Category Archives: Antisemitism

A sermon for Shabbat Atzmaut. Time to apologise?

A sermon for Shabbat Atzmaut. Time to apologise?

Rabbi Andrea Zanardo, Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue, East Sussek, England, UK

Sat May 7, 2016

I have to apologise. On behalf of Reform, Liberal… in short: on behalf of Rabbis and educators. We failed. We have spent time in interfaith work, we have met with members of the Muslim community, we have dipped the bread of friendship into the same plate of hummus, we were proud to build bridges. And maybe, just maybe, we were also eager to see ourselves on the first page of next day’s newspaper, hand in hand with some Muslim leader, both of us smiling.

How many wonderful things we could build together. Just don’t mention Israel.

That sounded reasonable: after all, why should we allow international politics to interfere in this wonderful community building we are engaged in together?

And so we have conceded to their narrative, which is the same narrative peddled by the Guardian, by the BBC, by the mainstream media. A narrative according to which Israel is the root cause of all the problems between Muslims and Jews: had it not be for Zionism, for our emotional and irrational attachment to that piece of Middle Eastern land, what a wonderful place the world may be. How beautiful and easy it would have been to coexist here, in multicultural England, Jews and Muslims together.

The mainstream British media blame Israel for, well, everything; and at the same time relevant Jewish personalities, educators, Rabbis, lay leaders revelled in the Jewish media, hand in hand with members of communities, where the most horrendous antisemitic legends are believed. It is common sense in certain Muslim circles to assume that the State of Israel has been conceived in sin; that Zionism is a racist, supremacist movement; that Israel is an apartheid State; and so on, and so on. And we have allowed such a narrative to be told.

Some went to the point of waving the Israeli flag together with the Palestinian flag. As if the flag of a democratic State was morally equivalent to the flag of a political entity, whose constitution mentions Sharia as the main source of legislation. Yes, this is the allegedly secular “Palestinian Authority”, that of Abu Mazen: they have a constitution based on Sharia. Not so different from the explicitly antisemitic chapter of Hamas. But we have enjoyed the company of supporters of Hamas, and we have called it “interfaith dialogue” “social justice” “community building”.

And now, thanks to the interactions of politics and communication, now the extent of antisemitism is there for anyone to see. A whole generation of activists has found a political home in the Labour Party. There, some relics of the Cold War are willing to enforce with Marxist jargon peaceful messages such as:

“The Jewish race is doing in Gaza the same thing that Hitler did in WW2”;
“The Jewish race made a lot of money thanks to the slave trade and used their money to acquire power”;

“The Land of Israel has been given to the Jews illegally, because of the money of the Rothschilds”;

“Israeli Jews should be deported to the USA and the Middle East will find peace at last”

and of course “Hitler was a friend and a cooperator of the Zionist”.

This last one may not come from a member of the Muslim community; but it certainly comes from one who is friendlier to them than to the historical truth. And it is a lie widely believed in the Muslim world.

These are not odd statements that for some reason have ended up in the timeline of the social media of some naive local councillor. These are not legitimate truths expressed in ill-chosen language. This is, unfortunately, common sense for some part of the public opinion in this Country, among the most religious as well among the secularised. Survey after survey, research after research… we have been informed at length about anti-Semitism in the Muslim community. How can we claim to be surprised when we read that a councillor or an MP believes that “the Jews rule the world” (which always makes me laugh: I don’t even rule my home, as my wife can testify!).

Instead of teaching the pride of being Jewish, instead of educating the young Jewish generations to be proud to be part of the Zionist project, if not doing alya, at least supporting Israel in the Diaspora, we have been sharing the scene with enemies of Israel and antisemites of that sort. In name of “inclusion” we have granted credibility to leaders whose goal is to turn Israel into “a State for all citizens”, which will exclude the Jews, us.

In the Progressive world “Israeli education” has become a codeword for teaching about the alleged failures of Israel; instead of educating our youth to tell the truth aloud when Zionism, and Judaism, are defamed and slandered. We should have been teaching the right of the Jewish people to self-determination: instead we teach to focus on the Israel’s alleged shortcomings in including the Arab population.

Even now, when the link between anti-Zionism and anti-semitism is clear and exposed, even now, there are those whose main fear is not the accuracy of the inquiry on the antisemitism in the Labour party. And we should be careful about that, since apparently some member of such a commission has already decided that there is no antisemitism in the Labour party at all. No, those delicate souls are rather concerned that their right to criticise Israel may be threatened. You know, it is so difficult to criticise the Israeli government, nowadays. No one really does it, do they? And if we focus too much on the antisemitism in the Labour Party we may lose our right to criticise the “Anti-Palestinian” policies of the Israeli government. What a tragedy it would be.

As I said, we failed. We have to apologise. I may not personally be guilty of that sin, but I have not been able to stop the trend. I, together with the many committed Zionists in the Reform world, and believe me there are plenty of them, have not been able to make our voices heard. Criticism to the Israeli policy has led to criticism of the Israeli government, and because Israel is a democracy we have been blaming the Israeli voters, rather than sharing admiration for the miraculous existence of a democracy in the Middle East. A democracy that manages to remain a democracy, despite being in state of continuous war since its foundation. Where else in the world you have that?

