What is tokenism? Tokenism is utilizing performative or symbolic gestures to give the illusion of inclusivity. For example: say a corporation hired x amount of people of color to APPEAR inclusive and diverse, without actually making any tangible changes to the company culture.
Many people seem to confuse tokenization with allyship.
Some ways in which you might tokenize Jewish folks:
Only condemning antisemitism when it comes from a person from across the political aisle or someone you dislike (e.g. recently AOC and Ted Cruz got into a Twitter match over who was “actually” antisemitic. It was incredibly tokenizing and dehumanizing).
Only uplifting Jewish voices that agree with you, even if they’re not representative of the community (e.g. using organizations like JVP, which only represent a tiny minority of the Jewish population, to “prove” your points, while ignoring the rest of the Jewish community).
Using the Holocaust as a barometer for injustice (see my post THE DO’S AND DON’T’S OF HOLOCAUST COMPARISONS).
Pointing to Jewish family members, friends, or distant Jewish heritage that you’ve never engaged with to “prove” that you couldn’t possibly be antisemitic (e.g. see @isaacdecastro and @marocainjuif posts about AOC).
Forcing Jewish people to “prove” themselves with their politics/beliefs before agreeing to care about our oppression (e.g. asking us if we’re Zionists before you decide to care about antisemitism).
Christian Zionism (not to be confused with Zionism. See my post WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER USE THE TERM JUDEO-CHRISTIAN).
Philosemitism — that is, believing antisemitic tropes and conspiracies, but thinking that they’re actually a “good” thing (e.g. associating Jews with wealth and believing that’s a positive association).
NOT QUESTIONING STEREOTYPES
Antisemitism moves through conspiracy theories, and stereotypes are the backbone to antisemitic conspiracies. It’s important to question these stereotypes and associations that you might have and also to understand the euphemisms antisemites use for Jews (Zionists, cosmopolitans, elites, globalists)
Some prominent antisemitic stereotypes are:
Jews are rich and powerful, Jews run the media, Jews run Hollywood, Jews run Wall Street, “the Jewish/Zionist lobby,*” Jews are smart/evil/conniving lawyers, Jews/“Zionists” run the government, Jews are loud and whiny (“cry antisemitism”), etc.
*the conservative pro-Israel lobby in the United States is primarily funded by Evangelical Christians, not Jews or “Zionists”
Ignoring Jews in conversations about oppression, intersectionality, and/or white supremacy is detrimental not only to our safety but because antisemitism is one of the two building blocks of white supremacy (the other being anti-Black racism).
You cannot dismantle white supremacy without dismantling antisemitism. In fact, it is a goal of white supremacy to isolate Jews and pit us against other marginalised groups. When you ignore Jewish People in these discussions, you are playing right into the hands of white supremacy.
For more information, please see my post ANTISEMITISM & WHITE SUPREMACY.
Jewish identity is intersectional. Reducing our identity to simply a religious group is reductive and harmful. We are an ethnic group, a tribe (the word was invented for us!), a nation, and lastly, a religious group. Judaism is the ethnic and tribal religion of the Jewish People, but you don’t have to believe in Judaism to be Jewish. And that’s without taking other intersections into account! The Jewish People are a diverse people.
Another thing we often see is non-Jews reduce our history of persecution to the Holocaust. This is not only blatantly wrong (see my post AN INCOMPLETE LIST OF ANTISEMITIC MASSACRES, ETHNIC CLEANSING, AND GENOCIDE) but contributes to a cultural misunderstanding about what the Holocaust was and why it happened.
NOT CENTERING US
Some conversations should center Jews. For example, conversations about white supremacy should address antisemitism as one of its two main pillars. Discussions about the Holocaust should center Jews (and Roma), as we were its main victims.
Not centering Jewish People in these discussions contributes to the erasure and isolation that our community experiences, leaving us vulnerable to antisemitic violence.