Category: Magazine

Jerusalem, ISCA, host confab to combat online antisemitism

On 19 April, the first-ever International Conference on Online Antisemitism was hosted in Jerusalem, Israel, with the Israeli Students Combating Antisemitism (ISCA) playing a lead role, along with the International Network Against Cyber hate (INACH). It included officials, lay-leaders, non-governmental organizations and professionals from the European Union and a total of 21 countries.

“The fight against antisemitism must not be left to the Jews, it is the responsibility of society at large,” Ms. Katharina von Schnurbein, the EU’s special commisionor on antisemitism told the crowd, adressing the legal aspect of the online fight. “As for the Social media, we need more transparency about the criteria that they use. When content is visible within Europe they need to apply European legislation.”

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She also talked about the internal process done by various social networks, saying “They also need to improve their network of flagging platforms. Internet is a virtual world but there is a direct link to the real world and so we must deal with it in the real world. We need to have more willingness from the states in addressing the issues of holocaust education and antisemitism.”

ISCA President Ido Daniel highlighted her point, noting the Israeli student group “has dealt recently with more than 29,000 cases of antisemitism in social media.” The group doesn’t only find antisemitic writings or images. Daniel expalined they “monitor and take action,” not only on Facebook or Yahoo! Answers, but also on shopping sites and Wikipedia.

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The Psychology of Nazism

Holocaust Scholars and historians are asking the question: How did the German people choose consciously to support an anti-democratic regime that was against humanity at the dawn of WWII?

This question was particularly relevant during the Nuremberg trials after WWII. People heard about the horrific acts that occurred in the holocaust and wanted to know how so many people could murder so many innocent people in cold blood. What kind of personality did these people have and is it pathological?

In order to answer these questions, a number of leading psychiatrists and psychologists interviewed and psychologically tested a group of captured Nazi leaders. Using the Rorschach test, they wanted to explore the core of the Nazi personality in order to find out if it was pathological or normal. They also wanted to find out if there were similarities among the Nazi leaders and if they felt regret for the monstrous acts that they committed?

Another important matter during and after the war was the psychology of Adolf Hitler who was a fascination for a lot of psychologists and psychiatrists. They wanted to understand how the vision of one man brought the world into chaos. They wanted to know if he was normal or mad, and most importantly, if there’s some Hitler in each and every one of us?

In this article I will answer these questions using the data and findings of the Nuremberg psychologists and psychiatrists together with the psychological profile of Adolf Hitler. I will discuss the question whether the Nazis had personality disorders, or were they mentally sane, and only responded to command.

The Psychology of Evil Adolf Hitler

One of the most common beliefs about Hitler is that he was a mad genius who started the holocaust for personal vendetta against the Jewish people. There are a lot of references (mostly in the non-academic world) that claim that Hitler was pure evil and simply cannot be understood because he wasn’t a human. Contrary to this belief, especially in the historic research of WWII and the holocaust, there is a moral importance to study Hitler’s psychology, mind and behavior. The reason for this research is to understand how this one man brought chaos to Europe and most of the western world.

One of the first profiles about Hitler was published in 1939 by the famous psychiatrist Carl Jung who had met Hitler and Mussolini in 1930. Jung described Mussolini as a passionate man full of energy. On the other hand, Hitler frightened Jung because he was unfriendly, un-sexual and almost un-human. There was something different about Hitler. There was something about his personality that wasn’t recognized by Jung.

The second profile, published in 1972, was written by the psychiatrist Langer during WWII. The psychiatrist psychoanalyzed Hitler’s personality after reading Mein Kampf.  Hitler was diagnosed as neurotic and psychotic combined with messiah complex. Hitler had extreme sexual perversions and homosexual masochistic tendencies. Langer believed that Hitler would one day commit suicide.

Hitler and WWI

Langer believed that the traumatic event Hitler experienced during WWI as a soldier was the starting point of his mental illness. Hitler was 29 years old when his unit was attacked by chlorine gas in 1918.  Hitler’s sight was damaged which, as a result, ended his art career.

The loss of his sight together with unbearable pain, caused Hitler to blame the Jewish people for deserting Germany. His hatred grew and turned into an obsession and eventually into pathology. Hitler’s mind connected the physical pain and loss of his art career to the Jewish people. Langer argued that Hitler fabricated his injury to justify his murderous actions by saying that he was the victim rather than the attacker. This fabrication is a symptom of hysteric personality and schizophrenia.

Hitler and Oedipus complex

The famous psychoanalytic Erich Fromm published his diagnostic of Hitler’s personality in 1973 using Mein Kampf and Hitler’s personal history. According to Fromm’s diagnosis, Hitler was an anal narcissistic with self-destructive personality. Fromm argued that Hitler had Oedipus complex which projected into Germany and his hatred towards the Jews. His love for his mother reflected his love for Germany and the hatred for his abusive father reflected his hatred towards the Jewish people.

