ANTISEMITISM IS DIFFERENT
Though considered a form of racism, antisemitism is very different from every other form of bigotry. While other types of discrimination see their victims as inferior, antisemitism positions Jews in a state of almost supernatural superiority.
Here’s an example. A racist might consider an indigenous person of color uncivilized and less than. But an antisemite will see Jews as powerful. And if you are not well-versed with antisemitism and how it manifests and hurts Jews, you will not take it seriously. After all, how can a “powerful” group be oppressed?
IT’S A NUMBERS GAME
We will always be outnumbered. There are about 14.5 million Jews in the world today. That’s 0.2% of the world population. Other than Israel, the United States has the largest Jewish population in the world at a measly 2%.
Over a billion people worldwide hold antisemitic attitudes.
Our voices are getting drowned out. The most obvious example is Zionism. The Jewish world has one definition for it. The antisemitic world has another. But when you can’t hear us over the noise, you’ll take their word for it.
Please listen to Jews. Zionism is a 2000-year-old Jewish movement. Our movement, our definition.
ANTISEMITISM IS VERY, VERY OLD
...3000 years old, in fact. And that means that it’s pretty deeply engrained in our collective subconscious. We call antisemitism the world’s oldest hatred for a very good reason.
Antisemitism is built into the fabric of Western and Southwest Asian (Middle Eastern)/North African society. It’s in our our languages (look into the etymology of the word “joder” — to bother — in Spanish), our fairy tales (the witch in Snow White is a walking antisemitic stereotype), and our academic institutions (did you know Ivy League schools had Jewish quotas that lasted into the 1970s?).
It’s inevitable that you will have some antisemitic biases.
ERASURE OF JEWISH IDENTITY
Jews are not a religion. Let me say that again: Jews are not a religion.
We are a 4000-year-old ethnic group and one of the oldest tribes in the world with clear genetic, cultural, and archeological origins in modern-day Israel/Palestine. After the majority of us were exiled (read: ethnically cleansed) from our land, Judaism became the vehicle through which we were able to maintain our tribal culture, traditions, and belief system during 2000 years of the diaspora.
The fact that we were able to maintain our identity and peoplehood for so long is nothing short of a miracle.
Calling us a “religious group” is minimizing and an erasure of our identity. Of course, after centuries of colonization, many Jews are not aware of any of this. If we are to decolonize, we must understand who we are and where we come from — devoid of Western terminology.
ANTISEMITISM IS INSIDIOUS
Very rarely does antisemitism look like Nazis. Usually it’s much more insidious than that, thriving in the shadows, hiding behind euphemisms (Zionists, globalists, etc) and conspiracy theories.
The internet is particularly dangerous territory for Jews because it’s a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. A couple of those conspiracies have been spreading like wildfire on social media this year — “the deadly exchange” conspiracy on the left and QAnon on the right.
Conspiracy theories and misinformation have very serious consequences for Jews, euphemisms and all. The perpetrator of a mass shooting at a San Diego synagogue last year credited an 8chan forum for shaping his views. Likewise, the man who stabbed five Jews in New York last Hanukkah conducted internet searches for “Zionist temples.”
To understand antisemitism the first thing you must do is familiarize yourself with the conspiracy theories. Please read my post A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO ANTISEMITIC CONSPIRACY THEORIES for more.
ANTISEMITISM DEFIES POLITICS
Movements for the equality and rights of marginalized groups are associated with left-wing politics, but the political left has a long and ugly history of antisemitism. Please see my post WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT LEFT-WING ANTISEMITISM for more.
This leaves left-leaning Jews (which is the majority of American Jews) stranded without a political home and without political allies. This isolates us and puts us in grave danger, particularly during times of social unrest, as that is historically when antisemitic violence has spiked.
Of course, the right is not absolved of antisemitism (and is just as guilty of perpetrating it, through conspiracy theories like QAnon and Christian Zionism. Please see my post WHY YOU SHOULD NEVER USE THE TERM “JUDEO-CHRISTIAN”). But it’s the left that is isolating us.
ANTISEMITISM IS A SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY
Antisemites believe Jews are powerful, plotting puppeteers that control the world’s financial system, governments, and more.
Which presents a huge problem when it comes to tackling antisemitism.
If an antisemite is called out and forced to face the consequences of their hateful behavior, they will use this as proof that Jews are, indeed, powerful. Of course, it’s not always as literal as this.
For example, they might think the “Israel lobby” is trying to silence them. A number of politicians (including some in The Squad) have recently perpetuated such tropes.
How do you call out antisemitism when doing so can incite even more antisemitism?