Orthodox Anarchist on 7 November reports:
It’s amazing, really. I just spent 10 days in Germany and the most fucked up, antisemitic thing I’ve seen all month is here on the streets of New York City. I mean, not even the swastika on the train from Weimar to Erfurt was this appalling.
It was Albert Einstein who said "I am afraid of the inner damage Judaism will sustain, especially from the development of a narrow nationalism within our own ranks."
Evidence of this inner damage is clearly visible on the streets of Brooklyn, NYC, after Five Orthodox Jewish teens were charged with hate-crime charges after their brutal beating of a young muslim on 29th October 2006. Witnesses said that 10-12 Orthodox Jewish youths jumped a young man of Pakistani origin. The New York Police were only able to arrest 5 of the youths, who brought charges of first, second and third degree asault as a hate crime, and first degree gang assault, menacing, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. Two of the youths were freed on their own recognizance and the other three were ordered to pay $5,000 cash bond and to return to court. The New York Daily News reported:
A spokesman for the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office said there may, indeed, be more arrests.
"They hit me in the face with brass knuckles four or five times while somebody held my hands," said the victim, Shahid Amber, 24, a gas station attendant. "Then they all beat and kicked me. They were screaming 'Muslim m-f-r. You m-f-g Muslim terrorists. Go back to your country.'
Both communities are viewing the horrific as an isolated incident, and leaders are intensifying cooperation efforts. “It is shocking and disturbing that this incident happened,” said Bob Kaplan of the Jewish Community Relations Council. “But there has been years and years of interface between the two communities without incident.” Mohammed Razvi, of the Council of People’s Organizations, which represents South Asian immigrants, said he had never before heard concerns about clashes between the two groups. Shocking and rare as this act is in the US, the media and advocate groups are relentlessly framing Islam as a 'threat' - threat to Jews, threat to American values, threat to world peace, and then we have far-rightist conspiracy theorists and so-called American patriots, who are busy framing Israel as the source of America's woes(a replacement for their old anti-Jewish hatred). It ought not to take a critical psychologist to tell us all that generating the lie of 'cultural/religious war' places intolerable amounts of stress on all communities, at a grass roots level.
So what is Anti-Semitism?
Anti-Semitism is prejudice or discrimination against Semites, based on negative perceptions of their religious beliefs and/or on negative group stereotypes. Anti-Semitism can also be a form of racism. 'Semites' includes Arabs, Arameans, Babylonians, Carthaginians, Ethiopians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians - descendents of the Biblical Shem."
Where did the term come from?
Mitchell Plitnick, of Jewish Voice for Peace, said:
- "What is it we speak of when talking about anti-Semitism? The term itself is a source of some controversy. While the term “Semite” refers to a linguistic group which includes both Arabic and Hebrew, the term “anti-Semitism” was coined by a German Jew-hater, Wilhelm Marr, in the late 19th century. He coined the phrase to refer to a new form of Judeophobia, one which is based on purported racial characteristics. In order to have a term that was easier to pass along than “Judenhass” (hatred of Jews), as well as a new phrase for his theory and one which denied the European heritage of European Jewry, he took what was at the time an obscure linguistic term and applied it to his racial theory of Jews and his ideas as to why they were genetically pre-disposed to threaten European society. The actual term “Semite” is simply a way of grouping speakers of particular languages, including Arabic and Hebrew, and some other, mostly dead, languages. But anti-Semitism was, ironically, coined against Jews alone, despite the fact that, at the time, exceedingly few Jews spoke Hebrew. Even up to today, it has been many centuries since any Semitic language was the primary language of the majority of Jews worldwide. Arabs, on the other hand, are, by definition, Semites, but were beyond the racist consciousness of Marr, who never encountered them."
Cutting through the politics of fear, the reclamation of racist imagery has a long intellectual history, most relevant to the contemporary Jewish spectrum in Heeb magazine's choice of name. This is especially relevant as we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the battle of Cable Street.
In October 1936, police securing a march in east London by Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists clashed with anti-fascists, including Jewish, socialist, Irish and communist groups, leading to the passage of the Public Order Act of 1936.
In September 2006, a mix of Jewish and non-Jewish adults were arrested in Britain at the recent Simcha on the Square event for 'anti-Semitism'. The four were arrested under the Public Order Act on suspicion of distributing racially inflamatory material with intention to incite, and were bailed to return to the station, “pending further enquiries”.
A contemporary example of this reclaimation can be found in Sacha Baron-Cohen’s character Borat, who aims to diffuse anti-Semitism by exposing it to ridicule. “We want to confront the madness of antisemitism, not run from it, as we are encouraged to do by Jewish security groups. We throw the anti-Semites’ images back at them”, said one of the Jewdas activists in an interview with The Times' religion correspondent, Ruth Gledhill.
The specific images chosen for the Jewdas event were grotesque caricatures of Jewish people, images which we abhor, yet they are also self-evidently farcical and it is to this insanity that we draw peoples' attention. Try doing an image-Google for the word 'Jew.' There are real anti-Semites out there. They are not us, and we want to fight them by diffusing their poison.