The Jewish People are a 3000 year old tribe. Our identity, pain, persecution, and trauma far precede the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A discussion about antisemitism should be a discussion about antisemitism, period. Our pain is fully deserving of your attention. Derailing discussions about antisemitism by invoking Palestine or excusing your bigotry by invoking Palestine is not only antisemitic, but also plain disrespectful and rude. There is a time and a place to discuss Palestine, but it certainly isn’t in the middle of a conversation about antisemitism.
INVOKING STEREOTYPES OF JEWS BEING WEALTHY AND POWERFUL
One of the main reasons antisemitism has persisted for so many centuries is that people don’t actually believe that it’s a problem. Why? Because Jews are depicted as wealthy and powerful, rather than oppressed. It’s one of the oldest antisemitic tropes in the book. By insisting that Jews are powerful and rich (and white), you are not only perpetuating an antisemitic trope that has gotten millions of Jews killed, but you are also gaslighting us. What you are telling us is that Jews couldn’t possibly be oppressed — after all, you’re implying, we’re the ones running the show.
I recommend you read my post A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ANTISEMITIC TROPES for more information.
We see this all the time, particularly in progressive spaces. You get called out for making antisemitic remarks, and instead you deflect by invoking Palestine, claiming you are not an antisemite but an antizionist instead, or insisting that the Jews are conspiring to take you down.
The amount of antisemitic gaslighting we receive makes us doubt our own reality. But the fact is that only Jews should get to decide what is antisemitic, as we and only we are the victims of antisemitism.
A recent example: after Jews called for Linda Sarsour to step down from speaking at the DNC, non-Jews have claimed that Jews tried to take her down because she is Palestinian. Leftists and progressives insist that Sarsour has been an ally to the Jewish community, but whatever positive things she has done, Sarsour also has a clear and well-documented record of antisemitism that has nothing to do with Israel.
If the majority of Jews believe that she is antisemitic, then you should take us at our word, because we are the victims of her bigotry, and you are not.
“ARABS ARE SEMITES TOO/JEWS/ISRAEL ARE ANTISEMITIC TO ARABS/PALESTINIANS”
This one is particularly infuriating. First, antisemitism was a term coined in 1879 specifically to describe hatred and prejudice toward Jews, as it sounded more scientific, and thus, acceptable, than the previously used term “Jew-hatred.”
Second, there is no such thing as “Semites.” There are Semitic languages, such as Hebrew and Arabic. But the word, though inaccurate, was created specifically for Jews. Using it to describe anything other than Jew-hatred is antisemitic gaslighting.
PERFORMATIVE GESTURES AND SELECTIVE LISTENING
Rampant, deadly antisemitism exists on every end of the political spectrum. I recommend you read my previous post on left-wing antisemitism. If you are only calling out antisemitism when it suits you politically, your allyship is performative at best.
For example, if you are a progressive but only speak out about the antisemitism on the right, you are not an ally. If you are a conservative and only speak out about antisemitism on the left, you are also not an ally.
We should not be your political pawn. Our oppression is unacceptable, no matter where it comes from.
INVOKING OUR TRAUMA TO MAKE A POINT
It seems that every tragic event is compared to the Holocaust, a genocide that destroyed 2/3s of Europe’s Jewish population in just six short years.
Many of us are the direct descendants of living Holocaust survivors and are still grappling with the intergenerational trauma that has shaped our lives.
Comparing every atrocity, tragic event, and injustice to the Holocaust is triggering to a population that is still trying very hard to heal. Additionally, each injustice should be treated as its own stand-alone event, deserving of all of our attention.
What’s worse is seeing Holocaust comparisons everywhere but very little solidarity with living, breathing Jews. To us it seems that you only care about the Jews that are dead.
I suggest reading my posts WHY AREN’T WE TALKING ABOUT JEWISH TRAUMA? and READ THIS BEFORE YOU EVER COMPARE ANYTHING TO THE HOLOCAUST for more information.
“JEWS ARE THE CHOSEN PEOPLE” AND OTHER FORMS OF CHRISTIAN TOKENIZATION
Oftentimes, Christians like to offer their support by telling us we are G-d’s chosen people. This is unbelievably tokenizing, because (1) we are real, live breathing humans with contemporary concerns, not Biblical stories, and (2) Jews were murdered in the name of Christianity for 2000 years.
It’s unbelievably hypocritical and belittling. Please don’t do this. I have a post coming up on this soon.
THE VARIOUS WAYS IN WHICH YOU UNDERMINE OUR IDENTITY
“YOU DON’T LOOK JEWISH”
Jewishness doesn’t have just one look. Though all ethnic Jews are genetically related to each other, our diaspora is diverse, spanning across the globe. Someone’s appearance has no bearing on their Jewishness.
CALLING US WHITE COLONIZERS OR WHITE SUPREMACISTS
Regardless of the current state of events in Israel/Palestine, the fact of the matter is that Jews are indigenous to the land. Not just that, but the vast majority of Israeli Jews are Mizrahi and Sephardic — that is, descending from the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa.
Secondly, white supremacists have historically been driven by two hatreds: racism and antisemitism. Conflating us with our oppressors is offensive to say the least.
I recommend you read my post STOP WHITEWASHING JEWS to learn more.
“JUDAISM IS JUST A RELIGION”
Not only is this incorrect, but it is an erasure of our identity as an ethnic group and tribe. The most observant Orthodox Jew is just as Jewish as an atheist Jew.
“PUNCH A NAZI”
No. Just no. Listen, we all know Nazis suck (well...we all should know, at least), but Nazis targeted Jews and the Roma. If you are not actively including Jews and Roma in your activism, if you aren’t tackling your antisemitic and anti-Romani biases, and if you aren’t loudly speaking against antisemitism and anti-Romanyism, then you don’t get to use the name of our oppressors as a catchy rallying call.