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Anti-Semitisim: Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire

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I’ve never been one to scream fire, even when there’s a lot of smoke, until I actually see the flames. Even now I have a reluctance to write what I’m about to write because I’m still not one hundred percent convinced of how accurate my sight is. But sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct and accept that what you’re seeing is the truth, no matter how much you’d like to deny it.

Over the past few years I’ve been steadily trying to ignore something that seems to have started appearing on both sides of the political spectrum, a rise in anti-Semitism. Since that infamous day in September 2001 when the planes were crashed into the World Trade Centre undercurrents and whispers have started to pop up all over the place.

From the blatantly ridiculous; Jews knew in advance not to come to work that day so none were killed in the attacks, and that Israeli citizens were evacuated from the Jordanian hotel the day before it was bombed; to the overtly offensive of Wal-Mart selling copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion; anti Jewish propaganda has been on the rise.

Anti Semitism has been part of my life in some polite form or another since I was a child. When I was kid we lived in a very WASP part of North Toronto and most of the kids I went to school with were far more affluent than my family. Inevitably each year one of my classmate’s would have their birthday party at the Granite Club; a type of a country club in midtown Toronto.

Of course it was exclusive, which really means exclusion, restricted to people who were of Anglo Saxon protestant background. I remember being shocked when I found out about this and wondered aloud to one of my friends about it. His response was, well they wouldn’t be comfortable here anyway. Well duh, of course there not going to be comfortable with that sort of attitude.

Of course none of these people would have considered themselves racist or anything like that, that wasn’t polite. But if you asked them why they didn’t let Jews into their clubs or why they didn’t have any for friends it was because they were different: “They’re just not like us” They’d tell me things like this, not realising how it must make me feel, because I was different.

Of course as I grew older I began to realise that this was pretty mild compared to what was out there in the way of anti-Semitic activities. The seventies in Toronto saw the rise of several Neo Nazi groups who advocated the usual white power/Jewish conspiracy type of crap. They were also my first exposure to Holocaust denial. I couldn’t believe anybody could take that stuff seriously.

The death of six million plus people never happened. Pretty elaborate deception don’t you think, with a lot of people involved going to a lot of work to build all those fake camps, crematoriums, mass graves, and faking all those photographs. But then you find out that there are teachers in schools who are telling their students these lies, and people were actually defending their right to do that as freedom of speech.

I don’t know how I managed to avoid the Christ killer shit for so long but I did. I don’t think I actually heard anyone say that until I was around fourteen or fifteen. How are you supposed to respond to that one: “You killed the son of God” What me personally? Geez I missed that, was it during one of my black outs from drinking too much Manischewitz?

I actually had some kid say to me at school one day that the only reason he didn’t like me was because I was a Jew and had killed Christ. I broke his nose. The only fight I got into in my whole adolescence. Pathetic really but he pissed me off. It’s people like that guy who made me so grateful to Lenny Bruce latter in life when I heard his take on the topic.

He did this routine where he says: “Okay, Okay I admit it. Me and a couple of the boys took him down in the basement and did him. You happy. Look be glad we did it back then and not now. Think of having to walk around with an electric chair on a chain around your neck” I’m paraphrasing obviously but you get the point. I like a syringe better, but electric chair works.

It’s funny how the Romans got away with that one wasn’t it. They were the dudes running the country at the time, responsible for crucifixions and all law and order stuff, but still they managed to pass the buck to the Jews. Of course that has nothing to do with the Roman Catholic Church I suppose. Oh sorry was that out loud?

It used to be that the predominant source of anti-Semitic thinking was from the right side of the political spectrum. Communist Jewish bankers were out to take over the world. Or the labour movement was rife with Jewish anarchists looking to overthrow the government. Judaism and Communism went together like ham and cheese.

Now though things seem to have changed. The new theory is there is Jewish conservative cabal of bankers and businessmen in Washington who dictate foreign policy for the United States. It’s because of them that America supports Israel and is opposed to the Arab countries, and therefore indirectly the towers were destroyed.

