Hours later and many miles away, I watched in mute horror with tears in my eyes as Jewish supremacists rioted in the streets of Jerusalem. As information trickled in, I watched. As they hurled rocks at a Palestinian family’s home, while children were inside, I wept and cursed. As I watched as messages from Telegram were made public, demonstrating an intent to do violence, I raged. As elected parties, MKs, and their direct representatives advised rioters how to avoid arrest, I resolved.
What happened in Jerusalem last night was a testament to man’s inhumanity to man, and journalists on the ground captured the horror and chaos of the situation in more pathos-drenched clarity than I ever could.
I will NOT be doing apologetics for the rioters, but it is important to understand the context around why this is happening. I will do my best to present the events as evenhandedly and objectively as possible.
I will fail.
To be clear, I am a Jew. I have compassion for Palestinians and I want them to have a free and independent state as well as Israel. I want Israeli Arabs to have the full rights of a citizen. I want peace. I want friendship. I want the fighting to stop. I consider making peace to be an essential part of my purpose on this world as a Jew. But I am not an antizionist.
I tell you that so you know my bias and can examine the following presentation of fact and determine where my bias distorts the narrative.
This all began on TikTok.
[AGAIN THIS IS NOT APOLOGETICS. PALESTINIANS DO NOT DESERVE THE POGROM THAT IS OCCURRING RIGHT NOW. A FEW PEOPLE DID A BAD THING, THEY SHOULD FACE IMPARTIAL JUSTICE, NOT A MOB, AND IT SURE AS HELL ISN’T THE FAULT OF ALL PALESTINIANS.]
Videos of Palestinians attacking Jews near the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem made the rounds, and in response, far right Jews started attacking both Arab Israelis and Palestinians throughout the city. The Jewish far right group Lehava then organized a march on Tzion Square in Jerusalem to, in their own words, “restore Jewish honor” (spoiler: they did the opposite).
The chaos of a riot is difficult to map, especially from far away, but what appeared to happen is that hundreds of Lehava supporters descended on Jerusalem, carrying a variety of weapons and enquiring via several apps where they could get more, shouting “Death to Arabs.” Arabs were attacked. Arab homes were attacked. Counterprotesters both Jewish and Arab (yes, there were both) were attacked. And some counterprotesters defended themselves, and there are suggestions that there was at least one or two incidents of unprovoked violence from counterprotesters. Just facts as I’ve seen them reported. The Mishtarah (the police) finally dispersed them with a mixture of gas, mace, stun grenades, and arrests.
After dispersal, some protesters regrouped and attempt to march on the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, lighting trashcans on fire and throwing stones. The police prevented them from doing that. Reports vary, but somewhere between 30–120 people have been arrested in connection with the riots.
So that’s about as unbiased a recounting as you’re going to get on this thing. Here comes some context. Lehava, the far-right anti-assimilation group that arranged the riot, has deeply incestuous ties to the racist Kahanist terrorist-worshipping/adjacent Otzma Yehudit party, whom we’ve discussed before .
A note on anti-assimilation: I view anti-assimilation as a position one can hold at any point on the political spectrum. I consider myself an anti-assimilationist. I don’t do gifts at Chanukah, come to my house for dinner and you’re getting some kind of Jewish food, I save up my vacation and sick days so I can take the High Holy Days off of work because have you ever tried telling your goyish boss that you need a week off for Sukkot? And then had to explain Sukkot to them? Nightmare. I stop working at noon on Friday so I can bake challah and make dinner in time for Shabbat. Sunday is my Monday, and it drives my current employer nuts. I keep kosher even though I live in a place where approximately 99% of all available meat is pork. I take breaks during my workday to pray, and ask my employers to set aside a prayer room for that purpose. This doesn’t bother my current employer, but it gave my last employer fits. I cover my hair, despite not being married. I affix mezuzot despite living in neighborhoods where they might get stolen. I dance and sing under candle and moonlight on Rosh Chodesh, which I know has drawn the not-very-positive attention of my goyish neighbors, who (frankly, understandably) think I’m a witch. I prefer to date other Jews, but mostly because I don’t have to explain everything and if we were to get married, we don’t have to fight over the wedding, not out of any ideology. It happens to be a little difficult for me here and now because I am, and I’m not making this up, the only single Jew of consenting age in my current location. Everyone else is married or a literal child. So I date goyim out of necessity. Point is, being seen as Jewish and not mistaken for anything else, despite a real and growing risk where I live is very important to me. And I’m a screeching communist.
These guys, though, are a little different. These guys are anti-miscegenationists and as all anti-miscegenationists are, they’re extremely racist. They once sent out an open letter urging Jewish women not to date non-Jews, not to work in places non-Jews frequent, and not to do national service with non-Jews. They want us to ghettoize ourselves. OH BOY, do they hate the gays. They’re mad at Bar Rafaeli for dating Leonardo DiCaprio (a Catholic) and they’re mad at Mark Zuckerberg for marrying an Asian woman. They started a facebook page to dox mixed Jewish-Arab couples and tried to protest a Tel Aviv Jewish woman who converted to Islam’s marriage to an Arab man, but all that came out was “DEATH TO LEFTISTS! DEATH TO ARABS!” so… Not a fun bunch, is my point. These guys suck.
And these are the guys who are in bed with and/or related to (presumably metaphorically, but you never know with these bloodline-obsessed dorky losers) the not-technically-terrorists-yet-but-boy-do-they-love-them-a-terrorist Otzma Yehudit bunch.
