Jewsplaining: The term for what we Jews should think

Readers may be familiar with the term “mansplaining”, wherein men seek to explain to women just what it is about the world they don’t understand — pretty much anything that emanates from Donald Trump appears to be mansplaining.

I wonder if we can agree on the expression “Jewsplaining”, in which non-Jews prescriptively tell Jews what they should think, learn, or feel about themselves and their community.

I was forcibly reminded of Jewsplaining this week in two instances: the now notorious UNESCO vote (which apparently wasn’t a UNESCO vote at all, but a vote by governments) about the non-link between Judaism and the holy places in Jerusalem; and some of the responses to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s inquiry on anti-Semitism.

Let’s examine the UNESCO farrago first, in which just six countries voted against, including the UK, and a shocking 26 abstained, allowing the 24 countries voting in favour to carry the day. 

The resolution disregards Judaism’s historic connection to Temple Mount and casts doubt on the link between Judaism and the Western Wall.

Abstention, I was taught in debate classes, is a solution when it has proved impossible to make up one’s mind one way or the other. But this was about as factual a situation as it gets: is there, or is there not, a direct link, stretching back centuries, embodied in Jewish literature, between Jews and the Temple Mount?

Those who abstained are as much signed up to a lie as those who voted in favour. But now we are witnessing a flurry of Jewsplaining as those who “didn’t mean to offend” are desperately back-pedalling. Too late: you called it wrong.

The highlight, for me, of the Commons’ Select Committee’s inquiry on anti-Semitism was the conclusion that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn simply does not get all the furore about anti-Semitism. I have been saying this for months, that Corbyn, viscerally, thinks all the fuss about anti-Semitism is just that, a fuss; so it was a delight to read the Select Committee’s belief that “despite his proud record on fighting racism, the committee is not persuaded that Mr Corbyn fully appreciates the distinct nature of contemporary anti-Semitism, and the fact that it is perfectly possible for an ‘anti-racist campaigner’ to express anti-Semitic views”.

In response, Corbyn perfectly illustrated this conclusion by issuing a long, whining and self-justifying Jewsplanation. He spoke at the 80th anniversary of Cable Street, you know. Oh, you didn’t know? How could you have missed it?

He then brought out the response du jour on anti-Semitism. “Politicising anti-Semitism – or using it as a weapon in controversies between and within political parties – does the struggle against it a disservice.” Ah, the source of “weaponising,” another fave anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic word. How foolish of we Jews not to understand that Corbyn’s Jewsplanation knows better.

About the Author
Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist.
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