where antisemitism and xenophobia meet

XENOPHOBIA 

(noun)

fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign 

(Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

 

ANTISEMITISM

(noun)

hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against the Jewish People on the basis of ethnicity, culture, and/or religion. 

 

BACKGROUND 

Historically, antisemitism has always had a certain element of xenophobia in it. For instance, two of the most pervasive antisemitic tropes are that of the “wandering Jew” and that of dual loyalty.

The wandering Jew trope characterises Jews as a people without a home, cursed to wander the Earth until the Second Coming. 

The dual loyalty trope asserts that Jews cannot be trusted, for they will always place loyalty to each other above loyalty to their country. 

For instance: Hitler blamed Jews for Germany’s losses during WWI. The Nazis believed that the Jewish People sabotaged the German war effort for their own sinister purposes. 

Today, antisemites believe that Jews are inherently more loyal to Israel than to the country in which they live. For example, both Rashida Tlaib and Donald Trump have accused Jews of dual loyalties.

 

ISRAELIS ARE NOT A MONOLITH

Besides being bigoted, xenophobia against Israelis is problematic because Israelis are far from a monolith. 

Despite the fact that Israel is the only Jewish majority country in the world and that a little under half of the world’s Jews live in Israel, Israel is actually quite a diverse nation. In fact, ~24% of the Israeli population is not Jewish. Other ethnic groups include Arabs, Bedouins, Druze, Circassians, Samaritans, Arameans, and more. Other religious groups include Muslims, Christians of various denominations, Baha’i, and more.

Even Jewish Israelis are far from a monolith. Jews of every sub-ethnic group live in Israel and their level of religious observance varies, from ultra-Orthodox to completely secular. 

 

VARIED POLITICS 

Xenophobia against Israelis assigns blame to all Israeli citizens for the actions of the Israeli government (which is something that antisemites do to Jews, too).

However, that disregards the fact that Israelis, just as citizens of every other country do, have a wide range of political beliefs.

To illustrate that fact, consider this: as of 2020, there were 13 different political parties represented in the Knesset (Israeli parliament). The party with the third most seats is Joint List, an Arab party. 

Just recently, there have been a myriad of protests against the Israeli prime minister. 

 

VIOLENT CONSEQUENCES 

Xenophobia against Israelis has had some very violent consequences.

One major example is that of the Munich Massacre at the 1972 Olympic Games, when the Palestinian group Black September violently murdered 6 Israeli coaches and 5 Israeli athletes after taking them hostage.

Other examples include a series of plane hijackings in the 1960s and 1970s. 

 

BAD EXCUSES 

Antisemites (and xenophobes) often claim that their bigotry is justified because military service is mandatory in Israel. However, at least 27 other countries also have mandatory military service. Many of these countries have a history of serious human rights violations, such as Russia, North Korea, Azerbaijan, Egypt, and more.

Additionally, most Israelis take non-combatant positions. Others partake in humanitarian missions, like sending aid to Japan in 2011 after a massive earthquake and series of tsunamis hit.

Finally, many Israelis also participate in community service in lieu of military service.