Paul Kivel's Newsletter 
Resources for Racial Justice

A Note from Paul         Spring 2018
Dear People,

We are approaching the Easter season that for tens of millions of Christians around the world includes a Good Friday service in which the New Testament crucifixion story is read and sometimes even acted out in services. This story, revisited by Christians annually, portrays Jews as rejecting Jesus and taking responsibility for his death. This ritual served as a reminder to churchgoers of Jews' collective responsibility for the death of the son of god and was understood to be permission, even incitement from church leaders to go out and beat up or kill Jews.
This is part of the centuries-old culture of anti-Semitism that is continually reinvigorated by readings of the Christian Bible. Jews have played a number of distinct roles within western societies but since the consolidation of Christian power in the 4 th century C.E. they have always been exploited, marginalized, scapegoated and vulnerable to violence. Ruling elites in Europe and the U.S. have deliberately and repeatedly used Jews to divert and distract poor, working, and middle-class Christians from seeing the powerful white Christian men who dictate the conditions of their lives.

The deep and long-standing levels of Anti-Jewish oppression in our culture lead to the reality that although 1.7% of people in the U.S. are Jewish, according to 2017 F.B.I. numbers, 54.2% of religiously motivated hate crimes were against Jews and 11.5% of overall hate crimes were against Jews. Examples include Douglas High School in Florida where on February 14, 2018 Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 people and injured another 14. Personal accounts of students who attended high school with Cruz have pegged him as an anti-Semite and some of the violent incidents he was suspended for were against Jews. The school itself is more than 40% Jewish. Anti-Semitism probably wasn't Cruz's only
motivation but seems to have been a significant component of it. Similarly, in the August 2017 white nationalist riot in Charlottesville there were
banners saying "Jews are Satan's children," t-shirts with Hitler quotes, swastikas, and chants of "Jews will not replace us." David Duke told the large crowd, "The truth is, the American media, and the American political system, and the American Federal Reserve, is dominated by a tiny minority: the Jewish Zionist cause." In the media very few non-Jewish sources have highlighted or even mentioned these
kinds of anti-Jewish components of the violence in our society. 

Currently we are all, Jews and non-Jews, under attack, and the ruling class and its collaborators are using every means they have to exploit and divide us. Anti-Semitism (or as I prefer to name it anti-Jewish oppression-see the following article) has long been an essential tool to mobilize resentment, distract attention from decision-making elites, and disarm Jewish resistance. Fortunately there are a host of new (and older) resources that offer deep understanding of how anti-Jewish oppression works, the harm it does and how Jews and our allies can overcome the divisions caused by it. Now, more than ever, we need each other. I hope this newsletter will provide you with tools for resisting anti-Jewish oppression and building diverse alliances for social justice.

Note: Although it is long, if you read only one article in this newsletter please read "Understanding Anti-Semitism" by JFREJ-Jews for Racial and Economic Justice. Insightful, comprehensive, and nuanced, I think it is essential reading for anyone working for social justice. 
In This Issue

Is it anti-Semitism or anti-Jewish oppression?
Anti-Semitism can be a convenient term at times because it has widespread
recognition. However I generally use "anti-Jewish oppression" instead of anti-
Semitism because it is more accurate, more comprehensive, and I want to separate
the concept from the recent use of anti-Semitism to describe critiques of policies of
the state of Israel.

Labeling a comment, person or policy anti-Semitic is often not very helpful and
focuses attention on an individual act or procedure rather than on the institution it
supports. I think it is more useful to point out how those comments, behaviors or
policies support or perpetuate anti-Jewish oppression in specific ways.

Use of anti-Semitic to refer to Jewish oppression also makes invisible the oppression
of other Semitic people. It misrepresents Jews because not all Jews are Semitic in
geographic origin; the ancestors of many Jews converted to Judaism in other parts of  the world. I write extensively about the institutionalized system of oppression
targeting Jews for discrimination, exploitation, and violence, and the term "anti-
Jewish oppression" better captures those nuances, provides a parallel to the phrase
"anti-Muslim oppression", and therefore highlights the common history of systemic attack that Muslims and Jews have both experienced within Christian dominated
Europe and the U.S.

Click here to continue reading.

Understanding Anti-Semitism: An offering to our movement

 Click here for more.

"I'm not Jewish..."
When I'm in a workshop on racism, and the facilitators tell everyone
to break up into a white group and a people of color group, I
immediately want to say, "Wait a minute. I'm not white." There are
many white people in the United States and throughout Europe who
would immediately agree: "Of course you're not white. Jewish people
are part of the contamination of the white Christian race, along
with people of color, Roma, Native Americans, and Muslims." These
attitudes are based on the conjunction of whiteness with Christianity.

Christians have long considered Jews to be inferior and a threat
to Christians because they rejected Jesus as the son of God. In
addition, Jews have been falsely accused of killing Jesus because of
stories in the New Testament. These stories are still read for Good
Friday Easter services and considered true today by hundreds of
millions of Christians. They are also promulgated by popular media
such as on Christian broadcasting networks and in the wildly popular
Christian film The Passion.

Click here to continue reading.

If you are Christian or of Christian background...
1. What did you learn in religious school or church or from
the Bible about Jewish people? What did you learn about
people of color?

2. What non-explicit messages did you receive about both
groups from your Christian heritage?

3. In what ways is it true and in what ways is it not true to say
"The United States is a Christian country?" How would you
respond if someone said this in your presence?

