Recognizing Anti-Semitism

*Warning for symbols and Imagery of Anti-Semitism*

So You Want to Fight Against Antisemitism

This post is for everyone. 

So, you know that antisemitism is a major problem in today’s world. You know it is a system of oppression unlike any other. And you know you have to do something. But what? 

 

Image result for anti semitism symbols"
Anti-Semitism Symbol

Learn what Antisemitism is. 

  • You can’t really fight antisemitism if you don’t understand it
  • This, of course, applies to every system of power in our society, but it especially applies to antisemitism for a few reasons:
    • Antisemitism is probably one of the oldest forms of institutionalized hatred in our society (along with, like, misogyny). It is so old that its tropes are written into the foundation of our world. More than any other system of oppression, you are just as likely to accidentally say something antisemitic as you are to reference a common aphorism
    • Antisemitism is a weird form of oppression that doesn’t function like other systems of oppression. In most systems of oppression, the oppressed are portrayed as weak, deserving their lower station, and lesser than the oppressors. Jewish people are portrayed as powerful and dangerous because of that power – and so, in a sense, Jewish people are portrayed as the oppressors of everyone else, and thus antisemitism is “justified” because the Jewish people have it coming, are privileged, etc. This is poppycock, but it’s built into the framework of antisemitism and thus our society. And it’s hard to remember if it’s not in your face every. damn. day.
    • Antisemitism doesn’t really fall under any oppression umbrella well – it’s not really about gender and sexuality, you could say it’s about race/ethnicity but that doesn’t work completely either, and you could say it’s about religion but that doesn’t work either. It’s a whole other complicated beast, coming from a time before we tried to neatly partition our world into these boxes
    • Western Society got really fucking guilty after the Holocaust and, in an effort to assuage that guilt rather than… I don’t know, improve? Apparently actually trying to be better is too hard for this mofos… most of Western Society, especially the United States began to spread this Mythos that:
      • A) Judaism and Xtianity (Christianity) share an Intimate and Tightly Knit history; that Xtianity has always respected its parent religion, and that the two can be united as “Judeo-Xtian” to the exclusion of all else;
      • B) that antisemitism was destroyed in WWII when the camps were liberated, and everything for Jewish People is Fine now;
      • C) antisemitism wasn’t really a problem in “good” western countries before then anyway (see: more anglo-saxon-y/western-europe-y than Germany) and so the united states never had to improve to begin with, we were always completely against the nazis, go team!
      • This all means that it is so ingrained in the mindset of Americans that there Isn’t a Problem Anymore and that feeds back into the whole “Jews are actually privileged!” mythos I mentioned earlier
    • And then, on top of it, people have this weird kick in the Information Era of deciding that words should mean what their etymology suggests? Like, the whole “bisexual people are ONLY attracted to two genders” thing when bisexual people have said “two or more” for decades but that doesn’t matter; or “dinosaurs are lizards because saur means lizard” when that’s utter nonsense, etc. And so people think “semite = speaker of a semitic language group = people of middle eastern descent = antisemitism is prejudice against all middle eastern groups, not just jews” when, no, the word has an actual history, it was just a term designed to make jew-hatred seem “reasonable” instead of calling it, literally, jew-hatred, which is what it had been called before. it only has to do with jews.
    • Also just… people… don’t understand Jewish history. At all. Which is weird, because they keep saying we have an “intimate shared past” with the whole judeo-xtian crap
  • So you can’t just treat Antisemitism like you do Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, etc. You can’t. It’s a whole other Thing, because of the attitude people have towards the oppressed group
    • Disclaimer: this does not mean it’s “worse” than any other system of oppression. I don’t play the fucking oppression olympics. We all have equally important problems and we all have to help each other, end of discussion.
    • That being said, the unique mindset of antisemitism does present unique challenges that have to be uniquely overcome (just like every system of oppression has their own unique challenges.)
  • So, what is antisemitism? 
    • Antisemitism is a form of oppression in almost every modern society that targets Jewish people for being Jewish
    • Being Jewish has been defined in a lot of different ways over the years, but it is primarily an ethnoreligion 
      • This means that Judaism is the religious & cultural system for the Jewish People
      • And the Jewish People are defined by their common ancestry from a small family of sheep-hearders from the ancient middle east
      • So, being Jewish = someone who belongs to that group of people, either through being born into it or getting adopted into it (for the purposes of… everything, conversion to Judaism is literally just voluntary adult adoption.)
      • And, usually, Jewish people follow the religious traditions of Judaism, but this is not an absolute rule
      • In the past, the prejudice against Jewish people was based on them believing in Judaism. In the “modern” era (since the 1800s), it began to transition to be about their heritage – so even if a Jewish person converted to Xtianity, they were subjected to this new form of the hatred 
      • Still, in the modern day, it can literally be about either, both, or somehow none, because people are the worst 
    • This weird definition of what it means to be Jewish is why it’s hard to put antisemitism into a neat box, oppression-category-wise
    • Like, it takes some stuff from racist power structures, but also those structures designed to keep xtianity in power, etc.
      • Disclaimer: I am from the United States. As such, I can only speak about my experiences in a majority-Xtian country. While antisemitism is present in countries where the majority religion is something other than Xtianity, it is not my place to discuss it here. That is something that you have to research on your own. 
      • Also, just, so many of our antisemitic tropes evolved in Christendom or whatever you want to call it, and much antisemitism found in non-xtian countries is just… the fault of xtian countries to begin with, so. yeah. Oof.
    • Antisemitism is, thus, built on a wide variety of tropes, prejudices, and assumptions about the Jewish people that stem all the way back to the split of Xtianity and Judaism 2000 years ago
      • I can’t list every single antisemitic stereotype because A) there’s too many of them and B) that would be depressing as hell and I don’t feel like being more depressed than I have to be
      • But here are some common ones (we = Jewish people):
        • We killed Jesus
        • Blood Libel (we are bloodthirsty in general, use the blood/flesh of Xtian children fro our food, etc.)
        • We Have Horns/Are Manifestations of the Devil
        • We are here to “test” xtians
        • We are Greedy
        • We are Rich
        • We secretly control the government/the media/the economy/the world/…anything