We have disassociated ourselves from the Israelis. Not so long ago a proposal circulated: to force all the English Jewish institutions to draw maps of Israel only according to the Palestinian narrative, transforming the Green Line (which is still subject to negotiation) into an international border. And then what? Forbid any participant on an organised trip to Israel, such as the Shnat, the gap year in Israel, to cross that line? And forbid them also to meet and socialise with the “settlers”, those Jews who are “not kosher” because they live in Judea and Samaria and East Jerusalem? The proposal was voted down.

But you see, this is how this thing works. First we want to build connections with the Muslim community. Then we concede to the Palestinian narrative. And then we allow anti-Zionism to creep in our midst. And we disassociate from Israel: we care more about the Palestinian rights than the Israeli lives.

Now look at the Labour Party. That is anti-Zionism. That is where “criticism of Israeli policies” ultimately leads. “The creation of the State of Israel was fundamentally wrong, because there had been a Palestinian community there for 2,000 years”: this is Ken Livingstone, two days ago. “The post-World War II Jewish refugees should have been absorbed in Britain and America”: this is Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad. But it’s also Ken Livingstone, two days ago (same interview at Al Jazeera).

Now the question is: can this trend be reversed? Can we learn to teach a positive message about Zionism? Can we regain pride of being associated with Israel? Can we eventually learn that, in every dialogue, and even in interfaith work, there are red lines that must not be crossed? And Israel, the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, must not be questioned anymore?

I believe the answer must be: yes! Together with the fabulous team of teachers in our Cheder, we have been teaching exactly this to our students.

Our young adults met yesterday night for the music service, under these Israeli flags. Some enlightened mind in the peace camp would like that flag to change: it excludes the Arabs, you know. When will we learn to reply that we, British Jews, don’t feel excluded because in the Union Jack there are not one, but two crosses?

We will conclude the service today with HaTikvah. The same enlightened minds would like to change these words also. Because they don’t include the Arab population. Indeed: how terrible must be for an Arab citizen of Israel to live in a Country whose national anthem mentions the nefesh yehudi, the Jewish soul! When will we learn to reply that an atheist community flourishes in the UK, despite that its anthem mentions God?

For a strange reason, the noble souls among us do not want to change the Union Jack, neither the words of the English national anthem…. They care only about Israel. And among the many Israeli minorities there (Haredi, Russians, Mizrahim, Druze…) they care only about the Arabs’s sensitivities. When will we learn that this hypocrisy has nothing to do with the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam and it is, rather, conscious undermining of the Zionist project?

Let me state it clearly. In this synagogue we wave the Israeli flag, we are proud to be part of the Zionist project. And we celebrate Israel on Shabbat Atzmaut, today, and on Yom haAtzmaut, too. And later in the year, on Yom Yerushalaiim, we will celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem, the eternal capital of the Jewish people.

It’s not a secret that I have been shamed for what happens here. I was told publicly that I am a “divisive Rabbi” and a “Fascist”: me, grandson of Italian partisans. Why? Because all this Zionism – I have been told- would alienate the Muslim community. They will find difficult to accept that we are Zionists and therefore they will reject any dialogue with us.

To which my answer is: this must be their problem. Not ours.

We do not need any “dialogue” with anti-Semites or anti-Zionists, who are unpopular even in their own Party – thanks God. Whoever wants a dialogue with the Jewish community must accept Israel, must learn to respect Zionism, and must not try to divide us from our brothers and sisters who are blessed of living in the Land of Israel. It’s time for the Progressive Jewry to say it clearly and to say it aloud.

Am Israel Chai.

Brighton and Hove Reform Synagogue, Shabbat Atzmaut 5775


Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?

This essay is a transcript from a podcast by Sam Harris, American atheist author, philosopher, and neuroscientist.

Dr. Harris He is co-founder of Project Reason,  and author of The End of Faith (2004), an atheist rejection of all forms of organized religion. He is not Jewish or a Zionist, but has a very logical and important message on why he stands with Israel against anti-Zionist/anti-Semitic attacks.

israel Jordan Mandate of Palestine 19221

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Why is it that you always take the side of the Israelis over that of the Palestinians? Now, this is an incredibly boring and depressing question for a variety of reasons. The first, is that I have criticized both Israel and Judaism. What seems to have upset many people is that I’ve kept some sense of proportion. There are something like 15 million Jews on earth at this moment; there are a hundred times as many Muslims.

…Whatever terrible things the Israelis have done, it is also true to say that they have used more restraint in their fighting against the Palestinians than we—the Americans, or Western Europeans—have used in any of our wars. They have endured more worldwide public scrutiny than any other society has ever had to while defending itself against aggressors. The Israelis simply are held to a different standard. And the condemnation leveled at them by the rest of the world is completely out of proportion to what they have actually done.

…The truth is that there is an obvious, undeniable, and hugely consequential moral difference between Israel and her enemies. The Israelis are surrounded by people who have explicitly genocidal intentions towards them.

The charter of Hamas is explicitly genocidal. It looks forward to a time, based on Koranic prophesy, when the earth itself will cry out for Jewish blood, where the trees and the stones will say “O Muslim, there’s a Jew hiding behind me. Come and kill him.” This is a political document. We are talking about a government that was voted into power by a majority of Palestinians. [Note: Yes, I know that not every Palestinian supports Hamas, but enough do to have brought them to power. Hamas is not a fringe group.]

