There are a variety of reasons for my writing about anti-Semitism as a non-Jew. The anniversary of the Shoah seemed an appropriate time to reflect on what these reasons could be. My own reasons for writing on this subject are simple and more complex. Simple, because it’s the right thing to do, and complex because there are a number of reasons for this. This blog post is my way of laying out these reasons.
First, I write about anti-Semitism because I believe it is right to do so. Today, with the fashion for deconstructing traditional beliefs and morality and reconstructing them around an ideological framework, this approach is now seen as woefully simplistic, lacking in nuance and thus moral seriousness. In this, I’m afraid I’m old fashioned. Some things are wrong, and some are right. It is wrong that a tiny minority (c. 290,000-370,000 people) should be subject to the attacks that anti-Semitism symbolises, after everything that has happened in Europe. It is wrong that British Jews are accused of the things they’re accused of. It is right to defend this minority from these attacks. The act of doing this is a reminder that this old hatred needs to be countered at any time and any place, and I view it as a responsibility to do so.
Second, writing on this subject unmasks the true nature of the three prongs of Maajid Nawaz’s “triple-threat”: Far-Right, Far-Left and Islamist. The need these groups have for the apocalyptic revolution requires the demonic Jew to be all the anti-Jewish tropes there can be to give their causes legitimacy. Without it, they lack a key driving force to push forward with the ideologies that have them possessed. The use of the all-powerful Jew speaks to both the need to have an enemy against which to define oneself in the cosmic struggle, as well as an excuse for when things inevitably go wrong. For the conspiratorial ideologue, Jews serve as a psychological crutch. They provide a club and a support: a source of motivation and a reason to duck responsibility for one’s own manifest failings. Tackling these delusions poses a threat to these fantasies, which while poisonous are seen as a strength by those who hold them. They would rather fight those who threaten the removal of the fantasy rather than dealing with reality.
Third, these groups also hate me for what I am. I thus have sympathy with Jews when they point out what is wrong when these groups spout ideological poison that threatens both Jews and myself. Having my disability means I have fewer layers between me and forces that wish me ill. This is the same for Jews. This point of similarity leads to my hackles rising when anti-Semitism and collectivist identity politics rises. In the end, we both stand to be sacrificed for the good of the cause. Neither Jews nor disabled people were shown mercy by the Nazis. As Rabbi Lord Sacks has said, the hatred may start with Jews, but it doesn’t end with Jews. Saying this is not my attempt to lessen the reality of the threats Jews have faced and still face. It is simply a way of saying that I can relate to where Jews are coming from when they speak up in fear of what they can see happening again. One could say that the empathy springs from both a sense of shared historical tragedy and present mutual concern. As is clear from trends in Europe, the threat to Jews in Britain is not a matter to be brushed away.
First, the Islamist threat. The Islamist lust for the End-Times gained from a long tradition, combined with their hatred of Israel, is the driver behind their anti-Jewish hatred. Jews are the main enemy during the End-Times, standing in the way of final victory over Shaitan, and must be eliminated before the final battle. Anything that gets in the way of this goal is, therefore, an accessory to evil. According to the Islamists, even the rocks and trees will cry out that there is a Jew behind them, calling the soldiers of God to kill them. The Islamists hate me for not being Muslim, for being an infidel who worships a mere prophet, who will not submit to their religion or to their tyranny. Any chance at engagement with what they believe is severely restricted by their recourse to violence. In some sense, the Islamists are extreme egalitarians: they don’t care if you’re in a wheelchair or not, if you’re not their kind of Muslim, you still get the bullet. The families of the disabled Bataclan concertgoers can attest to this.
When the Far-Right chants the mantra of Jewish influence and villainy all over again, red flags are raised. To today’s Far-Right, Jews are seen as threats to the survival of the white race, encouraging non-white immigration to swamp white nations in an act of white genocide. Meanwhile, Jews control the culture, using it to enervate the white population, sapping their will to fight and avert their racial extinction. These are the same tropes used before WWII, updated for the digital age. The demagogic term ‘Cultural Marxism’, a sloppy catch-all describing what is wrong with today’s culture, is the entrance to a rabbit-hole that ends up with the Jew. The Far-Right, the most familiar source of anti-Jewish animosity, also hates me for my existence. I am disabled, so I am a pollutant in the racial bloodstream. I am the living embodiment of the degeneration of the white race, the sign of a loss of racial vitality and a degraded culture that prizes weakness over strength, kindness over conflict or racial survival. The answer to this problem is drawn from the long litany of measures used in the past; mass sterilisation, mass abortion and so on. We all know where this path leads: the lethal injection, the gas chambers. 300,000 disabled people were killed in World War II. The arguments from the Alt-Right about racial and intelligence hierarchies allied to their cultural nihilism is a dangerously potent brew that can have disastrous consequences. This is all dressed up in revolutionary rhetoric that gives voice to their need to feel themselves playing the role of the vanguard leading the masses towards a brighter (and whiter) tomorrow. When this pathological and racially pessimistic worldview is married to a cultural pessimism that calls to start the world anew, both Jews and disabled people should take notice.
