Last week, the Forward published an article arguing that attacks on ḥasidic Jews in Brooklyn by young black men, which have become an all-too-common occurrence, are motivated by something other than anti-Semitism. The author suggests that these attacks—for instance the “sucker punching” of a Jewish teenager in November, or the beating of a Jewish man with a stick in October—are an expression of anger at gentrification; the author also quotes a source telling him that some see Jewishness as “a form of almost hyper-whiteness.” Abe Greenwald comments:
The Jew is hated as whatever the anti-Semite holds responsible for his own misfortune. If you’re a capitalist, the Jew is a Communist; if you’re a Communist, the Jew is a capitalist. If you’re a pacifist, the Jew is a warmonger. If you’re a warrior, the Jew is a coward. Depending on your circumstance, the Jew can be grimy or snobbish, rootless or nationalist, invader or separatist. And if, 100 years ago, American bigots saw Jews as Asiatic crossbreeds, today bigots see them as “hyper-white.” If you want to know what a culture considers most problematic, look at its brand of anti-Semitism. When you have headlines about “white privilege” and “evil white men,” Jews become the epitome of whiteness—except, of course, for neo-Nazis who see Jews as hyper-integrationists. . . .
Considering these claims [about gentrification] at face value is important. Not because they have merit, but because they show precisely how anti-Semitism works and what it is. [The Forward’s author] thinks the point is to explain that Jews are not hyper-white representatives of gentrification: “What some non-Jewish residents miss is that the issues the assailants may be responding to are things the Jewish community is struggling to deal with as well,” he writes. Later he paraphrases an interviewee: “It’s important to remember that gentrification also impacts poor Jews.”
No, that’s not what’s important. What’s important is to recognize that when Jews are targeted for being what they aren’t, that’s anti-Semitism.