On Jews and their Comments January 24, 2017 8:34 AM   Subscribe

So Joe from Australia posted this comment in the Nazi punching thread. The crux of it was a link called Solidarity is for Goyim, in which the author argues that Jews have not received the same sort of support from the left as other Jews, despite the very visible rise of antisemitism.

The immediate reaction was to try and argue him down, and, apparently, flag him as an I/P derail. I left the thread and won't return, because I feel the same as the link Joe put up, and felt that this was immediately ignored and challenged.

I don't know. Apparently people feel like the fact that the recent JCC bomb threats were mentioned makes Joe's point invalid, which seems to me like grabbing one thing he has slightly wrong to invalidate his whole point.

I try to be a good ally on this sire, and have to say this is extremely discouraging right now, because I work at a Jewish paper and so am exposed daily to many, many, many stories of antisemitism but very, very few examples of allyship. I guess people think punching Nazis is the same thing as being an ally against antisemitism, but, as satisfying and necessary as that work may be, it's not the same.

It's super disheartening and super-unwelcoming.
posted by maxsparber to Etiquette/Policy at 8:34 AM (555 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

"the left as other Jews"?

As other groups, rather. Sheesh.
posted by maxsparber at 8:36 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


My new mantra (and sign) for the various protests and the like hosted by groups that I'm not necessarily a part of, but want to show solidarity for:
JUST HERE
TO LISTEN

So that's what I'm going to do here, rather than try to point out minor errors in people's posts or comments or logic or whatever, or try to win the Oppression Olympics, or ask "Yeah, but what if..." questions.

Thank you for raising a topic that I might not be as keyed into as you are. Thank you for trying to educate me. I'll try to take your words and your experiences and your feelings into account. I may or may not make a visible change in my actions, but I will keep trying to improve at being one of billions of humans trying to get along better.

I'm just here to listen.
posted by Etrigan at 8:42 AM on January 24 [60 favorites]


I thought the article JinA linked to was super interesting and worth its own post in some ways. At the same time, he brings lot of baggage into threads with him that I think is distinct from his own words and people react to that. Anyhow, that's always been my feeling and I think Greg Nog's particular style and stickiness in that exchange didn't help matters, but I can be humorless around a lot of stuff and my style isn't the same as others', certainly.

I generally feel like MetaFilter has a tough time with the nuances of Jewish identity versus the political issues involved in, for example, I/P debates. I do agree that the allyship on MeFi against antisemitism could, in my opinion only, be better and seems to get bogged down in a lot of "well actually" types of things.

That said, I stayed mostly out of the Nazi punching thread because it's not a topic I want to discuss with the general public.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 9:02 AM on January 24 [38 favorites]


The far right wants to murder all Muslims AND all Jews, with any support for Israel being a fleeting matter of convenience for them. Don't be fooled, do what you can to defend both.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


I gently suggest that the issue with that exchange was not the link destination but the link poster. Right or wrong, there is a lot of historical baggage around Joe and I/P threads. (I don't read or participate in those threads on MeFi so I have nothing to offer as to the merits of this baggage, but I do read MetaTalk so I am aware that this is A Thing.)
posted by DarlingBri at 9:06 AM on January 24 [7 favorites]


hey mods, does my ban on Jewish topics apply to comments too, or can I weigh in on this meta?
posted by andoatnp at 9:24 AM on January 24


I would respond by suggesting that it is not good allyship to dismiss a poster who is one of the few visible members of a minority group because of past disagreements about the I/P subject, especially when other Jews chime in and say they have shared the described experience.
posted by maxsparber at 9:25 AM on January 24 [34 favorites]


andoatnp, please skip this.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:26 AM on January 24 [5 favorites]


Part of the problem might be his framing and his wording. Honestly, I'm so tired of Joe in Australia's constant attempts to paint the left, oftentimes including pluralities or majorities of Jewish Americans and sometimes even Israelis, as anti-Semites that I can rarely take him seriously on the issue of who is anti-Semitic versus anti-Zionist (the Zionism here being the sort pushed by right-wing Jews and their evangelical compatriots across the world). But the fact is, he also felt the need to come up with something easily disproven (i.e., that only Jews bring up anti-Semitism) to try and bolster his point. It's something he's done a lot in the past, usually to criticize those who aren't sufficiently supportive of Israel (by his metrics) or are crypto-anti-Semites. If he hadn't included that, it probably wouldn't have pinged my radar that much.

On review, I agree with jessamyn and DarlingBri for at least part of the reason it got the response it did.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:43 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Apparently people feel like the fact that the recent JCC bomb threats were mentioned makes Joe's point invalid, which seems to me like grabbing one thing he has slightly wrong to invalidate his whole point.

Maybe I'm missing some context but JiA's comment specifically ended with a rhetorical challenge suggesting that something doesn't occur on Metafilter. It seems that answering that challenge with examples of that thing -- particularly in the very thread in which the challenge is issued -- is a valid response, and not pointed at invalidating the rest of JiA's comment.
posted by beerperson at 9:43 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


Maybe I'm missing some context but JiA's comment specifically ended with a rhetorical challenge suggesting that something doesn't occur on Metafilter. It seems that answering that challenge with examples of that thing -- particularly in the very thread in which the challenge is issued -- is a valid response, and not pointed at invalidating the rest of JiA's comment.

Only if you think debating Joe point by point is more important than the general subject of allyship with Jews.

I don't. I think it's a distraction, and a marvelous way to dismiss legitimate points that Joe brings up -- and he does bring up legitimate points in that link, and on MetaFilter.
posted by maxsparber at 9:50 AM on January 24 [6 favorites]


First I will say this: I have been speaking out against antisemitism and antisemitic attacks in places other than this site. I do not feel I know enough to speak to this issue here, where other people know more. But when a "family friend" shared "Protocols"-esque fake news about Soros on FB, I told her that her antisemitism was ugly and inexcusable. When people IRL told me to calm down about the election, I told them synagogues were already being attacked, and Jews threatened nationwide. I don't mention this for cookies-- I merely want to be a voice saying that I am trying to perform ally-ship and solidarity in spaces where Jews are not present. These are hate crimes and I am calling them that and speaking out about them whenever possible. Many people of the "calm down" variety have said "wow, I didn't know that" after I inform them about these issues.

I am sorry if this effort has seemed absent or invisible as a result of my reticence in this space.

That said: the Joe in Australia comment you linked to contains this statement: "a lot of left-wing icons have been happy to appear with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah, and even endorse them". This statement seems to conflate lack of support for Israel as political entity with anti-semitism. Now, those two things absolutely coincide on a regular basis. But I know Jews who do not support Israel (either as a concept or in its current political iteration). Similarly, the American evangelical fringe is rabidly pro-Israel, but their support completely coincides with their anti-semitism. Conflating anti-semitism with one’s position on Israel is rarely going to enrich either discussion.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 9:50 AM on January 24 [59 favorites]


Only if you think debating Joe point by point is more important than the general subject of allyship with Jews.

This is kind of a shitty, unfair retort, dude.

I agree with you that Mefi is bad at allying with Jews, in both large and small ways, and I'm grateful for people who do the hard work of trying to pull that gap closed. I don't think it's useful to hang that entire conversation on litigating a single back-and-forth involving a user who, as pointed out above, has a contentious history on semi-related issues. I think if you let this thread breath for a bit maybe it will go where you want it to anyway.
posted by beerperson at 9:55 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


This is kind of a shitty, unfair retort, dude.

I don't think it's useful to hang that entire conversation on litigating a single back-and-forth involving a user who, as pointed out above, has a contentious history on semi-related issues.

I'm not sure why you think my response was shitty, when we seem to agree:

I don't think it is valuable to litigate a single back-and-forth with a specific user. If you have issues with Joe and his feelings about Israel, or if he made a misstatement about the degree to which this site has covered the JCC bombings (fractionally larger than not at all), maybe it's better not to do that.

That being said, I didn't start this thread so people can say, well, we're not being great allies because Joe brought up allyship, and of course we're going to immediately litigate anything he says. I don't want this thread to be a referendum on Joe. I started it because it literally seemed impossible in that thread to get people to do anything other than either litigate Joe's specific comment or shrug it away, and I'm blocks away from a JCC that received a bomb threat and don't have heart to watch legitimate Jewish concerns dismissed because people don't like the person who raised them.
posted by maxsparber at 10:02 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups. Supporting them isn't just political difference.
posted by Mchelly at 10:12 AM on January 24 [17 favorites]


Without playing dumb regarding JIA history on Mefi, I have to say it is a little disheartening to read comments of the, "Well, you know, JIA has a history here so..." variety, because I'm really hard pressed to think of any other oppressed group where someone being a "problematic" poster would be used as a justification to brush off their concerns.

I mean, if I were to teach a class in "How to Become a Pariah on Metafilter 101" one of the first things I would teach is how to be the "Well, actually" guy when someone brings up concerns about sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc., since "You are a problematic user with a questionable history on the site so I do not take your complaints about -ism seriously" are rarely, if ever, allowed here to be used as a justification to dismiss someone's concerns about prejudice. The one notable exception to this is when Jews complain about anti-Semitism, where people are free to and often do (it's right here in this very thread) rules lawyer over, "Oooh, are we conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism again there, buddy".

There is a higher bar one needs to clear on Metafilter to state a concern about anti-Semitism that isn't required of other oppressed groups and I think the issue is deeper than, "There is one Jewish user who has a history of being kind of a pain".
posted by The Gooch at 10:16 AM on January 24 [40 favorites]


Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist groups. Supporting them isn't just political difference.

I suspect this may be the point of contention. It rather omits some context.
posted by Dysk at 10:19 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


I didn't flag Joe's comment because of the "Solidarity is for Goyim" link (which seems to raise some thought-provoking points). I flagged the comment because it had a barely-disguised intention of portraying anti-Zionism (or just criticism of Israel) as indifferentiable from and synonymous with antisemitism, meanwhile linking it to violence, thuggish behavior, and terrorism - essentially strapping a host of contentious I/P positions to a thread not remotely about I/P, using "the left" and "violence" as a tangential tie-in to discuss whatever he wants - and then moving from there on to a wide-ranging critique of many on the left for not taking antisemitism seriously enough, a topic which is even less related to the thread, and which Joe doesn't even make a fig-leaf attempt at bootstrapping to the Nazi-punching discussion. Closing the whole shitshow out with a provocative question about MeFi that was easily disproven in the very thread. I flagged the comment because it was noise, because it was thinly disguised unrelated agenda-pushing, and also because it led to a derail between maxsparber and Greg Nog that was far outside of the discussion. Whether there is lack of support for the Jewish community on Metafilter or on the left is a great and important topic for another thread or a MeTa, but a derail for the FPP topic and discussion at hand without question.
posted by naju at 10:20 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


hether there is lack of support for the Jewish community on Metafilter or on the left is a great and important topic for another thread or a MeTa, but a derail for the FPP topic and discussion at hand without question.

Discussing support for the Jewish community is a derail on a thread about punching a Nazi?
posted by maxsparber at 10:24 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


In the way his comment approached it, it absolutely was a derail. Presumably there's a cogent, on-topic comment to be made arguing that commenters against punching Nazis don't sufficiently support the Jewish community, for example, or that punching Nazis gives people a false sense of allyship. This wasn't that comment.
posted by naju at 10:30 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


The article he posted was interesting, and like a lot of stuff written in that vein, had some things I agreed with very much and some things I disagreed with very much. I can't speak for any other minority (ethnic or otherwise) but that's sort of part and parcel with being Jewish.

I've spent the last few months during/since the election getting into it with conservative-leaning (if not just straight-up proudly right wing) Jews of all stripes around the internet and, I mean, honestly, bringing Zionism, Israel, etc. into the discussion of Jewish life in America out of essentially nowhere (as it as) is like page 1 of whatever handbook that got handed out on the day I didn't show up. It's rhetorical judo, plain and simple, as far as I am concerned. If you want to disabuse me from that notion, uh, I guess come get your boy (x50) on my neighborhood Facebook group.
posted by griphus at 10:33 AM on January 24 [32 favorites]


(that's not directed at anyone specific, just FYI)
posted by griphus at 10:34 AM on January 24


In the way his comment approached it, it absolutely was a derail.

Boy, if we wait until the perfect person phrases it the perfect way, we're going to be waiting a long time to have the discussion though, won't we?
posted by maxsparber at 10:34 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


The one notable exception to this is when Jews complain about anti-Semitism, where people are free to and often do (it's right here in this very thread) rules lawyer over, "Oooh, are we conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism again there, buddy".

I'm Jewish myself. And yes, the fact that he conflates the two with regularity has become part of the problem in why discussions about anti-Semitism here are difficult. For example, last month he essentially accused anyone opposed to moving the US embassy to Jerusalem of being anti-Israel, even though I'd wager that many and probably most Jewish Americans are opposed to the move. Again, this is an ongoing problem, and I doubt I'm the only Jewish Mefite who feels like the discussion you just called "rules-lawyering" comes out of having to deal with almost every disagreement being portrayed as treasonous, sometimes backed up with unfounded accusations.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:38 AM on January 24 [29 favorites]


Boy, if we wait until the perfect person phrases it the perfect way, we're going to be waiting a long time to have the discussion though, won't we?

Definitely don't need the perfect comment, but one that isn't just a thinly-disguised I/P hobby horse mixed with open-ended pontificating would be nice. I flagged it. I'm explaining why I flagged it, since this MeTa calls out my doing so for incorrect reasons. I think I'm justified, and you're free to disagree.
posted by naju at 10:41 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


There must be some way that people can entertain the subjects of Judaism and allyship without waiting for Joe to get it exactly right, or to have a political approach to Israel that they agree with.

Here's a suggestion, based on the thread: When a second Jew comes in and says, hey, Joe posted a link that is important, maybe drop the discussion of Joe and start the discussion of the link?
posted by maxsparber at 10:42 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Or maybe Joe can learn not to bring in unrelated arguments and accusations instead of everyone tip-toeing around him in the first place.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:45 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


I flagged the comment because it had a barely-disguised intention of portraying anti-Zionism (or just criticism of Israel) as indifferentiable from and synonymous with antisemitism...

Ding ding ding. This is something JiA does all the time and has the effect of ratcheting up the intensity of the discussion by several notches. Now, that's his view and I don't think his comments should be deleted or anything, but of course it's quite understandable that other folks might get exasperated or literally answer the question he posed about our community.
posted by lalex at 10:46 AM on January 24 [21 favorites]


Or maybe Joe can learn not to bring in several unrelated arguments and accusations instead of everyone tip-toeing around him in the first place.

If I can make my point clear, I'm genuinely looking for a solution to this, and asking for your help. I don't want to argue about whether Joe is a good spokesperson for the subject, and if he isn't, I'd like to figure out a way to work around that, because at the moment it really feels like people can say, well, Joe, and then completely disregard any discussion beyond that.

Which is a great way not to have the discussion.

So help me, and don't just wait for Joe to stop being Joe. I need this to be a place I can participate without feeling like people have found an imperfect witness who they can disregard completely when subjects of Judaism come up, and then feel like, if someone else raises it, well, hell, let's just talk about Joe some more, let's talk about how bad Joe is about talking about Israel, let's make it no longer our responsibility to have this discussion because one guy can't phrase it in the way we want.
posted by maxsparber at 10:49 AM on January 24 [45 favorites]


And to be even clearer: I expect your help in resolving this. That's allyship.
posted by maxsparber at 10:49 AM on January 24 [19 favorites]


Nothing with Joe on I/P can be resolved. That's why everyone avoids it.
posted by Artw at 10:50 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Fine. I'm fucking done. This is not a place that I feel like I can have a voice or allies.
posted by maxsparber at 10:51 AM on January 24 [13 favorites]


I mean, honestly, bringing Zionism, Israel, etc. into the discussion of Jewish life in America out of essentially nowhere (as it as) is like page 1 of whatever handbook that got handed out on the day I didn't show up.

He linked to articles about American Jewish students being violently harassed at US universities. By American students. Yes, the context is Israel, but the students were not Israelis. This was anti-semitism in America. A lot of Jewish students are reporting feeling unsafe on campus, because of people expressing anti-Israel sentiment with anti-semitic words and actions.

People on the left love to say that being anti-Israel isn't automatically anti-semitic, which most people - I would hazard even JiA, agree with. But the second someone here pushes back with "but it sometimes is," it's like the gates open and everyone has to make sure we know that no, no it isn't, here is the opinion of Jew X and that proves it. How is that different from any other flavor of white fragility?

This conversation is becoming really, really disturbing.
posted by Mchelly at 10:52 AM on January 24 [44 favorites]


I realize this doesn't exactly help, max, but I'm listening and I hope you won't go.
posted by tel3path at 10:52 AM on January 24 [22 favorites]


People on the left love to say that being anti-Israel isn't automatically anti-semitic, which most people - I would hazard even JiA, agree with

No, he leaps to it every time. More than anyone JiA has gone out of his way to poison the shit out of the subject, and if discussion of antisemitism or I/P is impossible here then a fair chunk of the blame for that can be laid directly at his feet.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


So help me, and don't just wait for Joe to stop being Joe.

This is impossible. I'm glad to have you as an ally, but you're asking me to meet someone halfway when they disregard the Jewishness of others whenever it's convenient. I don't know why the site should have to change to meet the needs of that particular brand of shittiness when all it takes is a single user cutting it the fuck out.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:03 AM on January 24 [11 favorites]


People on the left love to say that being anti-Israel isn't automatically anti-semitic, which most people - I would hazard even JiA, agree with. But the second someone here pushes back with "but it sometimes is," it's like the gates open and everyone has to make sure we know that no, no it isn't, here is the opinion of Jew X and that proves it. How is that different from any other flavor of white fragility?

QFT. I have to say my jaw kind of dropped when someone pointed out that there were no FPPs on the bomb threats to the JCCs and a whole bunch of people chimed in with, well, yeah, but I mentioned it upthread! etc. Misses the point rather a rather dramatic fashion.
posted by holborne at 11:03 AM on January 24 [18 favorites]


A point of order for the mods, I guess. My assumption was that (at least historically) we "just don't do I/P here because it doesn't go well", but the silence has me wondering. Is that site policy?
posted by naju at 11:06 AM on January 24 [2 favorites]


It's a defacto unofficial policy.
posted by Artw at 11:07 AM on January 24


He linked to articles about American Jewish students being violently harassed at US universities.

Was this in the Solidarity link? I re-read it but I don't see it in there, but I'll admit I'm not at the height of reading comprehension at the moment.

But, regardless, I mean, do you want articles about organized American Jewish students being exceptionally racist towards students of the Muslim faith/Middle Eastern extraction or sympathetic toward Palestine? I sure as fuck don't want to find these articles again or disseminate them in a space full of impressionable gentiles but in my opinion campus attitudes revolving around I/P and BDS and so are toxic from the ground up on both sides and, again, serve as a rhetorical bludgeon in generalist discussions like this.

Discussion about Jews and Jewish issues on this site can get really, really dumb and infuriating on this site and elsewhere and god knows I've felt like burning out like max has and don't really blame him for doing so as the tetris pieces fell together in just the wrong way for him just now. But on the other hand, JiA knows exactly what he is doing, to what effect, and, again, I've spent months now arguing with dudes like him and while he's not as paint-by-numbers as many of them, and does make good points, that doesn't make shoehorning Israel into the conversation any more palatable to me.
posted by griphus at 11:07 AM on January 24 [28 favorites]


Well, site policy for a while has been, we know I/P threads and even subthreads don't go well, we've done very many of them over the years and they end in the same predictable unresolvable fights, so the bar for posts about I/P stuff is really high.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:08 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


I have to say my jaw kind of dropped when someone pointed out that there were no FPPs on the bomb threats to the JCCs and a whole bunch of people chimed in with, well, yeah, but I mentioned it upthread! etc. Misses the point rather a rather dramatic fashion.

As someone who actually has posted several comments on the JCC threats, I was under the impression that an FPP on the subject would have been deleted pretty quickly with a note to keep it to the election (or whatever we're calling them now) threads, where I ended up doing so anyway. I based this on prior behavior of the mods around similar issues.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:11 AM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I have to say my jaw kind of dropped when someone pointed out that there were no FPPs on the bomb threats to the JCCs and a whole bunch of people chimed in with, well, yeah, but I mentioned it upthread! etc. Misses the point rather a rather dramatic fashion.

JiA specifically said 'when have you seen people here other than Jews mention antisemitic attacks and threats?' and people were like 'a lot, here are some examples'
posted by beerperson at 11:12 AM on January 24 [14 favorites]


The bomb threats would clearly fall under the election, depressing as that sounds. In more normal times we probably would have spun up a separate thread for the situation in Whitefish as well, but the election threads ate that. It's actually kind of surprising the punching got a separate thread.
posted by Artw at 11:16 AM on January 24 [3 favorites]


My impression was that people were talking about the JCC threats in the existing threads, as we've been doing with other post-US-election hate-crime stuff; and offhand yeah, I think it's possible a JCC-threat post might have been re-routed into where the discussion of it was already happening. Not a certainty, depends on exact post and context, but reasonably likely.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:16 AM on January 24


That said: the Joe in Australia comment you linked to contains this statement: "a lot of left-wing icons have been happy to appear with representatives of Hamas and Hezbollah, and even endorse them". This statement seems to conflate lack of support for Israel as political entity with anti-semitism.

I'm sorry, no. Hamas and Hezbollah are, in addition to being anti-Israel, notoriously and violently antisemitic. An endorsement of these groups is an endorsement of antisemitism. You don't get to endorse the KKK and then say "well ACTUALLY you're conflating my lack of support for BLM-connected riots with racism."

To the broader theme of the thread, we've had this conversation right here before, with the best outcome being shitty lip service wherein some mods and users wave their hands a bit and say things like "oh, I completely understand" and "we're all learning" and then get their rug and their brush (again, this is the best case -- the most common response is denial and counter-attack). The message is clear: allyship and solidarity is for anyone but Jews. Recent events have certainly widened the rift between me and right-wing Jews, but I harbor no illusions that the recent left-wing focus on right-wing antisemitism is anything but a temporary alliance of convenience.
posted by Behemoth at 11:17 AM on January 24 [30 favorites]


I'm sorry, no. Hamas and Hezbollah are, in addition to being anti-Israel, notoriously and violently antisemitic. An endorsement of these groups is an endorsement of antisemitism.

Which would have been appropriate in another context.

Recent events have certainly widened the rift between me and right-wing Jews, but I harbor no illusions that the recent left-wing focus on right-wing antisemitism is anything but a temporary alliance of convenience.

This is exactly the thing I'm talking about. "If you're not with us, you're against us" is the exact same rhetorical tactic Joe uses.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:20 AM on January 24 [10 favorites]


Recent events have certainly widened the rift between me and right-wing Jews, but I harbor no illusions that the recent left-wing focus on right-wing antisemitism is anything but a temporary alliance of convenience.

And, from my perspective as a lifelong left-wing Jew, right-wing Jews have, as a group, basically denied (if not outright supported and endorsed) the current march toward fascism while ignoring its antisemitic elements and are now becoming desperate when they realize what, exactly, has come home to roost and harranguing the rest of us who have been trying to build the solidarity that they spent basically their entire prior political time breaking down.
posted by griphus at 11:20 AM on January 24 [50 favorites]


god this is just passover at someone's uncle's place all over again isn't it
posted by griphus at 11:27 AM on January 24 [46 favorites]


I like you and I'm sorry you buttoned, max. Sorry if I'm responsible. I think the "Solidarity" link is good and hope it can be discussed in and of itself.
posted by naju at 11:29 AM on January 24 [8 favorites]


The one notable exception to this is when Jews complain about anti-Semitism, where people are free to and often do (it's right here in this very thread) rules lawyer over, "Oooh, are we conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism again there, buddy

I think this is 1000% true.

For every other minority group, when half of that group says 'hey, this is anti-X', and the other half of the group says 'no it's totally fine', we tend err on the side of the people saying they are harmed by it, rather than the people who say they're totes cool, and let them fight it out. But with Judaism, it seems that's not the case - that we listen to the people saying 'it's totally fine' before we listen to the people who are saying "I can't believe you just said that, please don't say that again."

maxsparber
is a valuable member and the fact he's thinking of buttoning over this should say something about our lack of support here.
posted by corb at 11:42 AM on January 24 [45 favorites]


I quite like Joe in Australia, and find his comments on a wide range of topics thoughtful, elucidating and interesting. I often think he'd be a fun guy to have a beer and a chat with. I also feel that way about many of you.

Of course, upon this frightful admission, some may question my allyship with other liquid intoxicants, such as wine, whisk(e)y, spirits blanc ou vert, and of course dear old meths. But I would have you know that some of my best friends are wine, whisk(e)y, etc ... and whatever the fuck is in this martini. Under the FOUR olives, I mean. Seriously, one appreciates a dirty martini as much as the next chap - but this thing is positively sordid. Still "we're all in this (unlicensed booze-hall) together", I suppose.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 11:42 AM on January 24 [9 favorites]


But with Judaism, it seems that's not the case - that we listen to the people saying 'it's totally fine' before we listen to the people who are saying "I can't believe you just said that, please don't say that again."

Being lectured on this by someone who had a large chunk of a MetaTalk thread dedicated to pointing out to them how awful the "Jews died because Nazis implemented gun control" wingnut propaganda sounds to actual Jews is pretty laughable.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:47 AM on January 24 [26 favorites]


If members here are saying they do not feel that they are experiencing solidarity from other members here when it comes to coverage of antisemitic attacks and the rise of antisemitism globally, then we need to do better.

I think Joe in Australia is a great commenter, and I value his input on almost every topic. It is just that in this one area, his viewpoint on what is objectively true and right seems to often be at odds with many other thoughtful and reasonable people (here and elsewhere), including other Jewish members. It doesn't mean I disregard his opinion, but it does mean that his habit of stating it as unassailable fact will almost inevitably lead to pushback.

For what it's worth, I wasn't actually arguing with JiA's assessment of Hamas and Hezbollah (though many people do). My point was that "someone from the left appeared at an event with a representative of Hamas" is not an obvious equivalency with "the left does not show solidarity to Jews experiencing antisemitism" in a culture where many people do not understand a distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian state. (Also, plenty of prominent people on the left are garbage, as we are all aware.)

However, one place where I think JiA and I would agree is that many people are on the left as a default more than out of an intentional and coherent worldview of standing up for the oppressed and attacked, and for many people in that position, doing the work to foster solidarity for Jewish communities and battling antisemitism seems like an effort and just...unpleasantness. I think it is fair to point out that this sort of "solidarity" is essentially useless. (JiA, apologies if I am speaking out of turn.)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 11:58 AM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Since maxsparber unfortunately did button, and the discussion here is still seems to be a referendum on JiA, which max specifically did not want...

Can we focus primarily instead on how better to be supportive to communities that frequently find themselves targeted by hate?
posted by qcubed at 12:00 PM on January 24 [20 favorites]


JiA specifically said 'when have you seen people here other than Jews mention antisemitic attacks and threats?' and people were like 'a lot, here are some examples'

No, I was talking about the fact that maxsparber said, specifically, that there was no FPP about the JCC threats. So I don't really see what saying "we talked about it in this thread" had to do with anything. But more to the point, the comments had a quality of "Oh pipe down, what are you complaining about." That's what I was objecting to.

But to address the actual issue: it often does seem to me that Jews are the only ethnic group that isn't afforded the privilege of being able to say with what does and and does not come across as anti-Semitic to them and have that view respected.
posted by holborne at 12:06 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


> I thought the article JinA linked to was super interesting and worth its own post in some ways. At the same time, he brings lot of baggage into threads with him that I think is distinct from his own words and people react to that.

You know, I used to get so annoyed with Joe that I would pretty much automatically roll my eyes when I saw his username; in fact, I think I said as much in the last contentious MeFi-and-Jews MetaTalk thread. But I've pretty much done a 180 since then; we can all be irritating at times (god knows I can), but commenters should not be judged (let alone prejudged) based on their worst moments, and in general I find Joe's comments thoughtful and well composed. This one in particular was fine; he was pointing out a real problem and linking to a good piece about it. And the response was basically to tell him to shut up and go away. The same thing has happened in this thread, except that maxsparber actually has been driven away, which makes me angrier than I like to be. People really, really don't want to hear that anti-Semitism is a problem anywhere they like to hang out.

> Can we focus primarily instead on how better to be supportive to communities that frequently find themselves targeted by hate?

No, we can focus on what the MeTa post is about: anti-Semitism. To detour to "communities that frequently find themselves targeted by hate" is just to create another mutual back-patting session on how MeFi stands tall against intolerance. Except, apparently, when it involves Jews.
posted by languagehat at 12:08 PM on January 24 [86 favorites]


Frankly, I can't figure out why it was up to someone else to post an FPP about the JCC threats, election thread-swallowing dynamics aside.
posted by rhizome at 12:09 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I really, genuinely wonder how much of the perceived lack of solidarity for Jews (I say 'perceived' because everyone has a different take on it, not because I'm in doubt of the concept which, good lord, I am not) comes from the fact that there's gentiles who believe that you have to, inherently, Take A Position on I/P, BDS, etc. in order to offer any kind of support for Jews because, and god knows any Jew with a Facebook can testify to this, arguments between us really tend to get into that territory at the drop of a hat, appropriately or not. God knows this is why we're even having this MeTa.

Well: you don't. Really. You do not have to offer an opinion or even have an opinion despite what anyone tells you. I certainly don't have a clamped-down, written-in-stone conception of all of that stuff beyond "it's extremely complicated and, generally, I don't want to talk about it."

So if you're feeling sheepish about offering solidarity to Jews because of that, I can't tell you to not feel your feelings, but give it a shot regardless.
posted by griphus at 12:10 PM on January 24 [39 favorites]



Maxsparber, if you're still reading, you're one of my favourite posters and will miss you. I'm very upset that you felt you had to leave. I understand having to do what you feel you have to do. Take care and I hope to see you back some day.
posted by Jalliah at 12:15 PM on January 24 [51 favorites]


No, we can focus on what the MeTa post is about: anti-Semitism. To detour to "communities that frequently find themselves targeted by hate" is just to create another mutual back-patting session on how MeFi stands tall against intolerance. Except, apparently, when it involves Jews.

You're right. My word choice there was poor. FWIW, from my PoV, I haven't seen MeFI stand tall against certain forms of intolerance, anti-Semitism included.

Some of it might be because when it comes to structural racism, to most casual observers it seems as if Jewish people don't get hit with it as much as others, ignoring, of course, that whatever privileges Jewish people have being "white", it's intensely situational/provisional and extraordinarily quick to vanish. We've seen that time and time again, and we're seeing it ever more clearly now with how quickly it's ramped up, echoing the past.

I think it's entirely possible to show solidarity without necessarily having everything break down into an Israel-Palestine discussion, and a lot of it has to do with doing the same things we do with other groups: listening, and amplifying voices.

Which, I know, sounds like a lot of pablum. But it doesn't have to be.
posted by qcubed at 12:16 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]


Jews are the only ethnic group that isn't afforded the privilege of being able to say with what does and and does not come across as anti-Semitic to them and have that view respected.

Maybe but count me as another person of Jewish background who thinks that some of the discourse around to Israel is so poisoned by the right wing that... one shouldn't always take things people say at face value? But I get frustrated from the other direction too, like I am concerned by (what seems to be rising) anti-semitism in Europe and the U.S. and feel like it deserves more attention than it gets. So I thought that link was just fine, regardless of who posted it, even if I didn't agree with every single assertion in it.
posted by atoxyl at 12:17 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


And I like you Max and it really sucks that you've left.
posted by atoxyl at 12:18 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


People really, really don't want to hear that anti-Semitism is a problem anywhere they like to hang out.

I absolutely believe it's a problem here and elsewhere. But that doesn't mean I have to just accept the implication or accusation that I (or anyone else for that matter) is an anti-Semite just because I don't toe the American/Israeli/etc far-right's line on Judaism or Israel.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:23 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Some of it might be because when it comes to structural racism, to most casual observers it seems as if Jewish people don't get hit with it as much as others, ignoring, of course, that whatever privileges Jewish people have being "white", it's intensely situational/provisional and extraordinarily quick to vanish.

I think a big, big point to be made here (and I apologize if I'm sucking the air out of this discussion) is that anti-Semitism essentially comes from a place where "white" doesn't work as a terribly useful descriptor. "Whiteness" is an American concept (arguably and, again, contextually) and anti-Semitism predates it by quite a bit and you can't overlap the two on one another without edges poking out. Being from Europe and raised within the concept of 'differing ethnicity' versus 'whiteness/nonwhiteness' I often struggle with phrasing things because it gets really hard to cram the sort of anti-Semitism I am familiar with into a conception of the world that revolves around whiteness. And, yeah, I think the take that "Jews are white," a phrase we could endlessly debate ("only recently" "actually we're just passing" "what about Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews?" etc.) is at the base of a lot of lack-of-solidarity-for-Jews within the broader Social Justice umbrella.
posted by griphus at 12:23 PM on January 24 [65 favorites]


Frankly, I can't figure out why it was up to someone else to post an FPP about the JCC threats, election thread-swallowing dynamics aside.

I sorta think this is an issue which comes up now and then. You're part right, there's an element of "be the change you want to see" or whatever, but then again, that puts the onus on a specific community to post those topics--and while those in said group might have additional context and insight when framing them, it can be somewhat tiring and disheartening to do it over and over again. I know there are lots of potential links and FPPs I don't bother doing about my communities precisely because those that do get posted end up either ignored/viewed only by that community, or lose the thread quickly for various reasons (modding, being talked over, etc).

Just because you're not part of a community doesn't mean you can't post something regarding it, if you're respectful about it. The JCC threats are entirely something that could have been posted by anyone, not just someone Jewish.
posted by qcubed at 12:24 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted; sparklemotion, your comment introduced a comparison among a bunch of different not-quite-analogous things and an evaluation of which kinds of discrimination are reasonable or which kind of bigots are really bad vs which ones are ok, in a way that was just going to lead to totally needless arguing about all those (contentious and not-necessary-to-this-topic) analogies and claims. Deleting to spare the thread that suite of angry derails.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:24 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


I need to think about all this in more depth, but at the moment I can say I'm pretty pissed this went so poorly that Max has left.
posted by zachlipton at 12:25 PM on January 24 [29 favorites]


What does I/P stand for?
posted by INFJ at 12:31 PM on January 24


Israel/Palestine.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:31 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Ah, thanks LobsterMitten.

maxsparber, I have been where you are. I had my thoughts and concerns trampled on and discarded here on Metafilter. I, too, disabled my account. It's hard to speak up in favor of an unpopular opinion here. Metafilter, for all it's awesomeness, is sometimes cruel in it's passion.

I hope you'll come back one day, even if no one knows you were once called maxsparber. The community is great and I hope you won't let the thoughts of some speak for the whole.

everyone: Times are rough and things are intense. Maybe give everyone a little more space and benefit of a doubt? Before you hit that "Post Comment" button, take a deep breath and ask if you really need to share your thoughts. Sometimes it helps you just type it all out and then close the browser tab. That way you've gotten the thoughts out of your head but not trampled on the feelings of someone else.
posted by INFJ at 12:44 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


And the response was basically to tell him to shut up and go away.

Against my better judgement, and only since I was the first one to respond to Joe, I'll merely say that I don't think anything in my reply can be construed as saying "shut and go away." His assertion that "the left is violent, too," seemed like an odd thing to abruptly drop into the conversation at that point and I asked for clarification. Max urged me to read Joe's link and I did. And from a non-Jewish person's perspective I found nothing to disagree with what I read in the linked piece.

Anything else I write is as likely to make matters worse than not, so I won't, but I didn't tell Joe to go away, didn't intimate that he should go away, and didn't want him (or Heaven, forbid, Max) to go away.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:47 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


I really wish this thread weren't about me; it shouldn't be.

I wasn't trying to drag I/P into the discussion. A lot of violence and intimidation against Jews is framed as a critique of Israel, just as violence and intimidation of African-Americans is framed as "being tough on crime", or whatever. As examples, I linked to two incidents (two of many) in which predominantly-Jewish audiences came under physical attack from left-wing activists. The activists may not have thought they were contributing to an atmosphere of fear among a small and vulnerable population, but that's what they were doing. Even if you believe that a person's motive is more important than the effect of their actions, it would be intolerable if every attack on Jews could be excused as a critique of Israel.

Similarly, Hamas and Hezbollah have been responsible for any number of terrorist outrages directed at Jews and, consequently, Jewish institutions around the world are locked down like juvenile remand centres. My kids, for instance, go to a school that's surrounded by a high wall and has armed security guards at every entrance: that was introduced in reaction to Hezbollah's attack on a JCC in Argentina, and increased after the ISIS-inspired attacks on Jews in France. I'm not aware of any substantial left-wing support for ISIS, but Hezbollah certainly gets some uncritical left-wing love.

The things that I'm talking about are human rights issues, and the easiest way to deflect a demand for equal rights is by saying that that's not what it's really about, it's just a wedge issue. E.g., you're not really upset about unfair policing; you're just using that to get drugs legalised. Or you're not really upset about gay bashing; you're just trying to decriminalise gay sex. Even if that were true, it wouldn't relieve us of our duty to address the substantive issue. I'm somewhat bemused at the idea that I (an Australian! who is not even into politics!) am the posterboy for Israeli public relations, but whatever: there are lots of Jews who feel excluded from the left-wing consensus as Jews. You need to hear their concerns.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:48 PM on January 24 [36 favorites]


I think it's entirely possible to show solidarity without necessarily having everything break down into an Israel-Palestine discussion

The conflation of Jews with Israel and Israel with Jews is seldom constructive, regardless of who is doing it.
posted by atoxyl at 12:53 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


I (an Australian! who is not even into politics!)

ok seriously now
posted by lalex at 1:01 PM on January 24 [32 favorites]


The conflation of Jews with Israel and Israel with Jews is seldom constructive, regardless of who is doing it.

As is the conflation of the (currently far-right) Israeli government with the people or state of Israel.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:04 PM on January 24 [24 favorites]


Ideally "people" (whoever debates this stuff by bashing on their keyboard) would use "the Israeli government", for sure. Will it ever happen? Probably not.
posted by My Dad at 1:14 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


That thread sucks for multiple reasons:

1) At a certain point, people were repeating each other and themselves multiple times to repeat that punching nazis is great. OK, I'm cool with punching Nazis, but it is by no means the activist issue of our age. Any person who dared say, "Hey, maybe punching people can have some negative repercussions, just sayin'" would get shouted down by a dozen people. I mean, I don't agree with that position, but there comes a point where you're just performing rightness. Pile-ons suck.

2) Then Israel/Palestine gets dragged into the thread. So angry about this. There is no consensus among Jews - American, Australian, or Israeli(!), that critiques of Israel=anti-Semitism. No matter how many times it gets said here or elsewhere, there is by no means a majority Jewish agreement with that position. So you are automatically pissing Jewish people (like me) off with that claim.

3) Then non-Jews started defending their positions by literally saying, "My friends who are Jewish say.." and "I [a non-Jew], think anti-semitism is getting lots of push back, even though Jews in this thread disagree!" Come on people... You can be better allies than this!

Suck suck suck.
posted by latkes at 1:17 PM on January 24 [18 favorites]


OK, I'm cool with punching Nazis, but it is by no means the activist issue of our age.

It damn well has a solid chance of it.
posted by flatluigi at 1:18 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


Joe- when a majority Jewish group feels unsafe because of the protests of another group that is also largely Jewish, it is not clear to me that the attack is anti-semitic. To say that it is primarily anti-semitic seems willfully obtuse. But at minimum you can acknowledge Jews do not universally agree with your position that anti-Israel activism is equal to anti-Jewish activism.
posted by latkes at 1:20 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


No, we can focus on what the MeTa post is about: anti-Semitism. To detour to "communities that frequently find themselves targeted by hate" is just to create another mutual back-patting session on how MeFi stands tall against intolerance. Except, apparently, when it involves Jews.

I totally agree with respect to focus, but as a member of another marginalised group, the back-patting tendency is frustrating as fuck over here, too, and it's not like there's unequivocal support. Your overall point is completely valid, but it does grate a little to see things continually referred to as solved or all good for some groups, because shit is not all good.
posted by Dysk at 1:33 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Conflating anti-semitism with one’s position on Israel is rarely going to enrich either discussion

I think this comment summarizes a lot of what makes me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew on MetaFilter and has since I joined. And I am with maxsparber, I am sorry to say, in feeling like it needs to get addressed or I, too am going to reconsider being a MeFi.

Here's the thing. No matter where one stands on Israel/Palestine, and a lot of us Jewish supporters of Israel are very, very unhappy with the policies of that country towards Palestinians, the reality is that many of Israel's enemies including entities like Hamas and Hezbollah are also very anti Semitic. This is hateful and wrong. Even if opposing Israel on its policies and its own anti-Palestinian attitudes is right, and often it is, anti Semitism is not.

Moreover, we in the U.S. now have a fascist President and anti Semitic attacks are increasing in the wake of his election. Haters toward everyone - LGBTQ, Muslims, women, Latinas and Latinos, people of color, immigrants of all stripes, every minority group AND JEWS are emboldened.

Really, Jews have a remarkably long and persistent history of being oppressed. Anti semitism is alive and well in the U.S., and it is stronger now than ever before. I don't care how many right wing and Republican Jews there are, that anti Semitism and the scariness and threat of it is reality as well. And if there is one thing I as a Jew don't need, it is obliviousness and dismissiveness from MetaFilter.

Backing away before I really do follow maxsparber and button as well. Please think about what is bothering us.
posted by bearwife at 1:35 PM on January 24 [71 favorites]


Coming in here to say that even though I dont' post so much I read a lot on here. I also go through waves of being so fucking done with this site and the swirling toilet of "well ACTUALLY", usually aroudn gender or trans stuff.

there is a huge amount of rules lawyery bullshit "well actually" people refusing to acknowledge anti-semitism here. it's fucked up. jewish mefites have been saying this for a while. you should probably fucking listen.
posted by beefetish at 1:43 PM on January 24 [25 favorites]


sparklemotion, your comment introduced a comparison among a bunch of different not-quite-analogous things and an evaluation of which kinds of discrimination are reasonable or which kind of bigots are really bad vs which ones are ok

I mean, this was the whole point of my comment. Metafilter is a place where some kinds of discrimination are seen as reasonable, and the community here does put more energy into being allies for some groups than others.

And I'm trying to be values-neutral about it -- I'm not sure that that I can be down on the community for it when I know that it is my nature as well. But at least I can deal with having it brought up, you know?
posted by sparklemotion at 1:45 PM on January 24


It's not going to be productive to have this whole thread turn into fighting over which of your "this group gets better treatment" statements is true, or why there are contextual differences between groups, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 1:53 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]


"I [a non-Jew], think anti-semitism is getting lots of push back, even though Jews in this thread disagree!"

If this is directed at me, I want to clarify that I didn't mean that to be my message in the thread. Merely wanted to point out that the bomb threats were being mentioned multiple times just in the thread alone, and at least once by a non-Jew, since the non-participation of non-Jews on that topic in particular was brought up. But it appears I stepped my foot into something I have no authority on as a byproduct of that and I definitely apologize if apologies are in order.
posted by naju at 1:55 PM on January 24


Honestly, if LobsterMitten's summary of your original comment is even remotely accurate, sparklemotion, maybe consider this isn't the right place to do such comparisons?

MeFi has a problem with certain things and repeatedly engages in some particular behaviors. Just as it wouldn't be necessarily be useful for anyone to bring up concerns about anti-Semitism in a thread about appropriation of Asian culture, why would it be remotely helpful to try to do the same here with things not anti-Semitism?

I realize you have a pattern of wanting to try and abstract things and just ask questions to probe the limits of what should and shouldn't be done, but in this case, here... can we not?
posted by qcubed at 1:58 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


I feel this is a genuine problem, but I feel the example used to illustrate it is a terrible one for multiple reasons outlined above. Joe, your "who, me?" shtick is disingenuous in the extreme; your good points being regularly smothered by your own hyperbole, distorted framing, etc.

That thread was a shit show from the first, I was super disappointed by some of the extremely hostile comments directed at members that the mods let stand, and I felt like cortex let them stand because he agreed with the thrust of the arguments. Mefites were literally calling other mefites nazi sympathisers Ffs. A "cut it out/simmer down" was missing.

Inserting Joe's special brand of innocent questioning into a high tension thread where a hyper aggressive tone has been *sanctioned* is a recipe for disaster.

It's a shame, as I think we could be more introspective about how we frame and talk about antisemitism here. But I don't know this particular example is representative of the problem as a whole.
posted by smoke at 2:19 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


This comparison of anti-Semitism to other forms of discrimination was made above the fold of this post.

the author argues that Jews have not received the same sort of support from the left as other [groups].

Therefore, I fail to see how a discussion of other forms of discrimination* is out of context for this discussion, except to the extent that non-Jews feel uncomfortable with the idea that the community is as dismissive of Jewish issues as we are of x, y, or z other issues.

*I'm not in complete disagreement that specific examples may be less helpful here than I had originally thought so it's not like I'm salty about the deletion, I did think that the reason for the deletion was a good summary of at least one of my original points though.
posted by sparklemotion at 2:23 PM on January 24


Mefites were literally calling other mefites nazi sympathisers Ffs.

I definitely used the term "sympathetic toward Nazis" in that thread and, well, are you telling me I should not because that is straight-up asking that what I perceive as anti-Semitism not be brought up.

Sympathy with anti-Semites is not solely in the hands of swastika-clad skinheads. The entire country is infected with it, always has been. It can easily be in the hearts of otherwise Good People who either don't know any better, or decided they do know better and they're right. I'm certainly not going to sit around putting up with that any more than anyone else in this thread isn't going to put up with the kind of anti-Semitism they're concerned about.
posted by griphus at 2:25 PM on January 24 [35 favorites]


Joe- when a majority Jewish group feels unsafe because of the protests of another group that is also largely Jewish, it is not clear to me that the attack is anti-semitic.

I don't actually know that the activists at those events were largely Jewish, but ... women can be misogynist; POCs can be racist; when people attending an event have to be confined by the police for their own protection then there's something seriously wrong. It's certainly going to make them afraid of attending other Jewish events.

But at minimum you can acknowledge Jews do not universally agree with your position that anti-Israel activism is equal to anti-Jewish activism.

I don't believe that, or believe I ever said it; and it sounds like a straw-man assertion. In my experience things usually go the other way: people deny that acts or statements should even be scrutinised when they were purportedly motivated by anti-Israel sentiment. This isn't just rhetoric; there was this decision in Germany a couple of weeks ago, and (closer to home) this letter sent by a mayor in Sydney about the same time.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:25 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I think this comment summarizes a lot of what makes me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew on MetaFilter and has since I joined.

Bearwife, I apologize for making the comment that made you uncomfortable. It was not my intention, but I will listen and try to do better. I offer the same apology to anyone else who found my comments hurtful.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:30 PM on January 24


Sorry griphus, I should have linked this is the comment I was referring to . I have no beef with your spirited disagreements in the thread; I think the distinction is fine perhaps but appreciable, but of course you may totally disagree.
posted by smoke at 2:37 PM on January 24


Does it even occur to anyone that the term "anti-Israel" is such a normal description of a person that we never question it? I mean, I hate what Assad is up to AND I hate what ISIS is up to, but I wouldn't call myself anti-Syria. But people who are quick to assure you that any group X (take your pick) is not a monolith, are okay with saying they're against an entire country - a democracy, that has citizens from all the major faiths. And not all of whom feel represented by the current government.

I mean, there genuinely is a difference between saying "I think this country's policies are wrong," or "I think this country's leadership is awful," and saying "I think this country shouldn't exist." Now factor in that the country comprises the majority of a faith group that is currently, violently persecuted worldwide for their faith. And many of whose citizens arrived there fleeing persecution not because Israel was their first choice, but because no one else would let them in. There are Jewish people in the election threads right here saying that they are considering aliyah, because they are starting to worry that the United States won't have their back, and moving to Canada isn't as easy as people think it is.

What gets left out of these discussions, especially when it comes to talking about Israel, is that Metafilter, as a whole, is largely anti-religious. People who identify as Jewish here overwhelmingly consider themselves "cultural Jews" - as in, they don't celebrate Christmas, they enjoy some aspects of Jewish non-religious culture, and Hitler would have put them in an oven. That is a perfectly accurate definition as far as Judaism is concerned, when you think of Judaism as a tribe. But it's about as accurate a way of judging Jewish opinions about Israel as asking Clarence Thomas his opinion about affirmative action and treating it as the African American viewpoint. All voices are worth hearing, and if you're Jewish and feel that gives your opinion a larger stake in the discussion, that's reasonable - but if you're unaffiliated and unaffected, you may be missing nuances. If you never step foot inside a synagogue or a Jewish school or a JCC, you may not know that they are - all of them, no matter what denomination - guarded by security and often cops. With heightened police presence on major holidays. The recent bomb threats weren't a big deal because bomb threats, but because there were so many, so widespread, and simultaneously. Any one Jewish institution getting a bomb threat very rarely even makes the news. American Jews who are not religious really can go their entire lives mostly unaffected by anti-semitism because the only kind they used to ever see was the occasional blatantly obvious comment. But hate crimes against Jews are still exponentially higher than for any other religion - even though we have the smallest population. For religious Jews - and by that I don't mean Orthodox Jews, I mean anyone who goes to synagogue or sends their kids to Jewish schools - whether or not Israel should be a Jewish country is not an academic or intellectual discussion. Throughout history, every country that has had a Jewish presence eventually kicked them out, often violently. Having a Jewish country out there ties directly to anti-semitism, because it's the only fail-safe antidote.

So when I see someone say "Israel needs to stop building settlements in the West Bank, that is evil," I wouldn't ever think it was anti-semitic. But when someone says "Jews always accuse anyone who says anything anti-Israel of anti-semitism" - that's really problematic. And when someone makes the leap to saying it's not anti-semitic to say that Israel shouldn't exist? That is an argument in favor of another genocide. I'm not trying to be overdramatic - but that is what Hamas still calls for in their charter to this day.

This is personal for me. If the US goes pear-shaped enough that we felt our family was no longer safe here, we probably would move to Israel. Knowing the people I am fighting side by side with here to fight injustice will automatically believe that as soon as I made aliyah I would be fair game to be called evil, complicit in genocide, Islamophobic? But that I shouldn't see it as having anything to do with my being Jewish because they're just being Anti-Zionist? It hurts. But that's what I'm hearing.
posted by Mchelly at 2:43 PM on January 24 [69 favorites]


acknowledge Jews do not universally agree with your position that anti-Israel activism is equal to anti-Jewish activism.

Pretty much everybody acknowledges this - or rather states that they do not hold this position/acknowledges that they are not equivalent - in principle so

- acknowledging it in principle doesn't get your actual arguments off the hook

- demanding that someone acknowledge it is also a pretty pointless and obnoxious thing to do
posted by atoxyl at 2:46 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Anyone looking to track antisemitism in the US can start here.
posted by grumpybear69 at 3:06 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


People who identify as Jewish here overwhelmingly consider themselves "cultural Jews" - as in, they don't celebrate Christmas, they enjoy some aspects of Jewish non-religious culture, and Hitler would have put them in an oven.

This may be neither here nor there but as long as we're talking about erasure of Jewish ideas, please bear in mind (not you, Mchelly, necessarily, just everyone) that there's plenty of Jews on here who consider themselves, above anything else, ethnic Jews, to which both culture and religion are extensions of the undeniable fact of their Jewishness. The ignorance of this perspective on MeFi (and, just generally in America) is one of the things that most frustrates me about conversations about the Jewish experience on here.
posted by griphus at 3:11 PM on January 24 [46 favorites]


I have buttoned over this issue before. I haven't again not because MeFi is better, but because I have solved the problem for myself by never engaging in any related topics. Haven't, and won't, read the Nazi Punching thread. I can say that it sends a very definite signal when there's no FPP about the rising tide of antisemitism. Nothing about the JCC threats. Saying that it's all politics and belongs in the politics thread ... Is my entire identity then political? DAPL is in the politics threads. Feminism is in the politics threads. Is my very body political? Is the fact that people want to kill me /political/?

Because the entire conflating of I/P with Jews is something we've been over here. It's not new, and it still happens.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:11 PM on January 24 [22 favorites]


Did a mod say those things in the politics threads or delete FPPs about them? Or did nobody happen to make an FPP?

The difference between the implications of the first situation and the second seems pretty significant.
posted by atoxyl at 3:22 PM on January 24


AH yes. I went and found the last MeTa I was thinking of. And as I recalled, it was about Joe in Australia. I still feel the same way. It was also called a derail to talk about antisemitism when we were for real killed. Which is going to happen again, sooner than I want to think about.

Seriously, even the Jews who live in Israel shouldn't be conflated with the Jewish state. Any more than you should be conflated with Trump or drone killings. It absolutely IS antisemitism to do so.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:23 PM on January 24 [18 favorites]




Totally agree, griphus, and would love to talk about it more. But Judaism as an ethnicity is a harder nut to crack because the divide between Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews is so deep, let alone bringing in the Beta Israel and all the differences between the Spanish and various Arabic Sephardic Jewish communities. I mean, we can't even talk about Jewish foods without some #notall fallout, and there are very few Sephardic Jews here of any stripe. Middle Eastern Sephardic Jews' experience of anti-semitism - and relation to Israel as a result - is likewise very different from the Ashkenazi / Western experience.
posted by Mchelly at 3:25 PM on January 24 [5 favorites]


All voices are worth hearing, and if you're Jewish and feel that gives your opinion a larger stake in the discussion, that's reasonable - but if you're unaffiliated and unaffected, you may be missing nuances.

