jewish diaspora http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_diaspora, "The Wandering Jew" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wandering_Jew, and the darker economic materialistic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economic_materialism Jewish personality sub-type of the Venitian Jew known as Shylock.

After such long wandering, Shylock represents the alienated Jew, the Jew who has lost his way. He is just one of many who have foresaken the "Halakha" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halakha, the Commandments and Zionism. He is the Jew who has lost his faith in G_d, and finds anxious security and identity in wealth, possessions and materialism. 

Having been to Venice on a couple of occasions, I never searched for Shylock, for I know he lived there, just as he has lived in many other cities I have visited, like London, Paris, Vienna and Jerusalem. The historical nightmare and tragedy of the Jewish diaspora and martyrdom that pervades Judaism and the Hebrews, is for some to great a burdon to carry. One of the dreams presented in Charlotte Beradt's "Third Reich of Dreams" http://www.dreamresearch.ca/interpretations.php?interID=137 (read interpretation) shows that little has changed in terms of people's prejudices and spitting on each other since Shakespeare's time. The Jewish community in Canada is one of the largest living outside of Israel, and I still keep in touch with my Jewish High school friends with whom I grew up with. Tragically, Shylock can also be found living in modern Hamilton, Ontario. I have met and labored with this atheist materialistic Jew, and unforteately, I have learned to know this alienated Jew all to well.  

Let us turn to Shylock's foreboding http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/foreboding dream found in Act 2: Scene 5; 

"I've been invited to supper, Jessica. Here are my keys.-But why should I go? I wasn't invited because they like me. They're just flattering me. But I'll go out of spite, to feed off the wasteful Christian.-Jessica, my girl, watch the house. I don't feel like going. Things aren't going my way right now. I know because I dreamed of money bags last night." 

Shylock finds the dream an ominous sign, a portending http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/portend sign that signals a threat to his finances, his possessions and his future. Shylock is materially obsessed, with protecting his money and his possessions, something that Moses had long ago warned all Jews against http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/You_shall_not_make_for_yourself_an_idol. Written in monotheistic stone, material greed was considered a Biblical form of idolatry. Shylock has a sense of foreboding when he intuits "some ill a-brewing." Shylock who hates the Christian Antonio wants his contractually agreed to "pound of flesh". The psychological associations of body-flesh-money are historically interconnected, in that they have provided the corporate foundation for the "body politic" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_politic since Biblical and ancient Greek times. Case in point, Homer in "The Iliad" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iliad informs the reader that during the Trojan War, Hector's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hector father Priam wants to ransom his son's dead body from Achilles, with treasure. 

William Ian Miller "Eye for an Eye", sees in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice the deep seated hatreds between Jews and Christians. These interpersonal conflicts are exacerbated for Shylock when his beloved daughter runs off with a substantial amount of Shylock's money and a piece of jewelry that his wife had given him. Making Shylock's ominous dream come full circle with reality. This Shakespearean "poetic conflict" of daughter and father, Christians and Jews, can also be found in Sigmund Freud's turn of the 20th century case study of the Jewish ancestral character "Dora" (aka Ida Bauer) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_(case_study). Dora's story and dreams can be read and seen through the Shakespearian optics and acoustics of "The Merchant of Venice". We can hear about about jewelry in one of Dora's dreams, which are found in the dream interpretation "Requiem for Ida Bauer" http://www.dreamresearch.ca/interpretations.php?interID=259

Other dark and light literary Jewish figures include; the archetypal Jewish villian Fagin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fagin, the "Jew" in "Oliver Twist". We can find the archetypal light of the observant pious http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piety Jew, Tevye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tevye in "Fiddler on the Roof" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiddler_on_the_Roof. Tevye is a traditional man living in Tzarist Russia, who leads, follows, sings and dances to the musical metaphor of the Jewish "fiddler" while trying to keep his poetic spiritual and material Halakhic balance. This modern Jew has a light humorous side, a character who is often in poetic dialogue with God. Just when God seems unavailable to talk to about a serious problem Tevye has concerning the marriage of one of his daughters, poetic ancestral inspiration strikes, as witnessed in "Tevye's Dream" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RXPJbN8k1-Y (watch film video). 