Is this the same American government that’s the conservative Christian one in power right now, or is this an American government I don’t know about? What about a thing called the Senate and the House of Representatives? Don’t they have something to do with the running of that country?

I’m not talking about Muslim or Arab world criticisms either, cause that’s a completely different kettle of fish. When they lash out at Israel at least you know why, they’re at war with them, that’s the type of behaviour you expect from countries at war with each other.

This stuff is coming from supposed left wing people and they are now parroting the nazi propaganda of seventy years ago. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad and upsetting. I wonder if these people even listen to what they’re saying. I have no problem with people criticizing the policies of Israel, hell I do it all the time. But too often the criticisms sound like attacks on Jewish people using the word Israel as a smoke screen.

I expect I’ll be roundly criticized for this article; told I’m being over sensitive and paranoid. But tell me how would you feel hearing people regularly say things like they were Jewed out of something, or they Jewed somebody down to get a good bargain?

Nobody ever seems to make a big deal out of the religion of a group of business men or corporate leaders unless they happen to be Jewish; why’s that? Have you ever heard Donald Trump being called a Christian businessman?

The world is heading into troubled economic times and things are more and more in turmoil. Now’s the time people look for scapegoats, someone else to blame for their troubles. To me it looks like a lot are turning to an old favourite.

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About Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is the author of two books commissioned by Ulysses Press, "What Will Happen In Eragon IV?" (2009) and "The Unofficial Heroes Of Olympus Companion". Aside from Blogcritics his work has appeared around the world in publications like the German edition of Rolling Stone Magazine and the multilingual web site Qantara.de. He has been writing for Blogcritics.org since 2005 and has published around 1900 articles at the site.
  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Again, Gypsyman, a very nice job. By the way, you did the right thing breaking the antisemite’s nose. You did Rav Meir Kahane, z”l, proud. You taught a very essential lesson. Antisemitism is the antisemite’s problem, not yours. It is not likely that that dumb kid called anybody a christ killer again.

    I don’t care what anybody told you then or tells you now. You did right and you should be proud of yourself.

    Like I said, we’re not necessarily on the opposite side of the fence.

    Now, to the meat of what you wrote. Jews on campuses across North America are nervous about showing themselves as Jews ore showing “too much” pride in being Jewish. “New left” profs on campuses, often ‘Jews’ themselves, will flunk kids who showe support for Israedl in class or on papers. Then there are the Palestine Days and the eforts to prevent Jewish organizations to do anythin to show Jewish pride on campus – often violent intimidation by Arabs and their running dogs. This is stuff I get in my inbox all the time.

    Where there is smoke, there is indeed fire.

    But Gypsyman, consider. You, and the other Jews remaining on the North American continent have a place to go if you get good and sick of it all. You can come here. You can come home.

    Just don’t wait till riots break out and you have to flee. It may be too late then.

  • GoHah

    very well expressed–and you’re not being overly sensitive and paranoid.

  • tommyd

    I live in NYC and was part of a conversation where my friend’s jewish friend was complaining about the “rise in anti-semitism” and how a new Holocaust was just around the corner. Well, I understand very well how Jews suffered during WWII, but I had to say that what this guy was saying was complete paranoia. The question you have to ask is WHY is there a perceived “rise in anti-semitism”? Would it be that Gentiles across the world have seen that the American Neocon architects of the Project for a New American Century and the Iraq War were mostly Jews?? I dunno, you tell me.

    But furthermore, I had to tell my friend’s friend that worrying about “anti-semitism” in the City of New York, where there’s more Jews residing than in Israel, a Jewish mayor, and about 50% of NYC’s population is Jewish, is probably being just a little paranoid, wouldn’t you say?

  • Sean

    Do you have a link to the story about the Prtocols of the Elders of Zion being sold at Wal-Mart? I missed that story

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    You’re entitled to your opinions Tommy, but at least get your facts straight. Forty years ago, there were more Jews in New York City than in all of the State of Israel. Today, Israel has nearly half of the Jews on the planet. More than 5½ million of us live here.

