Society problems

Anti-Semitism: How anti-Semitic tropes found their way into society

And the essential in all these comments? The people who said them seemed to present them as compliments. It’s part of a phenomenon linked to the hatred of Jews that David Baddiel explains as a “punch” in his book Jews don’t count. The key to understanding this concept is this: Jews are not seen as disadvantaged or marginalized, we are caricatured as wealthy capitalists. We are also seen primarily as “too white” for progressive social justice activists. Longstanding “subtle and unconscious” anti-Semitic tropes in society are now so entrenched that many now take them for granted (e.g., all Jews are rich). However, because they don’t specifically describe us as the “outsiders” (how can a wealthy person who controls the media be an outsider, right?!), many people don’t consider these tropes as offensive or anti-Semitic.

But the problem is that they are, and one need only take a quick dive into the history of anti-Semitism and the treatment of Jews to see that so many of the “comments presented as compliments” that other Jews and I have received are equally anti-Semitic. in their origin like any of Kanye West’s statements.

To help illustrate exactly what I mean and educate Jews and non-Jews alike about the origin of these tropes, I spoke to Binyomin Gilbert, program manager for Campaign Against Antisemitism, a charity run by volunteers dedicated to exposing and countering anti-Semitism through education. and Zero Tolerance Law Enforcement (and the people behind this petition for Adidas to cut ties with Ye).

Below it speaks to me through exactly where every Jewish trope comes from, perhaps well-meaning but nonetheless harmful, so that we can all arm ourselves as allies to call and educate wherever we can.

“Don’t worry, you don’t look Jewish,” or “you have a perfectly normal nose.”

I’m blonde with blue eyes, and because of that, I’m often surprised when I explain that I’m Jewish. Over the years, variations of “Don’t worry, you don’t look Jewish” or “But you’re blonde?” came several times. They seem to infer that somehow I managed to dodge that “bad luck” and luckily managed to look more like a Ordinary Human.

“Jews are often portrayed as having particular characteristics, especially an exaggerated broad or hooked nose, but also certain hairstyles and other characteristics,” Binyomin explains. “Some historians have traced the caricature of the nose in particular to the 13th century CE, with some medieval depictions of the devil overseeing the crucifixion of Christ eventually merging with contemporary and later depictions of Jews, who were also imagined to have been indifferent or supporters of the Crucifixion, putting them on the same side as satan against the divinity.

“There was also another theological aspect, because the Jews were supposed to deal with – and represent – only the physical and material world and not the higher spiritual realm which was supposed to be the concern of Christians, and the grotesque features were a physical representation . of this baseness,” he adds. “Later, in the 19th century, large Jewish noses began to interest scientists studying the supposed physical characteristics of different ‘races’, and in the 20th century, ‘noses Jews” would become an essential part of the visual style of Nazi propaganda, especially in the notorious publication’s crude caricatures of Jews. Der Stürmer.”

The crucial point here is that some Jews have bigger noses, and some don’t, in the same way that any other race or religion can have larger or smaller facial features depending on the number of genetic variations. It is largely due to earlier propaganda that society supports the idea that all Jews look a certain way.

“Oh your Jew, you must have an amazing home”, “Oh, very savvy of you, it must be your Jewish side coming out”, or “You will have no problem getting a job then.”

I have addressed various comments about wealth and success that were made to me in college, but they were not confined to the walls of higher education. In my very first job, a fresh-faced 21-year-old who thought I was about to change the world with my mediocre degree and odd summer job, my manager asked me “Why [I] even need to work” if my parents were Jewish and on too many occasions to count, I was praised for a “wise” business decision before it was immediately blamed on my Jewish status.

Likewise, on a Thursday night at work, a colleague (whom I still really like by the way) patted me on the back and said, “Don’t worry, I trust you to hold my wallet.” before telling me in a cheerful tone that I probably don’t need it anyway because my “Batmitzvah money” will be stored somewhere.