antisemitism & gas lighting

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BASIC DEFINITIONS 

Antisemitism is hostility, discrimination, and/or prejudice toward Jewish people on an ethnic, cultural, and/or religious basis. 

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic that makes a person or group of people question their reality, sanity, and/or perception. 

 

GASLIGHTING & ANTISEMITISM

Gaslighting is an inherent part of antisemitism.

While other forms of bigotry see their targets as inferior, antisemitism functions differently in that antisemites view Jews as an all-powerful evil force. 

If an antisemite faces consequences for their antisemitism, it simply reinforces their antisemitic beliefs. For example, if an antisemite loses their job for their bigotry, they will blame the “all powerful” Jews for taking their job (or Zionists when they don’t want to say Jews outright). 

In that way, they turn the victims into the victimizer. This is a classic gaslighting tactic. 

This creates a catch-22 and is one of the reasons why antisemitism is so hard to combat. 

 

“JEWS CRY ANTISEMITISM”

One of the most pervasive antisemitic tropes is that Jews “cry” antisemitism. After all, if Jews are “all wealthy and all powerful,” how could they possibly be oppressed?

One of the worst examples of this trope at play was when the American public, who had knowledge of the Holocaust as early as 1942, found the reports coming out of N*zi Europe “exaggerated.” Many even blamed Jews for trying to drag the US into war. 

This trope takes many forms. For example, the stereotype of the whiny Jew is another iteration of this. 

 

“WE’RE BEING SILENCED”

Antisemites — historically and today — will often claim that Jews (or the Jewish media, the Jewish lobby, the Jewish press, etc.) are trying to silence them.

An example is when Jews are accused of crying antisemitism to silence Palestinians. While there will always be a small minority of people that will weaponise their identity to hurt others, accusations of antisemitism should ALWAYS be taken as seriously as accusations of any other form of bigotry. Listen to Jews when we tell you something is antisemitic. 

 

ACCUSING US OF EXAGGERATING 

Accusing Jews of exaggerating antisemitism is a form of gaslighting. 

A recent example is people accusing the “French Jewish press” of sensationalising the torture and premeditated murder of a 65-year-old Jewish woman named Sarah Halimi. 

An older example is when the American public thought the reports coming out of N*zi Europe were exaggerated and a ploy for Jews to get Americans involved in the war. 

 

RATIONALIZING ANTISEMITISM

Antisemitism is a form of hatred. There is nothing logical about it. It’s not a mental illness or the result of drug use and it’s never excusable. 

“Rationalizing” antisemitism is a form of gaslighting. It’s meant to minimize the pain of Jewish folks and draw attention away from us, its victims. 

Examples of rationalizing antisemitism include justifying hate crimes against Jews (even Israeli Jews!) because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (e.g. the 2002 Passover suicide bombing) or diminishing the role antisemitism played in a hate crime (i.e. rationalizing the murder of Sarah Halimi as a symptom of psychosis). 

 

SUBTLE GASLIGHTING 

Non-Jews dictating what antisemitism is or isn’t is a subtle form of gaslighting. It’s meant to discredit the Jewish experience, often to push a political perspective or agenda. 

An example is non-Jews leading panels on antisemitism (for example, Linda Sarsour has led such panels several times). 

Another example is when Shaun King dodged accusations of antisemitism by saying, “I fight N*zis every day” — as though N*zis are the only antisemites. 

 

2 MORE EXAMPLES

One of the worst types of antisemitic gaslighting is when we’re told that we provoke antisemitism for our benefit or that we benefit from antisemitism. 

For example, some antisemites say that Jews provoked or even incited the Holocaust to “obtain Israel.”

Jews are also often told that we talk about the Holocaust “too much” or that people only care about the Holocaust because we’re “white.” Such statements are woefully misinformed about N*zi racial ideology, Jewish identity, the Jewish diaspora, and the reasons WHY the Holocaust is talked about so often (hint: it’s not because people care about Jews).