As a Catholic priest committed to fighting anti-semitism, I attended Bari Weiss’ NY Times Talk on Thursday evening, Sept. 5, promoting her book (2019, New York: Crown) which I just finished. There’s also a NYTIMES magazine piece 9/8. I think this very short book (206 of 7” x 4 ½ “pages) is best in its definition of Anti-semitism and its overview of its history (the “HOW TO segment is shorter and addressed primarily to the Jewish community itself), I want to share some of Bari Weiss’insights (and mine–IN PARENTHESIS) with you:
- Judaism is not only a religion, it is an ethnicity, a people and a nation. Not acknowledging all three opens critics to contributing to antisemitism .
- Anti-Semitism comprises a goal of eliminating Judaism and the Jewish people. (In that sense, I believe Christian supersessionism is Anti-Semitic)
- Anti-Semitism includes superstitions, lies and falsehoods about Jews and Judaism’s but can include misunderstandings that are not fact checked. There is also a strong illogic– Jews and Judaism are blamed for whatever! –with no basis on reality. E.g., ” controlling the planet, controlling banks/ Wall Street/ education / Hollywood/ government policy / responsible for the spread of communism/ engineering wars for profit.”
- (Anti-semitism is in evidence whenever inquiry into the standard ” who, what, when, where, how?” questions go unanswered.)
- Anti-Semitism includes Denial of, and/or refutation of, the distinct ethic, moral, faith, social and literary contributions of the Hebrew Bible and the major contribution of Jews to Western Civilization.
- The FAR-LEFT ideologies contribute to Anti-Semitism:
- “The Politically Correct” dynamic makes adherents of left-leaning ideas disproportionately fearful of offending Islam (Islamophobia), thus they downplay the acts and rhetoric of Radical Fundamentalist Islam ignoring its extreme hatred of Jews.
- There is disproportionate blame and outright scapegoating of Israel as a nation that is essentially anti-semitism. In contrast, holding American and Israel to their highest ideals and constitutional directives is not Anti-Semitism. E.g., one may fairly state that “the current policies of the Jewish state betray Jewish (and American constitutional) values.
The FAR-RIGHT: White Supremacy ideology forms hatred of Jews because of its biblical ethics, sensitivities to immigrants, minorities; hated for its internationalist character. It is threatened by Jewish civilization
TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMTISM:
Weiss offers this:
- Follow Abraham’s example: refuse to worship false idols (incl. lies, biased reporting) and nurture courage to keep out-of-step with the status quo; risk acting on behalf of deeper, biblical values; don’t be afraid to stand alone, even while cultivating community within and beyond Judaism
- Remind people that the American values of liberty, freedom of thought and worship, the notion that all people are created equal—are Jewish values coded in Genesis 1 and throughout the Hebrew Bible. So, too, the very notions of Hope and a present that nurtures a more positive future for humanity are specific Jewish contributions to Western Civilization.
I offer this:
- Hold all comments made in conversation about “The Jews” (or any group) to the “Who, What, When, Where, Why, How” standard
- A foundational aspect of the Bible’s inspiration is the way the Jewish community writes of its great accomplishments and its failures, often with more accounts of the failures and the sufferings it endures. All peoples would do well to do the same, holding accomplishments –positive contributions to wisdom, world values and cultures while remaining humble of all the failures. I think one aspect of antisemitism is that others are not secure about their own ethnicity, heritage, strengths and failures and so let themselves become envious and resentful of the Jewish identity and its outstanding contributions. More HUMBLE pride all around could help!
See: See: https://www.bariweiss.com/ Twitter: @bariweiss