I feel very much in these discussions like there is some sort of Jewishness Certifying Board and, without their signoff, my opinion (and my identity) don't count at all. I really resent having to trot out my bona fides every damn time because the simple statement of my Jewishness isn't enough - not for non-Jews, but for the Jews whose opinions I disagree with. If I didn't feel like I had to remind the community periodically that we do in fact have a Jewish (Bat Mitzvah, relatives in Israel, family of varying degrees of observance, including Jewish in-laws) mod, I wouldn't mention it at all, because I don't feel welcome.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 3:45 PM on January 24 [38 favorites]


Bluntly, while I don't share JiA's kind of Zionism (or much of any other kind), he is correct. MY experience of leftwing pro-Palestinian advocacy (in New Zealand) is a sizeable contingent has a particular animus against Jews, and expresses itself in terms of taking action against "the Jews" and does not distinguish the Israeli state, the government, the people, and the wider ethnic groups that comprise "the Jews". The events he linked to are organised by and attended by Jews and those Jews experience the violence as anti-Jewish, as I'm sure Joe does, sincerely, accusations of cuteness and distortion notwithstanding.

Meanwhile the local community which I am on the fringe of keeps harassment reports on the down-low because they are scared that publicity might encourage copy-cats.

What I'm picking up from this thread and the exchange that spawned it is that it is more important to some Mefites to pursue their feelings about I/P than listen to what Jewish Mefites have to say about their feelings about antisemitism and frankly, that is exactly the "solidarity is for goyim" that Joe's link described. Some of you really disappoint me.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:49 PM on January 24 [25 favorites]


For religious Jews - and by that I don't mean Orthodox Jews, I mean anyone who goes to synagogue or sends their kids to Jewish schools - whether or not Israel should be a Jewish country is not an academic or intellectual discussion. Throughout history, every country that has had a Jewish presence eventually kicked them out, often violently.

I don't see how the first sentence has anything to do with the second. I'm fully aware that if things get to that point here in the US, I (as a non-observant Jew) am a target too.
posted by asterix at 3:54 PM on January 24


I feel very much in these discussions like there is some sort of Jewishness Certifying Board and, without their signoff, my opinion (and my identity) don't count at all.

This is one of those things that I, possibly wrongly, attribute to better condition for Jews in America, where the effort put toward just surviving has been lowered because, and I say this with all seriousness and the full strength of my citizenship behind it, there is no better country in which to be a Jew than America. So there's a lot more time for these squabbles about things important to religious American Jews (religious and historical knowledge, bar mitzvahs, circumsicion, even sometimes parentage!) that are basically shrugged off as personal choices by many secular European Jews, who are no less Jewish and frequently more in touch with actual anti-Semitism than their American counterparts (or, ugh, were. I guess we'll see how THAT plays out).

Growing up among Soviet Jewry there really wasn't any of this qualified-Jew nonsense where your religiousity or cultural depth in any way affected your status as a Jew or your ability to comprehend your circumstance if you were an educated, intelligent adult. This is, I assume, something that comes with having JEW stamped on all your legal documents unless you could afford to pay someone off to put RUSSIAN (or whatever). Hanging out with Israeli Sabras of non-Ashkenazi extraction, I've noticed similar attitudes. The Yemeni and Iraqi and Caucasian Israeli Jews I hung out with rarely had a mind to tick off boxes on my Certification Sheet the way American Jews do when they ask me if I went to public school.

Anway I just want to extremely assent that erasure of Jewish voices, even on MeFi, isn't just a gentiles v. Jews situation, and the perspective that it is can be as alienating as any clueless gentile's. And also I absolutely remember when you, r_n, had to remind me you were Jewish in some heated conversation months ago, so it's not like I'm entirely innocent of anything.
posted by griphus at 4:08 PM on January 24 [35 favorites]


You're right asterix, that was poorly worded. What I was trying to do was differentiate between people who actually think that Israel as a Jewish nation is somewhere they belong if they choose to go there, because it is so much a part of the everyday experience of the religion, vs. people who think of Israel as just another country in the list of nations, which happens to be predominantly Jewish, and where they would never consider moving no matter how hard things got because it would be like kids who immigrated to the US as infants being told to go "back" to countries they never knew.

In my experience, when Netanyahu says to Jews that "Israel is your home," as he did after the attacks in Paris, religious Jews hear that differently than secular Jews do. Secular Jews are often actively angry at such a statement - how dare he say I belong in Israel or must care about it? What a cynical way to promote your country in a time of sorrow. For religious Jews it means, we're still here, if you ever need us you have a home waiting. For religious Jews, "next year in Jerusalem" which we say at the end of every Passover seder, is a promise - whether a promise of actually going there, or as a metaphorical place where Jews and people of all groups will be safe and at peace, named for the city that still exists. For someone who never says it at all - let alone someone who doesn't even know Jews say it - of course it's easy to intellectualize a new version of Israel which has no Jewish character - after all, there are hundreds of other countries that do just fine without an ethnic identity. It's harder to understand that it's on a lot of Jewish people's short list because even if we don't want to go there unless at the barrel of a gun, deep down we still consider it our homeland.

Anyhow, between "two Jews, three opinions" and the fact that there are suddenly actual Nazis marching in the streets, this topic is really fraught, and I'm glad we're still having it. And I apologize to anyone if my statements of my own opinions tread on yours or make it seem like I don't value hearing them.
posted by Mchelly at 4:22 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


There was a long comment in the other thread which I am not linking to because it was very clearly well-meant and I don't want to fight with it, and I don't even know if the commenter is Jewish, for all I know they may be -- but which bothered me considerably because the whole way through it compared and contrasted white people and people of color, in terms of what each group "needs to do" and how Nazis feel about each group. it said: white people have to choose whether to be Nazis or not, because they have that luxury but also that obligation, and if you choose not to be, Nazis will call you a race traitor and you better be ready.

which is all very well, except that as a white woman who is also Jewish enough for a Nazi, though perhaps for nobody else, the absence of Jews in that categorization scheme was very alarming. I am well aware that not all Jews are white but a great many of them are. I mean, it's not objective, it depends who gets to decide, so I should say rather, many of them think they are. I, to speak as someone I have the right to speak for, am. So realizing mid-way through that actually I am not included in that group and not included in any group mentioned in the context of how Nazis feel about people is really freaky. not because being a white woman is a status marker I need and deserve to claim, and I hope that's clear, but all my life it has been a simple statement of fact.

and I don't -- again, to be clear -- think that this comment was intentionally categorically excluding Jews from the category of "white people" when discussing white privilege in the context of Nazism. I think it just wasn't thought of. but that is awfully disconcerting. because, Nazis.
posted by queenofbithynia at 4:29 PM on January 24 [12 favorites]


Anti-semitism aside, calling Greg Nog's comment 'shouting down' and then telling him not to use goyim, which was directly from the link, was bullshit.

It's 'You can't use that word - it's our word for you.' I won't trot out the reclaimed words I self-identify with, as this and the other thread have shown it can easily lead to being called self-hating or a bigot, even though I'm describing myself. But minority or not, self-describing with a word already in the conversation, that you've already been addressed by, should be fine.
posted by gadge emeritus at 5:21 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


"Goyim" is unfortunately an especially problematic word in these times, because while in one context (a Jewish, Hebrew-using context) it is a neutral term meaning gentile, recently the antisemitic right have been delighting in using it, usually by putting statements in Jews' mouths, as though it were an ethnic slur. This gives it a pretty weird and upsetting valence in mixed company. Like, it made me twitch too. I read maxsparber as explaining that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:54 PM on January 24 [14 favorites]


I will also note that in the hard-out SJW circles I occasionally frequent, minorities explaining the ins and outs of language use and asking people to respect their feelings on that is common and not controversial. Solidarity.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 5:56 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


I think it'd be good if some sort of limit break meter would display next to each username, so we could watch out for dunking over people that are just about done with struggling to make a difficult point to an unreceptive audience.
posted by ignignokt at 5:58 PM on January 24 [7 favorites]


It's 'You can't use that word - it's our word for you

Oh, no, I don't think he meant that at all.

Here's the full comment:

And don't use goyim, please. It's not your word, most non-Jews don't understand the context of it, and every time I see it online nowadays it is from antisemities throwing the word in my face.

I might just be projecting, but I read it as frustration with Yiddish in general being appropriated (save for words that's have become assimilated) and used without any context of understanding of the nuance of the language. (Eg, non-Jews casually using shiksa.) I didn't read it as a personal attack on Greg Nog.

On preview, or what i_am_joe's_spleen said.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:07 PM on January 24 [8 favorites]


Calling oneself a "goy" is a apparently a thing among the alt-right/online white nationalist guys but I didn't know that until like a month ago.
posted by atoxyl at 6:17 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


I didn't read it like that either, and to be frank what I did read of maxsparber's comments made it pretty clear that he was... Triggered is a word that some people find offensive and I don't want to speak for him, but caught up in grief and terror and fear and a whole host of adrenaline reactions, or if you prefer totally out of fucks. However you want to put it. This is a man who had earlier reflected that if history repeats itself, his family would die. I am inclined to be charitable when someone who is that upset snaps at me or misreads what I am trying to say.

And gadge, honestly, you have zero room to be calling maxsparber's request to be careful about your language bullshit. You aren't exactly someone I associate with respecting other people's context or listening when you feel slighted.
posted by sciatrix at 6:21 PM on January 24 [17 favorites]


while in one context (a Jewish, Hebrew-using context) it is a neutral term meaning gentile

I'm Jewish and I've always thought of "goy" as having slight negative connotations. The New Joys of Yiddish says "some Jews use goy in a pejorative sense" and goes into some detail on how.

Asking Greg Nog not to use "goyim" was the most ridiculous part of this whole episode.
posted by grouse at 6:28 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


It's 'You can't use that word - it's our word for you.' I won't trot out the reclaimed words I self-identify with, as this and the other thread have shown it can easily lead to being called self-hating or a bigot, even though I'm describing myself. But minority or not, self-describing with a word already in the conversation, that you've already been addressed by, should be fine.

Since you're setting this as a general rule, let me set something straight here, even if it doesn't map directly onto "goyim". If I call you "gweilo" in our Western context, chances are that I'm evoking a modern connotation of the word where I'm not-very-subtly noting that you're a racist out of ignorance. You're totally free to "reclaim" that word however you see fit with whatever absurd arguments that deny that the context and users of words matter, but if you do that, I'm going to assume you're a white supremacist who actively takes pride in the fact that minorities see you as antagonistic and racist. I can't make you say or do anything, but I can try to shame you for your racist fuckery if I see it. So if you take what I call you and wear it as a badge, you're not only proclaiming to me that you don't care, but you're also stripping one of the very few social tools I have to influence your racism on me. And then the absurd part of it is that when I generously try to protect your image by advising that you probably shouldn't be calling yourself that, you'll make a huff about how you're the one being slighted and controlled, probably most likely because as a white man, you're incredibly unused to having anything being off-access to you.

Which, on preview, is exactly how some white people intend it, as atoxyl notes.
posted by Conspire at 6:33 PM on January 24 [15 favorites]


Yikes what a thread. Another voice of support for maxsparber and hope that his frustration lasts for the day and not for good but just trying to unravel the convoluted unintentional (and too often Intentional) arguments as a somewhat impartial observer is exhausting and must be almost unbearable for many with deep family history of the too recent horrors.

Just a thought, (pony?) but perhaps it would be worth an effort to work with the Mods to find the right timing to include I/P posts. It's a live topic in the world and the absence of discussion is sometimes more telling than acrimonious debate. Perhaps an occasional well planned post with a heads up to folks in the community that can help to calm others on the far edges?
posted by sammyo at 6:35 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Conspire, that's really interesting. I gather the word is - or maybe was - used a lot more liberally in Hong Kong.
posted by Dysk at 6:41 PM on January 24 [2 favorites]


Grouse, what Rosten omits is that in vernacular Yiddish, there isn't any other generic word for gentile. Yeah, if you're grumbling about outsiders, it will be used negatively, but that's because of the feeling those people have about non-Jews, not inherent to the word. We could go into detail about other terms used in Hebrew for Christians, and idolaters, and pagans, and whatever, and their overtones, and then talk about how state and Church censorship forced Talmud editions to use different words, and the whole history of policing terms for non-Jews in both directions, but goy and goyim are generic terms AFAIK.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:54 PM on January 24 [4 favorites]


I think I've favorited everything griphus has said here and I also agree vigorously.
posted by zutalors! at 6:58 PM on January 24 [6 favorites]


I doubt that everyone who refers to themselves with a (possibly or even probably) derogatory term is trying to reclaim it and wear it as a badge, but I guess assuming that they are will help to avoid a lot of embarrassing understandings.
posted by uosuaq at 7:03 PM on January 24


Yeah, "goyim" has picked up a lot of weird white supremacist connotations lately. There's a whole "the goyim know" meme that's spread from the chans. Which is not to say it's an inherently awful word nobody should ever use––it was, of course, in the title of the article Joe from Australia posted (and I suspect that the author of the article knows how the term has been used for anti-Semitic purposes lately). But nowadays, when Jews see that word online, especially from a non-Jewish person, there's a good chance it's part of an anti-Semitic attack, and I suspect Max, as someone who I know has spent a lot of time lately looking at various forms of anti-Semitic around the United States, had a pretty automatic reaction to the word, despite the context in which Greg used it.
posted by zachlipton at 7:04 PM on January 24 [19 favorites]


Which, on preview, is exactly how some white people intend it, as atoxyl notes.

I think in this case it is also a term where you'll hear, you know, a person self-deprecatingly call themselves a "goy" in front of their Jewish friends - sort of marking themselves as in-group by being familiar with the term and also acknowledging their outsider status within the in-group - so it's not something that would normally set off any alarm for me personally. But I have recently become aware of this deliberate appropriation by anti-Semites, and someone who probably engages with Jewishness and its enemies more deeply than I do obviously has his own feelings about it. I don't think it reflects badly on Greg that he said it or Max that he responded to it.
posted by atoxyl at 7:15 PM on January 24 [11 favorites]


Conspire, that's really interesting. I gather the word is - or maybe was - used a lot more liberally in Hong Kong.

Hope this doesn't derail too much, but yeah, I also find it fascinating how the context of these words will shift depend upon the space. In Chinese-dominated spaces, it's often used to remark how a white person is awkward around the culture (or more negatively, unassimiliated), sometimes in an affectionate light - which doesn't need to be in the context of a whole country, because I'll use the word that way if a white person I've invited to a dim sum restaurant frequented by the Chinese locals ends up dropping their rice noodles when trying to use chopsticks. But obviously if you're in the context of white-majority North American culture, the fish out of water implication doesn't hold - instead, it maps onto white privilege. They're stupid because they're unaware of Chinese culture; they've done something ignorant, offensive, and racist out of white privilege, and they're not even aware.

On this site, you've often heard PoC state that we have various tools and degrees of strategy that we use to confront racism, and this is a subtle one too. Because if I directly call someone a privileged white asshole, I'm paving the route to confrontation; they're gonna get defensive, and possibly violent. But calling them a "gweilo" is subtle enough that they often don't know what to make of it since I can slide my tone towards affection more depending on how hair-trigger I assess them to be to further throw things off, and more importantly, it's a head-nod to other PoC in the room - "look at this ignorant white asshole." I'm not inviting a fight, I'm mocking.

It's also probably an indicator that I've deemed you to be past the line for help. It's not a word you want to hear from me in that context. It's better if I'm calling you out for your white assholery directly, because at least then I have a glimmer of hope that you can learn something.

This is a derail, so I won't go further than this, but I hope that sates your curiosity.
posted by Conspire at 7:25 PM on January 24 [13 favorites]


Chiming in to say, now I've caught up with this thread, that I am listening and will try harder in the future. I want to call back to this comment:

I think it's entirely possible to show solidarity without necessarily having everything break down into an Israel-Palestine discussion, and a lot of it has to do with doing the same things we do with other groups: listening, and amplifying voices.

Yes. Yes, this is a thing I am trying to do for all my friends who are scared, whether or not I share a context about why they are afraid. Publicly promising to stand alongside them. Looking for things to do to show support. Listening. I actually don't have much of an opinion about Israel/Palestine, except that wow that whole situation seems to be deeply fucked up for reasons of cultural pain and Britain being careless about promises to people about homelands, and that US evangelicals are real creepy to Jewish people and it seems to bleed into policy. That's pretty much all I got to work with as far as opinions go.

But I can still say "The temple threats are scary, holy goddamn shit" and listen to my friends talk about why they are scared, and why it's kind of problematic to just leave it at "Jews are white," which is a thing I have juuuuust enough cultural context to wrap my head around because my family is Irish Catholic. I remember from oral tradition how Catholics have been treated in Protestant nations, historically, and how those tensions have played out in majority-Protestant US, and some of the rumors that have swirled about my own ancestors, and I see the patterns that sort of bleed into that. It's not the same as the Jewish experience because of course it's a much newer piece of history and there are a fuckload of different power dynamics especially in the US, but then that's every analogy.

And I can say "Hey, hey, I got you. As much as I can, I got you. I will back you up if you tell me what is scaring you; I will look out for and push back on those fucklord Christians who think eeeeeeverything is about Jesus; I will listen if you ask me to be careful about my actions; I will do my best not to do thoughtless shit like scheduling exams on major holidays and I will rip into anyone who complains about that." I said something similar to Excommunicated Cardinal the other day about trans folks and I meant it, and I mean it now.

I don't have to understand everything about a community's context to know that folks in that community need protection and visible support, and that I ought to pay a bit of attention to it--and both Jews and Muslims fall into that category for me, in my experience, in the United States. Not the same, you understand, but in the same category. (I, uh, I don't put Catholics now into that category, I'd like to point out, but there was a time in American culture when I think they did sit there.)

So. That's where I'm at right now.
posted by sciatrix at 7:26 PM on January 24 [17 favorites]


, but if you do that, I'm going to assume you're a white supremacist who actively takes pride in the fact that minorities see you as antagonistic and racist

You may do as you please of course but we whites with Chinese family will continue to use it with out any nationalistic overtones. In fact, lots of Bay Area whites who have majority Asian friends- not only Chinese- use it. If you find offense in this I'm pretty sure it's on you.
posted by small_ruminant at 8:28 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


why it's kind of problematic to just leave it at "Jews are white,"

I don't think I'm telling you anything you don't know, so I am sorry if this sounds like my lecturing voice, it's not meant to. I am using proper capitalization for extra sincerity and it throws off my tone. This may just be a pointless and pedantic repetition of what you just said and probably is. please ignore as appropriate.

but it's not simply problematic because white supremacists and Nazis don't consider white (?) Jews to be the same race as them or, sometimes, the same species. It's problematic (or, as I sometimes prefer to say, wrong) because not all Jews are white, period, with or without scare quotes or footnotes.

On the one hand I am sure everybody reading this knows this and I sound like a dingus Explaining what everybody knows. but on the other hand every so often it starts to sound like not every one does know it because there are implications that Jews are all the same race, based on some misunderstanding of what ethnicity means or just based on limited exposure to diverse populations. and I'm never sure if I'm imagining it but I'm always uncomfortable. there was a terrible terrible idiot internet argument I involved myself in once upon a time with someone who straight up refused to believe that you could be e.g. black and Jewish at the same time unless you had converted (with the attendant implication that such people would not count when making statements about Jewish racial identity unless you were trying to make a Point.) it left me some hypervigilant reflexes that are still with me so like I say, if this is patronizing and unnecessary, I apologize.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:30 PM on January 24 [10 favorites]


You may do as you please of course but we whites with Chinese family will continue to use it with out any nationalistic overtones. In fact, lots of Bay Area whites who have majority Asian friends- not only Chinese- use it. If you find offense in this I'm pretty sure it's on you.

Context matters dramatically for the use of some terms. Which Conspire points out. Repeatedly.

It's like the term "deplorable".

Context. Fucking. Matters.

But yeah, feel good about your snark.
posted by qcubed at 8:54 PM on January 24 [9 favorites]


You're right. I shouldn't have posted that and I apologize.
posted by small_ruminant at 9:02 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


[Couple comments deleted. Comparative misery is an astonishingly unproductive angle to take on this kind of conversation.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:35 PM on January 24 [17 favorites]


In the American left, even among people who would never consider themselves anti-Semitic, even among people who would never even consider themselves militantly anti-Israel, you're damn right there's a thread of "well, the Jews don't really get to complain about anything, because look what they're doing to the Palestinians." I am sick of having people score Bigger Leftist points off me by acting like I'm a crypto-Israeli until proven otherwise. I'm willing to spend my patience on arguing with rightist Jews about The Situation Over There, because that might actually accomplish something. But even though there tends to be less actual yelling, it feels way worse to trot out the exact same opinions in a roomful of leftists because I'm feeling like they expect me to prove that I'm not three little Netanyahus standing on top of each other in a trenchcoat. And I never want to be the one who brings up anti-Semitism, because I'm always worried someone is going to be thinking "oooh, they worry about themselves so much when there are bigger problems to face, isn't that just like them."

Where I'm going with this is that after a while it's mostly Jews who have really thick skin and/or don't care what leftists think of them who are going to bring up anti-Semitism. That's not intended as praise of those people. (Anti-semitism is a real talking point among some of the old-fashioned non-alt-right neocons, for example. I am not a fan.) But this only functions as a talking point for them BECAUSE the left has issues talking about anti-Semitism. It wouldn't be theirs if it wasn't left to them. If the most common way anti-Semitism ever comes up on Metafilter is via Joe in Australia bringing it up in combination with Israel and then getting shouted down, then, totally independent from the rightness or wrongness of what Joe says, that's an example of that pattern repeating itself here.
posted by ostro at 9:43 PM on January 24 [55 favorites]


So, what about the part about calling Greg's comment 'shouting down'? Because while I'm glad there's been a number of people come in and explain more about why 'goyim' may have pressed the wrong buttons, having that comment come after his exaggeration didn't help make it plausible.

Also, And gadge, honestly, you have zero room to be calling maxsparber's request to be careful about your language bullshit.

Oh I'm sure. Of course, my experience is different, but I've long ago learned to not expect parity. And apparently I'm a white man just furious about not entirely getting my way and ready to hate on everyone (cf Conspire), so why would anyone care what I had to say anyway? Really, the things you learn about yourself on here.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:32 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


OMG ostro, yes indeed. We will never win Bestest Leftist competitions with this kind of handicap.

Emotionally this Nazi punching thing has been pretty good for me, in that seeing how many people in my bubble are into it, it is nice to feel supported for once. Downside: as the link points out for those who read it, actual Nazis are what it takes. Lesser forms of antisemitism are discounted away.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:32 PM on January 24 [3 favorites]


Some people would read four rhetorical questions in a row as "shouting down". No one can literally "shout down" in this medium, but I think we can infer a certain testiness, even if we disagree on where exactly it fits on the civility scale.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:37 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


'Shout down' gets used a lot here, despite the fact it's technically not possible. I would categorically say the metaphor cannot be applied to one comment from one commenter that's as brief as that. To do so is ludicrous.

I also don't think we can infer a certain testiness, either, especially if you're at all aware of Greg Nog's usual commenting style - something max, who has been around forever, surely is. I mean, sure you can infer testiness, but you could also infer he's secretly mind-controlling your dog - doesn't mean there's any reality or reason in it.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:49 PM on January 24 [1 favorite]


Bottom line for me is that most of us were reacting to Joe in Australia in a way that foregrounded our irritation about the possibility of something annoying happening in the thread.

And because we did that, we failed to adequately support members of our community who are justifiably terrified about an emerging, real-world existential threat to themselves and those they love.

I am not okay with that.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:14 AM on January 25 [24 favorites]


ostro, I wish I could favourite that a million times. Thank you.

(Also thanks to LobsterMitten and restless_nomad for handling this thread.)
posted by vasi at 2:45 AM on January 25 [2 favorites]


If the most common way anti-Semitism ever comes up on Metafilter is via Joe in Australia bringing it up in combination with Israel and then getting shouted down, then, totally independent from the rightness or wrongness of what Joe says, that's an example of that pattern repeating itself here.

This is incredibly unfair to the many times other Jewish Mefites brought up concerns regarding anti-Semitism, particularly the rise in rhetoric during the US elections. That they managed to do it without needlessly bringing Israel into the conversation isn't a flaw. Indeed, this was an aspect of the anti-Semitism conversation here where I feel Joe was very conspicuously absent.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:10 AM on January 25 [15 favorites]


Come back when you can Max, we need your voice.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:40 AM on January 25 [22 favorites]


Of course, my experience is different, but I've long ago learned to not expect parity.

It's funny, but you get a lot more leeway with people and they tend to be more careful with your sore spots when they can trust that you will be careful with theirs. In my interactions with you about queer experiences, gadge, you pretty consistently dismiss the concerns and experiences of anyone who doesn't share your exact perspective within that community. It's a derail, but it's also context I use to evaluate your trustworthiness here in a situation where neither of us has as much context as the Jewish members of the site.

So no, I don't think I will treat your concerns with "parity" in the future. It's not like you have given a shit when I or other women in our shared queer community have brought up qualms in the past. And if Greg himself is bothered--and I note he is conspicuously absent in this discussion, so I won't speak for him--if he is bothered by max losing his temper, he can either pipe up here or find a spokesperson who has less of a history.
posted by sciatrix at 4:50 AM on January 25 [17 favorites]


I'm going to c/p a few points from this flyer about anti-semitism in leftist movements, which I really recommend people who care not to be anti-semitic read. Anti-semitism does not look like other types of oppression, and this does some discussion about why, what it looks like, and what effects this has.
In a world that’s very difficult to change, antisemitism makes things seem easy to solve. It lets us fix our gaze on an imagined group of greedy, powerful Jews at the root of the world’s problems, and moves our eyes right past the systems that actually keep injustice in place

Arabs and Muslims worldwide are experiencing a seriously dangerous time. What does this mean, for talking about the threats facing Jews?
That two oppressions can happen at the same time

Anti-Jewish oppression has been around a long time - it became government practice in Christian society about 1,700 years ago and only stopped having official Vatican approval in 1965. But when anti-Jewish oppression isn’t at its most brutal, it can be really hard to see. How come this oppression can seem so invisible?
Partly it’s that it allows Jews success. Many oppressions rely on keeping a targeted group of people poor, uneducated, designated non-white, or otherwise 'at the bottom.’ Anti-Jewish oppression doesn’t depend on that. Although at many times it has kept Jews in poverty or designated non-white, these have been “optional” features. Because the point of anti-Jewish oppression is to keep a Jewish face in front, so that Jews, instead of ruling classes, become the target for peoples’ rage, it works even more smoothly when Jews are allowed some success, and can be perceived as the ones “in charge” by other oppressed groups.
Partly it’s that it moves in cycles. Because it can allow Jews to ‘move up,’ antisemitism is cyclical: Attacks come in waves; but each time things calm down and Jews are able to blend in or succeed in society again, it gives the appearance that antisemitism is 'over.' In some of the most famous examples of anti-Jewish expulsion and mass murder (ie, medieval Spain or modern Germany), just prior to the attacks, Jews appeared to be one of society’s most successful, comfortable, well-integrated minorities.
That's the nature of anti-Jewish oppression: To cover up the roots of injustice. To make people think they've figured out who's really pulling the strings. This is one of the biggest reasons why it's important for social justice movements to figure out and confront anti-Jewish
oppression, for the movement's own sake: because antiJewish oppression is designed as a way to keep people from understanding where the power lies. And it works.
It's also why you'll see more manifestations of anti-Jewish oppression popping up as social justice movements around the world grow stronger, and more people come to believe that radical change is necessary: People are seeking ways to liberate themselves and trying to identify who has caused the injustice around them.

But the number of Leftists with real anti-Jewish beliefs is tiny. What has the bigger impact is not those individual Leftists who promote antiJewish beliefs, but the way that institutionally, people and organizations on the Left are so silent, uncomfortable, defensive, and even accusatory when someone brings concerns about antisemitism up.
It's the eye-rolls, insults or changes of subject when someone raises antisemitism in a meeting or event...The refusals to include antisemitism on the list of oppressions a coalition stands against...Our correct work to prevent war on Iran, but our dead silence about the antisemitism Iran's leaders are promoting to the world...

What’s really new
isn't about the Left - it's about the Right. Ever since Israel won the '67 war, and suddenly looked to the U.S. like a handy little friend in the Middle East, the Right has put on a new costume: Defenders of Israel and the Jews.
It would be, shall we say, an understatement to note that in the vast sweep of history, Jewish liberation has not exactly been a pet cause of the Right. So why have they gotten away with making fighting antisemitism into a noble Right-wing issue?
Because the Left hasn't taken anti-Jewish oppression on. Whenever the Left is quiet about an issue that matters to people, it leaves a vacuum for the Right to walk into. They use it to their advantage, to draw in people worried about that issue, and as moral ammunition for their crusades

When Americans beat up Arabs and Sikhs after 9/11, it wasn’t ‘because of’ what Saudi hijackers did; it was because of our society’s pre-existing bigotry and lust for a scapegoat. Likewise, when Arab governments took advantage of growing conflict with Zionism and Israel to seize Jews’ homes and savings and expel them; when people beat and murdered Jews in the streets in Syria and Aden in 1947, Libya in 1967, and elsewhere, it wasn’t ‘because of’ Israel. So don’t tell us that the global attacks on Jews will end when Israel stops what it's doing. Israel needs to stop oppressing the Palestinians because it's wrong - no further reason is needed. But when it does, anti-Jewish oppression will still be here, because it didn't start in ‘48. If it's going to end, you're going to have to help end it.
It's easy to blame Joe in Australia because he brings up anti-semitism here on Metafilter -- which other Jews who do not agree with him politically ALSO see -- from a different political viewpoint. But this is complete bullshit that no one should have to deal with -- the group who is being oppressed doesn't have to complain about it from a leftist approved position, or in the nicest possible terms so as not to hurt anyone.
posted by jeather at 5:44 AM on January 25 [89 favorites]


'Shout down' gets used a lot here, despite the fact it's technically not possible. I would categorically say the metaphor cannot be applied to one comment from one commenter that's as brief as that. To do so is ludicrous.

I also don't think we can infer a certain testiness, either, especially if you're at all aware of Greg Nog's usual commenting style - something max, who has been around forever, surely is. I mean, sure you can infer testiness, but you could also infer he's secretly mind-controlling your dog - doesn't mean there's any reality or reason in it.


To clarify, I actually don't really have a problem with Greg Nog's comment, and I don't think it was "shouting down," especially given that it was the first comment after Joe in Australia's. I'm talking about the phenomenon in which someone asserts that a problem exists and a bunch of people line up to argue that it doesn't. In Meta, some of those people have come back to explain that it wasn't that they didn't want to talk about it, it's that they didn't want to talk about it in a conversation started by Joe in Australia because they don't think he argues fairly. But somebody who reads the thread without a pretty high level of background on Metafilter personalities doesn't know that. They're just going to think "wow, people REALLY don't want to talk about this." Which is how you create a chilling environment.
posted by ostro at 5:46 AM on January 25 [10 favorites]


Regarding my use of "goyim" - I apologize for using it, as I had no idea there was a new nazi revival in using the term to signal ingroup nonjewishness; I've primarily heard it from Jewish friends describing me, so had figured it was totally neutral (and had forgotten, at the time of writing, that the word "gentile" exists).

Obviously, I'm not likely to use that word again for the foreseeable future, especially as there's a perfectly cromulent alternative that doesn't have racist subtext. Sorry, all.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:35 AM on January 25 [30 favorites]


I'm not Greg Nog's spokesperson. I don't think he needs one. But whatever his opinion, other people can reply.

I was literally just writing that I'd guess he'd apologise for causing offence as his comment came up, but that doesn't mean saying that his comment could be reasonably construed as shouting down, let alone using it as the most recent example in making Jewish members feel unwelcome.

But looks like I should expect any and all comments I make to be responded to by users with an axe to grind, and there's other people who are saying what I'm saying, so why let them get tarnished by association?
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:40 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


And if Greg himself is bothered--and I note he is conspicuously absent in this discussion,

I'd been refraining from either commenting or faving anything in this thread, despite reading along with all of it, because I didn't want to dig myself into a situation where I was like "ACTUALLY I'M RIGHT, DAMMIT" if I was wrong, or to quickly say "Sorry! I'll do better! Ta!" without actually processing what, if anything, I've done wrong, and how to not do it in the future, and how to actually be sensitive to things I think I fucked up on.

I'm still turning the whole interaction over in my head, and rewiring a lot of what my gut response was in order to not be a dick about this thing in the future. Compounding that, also, of course, is the fact that I am not Jewish, and so after that quick few back and forths with max in the original thread, I figured it wouldn't kill me to wait and let other more knowledgeable-about-antisemitism people talk here.
posted by Greg Nog at 6:42 AM on January 25 [52 favorites]


Greg Nog: I have to say that it does feel a bit weird when non-Jews talk about "goyim", at least IMO. I think it's because the use of coded language is usually a signal that the respondents share an exclusive identity. When a non-Jew uses it, the signal has to be something else. Racists use it as a threat: "I know about you Jews and your sneaky language games!" Non-racists use the term, I guess, as a means of signalling familiarity, but this is a unique sort of familiarity and its extension into different contexts just seems wrong. But, I don't think it's at all like the way some people appropriate "the n-word"; it's not something that's potentially offensive even if used without malice. Once again, just IMO.

The blogger who used it in the title was was playing on the coded implications of the word in at least one of two ways. The first meaning is that Jews don't demand solidarity from others. You see, for the older, Yiddish speaking generation of Jews, saying that something was "for the goyim" was a way of saying that it was either culturally inappropriate ("Christmas trees are for the goyim") or beyond the reasonable aspirations of most Jews ("Skiing holidays are for the goyim"). Some of the examples he gives are consistent with this, so maybe it's what he meant. The second meaning is that Jews aren't the sort of people one can be expected to show solidarity with: ("Why don't they come to our aid? Because they think solidarity is for goyim.") That does seem more consistent with his post, and the only reason I'm equivocal is that it seems uncharacteristically pessimistic for him.

The title of this MeTa FPP, incidentally, is probably a reference to On [the] Jews and their Lies", an essay by Martin Luther that was a foundational document of modern antisemitism. According to Wikipedia, "Since the 1980s, some Lutheran church bodies have formally denounced and dissociated themselves from Luther's vitriol about the Jews," which is nice. I suppose it would be nicer still if they'd all do it, and perhaps change their name too, but you know. Solidarity is for Goyim.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:21 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


And if Greg himself is bothered--and I note he is conspicuously absent in this discussion,

Not picking on you, sciatrix, because I've seen this kind of this kind of thing in other recent MeTas, but I wish we wouldn't do this.

This thread was posted less than 24 hours ago! It's ok for folks to let the thread breathe, think about what's being said (as Greg did), attend to meatspace responsibilities, etc.

Even if one of the subjects of a thread never participates, that's ok too - MetaTalk is a space to discuss our community and hopefully these threads have value beyond the participation of one specific person.
posted by lalex at 8:25 AM on January 25 [20 favorites]


[Couple comments deleted. Comparative misery is an astonishingly unproductive angle to take on this kind of conversation.]

I realize Metatalk is no longer an "anything goes" zone, but I really wish the comment referred to in this deletion notification would have been allowed to stay because it exemplified exactly why I suspect anti-Semitism tends not to be given the same level of consideration on Metafilter as other forms or oppression/prejudice. The argument seems to go that since American Jews are not sufficiently underprivileged, they are not deserving of sympathy in the way other more obviously oppressed groups are. There was actually another deleted comment much earlier in the thread (from a different user) that made a somewhat similar point, essentially stating that they do not look at all victims of prejudice with the same level of sympathy.

I can understand the motivation for deleting such comments, which I assume is to attempt to avoid having an already sensitive thread escalate into a full gloves-off brawl. However, in a thread about anti-Semitism not receiving the same level of concern on Metafilter as other forms of prejudice, when you have members actually coming into the thread to say, in so many words, "Of course I'm not nearly as concerned about anti-Semitism as I am about X, Y, or Z forms of prejudice", it rather proves the point that this is a big problem on the site. When those comments are stricken from the record, I can't help but feel that it makes those of us expressing genuine concern over how Metafilter responds to anti-Semitism look like we are actually tilting at windmills.
posted by The Gooch at 9:03 AM on January 25 [29 favorites]


That's a great article, jeather, thank you for posting it and the excerpt.
posted by corb at 9:06 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


When those comments are stricken from the record, I can't help but feel that it makes those of us expressing genuine concern over how Metafilter responds to anti-Semitism look like we are actually tilting at windmills.

I feel you, and I dithered over the deletion for a while for exactly that reason. It's useful to see the problematic attitude stated clearly, but fighting over whether x group is suffering *enough* is a loud, angry, hurtful fight and doesn't actually help solve the problem. I'm happy not to have that fight directly, but I'm not sure how to approach discussing the attitude from a better angle.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:13 AM on January 25 [8 favorites]


One of the comments came from a user who has a history of pulling similar shit, both on the grey and the blue, usually in the face of being told how their devil's advocacy and abstracting arguments on bigotry is toxic. I feel like making it extra-clear that they need to cut that shit out pronto would solve both their behavior in the future and cut down on people trying to the same thing in conversations about anti-Semitism.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:20 AM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I get your point, Gooch but -- as someone who flagged them and is happy they are down -- I don't believe leaving them up would have helped. Even if it was just left as some kind of example of what we're talking about, it would have been argued away -- just one person, no one else really agrees with that, blah blah blah.
posted by jeather at 9:27 AM on January 25 [1 favorite]


> The title of this MeTa FPP, incidentally, is probably a reference to On [the] Jews and their Lies", an essay by Martin Luther that was a foundational document of modern antisemitism. According to Wikipedia, "Since the 1980s, some Lutheran church bodies have formally denounced and dissociated themselves from Luther's vitriol about the Jews," which is nice. I suppose it would be nicer still if they'd all do it, and perhaps change their name too, but you know.

As someone who was raised Lutheran, I have to say that learning about Luther's vicious and violent anti-Semitism (and the failure of the church to address it seriously at the time I was growing up) is one of the things that drove me away from the church. And in general I'd like to see a lot more open, explicit anti-anti-Semitism on the part of Christians, who collectively have a lot to answer for historically, just as I'd like to see a lot more open, explicit awareness on the part of white people of the harm their treatment of nonwhite people is still causing.
posted by languagehat at 9:38 AM on January 25 [31 favorites]


omg languagehat same actually
posted by beefetish at 10:13 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I appreciate that maxsparber raised the issue, but I feel that in his subsequent engagement he left little room to address it -- to invite different viewpoints and validate the community as a whole.
posted by dmh at 10:20 AM on January 25 [6 favorites]


I don't know. Sometimes I think there's value to being open about the emotional toll that these discussions take on people, and I am pretty clear that this has happened here.

I don't think that communities necessarily need to be validated when they are inflicting the level of emotional damage that stoneweaver described as having previously lead her to button here, that Mchelly described as feeling the community here made her feel that if she ran to a place she hopes her family might be safe, she would be disowned by this community, that bearwife says is making her reconsider her status as a MeFite. Those are not sentiments that tell me this community needs some time to feel validated. They are sentiments that tell me that those parts of a community that are not Jewish, including myself, need to sit the fuck down and listen to the folks who are directly affected here.
posted by sciatrix at 10:41 AM on January 25 [26 favorites]


(and hell, dmh, if I'm talking over you and you are Jewish I apologize. I have a lot of sympathy for someone who has been trying to hold it together and immersing themselves in watching the hatred directed at their community and trying to be a gatekeeper, who burns themselves thin and then snaps. I have personally been there. It is traumatic, and it does not lend itself well to gracefully managing the feelings of a larger community when you see the pattern recognition of everyone hates us, they are coming looming over the hill. Sometimes the open anger and fear is needed to make people sit up and listen when folks are afraid, is all.)
posted by sciatrix at 10:49 AM on January 25 [7 favorites]


What are the other viewpoints maxsparber didn't leave room for? What kind of community validation did you want? Because if the viewpoint missing is "Nope, Mefi is totally not anti-semitic" and the validation is "Hurray you mefites, you are all non-anti-semitic gems!" then you're probably not going to get it from the Jews here.
posted by jeather at 11:11 AM on January 25 [12 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that's not what dmh was saying.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:33 AM on January 25


What I mean is, maxsparber didn't really leave a lot of room to discuss anything but the one statement out of many in the comment he linked to that people commented on. I certainly felt (and still feel) like Jewish members that are making challenges to other members' Jewish identity based entirely on the current political situation should be part of the conversation.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:45 AM on January 25


But what was dmh saying? I'm confused too.
posted by languagehat at 11:45 AM on January 25 [3 favorites]


I've recently read and have been greatly informed by Dave Rich's recent book, The Left's Jewish Problem.

I recommend it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:36 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


I was going to write something longer and more expository, but I think that's just a waste of everyone's time. The fact that issues relating to antisemitism seem to come up on a regular basis here on Metafilter, and the way that those concerns are addressed, (or rather, not addressed,) make me very uncomfortable. I'm sorry to see maxsparber button, but I admit I am very close to doing the same.
posted by Guernsey Halleck at 4:50 PM on January 25 [5 favorites]


The fact that issues relating to antisemitism seem to come up on a regular basis here on Metafilter, and the way that those concerns are addressed, (or rather, not addressed,) make me very uncomfortable

Bingo. As I said above, the recurrent themes I see on Metafilter are blindness to the overt and lethal anti-Semitism of Israel's enemies and indifference and obliviousness to the similarly lethal and terrifying anti-Semitism underway in the world now. This deafness emerged very visibly here, for example, in Metafilter's reaction or really non-reaction to the attacks on Jews in Paris at the same time as Charlie Hebdo. And yet it's part of my ongoing experience. Here in Seattle I go to synagogue on Friday nights with guards posted outside--and it has been that way since people I knew were murdered here at the Jewish Federation office. Trump's election and his own overt linkage with vicious anti-Semites has taken the leash off even more. I'm afraid. Most Jews with brains are. For Jews as well as other minorities. No matter whether we identify as pro Israel or not, religious or not. Mefis need to try to understand this.
posted by bearwife at 5:55 PM on January 25 [37 favorites]


But what was dmh saying? I'm confused too.

Just a guess, but before he left a third of the comments here were maxsparber's. It's the inverse of the 'X is conspicuously absent in this MeTa' thing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 6:44 PM on January 25 [1 favorite]


"According to Wikipedia, "Since the 1980s, some Lutheran church bodies have formally denounced and dissociated themselves from Luther's vitriol about the Jews," which is nice. I suppose it would be nicer still if they'd all do it, and perhaps change their name too, but you know. "
"And in general I'd like to see a lot more open, explicit anti-anti-Semitism on the part of Christians, who collectively have a lot to answer for historically"

For anyone this is of interest to, I suggest "Seeds of Reconciliation" which is about Jewish/Christian dialogue among religious leaders and theologians (i.e., how much trickles down to the congregations in question is, well, in question, but it's happening at the official levels and that's a nice little collection).

Since Nostra Aetate was published by Vatican II in 1965, virtually every mainline Protestant denomination has come forward with similar statements and if you memail me I can help you find your church's. Nostra Aetate put forth the official Catholic position as: "[W]hat happened in [Christ's] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. The Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. [...] Furthermore, in her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel's spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone." That's followed on with a variety of specific instructions to clergy (like this one from the US bishops about how to present homilies particularly in Lent without crossing lines into anti-Semitism and (incidentally) false theologies.)

Here is the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's (the biggest Lutheran group) statement and official theological position, "In the spirit of that truth-telling, we who bear his name and heritage must with pain acknowledge also Luther's anti-Judaic diatribes and the violent recommendations of his later writings against the Jews. As did many of Luther's own companions in the sixteenth century, we reject this violent invective, and yet more do we express our deep and abiding sorrow over its tragic effects on subsequent generations. In concert with the Lutheran World Federation, we particularly deplore the appropriation of Luther's words by modern anti-Semites for the teaching of hatred toward Judaism or toward the Jewish people in our day. Grieving the complicity of our own tradition within this history of hatred, moreover, we express our urgent desire to live out our faith in Jesus Christ with love and respect for the Jewish people. We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and an affront to the Gospel, a violation of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circles and in the society around us."

Methodist (UMC) official statement; Presbyterian (PCUSA) study paper; actually you can just read whichever ones you're interested in here.

Jewish-Christian dialogue, relationships, and history was one of my primary areas of focus when I studied theology in college and grad school and if any mefites have any questions about it -- out of personal pressing concerns, out of lingering questions from terrible Sunday school as a child, out of sheer cussed curiosity -- feel free to hit me up via memail. I'm familiar enough with the field that even if I don't know the specific answer, I probably know where to point you to find it. Far too many Christians are unaware of their religious obligations to reject and to fight anti-Semitism in all forms, including and most urgently when it wraps itself in the mantle of the Gospels.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:46 PM on January 25 [20 favorites]


I created a BND account just to comment here (and no, I am not maxsparber, I've just buttoned and unbuttoned enough times that I thought I'd give the mods a break).

I do just want to weigh in on antisemitism here and elsewhere. I recently took a class with a famous, very outspoken left-wing icon. She spent some time in one of her lectures talking about Israel. At one point, a student raised her hand and said that some of her family had been very worried about growing antisemitism in Europe and here in the US. My professor heard this and asked the class "do you think antisemitism is a major issue?"

When she asked that, I thought of my great uncle reading for us all at Seder. I thought of growing up in a Jewish neighborhood and feeling like I couldn't fit in with the other kids, because I was only a half Jew. Without getting too maudlin here, I'll say that in a few seconds I thought very hard about my Jewishness. I have thought before about how I look Jewish, and how I have a Jewish-sounding last name. I am very aware that this is something about me that could, in the wrong place, alienate me, or get me beaten up or killed. I'm sure everyone has something about them that could place them under similar threat, or worse, but for me it is the fact that my ancestors were who they were that sometimes makes me wonder if I'm unwelcome.

So when the professor asked if antisemitism was a major issue, I thought I should raise my hand. It's a major issue for me, isn't it? Only I didn't raise my hand. I didn't want to make a fuss. I didn't want to sound like I was some Zionist. So in the end, the only hand raised was the same student who had brought this up in the first place. A room full of 75 people, all taking a class with a left-wing icon, and only one hand raised out of concern for antisemitism.

I consider myself very left-wing. I have clashed with people over my self-professed progressivism and socialism. But for all the time I spent idolizing my great uncle, for all the time I spent teaching myself bits of Yiddish to connect with my heritage, I didn't think it was worth standing up to say I'm worried about antisemitism. My experience isn't necessarily illustrative of anything but maybe my own neuroses. Maybe I would have said something in a smaller group. Maybe I really was just a hair's breadth from saying something just for the sake of it, for being a good engaged student. But I didn't, and I don't think many people do. I don't know how pervasive antisemitism really is on the left, and I don't care to read what sounds like a contentious thread here. But I can say that I've seen myself let this sort of thing slide, just because I didn't want to rock the left-wing boat. And I've seen rooms full of people not think it's important enough to comment on.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:48 PM on January 25 [36 favorites]


I just wanted to jump in here, having read bearwife's comment, and say that I in particular was wrong in my response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings and the supermarket attack. I did minimize the role of anti-semitism and I was wrong to do so. Since then, I have thought about the situation many times and realized that I was wrong. The distastefulness of Charlie Hebdo was not the cause of the attacks; it was a used as a screen for the attacks.

I've often thought back on my comments in that thread and wished I could change most of them.

Reading metafilter these past couple of years has opened my eyes to the pervasiveness of various forms of anti-semitism. I don't claim to have perfect politics around this or around anything, but it's something I talk to my friends about and pay attention to and, where possible, try to speak up.
posted by Frowner at 6:48 PM on January 25 [33 favorites]


Frowner, if all the people in the world who get things wrong about a hundred times as often as you do would consider the possibility that they could be wrong even a hundredth as often as you do, we would probably be living in a super peaceful green utopia as I speak.
posted by ostro at 7:23 PM on January 25 [35 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee, I think you were trying to speak up in the way that comment asked Christians to do. That's the benefit of the doubt reading. Here's my actual reading: That comment sure reads like Christainsplaining of how the churches have already come out against this and if we Jews just knew this we wouldn't be making that criticism. It reads as defensive and not helpful. It reads as not listening but taking up space.
posted by stoneweaver at 4:35 AM on January 26 [16 favorites]


Ouch. I took that comment as a helpful gesture to help lay people educate themselves or arm themselves for theological discussions so that they could better fight anti-Semitism, or even lack of support for Jewish people, if they saw it try to crop up within their religious organization.

I mean:

Far too many Christians are unaware of their religious obligations to reject and to fight anti-Semitism in all forms, including and most urgently when it wraps itself in the mantle of the Gospels.
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:00 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Over the past years, I've gone from being a non-practicing cultural Jew to joining a very Reform, social-justice-oriented temple, starting to learn Hebrew with my son, and participating more heavily in the Jewish community here. I'll never, probably, be very religious, but that doesn't seem especially important in comparison to participating in a community of tradition that needs to be continued, and is under threat. Gotta rep for my people, now more than ever.

At the same time, I'm extremely wary of the way the left in the US broad-brushes Israel; in the course of doing important work, there seems to be a habit of adding "oh and Israel = fascists amirite", which is lazy and makes me wary of participating, even as I have significant reservations about Likkud and settlements (reservations is really too mild a term). Because even if my particular kind of Jew is marginalized in Israel, I still found myself researching the right of return and figuring out what we'd need to do if we need to exit stage, uh, left.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:06 AM on January 26 [17 favorites]


[...]W]hat happened in [Christ's] passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction,

the really fun parts come in the ellipses:

"True, the Jewish authorities and those who followed their lead pressed for the death of Christ;(13), still, what happened in His passion cannot be charged against all the Jews, without distinction, then alive, nor against the Jews of today. Although the Church is the new people of God, the Jews should not be presented as rejected or accursed by God, as if this followed from the Holy Scriptures. "

(citation 13 goes, of course, to the New Testament.)

I'm sure it's the difference between 1965 and 1994 as much as anything but it's striking how much closer the Lutheran statement is to something you might call an "apology."

theology is theology and I don't expect or want anybody to falsify their dogma and beliefs just for decency or whatever, but my feelings about these various church statements can best be expressed by a facial expression of such complexity that it cannot be reproduced in text and must only be imagined, like all the best mysteries.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:48 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Sorry, stoneweaver, just trying to provide resources for fighting anti-Semitism to the Christians in the thread who mentioned their churches aren't providing it. It's there, and a lot of it is good (some of it is eh), but it's not put forward nearly enough to people in the pews and recent political events give it a certain urgency. Certainly I have no intention of telling Jews how to feel about Christian Churches and their actions (past and present) or theologies; a great deal of the current theological work by Christian churches in this area is "We have sucked on this issue for literal millennia and millions of Jews died because we sucked and we have to reckon with that history, sin, and guilt ourselves and take our own painful steps to sucking less."

It is an area in which Jewish commentary is absolutely welcome, dialogue is ongoing, and criticism is the order of the day -- like, there's two millennia of well-deserved criticism to work through and every bit of it needs to be heard and every bit of it requires ongoing atonement from the churches. I certainly have much more to say about it (the good, the bad, the ugly, the dialogues, the flashpoints, the steps forward and back) but in the interest of not taking up space I tried to just give respond to the couple of specific questions I saw and let people know I can help with related questions via memail if they are in need of resources.

As a more general thing I think everyone should try to criticize Luther at least twice every day before breakfast, it does wonders for the digestion.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 6:52 AM on January 26 [9 favorites]


Anyway in the interests of not hijacking the thread to Christian stuff, hit me up privately if I can help or if you want to argue (either is fine!), otherwise I'm stepping out and please return to your regularly scheduled discussion, in which my comments were intended merely a parenthetical aside because that is their level of import here -- parenthetical, and to the side -- and they're better off ignored or even deleted than derailing the main topic.

On the main topic, I am occasionally shocked by how ready some people here I otherwise respect to a great deal are to defend what seems to me clearly anti-Semitic speech. There was one thread in particular (before I joined staff) that dealt with some issues in my local community that got national attention and several people were defending really horrible anti-Semitism on free speech grounds that in similar situations they have declared indefensible when directed against other groups. They refused to hear either metafilter's Jews in general, or those of us (of all and no religious backgrounds) in the affected local community (I felt sick to my stomach it was so awful). I'm even afraid to call out the specific thread because I'm not sure I can take it if those folks came back to double down on defending anti-Semites when they're not otherwise free speech absolutists.

(And I can see how it was a hard modding situation since people were echoing the national conversation and a lot of people were couching their comments in criticisms of Netanyahu who had nothing to do with the situation but made it tricky to untangle the fair (although clearly off topic) criticism of a government with the anti-Semitic general comments and that's a rhetorical slippage that happens way too often ... Well, it was all just very shitty and upsetting.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 7:10 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Every time one of these metas happens, this place as a whole agrees that there's a problem, there's usually a concrete conclusion and behavior on the site actually changes because of it. But here, a bunch of Jewish mefites said things weren't right, said antisemitism was ignored here, and the response is...what, "meh?" Or "we maybe can reevaluate having I/P threads?" That is pretty damn damning.

I'm- here we go, with the bona fides- Jewish, culturally I guess, and god the silence on this issue is noticeable. It's like a blind spot here and I never thought it was deliberate, but now I'm reconsidering. Seriously, because one poster has a tendency to derail conversations? The conversations tend to go badly? When has that ever really stopped us? Why should we expect a horrifying topic about real-life events to go WELL? So we close off an entire subject that includes real issues that are directly affecting a number of the real people on this site?

