What can we do about anti-Semitism?

Published: 9/29/2020 12:23:51 PM A significant fact about anti-Semitism was left out of the recent discussion in these pages. Anti-...



Published: 9/29/2020 12:23:51 PM

A significant fact about anti-Semitism was left out of the recent discussion in these pages. Anti-Semitism doesn’t only hurt and endanger Jewish people, it is also a threat to Black people and other people of color, Muslims, Latinos, working people and to our democracy as a whole.

The classic example of divide and conquer, anti-Semitism is being used today, as it has been for centuries, to divert people’s anger away from their true oppressors. Since the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism has allowed Jews some access to power and privilege, placing them as a buffer between the haves and have-nots.

This “human safety valve” protects those in power (historically, the feudal lords, now the 1%) by directing serfs, the working poor, marginalized communities of color, and others, to blame the Jewish community for entrenched systems of inequality. The targeting of Jews provides some relief of pent-up rage, but does not change the status quo for those suffering from an unjust society.

A recent example occurred during the 2016 presidential campaign, when a flyer was circulated picturing Hillary Clinton surrounded by dollar signs, images of Wall Street, Jewish stars, and the names of prominent Jewish figures in the finance industry. We can only wonder how many disaffected working people were misled by that message into believing that the current president would protect their interests against the so-called Jewish conspiracy.

Anti-Semitism fuels the white nationalist movement (remember their chant in Charlottesville, “Jews will not replace us”), a movement that has killed more than 100 people in recent terrorist acts, including Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and Latinos at Walmart in El Paso, Texas. These are only the most extreme examples, among many less violent incidents.

What can we do about anti-Semitism? We can learn to recognize it and name it. We can examine and talk about our own experiences and biases. And we must resolve to oppose anti-Semitism, systemic racism and white nationalism — and not let them pit groups against each other — so we can come together to protect our democracy and our planet.

Amy Leos-Urbel

Northampton



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Newsrust: What can we do about anti-Semitism?
What can we do about anti-Semitism?
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