Should we know his psychology?

There are some holocaust researchers who believe there is no need to research Hitler’s history and personality. Even though he was the direct cause for the holocaust, they believe that Hitler shouldn’t be explained, and that every attempt at an explanation is  un-moral.

Psychopathology of the Nazi leaders

Several psychologists examined a group of Nazi leaders at the Nuremberg trials. Their tests showed that the leaders didn’t have personality pathology and were mentally sane. The only personality feature that they had in common was high intelligence.

The mental experts were looking for an anti-Semitic mental gene but couldn’t find one. The reason for Nazism in not in pathological personality. It derives from something else. In the next few paragraphs, I will write about the psychological tests and search for a Nazi etiology if there is one.

After WWII, the united forces captured most of the Nazi leaders who were all put to trial. Before they were brought to punishment for their crimes, they were psychologically profiled. The profiles were made for mapping and understanding the criminals’ minds. One psychiatrist and two psychologists (all American) used interviews and the Rorschach personality test in 1949.

The interviewers wanted to know if the Nazi leaders (and Nazis in general) were evil people, or just regular people who were forced to do horrible things?

During the trials, two out of three of the interviewers came to the conclusion that the leaders’ personality were not pathological but normative. These men were sane and chose to commit those horrible and horrific acts.

German Culture

German society during WWII was a society that had cultural principal, without judgment or critical thinking. Understanding this, another interviewer came to the conclusion that even no signs of personality pathology were discovered in the Nazi leaders, and therefore, the perspective must be social rather than psychological.

According to the interviewer, Western society during the times of WWII was sick. Germany was one of many with high levels of conformity and obedience to authority. This finding was politically dangerous because the Western world wanted the pathology of the leaders, not of the global society. People were looking for someone to blame for the wrongs of WWII. That’s why these findings were published 30 years later.

 

Discussion

Looking back, knowing all the horrible acts of the holocaust, we allow ourselves to ask how it happened. How did so many people allow this nightmare to come true? How could people be so cruel?

These questions were asked at the Nuremberg trials. People couldn’t accept any answer rather than pathology. They didn’t want to hear any other answer, other than the sickness of the Nazi mind. They wanted to believe that only the sickest mind could commit these monstrous acts. But the truth was that psychologically, the leaders were sane and chose to follow horrible orders. The Nazi leaders said that they didn’t have any choice, and that they had to follow these orders or else they would have been killed. Furthermore, the leaders said that they weren’t acting as individuals but as a group.

Even though the psychological tests showed that the leaders were sane, they were punished for their evil acts. They chose to take innocent lives, and got what they deserved. We must not forget the power of conformity and authority. We must not forget how, for our own survival, and the survival of the ones we love, we will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. I hope that we never have to ask these questions ever again.

 

Written by: Mager Ynon

 

Society, Fashion and John Galliano’s Anti-Semitic Case

Fashion is a unique way to express yourself, a way to tell a story about yourself. A symbol of your place in society. Through fashion we can signal what is special in our personality or tell other people who we really are, or what we want to be. Clothing serves a significant role in the social construction of one’s self. Simply put, through fashion we can discover the nature of society. Examining clothes, helps understand the culture of a given society, as well as the social norms of how a citizen should look at a given time and how these norms vary across different periods.

Clothing is one of the most prominent manifestations of social status, gender and conditions of the body at the social field. Dress in past centuries was the main principle and symbol of social characteristics such as religion, gender, culture and profession were categorized using unique clothing for that feature. Clothing affects the experience of reality through the way it’s placed on the body and limits movement. For example, medieval fashion of aristocratic society did not allow range of motion for women.
As the garment allows movement, the society that the garment belongs to, is permissive and liberal.

In our postmodern era, there is a breakage of axioms like social dimensions, gender, race and sexuality. There is no strong binary of what clothes belongs to men or women as it used to be, but there is a meeting between the sexes, androgyny that is reflected in fashion.
Fashion is a way to recognize, norms, culture, social class and gender of a society. Fashion has a decisive influence on the opinions and perceptions of people. Fashion is an agent of socialization that influences opinion and perception of people on a particular topic. This kind of impact can be really positive and promote solidarity between people, but can also incite prejudice and racism. In this article I will discuss the case of the famous fashion designer John Galliano and his relationship with Judaism, alcohol and freedom of expression.