The discourse in the Muslim world about Jews is utterly shocking. Not only is there Holocaust denial—there’s Holocaust denial that then asserts that we will do it for real if given the chance.

The only thing more obnoxious than denying the Holocaust is to say that it should have happened; it didn’t happen, but if we get the chance, we will accomplish it. There are children’s shows in the Palestinian territories and elsewhere that teach five-year-olds about the glories of martyrdom and about the necessity of killing Jews.

And this gets to the heart of the moral difference between Israel and her enemies. And this is something I discussed in “The End of Faith.” To see this moral difference, you have to ask what each side would do if they had the power to do it.

What would the Jews do to the Palestinians if they could do anything they wanted?  Well, we know the answer to that question, because they can do more or less anything they want. The Israeli army could kill everyone in Gaza tomorrow. So what does that mean? Well, it means that, when they drop a bomb on a beach and kill four Palestinian children, as happened last week, this is almost certainly an accident. They’re NOT targeting children. They could target as many children as they want. Every time a Palestinian child dies, Israel edges ever closer to becoming an international pariah. So the Israelis take great pains not to kill children and other noncombatants. [Note: The word “so” in the previous sentence was regrettable and misleading. I didn’t mean to suggest that safeguarding its reputation abroad would be the only (or even primary) reason for Israel to avoid killing children. However, the point stands: Even if you want to attribute the basest motives to Israel, it is clearly in her self-interest not to kill Palestinian children.]

Now, is it possible that some Israeli soldiers go berserk under pressure and wind up shooting into crowds of rock-throwing children? Of course. You will always find some soldiers acting this way in the middle of a war. But we know that this isn’t the general intent of Israel. We know the Israelis do not want to kill non-combatants, because they could kill as many as they want, and they’re not doing it.

What do we know of the Palestinians?

What would the Palestinians do to the Jews in Israel if the power imbalance were reversed? Well, they have told us what they would do. For some reason, Israel’s critics just don’t want to believe the worst about a group like Hamas, even when it declares the worst of itself. We’ve already had a Holocaust and several other genocides in the 20th century. People are capable of committing genocide. When they tell us they intend to commit genocide, we should listen.

There is every reason to believe that the Palestinians would kill all the Jews in Israel if they could. Would every Palestinian support genocide? Of course not. But vast numbers of them—and of Muslims throughout the world—would. Needless to say, the Palestinians in general, not just Hamas, have a history of targeting innocent non-combatants in the most shocking ways possible. They’ve blown themselves up on buses and in restaurants. They’ve massacred teenagers. They’ve murdered Olympic athletes. They now shoot rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas.

And again, the charter of their government in Gaza explicitly tells us that they want to annihilate the Jews—not just in Israel but everywhere. [Note: Again, I realize that not all Palestinians support Hamas. Nor am I discounting the degree to which the occupation, along with collateral damage suffered in war, has fueled Palestinian rage. But Palestinian terrorism (and Muslim anti-Semitism) is what has made peaceful coexistence thus far impossible.]

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does. They shoot their rockets from residential neighborhoods, from beside schools, and hospitals, and mosques. Muslims in other recent conflicts, in Iraq and elsewhere, have also used human shields. They have laid their rifles on the shoulders of their own children and shot from behind their bodies.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary.
But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields.

They consider the Jews the spawn of apes and pigs—and yet they rely on the fact that they don’t want to kill Muslim noncombatants.

Now imagine reversing the roles here…. Imagine the Israelis holding up their own women and children as human shields. Of course, that would be ridiculous. The Palestinians are trying to kill everyone. Killing women and children is part of the plan. Reversing the roles here produces a grotesque Monty Python skit.

If you’re going to talk about the conflict in the Middle East, you have to acknowledge this difference. I don’t think there’s any ethical disparity to be found anywhere that is more shocking or consequential than this.

And the truth is, this isn’t even the worst that jihadists do. Hamas is practically a moderate organization, compared to other jihadist groups. There are Muslims who have blown themselves up in crowds of children—again, Muslim children—just to get at the American soldiers who were handing out candy to them. They have committed suicide bombings, only to send another bomber to the hospital to await the casualties—where they then blow up all the injured along with the doctors and nurses trying to save their lives.

Every day that you could read about an Israeli rocket gone astray or Israeli soldiers beating up an innocent teenager, you could have read about ISIS in Iraq crucifying people on the side of the road, Christians and Muslims.

Where is the outrage in the Muslim world and on the Left over these crimes?

Where are the demonstrations, 10,000 or 100,000 deep, in the capitals of Europe against ISIS? If Israel kills a dozen Palestinians by accident, the entire Muslim world is inflamed. God forbid you burn a Koran, or write a novel vaguely critical of the faith.

And yet Muslims can destroy their own societies—and seek to destroy the West—and you don’t hear a peep. [Note: Of course, I’m aware that many Muslims condemn groups like ISIS. My point is that we don’t see massive protests against global jihadism—even though it targets Muslims more than anyone else—and we do see such protests over things like the Danish cartoons.]

