Wednesday, July 15, 2009

When oppressors promote contrarian minorities

I just did a google image search for "Orthodox Jews." I wanted the image to show how Jews often can stand out as quite different in a visual way. A huge number of the early results are Neturei Karta. Seven images of 19 images (I'm ignoring a Barbie Doll in Tefellin) on the first page.

Neturei Karta, which has maybe 5,000 members (of whom perhaps only a tiny minority are politically active), and more specifically a one-dimensional representation of even this group as anti-Israel that ignores their stances on a million other issues, has come to represent for many people what Orthodox Judaism is.

Well, no. NK is a tiny group that doesn't represent Orthodox Judaism. Chabad-Lubavitch, for example, has over 200,000 members worldwide. And because they're very active, it would make a lot more sense to me if people took C-L as representative of Orthodox Judaism, even if they're not even as large in number as Modern Orthodox.

But C-L and Modern Orthodox have much more pro-Israel stances than NK. So when people who aren't Jewish (or Orthodox Jews) want to talk about Judaism in a way that fits their anti-Zionist views, they pretend NK are "true Jews." This, of course, means I get Christians and Muslims trying to tell me, effectively, that I'm not Jewish enough to speak from a Jewish perspective -- which is just insane. And Racist. It's colonialism, plain and simple.


M.S. said...

This, yes. I very much appreciate your end sentiment, and rather wish I'd stumbled across your blog back when I was still in the "anti-war left". (found it linked from somewhere)

The whole "they are more Jewish than you" happens all the time. Insofar as I can tell, regardless of location in the U.S.

Matt said...

Thanks, M.S.

I'm not sure there were blogs like this back then. Left antisemitism has always been a thorny problem, but aside from some of the socialists and communists I link to often, it's one that's been pretty well ignored. Each time it comes up we reinvent.

If you haven't read it already, I'd recommend That's funny you don't look antisemitic by Steve Cohen.

Glad to have you aboard.