John Galliano is a British fashion designer who was the chief designer of the fashion company Christian Dior and Givenchy. These days John is the head editor of Paris fashion house “Masion margiela”.
Galliano’s fashion style is romantic, escapist, and very unique. His innovative style is combined with theatrical touches. His style includes unique narratives, such as forests, snow, fairy tales and much more. His authenticity and uniqueness give him high status in the fashion world.

Galliano was fired from his role as Chief Designer of Dior after a video was uploaded to the web where he was documented making anti-Semitic statements when he was drunk at a bar in Paris in 2011. Galliano justified his actions by saying he has a drinking problem. In February of that year, a French journalist received a video by email where Galliano is recorded cursing a group of Italian women. He was yelling “I love Hitler, people like you should die, your mothers, your fathers has to die in the fucking gas chambers”.

This happened a week before Paris fashion week in 2011-2012, and caused a shock in the fashion world. Thousands of people accused Galliano of anti-Semitism and racism, calling for boycotts against his. The video caused a worldwide communication storm which resulted in firing the designer.

Dior claimed it would not legitimize anti-Semitism and racism which is why they fired Galliano. After the media mayhem, Galliano admitted that he was wrong and didn’t mean what he said, mainly because he was drunk and had no control over his words. There is a law in France that forbids anti-Semitic statements in public and the punishment for it is a 6000 euro fine. Galliano broke this law and was required to pay the fine.

In my opinion, this case is very unique because of the moral dilemma. Was it moral to accuse Galliano of anti-Semitism and racism? Especially because he was drunk and didn’t have any control of his words. Is it ethical to fire and punish someone for drunk, racist, public statements? Did we take it too far?

Socially speaking, we usually aren’t fond of people who have different opinions than us. We want to exclude ourselves from these opinions and the holders of these opinions. We want justice to be served, and these people punished.

The most important question is which kind of material should be censored and which should be expressed?

By the constitution of freedom of speech, any material that leads to violence in any form, should be banned, and the beholder of the material should by sentenced.

There is a moral question regarding what should be censored and what should be expressed. How do we know if something really leads towards violence? There is a common belief that the government is very light on the trigger of censoring, and not letting people express themselves.
Regarding the Galliano case, is it moral to punish a man when he was drunk and had no control over his words? Would it be easier to judge him if he wasn’t drunk?

In my opinion, John Galliano is a provocative person. We see it in his fashion style. However, permission for uniqueness in not permission for racism. Even though he was drunk, every adult has the responsibility to decide when to stop drinking. Galliano had a history with Jewish people, and the bar incident was not the first anti-Semitic case. He once appeared on vogue magazine wearing traditional Jewish clothes, and on the cover, the word “smock” was written. So hearing him say these anti-Semitic remarks is not so surprising. Galliano broke the law and therefore he was punished. Letting everyone know that no matter how famous you are, whether you’re drunk or sober, if you choose to express hatred publicly you will be punished.
Written by: Ynon Mager

Anti-Semitic Comedy?

You are probably asking yourself right now how those two words, anti-Semitism and comedy go together.

Yvan Attal, a French-Jewish film director, helps us to see the connection between the two.

“The Jews” is a new movie by Attal, following the 2012 attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse, France in which students and a teacher were murdered by Muslim terrorists. The movie’s mocking stance has garnered considerable press well before its release. “They Are Everywhere,” said Attal in reference to how some anti-Semites feel about Jews and vice versa.

The film stars Attal, an Israel-born actor-director who grew up in Paris, and his partner, actor-singer Charlotte Gainsbourg. The mere fact of the film’s existence has been the subject of dozens of news articles by major French publications in recent weeks, including Le Figaro, Paris Match and the Agence France-Presse.

In the movie Attal attempts to debunk major anti-Semitic myths, such as “Jews killed Jesus,” “Jews have money” and “Jews play up the Holocaust.” Each stereotype provides a theme for a short cinematic tale. The seemingly disparate stories are connected via narration by Attal, who portrays himself as a person in therapy lamenting his obsession with Jews and anti-Semites.

The security was strict outside the rented cinema for the screening on May 17. Such security has become commonplace at Jewish events, and is now a standard precaution following the jihadist attacks on Jewish targets in France and Belgium since 2012, which killed 12 people. Hundreds of nonfatal violent hate crimes against Jews have been recorded in Paris since2012, when an Islamist killed three children and a rabbi at a school in Toulouse.

The exchange inspired Attal to make a film for non-Jews that he said would draw attention to the “anti-Semitic myths that serve to legitimize attacks on Jews on one hand and desensitize some observers to the true horror of these attacks on the other hand.”