4. What are some of the ways Jews are blamed for social

5. How can you respond when people say Jews own or control

6. Beginning with the fact that Jesus and Mary were Arab
Jews, how has Christianity whitewashed its origins?

7. How can you challenge anti-Jewish oppression expressed
within your own church and by other Christians?

Marcel Marceau

In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day , Soul Mama posted a video to remember the magnificent mime Marcel Marceau who brought joy to so many. 

Watch the video here

Jews for Racial and Economic Justice moves the Conversation About Police Brutality Into White Communities
By: Marjorie Dove Kent and Chris Crass                                                                                                   
A protest against the non-indictment of the officers who killed Eric Garner, December 4, 2014. (Photo courtesy of JFREJ)

Why Antisemites Love Israel

Jewish Fear, Love, & Solidarity in the Wake of Charlottesville
By: Jonah S. Boyarin

Jewish fear is that buzzing feeling in our bones that won't let us sleep at night, because we don't know when it will come next.

Jewish fear is American Neo-Nazis chanting "Blood and Soil" on American soil. In living memory, that chant ("Blut und Boden"), and the fascist ideology that birthed it, organized mass movements of German Nazis, and Polish, Lithuanian, Greek, and other European Christian collaborators to murder a third of our people. In living memory.

Jewish fear is googling "Blut und Boden" and knowing that some of the top hits will be contemporary calls for the extermination of my people. It is clicking on a  Bustle article entitled, "What Does 'Blood & Soil' Mean? Charlottesville Protesters Heard This Disturbing Chant," and not seeing the words "antisemitism" or "Jews" mentioned once. It is the Charlottesville police  declining to defend Charlottesville's synagogue from armed neo-Nazis .

Latin@s, Israel and Palestine: Understanding Anti-Semitism
By: Aurora Levins Morales

Aurora Levins Morales is a Puerto Rican Jewish historian, activist, healer, and writer. She is the author of three books, and her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in dozens of anthologies and been translated into seven languages. Her article, Latin@s, Israel and Palestine: Understanding Anti-Semitismwas just published on the web site of the National Institute for Latino Policy, in response to two earlier pieces, one claiming that "Hispanics" are the group most hostile to Israel, the other describing racism in Israel and ending with the assertion that because of what Jews have gone through, Israelis should "know better."

 The past didn't go anywhere... 

By: Eric K. Ward

The bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols was painted as a conspiracy by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens' guns away.

One September weekend in 1995, a few thousand people met at a convention center in Seattle to prepare for an apocalyptic standoff with the federal government. At the expo, you could sign up to defend yourself from the coming "political and economic collapse," stock up on beef jerky, learn strategies for tax evasion, and browse titles by writers like Eustace Mullins, whose White nationalist classics include The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, published in 1952, and-from 1967-The Biological Jew.

The sixth annual Preparedness Expo made national papers that year because it served as a clearinghouse for the militia movement, a decentralized right-wing movement of armed, local, anti-government paramilitaries that had recently sparked its most notorious act of terror, the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal courthouse by White nationalists Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. A series of speakers told expo attendees the real story: the attack had been perpetrated by the government itself as an excuse to take citizens' guns away.


Toward the Next Jewish Rebellion

Highlights: Books

  • How the Jews Became White by Karen Brodkin
  • Constantine's Sword by James Carroll
  • On Anti-Semitism by Jewish Voice for Peace
  • Judaisms by Aaron Tapper
  • The Socialism of Fools: Anti-Semitism on the Left by Michael Lerner
  • Hope into Practice, Jewish Women Choosing Justice Despite Our Fears by Penny Rosenwasser 
  • Living in the Shadow of the Cross
  • The Color of Jews by Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz


Highlights: Film
School Ties Trailer
School Ties Trailer

The Nasty Girl :  A 1990 West German  drama film  based on the true story of  Anna Rosmus. 
 School Ties: Set in the 1950s, a star-quarterback is given an opportunity to attend an elite preparatory school but must conceal the fact that he is Jewish.

The Zoo Keeper's Wife:  The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

 Uprising: Jews rise up in the Warsaw Ghetto against the Nazis in 1943.

Gentleman's Agreement:  A reporter pretends to be Jewish in order to cover a story on anti-Semitism, and personally discovers the true depths of bigotry and hatred. 
The Bielski Brothers: The real life story of the Bielski Brothers - one of the few Jewish partisan groups to actively fight the Nazi's in the second world war.

The Zookeper's Wife Trailer

Uprooting Racism updated edition - NOW AVAILABLE

In 2016, the person elected president of the United States has openly called for segregation and deportation based on race and religion. Meanwhile, Segregation and inequalities in education, housing, health care and the job market continue to be the norm while increased insecurity and fear have led to an epidemic of violence and harassment of people of color. At the same time,  resistance is strong as highlighted by Indigenous struggles for land and sovereignty and the Movement for Black Lives.
Completely revised and updated, this 4 th  edition of Uprooting Racism offers a framework around neoliberalism and interpersonal, institutional, and cultural racism, along with stories of resistance and white solidarity. It provides practical tools and advice on how white people can work as allies for racial justice, directly engaging the reader through questions, exercises and suggestions for action.  
Buy the book at a discounted price here!
Retail Price: $24.99
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