The American binary racial scheme of white/people of color is inadequate for talking about Jewish history and Jewish oppression and the solution is not to fit ourselves into that scheme but to engage in Jewish terms that recognize the role of white privilege in American Jewish life
love it when other ppl can put what took me like 6 paragraphs to say into one perfect neat sentence
in other words gentiles stop calling jews white and jews stop insisting youre not white w/o presenting a more nuanced perspective n imo definitely don’t call yourself a POC
"white-passing" is a step but simply deferring to that vocabulary still draws unfair parallels to a specific legacy of POC struggle and ignores jews’ complicated relationship with Whiteness
I always feel uncomfortable when people use the term “jews” instead of “jewish people” I feel like that’s kind of culturally insensitive or something tbh.
do I have any jewish followers that can answer this question? like does it piss you off?
Yeah, Jewish people is definitely more polite and preferable to use.
"Jewish people" is preferable because it takes longer to type out and you therefore have more time to think about whether your point is stupid and horrible
You’ll also never catch an anti-Semite saying “Jewish people” because to them we are not people but rather offensive abstractions, whether they say “the Jews” or “white Jews” or who even knows their latest schtick
lol @ bolded
but i also hate this whole thing like why do jews as a people not get their own noun ? because simply what we ARE is considered enough of an insult for the people who hated us or wanted us dead. because passive and active anti-semites took a word that means jewish person and used it as a generalized pejorative to be leveled against jew and non-jew alike… im curious about this . there is obviously some amount of this going on with every oppressed or minority peoples but i really only see it so blaringly with ‘jews’ and ‘gays’
reminds me of that ryan gosling scene in the believer where he says jew over and over again and tells his flock that the word alone is enough to make yer skin crawl and that there’s no reason it just is
Semites are the descendents of Shem (Son of Noah). This includes Abraham and therefore the descendents of both his sons, which means both Hebrews and Arabs. Therefore, technically bigotry against Muslims qualifies as antisemitism.
But since no one uses it that way, it arguably doesn’t mean that anymore. Thus I’m caught in yet another conflict between technical and common usage.
Okay, I’ve been trying to figure out how to argue this for awhile now. I don’t want you guys to think I’m crying white boy tears, and I think you all know I am more than honest about admitting my white privilege so that is definitely not my intention. But I think it is extremely dangerous that there are people in certain groups that think they get to define the limits of acceptability as far as speech, thought, politics, and activism. And since I’m white, I must listen to them and can’t say anything they disagree with else I’m anti-Semitic.
In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the oppressed are the Palestinians, and the only people I’m going to allow to define the limits of acceptability for myself are the Palestinians. I’m sorry, but why the fuck should I care about what some Western girl in a cozy house in America says? The only opinions that matter in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are first, Palestinians, and second, Israelis (preferably those who dissent). Not some self-worthy American bloggers that are oh so offended that people aren’t happy with Israel.
there are a lot of bullshit antisemitism claims from zionists but antisemitism is real and youve actually done some antisemitic shit in the past that some ‘western girl in a cozy house in america’ has called you out on and youve apologized and recognized.
it’s really fucking stupid that you as a gentile think you can reduce the issue to just israelis and palestinians and only care about the concerns of palestinians when gentile speech and yes, often anti-zionist activism, is often rife with antisemitism, and when antisemitism is a very real thing that you need to check yourself and be checked for and be responsible for when talking about such a delicate issue— diaspora jews suffer by israels actions too, though obviously in no way similar to the palestinians, but it’s really obnoxious to think you can ignore an entire people who are often innocent bystanders or even allies in this issue but are consistently affected by it WAY more than you and whether they like it or not.
you are a white gentile talking about palestinian/poc issues as well as jewish issues (not just israelis) and JEWS are not the oppressor so yes you are still responsible for answering to people who, unlike you, are ACTUALLY affected by the issues you are commenting on, and who have a history of being oppressed.