Last night, a block away from my house, a guy told me, quote, "hey you look pretty Jewish, better be careful" and then his buddies laughed. The sense that I get from this thread is that if I tried to talk about this people would tell me, hey best not to, people might bring Israel into it. What the hell, metafilter.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 7:35 AM on January 26 [27 favorites]


To clarify, I don't think there's overt antisemitism here. It's more like a big blurry spot that everyone's eyes seem to slide over. And that's abetted by this policy of "we don't do I/P well" which now seems to cover any discussion about prejudice or violence towards Jews. So we don't get to talk about it and I don't feel like I can. I can't believe I'm actually pulling out "silenced all my life" crap in MeTa but here it is.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 7:46 AM on January 26 [6 favorites]


Personally I've never connected anti Semitism discussions here to I/P. Not sure if that's adding anything here but just my anecdata. I haven't seen someone talking about anti Semitism and then thought, whoops, here we go on I/P...if that's the claim being raised.

I do agree that I/P is a difficult topic - I 've found it impossible to discuss IRL as well. Which is too bad honestly.
posted by zutalors! at 7:49 AM on January 26


I'm even afraid to call out the specific thread because I'm not sure I can take it if those folks came back to double down on defending anti-Semites when they're not otherwise free speech absolutists.

Can you link the thread, actually? I don't participate in many of these threads I think? and I'd like to be able to get better at recognizing this kind of behavior.
posted by lalex at 7:55 AM on January 26 [4 favorites]


my comments were intended merely a parenthetical aside because that is their level of import here -- parenthetical, and to the side -- and they're better off ignored or even deleted than derailing the main topic.

I appreciate that, EMG. I appreciate your comments generally, but in this case I just can't deal with the subject because it's too close to home.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:35 AM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I am sorry for any time I have let antisemitism slide, here or irl, have failed to outrightly declare a stance against it as I'm prepared to do in other instances of oppression, or have allowed the I/P issue to interfere with my ability to listen when Jewish members here have said they are hurt or scared or feel unwelcome. I'm sorry maxsparber left and really hope he returns sometime, but I'm glad he posted this thread and brought this blind spot into my awareness. And thank you to everyone who posted here explaining how and why the reactions of this community have caused hurt - I'm sorry you had to do that, again, and I'm sorry for any time I have contributed to that by my silence. I can only speak for myself and I will do better.
posted by billiebee at 11:25 AM on January 26 [12 favorites]


So I grew up in New York City with a lot of Jewish friends, some of whom had relatives - that I met - that survived the Holocaust. My father remarried a Jewish woman. I sometimes got mistaken for Jewish. I've attended more seders than I can count and have attended some services. I was pretty sure I was up on What Anti-Semitism Was.

But as I got older, and especially this year, I have realized that I really wasn't. I had some long talks with a friend or two, and realized it's easy to see discrimination when the discrimination is kicking downwards at an obviously oppressed class. It's harder to see that, for example, discrimination against nebulous "bankers" or specific focus on Goldman-Sachs carries overtones of antisemitism, because the Jews, for a long time, were the only ones allowed to charge interest and kept out of other occupations and some of the big names in banking are consequentially Jewish names. Or that talk about "New York" sometimes rings to Jewish ears as talk about the city that contains the largest community of Jews outside of Israel.

It took me a really long time to understand that part of antisemitism is, in fact, as jeather quoted, putting the Jews on a pedestal only to kick it out from under them as a scapegoat in hard times. It is taking the success of the Jewish community and wielding it like a cudgel. It was hard to see because the part of that cycle where it is rising just looks like people are succeeding - like they have been 'assimilated' into a successful world. But as we see from this year, it is never permanent. That threat always exists.

And that's part of where I think a lot of the heat has come from in I/P discussions - because aside from the specific matters at hand, some people are coming from the position of "Antisemitism has come and gone a thousand times. It will always come, and it will always go, and we will always need a refuge that we are guaranteed will always be open to us." And other people seemed in the past to be coming from "This is ridiculous, there's hardly any real antisemitism these days, Jews are just like anybody else, you are using this as an excuse." But we see in fact that as times have gotten harder for everyone, there has been scapegoating of the Jews, like always happens time and again.

So I think we need to be careful not just of dismissing antisemitism but also of saying things like - as I've heard in some threads - "Jews are basically white" or a variety of other things that are used to dismiss antisemitism as a problem and to suggest that Jews are privileged now and so can't be an oppressed class. When we have kids in bathing suits being hauled out of pools in a hurry because of the real threat of bombings, you have an oppressed group. And I think that's something it would be good to acknowledge without question.
posted by corb at 11:38 AM on January 26 [50 favorites]


Thank you for that, corb. That was well said and I appreciate it.
posted by Ruki at 11:42 AM on January 26 [1 favorite]


"Since the 1980s, some Lutheran church bodies have formally denounced and dissociated themselves from Luther's vitriol about the Jews," which is nice. I suppose it would be nicer still if they'd all do it, and perhaps change their name too, but you know.

The Lutheran sect I was raised in wouldn't do this because they are, you know, kind of on board with it. I just checked and found an at least semi-official defense that was so equivocal and mealy-mouthed that I'm feeling queasy having read it. I can only be thankful that they are a minority sect, because their creed is vile.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:59 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


Also, I hope that maxsparber is only temporarily gone. We've lost too many good people.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:17 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


We have. Did anyone notice that zarq seems to have checked out too around 12/22? I gotta tell you, I have missed his voice too in this discussion.

Also, thanks corb. Well said.
posted by bearwife at 2:36 PM on January 26 [4 favorites]


I am a Jew and a Mefite for over 10 years. I, at times, do not feel comfortable with the tone of discussion or conditions of debate around Judaism, Jewish people, Israeli People etc etc. My 2 cents.

I think elements in both threads concerned have many examples of why. So while maybe you don't like a particular member for reason XYZ, attacking them vociferously about a topic so closely tired to ethnic/religious identity can make you seem like you're kind of attacking all of us.

Even if, in your heart that would never be your intention. Many hugs to all.
posted by French Fry at 3:08 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


So while maybe you don't like a particular member for reason XYZ, attacking them vociferously about a topic so closely tired to ethnic/religious identity can make you seem like you're kind of attacking all of us.

Despite all the many thoughtful comments in this thread, I'm still mentally pushing against this (the idea that I don't like the member, the idea that I attacked the member vociferously, the implication that me saying "I flagged this as an I/P derail" amounts to an antisemitic attack on all Jewish members of the site) but I am hanging back and absorbing things and I appreciate all the comments here. jeather's comment in particular lit some bulbs for me.
posted by naju at 4:28 PM on January 26


Come back maxsparber and apparently zarq...wtf????
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 4:30 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I don't support Bibi (and it's problematic that I feel the need to get that out of the way first) but JiA has consistently called out anti-semitism here. While criticizing the actions of the Israeli government is not automatically anti-semitism (although it sometimes can be, if you say Jews or Israelis when you mean Likud), dismissing a valid call out because you don't like that person's politics is, well, something that should be considered, you know? I don't think it's done intentionally with hatred or anything, but it is done. And that makes me less likely to speak up, because I feel like I have to be your ideal Jew to be taken seriously or not completely dismissed. I work full time, go to grad school, and actively participate in political resistance. And i spend part of precious free time studying Hebrew, because making aliyah is a very real possibility for my family now. Think about that, though, think about how many people in this thread are contemplating moving to a place in perpetual conflict because it's safer than the US for us. So yeah, anti-semitism still exists and it casually exists on this site. I appreciate all the thoughtful comments and I hope the fighty people will learn something from this thread.
posted by Ruki at 4:53 PM on January 26 [18 favorites]


but JiA has consistently called out anti-semitism here

I am pretty sure, and I agree with JiA on a lot of points, that he has been pretty inconsistent. He's cried wolf so many times that when the wolf is really coming people don't listen. I don't understand what is so difficult about this concept. This makes people who don't listen when the real wolf is coming....? what exactly? Racists? Antisemites? Lazy asses who won't open their damn windows and look at what is happening outside?

But apparently, I am a Nazi lover because of my pacifistic tendencies so what do I know.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:08 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


Well, that's a good reason why I don't say anything right there.
posted by Ruki at 5:17 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]


For real, that's such passive aggressive bullshit. It's incredibly disingenuous to throw out that Nazi lover line at me. I don't know how you got that from what I said, but that's awful.
posted by Ruki at 5:20 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]


It's incredibly disingenuous to throw out that Nazi lover line at me.

I suggest you read the thread that spawned the meta. I wasn't pointing the last part at you, but I wasn't clear, so I apologize if you took it to be aimed at you personally.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:22 PM on January 26 [1 favorite]


He's cried wolf so many times that when the wolf is really coming people don't listen.

I'm not sure it's crying wolf. I think liberals underestimate how much of the foundational work on how to generationally and systemically discriminate against people was developed in the millennia of discrimination against Jewish people. I know I did, for a long time.

From my perspective, it is far better to point out possible anti-Semitism and possibly be wrong than to not point it out while it actually exists. In addition, concluding that someone who repeatedly points out anti-Semitism must be wrong most of the time strikes me as unlikely. One of the longest and most persistent and murderous discriminations has been against Jewish people. It is impossible that we have somehow undone centuries of cultural distortion since the 1940s, and the recent rise of White Nationalism with an emphasis on overtly including anti-Semites and Nazis is powerful evidence we're no where near where we should be as a nation on prejudice against Jewish people.

In short - he cried wolf, the wolf bit/killed people who were judged unimportant so his cries were ignored, and now the wolves are running the government. We really should have listened earlier instead of calling him a liar.
posted by Deoridhe at 5:32 PM on January 26 [27 favorites]


This is a MeTa specifically about the site issue of how Jewish members (and one in particular) are treated in these discussions. Discussion of the topic of pacifism and how it may or may not play into the hands of neo-Nazis isn't a site issue, and seems out of place here.
posted by tonycpsu at 5:50 PM on January 26 [12 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar, I'm not sure why you would possibly think that comment is remotely helpful to this discussion. People are asking for help here and you just generalize a member's entire history as crying wolf so you can dismiss everything.
posted by zachlipton at 5:53 PM on January 26 [13 favorites]


This makes people who don't listen when the real wolf is coming....? what exactly

Well, since you ask, it makes such people oblivious and uncaring when other members of this community are saying that's a pattern here, that we're being threatened by the wolf,and that we're afraid.

Since you mentioned Nazis, I'll point out Hitler wouldn't have gotten far if he'd only had Nazi lovers to rely on. It was widespread indifference that really enabled him.
posted by bearwife at 6:07 PM on January 26 [16 favorites]


I took some time to cool off, and big thanks to everyone who has spoken more eloquently than my emotions would have allowed. I did not, in fact, read the thread in question. I had it open in a tab, but after reading what maxsparber had to say about it, I closed it unread. Why would I put myself into a hostile environment? I started and deleted so many comments before I finally got up the courage to say something here, and I almost immediately regretted it. I considered buttoning, but the current political climate in the US makes me want to be more visibly Jewish, and buttoning, to me, would be antithetical to that. I don't fault maxsparber or zarq for doing what they needed to do, although I will miss their voices. So for me, again, thank you to those who have listened and learned and stood up.
posted by Ruki at 6:32 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


I've said it in one of the previous MeTas, and I'll repeat it here: while I don't agree with Joe in Australia 100% of the time, when he stands up on an issue, particularly as it relates to anti-Semitism (whether or not Israel is involved), I'd like the community to know he speaks for me as well. We've all seen the level of vitriol directed at JiA as a "problem member" because he isn't afraid to call it as he sees it, and I have literally never seen him do something I would call crying wolf. He's gone too far and he's been snarky, sure, but we all get carried away about things from time to time.

One of the more-frequent anti-semitic charges we see, all the fucking time, is "Jews call everything anti-semitism to get attention or special treatment." People on the Left (not here) have literally said they believe being called an anti-semite is a badge of pride. That they've spoken truth to power and the trick worked, the dog leaped as expected. When you say something is anti-semitic, or a dogwhistle, and the thing you're pointing to doesn't involve a literal Nazi or the word "kike," people are quick to jump in and explain why you're just being too touchy, or oversensitive, or "there you go again, as soon as someone mentions Israel..." And the result is, no one wants to be the one who sticks their neck out. Because you get labeled as someone who shouldn't be listened to. And the stakes are too high, so each time you see something here, you weigh it, and decide whether it's worth saying something, or just hitting the flag button. 9 times out of 10 I'll flag it and write the mods, because I don't have the stomach for the level of fightiness. Joe speaks up. I am so, so happy he does. But I don't have the courage to back him up too often, because I love it here and I would hate to be treated like a pariah or have my opinion be considered useless. As being "one of them." I may have just done so just by writing this. But there it is.

I have a few Orthodox Jewish friends who are also Republicans, some of whom voted for Trump. I have tried talking with them, because I literally can't fathom how they could side with someone who is literally arm in arm with Nazis. I still don't understand it, the whole idea is not just abhorrent to me, but outright anti-Jewish throughout the whole platform. But all of them gave me variations of the same answer: the far right has always had ravening Nazis. David Duke isn't some new guy on the scene. The wonder is that Pat Buchanan hasn't crawled out of the woodwork too. But everyone knows they're there, and what they stand for, and my friends / relatives believe that Trump has had enough Jewish business partners (plus Jared and Ivanka) that if things actually looked like it might get out of hand, he'd stop it. That he's being gullible, or canny, but not stupid. But that right now on the Left, anti-semitism is just as virulent, but comes cloaked in the language and politics of social activism. That it's become almost completely politically acceptable, so long as people are careful to always use the word "Zionists," - and that they're using that acceptability to try to destroy Israel either politically through the UN, or by supporting anyone who will arm the Arab countries who attack it. When civilians die in attacks in Israel even when they're kids, people shrug, or imply that they had it coming. That so long as Israel's involved, it's de facto never anti-semitism. For my friends and relatives, that's the anti-semitism they feel is the graver threat, because it has gone unchecked under Obama and so many European govenments - Angela Merkel again always being the notable exception.

I don't agree with their reasoning, and I don't think all criticism of Israel, especially when it comes to their treatment of Palestinians, is anti-semitic. But they have a point, and it's a point you literally can't bring up to your progressive friends because they will immediately slam you down with "calling all criticism of Israel anti-semitism." Immediately and with vitriol. But we're at a point where Israeli gay rights activists can't come to an LGBTQ event - even one sponsored by Hillel (the Jewish campus organization) - without being told that they're only there as pinkwashing to cover for Israeli oppression of Palestinians [Joe posted about this one in the thread in question]. It's as if intersectionality doesn't apply to Israeli Jews. They are the stand-ins for racism, colonialism, infanticide, you name it. And in the past 2-3 years, anyone who is a member of Hillel or other religious Jewish organizations is now considered suspect - they probably have dual loyalties. They can't be trusted. They shouldn't be allowed to represent student government [cite]. Safe spaces are set up to keep them out [cite]. I have profound respect for Black Lives Matter, and would love to support them full-throatedly, but they've called Israel genocidal in their platform, and I won't be a party to that.

I believe in intersectionality, and I believe in safe spaces, and I believe in a 2-State Solution. But I also believe anti-semitism exists on the Left as well as the Right, and maybe even is a bigger problem precisely because we're not allowed to talk about it.

I can still remember the first time I ever heard Tom Lehrer's National Brotherhood Week. I was around 14 years old. It was from his live recording, and hearing the way the crowd roared when he finally mentioned the Jews... it made me a fan for life, but it also twisted a knife in a way that's really impossible to describe. The audience (obviously) wasn't a Jewish crowd. Even if it mimicked the US population, there would have been, what, 6 Jews there out of the whole hall? The people laughing weren't having the sick dark laugh that I was, as a kid who only had half a family thanks to the Holocaust. They were laughing because it's true! We do hate them! Or at least some of them were. I hadn't experienced that feeling again, ever, until I saw the "Throw the Jew Down The Well" segment from Borat. Pretending anti-semitism doesn't exist, not here, no way - it makes things easier. Especially when you just want to blend in and have that white privilege when you can. But you can't not know it's out there. Its insidiousness is part of how it works. Because it makes us afraid to be the one who points the first finger, knowing the odds that that's almost always tantamount to raising your hand, volunteering for the charge of crying wolf.

I'd love to think that because of this MeTa, I'll shut up less and maybe even try to take some of the fire off JiA. But I probably won't. I'm already regretting posting this and I haven't even hit the post button. But thanks for listening.
posted by Mchelly at 7:09 PM on January 26 [34 favorites]


I've written to him privately, today and in the past, but JiA speaks for me, too. I'm a religious Jew, so that's a double whammy against me, because lol skywizard, but it would be cowardly of me to not second everything Mchelly just said. I am tired, in every sense, but I'm going to do my best to call things as I see it. I have actually had an older woman tell me "I was raised to believe you had horns." I have had a client tell me "Oh, you're so nice, you're not like those other Jews." Fuck. That. Noise. I don't let that fly IRL, and I hope to have the strength to not let it fly here.
posted by Ruki at 7:28 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]


Thanks, Mchelly and Ruki.

Incidentally, there's an essay that was circulated last year by basically all the left-wing Jewish blogs I read. I was thinking of making an FPP on it, but I was too disheartened by earlier experiences: I Am Woke: Why I Am Finally Raising My Voice Against Jewish Erasure in the Anti-Racism Movement. It's worth reading.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:48 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]


I think I've posted this before, but here it is again - a useful resource (for some) in the context of this post: the late Steve Cohen's excellent Funny You Don't Look Antisemitic.

It's a detailed analysis and history of antisemitism on the Left, written in 1984, from an uncompromisingly Jewish socialist anti-Zionist perspective. New introduction written in 2005.

Not a text for everybody, to be sure.
posted by motty at 8:05 PM on January 26 [11 favorites]


He's cried wolf so many times that when the wolf is really coming people don't listen. I don't understand what is so difficult about this concept. This makes people who don't listen when the real wolf is coming....? what exactly? Racists? Antisemites? Lazy asses who won't open their damn windows and look at what is happening outside?

You know, this statement. I keep seeing this sort of dismissiveness in various types of threads MeFi has that invariably lead to some sort of MeTa thread.

It makes sense, really, but I don't know if it's helping your argument any--because, you're right, it's not a difficult concept to understand, but given that the community frequently has recurring problems over specific things, I don't think it's falsely calling wolf that leads to that indifference.

I think the indifference might already be there.
posted by qcubed at 9:25 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I've said it in one of the previous MeTas, and I'll repeat it here: while I don't agree with Joe in Australia 100% of the time, when he stands up on an issue, particularly as it relates to anti-Semitism (whether or not Israel is involved), I'd like the community to know he speaks for me as well.

I'm not religious or a jew, but I have valued Joe in Australia's posts and comments on the issue of antisemitism, and I actually feel they've been pretty instrumental in opening my own eyes to the problem -- and to the extent to which I'd previously been dismissive of it.

I've long suspected that a lot of the pushback he gets would not be seen as acceptable here if it were directed towards a member of any other minority.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 9:36 PM on January 26 [8 favorites]


OK, well here's a perspective which I would like to share.

I am Jewish. Only my mother is Jewish and even she grew up in a secular environment, and I recognize that makes my experience different from folks who are more consistently read by others as Jewish, from people who grew up steeped in Jewish community, and from people who are religious. But saying that, I am indeed Jewish, I occassionally attend temple, I participate in Seders every year, my closest circle and of course my biological family is full of Jewish people of many backgrounds, and that is a truth about me.

Antisemitism in the US exists, is growing bolder and stronger than it has in decades, and is terrifying. And antisemitism in the US has a specific flavor and set of characteristics, just like anti-black racism has a specific character, and transmysogony, and so forth. These various oppressions and dangers are different, and impact people differently. And as we are all aware, one can benefit from privilege on one hand, while also being subject to oppression on another. Most 'white' American Jews benefit from skin color privilege and I think we need to be real about this. I resent when Ashkanazi Jews claim they are not white, because they are Jewish, because to me, it erases the privilege we live with, and gives an 'out' on owning the ways we benefit from the unique system of racism in the US. Not saying that is specifically happening in this thread, but I hear it regularly.

And I am likewise extremely resentful of the way some advocates of Israel endlessly conflate critiques of Israel with antisemitism. While it's certainly possible to find antisemitism among critics of Israel - it is not a central thrust of the anti-occupation movement. And a hyperfocus on that does imply that it is. And while I am certain that for Jews to whom Israel is an important symbolic and real center of identity and safety, I believe critiques of Israel are automatically threatening, and I have empathy for that, constantly conflating critiques of Israel with antisemitism is also a strategy that is being employed on purpose, to discredit critics of Israel.

I am surrounded by a community of Jewish people who are critical of Israel. Groups like Jewish Voice for Peace, founded in solidarity with Palestinians and now doing solidarity work with US Muslims. Our local Kehilla Synagogue which explicitly opposes the occupation, my local BDS activists, the vast majority of whom are Jewish, Tikkun Magazine; I do not want others to define antisemitism for me as centrally located around any critique of Israel. Because that is in opposition to the reality I see in front of my own eyes, and experience in my own self: I am a self-loving Jew, in a community full of Jews who strongly identify with their religious, cultural, and ethnic Jewishness, who are also adamantly opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and to many other policies of the Israeli government. I know we are not antisemitic, because I am experiencing this directly!

We live in a very weird time for Jews. I also have heard secondhand about Orthodox Jews who voted for Trump - relatives of a friend for one example. So we live in a time where there are Jews who are among the most visible and therefore vulnerable who are voting for the guy who appoints an open antisemite to his cabinet - because their support for Israel is their highest priority? Israel is a very complex issue for American Jews, and defining antisemitism is contested, even among Jews.

One more thing: Joe in Australia, I have experienced in numerous threads over the years, including this one, that you post again and again in the same thread to drive your point home. Personally, I think in any metafilter thread, when the same person is posting their same point half a dozen times, it becomes problematic. The content you're posting here and often elsewhere seems to be centered on examples where antisemitism is implied to be occurring among critics of Israel - sometimes with evidence that the act is antisemitic, sometimes not. You post sources that are in no way neutral or evenhanded on this issue, for example, that link you just posted to Tablet: Tablet is not a 'left-wing Jewish blog'. It is wholly funded by the estate of a neoconservative investor, and has a very clear agenda on Israel that brooks no criticism - surely every government should be subject to examination and critique. I like some articles in Tablet, but posting this as if it's just some neutral, lefty Jewish source is just not accurate. And you know that. That's why I think you're being disingenuous. Your position on this issue is clear, but I am also voicing my one perspective, as a fellow Jew, that I perceive you to be hijacking the issue of antismetism in several threads to focus narrowly around Israel.

Joe - I have also read your thoughtful comments about Judaism, sharing culture and tradition with other curious site members. I appreciate and value that. I also have seen you point out antisemitism in contexts unrelated to Israel/Palestine/occupation. I believe you care deeply about this and I honor your standing up for that. I also ask you to consider your rhetorical technique and the way it may impact others. Maybe I'm just one person, but I must say that your position is not mine, and I'm also Jewish.
posted by latkes at 9:49 PM on January 26 [39 favorites]


I just wanted to say I'm listening, latkes, and share some of your feeling also (I contain multitudes).

motty, that site is really helping my reassess my thinking on these issues, thank you.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:21 PM on January 26 [3 favorites]


I'm checking in as another Jew to add my +1 and solidarity to everything maxsparber has said. I certainly don't share all of Joe in Australia's political views, but I stand behind his comment under discussion. And, as many folks have already said, I think this "crying wolf" framework for dismissing the ability to talk about antisemitism (common outside MeFi, for sure) is nasty stuff, with a bad history. If you're also a Jew and disagree whether something constitutes antisemitism, you're welcome to voice your opinion, but it doesn't automatically invalidate other Jewish commenters' assessments.

Since the election, I have seen much more antisemitic hate speech in person and online, and I've started to worry about things I never did before, like the mezuzah on my doorpost. Perhaps I would feel differently if I were more connected to a large Jewish community, but I feel very vulnerable right now. And while I personally am opposed to Netanyahu, Likud, and the settlements, and fully support Palestinian self-determination, the antisemitism that I encounter frequently takes the form of coded language about "Zionists" while in content resembling all the old antisemitic tropes, so I'm disinclined to even talk about Israel/Palestine with anyone online any more unless I know they have experience in or knowledge of the region, because antisemites seem to crawl out of the woodwork as soon as they hear the word. I join the other Jews here who ask MeFites to please take this seriously.
posted by thetortoise at 10:22 PM on January 26 [14 favorites]


Another Jew raising her hand here because it's getting to the point where favouriting and liking things (here and in other fora) is starting to feel very hollow.

The current environment, online and IRL is feeling very anxiety provoking to the point where my general awareness of having my passport up to date is feeling more heightened than usual.

I've read the many anti semitism metatalk threads with interest and trepidation because they so closely mirror the IRL experience of anti semitism -- where it often feels like we're damned if we do or damned if we don't. History has taught us that we really don't belong anywhere and shouldn't get too comfy.

So my thanks to those of you who have voiced my own thoughts much more eloquently than i have and everyone else who is making an effort to understand and engage.
posted by prettypretty at 10:56 PM on January 26 [7 favorites]


I've long suspected that a lot of the pushback he gets would not be seen as acceptable here if it were directed towards a member of any other minority.

Don't do this. What you're doing here is exactly the same kind of erasure and denialism, just relative to a bunch of other identities. Because no, shit is not fine for all other groups, we don't always get taken seriously or listened to, and our shit gets shut down with "well actually"s instead of taken seriously, too.

MeFi has an antisemitism problem. That doesn't mean it hasn't got a bunch of other problems.
posted by Dysk at 3:36 AM on January 27 [17 favorites]


I'm in full agreement with latkes. Hell, their experience sounds so much like me and my family that I kind of wonder if we're related. Like them, I was raised Jewish in a family where Reform was about as religious as we got. When we were in our tween/teen years, my brother and I went to a Jewish summer camp. It was there that we were informed that, because my mother was (and still is) is an agnostic who calls herself a "recovering Catholic," we weren't really Jewish. In the intervening years, my Jewish friends have been of varying levels of faith and political engagement, including several that grew up in or now live in Israel. None of them have ever impugned my Jewishness, or in any way come even close to suggesting that secular Judaism or my political stances made me in any way an enemy of Israel, or that I believe Israel has no right to exist, and certainly not in the way Joe has repeatedly done. Which isn't surprising, given that my political stances are (depending on the issue) in line with a majority, plurality, or large minority of Jewish Americans.

Anyway, it's been mumble decades since that summer camp awfulness, but the last several years (and the last two in particular) have made me feel more like that kid, and Joe has contributed to that feeling more than anyone else here. This part in particular speaks to me and for me:
And I am likewise extremely resentful of the way some advocates of Israel endlessly conflate critiques of Israel with antisemitism. While it's certainly possible to find antisemitism among critics of Israel - it is not a central thrust of the anti-occupation movement. And a hyperfocus on that does imply that it is. And while I am certain that for Jews to whom Israel is an important symbolic and real center of identity and safety, I believe critiques of Israel are automatically threatening, and I have empathy for that, constantly conflating critiques of Israel with antisemitism is also a strategy that is being employed on purpose, to discredit critics of Israel.
The times that either I personally, or the Jewish culture and politics I am part of, have felt attacked by Joe have all fallen under this rubric. The many times Joe has had to be corrected by other Jewish members, including by maxsparber and zarq, all fall into this category. I've also noticed the use of sources used both to criticize non-Mefites and Jewish Mefites who are expressing the exact same opinion found in mainstream Jewish and/or Israeli sources like Haaretz or Tikkun or Forward. I've seen a birther blog used as a source to go after the Obama administration, and a (thankfully deleted) comment that tried to smear an Orthodox Jewish man for correctly identifying the ultra-Orthodox murderer of LGBTQ Israelis.

Since latkes's conclusion is much better and level-headed than my previous ones (and I apologize if that contributed to maxsparber's buttoning), I just want to say that I stand behind what they said 100%.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:50 AM on January 27 [14 favorites]


None of them have ever impugned my Jewishness, or in any way come even close to suggesting that secular Judaism or my political stances made me in any way an enemy of Israel, or that I believe Israel has no right to exist, and certainly not in the way Joe has repeatedly done.
[...]
The times that either I personally, or the Jewish culture and politics I am part of, have felt attacked by Joe have all fallen under this rubric.


Zombieflanders, I don't believe I have ever said anything about your beliefs. What was it that made you feel attacked?
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:01 AM on January 27


wow Joe. Several Jewish mefites join the thread to express at least partial sympathy and agreement with your feelings, but zombieflanders and latkes spend their time explaining where they diverge from you and where they feel attacked...

Here, let me put it in bold and italics from latkes post:

constantly conflating critiques of Israel with antisemitism is also a strategy that is being employed on purpose, to discredit critics of Israel.

...and your response is "No, I never said that, show me where I said that?"

Sealioning, dude.

You are the least effective advocate for your own beliefs right now.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 7:43 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Without taking any position on the merits of the underlying claims -- when someone accuses another member of doing something, I do not think it's unreasonable (and certainly not "sealioning") to ask for examples of the alleged problem behavior.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:47 AM on January 27 [15 favorites]


Without taking any position on the merits of the underlying claims -- when someone accuses another member of doing something, I do not think it's unreasonable (and certainly not "sealioning") to ask for examples of the alleged problem behavior.

The mods have made it harder to do, because while we're allowed to complain about behavior, we can't actually quote from a user's history. That being said, I've referenced the most recent example in this thread several times.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:14 AM on January 27 [3 favorites]


Except this thread (and judging from the general conversation, all previous MeTa posts concerning I/P and JiA) are already full of examples AND links to previous examples. To pretend otherwise, especially when the topic of the thread is "why can't we have a discussion on Metafilter on anti-Semitism-in-the-Left", is 100% sealioning.

When someone makes the clear statement that "I feel I am being attacked in this space, my identity as a Jew is being denigrated" and the immediate following response is "No it isn't, show me examples", and most especially from the person specifically named as the one doing the attacking? Sealioning.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 8:16 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


And as I noted, many of these attacks are not aimed at other users specifically, but rather painted a lot of Jewish people both on and off this site who I agree with, as anti-Semitic.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:17 AM on January 27


Attacking Israel is also markedly different from attacking Israeli policies and Israeli government behavior. We do not do this as to other countries with very bad policies and behaviors -- for example condemn Sudan, Egypt, Russia, or Rwanda as a whole. But also Israel is a sanctuary country-- the only one in the world-- for Jews. In addition, as many of us have been pointing out, many of Israel's enemies are markedly and lethally anti-Semitic, in word and deed. And lastly, now that the wholesale attack on JIA has resumed, how about citing an actual time he has said opposing Israeli policies or behavior is anti-Semitic?
posted by bearwife at 8:19 AM on January 27 [11 favorites]


> we can't actually quote from a user's history

Since when? I thought it was more of a soft guideline of "don't bring up unrelated crap just to settle a score", but that citing problem comments in relation to an open point of debate in MeTa was allowed.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:19 AM on January 27


Yeah, there's not a blanket prohibition on quoting or discussing stuff. We just don't want people to be jerks about it or go overboard or etc. In some cases we've had to tell individual folks to cool it on e.g. ongoing won't-let-it-drop kinds of behavior regarding one or another user they'd fixated on, but that's a pretty context specific thing.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:30 AM on January 27 [1 favorite]


I feel like regardless of what Joe in Australia did or didn't say in his history of being a member, I am much more interested in how we as site and community can work together to be less antisemitic and make this space feel more welcoming to our Jewish members, many of whom are facing a seriously increased hostile presence right now.

There have been a lot of great and well respected commenters here talking about their feelings, and I would like to ask those members: how can we support you? What can we do better?

Also, to the mods: how close are we to the text box for flags? I feel like one of the things that keeps this kind of stuff going is that when flagging, if you can't be specific, the comment often doesn't get removed because it flies under the radar. Even though we do have a Jewish mod, they can't be on duty all the time, and a lot of this stuff is subtle and relates back to other stuff.
posted by corb at 9:15 AM on January 27 [6 favorites]


We do not do this as to other countries with very bad policies and behaviors -- for example condemn Sudan, Egypt, Russia, or Rwanda as a whole.

I'm Jewish but I'm also from Russia and yeah Russia is without a doubt treated like that, especially in the election (or whatever we call them now) threads. The more objectionable stuff gets modded out more often than not and while Russophobia isn't remotely as pressing or urgent an issue as anti-Semitism on Mefi, Israel absolutely is not at all alone in being attacked in that way.
posted by griphus at 9:20 AM on January 27 [19 favorites]


That doesn't quite line up with how I've seen it received in the past, cortex, but whatevs.

Here's practically a whole thread where Joe gets called out, by myself and latkes and zarq, among other Jewish and non-Jewish Mefites for engaging in this type of behavior. In this thread is the time he linked to a birther in a discussion about leftist Jewish groups, implying they were "Potemkin groups." Oh, and here's the time he claimed that "neocon" was an anti-Semitic dogwhistle, even though you'd be hard pressed to find any Jewish Washingtonian (or probably any Jewish American, really) left of center that has ever thought that. It certainly got a lot of use among the Jewish activists and politicians I've spoken with. That it came up in response to criticism of Netanyahu (whom Joe regularly defends) and AFAIK never before or since on the site, seemed odd.

Those are just a couple of examples, but I'm sure others have stories of their own they could share. I should also note his relative silence on the anti-Semitism that came out in the US during the campaign, as well as on the groups (including several Jewish ones) excusing it away, was certainly noticeable by me. And I've got to say that, for me, having the site's supposed leader in the charge against anti-Semitism spilling more digital ink here on going after the left and defending Netanyahu/Likud than discussing what the actual neo-Nazis have been up to has been demoralizing, to say the least. A lot of other Mefites picked up that slack, and it should be no surprise when we're upset that our reasoning behind opposing a longtime wish of the very same people who are trying to incite conflicts with or from Israel to create a theocratic Christian kingdom where Jews will be forcefully converted or else cleansed from the world is described as us being anti-Israel.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:23 AM on January 27 [18 favorites]


And as I noted, many of these attacks are not aimed at other users specifically, but rather painted a lot of Jewish people both on and off this site who I agree with, as anti-Semitic.

In most cases (i.e., excluding the Richard Spencers of this world) I try to follow Jay Smooth and distinguish between what people do and what they are. In the article I linked to, the author writes that a co-worker told her that "in college he had stolen funds from a Jewish organization that sponsored Shabbat dinners and given them to a Palestinian Solidarity organization." I don't know anything about the co-worker and I can't say whether he was an antisemite, but on the face of it that action was antisemitic as well as being criminal. She interpreted his account as being a message that "you are not welcome here if you talk about Jewish religious practice." She experienced it as an act of antisemitism, whatever his motivation actually was.

The same thing applies to a lot of other actions directed at Jewish events. If something makes it harder for Jews to congregate or engage in culturally or religiously distinctive activities then (on the face of it) its effect is antisemitic. I'm not going to say that it's always wrong to do anything that is perceived as antisemitic, any more than it's always wrong to do anything that's perceived as racist, but that doesn't change the subjective perception or perhaps even the nature of the act. In the cases I cited earlier, the participants were terrified and presumably less willing to associate with other Jews or otherwise display a Jewish identity. People in this discussion have said the same thing about their participation here! Even if the attacks were justified it does not change their effect or their nature. I hope you can accept this and take it into account when similar acts are criticised.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:29 AM on January 27


Oh, and I also want to address this by latkes:
One more thing: Joe in Australia, I have experienced in numerous threads over the years, including this one, that you post again and again in the same thread to drive your point home. Personally, I think in any metafilter thread, when the same person is posting their same point half a dozen times, it becomes problematic. The content you're posting here and often elsewhere seems to be centered on examples where antisemitism is implied to be occurring among critics of Israel - sometimes with evidence that the act is antisemitic, sometimes not.
In some of the threads I linked, you can see this very clearly, sometimes in threads where Joe is basically trying to steamroll the thread. In the my first link, he has 70 out of about 400 comments, in the second, almost 90 out of 500, and in the third, 20 out of 180. I don't think anyone else came even close to those proportions.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:30 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


In most cases (i.e., excluding the Richard Spencers of this world) I try to follow Jay Smooth and distinguish between what people do and what they are.

And the problem is that, in certain conversations, you fall down hard on this, resulting in tarring a lot of people that makes them feel like you're challenging their own heritage and religion. You know this, and yet apparently still continue hurting your supposed allies.

People in this discussion have said the same thing about their participation here! Even if the attacks were justified it does not change their effect or their nature. I hope you can accept this and take it into account when similar acts are criticised.

At the risk of repeating myself, this is a two-way street. What people like me are saying is that we really resent being asked to mute our criticisms and just accept unwarranted rhetoric just because you think a shotgun style of criticism is better than one with a scalpel. If you want us to listen to you, at least try to make a good-faith effort of agreeing to listen to us.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:38 AM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I feel that shifting the conversation to JiA is detracting from the issue of actual antisemitism. I get that his participation makes him fair game, but I would hate to see this thread become all about him when other people are trying to have a dialogue about how to better address antisemism on the site.
posted by Ruki at 10:43 AM on January 27 [27 favorites]


This is so disheartening.

Latkes and zombieflanders, I say this with nothing but respect for both of you and your opinion, but saying that people are "constantly conflating critiques of Israel with antisemitism is also a strategy that is being employed on purpose, to discredit critics of Israel" is part of the problem we are pushing back against. It is literally why Max left - not because of Israel, but because when religious / affiliated Jews say "we can't speak up without being slapped down," the response here is to slap us down, often with this exact same argument. When people say something is racist, we listen and weigh it on its merits. We don't say "there you go constantly calling everything racist to undermine genuine anti-racism efforts." That's not helpful to anyone.

It's a straw man - no one here has said you can't be Jewish and advocate against Israeli policy. Many of us have bent over backwards to make it clear that we don't believe this. This conversation is not about a "hyperfocus" on anti-semitism as a major part of critiquing Israel. But you'd have to be willfully blind to not see that some Palestinian advocacy is unapologetically, outright Protocols-Of-The-Elders-of-Zion anti-semitic, and it's so widespread that it often has a tendency to leak through to the larger conversation when people aren't careful. And it's hard to be careful because so much of the language of polite anti-semitism is all about speaking in dogwhistles and indirect buzzwords (I'll also encourage people to check out jeather's link). When other Jews - often religious Jews, because we're the most visible targets of that level of anti-semitism and often have the most experience with it - say, look, it's there, the pushback is immediate and the people who point it out are seen as acting in bad faith. We have managed to come full circle to the beginning of the thread and the reason for the MeTa -- how silly of me to think we were talking about anti-semitism on Metafilter, clearly we can all agree that we're actually talking about how those Jews call everything that's against Israel "anti-semitic." Those Jews need to shut up already, they're making the rest of us look bad.

Here's the thing about religious Jews - there's really fucking few of us. I waded in to that BDS thread zombieflanders just pointed to, and I am no joke fighting down a panic attack right now. The level of subtle anti-semitic asides and overt bashing, and the patience that Joe and zarq and maxsparber were taking against all comers, who refused to hear them -- I'm sorry, I get that the comment you linked to was unquestionably personal and you're right to push back. And yes, zarq and Joe don't agree about everything - but when zarq contradicts JiA, it's always about the substance of his point. Not "there you go again." Not "you are cynically calling everything anti-semitism." But if we're not allowed to explain why we think something is problematic - or if we explain and are told "well, actually" and "I'm Jewish so it can't possibly be anti-semitic" again and again so we have to keep coming back to the thread -- and because there are so damn few of us so it falls on us to have to make repeated comments or we don't get heard -- it simply isn't a fair argument you're making that we comment too much in a particular thread. zombieflanders, you are currently doing that exact same thing in this thread, even though your comments earlier helped cause a longtime member to leave - one who was also trying to push back against anti-semitism and was essentially told we can only discuss it on certain terms. I suggest maybe the problem isn't just Joe. You are heard. I value your opinion. I get that the religious issue of matrilineal descent knocked you for a loop you're still spinning from, that some Jewish people treated you shittily because of it. It may even be what's coloring some of your interactions with people who believe in it, if it's so many years later and you still feel it needs to be part of this conversation to explain how frustrated you are with people like me. And I can understand that. But I don't think you are listening.

I hope Max comes back, I really value his contributions here, but I get why he left. The level of wagon circling is making me think hard about how welcome I actually am here.

I think we're marginally better here about anti-semitism than we are about trans issues, but people keep starting MeTas, saying this is something we have an active problem with, and trying to handhold Metafilter through it in the hopes it will get better. But eventually, someone always comes in and explains how wrong we are, their voices are the ones who get magnified, and the people who complained and their advocates (both Jews and trans people, and unfortunately far more of the latter) are the ones who end up buttoning. Time after time.

I just want to point back to this statement from Maxsparber from earlier in this same thread:

I would respond by suggesting that it is not good allyship to dismiss a poster who is one of the few visible members of a minority group because of past disagreements about the I/P subject, especially when other Jews chime in and say they have shared the described experience.

And this followup comment from the Gooch:

I mean, if I were to teach a class in "How to Become a Pariah on Metafilter 101" one of the first things I would teach is how to be the "Well, actually" guy when someone brings up concerns about sexism, misogyny, homophobia, racism, transphobia, Islamophobia, etc., since "You are a problematic user with a questionable history on the site so I do not take your complaints about -ism seriously" are rarely, if ever, allowed here to be used as a justification to dismiss someone's concerns about prejudice. The one notable exception to this is when Jews complain about anti-Semitism, where people are free to and often do (it's right here in this very thread) rules lawyer over, "Oooh, are we conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism again there, buddy".

We've been here. I get it. You don't want to hear what we're saying.

I'm taking a break. I'll be back after sundown tomorrow. Probably.
posted by Mchelly at 11:39 AM on January 27 [28 favorites]


Israel is a topic that starts bitter arguments with some members of my family if it ever comes up. Believe me, I am as frustrated as anybody when people seem to automatically link criticism of Israel with antisemitism. But there's also a tendency to talk about this apparent conflation as if it's mostly a rhetorical device to shut down criticism because they don't want to hear it, and that's wrong.

We've all seen Annie Hall, we've all laughed at Alvy saying "he didn't say 'did you want some,' he said 'Jew want some?'" The joke being that he's neurotic, and he's hypersensitive to this imagined antisemitism, right? But I think that's a pervasive cultural trope, somewhat antisemitic in of itself, to imagine that fears of antisemitism are overblown (as with my professor dismissively asking "do you think antisemitism is a major problem today?"). I can't speak for all Jews, but I think at least some people must see antisemitism because they're aware that they're on the outside of a lot of things. Sure, country clubs allow Jews now, but it's not like you forget that within your father's or grandfather's lifetime, or even your own, this was not always the case. We have people in our families who are still alive today, who remember a time when 6 million Jews were exterminated in death camps. When I was in middle school, one of my friends came up to me and said "hey, I've got a great joke -- wait, you're not Jewish, right?" (I laughed about it then and I still laugh about it now, but it's not exactly a welcoming sign. We stopped being friends after that.)

So yes, I am deeply frustrated when people hear criticism of, say, the IDF, and think that I don't believe Jews deserve to be safe, or something. I mean, ffs. It makes it very difficult to talk about it at all. But it's also deeply frustrating when people wave off those concerns with an assumption, sometimes stated, sometimes not, that it's a bullshit line of argument because antisemitism doesn't actually matter quite as much as ol' Alvy Singer thinks it does.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:48 AM on January 27 [10 favorites]


The insistence on making this a referendum on Joe in Australia and pretending like he's the central issue here, despite the growing chorus of voice to the contrary... I don't know if you *think* you are acting in good faith here, but it sure as fuck doesn't sound like it to me.
posted by Behemoth at 12:55 PM on January 27 [15 favorites]


And, from my perspective as a lifelong left-wing Jew, right-wing Jews have, as a group, basically denied (if not outright supported and endorsed) the current march toward fascism while ignoring its antisemitic elements and are now becoming desperate when they realize what, exactly, has come home to roost and harranguing the rest of us who have been trying to build the solidarity that they spent basically their entire prior political time breaking down.

I've had this comment on my mind for a while and it keeps bothering me, so I guess I'll say something. The idea that Jews are responsible for igniting waves of antisemitism through the world by not all having the right views seems like a form of respectability politics to me. I don't want to attack griphus, who is obviously very thoughtful in this thread and everywhere else, and I don't have anything in common with right-wing Jews either, but I would discourage anyone from responding to racism and bigotry this way, by blaming the extremists in the group for not keeping it at bay. None of us deserve antisemitism, even if there are some among us with truly awful politics. There's just a long history of Jews getting blamed for every wave of hatred directed against them, for failing to assimilate properly, for pursuing wealth, for being too cosmopolitan, for stirring up Zionist sentiment, and on and on, so I find this framing really troubling.
posted by thetortoise at 1:04 PM on January 27 [17 favorites]


Oh I wouldn't say that right-wing Jews ignited anything (anti-Semitism has, historically, never really required our input to really get going or perpetuate itself) or that it was the responsibility of right-wing Jewry to keep it at bay and they failed.

Hell, I wouldn't even say that right-wing Jews who actively supported the Trump campaign are extremists, honestly. The Zionist Organization of America publishing a defense of Steve Bannon, for instance, is awful but not at all the same thing as, for instance, Meir Kahane's platform, which I feel is pretty much the gold standard for contemporary right-wing Jewish extremism. Maybe this is just years upon years of frustration speaking but I genuinely feel that among Polite Jewish Company at weddings and bar mitzvahs, the left-wing perspective I hold is the one that's treated as having gone too far.

Anyway, the issue I was bringing up with that comment isn't about Jews bringing anti-Semitism down on ourselves or about not fighting it hard enough. You can fight it as hard as you damn well please and come up emptyhanded because anti-Semites will always find themselves with more power and influences than Jews will by numbers alone. It's about, from my perspective, ignorance and myopia, and the encouragement of both by people in positions of power and influence within the Jewish community in the name of the defense of the Jewish people. I don't think there's ever been a point in Jewish history when there weren't at least two sides at loggerheads about issues of insularity and solidarity, assimilation and self-defense, etc. and the stuff I had to say above is just the unfortunate perpetuation of it that I find is necessary.
posted by griphus at 1:45 PM on January 27 [16 favorites]


Thanks for clarifying. I was reading your comment as something much broader than intended, and that helps. I think a lot of the tension in this thread is that these are essentially intra-Jewish conversations we're all talking about here, where there's much more room for dissent and disagreement than in the big world outside that's making so many of us nervous.
posted by thetortoise at 1:53 PM on January 27 [7 favorites]


it simply isn't a fair argument you're making that we comment too much in a particular thread. zombieflanders, you are currently doing that exact same thing in this thread

The insistence on making this a referendum on Joe in Australia and pretending like he's the central issue here, despite the growing chorus of voice to the contrary... I don't know if you *think* you are acting in good faith here, but it sure as fuck doesn't sound like it to me.

Man, talk about bad faith. At least half of my comments in this thread either weren't discussing Joe at all, or were responses to requests directed at me. In one of my comments I explicitly made the point that I'd like a dialogue with Joe, rather than the usual back-and-forth. And Mchelly, I'm really upset that you chose to mischaracterize my comments as wholly substance-free and my perspective as willfully blind of anti-Semitism. I don't think there's a single iota of proof of that. I also find the implication that leftist, secular Jews are on this site to shut religious Jews up unfair and disturbing.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:57 PM on January 27 [12 favorites]


Oh, and once again I'd like to thank latkes for going out of their way to describe in pretty painstaking detail exactly the kinds of work, both interfaith and within the Jewish community, and the activism they're involved with. It's another area where we are very much alike, and the idea that we're somehow the misled members of the tribe only serves to enhance the feeling of being othered by fellow Jews that I disagree with.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:05 PM on January 27 [9 favorites]


. I think a lot of the tension in this thread is that these are essentially intra-Jewish conversations we're all talking about here, where there's much more room for dissent and disagreement than in the big world outside that's making so many of us nervous.

Right, yeah, I think despite any internal disagreements about the best way to handle the apparently eternal precariousness of the Jewish people, there is a general awareness that if a hammer is going to come down on us again, it will be just as indiscriminate as before. Which is, of course, why these intra-Jewish conversations get so damn heated. Each side, regardless of how the sides break out in specifics, thinks the other not as an enemy in war to be defeated, but a little brother who keeps getting both of you in serious trouble because he just doesn't get how the world really works.
posted by griphus at 2:15 PM on January 27 [22 favorites]


For the point of the overall thread, I appreciate the reminder to speak up more when noticing anti-Semitism, especially on the left. In some ways, the educated American leftist response can, I think, rest on anti-Arab racism too, in that Arab anti-Semitism in e.g. the U.N. General Assembly is seen as craven, cynical and the delegates making those arguments are seen as incapable of holding themselves to a higher standard.

I did really like the You Don't Look Like an Anti-Semite link, and have bookmarked it. I also liked the Solidarity is for Goyim link.

If I didn't work from home, I'd print out and put up Jeather's "The Past…" flyer in the break room.

I will admit that I'm not as sure about how to deal with it in places where it's kidding-on-the-square spillover from Chan-ish trolling — the whole point is to get a sincere, vehement denunciation, but that ambiguous space of trolling lets a lot of sincere anti-Semites flourish. Lots of it is because people know it's wrong, and they're thrilled by the power of being wrong, so telling them it's wrong doesn't work, but letting it go unchallenged doesn't fight it either.
posted by klangklangston at 4:14 PM on January 27 [2 favorites]


I hope you come back when you're ready, maxsparber. You're a valued member of this site.

People are reading this thread and thinking about the issues you raised, so this Meta is a good un - thanks for raising it.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:50 PM on January 28 [11 favorites]


zombieflanders, I'm not sure what I said that is leading you to think that I believe your "comments [are] wholly substance-free and my perspective as willfully blind of anti-Semitism," or "that leftist, secular Jews are on this site to shut religious Jews up" - neither of which I believe. But please accept my apology for communicating poorly. I was trying to say that I don't think it's fair to demonize someone for commenting a disproportionate amount in one thread when they're a minority and there's no other way to answer all people making statements they find problematic or worse, and can show sources why. You are commenting more in this thread than many other people. Either doing so is a problem, or it isn't, and my point was I don't think it should be - I apologize for using you as the example, but it seemed to be your point.

As for the latter charge, again, I apologize for making that implication, it was not intended, and I don't believe it. I do, however believe that there are people here (some of whom include secular Jews, but IMO that's neither here nor there) who have a real problem with religious people of all religions, and their views. When discussions of controversial Jewish subjects, including Israel, come up, it's religious Jews who often feel targeted for giving our views - and yeah, because of the nature of the discussion it's often secular Jews who do so - but not all, and not exclusively. I don't think I'm the only person, even in this thread, who's made that point. I do believe that Jews raised wholly secular are less likely to have an extensive working knowledge of anti-semitism - but why would they? It's not taught in public school. That's not willful blindness. But if you're not swimming in the same water and never have, it's no wonder if you can't really tell the temperature. When someone more knowledgable points anti-semitism out and shows why, there often does seem to be significant pushback from the "I'm a Jew and I think it's fine" crowd. And I get it - admitting there's anti-semitism on the left or in the Palestinian Rights movement is polarizing. No one here wants to hear it. I'm pretty sure it's at least partly why we're having this thread.

A good example is blood libel. The idea that Jews drink the blood of no-Jews, especially of non-Jewish children, is to any educated person clearly ridiculous - I mean, whut? But it's one of the most longstanding, pernicious anti-semitic tropes, and it is regularly trotted out, even today. But when we say, "that's blood libel," it's just as likely to be secular Jews as non-Jews to say "bloodthirsty" is just a word" / "people were just being hyperbolic," / "kids were killed" / "why are you being so oversensitive?" And I get it, because come on, if you believed you lived in a world where some of your neighbors believed you ritually drank blood, your head would explode. I don't know if anyone actually believes it. I do know that it doesn't go away, and it still shows up as news (1, 2), and Jews are killed for it. Having people say "I'm Jewish and that's ridiculous," isn't willful blindness, but when it comes alongside "you are being over-sensitive for thinking it's anti-semitic" it does the same amount of harm - and is silencing. And it's a problem. Something can be ridiculous and still be intentional.

I'm not picking a fight with you - as I said already, I value your input and your opinion even when I disagree with it. I did say I don't feel like you're listening, and yet here I am back in the thread re-explaining my point to you because I feel it was misheard. As I said before, it's disheartening.
posted by Mchelly at 5:09 PM on January 28 [7 favorites]


We need to hang together, and I as a Jew need this place to wake up to that. Especially right now. On Holocaust Remembrance Day not only does the now fascist White House act to bar immigrants, especially Muslims, but omits Jews from the statement in remembrance of this day -- and insists with a straight face that is to show how inclusive they are.
posted by bearwife at 5:23 PM on January 28 [31 favorites]


Anti-semitism is the socialism of fools.
(Karl Marx)
posted by philip-random at 11:39 PM on January 28 [1 favorite]


By far my most favorited comment since joining MeFi was when I quoted a bunch of tweets from writer Carvell Wallace. It ends:
"my point is this: black ppl are always right about racism. women are always right about misogyny. don't ever fucking doubt us again."
239 favorites. If Jewish members of Metafilter are so upset about the culture here to actually leave the community then maybe your first response shouldn't be "But what about...?" it should be to believe them and work from there.
posted by gwint at 12:16 PM on January 29 [21 favorites]


I'm Jewish and scared to take use websites like 23andme in 2017 because I worry about being tracked and exterminated.

I'm sad that Max left.

Violence against Jewish people is important and relevant, and we should allow front page posts about it instead of lumping it into election threads.

