Antisemitism & Its Antidotes


By Winston Pickett
May 10, 2012
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Tonight I begin teaching an eight-week course called “Antisemitism and its Antidotes: From Talk to Action” as a part of a Limmud-inspired, cross-communal study programme in Brighton and Hove called Lishmah Sussex.

I’ve chosen the title for two key reasons, both based on observations I have made over the years.

The first is that when people raise the subject of antisemitism or talk about it in any way, the conversation rarely stays ‘on topic’. It tends to wander – from definitions of what constitutes antisemitism, to debates about its reality or pervasiveness, rapidly descending into an encapsulated history of Jew-hatred throughout the ages.

Actually, this description doesn’t seem to quite do justice to what happens to discussions about antisemitism. They don’t wander. They explode.

Let’s face it: For Jews (and for anyone else we may be talking to), it’s difficult to retain complete objectivity about this. Antisemitism – to state the blindingly obvious – is an emotive subject. It touches on our history, our identity, our sense of place in the world – particularly in terms of how we relate to the state of Israel – and, most importantly, our sense of well-being.

In short, ‘talking about antisemitism’ is a challenge all by itself.

It’s also, I believe, a subject worthy of analysis.

The second reason for my double-barrelled course title has as much to do with psychology and logic as it does with my own hard-wired commitment to problem-solving. For if my preliminary observation is correct and the mere raising of the subject of antisemitism stimulates a matrix of conflicting thoughts and emotions, how much more important is it to explore what can be done about it?

To be sure, exploring how we conceptualise or understand antisemitism appears to be a critical first step in locating strategies for countering it.

But equally important is the exploration of the existing actions and interventions against antisemitism that have been fought for and developed over the years.

Indeed, once the subject of antisemitism is opened up in this way perhaps it will be possible to allow a bit of light to enter into an otherwise very dark place.

If we start to explore how the courts, legislation, codes of behaviour, international relations, freedom of speech, personal initiatives and even one’s own emotional and spiritual disposition can be marshalled in response to this seemingly eradicable hatred, perhaps we can begin to restore some balance to the discussion.

At least that’s the idea.

Will it work? In many respects that depends on the nature of tonight’s discussion.

The key word here is ‘discussion’.

In point of fact, I’d prefer to conduct this ‘class’ not as a lecture but as a focus group. In theory, at least, this approach has two advantages. It will open up the subject of ‘antisemitism and its antidotes’ not only to participants for whom it’s geographically convenient to give up an hour or two of their free time on a Thursday evening – but to anyone who wants to contribute on these blog pages.

I’m hoping we can explore some of these timely subjects in a truly interactive way – together and in a way that adds more light than heat to how we talk about antisemitism.

COMMENTS

AlistairClark

Fri, 05/11/2012 - 15:04

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1 point

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KH6FOrP2Pqw is this anti-Semitic? I'm never sure about anti-Semitism these days because it seems to have been hijacked by the far right and some fascists one only need look at Arutz Sheva to see what I'm talking about.It seems to me (not always)that the people who experience the most anti-Semitic slurs use words like hater hate Eurabia Londonistan and Jordan is Palestine. Personally for me racism is racism, Us Scots get it too.Ive had Jewish people call a me all sorts of things mostly about my Scottish background,none of it nice .I'd love to show you the emails I got and the pleasant dis-arming replys I sent to one Gabor Frankel. The man spat pure venom at me for no reason but a post in Ynet.I eventually got a sort of apology after I had one of our experts start an investigation on him .Our expert told me to keep replying to his emails because he would eventually blink first and that he got his religious extremism from his grandfather not his father among other juicy tip bits like the kind of dogs his father bred and business details. Hate disgusts me ! The best way I think anyone can fight Anti-Semitism is firstly disarm hatred with nice words , ask why and never ever use Israeli style hasbra all the people I know can see through it like glass it doesn't work although the people that use it don't know that.


Advis3r

Tue, 05/15/2012 - 09:13

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-1 points

I see the JC now boasts its own polite anti-Semite who it seems comes complete with his own backroom of helpers “experts” he calls them who no doubt have taught him which buttons he should to press in order to try to get the response they want.
This Jew baiter will ply us with subtle talk of far right racism (he is unlike suzanna too polite to use the word Judeofascist, don’t you know) while neatly but unfortunately glaringly for him displaying his own deep hatred for Jews and Israel.
He will recount unsubstantiated stories to “prove” his point and he will sneeringly regale us with accounts of his “victories” over Jews who support Israel thereby showing how “superior” he is.
We have seen his like before then they wore dark uniforms and jackboots now they hide behind computer keyboards. Before we may have been cowed and beaten now we are totally unimpressed.


AlistairClark

Thu, 05/17/2012 - 14:05

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0 points

Why would you think I'm anti-Semitic? Adviser.I don't care for racism or hate.Adviser,Sir. There are lots of bad people who hate anyone different.I don't really have the capacity for hate because when anyone does anything upsetting I tend to pity them.I used to be an admin on a website with resources ,our 3.5 thousand members came from all walks of life(professional people). I had people investigated,who I felt could be dangerous. No harm done.


Macairt

Mon, 05/21/2012 - 09:49

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0 points

'never ever use Israeli style hasbra'

What, exactly, do you mean by 'Israeli style hasbara'?

Do you permit, for instance, the defence of Israeli or Israeli actions, or pleading their mitigating circumstances, if one thinks they are merited?

Or do you exclude that, a priori? And why, exactly?

Claiming one is anti- or not a racist, or detests 'hate', is no proof of

a) being anti-racist

b) not being antisemitic.

Recently the octogenarian Norwegian founder of the discipline of Peace Studies was revealed to be a (long-standing) raving antisemite.

Most modern antisemites, these days, claim to be 'anti-racist'. As a claim, in fact, it is their sine qua non. Neo-antisemitism is the almost exclusive purvey of self-proclaimed 'anti-racists'.

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