        • And that we have a secret club where we discuss controlling things
        • We aren’t trustworthy/we break our oaths/ we’ll stab you in the back
        • We are lizard people who, again, control the government
        • We tax and suck the money from everyone who isn’t Jewish
        • We are evil, greedy capitalists
        • We are scary, violent communists
        • We smell and are unclean
        • We hate all goyim (non-Jewish people)
        • We destroy Xtian objects
        • We cause wars, revolutions, and catastrophes
        • We caused the slave trade
        • We are lying about the holocaust/any other antisemitic event
        • We use our oppression and past to “get things” (influence in the government, in the media, Israel as a country, etc.)
        • Usury stuff
        • We are disloyal to our home countries
        • We are immoral
        • We are homeless/wandering/etc.
      • yeah ok I’m done with listing shit
      • If you see some contradictory ones in there yes, yes you do, isn’t it fun
      • But, you can see how this feeds back to the unique nature of antisemitism: almost all of these tropes are about painting Jewish people as the source of all suffering or problems for non-Jews and, thus, worth hating and rising up against. Jewish people are portrayed as powerful and, non-Jews, as the people without power who must defeat them. 
      • So you can see how denying the problem of antisemitism is actually FEEDING INTO ANTISEMITISM what a world we live in 
  • How did antisemitism get started? 
    • No one likes an “other” or an “outgroup”
    • And Jews are the Ultimate Outgroup
    • I’m serious
    • Judaism was a Different Sort of Religion in the ancient world. Rather than being paganistic, it was monotheistic (at least, after a point, it was monotheistic; let’s not debate the history of the view of Gd in jewish thought today) and, as such, the gods of other cultures couldn’t just be adopted into Jewish thought
    • This was a common method of cultural exchange and how many empires imposed their power
    • So, Jewish people, by refusing to take on other gds (by and large), marked themselves out as other
    • Also, it didn’t help that our people originated in the Levant, which is literally the bridge between Eurasia and Africa and the crossroads of the Mediterranean world
    • Everyone wants control of the bridge 
    • So, we kept being conquered and then exiled or oppressed in our homeland, because we wouldn’t do the Normal Thing of taking on other gds and we were on land that people really needed for Warring reasons (and trade reasons)
    • Even before Xtianity was a thing, we were an Other
    • And then Xtianity happened
      • Xtianity, at its roots, is built on the Fundamental Idea that Jesus of Nazareth was the Mosiach
      • The Messiah, or Mosiach, is a prophecy in Jewish thought of a man, descended through his father from King Solomon, would come and initate a time of complete peace on earth, when all Jewish people would be returned to the Levant and actually control our country again
      • Jewish people rejected Jesus as the messiah almost immediately in most groups except for Jesus’ disciples
        • Jesus wasn’t descended from Solomon through his dad (if you agree his dad is gd, then he really isn’t; if his dad is Joseph, then Joseph is from a different son of David, not Solomon, etc.)
        • Jesus didn’t do jack diddly squat to start an era of peace and liberate the Jewish people from the Romans
        • also, Jewish people are really strict about the Gd is One thing and even thinking that Gd could have an equally Gd Son is ridiculous in Jewish thought and also not part of the messianic tradition 
        • Oof
        • Moving on
      • But, for Xtianity to be “valid” in the eyes of the early church, Jesus had to be the messiah
      • And if Jews weren’t accepting Jesus as the messiah, xtians had one of two choices: either they were wrong, or jews were wrong
      • Honestly, i can’t even blame early xtians for going with the second one, it’s just basic self-preservation
      • And as xtians gained more power in roman society, they began to oppress Jewish people more and more, because they were literally visible reminder that Xtianity might not be Right, which threatened the entire system of power xtianity was building for itself along the scaffold provided by the roman empire
    • So, from the time of the end of the roman empire through the 1800s, almost all anti-Jewish thought was based around religious tropes and the idea that Jewish people, by rejecting the Messiah, were now agents of the devil
      • Very little of it was ethnicity based
      • Similar things did happen in the Islamic world to a lesser extent – Muslims see Muhammad as the Final Prophet and the successor to the Jewish prophetic tradition, Jewish people see prophets as not being a thing since a little after the babylonian exile, so by rejecting Muhammad jews kind of delegitimize Islam, etc.
      • But it wasn’t as devastating for the foundation of Islam as rejecting Jesus was for Xtianity, so this sort of anti-Jewish prejudice in the Islamic world at the time wasn’t neaaaarly as bad – Jewish people had a lot more rights, on average, in the Islamic world than in the Xtian world during the middle ages
    • This all laid the foundation for antisemitism to “evolve” (devolve) during the 1800s
      • People trying to rationalize hatred against various groups needed a reason to hate Jewish people that wasn’t about religion because, something something Enlightenment Means We Reject Supernatural Explanations Aka Religion something something
      • I dunno about you guys but illogical hatred seems Unenlightened to me but whatever
      • And, so, the hatred of the Jews already present and built into Xtian society was turned into hatred of them because of their ethnicity/family ties/race
        • this was around the same time women were considered lesser because it was just their biological condition that they were lesser, not because of eve or whatever
        • also the same time racism against black people started to get a lot of pseudo-science crap to “back it up”
        • it was a fun time. a fun, fun, super fun time of people wanting to continue to be crappy and trying to bullshit reasons to do so.
      • This lead to the atrocities of the progroms and the holocaust to evolve out of enlightenment thinking
    • But, do not get it twistedAntisemitism is, at its core, because Jewish people refuse to assimilate into the main culture/religion of their larger society that they live in; and people just do not like the other. Everything else that has been used to justify and/or explain antisemitism in an attempt to have it “make sense” is just that: justification. Pulling shit out of their asses. Trying to make their hatred seem OK. 
  • Every trope of antisemitism has its own sordid history and I’m not going to continue to get into it
  • It’s up to you to educate yourself about all of them so you can “spot them in the wild”
    • ie, if your cousin Renee says “lizard people control new york city!’ just go up to her and slap her across the face because you know Lizard People = Jews now
    • And if your mutual tumblr user IMissThePorn89 says “gal gadot killed children!” you can be like “this is blood libel she was a fitness instructor” because now you know what blood libel is
  • Educate yourself slowly, carefully, and check your own assumptions and prejudices every step along the way. 

