Reading time: 33.5 minutes
Short or Long?
A major difficulty is that one can give long answers so rich in information (see here, page 8) that it’s hard to be satisfied with a shorter response.
I’ll give you a longer reply.
Yet, the below text is still a synopsis because most of the following Subsections could each easily be expended to a whole chapter if not a complete book.
It was impossible to honor each of the countless issues in antisemitism that fought for a prominent place early on in the text. The matter is also so complex that some light repetitions in the text could not be avoided. Some of them were circumvented by cross-references. Many parallels with other oppressions were inserted, both to clarify antisemitism and to break the myth that antisemitism and Jews could not be compared to anything or anyone else – but they can.
One quick single reading of this 8,000-word overview will not suffice. It’s a lot to digest and weigh. Understanding antisemitism doesn’t come from memorizing all these loose ideas but from grasping them and integrating them into one vision. Please, ponder the diverse ideas and revisit to reread. And enjoy, I hope.
Disclaimer – Evil Gentiles?
There is an important disclaimer to make before going into all the details of the oppression of Jews. Humanity cannot be divided into two kinds, good ones and bad ones. Most atrocities are the cooperative work of lots of average people.
It is untrue that Gentiles can be divided into two distinct groups, good people and antisemites. Antisemites make wrong choices targeting Jews, are fully responsible and redeemable (unless they’re leading con artists – finding it hard to admit truths). They’re not an evil variation of mankind.
(Diehard leading antisemites may be beyond beyond reason. Thousands of years of their failure cannot discourage them. They go to their graves in the solid conviction that they will kill all the Jews soon – idealists of sorts.)
Yes, I know this disbelief in inevitable enemies could shock. It is so much more comfortable to hold ourselves as sort of good and place “bad” people far away from us. But that isn’t a truthful divide. Antisemites aren’t a certain “type” of people that should be ashamed and if you’re not that “type” you can relax and feel good and cleansed without ever having done anything to challenge oppression.
Rather, all oppressions are executed by victims of other oppressions (for example, as ex-children) that have been made powerless and “on the side” also made into agents of lots of other oppressions.
Instead of dreaming to be one of the good guys
, assume that almost all people are, unite with them to end antisemitism and all other coercions. Good Allies don’t hope or claim to be good – but act as if they were.
I know that most Jews, when we get a little hopeful, tend to flip from totally suspicious to completely naive. Religious Jews less so, because our prayers and weekly Torah portions – on purpose, I believe – remind us of this danger of getting unreal. However, part of being realistic must also be not to discard real Allies-in-the-making but rather to take a risk and assist and encourage them. However, trust must be won over time, not just assumed or demanded.
Above I stated that a short definition of antisemitism will be inadequate but I’ll now proceed by giving two. Followed by myriads of details.
Antisemitism is hatred of Jews and/or any attempt to demean Jews in general or individual Jews, people one supposes to be Jewish or ditto collectives, and to perpetuate negative stereotypes and hatred of Jews.
Abel Herzberg said it even shorter:
Antisemitism is something Non-Jews suffer from and Jews suffer under.
Now will follow lots of details, in seven sections (Words, Allies, Prejudices, Positive, Types, Ugly & Unfair and Israel) and many in subsections. Bold words and phrases may further help you to get an overview of and orientated on the scores of issues tackled.
Words, Terms and Spelling
There are two ways to spell antisemitism. I follow the one that was recently explained here so well.
A Jew we define here as someone primarily targeted by antisemitism. (In the next Subsection, we will explain that Jews are not the aim or issue.)
The text has the following words capitalized:
- Gentile (and Non-Jew and Ally) to give it some prominence and honor similar to the spelling of Jew. Ditto for Rightwing, Leftwing.
- People (and Nation) to distinguish it from individual people.
- Blacks, Working Class, Women, Gays, etc. when referring to them as oppressed, to counter any lack of respect they often receive.
- White (Caucasian) and Western (civilization, culture) to distinguish it from the color and the direction, respectively.
No attempt is made to make this text socially neutral. Political positions are taken despite wide disagreement among Jews (and Allies) on politics.
To connect the oppression of Jews to all other oppressions gives a deeper understanding of antisemitism. One can be an effective and good Ally to Jews while being Rightwing but I don’t know how to compensate for the lack of context if one doesn’t relate to ending Working Class Oppression, Racism, Sexism, etc. But I’m sure, it can be done.
Antisemitism can show itself in wrong words but communication about it should not deteriorate into semantics, a war of words. (See two Subsections down, Allies’ Words in Section Allies.)
Genocide is not just an attempt to physically exterminate a People (through mass murder, sterilization), it is also all attempts to eradicate what is unique about a People, like its language, culture and history, and also rape by aliens and forced mass intermarriage.
This includes compelling all Jews to intermarry and disappear as a People. (We’re not talking about individual cases of intermarriage.)
This includes misappropriating their cultures, languages, music and teachings, pretending that this is merely humanity’s richness and doesn’t need crediting Jews or Jews to interpret, carry and convey authentically all its depths and meanings.
It includes others demanding ownership of clearly Jewish artifacts, monuments, places and cities and refusing to return to Jews what was stolen from them (the coffers of the Vatican.)
This includes seeing the State of Israel or its Capital Jerusalem as belonging to all, not acknowledging the Jews’ special and historic custodianship.
