- The completely erroneous assumption that having a father who’s Jewish means you don’t count as a Jew. First off, there are two ways to look at Judaism. One of them is the way Jews see themselves. The second is the way the world of anti-Semitism sees the Jews.
It’s true that Orthodox Jews believe that the line is matrilineal and without a Jewish mother, you are not Jewish. However, the large majority of conservative Jews and *all* reform Jews don’t believe that at all, and in fact, believe that having one Jewish parent means that you are Jewish.
The world of anti-Semitism believes that having even a drop of Jewish blood means that you are Jewish. If only people who consider those with Jewish fathers as “not counting” had been around to explain - to the Nazis, the Islamic fundamentalists, the World Church of the Creator, the Klan, and all of those other groups - that they’ve been wrong about my people all of these years. The world could’ve been so very different, all because of knowledgeable experts who can condescendingly explain the laws of my people to…my people.
That, or it could just be that people who make these kinds of accusations are incredibly misinformed and know nothing of what they’re talking about – the exact same accusation that was leveled against the original poster as a reason to dismiss her arguments.
- The not-very-subtle hints of underlying anti-Semitism in these comments. "Plus, I just couldn't bear the thought of getting an 'I'm Jewish so I can say what I want' reply"..."There were repeated mentions of Jewishness ("not religiously but racially") that seemed to be there for no reason other than to tally up the oppressions to make it okay to not acknowledge the offensiveness of comparing blackface to playing gay."
The tone I get from these comments reads something along the lines of, “Well no *wonder* she's so annoying! She's one of *those people*, always trying to use her own suffering to justify everything else! There’s no point in arguing with her, because you all know how *they* are.”
This is the exact same argument that has always been used to shut down discussions of racism, prejudice, and privilege. It's not okay when it's used to invalidate the experiences of people of color, it's not okay when it's used to invalidate the experiences of women, it's not okay when it's used to invalidate the experiences of gays and lesbians, and it's not okay here.
- The fact that nobody except for one person has called her on this. These were comments in a popular journal in the middle of a well-publicized post, and the entire thing was ignored. The originator of the post and the majority of her commenters are well-known for speaking up against racism and in this case, have responded with dead silence.
I’ve seen a lot from fandom in my years on livejournal. I’ve seen somebody with a large friendslist say that she can’t wait until the day Israel is blown off the map – and have *dozens* of people comment in her journal, congratulating her on her outspokenness.
I’ve seen people lauding Ugly Betty for their wonderful portrayals of minorities, while completely ignoring the fact that the show – the show set in *New York City* - had one very, *very* Jewish character: a lawyer who stole money from desperate illegal immigrants. Jewish characters who actually *act* like Jews, instead of being token Jews who just *love* Christmas (Willow Rosenberg, I’m looking at you) are almost non-existent on television. I cheered when Leah appeared, and then watched in shock when they actually went there. I thought right up until the last minute that it’d be a sly look at the negative stereotypes people have against Jews – after all, we all know how they are about money. I thought the show was trying to *say something* about Jews. Well, it said something, that’s for sure. Where was the fannish outrage? That said something too.
I’ve seen people freak out when I dared to suggest that Secret Santa exchanges weren’t all-inclusive. I wasn’t saying that they weren’t fun or rewarding. I was saying that an exchange talking about non-denominational trees (guess what? *My* holiday doesn’t *have* a tree, non-denominational or not), going live on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, and *using the word Santa in the title*, is not all-inclusive – because it’s not. People can sit there and tell me I shouldn’t be offended because it’s “not like that”. People can say that all they want. I’ve seen that argument pop up in racism debates over and over, and each time, those people were wrong. They’re wrong this time as well. Nobody was willing to say, “You’re right, but Christmas is the dominant holiday and this is the fun thing to do.” Instead I was told I was overreacting, being too sensitive, should learn to take things less seriously, etc.