The hatred of Jews never tires of snaring people. Carl Jung said that people don’t have ideas, but ideas have people. The idea of anti-Semitism, infinite in its flexibility, never seems to fail to lie in wait for the most unsuspecting carrier. The Far-Left is similarly devoid of a view of the sacred individual. Jews are a problem that refuses to fit into their victim hierarchy. Those on the Far-Left who proclaim their commitment to fighting racism and bigotry, a noble aim, seem particularly vulnerable to the siren call of this oldest enmity. Perhaps it’s a way of venting the repressed part of themselves, the darkness that inhabits each of us that must be dealt with lest it consume us. The shadow of anti-racism now appears to be anti-Semitism. The need to construct an opposing group, a force resisting one’s efforts to rid the world of evil, seems to grip every human heart in its vice-like grip. In the case of those who are most invested in identity group politics and the fight against structural racism, where racism is now defined as “power + privilege”, this need is now met by the Jew, recast as the Zionist. This is a creation that satisfies all the worst impulses of social justice seekers’ needs while allowing them to feel the sweet sting of virtue as it courses through them.
The solution to the problem of where Jews fit into the oppression hierarchy, and their apparent monopoly on the Left’s definition of victimhood, is to exclude them from it. For the Far-Left, Claims of victimisation are zero-sum, and Jews apparently take too much. It is not a competition for who is the most oppressed or victimised. The human suffering and distress caused by the rising tide of anti-Semitic abuse does not need dead Jews to justify claims to victimisation. As if that could ever be a legitimate justification. This claim from identity groups that Jews aren’t oppressed because they’re not being killed is implied in the argument put forward by anti-Zionist activist Jackie Walker, who asked “When I look at the Jewish community I see a community of relative privilege and power. How do you think that makes me feel? It makes me feel like shit.” She continued, “That [black] guy three weeks ago died in police custody. When did the last Jewish person die in police custody?” The fact that this is even considered an argument is worrying. It seems death is what Jewish oppression really is. Walker’s sentiment was answered in Pittsburgh. Haven’t we been here before? As Jackie Walker says to Gold, “Presenting anti-Semitism as the almost total focus of racism in this country in the last two years is feeding into antiblack racism and Islamophobia. Why aren’t you concerned about that? … What I perceive is that a minority with a lot more voice than blacks or Muslims have have taken up all the space.” It seems that in order to support groups that the Far-Left believes are victimised, Jews’ recourse to claims of victimisation must be excised from our cultural conversation. Even if their claims are legitimate.
The reconstruction of anti-Jewish bigotry under the guise of compassion for the oppressed is directed at the forces of Zionism and its adherents, Zionists, who are really Jews who don’t meekly bow before Far-Left pieties. Jews overwhelmingly support the existence of Israel, so are by definition Zionists. Zionists are commonly held to be imperialistic warmongers who, in the most hallucinatory recesses of these arguments, are held to be as evil as the Nazis. Portraying Jews as Nazis lifts the burden of moral culpability from the shoulders of those on the Far-Left who are now free to engage in the same old hatred. Israel serves as a national representation of everything wrong with the world for the anti-imperialist Far-Left, onto which it projects its own ideological narratives.
The Far-Left, like the two previous factions, also hates those like me who speak out against this worldview that holds people as simply representatives of their group. I’m not performing my role as victim correctly. I have internalised the rampant ‘ableism’ in modern society, becoming a self-hating disabled person, alone with the pangs of discomfort of the disability without the option of relieving this through the membership of the group. Any digression from the narrative is heresy, the only solution exile. Jews are increasingly seen as heretics from the Far-Left narrative for what they are, having to prove through atonement that they are “good people”. This applies to Jews and to those like me who dissent from the role we’re expected to play.
The anniversary of the catastrophe of the Holocaust is a time to remember the horror of what happened. It is also a time to reconcile oneself to the fact that something like this could happen again. The human heart’s capacity for evil is matched only by its capacity for good, and it’s a constant battle to ensure the good wins. This scales from the individual to the societal level. I can write, and think that using this ability to call out anti-Jewish bigotry from each prong of today’s triple-threat is my responsibility, born of empathy that stems from a sense of shared sorrow. While this is only a small part of the solution, and government and civil organisation also play a role, we all as individuals need to stand against this hatred in our own way. That is the only way to ensure that we really can say “Never Again,” and mean it.