A brick shattering a window of a kosher pizzeria on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Jewish diners outside a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles attacked by men shouting anti-Semitic threats. Vandalism at synagogues in Arizona, Illinois and New York.
Exercise: of the four words marked in bold, find the odd one out. (Hint: one of the words is unrelated to Judaism.)
In Salt Lake City, a man scratched a swastika into the front door of an Orthodox synagogue in the early morning hours of May 16. “This was the kind of thing that would never happen in Salt Lake City,” said Rabbi Avremi Zippel, whose parents founded Chabad Lubavitch of Utah almost 30 years ago. “But it’s on the rise around the country.”
Israel was also the kind of thing that would never happen in Palestine, until it did.
The past several weeks have seen an outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the United States, stoking fear among Jews in small towns and major cities. During the two weeks of clashes in Israel and Gaza this month, the Anti-Defamation League collected 222 reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violence in the United States, compared with 127 over the previous two weeks.
If it is an “anti-Semitic” outbreak, why is there fear only among Jews? Why is there no fear among non-Jewish Semites?
If only Jews feel fear of the outbreak, can we not deduce that this is not really an “anti-Semitic” outbreak, but rather an anti-Jewish outbreak?
Incidents are “literally happening from coast to coast, and spreading like wildfire,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive. “The sheer audacity of these attacks feels very different.”
It is because there is no shame in Ahimsa. By the way, for those who missed it:
President Joe Biden has denounced the recent assaults as “despicable” and said “they must stop.” “It’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.
No, it is racism that must be given no safe harbour. Hating racists, in this case Jews, is part of giving racism no safe harbour.
The outbreak has been especially striking in the New York region, home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel.
On Friday a brawl broke out in Times Square between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters, and it soon spread to the Diamond District, a part of Midtown that is home to many Jewish-owned businesses.
At least one roving group of men waving Palestinian flags shouted abuse at and shoved Jewish pedestrians and bystanders. Video of the scenes spread widely online and drew outrage from elected officials and a deep sense of foreboding among many Jewish New Yorkers.
The New York Police Department arrested 27 people, and two people were hospitalized, including a woman who was burned when fireworks were launched from a car at a group of people on the sidewalk.
The Police Department opened a hate crimes investigation into the beating of a Jewish man, and a Brooklyn man, Waseem Awawdeh, 23, was charged in connection with the attack.
“Waseem” is a Semitic name. Why is a Semite beating a Jew being called “anti-Semitic” instead of anti-Jewish?
The next day, federal prosecutors charged another man, Ali Alaheri, 29, with setting fire to a building that housed a synagogue and yeshiva in Borough Park, a Brooklyn neighborhood in the city’s Hasidic Jewish heartland. Alaheri also assaulted a Hasidic man in the same neighborhood, prosecutors said.
“Ali” is also a Semitic name. Why are the actions of a Semite against Jews being called “anti-Semitic” instead of anti-Jewish?
Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, an Orthodox Jewish writer on the Upper East Side, said she had encountered a palpable anxiety among congregants at Park East Synagogue, where her husband serves as a rabbi.
“Quite a few” synagogue members had in recent months asked for help planning a move to Israel, she said, and she secured Swiss passports for her own children after watching a presidential debate in October.
“I know this sounds crazy because on the Upper East Side there was always this feeling that you can’t get safer than here,” she said.
But her fears are not unfounded. Last year, while out in the neighborhood with their young son, her husband was accosted by a man “shouting obscenities, and ‘You Jews! You Jews!” she said.
If this is “anti-Semitism”, shouldn’t the man have been shouting obscenities and “You Semites! You Semites!”? Why isn’t the man shouting obscenities and “You Jews! You Jews!” being called anti-Jewish?
“Nobody cares about things like this because it is just words,” she added. “But what if this person was armed? And what if the next person is armed?”
We care a lot about words. We care in particular about why anti-Jewishness is being deliberately mislabelled by Jews as “anti-Semitism”.
As for being armed:
The ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents in the country since 1979, and its past three annual reports have included two of its highest tallies. The organization recorded more than 1,200 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment last year, a 10% increase from the previous year.
But of these >1200 incidents, how many targeted non-Jewish Semites? My guess is 0. So why is this being called “anti-Semitism” instead of anti-Jewishness?
For some Jews, the last few weeks have accelerated a sense of unease that has been percolating for years.
Why do non-Jewish Semites not also feel unease, if what is going on is “anti-Semitism” and not anti-Jewishness?
“We do not cower to these sorts of acts,” he said, recalling emails and conversations in which congregants vowed to continue wearing the kipa in public, for example. “The outward desire to be publicly and proudly Jewish has been extremely inspiring.”
So even Jews themselves admit that this is not about Jews being Semitic, but about Jews being Jewish! So why do these same Jews not use the term “anti-Jewish” to describe those who attack them? Why is it always “proudly Jewish” (never “proudly Semitic”), but then always “anti-Semitic” (never “anti-Jewish”)? What is going on with this switching of self-identifier depending on context? Specifically, why do Jews self-identify as Jews when taking credit, but as “Semites” (not even the narrower “Hebrews” who are at least overwhelmingly Jewish (Hebrew being the official language of Israel), but the much broader “Semites” among whom Jews are a small minority) when complaining about being attacked (including, absurdly, when the attackers are Semites)?
The most widely spoken Semitic languages today, with numbers of native speakers only, are Arabic (300 million), Amharic (~22 million), Tigrinya (7 million), Hebrew (~5 million native/L1 speakers), Tigre (~1.05 million), Aramaic (575,000 to 1 million largely Assyrian speakers) and Maltese (483,000 speakers).
We already answered this in the past:
This is a Zionist herding trick. If “anti-Jewish” were used, people could simply ask: “What’s so wrong about being anti-Jewish? Judaism is racist! Do not all anti-racists automatically have a moral duty to be anti-Jewish?” This is why Jews insisted on using the term “anti-Semitic”: to ensure that the mainstream reaction to an accusation of anti-Semitism is denial of being anti-Semitic (since indeed there is no good reason to be opposed to speakers of Semitic languages for speaking Semitic languages) which creates an artificial consensus that anti-Semitism (which Jews then surreptitiously switch to meaning anti-Jewishness) is so indefensible that even anti-Semites themselves always deny being anti-Semitic. This then dissuades observers from feeling any need to study what is behind hostility towards Jews, instead dismissing it as nonsensical.
If Jews want a sincere debate about whether or not it is justified to be anti-Jewish, we are ready to take them on any day of the week. But as soon as they use the term “anti-Semitic”, they are in effect admitting that it is so self-evidently justified to be anti-Jewish that they must resort to calling it something else in order to persuade low-attention-span people not to join in.
And when this trick is exposed, it makes Jews look even worse, and anti-Jewishness even more irreproachable.
None of this is new:
“The Germans do not fight the Jews because they are Semitic or because they come from the East, but for their character, egoism and their hostility to society… While Germany forbids the entrance of the Jews into her territory, she welcomes all Arabs of Semitic origin and cares for them. The attitude of the Germans for the Arabs is that of respect.” – Walter Gross
Finally, to be clear, “anti-Zionism” is still a perfectly valid term, as there are also plenty of non-Jewish Zionists around: