The visibility of white nationalism, the KKK, and Neo-Nazis as a coherent movement post-Charlottesville means we are seeing some familiar questions about antisemitism and the position of white Jewish people in the US. We offer this set of discussion questions & recommended readings as ways to have deeper conversations about this moment in your communities and chapters.
Suggested readings from the book:
On the alt-right:
“Trump, the Alt-right, Antisemitism, and Zionism” by Arthur Goldwag (83-90)
“European Antisemitism: Is it ‘Happening Again?’” by Rabbi Brant Rosen (129-136)
On race and Jewishness:
“Black and Palestinian Lives Matter: Black and Jewish America in the Twenty-First Century” by Chanda Prescod Weinstein (31-42)
“Intersections of Antisemitism, Racism, and Nationalism: A Sephardi/Mizrahi Perspective” by Ilise Benshushan Cohen (43-58)
“Antisemitism, Palestine, and the Mizrahi Question” by Tallie Ben Daniel (71-80)
On false charges of antisemitism:
“On Antisemitism and Its Uses” by Shaul Magid (59-70)
Discussion questions and activities:
Thinking about and defining the alt-right:
- What is the alt-right? How is it different from other forms of violent white supremacy in US history, if at all?
- Which antisemitic stereotypes are you seeing in the media? Are there other racist tropes showing up right now? What are they?
- What are the similarities and differences between Neo-Nazis and pro-confederacy, white nationalist movements throughout the history of the US?
- What are the connections between white nationalism/the KKK to state sanctioned white supremacy and racism?
- There seems to be a confluence between Zionism, antisemitic stereotypes, right-wing figures like Bannon, and the violent white supremacist groups that feel particularly empowered in this moment. In a group, try to articulate what those relationships look like to you. Draw these relationships on paper – how can we reconcile right-wing antisemitism with right-wing Zionism? What connects them or fuels this relationship?
- Some groups might want to turn this into a powermapping exercise.
Thinking about Race and Jewishness in the US
- In Prescod-Weinstein’s piece, what contributes to making Black Jewish people invisible? Have you seen anything similar in the current moment? What have you noticed?
- What are ways that institutional, mainstream, and/or your own Jewish communities center whiteness? Why do you think this happens?
- How can we talk about the intersection between racism and antisemitism? What are some ways the Jewish organizations you are familiar with talk about this?
- What are your thoughts about the position of white Jewish people in this moment? What, if anything, has changed?
- What are the consequences, in the current moment, of analyzing or defining antisemitism without taking the experiences and histories of Jewish people of color and/or Sephardi/Mizrahi Jews into account?
Grappling with Antisemitism
- For many Palestine solidarity activists, accusations of antisemitism are used as a bludgeon, falsely deployed to stifle activism for Palestinian rights. As we are seeing increasing visible expressions of antisemitism it can be confusing and difficult to figure out how to relate to it. What do you notice about how you relate to the antisemitism that was on display in Charlottesville? What are you learning that might inform your organizing for Palestinian rights? What is helping you feel your feelings about it?
- Have you read anything, in the book or otherwise, that is helping you or resonating with you? What is it? Why is it helpful?
- As we think and talk about antisemitism, how can we do so in a way that doesn’t prioritize the safety of Jewish people over others? How can we make this a conversation about collective liberation?
A Charlottesville Syllabus: https://daily.jstor.org/charlottesville-syllabi-history-hate-america/
“More than a feeling: on Jews and whiteness in Trump’s America” by Mark Tseng Putterman: http://jocsm.org/more-than-a-feeling-jews-and-whiteness-in-trumps-america/
“Jews Must Stop Viewing Racial Justice Organizers as a Threat” by Rebecca Pierce: http://forward.com/opinion/380487/jews-must-stop-viewing-racial-justice-organizers-as-a-threat/
“Jewish Fear, Love, and Solidarity in the Wake of Charlottesville” by Jonah Sampson Boyarin: https://jewschool.com/2017/08/80150/jewish-fear-love-solidarity-in-the-wake-of-charlottesville/
“Just Calling the White Nationalists at Charlottesville “Nazis” Erases America’s Own Racism” in Teen Vogue: http://www.teenvogue.com/story/white-nationalists-charlottesville-nazis-america-racism-history