Recently in the United Kingdom, there has been a heated discussion of how to address rising Antisemitism, a.k.a. Hatred of Jews, among members of the progressive Labour Party. Harry Potter series author J. K. Rowling joined the discussion of frustration at what she was seeing and found herself attacked by haters on Twitter.
Haters argued such things such as "Jews are a religion, not a race." People were actually arguing that only religious Jews were persecuted by the Nazis. Then arguing idiocy like, "Arabs can’t be Anti-Semitic because they are Semites," when Antisemitism has never been about anything other than hatred of Jews and certainly Arabs can hate Jews. In fact, Jews who harbor or spread hatred of the majority of other Jews are Antisemitic by the most basic definition of the term, which at its heart means "One who hates Jews."
One person quoted by Rowling wrote that it was culturally insensitive to accuse Muslims of Antisemitism. She responded to that one with, "When you understand bigotry in terms of ‘pick a team."
Rowling wrote in response to her critics, "Split hairs. Debate etymology. Gloss over the abuse of your fellow citizens by attacking the actions of another country’s government. Would your response to any other form of racism or bigotry be to squirm, deflect or justify?"
And when people noted that she was giving the trolls a platform, she replied: "I’m tired of this ‘don’t feed the troll’ advice. Ignoring racist abuse leaves targets feeling isolated and unsupported. Hate loves silence, which it takes for consent."
Then she posted the "Basic Test for Antisemitism" by David Schneider, which is four questions long, along with the non-Antisemitic answers:
- Do you accept that millions of Jews perished in the Holocaust? [Yes]
- Do you think that Jews exercise undue influence on organisations/the government/the media/
finance/your life? [No]
- Do you treat Antisemitism in exactly the same way as hatred and prejudice against any other group, condemning it outright without any qualifying comment about, for instance, the suffering of other groups? [Yes]
- Did you manage to answer 1-3 without moving the subject onto Israel/Palestine? [Yes]
I am reminded that Rowling wrote the story of Harry Potter considering the history of Antisemitism and
perhaps anticipated this very discussion. After all, among the most important and well-remembered quotes from the series are these: "It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends." - Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
"I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.’" - Hagrid, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
"We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are." - Sirius Black, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
"Lumos!" Let there be light.
Rabbi David Kaufman