Being Allies with any oppressed group should not deteriorate into semantics, a war of words. Using the right words is not that important.
As an Ally of Jews, you’re going to say offensive things anyway – not because you didn’t learn the right words but rather because they may reveal some significant bigotry still lurking in your brain. At first, you mess up, then you say sorry and correct. And then you mess up anew. That’s how we learn. There’s no instant success or perfection.
Don’t be too scared to make mistakes. You will. You already do. Jews spot your uneasiness and stiffness from miles away. But it doesn’t matter. What counts is that you want to learn to be a good Ally of Jews.
Jews are a strong bunch. We’ve been through worse things. We may call out “scandal” when you mess up but we won’t die from a wrong word. Nor will you from the embarrassment.
Having said that, words can still be important. (See also Subsection Words and Terms in the Section Israel.)
Antisemitism originates from Non-Jews, not from Jews (all oppressions are built by agents of these oppressions, not by their target groups – don’t blame the victims). Therefore, Jews are also not responsible for ending antisemitism. Gentiles are.
Oppressive stereotypes about any oppression are mostly learned when we are very young, impressionable, naive, on our own, uninformed and sweet. We should not be held accountable for having been inundated by prejudices. If we did deep therapy, we would learn that at least at first, we protested the nonsense.
As innocent as we thus all are about having become bigots, as responsible are we for not passing on the filth, interrupting any oppression in progress and helping to end all of them completely.
Some people can be won over and should be accepted as Allies to Jews despite the fact that they don’t know Jews or don’t know if they like them. Just with the argument that all people should be treated fairly.
The aim of Gentile Allies can be to unite and together slowly – but not so slowly – and surely end antisemitism – and all other oppressions – and not merely studying, understanding and protesting it.
Antisemitism includes not caring about Jews because you don’t see them as fellow human beings but rather as distant creatures and not standing up to antisemitism, being “neutral” on Jews and so being complicit. People work against antisemitism or not. There’s no neutral middle ground. This is because the opposite of respect and love is not really hatred – which is also a strong emotional bond – but rather: apathy! So:
- “A lack of caring enables all evil, including the Holocaust.” (Eli Wiesel)
- “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: G‑d will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a rare German church leader who opened his mouth against the Nazi regime)
- “The road to Auschwitz was not built by hate but paved with indifference.” (Renowned Holocaust Scholar Sir Ian Kershaw); and
- “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transformation was not the strident clamor of the bad people but the appalling silence of the good people.” (Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.)
Good Gentile Allies read such as these texts over and over again and decide not to stay silent any longer in the face of antisemitism. They will aim to unite with as many Gentiles as doable, to end all antisemitism and all other oppressions.
Yet, every Oppressed Group better take responsibility to win over and maintain Allies to do most of the cleanup work of the Oppression targeting them.
Understandably but incorrectly, many Jews believe that antisemitism is deeply seated and cannot be removed. This is a self-defeating position. Many people transformed from Jew-haters to being close, warm dependable loyal well informed outspoken Allies of Jews. While we should not embrace any mass murderer who briefly smiles at us, a general rejection of Allies is unwanted.
Allies to Jews need to set their own policies. Their final goal should be to end antisemitism. It’s good to consult Jews to weed out blunders but at the end of the day, Gentile Allies need to take responsibility and charge and do the hard but worthy job of setting their own goals and trying their own thinking, without waiting for Jews’ approval.
You know that you’re doing a good job when antisemites start calling you Jewish. Instead of fighting them, try to win them over with clear speeches of reason. Even if you fail initially, they may come later, and bystanders may be won over in greater numbers by you making sense.
“Always do right. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.”
First of all, antisemitism is done by threatening, inciting against and endangering Jews and with negative intentions isolating them from Non-Jews.
This isolation keeps Jews unsafe so that they can be manipulated by the powerful, ready for being blamed as if they were the source of all evil and the primary oppressors, so that the real oppressors may get off free when the subjugated revolt.
A powerful way to understand antisemitism is to see this hostage-taking and scapegoating of Jews is the ultimate purpose of all antisemitism. Remove this purpose and you ended antisemitism! Then Jews are not really the issue! Rather, the aim of the powers that be is to use antisemitism to maintain control and exploitation of all societal groups.
Hence, it’s in the urgent self-interest of all oppressed groups (all people) to end antisemitism.
This kidnapping of Jews can only happen when the Left or the population are antisemitic. Their rejection of Jews drives them into the arms of the rich and powerful (who then use them as human shields). It is the Left that must free the Jews, and not the Right, by embracing them. Jews often suffer from the Stockholm syndrome, so don’t wait for them. (And don’t fault them, the victims, for having been rejected, isolated and then manipulated. We don’t blame the victim.)
The oppressed oppressing the Jews, infighting between Jews and pitting Jews and Muslims against each other are really doing the oppressors’ dirty work.
Antisemitism includes powerful Gentile leaders cynically appointing Jews to visible high places to use them as scapegoats later to deflect their own blame while opposition movements hate and scapegoat Jews which keeps them unsafe and leaves them no short-term alternative but to continue cooperating with these reactionary people, groups and regimes, for which they then are blamed (blaming the victim).
There is no substitute for the Working Class, the Left and non-Jewish Monotheists embracing all Jews.
