The Acceptable Kind of Antisemitism

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The Acceptable Kind of Antisemitism

The word “antisemitic” is the press and power’s favored adjective to describe the student protests in response to Israel’s genocide in Gaza, even though there a lot of Jews in these protests. Few people making these accusations ever offer any kind of explanation for how protests that include Jewish groups are antisemitic, the people in charge of this narrative just want us to see pictures of keffiyeh’s and assume it’s all antisemitism. It’s very telling that Columbia University suspended a Jewish group in the wake of campus protests and it has been tossed completely aside in the coverage around the school, as it does not aid the lie the American empire is trying to sell to us right now.

NBC’s article this week titled “Biden administration faces pressure to step up its response to antisemitic incidents on college campuses” is a great example of this narrative being formed without evidence. The first seven words of the story are “As antisemitic incidents mushroom on college campuses” and then four paragraphs later they write “Neither Columbia nor the New York Police Department has released data on the number of antisemitic incidents at the school.”

No one making these allegations is even bothering to investigate how pervasive antisemitism actually is on college campuses. People in power are saying there is antisemitism and their dutiful lapdogs in media are pushing this narrative without even pretending to do actual journalism around it.

Equating support for the state of Israel’s actions with one’s Jewish identity is a classic antisemitic trope being enthusiastically embraced by mainstream American media as our power centers wipe a significant portion of protesting Jews out of the discourse. Jews stand with Israel, antisemitic protesters stand against it, so the story goes, and the point is to shut down debate and make people stop asking questions about why the protests exist in the first place.

The erasure of brave Jews like Rabbi Wise from the broader “antisemitism” discourse is also a form of antisemitism, and I’m sick and tired of watching both the mainstream press and some of my fellow Jews act like they don’t exist, or that this is not an acceptable position for a Jew to take. This has long since stopped being about a defense of Israel, if it ever was. Benjamin Netanyahu is a monster, and he is making Jews around the world less safe with each American bomb he drops on a captive civilian population.

Never again means never again, not never again but only for us. There is no special rule in international law where it doesn’t apply to you if you get attacked first. War crimes are war crimes, and there are Jews like me across the world joining these protests, infuriated at what is being done in our name.

How exactly are we being antisemitic?

Any good Jew who has read the Torah knows that Israel is a concept to describe the entirety of the Jewish diaspora. It is a representation of our people surviving centuries of the kind of torture the Israeli state is putting the Palestinians through right now.

We have proven we do not need borders to endure. The Torah contains much wisdom, but it never saw New York City coming. Israel is so much more than just a physical space. I am only loyal to the concept of Israel while I recoil in horror at the apartheid state currently brandishing my people’s flag.

It really pains me to see people’s Judaism essentially being questioned by this broad-based “antisemitic” charge leveled against the protests. Judaism teaches us to question things, and those of us in the protests are simply doing as our Rabbis taught us.

I am not very religious, but I do feel a powerful connection to our ancient past and how our culture has endured throughout the centuries. I grew up a reform Jew, the least religious of the denominations, and there is and always has been a religious divide on this issue within Judaism. Anyone trying to paint us as a monolith has clearly never been in a room full of Jews arguing about anything. We, uh, have opinions. Lots of ‘em.

And mine is that I’m dismayed at idiots who are speaking on behalf of empire who are using both me and the Jews I disagree with as shields for a criminal leader’s sick ambitions to extend the rule of his illegitimate emergency government enthusiastically backed by the United States. Our centuries-own internal debate about the theoretical and literal states of Israel now has flipped the script to where the physical state of Israel has the backing of empire, instead of being under its thumb.

Jews retreating to our historical default of being the nail to power’s hammer are just wrong, as the emergency government backed by an empire and led by an indicted genocidal leader killing civilians is the one in power here. Hamas’s militant wing has genocidal aims as well, but the capabilities each side has on that front are vastly dissimilar, and Israel’s barbaric bombing campaign will only isolate it further from the global stage and make Jews around the world targets for retribution.

This is the wound placing stress on the entire globe, and it must be remedied with permanent and safe homes for Palestinians and Jews. Osama bin-Laden cited American support for the Israeli occupation as a prime inspiration for the 9/11 attacks, as have many ISIS terrorists who hit Europe in the wake of the unhinged western response that claimed millions of lives across the Middle East. We have plenty of history telling us where this all goes, and it’s nowhere good—especially when the people in power start classifying us into good Jews and bad Jews.

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