The comments on the film remain divided between what some supporters say demonstrate Attal’s ‘”courage” to make the film, to other critics who claim he needs to broaden his scope and include other types of racism and state that Attal “avoided the most difficult problem right now: Muslim anti-Semitism.”

by: Inbal Zlotnik

Neo Nazism in Latin America

This year during Independence Day celebrations in Israel, which marked 68 years since the founding of the Jewish State, Israeli Embassy workers took an initiative to travel down the streets in Bogota, Columbia with a food vending truck, offering passerby traditional Israeli shakshuka (egg-tomato sauce dish). The idea was to give people the chance to taste Israeli cuisine and showing another face of the State of Israel, which was not related to the war.

While the “Shakshuka Truck” rolled through the streets of Bogota in a bar, not far away a group of young people dressed in black from head to toe, with their typical shaved and tattooed heads, drank local beer and sang lyrics of anti-communist rock of the band R.A.C:

“From non-European origin, I proceed from the desert, a man without a nation.
I am a banker, the king of this world game master and lord.
Pride. What pride? Honor, what honor?
My motto is to betray. Six-pointed star.
In occult lodges. Domain. Exploitation.
Eating out of my hand, employers and unions …”
“We will not forgive to any traitor,
We will not give the nation to the children of Zion.
We do not want violence from left or right.
We do not want to surrender our great nation “(Black Army)

These songs were chanted by the members of the Third Force of the Black Army, a Neo-Nazi group. , Although its members were born in Bogota, they shouted anti-Semitic and anti-gay slogans. They believe that the swastika should not be tattooed on the body, but figuratively “into the heart” and that the Holocaust is a Jewish myth. They admire Hitler, who they believe is no less than a god and celebrate his birthday every year in the typical style of Neo-Nazis.

It is hard to believe that in Bogota, a pluralistic city, radical extremist groups and violent tendencies still exist. The Third Force’s members are between the ages of 18 to 35, and on a “normal” day work or study at universities with nothing which can bear site to their Neo-Nazi ideology.

They dress and behave like the standard Bogota citizen, however in local bars where they usually meet, they dress in black and their thinking is radical. They speak about the purity of races; about eliminating the Jews, chanting death to homosexuals, and for the liberation of Europe. Third Army members begin their meeting with the German anthem, which they stand to and follow with the Nazi salute.
It is hard to imagine what Hitler would say if he saw the Neo-Nazi salute, the swastika and slogans of racial purity, which are practiced in Bogota by young people born and raised thousands of kilometers from Europe.

In late August Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a new plan to combat all forms of discrimination and anti-Semitism. Santos’ signature is still awaiting approval. The punishment against such anti-Semitic crimes would be one to three years in prison to anyone who practices any act of intolerance and violence against a specific race. Until then these extremist groups will continue proclaiming their love for Hitler and chanting these anti-Semite songs.

by: Orian Bar

Symbolic way to defeat Neo Nazism- Dead Snow

A group of Norwegian students went for a weekend vacation in the mountains and stayed in a deserted cabin. Little did they know, they crashed in a WWII Nazi war zone between the Germans and Norwegians. Doing what most kids would do, these students had a lot of fun traveling, snowboarding, and drinking alcohol. One day they found a metal box with golden Nazi coins. The students were extremely excited, they thought they were going to be rich and famous for their discovery. But they weren’t as lucky as they originally thought. The moment the box was opened, dead Nazi Storm troopers resurrected from the snow. This movie scene was beautiful: Norwegian Iceland in its frizzing beauty. The scenery is pure white all around and there is a peaceful bliss, a transcendent moment of calmness. But then the dead Nazi troopers raised from the snow to search for the box that was defilement by the students.

Dead Snow is a horror, comedy film that tells the story of the resurrection of Nazism in post-modern Europe and the fight against it. I chose to write about this movie because in my opinion, this movie is a media mirror of Europe’s fight against Neo Nazism, and the importance of this fight. In this article I will explain how and why this movie is important and unique. I shall draw my ideas on cinema theories, explain the psychoanalytic meaning of horror films. I will conclude by explaining why it is important to fight racism and hatred through the channel of movies.

The sociopolitical meaning of movies

 

One of the ways Western society transfers social and political messages to its people is through films. Films present and reflect the social values of Western society.

Featured content, feature films contribute greatly to the popular culture of Western society. Society and values ​​are presented in movies. The reasons why norms and values are shown in the plot of the film lies in the economic necessity of filmmakers to attract viewers. The film should reflect what is considered attractive, popular and appealing in the current society. Films can also be used as political tools. Ryan and Kellner (1991) wrote that Hollywood films from the 60’s to the 90’s are closely related to global political processes taking place in Western society.

 

Neo Nazism

 

Neo-Nazism is a social or political movement that wants to revive the Nazi and fascist attitudes that support racism. These movements maintain open hatred against ethnic groups that are not white European. The guide lines of these groups are: Racism, homophobia, xenophobia, nationalism military and Holocaust denial.