Antisemitism often portrays Jews and other oppressed groups as necessary mutual enemies, while Jews are not their enemies and these groups do not need to be enemies of the Jews and basically do not profess to be antisemitic (unlike White supremacists). Prominent examples of these groups are: Christians, Muslims, the Working Class, US and African Blacks. This attempt to foster animosity between Jews and other groups sets oppressed groups up against each other.
(Sadly, Muslims in the Mideast still live under autocrats because they fell for the lure to play all-or-nothing against the Jews, losing all the times, Palestinians not getting a State and all of them not getting democracy. The UN “helps” already for 70 years “Palestinian refugees” to stay refugees in order to maintain hostilities around Israel, not to help them.)
Liberation unity movements like Intersectionality even have fallen into the trap of not including the Jews but opposing them as oppressors.
This includes denying Jews double identities and the possibility to be loyal to both of them: Jewish and: Working Class, Black, Arab, Caucasian, patriotic American, etc.
It includes all kinds of Oppressed Groups demanding from their Allies support for their anti-Jewish attitudes and philosophies soiling and hindering their own Liberation struggle. (Just say no. Divide and conquer must be broken.) One is not a good Ally to an oppressed group by tolerating their antisemitism.
It includes outrage about Jews, Judaism or Jewish Israelis differentiating between different groups: Jews and Gentiles, women and men, Israelis and foreigners, etc. But most people and States differentiate between men and women (when selecting a life partner), or for national rights.
However, one should also not blame oppressed groups for their antisemitism while being silent on one’s own and the anti-Jewish bigotry among their oppressors. (See also Subsection Make the Distinction.)
Surely, Jews should be (and often are) taking the lead in all the world’s Liberation movements. Gentiles busy ending the world’s Oppressions, should “compete” who are the best Allies fighting antisemitism.
Nice Doesn’t Help
Antisemitism, not Jews, cause anti-Jewish stereotypes. They can be the very opposite of reality (Jews murder more) or reflect reality but with a malicious twist (Jews are nice because they hide their sinister plans).
Just like Jews don’t cause the oppression (antisemites may not even know Jews; the percentage of Jews in a country is inversely proportional to the number of antisemitic incidents per country: the more Jews, the less antisemitism – is that because Jews frequently left places with the most antisemitism or because a lack of Jews enables it?), Jews cannot remove the oppression by “just being nice people” – though we should be honest, friendly, giving, etc., also when society expects us not to be.
Safety for Jews – like for everyone – must be an unconditional right, not depend on how good we are.
The Rabbis teach that hatred for Jews doesn’t come from antisemites who are mere messengers. It comes from Up-high, to help us band together as Jews and unite. When Jews fight and hate each other for nothing, Heaven urges us to change course.
(This does not exonerate the murderers and haters of Jews but it shows them as the un-powerful pitiful pawns they are and gives power to the Jews with the reassurance that this hatred can stop in our honor and from our effort – not by convincing Gentiles to protect us but by uniting with all Jews – including those who think utterly differently from us.)
The good news of why there is antisemitism: When we Jews are tired of our Mission, of being special, antisemites come to remind us: but you are. (They need to work on their tone to make us really happy with that.)
Antisemitism may or may not include a belief in stereotypes against Jews, which are always based on no, shallow or supposedly convincing false “proofs,” bad feeling of mistrust of Jews or feeling hatred or disdain for Jews more than for similar Non-Jews.
(There are no honest big antisemites because their antipathy can only be rooted in big lies.)
Antisemitism includes attributing all kinds of things to Jews exclusively on their being Jewish with the exclusion of other factors. (He is rich/poor because he’s Jewish. He’s Jewish because he’s rich/poor.)
This includes assuming that all Jews are: from warm homes, Ashkenazic, religious, or just like the few/many whom you happen to know or meet.
Antisemitic stereotypes often come in contradictory duos. If it wasn’t so sad, it would be hilarious:
- Jews as powerful bankers leeching the populous and secretly plotting to rule the world vs. illiterate worthless parasitic communist rabble-rousing drags of society.
- Jews as clever manipulators vs. primitive loudmouthed simpletons.
- Jews as cowardly and weak vs. powerful and cruel.
- Jews as morally inferior vs. self-righteous guilt-preaching busybodies.
- Jews are o so special (exotic, just as in racism) vs. Jews are nothing special or even inferior (White supremacy). The solution lies in defending that they are nothing special (fully human) and at the same time very special.
- Sexism and homophobia are Jewish inventions vs. Women’s Lib and Gays’ Lib are Jewish plots against decent society.
Allies to Jews, to become effective, must learn to handle contradictions.
For sure, not all Jews are smart, powerful, rich. (If only we were!) (A similar pair of opposing arguments we find against Gays’ homosexual intercourse. It is both called behavior that is as animals and unnatural.)
Besides these duos, antisemitic fables often claim that all Jews are: disgustingly rich, dishonest, disloyal, money grabbers, greedy, immoral, untrustworthy, unpleasant, sinister, very powerful, secretive, blood-thirsty, murderous, lacking any empathy, instigators of strife and wars, physically/medically inferior, embodiment of evil, infecting all decent people too, (conspiring to be) in national or international control of politics, finances, the banks and the media to their own and sole interests, enemies of mankind, orchestrating the moral decadence and decline of society or the times.
