I am going to be honest with you: I’m not naive, but I’ve been surprised by the immediate and blatant public anti-Semitism following the election and tracking with the President-elect’s cabinet appointments. I’ve been surprised by the way the media and even everyday people have normalized it. It’s not that I didn’t know it was there; I always have. It’s just that when I think of the famous Martin Niemöller quote, I didn’t have us this close to the top of that list.
And to be real, I spend a lot of my professional life talking to white Jews about white supremacy, training my community to understand how we became and benefited from being white in this country, and how we need to leverage that privilege, that relative security, and direct our energy towards standing in solidarity with communities more directly affected by white supremacy today.
So in the last few weeks, and the last few days specifically, I’ve had a few moments where I’ve felt like I need to tell my Jews, “Hey, my bad. Everyone still hates us.” But I’ve also been thinking about this – there’s a reason they’re coming for us first. Nothing about the alt-right or the new administration has been accidental; this is calculated. And this anti-Semitism is not incidental. It’s strategic. It’s an attempt to segregate the Jewish community, turn us inward to our own fear, and divide us from our partners and allies in the communities we have been working to build relationships with. I sit in my home in North Minneapolis, and I think about redlining, about the real ways that Jews were turned against their black neighbors, encouraged to be afraid, manifesting in white flight and driving urban disinvestment. It’s an effective tactic. We need to see it for what it is.
We won’t end white supremacy by fighting just one leg, we have to work together, in relationships, or it’s still standing, still coming for all of us. Last night, at a JCA listening session with our community, a JCA member, an elder, named this. He said, “We are experiencing anti-Semitism, and now more than ever we need to be in relationships with our Muslim neighbors, immigrant communities, people of color to fight all of the ways this manifests.” We are stronger together, now is the time to join hands more than ever before.