Ted Eytan

Cn: this article contains discussion of anti-semitism and anti-semitic tropes

Since starting University, my identity as both a feminist and a Jew has been increasingly called into question. Somehow my religion seems at odds with the language and space of the student Left that most of the time I am comfortable and fluent in. Yet surely, by virtue of being Jewish, and even more so because I can’t pass off as being a ‘white-Jew’, I am part of the host of minorities that the Left should be fighting for. More often than not however, this is not the case.

Even the Women’s March Movement last year was described by an article in the New York Times as “roiled by accusations of anti-Semitism”. It was reported that Women’s March activists were “grappling with how they treat Jews – and whether they should be counted as privileged white Americans or “marginalised” minorities”. This was put into sharper focus in the aftermath of the October mass shooting in Pittsburgh, when 11 people were gunned down at their synagogue. If not clear before, it is undeniable after that antisemitism continues to exist.

Thus, what these activists face is a test of intersectionality. A chance to look at a gendered experience in a way that shows how women’s experiences are defined and attacked on account of their identity, religion, ethnicity, class and race; and how often these attacks do not adhere to the neat categories of the Left. Vanessa Wruble, an early organiser of the Women’s March, said that she was told by one of the march leaders that “we really couldn’t centre Jewish women in this or we might turn off groups like Black Lives Matter” since members of the group have expressed solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli Occupation.

“My relationship with Israel has never been uncomplicated and it should not undermine my place in the feminist left”

Yet my relationship with Israel has never been uncomplicated and it should not undermine my place in the feminist Left. We can acknowledge Palestinian oppression and anti-Semitism at the same time – they are not mutually exclusive. In the words of April Rosenblum, an academic and activist, “Every oppression is different, and every oppressed group deserves our time and commitment to learning what their specific experience is like, and how we can best support their struggle for liberation.” Moreover, the conflict does not justify the use of Anti-Semitic tropes that place ‘the Jew’ in a capitalist, religiously conservative, right-wing discourse. Such tropes hugely undermine our struggle for mutual understanding and equality. While, of course, this recycling of Anti-Semitic tropes isn’t confined to feminist spaces, it is unequivocally a feminist issue.

Ultimately, we have not faced the realities of our society if we think that white supremacy is fuelled by a hate that limits itself only to certain groups. By saying we can only appease one minority group at a time, aren’t we are just simply perpetuating the inequalities we are trying to extinguish in the first place? Surely we can fight Islamophobia, racial injustice and Anti-Semitism at the same time? They do not need to be flattened, straightened or ironed to fit someone else’s definitions. Indeed, the idea that we can only legitimise one gendered experience at a time is detrimental to our strive for equality.

While the Women’s March in America might seem fairly detached, it highlights what has become a commonplace attempt to detach Feminism from anti-Semitism. This February, students at the University of Essex wanted to start a Jewish Society. A poll was conducted and revealed that a total of 36% of students at the University voted against the creation of a Jewish Society – a safe space for all self-identifying Jews –at the University. Jsoc provides a religious framework, for all denominations, at University. For some, it is a Shabbat meal, for others, it is a space in which you can feel unashamed of your cultural differences. Therefore, the denial of Jewish students such a space was shocking enough, nevermind the silence that followed it.

“Ultimately, we have not faced the realities of our society if we think that white supremacy is fuelled by a hate that limits itself only to certain groups”

My feeling is that student politics, which creates safe spaces for Women and Non-Binary people (and therefore BME women, disabled women and LGBT+ people), whether actively or passively, does not engage with the rise of anti-Semitism. We must realise that injustice and inequality exist in pluralities and while sometimes they challenge each other, we cannot silence them.


Mountain View

Women should not be sidelined in public and popular discourse about violent men

This is not merely a personal struggle. This is a widespread contradiction that places the burden on Jewish people regardless of their political views, religious affiliation or ethnic background to bear the guilt and consequences of actions that are not their own. This contradiction strips away not just the notion, but the possibility of rights that a liberal society promises all of us. It infringes upon our freedom of speech, our right to self-identify, to practice our religion without the fear not only of ethnic violence but social stigmatisation. It essentially tells us that because of our religion, in any of its manifestations (culture, faith or ritual) we are simply not welcome.

So I’m posing a problem inherent to the way we conduct our feminism – our struggle for equality, liberation, reclamation and emancipation in all its forms. My place – as both a self-identifying Woman and a Jew – has been defined by the conflict I’ve presented here. I’m not saying this is simple or without its contradictions, I’m just making what is a complicated struggle for equality a little bit more complicated and a little bit more equal. I invite you to as well.

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