A Serious Jew Considers the Rise in Post-Gaza Anti-Semitism

A peek into the mindset of a hyperethnocentric Jew on the backlash against the Gaza war. No context on the war in Gaza—not a peep about the oppression of the Palestinians, the land grabbing, the blockade of Gaza and the overwhelming majority of Gaza war casualties being women and children, the aggression of the West Bank settlers, etc. But the usual flabby analyses of anti-Jewish attitudes—”not all Jews are rich,” presumably as an argument against the idea of disproportionate Jewish influence and its effect on the American European-derived population; and “not all Jews are White,” presumably as an argument that Jews are not particularly ethnocentric or that there is no basis for a genetic commonality among the vast majority of Jews, despite repeated population genetic studies showing otherwise, not to mention general Jewish racialism toward non-Jews. And of course, her obligation to propagandize about the six million (for a contrary Israeli view, see here). …


American Jews Should Become a Little More Israeli

Instead of playing defense, we should learn how to stand up for ourselves better


This article is part of Hamas’ War on Israel.

On Dec. 4, I attended a special session at the United Nations called “Hear Our Voices—Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the Oct. 7 Attack.” …

At one point, the organizers showed a video. Immediately, instinctively, I looked down. Yes, I was there to hear testimony, but I wasn’t ready to see a video. I just couldn’t watch whatever it was going to be, so I lowered my head and covered my eyes. But at one point during the video, I glanced up, in front of me were two of my dear friends, both Israeli women. Rather than burying their heads as I had done, they were not only watching the video, they both had their phones out, recording the video—presumably so that others could watch as well.

That was one of the many moments since Oct. 7 when I realized that American Jews, myself included, have a long way to go in understanding what it is going to take to stand up for ourselves. I had tried to hide from the horror, but my Israeli friends knew better. They understood that to stand up for ourselves, we would have to go to horribly uncomfortable places. They understood more deeply and more quickly than Jewish Americans about the denialism, the traumatic invalidation, and the blatant antisemitism that was on its way to Jewish people around the globe.

I’m a rabbi. I’m the author of a book on antisemitism. I was raised in an active Jewish home. So, I thought I knew how to speak up for myself and for the Jewish people. But that moment at the U.N. taught me that even I didn’t know how to do those things well enough. It was one of many moments since Oct. 7 when I decided to really fight antisemitism in the United States, I needed to try to become a little bit Israeli. Maybe you should, too.

My Israelification began months before the U.N. session. Like many American Jews, on Oct. 8, I found myself emotionally paralyzed. I was frozen, in shock and disbelief. I could not believe that Hamas had penetrated the border. I could not believe that they had murdered over 1,200 civilians. I could not believe the barbarism or the kidnapping. I could not believe I was witnessing a pogrom. I couldn’t really move except to cry. I sat there, stunned, barely able to make a sound. But while I was processing, the Israelis in my community were acting. My phone filled with WhatsApp notifications. Ding: Someone’s nephew needed a Kevlar vest. Ding: Can you house a reservist on his way back to Israel? Ding: Does anyone have access to large quantities of boots? …

Not all Jews are rich, I tell people. I explain that about 20% of Jewish New Yorkers live below the poverty line. On the one hand I’m trying to show that the conspiracy theory about us is factually incorrect. But on the other, what if most Jews were rich? Would that mean that we actually were controlling the world? That the conspiracy theory of antisemitism was true?

Not all Jews are white, I tell people. I explain that about 70% of Jews in Israel certainly aren’t from European descent. On the one hand, I’m trying to explain to people that Jews have lived around the globe for centuries and that we are beautifully diverse. But on the other hand, what if we were all light-skinned? Would that make Jews guilty of racism or oppression? Would that “prove” the conspiracy theory? Or at least validate it?

And worst of all, we are genocide survivors, I tell people. I explain that 6 million Jews were murdered in living memory, including 1 million children. On the one hand, I’m trying to teach Jewish history. I am fighting for facts. A significant percentage of millennials believe that 2 million or 3 million Jews were murdered in the Shoah rather than 6 million. It’s my obligation to fight against these falsehoods. But on the other hand, am I also begging people not to hate us by reminding them we are victims?

Jewish Americans around the country are doing a similarly defensive dance: defending a war, defending a state, defending Zionism, defending Jewish existence in universities, on boards, in justice work, and in civil society. Defending the existence of Jews itself.

All this defense leads me to a core philosophical question: What would it look like if American Jews decided to play philosophical offense? The conspiracy theories of antisemitism aren’t true; rather they are a series of boundaryless lies. But we will also never be able to prove they are wholly false because they are not driven by rationale or reason. So, what if instead of defensively saying what we aren’t, we took a different approach and we chose to assertively say what we are?

It might look something like this: Jews are experts in civil disagreement—we have thousands of years of lived experience and documented evidence. …

3 replies
  1. J.M.
    J.M. says:

    Fersko’s conclusion: “It might look something like this: Jews are experts in civil disagreement—we have thousands of years of lived experience and documented evidence. …”

    Same old rationalizing, disarming and self-justifying by an experienced Jew. No empathy, no remorse ongoing. I hope their masks keep failing and falling and they have to return to where they belong where only they can live.

  2. Valerie Protopapas
    Valerie Protopapas says:

    America has carried Israel’s water since before it was “established” by Britain. Our money has been their money FIRST with we Americans a poor second. Unfortunately, circumstances have come together to make what’s currently going on not nearly so easy to excuse especially as many Americans have determined that their present government is an enemy as well. I don’t know if anything will happen to the good because of this matter, but I would say from history at least, MOST Jews are Jews first, Americans second. Of course, the same SHOULD be said of Christians as well as God is more important than mere secular entities. Unfortunately, however with many Jews the matter has nothing to do with God.

  3. DD
    DD says:

    If they had any semblance of self-awareness, they would ask why, throughout history, have so many different countries/cultures/people developed a hatred of them and want them gone. At some point they should realize it’s not everyone else but joo.

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