If you catch yourself saying sentences like this, query whether your real concern is anti-Semitism itself, or whether you’re primarily interested in weaponizing the anti-Semitism of your opponents for political gain.
Yes, anti-Semitism is a feature of white supremacy. But if you think it’s only a feature of white supremacy, consider that it existed in murderous forms for more than 1,000 years before European white imperialists were asserting dominance over anyone. A lot of people have killed Jews over the centuries, and continue to do so, without wearing white hoods or brandishing swastikas. Not all of them have been white or had any concept of whiteness. If you’re not willing to face that reality, you’re not really interested in anti-Semitism. You’re trying to make the history of anti-Semitism tell a story you already know.
Yes, anti-Semitism has been a feature of some sectors of the left since the days of Marx—sometimes murderously so. But if one is simultaneously obsessed with leftist anti-Semitism and willing to have a transactional relationship with Trump’s stereotyping of Jews because he’s “pro-Israel,” or willing to ignore frequent invocations of anti-Semitic tropes on the conspiratorial right, then please spare me the platitudes about Ilhan Omar and Jeremy Corbyn. You’re not interested in anti-Semitism either. Most Jews in the world don’t live in Israel and would prefer not to be attacked as part of a vast “globalist” elite of rootless cosmopolitans. Their safety is not yours to trade in exchange for your preferred Middle East policy.
And finally, yes, anti-Semitism is a deep feature of Islamic fundamentalism of a variety of sorts, not to mention of important strains of Arab nationalism. But if you are one of the people who reduces anti-Semitism to its contemporary Islamic-world instantiations, there’s probably more than a little anti-Muslim or anti-Arab bigotry in your worldview. The killers in the deadly synagogue shootings in Pennsylvania and California weren’t Muslims or Arabs, after all. The presidential lawyer who declared himself the arbiter of George Soros’s Judaism isn’t a Muslim either. Nor is Corbyn. If you’re not willing to confront the diversity of anti-Semitism, you’re just not being serious.
The bottom line is that anti-Semitism does not align with any simple political narrative you try to map it onto. Jews should know better than to play games by trying to force an alignment that doesn’t exist. Doing so trivializes a weighty history.
We should all be suspicious of people, Jews and non-Jews alike, who purport to raise their voices about anti-Semitism but do not talk candidly about the anti-Semitism within their ranks. People who are more interested in how they can use the problem of anti-Semitism as a weapon than in the problem itself will always be a little too willing to avert their gaze when the wrong sort of people get killed by the wrong sort of killers for the wrong sort of reasons.