Monday, December 30, 2019

Seth Frantzman: When Blacks Mistreat Jews, We Close Our Eyes and Ears.

Photo by Amr Alfiky Reuters source

Seth Frantzman's December 30, 2019 column in the Jerusalem Post rails against the refusal to address anti-Semitism among protected groups. You can read "Inconvenient antisemitism: daily attacks on Jews in New York. After Jersey City and Monsey the US needs a united front against antisemitism in all communities" here.


"Almost every day in Brooklyn Jews are attacked. When this happened in the Pale of Settlement in the Russian Empire it was called a pogrom. If someone said that every day in Kiev Jews were being beaten and attacked on subways and in the streets, we would correctly identify it as a pogrom-like series of attacks. But not in New York."

Frantzman's column is excellent and I wish I could post every word, but I don't want to violate his copyright. 

More excerpts are below:

There have been near daily attacks in New York City this year, a kind of slow-moving pogrom against Jews, particularly targeting ultra-Orthodox Jews.The murder of three people at a kosher supermarket in Jersey City was mostly ignored in the United States. No rallies or marches against the antisemitism that led to it. No major political upheavals or even much recognition. The usual anger over gun violence after mass shootings was nowhere to be found. The victims and the perpetrators are inconvenient. America as a whole can’t mourn Orthodox Jews and it can’t confront perpetrators when the perpetrators come from a minority community. This is inconvenient antisemitism and it is a kind of antisemitism privilege. Despite widespread anti-racism programs in the US, there are still those in America for whom being antisemitic is a birthright and not something to be ashamed of.

The New York Times described the Black Hebrew Israelites as being “known for their inflammatory sidewalk ministers who employ provocation as a form of gospel.” It’s a bit more than that. In fact, the group and the milieu around it tend to view religion through a racial lens, such that Jews are described as “white” and “fake” and the “real Jews” are portrayed as black, along with all the prophets and religious figures. The ADL pointed out that this group views itself as the real “chosen people” and that it sees people of color as the real descendants of the 12 tribes. The group was in the media earlier in the year in Washington DC when they shouted insults at Catholic high school students.

Mainstream society wants to view this as “provocation,” because if they viewed it as a burgeoning racist violent movement targeting Jews then they would have to confront it and ask tough questions of why it is tolerated in a community. Expert J.J. McNab told the Associated Press that in fact this group takes pride in “confronting Jewish people everywhere and explaining that they are evil.”

In American society there is generally only place for one kind of racism. There are far-right white supremacists and everyone else. This Manichean worldview of antisemitism and racism means we are only comfortable with one type of perpetrator. An angry white man. Those are the racists.The comfort society has with expecting perpetrators to be “far-right” and “white” even led Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to blame “white supremacy” for the Jersey City attack. 

The difference is that society condemns and confronts comments by the white supremacists.the elephant in the room of black antisemitism is not mentioned. Too often, African American officials make openly antisemitic statements without fear of reaction. A school board member attacked “brutes of the Jewish community” after the Jersey City attack.In Washington DC an African American member of the city council claimed the Rothschilds control the weather. Instead of fully condemning him, he was invited to the Holocaust Museum and to experience Jewish holidays with the community. 

Why is the answer to antisemitism often the invitation to a nice embrace at a Jewish holiday? Does the KKK get invited to a black church as a reward for their racism?Unlike with white supremacy, other forms of antisemitism, such as black supremacist antisemitism, is seen as not the fault of the individual, but rather some ignorant ideas that a nice Passover dinner can correct. We need to do “outreach,” is the message

The attack on Jews as “fake” and “white” is rising. In November in London a black man took out a Bible and began harassing a Jewish Orthodox family until a Muslim woman intervened. The perpetrator was detained for a hate crime. In Miami a man also threatened Jews with a knife, calling them “fake.” In 2018 an Orthodox Jewish man was attacked in Crown Heights, called a “fake Jew.”

 The Forward ran an article claiming that black anti-Semites are motivated by anger over gentrification, police brutality and slavery.” The article claimed that Jews “like all white people, part of the racist system that keeps black people under the foot of society.” This is the way a Jewish newspaper explained hatred of Jews. It defined Jews as “white” and gave credence to the idea that antisemitism is motivated by “police brutality and slavery.” This is a window into a very real worldview that openly says Jews are behind police brutality and slavery and gentrification.

In New York the police have stepped up their presence after attacks, but even that has been condemned as sending too many police to a neighborhood of “people of color.” Now Jews will be blamed for the police presence too instead of someone struggling against the violent antisemitism and inter-racial marches of solidarity against it.

The New Yorker asked whether an “influx of Hasidic residents in the Greenville [Jersey City] neighborhood spur two assailants to embark on a shooting spree that left six people dead.” Jews, simply for moving somewhere, may cause a shooting spree, in this explanation.Jews are the only US minority group who, when they move somewhere, are accused of being an “influx.” A review of the discussion about the New York City attacks reveals an America that has trouble adjusting to and describing antisemitism when it comes from unexpected perpetrators. 

Also, those most prone to be shocked, other members of the Jewish community, sometimes see haredi Jews through a vaguely discriminatory lens, which others them. In the US there tends to be pass for minority groups who are homophobic or racist. When the perpetrators and victims do not fit a convenient model, it is easier to just excuse the attacks or see them as random. 

Again, the entire piece is excellent, and you can read it here

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