What was with that person at the beginning of the thread in like comment #6 whose profile read Jewish that was like "I am banned from talking about Jewish issues normally - does it also apply in this thread about anti-semitism?"
Discouraging Jewish people from talking about issues affecting Jewish people? What??? Why? Would we do that with another oppressed group on Metafilter? It's upsetting for me to see something like that on Metafilter. I don't have the full story on that person or what they said in the past, but telling Jewish people they shouldn't talk about anti-semitism is not going to help with this problem. Really uncomfortable with that.
posted by oceanjesse at 10:33 PM on January 29 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no. That topic ban is actually the result of a lot of posting that mirrors antisemitic talking points.
posted by taz (staff) at 12:26 AM on January 30 [2 favorites]


We've had a few users (not that one) who seem to have this sort of "Well actually..." approach to I/P topics and or "how Jews fit in the world" topics which have that internet-nitpicker dog-worrying-a-bone thing which might be interesting among a group of friends, Jews maybe, people who knew each other, people who may have the same set of 101, 102, 103, 104 understandings of vocabulary and general agreement not to turn things into a shitshow (sort of like I imagine the discussions griphus has been having, where you can dig into meaty topics because you have some first-principles agreements or understandings). However in a generalized space, that approach works poorly.

My not-quite-the-same parallel would be a user who wants to make posts about a woman falsely reporting a sexual assault, and that was what they wanted to post about all the time. A post or two about that topic? Maybe, especially if there are big stories in a news. Becoming That Guy who always wants to post exactly that and you get into "Could you not?" territory. Especially, with the one user I remember, if you want to do that sort of thing right around or on Jewish holidays.

Everyone's mind works in different ways obviously and I'm sure people have very strong reasons for why they want to post what they post, but occasionally mods have to help them adjust those desires for what's going to work within this community, not the idealized community where they'd like to have that conversation.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 5:38 AM on January 30 [11 favorites]


So hang on, then. As a newer user here--I've been on MeFi just two years, and the I/P ban was well established in mod policy when I joined--I feel I've been missing some crucial context about the reasoning for this ban, the parties at fault, and who the site as a whole intends to stand with for all this time. Forgive me, jessamyn, but I actually had been assuming all this time that Joe was the main user that had motivated the moderation ban, because he is the person I most frequently see being asked to step out as a result of it. Are these other users you allude to still active members? Assume I'm a complete neophyte here.

I get the impulse not to name names, but from every link I've seen these discussions are years old now, and the site community has changed dramatically since then. There's lot of context here that is missing for many of us as we try to work out how to best support Metafilter's Jewish community. And as I said on the Blue the other day, I am troubled that we have several users who are not often confrontational or visible in heated discussions who are nevertheless coming out of the woodwork to say that they have been afraid to speak up, or that Joe usually speaks for them.

Bearwife, for example, is a name I associate with mostly compassionate advice on the green; I remember her primarily for being my quonsee once and for that time she reached out to give me helpful advice about playing with a cat. Mchelly is someone I associate with being a quiet moderating voice. They're both women here I think of as disliking confrontation, and my experience is that when people with that history speak up about something upsetting them it is serious enough that I need to listen.

Of course, my perceptions and opinions are fallible. I, like all of us, am fallible--I certainly remember the last time I lost my temper and got publicly cranky with someone I had confused with another user. But that's why I think it's really important right now to make the context for our automatic assumptions and policy clear so we can re evaluate them and have a community discussion on making our space inclusive for our long term members.
posted by sciatrix at 6:37 AM on January 30 [10 favorites]


And hell, even maxsparber himself is a person I associate with the ability and willingness to catch himself and find points of agreement with me when we disagree, even when we disagree strongly and emotionally--which has certainly happened several times in the past! The fact that he buttoned, the fact that those points of agreement are not as far as I can tell showing up here, the fact that I keep seeing people who can and do look for points of unity saying they feel they are not being listened to here at a time when we are all afraid...

Guys, that is worrying and upsetting me, and I'm not even directly affected here.
posted by sciatrix at 6:49 AM on January 30 [4 favorites]


To be clear: we don't have a ban on I/P discussion, we just have a high-ass bar for posts about it and discourage people from t-boning a thread-in-progress on another subject with it. I appreciate that ends up feeling like the same thing for folks who would like it to be a matter of frequent and regular discussion on the front page, but the difference is there. It hasn't been none, it's just not something to casually kick a thread open about just to see what happens or have a little chat about news event x.

We have similar "let's be really sure this is worth it" expectations for a number of other difficult, never-not-a-heated-discussion topics and to the extent that the bar is not always as high for all these difficult topics we tend to get a lot of heat and tense community interactions and people bummed out at each other and the site when those discussions happen as well. We've had to adjust the bar on them a few times as well.

Group discussion of complex, hot-button topics is hard as hell. It takes a tremendous amount of work to keep it from going up in flames and that work is not always successful. Ironically this thread has had one of the better chunks of tense-but-not-dumpster-fire conversations we've had lately of some the intra-Jewish tensions that come out of discussions of antisemitism on the site, and that I think mostly because the discussion started in an obviously meta context of talking about how the site/community handles this stuff and stayed more abstract rather than being a "here's some bit of news including something specifically bad that happened, everybody get angry at each other aaaaaand GO" setup. And even for that it's been hard.

I am continuing to try to get better at hearing folks concerns on this stuff; I've appreciated us getting feedback in discussion and via the contact form where folks have had specific things on the site that they've been bothered by and explanations of why, and as a team we're trying to keep an eye out even as some of those concerns as with all things end up coming from conflicting directions (see again some of the discussion in this thread).

I get the impulse not to name names, but

I appreciate you're coming from a place of wanting to better understand the specifics of where moderation has intersected with this topic, but I can see literally zero upside to us listing off names in this kind of context. I want neither to paint a target on anyone nor to kick off a set of running personal arguments turning this thread into any more of a hashing out of warring perceptions of individual users. How jessamyn characterized some of the general patterns/issues that come up covers the territory well, and how this stuff plays out when any given user manages to really push the envelope behaviorally on the site tends to be pretty idiosyncratic in any case, in a hard-cases-make-bad-laws way that I don't think there's any good generalizable Here's The Rules resolution to.
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:44 AM on January 30 [7 favorites]


I actually had been assuming all this time that Joe was the main user that had motivated the moderation ban

Yeah no, that is not the case. My comment wasn't actually referring to JiA at all which I thought was clearer than it was. This is stuff from years and years ago but it's shapes how moderation policy has evolved. Sorry, didn't mean to be vague and hint-y about things.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 8:48 AM on January 30


A very thoughtful essay about his experience here and the larger issue around it, by maxsparber.
posted by ignignokt at 8:12 PM on January 30 [35 favorites]


That essay definitely impacted and expanded my thinking. Thank you maxsparber for writing and sharing it.
posted by latkes at 11:11 AM on January 31 [3 favorites]


Like many Jews, I have cultivated a life-long interest in anti-Semitism. I am a secular Jew, but I reject the claim that this makes me less attuned to anti-Semitism. In fact, in the absence of religious belief and tradition, I have often felt that my Jewish identity is defined by anti-Semitism. My dad always promulgated what I call the "Hitler test" for Jewish identity: to be a Jew is to be someone who would have been exterminated for being a Jew. (For those needing a refresher on the Nuremberg laws you can go check Ann Coulter's Twitter activity.)

All of this is to say that I acknowledge Joe, maxsparber, and Mchelly as my comrades in an unchosen struggle to stay alive, a struggle that I have usually thought of as historically distant but which has resurfaced in my consciousness thanks to recent events. In a way, perhaps an attenuated way, they say what they say in order to protect me. That touches me, and I appreciate it.

But they don't speak for me.

My feelings as a Jew are much better captured by what latkes, zombieflanders and (somewhat less stridently than I would have been putting it) griphus have been saying. In my view, the charge of anti-Semitism is widely used to de-legitimize criticism of the state of Israel, both on this site and in the culture at large. Arguments conflating these things are constantly recited by major mainstream pressure groups here in the US, appear frequently in major newspapers, and are very common in mainstream Jewish magazines and in organized Jewish life e.g. on college campuses. This is not some fringe or occasional occurrence, it is a pervasive and coordinated and largely successful PR strategy.

In my view, accusations of anti-Semitism are directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust. This I cannot stand for. Accordingly, I cannot support the suggestion that accusations of anti-Semitism must be regarded as prima facie justified, or even necessarily good-faith. I can see only too often that they are not. To my eyes, the mainstream purveyors of information about anti-Semitism, like the ADL, have debased it through their unprincipled political actions.

Furthermore, as evidenced by this thread, there is tremendous disagreement among Jews about this issue. For gentiles, it may be tempting to take maxsparber's suggestion and not "insert yourself into in-group discussions," but unfortunately it is not so easy to avoid taking sides. If, trying to be a good ally, you defer to the view that for example Obama has given comfort to anti-Semitism by insufficiently supporting Israel, you are actually taking a side. You are siding with the hard-line right-wing of the Zionist position. Similarly, there is no reason to be delicate about whether leaders who have presided over the murder and displacement of many Arabs are "bloodthirsty." I do not endorse this form of political correctness, which uses the alibi of European anti-Semitism to shield the modern-day destruction of another people from critique, unless the critique is said exactly right.

So, let us have this discussion, certainly. I am not a denier of anti-Semitism. On the contrary, I am a lifelong student of it. The news in America and Europe disturbs me, even if on balance I do not think there will be another extermination of the Jews here. There is a JCC in my neighborhood. It is the only building there that is designed to prevent car-bomb attacks. When I walk by a Jewish day school in my city, there is usually a very large white man with a radio earpiece and a sidearm outside.

At the same time, I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem." And I do not agree that folks here have to check themselves next time they find themselves disagreeing with a Jewish poster about Israel or anti-Semitism. I do not feel that this would respect me as a Jew. Rather, I feel that it would be capitulating to a particular right-wing Jewish agenda. It would not be making Metafilter more respectful of Jews -- it would be allowing a particular subset of Jews to use the rest of us as a cudgel to control the discourse, against our will.

Mchelly comes the closest to calling for this explicitly:
People who identify as Jewish here overwhelmingly consider themselves "cultural Jews" - as in, they don't celebrate Christmas, they enjoy some aspects of Jewish non-religious culture, and Hitler would have put them in an oven. That is a perfectly accurate definition as far as Judaism is concerned, when you think of Judaism as a tribe. But it's about as accurate a way of judging Jewish opinions about Israel as asking Clarence Thomas his opinion about affirmative action and treating it as the African American viewpoint.

My opinion about Israel can only fail to be a "Jewish opinion" if I am not Jewish. Mchelly, then, is asking you -- the gentiles of Metafilter -- to endorse a particular, narrow, anti-solidaristic conception of who counts as a Jew, and to defer to the opinions of the Jews she thinks are the real ones.

I can only ask you not to go down this path. But I command you not to do it in my name.
posted by grobstein at 4:09 PM on January 31 [27 favorites]


I do so hope that one day we can have a conversation about antisemitism without having to explicitly state our position on Israel. I would love to be able to call out antisemitism simply and plainly without ever needing to say anything about Israel. I would be over the moon if we could have a discussion, as some of us have tried, that has absolutely nothing to do with Israel. Maybe someday.
posted by Ruki at 5:30 PM on January 31 [8 favorites]


Wow. It was an enormous relief for me to read grobstein's words here. Thank you. You said this so well.
posted by latkes at 5:46 PM on January 31 [5 favorites]


<3 latkes
posted by grobstein at 5:47 PM on January 31


17 Jewish Community Centers received bomb threats today and were evacuated. For third time this month.
posted by qi at 6:00 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem."

But there are people here who do, which means it does. I mean, a number of longtime users have quit over this. How is this not a problem?

I cannot support the suggestion that accusations of anti-Semitism must be regarded as prima facie justified, or even necessarily good-faith.

Would you say the same thing about any other minority group? For instance, would you say that complaints about LGBT discrimination should not be presumed to be in good faith? I'd say that the vast majority of complaints are made in good faith, because people who complain about oppression are very often belittled or otherwise targeted. The complaint may not be objectively justified, but hardly anyone would go through this if they didn't believe it themselves.

The people here and in earlier posts who are complaining about antisemitism are talking about their own experience and their own feelings. When you say that we don't speak for you, fine. I certainly never meant to. But you're speaking for us! When you say
the charge of anti-Semitism is widely used to de-legitimize criticism of the state of Israel, both on this site and in the culture at large,
you're making an assertion about our beliefs and our motives and our lack of sincerity. You do the same thing when you make the absurd and offensive allegation that
accusations of anti-Semitism are directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust.
Surely you don't believe this is actually true? Do you really think anyone on this site wants to exterminate people? Do you think Jews generally want to exterminate people? That's the sort of evil nonsense I would expect to find on Twitter, not here, and I'm quite shocked to see how many people have favorited your comment and ones expressing similar views.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:10 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


Surely you don't believe this is actually true? Do you really think anyone on this site wants to exterminate people? Do you think Jews generally want to exterminate people? That's the sort of evil nonsense I would expect to find on Twitter, not here, and I'm quite shocked to see how many people have favorited your comment and ones expressing similar views.

They are clearly not talking about Jews generally or they'd be talking about themselves. Which seems improbable.

Would you say the same thing about any other minority group? For instance, would you say that complaints about LGBT discrimination should not be presumed to be in good faith?

They made it very clear why they are making that statement and their reasoning was specific to "accusations of anti-semitism." I don't think it's fair or on-topic at all to bring in other forms of discrimination for which their reasoning would not apply. Just like terms like, eg, bloodthirsty must be looked at in context (of blood libel and other historic wrongs), grobstein is referencing a very specific context.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 7:20 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


In my view, accusations of anti-Semitism are directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust.

This is a blatantly unfair reading of what many of us have said in this thread. Two Jews, three opinions and all, but many people in this thread, Mchelly included, have SPECIFICALLY divorced their (our, because me, too) conversation about anti-Semitism from anything to do with Israel.

Anti-Semitism exists. Full stop. It's in the swastikas spray painted on our shuls, it's in the bomb threats to our community centers, it's in the casual way some lefties say Jews when they mean Likud. It's in this very thread. And you know, sometimes, a lot of times, it's got fuck all to do with Israel.

How, then, are we to call out anti-Semitism without being dismissed as genocidal? Because we've tried, the whole point of this MeTa is about us trying, and comments like that just stomp us down and put us in our place. It is ridiculous to have to preface any call out of anti-Semitism with a careful disengagement of anything regarding the actions of the Israeli government in order to be taken seriously. Look, the US is governed by a racist sociopath right now, but no one is defining, I don't know, expat US citizens by that. It is not always about Israel. And it's unfair that this conversation has become, yet again, all about Israel.
posted by Ruki at 7:32 PM on January 31 [14 favorites]


Would you say the same thing about any other minority group? For instance, would you say that complaints about LGBT discrimination should not be presumed to be in good faith?

They made it very clear why they are making that statement and their reasoning was specific to "accusations of anti-semitism." I don't think it's fair or on-topic at all to bring in other forms of discrimination for which their reasoning would not apply.


How can it possible be "unfair" to ask that antisemitism be treated the same as other forms of discrimination? That's ... that's just surreal. I would think you meant it as satire, but apparently not.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:33 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]



Would you say the same thing about any other minority group?


Please stop dragging in "other groups" that we're supposedly better to. It's pretty offensive. I don't think we're "better" about other minority groups either, but that's a derail to the topic.
posted by zutalors! at 7:45 PM on January 31 [7 favorites]


Jews being held to an unfair standard is not a derail. It is the point.
posted by qi at 7:56 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


no, my point is that it's a derail to talk about how we're not "better" to any other minority group. The whole "you'd never say that about X" thing that we used to discourage here.
posted by zutalors! at 7:58 PM on January 31 [3 favorites]


This metatalk post is about jews getting treated differently then other groups. It is not a derail to talk about it.
posted by qi at 8:08 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


..ok then. I don't think that's true.
posted by zutalors! at 8:09 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


[Hey, zutalors!, I think you're taking this already-tense meta into derail territory, and people are having a hard time understanding your objection. I'd rather not have a bunch of one-line back-and-forth with you over it; if you want to talk to us via the contact form we can try to hash out the disconnect with you, but please drop it in-thread right now -- and everyone else, let it drop too, thanks. If we can clarify the problem by speaking with zutalors! privately first, we can always circle back later.]
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 8:14 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


How can it possible be "unfair" to ask that antisemitism be treated the same as other forms of discrimination? That's ... that's just surreal. I would think you meant it as satire, but apparently not.

It's unfair to grobstein (a fellow Jew who deserves to be listened to respectfully and treated fairly on this topic just as much as you do) to read one sentence of grobstein's comment as though it were completely divorced from its context.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:15 PM on January 31 [2 favorites]


Wow, grobstein, that was a tour de force. You certainly covered all the bases.

1) the charge of anti-Semitism is widely used to de-legitimize criticism of the state of Israel, both on this site and in the culture at large.
Check. Anyone claiming anti-semitism in any topic related to Israel / Palestine should be discounted, because it's purely a cynical power play.

2) Arguments conflating these things are constantly recited by major mainstream pressure groups here in the US, appear frequently in major newspapers, and are very common in mainstream Jewish magazines and in organized Jewish life e.g. on college campuses. This is not some fringe or occasional occurrence, it is a pervasive and coordinated and largely successful PR strategy.
Check. There's a global media conspiracy.

3) In my view, accusations of anti-Semitism are directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust... I cannot support the suggestion that accusations of anti-Semitism must be regarded as prima facie justified, or even necessarily good-faith.
Check. In your view, Israel is committing genocide. Therefore no matter how many Jewish opinions there are saying that there may be anti-semitism, they're all bad actors and must prove their bona fides before they should be listened to.

4) Furthermore, as evidenced by this thread, there is tremendous disagreement among Jews about this issue.
Got it. Because there is disagreement, any agreement about anti-semitism can and should be dismissed as outliers.

5a) Similarly, there is no reason to be delicate about whether leaders who have presided over the murder and displacement of many Arabs are "bloodthirsty." I do not endorse this form of political correctness...unless the critique is said exactly right.
You reject the call to speak carefully or look out for nuances that may be perceived as anti-semitic - that's just "political correctness" run amok.

5b) "...which uses the alibi of European anti-Semitism to shield the modern-day destruction of another people from critique..."
Historical violent anti-semitism and genocide against the Jewish people is an alibi. It has no bearing on the world other than as a cynical tactic some Jews use to score points. Israel is the one who is actually committing genocide!

6) I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem."
Okay then. Case closed.

7) The news in America and Europe disturbs me, even if on balance I do not think there will be another extermination of the Jews here. There is a JCC in my neighborhood. It is the only building there that is designed to prevent car-bomb attacks. When I walk by a Jewish day school in my city, there is usually a very large white man with a radio earpiece and a sidearm outside.
What are all of you Jews so worried about? There's no reason to worry about extermination (on balance). Plus I walk past a JCC regularly! So what if maxsparber or some of your kids might be inside? It has a guard and a bomb-proof building!

and finally
8) My dad always promulgated what I call the "Hitler test" for Jewish identity: to be a Jew is to be someone who would have been exterminated for being a Jew.
Why should rabbis of any denomination, or Jewish law, or Jewish tradition count when it comes to who is or isn't a Jew, when Hitler did it so much more inclusively? It's offensive to think otherwise!

As for your direct attack on me - if you read the sentence you cut out right after your pull quote, you might see that I not only said I counted your opinion as Jewish, but that I was fine with the notion that because of that, your opinion carried more weight. I did say that if someone had no religious ties to Judaism at all, their opinions "may be missing nuances."

So thanks for proving my point, I guess?

I have no problem with your difference of opinion, or not wanting me to speak for you in any way. You may even speak for the majority here - that's the whole reason this MeTa was started. But I respectfully suggest you read maxsparber's opinion piece, the link jeather posted, and/or motty's piece on anti-Zionism.
posted by Mchelly at 8:37 PM on January 31 [12 favorites]


grobstein: I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem."

Joe in Australia: But there are people here who do, which means it does.

This is one of the key problems I have with these arguments. Because this isn't actually true. Just because someone thinks there's a problem doesn't automatically mean there is one, even if they honestly believe it.
You say later in the same comment, I'd say that the vast majority of complaints are made in good faith in regards to LGBT complaints, meaning that there's room to acknowledge that some aren't. But not only do you dismiss that room when it comes to anti-Semitism, you're adding that all allegedly good-faith claims of discrimination are valid simply by the claim being made, as if perception cannot diverge from reality at all, ever, on this topic. Or even aside from that, the simple fact of the conversation being between numerous people with numerous universes of personal experience guiding their judgement and world-view might involve different understandings of a thread.

Much of maxsparber's post was him at his most thoughtful, but I had a number of problems with details that I thought didn't help. And there's something uncomfortable and rules-breaking to me about his reply being posted off-site but in-thread. But I would definitely agree that, as this thread has shown (though mostly in deleted comments), there's an issue with other users, especially minority users, not regarding Jewishness as 'minority enough', a group whose oppression is worth talking about as much as their own. I wouldn't ascribe that to anti-Semitism, though he apparently does.

But you can't say 'only the negative criticisms are automatically valid'. Especially when you're trying to make sure that all positive statements will receive pushback for not agreeing.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:55 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


7) The news in America and Europe disturbs me, even if on balance I do not think there will be another extermination of the Jews here. There is a JCC in my neighborhood. It is the only building there that is designed to prevent car-bomb attacks. When I walk by a Jewish day school in my city, there is usually a very large white man with a radio earpiece and a sidearm outside.

What are all of you Jews so worried about? There's no reason to worry about extermination (on balance). Plus I walk past a JCC regularly! So what if maxsparber or some of your kids might be inside? It has a guard and a bomb-proof building!



Why would maxsparber's kids be more likely to be in that JCC than grobstein's kids?
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:10 PM on January 31 [1 favorite]


This isn't a conversation about Israel, and what's frustrating is that it is anyway. Like, show me a conversation where someone brings up antisemitism, and someone else doesn't bring up the idea of weaponizing claims of antisemitism in support of Israel. "Yeah, I hear you, antisemitism is real, but also a lot of people use antisemitism as a screen for bad things." So? Either antisemitism is real, or it isn't. This is a Jewish problem as much as it is a problem with anyone else, and so I'm not saying it's coming from a place of bad intentions, but if anything is going to convince me that there's a problem with antisemitism here or anywhere, it's having to hear for like the millionth time that sometimes Jews bring up antisemitism to deflect from criticism of Israel. No, really? I wasn't aware.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 9:44 PM on January 31 [9 favorites]


I'll just add this, without snark: to say, categorically, that this site has no problem with antisemitism, and that we should all feel free to criticize Israel to our heart's content -- it makes me a little uneasy. Is that all there is here, that when Jews say "I feel uncomfortable here as a Jew," that what they're really uncomfortable with is free and open discussion of near east politics? That it's just a political question? I mean, are the feelings and opinions of Jews forever measured against the Israeli right wing? What if people are just tired of being told that their sense of alienation is their fault, that there's really no problem to speak of? Is that, if not antisemitism itself, at least a kissing cousin?

What if some Jews are more sensitive to this than others, not because they're better Jews, but because they're drawing on experiences not everyone has had? It's almost hilarious to me that I would be defending the claim that there's a problem with antisemitism, because I've always been about as far left as you can be on Israel. But maybe I've changed my tune because I recently sat in a room with a bunch of people shrugging off the idea that antisemitism is a real problem (see story upthread). Gee, I thought, I never realized we'd come so far as a people. I didn't grow up religious, but I can imagine that if I had, I might have been more acutely aware of the ways that my lifeways differed from the mainstream. That doesn't make the observant Jew more of a Jew, but maybe there's more points of alienation? I've already said that I didn't even take this sort of thing seriously until maybe four months ago, and it's not because I suddenly started reading The Sabbath out of the blue, so there's probably more to it than faith.

I feel like whenever some kind of prejudice, there's always that person who can say "shit no, I'm not bothered at all!" But why is that some grand truth? I didn't take antisemitism seriously and then I did. It bothers me on a personal level for personal reasons, not because I'm a better person. I haven't changed my mind on Israel, I haven't changed my mind on Albert Brooks movies, I just think that sometimes I feel alienated as a Jew, and I've not even 100% Jewish. So when other Jews --- maybe ethnically more full Jews than me, but that's neither here nor there -- when they say "I feel like there's a problem with antisemitism," I don't want my response to be "no there isn't," because I think maybe that kind of reaction is why they're saying it in the first place. Really: I didn't take antisemitism seriously, even though it affects me personally, until I realized how people would react if I said I did.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:18 PM on January 31 [12 favorites]


Would you say the same thing about any other minority group? For instance, would you say that complaints about LGBT discrimination should not be presumed to be in good faith?

I am an "LGBT" person. There is no Gay Nation. There is no Gay National foreign or domestic policy to be subject to international scrutiny and criticism, nor for any LGBT people to want to justify by making bad faith accusations of homophobia about. Also, there are no parallel issues in the LGBT community at the moment, where there is wide-disagreement such as this. Let's say 1/2 of lesbians thought something was homophobic, and the other half didn't - what should outsiders conclude? I, a Jewish person, am personally exhausted and pained by having the things I personally participate in, for example, Jewish-let protests against the state policies of Israel, be labeled as antisemitic. It impacts me, a Jewish person, to call things I do antisemtic. I understand that we disagree about this, which is fine, but pretending that you don't recognize that this is an issue of controversy among Jews just sucks. And please refrain from also bringing queerness into this as a convenient, if inaccurate analogy. My experience of homophobia is not here for others to use to bolster their arguments.
posted by latkes at 7:47 AM on February 1 [14 favorites]


My dad always promulgated what I call the "Hitler test" for Jewish identity: to be a Jew is to be someone who would have been exterminated for being a Jew.

By the Hitler Test, I'm a Jew. My stepmother was a Jew. I've done Jewish things. I sent my daughter to Jewish after school. I once thought of converting. My 23andme says there's some markers there, and our last name in Nicaragua is one that the Spanish government has said is a marker of hidden Jews. But I'm not Jewish. I'm Catholic.

The Hitler test has been explained to me in the concept of solidarity, in rescue: an indicator that in time of trouble, the Jewish community will reach out to include every vulnerable person, even if they've never been inside a synagogue in their life. It is strange to see it, here, used not for solidarity but to divide, to say "I should count as a Jew, and that's why those other Jews are bad." To use Hitler's Test as a weapon just seems wrong on a fundamental level.

Normally, in these cases, I would ask my stepmother for the answer. But I can't, because she killed herself this summer. She didn't leave a note for me. I don't know why. But she lived in rural PA, where the Trump signs were three feet high, and I can't help but wonder if she saw this coming. I can't help but wonder if she saw the anti-semitism rising and it took her very last spoon. I can't help but wonder if she would be alive right now if we had stopped this hate sooner.

Anti-semitism is rising. It's beyond comprehension that anyone can think Metafilter, alone, is immune. So thus, we need to talk about it. We need to figure out how to handle it, and we need to keep people safe. We need to, because this is a community, and in these times, we need to value the people who are feeling alone, and catch them between our fingers before they slip.
posted by corb at 8:28 AM on February 1 [15 favorites]


The last batch of comments here lays bare why, to my viewing at least, discussion of anti-Semitism on Metafilter has not noticeably improved despite a couple of lengthy threads specifically on the topic. To me it looks something like this:

Some Jewish Members: I wish our concerns about anti-Semitism were taken seriously and not constantly tied into Israeli governmental policy, particularly when our concerns about anti-Semitism don't necessarily have anything to do with Israel.

Other members (some also Jewish): So, anyway, isn't it so annoying when people constantly conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, AMIRITE?
posted by The Gooch at 8:47 AM on February 1 [7 favorites]


In maxsparber's essay he says he believes that adequately dealing with the problem of anti-Semitism on MeFi would require publicly-articulated moderation policy in that regard, though he says he's not sure what form it would take.

So in the interest of trying to formulate examples of that sort of policy: I would think that everybody can agree that anti-Semitic jokes are out of bounds. Is there any common form of humor that makes people uncomfortable which we need to proscribe, sort of how "I'd hit that" comments by guys all the time can make for an uncomfortable environment for women?

(I realize that anti-Semitic jokes are probably not a major part of the problem under discussion, since I don't think they've been mentioned much so far, but it seems like a place to start where hopefully there would be more consensus than on broader topics.)
posted by XMLicious at 10:29 AM on February 1


To me it looks something like this

I can't imagine how you thought that simplifying the conversation so much as to be meaningless, complete with an implication that other members (including other Jews that have shared their concerns here) are basically trolls, will do anything to improve the discussion of anti-Semitism on this site.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:31 AM on February 1 [11 favorites]


Several people (including Mchelly, JinA, and maxsparber in his offsite post) have made contentious claims about Israel as it relates to antisemitism, and whether out-group members (expressed as Jews and/or gentiles variously) have the right to express an opinion on same. Yet any pushback on those points is met by others with "you keep bringing up Israel, when we only want to talk about antisemitism." Consciously or unconsciously, this is an attempt at moving goalposts when convenient to silence people like grobstein, latkes, and zombieflanders, all of whom have expressed valid, intelligent comments pushing back on the contentious statements, whether you disagree with them or not. I'm against any and all attempts at silencing voices that are participating in good faith on subjects that they have the right (and, as Jews, credibility and life experience) to weigh in on.
posted by naju at 10:54 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]


The problem is not just that Israel keeps coming up, it's that it keeps coming up as a direct response to any claim that there could possibly be any problem with antisemitism at all. I will not deny for a second that people have made contentious claims about Israel as it relates to antisemitism, but it seems like whenever someone says "I think there can be an element of antisemitism here," the conversation immediately goes back to those contentious claims and whether or not they're valid. Any sense of alienation on the part of a Jew is a question of politics, and not the product of, you know, anything even mildly alienating. It's like there can be no antisemitism here, because we know there isn't anybody here who actually thinks bad things about Jews, and the people who do see it are a little to the right of Likud anyway. We're left with no room for anyone to ever say "yeah, sometimes I feel a little uneasy with the way conversations about Judaism can go" without pushback that seems to imply it's really just my problem.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:18 AM on February 1 [4 favorites]


Ugh, I'm feeling more and more alienated as a Jew just because I'm getting more and more of a sense that my perception of antisemitism here (or even just how weirdly conversations about my ethnic group tend to go) is just being read as a roundabout argument against Calm, Rational Discourse. But right, that's my problem, huh?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:29 AM on February 1 [9 favorites]


So in the interest of trying to formulate examples of that sort of policy: I would think that everybody can agree that anti-Semitic jokes are out of bounds. Is there any common form of humor that makes people uncomfortable which we need to proscribe, sort of how "I'd hit that" comments by guys all the time can make for an uncomfortable environment for women?

Not that I'm aware of. Maxsparber mentioned the JAP thing, but that's been over for a while.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:10 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Some Jewish Members: I wish our concerns about anti-Semitism were taken seriously and not constantly tied into Israeli governmental policy, particularly when our concerns about anti-Semitism don't necessarily have anything to do with Israel.

Other members (some also Jewish): So, anyway, isn't it so annoying when people constantly conflate anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism, AMIRITE?


Don't forget the part where non-Jewish people get real snarky, mischaracterize comments, and talk a lot of shit about (and to) the Jewish people in the thread who happen to disagree with them about anti-Semitism.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:28 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


Seriously, this discussion would be much better if people rushing to be the Best Ally didn't jump in, take sides on an issue they don't really understand, and act like condescending assholes towards the people they're allegedly urging us to respect. And yet!
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:30 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


To use Hitler's Test as a weapon just seems wrong on a fundamental level.

This is both very funny out of context and a really shitty mischaracterization of grobstein's discussion of their own personal (and completely valid) view of their Judaism.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 3:31 PM on February 1


Rock 'em Sock 'em, if that was directed at me, not that I should have to do this, but, I'm Jewish.
posted by The Gooch at 4:02 PM on February 1


Here's the thing.

Antisemitism is racism and no-one here should have any truck with it.

Some anti-Zionism is expressed through the form of antisemitism. That too is racism, and no-one here should have any truck with it.

Many Jews, including myself, are not Zionists. This does not make us antisemitic. We simply agree with Martin Buber and Judah Magnes, pre-1948 Zionists, that the best political expression of the 20th century resettlement of Jews in our historic homeland Israel, given that it was not empty, was - and still would be - a bi-national state, which would give equal democratic representation to those non-Jewish residents of our homeland, the Palestinians, who also, quite correctly, consider it their homeland, which it is also.

That didn't happen.

For several decades now, the Jewish Agency, an unusually successful non-profit organisation with a particular view on political Zionism, which runs programmes teaching Jewish students who travel to Israel via various schemes, has been including an 'argue that all anti-Zionism is antisemitism' class in those programs. Perhaps you were also in one of those classes. I was. I no longer feel like I once did. Huh.

So that's why the following three things are not the same:

When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.

The first two are true. The third is not. Because generations of Jews have been taught to falsely describe non-antisemitic anti-Zionism as antisemitism.

That's horrible.

That also doesn't mean that some - a great deal even - of the anti-Zionism floating around isn't straight up antisemitism. Much of it is. Fuck that noise. See Steve Cohen etc (link above somewhere) etc for more detail on genuine antisemitism from the left than you could possibly wish for. Yeah, it's real. Yeah it's out there. Yeah, fuck that.

But.

But the Sochnut has fucked us over. It has caused many of us to falsely argue that all anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Actually, only some of it is. We need to cut that shit out, regardless of our views. And that's where the confusion originates. Yeah - it's complicated. But, no, it's not that complicated. It's ok to oppose the idea of a Jewish state. It's not ok to accuse Jews of blood libel. It's ok to suggest a one-state binational solution for I/P. It's not ok to say that Jews are controlling the world's banks and media.

It's ok to throw your hands up at all of this and say 'what a fucking mess'. It is. And the actions of the State of Israel since 1948 and the Jewish Agency since 1908 have... not helped.

None of which in any way justifies *actual* antisemitism from anyone.

Which is the bottom line.
posted by motty at 8:46 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]


Rock 'em Sock 'em, if that was directed at me, not that I should have to do this, but, I'm Jewish.

I wasn't intending to refer to you as not-Jewish, and only meant to refer to the people who have self-identified as such in their comments. However, I can see how your interpretation is a very reasonable way to take my comment. Apologies for the confusion, I should have been more clear.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:00 PM on February 1


Is this a conversation about antisemitism or anti-Zionism? I don't need to be educated about conflating one with the other. Has anyone taken the time to read the Cohen that was posted above? Here's what Cohen writes about leftist antisemitism:
However, socialist Jews who are committed equally to solidarity with the Palestinian liberation struggle and to the fight against anti-semitism, are put in an impossible "catch 22" situation by the Left. Any mention of anti-semitism is seen as a diversion from the struggle against zionism. Moreover, the merest suggestion that the Left can itself be anti-semitic is equated with an attack, both on communism, and on the Palestinian cause. An example, which is almost a caricature, occurred in an editorial in the journal Big Flame which stated that an "obsession" with anti-semitism detracted from the need to "focus" on zionism (October, 1982).
I think this gets at what's so frustrating about this discussion. Yes, there is a real effort to discredit opposition to right-wing Israeli politics by portraying it as antisemitism; I know this very well, because I've had to deal with it my whole life.

At the same time, it becomes very difficult to talk about antisemitism without it becoming a referendum on those kinds of arguments. Everyone can say yes, of course antisemitism is real, but you're not actually seeing it here, because as far as they're concerned it only ever comes up here in a disingenuous way. Real antisemitism is something that happens over there, not here. If someone tries to say that there's more to it, that they're feeling alienated on the basis of their ethnicity, it just comes back to the same point, that we're all so tired of hearing antisemitism used as a screen for odious policies towards Palestinians. So a Jew says there's antisemitism, and we really shouldn't listen the same way we would listen to other groups who claim similar racism, because just look at how we've been trained to see it in anyone who disagrees with us.

We all understand implicitly that antisemitism is real; maybe one of the ways it's real, at least in one sense, is in having to explain one's position on Israel in order to reassure people that we aren't trying to stifle discourse. Why is this an OK way to see Jews? Why is it not worth any real consideration when I want to point this out?
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 10:09 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


So that's why the following three things are not the same:

When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.

The first two are true. The third is not. Because generations of Jews have been taught to falsely describe non-antisemitic anti-Zionism as antisemitism.


You know, if I wasn't sure Metafilter had a serious problem talking about antisemitism before this thread, I sure am now.

That statement doesn't read a little weird to you? Jews have been brainwashed into seeing antisemitism where it doesn't exist, but everyone else's motives are politically pure? Jews have a unique propaganda apparatus directed at positive representation of a nation with a disastrously bad government, but nobody else does?

I wasn't in any of the classes you're talking about. I've never been to Israel, on Birthright or anything else, and I refuse to visit unless the country stops brutalizing Palestinians. But I call bullshit on the idea Jews must be held to a special standard. I am not obligated to prove myself separate from the worst among my people before I talk about "((( )))" and "Zio."
posted by thetortoise at 10:12 PM on February 1 [17 favorites]


So that's why the following three things are not the same:

When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.

The first two are true. The third is not. Because generations of Jews have been taught to falsely describe non-antisemitic anti-Zionism as antisemitism.


I would like to know how the mods feel about this. If this is how antisemitism and its call outs are going to be moderated, then I really need to rethink my place in this community.
posted by Ruki at 5:13 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


So we've gone from maxsparber, in bringing up his concerns in the above the fold portion of this Metatalk, stating: "Jews have not received the same sort of support from the left as other (groups), despite the very visible rise of antisemitism...I feel the same as the link Joe put up, and felt that this was immediately ignored and challenged"

to a week and nearly 300 comments later:

"When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.

The first two are true. The third is not. Because generations of Jews have been taught to falsely describe non-antisemitic anti-Zionism as antisemitism."

But there is no problem with anti-Semitism on Metafilter? Just one problematic guy who cynically conflates legitimate critique of Israeli governmental policy with anti-Semitism? Nothing to see here, folks.
posted by The Gooch at 8:51 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


Personally, I think there's anti-Semitism and one problematic guy who repeatedly conflates legitimate critique of Israeli governmental policy with anti-Semitism.
posted by grouse at 9:07 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


So that's why the following three things are not the same:

When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.


I'm honestly pretty uncomfortable with this framing, yes. It feels like a weirdly pat separation by kind of the complications that come into discourse about oppression and prejudice. I don't think a tack of breaking down the issues with how the MetaFilter community talks about antisemitism vs. other prejudice into two distinct buckets like that is a good way to go. I think it's possible to try and talk about the details gotten at in some other comments in here without making the mistake of reducing it to such a problematic assertion.

Like, I think? that I more or less get what motty was going for with that comment and much of it is consonant with what several other folks have said in here—that there is something more complicated to how people perceive/discuss the idea of conflation of anti-Israeli-government positions with antisemitism, that that's a whole goddam mess of multiple things going on. That by itself hasn't seemed to be up for debate: it's sticky territory and a lot of things intersect here to the point where it's difficult to make any very simple assertion about any of it that isn't also flawed and massively failing to capture nuances.

Which itself seems like it's at the core of why this is such a difficult discussion even when just among Jews who otherwise may broadly agree on a lot of the scope of the conversation. Let alone bringing the conversation to wider groups and wrapping in all kinds of other socio- and geopolitical shit.

And to the extent that part of that complication is caused by the reality of antisemitism—unconscious or otherwise, casual or otherwise—makes this one motherfucker of an ouroboros to try and unloop from.

But I am comfortable flatly saying that phrasing like what's quoted up top is not the way to go. I don't think there's a good road we go down by trying to forward as a guideline for grappling with this stuff the idea that e.g. when a Jew says it's antisemitism, people should doubt it's really antisemitism. While I think freely analogizing between oppressed groups and systems of oppression is pretty fraught, I think it's a good idea to say that at a basic level of treatment we're in bad territory when we don't try to extend the same aspiration toward taking all folks in all groups at face value when talking about their experiences of their identity.

Which, I don't think that's even what motty was aiming for. The overall sentiment there, and in several other comments in here, hasn't been that blunt and has been more about trying to unpack some complicated snarls of ideas. But it's not a good way to express it, pretty much full stop. It reads pretty badly and makes it a lot more difficult to have the complicated bits of the discussion when that's the starting point. It's gonna leave a lot of folks feeling like "antisemitism is made up" is an argument that's even on the table. Even when that's not what the person saying it is trying to convey.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:27 AM on February 2 [9 favorites]


But there is no problem with anti-Semitism on Metafilter? Just one problematic guy who cynically conflates legitimate critique of Israeli governmental policy with anti-Semitism? Nothing to see here, folks.

Please tell me you're not implying either that everybody who has disagreed with you said that, or (for the second time in two days) that people in this thread that actually have said both that there is a problem with anti-Semitism and conflating legitimate critiques are lying and/or trolls.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:57 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


I don't think everybody who has disagreed with me said that. I don't think anybody participating in this thread is willfully trolling. I do find it curious that it is more or less impossible to discuss how this site could do better handling anti-Semitism without it ALWAYS devolving into a multiple comment derail about "Just so you know, sometimes people use anti-Semitism as a shield against legitimate criticism of Israeli politics". But I've lost faith that this will ever change and I've clearly said my piece.
posted by The Gooch at 10:08 AM on February 2 [3 favorites]


And, so, look: antisemitism is a real problem. It's a problem in the world, and MetaFilter is part of the world; it's a problem that exists as an active expression of hatred and oppression and othering but also one that even well-meaning people can perpetuate unconsciously or through casual reiteration of ideas and "common sense" embedded in day-to-day culture. And I think that stuff is indeed really, really worth talking about.

And here's part of the thing for me, as a mod trying to find a path forward on discussion of this stuff on MetaFilter: if we're going to do better about having thoughtful, higher-level discussions about antisemitism and its expression in the world and on the site and how to push back on that, it seems to me that those discussions should not be rooted in arguments about the Israeli government, about Palestine, about Zionism and anti-Zionism. Because, see basically everything above and a bunch of past discussion, that lights a bunch of extra fuses immediately. And I hear clearly folks who have said in here, basically, "that's my point, why is THIS discussion coming back to that?" And I feel like that's complicated by the immediate context the thread came up in and got reiterated in here in a few different ways, but I hear and basically agree with the sentiment itself however bumpy this thread has been on that front.

And that's not to say that (a) people should never discuss I/P or Zionism or etc on the site or that (b) people should not discuss antisemitism in the context of those things. I think that'd be sort of an absurd expectation.

But I think showing some careful judgement about when and how to do either is probably going to be key to not having the kind of worst-case brinksmanship and failure of benefit of the doubt all around that tends to come out on those topics when the conversation suddenly lurches into that territory. Which, honestly, that's probably the most concise summary I can manage for why we have a high bar for posts and side-discussions on I/P topics. Because that stuff in particular is enormously difficult to navigate in a way that doesn't leave all involved feeling dispirited and defensive or worse.

And I think that it's very difficult to get a meta-discussion about antisemitism in general, rather than about how it intersects with I/P and Zionism/anti-Zionism stuff, off to good start when it comes out of that difficult mess of territory. That's not to say people can't do so—obviously we had this MetaTalk anyway—or that they shouldn't bring up discomfort about antisemitism because that specific sub-topic was involved in the thing they were feeling discomfort about. Perfect as enemy of good, you can't just never broach the subject until everything lines up just right. But I can see as a pattern how it tends to take things in a frustrating, muddled direction. And as a matter of patterns of community discussion, I think it's reasonable to say that a little more restraint about swerving hard into the direction of I/P & anti-Zionism = antisemitism would help keep that scenario from repeating itself so much.

I appreciated maxsparber's essay and feel like with a time machine and notwithstanding a temporal paradox we would have, with that as a starting point, ended up having a more focused and less fractious discussion of all this than the one we ended up with the specific site and user context we started with here. I think it's both fair to say that a discussion about antisemitism should not be hung on or judged by one user's history of behavior, and to say that, however frustrating this may be, it's practically speaking very hard for people to separate that history of behavior from their headspace on the subject when it's the specific context the discussion starts from.

For my part I'm making an effort not to dig in on that angle in detail because as much as I have some pretty strong moderation-centric opinions about some of that stuff I don't think getting into it here and now is going to make this thread more of what people are hoping for, and I recognize that that's been a point of frustration in past discussions besides.

So, just in general, this is something I'll keep thinking about and we'll keep discussing as a mod team. We'll continue to try to tweak our approach to dealing with this stuff, early whenever possible, in a way that will help conversations go better on the site and leave fewer people worrying about how the community grapples with and is responsive to antisemitism when it comes up.
posted by cortex (staff) at 10:17 AM on February 2 [5 favorites]


Is there a way, from a moderation perspective, to keep I without the I/P, as it were? One of the things I think that seems to make it hard - that makes a lot of things go into I/P in the first place - is that it seems like any discussion of Israel often hard-sidelines into "Now let's discuss Israel/Palestine: Who Is Right". We see some of that dynamic with Jewish posters here feeling like they're almost required to state their opinion about The Israel/Palestine Question before they're allowed to talk about the topic here. And I think there's going to be more focus on Israel right now, particularly as people are afraid with increasing anti semitism and making Aliyah becomes more attractive. I don't want to dive into the monster election threads for examples, but I seem to remember some people talking about their feelings of Israel as a refuge getting sidelined into I/P stuff.

Essentially, right now it feels like any mention of Israel is taken as free rein to start the I/P debates anew, like you can't even really mention Israel, at all, without that being brought up, and the whole thing being deleted, meaning less mention of Israel overall. That could just be perception- I don't always know what things are getting posted/deleted versus what is posted and stands elsewhere. It could even be that mods would welcome that! But it's hard to tell, because this stuff is so nebulous.
posted by corb at 10:48 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Cortex, something Sciatrix said upthread about the site changing over time made me think about something (after I went for a walk that ended up lasting three days). In an attempt to pick away at at least one little part of everything that's going on here, one of the things is that this whole mess around "can't talk about antisemitism because of potential to devolve into I/P discussion, which Does Not Go Well" feels exacerbated because as far as I know it's one of the only things the site just does not do. Like, there's this and cat declawing.

So even though yes, this is an incredibly complicated topic, there are a lot of those, and it seems that this one gets singled out for this sort of treatment. Which contributes to feeling like this problem gets shoved under the table. That might not be the case, and there are other topics that are currently still no-go areas, for the same reasons? If so, it might help to hear about them for context. And if not, would it be possible to consider that this policy is a holdover from a time when this place was, for better or worse, way more wild wild west, and it's now doing more harm than good?
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 10:50 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think there's anti-Semitism and one problematic guy who repeatedly conflates legitimate critique of Israeli governmental policy with anti-Semitism.

This is how I feel.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:12 AM on February 2


it's one of the only things the site just does not do.

My take on this particular issue is that there's actually a list of maybe a dozen topics along these lines but with most of the others, there's a sort of group agreement "OK MeFi doesn't do that well, let's just talk about it elsewhere." and this is one topic where that doesn't happen. Some political topics can be like this also.
posted by jessamyn (retired) at 11:22 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Is there a way, from a moderation perspective, to keep I without the I/P, as it were?

I think that responding to concerns of both anti-Semitism and it being conflated with legitimate criticism by cutting Palestine out of the equation entirely, no matter how roundabout a way you try and put it, is really messed up.

And I think there's going to be more focus on Israel right now, particularly as people are afraid with increasing anti semitism and making Aliyah becomes more attractive. I don't want to dive into the monster election threads for examples, but I seem to remember some people talking about their feelings of Israel as a refuge getting sidelined into I/P stuff.

Your ask comes off as extremely one-sided and very pointedly ignores a lot of issues Jewish Mefites brought up in this thread. Just off the top of my head, many if not most Mefites, a lot of whom are Jewish, are trying to come to grips with Israel's government making strong indications that they'd rather have a autocracy and/or theocracy than a democracy. And aliyah may sound attractive from certain political (and religious) stances, but what about Jewish Mefites who are concerned that their potential fellow citizens might consider them disloyal or even enemies of the state from other stances?

Essentially, right now it feels like any mention of Israel is taken as free rein to start the I/P debates anew, like you can't even really mention Israel, at all, without that being brought up

Maybe that's because almost every discussion about a political situation involving Israel will revolve around Palestine and Palestinians? In any case, I can't think of any way to make people with legitimate criticisms of Israel's government feel even more like they're being silenced than being told they should basically keep their opinion to themselves upon threat of mod action.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:22 AM on February 2 [7 favorites]


Maybe that's because almost every discussion about a political situation involving Israel will revolve around Palestine and Palestinians?

This is a statement that doesn't really make sense. You're talking about an entire nation. There's no possible way that every single discussion about anything involving it must revolve around Palestine and Palestinians - about one facet in a multitude of facets. I think that's an extremely reductive assertion, and one that it would not be okay to make about any other country.
posted by corb at 11:46 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


There's no possible way that every single discussion about anything involving it must revolve around Palestine and Palestinians

Good thing I didn't say "every single discussion" then, huh?
posted by zombieflanders at 11:54 AM on February 2


I'm sorry, you did say almost every, not every. But I still think that's heavily problematic. When you have effectively shut down discussion of an entire country because people might jump in to say "Ah-ha, let's fight about Palestine", it seems like a huge problem that might be nice to correct.
posted by corb at 11:58 AM on February 2


When you have effectively shut down discussion

I wasn't the one asking the mods to shut down discussion, I was specifically arguing against it.

of an entire country because people might jump in to say "Ah-ha, let's fight about Palestine", it seems like a huge problem that might be nice to correct

Apart from the fact that I didn't say that, at least I wasn't asking that we drop Palestine out of the conversation for what basically amounts to the purpose of convenience. But Israel and Palestine are in a situation that is, if not unique, at least extremely rare. I don't know why this is hard to understand.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:12 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Also, in addition to not saying "every" and not asking for shutting down discussions, I also said "political discussion." I don't even think Israelis--hell, maybe especially Israelis--would say that it's easy to have a political discussion about Israel that doesn't involve Palestine.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:22 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Is there a way, from a moderation perspective, to keep I without the I/P, as it were

Oof I think this is super problematic. Your heart may be in the right place but as phrased you're talking about an awful, racist erasure that sadly echoes what is happening to real life Palestinians all the time.

By all means, let's make sure there are no IP derails, but to be honest, I have not really seen that happening at an endemic level, and when it does the source is often the predictable one.
posted by smoke at 12:28 PM on February 2 [7 favorites]


By all means, let's make sure there are no IP derails, but to be honest, I have not really seen that happening at an endemic level, and when it does the source is often the predictable one.

I haven't seen that many derails either, but people who say that Jews (and Jews alone) have no presumption of good faith are necessarily going to be hyper-critical of anything that challenges their world view. Grobstein, above, has a theory about why Jews bring up antisemitism: it is "directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust". Let's be frank: this is a blood libel. Of course anyone who believes it would protest; I would protest too, if I believed it. So mentioning antisemitism is intrinsically disruptive; it's almost always going to be a derail because it's an implicit attempt to defend an extermination program.

There has been no push-back from the mods about this blood libel, although I am slightly relieved to hear that they don't necessarily agree Jews can always presumed to be lying about antisemitism. But you know, Cortex felt the need to muse about how "there is something more complicated to how people perceive/discuss the idea of conflation of anti-Israeli-government positions with antisemitism". Who here mentioned the Israeli government, or even Israel? It certainly wasn't me.

To the extent that there are derails , the blame needs to be laid at the people responsible. It's the people who believe in Jewish conspiracy theories that presuppose malicious intent. It's the people who draw the dots between a fear for my kids who attend an Australian Jewish center, which is menaced by Hezbollah (among others), which is at war with Israel, and portray it as my desire to something something something Israel's government. Because I can have no good faith, even when pretending to show concern for my own children. Maxsparber was amazingly prescient when naming this thread, but he should have just come out with it: the real title should have been the original one, On the Jews and Their Lies.

Sorry for the rant, but I'm kinda tired of being all nicey-nicey when I've just been accused of being a lying liar who promotes genocide, and my only allies are apparently other people who are accused of being liars. Maybe the problem was that I implicitly lied by pretending to be thick-skinned; it certainly hasn't discouraged the normalisation of antisemitism here. Perhaps Maxsparber was right, and leaving is the only honorable reaction to this. I'll have to think about it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:33 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


Grobstein, above, has a theory about why Jews bring up antisemitism: it is "directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust". Let's be frank: this is a blood libel.

In no way is this a blood libel.
posted by grouse at 3:56 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Now that it's been made clear that we really are held to a different standard because we are inherently untrustworthy despite our lived experiences, and maybe even because of them, I know to stay out of any thread remotely connected to Judaism and to never ever call out antisemitism if I see it anywhere else. This has been an illuminating and disappointing discussion. I'll know not to get involved in the inevitable next one.
posted by Ruki at 4:04 PM on February 2 [12 favorites]


One thing that would help? Pay attention to qualifiers and/or use them more often. Time and time and time again in this thread someone has said 'this thing happens' and they've been responded to as if it was 'only this thing happens'. It's the whole 'you either agree 100% or you're against us' mindset that destroys nuance, and by extension, any chance for an actual conversation.
posted by gadge emeritus at 4:34 PM on February 2 [4 favorites]


What upset me -- deeply -- about the suggestion that we not take Jewish claims of antisemitism so seriously wasn't just that the comment was made, but that so many people favorited it.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:13 PM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Given the disappointing and, frankly, hair raising direction this discussion has taken, I'll be stepping away from here for a good, long while.
posted by prettypretty at 6:44 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]



"When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism.

When a woman says it's sexism, it's sexism.

When a Jew says it's antisemitism, it's antisemitism.

The first two are true. The third is not. Because generations of Jews have been taught to falsely describe non-antisemitic anti-Zionism as antisemitism."

I would like to know how the mods feel about this. If this is how antisemitism and its call outs are going to be moderated, then I really need to rethink my place in this community.


