What we are reading on antisemitism

It’s been a week filled with thoughts on antisemitism in the wake of the Colleyville synagogue hijacking.

It’s been difficult for many of us to process the events and coverage following the attack. (I’m right there with you in my disappointment with the media’s coverage.)

Here’s what we’ve been reading:

The Atlantic: Why so many people still don’t understand anti-Semitism

Yair Rosenberg, who helped us with out antisemitism series, wrote in The Atlantic why people still don’t understand antisemitism. His theory is a simple one, people don’t understand antisemitism because “unlike many other bigotries, anti-Semitism is not merely a social prejudice; it is a conspiracy theory about how the world operates.”

Under this conspiracy “Antisemitism situates every Jew in a secret position of power and influence, which makes every Jew a target. That’s also why the relatively low overall number of attacks or statistical risk for Jew is not the point.”

Twitter: Rabbi breaks down how much security costs

“I think my posting to Twitter was really about a deep sense that so few non-Jews understand the reality of the Jewish security situation in the United States today,” Rabbi Daniel Bogard told the St. Louis Jewish Light.

Washington Post: The myth that Jews are all-powerful is the biggest threat to Jewish lives

“This weekend’s Texas hostage situation highlights the deadliest threat to Jews today: the myth of Jewish power,” wrote Laura E. Adkins in the Washington Post.

“The conspiracy theory that Jews are uniquely evil and influential has led to the spilling of Jewish blood since at least the Middle Ages and heavily influenced the Nazi ideology that left 11 million dead, including 6 million Jews. But it isn’t just systematic use of the trope for political ends, on the level of ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ that Jews should fear. Even the sort of casual ‘jokes’ that spread online in extremist circles can be deadly.”

Vox: The world has moved on from Colleyville. American Jews can’t.

“What this illustrates, more than anything else, is the protean and primordial nature of anti-Semitism — a prejudice and belief structure so baked into Western society that it has a remarkable capacity to infuse newer ideas and reassert itself in different forms,” writes Zack Beauchamp in Vox.

“Today, we are seeing the rise not of one form of anti-Semitism but of multiple anti-Semitisms — each popular with different segments of the population for different reasons, but also capable of reinforcing each other by normalizing anti-Semitic expression.

“There is no mistaking the consequences for Jews.”

The Daily Beast: Progressive allies need to call out everyday antisemitism

“But antisemitism is more than just the oldest prejudice—it’s also bipartisan and multicultural,” Michael A. Cohen reminded us in The Daily Beast.

“Allyship means listening to American Jews when they point out antisemitism, not questioning what centuries of experience have taught us about anti-Jewish hatred. Having “our back” only some of the time is not enough.

“Allyship also means looking inward at the ways that antisemitism has taken root and flourished in American society.”

Reddit: When is it time to leave?

A Reddit user asked the question “I can’t help but wonder when exactly is it time for American Jews to say ‘It’s time to go’ on the board r/ Judaism.

Now, we at Unpacked aren’t proposing that it’s time for the Diaspora to return, but it is a question I’ve heard many people asking over the last couple of years and months.

The hive mind conclusion on the thread seemed to be this comment:

It’s time to leave when the actual institutions that make up our society actually become antisemitic themselves. That’s because politics is downstream of culture and what starts with institutions will soon result in government. We aren’t there yet (and hopefully never will be).


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