Spanning from the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust, a violent business of hatred has persisted by adapting its hue to blend within the social constructs and cultural values of any given society. In Inquisition times, Jews were forced to convert to Christianity. When those who practiced Judaism secretly were discovered, these marranos or “swine”, as they were called, were burned alive. These executions were considered a gracious service that saved souls from an even worse fate — eternal damnation in hell. The justification and “brand” of hate emerged through a perverse version of Christian philosophy, similar to the justification for slavery that also rooted itself in Christianity.
Moving into the 20th century, a secular culture didn’t care to save souls anymore or about religious morality, but it did care about reason and science. Prejudice mutated once again to fit these new values and emerged within eugenic studies and hateful propaganda of “race theory” which spread throughout academia, including in the United States.
While the Spanish Inquisition was a “divinely-sanctioned” persecution, the “Final Solution” was based on utilitarian concepts that were pushed through a racially conscious society; for the devastated post WWI Germany, nationalism and scapegoating the Jews healed broken spirits of inferiority. Confiscated Jewish money “redistributed the wealth” to advantage the majority of Germany, the “pure Aryans.”
In retrospect, history always looks barbaric, but Nazi leaders and sympathizers at the time would disagree. The pursuit of utopian ends, to achieve a racially pure and prospering “Third Reich,” justified the genocidal means. Now, a politically correct secular culture has rejected racial theories and religion. Yet, anti-Semitism undoubtedly has reformed once again, but where is it?
Anti-Zionism innately provides a platform for socially acceptable prejudice to exercise political power against the future of the Jewish homeland. Differing from universally condemned Neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, Students for Justice in Palestine offers a costume of human rights advocacy. Its rhetoric can repurpose Goebbels’ propaganda to affect large swaths of Jews once again, and avoid scrutiny by replacing the word “Jews” with “Zionists.” “Death to Zionists” doesn’t sound as bad as “death to Jews,” but they both direct hate to the same people.
The NYC Students for Justice in Palestine made a boo-boo in a live video posted on Thursday during a protest of The Balfour Declaration, a document from 1926 that acknowledged an ancestral connection of Jews to Israel. They leaked Jew-hatred; they chanted “Zionists go to hell,” as per usual, and then “bin yahud go to hell,” or Jews go to hell.
At the protest they called for “intifada revolution,” to relive the glory days of suicide bombings that occurred in the early 2000’s in Israel, which targeted civilians in pizza shops, public transportation, and ice cream parlors. The coalition of New York SJP groups chanted “globalize the intifada,” which clarified a dubious uncertainty about to whom their calls for violence were directed. It is not enough to have ethnic cleansing of Jews “from the river to the sea” of Israel, but they want to “globalize the intifada” for Zionists around the globe. They chanted in Arabic, “Oh, martyr (shahid) sleep and rest – and we will continue the struggle.”
Though I do not believe that anti-Zionism necessarily equals anti-semitism, there is a ill-defined line that distinguishes a passionate advocate for Palestinian causes and a frothing hatred of Zionists. The alt-right are at least forthcoming about what they truly believe. They brand themselves as “politically incorrect,” and claim that they unleash what others are too fearful to express. This is unmistakably true; human nature is fundamentally oriented to continue historical prejudices. The idea of a repurposed system of prejudice has been raised by Michelle Alexander, a civil rights advocate, who argues that slavery has resurfaced through mass incarceration and police brutality.
Jews were once called swine, pigs, and marranos; now Jews are called “Zionist pigs.” The consequences of this hateful rhetoric, which has gained more popularity over the last ten years on college campuses, have yet to be seen. Radical factions of our society are emblematic of our picture, they have been in the past and will be in the future. As a country we would be wise to pay attention.