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Anti-Semitic Flyer

Evaluate your own Risk. 

  • Before you start actively fighting antisemitism on the ground, ask yourself a couple of important questions:
    • Am I Jewish?
    • Am I Planning to Become Jewish?
    • Do I belong to any other Oppressed Class, especially those that could put me at risk with certain groups such as the alt-right and nazis?
    • Do I have friends and family members who could be at risk from my activism?
  • Fighting against antisemitism is dangerous 
    • Nazis don’t really care about your humanity my friend 
    • You can get hurt. You can get punched, doxxed, SWAT’ed, attacked, or even killed, depending on how dire the situation is
    • Neverput yourself in more danger than is needed based on a situation
    • Use your head: if picking a fight won’t endanger anyone other than you and could get a nazi to shut the fuck up, then pick the fight. If picking the fight will just put jewish people (or other oppressed people) in the crosshairs, don’t pick the fight
  • Only you know your own level of risk
    • You know if you can afford to put yourself on the front lines against alt-righters, etc.
    • There are a lot of ways to fight antisemitism that don’t involve making bonehead moves
    • But, still, someone has to do the bonehead stuff. Punching nazis works. Just see Richard Spencer. Or, you know, Nazi Germany
  • And, plus, you know what you’re best at
    • Are you best at confrontation? Punch away!
    • Are you best at talking? Try to explain to the ignorant how antisemitism works
    • Are you somewhere in between? Handle lower-scale conflicts s
  • Are you a lover and not a fighter? 
    • There are a lot of more peaceful ways to fight antisemitism that doesn’t involve arguing and physical fights
    • Provide an ear for listening and a shoulder for crying for victims and survivors to seek support
    • Break the law to weaken their power in a variety of ways
    • Speak out in public, and preserve knowledge and truth in the face of “fake news”
    • Every little bit of resistance can help against encroaching antisemitic fascist power