why on earth do ppl fail to apply these rules to jews and issues that affect them, so otherwise consistantly accepted and espoused by tumblr folk. if there’s another peoples’ issue you’re speaking on, and they got a problem with your speech, YOU DO NOT "get to define the limits of acceptability" of course there are exceptions and of course there are asshole right wing zionists, but at the very least you listen and you definitely don’t get to reduce it to saying that "the only people who get to define the limits of acceptability are palestinians" are you kidding? you do realize that there are some/many palestinian/anti-zionist bloggers who post the most antisemitic, offensive, ignorant shit, just as there are many as zionist/jewish/racist bloggers who post islamophobic and racist shit?
sure okay zionists are the oppressors and palestinians are the oppressed but that doesnt mean you just take the bad with good and accept antisemitism and reinforce that speech. and sorry but i can’t count on you to be the sole decider of what’s antisemitic, on account of the fact that YOURE NOT A FUCKING JEW
Powerful. Remember: not all Zionists are Jews and not all Jews are Zionists.
can goyim plz stop using images of neturei karta thinking it lends legitimacy to their anti-Zionism? We really don’t need the help of obnoxious religious fundamentalists to make reasonable criticism of the State of Israel and Zionism. There are plenty of Jews who aren’t religious zealots or friends with Iranian dictators who are happily outspoken against the State of Israel, who you can point to—if you must—to try and prove that your anti-Zionism does not equal antisemitism. Plenty support for the argument other than sensationalist images of guys in shtreimlech and peyos, who’s stance on the issue you have no understanding of, who’s stance on other issues you are completely ignorant of, and who’s tactics are often offensive, violent, and misogynistic.
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:
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 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.)
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.
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.)
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).
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.
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.
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.
Don’t claim that Jews are ethnically European. It’s not true. Jews come in many colors, white included, but DNA study after DNA study has proven that we all share a common Semitic heritage. 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 the major part of our ancestry is Middle Eastern.
Don’t claim that Jews “aren’t the TRUE/REAL Jews.” Enough said.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.”)
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m sure this isn’t a comprehensive list, but it covers all the hard-and-fast rules I can think of. (I welcome input for improving it.)
But wait! Why should I care about any of this? I’m standing up for people who are suffering!
You should care because nonsense like the above makes Jews sympathetic to the Palestinian plight wary and afraid of joining your cause. You should care because, unfortunately, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has correlated to an uptick in anti-Semitic attacks around the world, attacks on Jews who have no say in Israeli politics, and this kind of behavior merely aggravates that, whether you intend it to or not.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a real minefield in that it’s a clash between oppressed people of color and an ethnoreligious group that is dominant in Israel but marginalized and brutalized elsewhere (often nowadays on the exact grounds that they share ethnoreligious ties with the people of Israel), so it’s damned hard to toe the line of being socially aware and sensitive to both groups. I get that. But I think it is possible to toe that line, and I hope this post helps with that. (And if a Palestinian makes a similar list of problematic arguments they hear targeted at them, I’d be happy to reblog it, too.)
So, TL;DR version:
Do go ahead and criticize Israel.
Don’t use anti-Semitic stereotypes or tropes.
Don’t use overly expansive language that covers Jews as a whole and not just Israel.
Don’t use lies to boost your claims.
Do engage Jews in conversation on the issues of Israel and of anti-Semitism, rather than simply shutting them down for disagreeing.
Do try to be sensitive to the fact that, fair or not, many people take verbal or violent revenge for the actions of Israelis on Diasporan Jews, and Diasporan Jews are understandably frightened and upset by this.
May there be peace in our days.
I. Love. This. So. Much.
This is all great except for #8. While many Ashkenazi Jews do have a distant Middle Eastern heritage, it’s only a fraction of their total make-up and it’s a bad idea to cite DNA studies on the matter because most geneticists actually believe they’re not indicative of much at all. Nucleotides between humans generally differ by about 0.1%. That’s all. And the differences that can be extrapolated further are even smaller.