Telegram, the anonymous messaging app du jour, is how the otzma/lehava bunch coordinate. And Itamar Ben-Gvir, somehow an actual sitting member of the Knesset, sent out a message either on Telegram or WhatsApp that said “The biggest nightmare of the Arabs, the only thing they won’t want to happen is that the Arabs will come up against a group of Kach supporters with clubs.”
okay, okay, okay. If you missed it, Kach is an illegal political party in Israel. It’s the party started by Meir Kahane back in the 90s, before he was murdered for being the biggest piece of shit in the universe. Otzma Yehudit worships Meir Kahane, and none quite as much as Itamar Ben-Gvir. Who also worships the mass murderer and terrorist Baruch Goldstein.
So maybe take it with a grain of salt the size of a comet when he says “We have made it clear, more than once and unambiguously, that Otzma Yehudit utterly opposes any kind of violence and I reiterate; we are against violence and must act according to the law…[I do] not have time to review all the texts posted to the groups [I admin].”
[long stream of graphic and descriptive expletives omitted for decency’s sake] Itamar Ben-Gvir is the most hateful man in politics. He’s actively disloyal to the state for which he serves, both his election and his actions serve to promote racist civil unrest. There is no more loathesome creature currently drawing breath on Hashem’s clean earth than he.
So okay, why am I writing this?
Well, Jews around the world want to loudly and angrily condemn this violence. And many of us are. But, and I bet you didn’t know this, there’s a chance your Jewish friends are at least a little afraid of you. Yep, even you. Because of the subtle antisemitism pervading the discourse surrounding Israel and Palestine. I don’t want you, dear reader, to get defensive; but there is a tendency, especially among the left, to react to things like the heinous events of last night, and want to do something about it. But, being far away, and frustrated, the royal you end up taking it out on your local Jewish population. Sometimes in not so subtle ways, but often in a palpable increase in tension. I’ve had people scream “FREE PALESTINE!” at me when they see my magen david necklace, and I’ve had people just get really icy when I explain that my head covering is Jewish, not Muslim. Your mileage may vary, but whenever Israel does something stupid or someone in Israel does something outrageous and it pisses off those with political tendencies, your local Jew is gonna get an earful (and hopefully nothing more) for it, and for that reason may choose to keep quiet about it and not stand up. And, Israel claiming to act as it sometimes does, on behalf of all Jews; our voices are a necessary component of the change leftists want to see.
So what’s going on here? Let’s talk about Le socialisme des imbéciles: Antisemitism.
In her amazing video on the subject of antisemitism, philosopher Abigail Thorn notes that accusations of antisemitism, or being a “self-hating Jew” can be used to shut down criticisms of Israel, so given that this tactic is being used actively, it’s best we don’t contribute to it passively. So, having committed ourselves to not shutting down criticism with antisemitism… how does one criticize Israel in a way that is not antisemitic? How do we criticize things in or about Israel that is friendly and welcoming to all Jewish people?
Thorn discusses a pamphlet by April Rosenblum called “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere.” Rosenblum says,
You keep things clear when you describe accurately and specifically what you oppose, and critique actions and policy as unjust — not people or nations as evil. And when people suggest that they see targeting of Jews in something you’re saying or doing, don’t shoot them down; seek out useful information in what they’re saying that might help you give your message even more clarity and impact.
Thorn then synthesizes,
To say “Israel has an ongoing history of human rights violations,” whatever you think of that, is specific and clear. To say “Israel is the root of all evil in the world!” or to only focus on Israeli human rights abuses… Kinda seems like your problem is actually with Jewish people.
So, to bring this to a close so I can get some sleep [at time of writing, it is 4AM]: I want to stand with you, my fellow leftists, and criticize the actions of Lehava activists and criminals, to call for an accounting of those responsible, and to mourn and pray for peace and stand in solidarity with both Palestinians and peace-loving and peace-seeking Jewish people. I don’t want to be afraid of you.
I don’t want any of you, in your just anger, co-opting this tragedy, this crime, I don’t want you to turn the spotlight off of the victims of this violent action, in order to run ignorant antisemitism into The Discourse(tm), or to use your subtle antisemitism to shut Jewish voices, who even among Zionists have legitimate criticisms of the Israeli state, out of the protest.
I am a Jew. I am at least sympathetic to Zionist rationale (y’all do be killing us kind of a lot). And I am not your enemy. The enemy is ignorant hatred, separatism, and violent racism.
Let’s go fight it together.
אל נא רפא נא לפלסטינים בירושלים ובכל הארץ
El na r’fa na l’palestinim b’yirushalayim uv’kol haaretz
Please, G-d, heal the Palestinians in Jerusalem and in all the land.
- Staff; Jerusalem Post, “Violence Continues in Jerusalem After Police Break up Anti-Arab Protest” https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/several-breaches-of-order-take-place-in-jerusalem-after-protests-666106
- Hasson, Nir; Haaretz, “Dozens Injured, More Than 30 Arrested in Anti-Arab Clashes in Jerusalem” https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-we-re-burning-arabs-today-jewish-supremacists-gear-up-for-jerusalem-march-1.9737755
- Rosenblum, April; “The Past Didn’t Go Anywhere”, PDF https://www.aprilrosenblum.com/thepast
- Thorn, Abigail; “Antisemitism: An Analysis | Philosophy Tube”, YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAFbpWVO-ow