(JTA) — I read a lot about antisemitism — as a professor researching prejudice, as a former fellow at a Holocaust memorial center, as a blogger for The Times of Israel, as the son of a Jewish father who was so grateful to get to live in the United States and as the father of a Jewish son in that same country, but with antisemitism on the rise.
I’ve noticed a shift in what I’m reading. The media, especially social media, are increasingly replacing the term “antisemitism” with a new term: “Jew hate.”
“Simply put, antisemitism is Jew hate,” Richard Lovett, co-chairman of Creative Artists Agency, the world’s leading entertainment and talent agency and a marketing and branding powerhouse, remarked last month in an address encouraging his industry to fight antisemitism. Also last month, the governor and attorney general of Massachusetts, the mayor of Boston and other state leaders launched a campaign to “#StandUpToJewishHate,” an effort bankrolled by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Brooke Goldstein, the founder of the pro-Israel Lawfare Project and author of the book “End Jew Hatred,” has started an organization with the same name. The nonprofit JewBelong launched the #EndJewHate billboard campaign in 2021 in cities around the country.
I have asked colleagues who work on Holocaust remembrance, fighting antisemitism and promoting tolerance why they now prefer “Jew hate” to “antisemitism.” They consider it strong and clever branding, jarring and unapologetic, and I can’t argue with that. The phrase packs a punch. And it aligns Jewish groups with a larger social phenomenon: the various efforts to study and stop the menacing resurgence of hate groups. There are new university centers for the study of hate, new hate-focused conferences and several journals dedicated to hate studies. Hate is hot. Branding antisemitism as “Jew hate,” it is hoped, will help to mainstream concern about antisemitism.
The popularity of “Jew hate” coincides with concerns about the term “antisemitism.” Once usually spelled “anti-Semitism,” the term is increasingly spelled without the hyphen and with a lowercase first “s.” This change was made out of concern that the former spelling reinforced the pseudo-scientific, long-discredited idea that Jews are members of the “Semitic” race.
Nevertheless, adopting “Jew hate” in place of “antisemitism” is a big mistake. It misses way too much.
The term “antisemitism” — like the reality it describes — encompasses not only hate, but also fear and envy. People can fear or envy Jews without hating them. True, these biases can lead to stereotypes about Jews and the negative consequences of those stereotypes. People with preconceived notions about Jews are likely to notice and remember selectively or simply hear and believe whatever supports their biases while disregarding, disbelieving or downplaying information to the contrary. One Jewish head of a major newspaper or movie studio, according to this thinking, shows that Jews control the media. In this way, antisemitism can be self-perpetuating even when not powered by outright hatred.
“Jew hate” does not take into account apathy, the lack of concern that throughout history has allowed the actual haters to get away with much more than they would have otherwise. Nor does “Jew hate” take into account a dangerous kind of admiration. Well-meaning people may have positive stereotypes about Jews being intelligent and good in certain professions. These biases are not hateful, but they do reduce Jews to stereotypes.
“Jew hate” does not adequately capture antisemitism born of ignorance — not only of Jewish history and culture but also of the history and effects of antisemitism. Ignorance about Jewish culture, history and traditions can contribute to discrimination against Jews, thus perpetuating antisemitism even when there is no hate. The rising and amazing ignorance of the facts of the Holocaust, for example, sets the stage for more people to dismiss or downplay its severity. That, in turn, will breed resentment — or worse — toward Jews, who are increasingly being cast as obnoxious and self-pitying for insisting that the Shoah happened and seeking to remind the world how bad it was.
If it irritates people when a Jew doesn’t care to join them in singing Christmas carols or to buy the annual Christmas stamp, that’s not necessarily hatred. It’s probably just ignorance of what it means to be in the minority versus the majority. Nevertheless, such ignorance, like ignorance of the Holocaust, can have an antisemitic effect.
Most alarming, the concept of “Jew hate” undermines the fight against antisemitism by — and this was supposed to be a point in its favor — making antisemitism just one instance of a broader category: hate. It should go without saying that one should be against most forms of hate. “Hate has no home here” lawn signs are admirable. But there are essential differences between each form of hate. They are not simply flavors to be served up when the media or a corporation wants to take a popular position. Diseases of the society, like diseases of the body, need to be understood and combatted on their own specific terms. Antisemitism has its own distinct history and pathology. The fight against antisemitism is not just the fight against white supremacy or misogyny or Islamophobia with a different name on the tee shirt.
Ultimately, what worries me most is that the concept of “Jew hate” lets people off too easily. Most people aren’t going to defend hatred, but having disavowed hatred, there’s still a lot to answer for. Antisemitism is real and there seems to be no end in sight. The digital age has amplified the speed and spread of anti-Jewish tropes, extremist ideologies and antisemitic conspiracy theories.
Metal detectors and armed guards are now common at major Jewish gatherings. That’s a sign of real sickness in the culture, but rebranding antisemitism to fit more neatly into the “fight hate” agenda isn’t the cure.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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