Paulo Rosenbaum

Still impacted by the flood of anti-Zionist-anti-Semitic or “antiZionSemitic” racism (the neologism urges, as it is proven that they are one and the same) that fill the streets, social networks, entire states, all like social vigilantes who now pride themselves on fighting and to wage war on Jews for the Palestinian sic “cause”.

I am convinced that this is a pathology, ranging from the extreme left to the extreme right, passing through “ proxies ” —such as the recent support given to the fundamentalist terrorists who dominate Gaza when they launched 4,300 missiles at Israeli civilians. The big news is selective xenophobia on an extreme left that understands that some racisms are more progressive than others.

The supposed irrationality of the anti-Semites needs to pass a more symbolic analytic scrutiny. This means that Judeophobes of the most varied hues are still proliferating. And they do so secretly, anonymously, subliminal, inadmissible and under unspoken omissions, spreading hostile sentiments against Jews, regardless of who the Jew in question is. For the totalitarian the individual subject is an abstraction, a bourgeois social construction, therefore despicable.

I then narrate my most recent experience.

Very recently, I gave a lecture in a course in the medical field and exposed some of the results of my medical and epistemological research carried out during my academic life at Faculty of Medicine (USP). The course had approximately 70 professors from the health area, when I heard a noise in the background, no noise, noise. And the words were repeated more than once “It’s a Jew there.” I decided to wait, as it could very well be a sound distortion of the platform, maybe some parasitic cybernetic spirit? Or even an inflection of the ectoplasm of hate? , more precisely after midnight, they tend to haunt cyberspace . I admit that I thought of auditory hallucinations. I adjusted the microphone and the earphone, and went ahead with my presentation on themes that involved the rescue of the doctor-patient relationship. Theme especially vital in an age lacking in solidarity, support and genuine empathy for those suffering from disease, and widespread ineptitude on the part of public men.

But then the sound was confirmed, once, twice, maybe three times, and it wasn’t exactly a neutral expression “yeah, there’s a Jew there.” I stopped doubting what I was hearing. But, right after that, “…he’s really a Jew!” Intonation is everything when you are dealing with conversations in the off-site world. The person’s voice expressed these words describing to others the ethnic or religious identity of the person making the presentation.


But it came to the case?


Was she purposely leaving the microphone open for everyone else to hear? Or was it just a faulty act, by default, and the pent-up words gushed uncontrollably from her mouth? I couldn’t tell. And what to do with this during a live stream? It doesn’t matter if it was a skirt or tight pants, after all it was an aggression, albeit minimized by the “escape”, and by the supposedly naive casualness of a random audio capture.

On impulse, between outrage and the need to respond, I asked the group’s permission. I quickly went to the nearest closet and retrieved my favorite skullcap, handcrafted in Jerusalem. And then I returned to my presentation, making a point of showing off the outfit. Then, in front of the camera, I slowly adjusted the ancestral kippah . Used to cover the head of Jews since the period in which Abram left the city and his father’s house in Ur in Chaldea, breaking with mythologies and creating a culture that would generate one of the first civilizing codes of humanity.

Full embroidered skullcap, made with a porous black fabric. In the print, a star that has accompanied us since King David, passing through the yellow ones of the ghettos and Nazi camps, to finally reach the blue symbol of freedom for the Israeli defense forces. The one that made the Hebrew people less vulnerable to centuries of unpunished immolation in a world full of omissions.

Only after the lecture was over did I stop to reflect. I came to the conclusion that my response was instinctive and irrational, but at the same time, defiant, and even courageous. After all, I peered, what was my real annoyance? Difficult to explain, but there is an inaudible sound that haunts the Mosaic nation that no one can underestimate. Especially for a grandson of Shoah survivors .

Here in Brazil, unlike today’s Jews in Europe, the United Kingdom, and even in many North American cities, it is still possible to show outward signs of Judaism without being threatened or lynched. But, if it depended on a significant part of the media, perhaps the picture would be different, since the anti- Israel bias is self-evident . Overkill? Not for those being bullied.

Evidently, the causes of the current state of affairs cannot be analyzed in a journalistic article like this. As the excellent lawyer and professor of law at Harvard, Alan Dershowitz , said in an article published less than two months ago, the resurgence of anti-Semitism – not a resurgence, as it has never ceased to exist – in Europe and around the world has multiple and complex roots. But there is one constant: it is always covered up by a policy based on hypocrisy and the need to show neutrality, while neo- pogroms — that’s the name — have been repeated daily in various parts of the world.

Returning to our microcosm, there, in the heat of my perplexity, since during the presentation it was not a person with characteristic form and costumes, after all, as a rabbi friend told me, I am what he considers a “non-observant orthodox” whatever that means. Rather, it was a question of incorporating something from the imagination, some projected stereotype, some alibi to show the range of the malicious intonation of that voice that hid in the virtual crowd.

Some participants at the meeting were curious about the unusual situation. To contain the malaise? Or simply sympathetic to what appeared to be an inconvenient plot staged in an improvised theater. I sought, almost automatically, to convert the event into a playful experience, after all, I needed to assume the identity required by the clamor of the phantom voice. And nothing would seal the expression “… really Jew” more than the use of the “little hat”.

Then I remembered the biography of Freud, written by Peter Gay. He related an episode that took place inside the train, before Freud left Paris for exile in London. The doctor’s sarcastic humor was revealed when the Nazis demanded a written declaration that he had been treated well by the Nazis.

Freud wrote more or less the following sentence in a note

“I recommend the Gestapo!”

Is the analogy disproportionate? Probably. But I bring this last passage not as a curiosity, but to show that history reveals itself by clues. It is through them that individual micro-stories can give us clues to track current and future trends. The fomenting of intolerance, racism, censorship and media bias, together with the brand new witch hunt underway, is a phenomenon that should serve as a warning. Unfortunately this will not happen, the recurrent addiction to ancient historical errors is stronger than the desire for healing.

Aside from the melancholy, the balance of this experience is still unknown to me. The analysis and judgment of the episode I leave to those who read us.

I had already chosen to reduce myself to stoic silence and leave this episode personal in the past, but I woke up to the nightmare and understood that it might be worth sharing.

I then repeat the gesture: here is the skullcap.