How is it possible to loathe an entire people?
I’ve pondered this question each time I encounter anti-Semitism on Facebook—which is every day, given the fact that I unofficially monitor a number of selected pages for hate speech. The reasons behind such behavior are myriad, and individuals may differ in the ways they express themselves … but I have noticed a commonality among them when it comes to their beliefs. In an effort to condense their sentiments into a compact form while giving me an outline for comparison, I’ve developed a list of the Top 10 anti-Semitic myths that they perpetuate in comments, posts, memes and video. For the most part, this content adheres to the old, vile canards espoused by people who have despised my religion throughout the centuries, with a couple of new exceptions. If I’ve missed any, please let me know; I’d be interested in knowing what else is out there.
10) The blood libel is real. You wouldn’t believe this medieval smear—which in part concerns the supposed Jewish practice of murdering children and using their blood to make matzo—still holds water among certain groups, but it does. Video and commentary supporting this outrageous, disturbing fiction appear every so often on the pages I review, and the recent allegations that Israelis harvest organs from Palestinians have bolstered such thinking.
9) Adolf Hitler didn’t want to murder Jews. The idea that the 20th century’s most villainous personality somehow only sought to improve Germany after World War I by curbing the most harmful commercial interests without pursuing the destruction of Jews is prevalent on Facebook—and is the kind of revisionist ideology that bleeds anti-Semitism. Surprisingly, this bizarre love of Hitler isn’t just shared by disturbed neo-Nazis; it’s advocated by individuals of various ethnicities, suggesting a dearth of education about the Holocaust in the world today.
8) There was no Holocaust. Despite the wealth of evidence (including eyewitness testimony, film and the Nazis’ own records) contradicting Holocaust-deniers’ claims, they continue to spout misconceptions about this singularly horrific event while questioning details ranging from the idea that gas chambers in the concentration camps didn’t exist to the belief that only a couple of hundred thousand Jews died during the period—and that was because they were stricken with typhus in the labor camps or were bombed by Allied planes. Inquiry, in these cases, is tailor-made to discredit actual facts, perpetuating a sophistry that informs proponents’ distressingly ignorant theories.
7) The Protocols of the Elders of Zion tells the truth. One of the world’s most notoriously anti-Semitic tracts, proven long ago to be a hoax, is gathering steam these days among the Holocaust-denier community as a document that exposes the Jews’ alleged plans to take over the world. This phenomenon speaks not only to educational deficiencies concerning Judaism and its tenets, but also to an unfounded skepticism that the new breed of haters has cultivated—which manifests itself into a distrust of any authority and the notion that Jews pull the strings.
6) Jews control the media. How can one believe what one reads when such content is developed and disseminated by the Judaic minority? That is what many anti-Semites espouse on their Facebook pages, pointing to an irrational cynicism about the media that’s founded in a hatred of Jews. Their own distrust of content from major news outlets points more to credulity than reasonable doubt.
5) No Jews died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A particularly offensive canard is this one, which is not only false but also highly anti-Semitic, as it connotes the Jews’ knowledge of the plot beforehand—something that, of course, was their own idea, according to adherents of this conspiracy theory. Facts don’t matter here; what does is a tenacious grip on the unreality of belief and a desire to support an idea that bolsters one’s own hate.
4) The Khazars were the true ancestors of the Jews. This strange theory has come to the fore in recent years as a way to discredit Israelis’ ownership of their country, as one of its central tenets is the notion that the Khazars, a centuries-old Eastern European group, converted to Judaism and have no claim to Israeli land, owing to their lack of Middle Eastern heritage. Proponents of this conjecture also maintain that Jews are not Semites—that they’re invaders rather than the true residents of Israel, an idea that brings up connotations of the “wandering Jew”: that homeless, ever-nomadic interloper who seeks to infest and destroy civilized states. Here, there is no diaspora, because the Jews supposedly didn’t come from Israel in the first place. They do not belong.
3) Killing gentiles is every Jew’s dream. It’s hard to imagine how such an insidious belief can be supported, yet this idea is highly popular on the anti-Semitic set, which uses the Talmud as its purported foundation. It’s basically a crutch, a specious argument used to justify hatred against Jews, as well as chastise other groups for supporting the Judaic and/or Israeli cause. Again: Myth, not fact, governs the thought process here.
2) Hooked noses, unsightly beards and shifty eyes are Jewish attributes. There’s a cartoon image going around on Facebook that promotes this ancient, exaggerated stereotype of Jews; it’s of a supposedly Jewish male, crouching, back bent, grinning malevolently while rubbing his hands. Memes are used to disseminate this picture, which is oft-used by anti-Semites on Facebook to comment on posts condemning or referring to Jewish and/or Israeli activity. That no one looks like this in real life is not important to these individuals—their motivation is to feel better about themselves while condemning (and often laughing at) a population. Of course, fear of Jews and Jewish influence is the basis for all of this.
1) Jews are greedy, money-grubbing, usurious thieves. One of the oldest and most harmful accusations about Jews stems from the connection to money and a hatred of Jewish success. It’s a generalization, and a horrid one: Jews come in all shapes and sizes, both rich and poor, and attacking a people for its assumed financial malfeasance is frighteningly hateful. Such a belief offers an excuse to stem their activities, and it’s been used throughout the centuries to justify everything from expulsion to murder. Sadly, this myth is still simmering, and there’s always the possibility that it could boil over. To counter it, we need to provide as much education about our culture as possible, through a variety of media. We must have faith that such a strategy will work. If we don’t, anti-Semitism will take a greater hold.