The insightful article by Weinrach (2002), titled The Counseling Profession’s Relationship to Jews and the Issues that Concern Them: More than a Case of Selective Awareness, sets out to not only illuminate the anti-Semitic issue among the Jews living in the United States and abroad, but also to demonstrate how the counseling profession continues to fuel and reinforce anti-Semitism and the mistreatment of Jews through largely unnoticed and sometimes unintended errors of omission and commission.
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The author uses published articles, non-published material, case studies as well as incidences reported in organizations and agencies concerned with the counseling profession to demonstrate how Jews continue to be oppressed under the dynamic of anti-Semitism, inaccurate labeling and stereotyping, and also how many mainstream members of the counseling profession fail to admit that anti-Semitism indeed exists and instead choose to accuse Jews of paranoia.
The article brings into the fore several essential issues that need to be highlighted.
First, it demonstrated how Jews in the counseling profession and beyond have resulted to acts of denial and internalized self-hatred due to the progression of anti-Semitism, which although appearing more secretive, covert and insidious than was the case several decades ago, bears the capacity to influence their self-esteem and positive self-image adversely.
Second, it demonstrates how the anti-Semitism issue continues to show Jews in a negative light as they try to fit into the multicultural counseling movement as members of a unique cultural group.
Third, and perhaps most important, the article shows how the counseling profession has over the years contributed to the problem of anti-Semitism through errors of omission and commission in the professional counseling literature, hence not only posing a serious peril to the delivery of bias-free counseling but also contributing immensely to the continued discrimination and prejudice against the Jews based on the religious beliefs, their group membership, and sometimes on erroneous convictions and beliefs (Weinrach, 2002).
Some of the issues that contribute to the reinforcement of anti-Semitism, according to the author, include non-acknowledgement of Jewish religious holidays in the counseling profession, constant reference and devotion to Jesus by members of the counseling profession in conference proceedings as well as in scholarly literature, constant questioning of the loyalty of Jews to the United States, as well as systematic exclusion of the Jews from multicultural counseling dialogue (Weinrach, 2002).
Additionally, not only do some passages in the Bible describe Jews in highly demeaning and derogatory terms, but some scholarly works tend to portray Jewish counselors as generating a high level of suspicion among clients even without noticing that such irrational statements lead to an increase in anti-Semitism.
Such predispositions lead the author to argue that “although we tend to view prejudice, discrimination, racism, sexism as overt and intentional acts of unfairness and violence, it is the unintentional and covert form of bias that may be the greater enemy because they are unseen and more pervasive” (Weinrach, 2002 p. 309).
It is these issues that continue to feed the near-universal failure of the counseling profession to rail against what is perceived as anti-Semitism and instead embrace the conception that Jews are a culturally unique group, with the view to becoming more tolerant of Jews.
Overall, the author implores the counseling profession to adopt various recommendations to correct this problem, including
- encouraging Jews to take control of defining their own identity and agenda,
- designing and implementing specific interventions that meet the unique needs of Jews,
- assisting Jews to confront anti-Semitism and labeling it for what it is,
- helping Jews to speak about anti-Semitism in public forums,
- exercising caution not to invite any speakers whose focus is religious in nature to address professional meetings and conferences (Weinrach, 2002).
Weinrach, S.G. (2002). The counseling profession’s relationship to Jews and the Issues that concern them. More than a case of selective awareness. Journal of Counseling & Development, 80(3), 300-314.