Words of the Week

“I share the outrage of Jews and Zionists who recognize how antisemitism has infiltrated the academy and progressive politics in multiple and worrying ways. Even though these activists may vigorously deny the label of antisemitism, at the very least they benefit from deeply ingrained antisemitic attitudes that assume Jews (or the Jew-writ-large of the State of Israel) are inherently powerful, wealthy, aggressive, shadowy, clannish, and untrustworthy. With little of the intellectual honesty and empathy they claim to embody, many anti-Israel activists advance their cause with the aid of these dangerous tropes, and have enjoyed unparalleled success in singling out Israel for rebuke as a result. As a consequence, not only are Israelis dehumanized in deeply repulsive ways by a supposedly humane academy/progressive political class, but BDS activism in the far left has become one of the most effective vehicles for reifying and spreading calumnies and discrimination against Jews. This state of affairs has already led to violence against Jewish students on campus and the exclusion of valuable Jewish voices in progressive causes that have no clear, obvious link to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

As a Jew, a Zionist, a progressive, a professor, and a campus rabbi, I am deeply worried about these trends and what they mean for my students.”

Source: Rabbi Rachel Isaacs, Jewish Waterville

3 thoughts on “Words of the Week

  1. David Rosenberg says:

    Rabbi Isaacs,
    Wonderful elucidation on intersectionality (via Erika Dreifus via Jewish Waterville) but… I fear the elephant in the room is marginalized. So much depends upon your reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–BDS, etc.–when the major concern for Israel remains the larger Israel-Arab conflict (and, not to forget Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan, the Israel-political Islam conflict). That elephant is existential for Israel, and is also the main driver of antisemitism in the West, where the Palestinian issue is a symbolic Trojan horse. The larger support of Arab and Islamic states for enmity to Israel, and its support of Palestinian intransigence, needs more exposure, even as it is internalized by Israel. Too many Americans are resentful of Israel because they see the Palestinian conflict in a vacuum. How to change that? Perhaps intersectionality can expand more cogently to anti-Zionism as a form of antisemitism.

    Kol tuv,
    David Rosenberg

  2. Cathy Bryant says:

    Thanks for that, Erika. Here in the UK I’ve been horrified by the increased antisemitism. I speak up against it when I encounter it, but what else can be done? I’m ashamed of the way my country has behaved to its Jewish inhabitants.

    1. Erika Dreifus says:

      Cathy, don’t discount the importance of speaking up!

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