Trump’s Executive Order on Anti-Semitism and Our Responsibility to Resist It

By Chris Crass (December 16, 2019)

Throughout history, anti-semitism has been used by ruling classes to culturally position Jews to be seen as “above” other oppressed and exploited people, to be seen as the ones really pulling the strings. For Jews as a concept and actual people, to then be targets of other working class and poor people’s anger and resentment.

Ruling classes have promoted and used anti-semitic conspiracy theories of power, to obscure who actually has power and how power operates systemically – systems can be resisted through popular movements, conspiracy theories fracture the energy that could be put into resistance, into a thousand mazes.

Trump and other white supremacists champion the state of Israel not out of solidarity or respect for Jewish people, but for what the military power of Israel can do to advance U.S. empire’s interests against Palestinian, Muslim and most Jewish people – all of whom are subhuman in the eyes of the white supremacists.

The executive order of Trump to equate Jews as a nationality and Israel their state, is not to protect a single Jewish life. Only ask “why are the right wing racist forces of Trump and others. more concerned about non-violent campus-based movements for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions of Israel’s apartheid system against Palestinians, then they are about white supremacist attacks on synagogues around the country by people in their own ranks?”

Trump does not love Jewish people. Trump does not oppose actual violent anti-semitism. Trump and other white supremacist want to practice the strategy of anti-semitism, by weaponizing Jewish identity to attack the Left, pit Jews against other oppressed and exploited people, and use Jewish lives as shields to cover their continued consolidation of power.

We must fight anti-semitism, be in solidarity with and look to leadership of Jewish people and organizations fighting this executive order – and remember that Israel does not equate to Jewish people, the international movement for Palestinian self-determination is a human rights effort, not anti-semitism.

We have a responsibility to remember the long history and current reality of Left Jewish leadership – from the anarchist and socialist labor movement to the Civil Rights and anti-war movements to going to jail today in mass civil disobedience against ICE concentration camps under the banner “Never Again”, to remember, as Trump and the white supremacists want to erase Jewish culture and history and equate being a Jew as being a defender of apartheid in Israel and therefore useful scapegoats and pawns that serve the racist rights agenda.

We grow more powerful, more powerful then we ever imagined, every moment and every day we refuse their divide and conquer strategy and embrace and build cultures of vibrant solidarity and work for collective liberation.


In Mourning Pittsburg, Let’s Not Forget Systemic Racism and Violence

By Sean Gelles (November 1, 2018)

Hopefully it’s not too soon to address some of the reactions I’ve been seeing to the tragic racist attack in Pittsburgh on October 27th. I’ve been seeing a lot of ideas expressed which are the result not of conscious reflection but of sheer panic and dread. Perhaps right now is not the time to begin to problematize this affective response but, as a Jewish person in the U.S. committed to justice and equality, I feel it incumbent upon me to do so and sooner rather than later because rampant emotionality is very easily exploited. Just remember the Dreyfus affair which gave birth to the Zionist movement that has resulted in catastrophe for the Palestinian people.


Every day in this country Black, Latinx, Asian, and indigenous peoples, especially LGBTQ people within these communities, are forced to live in fear of police and paramilitary violence. For centuries they have had to survive slavery, genocide, deportation, fascism (a/k/a “Jim Crow,” lynching, and the Ku Klux Klan), police violence, etc. Every year dozens of Black people are murdered by police, dozens of indigenous women are raped and murdered with impunity by white men, and dozens of Latinx people are murdered along the southern border. These tragedies do not make the headlines, the names of the victims are not disseminated in the news media, and I would bet that very few of us in the U.S. Jewish community had panic attacks after their lives were extinguished.


Some of the posts I have seen across social media have mentioned the idea of obtaining firearms while others have talked about leaving the U.S. with no idea whatsoever of the destination. Wasn’t that the same response that the Zionists came up with after World War II? I wonder how many of us in the U.S. Jewish community similarly pondered such ideas after the Charleston church shooting in 2015?


Why don’t we feel the same panic when Palestinians are maimed, crippled, and murdered in Gaza and the West Bank, when Yemenis are slaughtered, or Asian Americans are beaten, killed, or detained? Can we admit that some of the emotional response we’ve been feeling stems from a certain degree of privilege? According to the FBI’s latest statistics (2016), 11% of hate crime incidents were against Jews. What does it mean when we reserve our sense of alarm for only that 11%?


In the current era, the murder of Jews is often publicized as cause not only for grief, but for outrage, and that outrage is always directed at people of color. Do not be surprised if this tragedy is deployed to garner support for more violence against Palestinians or war with Iran. Just watch your favorite cable news network. It’s already happening.


On Sunday after the attack, former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tweeted, “Terrorizing defenseless people is done by cowardly and selfish individuals. Terrorism is always condemned in any shape or form. #UnitedStatesTerrorAttack.” Ahmadinejad was communicating two main points with that Tweet. First, he was implicitly expressing solidarity with the victims. Second, he was making it clear that by any objective definition, this was a terrorist attack. It’s critical to note that the mainstream U.S. news media are not framing this attack, as Ahmadinejad does, as terrorism. The reason is obvious: the perpetrator was a white man. Had he been an Asian man, or probably even if he had been a Black man, the attack would be construed as terrorism and would be framed as an issue of national security. Ahmadinejad was using the occasion to express solidarity with the victims and highlight how systemic U.S. racism is as implicated in the tragedy as antisemitism.


