Understanding the hows of antisemitism – The Jerusalem Post

Posted By on August 9, 2021

We all agree that antisemitism is bad. People are less likely to be seduced by this hate because we all know where it leads.

But anti-Zionism is not perceived to be in the same category. It is sold as speaking truth to power, masked as justice.

The antisemitism we all acknowledge as bad started out looking nothing like where it led. In fact, in comparing the beginnings of antisemitism with anti-Zionism the similarities are striking. In the secular 19th century, Jews were designated as Semites, yet it was never intended to mean anything but Jew.

In the Soviet Union, which claimed to not notice differences in people or religion, Jews were designated as Zionists, and today the designation of Zionism in the West is described as having immutable loathsome qualities. To Christian Europe, we were Christ-killers. To the Nazis, we were an impure race. To the Soviets, we were capitalists. And today, when the greatest sins of the world are racism and colonialism, the Jewish collective is defined as the ultimate bastion of white supremacy, and Israel is seen as a state born in sin.

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It is only by appealing to the religious doctrine that all Jews of the 12th century could be referred to as the killers of Jesus, 1,000 years after his death. It is only by appealing to the authority of perverted science, that Jews could be accused of endangering its racial purity. It is only by appealing to a distorted version of human rights that Israel and Zionism, a Jewish liberation movement, could be considered its greatest violators. It is only by appealing to this distortion that the same people who continually agreed to partitioning the land into a Jewish state and a Palestinian state, could be the ones standing in the way of a two-state solution.

Why go to all these lengths to single out a group and distort reality?

Because humans have a primal need for scapegoats, and for some reason my people have been the designated choice for so many and for so long. For medieval Christianity, we stood between a brutish world and salvation. For Germany and Europe, we stood between them and glory. For Stalin, we stood between him and a communist utopia.

So, why bother fighting colonialism and its aftermath?

But, the problem with human scapegoats is that unlike ancient animal ones, humans might resist, and one cannot have that. So, action must be taken to reduce this resistance: Strip them of their defenses, push them to the margins, and use the modus operandi of cancel culture to suffocate the voice of the Jew from their own conversation, but do it all gradually and never use the word Jew.

Antisemitism, just like anti-Zionism, also lured Jews into dropping their defenses and identity by telling them they would be accepted. In Germany, Jews were told if you are the good kind of Jew who fought for Germany in World War I, you would be spared. They werent.

Jews today feel increasingly unwelcome in their traditional home of liberal politics and progressive ideology, something we have been at the forefront of change in, not just for our own community but for others, Harvey Milk and gay rights, Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem in leading second wave feminism, and Rabbi Joachim Prinz and the civil rights movement.

Antisemitism didnt start by stripping Jews of their rights, confiscating their citizenship and pushing them into ghettos. It started by pushing Jews out of the spaces they were able to attain in the greatest authority of that time.

WE NEED to talk about the ongoing and desperate attempts of the non-Jewish world to divorce Zionism from Judaism and try to water down our peoplehood to strictly a religion. We must talk about the continuous lies targeted at Zionists that are rooted in the same antisemitic tropes used to murder and expel our people.

This is all part of an intentional effort from the outside to divide our community within. In letting that happen, we are allowing the continued and endless cycle of anti-Jewish hate to spread once more, we must break our own cycle as well of desperately seeking to assimilate and gain acceptance from the non-Jewish world. Israel is the heart and soul of the Jewish people, it has been for millennia, and will be for an eternity.

The job of fighting antisemitism is irrelevant if only viewed through a lens of hindsight. The real work is understanding the way antisemitism functions in society to notice this shape-shifting world view, whatever it may call itself and how it positions the Jewish collective into whatever that given society hates or fears most

Tragic hindsight is not a lens to understand anti-Jewish hate, it is the lens to remember and commemorate. But, to truly prevent tragedy, we have to notice, acknowledge and fight the unfolding rhetoric that allows Jewish hate to be normalized in society. What happened is simply irrelevant if there is an unwillingness to engage in how it happened. Only once people understand the hows of antisemitism, can never again be a slogan of reality.

The writer is a political journalist and Jewish and Israel rights activist based in Tel Aviv. He studied antisemitism and the Holocaust and aims to redefine the way in which the non-Jewish world interacts with Zionism.

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Understanding the hows of antisemitism - The Jerusalem Post

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