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Gallery of Antisemitism – Example 10

Classic Antisemitism: Claiming that Jews demand special status:

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The claim that Jewish people demand some sort of special status is often made. Sometimes it is expressed as criticism of the concept in Judaism of being the ‘chosen people’, i.e. chosen to be in a covenant with God. This in fact does not mean that Jews regard themselves as a superior people; it is much more a case of the Jewish people having a special responsibility towards God and other people.

In the example below, Crispin Blunt, a Tory MP and humanist, argued against comments by the Chief Rabbi (who had apparently suggested that some humanists were becoming intolerant of religion). He said “…regarding the demand for special status…what’s required is for everyone to have tolerance of other people’s position and not to impose unfair views.” He also reportedly supported calls for “eliminating subsidies” to the Community Security Trust (CST) in order to “save taxpayers’ money”. These grants are used in fact for the security and protection of communal institutions, including synagogues and schools, against antisemitic attack. Wanting these particular needs met does not mean that Jews are demanding any ‘special status’. Indeed, the Government Places of Worship (POW) protective security funding scheme is available to all religions. Jewish people, on the whole, want to be treated equally and do not demand special status as Blunt puts it. Socialists Against Antisemitism remains very unhappy that no disciplinary action has, many months after this outburst, been taken against him.

Of course, Jews are commonly regarded as a religious group, but in fact are very much an ethnic group; Jews do not cease to be ethnically Jewish if they do not attend the synagogue or believe in Judaism as a religion. In the vast majority of cases, Jewish people do not demand ‘special status’ but want no more than to be treated the same way as other ethnic groups are treated. Although the phenomenon of ‘Jewish exceptionalism’ does exist in the form of feeling that antisemitism is of greater importance than other forms of racism, it is completely unfair to accuse the entire Jewish community of believing this.

In fact, rather than Jewish people being after special status, more often than not they have to fight to get prejudice against themselves defined in the same way as it is with regard to other minorities. Some anti-Zionists define antisemitism as being little more than overt hatred of or violence against Jews and their institutions such as synagogues, schools and cemeteries, but do not include prejudiced antisemitic stereotypes, tropes and conspiracy theories such as those we describe in this Gallery, as they would when defining prejudice against other ethnicities or religions. In some cases, they justify this by explaining that Jews are, on average, less economically and societally disadvantaged than some members of other ethnic minorities in Britain and many other countries. This, we believe, creates a hierarchy of racism, meaning that discrimination against certain minorities is a higher priority in terms of opposition than against certain other minorities. That is a view we reject; we believe that all racism is contrary to socialist principles, and needs to be fought with equal vigour.

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