Immediately after the Tweet was posted, Shane Bauer, Senior Reporter from Mother Jones responded, “Dude you don’t even believe the Holocaust happened.” Mr. Bauer has been active in Western Asia for a very long time. He was famously detained by Iranian authorities from 2009-11 for “hiking” along the Iran-Iraq border. It’s unlikely that he does not know enough Farsi to know that Ahmadinejad has never denied that the Holocaust happened. Bauer attempts to accomplish two important tasks with his response. First, he aims to reject any expression of solidarity from Ahmadinejad (something he, as an uber-goy, has no right to do). Second, by mentioning the Holocaust, he re-orients the event away from an interrogation of systemic U.S. racism and back onto the victimization of Jews.


If you watch cable news, something I try not to do but can’t avoid, you’ll see the talking heads paralleling Bauer in their effort to make this all about the Jews. What they won’t mention is the fact that police officers across the U.S. won’t hesitate to kill an unarmed Black while a white man armed with an AR-15 can waltz into a synagogue and open fire on the whole congregation without being gunned down by police (he’s already out of the hospital despite being shot several times – an indication the officers were not shooting to kill). Additionally, they won’t talk about how a white Christian man committing mass murder is framed as the act of a “lone nutcase” while an Asian Muslim man committing any crime is construed as a matter of national security as well as grounds for rounding-up all Asian Muslim men and excluding them from entering the country.


In conclusion, while we mourn the eleven men and women who lost their lives on Saturday, we should also remember those peoples whose murders were not counted, whose deaths were not even recognized as murders, and whose disappearances went unnoticed, and unmourned. While the names of the eleven victims are widely disseminated, and the on-air talent of the U.S. media industrial complex express righteous indignation over the mass murder, it’s up to us as Jews who care about justice and equality to demand that those in power address the murders of those peoples with no citizenship documents, no national ambassadors to express outrage over their murders, no marked graves, no tombstones, no epitaphs, in short, nothing left to tell their stories, to tell the world that they were people who lived and died. Let’s not panic and recoil into a reformulated Jewish nationalism, not even a more inclusive, softer and gentler Zionism, which I’ve seen proposed by some on the Jewish left in response to the attack. Instead, let’s take our outrage and use it to demand recognition for those thousands of peoples whose murders aren’t counted as criminal, racist, antisemitic, or terrorist, and whose deaths never make the headlines.


It’s Hard to Intimidate Righteous People

By Mark Naison (October 27, 2018)

My heart goes out to the families and friends of those killed and wounded in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, and to everyone who feels a little more vulnerable and a little less secure as a result of this horrendous act. Everyone stoking the flames of hatred bears some responsibility for the political climate that makes actions of this kind more likely. How can people feel safe in an atmosphere filled with so much rage and division? We desperately need healing; what we get instead is provocation. I hope that people will come to their senses and realize that the path we are on is destructive to everyone.

I come from a line of Jewish scholars on one side, and of Jewish warriors and justice fighters on the other. I carry the weight of a tragic history inside me, of people who have seen the worst that humanity has to offer.

And from that I make this proclamation- Nothing you do can make me cower in fear. Nothing you do can stop me from fighting for justice. Nothing you do can prevent me from identifying with all people fighting persecution, intimidation and violence.

Your bombs and bullets and threats have no weight against the moral and spiritual force I carry within me.

I’m not scared of pipe
Or threatening talk
It’s easy to incite
fools and cowards 
It’s hard to intimidate
Righteous people.


The Attacks on Jewish Centers are at the Heart of Authoritarianism in the US

By Chris Crass (February 28, 2017)

Antisemitism positions Jews as socially acceptable targets for working and middle class Christians (religiously and culturally) to unleash violence and hatred, to release the anger and resentments of crushing economic and political inequality.

Antisemitism instructs and encourages working and middle class Christians to see Jews as the conspiratorial puppet masters of society, all the while obscuring the actual functioning of ruling class power, and strengthening despots who traffic in hatred of Jews, hatred of Muslims, hatred of people of color, hatred of disabled people, hatred of queers, hatred of women, hatred of the Left. 

Just like white supremacy, it isn’t that ruling class people aren’t racist and antisemitic, it’s that we must understand how racism, antisemitism, sexism and systems of oppression operate to divide, conquer and rule the vast majority of us, while consolidating, protecting, and mystifying power at the top.

All of us raised religiously or culturally as Christian have a responsibility to boldly and repeatedly denounce antisemitism, unite with our Jewish friends, comrades and family, both because it’s the right thing to do, and because we are the ones antisemitism is trying to turn into soldiers and/or Nazi-era “Good Germans” to further and go along with supremacy systems and despotism.

The vandalism and attacks on Jewish cemeteries, community centers, and synagogues are not archaic fringe acts, they are a cornerstone of authoritarian regimes and their agendas against the majority of humanity.

With deep gratitude for Jewish leaders and organizations rising up against this hate. With deep gratitude for Muslim and Christian leaders and organizations refusing the antisemitic strategy of hate and division and instead are uniting in solidarity. With deep gratitude to everyone building up the Left as a force for powerful change rooted in love and collective liberation. We build together, to all get free.