Sunday, October 23, 2022

Recently, Joshua Karlip wrote in Commentary about how Jewish studies in American academia have been taken over by a wokeism that marginalizes and denigrates Jews:

In December 2020, I participated in a Zoom panel at the annual Association for Jewish Studies Conference that discussed the state of the field of Jewish historiography over the past two decades. One participant noted that the first two decades of the 21st century have witnessed a rise in studies of the history of anti-Jewish violence. In response, I offered what I considered an innocuous explanation. Over the past two decades, I suggested, Jews have experienced an alarming rise in violent attacks. Between 2000 and 2005, the second intifada targeted the Jewish civilian population of Israel, leaving nearly 1,000 dead. Here in America, we have witnessed synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh and Poway, as well as a steady stream of attacks, some deadly, on Jews who “look” like Jews—Orthodox men.

This explanation did not sit well with a senior scholar in the audience. “What you said was exceedingly Jewishly focused,” she lectured me. She then went on to “enlighten” me that those who attack Jews are not primarily targeting Jews. Rather, the true targets of their hatred are African Americans. These hatemongers simply are angry at American Jews for promoting African-American rights. She ended her disquisition with a challenge. If I were really serious about fighting anti-Semitism, she told me, I would openly ally myself with Black Lives Matter.
His article is specifically about his field, Jewish historiography, but we've seen similar absurdities in other Jewish studies fields, as in an article last year in Religion Dispatches that accused anyone who wants to see Judaism survive of being racist. 

Or when 200 Jewish Studies academics last year signed a petition condemning Israel for defending itself from Hamas rockets and saying that Israel was engaged in "Jewish supremacy."

Or even recently, when the Association for Jewish Studies decided to stop accepting ads from Tablet magazine, because some members objected to some of Tablet's articles. The critics aren't even slightly ashamed at preferring woke politics over free speech, noting that  "much of the magazine’s content is focused on decrying liberal ​'wokeness'" - clearly a major crime in today's Jewish Studies cliques.

I saw a small example last week, when I tweeted, "If Jews rejoicing during their holiday upsets you, you just may be an antisemite."
Zachary Braiterman, professor of Jewish Thought and Culture at Syracuse University, responded, "it's a show of force and deliberate provocation of Palestinians living in the Old City."

This struck me as bizarre, since the video showed no indication of any deliberate provocation. Arabs pass by the singing Jews without harm. The song being sung has nothing offensive. the dancing Jews looked exactly like dancing Jews going outside their shuls on Simchat Torah worldwide.

The conversation went like this:

EoZ: You are a professor of Jewish culture and you never heard of Jews dancing on Simchat Torah outside their synagogues???

ZB: i know what a rightwing show of force by radical rightwing religious nationalists in Israel looks like

EoZ: Funny, because it looks exactly like a Simchat Torah celebration in Teaneck or Boca to me.
Please, let us ordinary people know exactly what you see in this video that shows you are right. The song? The color of the Torahs? 
I await your expertise.

ZB: because the intention is a show of force over against Palestinian people under Israeli control

EoZ: No flags. No insults. No slogans. The Arabs can pass by without issue. No incitement. They are doing in the Old City exactly what Jews did everywhere else. If you think they do not have the right to do in Jerusalem what Jews do in America, that says something about you, not them.

ZB: you are omitting the entire political context of a military occupation and threats of dispossession in E. Jerusalem

EoZ: So according to you, Jews have the right to dance outside on Simchat Torah everywhere in the world - except for Jerusalem's Old City.  Even if they have NOTHING to do with Ben Gvir.
Do I have that right?

ZB: why not at the Kotel?

EoZ: Why not outside where they pray?
Braiterman insisted, three times, that the video showed Jews deliberately provoking Arabs, yet never offered any evidence outside the pompous "I know it when I see it."

In short, he sees religious Jews dancing and he assumes that they are bigots. He cannot even imagine that Jews dancing outside in Jerusalem are celebrating the holiday the way Jews do worldwide, and nothing more. 

He then attempted to claim that Jews who quietly visit the Temple Mount are also deliberately provoking Arabs: "the religious zionists regularly do not respect Arab residents of Jerusalem or the sanctity of Har Ha'Bayit." I responded that this was absurd, they show far more respect for the Temple Mount than Muslims do. But he has a consistent position - when Jews show a love of Jerusalem's holy places, he assumes that they are really trying to attack Muslims and Arabs. 

Braiterman throws all religious Zionist Jews into one bucket, pretending that they are all racists, all fans of Itamar Ben Gvir, all support attacking Arabs for no reason.  

Stereotyping isn't sober analysis. It is bigotry. 

I've prayed on the Temple Mount and would happily have joined the Simchat Torah dancing, and I am no fan of Itamar Ben Gvir. An Israeli friend told me "my guess would be that not only is it true that most religious Zionists oppose [Ben Gvir], but also most of his supporters are not religious Zionists." 

The professor is not an antisemite. No one who spends two years writing a post on the Sefat Emet would be. But throwing all religious Zionists in the same racist bucket is, in a small way, just as bigoted as throwing all Jews into the same bucket.

Jewish studies is in deep trouble. 




Buy the EoZ book, PROTOCOLS: Exposing Modern Antisemitism  today at Amazon!

Or order from your favorite bookseller, using ISBN 9798985708424. 

Read all about it here!

 

 



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