Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Why Bringing a Swastika To An Israeli Independence Day Celebration is Antisemitic (Really)

A student brought a swastika sign to an Israeli Independence Day celebration at UW-Milwaukee.

Confronted, he said the reason he brought the sign was actually not to make any commentary about Israel or Jews, but rather "because he knew it would draw attention at such a gathering and allow him to talk to the media about issues such as the rise in single mother homes, the opioid addiction and the high number of abortions."

Some might argue that this therefore was not an antisemitic act: the student was not motivated by a desire to hurt Jews, he was flying a swastika for idiosyncratic reasons. But these people are wrong. Though the student was not motivated by anti-Jewish animus, he still acted in a way that foreseeably and unreasonably would cause distress to Jews. He decided that this distress and hurt was less important than drawing media attention to himself and promoting his (unrelated) hobby horse. That sort of devaluing of Jewish sensibilities is itself antisemitic, albeit of a different kind from the explicitly-motivated sort. A person who acts in this way is a person who has shown themselves to be unreasonably cavalier and unconcerned with Jewish feelings.

It is an antisemitism of negligence, perhaps, but it is still antisemitic.

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