This is despicable in more ways than one. I make a lot of thoughtful reasoned arguments about and against sexism and I put a fair amount of mental effort and a huge amount of willpower into doing more than saying "fuck you" to every dude who offends me, because I am a thinking adult who is capable of a great deal more than pointing and saying "that's sexist." I don't argue from gender authority except in moments of extreme weakness and to agree with me from deference to authority is an insult. don't tell me it's been a massive fucking waste of my time using my brain and my words all these decades when all I had to do was wave my woman card and every nice non-bigot would have just fallen in line.

don't pretend right-wing women don't call feminists sexist all the time. or that feminist women don't have arguments with each other about sexism, where some of us are right and some of us are wrong.

you judge women and minorities, including Jews and those of us who are not Jews even though Hitler absolutely would have thought so, on the quality and accuracy of our opinions and arguments and presume good faith unless there's a specific compelling reason not to. If this looks like "believe whatever a woman says about sexism" it's because of the glaring contrast between automatically discounting everything a woman says and taking her as seriously as you do a man, not because every woman is right about Woman Issues and we all say the same thing.

You don't get a shortcut out of thinking about bigotry by treating those three lines above as holy scriptures. You can't nod along with someone who's more oppressed than you and feel satisfied that you've identified the correct opinion to hold. You still have to listen to what we say and think about whether it's true and why, because we are individuals who deserve that bare level of respect.

And yes, the third of those three bullshit statements is exactly as true as the other two.
posted by queenofbithynia at 7:26 PM on February 2 [16 favorites]


Presume good faith. That needs to be repeated. Because what I'm getting from this is that good faith cannot be presumed because, yes, sometimes anti-Zionism is incorrectly called out as antisemitism. I get it, I do. It happens. And sometimes anti-Zionism IS antisemetic. That happens, too, in overt and subtle ways. Acknowledging that both things are true doesn't make me brainwashed. It's not just blood libel, it's all those little insidious things (that often have nothing to do with Israel, in fact they rarely do) that might not read as antisemitism to people who haven't experienced it. And I feel like calling that shit out is no longer an option, because fucking Israel. Ok, now I'm done with this thread for real.
posted by Ruki at 7:55 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


In my experience, when Netanyahu says to Jews that "Israel is your home," as he did after the attacks in Paris, religious Jews hear that differently than secular Jews do. Secular Jews are often actively angry at such a statement - how dare he say I belong in Israel or must care about it? What a cynical way to promote your country in a time of sorrow. For religious Jews it means, we're still here, if you ever need us you have a home waiting. For religious Jews, "next year in Jerusalem" which we say at the end of every Passover seder

Excuse me, but this religious Jew holds by the 1885 Reform stance on Israel - and it's not my home. Religious Jews come in all stripes, including non-Zionist.

My total feeling about Israel and Aliyah and the concept of "homeland" are complex and personal - I abhor nationalism of any kind, including Zionism, but also recognise the historic realities behind the creation of Israel -

and all that isn't important except that I'm tired of people equating religious Jew with Orthodox.

Also, lots of religious Jews have no desire for the rebuilding of the Temple and have no truck with the whole priest caste thing.
posted by jb at 9:13 PM on February 2


and now I'm sorry that I didn't read to the end of your comment Mchelly -

yes, two Jews, three opinions, even in the same synagogue.
posted by jb at 9:17 PM on February 2


I'm pretty sure it was an inadvertent blood libel. Grinding up the bodies of non-Jews to bake into matzah is pretty much the origin of the trope. But I don't think grobstein thought of that at the time, or meant it that way. It's still accusing Israel of genocide, which used to be against the rules here, or at least that was my understanding. And is absolutely 100% offensive.

Following it up with the statement that the Holocaust - actual genocide, against the Jewish people, which reduced the entirety of the world's Jews in half - was "just an alibi."

You know who says that? Nazis. The alt-right. People who want the Jews to shut up already about the Holocaust, stop using it to score points, what do you want, a suffering medal? Look how good you have it compared to the real vulnerable people.

Like Joe, and max, and Ruki, and others in this thread, my family are on the actual front lines here. We're in the synagogue every week (every day in my husband's case), we're in the Jewish day school and the JCC. We wear clothing that identifies us as Jewish from a distance. Jim "I don't go to synagogue but Hitler would have put me in an oven, here's my opinion on why Zionism is evil" Smith is in literally no danger from anti-semitism currently. Whether it's coming from a neo-Nazi or a pro-Palestinian bomb-maker. My kids are. This isn't a game to me, or a clever way to twist words. When Jews are killed in terror attacks, the first thing people ask is whether it was a Muslim attacker - generally "Oh G-d I hope it wasn't a Muslim" - because if it is there might be more Islamophobia. And I agree with that -- but it's also sick. Attacking Charlie Hebdo was a horrific crime and we all stood with them. Attacking Jewish families buying groceries at a kosher market? Well, they probably supported Israel, or the attacker thought they did, and it's honestly sort of understandable. What did they expect? I hope no one retaliates against the poor Muslims! That would be an actual tragedy!

I have had my words here twisted repeatedly. All I have asked for, in post after post, were two things: 1) Acknowledge that there is also anti-semitism on the left and be an ally, even when Israel is the subject. And 2) Understand that there are a lot of anti-semitic tropes prevalent in the Palestinian Rights movement, and please be careful when you give your opinion not to use them. I suggested people use jeather's excellent link (even though it is unapologetically anti-Israel and I don't agree with a lot of it). I suggested to at least one person to look at Motty's anti-Zionist link, which I also can't endorse as a political opinion in any way (which I'd love to discuss, but this isn't the place), but at least it can't be said to be anti-semitic. And I'm still being treated as an enemy of the site here, because I dared to suggest those things. And because I acknowledged something that even the most liberal inclusive rabbi in the US would agree with - that Judaism isn't a race. It's not something you have in your blood. You can convert in. You can convert out. Technically it's a tribe, which means that there's a hereditary automatic-entry (matrilineal descent for most branches, one Jewish parent for Reform / Liberal). But there's still a component of affiliation. If you go to church, if you believe in Jesus, if the only time you consider yourself a Jew is when Israel is discussed, you don't get to simultaneously say "I'm Jewish" and speak for the Jews. You just don't have to convert to come back in if you change your mind. It's subtle, but so is a lot of Judaism. The Talmud is thousands upon thousands of pages of arguments over minutiae because the layers are all so complex. And I am NOT saying that that applies to anyone in this thread - I am taking people at face value here and assuming that if you say you're Jewish, you are. But I promise you that there is total agreement among all branches of Judaism, "Hitler would have put me in an oven" on its own does not comprise a working definition of Judaism. The non-Jews with one Jewish grandparent or a Jewish last name who were fed into the Nazi death machine didn't throw their hands up and sing Shema with the other Jews - they screamed to the last that they didn't belong there (not that the Jews did). Like Sikhs caught up in Islamophobic violence, they were killed for anti-semitism, but that didn't make them Jewish. It's racist to assume otherwise. It's insulting to their memory. Hitler doesn't win this one.

Joe is not the enemy here, and it is ridiculous that his words are what sparked this MeTa (without him asking for it), his being repeatedly scapegoated for the problem rather than actually addressing the problem was the reason maxsperber buttoned, and here we are at the end of the thread and the main takeaway is, Joe shouldn't be allowed to keep saying he feels things are anti-semitic because he's pro-Israel.

Maybe I'm not allowed to either. It's certainly the impression I get.

Right now is a really scary time for American Jews. It's more so for other groups, and I'm throwing my Jewish body out there to protect them when I can, because I still have that luxury. But if Jews are in any real danger at this moment, I'm pretty sure it's from someone with a bomb or a machine gun acting alone. I'm hoping the JCC threats are just some asshole getting a rise out of vulnerable people, and not a leadup to any actual bombing. But I'm still sending my kid to school in his kippah. My husband and I have already had the talk about what to watch out for to switch him to a baseball cap. He's 8 years old. He hasn't even learned about the Holocaust yet. Or that when I go to the doctor and give a medical history, I have to 'joke' that most of my family died of Nazis. That when his great uncle was his age, he was killed at Auschwitz. I am not saying this to score points. I am certain some, maybe all of you could tell the same story, or worse. I am saying that whether unexpected violence comes from an alt-Nazi or Hamas, the most likely people to be affected by it are people like me, and if it's aimed at my shul or my school or my NYC family because of what we're wearing, it's still anti-semitism. I am afraid of both sides. I am flabbergasted that I have Jewish Republican friends who don't associate the rise in anti-semitism with Trump's politics. But at least they acknowledge it's anti-semitism. From reading this thread it's clear that you won't afford me even that courtesy. I am not saying all anti-Israel discourse is anti-semitic (I think this is the 5th time I've had to mention this - and I still don't know why I have to again, but I know if I don't you'll disregard this entire argument, if you haven't already because I'm the one making it), but that some of it is.

I came into this thread hoping for allies. I didn't think I was asking a huge amount. But I'm not eager for ones who are waiting to stab me in the back if I don't spit on Israel enough to show I'm "legitimately" concerned enough to deserve them.

I won't leave over this - there are too damn few of us. But I am feeling incredibly hurt by how this went down.
posted by Mchelly at 9:27 PM on February 2 [10 favorites]


And I totally agree with you jb on all points - when I say "religious Jew" i mean anyone of any denomination who goes to a synagogue and/or sends their kids to any sort of religious school (including Sunday school) and/or keeps the sabbath and holidays to the extent that religious people do in their denomination (including time off for good behavior ;) - anyone who affiliates with Judaism as a religion as opposed to just an ethnicity. People who get why Jerusalem is important to Jews, even if it's not important to them personally or they'd never choose to go. People who understand why dividing Jerusalem is so fraught - even if they still believe it has to happen.

And count me as an Orthodox Jew who isn't aiming to rebuild anything. There are actually quite a lot of us.
posted by Mchelly at 9:36 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


(and so as not to create a derail, let me apologize to griphus for once again leaving out countries where because you had Jewish ancestors, "Jewish" becomes your nationality whether you know or care what a synagogue is, and you don't have the luxury of opting out. That's still affiliation by everyone's metric that I've ever seen.)
posted by Mchelly at 10:18 PM on February 2


The list of currently-disabled accounts that have participated in this MeTa thread is maxsparber, sparklemotion, zutalors!, The Gooch, and prettypretty.
posted by XMLicious at 10:41 PM on February 2 [3 favorites]


If you go to church, if you believe in Jesus, if the only time you consider yourself a Jew is when Israel is discussed, you don't get to simultaneously say "I'm Jewish" and speak for the Jews.

I see that you switched from implying that atheists are fake Jews (because of maxsparber?), so good, but in addition to that please stop making this conversation about how some Jewish people are not really Jewish. It is irrelevant and insulting.

No one is treating you as an enemy of the site. You're getting plenty of support.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:44 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


and so as not to create a derail, let me apologize to griphus for once again leaving out countries where because you had Jewish ancestors, "Jewish" becomes your nationality whether you know or care what a synagogue is, and you don't have the luxury of opting out. That's still affiliation by everyone's metric that I've ever seen.)

Jewish people didn't have the luxury of opting out at Auschwitz either, by the way.

I'm struggling to see the difference between Jewish enough for Hitler and Jewish enough for Stalin. Frankly, I find this entire line of conversation repellent.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:53 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]


All I have asked for, in post after post, were two things: 1) Acknowledge that there is also anti-semitism on the left and be an ally, even when Israel is the subject. And 2) Understand that there are a lot of anti-semitic tropes prevalent in the Palestinian Rights movement, and please be careful when you give your opinion not to use them.

Let me AGAIN say that I think it is fine to be a Palestinian ally, to attack Israeli government policies and actions, and to question what direction that policy is headed. But at the same time I need to see what Michelly has asked for too, and unlike Michelly I need to see it really soon, if not from the Mefis posting here then from the mods.

Because there are two very scary things happening in the world right now while Metafilter insists on obliviousness and attacking us messengers here. (That some of the people on the attack here identify as Jewish does not fix this for me. Jews aren't monolithic any more than any other group, and that others who identify as Jews don't grok my issue doesn't mean it isn't real and valid.)

First, some anti -Zionist people and groups are currently targeting and attacking Jews overseas because they are Jews wearing Jewish clothes and doing Jewish things. Meaning killing them and lethally threatening their ability to live safely. That's how conflated and frightening anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are. Some of these attitudes could get government sanction if rightists like Le Pen take power.

Second, in the US loony Jew hating people are increasingly emboldened to attack Jews, sometimes fatally, and anti-Semitic incidents generally are up, and the current administration is in bed with the anti-Semitic hard right.

There is a problem. Maxsparber articulated it very clearly in his blog post. I am leaving Metafilter too if it isn't addressed, by our mods, and now not later. Frankly this should have been addressed at the time of the Charlie Hebdo incident when Metafilter studiously ignored the murders of Jews at the very same time by the very same people due to the Jewishness of the victims.

I love this place but I'm not willing to stay with you if you can't be allies at a time when anti-Semitism is real and dangerous and woven into the current Presidential administration.

I fail to understand, either, why the smart people on Metafilter can't understand how to be pro Palestinian without going after every Jew who is really worried about how much some anti -Zionist and anti -Israel groups also endorse virulent anti Semitism.
posted by bearwife at 12:54 AM on February 3 [15 favorites]


I have never implied let alone stated that atheists aren't Jewish. Belief in G-d and faith can have almost nothing to do with being even a religious Jew. Check my posting history, I say it repeatedly. I am talking about affiliation. You might not believe in anything, but you show up.

I am not personally deciding who is or isn't a Jew - I am saying please let Jews decide this. Not random people on a website. Not Hitler (or Stalin). And I am saying that if you have no affiliation with Judaism as a religion, you can't be expected to know as much about anti-semitism as someone who was brought up with it. Many posts here bear me out. Many posters in this thread have said it.

Saying that Hitler's metric is how we define Judaism - especially when Judaism says that it isn't - is anti-semitic. It denies agency and humanity to their victims and treats a vibrant, multifaceted religion (that yes, includes atheism) as a eugenic box. I get that you don't see it. I am trying to explain. I am still assuming good faith.

I'll say it again - if you're attacked for being Jewish, you're a victim of anti-semitism, even if you're not Jewish. You have a stake in this conversation. But using the fact that you might be a victim of anti-semitism under certain circumstances that do not currently exist as reason enough to consider yourself a spokesperson for Jews? That's Rachel Dolezal -level irrelevant and insulting. Doing it to lend force to the argument that certain Jews shouldn't be listened to about anti-semitism, is abhorrent.

I'm still assuming that that doesn't apply to anyone here. But the idea's already been given lip service here, and it's poisonous.
posted by Mchelly at 3:44 AM on February 3


Yeah, the fact that this is the reaction, on a site that after a long and soul-searching discussion decided that Philadelphia Phillies fans should be a protected class (I can't find the MeTa but it happened), is fucking terrifying. I really tried to see this all in good faith but I just read through the thread again and what it looks like is that Metafilter is a super liberal, supportive, understanding place full of truly decent people that will listen to you and have your back except, giant fucking asterisk, if you're Jewish, because it's complicated. You guys are supposed to be the good guys. I guess I shouldn't be as surprised as I am, but holy shit.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 6:49 AM on February 3 [5 favorites]


I have nothing substantive to add, but I wanted to just note that this conversation has really deepened and intensified my awareness of anti-Semitism and that I will make sure to take that better understanding with me into other situations and conversations, both online and in real life. I know this is no compensation for the hurt that's been caused here, but I still wanted to thank those of you who have patiently explained what is at stake and what being a good ally would look like - especially (but not only) Mchelly, bearwife, and Joe in Australia.
posted by Aravis76 at 7:52 AM on February 3 [7 favorites]


The list of currently-disabled accounts that have participated in this MeTa thread is maxsparber, sparklemotion, zutalors!, The Gooch, and prettypretty.

This is more users that have buttoned as a result of a MeTa than I can recall in years. Maybe not ever.

I understand a lot of you are leaving out of self protection and many are considering leaving out of self protection. I'm sorry that Metafilter is still really bad on this right now - it's incredibly disappointing, especially as attacks ramp up every day and Jewish people get less and less safe in the world.

It's especially disappointing seeing so many wonderful voices here that I look forward to reading comments by who are feeling completely unheard.

I know that Metafilter can do better. I'd like to note that in some cases, it is doing better and these MeTas do in fact help - after this MeTa was posted, I saw some mod notes that cortex, for example, had deleted an 'ironic Jewish conspiracy' derail for being potentially hurtful to members, and I see that as an encouraging sign. I know there's a long way to go, but I think that mods are at least trying.

I would also point out that this MeTa is weeks old and so the only people really posting down here on the bottom of it are people who have already been posting - I think if this had broader eyes on it, some of the assertions that have been the most hurtful might have gotten more pushback.
posted by corb at 8:57 AM on February 3 [2 favorites]


I'm not Jewish and have nothing substantive to add, but I have to say that it hurts like hell to see people leaving over this and others feeling they're not getting any, or enough, support. Please, MetaFilter, you can be better than this. And I hope the mods will give high priority to making some kind of statement strong enough that some of the departed might feel able to return.
posted by languagehat at 9:05 AM on February 3 [13 favorites]


a site that after a long and soul-searching discussion decided that Philadelphia Phillies fans should be a protected class (I can't find the MeTa but it happened)

This one
? I don't see a decision in that, only a suggestion from one member that most people objected to, but it's the only Metatalk I can find that discusses the Phillies.
posted by cjelli at 9:31 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I have a question: how specifically should mods respond to a situation where there is widespread disagreement among the impacted group about what represents offensive speech to that group?

I feel the pain and upset of the users who are leaving over this. I feel terrible about it. But I am not clear what mods should do when one Jewish user makes a statement that they genuinely feel to be true and not antisemitic, and another Jewish user feels it is the most offensive libel against Jews.

If there were just one or two lone descenting voices it would be more clear, but there is wide disagreement, which I believe reflects an IRL conflict where there is no consensus among the impacted people. (Which I believe is fairly unusual when compared with other groups subject to attack)
posted by latkes at 9:35 AM on February 3 [10 favorites]


I also think it's pretty important to keep in mind that there are several Jewish mods/former mod, especially for non Jews asking for action around this.
posted by latkes at 9:38 AM on February 3


And I hope the mods will give high priority to making some kind of statement strong enough that some of the departed might feel able to return.

I am 100% genuinely interested and not being snarky here: what would folks like such a statement to look like?

Opening up the front page to more posts? (Several people have noted the lack of posts on the JCC bomb threats or the 2015 Jewish supermarket attacks.) More aggressive awareness and deletion of antisemitic comments? (As latkes notes, there seems to be disagreement about what, exactly, that means.)
posted by lalex at 9:47 AM on February 3 [1 favorite]


But I am not clear what mods should do when one Jewish user makes a statement that they genuinely feel to be true and not antisemitic, and another Jewish user feels it is the most offensive libel against Jews.

I would like for it to be unacceptable to respond to such disagreements with the furious accusation that the second person in the discussion is being dishonest, devious and manipulative at worst, and reciting rote propaganda at best.

there is no reason it should be hard, let alone forbidden, to say "I disagree because" or "I disagree but..." -- antisemitism being a serious topic does not mean you can't have differences of opinion or that a person making the judgment call cannot be wrong. but it is an actual antisemitic trope to accuse Jews of being craftily dishonest and trying to control the discourse through a combination of clever logic and guilting. so while good faith is a nice ideal for everybody all the time, it seems extra important to me here because I think that presuming bad faith is a specifically targeted instance of antisemitism in and of itself. I don't think the hypothetical other person in the argument also being Jewish is relevant any more than it's relevant whether it's another woman calling a woman hysterical and bitchy.

so, mods shouldn't enforce a position or a set of positions, but they should heavily restrict the kind of melodramatic escalating counteraccusation that treats perceived errors as lies. is what I think.
posted by queenofbithynia at 9:57 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


and so as not to create a derail, let me apologize to griphus for once again leaving out countries where because you had Jewish ancestors, "Jewish" becomes your nationality whether you know or care what a synagogue is, and you don't have the luxury of opting out. That's still affiliation by everyone's metric that I've ever seen.)

Ethnicity, not nationality. Two totally different things that often coincide, and the opinion of rabbis on it is something there's a big, wide world of Jews who do not give a single shit about, including myself. I'd argue about this some more but I'd rather stick my hand in a garbage disposal tbh.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on February 3 [6 favorites]


Personally, what I would like to see is the end of "Jews are using accusations of antisemitism to silence critics of Israel" or "Jews are using accusations of antisemitism [for anything else]." Just assume people are engaging in good faith and consider things on the merits. I am queer/AFAB with an interest in feminism/have an invisible disability, and I don't see this line of thinking come up constantly in MeFi discussions of homophobia/sexism/ableism, and the mods try to shut it down if it does. But it seems to come up in every damn conversation about antisemitism where any of us disagree.

Take Joe's blood libel comment above. I do not agree with it; I don't think that statement was at all antisemitic, and I feel fine saying and arguing about that. What I reject is the assumption that Joe, or anyone else I disagree with about antisemitism, is cynically manipulating the conversation. I think it is fully possible, and in fact likely, that their antisemitism-detection-meters are calibrated differently than mine, AND, in this case, that they have very different political views.

"But this guy is really doing that!" I hear you say. And I would be more willing to engage with that argument if I didn't see people accusing Jews of lying about antisemitism all the time, on the left outside this site, when many of those accusations come clearly from out-and-out antisemites. I am so tired of it. It makes me feel disbelieved and exhausted.
posted by thetortoise at 11:31 AM on February 3 [16 favorites]


I'll say it again - if you're attacked for being Jewish, you're a victim of anti-semitism, even if you're not Jewish. You have a stake in this conversation. But using the fact that you might be a victim of anti-semitism under certain circumstances that do not currently exist as reason enough to consider yourself a spokesperson for Jews? That's Rachel Dolezal -level irrelevant and insulting. Doing it to lend force to the argument that certain Jews shouldn't be listened to about anti-semitism, is abhorrent.


are you saying this is what grobstein did? I want to know if you are calling him a fake jew or not so I can respond accordingly.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 2:06 PM on February 3 [3 favorites]


I hope everyone comes back. I don't think I can articulate why this thread bothers me so much. It's kind of like watching two people you know and like completely misunderstand each other and get in a fight. How do you mod that?
posted by Mr. Yuck at 5:44 PM on February 3 [7 favorites]


I didn't remove this thread from my recent activity, so here I am, against my better judgement. First, I'd like to to thank the mods for their response to my inquiry. I can't help but notice that bearwife got radio silence.

For what it's worth, I'm Reform, and the kid and mister are secular Jews, while I'm religious. I can count on one hand the number of Jewish families in my 30k Catholic majority town. My kid is subject to antisemetic "jokes" every single day in high school. Every day. They know she's Jewish, and do it anyway. Haha, ovens, isn't that fucking hilarious.

I am tired. We are going to the local Muslim solidarity rally, we're going to the scientists march, the immigrants march, and the LBGTQ march. There is nothing planned for us. There's no Jewish march, no rally. Nothing. Where are our allies? Who is standing up for us?
posted by Ruki at 12:55 AM on February 5 [16 favorites]


I mean, it's not just sour grapes or anything. How many JCCs have gotten bomb threats lately?
posted by Ruki at 1:09 AM on February 5 [5 favorites]


(I have one clarification I want to add to my earlier comment: I'm not saying that no advocacy group has ever called something antisemitic when it clearly wasn't, or that the concept has never been used for political gain. But a frequent reliance on that explanation-- which originates in history with antisemitism, not with Israel or Jewish right-wingers -- means that a lot of Jews feel uncomfortable talking about antisemitism and like their words are undermined as soon as they say them, as we see in this thread, and in this political climate, that's chilling. So what I am asking is that people think very hard about how they use that.)
posted by thetortoise at 10:59 AM on February 5 [7 favorites]


I've been checking back here too. I am right on the verge of buttoning, and the silence from the mods is reverberating for me too. Ignoring this issue doesn't make it go away.
posted by bearwife at 3:08 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


So... I see Jewish members of the site quoting comments made by other members of the site who also self-identify as Jewish as examples of antisemitism on Metafilter...
posted by yonega at 3:16 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Please don't go bearwife.
posted by billiebee at 3:17 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


So... I see Jewish members of the site quoting comments made by other members of the site who also self-identify as Jewish as examples of antisemitism on Metafilter...

I hope nobody in this thread is calling other Jews here antisemitic, though I don't really feel like scrutinizing every comment to see. But Jews are just as capable of invoking tropes that have been traditionally used in antisemitic ways as anyone else, even unintentionally. I know everyone here doesn't agree on what antisemitism consists of, but just please hear maxsparber out. His essay really crystallized how some of us (not all Jews, not all Jews on MeFi, but enough that reading the previous MetaTalks on this gave me deja vu) feel. I would rather the site not lose these members.
posted by thetortoise at 3:51 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


" the silence from the mods is reverberating for me too"

Since it's the weekend there's not really anybody around but me and there's been a lot of substantive things said in this thread, and a lot of substantive points, that will require sustained and careful attention rather than popping in with half our attention while moderating Trump threads. On large moderation issues we are also typically having asynchronous rolling conversations over about 48 hours (weekdays, not weekends) so everyone can see the conversation and weigh in.

Unfortunately I can't speak to Charlie Hedbo, as I was not on staff yet, so I feel at a bit of a loss to respond to a request based on the moderation at that time. (I didn't read much of the thread, either, so I'm frankly not very familiar with MetaFilter's reaction in general.)

I agree that antisemitism is a terrifying problem in the world right now. I agree that the president has actual fuckin' neo-Nazis on his staff and that is nightmarish. I agree that MetaFilter has problems in how it handles antisemitism. As an individual, and as the newest mod, I don't know -- me, myself, alone on a weekend -- what the best moderation strategies to deal with it are. I have a few half-formed ideas, but some of them may do more harm than good. I do think we need some change in community standards in how we talk about antisemitism, some of which can be mod-enforced but some of which will have to be community-driven.

I wish I could speak to past moderation in a satisfying way, but I simply don't have the institutional knowledge yet, and I'm sorry about that. I'd rather confess ignorance than attempt to speak to it and be wrong or, worse, do harm.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 4:41 PM on February 5 [8 favorites]


Thanks for saying something, though. I can't speak for bearwife, obviously, but I do appreciate your comment.

I'm having trouble copy and pasting on my phone, but yonega's comment was not at all helpful and shows a really bad faith reading of this thread. And I mean, that's part of the problem.
posted by Ruki at 4:52 PM on February 5


I'm still iffy on the actionable thing we're asking for from the mods at this point, though I agree that we need to hear more. It seems like the two basic things they might do in the future are to make "official" comments in threads telling people to steer away from problematic lines of polemic or to confine the discussion within certain bounds, and to proactively delete anti-Semitic comments and comments that begin to create an oppressive environment.

(I'm sure those things are simply evidence of the tip of a modding-iceberg in many cases, involving extensive effort behind the scenes, but those are the parts I'm able to see.)

So, am I correct that we're asking for pledges to do those things in particular ways (targeting the appearance of anti-Semitic tropes, for example) that are informed by the discussion here and preceding MeTa discussions of anti-Semitism? Or is it something less specific like a confirmation that modding practice going forward will address the concerns that have been raised? Or something else entirely?

I don't want my use of "we" to sound patronizing here, sorry if it does, I wanted to phrase it so as to express solidarity and express that we as a community want to take part in opposing anti-Semitism and the conditions that have existed so far which make openly discussing it uncomfortable, and have made it feel like this isn't a safe place for those discussions.

yonega might be (or might not be) expressing one of the things I'm personally finding daunting about figuring out how to deal with this in my own comments going forward: the prospect of trying to oppose anti-Semitism and be an ally by criticizing statements made by self-identified Jews on the grounds of those statements being anti-Semitic. It feels like a minefield, but I am putting effort into reading this and past threads and thinking through the kinds of things I would need to say.
posted by XMLicious at 5:19 PM on February 5


XMLicious, here's why yongega's comment rubbed me the wrong way. It had no substance, and given the tone of thread, where some Jews are saying that they don't feel comfortable calling out antisemitism because of (lots of reasons), it came across, to me, as dismissing what some of us are saying. Like our concerns aren't valid because some other Jews disagree. And maybe they meant it like you said, but I don't know because there's nothing else in the comment to clarify.

As from what I personally want to see, from the mods and the community, is a more careful consideration of call outs of antisemitism. To not automatically dismiss a call out because of the politics or religiosity of the person calling it out. To recognize that there's more to antisemitism than blood libel and other obvious tropes, and to trust our lived experiences. Many other people have spoken much more eloquently than me.

And I do get how this can all be difficult for an ally, because if us Jews can't agree.. it's daunting, I get it. It's daunting for me, too.

I guess the best way I can express it is that it all feels very conditional right now. Like I can't call something out unconditionally, I have to to be all careful with my wording and state my position on Israel if necessary and, I mean, I feel like there's an extra burden of proof. And that's not cool.
posted by Ruki at 5:52 PM on February 5 [4 favorites]


Ruki how would you envisage for example, the treatment of Joe's accusation of blood libel regarding Grobsteins comment above?

I'm not trying to play gotcha I genuinely am interested. Cause for me, after reading this thread, like I disagree with his assessment - but I don't want to get into it as it feels deraily to me and I don't want to cause further upset to Jewish people in this thread so I just... Don't engage (this actually something I started mostly doing in instances like this after zarqs antisemitic post in MeTa a while ago). This doesn't really feel like being much of an ally, you know what I mean, but I'm unsure what else to do?

I wonder if some of the silence Jewish mefites feel around issues of antisemitism may be related to this, an inability to discern the appropriate response followed by a withdrawal.

I don't want to put the onus on the victims here, but as a willing ally, it can be a quandary.
posted by smoke at 6:05 PM on February 5


Ruki: I didn't mean it mean it like that, I just didn't feel like writing defensively. I really don't know what to think about what I was pointing out that I've read here.

I always try to keep track of who people say they are in conversations like these and I was wondering if others were doing the same.

I didn't mean what XMLicious was saying I might mean either because I didn't mean anything.

Above someone brought out "When a PoC says it's racism, it's racism." and the same thing s/poc/woman s/racism/sexism which is REALLY truthy and I think it applies here too, but I don't think it's actually true.

It's more like "It might be racism." or "It is probably is racism." but I'm sure anyone who has faced discrimination will agree that most of the time the world doesn't look you in the eye or write at the very top of their screed (or policy) "This is racism and I'm doing it right now."

I think ethnic discrimination, religious discrimination, and national discrimination all have different flavors to them and "antisemitism" seems to encompass all three and probably some I haven't thought of. I also think that different people have different sensitivities to and carry different measures of each.

I don't have anything solution-oriented to say or any opinion to register.. I'm just trying to figure out how the world works. I want to say something positive but I'm not sure what positive is in this case or how positive I feel about things generally so.. just know that I want to say something positive.
posted by yonega at 6:40 PM on February 5 [5 favorites]


I don't think it was blood libel, so I disagree with JiA on that, but I also didn't agree with grobstein's comment in itself, either. I mean, I obviously think there is an antisemitism problem, or I wouldn't keep stupidly posting in this thread. So I disagree with both of them. I know that's not very helpful in terms of clarification, but there you go.

On preview, yonega, thanks for clarifying. And you make an excellent point about how antisemitism can be racial, religious, and national, and that does make it harder to unpack. (And to be clear, where I think the national part comes in is when people hold Jews accountable for the actions of the Israeli government. I started to write non-Israeli Jews, but I feel that's akin to holding everyone in the US accountable for our own government, despite the fact that our government won on a minority vote. But that's a contentious derail in itself). I'm sorry for getting heated about your comment, and I thank you for your understanding.
posted by Ruki at 6:56 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


So I guess for me as an ally, here's what I use to evaluate claims of people saying "Look, this is what *ism looks like against me/doesn't look like" when it's not a thing I have personal experience with and there's clearly conflict, and I'm deciding who to listen to. Because, well, basically any *ism is going to have at least some affected people angrily insisting it does not exist; that's a fairly common thing that people use to cope with a discriminatory system, for one thing, and it's also a thing that you'll see if personal experiences differ widely depending on circumstances (which appears to be the case here), and it's a thing that you'll sometimes see with intra-group tension, especially if the issue at hand is something that touches on something that has hurt two factions of an affected group in different ways. My PoV as an ally isn't, of course, the most important one here... but it does influence how I respond to this discussion, and it will influence how I discuss anti-Semitism and watch out for it around me in the future. So I'm sharing it here, I guess, for the benefit of other allies.

First: I've noted that one set of several of people talking here contain primarily people that, from my context with them, typically avoid open conflict and typically go quiet on conversations relating to this topic. (I'm not actually counting JiA here; my observations of him are that he's perfectly comfortable with direct conflict.) On the other hand, the other faction of people I'm observing who I have memories and experience with include several people who are very, very comfortable with stating their piece even when arguments get heated.

When I see someone who is rarely present in a conflict and even more rarely present in an actual argument standing their ground and being visibly angry and upset, that makes me sit up and go "oh crap, this is important. This must really seriously matter to them." On the other side, when I see someone who is frequently in the middle of arguments--a category, incidentally, that I would place myself into--and who seems very comfortable with conflict, I don't really dial the weight of their position up to match their rhetoric in response. I'm gauging the level of care here, in other words, against the context that I have with the people I'm watching have a conversation.

(This actually doesn't have a lot to do, in my mental analysis, with the opinions of these folks more generally. zombieflanders, for example; dude, I love you on MeFi most of the time, I agree with you a lot, and I try to back you up a lot here on the grey. I am also picking on you because you commented fairly recently; I could say similar things about some other people here. But you are not a person who seems to have a lot of hard time, as I see it, saying his piece in an argument. This is perfectly fine--I'm not either, most of the time, and especially not when I'm as comfortable on the Blue and Grey as I currently am--but it does affect how I weigh the, hm, strength of feeling that people are bringing to their posting here--even if the strength of their actual rhetoric doesn't necessarily match.)

The second thing I look out for is the level of subtlety people are leveraging when they talk about discrimination. My experience, as a person who is marginalized in some ways but not others, is that this shit is very, very complex and often visible only when you have access to context that is not always easy to find. So when I hear someone going "It's complicated, but this thing rings some warning bells for me, because this is a thing I have seen" or "here is some context for why this makes me seriously uncomfortable" I tend to give more weight to that perspective than I do someone who is saying "this is/is not offensive, full stop" in a conversation between people who are in-group while I am out. (Obviously, in a conversation between a person who is out-group and one who is in-group, that changes the dynamics up a lot.) In particular, I tend to give a lot of weight to people who describe forms of... I guess subtle trauma is the way to describe it, the trauma that comes from things that are not necessarily obvious unless you are close enough to put the pieces together--things like microaggressions, but also cultural trauma and cultural memory.

Now the third thing I tend to weigh is the effect of.... hm, how can I put this. Things that look to me like people with strong emotions and context, and particularly traumas, appearing to miscommunicate. For example, Mchelly brought up Hamas and Hezbollah as a set of examples of groups she personally views as anti-Semitic/hateful to Jewish people, and says that supporting them isn't simply a matter of political difference.

I read that and I think "Yeah, this is a vicious, heated conflict, and these are both groups with fairly militant positions who are formed to target a state government which is Jewish, groups that are not well known for their focus on peace and finding common cause. I can totally believe that their rhetoric is... pretty damaging to Jewish people, and wholeheartedly supporting them feels pretty problematic even as I think that the governments of the Middle East should represent the people living there, including Palestinians." In part, I think that because I think that both Israel and Palestine are shorthand for broad groups of people who were basically set up to come into massive conflict because Britain made some dumbass conflicting promises and then, I am fairly sure, wasn't particularly honest about it. I don't actually think either Palestine or Israel, the leadership/nation-states, are clean-handed, and I am conflicted about supporting either one without listening to allies and friends.

I then see a bunch of people who see the same thing and appear to think "not supporting these organizations means that you must advocate supporting the state of Israel!" Or at least who seem to think that wholeheartedly supporting Israel with no qualms at all is what Mchelly is demanding in her comment pointing to what she calls subtler anti-Semitism. That makes me raise eyebrows, because I read the same point as saying something more like "the fact that many leftists are 100% behind an organization of people who hate me and my religion and my nation is something I view as a subtler form of normalizing hatred for me and mine." I'm pretty sure that many of the Jewish people here who are uncomfortable with this discussion are not 100% pro-Israel, either. In fact, I know it, because bearwife explicitly raised the possibility of being critical of Israel while also being aware of the fact that people sometimes use Israel as a way to criticize Jewish people as a whole, and so did Mchelly. I... have not seen those points picked up by anyone who is arguing against the idea that anti-semitism is a problem here, or who is discussing the conflation of Israel and Jewish people in rhetoric on the left.

Or, hell, the fact that the entire conversation on the "not-anti-semitic" side seems to me to be crystallizing around a single person and his fallibility is something that raises my eyebrows. And I noticed that the conversation centered on Joe very early on, even in the face of multiple pleas to discuss the topic of anti-semitism here more generally--in fact, one of those pleas' being ignored is the apparent point at which maxsparber buttoned.

To put it a bit more succinctly: I see many people here who seem to think that the "Metafilter has an anti-semitism issue" faction of this conversation is trying to say "unless you are 100% behind Israel, you are liable to being anti-semitic." And what I am hearing from these posts is much more like "criticism of Israel seems to be an easy place, a welcome place, for people to express their anti-semitism, and that is uncomfortable" or even "in their rush to criticize Israel, many leftists seem very comfortable ignoring a certain level of anti-semitism, and right now that is very scary." The disconnect between these two things is worrying.
posted by sciatrix at 7:55 PM on February 5 [6 favorites]


Here's another point that I was meaning to make and went silent on early: when I posted about wanting more of the context that has influenced these moderating decisions, and the read I had gotten which was that the I/P heavy moderation is primarily focused on JiA, the fact that my vague idea was wrong when mods responded and other longer-term members emailed me with more context.... isn't actually the primary issue with the fact that I was able to develop that misconception.

The problem that I had, when I stopped to consider the reason I had always figured that the I/P policy was a result of Joe's behavior, is the message that seeing him be the person primarily getting the pushback as a result of that policy has. It's a message that seems to me, as a member without a large chunk of the context caused by people who have since left, to say "Metafilter's moderation policy comes down against bringing up Israel, ever, even in the broader context of a conversation of the ways that anti-semitism manifests itself, especially if it comes from the person who seems to be the single person most likely to mention Israel in the context of the discussion of Jewish people and politics nationwide."

I suspect that is not the message our mods would like to send. So that's something I'd like to raise as a question to think about.
posted by sciatrix at 7:56 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


It is important for Jews to know that they cannot expect safety on either the left or the right, so in that sense I think this conversation was useful. I see no real need to button over this... you can still have tea with your pleasant neighbors, so long as you avoid any sensitive topics, and so long as you know deep down that, when your turn comes, those neighbors are just going to close the blinds and pretend to watch TV.
posted by Behemoth at 8:32 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I hope it's okay if I add my two cents here. I have lurked for ages and ages but only recently got an account, so I realize my name hasn't necessarily earned trust.

I am Jewish.

I live in a red state. The ignorance of even basic Jewish practice or history is pretty astonishing around here, and I often have to play Example Minority to co-workers and aquantinces. I do not think it comes from any evil of theirs, at all. But it is exhausting.

Sometimes, from a generic Christian background that hovers over our history, it is also very problematic. Not, again, because they are prejudiced. Because they don't know the dog-whistle when they repeat it. That also is exhausting.

In a similar way my experience with the liberal/left (of which I am) is that many people tend to be very good on some topics and not as good at others, on the whole and on MeFi (and I have ignorance too). Much of that are the same reasons, surely, the cultural ignorance we grow up in. Don't we all assume some latent and unintended anti-Semitism could also lurk in there? In the group of things we are good or not-as-good at recognizing and combatting?

I do put anti-Semitism in that latter group.

There are a lot of possible reasons for that (and yes, Israeli politics is among them). I think education is one of them. I unfortunately haven't seen that non-Jewish people on MeFi on average are as alert to problematic statements regarding us as regarding some (not all!) groups. I understand analogies are discouraged but if I may beg use for a group I am also in: people usually get why "shrill" is a really not-great thing to say about a righteously angry woman. But people usually scoff at a (not this thread's! Just any!) mention of blood libel. It's so old fashioned, silly really, they can't imagine anyone takes or uses that seriously. I hear constantly in my physical community that concerns about anti-Semitism are overblown, unneeded, we're over that now, it's just a few bad eggs with swastikas.

When I hear that it's very upsetting. I want to not hear it on this site because I very much consider you my virtual community.

And I have, frankly, heard shades of that in the past. But each time I've come up with a mental excuse and moved on.

I clicked on this thread really hopeful that we would have a learning experience from each other, to help us catch up and to hear reassurances.

I'm not very hopeful for that right now.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 8:46 PM on February 5 [14 favorites]


YES YES YES to what sciatrix said. And on preview, what hapaxes.legomenon said, too. I am sad that they feel apologetic about adding their two cents. So, for what it's worth, h.l, I hear you and I trust your experiences and I'm glad you spoke up.
posted by Ruki at 8:52 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I also appreciate Eyebrow McGees' remarks and am hoping for more from other mods because as I know I am now beating the same old drum by saying, I think attention on this topic is overdue. And, to beat this part of the drum again too, urgent given current affairs in the US and overseas, too.

Also, sciatrix, thanks so much for your thoughtful and sensitive summary. You are listening so sensitively and well. As usual. (And once again, thank you corb.)
posted by bearwife at 9:16 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


I gotta say that I disagree with sciatrix's comment. Sciatrix,if you don't know what you're talking about and then you think about it a lot...the result is that you still don't know what you're talking about. The metajudgements you've come up with are not particularly useful when it comes to evaluating the underlying information. And the way you apply them is not principled. Grouse and grobstein don't spend a huge amount of time on the site picking fights (and, rightly, neither do bearwife and mchelly). Maxsparber is fighy as fuck and so is JiA. So then you're like "oh well those fighty ones who never were my secret quonsee, they are being quiet which means they're probably right" but you know grobstein and grouse aren't fighty either so it's not like you're applying shit evenly.

And then I especially have a problem with your third approach, in which you evaluate people's arguments. You can't understand and evaluate arguments unless you actually understand the information that they contain (you don't). Even if you could somehow get all of that information, you are clearly not objective. You don't know why people do or don't respond to a given argument and your characterizations of people's arguments are wildly overconfident and sometimes wrong. Like, the way you characterize the part of the conversation about Hamas is just straight-up wrong. No one said that non-support of hamas = comlete support of israel. They said that mild support of hamas doesn't work as a synonym for "anti-semitic" which is something you yourself said in so many words. You also judge people for not responding to certain things, but you have no way of knowing why people are or aren't talking about something, or why they react differently than you might to a certain statement, or pick out a certain part of that statement to argue with or focus on.

I'll be short: you are basically justifying your priors (which are that people who think there is more discrimination are more likely to be right). Your thinking about this should be a lot more self-critical, because you are an ally who doesn't know a lot.

In your defense, you seem to be trying, but maybe try more quietly and with a lot more interrogation of your own conclusions when they seem to line up with you prior beliefs,
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 12:24 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


sciatrix, I like that as an ally you're evaluating comments and weighing them in what appears to be a thoughtful way. I'm trying to do the same. I'm disappointed that the end result of your evaluation mischaracterizes so many of the comments you've decided to disagree with, in a way that ultimately only further entrenches the conflict.

Calling one side the "not-anti-semitic" or "anti-semitism is not a problem" side doesn't strike me as helpful or accurate. Notwithstanding a few comments saying they don't believe anti-semitism is a problem on the site. I'd say that most of us don't agree with that or are willing to confidently say that. Anti-semitism is misunderstood, is a problem within our culture, and is a historical and current significant concerrn, and it stands to reason that much of this site has a problem with it as well. "Anti-semitism is not a problem" does not appear to be the gist of what most people are saying here.

bearwife explicitly raised the possibility of being critical of Israel while also being aware of the fact that people sometimes use Israel as a way to criticize Jewish people as a whole, and so did Mchelly. I... have not seen those points picked up by anyone who is arguing against the idea that anti-semitism is a problem

I think lots of us agree with that and don't see a reason to dispute it. We both keep talking about the possibility of being critical of Israel's policies while also being fully cognizant of and pushing back on anti-semitism, which both sides agree is a possibility. One side, however, let's call it the "anti-conflation" side, feels that it is fair game to push back on the conflation/linking of anti-Zionism with antisemitism, or the conflation/linking of legitimate leftist critique of Israel's policies with antisemitism, when it appears. And we question the contention that anyone who pushes back on those conflations when they see it may be de facto ignoring/supporting antisemitism. And we question the assertion, when it has appeared in the thread, that non-Jews and/or secular/non-religious Jews lack the proper nuance to have informed opinions such that it's inappropriate or anti-semitic for them to push back on these things.

All of these various positions do not boil down to "anti-semitism is not a problem." And characterizing one side that way is unfair to the many in-depth comments taking pains to articulate their views, many of whom are saying that anti-semitism is a problem in the culture at large and likely on this site as well.

In addition, I was taken aback by your characterization of the Hamas and Hezbollah discussion. I went back and re-read Joe's comment in the original thread, and all of the mentions of these organizations in this thread, and no one is saying that Hamas and Hezbollah are good, or that they should be supported, at all. a fiendish thingy brought it up, but doesn't disagree with Joe's assessment that they're terrorist organizations. For their part, they say that plenty of people on the left who support Hamas/Hezbollah are "garbage". Others on the left, in their zealous conviction and desire to show solidarity and choose a side, ignorantly fail to understand a distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian state, and thus show blanket support for everything (even Hamas) which is fraught with problems. ATF, like others, was articulating a view about how an apparent conflation of the left with anti-semitism was contentious and disputable at best, and how saying as such should be acceptable rather than verboten.

There is also something worth mentioning, I think, when you talk about voices that typically are quiet or absent in these conversations, compared to voices who are comfortable speaking up and pushing back often. It's not insignificant to me that we we haven't, to my knowledge, heard a single voice whose family or friends have been negatively impacted on the opposite side of the conflict, or themselves for that matter. This weekend I attended an event in which there was both a pro-peace Israeli speaker and a pro-peace Palestinian speaker. The tenor of the room was respectful and open to conversation (if somewhat cautious, naturally), and they both had thoughtful things to say about their experiences and found quite a bit of common ground and solidarity. To me, it would be a major blow if any such non-Jewish voices felt like they were not welcome to have a say on any such topics here. I'm not saying that anyone here wouldn't welcome such commenters; I'd like to think we'd all be as open and respectful as that room was. But sometimes in our effort to understand and break down complex situations into simple bullet points and practical guidelines for behavior, we forget the instances in which we accidentally shut out valuable voices we don't intend to. For now, I'm merely pointing out that we haven't heard from all sides in this discussion. There are a significant number of voices with personal life experience on these subjects that have been wholly absent, for any of a number of reasons (many innocent/non-inculpatory of any members here).
posted by naju at 1:10 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


It's not insignificant to me that we we haven't, to my knowledge, heard a single voice whose family or friends have been negatively impacted on the opposite side of the conflict, or themselves for that matter.

I wholeheartedly support the Palestinian community and pray daily for their safety in a peaceful country that belongs to them and is on their ground alongside Israel. I too welcome their voices here.

Respectfully, I think it would be a grave mis-service to characterize them as "the other side" in this discussion. We aren't hear to argue about politics. We are hear to discuss anti-Semitism, a major point being the conflation of "Jew" to "follower of very specific settler/colonial tenets for fundamentalist religion reasons in a complex but often un-equal nation", actually.

As a thread about the problems of anti-Semitism the "other side" is, surely, "anti-Semitism doesn't exist and/or is great"?

People were vocalizing a desire for guidelines, may I propose one to vote on? Please can we not ever conflate "Jewish person" with "100% supporter of exactly what Israel the country is doing this minute." I realize that sounds ridiculous and so an easy ask, but in this thread alone I keep seeing it requested and then ignored. I, a Jew, just want the freedom here to talk about my Rabbi's speech at the Refugee Vigil or the chicken soup at our last Sabbath or that annoying thing where the hem of your sock gets caught underneath your toes or how great Sleater-Kinney is or anti-Semitism without having to simultaneously talk about a country.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:30 AM on February 6 [17 favorites]


Okay, I hear that re my characterization of the conflicts I am seeing here. I suppose my question is, then... If it's obvious that of course you can be antisemitic while criticizing Israel, why is that not being hedged in the responses that anti conflation people are bringing up in the same way that the "we have a problem" folks are explicitly hedging that not all criticism of Israel is a problem?

I bring up that question because a common thread I am seeing is the idea that what we as MeFites don't say is as important as what we do say. People are scared, and it is not necessarily obvious that anti conflation leftists, as you say, are also critical of pro Palestine groups that promote antisemitic rhetoric. After all, if the collective left is silent when the rhetoric of those groups appears, that looks and smells an awful lot like endorsing it. That's a pattern that I hear upsetting people, and it is a bit odd that I hear you defending the silence on the matter as obvious. Clearly to many people it isn't obvious at all!

Re Palestinian citizens who are personally affected, I'm also a little puzzled about the call to remember their perspective. We're talking about a site with a largely US population with, I think, large Canadian, British, and Australian components. Indeed, the criticism of the forms that leftist criticism of Israel takes isn't coming from a perspective of personally affected Israelis, either; in fact here as far as I can tell it's exclusively coming from people who aren't Israeli nationals. It seems like a bit of a false equivalency, especially when one of the most common threads I personally am seeing is the feeling that criticism of Israel keeps slopping over into criticism of the Jewish diaspora, period... even when the people involved are not Israeli themselves.
posted by sciatrix at 6:10 AM on February 6 [6 favorites]


why is that not being hedged in the responses that anti conflation people are bringing up in the same way that the "we have a problem" folks are explicitly hedging that not all criticism of Israel is a problem?

For the record, I believe:
  1. Anti-Semitism is a real and growing problem.
  2. Criticism of Israel is often accompanied by anti-Semitism.
  3. Some organized groups in opposition to Israel have anti-Semitic rhetoric and violence at their core.
  4. Even when there's nothing explicitly anti-Semitic about critical comments about Israel, they sometimes motivated from anti-Semitism. I would never think that from one individual comment, but if an individual or group seems to have a singular focus on the abuses of Israel and never anyone else, I definitely start to wonder. Amnesty International? Probably not motivated by anti-Semitism. A co-worker who always approaches me, a Jew, to discuss the latest outrage in Israel, a topic I've never shown any interest in discussing with him? Serious side-eye, dude.
  5. Some criticism of Israel on MetaFilter is motivated by anti-Semitism.
  6. Many actions of the Likud Israeli government are incredibly wrong and should be opposed and criticized.
  7. There is a MetaFilter user who has a history of using false accusations of anti-Semitism to silence criticism of Israel.
  8. I am not impressed by those who take on the mantle of "ally" only to support those who deny my Jewishness.
Yeah, the above is a little complicated. And that's part of why I usually stay out of threads where Israel and Palestine are discussed.
posted by grouse at 7:23 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


heard a single voice whose family or friends have been negatively impacted on the opposite side of the conflict

I meant no contentiousness or controversy by this, only that we've heard from people who've talked compellingly about harm to Israeli Jews and/or (especially) the Jewish diaspora, and the relation to antisemitism. But haven't heard from people who may be able to speak about harm that represents another significant aspect related to the Israel-Palestine conflict. "Opposite side" was an entirely wrong characterization and a lazy one at that, and one that really messes up the intent of my entire comment. There's nothing inherently oppositional here. It was late. Sorry.
posted by naju at 8:17 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


(Also, my understanding was that if there are no Israeli nationals here, there are still Jewish Israeli national friends or family of the commenters such that commenters can speak and/or have spoken convincingly about their experiences and fears, if not themselves identifying as such. If that's wrong I may have misread peope.)
posted by naju at 8:31 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


To the extent I'm confusingly conflating I/P with anti-semitism generally, I apologize where it's due, but I think perhaps this is a problem stemming from the beginning of this thread and the inseparability of the two topics as they intertwine around each other in this discussion. I'm not sure how to fix that or whether it's possible. This is one of the many reasons why this topic is complex and difficult, and why simple characterizations and imprecise attempts to communicate are always unsatisfying, and my comments are no exception.
posted by naju at 8:45 AM on February 6


Thanks, naju, I appreciate your follow up. But I want to still state that we, in this thread, are discussing better ways we as a community can respond to anti-Semitism, not the Israel and Palestine conflict.

Correct? I believe that was the intention of this thread. I'd like to keep our focus on responding to anti-Semitism. It seems like a discussion we need to have. But if that's not where this thread wants to go I'll bow out.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 8:52 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


I think at the moment we're talking about, well, everything that we're talking about. I was responding to sciatrix, who brought up aspects of the I/P conflict. She explicitly mentions I/P, Israel, and Palestine throughout her comments I was responding to. Why not ask her?
posted by naju at 8:57 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


We should not in any way be talking about "hearing the other side" of antisemitism. Whether we should be hearing either or both sides of the I/P conflict is a different discussion, and one that severely distracts from solving the concerns of our members that have one or both feet out the door.
posted by corb at 9:42 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


For the record, I read hapaxes.legomenon as hearing you, naju, and then trying to refocus the discussion towards discussing better ways the community here can respond to antisemitism without immediately responding to the topic of Israel. I've talked a bunch about Israel, sure, in part because this discussion was sparked by a comment by Joe that mentioned leftist uncritical support of Hamas and Hezbollah as a form of antisemitism (among others) in the context of a broader charge that the left often ignores antisemitic attacks and the faces that antisemitism takes. (And c'mon, we're the left who eats our own tail--mentioning anything without someone piping up to say "wait, hang on, this is problematic for X group" actually is something of an omission. That's a value-free characterization for me--I don't think it's necessarily a bad tendency--but it does draw more attention to the points about silence and visible support I've been making here.)

Because he mentioned this tendency he's observed in an explicit discussion about antisemitism and allyship, he got a lot of pushback here and elsewhere for bringing up I/P. The point that I have been discussing is the fact that not also mentioning the rhetoric of those organizations, and uncritically supporting them without a broader discussion of flaws in the same way we often demand the Left approach the state of Israel, is.... well, I see why Joe felt that was something worth bringing up as scary.

