One of the things I like to do in my family practice is take in students. One of the fun things about having new students is hearing about what's going on at the local medical school, any changes in the curriculum and the initiatives the school is launching.
Sometimes I also get to hear about class politics. A few years ago I had a couple of Jewish students who told me about one of their classmates, a very politically active fellow who was constantly bombarding their student message board with announcements about protests and demonstrations he thought his fellow students should get involved in. He was also using it to share his political opinions freely even though the board was for school-related information. As you can probably guess his opinions were on the left side of the political spectrum. As you can also guess his comments on Israel were not, to say the least, friendly.
It was bad enough that the Jewish students in my office expressed discomfort with having him around. It's one thing to have strong views but in medicine one of the unspoken but very important rules is "Leave your politics at the door". I've had Muslim students galore in my office and ER. We stayed away from political discussions and got on fabulously. I don't bring my beliefs into the department and I expect others not to as well.
Over time the name of his guy faded from memory. My students graduated and moved on through residency and onto independent practice. Then, last Saturday night I arrived at the ER I always work at on Motzei Shabbos and met the new guy who had just joined the staff. He was friendly and the nurses said they liked how he worked (always important). Then I heard his name. At first I thought "Wait, I know that name" and after a few minutes it came to me. It was that guy my students had told me about.
Now here's the predicament. There is no doubt this guy is a Jew hater. (I try to avoid the term anti-Semite because of all of those ignoramuses out there who say "Well an Arab can't be an anti-Semite because they're Semites too) A quick Bing search of his name along with the word "Israel" brings up a plethora of links including his Twitter feed where he discusses an elective he did in 'Aza during residency. His comments are, as expected, about the great resilience of the so-called Palestinian people who are suffering from the "illegal" seige and "indiscriminate shelling" that Israel is throwing at them. It's the usual Jew hating crap when it comes to Israel and its enemies.
So how do I know he's a Jew hater? He could be just another leftist useful idiot. I put it to the test. I reentered his name into Bing along with "Tibet" (occupied by China), "Darfur" (occupied by Sudan), "East Timor" (occupied by Indonesia) and "Rwanda" (site of a large massacre a few years ago, you might have heard about it). No hits.
Like all other Jew haters he is the kind of guy who cloaks his venom in a respectful facade of caring about social justice and oppressed people but there's only one people he cares about and only one side of a story he wants to hear before rendering his verdict. I doubt he's toured S'derot or Be'er Sheva and seen the damage rockets from 'Aza have produced. Frankly I don't think such a tour would make a difference. He'd just see them as acts of resistant and blame Israel anyway.
But what's bugging me is how nice he is. He did handover without an issue (naturally there was no mention of my kippah), told the staff a few jokes and went on his way. He followed the rule: leave your politics at the door.
I will happily admit I was fortunate to grow up in a sort of bubble. I experiences no Jew hatred as a child or young adult. The only time Jew hating slogans were shouted at me were by high school acquaintances who were not Jew haters but simply wanted to insult me and chose the least imaginative way possible.
In university I was aware that there were Jew haters on campus and of the occasional anti-Israel protests but I graduated long before Israel Apartheid Week came into being and besides, I never had time to look into these things. Unlike leftists who don't seem to have any academic responsibilities I actually had exams to study for which meant long hours in the library.
The only real trouble being Jewish caused me duing my medical training came from other Jews who were quite happy to insist that I should be scheduled to work on Shabbos because they didn't keep Shabbos and didn't see why I should. In contrast, my gentile colleagues were always very accomodating.
So I've never really encountered a true Jew hater. What bothers me is that this guy isn't the typical stereotype. He isn't the elistist WASPish snob, nor is he the uneducated white trash guy in the wife-beater getup. He's a nice guy, educated but not aloof and very friendly, yet he hates what I hold most dear and has common cause with the dedicated enemies of my people.
It probably won't be much of an issue. I generally work overnight shifts which means I work alone ("plays nicely with others" isn't a comment I got too much on my report cards growing up) and I will not bring up politics at work, like I wrote about. But he is a stark reminder that the friendly face a Jew runs into throughout society might be hiding some of the most ancient hatred plaguing mankind.