Photo Credit: Asher Schwartz

{Originally posted to the SATIRICAL PreOccupied Territory website; submitted by Rebbi Gillian Yakobianovetskison}

New York, December 18 – Too many people have misunderstood my online reaction to the murder of Orthodox Jews in Jersey City last weekend, in which I attempted to distinguish between that attack, with its economic context, and others perpetrated by real, white-supremacist antisemites. That tweet prompted numerous accusations that I seek to downplay or deny antisemitism when ethnic minorities display it. To the contrary: I define antisemitism ontologically as a product of white supremacy, making antisemitism by others – Black Hebrew Israelites, Muslims, whoever – impossible.


Following that definition – which you cannot deny or face accusations of oppressing me, a card-carrying intersectional progressive – the killers in Jersey City committed murder, yes, but not an antisemitic hate crime. This holds true despite the emergence afterwards of evidence that they belonged to a cult that preaches hate and violence against Jews, with rhetoric that echoes the likes of David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. Once we understand that the term “antisemitism” applies only to white-on-Jew violence, we realize other terminology must come into play. My suggestions include “economic protest” and “anti-gentrification crusade,” but others are welcome to weigh in with theirs.

Please note that a hate crime need not target Jews per se to qualify as antisemitic: merely the perception by the white perpetrator of the victim as Jewish or representing Jews gives the incident antisemitic character, regardless of the actual religious or ethnic status of the victim. Thus if someone had targeted the perpetrators of the Jersey City killings as Jews – since Black Hebrew Israelites claim to carry the “authentic” Hebrew tradition, as if I, a progressive rabbi, even acknowledge that as a thing – those doing the targeting would be engaging in antisemitism. Whereas what happened in Jersey City was not. I hope that is clear.

Going forward, I expect us all to demonstrate greater care when choosing how to describe such incidents. For example, refrain from describing the ongoing attacks on Jews in Brooklyn as “antisemitic,” even though some of us have become accustomed to misusing the term in that context (the few who have considered the phenomenon worthy of attention, anyway). More importantly, however, avoid any mention of antisemitism in the context of Palestinian resistance, both because of the semantic inapplicability and, more importantly, because it distracts from the axiomatic righteousness and supremacy of the Palestinian cause among all other progressive causes.

That kind of supremacy I can get behind.


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