It is also worth mentioning the fact that this tendency is not the only example Joe's comment mentioned--when I look at it, he also talked about the way that we discuss incidents of blatant and explicit antisemitism here, the silence in our responses as well as the words we actually use. He talked about the absence of explicit support from the left in the context of expressions of solidarity. He talked about several things. It's just that it was this one that made many people aggressively flag it or de-legitimize the entire comment, as well as the broader link he brought to the table.

I'd welcome h.l's reframing. And I apologize if I derailed the conversation to I/P. How can we be more mindful of our focus when it comes to actually expressing solidarity?
posted by sciatrix at 9:55 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Okay, I hear that re my characterization of the conflicts I am seeing here. I suppose my question is, then... If it's obvious that of course you can be antisemitic while criticizing Israel, why is that not being hedged in the responses that anti conflation people are bringing up in the same way that the "we have a problem" folks are explicitly hedging that not all criticism of Israel is a problem?

latkes addressed it upthread:
And I am likewise extremely resentful of the way some advocates of Israel endlessly conflate critiques of Israel with antisemitism. While it's certainly possible to find antisemitism among critics of Israel - it is not a central thrust of the anti-occupation movement.
motty addressed this too:
Here's the thing.

Antisemitism is racism and no-one here should have any truck with it.

Some anti-Zionism is expressed through the form of antisemitism. That too is racism, and no-one here should have any truck with it.

[snip]

....That also doesn't mean that some - a great deal even - of the anti-Zionism floating around isn't straight up antisemitism. Much of it is. Fuck that noise. See Steve Cohen etc (link above somewhere) etc for more detail on genuine antisemitism from the left than you could possibly wish for. Yeah, it's real. Yeah it's out there. Yeah, fuck that.
grouse has said
Personally, I think there's anti-Semitism and one problematic guy who repeatedly conflates legitimate critique of Israeli governmental policy with anti-Semitism.
Rock 'Em Sock 'Em quoted that and said:
This is how I feel.
zombieflanders has said:
...(for the second time in two days) that people in this thread that actually have said both that there is a problem with anti-Semitism and conflating legitimate critiques
So I don't know what more you want people to say. People on this particular side of the discussion have included exactly this in their responses. Repeatedly. More than that, I think it's an important aspect of the arguments. On their side, many people are in fact arguing that there's a crucial distinction between legitimate critique and anti-semitism camouflaged in anti-Zionism, and that a conflation of the two does not do anyone favors.
posted by naju at 12:20 PM on February 6 [7 favorites]


I want to apologize for not being more visible in here the last few days; I've got reasons and context and yadda yadda, mostly coming down to how overwhelming and draining everything is in general right now, but it would have been good to at least drop in an explicit note that I (a) continue to read and digest but (b) didn't have it in me to actually substantially respond at the time. I ended up just being not-here, which wasn't what I was aiming for, and that sucks and I'm sorry.

Where I am: I think I agree substantially with much of what folks have been saying, and am doing my best to listen and understand on even the stuff where I may not agree entirely. I'll reiterate as a baseline something I said earlier in the thread:
Antisemitism is a real problem. It's a problem in the world, and MetaFilter is part of the world; it's a problem that exists as an active expression of hatred and oppression and othering but also one that even well-meaning people can perpetuate unconsciously or through casual reiteration of ideas and "common sense" embedded in day-to-day culture. And I think that stuff is indeed really, really worth talking about.
And that's something I'm trying, and as a mod team we're trying, to show responsiveness to in our moderation. I don't think we're doing a perfect job there, but it's something that's an active part of what we look for and discussions about this stuff now and previously have helped us there, so I appreciate the effort folks have put into hashing it out in a productive way. Work in progress, probably forever, as with a lot of other things in the general sphere of social justice issues intersecting with general interest discussion.

I said before, and it's difficult to overstate this, that getting into the weeds of some of this can be very complicated. A lot of folks making the effort to do so upthread have been explicitly saying as much in the process. I don't think much of anybody here thinks the subject is simple. We may (or really, knowing MeFi, inevitably will) variously disagree on how to prioritize different angles of this stuff, or where boundaries should be drawn, or what the best method for avoiding future conflicts and concerns on the site is, because of that complicated territory. I personally find the subject incredibly daunting to engage with largely because of that.

But I'll be clear because "it's complicated" can feel like a dodge when someone's looking for straightforward reassurance that I think (a) yes, the subject is complicated in a way that makes these discussions difficult but (b) the core idea that antisemitism is real and is a problem that we need to work on here is not complicated.

Antisemitism is real and is a problem that we need to work on here.

I think that's simple and true. If I haven't conveyed that sufficiently in the past, that's on me, and I apologize.

I bring up the idea that navigating the detail level of this stuff is complicated not to dismiss it but to frame where I'm coming from as a moderator, trying to identify in general stuff that the bulk of folks in here seem to want, any (of the plentiful) disagreements aside:

- To have MetaFilter be a place where antisemitism isn't considered acceptable.
- To have it be possible to call out concerns about antisemitism without having those concerns dismissed outright.
- To have it be possible to talk about antisemitism, and concerns about it, without the inter-user discussion immediately getting polarized and intractable.
- To allow discussion of things touching on Jewish experience and culture, Judaism, antisemitism, Israel, Palestine, the historical and contemporary experiences of Jews, etc. to proceed in a thoughtful, MetaFilter-doing-it-well way without any and all of those being collapsed into or conflated with hot-button or problematic arguments in a way that torpedoes the discussion.
- To avoid conflating individual user history or behavior with the validity of a given perspective or issue related to the above.
- To avoid dismissing or gate-keeping Jewish identity in service of arguments.
- To avoid collapsing Jewish identity into a monolith that ignores variation in religious/secular, cultural, ethnic, Israeli, etc. Jewish identity.
- To avoid conflating Jewish identity with the policy or actions of the state of Israel.
- To avoid conflating criticism of the state of Israel with attacks on Jews or Judaism.
- To avoid blaming Jews for the oppression they experience.
- To be a site where folks feel like their Jewish identity is acceptable and understood and where folks have their back, especially at a fraught point in history like we're in now.

I can't help but feel like that's a partial list, but I'm doing the best I can right now to organize this stuff in my head. That's all stuff I've been trying to think hard the last few days about: in terms of how and why they end up happening on the site even when we collectively basically want to avoid them, or fail to happen even when we collectively would like them to; in terms of how as a moderation team we can help make it go right more often, how as a community everybody here can help us, how we can work to get ahead of things that in the past we have instead only managed to be reactive to.

And I think that the items in that list taken at face value are grounds for pretty general agreement, but some of them are as we've seen in this thread really easily drawn into larger arguments or heated moments or site/personal baggage in a way that makes it a lot harder to stick to all of them. Which seems like where this stuff tends to get most difficult and create the most hurt feelings and sense of distrust.

I would like to find a way to avoid having that drawing-in happen. And I don't have a general solution and think "well, if people just collectively agree to not have personal feelings or biases or baggage about past incidents, everything will go great!" is a pretty pie-in-the-sky proposition, so I'm not proposing that.

But I think working on that collectively, as a community and as mods, will help. I will continue to think hard about this and try to take fresh eyes to the things folks share concerns with us about and a degree of olive-branchness to how I approach some of the more entrenched inter-user stuff that comes into all this sometimes.

All of that aside, I also do want to just acknowledge that this is an especially fucked up and scary time in terms of visible, seemingly-ascendant antisemitic (and xenophobic, and...) rhetoric and agitation, and to the extent that that makes all this more on-edge and difficult for everybody I really feel you and want to be and for the site to be here for you. I know it also makes it more difficult to put up with things being bumpy or going sideways.

I am under it all hopeful that we will all get through this together because, for all its problems and blind spots and gaps that shouldn't need minding but still do, I believe the MetaFilter community is a good place capable of growing and becoming better. At a time when a lot of people may need more emotional shelter and place to have a sense of peace and community than usual, I think we can be a place for that, and I'm glad you're all here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:31 PM on February 6 [29 favorites]


Thank you, cortex and mods.
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:52 PM on February 6


I popped back to see if anything had improved and ... no, not really.

This thread started with Maxsparber asking people to acknowledge that Jews have not received support from the left, but a few users immediately turned it into a sort of referendum on me. When Maxsparber tried to turn it back to the substantive point they said that Jews have no right to feel that way; that we don't feel that way; and if we pretend to feel that way then we're lying. There was speculation as to what sort of thing was motivating us – it was Israel, of course, but was it because Israel was paying us or are we simply genocidal? I think it was left up in the air because why not both.

Throughout this whole process Jews kept saying how uncomfortable they felt, and some said they were leaving and others just left. But the dérailleurs doubled down and said that they didn't like being silenced, and Jewish complaints made them feel hurt, even if it was just a complaint about a view they may have held, or which their friends may have held, and which nobody had any reason to connect with them. Also, apparently I keep bringing Israel into everything, even into conversations that happened before I joined Metafilter, even in comments that don't mention Israel or Israelis or events in Israel.

People kept leaving, but the spirited defense of the Left continued. How important it is that no criticism of Israel be silenced (has it ever been?) by people who are probably in Israel's pockets. The paradox, in which Jews are simultaneously trying to introduce and silence discussions of Israel, was glossed over. Mchelly made a valiant attempt to point out that a person who is visibly Jewish and attends Jewish institutions may have more to fear than someone without those links, but this was promptly turned into a rousing chorus of how dare you say I'm not Jewish, I would have been Jewish enough for Hitler. And the mods were pretty much silent, even when people were literally begging for help.

Cortex's list of points might do something for the future if the mods apply them, but that's a very weak "might". It's a bit late, though, because a bunch of users found this conversation so intolerable that they've already left. I can see why: Metafilter is starting to feel like a family reunion with racist relatives. As long as you keep off certain topics, as long as you don't seem uncomfortable with anything, you're golden. Otherwise, you're a target yourself.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:46 PM on February 6 [2 favorites]


So... I see Jewish members of the site quoting comments made by other members of the site who also self-identify as Jewish as examples of antisemitism on Metafilter...

Ruki: yonega's point is valid - we Jews do not agree when it comes to some accusations of anti-Semitism. Yes, we can all denounce bomb threats and oven-jokes - but there are many times when I find myself feeling that accusations of anti-Semitism is overblown. Certainly, in my Canadian community, the local Jewish paper has overplayed anti-Semitism in the past.

And you know why this frightens me? Because when the Nazis do show up, as they are now - no one will take use seriously. If we cry wolf over imagined slights, it does make people pay less attention when we say, no, it's really scary this time! *I* find myself doing it; I've become so blasé about people in the Jewish community (especially people who live primarily in the Jewish community and who lack interfaith ties that I have) talking about how everyone hates them - while I know that the vast majority of Jews just don't care one way or the other, because most of my family aren't Jewish, while I am.

I've been thinking a lot about this lately, and I think what we need is not the "If a Jew says it, it must be true" - because seriously, you know Jews! We don't ever agree.

What we need - as a Jewish community - is a realistic threat assessment. If my own community, that means recognizing that anti-Semitism continues, but is less of a threat than homophobia; there are similar numbers of anti-Semitic hate crimes reported, but they are also almost entirely property damage while reported homophobic hate crimes are physical assault -- and who knows how many more unreported homophobic hate crimes there are.

But we must also absolutely speak out against the combination of anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia that leads to actions like the Quebec attempts to ban kippot and other religious headgear among public employees.
posted by jb at 5:10 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I'm also someone coming in late - so I'm sorry for the time-delayed comments.

I do also agree with Joe that there is a disturbing trend on the left to dismiss anti-Semitism. Also in my local city, the recent anti-Trump protest had listed just about every form of discrimination except anti-Semitism - but when asked to include anti-Semitism (because, you know, Nazis), the organizers had no response and it was never included.

As someone who does constantly straddle the Jewish and non-Jewish communities - I have seen both sides. I have seen my Jewish community exaggerate the level of anti-Semitism (especially in comparison to other hate crimes), and I've seen the non-Jewish left ignore anti-Semitism, even as it is on the rise.

Maybe nuance is too complicated. Maybe I'm part of the problem. I want nuance about anti-Semitism because I want my Jewish community to be less isolationist and more engaged with my non-Jewish community - and I have seen how fear of anti-Semitism keeps us separated. But I have also seen in myself tendencies to ignore minor levels of anti-Semitism that - like broken windows - maybe lay the soil for the growth of more serious hate.

I don't know what the best approach is. All I know is that I have lived my life assuming that things are less dangerous, because that helps me reach out, and live a happier life. But maybe I'm wrong.
posted by jb at 5:30 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Hmm. I don't know if that's a take-away we should apply here. I don't think there are, like, protest points that we don't want to spend on "just property damage" in order to save them for bodily harm.

I really appreciate all of the Jewish voices in this thread but I am also going to disagree: I don't think we need to create a perfectly-calibrated sensor that only trips in the event of sufficient harm or total agreement. I think as a community we want:

*To speak up on anti-Semitism and have that taken seriously.
*To not have it become a conversation about Israel.
*To have sensitive conversations about Israel.
*To respond to "hey, that's problematic" with "oh, sorry. Do you mind explaining why?", and also to have an answer taken seriously.

Those answers are going to look different and that's okay, I don't think we need to all agree with each other to still point out "this sounds bad" and have that heard.

Like your point about reaching out to the larger community (and I share experiences): on the one hand, the accusations of those shifty, insular, mysterious Jews is an old one. But on the other hand the local interfaith group has everyone meet in a church and pray to a shared God directly under a big cross so that's weird. But on the other other other hand, I'm hoping a newspaper calls my Reform shul rather than the Orthodox down the road for a statement on LGBT threats in this environment, because yeah. So it is complicated for sure, but to keep MeFi humming along, I'd like to propose we follow the mods' examples and have a simple rule where:

*If someone calls out anti-Semitism, the community needs to listen .
posted by hapaxes.legomenon at 5:47 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


I am so fucking sick of "No, the Jews totally overstate anti-semitism, because X is worse" -- maybe they just do not AGREE with what you think the level is; maybe they are different people who have actually had different experiences and have seen things you haven't; maybe they're following the stories a bit more closely. Maybe they're right, or maybe they're wrong, but there's a lot of blaming and subtextual "they're lying" going on.

I am also just fucking done with Israel being brought up in relation to anti-semitism. I am Jewish. I am not Israeli. I have never been to Israel. I do not vote in Israel. I do not give money to Israeli (or Palestinian) charities. I have exactly zero relationship with and impact on Israel. Even if Israel stopped existing, I would be Jewish -- and there would be the exact same amount of anti-semitism, only everyone would have to have a different excuse, which they would find, because history shows there are lots of excuses.
posted by jeather at 6:18 AM on February 7 [21 favorites]


Cortex, thanks for the statement of intent, and I appreciate that you're clearly taking this seriously, while acknowledging that it is complicated. And it is complicated. But I hope the feet of the people leaving will weigh with you as strongly if not more so than the people who are staying to reiterate that we don't have an anti-semitism problem, we have a JiA problem.

I stayed out of commenting over the last few days, partly because I felt I was playing an outsize role in the conversation, and partly because of an interchange I had with a mod. Someone made a comment here that I thought was already a no-go according to site policy on the subject. Rather than get fighty about it (especially since that fight would involve I/P), I flagged it and sent a note, saying this was exactly what many of us who were upset were talking about. This was part of the mod's response: "... just because you can't see another perspective doesn't mean there isn't one, and your flat insistence that they are wrong and should be moderated away instead of thoughtfully engaged is exactly why we can't discuss Israel
on this site with any civility."
Because I FIAMO, because I took my discomfort off-site, I was the problem here. It's the first time I've ever asked for a second mod opinion (which backed up that the thing I thought wasn't allowed is allowed so long as you're sufficiently oblique about it, but that I should see the first mod's words as "generalized frustration" and not aimed at me or my comments in the thread -- what?). I hope it's okay to quote their emails in a public forum - I don't know if that's cool or not, and I apologize if it's not (feel free to delete) - but clearly I don't understand how the rules here work, if flagging makes me a bad actor. Also, I can see the other perspective on I/P, and I repeatedly say that I do (I'm right here, on the left, I'm not a Likudnik, so what perspective on I/P am I assumed to not be seeing?), but what is the other perspective on anti-semitism that I'm missing that makes it wrong for me to flag something?

So I'm looking forward to seeing any changes in policy or modding that may be announced, but I'm still really uncomfortable. Some of the problems may be coming from inside the house, and I'm not seeing anything resembling community consensus, or even community confusion with lots of opinions - I'm seeing two sides. And many of the people on one of the sides are no longer here, while on the other side we have people who are now saying that what the site is really missing is the Palestinian perspective. Coming, I think not coincidentally, from the same member who flagged and publicly called out JiA's comment on the other thread in the first place. And that comment was again left to stand without mod comment - in a thread about anti-semitism, telling us we're not hearing enough of the Palestinian people's perspective is incredibly tone-deaf at best.

I'm Orthodox, but I'm a pluralist. I am not pointing fingers and calling anyone a fake Jew. Judaism itself - the religion - does have parameters for who is and isn't Jewish, which varies by denomination and branch. I won't apologize for that, I don't make the rules and have no voice in deciding them, but I absolutely apologize if my comments led anyone to think I was questioning their Judaism. I did say, right in my comment itself, "I'm still assuming that that doesn't apply to anyone here." But let me reiterate - if someone here says "I'm Jewish," that's good enough for me. The reason I brought it up, however, was because identity politics is part of what's driving this discussion. People are saying that some Jews should not be believed about anti-semitism where Israel is concerned, because they cynically call every critique of Israel anti-semitic. I have never seen these people, and I mix with a lot of right-wing Zionists. I think there are a lot of people who are hair-trigger about anti-semitism, just as there are many people who are hair-trigger in every persecuted minority group. We all know them. And when we encounter them, and we disagree, we try to say, "Yes, X and Y are problematic but I don't believe Z was -ist, and here's why;" we don't demonize the person and assume that therefore X and Y must also be up for debate because bad actor. But if it is true that there are people here who always cynically insist "anti-semitism" to silence I/P critiques because Israel, then it is also true that there are people here who cynically insist "Jewish" to silence anti-semitism critiques because Palestine. Once you assume that some people here are bad actors, once we don't take arguments on their merits, then it is inconceivable to argue that there aren't people here who use "I'm Jewish" in I/P conversations to score points, when they would never type those words or consider themselves Jewish in any other discussion. It cuts both ways.

I would rather assume good actors, and good faith. I would rather hear people saying "that sounds anti-semitic" than "you're anti-semitic." When it comes to blood libel, I would rather see people saying "maybe you don't realize, but X is a common trope of people attacking Jews for blood libel." Because most people, especially in America, really don't know anything about it. When it comes to "Zionists," I would rather never see the word used as a slur, but if you can't avoid it for whatever reason, I would prefer people say "Christian and Jewish Zionists." I would love some codification on how many elliptical ways people are allowed to accuse Israel of genocide or acting like Nazis before it gets considered a deletable offense, or saying that anyone Jewish who brings up the Holocaust in a conversation about Israel is being exploitative. Because I thought those were already a line in the sand. And we really need to put to bed the idea the idea that there's some sort of discrimination Olympics going on, where any minority's suffering needs to be measured and found worthy in order to count.

And I know this is probably not a helpful comment, and I have only been here since 2008, but I believe moderation on this issue was noticeably better when Jessamyn was a mod. I would love to request that she be invited to any discussions the mod team has when making recommendations, if she's willing to participate.

Anyway, thanks for listening. I really believe that most of us - even those of us who are disagreeing the most vehemently - are on the same side. That this is based in a lack of awareness rather than a desire to hurt. But it does hurt.
posted by Mchelly at 7:35 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


And you know why this frightens me? Because when the Nazis do show up, as they are now - no one will take use seriously. If we cry wolf over imagined slights, it does make people pay less attention when we say, no, it's really scary this time!

I think the round of people openly supporting Nazi's is less because of disagreement over what anti-Semitism is and more because White Supremacy is a Hel of a drug and more people support it in action than they do in name. This includes progressives - I'm attempting to combat my internalized White Supremacy through putting my time and attention toward supporting women of color and the movements they make, but I'd be lying if I said I don't have Clueless White Moments regularly.

A realistic threat assessment seems to me to be incredibly difficult to do because White Supremacy runs on stochastic violence. I had no idea before this thread that guards at Synagogues was typical. As far as I'm concerned, the fact that is normal for Jewish people who go to worship should be taken far more seriously than it is, and I'm worried that people won't speak up because they don't want to "cry wolf" while the wolves are breathing down their neck. I'd rather have people be too sensitive than not sensitive enough because all evidence points to "not sensitive enough" being the default setting on the US "is this bigotry" meter.
posted by Deoridhe at 11:54 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


the people who are staying to reiterate that we don't have an anti-semitism problem, we have a JiA problem

I get your frustration but basically no one in thread has said this. I, and many many others, have said we have both problems - and I stand by that.

Is very hard to engage with this level of distortion; i feel like what you're feeling many people are saying is not reflected in their actual words.
posted by smoke at 12:13 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


I think the issue is - even if you think there exists a JiA problem, it seems kind of weird to come into the thread about antisemitism, where maxsparber specifically said "I don't want to make it about JiA", and talk about a JiA problem. I don't really know that it rises to the level of *ist, but it really bothers me every time yet another person talks about their issues with JiA rather than engaging with the substance of the thread without bringing JiA into it.
posted by corb at 12:38 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


So I'm antisemitic for addressing the *example used in the flipping op*, and the person who makes the large majority of antisemitic accusations on this site? Far out.

Joe is a huge part of discussion around antisemitism on this site; you can't just excise his presence and contributions and pretend pretend it's the same.

Certainly, he's not the whole of it, and one thing I have really appreciated about this thread is the opportunity to hear many other other Jewish voices taking about this issue.
posted by smoke at 12:48 PM on February 7 [5 favorites]


maxsparber doesn't get to set terms for what we discuss here.

When you start your post with "So Joe from Australia posted this comment" you don't later get to demand that people not discuss the full content of that comment or the behavior of the person who posted it.
posted by grouse at 12:56 PM on February 7 [8 favorites]


Smoke, consider that I may be right; alternatively, please accept that I am at least sincere. I often don't defend the things I say about antisemitism because it's hard enough to raise them in the first place, the mods treat it as a derail, and what is really the point. But just to take an example from this thread, up above:
here's the time he claimed that "neocon" was an anti-Semitic dogwhistle, even though you'd be hard pressed to find any Jewish Washingtonian (or probably any Jewish American, really) left of center that has ever thought that
The defense of the term is that "left of center" Jews ... at least those in Washington ... wouldn't see it as antisemitic. I don't even know if that's true, but it's begging the question. The Wikipedia article I cited primarily treats neoconservatives as being Jewish, and in antisemitic articles it's certainly used as a slur or code word for Jews. We shouldn't use it uncritically, any more than we should use the word "thug" uncritically.

This thread was prompted by an article talking about the erasure of Jewish concerns in left-wing circles. Here's another. And another. This sort of thing has been quietly said among Jews for decades but now it's boiling over. When we are criticised it's very easy to listen to voices that say the criticism is false, that it's coming from a bad person, and that they're exaggerating it. It's very hard to choose the voice that is harsh and critical over the ones that make you feel good, justified, and valiant in your righteousness. But we need to do that, because the comforting voices are not always the ones that can help us grow.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:27 PM on February 7


"here's the time he claimed that "neocon" was an anti-Semitic dogwhistle, even though you'd be hard pressed to find any Jewish Washingtonian (or probably any Jewish American, really) left of center that has ever thought that"

The defense of the term is that "left of center" Jews ... at least those in Washington ... wouldn't see it as antisemitic. I don't even know if that's true, but it's begging the question. The Wikipedia article I cited primarily treats neoconservatives as being Jewish, and in antisemitic articles it's certainly used as a slur or code word for Jews. We shouldn't use it uncritically, any more than we should use the word "thug" uncritically.


Joe, seriously, thank you for expanding on this, and drawing the parallel with use of "thug". With 100% sincerity, I have never in my life known that this term is used as dogwhistle anti-Semitism-- and if you had not mentioned it explicitly in your follow-up here, I still wouldn't have any idea.

You and maxsparber have both referenced other terms as anti-Semitic dogwhistles that I honestly would have never dreamed held that hidden message (the discussion about gentiles calling themselves "goyim" was another example). I definitely don't want to ask people who are dealing with a barrage of hatespeech to offer education to the rest of us, and I will try harder to become conversant with this weaponized and coded terminology on my own time.

I only mention this because prior to this moment, if you had said "the term neocon is an anti-Semitic slur", my first response would probably have been "what? no it isn't" (not in-thread, just to myself). Not because I doubt that anti-Semitism is happening or on the rise, or even because I doubt your experiences. But because that connotation of the word is absolutely unfamiliar to me, and I have never heard the word used in that context. It would have been like hearing that "gerrymander" was some sort of dogwhistle-- I had no idea the word had been co-opted (or designed? I clearly have zero context on the etymology) to send a hidden message. If I had used the word in a political discussion, I would never have dreamed that anyone would hear/experience it as a slur. If someone had accused me of using it intentionally in that way, I would have vehemently disagreed.

It reminds me of elderly people finding out about Pepe symbolism after the election-- wait, this means what? My grandson wearing a shirt with a cartoon frog means he's a Nazi? If you aren't in the spaces where dogwhistles and symbols take hold, you might mistakenly believe they are value-neutral. I apologize again for having similar levels of cluelessness surrounding this issue, in ways that have hurt community members here.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 2:36 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


I feel pretty sad. I appreciate my fellow Jewish people who have been engaging here. I appreciate sincere efforts to express frustration and despair and all the feelings we have. I am really sad that some folks have signed off due to a sense of un-welcomeness or antisemitism on this site.

I may have been the person that first brought up a concern about critiques of Israel being labeled as antisemitic in this thread. Why? In the Nazi Punching thread, Joe in Australia, you linked to two articles about anti-Israeli policy protests/organizations, and cited them as examples of antisemitism. I can find no neutral, third party media coverage that attempts to uncover what actually happened or who organized the protest discussed in the second link. It looks like a somewhat militant, loud protest of a former Israeli military commander. I have no reason to think it was antisemitic in nature or impact. The first link is about BDS. I don't think BDS is antisemitic. Why? Because Jewish people are deeply involved in BDS at all levels. Here is the statement in support of BDS from the Jewish Voice for Peace rabbinical council.

I'm not adding this link to say that I am right. I'm putting in this link to say, support of BDS is an accepted position among many Jews. This is not a marginal or self hating position. This is not the equivalent of an anti-feminist woman or a Clarence Thomas. Joe, I think it is really harmful to community discussion to continually assert without evidence that protests against the government of Israel represent antisemitism, when you present no evidence that they actually are.

Some people upthread asked if we would just accept that when some people say something is antisemitic, we should agree with that statement. I have been thinking about that for days. I want to do that. I want to support my brothers and sisters who speak their experience and say, "I've got your back, I'm one of you, I'm with you." But you are literally saying that the types of actions I personally participate in are antisemitic, so how can I express solidarity with that?

I don't mean to go around in circles here, but if I see you post something like that Joe, and I don't say something, then it appears you are speaking for Jews when you say these example are antisemitic. But you aren't speaking for Jews. You aren't even speaking for the majority of Jews. You are speaking for some Jews.

What feels disingenuous is a failure to acknowledge this as an issue of controversy among us. Joe, absolutely no one said, "Israel was paying us or are we [are] simply genocidal". That is either a wilfull misread of a critique of Israeli policy toward Palestinians or... I don't know what? I am guessing you are motivated by an authentic love for Israel and for Jewish people. But even if your motivations are good, your rhetorical style sucks for me, your fellow Jew.

I can't really read all the comments in this thread. I'm sure we all feel completely spent at this point from this painful discussion.

I aim to be cautious and thoughtful in my speech going forward. I aim to listen more to the voices of my fellow Jews on this site, especially when they speak up about antisemitism. I aim to speak up more about it myself, and examine the ways I may have internalized some dismissive messages about antisemitism.

I ask you in specific Joe, because frankly this has been an ongoing source of frustration: we really aren't allowed to talk about Israel very much on this site: there is a very high bar for those discussions. So it's not like I can just make a post that says, "Here's some BDS protesters hosting a lively rally" to present my point of view. That would be deleted and I understand why. Yet you can pop into a thread and say, "Here's some BDS protesters being antisemitic" and that comment will stand. I'm not saying that's wrong moderation, but I am asking you as a person to think about what that means for people, for Jewish people who happen to disagree with you on BDS or Israel (to say nothing of Arab Israelis or Palestinians who may be in-thread) and their experience.

I don't feel resolved or clear about what should happen differently on this website. Truly I'm sorry if I have been hurtful here. I have a lot to think about.
posted by latkes at 3:43 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]


I am so fucking sick of "No, the Jews totally overstate anti-semitism, because X is worse" -- maybe they just do not AGREE with what you think the level is; maybe they are different people who have actually had different experiences and have seen things you haven't; maybe they're following the stories a bit more closely. Maybe they're right, or maybe they're wrong, but there's a lot of blaming and subtextual "they're lying" going on.

If you're responding to my comment, I was talking about a deceptive headline in the CJN (one of the big papers), which was belied by the text of the article itself. Anti-Semitic incidents were the most common in Toronto (by a couple of incidents), but were primarily property damage, with fewer physical attack incidents than either anti-Muslim or homophobic incidents.
posted by jb at 5:01 PM on February 7


and no, they weren't following it more carefully: they were deliberating exaggerating the significance of a police report.
posted by jb at 5:04 PM on February 7


I had no idea before this thread that guards at Synagogues was typical.

They are typical, as are guards at my local JCC. I've even had my bag fully searched when entering an event at a synagogue uptown - which was weird to me, as the downtown Hillel doesn't search bags or anything that serious and there are far more strange people coming and going on that street.

I just don't know how justified they are. The only deadly attack at a house of worship in my country has been at a mosque. Maybe the synagogue uptown had had a credible threat. Or maybe it was a form of security theatre, which ended up not making anyone feel more safe but just more threatened.

If it's the former, I understand it. If it's the latter, I regret it: it breeds fear and suspicion in my community against the other half of my community. And I know that the Jewish community can misunderstand the non-Jewish community - because I've had to "translate" between the two.

I am aware that there has been a massive uptick in threats to JCCs, especially in the US. Anyone know if Canadian have been threatened? But this was earlier, before any of this all happened - and, as noted, in Canada it's the mosques who need guards this month (or interfaith rings of peace).
posted by jb at 5:19 PM on February 7


Los Angeles JCC shooting
Seattle Jewish Federation shooting
Kansas City JCC shooting

Those are just off the top of my head. Also Jewish organizations are often told by law enforcement not to publicize threats, because of copycats.

I don't know what to say to you about "how justified they are." Yes, it's primarily property damage, but it's also at exponentially higher numbers. Guards have been a thing since at least the Los Angeles incident - everyone remembers this image and no one wants to see it happen again at their school (please keep in mind that most synagogues and JCCs offer regular children's classes and often preschool-elementary schools).
posted by Mchelly at 5:49 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


So it's not like I can just make a post that says, "Here's some BDS protesters hosting a lively rally" to present my point of view. That would be deleted and I understand why. Yet you can pop into a thread and say, "Here's some BDS protesters being antisemitic" and that comment will stand.

I didn't actually mention BDS, but surely you can see that the two things are not the same. If you posted a link that showed Jews being Islamophobic it wouldn't be at all relevant for me to respond with a video of Netanyahu singing Shir LaShalom while dancing the hora. Also, lots of my comments are deleted too. You never see them, that's all.

N.B. If you are reading this comment by Joe in Australia it is because it was personally curated by a moderator. Metafilter relies on the support of readers like you. Donate now.
posted by Joe in Australia at 6:01 PM on February 7


N.B. If you are reading this comment by Joe in Australia it is because it was personally curated by a moderator. Metafilter relies on the support of readers like you. Donate now.

Just to be clear, we don't pre-check comments by anyone routinely - only on request. I understand the sentiment, but I don't want anyone misled.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:04 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


This has been painful but, I believe, productive. I retract my plan to button. I particularly appreciated latkes' latest really thoughtful comment. Thanks also, most sincerely, to cortex. Please stay with this effort you have articulated. And thanks very much to JiA for managing to educate me further in this thread, to Michelly for staying engaged here, including her list above of some but not all recent US incidents that were a good deal more than property damage, and to the other commenters I mentioned earlier.

I also want to point out to anyone who thinks hate oriented property damage isn't such a big deal that it is most always a proxy to threaten bodily harm. I saw this over and over again when I prosecuted DV cases -- believe you me that breaking household items, smashing the phone, hurting pets, and writing things on people's cars were all terrifying because they implicitly told the victim how much more lay in wait. Does anyone think a burning cross or a rock through a window shouldn't frighten African Americans, that hate speech on a mosque or attempted arson there is no big thing for Islamic worshippers, or that something makes acts like these somehow more frightening than putting swastikas on Jewish centers, defacing Jewish cemeteries, or writing slurs that invoke blood libel or the Jewish banking conspiracy slur or the Elders of Zion mythology? If so, think again. Also notice none of this has anything to do with a Jew's views on I/P.
posted by bearwife at 6:38 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


Should we have another MeTa about this down the road that has nothing to do with a comment Joe in Australia made? Would that help us talk about antisemitism without having to hash out how to talk about Israel?

I've caught up with this thread and I'm still not satisfied that a lot of people really get why some of us are uncomfortable. I don't think anyone here is an antisemitic person, but I feel deeply uncomfortable when this premise -- be aware of antisemitism -- becomes a Thing like this that goes on for so long. And I'm deeply uncomfortable with some of the comments here because of how tone deaf they are. Everyone is saying, generally, yes, I believe antisemitism is real, but no one has anything to say about the possibility of unintentionally endorsing those tropes themselves, unless I missed a whole block of comments.

Look, in the past I have accidentally repeated stuff that was rooted in unfavorable stereotypes about Jews, many times, and I will probably do it at some point in the future. It's not a matter of identity, it's just a matter of fact that these tropes are insidious and they're everywhere. I'm not out to condemn people, I just want people to pay attention. We've got this lively discussion going, mostly about Israel, and I think it's managed to completely avoid why so many people have left this site. I don't know, I can't speak for them. I can say I'd join them, but I just got back to this site, and I don't feel like leaving again; so I may just be better off not trying to engage with this in the future, if this is how it's going to go every time.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 6:39 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


And on the subject of violence, I posted this right after Yom Kippur this past year - we still have no idea why the cops were out that night, let alone in full gear - they wouldn't tell any of us (not even the rabbi).

Anyhow I think the guards are there more for a deterrent than an expectation. If you're posting about violence in particular because you feel that other groups are in more concrete danger right now than Jews are, I don't think anyone here would disagree. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore threats against our own community as part of solidarity.
posted by Mchelly at 7:55 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


If you're posting about violence in particular because you feel that other groups are in more concrete danger right now than Jews are, I don't think anyone here would disagree. But that doesn't mean that we should ignore threats against our own community as part of solidarity.

QFT. Also, conveniently, many of the bad guys are the same people. E.g., White Nationalist groups are both racist and antisemitic. Taking their threats and aggressions seriously helps everybody.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:46 PM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I guess part of my own problem is that I've personally experienced the most outright, unchallenged antisemitism from the Left (IRL, not necessarily here) and that absolutely affects my own perspective. It makes me edgy, because, from my own experience, I can't fully trust my so-called allies. They're all too willing to throw me under the bus in their support of the Palestinian people. And I support a two-state solution, and I recognize that Hamas and Hezbollah are political organizations separate from the Palestinian people in the same way that the Likud and this current US administration are separate from me. Of course it's complicated. But antisemitism from the Left is a genuine problem, and I feel like it's glossed over here because of JiA. But just, he's not always wrong, and it's really unfair to him and us that people are saying that we have a both an antisemitism problem and a Joe problem. I feel so unheard because it always comes back to Israel and Joe, and it's all so much bigger than that.
posted by Ruki at 9:06 PM on February 7 [9 favorites]


while on the other side we have people who are now saying that what the site is really missing is the Palestinian perspective. Coming, I think not coincidentally, from the same member who flagged and publicly called out JiA's comment on the other thread in the first place. And that comment was again left to stand without mod comment - in a thread about anti-semitism, telling us we're not hearing enough of the Palestinian people's perspective is incredibly tone-deaf at best.

I thought about this all day and had a lengthy comment replying to it, but at the end of the day it's not worth it and I think we're all tired. I regret reading and participating in the Nazi-punching thread, this thread, and any political threads and will try to hold off on engaging or reading as such in the future, and I apologize wholeheartedly to anyone I owe apologies to, because surely some are in order.
posted by naju at 11:38 PM on February 7


(Amending slightly to say I don't regret reading the myriad perspectives here on anti-semitism that widened my horizons, and am grateful for them.)
posted by naju at 12:01 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


First of all, I want to once again thank latkes for their wonderful, heartfelt, and genuine comments. I see a lot of myself in them, and the most recent comment touches on something that's been discussed here that I think some are discarding.

In this thread, the old saw about "two Jews, three opinions" has been brought up several times, and I really think that this is something that needs to be taken into account. For instance, Joe's characterization of my reference to "neocons," which is far from the settled subject he portrays it as. I'm not going to go into the long and storied history behind the term, but it was embraced for decades amongst Jewish conservatives: the quip that "a neoconservative is a liberal who has been mugged by reality was written by Irving Kristol, one of the heavyweights of American Jewish conservative thought. Even today, it pops up in pieces by Jews in Jewish- or Israel-centric publications on both the left and the right, such as Haaretz, the Jerusalem Post, Forward, and Tikkun. It's been used by popular Jewish journalists and writers from across the political spectrum, from Paul Krugman to Thomas Friedman to Jonah Goldberg. Of course, there are often disagreements between Jews at the same publications, which again brings us back to "two Jews, three opinions."

My point is, contrary to Joe's assertion, this is not by any means even close to being a settled issue among Jews, and may in fact be largely limited to small-c conservative circles. Joe's breezy claim (complete with scare quotes) that this is "begging the question" is both disturbing and in its own way underlines my point. It's disturbing that I feel like it was then used to paint me as (at the very least) anti-Semite-adjacent, which is not the first, and likely not the last, time that has happened. It underlines the point, made in the very thread that I linked to, that this is not something limited to anti-Semitic circles. I also find it somewhat offensive that the term is being compared to using the word "thug" by someone who seems to have at best a shaky grasp on both American racial politics and American Jewish political identification. Thurgood Marshall and MLK, to my knowledge, did not regularly use the term "thug" to describe their thinking about the African-American politics. It is used by African-American writers of varying politics both as a term to be criticized and a term that they think think is accurate, although in this case the ratios are probably reversed.

So, like latkes, I'm worried that there's an element in accusations that either accidentally or purposefully "other" dissenting Jewish voices that shouldn't be ignored. Many times these voices represent mainstream thought for Jewish culture and politics that a cultural outsider may not understand. So while I get a fiendish thingy's response--although I'd disagree the usage is anything like a Nazi Pepe--I'd like to ask that people do a bit of research first. If using the term "neocon" or whatever else makes you feel uncomfortable to use, I don't really have problem with you choosing not to use it anymore. I assume Joe actually believes it to be anti-Semitic, just like I think he actually believes anyone opposed to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is hostile to Israel. But those are views that are not universally shared by Jews the world over, and I feel like it's important to assess the concerns and pushback from other Jews to this kind of assertion of opinion couched as fact.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:23 AM on February 8 [13 favorites]


. Once you assume that some people here are bad actors, once we don't take arguments on their merits, then it is inconceivable to argue that there aren't people here who use "I'm Jewish" in I/P conversations to score points, when they would never type those words or consider themselves Jewish in any other discussion. It cuts both ways.

You can argue that if you want to. I think that making this accusation (instead of talking around it like we're all so easily distracted from what you're actually doing) would make you look foolish given that a quick perusal of people's comment history shows that this is very much not the case. But yes, everyone who disagrees with you probably goes to church on Sunday.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 11:56 AM on February 8 [1 favorite]


I have honestly been pretty...taken aback by Mchelly's persistent attempts to question other people's Jewish identity and I wish it would stop.
posted by lalex at 12:06 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


I assume Joe actually believes it to be anti-Semitic, just like I think he actually believes anyone opposed to moving the American embassy to Jerusalem is hostile to Israel.

You assume a lot of things that are not so. When you say
My point is, contrary to Joe's assertion, this is not by any means even close to being a settled issue among Jews [...]
What assertion that this is a settled issue among Jews? You keep making claim after claim about things that I allegedly said, and I avoid reacting to your claims because you also say that I comment too much. Most of your "assumptions" go unchallenged, but there's a limit to the degree of gaslighting I can put up with.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:12 PM on February 8


I have honestly been pretty...taken aback by Mchelly's persistent attempts to question other people's Jewish identity

Since she has not done that, I would ask you not accuse her of it. Frankly I don't see how you could have read her comments carefully and have decided that was a fair statement. She has given us all some useful and accurate information about how Judaism itself assesses Jewish identity (as opposed to accepting that Hitler's classifications are definitive.) She has very clearly and repeatedly said she is not questioning anyone's self identification. Nor am I.

Frankly, lalex, I've been taken aback by my perception that you have repeatedly skipped over the issue here, which is not what is wrong with JiA or Michelly, but why so many MeFis are oblivious to or dismissive of anti-Semitism.
posted by bearwife at 1:44 PM on February 8 [4 favorites]


I have honestly been pretty...taken aback by Mchelly's persistent attempts to question other people's Jewish identity and I wish it would stop.

I don't think that's even kind of fair.

Mchelly seems to hold a pretty traditional interpretation of "who is Jewish", because that's what traditional halakhic law says and Mchelly is Orthodox. As I'm sure you know, but explained in more depth for others who may not, it considers a person Jewish if their mother is Jewish, or they converted according to a formal process. By rabbinical law, someone can be Jewish even if they don't know they are Jewish - if their mother's mother's mother was Jewish, they are still Jewish. Judaism by birth has nothing to with belief in the religion according to this view.

The difficulty here is that American Reform Judaism - which it seems, though I could be incorrect, that most of the dissenting voices are coming from here - holds a different opinion of this and a lot of other things in Judaism. American Reform Jews hold, for example, that Jews who are raised in a different religion are not Jews, and that children of a Jewish father are themselves Jewish.

This is a religious dispute between two different segments of Judaism. This is not one person or a few people deciding to be a jerk, or to 'question other people's Jewish identity'. I know that this kind of dispute doesn't map well on how Metafilter handles identity, which I think is actually part of what makes this such a tense fight.
posted by corb at 1:51 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


In an unasked-for defense of lalex, I just want to say I have spent over 25 years in America now having American Jews try to suss out just how Jew-y I am based on their religious, cultural, social, whatever indices (and "Jew-y" is an internal term and concept about which I can go on for hours, believe me). I probably spoke about it upthread. But basically, in my experience as an ethnic Jewish person with cultural and historical awareness and zero predilection toward the more religious stuff, constantly having to put out my Jewish bona fides because I do not look like or act or am from in familiar ways to these Jews who are quizzing me. You know what every single one of them says? "Well, you said you're Jewish and that's good enough for me." And it's ... true to them, I'd think. I mean I hope they're not lying to me. And then the questions about knowing Hebrew, and Bar Mitzvahs, and god forbid circumcisions and whatever else trivial Judaic things they bring up to figure out where to put me in their "how Jew-y are you" pinboard. You can be definitely Jewish, but you can also be not Jewish enough for whatever damn reason and these kinds of divisions are huge and important among Jews of different (oh my god please tell me there's a better word I can use) stripes.

But this is absolutely one of those things where if you are not on the inside, you generally don't know how to pick up on the what we now call microaggressions that arise after that "oh, sure, buddy, you're definitely in with the rest of us." And a lot of that stuff comes from a religious angle. And I see a lot of that stuff in this thread from a number of people, including Mchelly.

So, here we go, if you want to complicate things: I kind of agree with lalex and my agreement stems from having dozens of conversations with people with perspectives like Mchelly's, among others and seeing all those little needling things in her statements and the statements of others here. I'm not even gonna say Mchelly is doing it on purpose, or to piss me off, or in bad faith or anything like that. Hell, I don't even like that this is being centered on her but I also see what I think lalex sees (I really, really don't really want to speak on her behalf) and it bugs the shit out of me too.
posted by griphus at 2:24 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


"I bring up that question because a common thread I am seeing is the idea that what we as MeFites don't say is as important as what we do say."

Only in the broadest possible sense, because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Trying to infer anything meaningful from a member not responding or not commenting on an issue is more useless than trying to infer anything from an individual favorite of a comment or post.
posted by klangklangston at 2:41 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


Look, Joe, I'm not going to play this dumb "I'm not tooooouching you" game. You obviously weren't responding to agree that Jews can have disagreements over things, especially not when you trotted out a laughably ridiculous analogy to a racist term whose usage you clearly have no cultural or political context for. I also don't believe for one second that you now magically believe you tend to steamroll conversations, so we can dispense with that attempt at martyrdom as well. And the idea that I'm gaslighting you? I'm not sure if you don't understand what it means, or just don't care.

Oh, and put me in the same column as griphus. It's not usually as bad as my earlier anecdote about how shitty Jewish summer school kids were regarding my heritage, but I've dealt with the whole gatekeeping-but-not-really/not-on-purpose thing before, and I 100% have felt that here.
posted by zombieflanders at 2:45 PM on February 8 [7 favorites]


[One deleted. Joe, everybody here agrees there is antisemitism in the world at large. We're trying to keep this discussion more focused specifically on this site, and dragging it off into "hey, here's an example of somebody in the UK being antisemitic" is not contributing to that focus.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:49 PM on February 8 [8 favorites]


I kind of agree with lalex and my agreement stems from having dozens of conversations with people with perspectives like Mchelly's, among others and seeing all those little needling things in her statements and the statements of others here. I'm not even gonna say Mchelly is doing it on purpose, or to piss me off, or in bad faith or anything like that. Hell, I don't even like that this is being centered on her but I also see what I think lalex sees (I really, really don't really want to speak on her behalf) and it bugs the shit out of me too.

It bugs me too. What also bugs me are our self-proclaimed "allies" who make a point of supporting those who question the Jewishness of others and never those whose Jewishness is being questioned.
posted by grouse at 2:58 PM on February 8 [9 favorites]


The conversation about "who's Jewish enough" is one we're not going to resolve conclusively here, but I appreciate the people who are trying to work through this very tough and personal set of issues here. To approach this stuff as a community, we need to hold a space where people can explain their different experiences (geographically different, across diasporic traditions and along the continuum of secular-to-religious) and have them respected and acknowledged.

It sucks to feel like your identity is being denied or questioned, and it sucks to feel like your fears or concerns are being downgraded or ignored. I absolutely believe we can have this conversation without either of those things happening. I know it's not anybody's intent to do that to anyone else here, although it clearly does happen anyway, and maybe this conversation can help us to see more how to avoid that. I appreciate everyone sticking with this, trying to make their own experiences/perspective clear and being careful not to dismiss others', even while feeling under some pressure/threat themselves.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:05 PM on February 8 [3 favorites]


I think a lot of gentiles, especially on MeFi, are used to these sorts of conversations being framed as sexist/not sexist, racist/not racist, xenophobic/not xenophobic and know which side is the Right Side and how to behave based on social justice principles when you're on the Right Side (active listening! believe the oppressed! good allyship!) Except they also then have a super hard time not trying to Pick The Right Side in a an argument on Jewishness held between Jews and not acting toward certain other Jews as if they've somehow ended up on the racist/sexist/xenophobic/whatever side of things because they disagree with a Jew that the gentiles agree with.

Y'all don't have to do that, you know?
posted by griphus at 3:06 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


I cannot believe this is where we are now. For the THIRD time now, if someone here says "I'm Jewish," that's good enough for me.

That's what I said. That's what I meant. How much more clear can I make it?

The whole "who is a Jew" thing is crazy fraught, and I am NOT weighing into it, and I am not willing to be dragged into it by every Jew (by whatever standard) with a grudge against whatever religious Jew first hurt them with it. I apologize to you on behalf of the entire Jewish people.

This is me, a Jewish person, mentioning (in passing! it wasn't even my point!) Jewish beliefs according to Judaism. Not according to Orthodoxy -- I made extra effort to include as many different branches as I could, not to be rhetorical but because it's what I actually accept -- and only because there were people here saying you can't trust [religious] Jews about anti-semitism. So I tried to show the flip side.

And the same bunch of angry guys are now hammering at me for being offensive to them because I shared something universal to the religion called Judaism. How is this not literally anti-semitism? Just because you're Jewish you get a pass? I feel like you're banding together, comment for comment, to make sure the community (especially the non-Jewish community reading this) knows that religious Judaism - even Reform religious Judaism - is offensive to many Jews.

Got it.

I no longer think there are people here who don't think there's an anti-semitism problem. I now believe there are people here who think Metafilter has a Jewish problem.

I am choosing to believe that this is just another facet of Metafilter has a problem with religion, period, because otherwise my head will explode.
posted by Mchelly at 3:09 PM on February 8


I also think it will probably be more productive if we can back up from some of the more individual focus in here (i.e., specifically about JiA or Mchelly). I do hear that people have frustrations there, on both sides of those specific conversations, but I'm also not sure that continuing to push on those is going to lead to anything but bad feelings.

So I wonder if it's possible to turn the focus back toward more general issues -- with either antisemitism at Mefi or a lack of supportiveness, or other more site-in-general concerns.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 3:27 PM on February 8 [2 favorites]


only because there were people here saying you can't trust [religious] Jews about anti-semitism. So I tried to show the flip side.

This is literally the opposite of what happened.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 4:08 PM on February 8


We're trying to keep this discussion more focused specifically on this site, and dragging it off into "hey, here's an example of somebody in the UK being antisemitic" is not contributing to that focus.

I was trying to avoid referring directly to people's behavior here, but OK. People right here in this thread say that claims of antisemitism are "widely" used
  • to criticize those who aren't sufficiently supportive of Israel;
  • [with] a barely-disguised intention of portraying anti-Zionism (or just criticism of Israel) as indifferentiable from and synonymous with antisemitism;
  • to de-legitimize criticism of the state of Israel; and
  • to defend the practice of turning another people to dust.
I wonder where these posters' beliefs comes from: I think everyone on Metafilter, including myself, would acknowledge that most criticism of Israel is not antisemitic; and criticisms of Israel are not silenced – nor should they be. I don't dispute Griphus' account of microaggressions, but that's not we're talking about, which is a malicious weaponisation of antisemitism allegations.

Maybe, I wonder, people who claim that there's a deliberate and malicious silencing of Israel's critics are repeating commonly-held beliefs that originate with people like this: someone who should be silenced, because he is a raving antisemite who holds many positions of authority, including direct and indirect responsibility for schools in his district. But, he's also so self-deluded that he thinks his reposting of Holocaust deniers and Rothschild-conspiracy nonsense is not antisemitic but is merely "criticising Israel." So at some point he will lose his position, and then his friends and associates will believe that he has been silenced for criticising Israel. And they will repeat it to their friends, and at this point it will be irrefutable because how can so many people be wrong?

So when comments here are parallel to antisemitic talking points I think it would be helpful to provide some context to distinguish them. E.g., an actual instance of alleged antisemitism, and how that allegation is unfounded and/or calculated to deflect criticism of Israel. For instance, Latkes (above) thinks that the attack on a (mostly) Jewish UCL event was
a somewhat militant, loud protest of a former Israeli military commander. I have no reason to think it was antisemitic in nature or impact.
That, in my view, is an example of the right way to do things. I disagree with the characterisation of the protest as "somewhat militant, loud" (the students attending the event were physically confronted by a much larger group of protestors, and were locked down for their own safety before being evacuated by police) and I think Latkes fails to recognise the impact of many such protests, as well as a general lack of UK student sympathy for Jewish students - but you know, the bit about it having an antisemitic nature or effect is definitely arguable. The bit about it being violent and affecting Jews isn't, though, which is why I cited it originally. But this is still conducive to dialogue. Claiming that accusations of antisemitism are used "to defend the practice of turning another people to dust" is inflammatory and context free, and it basically shuts everything down.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:23 PM on February 8 [1 favorite]


in a an argument on Jewishness held between Jews

If you are not on the inside, you generally don't know how to pick up on the what we now call microaggressions that arise

The conversation about "who's Jewish enough" is one we're not going to resolve conclusively here,


I am not interested in discussing "who's Jewish enough" and although I've been in this thread from the get go, it actually has not been about arguing about Jewishness, engaging in micro aggression, or identifying, to quote one commenter, who is a "fake" Jew. If there ever is a thread on that topic, count me out. As far as I am concerned, anti-Semitism is a concern for every thinking human being, not just Jews. Just like racism, anti-LGBTQ attitudes, sexism, hatred of Islam and Muslims and immigrants, etc. I really do not care what people's Jewishness level is. I care about their attitudes. I care whether they are friends for everyone who is under assault, including whether they exclude anti-Semitism from their list of things they oppose. And, griphus, I love ya, but I DO mean to frame this as anti-Semitic/not anti-Semitic, not some other discussion.

You know who really doesn't care who the "real" Jews are? Anti-Semites. Here's a horrible recent example of that: The Kansas JCC shooting, in which every victim was a non-Jew. I don't believe the guard who was murdered at the U.S. Holocaust museum was Jewish either, nor did the gunman care. Worrying about anti-Semitism is not just some kind of insider baseball that is only significant to Jews, or some particular variety of Jew.