European neo-Nazi groups assembled of thousands of activists protest against immigration. In the United States, neo-Nazi groups are part of a large volume of hate groups, encouraging anti-Semitic and white supremacy. These groups operate in many areas across the United States and even in prisons across the country.

Because the numbers of these groups are growing every day, it is important to stop the spreading and put an end to this hatred and. In my opinion, movies like Dead Snow are a unique way to fight against racism through cinema, because the message is very clear, racism and hatred are monstrous. Therefore, we need to terminate them just like the main character terminated the monster in the movie.

 

Psychoanalytical meaning of horror movies

 

Horror genre began as Victorian literature in the 19th century. This literature was called “Gothic fiction” and presented an alternative reality that deals with everyday life. Novels were written about mythical characters such as vampires and monsters (Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker’s Dracula). These figures symbolized social fear and promiscuity (vampires) and the afterlife (Frankenstein’s monster).

With the development of cinema in the 20th century, this genre made it to the cinema. Horror genre is divided into three categories: Supernatural (surreal), psychological (realistic) and murder (realistic). Similar to the literary genre, the horror film genre displays mythical figures (monsters, vampires and werewolves). Symbolically, these monsters threaten the social order by introducing different elements of sexuality, violence and aggression.

Human reality is full of frightening situations. People are faced with fear all the time, so when a person goes to watch a horror movie he is facing his daily fears and nightmares. Through horror movies, we are exposed to complex social situations and their solutions (epidemics, wars and mass murder).

Furthermore, tales of horror movies do not include moral complexity. They are usually black and white. Good and evil are very clear and cannot be confused. Horror films are an agent of morality and social ethics.

Society requires the citizen to regulate his or her emotions and express only the feelings that benefit society. In addition, society asks the citizen to suppress those who are harmful. Through horror movies, the viewer experiences an outlet for negative feelings and does not harm him and the surroundings (sublimation).

 Conclusion- Psychoanalytic, horror and dead snow

 

Dead Snow is a supernatural movie that shows how sometimes nothing ever dies. The movie tells us how the Nazi troopers stayed frozen but weren’t really dead. Instead, they waited for the right moment to come back to life. By relying on the provisions of the preceding paragraphs, horror movies reflect society’s fears. Therefore, a Nazi zombie is a metaphorical cinema expression of western society post trauma and fear of Nazism. A fear that this hatred and racism didn’t really end with WWII. Thus horror movies reflect simple moral situations. It is very simple to understand that there is nothing positive in Nazism and neo Nazism. Hatred and racism are as monstrous as zombies and should stay dead. Our responsibility as a society is to never allow Nazism to resurrect and exterminate neo Nazism. That is the moral thing to do.

In conclusion, in my opinion, the best way to persuade people for or against social matters is through horror movies. In Dead Snow, the students did not run away from the fight against frozen dead Nazis. As viewers, we should learn from them and fight neo Nazism, never allowing resurrection. Nazism should stay dead.

 

 

Written by: Ynon Mager

How Have Universities Become a Lodestone for Anti-Semitic Activity?

When picturing universities we usually think of green lawns, a rich intellectual environment and the sweet-sour smell of a few dozen students with hangovers gathered together in a classroom. The open minded attitude of the high education system contributed to some of the most remarkable inventions and ideas ever from Penicillin to philosophy. From mapping the skies to digging into the deep secrets of the earth (and to the minds of many unfortunate students), universities are considered an open-box of creativity and free-thought. However, this open-minded attitude has negative sides. When ideas however horrible or awful they may be are not condemned in the name of Academic freedom, disaster may result.In recent years Anti-Semitism is just one of those ideas, and it seems that with time it only becomes more popular and acceptable around the academic world.

Much is heard of Anti-Semitic incidents taken place in universities. How much exactly? A survey published in February 2015 by Trinity College and the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights under Law found that 54% of the participants had been subject to or witnessed Anti-Semitism on their campus in the United States. This problem is not apparent in the U.S. alone and has shown common in other places like Australia, France and Great Britain, where proof of Anti-Semitic activity in campuses is accumulating. In Great Britain for example, there have been over 30 acts of intimidation reported against Jewish students in the past 5 years alone.

It seems that the main reason for Anti-Semitism today is a twisted variation of Anti-Israel criticism. This kind of criticism is often directed towards Israeli Foreign Policy and most specifically IDF soldiers stationed in the West Bank, and other accusations which concern the occupation of the Palestinians and a supposedly apartheid policy towards them. The BDS movement is probably the most familiar one among these organizations, and it publicly calls to boycott Israeli products and Israeli personas. However the BDS movement is also contributing to the rise of hatred towards Jews. Surveys show that Anti-Israel activity contributes directly to incidents of Anti-Semitism on college campuses.