So, it seems to me, that you have to side with Israel here. You have one side which if it really could accomplish its aims would simply live peacefully with its neighbors, and you have another side which is seeking to implement a seventh century theocracy in the Holy Land.

There’s no peace to be found between those incompatible ideas.

That doesn’t mean you can’t condemn specific actions on the part of the Israelis. And, of course, acknowledging the moral disparity between Israel and her enemies doesn’t give us any solution to the problem of Israel’s existence in the Middle East…

… again, you have to ask yourself, what do these groups want? What would they accomplish if they could accomplish anything? What would the Israelis do if they could do what they want? They would live in peace with their neighbors, if they had neighbors who would live in peace with them. They would simply continue to build out their high tech sector and thrive.

What do groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda and even Hamas want? They want to impose their religious views on the rest of humanity. They want to stifle every freedom that decent, educated, secular people care about. This is not a trivial difference. And yet judging from the level of condemnation that Israel now receives, you would think the difference ran the other way.

This kind of confusion puts all of us in danger. This is the great story of our time. For the rest of our lives, and the lives of our children, we are going to be confronted by people who don’t want to live peacefully in a secular, pluralistic world, because they are desperate to get to Paradise, and they are willing to destroy the very possibility of human happiness along the way. The truth is, we are all living in Israel. It’s just that some of us haven’t realized it yet.

antisemitism for web anya

How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic

I found this on Tumblr, by Peter Vidani

How to Criticize Israel Without Being Anti-Semitic

If you’ve spent any time discussing or reading about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I guarantee you’ve heard some variation of this statement: OMG, Jews think any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic! 

In the interests of this post, I’m going to assume that the people who express such sentiments are acting in good faith and really don’t mean to cause pain to or problems for Diaspora Jewry.  For those good-faith people, I present some guidelines for staying on the good side of that admittedly murky line, along with the reasoning why the actions I list are problematic.  (And bad-faith people, you can no longer plead ignorance if you engage in any of these no-nos.  Consider yourselves warned.)  In no particular order:

  1. Don’t use the terms “bloodthirsty,” “lust for Palestinian blood,” or similar.  Historically, Jews have been massacred in the belief that we use the blood of non-Jews (particularly of children) in our religious rituals.  This belief still persists in large portions of the Arab world (largely because white Europeans deliberately spread the belief among Arabs) and even in parts of the Western world.  Murderous, inhumane, cruel, vicious–fine.  But blood…just don’t go there.  Depicting Israel/Israelis/Israeli leaders eating children is also a no-no, for the same reason.
  2. Don’t use crucifixion imagery.
    Another huge, driving motivation behind anti-Semitism historically has been the belief that the Jews, rather than the Romans, crucified Jesus.  As in #1, this belief still persists.  There are plenty of other ways to depict suffering that don’t call back to ancient libels.
  3. Don’t demand that Jews publicly repudiate the actions of settlers and extremists.
    People who make this demand are assuming that Jews are terrible people or undeserving of being heard out unless they “prove” themselves acceptable by non-Jews’ standards.  (It’s not okay to demand Palestinians publicly repudiate the actions of Hamas in order to be accepted/trusted, either.)
  4. Don’t say “the Jews” when you mean Israel.
    I think this should be pretty clear.  The people in power in Israel are Jews, but not all Jews are Israelis (let alone Israeli leaders).
  5. Don’t say “Zionists” when you mean Israel.
    Zionism is no more a dirty word than feminism.  It is simply the belief that the Jews should have a country in part of their ancestral homeland where they can take refuge from the anti-Semitism and persecution they face everywhere else.  It does not mean a belief that Jews have a right to grab land from others, a belief that Jews are superior to non-Jews, or any other such tripe, any more than feminism means hating men.Unless you believe that Israel should entirely cease to exist, you are yourself Zionist.

    Furthermore, using “Zionists” in place of “Israelis” is inaccurate and harmful.  The word “Zionists” includes Diasporan Jews as well (most of whom support a two-state solution and pretty much none of whom have any influence on Israel’s policies) and is used to justify anti-Semitic attacks outside Israel (i.e., they brought it on themselves by being Zionists).  And many of the Jews in Israel who are most violent against Palestinians are actually anti-Zionist–they believe that the modern state of Israel is an offense against God because it isn’t governed by halakha (traditional Jewish religious law).  Be careful with the labels you use.