This thread is about allyship on this topic. As maxsparber said in this post, it is deeply disheartening to live in a time when there is tons and tons of anti-Semitism, the amount of it is on the rise, it permeates the current White House administration, and yet people who are supposed to care about hatred and discrimination are deaf, dumb and blind on this particular topic. It is also about how really out of touch MeFis can and have been, including some MeFis who support Palestinians and Palestinian causes and who haven't been noticing that there is an overlap between some very virulent, lethal anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Does this mean everyone who cares about justice for Palestinians is tied to anti-Semitism? Of course not. Does it mean they aren't "real" Jews if they consider themselves Jewish? Again, of course not.

I for one cannot ask strongly enough that we quit with the personal attacks on other MeFis here and try to see how we can get a little more aware of the fact that dismissing, minimizing, and ignoring anti-Semitism is no more acceptable than doing that as to any other sort of anti-minority animus.

I hope it sharpens everyone's focus that Jeff Sessions was just confirmed as AG. We need to aim to hang together on protecting and listening to each other.
posted by bearwife at 4:30 PM on February 8 [10 favorites]


Hi all, here's a fucked up thing that happened tonight: NPR aired a story on parallels between Charles Lindbergh and Trump, and totally failed to mention Lindbergh's vocal antisemitism, (or Trump's appointment of Bannon). Instead, the story called both men simply, "isolationist", with zero contextualization of what it meant to be isolationist during the rise of Hitler. (This link shows a Dr Seuss cartoon that voices a substantial critique of America First, but the radio story gave none of that context.)
posted by latkes at 7:00 PM on February 8 [17 favorites]


Mchelly: And when we encounter them, and we disagree, we try to say, "Yes, X and Y are problematic but I don't believe Z was -ist, and here's why;" we don't demonize the person and assume that therefore X and Y must also be up for debate because bad actor.

This happens *all the time*. It is certainly, certainly not restricted to only being done when the topic is anti-semitism. To say otherwise suggests you only actually notice it when you perceive it to be done to you.
posted by gadge emeritus at 8:01 PM on February 8


people who claim that there's a deliberate and malicious silencing of Israel's critics are repeating commonly-held beliefs that originate with people like this

That thing. You're doing that thing again.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:59 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Aelfwine Evenstar, I have to say that I'm mystified by the strength of people's conviction that antisemitism is used as a tool to silence criticism of Israel. Sometimes the claim is brought up well before Israel is even mentioned. But if the accusation is true, the people who are trying to silence criticism of Israel must have rocks in their heads. It never works, and can't work. So why are some people so convinced that it's true, in fact that this bad faith is uniquely true of Jews?

Well, here's an example of someone repeating the trope who is as crazy as a loon. Unfortunately, they're so (locally) powerful and influential and well-connected that their words will become part of the general background informing public discussions of antisemitism. And this is hardly an isolated example; you can find a lot more just by reading their followers' comments, or the comments of practically any (indisputably-genuine) antisemitic article.

I acknowledge that this doesn't disprove the accusation. I'm just saying that from what I have observed, it can't be generally true. I'd like it if posters here would take this into account; we might then get a more productive conversation than the usual back-and-forth of personal accusations that occurs whenever antisemitism gets mentioned. And really, this is not much of an ask: it's the standard assumption of good faith that's a necessary basis to any discussion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:16 PM on February 11


The thing you are doing is what you always do...implying that the only reason anyone could ever disagree with your point of view (pro Israel) is if they are getting their info and opinions from antisemites.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:03 AM on February 12


To clarify my statements re property-based hate crimes:

I apologise for downplaying them. You are right that they are the build up to direct violence, and I need to take them more seriously.

What I objected to in my own community was the perception that we, as Jews, were the most threatened community locally - our local paper argues for Jewish exceptionality. We aren't the most threatened - we have massive under reporting of homophobic the crimes. I'm queer and I'm Jewish - and I feel the homophobia more, and I even present as cis female (cis women have the least homophobia directed at them). I don't think that the straight Jewish community realises that most homophobic property-hate crimes are just not even reported. If they were reported at similar rates, they would dwarf anti-Semitic incidents.

But not being the most threatened (in TO) doesn't mean we aren't threatened for being Jewish - and anti-Semitism is on the rise everywhere. I move in circles where it feels so distant - not because my circles aren't Jewish, but because they are so Jewish or Jewish friendly that it seems laughable that anyone would even seriously make a blood libel. But I need to take the rumblings more seriously.
posted by jb at 9:44 AM on February 12


In this thread, the old saw about "two Jews, three opinions" has been brought up several times, and I really think that this is something that needs to be taken into account

zombie flanders: I'm sorry, but you're completely wrong. From my personal experience, it's clearly true that one Jew (ie me) has at least 18 opinions on every given subject.
posted by jb at 9:50 AM on February 12 [4 favorites]


It seems more like: among the critics of Israel, exist some antisemites. We can argue about the degree - whether it's 70/30, 40/60, etc, but it should not be a question that some -though certainly, certainly, not all or even most - people who dislike Israel do so because they also either dislike Jews, or hold Jews and thus a Jewish state to a higher standard than they hold other nations.

When those people - even if they are a minority within the Israel-criticizing community - talk about Israel, they do not always identify themselves as a bigot. In fact, they rarely say, "I hate all Jews, and that's why I hate Israel!" Instead, they try to express themselves in a reasonable fashion, with often only dog whistle-type antisemitic stuff sometimes slipping through. Sometimes that's intentional, sometimes it's not.

However, because they're not identifying themselves, it's easy for people who also oppose Israel's actions to take the words of the antisemites and repeat them, or to link articles which contain antisemitic material, or who quote a known antisemite in them. This stuff is not even kind of obvious, even most of the time. So it's very easy for well-meaning, not bigoted, Mefites to bring that stuff to Metafilter. Sometimes, even other Jews, who, while still being concerned, haven't been following this stuff obsessively, and so sometimes may not know that Authority X is a raging bigot, or that Phrase Y is often used to refer obliquely to Jews.

So a dynamic that I've seen is, Mefite A wants to criticize Israel - which is fine in itself - and posts a comment or a link that contains a quote by someone problematic, or some language, etc. Mefite B says, "Whoa, that's antisemitic!" Mefite A, not aware of the specificity of the problem, thinks that Mefite B is just trying to shut down criticism of Israel. Cue massive, shouty fight between two well meaning people who are communicating poorly.

And that's something where good faith might help. Assuming good faith on the person who is mistakenly posting something that has issues, and assuming good faith on the person who is calling out the issues. It doesn't have to be as bitter as it is currently.
posted by corb at 11:57 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]


Maxsparber has a followup to his earlier essay:
On allyship: Shutting down debate

It's very much worth reading.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:39 PM on February 13 [11 favorites]


Well in light of that and other comments to the same effect, can we at least say that within the category of threads maxsparber is talking about, the recurring MeTa threads specifically about anti-Semitism occurring here on MeFi like this one, we must not tolerate claims that in general, Jews make false allegations of anti-Semitism for their own ulterior motives or as the result of being manipulated by the plans of a Jewish organization? That we should all flag such a comment and the mods should delete it with a note to re-submit without that particular bit, because if that kind of thing needs to be discussed on MeFi it has to be outside of threads like this?

It seems parallel enough to, for example, general MRA-sounding claims about women making false accusations of rape for ulterior motives, and therefore the sort of thing we already have community norms for not tolerating, that it ought to be possible to ban from the entire site. But if there's a valid "chilling effect" concern I'm not seeing, I would think that the literal least we could do is prohibit that sort of comment within threads like this one where people are being called upon to overcome any reluctance they have to talking about their own experiences of anti-Semitism. Maybe, if in a given case it's a topic that is particularly vital to talk about for some reason, the suggestion could be to open up a separate MeTa about it.
posted by XMLicious at 2:48 PM on February 13 [9 favorites]


Over the weekend, I was literally told to sit down and shut up for trying to organize a sister Immigrants rally in my state, because it didn't affect me. When I pointed out that I'm a Polish Jew, the vitriol turned way up. Way, way up. I've been teaching intersectionality in this group for a while now, but when I pointed out that immigration and the denial of such is part of our collective history, I was personally attacked. I was told that my perspective does not matter. Literally does not matter. White people organized the Muslim solidarity rally this week, and that's fine. But how dare a Jew try to organize a sister Immigrants rally. This had fuck all to do with Israel, this was about a Jew stepping out of line. In a lefty resistance group.
posted by Ruki at 4:57 PM on February 13 [14 favorites]


I'm going to bite:

Someone posted this comment in one of the massive politics threads. It apparently didn't get flagged until I did, and as I'm writing this, it hasn't been deleted. At the time that I am writing this, it has 12 favorites, and it has gotten some actual response that does not pick up on the thing that is seriously bothering me about it.

The thread connecting Putin, Kushner, Bannon, Miller, Trump, Netanyahu, Flynn, Burke... seemingly very different people, from different backgrounds and even religions, is Islamaphobia. A fear and hatred of "sub-human" other, which is a fear and hatred shared by many Americans. It can be confusing to try to understand why all these people are aligned with each other until you remember that they believe they are battling an existential threat, and that this is their moment of glory and power.

In light of the links about general anti-Semitism and dog whistles that folks have brought here, which I have been reading, here is what bothers me about this: You have a list of seven (clearly acknowledged bad) US government officials currently in the throes of doing all manner of bad shit, who we are talking about as being responsible for . Six of them are Christian, one happens to be Jewish (Kushner). That's fine as far as it goes; I'd have not batted an eye otherwise. But the writer chooses to throw in Netanyahu, a non-American politician who is not responsible for the US political shit--at least, not directly--in the middle of that list, which has the effect of drawing attention to the Jewish status of Kushner as well as implicating Israel as "the baddies" equivalent in status here to any of the other leaders listed.

Note that no other foreign leaders are being listed here, so it's not a general despots and fascists list or even a list of international politicians who are responsible for the shitshow we're living. Everyone else on that list is an American political official. And then the writer chooses to frame literally everything connecting these hateful men as being motivated by Islamophobia specifically--which is probably why they chose to include Netanyahu, at least on the surface, because Israel's attacks on Palestinians are noteworthy. Except that if we're suddenly going "okay yes foreign officials are just as complicit as American ones in the political situation we in the US are in," where the hell is Russia in this analysis?

Islamophobia is absolutely a huge part of the problem. I am not arguing that. American Muslims and folks of Arab origin are targeted for seriously nasty shit by our current government. I am not arguing otherwise, and I'm not even touching foreign policy because this is me talking about American politics and affairs discussing a comment talking about the American political situation. None of these people are good dudes. I am not arguing that either. What I am arguing is that shit like this, despite being on the left and having a bunch of markers as being "on our side", sends a pretty sharp dog whistle if you're listening on that frequency. I am arguing that this shit is gross, and that I am unhappy with the community response to it.

And I am arguing that this MeTa is telling me we should fucking listen to that crap and take these charges seriously where they occur as we talk about it. I am arguing that people saying "this is uncomfortable and gross" should be listened to and heard out. And I am not Jewish, I am not as far as I am aware a problem member, and I am seriously not invested in any particular outcome in Israel/Palestine which I have attempted to make extremely clear in this thread and elsewhere.

What are we going to do about comments like this? Are they worth discussing? Is it valuable to push back on comments like this? Or is it better to remain silent in case I accidentally come across as supporting the state of Israel?
posted by sciatrix at 11:10 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]


it has come to my attention via memail that Putin is actually the first name on the list. it's okay, you don't need to tell me here.

I am still a bit bothered, though.

posted by sciatrix at 11:13 AM on February 14 [1 favorite]



it has come to my attention via memail that Putin is actually the first name on the list. it's okay, you don't need to tell me here.


Since the presence or absence of Putin is ostensibly the key piece of information that drives your conclusion, does your conclusion change when that information changes, or do you maintain your conclusions regardless of the change in information?
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:17 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


Well, as you can actually see from my comment, the noting of that information does downgrade both the confidence and the strength of feeling I have about the comment I brought here. I still actually do feel that it is gross, because Israel is not nearly as complicit in the potential treason of the United States as Russia is, and I think Israel has far less direct control over American policy than Russia is attempting to secure. I am not sure that the implications of ranking those two governments as equivalent in their influence on American politics sit well with me. This is a fairly quick-considered opinion, though, which I'm still chewing on.

Thanks for the snideness, though! That's pretty constructive given the clear indications here that I am really embarrassed. It is definitely conducive to having a productive conversation here, and does not ramp up my strong emotional desire to be defensive at all. Hope your witty little quip was worth it, dude.
posted by sciatrix at 11:24 AM on February 14 [2 favorites]


So, that comment mentions Netanyahu and Putin and a bunch of the Trump people and Cardinal Burke, and talks about anti-Islam as being the main unifying feature. I read it as picking up on this earlier comment about Burke and the way this anti-Islam thing is playing out within the Catholic church, and how it's a unifying worldview (that there is a global culture war of Islam vs the west) held by this rightwing fringe. The comment isn't talking about internal US politics only.

I definitely hear you on why it would make your ears prick up, and it's good to try to be extra careful about this stuff.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 11:32 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


This thread is bad and made me feel bad.
posted by snuffleupagus at 11:47 AM on February 14


I think Israel has far less direct control over American policy than Russia is attempting to secure

this isn't a great place to start an argument about this, but
posted by beerperson at 11:53 AM on February 14 [5 favorites]


Sciatrix, I noticed that too. There's no good reason for Netanyahu to be on a list of people who are members of the Trump administration or connected to it in shadowy ways. One of the foundational elements of antisemitism is the idea that Jews are powerful and conspiratorial. When Netanyahu/Israel/Zionism gets dropped into lists like this, it looks like it's a reflection of that sort of conspiracy theory.

Also, while I always presume that prejudice exists, a few moments of Googling didn't turn up anything especially Islamophobic on Netanyahu's part. I suspect that as Prime Minister of a country with a 20% Muslim minority his prejudice is more like that of other non-Muslim world leaders, and light years removed from Burke and Bannon's false religion/clash of civilisation rhetoric. If Netanyahu should be on the list then so too should my own Prime Minister. Using Islamophobia as a reason to place Netanyahu specifically among a list of US-related politicians just makes it look more like a conspiracy theory.
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:37 PM on February 14 [2 favorites]


OK, I just made a very long post here, and managed to self-delete, and in a way this is OK. I hope someone can persuade maxsparber to return.
Main points of my post: while islamophobia and hatred of Asians and Hispanics is the main threat to humanity in the US and Europe at this moment, anti-semitism is still alive and kicking. A lot of people who are not even real christians have grabbed protestant christianity as an excuse for xenophobia, and sadly even catholics are jumping on the band wagon, they all see Jews as enemies.

Apologies for the lower case. It's my anger showing.
posted by mumimor at 4:51 PM on February 14 [1 favorite]


White people organized the Muslim solidarity rally this week, and that's fine. But how dare a Jew try to organize a sister Immigrants rally. This had fuck all to do with Israel, this was about a Jew stepping out of line. In a lefty resistance group.

please stop making the muslim support vs jewish support comparison. It does nothing good. And TBQH muslims have it worse in the US. (And tangential, but a lot of muslims are white...)
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:06 PM on February 14


Got it.
posted by Ruki at 8:35 PM on February 14


This opposition is starting to look exactly like the problem is that criticism of Israel exists, not the format it takes. If any criticism of Israel is antisemitic unless it mentions every other world power or leader who can be argued to be deserving of it is problematic, then we're back to it effectively comprising a silencing tactic in practice, whether that's intended or not.
posted by Dysk at 3:21 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


which has nothing to do with Ruki describing a frankly disturbing incident of anti-Semitism in progressive circles - and Rock 'em Sock 'em dismissing this (by mistakenly claiming she was comparing anti-Semitism and Islamaphobia - I gathered that she was pointing out that while [non-Muslim] white people were allowed to organise something against Islamaphobia, she was told that her Jewish heritage meant she couldn't possibly understand what it's like to be a stigmatised immigrant /my sarcasm meter is very high - theirs was not).

Ruki has now disabled her account. While some people are worrying about a potential chilling effect, there has been an actual chilling effect in this thread.

Ruki: I am so sorry that happened to you. I should have responded so you knew, but my reaction to your story was, "oh, my g-d" (in shock and disgust).
posted by jb at 5:39 AM on February 15 [10 favorites]


This opposition is starting to look exactly like the problem is that criticism of Israel exists

Whereas, to me, it is starting to look exactly like the criticism of Israel is that Israel exists.
posted by snuffleupagus at 5:57 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Obviously what happened to Ruki is extremely out of order. I disagree with Rock 'em Sock 'em that pointing out double standards or hypocrisy where they exist constitutes making the comparison they infer. All of which is tangential to an incredulity that the mere fact of criticism of Israel apparently now constitutes anti-semitism, regardless of how anodyne the presentation.
posted by Dysk at 5:58 AM on February 15


Reminder that the original comment, context, and follow-up by the original poster, all discussed Netanyahu himself, not Israel.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:10 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Which was immediately bracketed as potentially problematic because I/P. Is that really a hair worth splitting?
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:12 AM on February 15


Maybe it is -- I appreciated Frowner's comment. But there are 440+ comments right here in this MeTa, too. And this:

It would be horrible if non-Jews minimized on-the-ground violent anti-semitism that is actually here right now because we got caught up in talking about Hamas.

is still horrible even when it pertains to non-violent online anti-semitism and that is EXACTLY the situation at hand.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:15 AM on February 15


Yes, I absolutely believe in splitting that hair. Conflating all of Israel with Netanyahu would actually be problematic and potentially anti-Semitic, rather than making legitimate criticisms--and they are legitimate despite the handwaving above-- of Netanyahu's actions or the man himself.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:19 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


the mere fact of criticism of Israel apparently now constitutes anti-semitism, regardless of how anodyne the presentation.

Dysk, have you bothered reading any of this thread at all?
posted by Mchelly at 6:19 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


In addition to Ruki, thetortoise's acount is now disabled, with their last comment across all sites appearing to be from February 5th.

So the list is at maxsparber, sparklemotion, zutalors!, The Gooch, prettypretty, thetortoise, and Ruki.

We are directly demonstrating why it's not going to be the perfect person who initiates the discussion of anti-Semitism, as maxsparber was saying above.

We need to do a hell of alot more than hope they come back.
posted by XMLicious at 6:28 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


Conflating all of Israel with Netanyahu would actually be problematic and potentially anti-Semitic, rather than making legitimate criticisms--and they are legitimate

I agree with this. But, it's still I/P. Otherwise, Netanyahu is relevant how? Frowner's point (at least in part, if I understood) was that it would be good to be able to discuss anti-semitism without needing to discuss Israel. But, that just doesn't happen here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:33 AM on February 15


But, it's still I/P. Otherwise, Netanyahu is relevant how?

There are many reasons, as both the actual context of the comment and follow-up, (here and in the thread) made perfectly clear. Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as anti-Semitic is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.

Frowner's point (at least in part, if I understood) was that it would be good to be able to discuss anti-semitism without needing to discuss Israel. But, that just doesn't happen here.

Still not sure what that has to do with the original comment mentioning Netanyahu.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:41 AM on February 15


Rock 'em Sock 'em: And TBQH muslims have it worse in the US.

Kindly don't tell people here not to argue Muslims vs. Jews and then drop this easily debunked, dismissive bullshit.

The ADL tracks anti-semitic incidents nationwide.
ADL’s annual Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents, issued today, recorded a total of 941 incidents in the U.S. in 2015, an increase of about 3 percent from the 912 incidents recorded in 2014.

Fifty-six incidents were assaults, the most violent anti-Semitic category – representing a more than 50 percent rise from the 36 assaults reported in 2014.

Another troubling finding: anti-Semitic incidents at colleges and universities nearly doubled last year. A total of 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses in 2015, compared with 47 incidents on 43 campuses in 2014.

Campus anti-Semitic incidents accounted for 10 percent of the total incidents reported in the U.S. in 2015.
FBI: Hate crimes spike, most sharply against Muslims
In one year, anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States rose 67%, from 154 incidents in 2014 to 257 in 2015, according to the latest numbers released in the bureau's Hate Crime Statistics report on Monday.
In sheer numbers, anti-Jewish incidents (664) were higher in 2015, but the percentage increase was much higher for incidents involving Muslim victims.

"That is the highest number since 2001, when the al Qaeda attacks on New York and elsewhere drove the number to its highest ever level, 481 hate crimes," according to Mark Potok with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Worth noting: The ACLU keeps track of anti-mosque activity.

And lest we forget the historical context, which I'm sure we are all hoping won't repeat itself thanks to Trump's attempted ban:

During the Holocaust, the US closed its borders to thousands of us. When legislators enacted discriminatory quotas on Jews in this country in the 20's and 30's and turned away thousands of refugees in the 40's, there were no mass protests from Americans across the country. Most media outlets supported the ban.
* United States Policy Toward Jewish Refugees, 1941–1952
* The U.S. Government Turned Away Thousands of Jewish Refugees, Fearing That They Were Nazi Spies
In a long tradition of “persecuting the refugee,” the State Department and FDR claimed that Jewish immigrants could threaten national security

posted by zarq at 6:43 AM on February 15 [17 favorites]


There are many reasons, as both the actual context of the comment and follow-up, (here and in the thread) made perfectly clear.

Obviously, I disagree. I think it's clear as mud. Howbowdah?

Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as anti-Semitic is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.

This reads like sealion JAQing.

Still not sure what that has to do with the original comment mentioning Netanyahu.

Then go back and read it again, and the flow of the responses, and then this resulting MeTa. What the fuck does Netanyahu have to do with a discussion of anti-semitism that doesn' bring in I/P? He's not Voldemort, he's the PM of the actual nation state of Israel. And he's criticized because of I/P. By me, among other people. This feels willfully dense. This metatalk thread is no longer just about the original comment and its relevance to the original thread's OP, etc.

I don't agree with all of mchelly's remarks, but this, to me, is undeniably the stumbling block:
The issues surrounding I/P shouldn't have anything to do with this conversation, except that when you see anti-semitism coming from the Left, it always seems to be a flashpoint.

posted by snuffleupagus at 6:49 AM on February 15


Let's try this out in other imagined online contexts and see how it feels:

Said to a black person complaining of prejudice:
Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as racist is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.


Said to a woman complaining of prejudice:
Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as sexist is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.


Said to a transperson complaining of prejudice:
Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as transphobic is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.


Said to a LGBQ person complaining of prejudice:
Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as homophobic is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.


Said to a Muslim complaining of prejudice:
Hanlon's Razor would indicate to me that the portrayal of the comment as Islamophobic is reaching, whether that portrayal was a misunderstanding or not.


Yeah.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:58 AM on February 15


Are you accusing me of being an anti-Semitic sea-lioning JAQoff merely because I disagree that the mere mention of Netanyahu in the context of dangerous people constitutes either deliberate or accidental anti-Semitism?

I have to wonder if we're actually referring to the same comment. I'm talking about OnceUponATime's comment, sciatrix's concerns brought up here in the thread, and Joe's follow-up.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:08 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


I specifically said I'm talking about the whole sweep of the discussion at this point. You seem to be deliberately dodging the obvious point that discussing Netanyahu in the context of anti-semitism is discussing I/P.

JAQing off is in the neighborhood of deploying Hanlon's Razor to tell members of group they're 'misunderstanding' language they think is objectionable. I said "it reads like" because I don't think that was the intention, and then tried to show why.

I don't think the other versions of the remark would be so easily received around here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:20 AM on February 15


I don't think the other versions of the remark would be so easily received around here.

I could probably find you a dozen examples where the trans version has happened. It'd take some digging though, since half of them aren't in my recent activity anymore, what with my responses to the same being deleted as derails.
posted by Dysk at 7:30 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Did you like that? Approve of it?
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:32 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I must be missing your point, snuffleupagus, because all those statements could be fine.

To me, it feels like so much of this conversation is being had between Jewish members. And it's been on a shifting sand between what's occurring on the site vs. what's occurring in the world.
It also feels like one of the points being made is that several of the Jewish commenters feel as if claims of anti-semitism aren't being given a free pass of unthinking belief that other claims of bigotry get, a la motty's comment. Which this thread would suggest to me is actually true, but it isn't something I agree with, as considering queenofbithynia's comment I don't think that unthinking acceptance of such claims is an acceptable state of affairs, or should be status quo.

Consideration is made, sure, but this expectation has developed of, 'If I say there's bigotry here, then there is no question. I am always correct.' Mostly accompanied by 'and if you disagree then you are claiming the problem doesn't exist at all, rather than not agreeing with my interpretation of this one example'. And for me, while it is suspect why anti-semitism has received more pushback here on that level of unthinking acceptance that other users have tried employing on other issues of prejudice (and that question would seem to influenced why the non-Jewish users who are thought to have buttoned due to this thread have done so), I don't agree with the goal of getting anything into the category of automatic belief, no questions asked.

And that's just one of the fragments of difficulty in this entire conversation.
posted by gadge emeritus at 7:33 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


snuffleupagus: If we're talking about the comment sciatrix objected to, here's what happened as I understand it:

1) Prior strand of conversation in that thread talks about "culture war of Islam vs west" ideology as uniting a fringe of rightwing figures around the world. The comment picks up on that, mentions Putin, Netanyahu, Burke, and a bunch of Trump people as holding that ideology.
2) sciatrix misses some of that context (which is fine, we all miss stuff, no big) and misses Putin in the comment, thinks it's just throwing Netanyahu in there with Trump figures in a discussion of US domestic politics, and is like "wtf, wait a minute here"
3) Brief discussion of that happens in the thread before I direct it over here, since it's a meta discussion about whether that comment was antisemitic and this is the thread for discussing that, and sciatrix brings it over here.

So --
1) The comment mentioned Netanyahu as an individual rightwing leader, in a list of other individual rightwing people who share this view. It didn't mention Israel, Israeli actions, I/P, or Jews generally.
2) The comment didn't bring up Netanyahu in a discussion of antisemitism. The reverse happened. This MeTa thread is a discussion of antisemitism on the site, an accusation of antisemitism was made about this comment, so I directed discussion of it here.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:35 AM on February 15 [3 favorites]


Did you like that? Approve of it?

No more than I like the assertion that it doesn't happen or isn't accepted, no.
posted by Dysk at 7:39 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Obviously, I disagree. I think it's clear as mud. Howbowdah?

Just so I'm clear, you think that OUAT mentioning Netanyahu was obviously meant to be anti-Semitic than, say, being included in a list of (as LobsterMitten mentions) right-wing leaders, or people with autocratic tendencies, or people that have histories of oppressing the marginalized, or any of a number of other reasons?

You seem to be deliberately dodging the obvious point that discussing Netanyahu in the context of anti-semitism is discussing I/P.

I'm...not?

JAQing off is in the neighborhood of deploying Hanlon's Razor to tell members of group they're 'misunderstanding' language they think is objectionable.

1) I'm a member of said group.
2) AFAICT the only language that was seen as objectionable was the mention of Netanyahu.
3) I'm saying, as others in this thread--including other Jews and a mod--and the one on the blue, that sciatrix (who IIRC is not Jewish) was misunderstanding the context. Again, I believe this is backed up with the correct context such as links, responses, etc.

I said "it reads like" because I don't think that was the intention, and then tried to show why.

Well, then you've misread my intentions entirely, and used some messed-up analogies to do it. Me, as a Jew, saying that a gentile might not be reading the situation right, is in no way the same as white people telling PoC that they're misunderstanding racism, or women they're misunderstanding sexism, or trans people they're misunderstanding transphobia, etc. I'd say it's rather the opposite of that.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:42 AM on February 15 [4 favorites]


No more than I like the assertion that it doesn't happen or isn't accepted, no.

When it happens, it draws more objection. But, that's beside the point. This is not a competition. Please don't silence other people because you feel silenced.


I must be missing your point, snuffleupagus, because all those statements could be fine
.

I was really just trying to make the point that Hanlon's Razor is a pretty poor tool to deploy in most of these kinds of sensitive contexts. Sometimes the simplest interpretation of something is not complete. There's a reason it's so popular with trollish redditors, etc. Likewise the fallacies. We're over here on metatalk now, theoretically trying to figure out how to have better discussions, not just re-hashing the substance.

The comment didn't bring up Netanyahu in a discussion of antisemitism. The reverse happened.


Yes...I understand the inversion. read the original exchange, and this (long) MeTa and am now considering it as a whole. I feel like I stated that rather plainly.

This MeTa thread is a discussion of antisemitism on the site

Indeed. To which my comments were directed.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:44 AM on February 15


I'm confused then, about your stance on the comment, snuffleupagus. You think it should have been deleted? Or you think it should have been discussed in this thread in a different way?

I get that people feel strongly about this but I think we should try to keep the heat down and avoid misunderstandings in here as much as possible.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:47 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


I'm a member of said group.

Well, then you've misread my intentions entirely, and used some messed-up analogies to do it

They weren't analogies, they were direct replacements of paired words. I just don't think talking that way to a Jew objecting to language they feel is antisemitic is helpful. I think the other versions of the remark ought to make that clear, and it doesn't really matter if you're a member of the group or not.

you think that OUAT mentioning Netanyahu was obviously meant to be anti-Semitic than, say, being included in a list of (as LobsterMitten mentions) right-wing leaders, or people with autocratic tendencies, or people that have histories of oppressing the marginalized, or any of a number of other reasons?

No, for the bazillionth time I'm reacting more to the 400+ comments at this thread, and am considering the original exchange in light of the way the discussion played out here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:48 AM on February 15


I'm confused then, about your stance on the comment, snuffleupagus. You think it should have been deleted?

Are we really expected to discuss these issues in that narrow of a frame? If that's the case then I really have gone too wide here. I'm not sure I care about the original comment so much after what I've read here.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:50 AM on February 15


When it happens, it draws more objection

Far from universally true.
posted by Dysk at 7:58 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I just don't think talking that way to a Jew objecting to language they feel is antisemitic is helpful.

Again, I don't think sciatrix is Jewish, and also again, I think that pushing back on the misunderstanding by providing context is perfectly appropriate and not an indicator of anti-Semitism.

I think the other versions of the remark ought to make that clear, and it doesn't really matter if you're a member of the group or not.

I feel like it should, especially given that I was addressing somebody who isn't a member of the group. Saying that my voice as a Jew counts less in this situation is really unhelpful.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:03 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Let's try this out in other imagined online contexts and see how it feels:

this sort of thing is pretty much always less helpful than the speaker imagines
posted by beerperson at 8:05 AM on February 15 [7 favorites]


I feel like it should, especially given that I was addressing somebody who isn't a member of the group.

Um. I'm Jewish. You were directly addressing me with that use of the Razor. Unless I've finally lost my mind completely.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:07 AM on February 15


this sort of thing is pretty much always less helpful than the speaker imagines

this sort of thing is pretty much always less helpful than the speaker imagines

Basically, I read all of this, saw some comments towards the end from Cortex and Grobstein that I thought were pretty right on, followed by an immediate return to more of the same as usual carping about I/P. That's what I reacted to.
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:08 AM on February 15


Not that I think you've lost your mind, but: no, I don't see how it directly addresses you, unless I missed something and you said that you feel that OUAT's comment was anti-Semitic. But I do stand by saying that there are other reasons that Netanyahu was mentioned in that comment than anti-Semitism that are IMO less of a reach.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:14 AM on February 15


Argh, but it was a direct reply to my quoted comment. I'm so confused. Maybe we have a different understanding of the aim of rhetoric (the substance vs. the present interlocutor).
posted by snuffleupagus at 8:16 AM on February 15


[Friendly reminder: don't use the edit function to add or change content. People reading the thread via the "x new comments" won't see your new edits and then it gets confusing. Just add a second comment instead, and if you want you can flag the old one for deletion.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:18 AM on February 15 [5 favorites]


Kindly don't tell people here not to argue Muslims vs. Jews and then drop this easily debunked, dismissive bullshit.

Muslims have it worse here

Muslims have it worse here

Muslims have it worse here

Muslims have it worse here


I will keep saying it as long as you keep making it an us vs them kind of thing (which it's not, for the record for any muslims reading this, we are rightfully allies)

Keep trying to debunk it in a country with a muslim ban
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:06 AM on February 15 [2 favorites]


Oh I'm sorry I forgot

Muslims have it worse here
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:07 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


That is so not helpful. Please cool it. This isn't a contest, both kinds of attacks happen in the US, neither group is safe, both are under pressure from the rise of neo-Nazi shitheads, just stop it.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:09 AM on February 15 [23 favorites]


I am also going to read that as a response to zarq "debunking" me, so thanks
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:16 AM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I am not a fan of any of these comparisons of one minority group to another (and feel that's the reason at least one person in this thread disabled their account, despite being continually grouped in with others who left.)

Can't we agree, as a baseline, that antisemitism exists, it is (as zarq points out) on the rise, and that in and of itself is a big problem?
posted by lalex at 10:25 AM on February 15 [16 favorites]


we're not talking about the US, we're talking about Metafilter. This is Metatalk - that's what we do. If you wish to talk about Islamaphobia in the US or any other country, please make a post there.

But this thread is for talking about Anti-Semitism on Metafilter, and the downplaying of anti-Semitism on Metafilter. This seems to be connected to a strain of anti-Semitism on the left which I have definitely seen, and Ruki specifically described.

And this is what the article "Solidarity is for the goyim" was pointing out to start with: many (not all) progressive people who normally denounce racism suddenly go silent when the racism in question happens to be anti-Semitic.

I thank my blessings right now that there are no circles of peace planned for around my synagogue this Saturday, the way there was around mosques a couple of weeks ago. We've not been threatened as severely.

But if we are, will you come? will the progressives on Metafilter link hands to protect Jews from Nazis?
posted by jb at 10:29 AM on February 15 [9 favorites]


my comment was in response to Rock em.
posted by jb at 10:30 AM on February 15


If this derail is going to remain, it should be pointed out that Ruki seems to have previously said that she's attending the Muslim solidarity rally which her subsequent mention of in the comment where she described feeling treated like a "Jew stepping out of line" caused Rock 'em Sock 'em to start "honestly" shouting about Muslims having it worse and simultaneously chastising others for "making it an us vs them kind of thing", in this thread about Jews having not received the same sort of support from the left as other groups.
posted by XMLicious at 10:55 AM on February 15 [12 favorites]


Yeah, holy shit is this not cool.
posted by corb at 10:59 AM on February 15


That is so not helpful. Please cool it. This isn't a contest, both kinds of attacks happen in the US, neither group is safe, both are under pressure from the rise of neo-Nazi shitheads, just stop it.

Thank you.
posted by zarq at 11:15 AM on February 15


Well maybe now people will stop insisting that this site doesn't have a problem with antisemitism. I'm going to go a step further than saying Rock Em's comment was not cool and say that it's everything I've been talking about -- the insistence that Jews have nothing to complain about, that this whole discussion is bullshit, that sure there are armed guards at the JCC, but god, don't you Jews get that you're so much better off than Muslims? No wonder Ruki left, and maxsparber and a bunch of people.

I wrote a comment last night in response, but I was so angry that I thought I was just being a dick and I flagged it. But Jesus Christ. Do you think none of us has ever said "I worry about antisemitism" and gotten that exact same response? That exact same dismissal couched as this liberal concern with the peoples of the world, and how dare we try to horn in on that.

I'm so sorry I deleted my comments last night because I feel like I let Ruki down for -- like fucking always -- feeling like I was being the awful one for taking it personally and not responding with polite grace and kindness. I didn't know she was going to leave or I would have said something just to back her up. I was shocked and stunned and I just don't know what to say anymore. There are people alive today who remember attempts at genocide against them, but that's the past, it's always the past, and if you want to talk about it now, sure, but let's be sure we're giving ourselves room to talk about Israel. Let's be sure Jews know where they are on the sympathy chain, and believe me it's not at the top. I mean god willing we stifle discussion, right?

If I sound hurt and angry it's because I am, because I'm expecting this conversation to play out over and over again, which leaves me with the choice of just shutting up and being polite, or of being another one of those Jews with a chip on his shoulder about bomb threats and stuff that really aren't that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. Fucking great.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 11:27 AM on February 15 [19 favorites]


[One deleted; I get that it's coming from a place of good intentions but let's not use the vocabulary that gross horrible people use just to make a point about how it's gross and horrible.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 12:05 PM on February 15


I am not a fan of any of these comparisons of one minority group to another

This.
posted by Dysk at 12:12 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


And on reread, to clarify/correct wording on a previous comment: "This opposition is starting to look exactly like..." should have read "This opposition to OnceUponATime's comment is starting to look exactly like..." and my brain completely failed to twig that my fingers hadn't made those words happen.
posted by Dysk at 12:16 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Also, I feel this burning sensation at the back of my neck, as if I haven't sufficiently stated my left-wing stance regarding Israel. I know this is a BND account, so I've sort of taken it for granted that people know where I stand. Maybe it's just my paranoid imagination, but it seems like the people who have pushed hard on the antisemitism thing (that ol' thing again!) have been scrutinized in terms of their support for Israel, or you know, how they're orthodox or something. Maybe that's an unfair characterization. But a lot of it does come back to "well, I'm a Jew and I disagree with the way Joe here has been throwing around the term." I had a friend growing up (actually, still a close friend) who was one of the most left-wing people I knew, and yet every time he brought up antisemitism I'd be like "well, he was raised orthodox after all..."

Should I tell you all about reading +972 magazine? How I high-fived my Israeli friends who faked being sick to get out of serving in the IDF, in protest? About how I support BDS because I'm disgusted by the actions of the Israeli state the same way I'm disgusted by the actions of the US government, a country I manage to still love deeply? Do my comments read any differently now that I've stated that?

Most likely nobody has been paying that much attention to me, but like I said, it's been a burning feeling at the back of my neck, like every time I say something about antisemitism and wonder if it just looks like I'm waving a bunch of Israeli flags (big handfuls of them) as I speak. God knows it feels like that's where the conversation wants to go.

If I were more computer inclined I'd make a game where you click a button that says "call out antisemitism" and a dialog box pops up to say "OK, but don't forget that the IDF bulldozes Palestinian houses. Aren't you concerned about that? Shouldn't that be a topic of discussion?"
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 12:22 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


Okay, what I would like to know is why can't we have some marches or public events opposing anti-semitism? When Ruki says that there is nothing, I feel like surely there could be something, and I feel like non-Jews in my social circle at least would be supportive of such a thing. I would absolutely. I feel like there's a "would this just make people more of a target" question, but it seems like a totally appropriate and necessary visible rebuke to the Richard Spencers of our time. It seems pretty simple, and it would sure sort out the "sometimes I am a little thoughtless or ignorant on this issue but am not an anti-semite" people on the left from actual anti-semites.

To tell the truth, I would love an opportunity as a non-Jewish person to visibly reject the anti-semitic tenor of the times. I recognize that this is a weird way to put it, but I can't stand thinking about people saying and believing this garbage about my Jewish friends, or god forbid acting on it.
posted by Frowner at 12:24 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


But if we are, will you come? will the progressives on Metafilter link hands to protect Jews from Nazis?


Yes, 100% absolutely. I would be right there. There is zero question about that, and there's zero question about me supporting any number of efforts to combat anti-semitism. A huge amount of my frustration is that I cannot stand by when I see efforts to combat anti-semitism packaged with things I find intolerable. Those things include downplaying the bigotry directed at other groups or complaining when those groups get support. I simply won't do it or participate in it. I wish I had said something earlier because Ruki got more frustration than was proportional to her comment. Nor will I ever agree that a discussion of who is and isn't Jewish, with a religious viewpoint being forwarded as the only or real Jewish viewpoint, is acceptable in the context of anti-semitism. Nor am I ever going to find it acceptable to compare Jewish people who aren't acceptably religious to Rachael Dolezal or Clarence Thomas. Nor am I ever going to be okay with people misintepreting and misrepresenting other Jewish people's comments and perspectives in order to demonize them.

Thankfully, I don't need to do any of those things to be strongly against anti-semitism and anti-semitic violence.

I enrolled my son in a Jewish preschool that yes, has armed guards and a 10-foot-tall fence. I support Israel as a refuge state for Jewish people, and I think it's necessary that there be such a state. I support friends who make aliyah and have considered it myself, moreso now than ever. I guess it's still an open question about whether or not I'd protect Jews from Nazis, though, because in a thread with garbage like "I hope no one retaliates against the poor Muslims! That would be an actual tragedy!" I have lost my patience with people using support or concern for other groups as evidence that their supporters are anti-semitic.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:15 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


it seems like the people who have pushed hard on the antisemitism thing (that ol' thing again!) have been scrutinized in terms of their support for Israel, or you know, how they're orthodox or something. Maybe that's an unfair characterization. But a lot of it does come back to "well, I'm a Jew and I disagree with the way Joe here has been throwing around the term." I had a friend growing up (actually, still a close friend) who was one of the most left-wing people I knew, and yet every time he brought up antisemitism I'd be like "well, he was raised orthodox after all..."

I am sorry that you are (were?) biased against people who were raised orthodox, but no one here has given anyone shit for being orthodox. If they have please quote it and let me know so that I can condemn that behavior wholeheartedly. I don't think people's religious background determines their views on Israel, anti-semitism, or similar, and the people pushing that narrative hard in this thread have, as far as I can tell, been religious people making generalizations about secular Jews.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 1:44 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Um, this is going to be totally inside Jewish-baseball, but can we please not use the orthodox=religious and non-orthodox=secular short hand? Religiosity within Judaism is orthogonal to your relationship with Halacha. There are a lot of very religious Jews who are very not Orthodox; American Reform Judaism is officially a-halachic.
posted by jb at 2:07 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


I'm not saying that is what you were doing, Rock em, but it is a common trope in Jewish conversations and I just wanted to make the distinction (and I think it came up earlier when Mchelly was talking about the relationship between religious Jews and Jerusalem - liturgies differ on their stances re Jerusalem and the Temple).
posted by jb at 2:10 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


Okay, what I would like to know is why can't we have some marches or public events opposing anti-semitism?

We could. And as soon as someone hoists a Star of David, half of the left will counter-protest because of I/P. Doesn't matter if the Jews marching were at a BLM rally last week, give money to J-street and/or support BDS. That's the problem in a nutshell.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:20 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


it seems like the people who have pushed hard on the antisemitism thing (that ol' thing again!) have been scrutinized in terms of their support for Israel, or you know, how they're orthodox or something.

I am sorry that you are (were?) biased against people who were raised orthodox, but no one here has given anyone shit for being orthodox.

The criticism of Mchelly came pretty close to that IMO. As for me, people keep on going on about my supposed far-right Zionist politics. The reason I haven't been responding to that is that I'm sick of being "the good Jew", the one who carefully lays out their liberal credentials before they speak. But what happens is, if you speak up about something concerning Israel that's arguably antisemitic, there are some very voluble people who will go "JiA is defending Netanyahu again".

There are a zillion ways to criticise Israel without falling into antisemitic tropes. People don't need to imply that Israel controls the US, or that wealthy Zionists do, or that Israel is plotting mass murder, or that Israelis are (literally or even metaphorically) drinking Palestinian blood. They don't need to support their criticism by implying that Israeli Jews aren't "the real Jews" or that Israelis have a theological drive to murder or that Israel's motives are unique amongst Western-ish countries in being primarily religious, not political or strategic – which is basically a way of saying that it's Jews doing Jewish things that's to blame for whatever the commentator doesn't like. They also don't need to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, or to assert that Jewish history means that Israel has a unique, enforceable obligation to behave better than other nations.

That's not the only sort of thing I respond to – I've had a lot of criticism here for responding to other things that I think are borderline-unacceptable or worse – but people right here use this as an excuse to disregard allegations of antisemitism even when nobody has mentioned Israel. That's not just unfair, it's being used to avoid self-criticism and (as we've seen) it is directly and substantially hurting this site and the people on it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 2:27 PM on February 15 [5 favorites]


grobstein:

At the same time, I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem."

I disagree. Here's why: I'm one of the few openly Jewish people on Metafilter. I discuss my religious faith (or lack thereof) and ethnicity frankly and openly and also try to answer questions about what it means to be be Jewish and what Jews tend to believe. I make a lot of FPP's to the Blue about Judaism, Israel, I/P, Jews and being Jewish etc. Am probably one of the top posters here for those topics. I also get into a lot of conversations and disagreements with Joe in Australia about Israel.

I try to be vocal in threads like this one.

Why? In part because I'm also one of the few Jews here who have dealt with public expressions of antisemitism against me on Metafilter. There was an incident in chat a couple of years ago. There were witnesses. People who were in the chatroom at the time private messaged or memailed me to ask me if I was okay. I've stopped talking about Jewish circumcision on this site because people have not only been unbelievably nasty about it, they've also defended an anti-semitic comic book about it. There was a metatalk post made a few years back because a user named uncanny hengeman said among other things, "zarq, who wears his Jewishness on his sleeve and pops up in every Jew thread". I dismissed what he had said at the time in a misguided effort to be nice. Felt like utter shit about the incident afterward.

We also had a user named Jimmy Havok get a timeout, then get banned for saying "Arbeit Mach Frei" to rosswald in a metatalk thread. Member Orthogonality used to tread right up to the line of defending expressions of antisemitism. Another user ranted a few years ago about Hasidic landlords in an AskMe in what I felt were antisemitic terms. As far as I know she didn't get banned for it but her question was axed. There have been at least one or two other incidents that I'm aware of. And of course, there's all the dismissive comments Jews here get from members when they raise concerns about expressions of antisemitism on metafilter. I buttoned a couple of years ago for months over a similar incident, because a metafilter mod was dismissive as hell to me when I tried to explain why mefites defending blood libel was offensive and asked her to tell them to cut it out.

Metafilter has had antisemitic members in the past, and probably has them now. But more importantly, metafilter has members who are incapable of recognizing classic antisemitic tropes. In some cases who refuse to acknowledge them when they are pointed out and backed up with source materials. This situation is made worse by Joe in Australia, who I feel reacts with hair-trigger accusations of anti-semitism whenever Israel is criticized. I can't even count the number of times I've said "criticism of israel should not automatically be considered anti-semitism" on mefi and metatalk. The situation is also made worse by people who dismiss concerns about anti-semitism when they are raised by Jews who know what they are talking about. Or who try to distract from the problem by comparing it to what other groups deal with. Antisemitism is different than racism and sexism. Comparing it to either of those doesn't help us, because it oversimplifies the problem and efforts to find solutions.

I did not come back to metafilter this week to once again have circular arguments about whether antisemitism is a problem or whether Jews shouldn't be worried about it or whether Jews are safer now because their schools have armed guards. The schools have armed guards because the children inside are being threatened by antisemitic bomb threats or fears that some Jew-hating asshole will show up with a gun and create another Sandy Hook. We've already had a massive metatalk discussion about antisemitism. Has anything changed since last year? Other than the fact that we've now lost what, four or five Jewish members thanks to this nasty conversation?

You want to help? Assume good faith. Be kind to each other. Recognize that this is a complex topic.

Above all, stop being dismissive of Jews who express concerns and fears. Stop telling us our opinions aren't worth as much as other peoples. Because when you do, you don't speak for me, either.
posted by zarq at 2:46 PM on February 15 [21 favorites]


Mchelly wrote the "I hope no one retaliates..." quote referring to people fearing for the theoretical welfare of Muslims as a result of the Porte de Vincennes kosher superette attack and hostage-taking in lieu of fearing for and mourning its victims, before any sort of retaliatory attack would have taken place. Unless you're accusing her of lying about encountering someone expressing sentiments like this, conveying horrified sarcasm that way at the same time you're agreeing with prayers against such Islamophobic attacks does not seem worthy of being called "garbage".

Though it's worth pointing out and making caveats that the sense of "actual tragedy" isn't an implication that attacks against Muslims in general aren't tragedies, but is contrasting concern about hypothetical events that haven't happened, to the absence of an expression of sympathy for the real market attack's victims.

(I hope I'm accurately describing what Mchelly meant by that, I just didn't want to leave it to her alone to defend against the call-out above.)

I feel like I get the basic idea behind the opposition to "comparisons of one minority group to another", and that basic idea is entirely valid and I agree with it: litigating the varying experiences of different groups to try to come up with comparable scores theoretically summing the experiences of all members of each group which can then be weighed against each other is not only a pointless pursuit because those aren't questions that can be objectively answered, but isn't going to provide useful or truthful information, and just the process of trying to do it unnecessarily creates all kinds of opportunities for hurt feeling and statements ignorant of individual and group experiences and circumstances. Plus it plays into minorities being set against each other to the benefit of the status quo.

But absolute intolerance of even mentioning any differences in the treatment of different groups, even in a thread where examination of such differences is the entire point of the discussion, with a specific occasion in mind, as in Rock 'em Sock 'em's response to Ruki's penultimate comment, feels like it's getting into the territory of the "I don't see race" naïve approach to opposing racism that Stephen Colbert lampoons all the time. Simply proscribing the articulation of any experience which could in theory lead to a bout of competitive misery-measuring between groups isn't going to solve the problem, I don't think, any more than strictly refraining from anyone mentioning race at all actually prevents racism.
posted by XMLicious at 3:01 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


They also don't need to compare Israel to Nazi Germany, or to assert that Jewish history means that Israel has a unique, enforceable obligation to behave better than other nations.

They don't need to -- but for my part, it is a huge problem for me, as a Jew, that my Israeli cousins (literally, my own cousins) think it's fine to ghettoize (again, literally ghettoize) a captive population. Which is manifestly what has happened, regardless of whether one thinks that "occupation" is a good descriptor, or of the the other battles over terminology. Gaza is a ghetto. With walls and controls on who and what goes in and out.

The ghetto was invented for Jews in Europe, long before the Nazis. And Jews have a tragic history of suffering collective punishments from hostile governments for political reasons.

I think it's reasonable for Jews to say to other Jews that we should have a special consciousness of how wrong these things were, and are on at least an ethical/moral level, before you start making room for realpolitik. I think, therefore, there must be some acceptable way for non-Jews to make the same observation. Or at least express confusion about why Jews disagree about this (cliches about more opinions than people aside).

Israel, as a nation-state, should not be expected to adhere to different standards than other nation-states (there's the realist view) -- but I would hope that Jews (all of us) would, given our history, encourage all nation-states not to ghettoize anyone and to avoid symbolic collective punishments, so that can become the realist expectation.

I know that sounds naive given the state of the world right now, but as one of those nefarious cultural Jews, those principles are just too deep for me to abandon. They are at the core of my Jewishness, which is absent faith. YMMV.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:07 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


I think, therefore, there must be some acceptable way for non-Jews to make the same observation. Or at least express confusion about why Jews disagree about this

I think, and I say this gently, with a lot of respect and appreciation for how you have shared your feelings in this thread, that there are very few, if any, acceptable ways for an out-group person to do an in-group callout. And those ways diminish even further when you're saying "You should feel this way, person who is different from me." We are all tempted to do it in various circumstances- I'm sure I've done it myself, because we are imperfect humans - but it's not great.
posted by corb at 3:43 PM on February 15 [2 favorites]


You're probably right--especially if there isn't a way to do it without it coming across as a callout.
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:57 PM on February 15


Gaza is a ghetto. With walls and controls on who and what goes in and out. The ghetto was invented for Jews in Europe, long before the Nazis.

Snuffleupagus, I'm not at all sure that this is a useful comparison, but I won't get into that because we're not discussing Israel; we're discussing antisemitism. I'd be happy to discuss it by MeMail though.

The practical problem with using this as a comparison is that many or most people hearing the word "ghetto" don't have your historical context. They're going to understand it as a reference to the places used by Nazis to confine Jews before dispatching them to death camps – in fact that precise comparison has been made on Metafilte a number of times. So it's going to sound as if you're saying that Israel is the new Nazi Germany, which is a popular theme in antisemitic circles because "Nazi" is shorthand for "uniquely and irredeemably evil" and it therefore resonates with the long-standing antisemitic belief that Jews are uniquely and irredeemably evil.

So even though the comparison is personally significant to you, I really wish you wouldn't make it. It's not strictly necessary and it becomes part of the background in which antisemites feel free to say the most horrible things.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:15 PM on February 15 [3 favorites]


I guess I would say that my personal feeling is that it's important, in principle, in some contexts when discussing Israel, but not all contexts -- and especially not all discussions of antisemitism.

In practice, I think some version of that sentiment, however well grounded, seeps in all around and so it would be nice if we could find a way to address it without, indeed, making "antisemites feel free to say the most horrible things." Which it does.

[Of course, lately the world does feel like a study in 'why we can't have nice things.']

posted by snuffleupagus at 4:19 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I hope someone can persuade maxsparber to return.

Me too, but I think that the people who can are the mods, and the persuasion would take the form of making some stronger statements that include some statements about what the mods are going to do that would make MetaFilter a place he would feel comfortable returning to and then actually following through with those actions.

Long periods of silence from the mods, or just them trying to keep other people's discussions from going too far off the rails without making any significant statements about what they might do disappoints me. Affirming that "Antisemitism is a real problem. It's a problem in the world, and MetaFilter is part of the world," or even that it "is a problem that we need to work on here", without any commitments or even suggestions that they would do anything differently other than "I will continue to think hard about this", "we'll keep discussing as a mod team", and "We'll continue to try to tweak our approach to dealing with this stuff" (with no hint of what any "tweaks" might be or how insignificant or meaningful they might be) doesn't really satisfy. There's been plenty of time for "asynchronous rolling conversations over about 48 hours", coming to some sort of conclusion, and saying something meaningful. I'm left with the impression that the mods acknowledge that there's an issue, and may even feel strongly about it, but don't have the energy/caring left after dealing with politics threads and are just hoping it resolves on it's own. I'm not sure that's going to happen other than through Jewish MeFites who care being driven away.

Earlier, I was hoping that maxsparber and many of the other users who have buttoned over the course of this thread would reconsider and return, as I appreciated reading their contributions to the site. At this point, instead, I hope the site changes and grows into somewhere they would feel comfortable returning to.

(Apparently necessary qualifiers: Jewish, but non-religious/non-practicing.)
posted by JiBB at 4:45 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


Long periods of silence from the mods, or just them trying to keep other people's discussions from going too far off the rails without making any significant statements about what they might do disappoints me.

