One of the things that has always bothered me most in regards to the Jewish education I received, is the elitism and xenophobia that comes along with the religion (mostly with the orthodox version of the religion, but not only). First and foremost, this comes from the idea that the Jewish people are specially chosen by the one and only, all powerful god. This puts Jews on a platform above all other people. I remember when I was a little kid growing up in Philadelphia, I would often hear the adults of my community dismiss anything trashy, or ghetto as "goyish", ie not Jewish. We Jews were supposedly better than that.
Over the years I have also heard many Jewish people (including many secular Israelis) making the claim that it is obvious that Jews are better/smarter than nonJews. Their proof is that many Nobel Prize winners have been Jewish. I once heard this argument made by a student in one of my classes at Bar Ilan University. The professor was shocked to hear such a dumb comment and asked how many students in the class felt the same way. The vast majority answered that of course they feel the same way. The professor responded, "if you think Jews are inherently smarter than the rest of the world, than how do you explain all the idiots in the Kenesset (Israeli Parliament)". No one seemed to be able to explain that. But of course many groups, nations, ethnic groups think that there is something super special about them and their fellow group members. What I think is unique to Judaism is not the elitism, but rather the xenophobia.
From a young age, in Jewish school I was taught that there is a law in nature that "Eisav soneh et Yakov" (Esau hates Jacob), meaning that nonJews will always hate Jews. This lesson was always followed by stories from the Holocaust about how onetime Polish friends of Jewish families turned on them, and reported them to the Nazis. I see this mindset in my parents world view. If they hear on the news that unemployment numbers are up in the US, they will say "this is not good news for the Jews. Whenever the economy gets bad, antisemitism goes up". While this Jewish paranoia has some base in historical events, the idea that it is a "law of nature" that cannot change is downright ridiculous and hateful of nonJews.
My parents cannot understand that I want to move to a country with little to no Jews. Many people that I have told that I plan on moving to Vietnam immediately ask, "what do they think of Jews there"? I hate to break it to these people, but most people around the world simply do not care. They do not stay awake at night thinking about Jews. Jews are not the center of the world. While in Vietnam, many people I met had positive feelings towards Jews, but most had never heard of Judaism.
There is plenty of antisemitism in the world. There is also plenty of racism, Islamaphobia, sexism, homophobia etc as well, and this will probably never change. There will always be hateful people. So with all this hate in the world, why make it worse by treating the people that do not hate you as if they hated you as well? I have found that going out into the world and meeting different people from various backgrounds can be an amazing experience. The world is full of wonderful, unique people. Why shut yourself off from them? And many Jews are wonderful and unique people. Why deny the people of the world the chance to meet them?