Antisemitism includes denying that there are anti-Jewish stereotypes, or professing belief in these stereotypes and justifying one’s sentiments or actions because of these stereotypes. This may include regarding Jews as very exotic or the opposite, as nothing special. (Jews rather are at the same time very special (created the Talmud) and nothing special (human like everyone else), excellent and average.) This includes stereotyping Jews via prejudices (they’re all rich, smart and evil) and caricatures, of their way of speaking or looking (they all have dark hair and are short).
The Nazis assumed that all Jews are intellectuals, so putting them to physical labor in camps would quickly kill them off. That didn’t work. Then they tried gas chambers. (Other Jews were mass shot, burned or gassed in closed spaces by exhaust fumes of combustion engines.)
Unfortunately, Jews also have held prejudices about themselves.
First of all, Jews are not immune against self-hatred, like no oppressed group is. In fact, most of the damage oppressions inflict are by making the oppressed believe some of the stereotypes, after which they oppress themselves on an ongoing basis.
One of the most virulent anti-Zionist newspapers that daily instigates antisemitism on a global scale is Israeli and Jewish, spreading pure nonsense in English (“Look, the Jews say it themselves”). All career antisemites the world over quote them a lot. (Don’t confuse this with the rest of the very critical Israeli press, that takes its responsibility as the Fourth Estate seriously, with honesty and professionalism.)
Jewish often believe that hardly any Non-Jews can be trusted. (See above, the Introduction, Subsection Disclaimer – Evil Gentiles?)
Antisemitism includes the attribution of grotesque positive stereotypes that are then used in a negative way: Jews are all extremely: rich (responsible for the poverty of many others), smart (shrewd), powerful (the real reason for what went or is wrong), etc. (Not all positive ideas about Jews are grotesque and unreal: Israel is advanced in high tech and security; on average, Jews drink less alcohol. Yet beware, philosemitism can turn to antisemitism.) It includes jealousy against Jews as if their successes would come from being special and not from plain hard work.
Antisemitism is then a form of jealousy (often reported as lying at the core of antisemitism) and an attempt at patricide, or at least a global form of sociological disrespect for parent figures or the elderly.
A false romantic idea, among Jews and Gentiles, is that all Jews come from warm, safe, close-knitted families and communities. Unfortunately, this is untrue. So happen incest and sexual abuse there too, also in Jewish schools of the highest reputation – though nowhere as gravely as in the RC Church – which is a scant consolation. We know what it means to be human.
We may hope that with the help of breaking this false stereotype, better prevention may kick in. Genetic research does seem to show that Jews produce fewer children from maternal infidelity. (Judaism teaches a combination of hedonism and prudishness, placing it squarely outside of other approaches, like Western decadence or Christian anti-sexuality.)
One of the meanest tricks of antisemitism is saying that Jews are privileged. This perfectly matches portraying Jews as powerful and oppressors. It ignores that many of the “advantages” of Jews are the result of plain hard work. First, you’re threatened with annihilation and then, when you try to escape, you’re blamed for trying too hard. It’s as ridiculous as: women have better deeper relationships than men, complain all the time and live longer so men are oppressed, not women.
Jews’ unbelievable bravery is often mistaken for hopefulness or a lack of fear, danger and oppression. Jews deserve to be so safe that we can start joking about our terror (in order to get rid of it) and regain hope.
Normal Protection and Normal Jews
Antisemitism promotes the association of Jews and trouble. It may report about Jews as victims or villains, overlooking the possibility to report about Jews as a great wonderful Nation or/and as just one of the world’s Nations. Zionism too can be seen as something delightful. Despite that Jews in Zion already for a century need to defend their lives on a daily basis, for the average Israeli on an average day, all is calm.
This includes the legend that no Gentile nation can be basically pro-Jewish. We saw this to be untrue when Jews needed protection against the Nazi mass murder and were granted a safe-haven on a national level in Denmark and Bulgaria. This shows that other countries’ inability to protect their Jews was not natural or inevitable but horribly culpable.
Racism, no doubt, plays a role in ignoring the lack of antisemitism in Asia and on the Oceanian Islands. The former lacked ungrateful, jealous, resentful and antagonistic Monotheistic religions that grew from Judaism, while the latter remember the Jews fleeing Spain and Portugal whom they regarded – and still – as delightful, most refined and sublime.
Jews often hyper-focus on the rich and famous among themselves and among the Gentiles, as their best hope for safety. But a Gentile fascination with the rich and famous Jews buys into the false notion and prejudice that all Jews are successful and wealthy (where’s the dough?).
In reality, most Jews are working class and the few who got to richness were no doubt motivated to find money to buy safety for themselves and their fellow Jews – by hard work and not by nature.
More attention needs to go to the average Jew, who overworks but never became rich – or completely safe, for that matter.
The rich and famous do not necessarily have the highest ethical standards among the Jews. Stop idolizing them already.
Antisemitism includes treating random Jews you meet as if they were knowledgeable and representatives of and responsible and accountable for the actions of all Jews and groups of Jews and the State of Israel. This includes treating any religious Jew as if s/he must representIn Israel hospitals Judaism, or any Leftwing Jew as she’s a spokesperson for all Leftwing Jews, etc.