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/anti-semitic-stereotypes-of-the-jewish-body/

Recognize the signs. 

  • There are dog-whistles for antisemitism as there are with any system of oppression
  • Recognizing these key phrases and ideas can help to identify someone with antisemitic opinions (or just straight-up an antisemite) before a situation escalates
  • These dog-whistles tie into common antisemitic tropes
  • Words such as:
    • Globalist
    • Cabal
    • Triple Parentheses
    • Worldwide
    • Zionist [note: this word is often used to refer to any jewish person as a way to legitimize hatred against them. please, please, please don’t get into Israel-related stuff on this post. Talk about derailment and feeding back into my main point]
    • Jew/Jewess used as a noun
    • Someone’s Jewishness being pointed out when not actually relevant
    • Coastal Elite / Elite
    • Hollywood Liberals / Liberals
    • Mentioning individuals such as Soros and other powerful Jewish individuals when, again, they don’t actually matter for the situation
    • Conspiracy Theories
    • Lizard people
  • Tropes such as:
    • Hooked noses
    • Wringing hands
    • Piles of money
    • Six-pointed stars
  • These and other symbols are used to indicate “I know that the Jews are the problem, do you?” and, upon assessing that in the individual they’re interacting with, can increase blatant antisemtism or not
  • This is what a dog-whistle does: it helps to identify members of your hate group and then group up together to create real damage
    • And then, these dog-whistles are ways to gently trick people into being bigots with you
    • It’s like a fast track to overt hatred
  • So, if you recognize a dog whistle, call it the fuck out, even if that person is just ignorant
    • Because it’s a short distance from ignorant to antisemitic
    • You can very easily go from thinking globalists are the problem, to realize globalist = jew, to thinking jewish people are the problem
    • So you call it out. every time. 

Utilize your privilege. 

  • Gentiles have a unique positions. They’re not affected by antisemitism, but they can fight against it if they put their mind to it
  • Jewish people, no matter their other privileges, do not escape antisemitism
    • Of course, white-passing Jewish people can help to fight against race/colorism related situations and prejudices more than non-white-passing Jews, etc.
    • And those kinds of prejudice often tie into antisemitism
    • But really this section is mostly about what gentiles can do
  • It is always more dangerous for a Jewish person to fight against an antisemite than it is for a gentile
    • So, in terms of fighting on the front lines, the best way for a gentile to help Jewish people is to put themselves in positions of danger over a Jewish individual doing so
    • Like, if there’s a choice between a group of Jews acting as security at an event that is at risk and a group of gentiles, the gentiles should step up
    • If a Jewish person is arguing against an antisemite, a gentile should
      • Uplift that Jew’s voice
      • Repeat what they say
      • Support them
      • Fight against the antisemite themselves
    • Don’t drag Jewish people into fights they’re not in
      • If you see a nazi or other antisemite on the internet or in the meatspace, fight against them yourself 
      • Don’t drag a Jewish person into a fight
      • This is why you have to educate yourself. So that Jewish people don’t have to put themselves in danger (or emotional distress) needlessly
  • If you want to be a true ally for Jewish people, you need to use your privilege to do things that would be more unsafe for Jewish people to do. End of story.

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Educate as much as possible. 

  • You’re always learning, obviously, but you need to help others learn too
  • Education is exhausting, especially when talking about something that personally, negatively affects you
  • Leaving the burden of education on Jewish people alone is problematic, even though we’re the experts on our own oppression
    • So like, Jewish people should educate because we’re the experts
    • And gentiles should educate because they’re not personally affected (to the same extent)
    • But Jewish people shouldn’t educate beyond what they’re emotionally/physically able to do (exhaustion/spoon-wise)
    • And gentiles shouldn’t educate beyond what they’re able to in terms fo knowledge
    • It’s a balancing act and we all have to contribute
  • Education is the main barrier against hatred 
    • The more people are educated about oppression, history, and society, the less likely they are to be bigoted
    • That doesn’t mean it’s impossible – I know some really fucking well educated bigots – but education is by far the biggest tool we have (the second biggest tool is fighting)
    • Spend your time making posts explaining antisemitism, helping others learn, and discussing how antisemitism works with leaders of social justice groups (or just members thereof)
    • Antisemitism is a unique oppression. It requires unique attention and education. And you can help fight against it by bringing that education to others

Image result for anti semitism symbols

Get your hands dirty. 

