The Jews Don’t Count among the Ranks of the Oppressed. But Should Jews Really Aspire to Victim Status?

Jews Don’t Count, by the British comedian David Baddiel, is a book about anti-Semitism, but perhaps even more than that, it is about something else, which Dara Horn, in her review, describes as “the subtle baseline reality of dismissing, shaming, and belittling by parts of the non-Jewish world.” Baddiels find particularly galling the way that people who pride themselves on being enlightened, tolerant, and “antiracist,” and make a show of standing up for every oppressed religious, ethnic, and sexual minority, are entirely unwilling to acknowledge anti-Semitism, and sometimes willing to indulge in it themselves. Horn writes:

Baddiel’s insistence that Jews belong in the British catchall term “BAME” (Black, Asian, and minority ethnic), a classification indicating vulnerability to discrimination that is basically never applied to Jews, might sound overplayed to American Jewish readers. The reality is that British Jews have been putting up with this crap for a long time and in ways that much more closely resemble “conventional” racism against other minority groups.

The year I spent at Cambridge University in 1999 was the only year of my life when I routinely encountered social anti-Semitism of the sort I associated with my great-grandparents’ experience. One of my many lovely British memories is of a non-Jewish American friend of mine there who found that all our British peers assumed she was Jewish—despite her non-Jewish name and the fact that she was six feet tall. After a month, she finally asked someone why everyone thought so. That person blurted out, “Because you’re friends with that girl.”

There’s a fair argument to be made against what Baddiel is asking for here. Not because Jews don’t deserve the kind of official goodwill that other minorities receive from those claiming to fight the good fight, but because that goodwill is itself based on a flawed and disturbing premise—namely, that victimhood, or more precisely, powerlessness, is something inherently honorable. This idea has its roots in a historically Christian concept of suffering imparting nobility and is hideously linked to an even deeper and unarticulated belief that Jews deserve respect only when they are powerless—whether that means politically impotent or dead.

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Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: Anti-Semitism, United Kingdom

Condemning Terrorism in Jerusalem—and Efforts to Stop It

Jan. 30 2023

On Friday night, a Palestinian opened fire at a group of Israelis standing outside a Jerusalem synagogue, killing seven and wounding several others. The day before, the IDF had been drawn into a gunfight in the West Bank city of Jenin while trying to arrest members of a terrorist cell. Of the nine Palestinians killed in the raid, only one appears to have been a noncombatant. Lahav Harkov compares the responses to the two events, beginning with the more recent:

President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to denounce the attack, offer his condolences, and express his commitment to Israel’s security. Other leaders released supportive statements as well. Governments across Europe condemned the attack. Turkey’s foreign ministry did the same, as did Israel’s Abraham Accords partners the UAE and Bahrain. Even Saudi Arabia released a statement against the killing of civilians in Jerusalem.

It feels wrong to criticize those statements. . . . But the condemnations should be full-throated, not spoken out of one side of the mouth while the other is wishy-washy about what it takes to stave off terrorism. These very same leaders and ministries were tsk-tsking at Israel for doing just that only a day before the attacks in Jerusalem.

The context didn’t seem to matter to some countries that are friendly to Israel. It didn’t matter that Israel was trying to stop jihadists from attacking civilians; it didn’t matter that IDF soldiers were attacked on the way.

It’s very easy for some to be sad when Jews are murdered. Yet, at the same time, so many of them are uncomfortable with Jews asserting themselves, protecting themselves, arming themselves against the bloodthirsty horde that would hand out bonbons to celebrate their deaths. It’s a reminder of how important it is that we do just that, and how essential the state of Israel is.

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Read more at Lahav’s Newsletter

More about: Jerusalem, Palestinian terror