This includes only liking certain “types” of Jews or Jews that meet certain criteria – restrictions that you don’t impose on Non-Jews.
If often includes holding all Jews responsible for misdeeds by some Jews.
Jews at the Center
Another way to understand why antisemitism stands out and has this staying-power is to see how Jews contributed extraordinarily much to most powerful worldviews around, from Monotheism (now half of humanity) to Democracy (all people are created in G-d’s image) and Science (by Hitler called “Jewish Science;” Uniformitarianism, lying at the basis of modern Science, is clearly rooted in Monotheism).
The amazing progress (or at least change) that characterized the previous Century is embodied in a handful of (unreligiously) Jewish visionaries: Freud, Einstein (and Bohr, Feynman), Marx and yes: Herzl/Ben-Gurion. The most dominant name of a non-Jew sadly was markedly soiled by his attempt to industrially exterminate the Jews. (Maybe we could volunteer as a trend-setting Gentile Alan Turning, father of the computer, chemically castrated (with DES), not as a Jew but for being Gay.) Like it or not, Jews (re)took center stage – as leaders and as victims. The 20th Century was the most Jewish century ever.
Antisemitism includes seeing Jews as essentially only pitiful survivors of the Holocaust and ages of antisemitism in general and not as a great People in its own right, with an amazing history, culture and religion, amazing people (like all people) with many shining examples, present and past, generally fun to be close to and with no doubt a great future. It includes also the opposite, advocating to ignore the Holocaust as if was historically trivial or has little significance today.
(The Holocaust, the attempt to industrially eradicate the whole of the Jewish People, the Nation that stood at the cradle of Western society, was more a downfall of and beacon and wakeup call for Western Non-Jews than a defeat of Jews.)
Antisemitism can have different characteristics, depending on source and type. It may be rooted in sentiments, prejudices, philosophies (religious or not), and executed by powerless or powerful individuals, collectives or (groups of) Nations. It can be expressed as indifference, animosity or hatred, locally, nationally or internationally, by individuals, the media, pressure groups, communities, the authorities, governments or the UN.
Religious antisemitism may look like an attempt at genocide (trying to remove what’s unique in Jews), xenophobia or a lack of tolerance for variation: normalcy craze. It may be the source of most antisemitism that we see today.
This gives a special responsibility to Monotheistic religions to help end antisemitism and to religions who never had animosity towards the Jews to help the other religions to get rid of their Jews’ hatred.
Antisemitism may include seeing Judaism as inferior, believing that Jews should convert to other religions and also hindering and not helping converted Jews to return to Judaism.
It includes denying that Judaism is part of the Jews’ heritage or believing that Jews are only a religious group and not a Nation with its own unique history and tradition, including religious knowledge and practice.
It includes denying the continuous existence of Jews for thousands of years until the present, claiming that the contemporary Jews are not the continuation of the People of the Book.
It includes calling one’s own non-Jewish group or religion to be the superior continuation of the Old People (Replacement Theology).
It includes seeing Jews as primarily instrumental to one’s own goals and visions and not as people in their own right.
It includes professing one’s love for Jews or Israel to demonstrate and “prove” that one’s a good person, and to whitewash one’s own Nation’s or Tradition’s violent past, a history of perpetrating genocide and war, instead of beginning to admit and disavow one’s own Nation’s historic aggression and atrocities.
It includes denial of one’s Nation’s perpetrator role by portraying oneself as fellow victims “like the Jews” (Japan).
It includes denying one’s specific responsibility to reject the persecutions of Jews by one’s predecessors by declaring one’s historic predecessors as “not really” their predecessors. (If the Crusaders hated and murdered Jews, they were not real Christians like me.) On the other hand, Judaism doesn’t acknowledge collective guilt for something one didn’t take part in, like for what one’s parents (or children) did.
Antisemitism includes denying the unique Jewish contributions to Monotheistic religions, Democracy and Science.
It includes holding Jews responsible for one’s own religious or political animosity and bigotry towards Jews (They killed Jesus).
Christian antisemitism led to genocide (Jews as symbol of evil, Satanic, blamed for the Black Plague and for killing Jesus, leading to pogroms, the Crusades, the Holocaust). Anti-Judaism and Replacement Theology too have long roots. As just noted above (Section Positive, Subsection Normal Protection and Normal Jews), Asia has traditionally much less antisemitism. Hatred of Jews (and Gays) was only recently introduced in Africa by Christian missionaries.
Muslim antisemitism was much milder (more like social and economic discrimination). But against Zionism, Muslim leaders and the masses are attempting genocide too (Iran most vocally). However, they are not racists because they would accept a Jew who converted to Islam as one of them. (For the Nazis, conversions did not count as they believed in inferior genes.) Unbeknownst to even many Muslims themselves, the Quran is pro-Zionistic, for Jewish rule in the Holy Land!
Religious antisemitism is harder to grasp by secular people from ditto countries or communities. But mind you, just the fact that you, your community or country has sworn off religion, doesn’t mean that historical antisemitism that it spread for centuries as part of its religion, now automatically has disappeared together with the old creed.
