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Anti-Jewish Oppression - The Emperor's New Clothes


Why are you writing about antisemitism? Won’t it add to the real fear that we’re not safe here in Britain? You don’t really believe that do you?


No, I don’t but I am worried. I do feel safe, mostly. I don’t want to follow others into taking off my Jewish symbols of identity. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with fear.


But you are safe.

I know, I think. The other night I dreamt Anthony was kidnapped. I couldn’t get him his medicine. They wouldn’t let me.


I know.


And, I can’t stop thinking of the boys’ faces from the Shoah, shaved heads, big eyes, yellow stars and I see my boy’s face.


I know.


I feel it in my body. Sometimes I can’t find the

words.


Take care. Go gently. Breath.

Thanks. I think I need to write. If I don’t it swirls about inside. I don’t want to feel helpless.

So write, I get it.

Maybe I have nothing new to say. But maybe we just need to keep saying the same things until we’re heard. Maybe more words will only add to the fear and trauma.

Maybe. But if you don’t?


If I don’t, I’m silencing myself and I promised not to do that again. I also believe in the power of the Emperor’s New Clothes.


Tell me more.


Giving name to something has power - however obvious (maybe the more obvious, the better; the simpler, the more profound). So I’m just calling out that the Emperor actually has no clothes. And maybe people will turn and look to and maybe others won’t.


So nu, write.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Some notes on Jewish oppression and how to spot it.

(Thanks and Resources below.

Some General Principles


Antisemitism*/Jew-hatred punches up and down. As April Rosenblum says, ‘antisemitism is still a world problem’ - it has not gone away. Instead, it is disguised.


‘The oppression of Jews often looks very different [to other oppressions]. But when you know the signs, you can see how the oppression of Jews today is alive and working the way it has for centuries’ - Rosenblum.

Anti-Jewish oppression is ideological, based on insidious ideas and stereotypes of Jews and involves scapegoating.


How Anti-Jewish Oppression Manifests


  1. ‘Someone at university said they had never met a Jew before and asked to see my horns’. ‘I was about to kiss a boy in a club, they saw my Star of David necklace, asked if I was Jewish, and walked away.’ True stories from my friends and family. The image of a Jew, bent over, hooked, grotesque big nose, bent over, all feed into the underlying idea that Jews are other, un-human, a lesser race, animal-like. Antisemitism punching down.

  2. ‘I wanted to get your advice, you’re Jewish, I want to start a business, I’d love your advice’. ‘Aren’t all Jews rich?’ Comments made to me. Here, the underlying idea is that Jews are actually disguised as ‘citizens’ but are actually the ruling class - the elite - those in charge - colonial superpowers. Sometimes, depending on the context, this is conflated and hidden with the use of the word Zionist (see p.22 of Rosenblum). Think money, media, Rothschild, Jewish lobby, Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The underlying idea is that Jews are sneaky, not to be listened to or trusted. We are 0.5% of the UK’s population (UK Census 2021). 0.5 %. Tiny, marginal. Here antisemitism is punching up. Jews become scapegoats to deflect from who are actually responsible for a broken system.

  3. Not only are Jews secretly ruling the world, Jews, whilst disguised as the ‘oppressed’ are actually the oppressors. This idea goes even further - these so called ‘oppressed’ people are actually their own oppressors - the nazis. Never call a Jew a nazi. Never. You cannot use the experience of our own oppression to continue to oppress us. Read Jew as murderous, sneaky, not to be trusted etc. It’s the oldest of the tropes - the killers of children, the killer of Jesus. Punching up.

  4. ‘You don’t look Jewish’. ‘Jews are white’. Lumping Jews all-together is another idea based on entirely false assumptions and understandings. We are gloriously diverse. See Keith Kahn Harris’ book - ‘What Does a Jew Look Like?’ and everything else he has written! ….And if by ‘white’ you mean ‘oppressor’ see point 3.

  5. ‘What are you doing about Gaza?’ Lumping us all together - ‘Jews are responsible for the suffering of those in the Middle East’. Nope. We are not the Israeli government. Whilst connected to Israel (though not all), we have diverse political opinions and experiences. See page 21 of Rosenblum’s article for precise examples. Also see the three Ds of antisemitism (Natan Sharansky): demonisation, double standards and delegitimisation. Maybe turn to p.23 of Rosenblum if you want to ‘innoculate your Palestine work against antisemitism’ and p.29 for ‘tips for every activist’.

  6. Antisemitism is a poison that breeds across the political spectrum - see Rosenblum’s article on antisemitism and the left.

  7. Antisemitism can and does intersect with other oppressions. We’re straight, gay, trans, black, white, Asian, African, European, women, men, old, young, educated, not-educated, wealthy and poor, able bodied, disabled, secular, religious, lefty, conservative, ashkenazi, sephardi, Iraqi, Italian, Indian, Ethiopian, born to a Jewish parent, Jews by choice, Arab, Israeli, British, Brazilian.… The far-right are not are friends and nor should they be. Our liberation is bound up with yours, and yours with ours. To combat antisemitism we must combat Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia and so on and so on until we are all seen for who we are.

* See page 7 of April Rosenblum’s pamphlet on how the term, ‘antisemitism’ was used, originally, as a scientific word to show that Jews were an inferior race.


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I know, so much has been written. Maybe this is helpful, maybe not. But I’m honouring the niggle that says to put this down on paper, to share it. I’m honouring the conversations I’m having with friends who are struggling with facing antisemitism at work, with friends, with family members. I’m honouring myself in writing to understand and to connect.


Big thanks, as always, to Charlotte Fischer and all of her teaching, wisdom and activism. See one of her charities, run with Amelia Viney - https://antisemitismtraining.com/ and this, this, this - a document to read, digest and share - https://www.aprilrosenblum.com/thepast. And thanks to DJ for all the conversations and all you are doing to fight antisemitism.


Lastly, this is non-exhaustive. I’m writing this from my experience as a Jew and a rabbi and here is how I currently see it.

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