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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg @TheRaDR
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Left: Antisemitic caricature from an English royal tax record in 1233.

Right: An image from a GOP mailer from this week.

This here is a thread. 1/x
First, link to the campaign mailer story:…
Second, some background. Yes, I've tweeted this before but everything old is still ongoing, I guess.

In the Middle Ages, Jews were barred from many trades and professions, and it was sometimes illegal for Jews to own land.
It was convenient for local authorities to permit Jews to work in trades that were repugnant to Christians — most notably moneylending, which was associated in the Christian world with depravity and sin.
From a Jewish perspective, moneylending was useful for two main reasons.

1) It was somewhat portable, which was practical during an era when expulsions of Jews from villages and even whole countries were not uncommon.
2) It was also profitable. Most late medieval and early modern European polities taxed Jews at jaw-droppingly high rates, so moneylending’s income was often essential for communities’ survival.

Note that both of these reasons are intricately tied to anti-Jewish oppression.
And so, a trope was born. Even as a small subset of Jews were pushed into moneylending, they were resented for it — and identified with the work in a way that Christian bankers never were.
(You caught that the reason Jews were pushed into this in the first place was also a result of anti-Jewish oppression, yes? Got it? Good.)
Most Jews throughout history lived a precarious existence, economically and otherwise. Many times in history we have been tolerated, and even embraced, by the rulers and locals of our host country.
But we have also been subject to expulsions, pogroms, Inquisitions and genocide many times over — often, indeed, fueled by the trope of the greedy, crooked Jew serving as the scapegoat for other stresses and complexities in society.
April Rosenblum: Many oppressions rely on keeping a targeted group of people poor, uneducated, designated non-white, or otherwise ‘at the bottom.’ Anti-Jewish oppression doesn’t depend on that. The point of anti-Jewish oppression is to keep a Jewish face in front, so that Jews, instead of ruling classes, become the target for peoples’ rage...
And yes, before my mentions fill up: It’s possible to critique Israel w/o being antisemitic – but it’s not automatic. You keep things clear when you describe accurately and specifically what you oppose, and critique actions and policy as unjust — not people or nations as evil.<br />
--April Rosenblum
But no, Soros does not pay protesters. No, Soros is not secretly funding the caravan. Soros--and HIAS--do not have some secret power over the migration patterns of vulnerable people seeking refuge in the United States.
(And YES we are commanded to care for the stranger--the vulnerable non-citizen--among us no less than 36 times in Torah, more than any other commandment. @HIASrefugees does holy work.
But they are not secretly pulling any puppet strings or secretly keeping Trump from implementing more draconian policies.)
Globalist--one of Trump's favorite dogwhistles (used even after 11 Jews were slaughtered in synagogue on Shabbat! Yes! That one!) implies that someone is not of-this-nation, they're not tied here, their loyalty is not to *us* of this country but to *each other* internationally.
The idea the Jews' loyalty is not to France or Germany or Poland or etc. because they are infiltrators, outsiders--that's one of the oldest tropes in the book. They're out to get us, to undermine us, not one of us. It's being used to great effect these days.
Before we loop back around to now, I want to note that these tropes have caused centuries of suffering and pain. Here's one list of expulsions--just the expulsions. Not the Crusades, Inquisition, pogroms, the Holocaust.
Note that Jews have been guests (if you will) in other people's countries--even when they were citizens! Even when they'd been there for centuries--for most of the last 2000+ years.
So even if things had been going great for a long time, a time of stress meant that the ruler could (and often did) put the blame on the Jews to deflect blame of the ruler. We were often without protection when this happened.…
List of expulsions a few tweets late, sorry. You get the idea. Don't be mad at me, go ransack the Jews! Common theme.
When we joke that most Jewish holidays are "they tried to kill us, they didn't, let's eat," well. There's some inherited trauma in that joke. Sometimes they succeeded.
Anyway. Now we're in 2018 and antisemitism is one piece of a larger racist, xenophobic white nationalist game plan. @BulldogShadow did some great work on the antisemitic underpinnings of so much of what's now:…
We are seeing straight-up racism, dehumanizing language and an increase in hate crimes across the board.
#TreeOfLifeSynagogue is situated in a context with the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin, all the way back to and beyond to the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Ala.
It's situated in a context of a white supremacist country that committed genocide against Indigenous people, enslaved Black people, has created systems and structures to institutionalize racism and disenfranchisement in a myriad of ways since its founding.
It is situated in a context of the murders of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones by a white supremacist who was trying to get to a Black church.
It is situated in the context of the Muslim ban. The attack on trans rights. Family separation and brutal treatment of immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and folks who came here undocumented following the Statue of Liberty's invitation to look for a better life.
Antisemitism is interlinked with all of the other hate and justifications for violence on the rise thank you to the current administration. We are all in this together, fam. I am in solidarity with you, and I am grateful for your solidarity with me.
And also, simultaneously, it's crucial to name the ways in which antisemitism functions differently than many of the other oppressions that we're seeing on the rise. Because it's somehow easier to make it invisible, to elide it, to not see it.
Yes, many Jews in America have white skin that allows them a certain kind of privilege--and yes, white-skinned yidden, your whiteness protects you from being followed in stores, from being worried about being gunned down by police, from so many kinds of institutional bias.
Yes, that whiteness has enabled Jews to assimilate into American society, so that many of us are safer economically than our great-grandparents were. But again, these facts actually help bolster these old antisemitic tropes. Antisemitism functions *better* because of them.
Remember: It's the antisemitism allows Jews success quote again.
So the Jews who grew up with a secret safe room built into their home, or keeping their passport on them at all times, or making sure at least some of their assets were portable--those are Jews acting from a place of trauma that is deeply informed by historical reality.
And it is happening here. It looks different than it did in Europe or elsewhere, and the nature of white supremacy here means that Jews' place in this puzzle is somewhat different. But we are being targeted. Every day, these days, by the GOP and their friends.
If you can understand how antisemitism functions, you can see it more clearly, fight it more strongly, stand with us in better solidarity just as we are standing with you, because it's all of us together in this fight. Thank you for fighting this hate head-on with us.
Ok, I want to offer a postscript to this since it’s come up: yes, this is basically how antisemitism functions on both the Right and the Left. But remember: it keeps a Jewish face on things to keep rage at Jews, not at those in power. So you have to ask: where is power held?
In America today, power is held by wealthy white men running the Right. And then there are white supremacists enacting the wishes of those in power. They are trying to hold/maintain power.
I don’t excuse or justify antisemitism by folks who are disenfranchised or oppressed in this country but I locate it differently; they’re in the middle of the “pushing people to blame Jews not the ruling classes” equation. In some cases education can fix that. Sometimes it can’t.
In @dove_kent’s masterful @weareavodah talk on antisemitism and solidarity talks about staying in relationship w/those you think can grow and learn. There’s no perfect formula but it’s a worthwhile way of thinking.
I feel much more cynical about the possibilities of those trying to keep/maintain power being able or willing to change. Antisemitism suits their agenda in a different way, deflects anger at them. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it’s a much harder project.
And it’s not like there’s never power on the Left. Jeremy Corbyn is proof of that. But when you see antisemitism, ask yourself: where is this person located in a power analysis? How does this antisemitism function, what purposes does it serve?
It should never be excused or tolerated. But it may offer some insights about how to fight it. Maybe it won’t. I don’t know. These tropes are old and have caused so many kinds of suffering and atrocity. Let’s fight it head on, together.
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