Rosa Doherty

Antiracists don’t seriously want to defend Jews

' I suspect that none of these advocates of goodness would actually care if — God forbid — those horrid cries were heeded.'

May 21, 2021 16:14

It is not like me to feel over emotional. And when I do it’s usually down to hormones or traffic. But then, in my daily life I do not expect to witness overt hate speech and incitement of violence against women, carried out on the streets of London.

So you can imagine my bewilderment when antiracism champions took to social media this week using meek and mild qualifiers about a very disturbing incident.

Like many Jews, I suspect, I had an out-of-body experience watching that video of a convoy of cars draped in Palestinian flags driving through London’s Jewish areas, screaming with a megaphone that we, Jewish women, should be raped in order to somehow bring about a free Palestine.

After trying to shake off the fear that this was something that was happening seemingly unchallenged by our police force for hours, we then had to watch champions of all that is good and holy referring to it in the softest possible terms. Because you know, Israel.

And I’m afraid it is at this point when someone like me —who would happily join a march for Palestinians if only it wasn’t riddled with cartoons that compare me to Hitler — is out.

I’m out when it comes to taking seriously the self-styled antiracists who, when faced with a motorcade of rabid misogynistic racist thugs, can’t stand up for me without a “but”. There are two reasons these people drove through London doing what they did. First, because they are racist. Second, because they are violent misogynists. No ifs. No buts. No “they had a hard day watching the news”.

I am sorry to say that I fear it’s not just the rhetoric that these people are capable of excusing. I suspect that none of these advocates of goodness would actually care if — God forbid — those horrid cries were heeded.

What would they actually do if I or another Jewish woman was raped on the way back from picking up a challah? How far would the solidarity extend then?

Would they be so sorry that it happened, but couch it behind excuses like “emotions were high that day”? Would they hold a march in solidarity, but invite men falsely accused of sexual violence for the sake of balance?

It feels too late to ask how we got here. I wonder if those who see themselves as champions of equality ever ask themselves why they feel like they can’t condemn Jew hatred unequivocally, in no uncertain terms? Do they ever dig deep enough to ask why they feel the need to insert a “but”?

You only have to be Jewish on social media to experience the lack of solidarity extended to us by our peers. Shocking instances of racist attacks against Jews almost never populate my Instagram feed unless posted by Jews.

Perhaps it is because deep down, somewhere inside, in even the most antiracist of antiracists there is a nagging part of them that actually believes “but, you know, Israel”. Or worse “but, you know, Jews”.

I know those men are a loud and vocal minority. They are not representative of the majority of people who want to show support for Palestine. But they felt free to express pure hatred from the comfort of their cars, wrapping their misogyny in a Palestinian flag, and the people we’re meant to rely on “to march them out of Cable Street” seem unable at best, and unwilling at worst, to do anything meaningful to support us.

I have no idea how progressive movements have become so lacking in a basic sense of what is right and wrong that they feel the need to practice a performative sense of balance when someone is advocating for raping a woman like me because a government 3,000 miles away is doing something they do not like. But we are so much poorer for it.

If the British Jewish community continues to have its worthiness of solidarity measured against what people think is happening 3,000 miles away, then what happens to our long and proud held tradition of involvement in progressive movements? It can’t go on like this.

May 21, 2021 16:14

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