Supremacy and Traditional antisemitism (in areas where antisemitism is ages old, often without many Jews left – did they leave because of the virulent antisemitism or did antisemitism become virulent there because they didn’t know any actual Jews?) may look like Racism. Genocidal dreams dominate it. However, because there are Jews of every race and because one can become a Jew, Jews are not a race but rather a Nation – in whose culture religion plays an important part and whose reason d’être is rooted in that religion.
Economic antisemitism (BDS) is quite toothless but does spread around a lot of hatred. It may look like a part of Class Oppression (with the Left staying clear of Jews or Zionism). It may brotherly unite totally opposing groups in their rejection of Jews (the Far-Left and the Far-Right). Political antisemitism (Socialist, Communist and Fascist) may generate huge hatred and mass murder too.
Medical antisemitism produced setting Jews apart as a(n inferior) “race,” eugenics, having no trouble sterilizing them, experimenting on them.
Historical antisemitism tries to rewrite history as if modern Jews are not the continuation of the Old People. As if the Holocaust never happened (but ironically often also advocating an end to the Jews). Not speaking up against forgeries like the Protocols of Zion, which claims, without any proof or basis to it, that Jews essentially plot for world hegemony.
Ugly & Unfair
Antisemitism may be voiced or done to hurt Jews or to hurt their image.
Antisemitism often takes the form of an intolerant demand of Jews to “adjust” to Gentile society around them – or of religious Jews to fit secular society around them. (The reverse coercion would not be good either. Often, the surrounding majority is not aware of its dictatorial – and genocidal – demands. Instead, seek mutual respect. Mutual co-operation is so much better than one-directional obedience (also between children and parents, teachers, and subordinates and bosses).
Antisemitism includes justifying Jews’ hatred and the maligning of them. This includes making up and spreading false information or classical or new blood libels about Jews and/or Israel, to “justify” antisemitism.
This includes the idea that antisemitism can’t be so bad if great people adhered to it.
Antisemitism may or may not include threats to, calls for, preparations of or actual violence towards Jews and their safety. This includes forcing them to hide their Jewish identity or being fine with Jews not being safe.
Antisemitism may include actual or calls to violence against Jews, even murder, their possessions and/or communities, and legal discrimination especially hurting Jews. In times of economic hardship, when an uprising against the rulers becomes more likely, antisemitic pamphlets with libels and caricatures often will be issued, secretly financed by the powerful. It may range from sporadic till unremitting slandering of Jews, Judaism or Israel in the local, national (even some Israeli) and international press.
This includes warning Jews to be cautious not to irk Non-Jews.
Antisemitism includes holding Jews to higher standards than everyone else, not because you like them and believe in them but because you want to show how bad they are and justify your hatred for them.
You use double standards if furiously you condemn Israel for wrongs that in other countries don’t excite you, and even not stir you when in other or even similar countries (democracies) the situation is worse.
Examples are to single-out Israel for its capitalist economics or some Israelis being racist or sexist (as if that doesn’t happen in other States). (No self-respecting Gay activist would say that Gay men deserve to be oppressed as long as racism and other oppressions are still prevalent in the Gay community – “No Fats, Femmes, Asians, Olds” in personal ads.)
The opposite is done too. When Israel boasts its fair treatment of GLBTQs, it’s called “pink-washing,” hiding its problems behind selective advertisement. A brilliant tactic. Israel is so always in the wrong!
Antisemitism includes false equivalency aiming to equalizing antisemitism with what Jews supposedly do or did wrong and falsely accusing Jews of things that Non-Jews actually do or did (especially against Jews), trying to neutralize complaints from mistreated Jews and to deflect their own accountability (for antisemitic deeds), calling Jews genocidal Nazi child murderers, etc. (To commemorate Muslim Palestinians in a Holocaust memorial is antisemitic. Saying that Arabs are Semites and therefore cannot be antisemites is as silly as saying that men are a sex too so they can’t be sexist.)
Antisemitism sometimes seems to say what Judaism says – but it never really does:
- Judaism sets higher standards for Jews but not to oppress and reject them. The challenges should help them to accomplish more.
- Judaism call Jews chosen (every People should feel chosen) but this is always connected to taking or receiving more responsibility and not for claiming more privileges.
- Judaism forbids intermarriage but doesn’t do that because non-Jews would be inferior – perish the thought. Rather, it is for the preservation of the Jewish People and Non-Jews are welcome to join the Nation. This is very different from racist laws considering Jews inferior, punishing any intimacy between Jew and Non-Jew.
- Judaism teaches Jews that when possible, they should live in the Holy Land. That doesn’t at all lend saintliness to people who in the past of now want(ed) to expel the Jews from their countries.
- Judaism and the Jewish State have certain courtesies for “their own.” Every People and State have that. (If you’re not born in the US, you can’t become president there.) Jews and Israelis are attacked for this, although, compared to Western democracies, Judaism and Israel stand out in helping “the other.” (There is something disturbing and at the same time something priding about Jews who feel more empathy with non-Jewish victims of lack of peace in the Middle-East than with fellow Jews.)
Antisemitism may include a negative obsession with Jews or Israel, scapegoating them either to deflect one’s own blame or primarily to hurt Jews, holding them up as an example to intimidate other groups. It may include disproportionate criticism of or animosity towards Jews compared to how one treats Non-Jews and not standing up against this.
