what non-Jewish activists get wrong about antisemitism

NO ACTION ITEMS

When an activist account makes a post on any given topic or issue, they’ll usually include a list of action items, such as things you can do or places you can donate to. This is especially true of big activist accounts. 

Big accounts already rarely post about antisemitism — if they post about it at all — and when they do, they almost never seem to include a list of action items. This creates the FALSE impression that antisemitism is (1) not an urgent matter that needs to be addressed in tangible ways (2) theoretical, rather than a real-life bigotry that kills Jews. 

ANTISEMITISM IS REAL, URGENT, AND DEADLY. While only 2% of the American population, 62% of all religiously-motivated hate crimes targeted Jews in 2019. About 15% of ALL hate crimes targeted Jews, which is extremely disproportionate to the population. 

There are a plethora of Jewish organisations to donate to that are doing a world of good. It only takes a little research to find them. If you are posting about antisemitism, please, at the very least, do us this small courtesy. 

 

NOT ENOUGH RESEARCH

The first thing you should do when you make a post — particularly if you run a big activist account — is to make sure you do your research. Yet it’s evident to Jewish People that most non-Jewish accounts don’t even bother, judging by the fact that most of them spell “antisemitism” wrong (i.e. “anti-Semitism”). 

Even some surface-level research will tell you why Jews prefer the spelling “antisemitism.” [check out my post “the word antisemitism”]. 

Which begs the question: why is it that these activists don’t feel the need to research antisemitism? Is it because they think they already know everything there is to know? If that’s the case, they are sorely mistaken. Antisemitism is not only over 3000 years old (and thus, institutional), but it’s also insidious and hard to catch if you don’t have the necessary expertise. 

Posting false or misleading information about antisemitism is much more damaging than not posting about it at all. 

 

IMPLYING THAT CHRISTIANS & THE RIGHT ARE THE ONLY PERPETRATORS

Antisemitism is known as “the world’s oldest hatred” because it’s over 3000 years old. That means that it predates both Christianity and left-right politics. While it is no secret that Jews have been persecuted by Christians and the far right (e.g. the Nazis) for centuries, framing antisemitism through the lens of Christianity and right-wing views is ignorant at best and manipulative at worst. 

Jews were persecuted in Southwest Asia (the Middle East) long before the birth of Christianity and continued to be persecuted — violently — for centuries in Muslim-majority countries throughout Southwest Asia, Central Asia, and North Africa. Even atheist nations — like the Soviet bloc — persecuted Jews.

Additionally, Jews have been targeted by the left since the beginnings of left-wing politics. The Soviet Union, considered the embodiment of leftist politics, was particularly notorious for its persecution of Jews. Today, a mere 13% of antisemitic hate crimes in the US come from the far right. 

Calling out antisemitism only when it serves you (that is, when your opponent is the perpetrator) is manipulative and insincere. 

 

ONLY POSTING WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS

Antisemitism is something that should be combatted daily through education and other initiatives, not an issue to be addressed only when there is an uptick of antisemitic hate crimes, such as what happened during Hanukkah. Posting only in response to certain events implies that antisemitism is “irregular.” Making comments such as “I can’t believe this is still happening” or “I didn’t think people still hated Jews” is also extremely problematic.

Antisemitism never went anywhere. Its very nature is cyclical and insidious. Very rarely does antisemitism look anything like Nazi Germany. Instead, it moves through age-old conspiracies and tropes. It’s embedded into our cultures and institutions. That’s why education is so important, regardless of whether a hate crime has been committed or not. 

 

MAKING SUPPORT CONTINGENT ON ANTI-ZIONISM

Advocating for the safety of a marginalised minority should not be contingent on absolutely anything. You should care about our safety because we are human beings. Period.

Often, “activists” and “allies” preface their posts on antisemitism by saying, “not all Jews are Zionists!” Disregarding the fact that the percentage of anti-Zionist Jews is completely negligible (and there is a reason for that), the mere fact that Jews are expected to pass a litmus test for you to care about our humanity is despicable — and antisemitic. 

(Also: Zionism doesn’t mean what you think it means. Zionism should be defined by Jews alone, as it is a Jewish movement with origins that are over 2000 years old). 

Making support of Jews contingent on anti-Zionism also disregards the reality that Jews have been murdered under the guise of anti-Zionism for a 100 years [see my post “9 times Jews have been murdered under the guise of anti-Zionism”]. 

 

MISREPRESENTING JEWISH IDENTITY

The Jewish People are a 3000-year-old ethnoreligious group and tribe indigenous to modern-day Israel/Palestine. Most of us practice Judaism — but not all of us do (in fact, the word “Judaism” comes from Greek, not Hebrew, which is our ancestral language). Therefore, characterising us as simply a “religious group” is not only inaccurate, but also an erasure of our identity. 

The matter of our identity and indigeneity (to Israel/Palestine) is something that has been proven over and over again by countless DNA studies, archeological finds, and historical documents. Regardless, respecting our identity is a matter of respecting our humanity and peoplehood. 

Mischaracterising who we are because the truth is inconvenient to you is antisemitic. You can’t pretend to care about antisemitism if you continue to disregard or speak over us on OUR identity. 

 

NOT INCLUDING US WHERE WE SHOULD BE INCLUDED

Considering that, statistically, Jewish People are one of the most disproportionately targeted marginalised groups in the United States (and Europe), it’s infuriating that we are repeatedly excluded from posts supporting all other marginalised groups. 

Posts about Nazis and white supremacy should ALWAYS center Jews, as we are their main targets (in addition to Romani people when it comes to Nazis and Black folks when it comes to white supremacy).

It’s also infuriating that we are excluded from posts highlighting different ethnic groups or issues in North Africa, Central Asia, and especially Southwest Asia, as that is the region we are indigenous to. If the only time you mention Jews in Southwest Asia is when you’re criticising Israel, that’s a huge red flag.