We at Socialists Against Antisemitism are often asked to provide examples of antisemitism on the left, usually by people who are sceptical that there is a problem. We are also aware that, without training, many people with good intent are unable to recognise antisemitic material, or, worse, will share this material without realising its origins. This is why we have prepared this resource for the general public which includes examples, very often from social media, along with explanations of why they are antisemitic. The examples we use to illustrate different types of antisemitism come both from people who identify with the political left, and those who identify with the right, both the fascist or Nazi right and what one might term the more orthodox conservative right.
We cover many kinds of antisemitism in this guide. Some types tend to be more prevalent on what we might call the ‘conspiracist’ left. Antisemitism concerning Israel and Zionism is prevalent on the left. In addition, to quote from No Place for Antisemitism on the Labour party website: ‘There has been a rise in conspiracy theories which see capitalism and imperialism as the product of plots by a small shadowy elite rather than a political, economic, legal and social system. These views do no service to the struggle for a just society. They are just one step away from myths about Jewish bankers and a secret Jewish plot for world domination, which reproduce the anti-Jewish tropes that we have seen throughout history.’ Of course, the latter myths and tropes are very common on the right. We describe many of them in our sections on Classical antisemitism and Conspiracy, while Holocaust denial is also far more commonly seen on the right.
We are happy to answer questions; if, in addition, you feel that there are forms of antisemitism that we have omitted, please contact us.
People have asked – ‘but who are Socialists Against Antisemitism?’ To find out, go here What we’re About
For those new to the subject of antisemitism, we make the following general points:
- ‘Punching up’ vs. ‘punching down’. Historically, Jews have been subject of racism which regards them as inferior (aka ‘punching down’), for example having a nature which was dirty, bestial, untrustworthy. In this way, antisemitism resembles other forms of racism. Where antisemitism differs is that Jews are also seen as satanic and menacing (dating back to early Christianity). Jews have been consistently seen as over-powerful, over-greedy, and having a preternatural power to afflict humankind. Antisemitism thus appears, to its adherents, to ‘punch up’ much more than it ‘punches down’. This can make it harder for socialists, in particular, to recognise it or take it as seriously as other forms of racism.
- We do not regard it as impossible for Jewish people to be, on occasion, antisemitic.
- Although primarily and overwhelmingly the victims of antisemitism are Jews, their allies can also suffer abuse – sometimes expressed in antisemitic terms – when they are criticised for showing solidarity with Jewish people fighting antisemitism.
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We would like to thank the following people for their hard work in helping to create this resource:
Alison Bennewith, Alex Blenkhorn, Steve Cooke, Margaret Corvid, Rachael Horwitz, Dan Jacobs, Barnaby Marder & Hazel Seidel