Antisemitism may include defending oneself against claims of being antisemitic by stressing that one is Jewish oneself or has close Jewish friends. It may include denial or trivializing of past or present antisemitism and of undying Gentile resistance against it and a refusal to educate oneself and other Non-Jews for solidarity with the Jews.
Antisemitism includes pressure on Jews to continuously disavow their loyalty towards other (groups of) Jews, including Israel and Zionism, as a precondition for accepting them as OK, as “not really Jewish.” Or saying or thinking that one dislikes Jews “but not you because we are friends.”
It includes accusing Jews of milking the Holocaust to their own undeserved advantages (or even of having made up or of having greatly exaggerated the whole thing), or claiming that Non-Jews’ suffering doesn’t count as much (to foster resentment against Jews). It includes believing that all Jews suffer(ed) a lot and therefore must be extra sensitive/insensitive, strong/weak, nice/unfriendly.
By calling anything one dislikes “a holocaust,” one diminishes the notoriousness of the Holocaust. But calling anything Israel does genocide or war crimes, one weakens the gravity of crimes against humanity.
Antisemitism includes blaming the victims by hating the Jews for one’s own antisemitism (and for that one feels nervous to be close to Jews) and for the “Jewish” accusation that (their) antisemitism is not OK,
Antisemitism includes making the lives of Jews harder by discrediting, threatening or outlawing traditional Jewish practices like free speech, circumcision, kosher food, religious or Jewish meeting and burial places, even under the clear pretense that one is not specifically targeting Jews. It includes using code words that mean Jew, like Rothschild, Moses.
In some countries, like the Netherlands, there is definitely antisemitism but it’s hidden and not obvious. This might sound like paradise to people from areas where there is blatant antisemitism or even state-ordered discrimination of Jews. Still, the stealth Jews’ hatred is confusing. One suddenly feels safe when arriving in Israel, never having felt unsafe at home. (How does a fish know what is water?) An example is, being the only Jew in the workplace, always standing up for anyone in trouble, but when s/he gets in trouble, no one lifts a finger or says a word. Are they antisemitic or just not used to the concept of solidarity? Are they aware they are abandoning their Jewish colleague? It’s hard to tell. (In those countries, to be upfront about one’s bigotry about Jews is not common.)
Make the Distinction
Antisemitism may include Jews who hate or demean other Jews, spread this negativity and accept responsibility for their solidarity with all people but at the expense of their first loyalty to the Jewish Nation. This includes justifying one’s antisemitism with “but I’m Jewish myself.”
However, one should make a distinction between people who may be targeted by antisemitism and those who do not run such a risk.
One should make a distinction between people who only got indoctrinated against Jews against their will but would like to be Jews’ Allies and those who actively use antisemitism with gusto.
One should make a distinction between unaware, petty, serious and murderous antisemitism (each of them destructive but not on the same scale): uneasiness around Jews is not the same as committing genocide of them but genocide of Jews does not negate animosity against them.
Prominently blaming and targeting powerless people (migrants) for their vocal antisemitism is often done while hiding the silent ongoing antisemitism by the more powerful autochthon population.
There is an important difference between the many people who, upon getting to know Jews or after learning the basics of antisemitism, immediately want to stand with the Jews, and those who will continue to justify or deny their passive (indifference) or active antisemitism.
Recurring expressions of antisemitism often take the form of: a wish to exterminate all Jews, delegitimization of the right to a State for Jews, full or partial denial of the Holocaust and the role of perpetrators, attempts to hurt Jews financially, hinder their religious observance (against kosher slaughter, supposedly for animal rights, against circumcision, supposedly for rights of the child), accusations of Jews dominating the media, the banks, politics and international politics, of inferior genes, mentalities and characters (race theories) and rejecting them as alien or subhuman.
At times, combined to political, belligerent, journalistic, economic, and legal warfare against Israel (supposedly to profit Muslim Palestinians).
Above, in passing, we mentioned Israel 30 times already but now follow many issues that primarily deal with the Jewish State.
Anti-Zionism as part of someone’s far-Left worldview does not mean that s/he’s antisemitic, as explained here and here. But normally, in people who are less Leftwing, anti-Zionism comes from and indicates antisemitism or misinformation by the antisemitic media – or both.
Same with some anti-Zionist dictators, who use(d) existing Jews’ hatred under their occupied populace to rile them up against Israel to distract them from throwing off their own yoke. Some of these tyrants seem ruthless antisemites but some seem not – “just” brutal despots.
We should not fall into the trap of showing how wonderful Israel is by listing all its inventiveness and humanitarianism as if its existence would need to be justified. It’s like a child trying to explain to her parents why she is worthy of love. Every child is. Every Nation deserves a Homeland.
The news from and about Israel’s often distorted in an unflattering (and untrue) way for Israeli Jew. (So much for Jews controlling the media!) The journalists may have integrity but the bureau chiefs unvaryingly would give their words unredeemable twists. Attacks on Israel and Israelis and Israel’s need to protect itself are then ignored so that Israel’s responses to attacks look unfitting, beleaguering, heavy-handed, revengeful. (The avengers with their wrathful old-testament god stroke again.) Regional culture justifies making your own variations on the truth to express your feelings and wishes which it does not really consider lying. And so, people in and around Israel lie in interviews the biggest lies poker-faced, moving you to tears (or rage) with total fabrications.