We've all been reading this thread and discussing it. I don't think we have a solid set of action items yet. For me, personally, I feel way too entangled in this subject to be the right person to be making policy on it.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 4:52 PM on February 15


Where are the mods in the current trashfire thread? Because it is a total trashfire. The amount of shoulder shrugging about it, the number of people outright denying that it's actually antisemitism, the long meandering derails about Nixon and Notch etc....

Where are you.
posted by stoneweaver at 5:40 PM on February 15 [1 favorite]


I'm not minimising the concern at all, stoneweaver, but some of the comments that listen, lady called out actually seemed to be supporting their point that any kind of antisemitism is unacceptable, not rebutting it - as she seemed to interpret?

Eg "It's engaging in normalization of the behavior, anyhow." implies to me that pewdiepie is normalising antisemitism, and that's a bad thing?

and "Which means at this point even if you think you are making a joke people aren't going to take it that way." reads to me that right-thinking people view any expression of antisemitism as unacceptable, not that peeps are over sensitive or whatever?

Even "his (ironic?) anti-Semitic stuff is kind of everywhere though and I don't know why, or who it's appealing to." seems like a) the poster isn't sure if PewDiePie is ironic or not, and they find it gross and don't know why it's so popular.

I dunno I feel like your characterisation of a large number of people minimising/denying antisemitism seems to be a very small number of commenters. The stuff about Notch doesn't seem any more or less deraily than any other given thread, and I certainly don't feel it's being used to minimise the offense.

I mean, I totally agree that pewdiepie was antisemitic, highly offensive, should be booted off all networks - but I think most people in the thread do, too? I wouldn't call it a trashfire.
posted by smoke at 5:54 PM on February 15


My read of the thread is pretty much the same as smoke's, yeah. People are talking about all of the different ways in which this dude's content is awful (anti-Semitic, normalizes hate speech, slags on poor people, etc) not actually disagreeing whether it's awful. Personally, I think the "I think he doesn't believe what he says" line of argumentation is pointless at best, and usually does not achieve "best" (landing on "offensive" instead), but those comments are pretty thoroughly pushed back on, which I do think is productive in the end.

It is also completely unproductive, and in fact why we delete a lot of stuff as outragefilter, to get mad at people because they don't appear to be mad enough at whatever bad thing the thread is about. People process their emotions in different ways, tone is hard to read in text, and it is possible to discuss the nuances of a bad thing without disagreeing that the thing is bad. For me, for example, dismissing someone as "gamergater nonsense" is the equivalent of saying "well, he left the human race a long time ago, let's just shun him and move on" not "oh well, boys will be boys." That doesn't always come across cleanly, especially between people who don't have the right set of overlapping experiences, but in that case, neither side is wrong. Further clarifying conversation is what solves that - and the tail end of that thread is actually a really good example, as people clarify their shorthand to make it explicit what their intent was.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:10 PM on February 15 [6 favorites]


So I got a memail about this thread and specifically about the link between the I/P conflict and actions by people like the Seattle Federation shooter who said he was motivated by anger at Israel. For what it is worth here is my response --

No worries about this me mail or your questions. I will try to address in order.

First, the concerns I raised in the MeTa thread weren't about the comments there but about a couple of long standing concerns I have on MetaFilter generally. One is the obliviousness of many people here to the fact that Jews are a minority too, that anti-Semitism is alive and well, and that there have been specific lethal attacks on Jews, not to mention very scary threats against Jews and an upsurge in this in recent years that MetaFilter has routinely disregarded. And another is that MetaFilter tends to conflate concerns about anti-Semitism with I/P, so that our inability to talk about the second topic means there is silencing on the first.

Second, I admit to a bitter smile at your question about the Federation shooting in Seattle. The biggest cause of that incident was mental illness, but it was informed by the zeitgeist, which is a big tendency to cloak anti-Semitism in anti-Israel clothing. That the shooter said he was anti-Israel hardly explains why he felt the need to express that by murdering one Jewish woman and trying to murder five more, in a location that has nothing to do with Israel and whose mission is to help Jews in the local community. Another example of blatant, lethal anti-Semitism in the name of anti-Israel sentiment is the recent murders of Jews in France concurrent with the Charlie Hebdo shooting. Those murdered Jews had nothing to do with Israel or Israeli government or Israeli policies. They were targeted and killed for being Jews. Note where these things happened -- not in Israel, an Israeli consulate, an Israeli embassy, or even a place where Israelis gather, but in a Jewish organization center, a Jewish kosher market . . . see what I mean?

Last, I think something that is hard to understand for non-Jews about anti-Semitism is that it has a long history and has worn many faces. In the Middle Ages, anti-Semitism was based on a belief, still persistent among some, that the fact Jews weren't Christian showed they were devils, or affiliated with Satan, or engaging in overt anti Christian behavior like murdering Christian children and using their blood to make matzoh (the "blood libel.") Also, the long standing view that Jews are "Christ killers," i.e. responsible for the death of Jesus. Later, anti-Semitism revolved around other lies, still in existence today, and which Trump for one touched on repeatedly during his campaign, that Jews are part of an international conspiracy which controls banking, media, etc. The famous forgery, The Elders of the Protocols of Zion, rests on this falsehood. A good deal of Nazi ideology, which additionally viewed Jews as predatory and diseased and racially inferior, also was based on this falsehood. More recently, anti-Semitism has been strongly linked to anti-Israeli government and anti-Israeli policy views, because there is a marked overlap between anti-Israel/pro-Palestianian ideologies and lethally anti-Jewish beliefs and behaviors. I repeat again what I said often in the thread -- there is nothing wrong with being anti-Israeli government policy or pro-Palestinian, and this overlap between being anti-Semitic and "anti-Israel" is by no means complete. But it is there.

Last, let me remind you why Israel is so very important to Jews. It is the only place in the world that is Jewish through and through, that is a homeland for Jews. That is why being anti-Israeli government policy is perfectly fine with people like me -- I have my own strong disagreements with a good deal of current policy and behavior toward Palestinians, for example -- but being anti-Israel is threatening. Not to mention the aforesaid overlap between the groups in the world like Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS, and more who are anti-Semitic AND anti-Israel.

Hope this helps. I am sorry if I was not more clear in the thread.
posted by bearwife at 10:21 PM on February 15 [9 favorites]


A couple thoughts. First. I'm sorry to see maxsparber go. Second, if multiple Jews at MF say there is an a antisemitism problem, then there's an antisemitism problem. Third, I'm a Christian. I think MF has a problem with the way it talks about Christians (the left does in general). But I say silent because to this day Christians are (and have been for a long time) almost always the persecutor rather than the persecuted. So, karma, I suppose. But Jews aren't in that position. Even with a strong Israel. It's just not the same. Perhaps in the Trump era MF (and perhaps the left more generally) can be a bit more mindful of the way it talks about one of the most marginalized and attacked groups in the history of the world.
posted by persona au gratin at 3:00 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


But absolute intolerance of even mentioning any differences in the treatment of different groups, even in a thread where examination of such differences is the entire point of the discussion, with a specific occasion in mind, as in Rock 'em Sock 'em's response to Ruki's penultimate comment

"intolerance of comparisons" is so not what Rock 'em Sock 'em was doing with their repeated comparative statement. I'm totally down with being against the kind of analogies you describe, and I include Rock 'em Sock 'em's behaviour in that category.

The problem with "but you have it so much better!" is that 99.999...% of the time, it's not true. It might look better from the outside, but making that claim erases all the shit you don't see if you aren't in the group in question, and that is insulting and unhelpful. You don't notice microaggressions against other groups - you can't. Your experience is not their experience (and vice versa). "Muslims have it better" is odious. So is "Muslims have it worse".
posted by Dysk at 7:05 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


restless_nomad: We've all been reading this thread and discussing it. I don't think we have a solid set of action items yet. For me, personally, I feel way too entangled in this subject to be the right person to be making policy on it.

It's been over three weeks. No, actually it's more than that. It's been 25 months. Which is more than a little disheartening. I get that this is a complicated subject, but still.

I am curious about something. Primarily because we were told in January 2015 that the site would be more responsive to concerns raised by Jewish members. I'd like to know if anything has changed.

It's now been over two years. Let's say I came to you today with the situation we had in late 2014 -- where two non-Jewish users were loudly defending a tweet by Steven Salaita as not-antisemitic that used blood libel imagery,) and aggressively shouting down Jewish mefites who disagreed with them.

Given the same exact scenario, if I asked you to tell them to stop defending antisemitism without telling both sides they were equally in the wrong, would your response to me now change? If so, how?

This is not a hypothetical situation. It actually happened. I would like to know if and how your reaction as a metafilter mod would differ today than it did back then. And why.
posted by zarq at 7:19 AM on February 16 [15 favorites]


And just to clarify... I am asking this because I genuinely want to know what changes have been made to moderation policies in the interim. Specifically how you, restless_nomad, now view those kinds of situations. This is not an attempt at a 'gotcha' or me trying to start an argument. If you disagree with my assessment of the situation or see it differently, then I'd absolutely welcome hearing that as well. Perhaps any changes that have been made wouldn't apply to that situation.

But I'd really, truly like to know how it would be handled today.

I know you (collective you for the Mod team) don't like dealing in hypotheticals. So this is an incident that actually happened which we can look at and assess.
posted by zarq at 7:43 AM on February 16 [2 favorites]


This thread has been very hard to read. I missed it when it was posted, and only came to it through reading maxsparber’s essay about it elsewhere. I agree with his take.

No doubt this is a sensitive topic, and we’ve seen a lot of the sensitivities on display here. There are issues of politics, identity, in-group/out-group dynamics, and language to consider, in addition to the general defensiveness people feel when they are challenged as being insensitive or worse. Still, even acknowledging those complexities, it seems like the conversation here has not been a good one. In short, I/P and JiA have been treated in a lot of this conversation as an excuse for not being sensitive to issues of anti-Semitism on the site. maxsparber has even been charged with contributing to this by mentioning JiA in his post. The truth is that max’s post was precisely about the problem with dismissing anti-Semitism based on political disagreements with the person who raises the issue. The thread has borne out max’s concerns in almost every way.

The most frequent concern expressed about charges of anti-Semitism on MeFi, sometimes implicit but in this thread sometimes disturbingly explicit, is that the charge is raised in bad faith as a way to shut down discussion of Israeli policies in Palestine. I feel mixed about this. Certainly not all criticisms of Israel are anti-Semitic. However, I would suggest that most anti-Semitic comments and sentiments on MeFi are related to criticisms of Israel. In some ways this is simply a math problem: most of the times MeFi talks about Jews the discussions are related to Israel. In other ways, this is an issue with criticisms of Israel. I disagree with several other commenters here, including, I think, JiA, because I do believe that most criticisms of Israel have anti-Semitic elements. As someone strongly critical of Israel, whose group of close friends includes many whose lives as “professional Jews” are centered around Palestinian justice, I haven’t reached that conclusion lightly. But what I see and hear when people talk about Israel is not that the political criticisms are wrong, but that the framing, content, and tone are informed by millennia of anti-Semitism. When you really think about it, this isn’t a surprise, given how endemic anti-Semitism is to the world and the politics of the world. Oppressing Jews, legislating Jews, and expelling Jews has been a central aspect of political culture in Europe and the Middle East for hundreds of years. No one would argue that those “political” moves were not anti-Semitic, and I think it’s folly to think that within living memory of the largest of these political projects, the criticism of the majority Jewish state would not contain anti-Semitic elements in most cases regardless of the validity of the political critique. And I’ll go one step further and say that while I don’t think it makes sense to call Jews “anti-Semitic,” I know more than a few Jewish people whose criticisms of Israel are also informed by and contain elements of an internalized anti-Semitism that is apparent in other aspects of their lives as well. (This last is obviously not a comment on anyone I don't know well and in-person.)

I think I’ve mentioned this incident before on MeFi, but when I think about the problem of anti-Semitism on the Left, particularly the US Left, I always remember an incident I was involved in right before the big march to protest Bush II’s invasion of Iraq. My wife and I decided to march with a group of friends, most of whom belong to the same Reconstructionist chavurah, Many of my wife’s closest friends grew up in this group, which is literally composed of many people who have dedicated their working lives to promoting peace in Israel. We live in DC, and I feel fairly confident in saying that the concentration of high-level peace activists in this group is higher than in most other groups of 50 people you could get together in one room outside of an I/P peace conference. Anyway, we assembled at the Hillel at GW University so that we would all be together at the start. As we were going over some safety stuff, exchanging information, that kind of thing, a woman who no one knew and who was not part of our group got up on a table and demanded attention from our group (we were in a room by ourselves, not in a large communal space). She proceeded to lecture us about how we needed to disavow Israel before joining the march. She took repeated issue with the Israeli flag in the room (hung by Hillel, it wasn’t ours). She continued to demand our attention even as it was explained to her that the people she was addressing largely agreed with her concerns about the treatment of Palestine and Palestinians. She never said an explicitly anti-Semitic word, but her whole presentation was anti-Semitic. Her insistence that the Jews in the room pledge fealty by renouncing Israel, her gatekeeping of concern and action around the invasion of Iraq, her repeated comments that Zionism=racism, were all anti-Semitic. And she wasn’t some one-off, she was pretty much a personification of how the Left in America and Europe treats Jews on the one hand, and the issue of Israel on the other. It was particularly galling that she was lecturing a group of people who had done, and have done, so much to promote peace.

So, I think this thread has been shitty, and on balance, has either dismissed concerns of anti-Semitism on MeFi, or actually blamed Jews (sometimes other Jews) for bringing it on themselves. I think that’s a bad result. I agree with zarq that the mod response has been anemic even when taking into account the complexity of the situation. I’d go further and say that I see this lack of response as a validation of the existence of the larger problem: the Left doesn’t know how to deal with anti-Semitism very well. This very thread has had victims of other forms of oppression, or their allies, arguing that these concerns are overblown or are being talked about in the wrong way. It basically seems to me like intersectionality ends at Jewishness, and that the consensus about issues that exists on this site regarding racism or homophobia or sexism is lacking, which makes modding this issue difficult. (To be clear, I don’t think that the above mentioned consensus means there are no problems with those issues on MeFi, but I think the site’s aspirational trajectory is clear.)

I hope max comes back.
posted by OmieWise at 8:12 AM on February 16 [11 favorites]


I wouldn't call it a trashfire.

My point was that anti-Semitism is routinely talked about in ways that dismiss its seriousness, including hair-splitting like "well, X probably isn't sincere but it normalizes the behavior" "it's for lulz" "people just feel entitled to make jokes they shouldn't" are all ways of talking about it like it is somehow anodyne. The idea that the thread would have to be "a trash fire" for me to raise objections to it & feel ~unsupported~ is actially part of my point. I don't know where you are coming from, but I, a Jewish person, see a problem here, and even other Jewish people disagreeing doesn't mean I am wrong.
posted by listen, lady at 9:21 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


The problem with "but you have it so much better!" is that 99.999...% of the time, it's not true. It might look better from the outside,

It is also a coded way of recirculating anti-Semitic assumptions about Jews, our supposed money, and our place in society. Like, say, the media.
posted by listen, lady at 9:23 AM on February 16 [4 favorites]


When it's directed and Jews, yes. I do see it applied to other groups (trans people most notably) on MeFi on the regular as well, and in this thread.
posted by Dysk at 9:26 AM on February 16


Dysk, this thread is called "On Jews and Their Comments" and as per the mods its about antisemitism. Could you stop doing the #all lives matter thing, please?
posted by snuffleupagus at 9:27 AM on February 16 [7 favorites]


But yes, the topic here is antisemitism, and it does no doubt take on an extra edge as you describe in a way it doesn't when it's brandished at other groups. I apologise for the distraction.
posted by Dysk at 9:27 AM on February 16 [3 favorites]


Um, this is going to be totally inside Jewish-baseball, but can we please not use the orthodox=religious and non-orthodox=secular short hand? Religiosity within Judaism is orthogonal to your relationship with Halacha. There are a lot of very religious Jews who are very not Orthodox; American Reform Judaism is officially a-halachic.

Sure, but I was not doing this. I know they are not identical. There was a whole thing about religious vs secular (one-sided and nasty towards secular Jews IMO but whatever) and that's what I was referencing.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 9:59 AM on February 16


Ha ha sorry! I see that you know this. Apologies for my dense-ness, and yes, you're right.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 10:17 AM on February 16 [1 favorite]


restless_nomad: We've all been reading this thread and discussing it. I don't think we have a solid set of action items yet.

I'm glad to hear that, and I hope you do come up with some good ones. And I don't want you to rush out a half-thought through statement. But… it has been three weeks, over 500 heated comments, at least 7 commenters burnt out and buttoned. At some point, the delay becomes part of the message. Especially if you're relatively silent about what may or may not be going on behind the scenes in the mean time.
posted by JiBB at 12:40 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


My point was that anti-Semitism is routinely talked about in ways that dismiss its seriousness

I agree with you; I was responding to stoneweavers characterisation of the thread and call for more intervention, is all. You're totally entitled to call out those, or any other comments you want, apologies.
posted by smoke at 12:41 PM on February 16


It's now been over two years. Let's say I came to you today with the situation we had in late 2014 -- where two non-Jewish users were loudly defending a tweet by Steven Salaita as not-antisemitic that used blood libel imagery,) and aggressively shouting down Jewish mefites who disagreed with them.

So I don't know how to say this other than to just say it: I can't really muster the emotional wherewithal today to dig back through that whole clusterfuck. Grim irony here being that the horrific cultural wake of Trump's ascendance and related sociopolitical awfulness is simultaneously making the already serious issue of anti-semitism in the US and the world an even more acute concern right now that's important for us to look closely at on the site, and impeding my ability at times to find the emotional muscle to cope with that and address it in an in-depth way.

I can tell you from what I do remember at the time that I think our response today would be clearer and faster; I can tell you that I'd look with far more jaundiced eye at the idea that that conversation about that situation was even going to go well on MeFi to begin with given the way orthogonal hot-button shit was colliding in the premise. I remember the MetaTalk discussion from early 2015 that you link to as well and I regret focusing as much on JiA's framing and site behavior vs. the more general questions about anti-semitism in my initial response there (and again just literally don't have it in me to revisit that whole thread and its context for more detail/history right now).

But, yeah, from what I can recall—and I recall it being an awful clusterfuck for a variety of reasons—I think we'd be on somewhat better footing to tackle the problematic stuff in there more promptly and more effectively today. I have definitely had the benefit of a couple more years of thinking about this stuff as it intersects with the site and listening to folks here explain their concerns, and I appreciate that.

That said, I think we can more usefully get something out of this by focusing on stuff happening now, and what folks want to see now and going forward, than by trying to unpack that whole situation again. Not because it doesn't matter but because I can't reach back in time and modify how that played out and my perception is that the operating question here is less "why didn't you do..." and more "what will you do when...".

To which end, where I am and where some of our mod conversations have been on this come down to trying to look at and be responsive to the items on that list I posted earlier in the thread, the idea of trying to incorporate more consistently those things as goals for how the community approaches—and how we moderate bumpiness and problematic shit in—discussions about or touching tangentially on issues like Jewish identity and culture, anti-semitism, middle-east/geopolitics, etc.

I am mostly at this point trying to be cognizant of that stuff and to talk it out with the team when it comes up, and beyond that hoping for any clarification on what other things folks are specifically hoping for. If there's stuff on that list that's off the mark, what is it and why? If there's key stuff that's missing, what and why?

I do hear the folks saying that us trying harder is nice but where are the clear actions: I'm really straightforwardly, honestly asking for guidance there so that I can understand whether and where and what there's a disconnect on between e.g. that list above and folks' goals for concrete actions.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:47 PM on February 16 [4 favorites]


Guidance? OK, happy you asked, for reals. First, I don't know if you normally do this, but I for one would be most grateful if you mods would put up a MeTa announcement about your list, which I think is an excellent one. This discussion has been long and tough -- and, I think, productive -- but it is also off everyone's radar except those engaged in this thread.

Second, I'd really, really appreciate it if you'd reach out to the folks who buttoned. I mean, it is up to them whether they want to come back but it would be great for the community to retrieve them.
posted by bearwife at 5:19 PM on February 16 [5 favorites]


I feel that the mods have been too willing to go along with complaints that something is an I/P derail. This has been most evident when it comes to mentions of antisemitism, but it's not restricted to that. For instance, up above I mentioned that Jews attending a function at a GLBT conference were intimidated by a large and active physical protest. The protestors' rationale was that there was a presentation at the function by a couple of Israeli social workers, which had the effect of "normalising" Israel.

I think the protestors' rationale was pretty bad in itself, but I avoided mentioning it because my focus was the effect on the attendees; I didn't think that the protestors rationale could have justified that effect; and because I didn't want to get into an I/P derail. Obviously not everybody felt the same way.

I feel that other commentators need to have a certain level of tolerance for things that are tangentially associated with Israel, because lots of Jewish-related stuff is associated with Israel. I recognise that a bad actor could do a very tangential not-talking-about-I/P post which pushes people's buttons, but it seems to me that some people are trying to get their buttons pushed.

Also, this extends to other things - at the peak of the California drought I was about to post something on water recycling, but then I started fretting about whether I'd be accused of secretly trying to make a post about Israel, because Israel has a massive integrated recycling program and a number of links mentioned it. So I chopped out those links, but the post didn't make sense anymore and I dropped it. I'd appreciate some guidance with things like this, so that I know whether I'm going to get blamed if it turns fighty.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:09 PM on February 16 [2 favorites]


Second, I'd really, really appreciate it if you'd reach out to the folks who buttoned.

Along with having a substantial contribution to this thread coming from an off-site location, I think this is a terrible idea to implement. People choose to leave for all sorts of reasons, and in effect begging them to come back because we're better now suggests certain users are too valuable to leave, a dreadful precedent to institute. They've locked off their account but they can still read - and certainly are, in many cases.

Putting it on the mods as to who should be asked to be part of the site is a perfect recipe for (claims of) favouritism, a cementing of in-group statuses, 'you asked back X but not Y' complaints, and so many other problems.

If they think it's worth returning, they will. If you think the site is better with certain users on it, you ask them back.
posted by gadge emeritus at 9:16 PM on February 16 [8 favorites]


Imma drop some knowledge on the Blood Libel for people for whom this is mysterious (not as a mod but rather as an 8-year student of theology), as it is my experience that people without a lot of knowledge about the Holocaust or anti-Semitism are ignorant and therefore don't twig to subtle appeals to the Blood Libel.

At its base, the Blood Libel is an accusation that Jews use the blood of Christian children (almost exclusively boys aged about 6 to 12) to make matzoh for Passover. The first well-attested version is William of Norwich in 1144 in England, a boy of about 12 who was found stabbed to death in a nearby wood. (There's a complicated period of legal maneuvering where local Jews were accused, protected by the local sheriff, exonerated, accused again, etc., but the key point is eventually some of the local Jews got murdered in retaliation a couple years later and the story went medieval viral.)

Similar accusations follow in Gloucester, Bury St. Edmonds, and Lincoln, until in 1290 Jews are expelled from England. In all cases it's a young boy of ages about 6 to 12 who disappears, is found dead, and the death is blamed on local Jews who need his blood to make matzoh. (Even the very earliest accusations insist there's an international tribunal of Jews who get together somewhere in Europe and decide who has to kill the Christian boy this year, since an alleged (and non-existent) prophecy says they have to kill a Christian child every year to return to Jerusalem at some future point, so you see why the whole "international conspiracy" thing is not JUST a "bankers at Davos controlling the world" or Illuminati, but is a lot more dangerous and pernicious when it's about Jews specifically.) Sometimes the ritual murder is alleged to be committed by crucifixion (despite lack of evidence of, you know, a big cross or anything) in a re-enactment of the crucifixion of Christ.

Modern sociologists of childhood point to the fact that boys ages 6 to 12 were uniquely vulnerable; they were allowed to range around alone (which girls were typically not), but they were poor judges of risk and were often killed by wagon accidents, trampled horses gone astray, killed by drowning, etc., as well as (now and then) random murderers. In many Northern European countries, families owed a payment to their lord if one of their working-age (i.e., over 6ish) children was killed and his labor thus lost to the lord. So accusing someone of murder was sometimes an attractive route out of having to make that payment -- a murdered child didn't have to be paid for.

The Blood Libel moves from England to the continent -- France first, of course -- in the 12th century. It follows the same patterns. Occasionally (but rarely), girl children are the victims. Relatively frequently, local Christian lords who owe money to Jewish moneylenders use the excuse of a dead child to expel (and/or murder) all of the Jews in town, to escape paying their debts. (As you may or may not know, Christian bankers were forbidden from charging interest by religious authorities (sin of usury); Jewish bankers were allowed to charge interest and were therefore considerably more successful at banking, but also considerably more hated by the nobility who owed them money. There's a repeated dynamic in medieval Europe where Christian monarchs protect Jewish communities because they're using Jewish moneylenders to finance their governmental operations; when they get too heavily in hock, they expel or kill all the Jews to cancel their debts.) There are even well-attested cases where a local lord borrow a local peasant child, shipped him to a nearby city, claimed he'd been murdered by local Jews, had them all killed to cancel his debts, and then the kid turns up fine at monastery school 30 miles away.

Quite frequently high governmental officials (kings, bishops) who are well-educated reject and repudiate the Blood Libel, but it's hugely popular among the commoners and the lesser nobility, and kings are super-happy to take advantage of it when it suits them.

Accusations of the Blood Libel continue into the 20th century, and spread from Europe into Russia, the Middle East, and even America (where in 1928 in Massena, New York, there was a sensational Blood Libel accusation). The Blood Libel appears in Nazi propaganda against Jews. It remains current in Iranian government propaganda, and has had an absolutely alarming resurgence in Russia in the last decade or so, where it's been fuckin' brought up in the Duma, which is literally fucking absurd.

Accusations of "blood," "blood to make bread," "blood to make matzoh," "murder of children," etc., are typically appeals -- of various levels of covertness -- to the Blood Libel. To many gentiles, something that says "At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised?" is "simply" hyperbolic political speech, but it's actually a straight-up appeal to the Blood Libel and a wildly anti-Semitic dogwhistle intended to inflame anti-Semites by reminding them of the Blood Libel. It's intended to invoke the lie that Jews murder children for religious reasons, and it's intended to provoke violence against Jews and Jewish communities.

One of the reasons it's particularly pernicious is that you can totally say, "Paul Ryan gives zero shits that his policies kill children" (they do! he doesn't!) and that's a normal political statement. But if you say that Netanyahu (whom I personally think is a very bad man with very bad policies, just to be clear) "wears the teeth of children as a necklace" or whatever, it's not just saying he's a terrible politician with terrible policies, it's making a dogwhistle claim of Blood Libel intended to incite anti-Semites to violence. (If you're an American, think of the Blood Libel as the political equivalent of an n-bomb. There's just no recovering from it; you've said such a horrifying thing that you're going to have to leave public life, in any halfway sane country.) Which isn't to say you can't criticize the Israeli government or Netanyahu, but you really need to look over your comment super-carefully for literally anything related to blood, anything related to the murder of children, and anything to things mentioned here above (genocide, Nazis, ghettos), and try to think how you can phrase it to express the factual information without rhetorical flourishes that may be (legitimately inadvertent) dogwhistles. (Blood metaphors are ALMOST NEVER going to be okay.)

Like, for example, it's really common for Westerners to say "He has blood on his hands" for a death someone is responsible for but didn't directly commit. Common phrase, totally fine 99% of the time. But in fact it's a reference to Pontius Pilate washing his hands in Matthew 27:24 ("When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this Man's blood; see to that yourselves.""), and your neighborhood neo-Nazi might hear you say "blood is on his hands" about Netanyahu and be like, "yeah, that dude totally gets me, he totally understands that Jews killed Christ and are responsible for all these other deaths, he's a Nazi like me!" You are literally accidentally signalling to your local Nazis that you're on their side with your blood metaphor. It's a common Western saying, which most of us have forgotten has a Biblical origin and probably think of Shakespeare first if we think of anything at all, is actually a highly-charged reference to Jesus's death and who bears responsibility for it (Pilate claims, the Jews), that's accidentally emboldening neo-Nazis and anti-Semites who think you're using it on purpose to speak to them.

There's a lot of very ironic ritual stuff to consider with the Blood Libel, if it interests you, like that Jewish ritual laws have an absolute horror of blood and there's no way blood could be an ingredient in matzoh -- it can't even remain in meat! -- while Christians re-enact a cannibalistic blood sacrifice on a daily or weekly basis. But the key point is, when you go for rhetorical excess to make a point about how much you abhor a particular government policy by Netanyahu's government, and you grab for a "blood on his hands" metaphor from the Western zeitgeist, you're inadvertently referencing a millennium of targeted slaughter of Jewish communities for their imaginary ritual use of blood. Or when you defend a guy who appeals to that history for using "normal" rhetorical excess -- it isn't, it's a deliberate appeal to anti-Semites using specific anti-Semitic imagery and calling upon past slaughters of Jews and claiming a false history where Jews kidnap and murder children. And it's not okay.

I don't think every instance of blood metaphors fall into the Blood Libel, and sometimes it's pretty clear that someone has ignorantly blundered into invoking the Blood Libel accidentally (which is horrifying in its own way but in a "holy crap how does this guy not know" rather than a "oh, look, a Nazi"), but to reduce the anti-Semitism on MetaFilter it's a thing people have got to know and have got to be at least minimally alert to. It's literally like dropping an n-bomb, I stare at it with the same wide-eyed, jaw-dropped "OH HOLY CRAP DID THAT JUST HAPPEN?" face. Hardly anybody on MetaFilter would drop an n-bomb; try to add Blood Libel references to that same mental library of "just not ever okay."
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 10:56 PM on February 16 [19 favorites]


Three people were lynched in my dad's village after rumors spread that Jews had killed and eaten a girl from a nearby town. This was just seventy years ago. On enquiry, no such girl had actually existed, but that didn't bring the dead people back to life. It's definitely a staple belief in the Middle East, but I suspect it's not uncommon even in places like the USA and UK. There's certainly a lot of people drawing on it for rhetorical purposes, even if they don't believe it themselves.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:13 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


In my view, accusations of anti-Semitism are directly and widely used to defend the practice of turning another people to dust. . . . At the same time, I do not agree that "Metafilter has an anti-Semitism problem." And I do not agree that folks here have to check themselves next time they find themselves disagreeing with a Jewish poster about Israel or anti-Semitism.

Yeah, I also have to say: As someone who gives no shits about Israel—none! no shits! i don't practice in the Reform communities I was raised in because it is impossible to get away from (and in any other denomination I might otherwise join!), I am opposed to Israeli apartheid, I believe in a religious practice that is oriented to diaspora!—this is another thing entirely. You don't speak for me, either. "Israel" and "anti-Semitism" are not the same fucking thing and you know it. I don't want you to feel silenced; you also don't get to turn it around on others.

Which, I guess, also goes for other Jewish folks trying to claim that Israel is always already important and meaningful to all of us.
posted by listen, lady at 9:11 AM on February 17 [1 favorite]


cortex:

If you are answering for restless_nomad, then one of the reasons why I asked this is that she gave a very specific answer to my request back in 2014. She laid out Metafilter policy for what happens when a Jewish member of this site brings a complaint about antisemitic hate speech to a moderator's attention and asks them to take action.

This is what I requested.

This was her response:.
Ok, sure. Don't defend anti-Semitism, folks! There, does that help?

Of course it doesn't. It doesn't, because this is a moderation problem. As such, I am telling you what tools we have and how we can use them. I am telling you that, currently, the tools we have are not being called for, and therefore making a blanket declaration isn't going to help. It's not me, or LM, or cortex, or Matt you need to convince, here. You need to convince the community, or that fraction of it that can stand to read these threads, that certain specific things are unambiguously anti-Semitic and should be flagged and deleted rather than responded to.


So, two things.

1) This is a statement of Metafilter policy. We Jews are being asked to convince the community that "certain things are unambiguously anti-Semitic and should be flagged and deleted rather than responded to." The scope of restless_nomad's response is pretty clearly not being restricted to this incident.

2) In this specific case, an action was requested and a moderator said the mod team would not do it because Metafilter's Jews need to approach Team Mod as a group so you can form a consensus both on whether blood libel is antisemitic and also whether the tweet met the criteria necessary for you to take action. Only then will you would step in.

There is no question in my mind that the tweet being defended was blood libel. I offered source material explaining why. Yet the unsupported argument made by two other people in the thread that the tweet was not, -- at least one of whom was not Jewish -- was apparently taken as adequate defense and justification not to act by a mod.

So now I am asking if the site's policy has changed since then. I would like to know what will happen moving forward. This is a "what will you do when?" question and it applies to the current discussion.

I can't speak for the other Jews here, but the answer matters to me a lot. It I quite literally left the site for months over restless_nomad's responses in that thread.

To be perfectly clear: I have no problem with restless_nomad. I'm not trying to be difficult or pick a fight. And I sincerely appreciate your response and your desire and intention to respond more quickly and thoughtfully. I'm also grateful it's being addressed.

But if Metafilter's Jews are going to be required to play whack-a-mole and band together as a group to mass-lobby the mods and justify our concerns each time we express them, and unsupported denials are going to be placed above our own knowledgeable opinions, then that's going to determine what kind of advice you can receive for moving forward. On a much more minor, personal level it will also determine what my own comfort level is for being a member here from this point forward.

I do hear the folks saying that us trying harder is nice but where are the clear actions: I'm really straightforwardly, honestly asking for guidance there so that I can understand whether and where and what there's a disconnect on between e.g. that list above and folks' goals for concrete actions.

What guidance are you specifically looking for, please?
posted by zarq at 11:41 AM on February 17 [5 favorites]


I can't really answer on behalf of restless_nomad and am not going to try to, and I remain pretty eh on trying to specifically answer the what-if-2014-but-now thing, but I'll do my best to address the stuff you're bringing up.

1) This is a statement of Metafilter policy. We Jews are being asked to convince the community that "certain things are unambiguously anti-Semitic and should be flagged and deleted rather than responded to." The scope of restless_nomad's response is pretty clearly not being restricted to this incident.

My current re-read, and memory, of the core policy thrust of what restless_nomad was saying there is that community behavior drives moderator choices—that when folks flag and don't respond to something it's easy to delete it, and when folks respond in volume and detail its less so, and that we can't as moderators guarantee that the community won't react to something by digging in rather than flagging and moving on. It's something we've talked about a lot over the years as a group dynamic difficulty; it came up that time in the context of the fractious Salaita clusterfuck but isn't unique to it.

I feel that that non-uniqueness is a key thing to acknowledge not because I think that makes it a non-issue or anything, but because I think where we can deal with and have been working to deal with this stuff better is in recognizing where some aspects of moderation practice have ended up not sufficing where we hoped they would, independent of any specific context it's been an issue in, because it's been an issue in several.

That is: I agree that it's a problem if an otherwise well-established piece of site practice ends up unnecessarily putting the onus on an oppressed group to explain and justify their pushback against problematic stuff. And I think that was a core of your complaint at that time as far as how the Salaita arguments played out, and is certainly something folks have voiced in this discussion as well. It's something that's also come up on the site with a bunch of other social justice issues, too; it's a problematic thing.

And it's something we have tried to move on, the last few years, in a couple ways:

A. Being more direct in our mod directives when leaving notes cutting off problematic arguments (e.g. "cut it out with x" rather than just "everybody cool it" when x is the core thing going wrong), to make it clearer that there's some mod reinforcement of the idea that some lines of conversation previously identified as just basically Not Okay aren't gonna be allowed to fester. And to make it clearer that the main problem is making those arguments in the first place, rather than just generically with the heat that arises all around when someone does.

B. More proactively and aggressively shutting down and cleaning up strings of provocation-and-its-inevitable-replies comments when folks end up replying to instead of just flagging after all, rather than letting that inclination to reply to some problematic bullshit end up fixing the whole chain of conversation in place in a thread as undeleteable. We're a lot more willing now to back stuff up farther, later, when it's something that's an established problem that people should know better on.

So that's something I think has gotten better. It required adjusting some previously established mod practices, and I think remains a balancing act in lower-heat situations for a variety of reasons, but it's a change that has I think helped with some of this stuff. So, trying to sort of set up that moment from 2014 vs. right now, I think it would have played out a bit differently, yes, if it were possible to otherwise hold everything in the same position. I think we'd have stepped in sooner, and been more explicit and specific with our mod notes, and undercut some of the most problematic parts of the thread dynamic on the blue as a result.

2) In this specific case, an action was requested and a moderator said the mod team would not do it because Metafilter's Jews need to approach Team Mod as a group so you can form a consensus both on whether blood libel is antisemitic and also whether the tweet met the criteria necessary for you to take action. Only then will you would step in.

I'll be clear: that's not my take on it today, personally or from a moderation perspective, and I don't feel that was the moderation team's intent at the time either. That said, I recognize that you're sincere about that being what you got from it, and intent vs. effect matters.

Which is part of why I find the idea of trying to unpack and revisit that whole old mess in detail so exhausting even while I understand it being an important touchstone for you. It was a deeply frustrating series of threads all around and I think, and have said before, that restless_nomad losing her patience in that comment you quoted didn't help anything at the time, but it was an expression of frustration in a long exchange where you had been pushing pretty hard—out of what I recognize as sincere and valid intent—for some a specific outcome that was at odds with what our moderation practice was at that point. So it feels like a poor locus of discussion: I cannot make you not be profoundly unhappy with that exchange after the fact, nor do I think that you're particularly interested in nor that this current discussion would much benefit from hearing my detailed thoughts about the mod and user dynamics that led to and surrounded it and why the aspects orthogonal to questions of anti-semitism were complicated. It's deep-in-the-weeds stuff that would be distracting to wade through.

So now I am asking if the site's policy has changed since then. I would like to know what will happen moving forward.

See above, points A and B. That's something we have moved on in general to I think basically good outcomes; it's not specific to issues of anti-semitism but that falls very much into the territory. I think today in a similar context we would more unambiguously direct folks to cut specific lines of argument out, and do so more promptly, and clean up more decisively any fast-moving chain of stuff that got rolling somehow anyway during a busy/distracting interval.

But if Metafilter's Jews are going to be required to play whack-a-mole and band together as a group to mass-lobby the mods and justify our concerns each time we express them, and unsupported denials are going to be placed above our own knowledgeable opinions

Let me break that into two pieces:

But if Metafilter's Jews are going to be required to play whack-a-mole and band together as a group to mass-lobby the mods and justify our concerns each time we express them

I don't want this to be necessary, no. And we're making an effort—and discussions like this have helped—to get to a point where it's not necessary, as often or to as great a degree. In my ideal world it doesn't come up at all.

But my ideal world is an ideal; I don't think it's possible to get away entirely from the practical necessity of oppressed groups to sometimes advocate for themselves because there will always be issues of ignorance and misunderstanding and subtleties/microaggressions/etc that just have to get laid out a bit so folks—users and mods alike—have a clearer sense of what's up and can react more thoughtfully and quickly the next time it comes up.

And that sucks, that that need sometimes for self-advocacy ends up being a reality in all this; we've talked about the unfair nature of that a lot in different social justice contexts, and it's unfortunately a somewhat unresolvable compromise so long as the site exists as an open forum with proportionally limited resources vs. a more closed-in, tight-knit discussion space where detailed ground rules and shared cultural expectations can be established and enforced.

I want us to keep getting better at our end of that compromise and reduce to whatever degree we can the burden on oppressed groups to have to step up like that. It's a process and one I think we'll continue to stumble on, but I hear you and it is important to me.

and unsupported denials are going to be placed above our own knowledgeable opinions

That's not where I am or where we are, and I think it's important to sever the specific frustration you had with that 2014 situation from the general question, because I don't feel like that's on the whole what folks were mostly talking about in this thread. It's possible I'm misunderstanding you or over-parsing "placed above" somehow, but I'm hearing the discussion in here more in terms of frustration about the idea that some things that verge into or share territory with anti-semitism or the rhetoric of anti-semitic actors are allowed on the table at all or allowed to be a point of ongoing argument even if primarily critically, not that those things are being held up as superior or canonical positions.

So e.g. I hear from folks a need, in actual practice on MetaFilter, to be more attentive when folks are lasping into lazy conflations or generalizations about Israel and Jews, or casually falling back on problematic tropes that may have no conscious ill intent but are in fact grounded in anti-semitism, or being dismissive about the real concerns of Jewish people because it's convenient in order to make some kind of argument or engage in one-upmanship, or getting into some old cycle of behavior that collapses something tied to Jewish identity down to Whatever User X Is Doing Right Now, etc.

What guidance are you specifically looking for, please?

The stuff that's absent from what I've already tried to explicitly identify and acknwoledge, basically. I know that I don't know everything; the itemized list I posted and referenced previously is an attempt to basically codify the concerns I've gotten from this thread and I'm looking to see if that has gaps or problems in it, and whether there's other general but concrete and actionable things folks are hoping to see in the long run.
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:40 PM on February 17


People choose to leave for all sorts of reasons . . .
Putting it on the mods as to who should be asked to be part of the site is a perfect recipe for (claims of) favouritism, a cementing of in-group statuses . . .
If you think the site is better with certain users on it, you ask them back.


I'm steaming over this whole comment. This thread is about anti-Semitism and the truly terrible way that is handled here, primarily by our mods. The people who left didn't leave for "all sorts of reasons," they left because of the limp response this thread got from our mods and the minimizing/denial by some users in it. And inviting them back wouldn't demonstrate favoritism, much less "in group" status, obviously, but that our mods actually do mean, at last, to implement cortex' list. And that we are past the idea that Jews have to police anti-Semitism alone.

It's also a denial of reality to suggest that people who buttoned are okay with still monitoring this painful thread. Not least because of comments like those.

And that snide demand that I invite other MeFis back, in the context that I asked for this as a response to what a mod asked they could do, makes me extra steamed. You know, I don't actually belong to some special cabal despite being Jewish. So I don't have an in-cabal list of contacts to issue my special invitation too.
posted by bearwife at 1:45 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


Putting it on the mods as to who should be asked to be part of the site is a perfect recipe for (claims of) favouritism, a cementing of in-group statuses, 'you asked back X but not Y' complaints, and so many other problems.

I agree with this. I can think of a whole bunch of awesome members who've left because they didn't like how the mods handled a site issue, including site issues related to minority or marginalized groups. Is cortex going to reach out to them too? If not, why not?

This conversation is public, and of course anyone can come in and Control-F for "staff" if they don't want to follow the conversation but are interested in hearing what the mods are saying. I very much sympathize with the request because I've certainly wished for it myself, but this is a path I'd rather not go down.
posted by lalex at 2:24 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


First, I don't know if you normally do this, but I for one would be most grateful if you mods would put up a MeTa announcement about your list, which I think is an excellent one. This discussion has been long and tough -- and, I think, productive -- but it is also off everyone's radar except those engaged in this thread.

We don't normally do that sort of thing, but I'm willing to think about it, yeah. Kicking off a more positive, "hey, here's some stuff that's been discussed that would be a constructive improvement to how the site/community deals with Jewish identity and anti-semitism, let's talk about how to do it well" followup thread in the near future outside of any specific on-site conflict seems like it could be a good way to go.

Second, I'd really, really appreciate it if you'd reach out to the folks who buttoned. I mean, it is up to them whether they want to come back but it would be great for the community to retrieve them.

I very much appreciate the sentiment behind that idea, but I want to be clear that we have consistently and really intentionally avoided doing this in the past, outside of extraordinary crisis situations (basically starting and ending with concerns about self-harm). Letting people be self-determining about their participation on and, especially during periods when they've closed their account for any reason, their communication with/from the site, is a high priority for me and not something I'm comfortable pushing people on even with the best of intentions. Not crossing that line in communication with absent members is something we try hard to respect.

That's independent of the fact that they're entirely welcome back, and anyone who is comfortable and inclined to reactive their account can drop us a line any time, and is welcome besides to contact us if they want to discuss any of this stuff less publicly.
posted by cortex (staff) at 2:42 PM on February 17 [2 favorites]


OK, thanks, cortex. I appreciate both responses. I like the way you are thinking about possibly publicizing the list on a thread in the near future, which I believe is a great way to approach it. And I am OK with mods not reaching out to folks who buttoned because I think you are correct that it might well feel like crossing a line.
posted by bearwife at 2:45 PM on February 17 [3 favorites]


Yeah I've buttoned a bunch of times, and I'm grateful that I've never had to convince anyone to let me leave. Buttoning should always be a reasonable option for anyone to get whatever kind of space or distance they need. I can hope that some of the people who left as a result of this thread will decide to come back, but only on their terms, when they feel inclined to do so.
posted by shapes that haunt the dusk at 4:35 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


I think it's important to sever the specific frustration you had with that 2014 situation from the general question

I'm sympathetic to this, up to a point. Because it needs to be made clear that this:

I don't think it's possible to get away entirely from the practical necessity of oppressed groups to sometimes advocate for themselves because there will always be issues of ignorance and misunderstanding and subtleties/microaggressions/etc that just have to get laid out a bit so folks—users and mods alike—have a clearer sense of what's up and can react more thoughtfully and quickly the next time it comes up.

is no longer going to extend to stuff like this:

In this specific case, an action was requested and a moderator said the mod team would not do it because Metafilter's Jews need to approach Team Mod as a group so you can form a consensus both on whether blood libel is antisemitic and also whether the tweet met the criteria necessary for you to take action. Only then will you would step in.

I trust I don't have to elaborate, and it sucks that I feel like I even have to ask, but that's 2017 on the Internet.
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:09 PM on February 17


(I don't want to repeat formulaic comparisons that came off as combative, but I don't think it'd be normal for MeFi to form committees of muslim, POC, trans etc users to relieve the mods of having to operate with a relative lack of in-group knowledge? But maybe I'm wrong there, and that has in fact happened.)
posted by snuffleupagus at 6:14 PM on February 17


I think it might be very useful to read some of the earlier comments in that chain for context, maybe starting here. While I will totally admit I lost my temper there towards the end, and that is very much not a good thing, there are a couple points I will stand behind:

- Getting stuck in circular arguments with the same few people neither helps nor convinces anyone.
- If something is sufficiently offensive that you think it doesn't belong on Metafilter, the first, best action you can take is to contact the mods. The faster someone does that, via flagging or the contact form, the easier it is for us to actually get it off of Metafilter. If you then want to do some community education about it (which is totally up to the individual, not an obligation, but some folks do want to) then MetaTalk is the right place to do that.

Let's just say that zarq's characterization of my statements and my intentions don't match up well at all. There's no committee or unanimity required. What we need, on a boring, functional level, is to be told where the problem is as fast as possible. We also very much need and appreciate in-depth conversations like this that give us the opportunity to spot more nuance faster, but that doesn't change the fact that we can't read every comment and that modding threads late is way harder and less effective than modding them early.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:31 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


The people who left didn't leave for "all sorts of reasons," they left because of the limp response this thread got from our mods and the minimizing/denial by some users in it.

Nope. A couple did, but of the number of users who are said to have buttoned due to this thread, we only really know that this is true for one user - the one who has posted about it on his blog. We can presume for at least one other, who most likely left after another user tried to stop them measuring oppression levels of different marginalised groups. That's two out of the at least seven. And considering the comments of some of the others, I really don't think you can even presume they were Jewish, let alone that this is why they left.

It's also a denial of reality to suggest that people who buttoned are okay with still monitoring this painful thread. Not least because of comments like those.

Again, I point to the the fact that maxsparber was clearly reading the thread after he left it, considering he kept writing about it, and is the only one we know for sure left for the reason you say.

You know, I don't actually belong to some special cabal despite being Jewish. So I don't have an in-cabal list of contacts to issue my special invitation too.

Nope. But you don't want everyone who has buttoned to return - you want the Jewish users who left because of the thread, rather than anyone who left for, say, not being able to tell the Jewish users that they don't have it so bad so they shouldn't feel persecuted, which is a distinct possibility with at least a couple of people who left. And with the main user who fits that criteria, is the only one who definitely left because of this thread? Again, his blog has been linked here, so you can contact him very easily. And I'm fairly certain it wouldn't take much in the way of asking or searching to get ahold of any others you actually wish to return.

This is a thread about anti-semitism, sure, but the effort you had to go through to make it seem like I was making crypto-semitic references has certainly been noted.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:39 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


Plus, the true cabal is centred on Paphnuty. At least, that's what I believe.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:57 PM on February 17 [1 favorite]


If something is sufficiently offensive that you think it doesn't belong on Metafilter, the first, best action you can take is to contact the mods. The faster someone does that, via flagging or the contact form, the easier it is for us to actually get it off of Metafilter

On a note related to that, where are we on freeform-text-box-flagging? I feel like this might really help with this stuff, where it's not immediately obvious why the content is problematic.
posted by corb at 8:28 PM on February 17


In the works! It got sidelined for a little while but we're getting it smoothed out.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:05 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


Also remember that if you feel like a conversation has taken a turn or just "feels" like it's getting tense, you can always use the contact form and say something like, "There's nothing rule-breaking but this thread just feels like it's taking a weird turn" or "this thread is tense and I'm worried about it escalating" or even just "Poster X who's been weird on this topic in the past is in this thread, just want to let you know." You'll probably get a terse, "Thanks, I'll take a look," in response.

But then we know to have it open in a tab and keep an eye on it and sometimes provide a gentle redirection before rules get broken, and definitely respond to flags faster because we're aware of the context. (The worst thing is when a thread suddenly explodes into a fight and it's going to take you at least ten minutes to untangle the context and figure out who is shouting at whom about what and where the rules started being broken, while people are rage-posting at each other faster than you can read, making it worse and worse.)

I think people are reluctant to bug us with something that isn't rule-breaking yet, but users are a huge part of metafilter's immune system. Letting us know something just isn't quite "right" can help us get to the problem when it's just a cold and we can give it tylenol and a nap and some juice, instead of waiting until it has pneumonia and requires antibiotics and two weeks off school.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 9:22 PM on February 17 [4 favorites]


you don't want everyone who has buttoned to return - you want the Jewish users who left because of the thread

Zat so? Your knowledge about what I want and who I want back here is derived from what source? I really made a big leap when I said your willingness to tell I was responsible for inviting back my Jewish in group was offensive, didn't I?

the effort you had to go through to make it seem like I was making crypto-semitic reference

No effort at all. Since you know what I feel based solely on the fact I'm Jewish.
posted by bearwife at 10:59 AM on February 18 [1 favorite]


Nope. But you don't want everyone who has buttoned to return - you want the Jewish users who left because of the thread, rather than anyone who left for, say, not being able to tell the Jewish users that they don't have it so bad so they shouldn't feel persecuted, which is a distinct possibility with at least a couple of people who left.

For my part, you're absolutely right. I also don't want to see people come back who left years ago because boyzone misogyny became unacceptable.
posted by snuffleupagus at 1:21 PM on February 18 [1 favorite]


(The worst thing is when a thread suddenly explodes into a fight and it's going to take you at least ten minutes to untangle the context and figure out who is shouting at whom about what and where the rules started being broken, while people are rage-posting at each other faster than you can read, making it worse and worse.)

I don't suppose you can close the thread for 10 minutes while you catch up? Or even post something saying "Can everyone refrain from replying for 15 minutes, please, while I get caught up?"

I would think a temporary lock would work better, but I don't know how hard it would be to implement.

I'm sure there are a lot of downsides to this approach, but it kind of seems like being able to figuratively shout "EVERYBODY TAKE FIVE!" could be helpful.
posted by kristi at 1:55 PM on February 18


(I don't think thread-lock is an option that's really on the table, as much as I would love to do that at times.)
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:42 PM on February 18


"I don't suppose you can close the thread for 10 minutes while you catch up? Or even post something saying "Can everyone refrain from replying for 15 minutes, please, while I get caught up?""

We can't, but you can 1) flag immediately; 2) not respond instantly, take a bathroom break or get a drink of water; and 3) reload before replying. That often gives us enough time to clean it out and prevents you from responding to deleted comments.
posted by Eyebrows McGee (staff) at 3:38 PM on February 18 [2 favorites]


One deleted. Gadge emeritus, you have commented here quite a bit and at this point just seem to be hanging out to dig in and bicker about stuff that is of absolutely zero help or utility to us working through the issues here. Please give this thread a rest now.
posted by taz (staff) at 11:27 PM on February 18 [9 favorites]


David Schraub has a followup on the blog post linked by Maxsparber in the FPP. It's not long, so I'll quote the whole thing:
Solidarity: Not Just For Goyim (Today)
Last month, I wrote a post entitled "Solidarity is for Goyim". It was an essay -- more of a series of observations -- that as a Jew I scarcely even expect to receive "solidarity" in the face of antisemitic attacks. It was the product of recent events and longstanding personal experience.

I don't retract that post. But in the wake of the latest instance of antisemitic vandalism -- this time targeting a Jewish cemetery in St. Louis -- I did observe some of the solidaristic reactions that I hadn't before. Here's the Sikh Coalition. Here's a Muslim-led effort to raise funds for restoring the site. I've seen others.

I'm not saying my prior post was wrong. I'm not even saying a corner has been turned. And I'm not sure what made this event different from the others.

I'm simply saying I'm seeing something I hadn't seen before. And I'm grateful for it.
posted by Joe in Australia at 11:28 PM on February 21 [8 favorites]


Have been dealing with an ongoing family health crisis since November which came to a head again yesterday with my mom being checked back into the hospital. Her third time in less than four months. This thread closes in two days. I might be able to respond at length before then, but am not sure if it'll be possible.

Since I don't know if I'll be able to respond properly by Friday I want to thank cortex and restless_nomad for responding. Sincerely grateful for your replies, and for yours especially cortex, because it showed how deeply you've been thinking about the situation and what's been said so far. I'm relieved because something that has quite literally been bothering me for two years has been put to rest. So thank you both for that as well.
posted by zarq at 8:24 AM on February 22 [8 favorites]


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