Antisemitism is the prejudice, hostility or hatred towards Jews and can appear in many forms, which mainly appear as racial antisemitism. This racializes Jews as ‘the other’ and has been the basis of most of our persecution for the past two millennia; pogroms, expulsions and the Holocaust.
Jews continue to face systematic racism and persecution throughout the world in countries such as Iran, Libya, Egypt and Iraq, where an estimated 1 million Jews were systematically expelled during the 1950/60s. Antisemitism also continues to be prevalent in Europe and the UK, which has a long history of persecuting Jews and Holocaust denial is still commonplace and Jews continue to be racialized as ‘the other’.
Whilst Christian antisemitism is the oldest form, it is not the only, by far. Antisemitism tends to appear much more subtly; tropes such as Jews being rich, controlling the media, being overrepresented in politics, pop culture etc. It all plays into the canard that Jews are untrustworthy and deceitful, so the only reason behind anything that we do is to gain more power and influence, claiming antisemitism included. This rhetoric does not solely appear in far-right spaces, but surprising as it may be, very often in left-wing, supposedly ‘anti-racist’ circles. To many on the left we’re seen as privileged; rich, successful, overreaching, white – clearly not important enough to be included in many anti-racist spaces as beneficiaries. Antisemitism is often treated as not as important or dangerous – to those who claim this, clearly it was dangerous enough to systematically murder over 6 million of us, it was dangerous enough to cause centuries of pogroms, of expulsions, and still continues to have a real and terrifying outcome for many Jews. This also erases the experiences of Jews who are not white and who experience other forms of bigotry.
Far-right antisemitism is always much more obvious fare, unafraid to clearly declare their hatred towards us, but left-wing is not so obvious. There is a common tendency to replace ‘Jew’ with ‘Zionist’ in order to avoid critique; ‘Jewish controlled media’ and ‘Zionist controlled media’ are two sides of the same coin. This alludes to the ancient trope that appears in the ‘Elders of Zion’, endorsed by Lenin, Stalin and Hitler. This trope has prevailed into the 21st century, being promoted by figures such as Louis Farrakhan along with former Women’s March chairs, Jeremy Corbyn, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Boris Johnson. Clearly this rhetoric appears across the political spectrum, but the most devastating aspect is that we expect this behaviour from the right, not the left, not the ‘anti-racists’ who are there to support us, but who see us as not just unworthy of their anti-racist initiatives but as somehow working against them. I have been directly told that Jews fall into a category of “white ethnic minorities who don’t experience racism to benefit from anti-racist initiatives like our own” by a specifically ‘anti-racist’ society.
Pitting minorities together only helps white supremacy and racists. Include Jews in your activism, otherwise you are not truly anti-racist.
By Melanie Goldberg