  6. Don’t call Jews you agree with “the good Jews.”
    Imposing your values on another group is not okay.  Tokenizing is not okay.  Appointing yourself the judge of what other groups can or should believe is not okay.
  7. Don’t use your Jewish friends or Jews who agree with you as shields.
    (AKA, “I can’t be anti-Semitic, I have Jewish friends!” or “Well, Jew X agrees with me, so you’re wrong.”)  Again, this behavior is tokenizing and essentially amounts to you as a non-Jew appointing yourself arbiter over what Jews can/should feel or believe.  You don’t get to do that.
  8. Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European.
    Jews come in many colors–white is only one.  Besides, the fact that many of us have some genetic mixing with the peoples who tried to force us to assimilate (be they German, Indian, Ethiopian, Italian…) doesn’t change the fact that all our common ancestral roots go back to Israel.
  9. Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the TRUE/REAL Jews.” 
    Enough said.
  10. Don’t claim that Jews have no real historical connection to Israel/the Temple Mount. 
    Archaeology and the historical record both establish that this is false.
  11. Don’t accuse Diasporan Jews of dual loyalties or treason. 
    This is another charge that historically has been used to justify persecution and murder of Jews.  Having a connection to our ancestral homeland is natural.  Having a connection to our co-religionists who live there is natural.  It is no more treasonous for a Jew to consider the well-being of Israel when casting a vote than for a Muslim to consider the well-being of Islamic countries when voting.  (Tangent: fuck drone strikes.  End tangent.)
  12. Don’t claim that the Jews control the media/banks/country that isn’t Israel.
    Yet another historical anti-Semitic claim is that Jews as a group intend to control the world and try to achieve this aim through shadowy, sinister channels.  There are many prominent Jews in the media and in the banking industry, yes, but they aren’t engaged in any kind of organized conspiracy to take over those industries, they simply work in those industries.  The phrase “the Jews control” should never be heard in a debate/discussion of Israel.
  13. Don’t depict the Magen David (Star of David) as an equivalent to the Nazi swastika.
    The Magen David represents all Jews–not just Israelis, not just people who are violent against Palestinians, ALL JEWS.  When you do this, you are painting all Jews as violent, genocidal racists.  DON’T.
  14. Don’t use the Holocaust/Nazism/Hitler as a rhetorical prop.
    The Jews who were murdered didn’t set foot in what was then Palestine, let alone take part in Israeli politics or policies.  It is wrong and appropriative to try to use their deaths to score political points.  Genocide, racism, occupation, murder, extermination–go ahead and use those terms, but leave the Holocaust out of it.
  15. In visual depictions (i.e., political cartoons and such), don’t depict Israel/Israelis as Jewish stereotypes.
    Don’t show them in Chassidic, black-hat garb.
    Don’t show them with exaggerated noses or frizzled red hair or payus (earlocks).
    Don’t show them with horns or depict them as the Devil.
    Don’t show them cackling over/hoarding money.
    Don’t show them drinking blood or eating children (see #1).
    Don’t show them raping non-Jewish women.The Nazis didn’t invent the tropes they used in their propaganda–all of these have been anti-Semitic tropes going back centuries.  (The red hair trope, for instance, goes back to early depictions of Judas Iscariot as a redhead, and the horns trope stems from the belief that Jews are the Devil’s children, sent to destroy the world as best we can for our “father.”)
  16. Don’t use the phrase “the chosen people” to deride or as proof of Jewish racism. 
    When Jews say we are the chosen people, we don’t mean that we are biologically superior to others or that God loves us more than other groups.  Judaism in fact teaches that everyone is capable of being a righteous, Godly person, that Jews have obligations to be ethical and decent to “the stranger in our midst,” and that non-Jews don’t get sent to some kind of damnation for believing in another faith.  When we say we’re the chosen people, we mean that, according to our faith, God gave us extra responsibilities and codes of behavior that other groups aren’t burdened with, in the form of the Torah.  That’s all it means.
  17. Don’t claim that anti-Semitism is eradicated or negligible.
    It isn’t.  In fact, according to international watchdog groups, it’s sharply on the rise.  (Which sadly isn’t surprising–anti-Semitism historically surges during economic downturns, thanks to the belief that Jews control the banks.)  This sort of statement is extremely dismissive and accuses us of lying about our own experiences.
  18. Don’t say that since Palestinians are Semites, Jews/Israelis are anti-Semitic, too.
    You do not get to redefine the oppressions of others, nor do you get to police how they refer to that oppression.  This also often ties into #8.  Don’t do it.  Anti-Semitism has exclusively meant anti-Jewish bigotry for a good century plus now.  Coin your own word for anti-Palestinian oppression, or just call it what it is: racism mixed with Islamophobia.
  19. Don’t blow off Jews telling you that what you’re saying is anti-Semitic with some variant of the statement at the top of this post.
    Not all anti-Israel speech is anti-Semitic (a lot of it is valid, much-deserved criticism), but some certainly is.  Actually give the accusation your consideration and hear the accuser out.  If they fail to convince you, that’s fine.  But at least hear them out (without talking over them) before you decide that.

Myth of the Kosher mafia

Examining an anti-Semitic claim: The Kosher Nostra, also called The Kosher Mafia:

Does the presence of certain symbols [hekshers] on a variety of food products indicate that a secret tax has been paid to Jews?


On Snopes.Com researchers David and Barbara Mikkelson write:

Folks search for proofs of their darkest imaginings everywhere, including on the shelves of grocery stores. Packages bearing marks whose meanings aren’t readily apparent to the average shopper have been interpreted by those always on the sniff for a Jewish conspiracy as signs that Big Business is in league with the Jews.

The rumor that the presence of those mysterious markings signifies that the manufacturers of those products have paid a secret tax to the Jews of America has been afoot for decades; the e-mail quoted on this webpage {click the link} is merely a recent manifestation of this age-old canard.

The claim is wholly false, and we wonder at the twisted minds that would advance such a slander. There is no “Jewish Secret Tax” and never has been.

The markings pointed to in the rumor are real; however, their purpose is entirely different from the one asserted by the rumormongers. They do not signal that a secret tax has been paid or that corporations have succumbed to blackmail; they are there to indicate to members of a particular faith that such items have been vetted as having met the strictures their religion imposes.

