Yesterday, the US House of Representatives passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and bigotry.
In the wake of recent events that led to the passage of this resolution we have heard from members of our community who are distressed over the lack of public understanding/recognition of anti-Semitism. As part of our mission to keep the Memphis Jewish community connected, engaged and cared for, we offer the following talking points and education to help you explain and combat anti-Semitism:
- It is important to call out anti-Semitism because refraining from doing so contributes to the normalization and mainstreaming of hateful rhetoric.
- Anti-Semitism exists on both sides of the political spectrum.
- It is not an expression of anti-Semitism to publicly criticize policies of the Israeli government. In democratic Israel, there is a broad spectrum of political views and criticism of Israeli government policies by opposition parties, organizations and grassroots Israelis. Every American has the right to agree or disagree with a policy of the Israeli government.
- For centuries, the Jewish people have been harassed, persecuted, violently attacked and murdered as a result of anti-Semitic canards. Despite the “updating” of these tropes, explicit or implicit suggestions of the following are expressions of anti-Semitism:
- -The existence of a Jewish conspiracy/cabal aimed at achieving a nefarious end;
- -A coordinated Jewish effort to “buy” public policy;
- -Accusations of Jewish allegiance to a foreign power/government and charges of dual loyalty.
- While there are different opinions as to what anti-Zionism is and when it crosses the line into anti-Semitism, there is the real phenomenon of cloaking hatred of Jews under the cover of “criticizing Israel.” When the intent is to demonize, delegitimize and isolate Israel for the purpose of eliminating the Jewish state rather than improving and strengthening Israeli society, the role of anti-Semitism in that effort comes into play. Examples include:
- -Rejecting the concept of Jewish peoplehood and the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and national sovereignty like every other nation/people;
- -Demonizing the state of Israel as a whole (both its government and its people)/Rhetoric that suggests that Israel is the embodiment of evil and attributing evil motives to everything Israel does; Charging that everything emanating from Israel is aimed only at deflecting criticism of Israeli policy toward the Palestinians, from its humanitarian initiatives at home and abroad to its openness to LGBTQ rights;
- -Holding Israel to impossible standards that no other country is held to and consistently singling out Israel alone;
- -Spewing outrageous accusations that hearken back to medieval blood libels, i.e. charging that Israel harvests Palestinian organs, Israel injects Palestinians with the AIDS virus, etc.
- Speaking out against anti-Semitism is not a method of silencing critics of Israel. Claiming so is itself a tactic to hide behind and mask anti-Semitism. The above slurs have nothing to do with Israel or the Palestinians.
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