    Your city has roughly 8,000,000 people. Four million Jews do not live in New York.

    I grew up in New York, and I ran into plenty of anti-semitism. Not all of it was so polite either. Like Gypsyman, I got into fights over it.

    It’s a sick culture in the Galut, Tommy. Jews talk about social justice because they’re a minority – but they push real hard to get to the top of the scrap heap.

    The Protestant elite that runs your nation understands this very well. They are very intelligent people.

    The neo-cons are nearly at the top – like porcelain pieces in the china closet. That is exactly what they are, too. When things go bad, you’re supposed to throw rocks at the porcelain pieces – while the élite that owns them – and the Protestant élite does own the neo-cons – laughs all the way to the bank.

    Why should they care if a few Jews get hurt while they make their millions? They’re just Jews.

  • tommyd

    Ruvy, I have many Jewish friends here, and to their credit, ALL of them that I know personally were sickened by America’s war on Iraq, which many Jews did support and many did not. I never think, or ever thought, Jews were monolithic like some hardcore anti-semites believe they are.

    Also, many of my Jewish friends hardly ever expressed fears of anti-semitism, so I don’t believe that most Jews have this paranoia that all the Gentiles are “out to get them”. All peoples and nationalities encounter some form of prejudice no matter where they are.

    I might have exaggerated the percentage of Jews in NYC, but I can’t be that far off, because I include the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island as well as Manhattan in NYC. There’s 1 million Jews in Brooklyn alone.

    But my point is that while Jews have worked hard to rise to the top in politics and media and have led movements for social justice and civil rights, they failed to realize that some of these movements they fought hard for were actually going to hurt them in the long run. And when many of the projects that Jews were involved in didn’t turn out to be exactly beneficial to Americans at large, the word leaks out as to “who were the ones who started this in the first place and why can’t it be changed”.

    This isn’t anti-semitic, in my opinion. I’m concerned for the Jews because I know that although they certainly are not monolitic in their beliefs and causes, unfortunately, as history has shown, all suffer together…especially the middle and working class Jews while the ones who implemented and promoted terrible political movements always escape. My friends are the former, not the latter.

    It’s a complicated issue.

  • JR

    Ruvy in Jerusalem: By the way, you did the right thing breaking the antisemite’s nose.

    Wow, so if someone says something really wrong and offensive, you’re supposed to break their nose?

    I’ll remember that next time I read a bad review of Van Halen’s first album.

  • Best joke ever on the absurdity of blaming entire races or groups for anything:

    “Everybody blames the Jews for killing Christ, and then the Jews try to pass it off on the Romans. I’m one of the few people that believe it was the blacks.” — Sarah Silverman

    Source here.

  • Ruvy in Jerusalem

    Listen, Tommy, it’s a good that you included Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx in your stats. New York City includes all five boroughs. I was quoting all five boroughs in my stats too, BTW.

    Just for your information, there are about 4½ million Jews in the United States who can prove it religiously, and about a million more when you include the intermarriage stats with Reform Jews.

    If Jews are scared of antisemitism, they are not likely to share that fear with a non-Jew. At least folks of my generation wouldn’t Nothing personal meant here, but some things you don’t share with outsiders.

    But you are right. Jews, like every other group of people on this planet, are not a monolithic group.

    Gypsyman’s perceptions are not based on paranoia. There has been a real rise in anti-Jewish acts in your country, Canada and of course, Europe. This is reflected in numbers of attacks, numbers of acts of vandalism, numbers generally. Also, in the media and on lists, less in the US than in Europe, there is a steady drumbeat of condemnation of Zionists – meaning Jews. I want to very specific, lest this be misinterpreted. In these instances that I cite, the word Zionist is meant as a code word for Jew. This has nothing to do with support for Israel.

  • tommyd

    Ruvy, I must ask: Why are the Jews Against Zionism never heard of? I certainly know that they exist and I think they do have a point that the very high profile Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the partiality towards Israel in the American press feeds the fire of anti-semitic feelings throughout the world. I also notice that the Jews who make up most of the Anti-Zionist movements are orthodox/hasidic Jews. Why is that? What do you think of them?

