Speaking Over the Jewish Community

An upcoming political event regarding discussing anti-Semitism is hosted by four controversial members, only one of which is Jewish and all of whom have a controversial if not negative history on Israel. The public typically expects social justice and social issue panels surrounding a certain community to be represented by that very same community appropriately. Unfortunately, this event is far from that, instead, this event seems to be a proactive and defense cover-up scheme to the four members and their past on Israel issues that hit home to the Jewish community. With progressive or left-leaning activists, there always is an easy path to calling our issues on the other side of the aisle, in the case of “dismantling anti-Semitism” this is no exception to the rule, scoring political points and deflecting criticism is the spirit of such events.

Jewish Voice for Peace (Dismantling Antisemitism, Winning Justice)

Often I have observed from my lens that within the Arab community there is little understanding of the Jewish community and Judaism as a whole. In the West Holocaust, education may be present but in limited amounts, and the Middle East holocaust denial in the media and society is anything but condemned. The blend between ignorance on a community, their identity and their history and a blend of divisive politics relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has only cooked the best combination for deep-rooted anti-Semitism in the Arab community. From the expulsions of the Mizrahi and Sephardi Jews from Arab nations to the tune of 850,000 people to the anti-Semitic double standards at the United Nations by Arab nations, the media’s coverage from bias to anti-Semitic cartoons and many more failure to address this issue eternally one can say that the Arab world has an Anti-Semitism crisis. Now by no means are all Arabs or people who hail from “Arab Nations” hold anti-Semitic tropes, but many do and the problem is they don’t know or think they do, and rather they believe they are embarking on a path of justice and equality through unconditional hate for a specific nation and its peoples, Israel. I believe Politician is as Rashida Tlaib may be a symptom of that environment and is not in herself a problem but a loud symptom of it from her hard criticism of Israel and all the failures she has to address the Jewish community with respect. I would remind you that she is Palestinian with a whole other dynamic within this bubble but look no further than her Minnesota-based colleague Ilhan Omar to see the intersectionality between the Politicians and the communities. I very much believe in these communities having a voice and a face hailing from their backgrounds but the divisive rhetoric has to be kept at bay or problems will arise such as this panel.

When it comes to the panel members, Rashida Tlaib starts the event with a shocker, someone who can instead serve as a perfect example of what not to do when approaching the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without being anti-Semitic. Someone who has failed to mention Jewish people in her Twitter feed regarding the holocaust and who brings a load of divisive rhetoric isolating the Jewish community. On the other hand, Mark Lemont Hill is someone that I see who panders to the populations behind and within Rashida Tlaib’s community, recycling an old phrase; “free Palestine from the river to the sea”. What may not be known to Mark Lemont Hill as someone who does not share any intellectual connection to the Middle East is that phrase is a chant of war and destruction against Israel and the Jewish population, rather he sees it as a chant for social justice, yet war and destruction do not seem to be the answer anywhere else. Ultimately, my view during my transition on this conflict is that war and violence bring the Palestinian population to the worst place it can be. Someone who is advocating violence should not have a voice for the Palestinian cause, simply someone who has their interest against a person masking it for the interest of other peoples. This takes us to the toxic binary structure of this very conflict that encourages one to think to be supportive of the Palestinian people you must be against Israel’s right to exist, which is far from reality.

On the correction lens, I believe for any community and their cause members who hold personal experience and membership within a community must be present to defend their community and identities integrity on an issue that affects them directly. In the case of a panel on dismantling anti-Semitism, it would be better to have a majority of the members not only not have a controversial if not downright terrible history on the record, but rather be a member of the Jewish community that may be empowering to their Jewish constituents. Events with those who cross lines and who do not have a tone sensitivity to the community they supposedly are representing are a failure and if anything is counterproductive in shielding anti-Semitism when it comes from left-leaning circles. Often it is much easier to call out Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, or other forms of hate when it comes from a different or opposite side of the political aisle to earn the social upper ground. The conclusion of such a battle is never true education, reconciliation, and progress on the social issue; rather it wins a political battle between two entities that may not have true intentions to care for the relevant populations.

A better future to prevail past such terrible events and attacks on a community is to be able to further the campaign of identifying anti-Semitism to fight it. This of course if the IHRA definition campaign being spread around Parliaments, College Campuses, and other organizations around the world to ensure one of the oldest forms of hate in the world may be identified to truly be “dismantled”. When definitions are not out there and there is too much of a blur of debate to be had on vital issues surrounding the Jewish communities, non-Jewish political figures especially those from other minority communities may prevail when speaking over the Jewish community in their agenda most likely regarding Israel bashing.

About the Author
Walid Tamtam was born in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, growing up hailing from a Moroccan background in schools, mosques, and other familiar social environments, anti-semitism seemed to be acceptable if not encouraged. Since two years ago Walid, broke out of his echo chambers to tell the full story and break down the polarization of these communities and act as a bridge to bring people together.
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