Brandy Shufutinsky

The Intersectionality of anti-Blackness & Antisemitism

For decades the parallels in experiences between Black Americans and the Jewish people were obvious and easily drawn. Both peoples were small in number but large in influence. Both despised without cause, yet able to withstand bigotry that targeted them for enslavement and annihilation. Both able to hold on to time honored traditions that many tried to erase. Unfortunately, there are circumstances and forces that have, at times successfully, minimized these common connections between two peoples. And at times, these forces have come from within both communities.

As a Black Jewish American woman I have, like many other Black Jewish people, straddled both communities. Political liberals cannot understand how a Black woman can be a Zionist and some Zionists do not comprehend how a proud Jewish woman can be politically liberal. I’ve tried to explain that the belief in a nation of people’s right to self-determination in their indigenous homeland is a liberal belief. It’s one of the most obvious cases of liberation – culturally, spiritually, and politically. Those who have successfully painted Zionism as a racist movement have done so because either we have failed to properly explain Zionism or they have failed to listen. We’ve allowed the word to be hijacked by those who seek our destruction.

In the United States there has been an overwhelming push for Black Americans to embrace policies that are actively destroying our heritage and our communities. I don’t know if it’s out of ignorance or malice that ideologues push policies like defund the police ignoring that a majority of Black Americans want the same level or an increase in policing in their communities, or equity of outcomes as an excuse to deconstruct educational programs that have provided opportunity of access to millions of Black Americans. What I do know is that policies like these have made generations of Black Americans be dependent on others, making it nearly impossible to break the cycle of poverty and dependence. The fight against things like school choice is being led by the privileged and the platformed, teacher unions- at a time when Black American support for school choice is at an all-time high.

And while the situation for Jews in America has gotten increasingly worse, the systemic antisemitism seen out of institutions like the United Nations is what worries me regarding long-term Jewish survival. Just today I read a news story stating that the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA)First Committee took the time to target Israel, once again, insisting that the Jewish state rid itself of nuclear weapons and allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to control its nuclear sites. Never mind the hypocrisy of the UN cozying up to murderous dictatorial regimes, but take the time to target the region’s only democracy, Israel – the fact that an international body is so blatant in their desire that the Jewish state be unable to defend herself is at the heart of contemporary international antisemitism. They desire that the Jews be once-again, unable to defend Jews around the world, that the Jews be at the mercy of non-Jewish nation-states and organizations… that is what the UN wants, a weak Jew. Fortunately for us, we not only state, but act accordingly to protect our nation of people – when we say never again, we mean it.

The parallels between two peoples who strive to be independent in a world that would love for us to serve at the whim of those who seek to destroy us should be enough for us to unite. Because what is more liberating than radical independence?

About the Author
Brandy Shufutinsky is a social worker, writer, researcher, and advocate. She holds a Doctorate in Education from the University of San Francisco in International and Multicultural Education and her MSW from the University of Southern California. Brandy has worked towards advancing the rights of victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault within the military community through practice, education, and research. Currently she is working towards developing intercultural and academic opportunities to enhance liberal democratic ideals.
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