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Behind the Aegis

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Member since: Sat Aug 7, 2004, 03:58 AM
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(Jewish Group) My Jewish faith should not undermine my place in the feminist left

(THIS IS THE JEWISH GROUP! RESPECT!!)

Since starting University, my identity as both a feminist and a Jew has been increasingly called into question. Somehow my religion seems at odds with the language and space of the student Left that most of the time I am comfortable and fluent in. Yet surely, by virtue of being Jewish, and even more so because I can’t pass off as being a ‘white-Jew’, I am part of the host of minorities that the Left should be fighting for. More often than not however, this is not the case.

Even the Women’s March Movement last year was described by an article in the New York Times as “roiled by accusations of anti-Semitism”. It was reported that Women’s March activists were “grappling with how they treat Jews – and whether they should be counted as privileged white Americans or “marginalised” minorities”. This was put into sharper focus in the aftermath of the October mass shooting in Pittsburgh, when 11 people were gunned down at their synagogue. If not clear before, it is undeniable after that antisemitism continues to exist.

Thus, what these activists face is a test of intersectionality. A chance to look at a gendered experience in a way that shows how women’s experiences are defined and attacked on account of their identity, religion, ethnicity, class and race; and how often these attacks do not adhere to the neat categories of the Left. Vanessa Wruble, an early organiser of the Women’s March, said that she was told by one of the march leaders that “we really couldn’t centre Jewish women in this or we might turn off groups like Black Lives Matter” since members of the group have expressed solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli Occupation.

Yet my relationship with Israel has never been uncomplicated and it should not undermine my place in the feminist Left. We can acknowledge Palestinian oppression and anti-Semitism at the same time – they are not mutually exclusive. In the words of April Rosenblum, an academic and activist, “Every oppression is different, and every oppressed group deserves our time and commitment to learning what their specific experience is like, and how we can best support their struggle for liberation.” Moreover, the conflict does not justify the use of Anti-Semitic tropes that place ‘the Jew’ in a capitalist, religiously conservative, right-wing discourse. Such tropes hugely undermine our struggle for mutual understanding and equality. While, of course, this recycling of Anti-Semitic tropes isn’t confined to feminist spaces, it is unequivocally a feminist issue.

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Words can be like tiny doses of arsenic: they are swallowed unnoticed, appear to have no effect, and then after a little time the toxic reaction sets in after all.” -- Victor Klemperer
Posted by Behind the Aegis | Sat Apr 27, 2019, 05:42 AM (0 replies)
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