Friday, April 05, 2013

Jew is Always the Right Answer

I once played a round of pub trivia with the category "conspiracy theories". I proposed that we just answer "Jews" for every question. What are the odds we'd be wrong?

I bring that story up again with reference to this post:
There’s a post going around that rightfully brings up how unfair it is that when a Muslim is charged with a crime it is Islam, not the individual, that goes on trial. But it emphasizes that by asserting that when a “Jew kills someone” (and there a religious Jew with peyos and a kippa and the white shirt - black pants uniform is drawn shooting a fallen child with a rifle) “religion is not mentioned.”

The image itself I take issue with and how it’s another example of portraying Jews as child killers, though I have no doubt the intent was to hi-light how Israeli soldiers have killed Palestinian children without Judaism as a religion being vilified in the West.

But it’s also incorrect. When a Jew does something wrong, kills someone, or commits a crime, it is near always mentioned. Jews around the world live terrified, waiting for the day some Jew does something wrong and we’re all blamed and condemned. When I hear about something horrible happening, whether it be a killing, a political scandal, embezzlement, or just someone making a stupid comment, I close my eyes and think, please don’t let it have been a Jew, please don’t let it have been a Jew, please don’t let it have been a Jew, because I know that if it was, we’re all in trouble.
Obviously amen to that, and I would add that there is something particularly pernicious about taking a shot at Jews for mistreatment of Muslims that is not, primarily, instigated by Jews. Instead of a clear line of accountability, the grievance seems to be against Jews for having the temerity to actually (supposedly, and in fact inaccurately) be respected as equals.

But of course as the post notes, we're not actually exempted from these blanket judgments when one of the tribe does wrong. Indeed if anything I'd say what makes Jews special is that we're subjected to that treatment even when none of ours had anything to do with the underlying event. Muslims as a whole get blamed for al-Qaeda. Louis Farrakhan spouts bile, and all Blacks are repulsive "reverse racists." And Jews face that too, of course: our bad parts (Bernie Madoff, Jewish slumlords) get attributed to the whole too. But that's really just the tip of the iceberg -- we're also blamed for atrocities committed by other people. A white guy from New Jersey slaughters kids at a Connecticut school? Jews. Muslim extremists attack the twin towers? Jews. Hugo Chavez dies of cancer? Oh you better believe it's Jews (link warning).

To my knowledge, this does not happen to other groups. And the fact that the (grotesque) blanket condemnations of Muslims is held to be in contradistinction to the alleged privileged position of Jews, when in fact this particular facet of oppression may target Jews more severely than any other group, is deeply worrisome. It signifies at best a fundamental blindness to the reality of anti-Semitic discourse, and at worst a form of ingrained anti-Jewish hostility that sees this treatment as normal, even desirable.

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