The future is pride

I am 34 years old and I have never seen such intense and frightening antisemitism in my entire life as I see today. This current cycle of dangerous and deadly Jew-hatred has led me to realise that the Jewish People are at a profound crossroad.

For generations, we have been led down the garden path. We have been told, ‘if you change [insert X fundamental aspect of Jewish identity] then we will accept you.’ In turn, we have warped and changed our identities, begging to be accepted.

The one question I have for you is: have these efforts ever truly worked?

The answer is no.

History has shown us time and time again that we are stuck in a toxic relationship with the non-Jewish world, and this has to end.

In spite of our constant efforts to become palatable to the non-Jewish world, they continue to reject, abuse and murder us. We are cast in the role of whatever they fear most, and we are demonised from all sources. The Right hates us because we aren’t white; the Left hates us because we are white, and both hate us because they see us as representative of the worst evils of humanity. Just last week, US Representative for Georgia’s 14th congressional district Marjorie Taylor Greene stated that Jewish space lasers were behind the 2018 California forest fires.

Our community remembers our dead and we commemorate some of the crimes committed against us, but we do not discuss the incredible psychological toll anti-Jewish racism takes on us all.

Jewish Pride is the movement that will allow us to process the shame and trauma we have all experienced, both personally and collectively, while simultaneously empowering Jews all over the world to redefine and re-embrace Jewish identity based on an authentic understanding of what it means to be a Jew.

We must create a sustainable and multigenerational Jewish Pride movement that guards against the evils of internalised antisemitism and acts as a buffer against the pressures of assimilation. We must raise our children to feel proud of their Jewishness, to understand the innate right they possess to advocate for themselves and to be proud of themselves. This is not a call for segregation. Rather, it is a call to integrate – not assimilate – with the Diaspora, but as proud Jews, not a people begging to be accepted.

No community should ever be treated the way the Jews have been – and still are – treated. But as frustrating as it may be, we clearly cannot stop the non-Jewish world from hating us. We cannot control how they see us, and we cannot force them to stop superimposing their worst fears on to us. Antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. But there is something that we can control: We can control how we see ourselves.

We have the power to turn inwards and create an inspiring and empowering Jewish Pride movement that does not seek approval from outside sources to gain self-esteem.

We have the power to reject the shame of antisemitism as well as non-Jewish definitions of what it means to be a Jew. And we have the power to redefine our identity based on Jewish history, Jewish tradition and Jewish experience.

Am Yisrael Chai – the Jewish People live.

About the Author
Ben M. Freeman is a Scottish Jewish author and educator. His first book, Jewish Pride: Rebuilding a People, was released on 15 February by new British publishers, No Pasaran Media.