The Semite in Anti-Semitism

[Ed. note: I find it very fascinating that almost all spell-check programs, including the Microsoft package, do not recognize "Anti-Semitism" as a word. Think about that.]

I admittedly hijacked the conversation in the comments section on a Racialicious blogpost entitled "Racial Fractures and the Occupy Movement", but every time this particular subject arises I feel compelled to say something. The commenter wrote this: 

"Antisemitism as being under the umbrella of racism defines Jewish people as being a Jewish race.  One can be racially White, Asian, Latino, Native, and/or Black, and also Jewish.  Anti-Jeiwsh sentiments, actions, and negatively impacting behavior in general should included too, but I don't think it is appropriate to generalize it to race.  That would be a major oversight.  Also, the term "Semite" refers to many different people, or which those who identify as Jewish are included.  By using that term, did you mean to highlight oppression of Jewish people in the United States, Middle Eastern and/or Arabic people in the United States, or specifically all of the groups under the definition of the term "Semite"?

I'm using the definition from wikipedia, so I am open to discussion to continue disambiguating this term."
[...cont. edit]

My response to his comment is as follows:
"Dear Gregory, 

As a Sephardic-Jewish linguist and activist, I have to contest what you wrote. The word “Anti-Semitism” and the word Semite have historically been used to refer to anti-Jewish bias and Jewish people for countless years both as a racial/ethnic group and a religious minority.

The use of “Semite” in the linguistic sense of the word can and does refer to Hebrew, Arabic and Geez-speaking (among others) groups of people but does not refer to an ethnic group outside of Jewish people. The Wikipedia article you referred to actually points out this explicitly by informing us that the term was coined in the 19th century in Germany and roughly translates from German as “Jew-hateness” or the hating of Jewish people. 

There are many arguments for including other ethnic groups in the term Semite, but the word anti-Semitism continues to refer to the hatred or bias against Jewish people and personally I believe that using it as an umbrella term does disservice to the awareness of anti-Semitic actions against Jewish people. I would also just like to point out that the last two FBI hate crime index reports have listed Jewish people as one of the consistently attacked group in the religious tract (above Muslims even after 2001). 

Perhaps it is contradictory of me to end on this note but this is not the time to be watering-down terminology and discussing terminological problems. We need to be fighting racism in all its form, not being distracted by pedagogy.  
Thank you."

I am honestly not sure what else to say on the subject. I just find comments like his quite contradictory and also troubling. It is troubling to me that people want to gloss-over the problem of anti-Semitism as something of the past...it is still a problem here in this country! It's racism! Racism is still a problem too.


Occupy This!

I love freedom, and the media is attacking freedom.

Don’t talk to the media, that’s what it all boils down to. I have been watching the how the media has been presenting the Occupy Portland movement and issues and at this point, on the eve of the eviction from the two downtown parks, I believe I can safely say that the media is not on our side. One only has to look at the tone of the stories from outlets such as the Oregonian, KATU and KGW. These agencies highlight drug overdoses; criminal backgrounds, assaults and a thinly-linked Molotov cocktail, rather than focusing on the fact that these brave folks are, in fact, democracy in action. Why isn’t the media talking about the camp’s library, the fact that the kitchen has only servers with food-handlers cards, that there is a General Assembly and that the movement does not condone violence. It seems that the media has an agenda (of course) and that agenda is counter-revolutionary, pro-capitalist and anti-democracy.  

Our freedoms are under attack. We live in a country where hate speech is protected as "free speech" but our truly free speech isn't free. This must end. We must not be scared into complacency by the media. 

I urge you to continue to support the Occupy movement and the brave citizens demonstrating here in Portland. Don’t support the police, don’t support the media. KATU isn’t “On Your Side”. They’re on the side of money and fascism. Support your fellow citizens. Support freedom.



There is a book I am in love with, you may know it as "Afterdark". It's a novel by Haruki Murakami. I picked up a Galician copy of it in Madrid called "Tras do solpor". The feelings the book stirred up in me are those of a powerful deep nostalgia. The book takes place in Tokyo, and as the title suggests, after dark. There are various scenes at cafes, restaurants and hotel rooms. These scenes remind me of Japan, living in the now and being a night person. It's a beautiful remembrance. In Japanese one says "懐かしい" /na-tsu-ka-shi-i/. There is an entire world of feeling in that small-syllabicated word.

Despite being disseminated to me through the filter of a language I hardly speak, those feelings remain and I fondly look forward to the novel every time I decide to reread it. I am curious about reading it in English or Spanish but at the same time I am nervous that if I do, the novel will be rendered un-magical to me and the beauty it first presented will evaporate. It's a risk that may be unfounded but why should I risk it? I can always continue to enjoy it in Galician.