This kind of atmosphere has a permanent effect on Jewish students who choose to enter in the system of higher education. In Canada a former Israeli student named Shelley Yachaev eitnessed the anti-Israel propaganda at York University evolve over the four years she had been there. Yachaeve said “I don’t walk  anywhere in York (anymore) where I trust the fact I can speak freely”. One man’s academic freedom has proven another’s nightmare.

Even in this poisoned environment, positive acts can be found. In York University, Jewish students along with non-Jewish students have pledged to tackle anti-Semitism together.

“[We wish to] reassure students who are concerned about anti-Semitism, raising awareness about the points of contact, [and showing how] students can use tools to raise specific concerns and ensure that Jewish staff and students of all nationalities feel welcome at York University,” a York University personnel was quoted as saying.

Jerusalem to Host First International Conference on Online Antisemitism

On Tuesday, 19 April, the first-ever International Conference on Online Antisemitism will take place in Jerusalem, bringing together dozens of experts from multiple countries, including Israeli legislators and Ms. Katharina von Schnurbein,  the recently appointed European Commission Coordinator on combating antisemitism.

Co-organized by the National Union of Israeli Studends’ ISCA program and the International Network Against CyberHate, and hosted by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the packed schedule features a number of panels highlighting the importance and diversity of the issue at hand.

One session, for instance, will address “The relevance and influence of right-wing antisemitism and Holocaust denial on the digital landscape,” discussing the lasting influences of the Nazi movement, in a conversation moderated by a senior Yad Vashem historian. In contrast, the following panel will debate “How the left was lost,” as experts discuss “Durban, online Left-wing anti-Zionism, the BDS movement and the perversion of Human Rights,” highlighting the new and troubling trends of mixing and confusing criticism of Israel with a denial of the Jewish people’s right to a nation state.

But, at least according to the schedule, the conference will try and end on a more optimistic note, as participants hear – and propose – strategies moving forward, in an attempt to fight online hate speech.

Antisemitism in the Race for the White House

In just over a year from now, a first ever Jewish president could enter the White House and become the world’s strongest man. Bernie Sanders is a Democratic candidate for President of the United States. In 2006, he was elected to the U.S. Senate after 16 years as Vermont’s sole congressman in the House of Representatives. According to the last Democratic Presidential Primary taken in New Hampshire, Sanders is no longer an esoteric candidate, as he beat Hilary Clinton, who until then was thought to be the sure winner, by over 14%.

Today, a Jewish president wouldn’t be something so unusual. For the past 8 years, President Obama, a black man, who just 50 years earlier couldn’t sit in the front of a bus, ruled the free world. This was definitely a turning point in American history. However, things weren’t always like that. On January 28, 1916, 100 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson nominated to be the first Jew on the U.S. Supreme Court. It was the most hotly debated nomination in American history up to that time. The controversy involved Brandeis’ progressive political views as well as his religion.

Brandeis’ opponents included anti-Semites and those who disliked Brandeis’ progressive views on labor and civil liberties. Anti-Semitism was widespread in America during that period. Jews were banned from many jobs and clubs. Many colleges had quotas limiting the number of Jewish students. Movies, plays and vaudeville were rife with negative stereotypes about Jews. The Ku Klux Klan was on the rise, whipping up hysteria against Jews, Catholics and African Americans. The Supreme Court had rejected, by a 7-2 vote, an appeal by Leo Frank, a Jewish businessman from Atlanta, to overturn his murder conviction despite overwhelming evidence that his trial had been unfair, biased by the climate of anti-Semitism.

After becoming president in 1912, Wilson hoped to appoint Brandeis as his secretary of commerce, but when the news leaked to the press and sparked intense opposition, he picked someone else .Four years later, however, Wilson felt the time was right to put Brandeis on the Supreme Court. Despite the unprecedented campaign waged against his nomination, Brandeis prevailed and served on the court for 23 years, until 1939.

Even today, the Jewish theme is present in the political discourse in the United States. Although recent poll studying American prejudices in presidential campaigns found that an overwhelming majority would be willing to vote for a Jew (91 percent), Sanders is forced to handle claims concerning his Judaism. Diane Rehm, NPR host, confronted Sanders with the charge that he was a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, a conspiracy theory rooted in a baseless online rumor and has its roots in the old anti-Semitic canard that Jewish politicians can’t be loyal to non-Jewish countries. In addition, the National Review insisted on criticizing Sanders’s economic policies under the designation “national socialist”, the extended title for “Nazi”, openly acknowledging that it was partially doing this because Sanders is “the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland and whose family was murdered in the Holocaust.”

