Why anti-Semitism’s Turn-On-A-Dime Lethal
While I am not anti-religious, I am not a theist. I do not identify with Religious Judaism. I identify with Judaism as a series of values-systems emerging from culture- and wisdom-texts that deeply informs (though does not wholly define) my social relations, my cultural-, political-, justice-interests and commitments.
And yet I am, as is every Jew, subject to anti-Semitism regardless of my Jewish and non-Jewish affiliations and commitments.
What makes modern anti-Semitism…modern…is precisely that anti-Semitism, since close by the beginning of the last century, does not require me to believe in anything spiritual for me or for any Jew to be a target of anti-Semitism, because the real and lasting Nazi triumph remains the now rather permanent idea that being a Jew is not, at root, about ideas in the minds of Jews or Jew-haters, but being a Jew is about blood. And you do not need people loudly to sign on to that theory for it to matter because, since the triumph of Twentieth-Century Racial anti-Semitism, that free-floating protoplasm of anti-Jewish bigotry, is so infused with racialist ideology (no matter what any other particular iteration of anti-Jewish sentiment may also attach or independently exist), that, in fact, all anti-Semitic instances are tainted by, if not shot through with, Racial anti-Semitism.
And what that means is that it can always, societally (large, regional, even on a campus or in a neighborhood, or in a legislature or in a courtroom), turn on a dime lethal.
Note: The photo is that of a poster at Princeton.
Alan M. Milner
07/06/2019 @ 4:35 pm
Jonathan, let me try to be brief for a change. The idea that the Nazis or any other antisemitic entity created the concept of Jewish racial identity conflicts with the basic fact that Jews define who is a Jew by blood themselves.
Proof: Whether you are a Jew – in the eyes of any Jewish community I’ve ever come into contact with – is based upon the identity of the mother. If the mother was Jewish, the child is Jewish. If the mother was Jewish and the father was not Jewish, the child is still Jewish. If the father is Jewish, but the mother is not Jewish, then the child is not Jewish in the eyes of orthodox, conservative, and some reformed congregations.
The reason for this is simple. In the days before DNA testing, the only absolutely reliable evidence that the pintella was a Yid was on the basis of whose womb the pintella came from. That is an observable, provable fact. Before DNA testing, there was no way to conclusively demonstrate that the putative father was the actual father.
Hence, Jews have always believed that Jewish identity was a matter of blood., Today, we would stay that it is a matter of DNA, but it is still about blood.
I am reminded of this true story: Once upon a time, up in Bangor, Maine, a Jewish born was turning 13 years of age. If I remember the story right, his father was the kosher baker, a very important man in an outpost town like Bangor, Maine. The man had married a non-Jewish woman who had never converted. When his son was just about to go before the Congregation to read his HafTorah portion, the new – and more orthodox – rabbi, having heard the rumors about the child, investigated the matter, found it to be true, declared the boy traif and banned him from the shul.
Some thirty years would pass before that error would be corrected, when a group of Jews from Maine took the young man – now grown up of course – to Israel, where he was made bar mitzvah in front of the Western Wall. That man was Senator William Cohen, who served as Secretary of Defense under Bill Clinton.
07/06/2019 @ 4:42 pm
Alan…Jews ID as an ethnicity (as well as a cultural grp and, for some, as a religious culture), based on the ethnicity of a person’s mother. It is not abt racial characteristics. .
In the event, did you get my email request abt my photo?
07/07/2019 @ 1:39 am
Except that it is impossible to convert to most ethnicities.