Jews are not all the same race. If you’re a white Ashkenazi Jew, you are not Middle Eastern, even if your ancestors lived in the Middle East thousands of years ago. You’re white. All humans have genetic history which traces back to Africa but that doesn’t make all of us African. You do not get to claim an ethnicity as your own because it comprises a very small fraction of your total make-up, and I mean small.
Claiming that you’re ethnically Middle Eastern simply because you’re Jewish erases the heritage and identity of those of us who are actually ethnically Mizrahi/Middle Eastern and it perpetuates the stereotype that Jews compose a distinctly separate race.
Dig: I’m Jewish. Count Basie’s Jewish. Ray Charles is Jewish. Eddie Cantor’s goyish. B’nai B’rith is goyish. Hadassah, Jewish.
If you live in New York or any other big city, you are Jewish. It doesn’t matter even if you’re Catholic; if you live in New York, you’re Jewish. If you live in Butte, Montana, you’re going to be goyish even if you’re Jewish.
Kool-Aid is goyish. Evaporated milk is goyish even if Jews invented it. Chocolate is Jewish and fudge is goyish. Fruit salad is Jewish. Lime jello is goyish. Lime soda is very goyish.
All Drake’s Cakes are goyish. Pumpernickel is Jewish and, as you know, white bread is very goysih. Instant potatoes, goyish. Black cherry soda’s very Jewish, macaroons are very Jewish.
Negroes are all Jews. Italians are all Jews. Irishmen who have rejected their religion are Jews. Mouths are very Jewish. And bosoms. Baton-twirling is very goyish.
Underwear is definitely goyish. Balls are goyish. Titties are Jewish.
Celebrate is a goyish word. Observe is a Jewish word. Mr. and Mrs. Walsh are celebrating Christmas with Major Thomas Moreland, USAF (ret.), while Mr. and Mrs. Bromberg observed Hanukkah with Goldie and Arthur Schindler from Kiamesha, New York.
I honestly think that people on tumblr (SJ activists, anti-racists, leftists, etc.) do not care about anti-semitism. It’s not even an afterthought in their conversations. Not even a blip on the radar. The only time anti-semitism matters is when they can use our…
I honestly think that people on tumblr (SJ activists, anti-racists, leftists, etc.) do not care about anti-semitism. It’s not even an afterthought in their conversations. Not even a blip on the radar. The only time anti-semitism matters is when they can use our collective trauma, the Shoah, as a rhetorical point to speak about their traumas which wouldn’t be so annoying if they didn’t minimize what happened or chastise us for “hogging” it right afterwards. I’ve noticed that the call-out culture doesn’t apply to people making gross anti-semitic comments. I’ve noticed that people are very comfortable talking over Jews about issues which they would obviously know much more about. I’ve noticed that there is much talk about how people should be aware that racism can inform the way we talk about Africa, even with good intentions, but no one wants to acknowledge that anti-semitism can inform the way we talk about Israel. We’re not even trying to take a seat at the table at this point, it would just be nice if you could throw us some scraps once in awhile.
Tumblr is a really weird place.
just ‘cause many jews have “achieved Whiteness” (for now?) does not mean that antisemitism and a VERY recent history of widespread and blatant oppression doesn’t consistently affect us, our relationship with the world around us, and the issues which concern us. and it definitely doesn’t mean that antisemitism is dead and not lying stagnant or subtle in our neighbors, our leaders, and even our friends
"I see you, Israel I see you. And yes, I saw you in Crown Heights murdered by half brothers Walking on eggshells since the destruction of the first temple and yes, I think they might come for us again” —- "i am paranoid with historical precedence but i am not myself, Israel I mean who are you? Your message is cryptic And I can’t read Hebrew.”
ma said that sometimes when she was in the car with her father driving through a goyishe neighborhood, he would lean out the window and yell “GOYYYYIMMMM! GOYYYIMMMM!” to the tune of church bells? i cant recall if this happened specifically on sundays / church days, or whenever they were outside of rogers park?
but then my friend who’s family is from elsewhere told me that her grandpa does the same thing! and that’s too weird a coincidence. is it from something? or a yiddishe in-joke, or?