  • I touched on this in the privilege section, but you gotta get out there and do things 
  • Even if it’s internet-based things, you have to act
  • Sitting and not saying anything is not doing anything
  • You don’t have to argue. You don’t have to physically fight. But you do have to do something
  • And, honestly, there are other ways to really get at the root of antisemitism
    • Because antisemitism is literally built into the DNA of western society, it is everywhere 
    • This means it is a part of our government, our institutions, our history, even if it might not be as blatantly obvious as, say, racism and transphobia
  • You can utilize graffiti and other forms of subversive art to spread anti-antisemitism messages
  • You can prep portions of your home in case Jewish people need to hide there
    • I cannot stress this enough
    • It is literally a game among Jewish children
    • “Will you hide me?”
    • It’s how we measure trust
  • Prepare yourself to lie to figures of authority – especially police – if things get really dire
    • Again, the police are less likely to attack a gentile than a Jew in these scenarios
    • You can use your privilege to lie to help a Jewish person stay safe
  • Antisemitism is dirty, and it doesn’t play by the rules. Neither should you

Step outside of your comfort zone. 

  • None of these things are easy, so all of this might be out of your comfort zone
  • But to grow as a person and as an ally/fighter, you have to do things you’re not completely comfortable with
  • This is why it’s hard 
  • You’ve got to push yourself to make meaningful change
  • It’s hard to step into it – especially if you’re a baby Jew (ie, conversion student or convert) and are new to all of this – but the more you step into it, the more you’ll be able to do
  • Remember, not fighting against antisemitism is comfortable. It’s supposed to be, because society wants you to be antisemitic
    • Any fighting against this (or other forms of bigotry) is, by definition, uncomfortable, because society says you should be comfortable with the hatred
    • But you’re not. That’s why you want to fight. So what’s a little more discomfort? 

Practice radical self-care. 

  • ALL OF THIS IS REALLY HARD
  • ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE JEWISH OR AN ALMOST-JEW
  • TAKE. CARE. OF. YOURSELF.
  • I can’t stress this enough
    • You are no good to the resistance if you’re hurting yourself fighting in it 
    • Take breaks
    • Step back from arguments
    • Learn to say no
  • This isn’t all on you.
  • If you take care of yourself, then you can get back to the fight
  • Learn to find your own limits and your own boundaries
  • And, learn to ask for help
    • So that, if you have to step back form an active situation, someone else can step in
    • You have to know your own limits
  • Of course, you also have to know your own comforts and ways of care
    • For me, it’s playing dumb video games and cuddling birds
    • For you, it might be going on hikes and taking bubble baths
    • It varies and you should learn what helps you regain your energy and get back out there
  • It is not a negative reflection of you if you cannot fight 
    • Either at all or in specific ways
    • Anxiety, depression, etc. all make actively fighting against bigotry very hard 
    • Same with other mental and physical disabilities and conditions
    • Because then you have other societal systems of oppression weighing you down (as well as your own body in most cases)
    • And of course there are other factors (money, education, race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.)
    • Do what you can, but don’t destroy yourself in the process. No one wants you to sacrifice yourself. 

You are not alone. 

  • We’re all fighting this together
  • Lean on other people for support and for help
  • Never take on a problem alone
  • If you’re Jewish, never put yourself into a dangerous situation alone
  • Heck that applies if you’re not too
  • We’re all. in. this. together. And we are stronger together than we are apart
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help, advice, and ideas to move forward

Don’t just listen to me. 

  • I’m a tired potato crying under a pile of moving boxes
  • Everyone has different ideas and different emphases in how they fight against this horrible, horrible things
  • You want to fight against antisemitism? Listen to a wide variety of Jewish voices, not just me
  • Diversity is what we’re fighting for. Seek it out in your own education

Past PostsJewish Conversion / Rosh Chodesh / Rosh Hashanah / Days of Awe / Religious Fasting / Yom Kippur / Sukkot / Sh’mini Atzeret & Simchat Torah / Chanukah / Tu B’Shevat / Branches of Judaism / Second Temple Judaism

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