Less than a month ago, I saw a post on the feminist community where a whole lot of non-Jews - names I knew, some of whom I had previously respected - explained to me that Jews don’t have the right to count themselves as a race. That I don’t have the right to define myself. That being hated by large chunks of the world for something that I *cannot change*, *still* doesn’t give me that right. As I said up above, I’m sure glad I have non-Jews to condescendingly explain the laws of my own people to me! God only knows where I’d be otherwise!
I’ve seen all of these things and more in the last three years. I could go on – these aren’t the only examples - but the point I’m trying to make is that I’ve seen them time and time again, and there’s a common thread – nobody ever says anything.
I get enough of this in my daily life. I’ve had pennies thrown at me. I’ve had people call me a kike to my face. I’ve had people tell holocaust jokes in front of me because they know I’m Jewish (“How do you fit 6 million Jews in a car? One in the driver’s seat and 5,999,999 in the ashtray. How do you get a Jew to drown? Glue a nickel to the bottom of a swimming pool.”) My in-laws are anti-Semites, and my husband has been disowned by the large majority of his family because he married me. In fact, before he got to know me (I was the first Jew he ever really talked to), he told me that when the Swiss banking scandal happened (he’s Swiss), it never crossed his mind for a *moment* that the Jews were telling the truth. Not for a moment. Because you all know how those Jews are with money. I’ve had people tell me that since Jews are so successful, why am I whining anyway?
So yes, I get more than enough of this in my daily life, and my question is, in fandom – where everybody is willing to discuss (the very valid issues of) Martha the maid, female characters being hated and ignored because they’re female and not male, het sex being thought of as gross and needing specific warnings, miscegenation, whether 'playing gay' is in any way analogous to blackface, and a billion other things about the daily homophobia/sexism/racism that exists on television, in movies, in books, in bands, and everywhere else - why have I yet to see any of these issues about Judaism and anti-Semitism addressed?
General Notes: I never would’ve been able to write this up so articulately without the help of some_stars and synecdochic for reading along as I wrote, and gently steering me back when I went off-course. Also, for an excellent look at what being Jewish means in the world today, I strongly recommend kita0610’s post here. Finally, just in case it’s not clear, I think phaballa’s playing gay=blackface argument is stupid as all hell. But I think it’s equally wrong to dismiss both it and her solely because she’s Jewish.
Chances are I’m going to sleep shortly after posting this, so I won’t be answering comments until tomorrow morning. I will be answering them all, but as always, while I encourage dissenting opinions and discussion, personal attacks of any form won’t be tolerated and the thread will be frozen. Keep it up and you’ll be banned.
ETA: Guys, read technosage's spin-off post here, because it's awesome.
ETA2: Want to read some awesome other posts? Because there have been a *bunch* today.
kita recs and there is lots of discussion.
kita talks about token Jews and other minorities in the media.
xanphibian talks about why posts like these shouldn't only matter to people who are Jewish.
vaznetti talks about some of her own experiences with Antisemitism and the way so many of us are scared to speak up. It's both fascinating and saddening to see how many people wanted to blog about this for IBARW and felt like their posts wouldn't be welcome. I was one of those people.
I've seen so much today and there's so much that I want to say in response, but I'm still only halfway done with comment responses and it's going to have to wait for another time. The quick version is that I told mr goodnews that this would be worth it if only one person stood up and said, "I feel this way too," if only one person said, "I never saw that but now I have and I'll be looking." Just *one person*. I've heard from a hell of a lot more and it's spawned discussion after discussion after discussion. In fact, this entire day, I've only seen one non-positive response, and that's pretty amazing, considering the topics that were addressed.
I feel a huge mix of emotions here. Proud that so many of us have finally spoken up. Relieved that people are out there listening. Sad that the large majority of Jews I've seen commenting and posting today have talked about how they were scared to say these things and felt like they wouldn't be welcome. Happy that I'm me. Jewish and me.
So thank you, fandom. Thank (almost) all of you. Thank you for being the people I've hoped and wished you were. Thank you so much.