Dear AJDS members and supporters,
This issue of the Australian Jewish Democratic Society’s newsletter, Just Voices, is focused on antisemitism. This is a broad topic that encompasses many different and related phenomena, past and present. It deserves our attention now no less than ever, especially since it is largely neglected in the Left, and concerns many developments within mainstream culture, including the American government openly spouting antisemitic views. Increased violence against Jews can be physical, but also rhetorical. At the same time, it is important to define new antisemitism, which stifles criticism of Israel, blames Islamic terrorism as the source of all conflict, allows Nazis to march in our name and defines many non-Zionist activists as self-hating Jews.
If you’re reading this and wondering about the spelling of ‘antisemitism’ used here, it is the one currently preferred by many scholars and institutions. I go along with the reasoning of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA), who’ve rejected the hyphenated version of the word: “IHRA’s concern is that the hyphenated spelling allows for the possibility of something called ‘Semitism’, which not only legitimizes a form of pseudo-scientific racial classification that was thoroughly discredited by association with Nazi ideology, but also divides the term, stripping it from its meaning of opposition and hatred toward Jews” (read more of the IHRA’s memo here).
Antisemitism requires constant redefinition: where is it located? What are its social and historical contexts? How does it manifest across the political spectrum? How has it been used to provide a platform for Islamophobia? What spaces can we create to challenge antisemitism? And how might we understand Jews along a spectrum defined by skin colour; are Jews White, and what is Whiteness? As written elsewhere, “Race is not just a matter of skin pigmentation or ethnic background. It is determined by both individuals and their observers, and the boundaries of who’s in or out of one group or another change constantly” (Emma Green’s in The Atlantic.
Antisemitism(s) cannot be fully covered in one issue of our newsletter. As such, this collection of articles is a beginning, and includes predominately Jewish perspectives on antisemitism. We are keen to provide more voices from other communities on countering antisemitism therein, as well as writing about Jewish and non-Jewish apologists for antisemitism in Palestine and the Arab world.
The views expressed in Just Voices are not official positions held by the AJDS. When in the last issue of this newsletter the establishment of the Jewish State in 1948 was described as a cataclysmic event, this was my personal view. Only AJDS statements reflect positions agreed upon at an executive level. The AJDS does not have a unanimous position on the subject of 1948 in Israel/Palestine.
Thank you to all those who helped and contributed to this edition of Just Voices.
By Jordy SilversteinWe’re all pretty familiar, I think, with the stereotype of the Ashkenazi Jewish man who doesn’t play sport. Living in Melbourne, that Ashkenazi stereotype gets placed upon the whole community, resulting in us seeing Jewish sportspeople as the exception. The idea is that we’re bookish, introverted, given to being studious and sitting around […]Read More
By Yael W.Shortly after moving to Sweden I was in touch with a relative who emailed with hopes for my safety, living in Malmö with the “Muslim problem.” Having no idea what she was referring to, I went online and did some research. I couldn’t seem to find evidence backing up her concerns. Much of […]Read More
The following excerpts were taken with the author’s permission from this article“As pro- and anti-Trump movements jockey to realize their agendas, the question of Jews and whiteness illustrates the high stakes—and dangers—of racialized politics. Over time, Jews have become more integrated into American society—a process scholars sometimes refer to as “becoming white.” It wasn’t the […]Read More
By Fahad Ali, medical student and president of the Students for Palestine Society at the University of Sydney. Article here. “All I know of my country is through song and story, through books, faded photographs, my grandmother’s heavy sighs and an overwhelming, communal sense of loss. I have never set foot in Palestine, and sometimes I […]Read More
By Yael W.On Antisemitism is a timely collection of writings given the current increase in popularity and organisation of the Right and far Right. The work is relevant not only given the overt antisemitism from the far Right in Western countries, but also in light of Israel’s most Right-wing government, which highlights the problematic discourse […]Read More
Written by Robert Börjesson, translated by Yael W. Originally published here.They survived the concentration camps- now Nazis are demonstrating outside their synagogue.Nordic Resistance movement- Nordiska Motståndsrörelsen (NMR)This Nazi organisation NMR was given permission to demonstrate in Gothenburg on the 30th September. The Jewish community in Gothenburg have protested against NMR being allowed to demonstrate near the […]Read More
By Jonah BoyarinOriginally published on jewschool.com August 17, 2017, and reproduced with permission.Jewish FearJewish fear is American Neo-Nazis chanting “Blood and Soil” on American soil.Jewish fear is that buzzing feeling in our bones that won’t let us sleep at night, because we don’t know when it will come next.Jewish fear is American Neo-Nazis chanting “Blood […]Read More
By Ann Elizabeth FinkIn Israel, the son of the Prime Minister of the Jewish State, Yair Netanyahu, posts an image on his Facebook page that is laden with antisemitic imagery. He draws an equivalence between what he refers to as far-right “scum” and leftist “thugs”. He also claims that lefties hate America and Israel and are […]Read More
By Tallie Ben DanielChapter from On Antisemitism: Solidarity and the Struggle for Justice, Jewish Voice for Peace, Haymarket 2017, 71-80 and footnotes. Reproduced with permission. You can purchse your copy here. As a Mizrahi Jewish person, I am often shocked by the ways mainstream US Jewish histories and cultural scripts erase Mizrahi experiences and histories.1 This […]Read More
Can you start by telling us how it was that Jews against fascism was formed?In April 2015 Melbourne saw the largest street mobilisation of the far right for decades when Reclaim Australia held their rally. This was also one of the largest counter rallies that was held at the time. I think a number of […]Read More
By Tony KlugThis paper was delivered at the Pears International Conference on Zionism and Antisemitism, Birkbeck, University of London, 25 May 2017. Also available to be listened to online here.In this talk, I pose the question of whether there is a connection between the Israeli occupation and the rise of antisemitism. Or to put it […]Read More
– Jews and revolutionary JewsFrom the Facebook group ‘juives et juifs révolutionnaires’ 1) If you think the words “Israel”, “Zionists” and “Jews” are interchangeable; you may be antisemitic.2) If you think that a Jewish conspiracy controls the media / international finance / politics / lobbies, you are antisemitic. There is no conspiracy, end of argument. Sorry, conspis […]Read More
By Robin RothfieldA few months ago the Jewish Left remembered the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and the occupation which followed this war. On the occupation the Left was united in its condemnation of the government of Netanyahu in its failure to curb the expansion of the settlements and to prevent the ongoing severe […]Read More
By Vivienne Porzsolt This is an abridged version of a paper presented at National Conference, BDS – Driving Global Justice for Palestine, University of Sydney, 28 -29 July 2017 View the entire panel below.While others have spoken of the spurious charges of antisemitism used to silence opposition to Israel, I will examine and address the extent to which real […]Read More
The Australian Jewish Democratic Society is deeply concerned by the protest being organised by local personality Avi Yemeni who is cultivating a cynical branding campaign based in racism and fear. Hate speech is always violent, and Yemini is trading in it. Right now Avi Yemini is the online equivalent of a racist street thug charging […]Read More