If the notion of a religion imposing dietary requirements upon its followers sounds like an outlandish proposition, keep in mind that only in recent times have Catholics taken to eating meat on Fridays, and that Muslims still eschew pork.

As to what those markings mean… read on

{On a separate note, religious Jews do sometimes use the phrase “kosher mafia” to criticize the lack of sufficient free market competition among producers of kosher red meat. That’s a legitimate subject of discussion, and it is not anti-Semitic to point out problems in the kosher meat industry. These issues have raised the price of red meat, and perhaps even contributed to it’s decline in availability. But that issue is not related to the urban myth cited above. The urban myth has to do with hekshers that appear on a wide variety of foods, while kosher red meat is rare, and often only found in speciality shops in Jewish communities.} , also known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, is a website covering urban legends, Internet rumors, and hoaxes. It is a well-known resource for validating and debunking such stories.

Antisemitism on college campuses

Will our children have to endure anti-Semitism in college?  Will they be surrounded by students who say that Islamic fundamentalists have the right to celebrate murdering Jews? Told that Jews are the only people with no right to safely live in their indigenous homeland? Will their teachers harass them by proclaiming that our kids are “maintaining a system of domination by Jews” ?  People need to know how widespread this phenomenon is, because we can not effectively counter it without knowing it’s extent.


Some important resources

The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Now the nation’s premier civil rights/human relations agency, ADL fights anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.


Camera – the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America – is a media-monitoring and research organization devoted to promoting accurate and balanced coverage of Israel and the Middle East. CAMERA takes no position with regard to American or Israeli political issues or with regard to ultimate solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

CAMERA on Campus

StandWithUs is dedicated to informing the public about Israel and to combating the extremism and anti-Semitism that often distorts the issues. We believe that knowledge of the facts will correct common prejudices about the Arab-Israeli conflict, and will promote discussions and policies that can help promote peace in the region.

Stand With Us: Supporting Israel Around the World


Singling out Israel is a very modern antisemitism
By Vernon Bogdanor, Professor of Government at King’s College, London
May 6, 2016
In the late 20th century antisemitism mutated. Nineteenth century antisemitism began by singling out Jews for the deprivation of civil rights. It climaxed with the Holocaust.
Modern antisemitism begins by singling out Jews for the deprivation of the right of self-determination. Its final aim is the elimination of Israel, or perhaps, as with the suspended Labour MP, Naz Shah, the transportation of Israeli Jews elsewhere. The older antisemitism insisted that Jews had no place in the national community. The new antisemitism insists that Israel has no place in the international community.
The central theme of the new antisemitism is the delegitimisation of Israel. The country’s enemies know that she cannot be defeated on the battlefield, nor by terrorism. But she can be defeated, so they believe, by turning her into a pariah state.
… the virus also seems to have infected the universities, in theory citadels of dispassionate thought, but all too often repositories of unthinking prejudice. In 2015, the National Executive Committee of the National Union of Students voted to boycott Israeli companies, while rejecting a call to boycott Daesh [ISIS, The Islamic State]….
…The new antisemites claim that “the Jews” or “Zionists” seek to shut down “criticism” of Israel by labelling it as antisemitic. If that is the aim of the Zionists, they have been remarkably unsuccessful, since university campuses are replete with such criticism.
In fact, the people who are being intimidated or censored, as pointed out by Alex Chalmers, the non-Jewish former chair of the Oxford University Labour Club, are the Jewish students who feel that they must distance themselves from Israel to avoid arousing hostility.
While a few pro-Palestinian meetings have been met with hostile demonstrations, there has been nothing comparable to the disruption of meetings addressed by Israelis; and it is not Palestinian academics who are threatened with boycott, but Israelis, even though they are as little responsible for the policies of their government as British academics are for the policies of the British government.
It is not the “critics” of Israel whose right to free speech is threatened, but the free speech of those seeking to support the Israeli government, or even the existence of the Israeli state. It is a mistake to underestimate the importance of the new antisemitism. After all, the “final solution” did not spring unaided from Hitler’s head. The ground had been thoroughly prepared by 19th-century cultural icons such as Schopenhauer, Nietzche, Dostoevsky and Wagner. It is ideas which, for good or ill, determine history.


Anti-Zionism Is Anti-Semitism. Get Over It.
Recent campus debates teach us an important lesson about bigotry and how to deal with it
By Liel Leibovitz

Is anti-Zionism any different from anti-Semitism? The question is probably the most accurate seismograph we’ve got to measure where one stands on the ever-tremorous political grounds we all walk when we talk about Israel…. The debate we’re having, true to our times, is both dumber and more malicious, and it was on display this month as at least two of our finest institutions of higher learning, Stanford and Oberlin…. Out west, a member of the school’s student senate argued that it was not anti-Semitic to argue that Jews control the media, the banks, the government, and all other social institutions. And in the Ohio enclave of righteousness, several Jewish students published a letter in a student newspaper defending a disgraced professor who had posted similar allegations on her Facebook page about the Jews’ malevolent omnipotence.

…At Stanford, the portentously named Gabriel Knight, a junior on the school’s student governing body, claimed that it was, like, totally cool to talk about how the Jews control the world. “Questioning these potential power dynamics, I think, is not anti-Semitism,” sprach Knight. “I think it’s a very valid discussion.”

