January 16, 2019

The ‘Hyper-Whitening’ of the Jews

“At the Forward, Ari Feldman reflects on whether or not recent attacks against Jews in Brooklyn are the result of anti-Semitism. The article is gaining a bit of attention because of its nonsensical premise and because of a few choice quotes. He cites a local salesman as saying, “It’s less of an anti-Semitic thing than they needed a target to respond to this word: gentrification.” And he quotes someone named Mark Winston Griffith from the Black Movement Center, who says that may be the result black people’s seeing Judaism as “a form of almost hyper-whiteness.”

To reject these explanations as preposterous and offensive is, of course, righteous. But to do that alone is to miss something critical. Considering these claims at face value is important. Not because they have merit, but because they show precisely how anti-Semitism works and what it is.

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 cross-breeds, 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.”

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