It has taken me so long to write a new blog post. This post was originally intended to explore my personal current experiences with antisemitism and how it intensifies invasive thoughts and addictive habits. Once I started writing, I realized there is so much to discuss before I can even begin to formulate words for those experiences. So, consider this part 1.
Why has it taken me so long to write? Mostly, because I am afraid of saying the wrong thing. I am afraid of being attacked for existing. Mostly, I am fearful of people I love and trust showing me that they do not embrace all parts of me, and that their love and respect is conditional. Then, there’s the very real fact that I am fearful for myself and my family.
What am I talking about? I have posted on my Instagram about antisemitism and some of the impact it has had on me. Right now, it is alarmingly apparent how deeply engrained and normalized this is in our society. If you think I’m over reacting or attention seeking, have a seat; we’re going to be here a while. If those thoughts were part of your subtle or strong reaction, welcome! This may be your first opportunity to sit with acknowledging your unconscious, inherent antisemitism. Are you uncomfortable? Good! You should be uncomfortable; I am too. This feeling has been with me for some time as I unpack my role in being the receiver of this hatred, and the role I have played in perpetuating it towards others.
Questions that have recently come up in conversations with friends and family that I’d like to clarify my positions on:
- I thought the right was anti-Semitic? Now it’s the left? ANSWER: Antisemitism spans the political spectrum. Politicizing Jews for your personal gain is disgusting, pathetic, and wrong. Call it out in your party the same way you do in the other one. There is no, “but!” in this statement. Neither liberals nor conservatives are immune to, or get a pass in perpetuating antisemitism.
- Jewish people can be antisemitic? ANSWER: Short answer is yes. Further more, believe Jews when they tell you something is anti-Semitic, and maybe ask yourself why you’re searching for someone to tell you it’s not. There’s a lot more to discuss here, but this is something you can research via the google. Judaism is religious, cultural, ancestral… That is why it is so important to seek information from a variety of voices in the Jewish community. Not just the ones that fit your political, social, or religious agenda.
Note: a Jewish person should not be required to prove their Judaism, their political views, or give you anything in exchange before you consider condemning Antisemitism on their behalf. If you have to say, “but,” in any of your attempts to do this, then you are not there yet, and you don’t get to claim that you couldn’t possibly part of the problem. If you have to say but, your activism is conditional; keep going.
A few months ago, a friend reached out to me and was concerned that my posts about antisemitism may be about them. I’ll be honest, it was a day or so of exchanging text messages I felt really awkward about, since this was the first adult discussion I’ve had with a non Jewish person about this. I’m grateful to this friend for being concerned and willing to learn. Their initial reaction was, “is this about me?” when in reality, it is about all of us. At the end of our exchange, we were able to start to see how most people do hold these views, or have participated in rhetoric that fuels antisemitism, which has been normalized by our society.
So while my posts may feel personal, an overreaction, or attention seeking, I assure you they are not. In fact, I have to suspect that me talking about it likely does not help me professionally. Why? Because we live in a world where many people don’t believe this is a real problem. Many individuals find people like me annoying when we talk about this with such urgency. Think of it this way: people will condemn things like neo-nazis, but fail to do so with more subtle forms of antisemitism. Which brings me back to: because they do not understand it.
Even knowing all of this, I have to continue to hope someone hears my voice. This is me caring deeply about my family, my Jewish friends, and as a mother, refusing to be silent.
If you think you are exempt from learning because you, “have a Jewish friend,” or, “do not discriminate based on religion,” I’m deeply not sorry to inform you that you do not get to label yourself as someone who couldn’t possibly be part of the problem that is antisemitism in our society. If you are not willing to learn about it through the lens of a variety of Jewish voices and sources, not just the ones that you agree with, then please don’t bother posting, “we will not tolerate antisemitism!” to your instagram. Especially when the 10 other posts you have shared have been laced with antisemitism that you are likely unaware of because you do not understand it.
My short and sweet tip on that: If you have to ask yourself, “is this post possibly antisemitic?” Then perhaps, spend a lot of time researching that, and don’t post it. Period.
As I work through this on a personal level, and take a deep look at how it has impacted, and continues to impact who I am as a human, I notice I have a habit of feeling compelled to make excuses for people who perpetuate this type of hatred. Especially when it’s people I otherwise enjoy and tend to agree with. Some examples of my thoughts are, “they feel this way but it’s only because they are confused.” “They feel this way but it’s only because of their unfortunate life experiences.”
I am calling myself out on this. I will no longer waste my breath/time rationalizing hatred for Jews. There is literally nothing rational or excusable about it, and whether you are my family, close friend, or a random acquaintance, I will drop you from my life and my children’s, and I will do it without warning, because in 2021, if I have to give you a warning about this, you are not doing life correctly.
As I scroll my social media and see a variety of acquaintances becoming self proclaimed experts on my own lived experiences and family ancestry, I can’t help but feel we are moving in a dangerous backwards cycle, collectively. But then personally, I feel myself moving in this same direction when it comes to my personal well being. This will be part 2 of this post, once I am able to process what is even going on.