Other false-news tricks are moral equivalency (two Peoples fighting for one Land) without distinguishing between aggressor and victim, and impersonal causes: hostilities and wars do not “erupt,” always exonerating the anti-Zionist side. Last but not least are the euphemisms, calling terrorists that target civilians “freedom fighters.”
(Another trick is to distort history, for example by claiming that Israel took 73% of British Palestine while the whole of Eastern Palestine, 73%, went to a newly created country and kingdom, Jordan; or that Israel “occupied” the West Bank while in reality it liberated it from unrecognized Jordanian occupation which no one protested.)
Fake Allies of Gentile Palestinians often claim to be really concerned for them – though they often have no interest in any other People in the crosshairs – and not seldom hold and profess virulent antisemitic beliefs. There are also “allies” with Israel who are actually not so interested in the Jewish State but they believe that Israel is a partner against Islam and therefore they “love” us. We both deserve better Allies, I’d say.
And it is important not to give food to the fake contradiction between Jewish and Muslim needs.
It is also important to distinguish between virulently antisemitic leaders and their population, that largely consists of powerless individuals whose antisemitism varies from person to person.
Antisemitism is criticizing Israel as if it can’t be ethical because it would lack a vibrant democracy or its majority could not be trusted morally. Besides a diverse and powerful parliament and press, Israel has a record number of political activists of every persuasion and conviction. Its High Court of Justice is well-known for championing human rights, way beyond any government’s wishes.
It is antisemitic, arrogant and imperialistic to try influence Israeli politics from outside of Israel, either by entering Israel and muddling in its affairs or by buying political influence by sending money to its political activists.
Antisemites often expect and demand from Jews and Israel to be exactly as Non-Jews and just like any other State. (Their ideas about Jews and Israel are often merely superficial clichés.) Some things happen to be quite unique about Jews (- a rare People with a defining Calling. If we’d discard our Mission, Jews would not need to go on as a separate Nation). Irritation or hatred about Jews’ uniqueness can be part of antisemitism.
Many things in Jews and in Israel are the completely the opposite from other Nations and States. This “breaking of the rules” can surprise but also annoy. Jews are not a regular People that strives for world dominance, only to disappear from the world’s stage after a few decades or centuries. In Israel, rich and military hotshots are Leftwing, most Workers are Rightwing (go figure). In most democracies, most people seem to vote with their wallet (for what they think should give them more money) but in Israel, most people seem to vote for what they think will give them more safety. In Israel hospitals, total equality and peace prevail between Muslims and Jews, for physicians, nurses and patients.
Antisemitism includes seeing Jews as equal to all other groups of people, denying the task that Jews have gotten and fulfilled to humbly teach all people. It is brazen to treat your parents and teachers and elders as your equals without their permission. Also, Jews often long for not being seen as Jewish, not because there is anything wrong or bad about being a Jew but because they’re treated or seen as less than fully human and targeted as Jews.
Antisemitism includes denying Jews what is the right in every Nation (Jews are a Nation, not a Race): to have its own homeland. Because of this denial, Israel is called intrinsically nationalistic, imperialistic, colonialist, racist. To like Jews but not Zionists is like liking women but not feminists. To deny Jews the right to national self-determination is like not allowing women to decide about their own lives.
Antisemitism includes counting Jews as a Race and not a unique Nation – though somehow seeing converts to or from Judaism as also belonging to that “Race,” which gives away that one doesn’t see Jews as a Race – and then equating Zionism and Racism.
It includes questioning the validity of the Jewish People or their right to their own State while one allows for all other Nations to have a historic homeland. (Antisemitic criticism of Israel often shows itself in denying Jews a right to their own State.)
It includes seeing Atheistic or less-religious Jews as less or not-Jewish, as if Jews are only a faith or religious group.
Words and Terms
Not only can subtleties reveal deep bigotry – as we mentioned in the Introduction – spotting the use of wrong words can also explain confusions that can be taken away by using proper words. Examples:
The problems in Israel are not between Jews and Arabs. More than half the Jews in Israel are Arab. More than half the Arabs in Israel are Jewish.
It’s also not Palestinians vs. Jews or Israelis. All Jews are Palestinian and 25% of Israelis are not Jewish.
The conflict is much clarified when you see that it’s Muslim Palestinians vs. Jewish Palestinians, the former having to conquer their antisemitism, the latter not their racism because most of them are Arabic too.
Or, Israeli Jews vs. Jordanian Muslims, the issues being nationalistic and antisemitic, without racism.
Or, Western vs. Arab Israelis, where the former need to conquer their racism.
A woman who hates a man for his sexism is not a ‘reversed sexist;’ a Jew who hates a Gentile is not a ‘reversed antisemite.’
Better than saying that antisemitism targets Jews “just because they are Jews” is saying that antisemitism is able to targets Jews just because Gentiles are conditioned against Jews and too many are passive when faced with it. There is nothing wrong with being Jewish. The “just because they are Jews” is an attempt to declare our innocence but it still focuses too much on the Jews and if antisemitism is their challenge, problem and a burden. In fact, the main liability about being Jewish is located among the (potential) allies of Jews, the Non-Jews.
Antisemitism includes being irritated by Jews, especially with their sense of humor, ability to argue at length or write long pieces on antisemitism.