Reading George Fox

Of European Anti-Judaism & America Racism

One thing I’ve thought about recently is how perhaps European anti-Jewish1 prejudice is a close analogue of our anti-black racism.2 The struggles of the British Labour Party with actual anti-Jewish prejudice feels so weird from this side of the pond. An MP openly blames Jewish financiers for the slave trade and a huge swath of the party supports him. While our Democrats freak over criticisms of Israel than many American Jews also make.3

It feels a bit akin to how folks like Biden can still wax poetic about working with segregationists.4

I was also listening to a podcast discussing Marx and Bakunin, which mentioned their anti-Jewish writings. The historian made the point that to a first approximate everyone openly hated the Jews—that it was a central identity dividing line. Just as, to a first approximately, every white American was racist. And pogroms seem pretty similar to Tulsa 1921 or Colfax 1873 or the hundreds of others—often drummed up pretexts for lynchings to justify stealing their land.

Of course, the Shoah marks a big divergence. Germany actually paid reparations and has confronted their crimes to an extent unimaginable anytime soon in our country. Anti-Jewish prejudice is still around, but there hasn’t been a Southern Strategy.5

I don’t think this explains anything about the divergence between Jewish politics from other white ethnic groups. But it did make me think about my ancestors experience in a different way.6

  1. I am perhaps too woke and have stopped using anti-semitism since plenty of Muslims are semites too. 
  2. Not that other racisms don’t exist, but I do think the black/white dichotomy is closer to the core of our nation’s psyche. 
  3. Hell, the New York Times made the same point about AIPAC & wealthy Republican Jews as Representative Omar did in February. No one freaked out then—because money from American pro-Israeli Jewish groups does have a political impact. Just as American pro-IRA money had an impact on our Ireland foreign policy. The mainstream left in this country does not have a problem with anti-Jewish prejudice, but Bernie still struggles admitting solutions for the inequalities of class are separate from solutions for racism. 
  4. If anything, the Democratic Party, or at least the activist left, has become less tolerant of racism than Labour. In fact, it’s Momentum that are the most tolerant of anti-Jewish prejudice. Every claim of an MP saying something disgusting is interpreted as an attack on Corbyn. If Bernie campaign for a candidate who smeared Black Lives Matter as an anti-white terrorist group, there’d be hell to pay from the left side of the party. (Yes, legitimate anti-Zionism complicates this, but the MP was again linking Jews to slavery. No prominent progressive could survive use similar language criticizing any minority group). 
  5. Though this might be a closer comparison to how Native Americans are treated in our politics. In Eastern Europe, as in the States, the genocide was pretty effective. Perhaps unsurprising as Hitler modeled those killings after our nigh elimination of Native Americans. 
  6. It also makes the migration of the word “ghetto” perhaps even more appropriate. 
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