How white supremacy relies on the maintenance of antisemitism

As a non-Jewish Black person who vehemently opposes white supremacy, I must confront antisemitism to abolish and demolish white supremacy.

In her essay, Keeping a Legacy of Shared Struggle, which is about solidarity between Black people and Jewish people, scholar and activist bell hooks writes:

“white supremacy relies on the maintenance of anti-Black racism and antisemitism.”

She also writes, “wherever there is white supremacy, there will be anti-Black racism and antisemitism.”

Her list isn’t exhaustive, but her short list is significant.

It should be obvious how white supremacy relies on anti-Black racism. However, it may be less clear to some non-Jewish people how white supremacy relies on antisemitism too.

In her essay, bell hooks doesn’t fully explain her statement, so I’m left to wonder how this works.

It’s a complex statement to consider because white Jewish people can enjoy white-skin privilege. How then does a system which can benefit white Jewish people also rely on antisemitism to sustain itself?

White supremacy is an oppressive system and culture of superiority for the exploitation and control of everything by white people.

That means white supremacy attacks and exploits anyone it doesn’t consider white or performing the duties of whiteness.

So, here are 5 ways I see white supremacy relying on antisemitism:

Antisemitism can press some white Jewish people to assimilate into the mob of whiteness

For people who adhere to the doctrine of white supremacy, a strong Jewish identity — to include an open observance of significant days and customs — can disrupt, discomfort, and interfere with the white Christian or secular narrative that dominates American life.

One basic effect of the sometimes subtle and cyclical chorus of antisemitism is to compel Jewish people to eschew a proud Jewish identity.

That works to preserve white Christianity, and it also works to promote religious indifference among those who would be different.

The ability to suppress expressions of faith and difference is one way white supremacy maintains itself.

Antisemitism blurs the way white supremacy can operate

Antisemitism can dehumanize Jewish people by painting them as the “arch” of everything. In some respects, antisemitism sees Jewish people as superior.

White supremacy can then use Jewish people as what sociologists call the “middleman minority” which is a visible and accessible layer or buffer between the haves and the have-nots.

In times of economic distress, cultural changes, or tensions, the public attacks the minorities white supremacy has granted privilege, access, and visibility — instead of the larger system of oppression.

In America, for non-Jewish people, antisemitism can blur the way white supremacy works, and it attacks Jewish people because white supremacy can use them as a cover.

Expecting white supremacy to always push down and keep people down maintains white supremacy.

Antisemitism demonizes Jewish people to shift blame

For its sustenance, white supremacy needs someone or something else to blame. White supremacists wrongly fault Jewish people for social progress, civil rights, trade deals, and immigration.

The horrible rhymes and bad reasons for this grave game are to blame, defame, and frame Jewish people.

That leads to conspiracy theories which pollute and cloud the environment of engagement.

Antisemitism, by blaming Jewish people, deflects the blame and responsibility that rightfully belong to elite capitalists and politicians who are often white Christian men.

Scapegoating and deflecting is one way white supremacy maintains itself.

Antisemitism is a recruitment tool of white supremacy

Experts believe antisemitism is a main driver of the political ideology of white nationalism, and if anyone wants to defeat it — they must focus on antisemitism.

That fact was clear to the world in the chants from Charlottesville and the spike in hate crimes against Jewish people.

White supremacy uses antisemitic memes that recycle and spread antisemitism.

Sometimes the sick stereotypes in the memes and statements aren’t clear to the general public, but they are clear to hate group members and the people on the verge of joining their vicious army.

The spread of antisemitism is a recruitment strategy and it’s one way white supremacy maintains itself.

Antisemitism thwarts solidarity

Antisemitism by people of color and other marginalized groups can stunt the formation of coalitions to stop white supremacy.

Similarly, a difference of opinion on antisemitism can divide Jewish people — to include Jewish people of color — and stop some Jewish people from joining and supporting movements for justice.

That has happened several times including a disagreement on the policy platform, A Vision for Black Lives, released by the Movement for Black Lives.

Dividing people who could band together is one way white supremacy maintains itself.

Countering antisemitism and white supremacy

To counter the relationship between antisemitism and white supremacy, people can resist Christian domination; people can support expressions of faith; people can recognize and repudiate antisemitic stereotypes and slurs, and people can form bonds of solidarity to stand against the larger systems of oppression.

White supremacy has many targets, tactics, and tentacles. They all matter.

With so many people at the brink of badness and madness, people who oppose white supremacy can’t afford to blink at the links.

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