Five myths about anti-Semitism

Yair Rosenberg at www.washingtonpost.com: “For a phenomenon often dubbed ‘the world’s oldest hatred,’ anti-Semitism is not well understood.”

Jews in the US are annually subjected to the most hate crimes of any group in the US, even though we comprise only 4% of the population. In France, Jews are target of 51% of racist attacks, even though Jews comprise only 4% of the population.

Anti-Semitism crosses boundaries of left and right.

It’s OK to criticize Israel. Jews in Israel and everywhere in the world criticize Israel. But if you hold Israel to a different standard than other countries, congratulations, you’re an anti-Semite! The United Nations is a particular offender here, its “Human Rights Council has condemned Israel more often than all other countries combined, including Syria, North Korea, Iran and Russia.”

I quibble with the author’s fifth point — that anti-Semitism is unique among prejudice in that it harms the oppressors as much as the oppressed.

That’s because it often takes the form of a conspiracy theory about how the world works. By blaming real problems on imagined Jewish culprits, anti-Semitism prevents societies from rationally solving them. In one of the most famous examples, Nazi scientists shunned Einstein’s advances as “Jüdische Physik,” as opposed to “Deutsche Physik,” enfeebling their understanding.

As Bard College’s Walter Russell Mead has put it: “People who think ‘the Jews’ dominate business through hidden structures can’t build or long maintain a successful modern economy. People who think ‘the Jews’ dominate politics lose their ability to interpret political events, to diagnose social evils and to organize effectively for positive change. People who think ‘the Jews’ run the media and control the news lose the ability to grasp what is happening around them.” For this reason, Mead has warned, “Rabid anti-Semitism coupled with an addiction to implausible conspiracy theories is a very strong predictor of national doom.” This is one case where the hatred ultimately destroys the hater.

Partially true, but it is also true that societies based on bigotry are handicapping themselves no matter what the nature of the bigotry. Oppressed populations are, by the nature of oppression, blocked from contributing to the society as a whole to the fullest extent they might. And every oppression has its unique problems. Antebellum white American Southerners lived in terror of slave uprisings and had to devote considerable resources into policing the enslaved populations. The slaves themselves had no incentive to work harder than necessary to avoid the lash, and every incentive to undermine the system. In any society where members of an oppressed minority are closed to business, members of that minority will often turn to crime when they can’t get ahead any other way. And so on.

But, yeah, many societies, sadly, do manage to prosper, for a while at least, despite racism, whereas widespread anti-Semitism in particular seems to be a symptom of a society in its death throes.

Women’s March in California canceled over concerns it would be ‘overwhelmingly white’

A Women’s March group is canceling its January rally in Humboldt County, Calif., over concerns that its participants would be “overwhelmingly white.”

The decision comes amid division and tension in the broader Women’s March movement, which has unified millions of women and men in protest in the past two years.

www.washingtonpost.com

I’ve been concerned about reports of anti-Semitism in Women’s March Inc. — which is only one of several groups organizing women’s marches, although I think it was the main organizer of the big one on the past.

I’ve looked into it and it appears that the local San Diego organization is not affiliated with Women’s March Inc.

Still, I’ll probably just sit out the women’s march this year. I’m not making a huge deal out of this because anti-Semitism isn’t my only reason for sitting out the march. It’s not even the main reason. I’m just not a marcher.

The Dilemma of Jewish Privilege

Joshua Ladon writes at newrepublic.com about Jewish privilege, anti-Semitism on the left, and Jewish racism:

I am visibly Jewish. I wear a yarmulke; I have a beard. My tzitzit—ritual fringes—occasionally sneak out from under my shirt. I speak Hebrew-inflected English with my wife and children, all of whom have non-English names. I am an easy mark for anti-Semites. As a descendant of those who fled the Russian Pale of Settlement in the 1890s, I am also visibly Caucasian. With a cap, I look like many bearded white hipster dads in the San Francisco Bay area.

All of this is to say that I appear both white and “other” at the same time. I carry with me privilege constructed by the peculiarities of American history, the great possibilities provided for my people in 20th-century America, while also carrying the millennium-old consciousness of marginalization. I could easily hide my Jewishness, but choose not to, as a result visibly presenting my Jewishness while also enjoying the benefits of white privilege. When someone I do not know points out my identity, even simply by calling out, “Shalom,” I immediately tighten up. Will this be another encounter in which I am publicly harassed or screamed at? Last year, a car slowed down and a passenger yelled, “Fuck you, Jew!” Even when the person simply wants to extend an open hand, public attention toward my minority identity brings risk and baggage.

Unlike Ladon, I present as non-Jewish by default. I don’t look or act Jewish. But what he writes is true of me as well. Being Jewish in Trump’s America is being white and non-white — at the same time.

Anti-Semites on the left want to hold all Jews responsible for Israel’s sins.

