Anti-Semitism isn’t just Jew-hatred

You know how one of the favourite lines of anti-Semites is to witter on about how "I can’t be anti-Semitic because Semites include many people in the Middle East, and besides Ashkenazim are not Semites"?

Michael Freedman
3 min readMay 21, 2021

My normal response is a boring etymological explanation about how the phrase was coined by a German anti-Semite exactly to make it seem more palatable, and how I'd be much more comfortable calling it Jew-hatred.

Well, I have had a rethink.

One of the other canards is that Israel is an impostor state founded and populated by "foreign" Ashkenazi (ie "white") Jews, in a racist, neo-colonial effort to displace the "brown" "indigenous" Arabs. This doesn't take into account either that all Jews have ancestral claims, or that Ashkenazim too have had a continuous presence in this land, or that over half of Israeli Jews have "brown" Mizrahi (ie mainly Arabic) heritage, or that 21% of Israeli citizens are in fact actual Arabs, or that the definition of a Palestinian (by UNRWA) is someone who descends from someone who can prove merely that they were resident in British Mandate Palestine for just two years before Israel's independence, or that many Arabs are "white" ie Circassians. So this framing of "white" vs "brown", with its implicit code of who is indigenous and therefore inherently more righteous and more entitled to the hallowed victim status vs who can be cheaply labelled as the oppressor, is plainly wrong, and frankly I don't believe anyone who spends even an hour on their research would propagate this narrative unless they had a specific agenda.

That agenda is anti-Semitism.

Yes, I know, I said I didn't like that phrase and prefer Jew-hatred. It's also Jew-hatred. But it's still anti-Semitism. Why? Because anti-Semitism, according to the verbal contortionists, is actually the hatred of all the brown people from this part of the Middle East.

You are not pro-Palestinian if you are riddled with such bigotry of low expectations of Palestinians, Muslims or Arabs, that you support Hamas firing 4000 missiles at civilians, from within their civilian population, of which perhaps 600 landed on that same population, then counts the resulting deaths as being Israel's fault.

You don't believe in universal human rights if you detest the side that opens its border crossing with its enemy and sends humanitarian aid in the middle of a war, but support the side that bombs that crossing at the time.

You're not anti-racist if you believe that Israel has no right to defend itself, and you're certainly not anti-racist if the Jews are held to a higher (in fact impossible) standard when it comes to self-defense. Civilian deaths in war are tragic but they are unavoidable. They are mitigated by both sides doing what they can to avoid them. Israel has achieved, even according to Hamas, a 1:1 ratio of terrorist to civilian deaths, better than any Western country in any conflict, and the IDF think it's more like 3:1. Hamas gleefully and openly puts its citizens in harm's way. If you can't see which side is trying its best to be moral and which is revelling in how its immorality is manipulating world opinion, you're choosing not to.

You are anti-Semitic if you support the side that has subjugated its own Semitic people and wilfully put them in harm's way whilst attacking a country which is 2/3 Semitic by origin.

You are anti-Semitic if you think that the IDF, staffed by the same 2/3 Semites, including Druze and Bedouin, is indiscriminately targeting anyone, when all the evidence is staring you in the face to the contrary.

You are anti-Semitic if outbreaks in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is magically the only one that brings you onto the streets or social media to rail against the 2/3 Semitic nation, but have remarkably little to say about the death and persecution of Semites in Syria, the subjugation of Semitic women and LGBT across the Middle East, or even the violence of Semites across the Western world against white Ashkenazi Jews who you've already made clear are not connected to Israel.

And yes, you're probably a Jew-hater.



Michael Freedman

Flâneur, gourmand, dilettante, francophone. Prophet, therapist, egomaniac, wandering Jew. I like to say entrepreneur too but that’s just French for unemployed.