Structural Racism is real. Most Americans of good faith and some intelligence understand that after four centuries of slavery, Jim Crow, segregation and anti-Black racism, there are lasting social and cultural effects that persist despite the profound changes we have made to end the formal structures of racism. Implicit biases and unconscious personal prejudices that manifest in social systems are the real and lasting effects of historic racism.
If four centuries of anti-Black racism can produce a society that is formally equal but still operates with implicit bias against Black people, I ask you this question:
How much more so the 2,000 years of anti-Jewish laws, religion, ideology, and violence that have been the foundation of Western Civilization?
How much more so the 1,300 years of anti-Jewish Islamic laws, teachings, and violence since the founding of Islam?
The subservient and debased role of Jews in both Christian and Muslim societies for 20 centuries ABSOLUTELY affects how modern Western and Middle Eastern nations think about Jews and the Jewish State. It ABSOLUTELY affects the role Jews and Israel play in the Western and Muslim psyches.
Both Christianity and Islam stem from Judaism and were rejected by Jews from the outset. The necessity of differentiating from and demonizing Jews has thus been present from the very foundation of these two world religions-civilizations. It continues in their obsession with Jews and Israel out of all proportion to our actual numbers or significance. These conscious and unconscious prejudices about Jews and Israel, baked into Western and Islamic civilization, have a profound impact.
Because the two most influential civilizations on the planet are obsessed with Jews, antisemitism has become the systemic prejudice at the heart of the world.
In addition to this historic and systemic legacy of anti-Jewishness is state-sponsored antisemitism, both secular and religious, that has spread across the world like a virus for the past century. First by Czarist Russia, then Nazi Germany, the Communist Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and until recently all Arab states.
This unending global pandemic of antisemitism has infected BILLIONS of people. It has infected every international body starting with the UN, most governments, and the international media. How else to explain why the New York Times, Associated Press, and Reuters all employ known Hamas terrorists as ‘journalists’ and share Hamas propaganda as if it were legitimately sourced – which is then imbibed and believed by millions of people raised to be at risk for that particular viral infection. It is a function of systemic, implicit antisemitism, built on two millennia of prejudice.
Yet across the world the very existence of antisemitism is constantly denied, unless it comes wearing a swastika arm band. Many people, on both the Left and Right, believe the very word ‘antisemitism’ is just a rhetorical weapon used by Jews to delegitimize their criticism of Israel.
Numerous times I have attempted to address issues of Left-wing antisemitism with university administrators or local politicians, even other Jewish leaders, only to be met with blank stares. The entire idea literally does not compute for them.
They don’t grasp what should be obvious – that the old hateful anti-Jewish tropes have been reborn in altered forms. Blood libels, greediness, our secret control of events and nations – these ancient tropes of anti-Jewish hate can all be found today applied to both Jews in general and to Israel, the “Jew Among Nations.” They are voiced by those on the far Left and far Right and accepted, tacitly or unconsciously, by most everyone else.
This is possible for the same reason many people can’t see the anti-Black racism in daily life that Black folks understand in their bones. When prejudice has been a core element of a civilization since its founding, it lurks there always. It can only be overcome by naming and confronting it, no matter how difficult.
Antisemitism, Jew-hatred, anti-Zionism – whatever you want to call it – is no longer just lurking. It is the systemic prejudice at the heart of world events. We must name it and confront it at every level, no matter how difficult or how long it takes.