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The Mantle of Responsibility

Great article about how messed up it is that the ADL is conflating white supremacy with hafrada-critical groups like CAIR and JVP and how stark that messed-up–ness appears in the face of white supremacist terrorism. (And that there are conservative Jews that are themselves repeating anti-CRT, replacement theory talking points.)

From reading Jewish Currents these last few months, I get the impression that large parts of the Jewish community are taking extra care, extra responsibility to criticize the hafrada policies. While I’m glad that they’re speaking up against a brutal regime, as everyone should, please don’t mistake that as me thinking they’re extraordinarily responsible because of their Jewishness.

If someone tries to don the trampling boot “in the name of all Jews”, all of us outside the Jewish community should recognize that they aren’t and that they can’t. Just as we recognize that David Duke and Tucker Carlson can’t represent all who are white, and that Daesh can’t speak for all muslims.

That should not be why these Jewish writers are speaking up. Anyone who says “Well, you’re Jewish and so you need to speak out against Israel because everything they do is your fault too” is fucking up.

Instead, these writers are choosing to take responsibility to work for the Palestinian population, because they, like many Jews throughout history, are on the left♥, and it’s the responsibility of the left to speak out and help the oppressed.

Just as there is an extraordinary responsibility on the left as a whole to learn to recognize and end antisemitism. We do have a responsibility because our efforts to make things better for workers, the red mantle which we’ve claimed for ourselves, includes everyone, includes racialized people and Jews, who’ve been right there with us on our side for centuries. And our responsibility is extraordinary because in our camp, the camp that frankly and starkly speaks out against and rightly strives to divest from the horrific policies of the IDF, of the Bennett regime, of the High Court, of the settlers—to our camp, anti-Semites flock. Not all mammals are horses and not all critics of this incarnation of Israel are anti-Semites, but all horses are mammals and whenever an anti-Semite crawls out of the woodwork, it slouches towards our camp to be born and we need to learn to recognize that and fix it and clean house and affirm our Jewish friends and members.

That’s just how it is.

Our responsibility is because we chose to pick up this mantle, and it’s extraordinary because our camp is the perfect greenhouse for the very fascists we vow to stop.

(Disclaimer 1: If someone chooses to associate their own Jewish identity with an intellectual honesty and curiosity and courage and therefore with responsibility, rock on, but that’s not what I’m referring to here. That’s not something I as outsider can speak about. Instead, I argued specifically against these writers being assigned responsibility because of whatever extent their familial, historical, religious affiliation overlaps with that of the perpetrators of hafrada.)

(Disclaimer 2: When I wrote that David Duke and Tucker Carlson don’t speak for all who are white, that doesn’t mean that many white people don’t benefit from, and are to some extent complicit in, the white supremacy hegemony in kyriarchal society. That complicity is something we do need to learn to recognize and try to end as we work for equality and for humanity as a whole. But if we let Duke and Carlson be the spokesmen on the throne, we’re already fucking up.)