Not to be outdone, the Oberlin crew, five Jewish students strong, produced a manifesto that ascended from the declaratory into the definitional.

“We are deeply troubled by the persistent conflation of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, which is not only ahistorical and unfounded but also plays a central ideological role in the attempt to undermine legitimate criticism of the state of Israel…This conflation leaves us, as anti-Zionist Jews, without a community to turn to when we do experience anti-Semitism. We agree with the definition of anti-Semitism laid out by Aurora Levins Morales, a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist; she writes that anti-Semitism—writing about European Jewry under Christianity—functions by creating ‘a vulnerable buffer group that can be bribed with some privileges into managing the exploitation of others, and then, when social pressure builds, be blamed and scapegoated, distracting those at the bottom from the crimes of those at the top.’”

It’s an argument not even a Deconstructionist could love: Anti-Semitism isn’t the historic hatred of Jews, consistently documented for millennia and rooted in ancient theological fissures, but merely a conspiracy by unnamed rich Christian Europeans to elevate the Jews into disproportionate positions of power and influence merely to blame them later when the oppressed wise up and revolt.

… Arguing at first that anti-Zionism isn’t anti-Semitism, the enlightened left has now taken to arguing that even anti-Semitism isn’t anti-Semitism but, to put it in academese, a permissible form of discourse about power and privilege.

You hardly need a Ph.D. to know what all of it means. It means that it’s now OK for the students and professors of our finest universities and colleges—and, by extension, for all of polite society—to entertain vile stereotypes that, as recently as five or 10 years ago, were on display nowhere outside the Sieg Heil! fringes of the rabid right.

The first lesson is that it’s time to do away with the anti-Zionism/anti-Semitism debate. Whatever its intellectual merits are, or were, it’s largely irrelevant in an environment scorched by the flames of prejudice masquerading as thought. To ponder minute differences when students are fulsomely supporting the sort of stuff that would’ve made Henry Ford blush is like debating nautical safety long after the iceberg has been introduced to the Titanic’s hull.

…Those who believe Jews control the media and the banks, or that it’s OK to respectfully debate whether or not they do, make no distinction between the good, enlightened Jews who wash their hands of Israel and the bad ones, who have the temerity of adhering to their faith and their nationality like any other normal people in the world. And those Jews who believe that their liberal sophistication will somehow save them from the wrath of bigotry should strongly reconsider: Never send to know for whom the anti-Semites troll; they troll for thee.


Why Are Jews the Only Minority We Don’t Protect On College Campuses?

– Michael Sitver

Last week, some students at University of Chicago, where I attend, proposed a resolution to our College Council to divest from Chinese weapons manufacturers, in protest of China’s severe human rights abuses and its long-standing occupation of Tibet. Members of the council were quick to condemn the resolution, and for good reason. The members noted it was political, and disrespectful to Chinese students. Other members noted that Chinese students should be given time to respond to the presenters with a counter-presentation. One representative even suggested that the College Council issue an apology to Chinese students for even considering the resolution. The resolution was tabled indefinitely.

Curiously, when a few weeks earlier the same College Council passed a nearly identical resolution condemning Israel, no one suggested an apology. These same representatives argued why it was their moral imperative to condemn Israel. …Over the past few weeks I have been told that Jews “don’t count” as a minority. I have been accused of using anti-semitism to justify oppression.

All I want to know is why my campus doesn’t treat anti-semitism with the same rigor with which it treats any other forms of bias. When Jews stood before the council, and asked that it recognize the Jewish right to self-determination, a basic right for all people, people in the room laughed. One representative noted that “If we were to affirm the right to Jewish self-determination … it takes away from the intent of the resolution”.

Students in the room that day called us racists and murderers and “apartheid supporters”, for even thinking we, as Jews, could have a voice in the discussion over the one small state we call our own.

A Jewish student was chided “You are racist and you are against me and my family’s existence”… At one point, a student questioned the presenters, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), about their organization allegedly holding a moment of silence for Palestinians who were killed while trying to murder Jewish civilians. One of the presenters confirmed the moment, then responded without missing a beat “Palestinians have a right to honor their martyrs”.

If the killing of any other ethnic group had been celebrated, the University would make grief counselors available. It would send out mass emails of condemnation. They would suspend the organization responsible, and possibly the students involved in it. The organization would certainly not have any credibility to present to the student government.

Since the victims were Jews though, their celebration of murder went unchallenged.

On the third slide of the presentation in favor of the resolution, presenters claimed that voting against the resolution would mean “maintaining a system of domination by Jews”.

The presenters were relying on one of the most common, long-standing, overtly anti-semitic tropes to make their case, and our representatives said nothing.

…Their coldness in minimizing the struggles of Jews, living with a legacy of being expelled and exterminated, was mind-boggling to me.

This week is Yom Hashoah, which commemorates the six million Jews that were murdered by the Nazis during World War II. On this day of remembrance, we say “Never forget. Never again”. Yom Hashoah also commemorates an international commitment not to repeat the mistakes of the past. Sadly, fifty-three years after this day was first honored, we seem to be forgetting those lessons. As a campus we’re remarkably tolerant of gender, race, and sexuality in general. Why is it that we’re so uncaring about this one, very real form of racism?

