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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 26, 2024

Antisemitism Unpacked: Solidarity is the key to collective liberation

The best way to combat antisemitism is through solidarity, both within Judaism and among other oppressed groups.

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As a pernicious threat to our communities, antisemitism demands resistance wherever it appears. However, true liberation from antisemitism will only occur when we acknowledge racism and colonialism within our communities and stand in solidarity with other oppressed groups.

Solidarity within Jewish communities means both stopping attempts to divide us while holding ourselves accountable for racism within the Jewish community. Right-wing figures, such as Donald Trump, have consistently attempted to divide the Jewish community and undermine solidarity. This Rosh Hashanah, Trump suggested in a post made on Truth Social that “liberal Jews” who voted against him were destroying America and Israel. Antisemites will always try to split the Jewish community on Reform vs. Orthodox lines, Sephardic vs. Ashkenazi lines or on any other issue. We must not let these antisemites divide and conquer our community.

Solidarity within Judaism also means acknowledging racism in the Jewish community, however. As a white Jew of mixed Ashkenazi and Sephardic ancestry, my personal experience with racism in the Jewish community is limited. However, it is an undeniable fact that racism is present in the Jewish community. In a recent study by the Jews of Color Initiative, 80% of respondents said they experienced discrimination in the Jewish community. Taking accountability for the mistakes made by Jewish leaders and amplifying the voices of Jews of color are crucial steps for challenging racism within Jewish communities.

Similarly, it is crucial to recognize that our liberation will not come from the subjugation of others. Following World War II, many American Jews, who had endured decades of antisemitism, were allowed to assimilate into the white community — at a cost: Jews were allowed to keep their religion so long as they traded their language and culture for so-called ‘superior’ European values. But trading culture and language to gain an iota of white privilege is not liberation. Not only do Jews still suffer from terrorism and discrimination, but assimilating into the white community makes us culpable in systemic oppression and marginalizes Jews of color. This is not to insinuate that Jews are somehow responsible for our oppression, but rather to indicate that our collective ignorance of racism and colonialism are barriers to our group’s liberation.

As a community, we must stand in solidarity with other marginalized groups both because it is morally right to do so and because antisemitism directly intersects with other forms of oppression. Christian supremacy is tied to Islamophobia, queerphobia and antisemitism, just to name a few. Additionally, historically and currently, Jews have been portrayed as wealthy puppet-masters manipulating the economy, obscuring the class-based oppression of unequal economic systems. Our oppressions intersect, and any Jewish institution or state based on the oppression or displacement of others will never truly be liberatory. It is crucial that we examine our own institutions critically and challenge our community leaders when they espouse racist or colonial rhetoric, especially those actively buddying up with the extreme right.

Jews have every right to solidarity with other victimized groups, but we must take initiative as a community by standing alongside other oppressed groups. We must also take responsibility for racism within our Jewish community and reckon with the fact that any safety built on either assimilation or the oppression of others is a façade. True freedom for Jews will only come when we stand in unconditional solidarity with other marginalized groups and commit ourselves to fighting racism and colonialism in our own communities. No one is free until we all are.