“Anti semitism is still racism”

Today is Yom Hasho’ah, the day on which Jews around the world remember those who died at the hands of the Nazis and in other instances of persecution around the world. Yom Hasho’ah literally translates from Hebrew as The Catastrophic Day. Today, in a similar way to International Holocaust Memorial Day (27th January), we pledge to remember those who suffered and to be vigilant to ensure it does not happen again. Yet it seems today that antisemitism is creeping back into society’s conciousness in a very subtle way. The most galling example I personally have of this was in the form of a facebook exchange, prompted by a photo with this caption: Bob* eating a whole daffodil for drinks… BIGGEST scrounger tonight ;) I thought that was quite funny, until I noticed Bob’s comment. He’d written: “it was my idea so its not as jewish :p” I must have read that comment five times, while my mood went from red to black, and back to red again. Whilst my anger was white hot, I decided I had to call this person out on his language, and so I commented underneath with: “I’m sorry, did you just use Jewish as a synonym for scrounger? That’s completely unacceptable and actually incredibly offensive” He didn’t reply, so I decided that I would not publically humiliate poor, ignorant Bob, so I looked up his profile and sent him a private message listing the many ways in which his comment was offensive and inappropriate. I asked him whether he knew any Jewish people, where he had derived the idea that Jewish people were tight fisted with money – amongst other things. When he didn’t reply to that I posted it as a comment on the photo. The response I got was little short of astounding. The person who posted the picture apologised for it causing me offense, but said “it hadn’t been meant that way” Oh really? What other possible way could it have been meant? Is there an alternative definition of Jewish that doesn’t refer to followers of Judaism? Is there another definition of scrounger? Bob then decided to comment, making this remark: This is what my mates call me I should have put it in quotations, I do not hold any racist views towards any religion At this point, I was willing to let the conversation go. I made a further comment about how perhaps this person should educate their mates, so that they aren’t “accidentally” racist in future. But then the internet trolls (or Bob’s friends) joined the conversation. I got called a “Senti Jew” (which I understand to be a bastardisation of sentimental or sensitive, but I could be wrong). I got asked why, given I was so keen on stereotypes (clearly, I wasn’t), as a fat girl I wasn’t bubbly and fun. I received an “education” on how the old testement (or, you know, the Torah as Jews know it) explains how Jews are tight. I got asked if I was drunk when I got angry. I got told that it is a fact that if you were to gather 100 000 Christians and 100 000 Jews, the Jews would show a far higher interest in money. (I assume this was all easily verified by actual studies, but am still waiting to be provided with the study report showing this to be true.) And the final blast of ignorance? When I responded to all of the above comments that people who stereotype are ignorant and lazy, and that stereotypes are full of crap – basically – I got informed that it was a Jewish obsession with money that made people resent them in 20s and 30s Germany, causing the Holocaust. Seriously. Talking about the so called money obsession, one person actually wrote: “it was a general impression in the 20’s and 30’s that was a reason for their persecution. It’s not really that offensive at all.” This was followed by someone remarking that the “debate” was “Hitlerarious” and then the poster telling me that the reason I had been offended had been resolved and that we should all stop commenting. I regret in some ways that I didn’t ignore her, but she is a friend and I didn’t want to have a fight with her, nothing she had posted had been offensive. So I didn’t comment further. But what worries me is that these people are well educated, fairly moderate individuals. They’re currently studying for their A Levels, they live in an affluent area of Cheshire and they will most likely go on to Russell Group Universities. In short, they and their ilk are the future leaders of this country – and they are desperately in need of an education. People complain about PC gone mad, but I urge you to check your language, and your behavious when talking about minority ethnic groups. Islamophobia is a far more contemporary issue, and one which we should rightly be very concerned about. Racism against black people is worrying in that we have been through the struggles of the 60s and 70s and yet still the marginalisation of black people is a serious issue. Sexism, homophobia, transphobia and ableist language would not be tolerated by these people – but anti semitic language “wasn’t meant that way”. Just because anti semitism is an old form of prejudice and discrimination doesnt mean that it doesn’t exist anymore. Zachor. Remember.

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