Women’s March Roiled by Accusations of Anti-Semitism

Farah Stockman, www.nytimes.com:

Within days of Donald J. Trump’s election, a diverse group of women united by their concern about the incoming administration gathered at a restaurant in New York to plan a protest march in Washington. They had seen the idea floating on Facebook and wanted to turn it into a reality.

The unity did not last long. Vanessa Wruble, a Brooklyn-based activist, said she told the group that her Jewish heritage inspired her to try to help repair the world. But she said the conversation took a turn when Tamika Mallory, a black gun control activist, and Carmen Perez, a Latina criminal justice reform activist, replied that Jews needed to confront their own role in racism.

I’m skeptical. The Women’s March denounces anti-Semitism several times on its home page. Bigots don’t denounce bigotry. www.womensmarch.com

Are Jared and Ivanka Good for the Jews? [NYTimes]

Donald Trump’s apparent coziness with anti-Semites is difficult to reconcile with Jared and Ivanka Trump. Jared is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor, and Ivanka converted to Judaism to marry him. They’re not just Jews – they’re Orthodox Jews, who observe the Sabbath every Saturday. And they are also, seemingly, the only people Donald Trump fully and completely trusts, both in business and personally.

I don’t think Donald Trump is himself racist. He doesn’t believe in anything but Donald Trump. I’m reminded of John Goodman’s line in the Big Lebowski: Nazis were awful people, but at least they stood for something. Donald Trump stands for and believes in nothing but Donald Trump.

But Trump’s core, most loyal supporters are racists, and Trump knows it.

Are you ready for Mel Gibson’s comeback?

Kevin Lincoln, The Vulture:

When we first see Mel Gibson in Blood Father, French director Jean-Luc Richet’s stylish exploitation flick that debuted out of competition at Cannes and bows Stateside on August 12, his character is at an AA meeting. Gibson’s head is bowed, and he’s talking about the people he hurt, the kind of man he was while drinking; he’s attempting to both do penance for his past and turn himself toward a better kind of future. Jacked, tattooed, and weatherbeaten, Gibson is playing a man named Link, but he could easily be talking about himself.

Plenty of movies out there by people who didn’t ever say that Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world

2016 is looking like 1968, but 1968 was way worse 

Josh Marshall describes the similarities between two turbulent years.

Like Marshall, I’m white — obviously — but don’t identify politically as white. I have a pragmatic reason for that: I’m Jewish. White supremacists don’t consider Jews white; in their mythology, we’re the evil puppetmasters pulling the strings of the force of evil.

 

Why I’m not putting triple parentheses around my name

It seems like the kind of movement I’m uncomfortable with, more about self-congratulation than about stamping out bigotry. I say that without any disrespect for my peers who ARE participating in the movement. I could be wrong. And there are times I’m guilty of self-congratulation too. This very post might be an example of that.

But still, for the benefit of anti-Semites keeping databases of Jews in media: Add me to your list. I’m just a tech journalist operating in a business-to-business niche, but I’m definitely a Jewish person in media.

Also, I support the rights of Muslims, LGBTQ people, Latinos, and I’m a feminist. So go ahead and add me to those databases as well.

You’re welcome!

If you don’t know what I’m talking about: The (((echo))), explained [Matt Yglesias – Vox]

Also: Yglesias, despite the last name, is Jewish. Who knew?! Adam Sandler, add him to that song!

I just checked to be sure I included my Judaism is listed in my online bio. Indeed yes – very first paragraph. I note there that I’m not observant, because that’s true. Heck, I’ve even been known to celebrate Christmas. That doesn’t make me any less Jewish. My Judaism isn’t something I do; it is part of who I am.

The hypocrisy of criticizing Israel

”NATO bombed 5,000 civilians in Kosovo just because it was insulted; 27,000 Iraqi civilians were bombed during the American invasion because they posed a danger to the US; there is not a country in the world that can talk to us about morality.”

— Knesset Member Yisrael Hasson

Via ‘If European Countries Fail To Protect Their Jews, The State of Israel Will’, which notes the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe, including crowds marching and shouting, “Death to Jews.”

The death of Palestinian civilians is horrifying and I’m not going to make excuses for it. But this is what war is. It’s not Rambo jumping out of a swamp or John Wayne striding out of the jungle. It’s children being killed by bombs. It’s what happens when America goes to war, when Russia does, when Ukrainians do, in Syria and Libya. It’s all the same thing.

Good news and bad news about that town in Spain with a name that translates to “Jew Killers.”

The good news is they’re thinking of changing the name.

The bad news is the name they’re considering: Washington Redskins.

Actually, the history is pretty interesting: The town was founded in the 11th Century by Jewish refugees. 400 years later, the town converted to Catholicism during the Inquisition and changed its name to divert attention from its Jewish past.

A Hard Sell to Tame a Name in Spain – NYTimes.com.