Over the past year year anti-Semitism, and anti-Semitic hates crimes, have been on the rise, from Jewish cemeteries being vandalized, mass bomb threats at JCC’s around the country, or the White House’s previous long-time silence and complacency when it comes to anti-Semitism, to name a few instances. Naturally, people are freaked out. Of the bomb threats, for instance, Paul Goldenberg, national director of the Secure Community Network, told CNN that “I’ve been in the business for 20-plus years, and this is unprecedented. It’s more methodical than meets the eye.”
In October 2016, ADL even issued a report about how anti-Semitism is rampant on social media:
“At least 800 journalists received anti-Semitic tweets with an estimated reach of 45 million impressions. There was a significant uptick in anti-Semitic tweets in the second half (January-July 2016) of [the report’s] study period. This correlates to intensifying coverage of the presidential campaign, the candidates and their positions on a range of issues.”
This is why Rabbi (and Kveller contributor!) Danya Ruttenberg’s tweets today putting anti-Semitism into context are seriously much-needed right now–and also provide a perspective often missing in the dialogue: that of a Jewish mom and rabbi who has an understanding of the interplay between American Jewish culture and white privilege, and how that interacts with history. “Jews still have a lot more social & cultural capital than lots of other groups in the US. Let’s be real,” Ruttenberg tweeted. “At this moment, EVEN with our cemeteries being DESECRATED, I don’t worry for us the way I worry for Muslims, undocumented [people and others].”
To explain the interplay between privilege Jews may have and the discrimination they face, Ruttenberg went all the way back to the Middle Ages:
“I want to say a thing or two about the unique nature of anti-Semitism, privilege, ambivalence, and this moment. I am almost certain to be interrupted mid-thread by a kid or 3 waking up, so bear with me.
First, some history. In the Middle Ages in many parts of Christian Europe, Jews weren’t allowed to own land. And they were relegated to marginal trades–ones associated with depravity & sin. Christians didn’t/couldn’t lend $ to other Christians. Jews could, though, and so that’s how they became the moneylenders in many places.
Also, we had a shared language (Hebrew) that made it possible to conduct int’l business–Jews in Germany could talk to Jews in Egypt. So that’s how Jews became moneylenders, in a nutshell. Farming was preferable in a lot of ways, but that wasn’t an option in many places.
So Jews became successful at handling money bc that was was was on the menu for us. But then… we were resented for it. A lot of the anti-Semitism from then on was based on us being rich, cunning, exploitative. Globalists, if you will, w/secret control.”
Read the entire thread here.
I want to say a thing or two about the unique nature of anti-Semitism, privilege, ambivalence, and this moment. 1/
— Rav Danya Ruttenberg (@TheRaDR) March 1, 2017