When an artist or author is antisemitic

How do you deal with the knowledge that one of your favorite artists, writers or philosophers was anti-Semitic? I am a longtime fan of Howard Philips Lovecraft. Little known in his day, but greatly respected soon after, he became the 20th century’s most powerful voice of “weird fiction”, the predecessor to some forms of modern day horror and science-fiction.

Howard Phillips Lovecraft in_1915

According to Joyce Carol Oates, Lovecraft – as with Edgar Allan Poe in the 19th century – has exerted “an incalculable influence on succeeding generations of writers of horror fiction”. Stephen King called Lovecraft “the twentieth century’s greatest practitioner of the classic horror tale, and his influence today would take an entire encyclopedia article to fill.

As great as his literary talents were, he also was a racist and anti-Semitic, although mostly in private letter writing. When he met people of different races he was friendly – and in the end, he ended up marrying a Jewish woman. As he got older, he gradually lessened his racism towards many people, but not towards black people, who today are still – understandably – offended by his writings.

He is in the news this week, (11/15) as it was announced that the World Fantasy Award trophy would no longer be modeled on H. P. Lovecraft. (there has been a subsequent controversy within the fantasy and science fiction community.)

As a Jewish American, I feel ashamed when I read the racist and anti-Semitic statements in his correspondence. But I still feel awed by his mastery of his art, especially given the unfortunate circumstance in which he was raised – and effectively neglected. I can’t see myself removing any of his volumes from my home.

Do you have any favorite artists, writers or philosophers who turned out to be anti-Semitic? How do you deal with this issue?


A valuable resource on this topic is What Did They Think of the Jews? Allan Gould (Jason Aronson Inc)  ISBN 10: 0876687516 / ISBN 13: 9780876687512

What Did They Think Of The Jews

Throughout history, the Jewish people and their religious traditions have been viewed in different ways by their contemporaries. Reactions from their non-Jewish neighbors expose a broad spectrum of emotions: honest respect, genuine acceptance, begrudging tolerance, subtle dislike, and vicious hatred. In “What Did They Think of the Jews?” Allan Gould has gathered over two hundred documents, written by well-known men and women from ancient times through today, that reflect the writers’ personal views of the Jewish people and their societies’ general attitudes and beliefs.

This anthology includes the works of philosophers and poets, politicians and novelists, inventors and world leaders. The documents are by and about diverse personalities. Cicero, Saint Augustine, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Thomas Hobbes are among the writers whose works document the perception of Jews from Ancient Greece and Rome through the Renaissance. How Americans have viewed the Jews throughout United States history is portrayed in the writings of figures such as Benjamin Franklin, William Cullen Bryant, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Herman Melville, Theodore Roosevelt, John Steinbeck, and Charles Lindbergh. The works of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, Joseph Conrad, and others exemplify European and British viewpoints.

There are also reflections on the Holocaust and the State of Israel by personalities such as Carl Sandburg, Charles DeGaulle, and Frank Capra. And the virulent hatred of the Jewish people by Communist, Fascist, and Nazi ideologies is tragically demonstrated in the documents of those eras.

While some of the material in this volume bears witness to the slanders and slurs the Jewish people have encountered, What Did They Think of the Jews? also contains a large portion of powerfully moving and affirmative documents. Readers can take great pleasure in the inspiring essays, letters, quotations, and anecdotes of Henrik Ibsen, James Joyce, Harry Truman, and others whose visions allowed them to see past the walls of prejudice. What Did They Think of the Jews? is a truly unique and comprehensive resource. These documents present a balanced and insightful perspective on the Jewish experience.




The Unlikely Reanimation of H.P. Lovecraft: 125 years after his birth, the author known for his eerie tales—and his racist beliefs—has had one of the biggest comebacks in Western literature. Philip Eil, The Atlantic, Aug 20, 2015

The World Fantasy Awards, established in 1975, are presented annually at the World Fantasy Convention.  The World Fantasy Award has been described as one of the three most prestigious speculative fiction awards, along with the Hugo (voted on by fans and professionals) and the Nebula Awards (voted on members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) …The award statue was formerly a caricature bust of H. P. Lovecraft … In 2015, the old award statue was retired because of protests over Lovecraft’s racism.

A Crusader for Truth and Justice: An Interview with Daniel Mael

Horrifying to realize that universities are trying to restrict the freedom of Jewish students on their campus. This is exactly the way that Nazi Germany started persecuting Jewish students. I am surprised that this story got so little attention in the media.


When Brandeis University classrooms reopened on January 13, senior Daniel Mael was free to move around campus without restriction. That is because on January 9 university officials rescinded a No Contact Order on the student journalist, Dean’s List student, pro-Israel activist and athlete. The order forbade Mael from being in the same physical location as another student who had petitioned the university administration to “hold Mael accountable” for comments Mael had posted on the website Truth

It all started after the death of the two New York City police officers who were ambushed and murdered in seeming revenge for the unrelated killings of two black men by policemen. When Brandeis junior Khadijah Lynch, an African and Afro-American Studies major who served as an adviser to other undergraduate students, tweeted on December 20, “I have no sympathy for the NYPD officers who were murdered today,” and, I hate this…

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