 

Written by: Atar David

Horned princess-misogyny and antisemitism

When we think about the word woman, we often think of the human female. That is the biological term for the word woman. However, the concept of “woman” is much more than the term “female”, because woman can be so many things at once. A women can be our mother, best friend, sister, commander, teacher and so much more. When we think about the word “Jew” or “Jewish”, we usually think of someone belonging to the Jewish religion. However, the term is so much more than just the religion. Judaism is culture, politics, traditions, economics and more.

When we connect the words “Jewish” and “woman” there are so many interchanging possibilities. A Jewish woman can be the caring and loving grandmother who gives us chocolate and candies when our parents are out. Jewish woman is the strong, independent and intellectual leader, who rights the wrongs in our society. Jewish woman is the shy poet who taught us to explore and express the beauty of emotions with words and colors.

Eve, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Judith and Esther were all biblical women who were queens, prophets and leaders that had tremendous attributions to the Jewish culture and religion.

Nevertheless, not all descriptions are positive. Jewish woman can also refer to a smothering, fat mother who controls her adult children and doesn’t let them be independent. A Jewish woman can also be the beautiful horned princes who can get everything money can buy. Jewish woman can also be the woman with the ugly, crooked nose and frizzy hair. Or the opinionated woman who doesn’t have a sense of humor,  annoying everyone with her feminist beliefs.

All of these descriptions are misogyny, antisemitic modern stereotypes which Jewish women have to bare all the time. These stereotypes came to life because the antisemitic language representation of women is different than a man’s representation. A man’s antisemitic representation is less about his appearance or sexuality, and more about his personality and economic status. There is no reference to the man’s gender.

Unlike Jewish men, Jewish women bare two types of oppression: antisemitic and misogyny.  There is hateful reference to the woman’s personality, appearance, culture, gender norms and sexuality.

This article will discuss the duel representation of the Jewish women, provide theoretical background for the misogynic antisemitism and suggest some ideas for dealing with the Jewish woman’s representation.

Antisemitism as social construction-the imagined Jew

Before we discuss the representation of the Jewish woman we need to understand the social background of antisemitism in modern times from a sociological perspective.

Even though the holocaust is a fading memory and we live in an era of (mostly) liberal democracy and multicultural reality, antisemitism still exists all over the world. Much of this hate is the constant demonization of  the Jewish character.

The demonized myths are being told in Islamic countries, Europe and Asia, enabling these anti-Jewish messages to go viral on social media. Norman smiths (1997) argues that the origin of modern antisemitism is caused by social construction of a racist modern society.

This hatred is spread for various reasons. For example, in Europe there is a common belief that the Jewish people murdered Jesus Christ, and therefore the punishment for his murder was the holocaust. Familiar myths are told all around the world. These myths are far from reality, even though large groups of people believe they are true. This is the modern antisemitic problem.

Also ancient economic myths are still thriving. Many people still believe Jewish people have a conspiracy to take over the world. They believe the Jewish people have many influences, and that the world is ruled by an economy ruled and controlled by Jews.

All of these myths originated, as Norman Smith claims, by social construction. Furthermore, he says, there is an antisemitic belief in the social science that the Jewish people should change their “Jewish way of acting” if they wish to abolish antisemitism. In other words Jews are to blame for their hatred. The only problem with this theory is that Jewish identity is not a way of behaving. It’s more than religion, culture and language. Being Jewish is an existence and cannot be changed, so even if the Jewish people changed the way they acted, there would still be antisemitism. For example, in WWII Judaism was defined as a race and not a religion or a culture – German speaking men and women of Jewish origin, who lived as Christians in Berlin and Hamburg, were treated the same way as pious, Yidish speaking and sidelock yielding Jews from the shtetl.

There is another sociological explanation told by Norman Smyth explaining antisemitism. According to this narrative, Jewish people choose to be non-conformists and are always different. This non conformism brought the hatred upon them. This theory is purely antisemitic and victim blaming, placing all the responsibility and racism solely on the victim.

Some of the justifications for these theories relate to what’s perceived as “a Jewish attitude”: egoism, vulgar, highly sexual and loud. According to this, Jewish character contributes to Jewish hatred, so when Jews stop “behaving” like Jews there won’t be any justification for antisemitism, simple as that. The Jewish people need stop acting like Jewish people and intervene in non-Jewish societies. This is the rational thing to do if we wish to stop antisemitism.

However, as claimed by Norman Smiths, this sociological rationalization contributes towards antisemitism instead of fighting it. Sociology need to discuss antisemitism from a different perspective. It should attributed as Jude-phobia and not blame the “the Jewish way of acting”. Antisemitism is demonization and originates in social construction.