  • Gypsyman: Toronto had anti-semitism! You should have grown up in the American South in the 50′ and 60’s. I had a daily dose including from teachers and the coach who would ask, if I missed a day; “Another Jew holiday?”

    WalMart started in Arkansas. What do you want from the people who brought you Orville Faubus and Little Rock?

    My Hasidic cousin in Jerusalem sends me regular emails. When I refused the serious religious diatribes, he began sending interesting articles and jokes. This “joke” is one of the latest and, I think, cogent to the discussion:

    In the mid-60’s, a United States Navy cruiser stopped in Mississippi for a week of shore leave. The first evening in port, the Captain was more than a little surprised to receive the following letter from the wife of a wealthy plantation owner:

    Dear Captain,

    Thursday will be my daughter Melinda’s coming-of-age party. I would like you to send four well-mannered, handsome, unmarried officers to attend the dance. They should arrive at 8 p.m. prepared for an evening of polite Southern conversation and dance with lovely young ladies. One last point: No Jews – We don’t like Jews.”

    Sure enough, at 8 p.m. on Thursday, the lady of the house heard a rap at the door which she opened to find, in dress uniform, four exquisitely-mannered, smiling black United States Naval officers.

    Her jaw hit the floor, but pulling herself together, she stammered, “There must be some mistake.”

    “Madam,” said the first officer, “Captain Goldberg doesn’t make mistakes.”

    Indeed, in 1949 the Anti-Defamation League noted a huge spike in anti-semitism in America. War fears and insecurity seem to trigger the hunt for a scapegoat from among “the others”. Our civilized and democratic melting pot may not be as far from the savagery of Russian pogroms & German evil as we would like to believe.

  • Tommy,

    This gets complicated. So please bear with me.

    Reform Jews generally were against Zionism because they wanted to Christianize Judaism as much as they could, and building a Jewish state would be counter-productive to their agenda.

    So after Hitler had murdered off a third of our people and the Brits had blocked off the most logical place to go, Israel, it just didn’t sound good to say that you were against Zionism. The people with the numbers on the arms who didn’t want to talk about the nightmares their lives had become in death camps were persuasive without arguing, if you get my drift.

    Now, let’s turn to the Haredím, whom you call Hassidim. They fall into three categories. The first category is a bunch of idiots (excuse me, a sect) who actively oppose the State of Israel and are known as the Neturei Karta. Arafat kept one of thse guys around in Ramallah as a sort of “pet Jew” to impress Europeans and others that he was a man who believed in religious toleration. Yeah. Tell that to the Christian Arabs whose daughters were raped by Arafat’s thugs.

    The second group of Haredím, the overwhelming majority, do not regard the State as anything different from any other state. In other words, while they recognize that they are living in the Holy Land, in their eyes, they regard themselves as still living in exile because of the secular nature of the state. If the messiah shows up and gets rid of the secular government, that will satisfy them.

    So they are not anti-Zionist per se as rather having the view that the Israeli state has as much legitimacy as the French state – no more.

    They differ from many religious Zionists in that many of them view(ed?) the secular state as one that would evolve into the messianic state over time.

    There is a third category, the Satmar Hassidim, who originally hail from Szatmar, Hungary. The less I say about them, the better.

    Finally, there are the “new left” crazies. These guys are anti-Zionist simply because they are in an advanced state of rebellion agianst their parents and anything that advances that rebellion, they’ll do. Calling them over-aged hippies is an insult to hippies.

  • tommyd

    Thank you Ruvy. And I understand that it’s a complicated issue. Take care.

  • There’s a thorough article at tolerance.org which talks about Wal-Mart selling the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion through its online store. The article makes sure to mention Wal-Mart’s notorious reputation for refusing to sell many works of literature and music it finds objectionable, eliminating any possible claim about selling the Protocols as a “free speech” gesture.