Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Message on Internalized (and Externalized) Antisemitism from 1982

Evelyn Torton Beck's Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology arrived in the mail today. Originally published in 1982, it remains both wonderfully and infuriatingly relevant today.

Here is an excerpt from Irena Klepfisz's "Anti-Semitism in the Lesbian/Feminist Movement," offering a serious of questions that "both Jewish and non-Jewish women might consider asking in trying to identify in themselves sources of shame, conflict, doubt, and anti-Semitism." (pp. 49-51)
  1. Do I have to check with other Jewish women in order to verify whether something is anti-Semitic? Do I distrust my own judgment on this issue?
  2. When I am certain, am I afraid to speak out?
  3. Am I afraid that by focusing on anti-Semitism I am being divisive?
  4. Do I feel that by asking other women to deal with anti-Semitism I am draining the movement of precious energy that would be better used elsewhere?
  5. Do I feel that anti-Semitism has been discussed too much already and feel embarrassed to bring it up?
  6. Do I feel that the commercial presses and the media are covering the issue of anti-Semitism adequately and that it is unnecessary to bring it up also in the movement? Am I embarrassed by the way anti-Semitism/the Holocaust is presented in the media? Why?
  7. Do I have strong disagreements with and/or am ashamed of Israeli policies and, as a result, don't feel that I can defend Jews whole-heartedly against anti-Semitism? Is it possible for me to disagree with Israeli policy and still oppose anti-Semitism?
  8. Do I feel guilty and/or ashamed of Jewish racism in this country and, as a result, feel I can't defend Jews whole-heartedly against anti-Semitism? Is it possible for me to  acknowledge Jewish racism, struggle against it, and still feel Jewish pride? And still oppose anti-Semitism?
  9. Do I feel that Jews have done well in this country and, therefore, should not complain?
  10. Do I feel that historically, sociologically, and/or psychologically, anti-Semitism is "justified" or "understandable," and  that I am, therefore, willing to tolerate it?
  11. Do I feel that anti-Semitism exists but it is "not so bad" or "not so important"? Why?
  12. Do I believe that by focusing on the problems of anti-Semitism I will make it worse? Why?
  13. Do I feel that Jews draw too much attention to themselves? How?
  14. Do I associate the struggle against anti-Semitism with conservativism? Why?
  15. What Jewish stereotypes am I afraid of being identified with? What do I repress in myself in order to prevent such identification?

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