In Conclusion, the constructional sociology tells us that the imaginary Jew is the symbolized enemy of western racist society, and never disappears from society’s mind. We need to fight antisemitism and never accept it as rational thought.

In understanding the social enemy construction theory, I would like to ask the gender question. If the imaginary Jew is the constructed enemy of racist ideology, what is the role of Jewish women in this social construction? Is the imaginary woman different than the imaginary man? I will answer this question in the next few paragraphs.

Racist Jewish stereotypes

As discussed, the Jewish people – historically speaking – were always a traveling nation, scattered and never having a country of their own.  They were always the minority in European society. In addition to being a minority, Jews were considered different in religion and in culture. This variance created mystery around the Jewish people which often lead to suspicion, and eventually the creation of the many antisemitic stereotypes.

Antisemitic male stereotypes are usually about the connection between personality and economics. There is no reference to gendered rules, sexuality or appearance. For instance, “The collector” represents the greedy man who can’t be trusted. He’s a two-faced back stabber; a disloyal, material capitalist, looking only to consume his pleasure.

 

Antisemitic female stereotypes are combined with racism, sexism and misogyny. There is a reference to the Jewish women role in the general society, the Jewish culture, gendered rules, sexuality and appearance.

Here are some examples:

The Jewish mother – Old and fat, annoying, over bearing, over feeding, overprotective and tidy. Women who sacrifice their autonomy in alter of motherhood, not letting her grown up children be independent.

Jewish American Princess (JAP) – Young woman, late teens or early twenties, beautiful, thin, usually blonde, fair skinned, rich, spoiled, whiney, daddy’s girl, self-centered, neurotic and frigid.

Good Jewish girl- The opposite of the “JAP”. a nice girl, classy, believes in womanly ideologies, family wife, proud to be Jewish, curvy, brunette, frizzed hair, crooked nose, regular looking. Nasal talking. Educated but not intellectual.

As mentioned above, there is a big difference between the representation of the male Jew and female Jew. The Jewish women has to deal with dual and sometimes triple realities: The reality of Judaism, antisemitism and sexism. In the next part of the article I will discuss the phenomenology of the Jewish women created from these realities.

Jewish women phenomenology

Phenomenology is a philosophical term for the study of one’s consciousness as experienced from his point of view. Relying on the feminist theory, claiming the reality of women is experienced differently than man’s.  As told by one of the most famous feminist theoreticians, the philosopher and writer Simone de behavior claims in her book, “the second sex” that the existence reality of women is different from the reality of men. Men are free from their bodies and gender and can create projects without the disruption of society. Women are imprisoned in their bodies and genders (modest feminine values, sexual inhibitions) society rules of womanhood, turning the women subjectivity to famine reality. Women are the significant other for the male. Therefore the experienced reality of women is different men’s reality. Women’s reality defined by body and gender (pregnancy, motherhood, sexual identity and more) and men’s reality is defined by rational thought and actions.

Based on feminist theory created by de Beauvoir, the cultural religion phenomenology of Jewish women is different from non-Jewish women and Jewish men. Jewish woman are Jewish and female, creating duel reality. Reality influenced by antisemitism, as Evelyn Torton claims in her article “the politics of Jewish invisibility”, (published in 1988) that anti-Semitism implemented in the Jewish woman’s body. The Jewish women turned to be the object of hatred.

The Jewish women phenomenology, as Torton claims, is defined by double misogyny, outward (anti-Semitism) and inward (sexism). Women who experience themselves as a “JAP” will become a JAP and proud to be one. The stereotype turned to be her identity. In addition to that, Jewish women feel uncomfortable in their Jewish identity hiding their Jewish selfhood (discrimination by men and culture).

Conclusion

The Jewish woman has always been the subject of the antisemitic discussion. Discussion on her body, her beauty, her personality and her sexuality. She was always blamed for the act of Jewish men, in her motherhood, in her opinion and her desire or lack of it. The Jewish women is an object of racist ideology.

The Jewish mother is blamed for her smothering motherhood. The JAP is blamed for her indulgence and sexuality. The good Jewish girl is blamed for her ugliness and dullness. There is no escape from the judgment no matter what she does. Something has to be done with the cultural construction of misogyny antisemitism.

The only solution is to educate for gender and cultural solidarity, to break the imaginary Jewish women and create a realistic version of her, not connected to the male gendered selfhood.  She has to stop being his significant other and an object of racist hatred. Woman should be as De Beauvorian says, free of her body and her gender, being free subject to create her own projects, not as a Jew and not as a woman, but rather as a human being.

 

Written by: Mager Ynon