While Tevye is open and receptive to changing times, we learn that some Jewish traditions evidently can never be allowed to change. In the end, when Tevye and what is left of his family is facing a pogrom http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Jewish_pogroms_in_the_Russian_Empire, they wander off to America. Tevye's eldest daughters (much like the Jewish diaspora itself), we hope will perhaps re-join Tevye and the family one day in America. While the character Tevye can be seen as a real "Mensch" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensch, it is George Eliot's controversial English character of "Daniel Deronda" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniel_Deronda (published 1876) who heralds the modern Jewish epochal making call of the political and religious renewal of the movement of Judaism, Zionism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zionism, and Jewish mysticism. 

In stark contrast, Hitler's "Mein Kampf" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mein_Kampf, blames the German political loss of World War I on the Jews. Mein Kampf can be read and viewed as a genocidal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genocide anti-Semitic European political manifesto and movement. When Hitler took power of Germany in 1933, he used the Nazi's propaganda machinery on every psychologically persuasive level to control the German body politic. Said differently, Nazi Germany's political propaganda machinery's message of the threat of "Jewish peril" on the German body politic was broadcast using every social media channel. Small wonder, that the dreams of ordinary Germans show the authoritarian signs of political subjection to the Nazi's mind control, as well witnessed in Beradt's "Third Reich of Dreams". 

Joseph Goebbels http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Goebbels the Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda authorized the anti-Semitic rhetoric in films such as "Jud Suss" (Jew Süss) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jud_S%C3%BC%C3%9F_(1940_film) and "The Eternal Jew" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eternal_Jew_(1940_film). The oneiric effectiveness of the Nazi's propaganda machinery on ordinary German's dreams is given voice in the dream interpretation "Hitler's Mein Kampf" http://www.dreamresearch.ca/interpretations.php?interID=239. The anti-Semitic ending of the film The Eternal Jew, features footage of Hitler's foreboding political speech in the Reichstag where he proclaims:

"Europe will not have peace until the Jewish question has been disposed of. The world has sufficient capacity for settlement, but we must finally break away from the notion that a certain percentage of the Jewish people are intended, by our dear God, to be the parasitic beneficiary of the body (read body politic), and of the productive work, of other peoples.

Jewry must adapt itself to respectable, constructive ethical work, as other peoples do, or it will sooner or later succumb to a crisis of never dreamed of proportions. If it should succeed for the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe, to throw the nations of the world into another world war, then the result will not be Bolshevization of the earth and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe!" (loosely translated from the German, watch and listen to the German film version with English subtitles http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNk_osZWScw&bpctr=1355873558)

Hitler tried to make good on his political speech and the Nazi boast of the existential annihilation of the European Jews in his well crafted anti-Semitic and genocidal "Final Solution of the Jewish Question" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Final_Solution. The popular film "Conspiracy" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conspiracy_(2001_film) provides a perspective of the Wannsee Conference which portrays a chilling cinematographic inhuman vision and voice of the Nazi's anti-Semitism and calculated plans of genocide. 

Perhaps on a brighter final Judaic note that perseveres, and stays the Jewish musical fiddler's Halakhic course; the chorus of Wandering Jews, the persecuted Jews, the Jews of the Diaspora, and the Jews of the Holocaust and their children, they all sing "Hatikvah" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hatikvah (The Hope, based on a poem, first written in 1877). 

Further Reading: 

  • Hannah Arendt, "Antisemitism: Part One of; The Origins of Totalitarianism".
  • Michael Rosenak, "The Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge: Conversations with the Torah".
  • Bezalel Naor, "Bringing Down Dreams: Exploring the Lost Art of Jewish dream interpretation".
  • Lawrence J. Silberstein, "Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought: Alienation and the Quest for Meaning".
  • Ruth R. Wisse, "The Modern Jewish Canon: A Journey through Language and Culture".
  • Max Gross, "From Schlub to Stud: How to Embrace Your Inner Mensch"


All material Copyright 2006 International Institute for Dream Research. All rights reserved.