Visibility is a mixed bag for Jews. This weekend in all the excitement of being Freshly Pressed this blog saw a burst of traffic, “follows,” and “likes,” – thank you very much to those who contributed to that and welcome to new readers! It also got some really ugly antisemitic comments. I’ve been sitting quietly for while, thinking about how I want to handle the mixed blessings.
My comment policy has been pretty simple. Simple is good. I decided though to reiterate my old policy and give it its own page, so that I can point to the comment policy without having to look it up.
I will continue to delete antisemitic comments as soon as I see them. My experience in raising children and training dogs is that the less attention paid to bad behavior, the better. That doesn’t mean “ignore it” – it means don’t reward it by lavishing attention on it. Therefore I shall zap antisemitic comments and then look around and say to myself with deepest satisfaction: “What antisemitic comment? Heh.”
Questions are different. A question is at least on the surface a request for information. “Is it true that Jews are [fill in antisemitic stereotype here]?” will get a straight up serious reply from me, with historical background on its origins. Even if I suspect a question is cover for a nasty comment, I’ll entertain it because it’s an opportunity to teach.
In life, that’s how I try to deal with antisemitism also. If I am pretty sure a comment was made simply to get a rise out of me, I say, “That comment’s beneath my attention,” and move right on. If I think the comment was made out of ignorance, that’s a different matter: I’ll counter it with facts in as calm and kind a manner as I can muster. If people are listening who may be misled by the antisemitic statement, then it’s even more important for me to pursue the teaching moment, even if the ignorance is willful.
To anyone visiting this blog who wants attention (and goodness knows, most of us don’t get enough of it, unless we’re tabloid fodder) – ask a question. I love questions. I crave them. They give me topics for posts, and they give me a chance to have a conversation with the questioner, and get to know you a bit.
Thank you for reading, and bless you for asking questions!
15 thoughts on “How I Deal With Antisemitic Comments”
Great way to deal with the antisemitic comments! I praise your way to deal with such things. Shalom, my friend!
Good post. Many years ago I was running a class taught by now retired, still wonderful, Rabbi Gordon Freeman. We were on the third week of the class and folks were pretty comfortable. One student raised their hand and asked, “Rabbi, why are Jews always associated with money?” There was an audible gasp from both Jewish and non-Jewish students. Rabbi Freeman replied, “I’m glad you asked that.” He went on to explain the conscripted lives of Jews in Christian Europe, the fact that they were not allowed to own land – forcing them to carry their money as money. Also, that they were the only class of people who were allowed to lend money, creating a job of money lender and the stereotype of the Jewish money lender. He went on and provided an excellent historical explanation of how Jews and Money were thrust together by the ruling Christian laws. Everyone learned! It was wonderful.
Thanks, Dawn! Every question is an opportunity. It’s important for Jews to understand the origins of these things.
Recently, I came across a post of a dear friend who told me that since some of her friends are antisemitic, she was about to delete many of our chats on Facebook…
She asked then, “Is it true that /you manipulate/ the banks/the media/ etc…
Well, I just replied: If we were so good in doing so, don’t you think we would have avoided the Holocaust..?
No answer… Yet…
I might reconsider the term of “friend”…
I am a little confused. Is she going to delete chats with you so as not to offend antisemitic friends? If that is the case, yes, I would reconsider the “friend” designation.
That is not a friend. That is an enemy.
Rabbi, how about spammers? One really jumped all over the Movie Seder post.
(Spam the product is definitely treyf! So is spam the unwanted electronic communications, I think.)
I completely agree with you about spam. Going to check that right this minute – I look forward to vaporizing all of it!
Rabbi, When and why did the concept of The Messiah come to exist in Judaism? It doesn’t seem like a Jewish philosophy. Thank You.
Another great post idea! A quick thumbnail: a lot of the texts that Jewish messianists through history have referenced are in the prophets, especially Isaiah. “Mashiach” (literally “anointed one” refers to an anointed king. Some of the lines that don’t specifically mention anointing but some kind of redemption seem to refer to Cyrus of Persia, who ended the Exile in Babylon. The idea of a king who would put an end to bad times has popped up again and again during times of difficulty or persecution. Historically, it’s always been a disaster for the Jewish people when someone gets announced as “the One.” Simon bar Kokhba was one candidate, and his revolt ended in disaster. There was a late medieval candidate for messiah named Shabbetai Tzvi – you can read about him here (https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/Zvi.html) but his story ended with him converting to Islam. My Jewish Learning has a good article on the subject of messianism at http://www.myjewishlearning.com/beliefs/Theology/Afterlife_and_Messiah/Messianism.shtml.
“Recently, I came across a post of a dear friend who told me that since some of her friends are antisemitic, she was about to delete many of our chats on Facebook…”
Effectively, Rabbi, she did delete posts, so as not to “offend” antisemitic friends of her…
Since then, I have reconsidered the term “friend”!..
On the opposite, a young Loubavitch friend of mine, the son of a respected and learned Rav, recently asked me, genuinely: “Why are there antisemitic people out there?..”
He thought that since I’m a lot older than he is, I would answer that.
My first reply was: “Well, pal, if you ever find the answer, I’ll be glad to hear it!”
Next, I said: “Get history books, read along, there are explanations of the issue. But, since it’s an emotional matter now, especially for those who hate us, you may not find a sound and satisfying answer, nor an entry to the nitty gritty of the thing.
Because there’s none, really. That’s what emotion carries with it. It ain’t rational!”
We’re not in a rational debate: we’re talking emotions, affects.
And I’m telling you this from a country, France, where Jewish schools and synagogues are guarded by the Army… Going through the shul gate, past soldiers heavily armed, is quite an experiment… And it doesn’t look that it will end soon!
(A smiling note:
Sorry for the soldiers, because the Jewish mothers cover them with food all day, all week round!
One of them told the papers: “Now, I know why I can’t be Jewish: I don’t want to end up obese!”
My shul opened them an account in a kosher supermarket, to avoid them this; they can take what they want, at their own rhythm…)
Jacques, I can just imagine the Jewish moms feeding the soldiers who watch over their children at school! A great example of Jewish humor: we take something really quite awful (the need for guards at every Jewish institution in France) and find a small laugh.
All i can say is “heyach, heydad!”. Good on you, Rabbiadar. The haters will always hate. And as for the reason why there is antisemitism, it’s the same reason that there is any hatred. Fear of the unknown and insecurity. That’s the root of it, anyway. Have a peaceful and joyous day, free of bigotry and hate. <3
Same to you, english! A day free of all that nasty stuff.