JEW HATRED

Really and truly, and I don’t mean to be flippant or mean or cynical, but I have to assume that most people who aren’t Jewish are antisemitic or racist against Jews or whatever you want to call it. We’re all prejudiced–all of us–about others, and that’s just inbuilt into who we are as human beings. But hatred of Jews is the oldest, continuous human prejudice–at least 2,500 years old. Just 80 years ago, we witnessed the annihilation of 6 million Jews, and we act as if this is now only marginally relevant to our lives in 2021.

I honestly assume that most people, when they find out I’m Jewish, will dislike me, make certain assumptions about me, maybe hate me, patronize me, see me as some kind of biblical incarnation, look at me as part of Jesus’ family, believe I’m smart and rich, resent me–you name it. In the U.S. (but not in Europe for the most part), people can’t look at me and most other Jews and figure out we’re Jewish. That’s an enormous advantage, but, once they do figure us out, then all the crap comes through. Even when they’re trying to be nice, it comes through–because, well, being nice is a way of acknowledging that we Jews are different and a minority, and they have to treat us in a different way. And, the truth is, we are different. So I don’t blame them.

But it’s exhausting, and people feel as if they can attack Jews without much consequence these days. Now we Jews all stand as some kind of stand-in for Israel. So, if the Israeli government or Netanyahu does something they don’t like, then we’re supposed to stand up and condemn Israel as evil. If we don’t–if we present a more nuanced picture–then they attack us and condemn us–even if we criticize Israel. And then they tell us that we’re wrong to call them antisemitic. They say they’re just criticizing the actions of the Israeli government.

Why do anti-Zionists get to decide what and who is antisemitic? Do heterosexuals get to decide what homophobia is? Do men get to decide what misogyny is? Do White people get to decide what racism is? Really??? Why do non-Jews get a free pass at engaging in patently prejudiced behavior? Inquiring minds want to know. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just proof of Jew hatred that’s out there–Jews aren’t even allowed to identify when others are engaging in offensive behavior or language.

For example, if you support BDS, you’re antisemitic. You just are. Because: 1) you’re picking on Israel without doing the same thing for other countries that have engaged in far more offensive and violent activities; and 2) you’re supporting a movement that opposes the right of Jews to have their own state (that’s what BDS states)–while not doing the same for countless countries across the globe.

Yes, there lots of antisemitic language I hear on both the far-right and far-left. It comes from politicians across the political spectrum on both sides of the aisle. I’m hearing it today with regard to the recent conflagration in the Middle East. But it’s not restricted to politicians. It enters into daily life and is just part of the most routine activities. Could I ever imagine myself putting a menorah in my window? You’d have to be crazy to do that. Why? Because someone would throw rocks in your windows–or worse. And why do you think synagogues have to have to have police security these days? This is reality across the globe, including the U.S.

So here we are. I have no idea how to address this. I wish I did.

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DR. LAURENCE H. KANT (LARRY KANT), MYSTIC SCHOLAR: Engaged Mysticism and Scholarship in the Pursuit of Wisdom; Discovering meaning in every issue and facet of life; Integrating scholarship, spirituality, mysticism, poetry, community, economics, and politics seamlessly. Historian of Religion: Ph.D., Yale University, 1993 (Department of Religious Studies); Exchange Scholar, Harvard University, Rabbinics, 1983-84; M.A., 1982, Yale, 1982 (Department of Religious Studies); M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School, 1981; B.A., Classics (Greek and Latin), Tufts University, 1978; Wayland High School (Wayland, MA), 1974. Served on the faculty of Cornell University (Ithaca, NY), York University (Toronto), and Lexington Theological Seminary (Lexington, KY). Works in many languages: Ancient Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, English, French, Italian, German, Modern Greek (some Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish). Holder of numerous honors and awards, including The Rome Prize in Classics (Prix de Rome) and Fellow of the American Academy of Rome.

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